Fri | May 25, 2018

Obama's re-election signals shift

Published:Sunday | November 11, 2012 | 12:00 AM
President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha (left) and Malia walk from Marine One to board Air Force One at Chicago O'Hare International Airport last Wednesday. - AP

Gordon Robinson, Contributor

Once can be accident. Twice is purpose. On November 6, the United States, with eyes wide open, deliberately re-elected a black man as its president. In my opinion, for two reasons, this is even more historic than the 2008 election.

First, this time, nobody can say they were taken by surprise. Second, again in my opinion, the US Opposition ran the most blatantly racist campaign in American history - far more pointed and cruel than the 2008 campaign.

Nobody seems willing to face the cancer of racism head-on, so public pundits in America have all entered into a quiet conspiracy to pretend that this was just another election. It was nothing of the sort. A deliberate, concerted effort was made to frighten a minority of insecure, white traditionalists into kicking out the president and running into Romney's safe, pale arms. With apologies to George and Ira Gershwin:

I loves you, Porky,

Don't let him take me.

Don't let him handle me

and drive me mad.

If you can keep me,

I wanna stay here with you forever

and I'll be glad.

I promised you, over two years ago, in the midst of the rubble that the midterm elections had created of the Democratic Party, that the president's best ally in his re-election bid was the Tea Party's success at those polls. On November 9, 2010, in a column headlined 'Tea time', I wrote:

"Barack shouldn't waste time responding to the lunatic fringe or even treating them seriously. They'll soon implode on their own impossible rhetoric. Trust me, two years of tea-baggers in the House will guarantee his 2012 re-election."

Legitimate rape

So said, so done. Covert Barack Obama campaign leaders like Republican Missouri Congressman Todd Akin were invaluable to his securing a second term. Akin, bringing the full weight of his interpretation of Christian dogma to bear on the issue, proclaimed that "legitimate rape" rarely resulted in pregnancy, so it was unnecessary to allow rape victims to procure abortions.

This wasn't a heat-of-the-moment statement, as he was asked to clarify when next in the House and shared his carefully researched theory: "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." I swear to God. Who can make this crap up? He didn't stop there. Desperately searching for a third foot to fit into a crowded mouth, he went on: "But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."

White women who were Romney supporters in stout defence of the 'White' House flocked to the president's side in droves.

The attacks on the president on racial grounds varied in their degrees of non-subtlety. They were carried out in a type of racist code at dog-whistle resonance that sounded the bell loud and clear to fellow racists. He was most often 'Obama', rarely 'Barack Obama', 'Mr President', or 'President Obama'. He was incapable. Lazy. He was an 'unusual' president. He wasn't a real American.

America's most successful jackass, Donald Trump, maintained to the end that Barack was born in Kenya. Rick Santorum vilified the president's welfare reform as "waiving the work requirement". The decibel level of the whistle was intended to be audible only to a white, racist American minority, but it was clumsily blown and understood by all and sundry as meaning the president was favouring his biggest constituency - indolent blacks.

Yes, I loves you, Porky.

Don't let him take me.

Don't let him handle me

with his hot hands.

If you can keep me,

I wants to stay here with you forever.

I've got my man."

Then there were the candidates themselves. Romney, apparently running for president in 1958, ran one of the most dishonest campaigns in American history, and its purpose was obviously getting black Barack out of the White House at all costs. The desperation that attended this crusade was no more evident than on election night when Governor Romney refused to concede defeat for two hours after the president's re-election had been called by every TV network.

The Big Lie

Don't get me started on Paul Ryan, who, except when accidentally introducing himself using his correct name, spent his time telling one outrageous 'whopper' after another. His campaign so raised the bar for defining 'The Big Lie' that I doubt it'll ever again be successfully surpassed.

He came out of the blocks running with his very first speech as Republican vice-presidential nominee. Stunned disbelief greeted his most brazen lie in which he accused President Obama of "raiding" Medicare by taking the exact same $716 billion that Ryan and House Republicans voted to slash. He wasn't done. He accused President Obama of failing to keep open a Janesville General Motors (GM) plant that closed under George W. Bush in 2008. He blamed the president for a credit-rating downgrade that S&P essentially blamed on Republican intransigence.

