Via Ben Smith, former Swift Boat Veterans for Truth member Bud Day, speaking as a surrogate for moderate Republican Senate Candidate Charlie Crist, lets the whole world know he hasn't been fooled by all these colored folk reading their speeches off of fancy screens. So don't even think about voting for Crist's Latino opponent, Marco Rubio:
“You know, we just got through (electing) a politician who can run his mouth at Mach 1, a black one, and now we have a Hispanic who can run his mouth at Mach 1,” Day said. “You look at their track records and they’re both pretty gritty. Charlie has not got a gritty track record.”
Day confirmed he was speaking of Obama and Rubio.
The "teleprompter" jibe has always fascinated me because it's such a clear response to the white anxiety that the president's obvious intelligence provokes in some conservatives. As Day inadvertently reveals above, the teleprompter is a kind of catchall symbol for all the easy breaks minorities get at the expense of whites, which is why it's a favorite trope of people like Rush Limbaugh who inexplicably blame "affirmative action" for Obama being president. They're so used to exaggerating and mythologizing the effects of affirmative action that they actually believe anyone who isn't white who has achieved a position of prominence actually doesn't deserve to be there, which conversely reassures them that they are in fact superior. It's a bedtime story that rationalizes all nonwhite excellence as the product of easily removable external forces, and its very existence hints at the fragile ego of the person who tells it.
What makes this particular fairy tale interesting, though, is that Rubio himself used it against Obama at CPAC, while standing around a bunch of teleprompters. Again, the reason why this isn't hypocrisy is because conservatives who buy the teleprompter trope believe that Obama, as a black liberal, needs a teleprompter because he's secretly an imbecile. Rubio was signaling that he was a member of the conservative tribe, that he accepted the implicit worldview of conservatives that modern America is unfair to white people and privileges undeserving minorities, at the same time identifying himself as one of the "deserving" ones. In doing so he flatters his audience, first by reinforcing their worldview, next by complimenting them for having found one of the few "deserving" nonwhites. Day, obviously, isn't buying it.
Had Rubio not himself embraced the teleprompter dog whistle, he might have been able to flatter his audience again by using the obvious racism of Crist's surrogate to give conservatives the opportunity to feel racially aggrieved on behalf of someone who isn't white, which isn't something they get to do very often and they very much enjoy. Either way would force conservatives to choose between one of their emerging champions and one of their most cherished myths, but having embraced the teleprompter, Rubio can hardly afford to argue the obvious, that Day really just has a problem with people who aren't white. He's lucky that Day makes that argument so eloquently on his own.
-- A. Serwer
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