Mitt Romney told a little “joke” in his stump speech in Michigan on Friday.
"I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born," he said. "Ann was born at Henry Ford Hospital; I was born at Harper Hospital. No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."
At least Republicans call it a joke. I wonder what they’d call it if Obama said, “I’ve been married to the same woman for twenty years. No one’s ever asked to see how many wives I have.”
“Whoa, thar, pardner, ya done gone too fur", I suspect we’d hear. “That thar’s a pickin’ on a man’s religion. Ya’all need to shut up ‘bout us a clingin to our guns and Bibles, too."
But it’s ok for Republicans to pick up one of the most hateful and divisive themes of intolerance in our politics and make a “joke”, though isn’t it?
Of course, it's ok if you're a Republican.
Was it even a joke? Or was it a “dog whistle” to keep the ignorant racists in his camp?
The Washington Post asked a few members of Romney’s audience about the birther remark.
Still, several voters interviewed after Romney and Ryan ended their rally Friday in Commerce said they interpreted Romney’s comment as a swipe at Obama.
“How did I read it? Well, there’s a lot of controversy about where Obama was born,” said Annie Lehmann, 59. “But that’s a secondary issue at this point. He’s got to fix the economy.”
Susan Cardel, 51, said she thought Romney’s comment was “hysterical.”
“That is still a big issue, isn’t it?” Cardel said. “I think it is, that Obama wasn’t born in America. I think Romney was just making a statement. He wasn’t trying to be mean or anything.”
Jim Gorcya, 72, said he read Romney’s comment as a suggestion that Obama’s birth certificate is not real.
“Obama doesn’t have one,” Gorcya said. “He wasn’t born here, and he can’t find his. Romney’s got a birth certificate. Obama can’t find his. If Obama was a real citizen, he would show it.”
If it was a joke, it was inappropriate, and lame. It was as inappropriate and lame as my hypothetical one above. Either way, it is not his privilege to go there. Republicans can make all the jokes they want about what Obama said or has done.
Making light of a falsehood, one manufactured and propelled by racist hate that could only appeal to bigots, is outside the bounds of decency.
But Republicans never could win elections by being decent, could they?