Why Mitt Romney Should Go Ahead and Quit
Yeah. I know. I can already feel the molten lava dripping from some of your sulfuric maws as you read this headline. From my occasional skimming of the Whine Line, I know a few of you stockpile your indignation reserves for when you read this column, and I want you to know I’m flattered. Bonus fun/infuriating fact: I used to teach at the college level, so some of you may know or be related to someone I brainwashed into godless liberalism.
Anyway. I’m not the first to suggest that Romney might want to just pack it in right now. One of Fox News’ bottle-blonde talking heads took it further a few weeks ago, saying that if Romney can’t beat Obama this fall, the GOP should shut the whole party down.
True, I’ve thought that was a good idea for about 10 years now, ever since I’ve been mature enough to feel ways about things. But I’m not here to try and convince you that Mitt Romney is a terrible candidate; that should have been evident months ago, when he trailed, at various points, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Herman “Uze-bekky-bekky-bekky-stan” Cain.
No, I’m here to outline why his campaign has self-imploded the way it has (which, I might point out, I predicted some weeks ago), and why the GOP as a whole is going to suffer for it. These are just facts, so don’t shoot the messenger — though you could probably get away with it if you invoked Stand Your Ground.
1. Mitt Romney is a Gaffe Machine
Now look, you and I both know that our best politicians practice a special kind of diplomatic clean-speak, the many iterations of which are run through focus groups and demographic studies in order to determine the most PC, inoffensive ways to say even the most objectively offensive things. George W. Bush is kind of an idiot, but he surrounded himself with able politicians who were able to filter out most knee-jerk utterances.
There is, however, no middleman between Romney’s brain and his mouth. At first, these were worthy of a quick eye-roll and nothing more: such gems as “Ten thousand dollar bet?” and “My wife drives a couple of Cadillacs” fall into that category. But the ones that have since cropped up are more glaring, and bespeak a candidate who has experienced not an inkling of financial hardship in his life, and exhibits a glaring lack of worldliness and self-awareness:
“Some of my best friends are NASCAR owners.” — It speaks primarily to the perpetual lobotomied nature of his base that he got away with that one unscathed by the right.
“I like being able to fire people.” — To be fair, this one was taken slightly out of context, but still. If your brain doesn’t register that phrasing and immediately stop the presses on your tongue, you have no more business in politics than you do in procreation.
“Forty-seven percent of people in this country see themselves as victims… My job is to not care about those people.” — Jesus Popsicle Christ. First, let’s get this out of the way: in no way was this a “gotcha” moment. No one asked Romney leading questions or tried to paint him into a rhetorical corner. The man was at a podium, talking to his constituents, and these words — essentially, “I don’t give a s**t about half the country” — came willfully out of his mouth. The 47 percent he mentioned refers to the number of Americans who received some sort of government assistance in the past year or so, which includes those receiving welfare benefits, Medicare and business loans. Twenty-two percent of that number includes the elderly. By definition, it also includes corporations who received funding and subsidies from the government.
Fox News wanted to know why we were spending so much time on a “hidden video.” Because read above, Fox News. By the way, if you want to know why Fox News is the paste-eater of bulls**t artists, they tried to sidestep this controversy by pointing out that the video was taken from a fundraiser “all the way back” in May. They then released an out-of-context video of Obama saying he was for redistribution… back in 1998.
Bonus I-didn’t-expect-to-add-to-this-category-when-I-woke-up-Monday-morning quote:
“Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance. If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.” — Uh-huh. Never mind that someone without health insurance — aka those of us too lazy to take responsibility for our own lives, right? — could be financially destroyed after one trip to the emergency room. A co-worker of mine was recently, incorrectly, billed for an insurance-less ER procedure during which she had a fish bone removed from her throat. The whole thing took about 12 seconds. She was charged more than $800.
2. The Base Is Turning
One of the most baffling aspects of this nation’s ideological divide is the fact that, in an era in which the GOP is controlled by the super-rich, a large percentage of their base is still composed of middle-class and economically disadvantaged whites. For the most part, this is a holdover from Joseph McCarthy’s virulently anti-Communist rhetoric, a streak that was born of, and has in turn perpetuated, what is in reality an anti-intellectual stance. Writes Neil Gabler of Politico:
“Ever since McCarthy, the GOP has had its anti-elitist, anti-intellectual wing. The mantra of which has been: They hate you. ‘They’ being the Democrats, who were in league with the professors and planners. This seed, planted by McCarthy, has grown a political sequoia. As Rick Perlstein documented in his brilliant book ‘Nixonland,’ ‘They hate you’ became the basis of Nixonian politics and the force that shifted the nation’s political geology for the past 50 years.”
The party has devolved into a conglomerate of wealthy donors, religious wingnuts and special interest groups, but has remained rhetorically cohesive enough to keep this train of thought functioning. It’s not surprising. One of the quickest, most primal methods of keeping a population, or a constituency, in check is to tap into their fear of an other. Throw an articulate black man into the mix who promises change and actually tries to deliver on it in a big way, and what you have is the sort of ultra-reactionary response that manifests itself in organizations like the Tea Party.
But something funny is happening right now, and it’s indicative of a trend across the broader scope of the nation: the Republicans are seeing their reliable base dwindle. Yes, they’ll always have hardcore evangelicals, billionaires and bigots, but key demographics are beginning to turn against them.
A specific example: Paul Ryan recently gave a talk at an AARP conference, where he laid out his voucher plan for Medicare, and was nearly booed off the stage. Keep in mind, these are not people who would be affected by the potential changes, but they harbor a very human, very empathetic conscience that will not allow them to cheer the dismantling of the Medicare safety net for future generations.
The campaign, for the record, has said that it’s plan moving forward is to let Ryan off his leash a little more and let him get into specifics regarding his policy plans. I really can’t see how that could backfire.
3. Foreign Policy
Conservatives love to knock Obama for his perceived softness on foreign policy. In response, I have two points to make:
Osama bin Laden? Dead. Moving on.
The second one is a little bit deeper and, I think, vastly more telling. Via Fox News, no less:
“[Libyans] stormed the compound of the Islamic extremist militia suspected in the attack, evicting militiamen and setting fire to their building Friday. In an unprecedented show of public anger at Libya’s rampant militias, the crowd overwhelmed the compound of the Ansar Al-Shariah Brigade in the center of the eastern city of Benghazi. Ansar Al-Shariah fighters initially fired in the air to disperse the crowd, but eventually abandoned the site with their weapons and vehicles after it was overrun by waves of protesters shouting ‘No to militias.’
“The crowd was waving, in many cases, swords and meat cleavers, chanting ‘No more Al-Qaeda!’ and ‘The blood we shed for freedom shall not go in vain!’”
Let me end by boiling down that last point: Muslims, of their own accord, rejected Muslim extremists, and kicked them right the hell out of their city. It is a victory for freedom, for democracy and for the right of humankind to govern itself freely.You Might Also Like: