Romney Should Thank The Times
It sure came as a surprise to me that The New York Times would do the Romney campaign a big favor by running a front-page story about the relationship between President Obama and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Oh — you didn’t interpret it that way? You probably thought the story was an attempt to demean the Romney campaign as racist, petty and irrelevant. That was the basic theme of the blizzard of media coverage stirred up over the days following the article.
Let me ask you — when was the last time, before the story appeared, that you ever thought of Wright? Now his questionable relationship with the president, which was buried quickly in 2008, has been recalled to national
The Times was trying to show that an advertising proposal raising the Wright specter made to a super PAC was being at least seriously considered by the PAC’s multibillionaire (in the usual pejorative sense) founder. The PAC’s response was that the proposal was neither requested nor ever seriously considered. Who knows what happened? It doesn’t matter.
You can bet that conservative media will milk this for all it’s worth. How can that dastardly New York Times try to pin such a lowly tactic on a Romney supporter? How could Romney have anything to do with reminding people that the president, for 20 years, was a member of Wright’s church? That Wright made vitriolic anti-American comments? That his church was a center of black activism? Mitt Romney would never stoop to such tactics.
I’m sure he wouldn’t, and now he doesn’t have to. The Times has done it for him. Such is the law of unintended consequences. It would never have occurred to me to mention Wright in any context if this flap had not arisen and exploded across the media, and I’m sure, by the time you read this, I will not be alone. The story will shift from the PAC’s intent, whatever it was, to Wright himself, and the Obama campaign cannot be happy about that.
Romney can’t go wrong in responding to this. All he has to do, every time the issue comes up, is say something like, “I disavow any mention of the president’s past 20-year relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, no matter how questionable it may appear, and demand that my supporters ignore it. Mr. Wright, and other such crazy radicals, have no place in the debate about the future of the American economy, which is the most important issue facing the country. Forget about Mr. Wright. Don’t ever mention Mr. Wright again. That’s W-R-I-G-H-T.”
I know the Uncle Remus stories are hopelessly politically incorrect, and probably unknown to anyone under 50, but I’m old enough to remember them. You older folks out there will recall Br’er Rabbit, and the story of the Tar Baby. Br’er Fox had tricked Br’er Rabbit into getting himself stuck in a baby made of tar, and was going to kill him. Br’er Rabbit begged him to do anything but throw him into the briar patch, which, of course, is exactly what Br’er Fox did. Br’er Rabbit skipped happily away, calling back, “I was born in the briar patch.”
Like Br’er Fox, The New York Times has outsmarted itself on this one, and Br’er Romney can have a great time out there in the briar patch.
Fred Wolferman lives in Southern Pines. Contact him by email at fwolferman@ sbcglobal.net.
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