By now, I'm sure most of you are aware of the remarks made on Tuesday by top Romney surrogate John Sununu, the former New Hampshire Governor.
"I wish this president would learn to be an American."
Let that sink in for a minute.
Granted, Sununu did mumble some sort of apology and talked about context and how he was referring to Obama's policies on business. Frankly, that's irrelevant. He said that Obama is not an American. There is no context where that is anything but disgusting and hateful.
But this is about far more than remarks made by one Romney surrogate speaking out of school. What the media needs to report is this: Sununu is merely echoing language coming from Mitt Romney himself. Right now.
At an event in Pennsylvania on the same day that Sununu made his remarks, Romney spoke about his own approach to business, thus employing that same 'context' that Sununu used to justify what he said. Romney praised his "course" for the country, and then asserted the following about Barack Obama:
"His course is extraordinarily foreign."
There is no denying that Sununu and Romney, surrogate and boss, are on exactly the same page here. There is no question that, on the very same day, they both used language that seeks to "other" Obama, to paint him as "not American."
And Romney has done this before. On December 7, 2011, again in part of a discussion about the economy, he said of the president:
"I don't think he understands America."
A New York Times editorial had this to say about Romney's statement:
It's not quite Newt Gingrich's saying Mr. Obama has a "Kenyan" worldview, but it's close.
On January 2, 2012, in Iowa, Romney once again used a discussion ostensibly about the economy to "other" Obama. Romney stated that the President will:
"Poison the very spirit of America and keep us from being one nation under God."
This kind of language acts as a dog whistle for bigots. It is a more subtle version of birtherism, and reflects the kind of exclusionary definition of American national identity embraced by far too many on the right. It is the exact opposite of Barack Obama's conception of our national identity, one that emphasizes national unity as well as inclusion, and seeks to strengthen ties among Americans across lines of race, culture, and religion.
When John Sununu said that President Obama was not an American -- and make no mistake, that's what he said -- he wasn't saying anything his boss hadn't said before. Mitt Romney has made the same kind of remark on too many occasions to be able to deny that his campaign has made a clear decision to do what John McCain refused to do, and what any politician with a sense of honor and patriotism would refuse to do.
Mitt Romney is running on hate.
Follow Ian Reifowitz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ianreifowitz