27 October 2012

John Sununu & His Racist Remarks: Calculated Sincerity

John Sununu:  “Frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama.”

Piers Morgan: “What reason would that be?”

John Sununu: “Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being President of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.”
Sununu's comments mostly are being depicted in the media as a gaff or some sort, unfortunate, ill-considered remarks that the Romney campaign should disavow and that Sununu himself has (kinda, sorta) retracted [1] [2]. Susan and I have been talking about why such interpretations miss what really is going on. Here is my view:

Let's face it, Sununu is a pasty, pudgy reactionary who will do nearly  anything to win. In that he is much like his employer who has been misrepresenting, lying and bullshitting for most of the campaign. For Sununu this means, in addition, articulating his own racist views in public. So, while I have little doubt that the racism Sununu spewed this week is sincere, it also is calculated. He is playing to the base of the Romney campaign - white folks, mostly white men. 'Watch out,' Sununu is warning in his unsubtle way, 'those blacks are conniving to further dis-empower you!' Then, having inserted the warning into the public agenda, he can efface his actual aim by appearing almost contrite and offering a half-hearted retraction.

In the end, Sununu need not apologize and the Romney campaign need not 'distance itself' from him because, well, their strategy will hopefully work! This was not a faux pas.
P.S.: In the 'not so fast' category I will point out that indignant readers (white folks)  should not react by insisting that while whites vote for whites, minorities vote for minorities, thereby establishing some sort of comforting moral equivalence. The premise of your self-congratulatory retort turns out to be unpersuasive. Sorry.

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