Romney Ad Uses Obama “I’m So In Love With You” Performance

Two liberal columnists say a recent Mitt Romney ad proves he's out of touch---and implies that he's running a racist stealth campaign.

Gary Silverman says a recent Mitt Romney ad proves he’s out of touch—and implies that he’s running a racist stealth campaign.

Such was the case this week, when the Romney campaign displayed a cultural sensibility that recalled the times in this country when the only way a Little Richard song could get on mainstream radio was to have Pat Boone sing it.

Mr Romney’s senior moment came as he responded to a withering television commercial released by President Barack Obama’s campaign last weekend. That advertisement features Mr Romney delivering an off-key rendition of “America the Beautiful”, while the viewer is treated to scenes of empty offices and factories and headlines alleging that Mr Romney moved jobs from the US to other countries and kept money in offshore accounts.

Mr Romney counter-attacked with a commercial noting the country’s dismal economic condition and suggesting that Mr Obama only cares about helping his campaign donors. To drive that point home, it concluded with the president singing “I’m so in love with you”, a line from the old Al Green hit “Let’s Stay Together” to cheers from supporters at a fundraiser this year that was attended by Mr Green himself.

Viewed from a tactical standpoint, I was surprised that the Romney camp used Mr Obama’s performance. I could see why Mr Obama featured Mr Romney in his commercial; the Republican’s warbling suggested a lack of harmony between his rhetoric and his record in government and the private equity business. But unlike Mr Romney, Mr Obama sang quite well, raising the question of why the opposition would show him off to his advantage, even in this limited sense.

One of the better answers I have found comes from a well-known supporter of Mr Romney – Suzy Welch, former editor in chief of the Harvard Business Review, and wife of Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric. In an appearance on CNN with her husband, Mrs Welch suggested that Mr Obama’s personal style and choice of musical material define him as a member of a “different America”. I would imagine this is why Mr Romney’s campaign included the snippet of Mr Obama singing “Let’s Stay Together” at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. They hoped it would convey his otherness.

“It’s the difference between the songs that they’re singing,” Mrs Welch said. “Mitt Romney didn’t exactly do a beautiful job on that song, but think about what he’s singing, OK? I mean it’s that patriotic song and he goes all the way through it. Then you’ve got the very cool Barack Obama singing Al Green. That is the two different Americas. Isn’t it?”

Paul Krugman cites the above and adds,

How “other” is Al Green? So other, so alien, that, well, he’s included on theMuzak they play in Red Lobster restaurants.

Somebody is alien and out of touch with America here, that’s for sure. But I don’t think it’s the president.

So . . . we’ve got two columns imputing a vague racism to Mitt Romney because Suzy Welch has a greater appreciation with schmaltzy patriotic songs than ’70s R&B? Seriously?

Watch the ad, which the campaign titles “Political Payoffs and Middle Class Layoffs:”

Now, I don’t happen to think it’s very good. But I’m not the target audience for the ad—or, indeed, any presidential ad. But, rather clearly, the whole point of the spot is to contrast massive middle class unemployment with some (rather old) reports that Obama is helping his donors.

There’s a June 2011 NPR report titled “Obama’s Big Money Raisers Get Key Posts, Access, Stimulus Dollars,” a December 2009 Washington Times headline blaring “Democratic Donors Rewarded with W.H. Perks,” and an April 2012 New York Times piece declaring “White House Opens Door to Big Donors, And Lobbyists Slip In.”

This is contrasted with Obama singing “I’m So in Love With You” to the cheers and applause of a room full of people at a fundraiser.

The message is clear: Obama is a scary black man.

Or, you know, he’s in love with people who give him lots of money.  Take your pick.

As to why the Romney campaign would use a clip that “would show him to his advantage,” it’s actually a rather standard trick: they’re trying to reverse the association. That sound byte has almost universally been used to show how cool and talented Obama is. The Romney campaign is trying to taint it.

Again, I don’t think it’s a great ad. But it’s not trying to paint the president as someone from some other America, much less trying to engender wistfulness for “times in this country when the only way a Little Richard song could get on mainstream radio was to have Pat Boone sing it.” They’re saying he cares more about getting re-elected than about the middle class.

(As an aside, BMG Rights Management had this clip and others featuring Obama’s singing that one bar of Al Green pulled off YouTube on copyright grounds. The Romney team got it back on, citing Fair Use.)

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Race and Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Buzz Buzz says:

    (ring, ring)

    Liberals: Hello?

    American Voters: Hello. We’re calling to inform you that due to excessive frivolous use, your race card has been maxed out and your account has been suspended. Any further charges will be automatically declined. Have a nice day.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Buzz Buzz doesn’t seem to think Liberals are American voters.
    I was in agreement with Jameses post…until Buzz Buzz convinced me otherwise.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    Of course the focus of this post is incredibly narrow.
    Zoom out and you start to see Romney and Fat Rush and Sununununu questioning the Presidents bonafides as an American. It’s not purely about race…it’s about “others”…and race is undeniably part of that. See also; Michelle Bachmann.
    You don’t have to be a Republican to be xenophobic…but if you are xenophobic you are most likely a Republican.

  4. James Joyner says:

    @C. Clavin: That’s pretty weak sauce. There’s a charge being made about a specific ad that’s pure BS.

    As to the various “un-American” charges being tossed out, it’s pretty standard fare that’s aimed at Democrats, generally. The Romney argument is that Obama’s agenda is an attack on American business tradition, not that he hates America or isn’t from here.

