By Robert S. Becker
Great news this week for majority rule: CNN polling reported 63% polled think Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital triumphs make him more likely to “make good decisions handling” the economy over the next four years. What else matters to hardscrabble anguish in towns like Peoria, Illinois? Put in a tough, no-nonsense CEO tycoon to remake America as Bain remade venture capital – and no more feel-good stumbles into sentimental socialism.
Moreover, six in ten honorable voters (CBS/NY Times) won’t let jaw-dropping Bain revelations “matter to their vote” (so much for predation, outsourcing, job demolition, and tax-avoidance sleaze). Finally, 54% (USA Today/Gallup) affirm Mitt’s “personality and leadership qualities” are what a “president should have.” Exactly what “qualities,” pray tell, other than deviant capitalism and gaffe-filled, policy-free campaigning that glorifies his zealous “elasticity”?
When did we ever nominate, let along elect a slippery, fabulously wealthy corporate raider? Not once. So, why not worsen terrible times with more Reagan-Bush policies? Look, do we honor majorities or not, however they tilt to ruthlessness over familiarity, the economics of hard-knocks over mushy Obama rhetoric. Such early polling is all about the devil voters don't know well vs. the low-performing champion of podium popularism they know all too well.
Ruthlessness, devoid of “ruth”
Predictably with empty suits, other Romney assessments are less kind: NBC/WSJ folks confirm he’s the first GOP presidential nominee whose unfavorable ratings (40%) still surpass favorables (35%). Does this mean the remaining majority of non-fans (like 65%) resists Mitt’s no-compassion conservatism or weird personality, or both? Bain’s modus operandi plowed through, exemplifying nothing less than take-no-prisoners, “ruthless pragmatism.” Add to the GOP’s politics of austerity (well, for all but the rich), and one only wonders whether any majority can imagine the nitty-gritty of a Romney presidency. Would we not face a religious commitment to the status quo, even worse than Obama’s miscast, non-job-creating duo of Summers and Geithner? Obama is no liberal, let alone socialist, but Romney could nail down the onerous doctrine of socializing corporate risk while privatizing profits.
And yet, let’s not altogether abandon distinctions between the “devoutly non-ideological,” ex-liberal Democrat who fudges major campaign promises (but “means well”) vs. the plastic Romney fully morphed into a radical extremist – with hard-knuckled Republican Ruthlessness with two capital Rs and no restraining “ruths” (the root being “pity”). Romney’s like the 17-year locust, muddling along underground for decades only to emerge with a rock-hard shell and insatiable appetites. Incredibly, the GOP found a more ambitious guy than the perpetual careerist Obama, a politician who never spotted a title not worth running for? And Romney’s been running for president since Obama was in short pants.
Despite the smiling, surface cheer, Romney strips pragmatism to its core, thus Gallup reports an edge over the president re: "getting things done." Someday, when things get worse, agony will force us to start getting “things done.” With unlimited billions available, rightwing polarization advances their power vacuum quickly filled with the super-rich dreading fair taxation. If neither centrist voters, nor labor, elected officials, nor intellectual elites offset fat cat reactionaries, the public only gets a choice of political fakes, which I divide into genuine fakes (W. or Obama) vs. fake fakes (Romney).
Distinction without a Difference?
Thus, Dubya exemplifies the genuine fake, his calculated oafish manner in sync with benighted Tea Baggers. Likenesses attract so W. never presumed great intellectual or educational prowess (rightly so). His mind was so genuinely ordinary that completing an entire book made news, evidence even genuine fakes read (remember his MBA stuff). W. wasn’t as stupid as he appeared, though clumsy articulations encouraged us to underestimate his egregious leadership. In the end, while he conned the majority (and got re-elected), one sensed he only got part of the con. Bush’s one talent: making fakery seem genuine, up there with the best, like Sarah Palin. Hokey, western, cowboy, chain saw manliness made him “easy to have a beer with” – guaranteed not threaten anyone’s mental comfort zone.
