So I was doing my dishes on Saturday morning and decided to tune into the Value Voters Summer in Washington, DC… what can I say, I’d listen to my own show while doing dishes, but that lacks a certain narrative tension for me. I listened to Mitt Romney deliver his standard stump speech, with some variations for the audience at hand — I didn’t hear all of them, as it turns out (see below) – but it seemed serviceable.
Then, sounds started coming out of my computer I couldn’t quite believe — a bizarre parody of arch conservative social notions. I stared at the screen as a guy with perfect white hair — it looked like Marlon Brando’s wig in Superman — told me that all mosques were potential terrorist cells, that the homosexual agenda was threatening America’s basic liberties, and that the seventh inning stretch had saved America from further terrorist attack. Really.
The speaker, as it turned out was Bryan Fischer, a conservative radio host and the Director of Issues Analysis for Government and Public Policy for the American Family Association, which might explain why their analyses of government and public policy are so spot on. Anyway, as I was shocked to hear a raving everything-ophobe speak just after the leading Republican candidate for President, I tweeted:
”The danger is not radical Islam, but Islam.” Is anybody going to ask the Pres candidates speaking at this event if they agree?
So then I checked in on TPM’s excellent coverage of the Summit, and I discovered some interesting things… first, that Mr. Fischer is a pretty well known provocateur, famed for his accusations against gays, Muslims, liberals, and other perceived enemies, and that further, the Romney campaign knew about him too. In fact, Romney tried to inoculate himself against association with Fischer by including these remarks in his speech:
“We should remember that decency and civility are values too…One of the speakers who will follow me today, has crossed that line. Poisonous language does not advance our cause. It has never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind.”
For which I think he deserves some credit, and if you think that it’s not enough… well, what should he have done? I regret the suggestion in my tweet that all the speakers at the conference should be asked about Fischer’s remarks. Guilt by association is a dangerous game — you knew this guy, or you were on stage with this guy, or after this guy, or before this guy, so you’re responsible in some way for him — and if you start to think about the exponentially expanding circles of associations and you realize that way madness lies.
I do wonder, though, about what the best response is or should be from Romney or the other candidates to the hateful stupid sauce spread by Fischer at this event. I don’t want to demand a denunciation — that’s another infinite loop of stupidity. But I would love to hear Romney or any of the Republicans say something nice, for example, about Muslims or gays or even, God help them, liberals. If any of the candidates win, they’ll be President of those people too.