  5. The suggestion that a clip of Obama signing an Al Green song is racist is simply absurd and more a reflection of the rather odd lens that people pushing such a theory view American society than anything about the Romney Campaign

  6. C. Clavin says:

    Cmon James…
    Obama apologizes for America.
    He doesn’t understand what makes America great.
    Romney himself accused Obama of wanting to “change the nature of America,” claiming that “his course is extraordinarily foreign.”
    Sununu…”…I wish This President Would Learn How To Be An American…”
    Limbaugh…Obama “hates this country”…he is “the anti-American personified”.

    You want to parse each word for its literal meaning. But politics isnt literal…its about symbolism. This is symbolic birtherism.

  7. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Hell, this is nothing. If you think liberal airheads in the media have at present flipped their collective lids on the racism meme just wait until October. By that point, especially if the internal polling looks really bad for Obama, we’ll witness a collective meltdown of historic proportions.

  8. Davebo says:

    schmaltzy

    Damn James. Even Jews are wondering “where did he come up with that word?”

  9. JKB says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Obama said, “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America” just before the 2008 election. He didn’t say he wanted to get the US back on track, or create a better union. No, he wanted to fundamentally transform America. If you want to fundamentally transform something it goes without saying that you consider there to be deep fundamental problems with how it functioned in the past. That, especially when coupled with other public complaints about America, casts you in the roll as the “other,” one who does not like America as it is. So some commenters have publicly pointed out Obama doesn’t seem to know what it is like to be an American in the sense of liking it as it is or what it could be with a little improvement instead of wanting something totally different.

  10. C. Clavin says:

    @JKB…
    And yet when Republicans want to “fundamentally change” Medicare it is preserving Medicare.
    Interesting…

  11. steve says:

    I am in agreement James. Kind of a dumb ad, but you have to try real hard to think this is racist. I think it says more about the person reading it and what they want to see, much like the Obama building comment.

    Steve

  12. JKB says:

    @C. Clavin: “…it is preserving Medicare.”

    Could be. But back to Obama, no one thinks Obama wants to dissolve the union or eradicate the United States. Rather he wants it to be fundamentally different. To operate in a different way. To hold different things as self-evident. For the federal government to relate to citizens in a way not commonly accepted up till now.

    To transform: To change in nature, disposition, heart, character, or the
    like; to convert.

    In other words, Obama wants to make America different from what people have known and many have loved up until now. Different from what millions fought and died for in nature, in disposition, in heart, in character. As Obama said, a fundamental transformation.

  13. James Joyner says:

    @C. Clavin: This is pretty much the standard Republican playbook used since Nixon was running against McGovern. It’s not remotely about race but about “urban elites” being out of touch with “reg’lar ‘mericans.” None of which has anything to do with this ad or this post.

  14. al-Ameda says:

    One of the better answers I have found comes from a well-known supporter of Mr Romney – Suzy Welch, former editor in chief of the Harvard Business Review, and wife of Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric. In an appearance on CNN with her husband, Mrs Welch suggested that Mr Obama’s personal style and choice of musical material define him as a member of a “different America”

    Speaking of the “other America” …. Suzy Welch, former editor in chief of the Harvard Business Review, and wife of Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric.

    One of many Al Green songs that virtually everyone likes, and these fools think that it points out Obama’s ‘otherness’? The Romney surrogates are as out-of-touch as Romney is.

  15. al-Ameda says:

    @Buzz Buzz:

    Liberals: Hello?
    American Voters: Hello. We’re calling to inform you that due to excessive frivolous use, your race card has been maxed out and your account has been suspended. Any further charges will be automatically declined. Have a nice day.

    Needless to say, I agree, it’s simply racist to even suggest that racism exists, or that Republicans would support anything like a Birther Movement. In fact, in American history we now know that ‘reverse racism’ is a bigger problem than traditional racism was.

  16. @James Joyner:

    That’s pretty weak sauce. There’s a charge being made about a specific ad that’s pure BS.

    I think the thought process, for anyone sympathetic to President Obama, is “That song sounds good, it’s a great song, why on earth would they use it? How could they find any negative in it?”

    And so they guess/think it must be scary to a certain sort of white person.

    The problem with your objection, if there is one, it is that you are only saying “this isn’t scary to me, so it can’t be to anyone.” That’s fine, but it doesn’t really answer the big question of why they used the song.

    If it was just supposed to sell that Obama “loves” donors and nothing else, it was very weak, right?

  17. JKB says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Having watched the ad and the video of Obama singing at the Apollo, I have to say the use in the ad seems to only signal an intimate bond between Obama and big donors. For instance, Obama singing Hit the Road Jack probably wouldn’t have been used in the ad.

    However, Obama singing this song does signal a deep divide in the nation, perhaps to some an otherness. The difference between those who can pull off an Al Green song and those who can’t.

  18. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: I think I’ve outlined pretty well why they used the song. They—or, maybe some surrogate group—also used the song a while back in an ad whose message was, basically, “We acknowledge that Obama’s a really cool dude but he’s nonetheless been ineffective at managing the economy.”

    Even to whites in rural Alabama, Al Green doesn’t signal “other.” You’d use hip hop for that.

  19. PD Shaw says:

    This campaign must ultimately be resolved by a good-old-fahioned sing-off in three rounds. The first round will be Country;
    The second round Western;
    The third round will be Country & Western.
    May the best Real American (TM) win!!!!

