As Jon Stewart wailed a few nights before the election, “I want this over!” Like Stewart, and the weeping 4-year-old Abigael Evans of Fort Collins, Colorado, I’m “Tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney” (though, like her, admittedly happy that Bronco Bamma won). And I applaud the thoughtfulness of National Public Radio’s apology to Abigael for bringing her to tears.
But the right just won’t let this election go, which — if her household keeps its radio tuned to NPR — may well make little Abby cry anew. The neocon OCD requires renewed, relentless illegitimation of Obama, the election, and that majority of the electorate that doesn’t think Rush Limbaugh is the mouthpiece of God and Ann Coulter HisHerIt’s avenging angel.
Having decided that the post-election image-making (on both sides) shapes and nuances what came before it, I’ve decided to continue my commentary thereon through Inauguration Day, Monday, January 21, 2013. But I’ll do so only intermittently, interspersing these ruminations with consideration of other subjects. I promise. I need a break from this claptrap too.
He Meant Every Mean Word He Didn’t Mean
Like a persistent vision that just won’t fade, Romney continues to function as an active afterimage of both Republicanism and Mormonism, insistently imbedding the negative perception he’s generated of both those faiths ever deeper into the public consciousness. A gift that keeps on giving.
The damage he’s already caused to his co-religionists in those two persuasions already runs deep. Romney appears intent on ensuring that it leaves a permanent scar. I’ll hazard a prediction that neither major party will nominate another Mormon in a presidential race for 25 years — and then only a Mormon who has publicly separated him- or herself from the Church of LDS on social issues, as did Romney’s father George.
Romney’s public persona oscillates unpredictably between belligerence, braggadocio, bullying, sanctimony, self-righteousness, smugness, sulking, and whining. Presently he’s in deep denial, which plunges him into sore-loser mode. His take on his failed bid for the White House: Obama beat him by buying the vote. Or, as he put it only a tad more circumspectly, via “extraordinary financial gifts from the government” he gave to targeted interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people. . . . Give a bunch of money to a group, and, guess what, they’ll vote for you,” he elaborated. (Click here for Hillary Clinton’s smart video response.)
The Man Who Lost to Barack Obama in 2012 issued this analysis from Romneyshambles HQ in San Diego. It came during the course of a 20-minute November 14 private conference call with fund-raisers and donors to his campaign. The self-described “
Between this petulant avoidance of accountability and Karl Rove’s nonsensical claim that Obama practiced “voter suppression” (by painting a negative picture of Romney, a picture identical to the one the Republicans themselves limned during the primaries), you can see how the neocons have decided to visualize the outcome — as an election somehow stolen from them, not a legitimate victory the opposition rightfully earned. In short, they view themselves as victims.
Loud voices, including that of Bill O’Reilly, started singing this song as soon as the results were in, and they’re not likely to stop. That’s the Republican national anthem, after all, a hymn to the rich with a chorus of disdain for them that’s not, a version of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” minus that lament’s irony. The irony now is that the Republic Party has persuaded so many of the country’s poor and uneducated citizens to sing along with Mitt, who despises them. (Click here for the National Review‘s August 27, 2012, piece by Kevin D. Williamson, “Like a Boss: When it comes to being a rich guy, Mitt Romney should own it.”)
Yet the aggrieved Romney refuses adamantly to own the political consequences of his beliefs and his privileges — that the majority of voters think those very characteristics make him unfit for the presidency. You have to be as dumb as Mitt Romney to believe that you can consistently insult the people you aspire to lead. Listen to these recordings:
- Romney’s May 17, 2012 “47 percent” speech to fatcats (video). Note: I hope we eventually learn the identity of the courageous individual — a member of the waitstaff, I’ve deduced — who made and released this historic document, which helped spare us the horror of a Romney-Ryan administration.
- Romney’s June 6 “Small Business Town Hall” instructing employers on how to pressure their employees into voting for him, sponsored by the National Federation of Independent Business (audio).
- His November 14 private conference call with his finance committee, doubling down on his “47 percent” positions. A full recording of the 20-minute call has yet to emerge; meanwhile, click here for extensive transcripts and audio excerpts.
- His campaign committee’s October 31 conference call from Boston advisers Russ Schriefer, Rich Beeson and pollster Neil Newhouse, asserting that “This race is exactly where we hoped it would be a week out” (audio).
