Left Out — Frank Bruni on the GOP exclusion of the LGBTQ community at their Tampa convention.
What the Republicans painstakingly constructed here was meant to look like the biggest of tents. And still they couldn’t spare so much as a sleeping bag’s worth of space for the likes of me.
Women were welcomed. During the prime evening television hours, the convention stage was festooned with them, and when they weren’t at the microphone, they were front and center in men’s remarks. Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney both gushed about their moms in tributes as tactical as they were teary.
Latinos were plentiful and flexed their Spanish — “En América, todo es posible,” said Susana Martinez, the New Mexico governor — despite an “English First” plank in the party’s regressive platform.
And while one preconvention poll suggested that roughly zero percent of African-Americans support Romney, Republicans found several prominent black leaders to testify for him. Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, delivered what will surely be remembered as the convention’s most stirring and substantive remarks, purged of catcalls and devoid of slickly rendered fibs.
But you certainly didn’t see anyone openly gay on the stage in Tampa. More to the point, you didn’t hear mention of gays and lesbians. Scratch that: Mike Huckabee, who has completed a ratings-minded transformation from genial pol to dyspeptic pundit, made a derisive reference to President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage. We were thus allowed a fleeting moment inside the tent, only to be flogged and sent back out into the cold.
It was striking not because a convention or political party should make a list of minority groups and dutifully put a check mark beside each. That’s an often hollow bow to political correctness.
It was striking because the Republicans went so emphatically far, in terms of stagecraft and storytelling, to profess inclusiveness, and because we gays have been in the news rather a lot over the last year or so, as the march toward marriage equality picked up considerable velocity. We’re a part of the conversation. And our exile from it in Tampa contradicted the high-minded “we’re one America” sentiments that pretty much every speaker spouted.
Spare Me — Leonard Pitts, Jr. isn’t impressed with the way either party talks about race.
Lord help us, they’re talking race again.
“They” meaning Republicans and Democrats. Race is a critical, sensitive and sometimes painful issue with relevance to everything from environmental policy to education reform to criminal justice to media to healthcare. To address it requires political courage.
That’s why politicians do not address it. Usually. That changes during the campaign season when a given pol calculates that breaking his customary silence might net some tactical advantage.
Which is how we come to find Newt Gingrich last week on MSNBC piously lamenting how “racist” the network’s Chris Matthews is. The former House speaker displayed this previously unknown sensitivity while defending himself against charges of same.
It seems Matthews had the temerity to suggest that Gingrich, in calling Barack Obama a “food stamp president” during the GOP primary, had engaged in dog-whistle politics designed to rouse racial resentment among white working-class voters. Gingrich was shocked – shocked! – at the notion.
“Why do you assume food stamp refers to black?” he asked. “What kind of racist thinking do you have?”
It is apparently news to Gingrich that politicians sometimes speak in code, that when, for example, Ronald Reagan referenced his made-up “welfare queens” he was really promising white voters he’d make those lazy blacks get up off their behinds and work.
There was a study in the ’90s in which people were asked to envision a drug user, then describe that person. Ninety-five percent envisioned someone black. This, even though only about 15 percent of drug users actually are black. The point being that in the public mind, certain terms — “urban,” “poverty,” “crime” — carry racial weight, often at odds with reality. They are ways of saying “black” without saying “black.”
The idea that Gingrich — a 69-year-old career politician — does not know this, or realize that “food stamp president” is such a term, strains credulity. If he’s really that much of a naif, let us hope no one has told him the truth about the Tooth Fairy. It would break the poor man’s heart.
Where race is concerned, Newt Gingrich is a disingenuous hypocrite. And Joe Biden is just a fool.
Did the vice president really tell a largely black audience two weeks back that if Mitt Romney is elected, the GOP will “put y’all back in chains.” Y’all? Really? A slavery joke?
Lord, have mercy.
Why didn’t Biden just show up with his pants sagging while gnawing a chicken bone? It couldn’t have been any less subtle.
Adios — Francisco Alvarado at Miami New Times on the slow death of Cuban radio in Miami.
Some observers say a move toward more moderate Spanish-language radio would be healthy for a town too long obsessed with the lives of two strong-arm brothers on an island a few hundred miles away.
“On Cuban-American radio, you hear things that happened 50 years ago as if it was happening right now,” says John De Leon, an ACLU attorney and Miami native. “It’s highly nostalgic, but it is not conducive for change and progress in the community.”
But anyone who appreciates Miami’s unique history should feel a sting of regret if the kind of radio broadcast every day at La Poderosa fades to static; this is a format, after all, that El Exilio has used for 53 years to undermine Castro’s revolution and amass political power in South Florida.
These frequencies have hailed alleged terrorists such as Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles as freedom fighters and condoned bombing cars and offices to defy El Exilio’s enemies. They’ve fomented mob rule against those acquiescing to Fidel Castro, especially during the battle to keep Elián González in Miami. And thanks to pressure from the stations, Miami-Dade politicians have been forced to pander to listeners by banning Cuban musicians and ordering boycotts of Cuban-friendly businesses.
Those days might just be gone for good. “It is not like it used to be in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, when it was overwhelmingly Cuban-American,” former Miami Mayor Joe Carollo says of the stations’ influence. “It doesn’t have the same impact anymore.”
Doonesbury — The Ayes have it.
Jim Morin at the Miami Herald.