  20. @James Joyner:

    At a meta-level, you are doing what you criticize others for. You are asserting a motivation for the ad, and saying other interpretations are wrong.

    And of course, like those others, your interpretation comforts your political identity.

    Probably the best thing for us normal folks to do is give half-credence to all such assertions, and half-believe all explanations.

  21. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: Well, no. I’m showing what the ad explicitly does and arguing that it stands on its own merits The only evidence for the alternative view is that some weird woman who married an old rich dude came up with it.

  22. rudderpedals says:

    James, you are in fact the target audience which comprises the base. I don’t think analyzing this ad in isolation is as edifying and considering it in context, the timing coming in response to Obama’s critically acclaimed ad featuring off key Romney during last week’s weekus horribulus.

  23. @James Joyner:

    lol, and your case rests on “some weird woman who married an old rich dude” being the only one in the world to feel that way, and that no one who shaped the ad would anticipate that she would feel that way.

  24. FWIW, I imagine that the crafted the ad the way they did because they thought it would “work” on many levels. On the surface it was about donors. At the second level it get a gut-level response from anyone who disliked Obama for any reason.

    The fact that it mostly works only for people who already dislike Obama, for any reason, limits its effectiveness as anything other than base-motivation.

  25. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: This strikes me as a weak way to motivate the base, which is why it’s much more plausible that it’s actually aimed at undecided blue collar workers—who happen to be a constituency with whom Obama has trouble even among Democrats.

  26. @James Joyner:

    Sure, but as I say, or to expand slightly, the ad works with anyone uncomfortable with the President singing an Al Green song at the Apollo.

    They might not like any one of those: The President, Al Green, the Apollo.

    And for some of them the combination of three might be a zinger.

  27. al-Ameda says:

    @James Joyner:

    The only evidence for the alternative view is that some weird woman who married an old rich dude came up with it.

    That’s pretty compelling evidence.

  28. jukeboxgrad says:

    james:

    So . . . we’ve got two columns imputing a vague racism to Mitt Romney because Suzy Welch has a greater appreciation with schmaltzy patriotic songs than ’70s R&B? Seriously?

    There’s a lot more to the picture than what Suzy Welch said (“that is the two different Americas”). Her comment is just a replay of this:

    … these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation

    And Welch made her remark at roughly the same moment that Sununu said this:

    I wish this president would learn how to be an American

    Which was also roughly the same moment that Mitt himself said this:

    Obama’s course is extraordinarily foreign

    This is not long after Allen West said “there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party” (and it’s a good idea to remember that Palin and Gingrich both said West should be VP). And this is not long after Mitt himself leaped into bed with leading birther Trump.

    Notice this reaction to Mitt’s remark (“extraordinarily foreign”):

    Mitt Romney fired up his conservative base yesterday with a blistering attack … interesting is the length to which Romney went to portray Obama’s view on the role of government in America as un-American … Romney is boldly attacking Obama as a foreign influence who is trying to change the course of America.

    Where would I find someone saying that “Romney is boldly attacking Obama as a foreign influence?” ThinkProgress? DailyKos? Those words I cited were posted at Washington Examiner by Conn Carroll, who is associated with Heritage. It’s great that he’s being so candid, in his glee.

    Milbank said yesterday that Mitt’s “latest effort to paint the commander in chief as disloyal to his country” involves this:

    winking at those conservatives who continue to make the claim, often race-based, that President Obama is something un-American, something “other” than the rest of us.

    If you really want to insist that race has nothing to do with all this, maybe Steven Taylor can explain it to you:

    Occam’s Razor very much suggests that it is race, especially when coupled with other attacks (such as on his academic record). Ideology plays a role as well, but Michael is right: the attacks on Obama have been very much about him being the “other” (e.g., born in Kenya, a secret Muslim, etc).

    The recent statements by Welch, Sununu and Mitt himself are all about “winking” at the nuts. And Mitt can’t afford to not do this, because birthers make up roughly half the GOP.

    All these other statements I cited are the context for Welch’s supposedly innocent remark. You not seeing this context is just denial.

    As to the various “un-American” charges being tossed out, it’s pretty standard fare that’s aimed at Democrats, generally.

    Birtherism is a major phenomenon, and it is not “aimed at Democrats, generally.” It’s aimed at Obama. When was Bill Clinton, Al Gore or John Kerry ever attacked as a “foreign influence?” Carroll has gleefully admitted that this is what Mitt is doing to Obama. When were they ever accused (by any major figure, comparable to Sununu) of being un-American?

    The Romney argument is that Obama’s agenda is an attack on American business tradition, not that he hates America or isn’t from here.

    Sununu said this:

    [Obama] has no idea how the American system functions… And we shouldn’t be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent … another set of years in Indonesia.

    That is explicitly about the idea that he “isn’t from here.” And Mitt is playing the same tune, at the same moment, when he says “extraordinarily foreign.”

    It’s not remotely about race

    Do you claim that birtherism is “not remotely about race?”

  29. jukeboxgrad says:

    jkb:

    no one thinks Obama wants to dissolve the union or eradicate the United States

    Are you sure? Cliff Kincaid is, among other things, a frequent CPAC speaker. Here’s some news from the conference he’s running:

    The next speaker, blogger Trevor Loudon, provided the additional information that Davis was a “possible Soviet spy” and that there are “a whole host of other communists and Marxists around Obama,” including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, with “a communist-front record as long as your arm.” Loudon figures that Obama is making it possible for Russia and China to attack the United States and that “Latin American states would be invited in for looting rights.”

