Friday, February 08, 2008

Now Playing: Tomorrow's Mitt

Yesterday, my chum John and I solved our own and then the world's problems over a second, then third, beer. He was ahead of me on Willard Mitt Romney though.

He's not the politics addict I am, but he knows how to use cable TV. I had already posted on Mitt's abandonment. However, John asked if I had heard all Mitt's crazy talk about France.

If you have only done what I did on video, do more. The two-minute "I'm also a great American, hightailing it for the good of the party and nation" speech is nothing. The matrix of lunacy around that shows that he intends to go back into training. He'll reemerge to jerk Republicans around in another run.

As John put it, "I wasn't quite sure before, but now I'm really glad he'll never be president."

You can see and hear the whole thing on his site. Maybe better, grab the text at the New York Times here. Otherwise, you might not know how dishonest and delusional he is.

You can get a taste of the craziness with the low lights a different John cites at Live, Love, and Learn. Bless you if you plug ahead here.

The overview is that Mitt used his speech at yesterday's Conservative Political Action Conference to mention in passing that he was renouncing his candidacy. Make no mistake that his aim was clearly:
  • To claim that he was on par with leader John McCain in his ability to get conservative votes, in his delegate count, and in his support around the nation.
  • To construct a facade of himself as international hardliner and hawk.
  • To use extreme right-wing rhetoric to cite in a future campaign.
  • To proclaim that as President he would bully other nations as well as moderates and lefties.
We here in Massachusetts know too well that he has always been a milquetoast social liberal. He could as easily have called himself a Democrat and likely would have if that was the path to office.

In contrast, this speech yesterday was pure theater. He was figuratively weaving a cartoon tapestry to hang on the wall for use in a future race.

It also seems clear that this speech was prepared well in advance and not for this occasion. I suspect this content was to convince a divided party convention that he was their guy. When he finally realized that he was a fish flopping high on land, he — how would a VC put it? — re-purposed the bluster.

The new Mitt differs considerably from the pro-gay rights, pro-women's choice, hide new taxes as fees version. This one is chauvinistic and xenophobic. He blames clear Republican failures on Democrats, asserts U.S. moral and cultural superiority over effete Europeans, and talks as tough as a non-veteran military ignoramus can on terrorism and defense.

Stinky Cheese

Certainly the strangest and most amusing aspect of his speech was the attack on France and by extension Europe. He succumbed to that awful disease of narrow-minded middle-aged sorts, building yourself up by knocking down others.

Pointing to Europe and specifically France as political failures facing demographic disaster, he tried to alarm with, "I'm convinced that unless America changes course, we could become the France of the 21st Century. Still a great nation, but not the leader of the world, not the superpower. And to me that's unthinkable."

[Le Monde is already citing his slurs. They are likely to elicit widespread derision among other nations with more valuable currencies and better records of feeding, housing, clothing and educating their citizens.]

Evil Dems

His central theme from the start was the superiority of American culture. He blamed our numerous long-term national shortcomings on Democrats and liberalism, never on the recurring borrow-and-spend Republican policies that have virtually bankrupted our nation.

That certainly is a set of arguments conservatives like and want to believe, even if they don't care for or trust Mitt.

For our first-world chums across the Atlantic:
Europe — Europe is facing a demographic disaster.

That's the inevitable product of weakened faith in the Creator, failed families, disrespect for the sanctity of human life, and eroded morality.

Some reason that culture is merely an accessory to America's vitality. We know that it's the source of our strength. And we will not be dissuaded by the snickers and knowing glances when we stand up for family values and morality and culture.
That's right, men and women, we're not in trouble because of absurdly destructive and wasteful wars, continuing to transfer wealth to the few plutocrats, or undermining our citizens' Constitutional rights and protections. It's the queers and other perverts!

