today in black history

April 14, 2024

Elston Howard becomes the first Black player on the New York Yankees baseball team on this date in 1955.

Mitt's Lying Game

POSTED: August 31, 2012, 12:00 am

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Very rarely these days do I get worked up by a political speech; perhaps I have just reached that age where I can’t sweat the small stuff. Thursday night was an exception as I watched Mitt Romney spin a pack of lies and carefully coded insults into a nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. If Republicans don’t have a clue as to why Blacks, at least conscious African-Americans, deplore the party they need to view Romney’s speech again but with a Black interpreter. Last night was a shameful exercise in revisionist history topped by a naked appeal to the virtues of pre-Civil war whiteness and state’s rights, all ending with a minstrel show featuring a Black gospel recording artist singing ‘America the Beautiful.’

“It is what brought us to America. We are a nation of immigrants.”

The references to America, American, freedom and faith are too numerous to count. What was apparent in Romney’s speech last night is that his campaign took great pains to lay claim to being legitimate Americans. It is beyond disingenuous in 2012 to claim “we are a nation of immigrants” and discount the trials and suffering of American Indians, enslaved Africans and African-Americans. We need to finally put the ‘melting pot’ rhetoric to rest and confront those who want to paint a picture of willing acceptance of our nation’s colored citizenry. Worse, to have Romney equate his family experiences with those of America’s oppressed is beyond insulting; it is deliberately hurtful and divisive. To stand before the nation and present yourself as worthy of the presidency and then purposely ignore history reveals the desperation of your candidacy.

Worse, Mitt Romney purposely fed the paranoia of the party’s ‘Birthers’ by suggesting that “when the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American.” It was a blatantly racist nod to the worst elements of the political right; and the second time in a week Romney has alluded to the disproved notion that President Obama was not born in the United States. He knows better and his willful alignment with the likes of a Donald Trump exposes the former governor’s true character. As were Mr. Romney’s subtle and frequent references to faith, again questioning the President’s faith while the Republican nominee hides behind his Mormon faith and uses the Bible as a strategic defense shield. It was a classic bait and switch – speak in the language of faith and patriotism and then spoon feed your audience out of the bowl of evil intent.

As the former Massachusetts governor made his case that the Obama administration failed America I could not help but feel that George W. Bush was in the arena in disguise, peering around a corner and grinning sheepishly; knowing full well that this mess is his creation. How else do you explain a political party that gives its most recent President the witness protection treatment? Romney’s real moral character, or more precisely his lack of it, was on full display when he chided the President on job creation and had the audacity to suggest that the nation was less secure despite the killing of Osama bin Laden. The GOP has no room to critique this administration’s foreign policy after the Bush orchestrated hunt for nonexistent weapons of mass destruction that led our nation into two wars, caused the deaths of thousands of soldiers and seriously injured thousands, while digging a fiscal hole so deep we are likely generations removed from an earnest recovery, financial and diplomatic. To top it off, Romney had the gall to revive Cold War rhetoric and engage in some old-fashioned saber rattling, and dismiss any effort to reach a diplomatic resolution with Iran while pulling a bush league move by talking tough to Russia.

Perhaps the most telling and offensive aspect of Romney’s speech was his blatant effort to suggest his silver spoon upbringing and ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ home life, complete with the pearl necklace wearing, stay-at-home nanny supported well-to-do mother, is the American ideal, and that his pathway to riches, built upon the exchange of paper and indifference to laborers, is somehow the best this nation can offer. His penchant for outright lies in regard to the President’s policy record, and his pitiful appeal to the worst elements of the right (Birthers, gun lovers, pro-choice zealots and xenophobes) exposes the desperation of a man whose only route to the White House is a road built upon lies, distortion and deception. If this is the best the Republican Party can offer we should write the Grand Old Party’s epitaph now:

Here lies a political party that once stood for justice and liberty, but let greed and hate kill its legacy.

Walter Fields is Executive Editor of

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