  30. Neil Hudelson says:

    I see nothing wrong with the ad other than its poor messaging.

    Romney is a great leader! So great at leading is he, that his newest ad is a direct copy of his opponents latest ad!

    Stay tuned next month for a round of ‘I know you are but what am I?”

  31. bk says:

    The song is about monogamy. Which neither Jack nor Suzy Welch has much familiarity with.

  32. The problem is that negative campaigning works when it reinforces a preconceived image of your opponent. It´s something difficult to push around the idea of Obama benefiting his friends(Specially if you think that Obama chose two former rivals to be his vice president and Secretary of State). It´s difficult to be a socialist and a friend of capitalists at the same time, at least thinking at American terms(Yes, the Italian Socialists did that, but, that´s something alien to the American Point of View).

    Specially if you consider that Romney has lots of friends among the business community. In fact, most of his donors comes from business people. And many rich donors got nominations when he was the governor of Massachusetts.

  33. Wait.

    So the Obama campaign can use an ad with a musical background featuring Mitt Romney signing, but the Romney campaign can’t make an ad with a musical background featuring President Obama singing.

    Only to a true Obama partisan does that argument make any sense at all

  34. jukeboxgrad says:

    Romney has lots of friends among the business community. In fact, most of his donors comes from business people. And many rich donors got nominations when he was the governor of Massachusetts.

    Exactly. Mitt has no credibility on this point. This was nicely explained at a Palin site in January:

    Romney Lacks Credibility to Attack Crony Capitalism … Romney needs to ensure the country that he will not partake in crony capitalism on a national level, if he is elected as the GOP nominee. For now, his record indicates that he lacks the credibility to do so.

    The article does a good job of supporting that claim with facts from conservative sources.

  35. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    So the Obama campaign can use an ad with a musical background featuring Mitt Romney signing, but the Romney campaign can’t make an ad with a musical background featuring President Obama singing.

    Of course they can, it’s just that Suzy’s video wasn’t nearly as good as the Obama video take on Romney.

    I would love see Romney at The Apollo, singing the Isley Brother’s “Who’s That Lady?”

  36. @Doug Mataconis:

    Of course they “can” Doug, and then they’ll enjoy the after-effects. That includes people saying “what was that really about?”

    People “can” talk about ads, right?

  37. John,

    And if someone wants to make the completely ridiculous, totally unsupportable argument that the ad in question is racist then they have the First Amendment right to do so. Just as I have the right to laugh at their lack of logic.

  38. @Doug Mataconis:

    It would clearly to be overstating to say that the ad was overtly, or primarily, racist. That’s kind of a strawman.

    All anyone has said is that it works on that level. Should any racist be in the audience, a black President, singing a black song, at a black theater, is going to speak to him.

    You don’t deny that, do you?

  39. lol “oh no, racists will only see the funding question.”

  40. John,

    Deranged people will view things the way they want to, that doesn’t mean the campaign consciously set out to create a racist ad.

  41. BTW, I think the research shows that racial bias works at a subconscious level. Online tests such as those at Harvard’s Project Implicit demonstrate that.

  42. I guess I anticipated your comment.

    I expect the cognitive scientists on the campaign (and surely in 2012 there must be some) understand their own risk of bias, as well as that in their audience.

  43. jukeboxgrad says:

    doug:

    the completely ridiculous, totally unsupportable argument that the ad in question is racist

    Do you see any connection between birtherism and racism?

  44. Obviously there is, jukeboxgrad

    This ad has nothing to do with birtherism

  45. jukeboxgrad says:

    This ad has nothing to do with birtherism

    I explained why this claim is wrong. Your naked assertion is a poor substitute for dealing with the evidence.

  46. Buzz Buzz says:

    @john personna:

    a black President, singing a black song, at a black theater

    The party of Jim Crow and the KKK is still obsessed with race.

    Do you ever stop to wonder why the only people who respond to “racist dog whistles” are Democrats?

  47. As an aside, I’ve reconsidered whether the Romney campaign has cognitive scientists. Probably not, no scientists at all 😉 Maybe some of the marketers have absorbed some of their lessons, but that’s probably about all.

    On the other hand, we can expect that the Obama campaign definitely has them:

    The existence of this behavioral dream team — which also included best-selling authors Dan Ariely of MIT (Predictably Irrational) and Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago (Nudge) as well as Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman of Princeton — has never been publicly disclosed, even though its members gave Obama white papers on messaging, fundraising and rumor control as well as voter mobilization. All their proposals — among them the famous online fundraising lotteries that gave small donors a chance to win face time with Obama — came with footnotes to peer-reviewed academic research. “It was amazing to have these bullet points telling us what to do and the science behind it,” Moffo tells TIME. “These guys really know what makes people tick.”

  48. stonetools says:

    (Sigh)

    What is the major theme of Republican campaigning aimed at blue collar whites since 1968?
    Its “the Democrats are going to take your hard-earned money in taxes and give it to those black folks over there.” Now they don’t put it exactly like that, but they suggest it. Its what’s called a “dog whistle.”When you do a “dog whistle” ad, its supposed to look innocuous, while making its appeal at a deeper level. If everyone could hear it, it wqouldn’t be a “dog whistle.”

