WASHINGTON—We're still a few weeks from summer's dog days and the conventions, and already feral rabidity has set in. Add to the long list of psycho-political syndromes the "Romney Derangement Syndrome."
There is simply no other way to explain what has transpired in the few days since Mitt Romney's speech to the NAACP. If you read a headline or watched the news, most likely you're aware that Romney was booed for saying he would repeal "Obamacare." What you may not know is that Romney also left the stage to a standing ovation.
Suppose you were an editor, which headline would you prefer:
"NAACP boos Romney during speech about Obamacare"
"NAACP convention gives Romney a standing O"
In the aftermath, conservative talk shows and bloggers have made haste to clarify the event, but not before several on the other side of the aisle had made some stupendously strange remarks.
It is true that Romney was booed at the mention of "Obamacare" and his intention to repeal the Affordable Care Act as one of several programs that he says are too costly in these dear economic times. Was Romney surprised at the response? Of course not. The vast majority of African-Americans support the nation's first African-American president and most are favorably inclined toward his signature health-care act.
While grudgingly giving Romney credit for showing up, commentators and politicos on the left have joined the birthers in being just plain weird. The narrative du jour is that Romney purposely used the term "Obamacare" to ensure that he was booed in order to ... incite his racist white base.
Exacto-rama, Robin! How could I have missed this brilliant maneuver!?
Among those advancing this, ahem, "theory" is Nancy Pelosi, who said it was a "calculated move." MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell said Romney was making a play for white racists. Over at The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky called Romney a "race-mongering pyromaniac," and wrote:
"You don't go into the NAACP and use the word "Obamacare" and think that you're not going to hear some boos. It's a heavily loaded word, and Romney and his people know very well that liberals and the president's supporters consider it an insult. ... Romney and team obviously concluded that a little shower of boos was perfectly fine because the story 'Romney Booed at NAACP' would jazz up their (very white) base."
Yes, I see. That's a very astute analysis, Mr. Tomasky. Now just keep your eyes closed and try to relax. When I snap my fingers, you'll wake up and remember nothing. You'll just feel calm and optimistic about the future.
The notion that Team Romney wanted to jazz up all those "very white" racists requires a level of delusion that one usually associates with the fringies. Does anyone really imagine that Romney is worried about the racist vote? While we're hearing voices, let's eavesdrop on a Very Secret Meeting:
"Mitt, you know, there's one demographic we're worried about.
"What's that, Stu?"
"Well, sir, the Aryan Nation. Their votes? Hanging from the precipice, sir. We have to reel them in."
"Holy moly, Stu, but how?
"I have a plan. When you speak to the NAACP next week, we're gonna have you say 'Obamacare.' You'll get booed, of course, but no Aryan will vote for Barack Obama, I can promise you that, sir."
"Jumpin' Jehosaphat, Stu, that's sheer genius! But won't the liberal media figure it out? Won't they see our plan?"
"With all due respect, sir, don't be ridiculous."
Is anyone tethered to Earth anymore? Romney said he would repeal Obamacare because he always says this. What would the word parsers have said if he had adjusted his message to be more palatable to a crowd from which no one expected more than basic civility? They would have said he was a deceiver, a shape-shifter, a manipulator and a dishonest broker.
As for the term "Obamacare," this is widely used, including by columnists who are strictly limited by word count. I'll never use four unwieldy words that most people don't recognize, such as "The Affordable Care Act," for one word that everybody understands: Obamacare.
It has a ring to it that means nothing beyond what it is—short, memorable and to the point, sort of like "Romneycare," which Democrats use frequently. What sort of dogs are they whistling to, one wonders? Trying to stoke the rage of all those "very black" or "very Latino" Mormon haters?
Kathleen Parker's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. (c) 2012, Washington Post Writers Group.