As Mitt put it:
The attack on faith and religion is no less relentless. And tolerance for pornography, even celebration of it, and sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare, have led to today's grim realities: 68 percent of African-American kids born out of wedlock, 45 percent of Hispanic kids, 25 percent of white kids. How much harder it is for these kids to succeed in school and in life. A nation built on the principles of the founding fathers cannot long stand when its children are raised without fathers in the home.
Stop laughing now and don't dare note that there's no causality there. Mitt figures, "It's time for the people of America to fortify marriage through a constitutional amendment, so that liberal judges cannot continue to attack it." That'll fix everything — "The development of a child is enhanced by having a mother and a father. Such a family is the ideal for the future of the child and for the strength of the nation."

Europe wasn't enough of a target for the self-framing xenophobe. He paraded the Asian bugbears (and there are billions of them, don't ya know). "China, and Asia are emerging from centuries of poverty. Their people are plentiful, innovative and ambitious. If we don't change course, Asia or China will pass us by as the economic superpower, just as we passed England and France during the last century."

Of course, that course means steering into the Land of Defense. While making a passing mention of what he termed unnecessary governmental spending, what he really meant was to spend more on guns and less for people. When we again are the cops of the world, the real superpower, the sun will shine anew on our blessed (and conservative) nation.

He did not note that as a nation, we spend over 47% of the world's military money. During the current administration, the costs have shot up rapidly. Yet, Mitt wants to go from about 3.5% of GDP for military to at least 4%. He even derided Democratic efforts to slow this drag on our economy and get other nations to chip in fairly. As Mitt put it, "But their numbers have been depleted by the Clinton years, when troops were reduced by 500,000, when almost 80 ships were retired from our Navy, and when our human intelligence was slashed by 25 percent. We were told we were getting a peace dividend. We got the dividend; we didn't get the peace."

Let's Get Emotional

That sort of absurd and irrational sloganeering could work short-term. It has a visceral appeal — if only I had a bigger stick, all the other kids would give me their allowances. Yet, despite Mitt's framing, that won't stand current or historical scrutiny and criticism. It wouldn't last through a Presidential campaign cycle.

As further evidence of how this speech was a set up for his next run, he ended up setting up Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as the scapegoats if they can't reverse the God-awful Republican damage quickly. He said:
Soon the face of liberalism in America will have a new name. Whether it's Barack or Hillary, the result would be the same if they were to be able to...(BOOING)... if they were to be able to win the presidency. The opponents of American culture would push the throttle, devising new justifications for judges to depart from the Constitution. And economic neophytes would layer heavier and heavier burdens on employers and families, slowing our economy, opening the way for foreign competition to further erode our lead.
His punch line was that even though he was punking out the campaign, he'd remain a conservative warrior. "I will continue to stand for conservative principles. I'll fight alongside you for all the things we believe in. And one of the things we believe in is that we cannot allow the next president of the United States to retreat in the face of evil extremism."

Will this be the new face of the GOP in 2012 or 2016? Rather, despite his careful framing, Willard remains neither fish nor fowl, left nor right. With good reason, self-identified conservative Republican and independent voters did not believe in his version of a jailhouse conversion to their views.

In his cadaver sort of way, Mitt is good looking enough. He shows he knows how to make money, at least for the top executives of new companies and his own. He parlayed a huge government bailout of the Salt Lake Olympics into a flimsy legend of managerial competence. He...I guess those were all. Everything else should be an anathema to right-wing wingers.

Assume the Republicans lose the Presidency this time. Then assume they try to reframe and repair themselves as they have done in such times. Next wonder whether a large percentage of them would be desperate enough and forgetful enough to buy the reinvented arch-conservative Willard?

He's clearly planning for that. I remain to be convinced that even the most irrational ideologues would buy such defective goods again.

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1 comment:

John Hosty-Grinnell said...

It will take more than a few beers to make sense of Wilbur the jobless one time wonder, but I'm game! ;)

Just as I predicted he has become a victim of the very hatred he tried to use as a rallying point. Sucks to be different in a world of bigots doesn't it Wilbur? hehehe...

As always, great job on the article.