Disgraced ex-governor-turned-Fox News talking head Mark Sanford predicted on Sunday that President Barack Obama will “throw a lot of spears” during Tuesday’s second debate with Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
“Obama’s going to come out in this case much more forcefully, and he’s going to throw a lot of spears. And I think it’s very, very important that in this case that, you know, Romney stay focused on his vision for the country and stay focused on the things that, I think, matter most to people in this country, which is, where is the economy going, where are we with jobs, and what’s happening next on the debt and the deficit issue?”
Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher explains why it might not be the best idea for a white, plantation-owning South Carolinian to suggest that the nation’s first African-American president is going to go around chucking spears at Romney on Tuesday:
Completely coincidentally, and not at all related to this, the term “spearchucker” is a racial slur against black people, but what would a 52 year-old white guy from South Carolina know about that? Also, he didn’t call President Obama a “spearchucker,” he just said he would be throwing spears. That’s completely different.”
To be clear, nobody is suggesting (at least, your faithful editor certainly isn’t) that Mark Sanford is a racist. However, his racially-coded language plays directly into the ongoing campaign to portray President Obama as the exotic “other” who’s only pretending to be “one of us.”
One is immediately reminded of former Sen. George Allen’s “macaca moment” in 2006, when the Virginia Republican was videotaped using a racial slur against Africans in reference to a campaign tracker. Whether or not Allen and Sanford used the slurs intentionally, you can certainly see how the language might appeal differently to the birther crowd than your average voter.
Sanford’s own “macaca moment” certainly isn’t the only such racially-coded language to be thrown around in the Palmetto State. In September, Gov. Nikki Haley held a press conference next door to the Democratic National Convention to announce that President Obama “isn’t working.” Another Romney surrogate at Gov. Haley’s publicity stunt, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, went on to call the president “lazy.” Earlier this month, the South Carolina Republican Party held a rally featuring songs mocking Obama supporters with lines like “Give us our monthly welfare check, and we’ll be your slaves.”
The 2012 campaign has certainly shown how receptive South Carolina Republicans can be to dog-whistle attacks, something Newt Gingrich exploited to win the state’s primary back in January with comments like “food stamp president.” Accordingly, Palmetto Public Record has created a poster for Tuesday’s debate which reflects those attitudes: