SOME THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT MITT ROMNEY
Willard Mitt Romney was born on March 12, 1947, widely considered the day the Cold War started. His father, George Romney, was the head of American Motors and, during World War II, helped to arrange the marriage between private industry and the Pentagon that has bloated the Defense Department budget for more than half a century. Romney, Sr. negotiated contracts for tanks, aircraft engines, machine guns, and so on at the height of the Second World War. Impressively, he had the balls to admit that the Vietnam war was wrong, which cost him a chance to run for the presidency himself. His son was born to incredible wealth – some $29 billion in contracts were processed on George’s watch during the war alone (the shooting war, not the war against the Commies) – and saw his father become governor of Michigan when he was a teenager.
Mitt Romney roughed it as a missionary for the Mormon church – I am not making this up, I swear to you – at a house staffed by two servants and described as palatial by fellow LDSers in Le Havre, a charming French city on the banks of the Seine. Over what will turn out to be a long history of apparent prevarication, he says this was very difficult. People have been quoted as doubting the veracity of this statement, or at least the mettle of somebody who seems to think it’s true.
What he may mean is this: while there, he was involved in an auto accident that killed the other person in the car he was driving and seriously injured him. What followed represents the most admirable thing I have been able to see about Mitt Romney through the admittedly distortive media of television and newspapers and the internet: he became a really sold-out Mormon.
This guy is not half a Mormon in the way that most of our recent presidents have been half-Christians; he really believes it. He does not smoke, drink or take drugs, he does not disavow his faith when asked nicely to do so by people who might otherwise support him, and this is basically going to disqualify him from becoming president of these United States, because you can’t get elected to higher office in this country if you don’t thump the KJV hard enough. His big confession a few weeks ago was that he’d tried a cigarette once – just once – and threw it away and never did it again. There is clearly a certain amount of guilt motivating this man, and guilt, frankly, makes for good people. Newt Gingrich could certainly use more of it.
SOME THINGS YOU PROBABLY DO KNOW ABOUT MITT ROMNEY
Not since Walter Mondale ran against Ronald Reagan has there been a candidate with such a large backing from the power brokers in his own party and such hilarious, eye-rolling antipathy from voters at large. People look at Mitt Romney and are not fooled.
It is sorely tempting to point and laugh at Romney’s campaign and declare it the end of serious Republican politics in this country. Nobody wants to fucking vote for a guy who spent a wildly profitable career running a slash-and-burn hedge fund like Bain Capital, who, to quote Jon Stewart, “wouldn’t be middle-class at an OPEC meeting,” and whose credentials as a social conservative are such an extravagant joke that his opponents barely bother to make it anymore.
Instead, Newt Gingrich - Newt forgodsakes Gingrich - has run the man down for being a heartless billionaire. As have Ricks Perry and Santorum. None of these people has even an outside chance at the nomination, but, state by state, each of them is given a chance to take a swing at ol’ Mitt, and, reliably, each of them briefly forgets him or herself and tries to paint Romney as a cruel, out-of-touch cross between Rich Uncle Pennybags and those weirdly undifferentiated white guys in bespoke suits who laid off a sizable portion of the voting public over the last five years.
It’s so easy, Romney’s opponents forget that they’re supposed to pretend that amassing hundreds of millions of dollars in liquid assets at the expense of small businesses isn’t wildly immoral. Some wag coined the term “job cremator” recently – expect it to stick. He has a target painted on his forehead.
A COUPLE OF GOOD REASONS THAT MITT ROMNEY WILL LOSE THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
1) He is a liar. A surprisingly regular liar and not even a very good one. He pioneered a healthcare plan to help out his constituents in Massachusetts that the current president used as a model for his own healthcare proposal (now so horribly adulterated by moneygrubbing partisans on both sides of the aisle that it will be a miracle on the order of the parting of the Red Sea if the insurance industry doesn’t collapse under its weight and leave fucking NOTHING to take its place), which he then halfheartedly repudiated on the grounds of “states rights,” a weak-ass excuse if ever there was one and the historical foundation of what is indisputably the worst atrocity in American history.
He has also done an abrupt about-face on gay rights, basically inventing a speech in which he told gay Massachusetts residents in the 90′s that he was opposed to same-sex marriage. Maybe he’s telling the truth; maybe the AIDS-raddled gay community of 1994 was so demoralized and depressed that it figured half a loaf was better than none and that a governor who wouldn’t send them to prison for getting a blowjob was better than one who would. It seems unlikely, frankly.
2) He is pretty much C. Montgomery Burns from “The Simpsons.” Basically every week there’s another video clip of him saying that corporations are people or that he’s glad he forced Ted Kennedy to mortgage his house when he ran for Kennedy’s senate seat or that he bets Rick Perry ten thousand dollars that he didn’t say exactly what he said.
Yesterday, when quizzed about why he opposed a single-payer system, he said, “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” This is wrong on a bunch of levels, my personal favorite being the factual (ever try to fire your company-provided health insurer?), but my God, dude. Go to McDonald’s or something and pretend you’re a normal person for two hours so that you know not to talk this way around angry poor people, who are basically your voting base.
Romney’s Bain Capital Partners is not a fuzzy mom-and-pop bank out in Salt Lake City somewhere. It is a Wall Street-based private equity fund and hostile takeover firm that is responsible for dozens if not hundreds of corporate restructurings resulting in thousands upon thousands of layoffs. To name just one instance, Bain took over ClearChannel, now a gigantic corporate behemoth that no one can stop, and brought in executives who streamlined all of its radio stations into mostly-automated, corporatized nonentities during the 1990′s, costing some 2500 jobs. I remember this, and you probably do, too. One day Rock 104.3 in Asheville, NC had some personality, and the next day it was pretty much nothing but ads and shitty Matchbox 20 songs. If you have a similar memory of a 1990′s radio station, I encourage you to check out the list of ClearChannel stations and see if it’s on there. It probably is.
