Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Good grief! What's going on with the Republicans?

Caveat: I was not, and am not, planning on voting for Romney or any other Republicans for national office this year. Ditto Obama and the Democrats.

With that out of the way, am I the only one who thinks the GOP is blowing what should have been a golden opportunity to seize the White House from a weak incumbent and a narrowly divided Senate? It seems like the last six months have been one long string of political gaffs by big time candidates who should know better.  That and the ever more dramatic ideological tone of the GOP reflected in the nomination of candidates who while pleasing to the far right are in some cases probably unelectable. A hard right Tea Party neo-con is likely to play well in Texas. I have doubts about places like Ohio and some other states where congressional seats are being contested by uber-right candidates. And we can just throw out the Senate race in Missouri which was a Republican lock until they nominated Archie Bunker.

Now we have the already gaffe prone Mitt Romney announcing that 47% of Americans are losers who pay no taxes, think they are victims and that he will never be able to convince to take responsibility for their own lives! Never mind that there is an element of truth to what he said. It's political suicide to say it. And a man who wants to be President of the United States should demonstrate greater care with his words. Forget my political disagreements with the man. I am seriously starting to wonder if he has the temperament for the job.

I don't know if this is a death blow to his campaign. But I am pretty sure it is the most spectacular case of foot in mouth disease that I can remember from a presidential nominee in my lifetime. If it isn't a fatal wound (and it might be) it is certainly devastating. He seriously comes across sounding like a snobbish jackass. Worse is that he doesn't have a lot of time to recover. This isn't June. It's late September. Early voting is about to begin in some states and the general election is less than two months away. Time and opportunity needed to bounce back from mistakes are fast disappearing.


John Meese said...

I agree. This could very well ruin any chance of a win that he did have before, not that it makes much of a difference to you and me between him and Obama. There is one clear place where Obama wins over Romney: Obama is a smooth criminal. He never lacks for charisma and rarely (if ever) looses his temper in public. Romney, on the other hand, seems to wear his emotions on his sleeve more often with each passing month.

Michael said...

@John: "Forget my political disagreements with the man. I am seriously starting to wonder if he has the temperament for the job."

You have touched on something crucial here.

When I was a young man, I evaluated political candidates strictly on ideological lines. If a candidate supported policies I agreed with, he got my vote, regardless of what kind of human being he was.

Now, I take the opposite view. Who a man is, as a human being, is now much more important to me than what specific policies he proposes. A decent man, who actually has a soul and a conscience, will backtrack if he sees that his favorite ideological hobby horses are causing calamity.

By that standard, there a only a handful of men in public life today, who I actually think have the character for the White House. Ron Paul is one such man. Dennis Kucinich is another. So was the late Paul Wellstone, whose untimely death left a big hole in public life, by my reckoning. Ralph Nader? Maybe, but his ideological zealotry sets me a bit on edge.

Unfortunately, within my lifetime, decent people of humanity and conscience have been systematically weeded out of public life (both in Washington and on Wall Street), and have been replaced by psychopaths or other pathological types. I think this process started in the Reagan years, when Reagan unwisely let the Neo-Cons into high positions of government. It was at about that time that the "Gordon Gekko" types (like Carl Icahn and Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts) took over on Wall Street. In both places, their influence created atmospheres that were so polluted and toxic, that decent people could not breathe and survive there. Only psychopaths and others like them could cope.

The thing is, that when psychopaths achieve high enough positions in large organizations, they start "negatively selecting" for others of their own type.

Now, don't get me wrong. Truman, Kennedy, LBJ and Nixon were hardly saints, and they were corrupt in many ways. But corruption is one thing. Moral insanity is quite another. Clinton and Dubya are both morally insane. Now, it looks like Romney may be, too.

Obama, I am not so sure about. I think he (at best) is a sleazy Chicago machine politician, and seems to have some disturbing ideological crochets to boot. However, so far, he has shown a degree of moral and clinical sanity around the Iran situation and the Israel Lobby, which his predecessor clearly lacked.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

It is a gaffe only because so many voters are net tax consumers at this point. In a sane polity, they wouldn't be allowed to vote.

Anonymous said...


I think you'd only allow yourself to vote.

Anonymous said...

