Is Mitt Romney a racist? This is the narrative being spun by the Democratic media. Having failed to convince the public that the GOP nominee's years of labor at Bain Capital consisted mostly of vulture capitalism, the liberal press corps has shifted its target. It has a new line of attack: Mr. Romney is a closet bigot. This is the politics of race-baiting.
President Obama is on track to lose his re-election. The economic recovery has stalled. Growth is anemic. Jobless claims are rising. Unemployment is high. More than 23 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed. Trillion-dollar budget deficits have pushed the country to the financial brink. Mr. Obama's economic tenure has been marked by colossal failure. Hence, the Democratic Party's media allies are desperately trying to demonize his presidential rival, hoping to distract voters from Mr. Obama's dismal record. Their goal: paint Mr. Romney as the second coming of David Duke.
Mr. Obama is an anti-capitalist leftist who champions a European-style social democratic agenda. The essence of his collectivist (and anti-American) worldview was revealed during his recent speech deriding entrepreneurs, claiming they "didn't build" their businesses -- government did. In an article in New York magazine, Jonathan Chait argues that a Romney ad criticizing Mr. Obama's remarks is not just false, but racist. Why? According to Mr. Chait, the president is shown while delivering his remarks as being "angry," and "he's talking not in his normal voice but in a 'black dialect.'" Hence, because Mr. Obama supposedly spoke in a "black dialect," the ad is a form of subtle white racism, which makes the president appear outside the mainstream.
"This strikes at the core of Obama's entire political identity: a soft-spoken, reasonable African-American with a Kansas accent," Mr. Chait writes. "From the moment he stepped onto the national stage, Obama's deepest political fear was being seen as a 'traditional' black politician, one who was demanding redistribution from white America on behalf of his fellow African-Americans."
Mr. Chait should be ashamed. Only a leftist obsessed with race and identity politics could possibly find anything offensive with the Romney ad. It accurately depicts Mr. Obama's words and meaning -- his class warfare, belief in statism and contempt for the private sector. For years, liberals have insisted that opposition to Mr. Obama is driven by racism. In particular, they charge conservative claims that he is "radical" and "un-American" are simply code for "black." The problem with Mr. Obama is not -- and never has been -- the color of his skin. Rather, it is the color of his politics: socialist red. He is a product of the academic left, the arrogant faculty loungers who despise Middle America. This is why Mr. Obama's "you didn't build that" comment sparked a public firestorm. His alleged "black dialect" has nothing to do with it.
Playing the race card, however, is all liberals have left. On his recent foreign trip, Mr. Romney made an obvious point: Culture is indispensable to a nation's economic success. He said this in a speech in Jerusalem, contrasting Israel's prosperity and economic dynamism with the widespread squalor and poverty of the Palestinian territories. Immediately, top Palestinian officials cried racism.
"It is a racist statement, and this man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation," said Saeb Erekat, a top adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. "It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people."
The Democratic press corps echoed Mr. Erekat's sentiments. CNN, the New York Times, ABC News, MSNBC, CBS News -- all of them claimed Mr. Romney's comments were ignorant, racist or both. Yet, there is only one problem: He is right. Culture matters. Israel is a First World country because it adheres to Western values, such as free-market capitalism, property rights, constitutional democracy and the rule of law. Palestinians (like all Arab nations) reject these principles. They -- and their liberal mouthpieces in the U.S. media -- can complain about Israeli blockades and "occupation." But the fact is, Palestinian culture places jihad and anti-Semitic hatred above peaceful economic development. Palestinian schoolchildren -- in Gaza and the West Bank -- regularly are taught the virtues of strapping on suicide bombs and killing Jews. Palestinian textbooks depict Christians and Jews as descendants from monkeys and pigs. An Arab Switzerland cannot emerge in such a swamp of hate. Far from being "racist," Mr. Romney simply stated the obvious.
Mr. Romney's foreign trip aimed to showcase his alternative vision. Every nation the Republican visited -- Britain, Israel and Poland -- is a strong American ally that has been denigrated by the Obama administration. Mr. Romney's aim was to signal his desire to restore our fractured alliances.
For ABC News' Cokie Roberts, the Polish trip had a different mission. Its real aim was to galvanize "ethnic white voters" back home. That's right: urban working-class whites -- so-called Reagan Democrats -- are consumed by Polish issues. It's their top priority, followed by little things such as jobs, illegal immigration, crime and whether their country will go broke in four years. For Mrs. Roberts, Mr. Romney's visit to Poland was -- again -- code for white racism.
In short, anything Mr. Romney says or does will be construed as bigoted by the chattering class. It is not just insulting and pathetic. It is a sign of desperation. Mr. Obama is in trouble. The liberal media sense he may lose -- and lose big -- in November. This is why the smear merchants are on the loose. They want to carve a giant "R" on Mr. Romney's forehead. The only R that will stick stands for "ridiculous" -- branded on Democrats and liberals for the phony charges they are leveling. They have become the party of hate.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.
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