Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Mitt Romney Thinks We're Stupid

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney thinks a majority of American voters are going to be stupid enough to elect him to serve as the 45th President of the United States. He knows the people who will be voting to re-elect President Obama in November are too smart to buy what he’s selling; but there are only about sixty-nine million of them, and they’re as invisible to Mitt as workers at a company taken over by Bain Capital.

Romney also knows the fifty-eight million people who voted for the McCain/Palin ticket aren't yet convinced of his “severely conservative” credentials. So he and his lovely wife, Ann, will be summering on the campaign trail; feeding the folks a fetid feast of Frank Luntz’s focus-grouped factoids, fastidiously formulated to fan the fires of their feelings and their faith. Then, in the fall, they’ll be out there again trying to reassure fifteen million swing voters that Mitt is what he’s always been: A corporate raider, swimming in money, who spent four years running a state that is so blue even the Republicans describe themselves as “moderate" with "progressive" views. It’s a tough row to hoe; and Mitt Romney’s weak brand of political fertilizer isn’t potent enough to make it bear fruit.

His biggest problem is that as a person and as a politician, he’s completely incongruent. In addition to having a personality that doesn’t fit his bio, Mitt Romney is backing policy proposals that don’t fit the times. Like a good, capital gains earning, jobless Trust Fund Baby, Romney was eager to jump on board Paul Ryan’s falsely labeled “Path to Prosperity” – which makes the Bush tax cuts permanent AND cuts the top rate by ten percent. Rep. Ryan’s budget pays for those enormous tax cuts with a giant “F___ You!” to any American who counts on the government for food, medical care, education, or a home loan – a constituency of millions of working people and their families who are invisible to Mitt Romney – while giving the Pentagon everything it asks for. The Ryan plan also repeals the Affordable Care Act (“You like coverage for preventative care? F___ you!”) and mysteriously, the Dodd-Frank Act. In Mitt Romney’s America, things will look a lot like they did toward the tail end of George W. Bush’s America.

For a man who portrays himself as a C.E.O., Mitt Romney signing onto someone else’s budget doesn’t exactly demonstrate leadership or a personal vision for the future. What it does is show he’s willing to co-sign a plan that cements income inequality, creates a structural deficit in the federal budget, and trades real reform for disproved supply-side economic theories. Of course, the Romneys can afford to vacation in a bungalow on Paul Ryan’s Financial Fantasy Island. While most people are worried about getting or keeping a job, getting or keeping a pay raise, and getting into or staying in the American middle class, Mitt and Ann are using some of the $22 million that their giant, $250 million pile of money threw off last year to install a car elevator at their beach house in La Jolla – after paying 14% in taxes…you know, their fair share.

Mitt Romney’s raison d’etre and the basis of his presidential campaign is his competence as a capitalist. According to him, the United States government should be run like a business; and since he is the only candidate who has earned a Scrooge McDuck-sized fortune in business, he should be in charge. But the President is more than America’s Chairman of the Board. Holding the office means yours is the face and the voice of the people of these United States; you and the First Lady are our ambassadors to the world, and anything you do or say is immediately scrutinized all over the globe. The idea of what the British press would do with footage of Mitt Romney greeting a group of brown children in a third world country is terrifying. Because ever since he began campaigning for office in 1994, Mitt Romney has proven he can’t be in an unscripted social situation for more than about three minutes without revealing himself to be a bumbling fool. That kind of thing might be charming when you’re the owner of the company or the rich kid who always picks up the dinner check on your mission to France, but it’s a bad look for the President of the United States.

On one hand we have President Obama: The most powerful man in the world doing the most stressful job in the world for the past three-and-a-half years; handling an unprecedented list of global challenges better than anyone could reasonably have expected while dealing with a Congress that only worked for half of his term – and even then only half the time. On the other we have Governor Romney: A vulture capitalist with no foreign policy experience who made a fortune buying and selling companies before serving one term as Governor of Massachusetts – and who refuses to run on his signature accomplishment in public life. The only way Mitt Romney could possibly win in November is if somehow the Republican base gives him a pass for what he’s going to say during the general election AND swing voters ignore what he’s already said during the primary campaign (because there's no question he will be saying at least two different things).

But it’s not magic, it’s math – and the numbers don’t look good for the Romney campaign. They’ll need fifty-five million people who are so stupid they’ll vote for any name next to the “R” on the ballot; then they’ll have to find another ten million people in nine swing states who are so stupid they think Mitt Romney actually believes what comes out of his mouth. Unfortunately for Mitt and Ann Romney (who thinks it’s “our turn”) President Barack Obama has already convinced some sixty-five million smart people that he’s earned a second term – and there just isn't a sufficient number of swing voters out there who are stupid enough to want to downgrade from the coolest President in modern history to the stiffest President in modern history.


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