On the campaign trail, he really warmed up. Having opposed the auto bailout that turned out to be the president's biggest domestic policy asset, Romney and Ryan persistently flailed away at the achievement, relying on the principle that a lie, if repeated often enough, becomes truth. Paul Ryan began with the amazing allegation that the auto bailout policies had bankrupted GM and Chrysler. Governor Romney joined him with an allegation that the auto bailout had somehow endangered the sprawling Jeep plant in Toledo, a critical battleground issue in the critical battleground state of Ohio. The proposition was so false that GM officials took the unusual course of issuing a public statement that Romney and Ryan seemed to be getting their information from "a parallel universe".

Ryan persisted with: "GM and Chrysler are expanding their production overseas," failing to mention that these companies were, in fact, expanding their production domestically. The campaign philosophy seemed based on the ability to spin fantasy into fact. No wonder Ohio voters rebelled on November 6.

Whereas Romney was able to score some real points on the domestic economy, it was on foreign policy that he was at his most mendacious. His attempt to politicise the murder of the US ambassador to Libya was unbelievably disgraceful, not to mention amateurish.

The president, who exhibited an admirably calm and unruffled approach to the lies and distortions, lost his cool on that one, and even if the reaction was coached, it was eminently justified.

Mitt Romney failed to grasp that the reason the attack on the Libyan embassy was such a shocking incident was because of the sharp reduction in attacks on US embassies to an all-time low. Romney found a way to spin that incontrovertible fact into "the threats we face have grown so much worse" while, according to him, "Obama" did nothing.

Nothing? It was President Obama, against widespread criticism, including from this scribe, who supported the Libyan rebels in their struggle against Muammar Qaddafi, which is why the Libyan people immediately went after the embassy attackers and declared full support for the USA. After the US Embassy in Cairo was attacked, President Obama spent hours on the phone with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, telling him the time of day and forcing Morsi to choose between the Islamist militants (who are his supporters) and the civilised world.

Governor Romney persistently called upon the strained relationship between "Obama" and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, especially when speaking to Florida's Jewish community. He neglected to mention that Netanyahu was acknowledged worldwide to be a deranged warmonger whose relationships were generally severely strained, including with his own defence minister, Ehud Barack (no relation).

If the US president had genuflected at Netanyahu's alter out of lust for the Jewish vote (as apparently a President Romney would), nuclear war might already have broken out in the Middle East with catastrophic consequences for the entire world. Israeli Defence Minister Barack, speaking to CNN in August, said: "This administration under President Obama is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past."

The Romney Syndrome

But the final nail in the Tea Party challenge was Governor Romney's creation of his own unique election statistic. In what is sure to become known as 'The Romney Syndrome', it's now a confirmed election trend that no candidate has ever told one half of the electorate to go screw themselves and won.

The failure of the Tea Party led the GOP to unseat America's first black president, and its loss of two vital Senate seats, had better be a lesson to that side of the aisle that it needs to learn how to speak to the new America and the new world.

The USA is no longer a white supremacist nation. Latinos, for whom Governor Romney recommended "self-deportation", Hispanics, blacks, independent women of all races who won't be told what to do with their own bodies, youth and liberal-thinking white males who have thrown off the shackles of 1950s and 1960s racist philosophy are very much in the majority.

If the Republicans don't learn to respect that powerful coalition of modern Americans; if they don't learn how to talk to people with whom they may disagree; if they don't grow a pair and dismiss Tea Party backwardness from their midst, regardless of threatened political fallout; if they don't burst out of their 1958 bubble into today's world; if they don't discard their dog-whistle racist code language, they'll likely suffer from clinical depression brought about by the horrendous sight of a series of female and/or coloured presidents nominated by the Democrats.

Someday I know he's coming to call me

He's going to handle me and hold me

So, it's going to be like dying, Porky,

when he calls me.

But when he comes I know I'll have to go.

Will Republicans continue to be the Democrats' biggest asset? Will they relocate Republican headquarters from 1958 to 2013? We'll see.

Peace and love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to