“It is futile to fight against, when one doesn’t know what one is fighting for.”
For all intents and purposes, the Republican Primary season is over. The unprecedented victories in both Iowa and New Hampshire by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney have taken the starch out of things. Not so much for his own prowess, as his flimsy character chronically reveals severe fault lines that become ever more distinct upon the slightest inspection, it’s that not one of his opponents appears to be a viable candidate for President, have even a third of his funds, and suffer daily pushbacks from every corner of the GOP establishment. All that is left of this gory charade is for the drag-ass press monkeys to scratch out sorry stories of failed hopes and disingenuous claims, gaffs a-plenty by desperate challengers too stubborn to admit the jig is up, and an agonizing rehashing of poll after miserable poll.
Don’t be fooled by any of it.
No Republican non-incumbent has ever won the first two contests in a run for President—and after January 21 in South Carolina, most likely the first three—and failed to become his party’s nominee. The Romney Campaign has made mincemeat of an already compromised field—unprepared, unrealistic, underwhelming and unfortunate bottom feeders, and Ron Paul, who, to his undying credit, has run as staunchly unwavering an ideological race as this reporter has ever covered or witnessed.
There is something wickedly crucial about what Dr. Paul is pulling off; getting on national television and state ballots talking about gutting the Federal Reserve, legalizing drugs, eradicating all modes of food and energy regulations and pulling every last American soldier from all over the globe. But he’s running for President, not Super Id Guru, and after he collects his run-off delegates and puts the scare into the RNC that he might bolt with his new and improved voters to offer a third party choice, he will shuffle off to Wonderland.
Unless someone finds a live boy or a dead girl in his basement—and fast—Romney is on his way. Lord knows he’s been running a national campaign from the getgo. He fails to even acknowledge there are any other Republicans in this thing. It’s “Obama this” and “Obama that.” This is as national a campaign as can be run this early and it ain’t gonna stop. And why should it? He gets shit from the Far Right, and he wins. He gets shit from radio row, and he wins. He gets shit from the Wall Street Journal, The National Review, Time, Fox News, MSNBC, your cousin, your cousin’s friend and their local bartender, and he keeps winning.
My father, a man of few words, and one who is not known to weigh in on these things too deeply, said to me the other day, “Someone other than Mitt Romney will have to win a primary at some point to make a case, no?”
Romney apparently doesn’t need to be a formidable candidate, barely garnishing a third of his party’s support. Even in what is ostensibly his home state, which borders the one he ran from 2002 to 2006, he pulled only 39 percent of the vote. This is known in stock car racing circles as “cruise control.” Romney is the quintessence of a tepid caricature, Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman; “Liked but not well-liked.”
This queer combination of succeeding by default has filled Romney with an “aura of invincibility,” a bravado born of a frontrunner running way out front. And while a disturbing preponderance of voters prefers someone else, there are too many of the “someone else” crowd. Since none of them have gained any traction for more than two week clips, there is Citizen Romney.
Citizen Romney is the new and improved candidate, who has smartly buried Willard Mitt Romney’s senate candidate/governor past as a fiscal and social liberal by selling himself as Business Man Deluxe. This outsider, “not a politician” move went as far as having the candidate utter in a recent debate that he doesn’t consider politics a career. When asked to comment why a man running for the most powerful office, and thus the most coveted by a politician, would have the gall to claim no real interest in the profession, a member of his staff offered this space a polite “no comment.”
Citizen Romney is betting the farm that voters will 1) Forget he has repeatedly concocted dozens of personalities and embraced two-sided ideologies to get elected to whatever was in front of him and 2) In a grander scale, he wishes to bypass the messy furor of TEA Party/Occupy Wall Street—anti-big government/anti-big business marauders to play the unrepentant ruthless millionaire baron. Don’t like it? You’re just offering up “the politics of envy.”
The only problem with the Citizen Romney character is Mitt Romney was at best a fair and at worst a crappy business man, if he was a business man at all. His only claim to fame, Bain Capital, consists of the kind of investment firm that feeds off weak corporate models of bloated workforce and wasteful production rank and file. To claim, as the candidate repeatedly has, that this corporate chop-shop activity resembles a “job creating” enterprise stretches credibility until it screams for mercy.
When hammered in New Hampshire by Newt Gingrich (fresh from taking his own beating in Iowa by Romney) and Rick Perry (merely fighting for relevancy) as a “vulture capitalist,” Romney cited his opponent’s’ socialist leanings, gaining support from many Republican mouthpieces who’ve adopted the turd-like notion that any measure of the free market is to be defended. While Gingrich rightly argues, “criticizing one business man for one set of practices is not an assault on capitalism,” it’s bad Republican mojo, and for a fleeting moment actually put a minor conservative wave under Citizen Romney.
But “minor” is the operative word here.
Echoing much of what is coming from conservative circles following Romney’s victories, this week, in a lengthy American Spectator screed disemboweling the candidate, conservative pundit Peter Ferrara compared Romney to such ignominious losers as Thomas Dewey, Jerry Ford, Bob Dole and John McCain.
Ferrara writes: “As the Republican candidate, he would be the least electable most of all because he would not inspire the maximum vote from grassroots conservatives, failing just where his friend John McCain did, as Bob Dole did before him. That effect would be felt all the way down the ticket, as Republicans fail to win the Senate and Congressional seats with a disappointing turnout that they could have with a grassroots earthquake, as was inspired by the Reagan Revolution in 1980.”
And Citizen Romney keeps on winning.
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art, Trailing Jesus and Midnight For Cinderella.