Anyone who is a fan of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is familiar with a race known as the Klingon. A race known for their knack to fight and make war, also believe if a father was a traitor then the son must also be one and suffer the same fate. The so-called “sins of the father” philosophy can be applied to those who are considered “guilty by association.”
Regardless of proof, society tends to judge someone guilty just because the person they are with is doing something incriminating. If a person is a racist, then those around him must also be racist or they wouldn’t associate with that individual. This way of thinking can be dangerous, especially in the world of politics.
Time and time again, once a person makes a comment that is considered rude, crude or appalling to the general public, everyone associated with that person becomes fair game and must distance them or be considered guilty by association. John Sununu’s race comment made Thursday on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight has drawn criticism from the Democrats and others as being ill-advised and questionable.
Sununu is no stranger to making controversial comments in his career but this latest comes at a bad time for Republicans. What some are questioning is that being a surrogate for Mitt Romney and the guilt by association philosophy many voters believe in, will Sununu’s comment cause problems for Romney come Election Day?
John Sununu appeared Thursday on “Piers Morgan Tonight” and during the interview, downplayed the importance of former secretary of state’s endorsement and pointed out the support Romney has received from the former President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. He continued to explain that Powell’s endorsement of Obama wasn’t specifically made on the political issues at hand. “When you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to look at whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or he’s got a slightly different reason for endorsing President Obama,” Sununu continued by adding: “I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.”
Sununu released a statement later where he said “Colin Powell is a friend and I respect the endorsement decision he made and I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the President’s policies.” Sununu has been one of Romney’s most active surrogates and has taken on the role of campaign attack dog.
While lambasting Obama whenever having the opportunity to do so, his outspoken and brash manner has also prompted criticism from opponents. He has remarked by implying that the president is un-American and calling him “lazy” in referring to his lackluster performance during the first debate.
During a July conference call, he said that “I wish this president would learn how to be an American,” in reference to how he was handling the economy. This triggered a response from Democrats that caused a walkback from Sununu himself.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who is a top surrogate for Obama’s campaign, said Friday the “responsible thing to do” would be that Romney’s campaign issues their own statement. He admits that in politics, people will try to connect what one person may say to others who have not made the same comment. “But the one thing I don’t like about our political culture is we take one person’s comments–stupid or not–and then we just try to spread it out and lay it over anything,” Booker said. “Mitt Romney didn’t say this, so it’s the kind of thing for me that’s just a dumb comment. It’s unfortunately something that’s worth talking about because we still in America–” he said before being cut off by Soledad O’Brien.
He continued later by adding that “This is days before this election. Really, I hope what Americans are is not the dumb racially-tinged comments of an individual. There’s too much at stake. There are larger issues. What are the plans and platform of candidates? Let’s make decisions on that.”
President Obama talked to Philadelphia radio-host Michael Smerconish on Friday and during the interview, he talked about Sununu’s comment and responded by saying, “I’ll let General Powell’s statements stand for themselves. He spoke about the fact that my foreign policy during a very difficult time had been steady and strong. He talked about, with respect to our economy, that we had helped to rescue America from a potential Great Depression and that we were moving in the right direction. I don’t think that there are many people in America who would question General Powell’s credibility, his patriotism, his willingness to tell it straight, and so any suggestion that General Powell would make such a profound statement in such an important election based on anything but what he thought was what’s going to be best for America doesn’t make much sense.”
Both Obama and his surrogate, Cory Booker, did not use “guilt by association” and try to connect this to Mitt Romney by saying this is also his belief. One thing Booker did say was that the responsible thing to do would be for Romney’s campaign to issue a statement.
To my knowledge, none has been released at this time. Anyone who is following what Sununu’s comment was on Thursday will judge the man accordingly. What is at question is whether voters will say Romney must think the same thing and be guilty by association. After all, Sununu is Mitt Romney’s surrogate and it is okay for him to constantly attack Obama whenever given the chance.
If he can persuade voters to not vote for Obama, Romney must be happy to be associated with him. Can Romney walk in the other direction when his surrogate says something that can have the opposite effect? Will John Sununu’s race comment cause problems for Mitt Romney on Election Day? What do you think?
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