    What they put out here was an ad, showing a black man, singing a black song to an appreciative black audience, with a background vocal talking about the President rewarding his donors.
    Now maybe James or Doug can’t hear the dog whistle, but it’s not meant for them, its meant for the disaffected blue collar white voter. I’m hoping that such voters miss the whistle, the way James and Doug did, but it’s quite likely it found the ears it was meant to find.

  49. Stonetools,

    You’re as good at picking up on non-existent conspiracies as the folks as World Net Daily

  50. al-Ameda says:

    @Buzz Buzz:

    The party of Jim Crow and the KKK is still obsessed with race.

    Wow, in a complete non-surprise you just ignored the post 1964 Civil Rights Act history of race in America. The one where Southern Democrats become Republicans ran election after election on race resentment.

    Is it any wonder that the people who claim that racism does not exist, or that ‘reverse racism’ is a bigger problem than traditional racism are Republicans?

  51. mantis says:

    Stay tuned next month for a round of ‘I know you are but what am I?”

    Alternated with “I’m rubber and you’re glue…”

  52. jukeboxgrad says:

    A few things relevant to the subject of the GOP and racism:

    racial prejudice predicts voting. Republicans are supported by whites with prejudice against blacks

    Link.

    And this:

    During the Civil Rights Era, [WF] Buckley made a name for himself as a promoter of white supremacy. National Review, which he founded in 1955, championed violent racist regimes in the American South and South Africa.

    And there is Rush “take that bone out of your nose and call me back” Limbaugh, who was described by Reagan himself as “the Number One voice for conservatism.” And he was described by NR as “The Leader of The Opposition.”

    Racism a strong force in the GOP.

    doug:

    Obviously there is [a connection between birtherism and racism]

    Then I guess I need to remind you of something else you said:

    47% Of Republicans Are Birthers

    Now we know why Mitt and Trump are soulmates: because Mitt can’t afford to alienate half the GOP, and he can’t afford to lose the racists in the GOP. That’s why he is “boldly attacking Obama as a foreign influence,” and that’s why he’s happy to use a picture of Obama singing a black song in a room full of black people to remind people like Welch of their own feelings about “two different Americas.”

  53. @Doug Mataconis:

    That would be a classic example of not answering, but just naming something else you don’t like.

    Stonetools was reminding us of the southern strategy. You don’t deny that such a thing did exist, right? Are you denying that any GOP strategist would use it again?

  54. FWIW, I think campaign strategists are among the most amoral in our society. I doubt that they’d see an advantage in an overtly racist message, but I wouldn’t expect them to shy from a message that accidently gained them votes “by racial association.”

  55. stonetools says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Maybe you’re right, Doug. Maybe the Republicans spent big money on a totally misguided and ineffectual ad which had nothing to do with their longstanding strategy on race .

    But I doubt it.

  56. stonetools,

    Or maybe it’s to point out the rather obvious fact that, like other politicians, Barack Obama has rewarded the people who donated money to him with lucrative government benefits.

    Or is that only wrong when Republicans do it?

  57. @Doug Mataconis:

    That’s where we started, that the idea that a good rendition of a good song was a terrible way to show crony capitalism.

    … maybe that’s the best defense for people who see it as harmless. Say it’s a terrible and counterproductive ad, because if it works, it works on some other level.

  58. Buzz Buzz says:

    @al-Ameda:

    The one where Southern Democrats become Republicans

    Quick, name 10 Southern Democrats that became Republicans. (hint: you’re peddling a lie).

  59. Using the song was quite obviously meant to be a counter-punch to the ad the Obama campaign is running with Romney singing American The Beautiful. Also, it creates the impression of Obama singing a love song to his donors

  60. p90x program says:

    good to know who is winning based on ethics, ha ha.

  61. al-Ameda says:

    @Buzz Buzz:

    Quick, name 10 Southern Democrats that became Republicans. (hint: you’re peddling a lie).

    You do realize that I’m talking about White working class voters in the South, right? And there were obviously more than 10.

  62. mantis says:

    @Buzz Buzz:

    Quick, name 10 Southern Democrats that became Republicans. (hint: you’re peddling a lie).

    early 1960s – Arthur Ravenel, Jr. of South Carolina, before running for the South Carolina Senate
    1960s – James F. Byrnes of South Carolina, after endorsing many Republicans in the 1950s and 1960s
    1961 – Charlton Lyons to run for Louisiana’s 4th congressional district seat
    1961 – Billy J. Guin of Shreveport, to support Charlton Lyons for Congress
    1962 – Dave Treen, later became U.S. Representative for Louisiana (1973-1980) and Governor of Louisiana (1980-1984)
    1962 – Jack M. Cox, to run for Governor of Texas
    1962 – James D. Martin, to run for the U.S. Senate from Alabama
    1962 – Floyd Spence, while a South Carolina state Representative
    1964 – Strom Thurmond, while U.S. senator from South Carolina switched to the Republican party on September 16, 1964.
    1964 – Howard Callaway, in order to run successfully as U.S. Representative from Georgia.
    1965 – Albert Watson, while U.S. Representative from South Carolina
    1965 – Roderick Miller (LA) after unsuccessfully run for judgeship in 1964
    1966 – Thomas A. Wofford, before write-in campaign for State Senator from South Carolina
    1966 – Len E. Blaylock, to support Winthrop Rockefeller for Governor of Arkansas
    1966 – Jerry Thomasson of Arkansas, switched from Democrat to Republican while an state Representative to run for Attorney General of Arkansas
    1966 – Henry Grover of Texas, switched from Democrat to Republican while a state Representative before successfully running for Texas Senate.
    1967 – Allison Kolb of Louisiana, while seeking a political comeback running unsuccessfully for state Treasurer
    1968 – William Reynolds Archer, Jr., while a member of the Texas House of Representatives
    1968 – Will Wilson, former Texas Attorney General
    1968 – Comptroller General of Georgia James L. Bentley
    1970 – Jesse Helms, two years before running for the U.S. Senate from North Carolina

    That’s more than ten. Quick enough for you?

