The Debate: More Signs of Xenophobia from Romney

By Pam Martens: October 17, 2012 

Mitt Romney and President Obama in Their Second Debate at Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York

Despite how one feels about President Obama’s policies, he is still the President and Commander in Chief of our Nation.  In public, televised settings that will be transmitted around the globe, he should be addressed with respect. 

In last night’s debate, Governor Romney gave the appearance that he has, in his mind, already become the President.  He spoke rudely to President Obama, reprimanding him as one might speak to a child: “You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking.” 

As we’ve worried aloud before, Mitt Romney seems to have a mean streak.  In an increasingly volatile world, diplomacy and measured words from our President are more important than ever before. 

Which leads us to another concern: Mitt Romney’s hostile absorption with the Chinese.  In both his first and second debate,  Romney seemed hell bent on demonizing China from a public stage — versus quiet, private diplomatic efforts.  

I had a flashback to the dissenting opinion authored by U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan in Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 decision which enshrined racial segregation in the South until a more enlightened Supreme Court overturned it in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.  While Justice Harlan stood up for the rights of African Americans in his dissent, he effectively demonized the Chinese, stating: “There is a race so different from our own that we do not permit those belonging to it to become citizens of the United States. Persons belonging to it are, with few exceptions, absolutely excluded from our country. I allude to the Chinese race.” 

When Governor Romney as a high school senior in a prestigious prep school tackled another young man to the ground and cut off his long blond hair, because he objected to its length and color, as his pals held the boy down, Romney was effectively making a xenophobic statement.  When Romney portrayed 47 percent of Americans as too different from him to attempt to engage them in dialogue, he was effectively making a xenophobic statement.  And when he continues to bash the Chinese in Presidential debates watched by tens of millions of people around the world, it smacks of highly un-presidential xenophobia. 

This hostility toward the Chinese is even more surprising given the mega backing the Romney/Ryan campaign is receiving from Wall Street.  The campaign’s top five donors are all Wall Street firms.  The night before the debate, Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, was the featured guest at a gala fundraiser at the Hilton in New York City, hosted by almost 200 hedge fund and mutual fund executives. 

The vast pools of money invested by those managers include investments in Chinese companies.  Over 150 Chinese companies are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, the epicenter of capitalism in America.   

Romney may be attempting to appeal to Ryan’s base of Ayn Rand “commie” haters with his anti-China remarks while simultaneously keeping his Wall Street buddies funneling bounty his way with visions of his promised repeal of Dodd-Frank financial reform.  Regardless, the commentary has the feel of xenophobia and it’s decidedly un-presidential. 

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