Jack White is a regular contributor to The Root.
My old pal Paul Delaney, a fellow contributor to The Root, recently asked me what kind of speech I thought Barack Obama's Republican challenger would make to a mainstream black audience during next year's presidential campaign.
It's a good question because every four years, the GOP and its standard-bearer reaffirm their determination to go after every vote, including those of black America — and then proceed to prove their insincerity.
When they appear before black organizations, they are less interested in appealing to black voters than in convincing fence-sitting whites that despite their party's historic addiction to race-baiting tactics, it's OK to vote for them. Their intent, described perceptively by Denton Watson, the biographer of NAACP legend Clarence Mitchell, is to show that they "will talk to all sorts of Americans and not exclude anyone."
Given those parameters, what kind of speech might the Republican champion deliver if she or he addressed, say, the NAACP?
The candidate might start out trying to score points for candor by addressing the NAACP's charge last year that there are racist elements within the so-called Tea Party movement. Then he or she could move on to an attack on Obama before winding up with an exposition of his or her own ideas and an impassioned show of solidarity with the idea of racial equality.
I've pulled together a political stump speech using actual quotes from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; and businessman Herman Cain, the only African-American hopeful in the GOP field. Here goes:
"I have been called a sell-out, an Uncle Tom and shameless because I disagree with this president's policies. Those who are calling me those names have probably never been to a Tea Party event, and I doubt officials of the NAACP have attended an event either. Those that would like to join the name-calling parade should save themselves some time. In my grandfather's vernacular, 'I does not care!' " --Cain
"It's a false accusation that Tea Party Americans are racist. Any good American hates racism. We don't stand for it. It is unacceptable." --Palin
"This president ran on a campaign of hope and change, but his change is not working. Over 4 million Americans lost jobs in 2009, the unemployment rate has gone from 7.6 percent in January 2009 to 9.5 percent in June 2010, the unemployment rate for black Americans is over 15 percent and not getting better, and the national debt has increased exponentially to over $13 trillion since January 2009.
"Tea Party people are not racist. They are patriotic Americans who want the greatest country in the world to remain the greatest by exercising their right to make their voices heard. This isn't about race. This is about results, and the results by this administration are missing in action." --Cain
"What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior can you begin to piece together [his actions]? That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior. This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president." --Gingrich
"It's no wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody you better breast-feed your baby — yeah, you better — because the price of milk is so high right now!" --Palin
"I saw my father march with Martin Luther King." --Romney
"We would be well to remember one of [MLK's] famous quotes. He had reminded listeners that a lie cannot live. And I believe that not in every situation, it's just going to be providence that sheds light on what the truth is. We have to do our part also." --Palin
"If our prison policies are failing half of the time, and we know that there are more humane alternatives — especially alternatives that do not involve spending billions more on more prisons — it is time to fundamentally rethink how we treat and rehabilitate our prisoners.
"Conservatives, such as myself, should not consider criminal-justice reform off-limits, and I am pleased that our movement has begun to tackle these issues head-on." --Gingrich
"I am so adamantly supportive of the good, traditional things about America and our free-enterprise system, and I want to make sure that America is put back on the right track, and we only do that by defeating Obama in 2012. I have that fire in my belly." --Palin
"We remind people that this is a nation that recognizes the equality of all individuals. We also want to make sure that our nation is kept safe. And we're going to pursue any avenue we have to, to assure that people who might be preaching or teaching doctrines of hate or terror are going to be followed into a church or into a school or a mosque or wherever they might be." --Romney
"I am obviously a proponent of free speech. I'm not anti-rap. In fact, like Bret Baier, I know the lyrics to 'Rapper's Delight,' too." --Palin
Holiday Inn ... " --the Sugarhill Gang