    @al-Ameda:

    You do realize that I’m talking about White working class voters in the South, right? And there were obviously more than 10.

    Indeed. In 1964 five southern states that until that point consistently voted Democratic voted for Barry Goldwater because of Johnson’s support for the Civil Rights Act, legislation many Republicans still oppose. Nixon took advantage of that in 1968 with the Southern Strategy, and nearly all of the old Dixiecrats had retired, died, or switched to Republican by the early 1970s. The GOP has held the southern racist vote ever since.

  63. stonetools says:

    How the hell do conservative defenders NOT know about the Southern strategy? Collective Amnesia?

  64. mattb says:

    I think there are two different threads getting bound up here.

    First: Does it appear that Republicans are engaging in some sort of sustained race/other baiting?
    Second: Does this particular ad directly fit in that campaign.

    On the first question, count me on the “yes” side. There’s little question that race/other baiting has been a line of attacked used on Obama throughout the last two cycles (and note that the Clinton campaign did flirt with those attacks as well). John Sununu and Welch’s comments are two examples of that line of attack.

    On the second question, count me on the “no” side. I recognize the controversy and the possible contradiction in using Welch as an example of the first question, when she was talking in relation to this ad. It’s her reading. But that doesn’t make it necessarily the first or most obvious reading.

    There’s also a lot of evidence to counter the idea that this clip is about race or otherness. As James has pointed out, Al Green’s music has long been mainstreams (more so than say hip hip). And taking the video as a response to Obama’s “America the Beautiful Ad” the use of the singing make sense as it’s the one clip that provides a logical, parallel response to Romney’s singing.

    Further, if the goal of this add was to point to race, there are much more obvious marks they could have used (including the actual video footage from the Apollo theatre).

    I’m sure that we will continue to see direct attacks on Obama’s otherness. But sorry, even with all the compelling arguments put forth here, I don’t see this particular ad as one of them.

  65. No, to be sincere I think that is so difficult to attack Obama using race in part because it´s something more difficult to tie Obama to any racist stereotype. He uses the Midwestern accent like most Midwesterns do, he is the child of a white mother(That´s what people outside the US calls a mulatto or a mestizo). That´s why all these attacks trying to tie him with all kinds of radicals do not work.

    And we are missing the main point here. The first one to say that people should compare Mitt Romney singing to Obama singing was… Bill Maher. It´s easy to understand why. Romney sounds terribly fake singing, Obama looks like to be relaxed(Most politicans could do fine in a photo op in a tank. Dukakis did not). And Obama sings better.

    Obama´s ad is pretty effective. If Obama wins Ohio and the presidency that´s will a big part of it. Romney´s ad is not. It´s not subtle, and it´s do not attack any perceived weakness of Obama. C´mon. McCain ran the worst presidential campaign since McGovern´s in 1972, and they had better lines of attack against Obama.

  66. anjin-san says:

    a counter-punch to the ad the Obama campaign is running with Romney singing American The Beautiful.

    Yes, except it’s a marshmallow punch, and it’s hard to see how anyone could not see that. Romney looks terrible singing, and the Al Green cover was a rock star moment for Obama. They have to know that, so it leads you to wonder if they have other motives for running that ad.

  67. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    This is pretty much the standard Republican playbook used since Nixon was running against McGovern. It’s not remotely about race but about “urban elites” being out of touch with “reg’lar ‘mericans.” None of which has anything to do with this ad or this post.

    How can you say this and ignore Nixon’s Southern Strategy? Republican campaigning is often about threading a needle, appealing to racism, while not letting the soccer moms catch on. You’re trying to give the Romney campaign the benefit of the doubt, and they don’t deserve it.

  68. @anjin-san:

    Whether the commercial “works” in your opinion or not is irrelevant. I frankly don’t care if Obama can fake sing Al Green or not.

    The point is that the argument that this commercial is racist is complete, utter, nonsense.

  69. @Doug Mataconis: Yeah, because you’re totally credible when it comes to this sort of thing. I mean, it’s not like you have a history of claiming independence while carrying Republican water or anything.

    Doug, the whole thrust and idea behind Republican politics has been race-based for over four decades now; the idea that they wouldn’t use race is pretty bogus, and the idea that calling the first Black President part of “the other America” isn’t based on racial animus casts your credibility into doubt and gives the impression that you’re stupid or disingenuous – or both.

  70. anjin-san says:

    fake sing Al Green or not

    What was fake about it? That was an impressive display by Obama. When asked why there have been so few successful covers of his many classic songs, Green himself replied, “A lot of people have tried to climb on that train, but very few can finish the ride.”

    There are not that many people who can get up in front of a crowd, do an Al Green song, and not end up looking bad. To attach a “fake” label to Obama’s efforts as a vocalist is petty at very best.

  71. Chefmarty says:

    @Doug & @James –

    “It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong. ”
    G. K. Chesterton
    English author & mystery novelist (1874 – 1936)

  72. Buzz Buzz says:

    @mantis:

    First, you ought to give credit to the page you copied your list from.

