I was reading an essay in Chuck Klosterman's collection Eating the Dinosaur last night, and one point that stuck out (I don't have it in front of me, so pardon the paraphrase) was that criticizing that which is obviously stupid is the lowest form of writing. Though I'm not sure I've ever thought about it in such clear terms, that is certainly a practice I endeavor to avoid, here. (It's also one of the reasons I happily sent the entirety of my first blog, c. 2003-05, down the memory hole a long time ago. Lots of rookie mistakes, there.)

And in particular, I really hate it when the chattering classes  perseverate on a particular turn of phrase that, given the opportunity, its utterer would certainly re-state or avoid mentioning at all, because they obviously didn't mean it in the way their detractors have tried to make it seem. 

Recent examples of what I'm talking about:

"The private sector is doing fine."

"I'm not concerned about the very poor." 

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

So...it is with some (but not much) trepidation that I approach the following from Mr. Romney's speech to the NAACP:

"I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African American families, you would vote for me for president."
I think it is fair to put this up for a bit more scrutiny, simply because this is not an off-the-cuff remark (as both examples above were). This is from the prepared text of the speech--in fact, I copied and pasted it from a blogger that got the text before the speech was even given--which, one assumes, had a bit of thought put into it. This isn't a gaffe, is what I'm saying. It is what Mr. Romney meant to say.

Look, I don't envy Romney his position vis a vis black Americans. He's a rich white guy, a prominent member of a faith with some pretty serious (and recent, as in within his adult life) baggage on the racial front, and oh yes he's running against the First Black President. I give the man credit for even showing up at the NAACP. (Really, I do.)

But...man, can't he do any better than that?

When you say something like "if you understood who I truly am in my heart," the implication is either that 1) you have not fully revealed who you are "in [your] heart", or 2) the other person is not capable of knowing this. More bluntly: either I'm something less than an open book, or you're illiterate.

Similarly, "if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African American families," begs the very straightforward question: why the hell can't you communicate that? Again, either the speaker lacks substance, or the audience lacks comprehension. Romney either cannot articulate what it is he believes is in the "real, enduring best interest of African American families" because he does not, in fact, believe anything in particular on this front, or African Americans are not capable or not willing to grasp his transcendent beliefs regarding their own well-being.

I've long argued that black folks will have immensely more political power (particularly at the national level) when the Democrats can no longer take their votes for granted, and the Republicans consider them worth courting. But I really can't blame anyone for being utterly unmoved from the status quo on this cycle, if Mr. Romney is the standard-bearer for the latter.

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