Monday, January 16, 2012


Yesterday I meant to write about the ridiculous op-ed in which Lee Siegel argues that this is Mitt Romney's year because he's the whitest person in the race:

... 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.

Really? And that trumps the little rural Texas town Rick Perry grew up in, the one that -- as he never tired of telling us back when we were actually listening to him -- was too small to have a post office? In terms of our notions of cultural whiteness, doesn't white rural Texas trump white pretty much anything else?

...Yes, since 1978 the church has allowed blacks to become priests. But Mormonism is still imagined by its adherents as a religion founded by whites, for whites, rooted in a millenarian vision of an America destined to fulfill a white God's plans for earth.

Um, and we don't associate evangelical Protestantism, or Southern white Protestantism, with a history of segregation? By contrast, how many Americans know enough about Mormonism to know that blacks were once excluded from its priesthood?

It's true that Mr. Romney's opponents are all white as well. But each is tainted in his own way. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich appear soft on Hispanic immigration...

Yeah, and Romney had those undocumented workers at his house. Besides, his father was born in Mexico -- where his family had traveled to escape legal and societal pressure on Mormons (especially polygamous ones such as some in Romney's family tree). Isn't a big part of the myth of whiteness the fact that white people generally think the rules and laws of society are fair (mostly because they've written them)?

... Rick Santorum is an Italian-American Catholic ...

I'm not sure how many voters even know Santorum has Catholic Italian forebears.

And Ron Paul's isolationist conspiracy-mongering recalls, if anything, the radical-right fringe of the '50s and '60s, of the John Birchers and the followers of George Wallace, a manic moment even most evangelicals would rather forget.

See, this is where Siegel completely loses me. What could be whiter than Ron Paul's background? He published a newsletter full of articles written by actual white supremacists! He lives in Texas! He praises small government and self-sufficiency and the gold standard! What could be whiter than that?

... 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, Perry, Gingrich, Bachmann and Santorum didn't connect with that? Really? Hell, even Herman Cain connected for quite a while with the notion that Obama's election was an aberration, and Cain's not white.

And if Romney is so white -- Siegel talks about all the usual white-picket-fence stuff we all talk about when we talk about the image Romney projects -- why didn't he win the nomination, or even come close, the year Obama was first nominated?

This is just idiocy. It's a disgrace it was even published.


c u n d gulag said...

I look forward to his next column, where he throws his support to Edgar and Johnny Winter as his White 3rd Party candidates.

They're OFF-THE-CHARTS White!

Dark Avenger said...

Is this the same Lee Siegel who was doing sockpuppetry to boost himself at the New Republic?


In September 2006, Siegel was suspended from The New Republic, after an internal investigation determined he was participating in misleading comments in the magazine's "Talkback" section, in response to vicious anonymous attacks on his character and reputation that were posted on his blog at The New Republic's website.[6] The comments were made through the device of a "sock puppet" dubbed "sprezzatura", who, as one reader noted, was a consistently vigorous defender of Siegel, and who specifically denied being Siegel when challenged by an anonymous detractor in "Talkback". In response to readers who had criticized Siegel's negative comments about TV talk show host Jon Stewart, 'sprezzatura' wrote, "Siegel is brave, brilliant, and wittier than Stewart will ever be. Take that, you bunch of immature, abusive sheep."[7] The New Republic posted an apology and shut down Siegel's blog. In an interview with the New York Times Magazine, Siegel dismissed the incident as a "prank". He resumed writing for The New Republic in April 2007.[8] Siegel's critique of Web culture, Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob, was published in January 2008. It was praised by Janet Maslin in the New York Times as "rigorously sane, fair, and illuminating... brings dead-on accuracy to depicting the quietly insinuating ways in which the Internet can blow your mind." On February 14, 2008, Siegel appeared on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, where he discussed the book.

I'm sure the book blows apatosaurases.

Ten Bears said...

Rolling. On. The. Floor. Laughing my ass off. It's like he's your straight man. Like Burns and Allen.

c u n d gulag said...

"Goodnight!" :-)

Btw - Gracie never said, "Goodnight Gracie" as legend has it.

George Burns was asked why, because it would have been a great line?

"Surprisingly," he said, "no one ever thought of it."

Ten Bears said...

True indeed, but I was thinking of her purported "airheadedness".

c u n d gulag said...

Uhm... Thanks?