When the Index of Govt Dependence began measuring in 1962 23.7% paid no taxes. By 2009...49.5%. 44.4% were on govt. assistance when O took office. That number exceeds 50% w/ the govt. actively tring to enroll more on the federal dole. Romney may have spoken inelequently ;however, he spoke the truth.

Phil said...

It's amazing to me that we've reached the point where widespread, forced redistribution of wealth is assumed to be normative, indeed, unquestionable. And, so, we have a presidential candidate who seems to think that a state of affairs where almost half the population is receiving some kind of monetary support from the government is something about which we ought to ask some serious questions.

That hardly seems like a question that demands some serious national thought. But what's the response? "I am seriously starting to wonder if he has the temperament for the job." "Devastating." "Snobbish jackass." "Morally insane." And that's just from the so-called libertarians.*

America is in serious trouble. With friends like this, it certainly doesn't need enemies, but, unfortunately, it has plenty of those around the world, too. And we know if you want to defend against those, you're a "neo-con." Good grief. When I tell my kids what America used to be like, I think they're going to take me as seriously as if I were telling them a fable by Aesop.


*Some of them. Ron Paul opposed the income tax and wrote on his campaign web page, "An income tax is the most degrading and totalitarian of all possible taxes. Its implementation wrongly suggests that the government owns the lives and labor of the citizens it is supposed to represent. Tellingly, 'a heavy progressive or graduated income tax' is Plank #2 of the Communist Manifesto, which was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and first published in 1848." Just another morally insane Republican, I guess.

Michael said...

OK, this probably will do little good, but I want to make one distinction clear.

My assessments of people like Clinton and Dubya have NOTHING to do with their policy positions. In the case of the aforementioned, their policies are as different as could be.

I also thought I made clear, that I consider Ron Paul to be one of the few decent men in politics today, and the only one I would consider voting for. Furthermore, it also helps that I agree with nearly all of his policy positions.

All I am saying here is - "Character counts!" Why is this so difficult to understand?

In the case of Romney, he has no core beliefs. His policy statements are not to be taken seriously, since he has been all over the map in his career. He was a European-style Social Democrat as governor in Massachusetts, when the political situation called for it. Now, he is posing as a Tea Party Republican. The man is an extremely transparent phony.

I also think he is probably as pathological as Clinton or Bush were. What do I base this on? It is more than just the body language. The specific incident with the pet dog on the roof of his car speaks volumes. Wanton cruelty to animals (especially in young boys, as was apparently the case with Dubya) has long been a clinical marker for psychopathy. Please Google "MacDonald triad" for more details. Also, (if you have the time) locate "Snakes in Suits" by Babiak and Hare in the public library, and give that book a good study.

Some people think I am being nit-picky and ridiculous for pointing out things like this. However, I have learned, through painful personal experience, that "little" indicators like this can often reveal "big" things about a person's character. When someone's "Mask of Sanity" slips like that, pay attention, folks! We are being warned!

As I said, I may be wasting my breath on this subject. I am in my mid-fifties, and I presume that many of my fellow commentators are considerably younger than that. I know that I cannot put an old head on young shoulders. All I can say, is please ignore sound-bytes and dig beneath the surface when deciding who you will vote for.

Don't you think that we should apply at least the same level of scrutiny to candidates for the Commander-in-Chief of the world's thermonuclear arsenal, as we do to any ordinary candidate for a middle-management position in medium-sized company?

Anonymous said...

Gotcha gaffes don't matter. Gaffes during debates matter more.

Phil said...


You won't get any disagreement from me that character counts. What I don't understand is what that has to do with this race. Our real two choices are Romney and Obama. And, if character is somehow an issue for you with Romney - then no way should you be voting for Obama, who's far worse. You know, I love dogs - I grew up with two of them - but I don't really see the big deal with the dog-on-the-roof story. You know dogs like to stick their heads out the window and into the wind, right? And, anyway, if the President isn't known to put a dog on the roof of the car, he's eaten them.

