Jewish World Review July 13, 2012/ 23 Tamuz, 5772
Mitt in the Lion's Den
By Roger Simon
Romney addressed the 103rd annual convention of the NAACP in Houston Wednesday, and while the Bible tells us that the Lord sealed the mouths of the lions for Daniel, Mitt Romney was not so lucky.
The audience repeatedly booed and even laughed at Romney at times but it also applauded him, and the most important person in the room turned out to be the organist, who boosted Romney with throbbing chords of approval now and then.
"I can't promise that you and I will agree on every issue," Romney said. "But I do promise that your hospitality to me today will be returned."
Applause and an organ chord.
"We will know one another, and work to common purposes. I will seek your counsel," Romney continued. "And if I am elected president, and you invite me to next year's convention, I would count it as a privilege, and my answer will be yes."
Applause and long organ chord.
President Obama was invited to the NAACP convention and turned it down. He has sent Joe Biden, instead. There have been published rumors — perhaps true, perhaps not — that Obama wants to avoid events that are "too" black, for fear of losing white votes.
In 2008, Obama got almost 96 percent of the black vote, 66 percent of the Hispanic vote and 43 percent of the white vote. That was enough to give him a 7 percentage point overall victory margin.
There is no reason to believe Romney will make serious inroads into the black community this year. Wearing a serious blue suit, dazzling white shirt and patterned blue tie, Romney looked exactly like what he is: a very well-off white dude.
(In fairness, while we don't know exactly what Daniel wore into the lion's den, he is usually depicted wearing a rather nice robe. Daniel was a high government official, in other words, a very well-off white dude. But the lions were probably less concerned about his race than his protein.)
There are reports that Romney would love to have Condoleezza Rice as his running mate. But, while she is black, she also describes herself as "mildly pro-choice," which is probably too pro-choice for most delegates to the Republican National Convention.
So Romney did not come before the NAACP to get black votes, but to get respect. It was a gut check. He had the mettle to show up and the fortitude to speak his mind.
"I will eliminate expensive nonessential programs like Obamacare," Romney said to prolonged boos from the audience.
"If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him," Romney said to giggles from the audience.
Romney essentially delivered his standard stump speech, but added a quote from Martin Luther King. Oddly, however, it was a quote of King quoting G.K. Chesterton, a white British philosopher who died in 1936 and was notable for wearing a cape and carrying a sword-cane.
In any case, Romney said: "'Without dependence on God,' as Dr. King said, 'our efforts turn to ashes and our sunrises into darkest night. Unless his spirit pervades our lives, we find only what G.K. Chesterton called 'cures that don't cure, blessings that don't bless, and solutions that don't solve.'"
It was that kind of speech: solid but not stirring. Romney did not grovel; he barely pandered. And in that respect, the speech was most likely designed to gain white votes rather than black ones.
After the speech was over, black officials were quick to snap and growl at Romney.
Michael Nutter, the Democratic mayor of Philadelphia, said: "He essentially had a failed tenure as governor of Massachusetts. Fundamentally, he does not know what he's talking about. He has no standing with the African-American community."
The Bible tells us that after Daniel was freed from the lion's den, his critics were thrown into it, and the lions quickly consumed them.
Romney should be so lucky.
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