Friday, February 3, 2012

Please, Save Me!

Oh, Lord, I wish the NASCAR season would start and save me from drowning in politics! For lack of racing, I have watched debates and State of the Union addresses and SOTU rebuttals and primary coverage. I've read newspaper articles and visited political websites and responded to political posts on Facebook.

My takeaway from all of it? Sorry, Republicans but, barring something catastrophic, none of your guys has a prayer against Obama.

Not that he might not be beatable if you'd backed a strong candidate. And by strong I mean decisive in his thinking but likable along with it. To get the votes of disaffected Democrats and moderates, you'd have to have someone who occasionally seems able to  at least consider another point of view. I think you'd have to have a candidate who is willing to give the current president credit for good intentions, for being a loyal American, for being a committed Christian, even if none of that translates into policies you can agree with. Instead, your side calls him a socialist, a Muslim, a traitor, an alien who maybe isn't even an American, a radical, a Europeanist, a follower of Saul Alinky (how many of you even know who Saul Alinky is?)

There are no grays in your world, are there? You simply can't accept a presidential campaign that consists of two people, both of whom plan to do the best they can for their country, both of whom have some good ideas and maybe some that are not so good. Nope, you Republicans deal in absolutes so it has to be an angel pitted against a devil and you force your candidates to play it that way to get your nomination.

So, you take a candidate like Mitt Romney, your current front-runner and probably ultimate nominee, who learned as the governor of Massachusetts that you have to work with others to find a middle ground to actually accomplish anything - and you turn him into the conservative candidate from hell in order to prove his bona fides to you, making him thoroughly  unappetizing to the rest of us.

Except he doesn't do it very successfully. Methinks he protests too much about his reasonable record in Massachusetts. We toward the left of the spectrum might think we could live with him if that governor was the "real" Mitt. Meanwhile, your side thinks you might be able to live with him if the current foaming-at-the-mouth right-winger is the "real" Mitt. But neither of us knows for sure, do we?

Meanwhile, the millionaires and billionaires and the corporations that are really people, oh, yes, they know positively who the real Mitt is. They know where his truest heart lies. It is with them. It is with Wall Street. It is with the board rooms and the executive suites and the sky boxes and the country clubs. That's ole Mitt's real constituency. That's who he'd work to make life pleasanter for. Not to be as judgmental as the Republicans, and as Mitt is himself, I'll give him credit for probably believing that doing right by the movers and shakers will ultimately result in the best policies for the rest of us too. It's the Romney version of the old trickle-down hat trick, which didn't work the first time...or the second time....and won't work this time either - IMHO, as we say on the internets.

It is always nice for a group of people, like the One Percenters, when they believe wholeheartedly that it just so happens that when you do good things for them, it results in doing good for everyone else too! The pleasure without any guilt. "Yes, I only paid 13.9 percent in taxes on my multi-million dollar income but I bought a yacht with the extra money so I gave work to boat builders and marinas and crew people so see, giving me that low tax rate turned out good for you." Wow, they practically make me feel I should thank them for their patriotism for even accepting that extra money! They did it for us! I had no clue.

And so, you get the nightmare of Mitt, Multi-Millionaire, and The Donald, Billionaire, on the same stage - two arrogant, self-satisfied pricks if ever I saw any.

Mitt says he isn't going to apologize for being successful and no, he shouldn't apologize for it but he should try to show the tiniest shred of empathy for those who haven't been so fortunate - who didn't have a huge head start toward success by coming from a family and a church that paved his path every step of the way. His wife, as I understand it, had multiple sclerosis which is now either cured or in remission. I expect that she had the benefit of the finest medical care money can buy. Maybe if you felt Mitt could spare, oh, maybe a minute to imagine what it would have been like if he and Ann had faced the same circumstances...but without medical insurance.

Some rich people can do that but Mitt isn't one of them. He calls President Obama naive but Mitt is naive in a different way. It is an ivory tower kind of naivete, one that doesn't have the faintest idea what life is like for those of us scratching down here at the street level.

So, after listening to thousands of hours of debate and speechifying and analysis, I'm just yearning for the Daytona 500, where drivers prove themselves by performance instead of simply trying to talk a good game.