Mitt Romney will be speaking to the NAACP’s national convention today, and as Adam Serwer reminds us, Mitt’s relationship with the oldest civil rights group in the country was downright tragic when he was governor.
Leonard Alkins, the former head of the Boston NAACP, has few fond memories of Romney’s tenure. “There was no relationship between the NAACP in Boston and Governor Mitt Romney and his administration,” Alkins says. “The only time that the NAACP had any interaction with the administration and the governor was to protest when he eliminated the affirmative action office.”
In one of his early acts as governor, Romney dumped the state’s office of affirmative action and replaced it with the office of diversity and equal opportunity. In doing so, he invalidated half a dozen executive orders establishing affirmative action policies for women, minorities, veterans, and people with disabilities; diversity training programs; and equal opportunity standards for state contractors. Romney’s executive order replaced all of this with what was essentially a broad—and, Alkins says, “toothless”—commitment to “diversity.”
Romney didn’t inform civil rights groups about his plans before scrapping the affirmative action office, and the reaction from activists was harsh. The Massachusetts Black Caucus accused Romney of attempting to “virtually dismantle affirmative action in Massachusetts state government.”
So yes, I fully expect nothing but stony silence and sideeyes from the assembled. Romney apparently wants to talk about how Republicans are going to be better than Democrats on the issue of black unemployment, to which I say: “there’s a chart for that Mitt.”
Black unemployment has long, long been about double what white unemployment has been. And under Republican presidents that number has gotten significantly worse (Reagan, Poppy Bush, Dubya) while under Democrats, the number has decreased (and yes, it’s dropped from that 16.0% under Obama).
Hell, unemployment fell under Carter, supposedly the worst President in the universe until the swarthy gentleman from Kenya showed up. The Reagan recession? If Obama’s a failure and doesn’t deserve a second term based on where black unemployment was at the height of the recession, well…ol’ Gipper is not your best data point here.
If black voters are supposed to choose between Republicans and Democrats based on black unemployment, I’m really thinking Romney should try to find and use a different argument before he opens his mouth today and tells folks just how great Republicans are for African-Americans like me.[UPDATE] The Cliffs Notes version of the speech:
“I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African-American families, you would vote for me for president,” the presumptive GOP nominee will say. “I want you to know that if I did not believe that my policies and my leadership would help families of color — and families of any color — more than the policies and leadership of President Obama, I would not be running for president.”
Oh, if sideeyes could kill…