Wisdom From Rosenthal's Sunday Review: 'Romney's Meticulously Cultivated Whiteness'

Contributor Lee Siegel: "Mitt Romney is the whitest white man to run for president in recent memory....He knows that he offers to these people the white solution to the problem of a black president."

The New York Times' drift into hard-left, race-baiting opinionizing in the Sunday Review section continues apace under editor Andrew Rosenthal, as previously documented at Times Watch. The most blatant entry this week is:'What's Race Got to Do With It,' by Lee Siegel, a past contributor to the liberal New Republic and left-wing Nation magazines, who informs us that Mitt Romney is the 'whitest white man to run for president in recent memory.'

Feeding into the comforting liberal delusion that popular opposition to Obama is based on racism, Siegel irrationally insisted Romney was 'an ideal candidate' for 'Americans who find the thought of a black president unbearable.' Another supposedly white trait Seigel held against Romney: His "implacable" politeness and "immaculate white shirt sleeves."

Pundits have already begun the endless debate over whether Mr. Romney's wealth and religion are hindrances or assets. But there has yet to be any discussion over the one quality that has subtly fueled his candidacy thus far and could well put him over the top in the fall: his race. The simple, impolitely stated fact is that Mitt Romney is the whitest white man to run for president in recent memory.

Of course, I'm not talking about a strict count of melanin density. I'm referring to the countless subtle and not-so-subtle ways he telegraphs to a certain type of voter that he is the cultural alternative to America's first black president. It is a whiteness grounded in a retro vision of the country, one of white picket fences and stay-at-home moms and fathers unashamed of working hard for corporate America.

Siegel compared 'Ron Paul's isolationist conspiracy-mongering' to 'the radical-right fringe of the '50s and '60s, of the John Birchers and the followers of George Wallace.'

Contrast that with Mr. Romney's meticulously cultivated whiteness. He is nearly always in immaculate white shirt sleeves. He is implacably polite, tossing off phrases like 'oh gosh' with Stepford bonhomie. He has mastered Benjamin Franklin's honesty as the 'best policy': a practiced insincerity, an instant sunniness that, though evidently inauthentic, provides a bland bass note that keeps everyone calm. This is the bygone world of Babbitt, of small-town Rotarians.


In this way, whether he means to or not, Mr. Romney connects with a central evangelic fantasy: that the Barack Obama years, far from being the way forward, are in fact a historical aberration, a tear in the white space-time continuum. And let's be clear: Mr. Obama's election was not destiny, but a fluke.


And yet, as became immediately apparent in 2009, millions of Americans were unwilling to accept the basic democratic premise that Mr. Obama legally and morally deserved to sit in the White House - and that was before they confronted his 'socialist' and 'un-American' policy agenda.

Mitt Romney knows this. He knows that he offers to these people the white solution to the problem of a black president. I am sure that Mr. Romney is not a racist. But I am also sure that, for the many Americans who find the thought of a black president unbearable, he is an ideal candidate. For these sudden outsiders, Mitt Romney is the conventional man with the outsider faith - an apocalyptic pragmatist - who will wrest the country back from the unconventional man with the intolerable outsider color.