The icing on the cake? Bain benefited from the bailout.
A COUPLE OF VERY BAD REASONS THAT MITT ROMNEY WILL LOSE THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
1) Unlike basically everyone other candidate, he doesn’t actually mind gay people. That’s not to say that he’s a major gay rights crusader, but the letter he wrote the Log Cabin Republicans in the run-up to his Senate campaign is borderline noble. 1994 was not a great year for gay rights in Massachusetts. It’s not like Romney wasn’t reading the newspapers that year.
The GOP’s stance on gay rights at this moment is frankly disgraceful. Romney clearly knows this, but he can’t ever bring himself to articulate it, and so we get this beaut from this weekend when Romney is asked what he would say to a monogamous gay couple who “want to form a loving, committed relationship” (Huntsman, who is basically insane for continuing to run, just threw caution to the wind and said, “Sure, gay people can get married,” and Newt was a condescending asshole, as is his wont, and Santorum – whose name, I would like to again remind you, is synonymous with post-penetration anal leakage – reiterated his loathsome stand on gay adoption):
Well, the answer is, is that’s a wonderful thing to do, and that there’s every right for people in this country to form long- term committed relationships with one another. That doesn’t mean that they have to call it marriage or they have to receive the — the approval of the state and a marriage license and so forth for that to occur. There can be domestic partnership benefits or — or a contractual relationship between two people, which would include, as — as Speaker Gingrich indicated, hospital visitation rights and the like. We can decide what kinds of benefits we might associate with people who form those kind of relationships, state by state. But — but to say that — that marriage is something other than the relationship between a man — a man and a woman, I think, is a mistake. And the reason for that is not that we want to discriminate against people or to suggest that — that gay couples are not just as loving and can’t also raise children well. But it’s instead a recognition that, for society as a whole, that the nation presumably will — would be better off if — if children are raised in a setting where there’s a male and a female. And there are many cases where there’s not possible: divorce, death, single parents, gay parents, and so forth. But — but for a society to say we want to encourage, through the benefits that we associate with marriage, people to form partnerships between men and women and then raise children, which we think will — that will be the ideal setting for them to be raised.
Then Gingrich zings him and he backpedals even further. It’s all pretty pathetic.
Look, I know people are supposed to stand tall behind their convictions. I know that I, personally, nurse the warm feeling that I would scream at Rick Santorum until he called security if given the chance. The thing is that I disagree very strongly with Rick Santorum on most everything political and it would cost me absolutely nothing to mock him, yell at him, and belittle him, which I take great pleasure in doing here. What I’m saying here – and this is an entirely subjective judgment based on what I’ve seen both guys say in the past – is that Santorum is trying not to say on live TV that he thinks gay people should have their children taken away from them and their marriages dissolved, and Romney is trying not to say that what the fuck difference does it make, people are people. Romney wants people who disagree with him to pick him over Santorum. He is among allies, and he is trying – and failing, certainly, but at least he’s trying – to disagree with them. That is a good thing, and it’s going to cost him the election. And he’ll get more and more desperate, and less and less sane.
All candidates do this – they go into the primary season in full-blown pander mode, regardless of which party they’re running for, and they try to say things that will galvanize that party’s base. The problem is that the Republican party’s base extends much further to the right than the Democrats’ base extends to the left. Perry, Gingrich, and Santorum are all gleefully spouting the worst kind of crypto-racist, hate-filled victim-blaming effluvia they can possibly secrete, and Romney’s not doing that. This will keep people from getting enthused about him; the only reason Obama still gets so much support – after publicly disavowing gay rights and basically saying he didn’t think the USA PATRIOT Act was that bad – is that we all believed he secretly didn’t mean it because he’d said such nice things during the primary.
It works the same way if your constituency is racists and homophobes. One of the heartening things about the fact that Romney’s such a bad liar is that he’s such a bad liar. He doesn’t actually seem to enjoy it very much, unlike the huge majority of his co-candidates.
2) Mitt Romney is not a Christian. You are very welcome to disagree with me on this point, but your disagreement will be moot – Mitt Romney is a Mormon and thus does not believe in the unique divinity of Christ and is therefore not a Christian by the standard set in the Nicene Creed, and that more or less settles it. Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Protestants agree on very few things but the Council of Nicea is one of them.
It is probably time to admit that a president’s professedly fervent devotion to a religion that holds near-total political dominance in this country is not a good thing for Christians. Public institution of Christianity leads to an unenthusiastic laity, a corrupt clergy, and a marriage of church and state that encourages graft. It’s a bad idea. Romney’s economic ideas are terrible, but they’re not world-wrecking in the manner of Ron Paul’s. There is enough overlap between Obama and Romney, economically speaking, to have an interesting conversation, but we are not going to have that conversation because the entire campaign will be about whether Romney is the right kind of religious enough.
It is also about fucking time that Christians wake up and smell the burning ozone. Do conservatives really think that the same GOP that forced the country into two unwinnable wars in a single year, killing thousands of their children, would have any trouble outlawing abortion if it actually gave two shits about the issue as anything but a fundraising peg? I hope not. It’s time to take a hard look at the candidates in the race and ask ourselves honestly whose policies are actually more moral.
If we do, we will come to the conclusion that most Republicans in primary states seem to have reached: among GOP candidates this winter, Romney is not actually the worst choice. If there’s a lesson to be learned from his candidacy, it may simply be Lord Acton’s dictum that power tends to corrupt. In Romney’s case, that borders on tragedy.