Go Mittens, Go.

Post-Iowa the factoid that flashed more red and brighter than every other was this: Turn-out was barely 5% greater than four years ago. Call me crazy but I can make the argument that the press and pundit corps — always in need of something to cover and gas on about — is far more interested in the GOP primary circus than the Republicans themselves. After over a year of visits and six solid months of freak show mania, not to mention the $10-plus million Mittens Romney and Rick Perry alone dropped on Iowa media, the so-called rank and file, (in actuality the semi- and totally batshit) couldn’t muster any more anger, rage and enthusiasm than 6000 more people — out of 608,000 registered Republicans. Call it a “record turn-out” if you’re into the whole hype thing. But the percentages tell a much different story.

Since last Tuesday we’ve heard (too much) about the “Rick Santorum surge”, a sudden frothing movement which in the end presents a very odd man as viable competition for Mittens and a credible candidate for … President of the United States.

Please. Neither Santorum nor anyone else is going to get anywhere close to Romney and the nomination. As Robert Reich blogged today, Romney is if nothing else, an avatar for Citizens United.  In a moment when the imbalance of wealth and influence is more vivid than any time in maybe 100 years the Republicans are moving inexorably toward another very odd guy — palpably twitchy in his own skin — who is the walking talking embodiment of “the 1%ers”. Taken further, if the Democrats want to frame the campaign as a referendum on how Republicans have responded to the beat-down of the middle-class over the past decade they could not have invented a candidate more perfect than my guy, Mittens. (My nephew in Denver uses “Mittens”. I like it. It suggests cossetting and protection against harsh elements … with a dash of parental supervision.)

You want a sense of how “odd”? Read this live-on-the-plane report from The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank.

The divide between Santorum’s social conservative crowd and Romney’s “he might be able to beat Obama” crowd is stark … deep and wide. But the social conservatives, the anti-gay, you’ll-be-marrying-turtles, or going all “man on dog” and maybe polygamist to boot bunch has no standing in Romney’s Citizens United Super PAC wonderland. Santorum’s Biblically-directed tinfoil hat brigade wouldn’t even recognize Romney’s $500k per pop hedge fund Super PAC-ers as being of the same species … and vice versa.

This of course is old news. The inevitability of Romney has been established for months, despite all the bovine bloviation on cable TV. Likewise the stunning lack of enthusiasm for Mittens.

But as this thing gets serious (post the comedy candidates like Bachmann, Cain, Trump, Palin and, hell, Rick Perry) we are getting a much better feel for … the terms of the choice.

Despite three solid years of hyperbolic messaging not even the Republican base is convinced enough that Barack Obama is a Kenyan Muslim anti-christ to drop everything and spend two hours with their like-minded neighbors voting to stop the apocalypse. More significantly, with the economy showing some actual green shoots (Mitch McConnell has to get back to D.C. and stamp that crap out ASAP!) in terms of manufacturing and employment, Obama has every good reason to double down on, as I say, a referendum on the Republican Congress … the Congress that out-nothinged the Do Nothing Congress of Harry Truman’s era … at a time when more middle class voters than ever expected it to do something … other than obstruct and play sophomoric procedural games.

I say again; clear, visible, bona fide support for the plight and interests of the middle class will be the crux of the choice. Who can make the most plausible case that they’ve done everything they can?

Romney, though not a member of Congress, is a Central Casting caricature of the class that owns Congress. I see Karl Rove is delighted to see Romney set up so well. Rove, now arguably the country’s premier Super PAC salesman has to regard a Romney presidency as a kind of restoration for him and the whole crowd of hedgie-cronies who installed and sock-puppeted George W. Bush for eight years.

This particular choice, Obama (with his billions for Super PAC) or Romney presumes that the Republican social conservatives will allow themselves to be stuffed back into their sound-proof kennels, as they are every election cycle when the Republican money machine has finished exploiting them. Given Rick Santorum’s absolute fealty to the K Street powers that restored him to an upright and lucrative position after being destroyed in his Pennsylvania reelection bid, I can’t see him playing spearchucker for a third party.

Ron Paul, 76 years old and figuring he’s riding the biggest wave he’s ever going to get, is a whole other story. The social conservatives appear to be leery of the geezerly old doctor. Legalize heroin!?  But he has enough semi-anarchic, pot-loving, middle class college kids willing to rattle cages for him that he might just say, “WTF? It’s now or never!” (Lacking Paul’s fans — 21% — the Iowa turn-out would have been a complete face-plant for the party.)

