Romney gives the NAACP a piece of his Mind:

 

So Mr. Romney goes to Houston where my sister (a retired Air Force Nurse I might add) is attending her first national NAACP convention and tells her and others in attendance he will “get rid of Obama Care”.   The audience responded with a sustained “boo” which Romney ignored, or pretended not to hear. The delegates were unaware they had been “knee jerked” into a starring role in Mr. Romney’s plan to move further to the “Right” to win in November. His calculated “baiting” prompted an anticipated response that elevated his image as being the direct opposite of President Obama, and set the stage for his speech that followed in which he touted his “On Message Consistency”. Needless to say my sister was awed, and couldn’t wait to share her awe with me.

Later in the day Mr. Romney is quoted using the word “they” in referring to the NAACP audience, and having a series of talking points to buttress his decision to go to the convention and “speak his mind”. I admire his team’s “gall”.

However, I hope they are aware that they are not playing the best team the NAACP, or Africa Americans has had on the field, or have to put on the field.  That team is made up of “Black voters”.  They also fail to realize that many of us who studied under, and worked for NAACP CEOs like Dr. Benjamin Hooks, as I did, and others who knew Dr. Roy Wilkins, as I did and walked with him at the funeral of Medgar Evers in Jackson, MS in 1963, as I did, or former NAACP presidents like Kivi Kaplan (who was Jewish) and a member of my HBCU’s  (Tougaloo College) board of trustees and who gave me my first summer job in Boston in 1967; are still alive! And though we were absent, we aren’t afraid of the ghosts of what Roland Martin so aptly labeled “code words”. Nor are we ignorant of “soft prejudice.”

I cast no dispersions on Ben Jealous and the current NAACP national Board; they are still finding their way. To suspect Romney to use the invitation to address the national organization and stage a “defining moment of defiance” and not stick to a “common ground” theme would have smacked of political paranoia. To have “read the tea leaves” before hand and using the convention caucuses to alert the delegates that such a thing could be planned for a national television audience by the Republican candidate would have been to Machiavellian. To have armed the delegates with a planned “pregnant pause” for Romney’s antics would have been too “old school”; too Bayard Rustin, too Bruce Gordon, too Lillie Carol Jackson, too Thurgood Marshall, too Enolia McMillan.

So Romney took his shot. He stood before NAACP convention delegates from across the nation and told them what he knew they did not want to hear and cashed in on the “gimmick” hours later before an audience “more like him”.

The mostly Black delegates gave Romney a standing ovation at the end of his speech; by then they had wiped the surprised looks from their faces. Romney having pulled off his first real showing of “back bone” on national television during the campaign darted off to his next campaign stop claiming the Right’s “high ground”. Mean time the nation’s premier African American civil rights organization’s delegates will return to their communities to share the historical moment with their friends and neighbors and (hopefully) to ask Mr. Romney in November when they vote “do you hear me now?”

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