    Second, the claim was…

    … the post 1964 Civil Rights Act history of race in America. The one where Southern Democrats become Republicans ran election after election on race resentment.

    … which immediately cuts out half (from 1964 and prior) of the list you copied.

    Third, what’s left of the copied list post-1964 is a hodgepodge of nobodies who switched parties after they lost an election so they could run again, not racist Dixiecrats who switched to the Republican party because they felt more at home there.

    Finally, I did warn you that the claim was a lie. If you’d bothered to read on to the end of the page you plagiarized you might have seen the following comment and saved yourself some embarrassment:

    “of the 26 known Dixiecrats (5 governors and 21 senators) only three ever became republicans: Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms and Mills E. Godwind, Jr. ”

    How many pre-1964 southern racist Democrat bigots did NOT join the Republican party after 1964?

    Orval Fa[u]bus
    Benjamin Travis Laney
    John Stennis
    James Eastland
    Allen Ellender
    Russell Long
    John Sparkman
    John McClellan
    Richard Russell
    Herman Talmadge
    George Wallace
    Lester Maddox
    John Rarick
    Robert Byrd
    Al Gore, Sr.
    Bull Connor

  73. KansasMom says:

    @Buzz Buzz: That may have been someone’s claim but it sure as sh*t wasn’t yours. Mantis punked you and honestly if anyone gave a sh*t we could likely add another 100 names to that list. Why did all of those southern states vote for Wallace over the Democrat in 1968? I’m sure it had nothing to do with 1964. Those blah people were and are still totally irrelevant to a populace that given a chance would to this day outlaw interracial marriage.

  74. anjin-san says:

    @ Buzz Buzz

    Democrats were actively racist 50 years ago. Do you think that’s a winning argument?

    Republicans are actively racist today.

  75. C. Clavin says:

    @ Anjin-San…
    The democrats from then are today’s republicans.

  76. C. Clavin says:

    “…The point is that the argument that this commercial is racist is complete, utter, nonsense….”
    So from an entire party of xenophobes…and a clearly xenophobic campaign…the OTB staff found an ad theciara confident is not racist. Good on you, guys. Keep up the excellent job carrying water.

  77. Buzz Buzz says:

    @KansasMom:

    That may have been someone’s claim but it sure as sh*t wasn’t yours.

    The actual text of my comment is right here in this thread for all to see, Kansasmom. Lying about it doesn’t do you any good.

    Mantis punked you and honestly if anyone gave a sh*t we could likely add another 100 names to that list.

    Mantis copy and pasted a list he found on the internet. He was stupid enough to trust it. He was wrong. And honestly, neither you nor he nor anyone else could successfully answer the challenge of naming 10 racist Democrats who switched to the Republican party because of the passage of the Civil RIghts Act. Because that claim that there was a mass defection of racist Democrats to the Republican party is a lie.

    Why did all of those southern states vote for Wallace over the Democrat in 1968? I’m sure it had nothing to do with 1964.

    George Wallace wasn’t a Republican. He was a Democrat that switched to the American Independent Party. He was also popular with blue collar workers in the north and midwest.

    Those blah people were and are still totally irrelevant to a populace that given a chance would to this day outlaw interracial marriage.

    Careful there, Kansasmom. You’re ranting so hard that you’re letting your racism slip through.

  78. Buzz Buzz says:

    @anjin-san:

    Democrats were actively racist 50 years ago. Do you think that’s a winning argument?

    The Democrats are the party of the KKK and Jim Crow, and the Democrats from that era happily remained in the Democratic party until they died out (e.g KKK Grand Kleagle Robert “Sheets” Byrd, who stuck around as a Democrat in the U.S. Senate till 2010).

    Correcting lies from people like you who claim that Republicans are racist may not make a difference to the fact-resistant commenting drones in the OTB hive, but it’s still worth doing for the benefit of lurking readers who may have otherwise believed the bullshit you’re shoveling.

  79. Mary says:

    My cousin, who proudly serves in the military played Al Green’s “Lets Stay Together” at his wedding a few years ago. Now Jack Welch’s wife is saying that represents a different America?

    What planet is she on? My cousin fights for her right to free speech! Even idiotic speech, but I lost all respect for her over this. She ought to apologize. I assure you that those who sing lets stay together are not part of a different America. Suzy Welch is pathetic. I hope she clarifies her remark. Disgusting.

  80. al-Ameda says:

    @Buzz Buzz:
    The current Republican Party is the primary domicile of modern racism in America. There, you’re welcome.

  81. mantis says:

    @Buzz Buzz:

    Second, the claim was…

    Dumbass, I was responding to your comment here:

    Quick, name 10 Southern Democrats that became Republicans. (hint: you’re peddling a lie).

    You did not specify they must have switched after 1964. Dishonest little shitstains like yourself always come up with new conditions after the fact when they are shown to be idiots.

    which immediately cuts out half (from 1964 and prior) of the list you copied.

    It cuts out nothing, but I stopped at 1970. I could provide more who switched post-1970.

    Third, what’s left of the copied list post-1964 is a hodgepodge of nobodies who switched parties after they lost an election so they could run again

    More conditions after the fact. Now only Republicans of a certain level of office, presumably only national office, count? Bullshit.

    not racist Dixiecrats who switched to the Republican party because they felt more at home there.

    An assertion based on nothing whatsoever. Look into those people and you’ll discover exactly why they switched parties. Liar.

