Last week, the Boston Globe reported that Mitt Romney remained the CEO and stock controller of Bain Capital — the embattled financial services firm that specializes in buying out smaller companies, breaking them up and selling off their assets — for several years after 1999. Unless you’re a deaf, dumb and blind hunk of meat a la the “Johnny Got His Gun” narrator, you’ve probably read about it by now.
Every liberal and centrist media outlet is picking up on the story, finally — finally — calling Romney’s team out on the porous foundation of his only real campaign talking point: that, as a successful businessman, Romney is more qualified to turn around a still struggling economy. He and his cohorts are still more concerned with sabotaging that very economy, not to mention making wholly symbolic, wholly idiotic votes in the GOP-controlled House to repeal the Affordable Care Act than concentrate on a tangible, alternative plan to create jobs.
But, y’know, whatever.
The current incarnation of the Republican Party is more interested in smoke screens made out of “real American values” and “what our forefathers intended.” As if those are objective things that we can all agree on.
No one knows what our forefathers intended; at that point in history, they couldn’t have even conceived of the technological, sociological advances that our culture would make. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, great statesmen and rhetoricians though they were, were no soothsayers. Jefferson was reputed to have drunk at least five large snifters of brandy every night at a local oyster house. For a real fortune teller, that’s like carving up a corpse’s palm to read its future.
It’s bad enough when politicians of any party or creed presume to know the minds of 17th and 18th century aristocrats. Abraham Lincoln certainly accomplished some great and noble things, changing the course of America’s history as we know it, but read a few different biographies of the man, his papers and the Civil War chapters of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” and the sainted version of him we were all taught as middle schoolers begins to unravel faster than a Dan Brown plot point. It is, however, especially infuriating and insulting when someone assumes to know the minds of his nearly one billion contemporaries.
To be clear: I don’t think Mitt Romney believes he can read minds. If he could, he would panic when he realized we could see David Koch’s hand up his ass. The man is not stupid, but worse: he thinks America is stupid.
About eight months ago, New York Times political columnist Paul Krugman penned an op-ed discussing Romney’s “post-truth” campaign against Barack Obama. One of many juicy bits reads thusly:
“Over all, Mr. Obama’s positions on economic policy resemble those that moderate Republicans used to espouse. Yet Mr. Romney portrays the president as the second coming of Fidel Castro and seems confident that he will pay no price for making stuff up.
“Welcome to post-truth politics.
“Why does Mr. Romney think he can get away with this kind of thing? Well, he has already gotten away with a series of equally fraudulent attacks. In fact, he has based pretty much his whole campaign around a strategy of attacking Mr. Obama for doing things that the president hasn’t done and believing things he doesn’t believe.”
Krugman goes on to list a few of the most glaring examples, bits I’ve mostly covered before in these same pages — or website, which is how I recommend you read this if you’re in the Soul Bar, where it feels like you can grab the darkness in your jaws — but we can briefly run them down anyway:
1. That Obama has “declared war on free enterprise.” It’s a crock of s**t, Romney knows it and so does everyone else. Trying to turn America into an actual, honest-to-Trotsky, Soviet-gray commie paradise is next to impossible. The livelihood of our country is based around free enterprise, and our president is all for it. This slobbering nonsense stems exclusively from two major narratives. The first is national healthcare and — let’s just nip this in the bud right now, shall we? — anyone who tries to convince you that decent coverage for all American citizens isn’t a wholly beneficial and awesome thing should be forced to watch Tonya Harding’s sex tape until their eyes bleed.
The second is that Obama believes taxes on the wealthy should be higher. As in, back to what they were in the 1990s. As in, somewhere near what the freaking middle and lower financial brackets pay. Economists have gone on the record saying that the increased tax would do little to alleviate the national debt. While mathematically true, it’s beside the point. The tools at the disposal of the super-rich — offshore accounts, assets tied up in various business ventures and mergers — are all designed for them to “earn” ungodly incomes, while ensuring they give back comparatively miniscule amounts. A credit union account just can’t measure up. Even Warren Buffett is calling bulls**t.
2. That Obama has slashed defense budgets. I’ll keep this one quick, and just point you to the numbers. Military spending has steadily increased under Obama’s administration. I’ll repeat that: military spending has increased, under a Democratic president, since we let a bomb-crazy “Hee-Haw” extra run this country for eight years. Now scoop your brains off the wall behind you and keep reading.
The presidential race is, and has been for a long time, more of a tragically drawn-out reality show than an election. I’ve said before: a reckoning is slowly coming, one where the quasi-militaristic cliques of liberals and conservatives won’t entirely die out, but will fade into the background in favor of a national dialogue more resembling a free exchange of actual ideas rather than crazed diatribes. For the time being, though, it seems each side is hunkering down — yes, each side, though I’m putting conservatives on particular blast here — plugging their fingers into their ears and saying “LA LA LA LA LA!”
Truth is a funny thing. It exists in the sort of weird vacuum inhabited only by other absolutes, its presence in the real world obscured by the forced realities symptomatic of perpetual lies. There are documented cases of people having so convinced themselves they’re suffering from a certain condition that their bodies start to behave accordingly.
This November, Romney’s team will assume that the American populace is as psychologically sound as a head-case’s crossed wiring. And no one, short of a few journalists whose reputations — or in my case, lack thereof — provide them little to lose, is calling him on it.
For now, I’m done with creativity, with metaphors, with pop references. Mitt Romney is a liar. He is a cheater, an automaton, a puppet, a pathologically greedy bastard and he assumes that you are stupid.
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