The real joy of Mitt Romney rollicking in the merde over Libya, 47% and now Palestine is how commentators have risen to the occasion.
Pride of place has to go to go, as always, to Maureen Dowd, originally in the NY Times, though Malcolm encountered it reposted on Real Clear Politics. Does this Washington re-tread of Dorothy Parker generate her own headlines, or does she have a tame viper of a super-sub-editor in her cupboard? Either way, this one — over a piece taking lumps out of Romney — is a winner:
Let Them Eat Crab Cake
Once Dowd awards an individual a nickname — “W”, “Spock” (it’s the ears!) — that person is both celebrated and nailed. here comes a meme:
The candidate, who pays so little in taxes relative to his income that he has to hide tax returns and money in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, then added, condescendingly: “These are people who pay no income tax.” …
He seemed to have bought into the warped canard that some conservatives inside and outside of Congress have pushed: that the president and Nancy Pelosi were nefariously hooking people on unemployment benefits so they’d get addicted and vote Democratic to keep the unemployment bucks flowing like crack.
It’s literally rich: Willard, born on third base and acting self-made, whining to the rich about what a great deal in life the poor have.
Ah! “Willard”! And, of course, she’s right. Willard Mitt Romney did himself a Gideon George Osborne. Well-skewered, too:
After months of doggedly trying to seem more likable, sharing his guilty pleasures like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snooki, Romney came across as a mean geek, a Cranbrook kid at the country club smugly swaddled in class disdain. He thinks being president is his manifest destiny. His father didn’t make it, so he will — no matter what far-out conservative positions he must graft on to in order to do it.
We’re in search of the real Romney. But, disturbingly, so is he.
One thing we have to give Mitt, though: He is, as advertised, a brilliant manager. He’s managed to ensure that President Obama has a much better chance of re-election.
Roger Simon, for Politico, had his turn:
The wheels are not coming off the Mitt Romney campaign. They came off some time ago. The press is just beginning to notice.
The Romney campaign is skidding along on its axles and scraping its muffler. Soon it will be down to the dog on the roof.
I hate to say I told you so. No, scratch that. I love to say I told you so. I just don’t get to do it very often.
But as I have been saying for a while now, Mitt Romney is a deeply flawed candidate who got the Republican nomination by beating a ludicrously weak field. Don’t believe me?
You know who came in second? Rick Santorum. Newt Gingrich was third, and Ron Paul was fourth. That’s not a field; that’s a therapy group.
Unlike the US, where David Letterman gave it a nightly outing,
Seamus, the Irish setter who got sick while riding 12 hours on the roof of Mitt Romney’s faux-wood-paneled station wagon …
hasn’t acquired, in the UK, the fame he deserves:
The Seamus story first surfaced in the Boston Globe in a chapter of a biographical series the newspaper published in 2007, when Romney first ran for president.
One summer day in 1983, as the Globe reported, the overpacked Romney wagon — suitcases, supplies and five sons, ages 13 and under — set off from Boston for the 12-hour trek to his parents’ cottage in Ontario on the Canadian shores of Lake Huron. Romney, then a 36-year-old management consultant, had planned a single stop to refill the tank, get food and go to the bathroom.
Until the evidence of Seamus’s sickness started dripping down the back window.
“Dad!” Tagg, the eldest son, yelled from the back of the wagon. “Gross!”
Romney pulled off the highway, washed down Seamus and the car at a service station, then got back on the highway.
Credit where it’s due: that’s Philip Rucker for the WaPo. Malcolm’s total amazement is reserved for any candidate who could survive that story. Stronger stomachs may recall that Seamus’s looseness may have involved a different part of his canine anatomy. It is a
tail tale that grows in the telling.
And, but natch, Jon Stewart took it all apart (sadly, that doesn’t embed)
Off with the motley
Once we are past the bitter mockery, there’s still the even more bitter anger. It is most corrosive when it comes from natural allies. There’s a fine example from Peggy Noonan in the WSJ. Having demolished Romney’s nonsense about the 47%, she hits home:
So: Romney’s theory of the case is all wrong. His understanding of the political topography is wrong.
And his tone is fatalistic. I can’t win these guys who will only vote their economic interests, but I can win these guys who will vote their economic interests, plus some guys in the middle, whoever they are.
That’s too small and pinched and narrow. That’s not how Republicans emerge victorious—”I can’t win these guys.” You have to have more respect than that, and more affection, you don’t write anyone off, you invite everyone in. Reagan in 1984 used to put out his hand: “Come too, come walk with me.” Come join, come help, whatever is happening in your life.
You know what Romney sounded like? Like a kid new to politics who thinks he got the inside lowdown on how it works from some operative. But those old operatives, they never know how it works. They knew how it worked for one cycle back in the day.
They’re jockeys who rode Seabiscuit and thought they won a race.
In passing, Noonan’s recipe for the Romney campaign is essentially defensive:
Time for the party to step up. Romney should go out there every day surrounded with the most persuasive, interesting and articulate members of his party, the old ones, and I say this with pain as they’re my age, like Mitch Daniels and Jeb Bush, and the young ones, like Susana Martinez and Chris Christie and Marco Rubio—and even Paul Ryan. I don’t mean one of them should travel with him next Thursday, I mean he should be surrounded by a posse of them every day.
Malcolm reckons that boils down to an essential truth. Romney, once upon a time, was a decent liberal Republican, convincing enough to make a mark on the bluest State in the Union. Now he has suffered a political sea-change, and is doing little beyond parroting the nostrums of the neo-Con Right and the Tea Partiers. The worst that can be said of him — apart from naivety — is he is an opportunist: not an unusual character flaw among ambitious politicians.
Now Noonan states the obvious: he is not to be trusted off-script, without a bodyguard of more-finely honed lies and more expert liars.
Aw, shucks! Let’s just finish with Jim Morin:
And, for old times’ sake:
— I wish I’d said that!
— You will, Malcolm. You will.