Why was Romney booed?

Over at the Spectator they’re covering Romney’s speech (7/11) to the NAACP as “Romney’s pitch for the new America.” What nonsense.

In an extraordinarily lazy piece, Alex Massie doesn’t even bother to mention how this supposed “pitch” was received by the audience. Romney was booed.

In a mangled piece of analysis the Spectator at one point suggests – rightly – that “when it comes to votes Romney wasn’t really looking for black votes…Romney’s speech was looking for white votes”, only to later suggest, “…it’s important that the GOP candidate makes at least some effort to appeal to voters beyond traditional Republican constituencies”.

Let’s give Massie the benefit of the doubt; let’s assume he’s suggesting that Romney is trying to consolidate his appeal to white voters uncomfortable with the race-baiting many Republicans have exhibited in elections recent and distant by making, and being seen to make, an honest if futile attempt to appeal to working-class African American voters who are highly unlikely to be persuaded by his noble efforts. Hey, at least he’s trying, right?

And now let’s cut the crap.

The real story here starts by asking why Romney used rhetoric designed not to persuade his hosts but to provoke them. Romney knew for sure that casually mentioning his intention to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act would rile the crowd. To ensure he would be filmed attracting their ire, he dismissed the AHA as “Obamacare”, the standard lingo used when appealing to the right.

So why would someone engaging in “outreach” make his case to a left-leaning audience by using language more at home on the stump of a Tea Party rally? Obviously, because the real target of Romney’s speech was the GOP’s traditional white working class base and he calculated that antagonizing “non-traditional Republican constituencies” would win him some high fives back at the ranch.

Outreach to “non-traditional Republican constituencies”? This was a calculated attempt to rile black Americans for the gratification of GOP-leaning white working class voters who remain suspicious of Romney’s bona fides as one of their own; the very traditional GOP constituency who see Romney in the mold framed by evangelical favorite Mike Huckabee, “the guy who looks like he fired your dad”. The black audience was merely used as a prop in the Romney campaign’s cynical and effective attempt to create a Kodak moment for the white base he’s terrified won’t rally for him.

Expect more of the same.

Strategic Communications Consultant, located in Washington, D.C.