Though far more literate, smarter and self-aware, Obama also qualifies as genuine fake, especially compared to the utterly fake fake called Romney. The president is a genuinely fake liberal, despite populist rhetoric and one truly progressive speech a year. He has a woefully, genuinely fake awareness of economic and military matters, displaying no more expertise now than three years ago. Is backdoor plutocrat Geithner not still in charge, with or without scandals? Is not militarism in high gear, what we’d expect from a fake peace candidate? Worst of all for a law school instructor on the Constitution, his extension of the Bush-Cheney whack job compounds his transparently phony legal stances, for example that the Supreme Court wouldn’t dare deny his health insurance reform. Oh, yeah?
In not protecting the middle-class decline, Obama nearly matches Dubya’s duplicity about helping “the people.” Obama is a genuine fake as Chicago-crunch politician, so lacking in backbone he gets embarrassed repeatedly by the insipid Senate and the shrill House. Considering his ’08 mandate, Obama demonstrates time and again he’s truly a genuinely fake, back room Washington deal-maker. In short, here’s a fake reformer, systemic or otherwise, a fake challenger to crazed military spending (or gun sales) and fake populist, defective on economic matters. What’s genuine about Obama is how seamlessly he’s morphed into predictable, even mundane politician, unwilling to risk anything that undermines re-election. That one of the weakest GOP nominees in years, mismatched for today's Republican party, is running even testifies that key voters aren’t buying the Obama brand, even questioning his credibility.
Drum roll . . . the ultimate fake fake
And now the fabulous fake fake of our time – the secretive, weird, protean shape-shifter whose only identifiable political constants over 20 years are his last name and loyalty to the LDS. With more oblique sides than a diamond ring, without any signature policy on any major issue, without clear incentive why he deserves to win – and performance blunders now compared to Sarah Palin, Romney is already coming across as an incredible political fake. Plus, he’s not even a genuinely real nominee, just a presumptive, bloating pretender without gravitas. We’re breaking new ground here, accentuated by huge blunders that pockmark his England trip intended to establish his overseas and diplomatic bona fides. Irony, anyone?
The ease of his transformation from a 20-year moderate to extremist bespeaks no ordinary fakery. W. and Obama show genuine fakes stick to key personal beliefs, now and again. The smug presumption that predatory, now scandalized vulture capitalism makes him presidential signals an especially noxious fraud, capped by having little to lose if he fails (so much for heroic risk). We’ve never had a genuinely super-rich industrialist for good reason: the skill-set between finance and politics is nearly opposite, especially at the top. Autocratic control lets a strong CEO have his/her way, hire or fire at will, as long as a corporation makes money, increases market share or industry expansion options.
What does Romney the fake fake bring to the political table where people-management reigns supreme? Less elected experience than any other nominee recently, plus he disowns his "mistakes" in his sole public office. Consider what he doesn’t know about diplomacy, foreign affairs, the Pentagon, plus no more competence in history, other cultures or the Constitution? What business tycoon, with or without one Olympic stint, succeeded in winning a campaign, let alone gaining White House success. The number of failed business wizards, athletes, actors and astronauts who tried politics is legion. Romney’s beyond a disaster waiting to happen: England makes it clear that’s under way.
That Romney displays the tinniest of tin-ears, coming across as a bullying, cold fish with a weird non-sense of humor, makes him appear dumber than he probably is. But it’s the rare package of phony “qualities” personal and political that win him the gold in the Olympic Fraud competition. No wonder, with the wrong skills and the wrong instincts – plus, no Karl Rove – Romney staggers into the convention. As more painful stories and scandals pour out over the month, on Bain, Massachusetts, Mormonism, and unknowns yet to surface (please, no more pet abuse), I wonder what products this guy can fabricate that wins over centrists in a dozen key states – other than that Obama stinks?
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