Mitt and African-Americans

If former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney runs for president again, maybe he should just avoid all contact with African-Americans, for these encounters rarely turn out well for him. 

In January 2008, Romney provided one of the most cringe-inducing moments of the entire presidential contest when he posed with some African-American school students in Jacksonville, Fl., on Martin Luther King Day and launched into a solo rendition of “Who let the dogs out?”  He punctuated the Baha Men ditty with some lily-white “who, whos.” For good measure, Romney then queried a young boy about some “bling bling” he was wearing.

Then, last month, Romney got into a well-publicized tussle with DJ Sky Blu on an Air Canada flight departing the winter Olympic games in Vancouver.  Romney and Blu, an African-American, have exchanged blame on that one, with Blu upping the humor quotient by claiming Romney placed him in a “Vulcan grip.”

Romney as Spock…cyborg-stiff, high intellect, low soul factor, cement hair. Maybe Blu is on to something.

If African-American voters are bemused or confused by the awkward (or worse) moments that generally ensue after a Romney encounter, maybe they can find some bonding moments in his new book, “No Apologies.”  Or maybe not.

Romney told Sasha Issenberg of the Boston Globe that his book criticizes those who demonize “certain members of society.”  The victims in Romney’s view?  Business people, Wall Street, the highly educated, and CEOs.

And if African-Americans can’t summon sufficient sympathy for these downtrodden folks, there’s always Romney’s take on Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president.  He told Issenberg that Obama’s “steady stream of criticisms, put-downs, and jabs directed at the nation he was elected to represent and defend” are like kindling to “anti-American fires burning across the globe.”

Well, that should seal the deal.

And by the way, didn’t Romney run around the nation dissing Massachusetts, a state he was elected to represent and defend? Well, no matter.

The overly suspicious might look hard at Jan. 4, 2007, the swearing-in date of Deval Patrick, the Bay State’s first African-American governor.  All the state’s living former governors were at the State House that day.  Except Romney.  He left the building the prior evening, and spent what was arguably the most historic inauguration day in state history at his Belmont home.

Many eyes are on Romney and his pending decision for 2012.  A few shrewd eyes will be awaiting the next peculiar moment courtesy of Romney’s oil-and-water dynamic with the nation’s African-Americans.


Jim Borghesani is president of PrimePoint Strategic Media.

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