It was an updated, reformed, Romneyfied Sister Souljah moment, 20 years after the original and with a different operating plan executed no less adroitly.
Instead of clotheslining and de-cleating a reliable, loyal faction within his own party, the way Bill Clinton did during the 1992 campaign, Mitt Romney on Wednesday went before a reliable, loyal faction in the other guy’s party, one he has absolutely zero chance of seducing with all the PowerPoints in all the boardrooms in all the world, and he gamely bore the backlash, subjecting himself to boos and catcalls.
Because it could be worth it. The centrist and swing voters that would put the former Massachusetts governor over the top like and appreciate the fact that he strayed out of traditional GOP comfort zones, that he at least made the argument that his presidency would benefit African-Americans more than a second term for President Obama would.
In that sense, Romney’s speech to the NAACP today shared the same objectives as Clinton’s famous confrontation of African-American activists in 1992, just coming at those goals from the other direction. Instead of looking to mollify the middle by jumping ugly with the Left, Romney looked to do so by humbling himself before it.