I'm looking forward to
the annual celebration of Martin Luther King Day, which gives all
Americans a chance to honor his courageous battle for civil rights.
And I find myself wondering how the Republican candidates will
handle being called racist during the general election just because
they are opposing a black president.
Ron Paul is easy. Like
most libertarians, he sees only individuals, not racial groups, not
sexual orientation groups, and probably not gender-in-general
groups. And he seems puzzled that other people think these
categories are somehow important.
Newt Gingrich has been
endorsed by black columnist Thomas Sowell, who is more pithy than
"Even some of those who
believe that Gingrich would devastate Obama in head-to-head debates
on substantive issues nevertheless claim that all Obama has to do is
come back with questions about Newt's work for failed mortgage
finance giant Freddie Mac." Sowell observed. "But, even at the
personal, point-scoring level, Barack Obama can open up a can of
worms by going that route, since Freddie Mac at least never planted
bombs in public places, like some of Obama's political allies."
The charismatic J.C.
Watts was part of Gingrich's "Contract for America" team, a black
Republican serving with him in the U.S. House of Representatives
from 1995 to 2003. In a recent interview about his endorsement, the
former Oklahoma congressman said that when Gingrich was speaker, "We
got tax relief. We got balanced budgets. We got ... job creation. We
paid down our national debt. ... We haven't done that since he left.
... I think he is a lot more seasoned person today than he was 15
years ago. I know him well. He is a personal friend."
So that takes care of
that. Plus, I think we can be fairly sure that if any
Obama-worshipping media type tries to play the race card, Gingrich
will take him on, questioning the premise while making fun of any
residual pro-Obama tingle down the leg.
Jon Huntsman can't be a
racist; he proudly speaks Chinese, which is a language used
primarily by another race. Why he spoke it during a presidential
debate in New Hampshire, after being attacked by an independent ad
as "The Manchurian Candidate," I can't imagine, but that's a
separate issue. With two adopted Chinese daughters, he's clearly not
Rick Santorum got
himself in trouble during the Iowa caucuses for stating, "I don't
want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody
else's money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn
President Benjamin Jealous called the comment "outrageous," and,
irrelevantly, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly noted that most of the people
on welfare are white people.
This is where Santorum
should have counter-noted that a larger percentage of black people
than white people are on welfare, and so what? The point he was
making applies to any race.
But instead he insisted
he hadn't even said "black," but rather "blah." His defensiveness
was not a good sign that he can handle future silly attacks from the
NAACP during the presidential campaign.
Rick Perry: Can he live
down a racist name that was painted on a rock 20 to 30 years ago on
a property his parents owned?
Mitt Romney: Based on
his response to a question about banning contraception, I'd trust he
can handle the racist queries.
He has a very genuine
way of dealing with a question that doesn't seem to make sense: He
looks as incredulous as most of us would, were we asked our opinion
of unicorns. He then refuses to validate the question by trying to
answer it. I think this works.
In case you missed it
during last Saturday's debate, George Stephanopoulos, knowing that
Santorum is opposed to birth control, made it into a 10th Amendment
issue by asking Romney if the states should be allowed to ban it.
Romney gave the
questioner his "What-what?" look, and pointed out that no state
anywhere has any interest in banning contraception.
This didn't stop
Stephanopoulos from repeating the question and demanding an answer.
Mitt refused to discuss
birth control as a serious issue. Santorum clarified that while he
thinks unnatural contraception is wrong, he wouldn't himself vote to
ban it. (I'm sure many welfare mothers, both black and white, are
relieved to hear this.) Huntsman noted humorously that, with seven
children, birth control wasn't on his radar screen either. The other
three candidates looked relieved that they hadn't been included in
When I first moved to
Massachusetts, the state didn't allow contraception for unmarried
women. But that was longer ago than Rick Perry's racist rock, and
the infuriating memory isn't the only reason I'm not supporting Rick
Racism isn't on my
radar screen either; I'm confident that none of the Republican
candidates is racist. However, in 2008 there was an irritating
assumption that anyone who didn't support Obama had no better reason
than his race; this led to extraordinary media bias.
One way to show respect
for what Martin Luther King accomplished is to move on during this
important election, away from the name-calling of race-obsessed