Back Channels: Finding racism in all aspects of the 2012 campaign

Posted: August 20, 2012

'Good morning . . . yuh-awl. This is the staff of the White House Office for Shameless Pandering. How may I assist you? I mean - wait, where's my cue card? Wut . . . kin . . . ah . . . dew . . . fer . . . yuh . . . awl? (This is much harder than the Mandarin I took at Harvard.)

"Oh, no, not you, sir. Sorry. I was talking to my colleague, er, pahd-nah, here at . . . da shop.

"Why am I speaking that way? Well - if I may go off script here a moment - frankly, the vice president recently noticed that the president is African American. And the poor man has been so desperate to get back in the boss' good graces. You know, the 'Biden-isms,' as some call them?

"So, to make sure the secretary of state doesn't move on up, the vice president has enrolled himself and some of us here in a Rosetta Stone course on drawling. He's hoping it will make him a little more palatable to, shall we say, people of color.

"Yes, like his boss. Yes, the guy from Illinois. Yes, I know they don't say 'yuh-awl' in Chicago. And no, of course, the president doesn't talk like that. Look, the VP means well, OK?

"No, he is absolutely not part of a concerted effort to make everything in Campaign 2012 about race. That is an entirely separate office. And no way was Vice President Malaprop supposed to be in on that. Give him something as easy as saying 'Republicans are racist' - I mean, they teach that in Liberalism 101 - and before you know it, they'll sound as thoughtful and sensitive as us.

"But, really, it's a simple word association game. Go ahead, pick an issue, any issue.

"Naming a running mate? Are you serious? Two white guys?


"Complaining about changing welfare-to-work rules? Even easier.


"Enforcing immigration laws? You are not making this challenging.


"Accusations about the Justice Department arming drug cartels? Come on. The attorney general is black.


"Lowering taxes? For the 1 percent, who are mostly white people?


"Cutting government spending? Could affect minority communities.


"Obamacare? Oh, let me count the ways.

"Attack his policies, it's racism.

"Attack him personally?


"Using his name in vain without genuflecting?


"I think you get the idea.

"Yes, there was talk of a post-racial society after 2008. The key word is tolerance, which we interpret as zero tolerance for any opposition. You have the right to protest, though we're looking into that, and we have the right to call you a racist.

"Oh, sure, one or two Republicans may not be racist. Anything is possible. But face facts. Republican begins with an R, and so does racism. Reagan? Romney? Ryan? See the pattern? The burden of proof really is on you here.

"And our attacks can be bipartisan. Remember how we slimed Bill Clinton in '08 until he got with the program?

"Sure, it can seem like this is the whole campaign. But there are any number of important issues we've brought to the attention of the American people.

"Thanks to our efforts, our internal polls show that most liberal Democrats in Portland, Ore., now fear Mitt Romney's handling of his pets more than they fear the president's handling of the economy.

"Need more campaign advertising success stories? Nine out of 10 delegates pledged to the Democratic National Convention believe those TV spots showing a Paul Ryan-like figure shoving a wheelchair-bound granny over a cliff are clips from a documentary by Michael Moore, not a simulation. Seven out of 10 think Romney causes cancer. When asked to respond to the movie title Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, 51 percent said, 'So Republicans have always been intolerant?'

"And my favorite: With the help of our allies in the national media, a completely unfounded accusation about Romney not paying his taxes - a felony - is an accepted part of the public discourse, with no repercussions for the accuser, the highest-ranking Democrat in the United States Senate.

"McCarthyism? Oh, most certainly not. That only applies when Republicans make unfounded accusations. Well, sometimes we can make it stick when they make legitimate accusations. We really are quite good at this.

"What will we do if it turns out that he didn't pay his taxes? That's a toughie. We'd have to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law - or make him treasury secretary."

Contact Kevin Ferris at 215-854-5305 or

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