GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

November 13, 2012

Letter: Moving past election's bias, negativity


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

With this election cycle finally behind us, it’s time for all Americans to step back and take a long hard look at the negativity that permeated so much of this presidential campaign.

Granted, both sides engaged in some pretty nasty mud slinging, but when one looks objectively at who slung what mud, where, and at whom, it’s real clear the Republicans, especially the most ideologically among them, won that contest hands down.

Sure, President Obama’s quip in a Rolling Stone interview about Mitt Romney being a “BS-er” was uncalled for, but it also happened to be true.

I recall attending a Kennedy fund-raiser in 1994 where Romney’s sudden metamorphosis into a pro choice U.S. Senate candidate was a big topic of conversation. Ted Kennedy, in his inimitable style, quipped, “My friends, with me you know you get pro choice. With Mitt, you get multiple choice.” It was such a classic comment because it was so true.

Mitt Romney continued that “multiple choice” approach to politics for the next 18 years; doing 180-degree position shifts on a long list of important issues, depending on what office he was seeking and to what consituency he was appealing.

To say that is not being negative or disrespectful. It is being truthful.

What I have found most disturbing since President Obama was first elected were the concerted efforts by so many on the Right to constantly portray the president as some kind of sinister outsider, someone who was not really “one of us,” but one of the “others.”

The overwhelmingly white, Tea Party/New American Right has long denied race had anything to do with their unprecedented personal attacks and countless conspiracy theories about the president. I never bought that malarkey for a minute. There were just too many examples of racially tinged attacks against the president, and his family, during his first term, some subtle, some not so subtle, for anyone but those in the deepest denial not to be able to see what so many on the right were doing.

Several events in the final weeks of the campaign, however, made clear that race and racism were significant end-run factors in the GOP’s unsuccessful strategy to defeat President Obama this year.

The first involved former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign, after the first debate. I sat in utter disbelief as Sununu described the president as being “detached,” “lazy,” and “dumb.” Talk about racist buzz words!

The second also involved Sununu, when he was asked what he thought of Colin Powell’s endorsement of the president.

My jaw dropped as Sununu said he believed Powell endorsed the president because the president is black like Powell — that it was a matter of racial pride, and it made sense a black man would endorse another black man for president, whether Powell truly believed the president was deserving of re-election or not.

The racism in that comment was beyond shocking, it was nauseating.

Then there was Sarah Palin’s deliberate use of black, urban, street slang in her criticism of the president just 10 days or so out from the election. Her intent was as clear as Sununu’s.

The tactic was eerily reminiscent of the cynical, race based “Southern Strategy” Richard Nixon employed so successfully in 1968 to woo white Southern voters angry about the passage of the Voting and Civil Rights Acts in 1964.

Thankfully, the tactic failed this year. But what we have seen since President Obama was first elected four years ago should make clear to all Americans that there are still those who are fearful and bigoted toward people they view as somehow different from themselves, whether they are driven by race, religion, or some other factor.

It should also make clear to all decent Americans just how much work remains to be done to get us beyond that sad reality.

MICHAEL COOK

Gloucester and Vieques, Puerto Rico