We knew this day would come.
The New York Times reported on Thursday that a Republican “super PAC” was mulling over a plan to resurrect President Obama’s former pastor and spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as a weapon against the president.
The proposal said that it would do what John McCain, whom it labels “a crusty old politician” (Ouch!), would not do in 2008.
It called for using Wright to “increase the unease” and “inflame the questions” among independents using the episode “that’s never been properly exploited.” How I love the use of sinister verbs.
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But there was one description of the president in the proposal that truly seized me:
“The metrosexual black Abe Lincoln has emerged as a hyper-partisan, hyper-liberal, elitist politician with more than a bit of the trimmer in him.”
This sentence is just so deliciously ridiculous, insulting and incendiary – perfect Republican fodder.
Let’s dissect it, shall we? Scalpel!
First, there is the word “metrosexual.” It is usually defined as a man keenly interested in grooming and preening. Despite the sexual root, the term isn’t rooted in sexuality. In its truest sense, Obama of mom jeans infamy – as he told the “Today Show” in 2009, “I’m a little frumpy” – is far less metrosexual than Mitt Romney of the perfect hair, copper tan and Gap skinny jeans.
But this term is rarely appropriately applied. On the contrary, it’s often delivered with a snicker to question sexuality and feminize the subject, and femininity in a misogynistic culture is the greatest of sins. “Metrosexual” has become a roundabout homophobic taunt.
While Obama seems to lack the vanity of the visual, the “black Abe Lincoln” part rings true in the sense that it aligns him with a certain vanity of the kind Lincoln had: a burning desire to be remembered well.
As the esteemed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote in her book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” about one of his darkest periods:
“Even in this moment of despair, the strength of Lincoln’s desire to engrave his name in history carried him forward. Like the ancient Greeks, Lincoln seemed to believe that ‘ideas of a person’s worth are tied to the way others, both contemporaries and future generations, perceive him.’”
No president can be knocked for such an ambition.
Now to the “hyper-partisan, hyper-liberal” accusation: false. Obama is a pragmatic, left-leaning centrist, much to the consternation of many devout liberals. Americans in the middle also see this, so efforts to paint him as an extremist will always fail.
Romney used to be a pragmatic, right-leaning centrist. That was until he checked his principles and previous positions at the door so that he could cavort with the tea party.
Obama may have a “bit of the trimmer in him,” modifying positions for expediency, but Romney is riddled with the trait.
Then there is old faithful: “elitist.” Obama is smart and articulate, which is antithetical to honesty and integrity in today’s GOP. But elitism is perhaps the most asinine charge to level against Obama, considering Romney is his opponent in this election. Romney has two Harvard degrees, grew up with a father who was an auto executive and a governor and, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, has a net worth that is 40 times greater than the president’s.
The proposal was racially charged, and its authors knew it. So they called for the enlistment of “an extremely literate, conservative African-American” as a spokesman to defend it. This should raise the hackles of black Republicans. There is a base that sees them as able to do racial damage while protecting the party from racial blame.
On Thursday, Joe Ricketts, the billionaire who had considered bankrolling the proposal, distanced himself from it, and Romney rightly repudiated it.
There is good reason for vigorous backpedaling: Getting too nasty could be a net negative for Romney.
In a Fox News poll last week, Obama had his largest lead over Romney since June. According to Fox, it was partly because of the flight of “grossed-out independents” from Romney. And “a nasty race suits Obama just fine. If the independents, especially moderate independents, get so disgusted with the process, the parties and the candidates that they conclude that all are unworthy, they may not vote.”
Fox concluded: “If the electorate in November looks like the sample in the latest Fox News poll, Romney would lose in a rout.”
Metrosexual Abe for the win!