At which point the geezerly doctor will get a call from one of Mittens’ and Karl Rove’s hedge fund guys offering to pay off all his campaign debts if he changes his mind … for health reasons, you understand, or to spend more time with his family.

57 thoughts on “Go Mittens, Go.

    1. The tales of Romney working retail are legendary for his stiffness and discomfort with, you know, “average” voters. These are not the people he has done business with through his adult life. the contrast with Obama on that measure is stark, despite Obama being no Bill Clinton when it comes to working the proletariat flesh, if you know what I mean. Romney may not have brought his stillborn child home for some kind of seance-like memorial, or give off an intense creep factor on the (persistent) topic of homosexuality, but as the general public gets to know him Romney’s strange discomfort among the citizenry will become a constant theme. Put another way, who among the current cast of survivors would YOU want to have a beer with?

      1. PM says:

        “who among the current cast of survivors would YOU want to have a beer with?”

        Probably Newt. He is interesting, provocative, and, i suspect, that after he gets a few beers in him, could be funny and maybe even honest enough to admit that he is playing a role. The rest of them seem to be nothing more than pious gasbags (well, not Ron Paul–but he also seems weird, too–too much of a real zealot). As for Romney–well, would he be willing to actually have a beer at all?

  1. Erik says:

    Lambo, asserting that Santorum is weird and corroborating that by linking to an article that refutes he is weird is perhaps exhibit A in your patheticness as a polemicist. But lest we forget, its only a hobby for you, eh.

    You’re in great company though. You know… Alan Colmes.

  2. Erik says:

    Who’s weirder. Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, or John Edwards? Let’s discuss.

    By the way, with Colmes and Robinson having apologized, there’s not many out there willing to make a Finley Peter Dunne like stand to comfort the remaining ‘Santorum is weird’ douchebags. That’s commendable and ballsy, Lambo.

    1. The examples of this are abundant, and it is another reason why … if the Tea Party had any moral credibility … it would demand an alternative. Paul Krugman’s column yesterday on Romney’s jobs claims — those “destroyed” by Obama and those “created” by him demonstrate not so much a willingness to flat out lie, but a belief that his money, via a bombardment of TV advertising, will implant a counter-reality among the low information voters. His base — the plutocracy — of course hardly cares what the facts are in this regard.

  3. Erik says:

    I have the greatest idea. Lambo, it hadn’t occurred to me that your year of college gave you the expertise to make a forceful argument to countervail some of the clinical professionals who have weighed in to say Santorum is ‘not weird’. But with you as a resource, we can set up a little debate.

    The other guy we need is Nick Coleman. We all know him as a progressive pitbull, but under the circumstance he’s probably well equipped to defend Santorum. See this http://www.nickcolemanmn.com/?p=2809

    You’d be arguing the side of the douchebags, Lambo. Colmes, Maher, Maddow, etal.

  4. PM says:

    Erik:

    I thought Santorum was pretty creepy way before this particular story you keep flogging (which, frankly, I hadn’t heard about until you brought it to my attention this morning). I think Santorum is creepy because of his fanatical objection to gay marriage, and devotion to all of that “family values” stuff (including his rather extreme positions on abortion, etc.).

    1. Erik says:

      Good for you PM. On one hand, this is perhaps about having a brain receptor that’s stimulated by petty bigotries against conservatives but also having the will and self awareness to resist the liberal crack cocaine that is the Santorum stillbirth story, and not follow Murdoch gimp Alan Fucking Colmes down a rhetorical black hole.

      The story Lambo has given us via link is in fact the Santorum stillbirth story, and not the other observations that could be made about Santorum’s zeolotry. So is that defensible, or is it douchebaggery?

      1. PM says:

        I thought that Lambert’s main point was really about Romney, and how weird he is (out of touch with the experience of the majority of the US population–he just seems ill at ease with people–sort of like GHWB and the scanner at the grocery store).

        Santorum seemed more of a throw away line. I mean, why waste time and effort on Santorum–he’s not going to be the nominee (although he would be an incredibly weak candidate against Obama).

        BTW, as long as you are defending Santorum, why aren’t you going after Dan Savage as well as Colmes, etc.?

  5. Jim Leinfelder says:

    Dude:

    Shades of Brit Hume!

    “I can’t see him playing spearchucker for a third party.” Surely you meant to type, “spear carrier,” right?

    1. No, I Iike the image of Santorum (never) taking a lead attack role against the powers that provide him the only financial security hecould ever hope to know /… unless Hollywood options his book.

