Mexican Mitt

Romney's crack about wishing he was Latino shows how very, very white he is

Topics: Mitt Romney, 2012 Elections,

Mexican Mitt (Credit: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Would a hypothetical Mitt Romero have an easier chance of being elected president than a Mitt Romney? The real Romney seemed to suggest that the answer would be yes.

This claim came to light with the video that parted the curtain on Romney’s speech to high-end donors at a fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla. While most focused on Romney’s disparaging comments about 47 percent of the country, in another part Romney lamented that he lacks Mexican heritage.

Here’s what he had to say: “About my heritage — my dad, you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company, but he was born in Mexico. And had he been born of Mexican parents I’d have a better shot at winning this, but he was unfortunately born of Americans living in Mexico. They’d lived there for a number of years, and, uh, I mean I say that jokingly, but it’d be helpful if they’d been Latino.”

To understand the significance of this strange lament — Dad was a governor and head of one of the largest corporations in America, but too bad he wasn’t a Mexican — we should recognize that not one but two wannabe Mexican Mitts recently made the scene.

The other Mexican Mitt showed up recently on an interview on Univision, the giant Spanish-language television broadcaster. As all politicians do, Romney closely tailored his answers to the audience. More strikingly, he also seemed to adjust his visage, applying a dark shade of foundation that gave him a much deeper hue than just the day before. Stephen Colbert cracked that to prepare for his appearance “Romney walked into the spray tan booth and cranked it up to ‘Montalban.’”

Romney’s words and actions, assuming he did strategically go for a deeper glow, suggest a simplistic understanding of Latinos: that we would vote for someone based principally on shared heritage as manifest in parentage or skin color, rather than pay attention to politics and policy commitments. Similar assumptions frequently demean African-American voters, who are often thought to support Barack Obama simply out of racial loyalty.



This sort of assumption is not applied to white voters — or is it? Typically, we picture voters as being swayed by the issues, or at least their emotional response to the candidate, rather than simply voting their identities. This is why the notion that Latinos or blacks vote based on ancestry and facial features is offensive.

Yet recently we have seen “white” appended as a modifier to various groups of voters — the working class, evangelicals. If voters are responding to issues or character, then meaningful social categories — say, the elderly — help us understand voting patterns by identifying likely concerns, for instance, the solvency of Medicare or Social Security. But what work is “white” doing? Is it a meaningful social category that suggests distinctive concerns?

Romney seems to think so, though the distinctive concerns he apparently perceives flatter neither himself nor his intended audience. Herein may lie the real significance of Mitt Romero. It’s highly unlikely that Romney thought that actually being Mexican would help him with the fundraiser crowd — or with a Republican Party that is 87 percent white. Much more likely, he sought to spark racial solidarity by appealing to the sense that whites are an embattled group.

Romney’s remark on his heritage was not spontaneous. Giving a sense of the comment’s importance in his self-narrative, it was one of two aspects of himself he chose to highlight (the other being concern for his grandchildren). Moreover, Romney seemed to read his audience correctly, for a crowd member punctuated his comments with “Pull an Elizabeth Warren!” A Democrat running for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, Warren is dogged by allegations that she falsely claimed a Native American identity to help her professional standing. Romney explained the scandal and concluded, “It turns out that at most she’s 1/32 Cherokee, and even that can’t be proven. So, in any event, yeah, I can put down my dad was born in Mexico and leave it at that.”

The exchange captures the core of the complaint. Some whites sense that they are disadvantaged vis-à-vis nonwhites, principally through affirmative action. Woe is us, they seem to say, as they joke bitterly about how much easier their lives would be if only they could fake a nonwhite identity and so reap myriad unearned rewards. Incredible as it may be, Romney apparently sought to build connections between himself and the donors at a $50,000 a person fundraiser by alluding to how good the Mexican Mitts have it. Mitt Romney doesn’t believe Mitt Romero could win the election. But Romney does hope his Mexican doppelganger will help the genuine thing enter the White House.

Ian Haney-López is a law professor and the author of "Dog Whistle Politics: How Fifty Years of Coded Racial Appeals Wrecked the Middle Class." Follow him on Twitter @DogWhistleRace.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>