This guy said lobbyists would have no role in his administration; that was forgotten on day one. The media - yes, even our media - has reported that his aides leave the White House and go meet with the money men at the Caribou Coffee a couple of blocks away in order to ensure their names don't show on visitor logs. We had four Americans killed in Libya, in large part thanks to Obama's illegal war there, and his response was to fly to Vegas the next day for a fundraiser, get up on stage and tell a lot of dumb jokes. Yeah, it's a real funny time as our credibility in the Middle East goes up in flames, literally in a lot of cases, and U.S. personnel are murdered. His Attorney General has been held in contempt of Congress. He has no time for intelligence briefings; he's played golf more than he's met with his economic team, even as 23 million people are unemployed and the economy slides back into a recession. This guy is like a salesperson who works for you and golfs, eats at all the best restaurants, seems to travel only to Paris, London, and NYC, but never meets with customers even as he charges it all to the company. Character? Obama is cheating the American people in a million ways, starting with not bothering to do his job. Nobody voted for this guy just so he could flash the Presidential Seal to get on to the swankiest golf courses.

It's funny you end up saying our candidates ought to be held to the standard of a middle manager. Romney was picked to be, not a middle manager, but the CEO of what was, and is, one of the most successful and respected firms in its industry. Obama, on the other hand, has never held even a middle manager job in his life.

Visibilium said...

John, maybe you're never been invited anywhere, but when I've attended closed-door fundraisers, I've accepted a more casual mode of address. I've cut speakers more slack than when they're making a public address because of the more impromptu ambiance.

Up to this point, I was supporting Paul Ryan and accepted Romney as an unavoidable byproduct. After Romney's "gaffe", however, I'm beginning to like the man more.

Was the 47% quantitatively correct? The funny thing is that no one knows, especially the Tax Policy Center and its media lickspittles. All of these empirical studies are full of shit to some extent, filled with estimates, fudges, averages, and proxies. The point that Romney was making was that parasites vote for politicians who deliver the bacon. The current President has been ladling cheese to his supplicant voting bloc as fast as the Salvation Army ladles soup. I'm glad that Romney brought it up.

I'm further amused by the aversion to Romney's Mormonism because it isn't "Christian". Heck, my beliefs say that no heterodox are Christian. As far as I'm concerned, all of the major Presidential candidates and their running mates aren't Christian. That doesn't make them bad people. In fact, I don't think that it's an issue at all.

You know, we could always examine the Christianity of his opponent who sold his chosen spiritual advisor of twenty-something years down the river to get elected. I'm not even going to address that advisor's venom, but the fact that the relationship was long-standing suggests some underlying resonance, even if expediently disowned.

Let's assume for a moment that one of the candidates magically converted to Orthodoxy, and thereby became a Christian. Would an Orthodox Christian politician automatically possess superior "core values"? Maybe Blagojevich, Dukakis, Collins, Sarbanes, and Snow could answer that question, but somehow I don't think that being Orthodox exempts one from sleaze. From what I've seen, Romney displays Mormon core values in his personal life--attending church, helping others, evangelizing, producing children, and making money. Not bad. Pretty consistent.

What are Romney's problems? He isn't likable or magnetic. He's no intellectual. His oratory lacks the woolly loftiness of the professor who's used to addressing ass-kissing law students. Nah, Romney's strength was his effectiveness at producing results for his constituents, including ass-kicking stockholders, athletes, and Bostonians. He's a CEO, and really now, whose boss is likable? I happen to like my boss personally (although, as a boss, he's about 50% moron), but my fellow underlings unanimously think that he's an asshole.

Romney's MA health care program was a response to his constituents' concerns, but unfortunately, no focused consensus existed with respect to the funding mechanism. The Commonwealth still lacks that funding consensus.

Do you want to know the thing of which I'm most suspicious? Not Republican “fascist control freaks”, but Trojan horses, like tricky Dick Nixon. My reading of postwar history tells me that this nominal capitalist conservative ushered in a whole host of Keynesian evils with which America is still dealing. I don't see any trickiness in Romney. His latest “gaffe” consisted in his trusting the confidentiality of his closed-door meetings, unlike the “always on” phoniness of the professional huckster.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Anon - since I rent rather than own, I would not have been eligible to vote under the election codes of virtually all States in the antebellum US. I am perfectly fine with that. The experiment of governing a society thru its lowest common denominator is a very modern one, and would have been derided by the Church's fathers and scholastics as well as most moral philosophers.

Anonymous said...

Character? For myself I believe it can be measured by one's relationship, in basically how they treat and value their family. Romney is undoubtedly devoted and in love with his wife, for a rather large family they still seem as tight knit as bonded to each other by that love Romney has for his wife and it extends out to in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc.

Yes Character!