    Finally, I did warn you that the claim was a lie.

    You asserted that, yes, but have been proven wrong.

    If you’d bothered to read on to the end of the page you plagiarized you might have seen the following comment and saved yourself some embarrassment:

    Oh you mean another comment from a lying shitstain trying to paper over the racist nature of the Republican Party in the American south? Yeah, I saw that. It was based on the same thing as yours. Jack and shit.

    Go peddle your crap where people are as dumb as you.

  82. anjin-san says:

    @ Buzz Buzz

    I am curious, how old are you? 20?

    I lived through that shit, and watched the Democrats renounce racism and embrace the civil rights movement. Now run along and go to the GOP convention. Maybe you can pick up some play money with Obama and watermelon on it…

  83. anjin-san says:

    @ Mary

    Suzy Welch worked at Bain AND she married a rich, old Republican. How dare you question her fitness to tell us what the real America is? Don’t you know when you are in the presence of your betters?

  84. mattb says:

    @Buzz Buzz:
    Your arguements make the mistake of trying to look at PARTY instead of REGION. So let me once again post actual factual information:

    While somewhat true, the entire “larger percentage of republcans voted for civil rights” breaks down a bit when you look at the actual numbers, broken down by party and region:

    The original House version:
    Southern Democrats: 7–87 (7–93%)
    Southern Republicans: 0–10 (0–100%)
    Northern Democrats: 145–9 (94–6%)
    Northern Republicans: 138–24 (85–15%)

    The Senate version:
    Southern Democrats: 1–20 (5–95%)
    Southern Republicans: 0–1 (0–100%)
    Northern Democrats: 45–1 (98–2%)
    Northern Republicans: 27–5 (84–16%)

    In the North, Democrats voted for the measure at a higher rater than Republicans (nearly 10% in both cases). In the South note that 100% of Republicans (albeit only 11 in total between the two bodies) voted against it.

    Now granted, a lot, though not all, Southern Democrats voted against it. But to pretend that it somehow negates the overwhelming support of Northern Democrats (again a higher amount of support than their Republican counter parts) is also a dishonest move.

    There’s no question that Republicans did play positive rolls in the Civil Rights movement. But to pretend the “Republicans” were and still are the party of Civil Rights or that the Dems some how didn’t vote for Civil Rights is a pretty ballsy take on things!

    That’s not even getting into what happened after the vote and both parties post 1964 records on race relations.

    {source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964#By_party_and_region )

  85. Buzz Buzz says:

    @mantis:

    You did not specify they must have switched after 1964. Dishonest little shitstains like yourself always come up with new conditions after the fact when they are shown to be idiots.

    Context, context, context, my little plagiarist. Read the comment I was replying to and understand that the challenge was for him to substantiate his claim.

    I realize that you just mindlessly cut and pasted (without attribution) the first set of unsubstantiated claims you came across which looked like it was vaguely related to the topic and are now flailing around way out of your depth — I don’t expect anything more from you OTB drones beyond the simple uncomprehending regurgitation of talking points.

    But the fact remains that al-Ameda’s claim is a lie.

    You can rant and rave all you want, but the party of racists like Grand Kleagle Robert “Sheets” Byrd was, always and forever, the Democrats.

  86. Buzz Buzz says:

    @mattb:

    So let me once again post actual factual information:

    Yes, reposting actual factual information seems like a good idea:

    “of the 26 known Dixiecrats (5 governors and 21 senators) only three ever became republicans: Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms and Mills E. Godwind, Jr. ”

    How many pre-1964 southern racist Democrat bigots did NOT join the Republican party after 1964?

    Orval Fa[u]bus
    Benjamin Travis Laney
    John Stennis
    James Eastland
    Allen Ellender
    Russell Long
    John Sparkman
    John McClellan
    Richard Russell
    Herman Talmadge
    George Wallace
    Lester Maddox
    John Rarick
    Robert Byrd
    Al Gore, Sr.
    Bull Connor

    (You and the rest of the drones who are embarrassed by reality can vote this down again if it makes you feel better. It’ll still be true.)

  87. anjin-san says:

    Really a brilliant argument Buzz. A bunch of guys who are dead were Democrats and bigots.

    I guess you just aren’t bright enough to see how lame that really is…

  88. al-Ameda says:

    @Buzz Buzz:

    But the fact remains that al-Ameda’s claim is a lie.

    The fact remains that your claim that I lied is – no surprise – a lie.

    You willfully choose to ignore the history of electoral and race politics since passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

  89. mattb says:

    @Buzz Buzz:
    My point was simply to dispute your constant empty parroting that history shows that the real racists are Democrats. Yes, there have been racist democrats. But there have also been racist republicans. For a recent example… and in fact a Democrat who did infact switch to Republican before winning Federal Office, see:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Duke

  90. Rob in CT says:

    I’ve run into a “Buzz Buzz” in real life, complete with the exact same talking points. I mean exact same. Verbatim.

    As if the last 45 years simply didn’t happen.

    Actual quote from this RL encounter:

    “They’re the same people.”
    Me: “What, the present-day Democratic party is full of the same people who backed Jim Crow?”
    Him: “Yes, same people.”

    That this is transparent bullshit doesn’t matter. It’s like intellectual armor (with the joints rusted shut).

    As to the topic: I suspect the primary goal here really was to try and tag Obama as a crony capitalist. That it also presses another button (the “Other” button) is gravy.