- And, just for context, here’s Lee Atwater in 1981 explaining the GOP’s “Southern Strategy,” followed by Ronald Reagan and every GOP presidential nominee since, including Romney (video).
The Wonk Boy and the Proctologist
Our job is not to worry about those people. We’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility for the outcome of this election. Even Paul Ryan has acknowledged that the president won re-election “fair and square.” My negative opinion of Wonk Boy notwithstanding, stating that on the record makes him more of a mensch than Romney will ever become.
However, you have to take beaucoup points off for Ryan immediately qualifying it with the simplistic assertion that “some of the turnout especially in urban areas . . . gave President Obama the big margin to win this race,” thus dumping another load on what Jon Stewart has so aptly dubbed Bullshit Mountain. Ryan’s rationale fails to account for the Romney-Ryan losses in states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maine, Vermont, Virginia or Wisconsin. “Urban” has become the code word for “people of color,” whereas the population of those states is predominantly white and/or suburban-rural.
Wasting no time putting distance between themselves and the defeated former nominees, GOP presidential hopefuls for 2016 Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, and Scott Walker promptly repudiated Romney’s and Ryan’s rationales for their defeat. Hence I offer a tip of the hat to former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who has proposed that the GOP needs “a very serious proctology exam.” Couldn’t agree more, though I thought the electorate had already done that for them with their collective middle finger.
Anyhow, should the Republicans perform that probe I predict they’re going to find a lot of crania crammed into that orifice. If so, one surely will be that of outgoing Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster, nestled right next to Strom Thurmond’s.
Meanwhile, Charlotte Allen of the Los Angeles Times has already called for a Sarah Palin for President campaign for 2016, on the grounds that “Palin is the new Ronald Reagan: charming and affable and unwilling to back down if she’s right.” From her lips to God’s ear, as they say; there’s no one I’d rather see the GOP trot out to head the ticket next time around.
Mitt’s Monthly: Subscribe Now
Parodies of Romney’s latest complaints and proposals have already begun to surface. See Michael Schaffer’s scathing interpretation of Romney’s idea for a monthly newsletter he’d publish for his rapidly dwindling legions of supporters, “A Letter to Advertisers on Behalf of Mitt Romney’s New Magazine,” at The New Republic.
Romney’s November 14 call makes it clear that he hopes to remain a force within the GOP as a behind-the-scenes player, a coordinator of high-rolling funders, and a spokesman for neocons. This as everyone in the GOP dashes madly away from him just as fast as their fat little legs can carry them, and his Facebook followers “unfriend” him at record rates. Which makes him not just loathsome but also bathetic — not an appealing combination.
Bat Out of Hell for Romney
Somehow, in tracking the rush of celebrities putting their weight behind the Romney-Ryan campaign, I missed the announcement that Romney had earned the coveted Meat Loaf endorsement. Since Romney’s such a self-professed “car guy,” I would have hoped for an impromptu Mittloaf duet on “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” With Ted Nugent, Hank Williams, Jr., and Kid Rock backing them up. To no avail, alas, though the Meatster did kill “America the Beautiful.”
As they contemplate ways to carve off a slice of the Democratic Party’s appeal to the under-40 vote, perhaps the Republic Party should consult with people of that age group on the frequency with which those performers show up on anyone’s playlist. The relationship between age, musical tastes, and party affiliation doesn’t get discussed much, but I’ll bet it didn’t go unnoticed by the geeks who crunched the numbers for Team Obama.
While I’m on the subject of music, and the image it projects: There were several fine “Gangnam Style” parodies released during the campaign. I recommend “Mitt Romney Style,” “Mitt Romney Dancing Gangnam Style at RNC 2012,” “Obama Style Feat. Smooth-E and Alphacat,” and the “Obama-Romney Presidential Dance-Off.” Meanwhile, the Obamas have celebrated his reelection by releasing a video of themselves going “Gangnam Style.” Enjoy it at YouTube.
Every Picture Tells a Story
Turns out there’s another perspective on the moment that generated Obama’s most-retweeted-ever image of him hugging Michelle. Fortuitously, photojournalist David Burnett made a counterpart image showing the First Lady’s face and POTUS’s back.
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This post supported by a donation from the Estate of Lyle Bongé.