      And on the Dan Savage prank, it wouldn’t have resonated as well and far as it has if it was simply vulgar (which it of course is). The beauty of it is that its vulgarity is perfectly proportional to the vulgarity of Santorum’s creepy, toxic wedge politics, played to advance himself at the the expense of equal rights for other Americans. It remains a moment of satirical genius.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Then how about “bomb thrower” or “rock thrower” or, I don’t know, “pie thrower.”

  6. john sherman says:

    Roger Simon’s story in Politico on Santorum’s visit to New England College raises interesting questions. Ed Schulz, not a natural fan, has been praising the way Santorum works a crowd and his gift for retail politics, but Simon depicts someone who is aloof, disdainful and petulant. It may simply be that Santorum was tired as candidates all have schedules that should make them as crazy as Bachmann, but it may be Romney, Santorum, Paul, as well as the departed Bachmann, spend their time inside of adulatory cocoons where they look pretty good, but when they have to deal with indifferent, much less hostile, audiences they fall apart.

    It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when someone asks him whether he thinks the government should forbid birth control.

    1. My wife and I were road-tripping through Iowa the weekend before the caucus. Several times I heard man-on-the-street interviews with potential caucus goers saying things to the effect that they “:really don’t know that much about Santorum”… the guy who had campaigned in every county for a year. i truly wonder what these — self-identified likely caucus-goers — know about anything.

      BTW You haven’t lived until you’ve spent New Year’s Eve in a rural supper club outside Cedar Rapids.

      Also … it’s just me, but Ed (who I have interviewed) strikes me as a gas bag. On MSNBC I much prefer Lawrence O’Donnell’s shtick.

      1. john sherman says:

        Maureen Dowd, the first lady of snark, has just taken on Santorum in NH.

        It’s true that Ed is not troubled with an excess of humility; on the other hand, if you want to see an actual union leader on t.v., it’s Ed’s show or nothing.

      2. PM says:

        I have spent way too much time in Iowa in the winter…..never a new years eve, however. For that i am grateful.

      3. That’s true. Union leaders/”thugs” aren’t exactly over-exposed on any medium, including public radio. I do hear quite a bit though from the “job creators”.

  7. PM says:

    Yeah, and they all seem to want to start a preemptive war with Iran,. stay Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.

    I find that creepy as well.

      1. Erik says:

        Indeed, you might say Santorum’s anxieties and psychoses run balls deep.

        So you wonder, of the mental afflictions found in conservative men, which complex Santorum suffers from. Is it a Frank Fitts like latent homosexuality? Or rather some self doubt in the groinal area…you know, not withstanding that he has fathered seven kids or so.

        This kind of prognostication is your specialty, Lambo, what say you?

    1. Erik says:

      Yes, well there is the context. It strikes me as a bit like Pelosi’s “you have to pass the bill to find out whats in it.” Kind of equivalent ….I mean, minus the presumption of Pelosi’s moral superiority as a Democrat.

    2. Jim Leinfelder says:

      Man, hate to have to admit it, but I’m with Erik. Mitt’s point was that he likes the freedom to “fire” someone from whom he is buying a service. His alleged point was in service to the fiction that we enjoy much in the way of freedom to fire our health insurers. But, still, let’s try to maintain some intellectual integrity here and acknowledge that he was not saying what his detractors would hope people will infer, that he likes laying off workers, or even dismissing them for cause.

      This debases political discourse no matter which party engages in it.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        It’s not, it’s disappointing and, in no small measure, annoying. PM’s a smart, widely-read and fair-minded guy. And I get that PM’s pointing out that this perfectly-legitimate remark will be gamed just as cynically by the left as anything the right would exploit.

        And, of course, that is how we get nothing but canned talking points out of the candidates from either party. Yes, yes, yes, we’re all painfully aware. So let’s at least give it a rest here.

      2. Erik says:

        I’m talking about agreeing with me. I was goofing. But I do imagine that could be found annoyoing.

      3. Joe Loveland says:

        Agree. It’s a cheap shot to imply that Mitt meant he enjoys laying off workers. As far as I can tell, that’s not at all what he was saying, and his real point was not controversial. I hope people using this against Romney get called on it. The world is getting too wacky.

      4. The heat on Romney’s “I like firing people” blurt is that it suggests again how clumsy and clueless the guy is in terms of his public persona. When he goes on to talk about worrying about getting “a pink slip” GOP pros have to be head-slapping themselves and realizing that this guy is such a doof he’s going to be handing the Democrats raw meat like this all year long. Dayton at least conceded the fact of his wealth and advanced policies unequivocally benefitting the middle class. Romney on the other hand is running away from everything he ever did that didn’t advance the plutocracy.

