Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
GOP pitchman Fred (“Demon Sheep”) Davis wanted Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts to give him $10 million for an ad campaign attacking President Obama for promoting himself as a “metrosexual black Abe Lincoln.” It’s a great phrase, like “Etch-A-Sketch candidate,” but that trio of sneers sounds a lot more like the mood of those restive GOP debate audiences last winter.
The black part is pretty straightforward—the ad campaign would link Obama to his former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who has been code for “scary black man” on Fox News for four years running. “Metrosexual” is “a roundabout homophobia taunt,” as Charles Blow says, as well as demeaning code for Obama’s most annoying (to the GOP) trait—his cool, unflappable acceptance of contemporary life, including gay marriage, which is splitting their coalition (even the Ricketts family itself, since Joe’s daughter, Laura, is an LGBT activist and Obama bundler). And “Abe Lincoln” is, of course, ironic: Davis didn’t mean Obama is equivalent to the first Republican to be elected president, he meant that Obama sees himself as a charismatic leader on a moral crusade to win America’s current management/labor dispute. Billionaires like Joe think Obama taking the mantle of Lincoln is meant to make them look like Simon Legree.
“But, they still ‘like’ him,” Davis wrote in the fifty-four-page storyboarded ad proposal that appeared on the front page of the New York Times last week.
Bitter is the taste of another man’s bread, and the gall of Obama’s success with the American people taints every morsel of Davis’s text. This particular ad campaign will never air, of course, because both Ricketts, whose fortune comes from founding TD Ameritrade, and Mitt Romney repudiated it as soon as the Times exposed it. Brian Baker, head of Rickett’s Ending Spending super PAC, issued a statement saying that the campaign was “merely a proposal—one of several” and that “attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally” reflect “an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects.”
That may be, but it wasn’t as if Ricketts, or Baker, had previously rejected the plan out of hand. The day before its story broke, the Times asked Baker “whether Mr. Ricketts had rejected the advertising proposal, [and] he said only that no decision had been made.” You’d expect them to deny it now; the point is the proposal exposed the GOP’s nervousness about Obama’s personal likability. After three years of the GOP’s non-stop obstruction and economic hostage-taking, coupled now with an austerity program that’s being rejected around the world, the Republicans simply can’t believe people don’t blame the president for all that.