I do not know what President Obama is going to say today in Orlando at the annual convention of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. I did hear Mitt Romney yesterday and to say that it fell short of what he needed to do is an understatement. By my timing, Romney spoke for 16 minutes. In the 20 or so GOP debates during the presidential primary campaign, I estimate that Romney spent at least five minutes, on average, bashing immigrants and, by extension, HispanicLatinos who, while not making immigration their number one priority, do not cotton to that kind of language. Romney’s antagonistic language in the last few months amounted to perhaps as many as 100 televised minutes – not to mention the endless repetition of his remarks as sounds bites across every medium in the country. It isn’t as if HispanicLatinos do not know where Romney stands on things HispanicLatino. And so 16 minutes hardly would suffice.
But Romney amazed me: The national Spanish-language networks, both television and radio, waited for him with genuine interest. Univision and Telemundo were there, but also were the mainstream media, from which most HispanicLatinos get their news. CNN and MSNBC carried the address live. This was not a “gotcha” moment. He had control of the entire environment. It was a golden moment for Romney but, like the alleged vetting of Marco Rubio for vice president, Romney flubbed his opportunity. Perhaps he expects Jeb Bush or Rubio to do what he could not do for himself. Yet it does not work that way. Folks do not vote for surrogates. He could have achieved 100 percent coverage of the HispanicLatino community to make up for 100 minutes of discord.
If the Romney campaign hoped for some phrase, some language, some image, some narrative to register and make it across the many media gathered there that could begin to turn around the presidential race, the speech it prepared for its candidate was wholly and surprisingly absent of anything substantive. Who gets this kind of tee-up and whiffs it?
Though I like to believe I think broadly and that I have strived to shed provincialisms, I am a Texan by birth, and I am heart-broken at the beating my home state is taking and has taken since George W. Bush became President under suspect circumstances in 2000.
It is hard for people, perhaps, to understand what Texas means to Texans. But more so than in sheer nativist or parochial loyalty, my sentiment for the state is rooted in the view that it is essential to the future of the country. So my feelings are more than resentments about how the national press is making a joke out of Texas through the lens of the national political stage. If Texas fails as a state – which it might well do if its growing HispanicLatino population does not accelerate its economic and social standing – the country will fail. Think California, which remains on the ropes and whose educational system – meaning its future – has cracked. California schools no longer are the foundation from which the state blasted into the future and took the world – not just the country – with it. Continue reading →
The images of U.S. troops leaving Iraq after a senseless, tragic waste of lives and money that left America nearly bankrupt is a blunt and brutal lesson for HispanicLatinos. Except for the families who suffered the direct loss of loved ones, few individuals should walk away more sobered than HispanicLatino men and women in charge of businesses. Business owners intuitively understand the impact of an $800-billion war debt to a struggling economy.
Hmmm, so this is what the election year is going to look like. It begins with the sensational accusations of sexual assault against Herman Cain and an equally astounding press conference by the candidate himself that pushes the limits of what is now fair game. Should we dare visualize how it might end? It almost should not matter, now that we get a glimpse of what could be a spectacularly sorry election year – except that it might get worse for HispanicLatinos, especially those unprepared or who live in a state of denial.