  8. PM says:

    Jim, Erik (so nice to see you both getting along…):

    Trust me, someone will use it, and twist it out of context, apply it to a larger narrative about Romney the job destroyer at Bain. Already being done by Rick Perry (see http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/09/perry-joins-rivals-in-attacking-romney-on-bain/ ), adding it to Romney’s talk about pink slips, etc.

    Basically, Perry and Gingrich have started down the road of making populist attacks on Romney as a Wall Street oligarch who is out of touch with the common man. After his republican rivals have effectively legitimated this argument, you can’t possibly think the democrats (probably some well funded super PAC) are not going to pick this up and run with it!

    I understand your point about this debasing the political discourse, but frankly, there is no possible way for any future discourse to be any more debased than what we are already seeing.

    Whatever else Obama might be, he is not stupid. If Gingrich and Perry show that this line of attack on Romney is effective, then you can depend on it being used.

    1. Erik says:

      Right. Additionally, let’s not draw a false moral equivalence. Democrats taking Mitt out of context wouldn’t be the same as Republicans taking Obama out of context.

  9. Jim Leinfelder says:

    Yeah, I get it, PM. I just don’t share your nihilism. This is a media consultant’s issue and distracts from the very real spectacle of Republicans attacking Romney for being an extractionist, job-killing capitalist.

    Check out Dylan Ratigan on Martin Bashir’s show this afternoon. While acknowledging Romney’s poor verb choice, he wouldn’t play along in Bashir’s attempt at the very same cheap out-of-context use of that bit of video. And, as a result (IMHO), Ratigan comes away making a much better case against Romney’s brand of “capitalism” (and will again in the future) and his credibility as a business man who knows how to create jobs than would have Bashir’s easy editing stunt alone. Bashir’s a smart guy, smart enough to know the difference.

  10. Jim Leinfelder says:

    “I understand your point about this debasing the political discourse, but frankly, there is no possible way for any future discourse to be any more debased than what we are already seeing.”

    Nihilism: a : a doctrine or belief that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility.

    Whatever…

    1. PM says:

      Come, come, jim–surely you are not so obtuse that you can’t see the difference in those two statements?

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Yes, PM, yours isn’t a doctrine, just a pose. I wasn’t accusing you of being a card-carrying member of capitalized Nihilism, just sounding nihilistic in your writing off of any legitimacy to objecting to disingenuousness in political discourse as hopelessly naive to the irredeemable nadir where we now all rest.

        As I said, I get it. Somebody cue W.B. Yeats…

      2. PM says:

        Still missing it, i see.

        the first is simple realism–and does not imply in any way the impossibility of improvement (it is a simple statement that it is hard to imagine things could be more debased). Nothing at all there about the desirability of destruction.

        as for being a poseur–analogies to Yeats and the center not holding? OK sure, you are an arty kind of guy, jim. cue some more obscure references to demonstrate your erudition for the rest of us!

        (and, of course, the yeats analogy is silly–the center is holding up just fine, and we are not facing the end of the world as we know it. cut the doom and gloom stuff–it is really tiresome)

  11. Jim Leinfelder says:

    PM, my good man, the Yeats reference was, again, a mocking reference to YOUR insistence that we’ve sunk so low there’s no point in saps the likes of me even calling for a standard of honest discourse.

    I’m saying we can do better, you and me and the rest of this motley assemblage; we can hew to a better course. You’re saying I’m failing to be realistic. Yes, I know, given the above, Romney stepped in it, and on it, with that Rorschach choice of verbs in trying to extoll choice’s purifying power to skim away dross in the free marketplace.

    Who is not aware that cynicism is the coin of the realm among political consultants? Not me. But I look to this and other sites for some respite from all that cheap chicanery.

    Oh, and BTW, seriously, “arty kind of guy”? Spare me the ad hominem reverse condescension. Obscure references? “Slouching…is about as threadbare a literary (“arty,” if you prefer) reference as you can find, hence my choice of it. You sound like Santorum.

    1. Erik says:

      I’m thinking Jim is arty like Arte Johnson. So your ad hominem reverse condescension is definitely misplaced, PM.

      But seriously… calling someone a nihilist is often pretty absurd, insofar as it’s typically been a faux intellectual way for dim liberals of a certain stripe (cough, cough) to insult conservatives. You know…conservatives don’t believe in laws…. so it follows that they don’t believe in anyyything…. so ipso facto, they’re nihilists…. pass the bong.

      So it’s quite interesting to have PM unmasked as a nihilist.

  12. Someone may have said this above already, but MSNBC presented a poll that showed 2% thought Mitt Romney’s first name is really Mittens. Your nephew is in good, if weird, company.

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