Surviving the Game

“That went well…”

Because I was trying to teach small children how to do journalistic interviews yesterday, something I would only recommend to the most patient of my fellow travelers in journalism, I missed seeing Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s speech to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or the NAACP as it’s better known.

Romney, in what can only be considered the equivalent of walking into Ohio Stadium in a Michigan sweatshirt before the Wolverines and Buckeyes take the field on a Saturday afternoon, came to the civil rights organization’s annual convention in Houston in an attempt to do one of three things: (a) pick off some of President Barack Obama’s supporters in the African American community (b) make the Republican Party seem like it wants to be more attractive to people of color and (c) show independents and whites turned off by the antics of such folks as Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and others that the adults that ran the Republican Party prior to 2010 were still, at least marginally, in charge.

At the very least, and I know this because i’ve covered NAACP conventions, Romney could be guaranteed a respectful audience. The gathered folks might not be real fond of what he had to say, but they’d show him the courtesy of listening. One thing that we are taught almost from birth as African Americans is to be respectful.

But while we’re a respectful people, even the most genteel among us isn’t going to let you pull down your pants and take a crap in the middle of our living room floor without us pointing out to you that it’s not cool…We’re probably not only going to ask you to leave, but will send your crap out along with you in a bag that you might hope doesn’t break before it hits you in the head…

Which is something that Mitt Romney found out on Wednesday when he said that among the first things he’d do as president is get rid of every wasteful program including the repeal what he calls Obamacare, what Massachusetts residents call Romneycare, and what those of us who need it to survive call the Affordable Care Act.

(I have a blog post coming on that, but let’s stick to this for now.)

And the crowd, well, responded…

I hear tell that Romney wasn’t surprised that he got booed for this. That’s probably because of (d) which is, he goes and speaks to Black folks, gets booed, and all of the white folks who have lost their minds completely over the last four years because we dared put not only a Black man, but a Black man with an African name and a pretty Black wife and two beautiful Black children into the White House feel better about voting for him despite the fact that he’s done the equivalent of an Extreme Makeover to make himself palatable to them.

Now is there a part of me that thinks it’s rude to boo someone that you basically invited into your home? Yeah. Miss Ollie, my late mother, would be mortified if I brought someone into my home for the sole purpose of being rude to them. She would tell me that if I was going to do that, I shouldn’t have asked them over in the first place.

And on one hand, she’d be absolutely right.

But on the other hand, there’s that whole “taking a crap in my living room” thing to consider.

While I can totally understand that Romney is running as fast as his legs can carry him from President Obama’s version of the healthcare plan he put together in Massachusetts, he needs to understand that most if not all of the folks in the audience that makes up the NAACP either know someone or are someone who could benefit from affordable healthcare.

Don’t believe me? Here’s some stats from the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured:

  • African Americans are less likely to have employer-sponsored health insurance than whites (53 percent vs. 73 percent.) This is in spite of the fact that eight out of 10 African Americans are in working families.
  • While Medicaid provides somewhat of a safety net for African Americans who have income levels at less than 200 percent of the poverty level, families that make more are uninsured at a level of 30 percent because they make too much for Medicaid, something that would be taken care of as part of the expansion of the program in the ACA.
  • Uninsured African Americans are at least three times as likely not to have a primary care doctor than uninsured whites. Much of this is because income levels in the African American community are lower than that of whites. 

I could go on, but hopefully you get my point.

Mitt Romney didn’t get booed by the NAACP because, as Rush Limbaugh says (and can someone tell me again why we’re still paying attention to this gasbag who was supposed to be in Costa Rica by now) the group is racist. He didn’t get booed because the NAACP, as some dude on Sean Hannity’s program put it, is a hate group.

He got booed because he told a room filled with people who live the whole health care disparity debate on a daily basis that he, basically, didn’t care if they lived or died.

Don’t know about you, but if you’ve been through some of the stuff that I’ve been through due to a lack of health insurance, you’d have probably booed too…and you may have used a megaphone.

So while I understand that there are folks who feel that the audience at the NAACP convention committed a faux pas by booing Mitt Romney, I can also see why they did it.

And in my next post, so will you.

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