The robot king has spoken. The curtains came down on the Republican Convention, and the damage to America was limited. For three days delegates foamed at the mouth, lunging lustily for every half-truth about the Obama administration the speakers would spew at them. The whole event turned into an orgy of hatred and anger, which doesn’t play well on TV. Savvy operators like Senator Marco Rubio (we’ll hear from him again) tried to smile and power through an uplifting message, but if anyone leads Americans into a dark and scary place with ease, it’s the man Rubio introduced, Mitt Romney.
The maudlin opening stanzas were standard “I love my family fare.” Some of the sap, like “there’s no legislation for the love of a father holding his child in his arms” were painful, but it was apparently all necessary for the Mitt Romney humanization project. When a Republican operative is crowing afterwards that the image of “the Mitt-bot” has taken a hit, you know the standard for likeability has been set so low it’s no wonder Rick Santorum beat him in so many primaries.
Onto the substance. Romney has a plan to create 12 million new jobs! (Wild applause.) And did you hear? Obama doesn’t! Romney’s vaunted four-plan to generate these jobs counts charter schools (no context, no detail) as one of its four pillars. How many jobs actually get created during a presidency has to do with a lot of factors, some completely outside a president’s control, but Romney did nothing during his speech to inspire confidence that his ideas aren’t stale retreads of what hasn’t already failed during the Bush and Obama presidencies. Our jobs problem is a result of serious structural rot in our nation’s educational system, safety net, immigration system and credit. Glib references to American exceptionalism and a lower tax rate for the uber-wealthy aren’t going to fix everything.
Speaking of jobs, hasn’t Mitt Romney spent the last six years as an unemployed vagabond? He’s not that different than the crusties down in Tompkins Square Park, except that he panhandles for votes, telling people literally anything they want to hear for a quarter. He didn’t even have a job BEFORE the recession. He pretty much stopped governing Massachusetts to run for president some time in 2005 or 2006, and has most of that time taking cheap-shots at Barack Obama. He’s made no courageous stands, and been in front of no issue. The man is the opposite of a leader, the opposite of a unifier.
He was not the first Convention speaker to praise immigrants for building this country, conveniently ignoring the Party’s xenophobic position on immigration today. He preached about the joy and value of unconditional love, except for gays. He thinks women’s rights in 2012 means being patted on the back for being a good mom, or perhaps running for Senate, like his mother.
But Romney really went to the dark side when he looked beyond our borders. No one said it better than Chris Matthews, who characterized Romney’s foreign policy as “very dark, very jingoistic, very anti-scientific, and really, Know-Nothing.” The scene of the entire convention crowd laughing for an awkwardly long time at President Obama’s pledge to fight climate change (you could almost see Romney’s “milk this moment” index card) is a creepy moment for the historical record. “Oh my god,” a friend texted me. “They don’t think it’s real!”
Or how about when he pledged to stand up to Putin for the umpteenth time? Maybe he just added that line so that the “Living in America” theme from Rocky IV fit better when it blasted from the speakers at the end of his speech. Then there was Romney’s vow that if China continued its trade policies, “there would be real consequences.” Like what, a war with China? I’m sure a showdown with China, whether economic or militaristic, would just go swimmingly with masterminds like Romney and John Bolton at the wheel.
America’s fascination with chicken-hawks has always astounded me. At least John McCain’s deranged bellicosity had an occasional solemnness to it, born from real pain. Romney is part of the chicken-hawk wing of the Republican Party that utterly refuses to acknowledge that war has human consequences. To Romney, sending troops to die would probably just be another expense to put on a spreadsheet, though that’s more than we could say for George W. Bush.
This will be a very close election between a president who has done a pretty good job in very trying circumstances and boorish hack, but in the end, there’s just no way Romney wins this election. Mitt Romney will not win the 2012 election because Americans will take final look at his smug mug and say to themselves, “I just can’t deal with this guy for the next four years.” They realize how much the President of the United States is ingrained in our lives. The President is on the news every night, on magazine covers, lame New York Post headlines, internet memes, SNL spoofs, and, oh right, monumental decisions affecting our lives. You can’t escape the President, no matter how far removed you are from being a political junkie. Is Mitt Romney really going to be that involved in your life until…2017?? I don’t think the American people are ready for that. The chump is branded too firmly into being every time he speaks. This may be the country that elected George W. Bush twice, but come on, we still have standards.