By Patricia H. Kushlis
Puck: “Oh, what fools these mortals be. - Act II, Scene II, William Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream.
If just about everything and anything could go wrong for the Romney campaign this summer – except for the continuation of seemingly bottomless special interest pockets shelling out money to keep their tax breaks intact, defense companies and casino holdings afloat as well as support for an even Greater Israel policy – it has.
Hurricane Isaac’s fury that stole headlines and diverted reporters from a supposed perfectly planned convention on the Florida sands is just the latest example of the dictum “if something can go wrong, it will.” On the other hand, why did the GOP choose Florida during hurricane season as the place for their convention in the first place?
Even Ann Romney’s horse “Rafalca” which competed in the dressage event at the London 2012 Olympics a couple of weeks ago didn’t make the dress circle let alone the winner’s box. Clearly, however, Presidential candidate Romney couldn’t have cared less about the horse or its chances. When interviewed in one of those rare times when a window cracked open just enough for reporters to ask the most innocuous of questions Romney responded that he didn’t intend to attend Rafalca’s race and, for that matter, didn’t know (and obviously didn’t care) when it would be held. For the record, it was held in Greenwich Park behind the Maritime Museum on the Thames just a short Underground ride from London.
I guess horses are just too large to be lashed to the top of even the largest SUV and forgotten. Besides his wife’s the animal lover and people person, not him.
The Kinder and Gentler Mitt Romney? Give me a break.
On August 26, the Financial Times Edward Luce argued in an almost fawning column that Romney’s a pragmatist who has shown he will do anything and everything to win America’s ultimate political prize but that the Republican Party’s current values are the real obstacle to good governance in the US: Luce argues that, therefore, it doesn’t matter who wins the White House rather the real problem and prize is Congress.
I’m not so sure that I agree. At least completely. Congress can impede or assist a president principally through the power of its purse but there’s a lot a president can do through regulation and executive order as Obama has finally learned over the last couple of years.
Romney may well be a pragmatist in his heart but what does this say about his principles? Does he, per chance, have any? What in fact, does the man stand for? An overriding quest for power says something troubling in and of itself about an individual’s character.
Will he sway with every little breeze just to stay in power – if, that is, he gains it? Does he have no scruples? How far will he stoop for four years of free rent and his own jet flown courtesy of the US Air Force? Will he continue the George W. Bush tradition of election theft by denying the opposition the franchise or tampering with ballot boxes in hotly contested states like Ohio and Florida? Or is Pennsylvania the next target? And even if such shenanigans are orchestrated by Karl Rove and his dirty tricks operatives, how can Romney look the other way and get away with it? Whatever happened to conscience? Who does control the party anyway?
These character flaws go hand-in-hand with Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns. That decision – in which his kinder and gentler wife Ann thoroughly agrees - makes me wonder what the couple has to hide from the American voters almost all who are less financially fortunate than they are.
Yes, I know that the quest for power – even for the circumscribed power of the Oval Office – can be an overwhelming aphrodisiac.
But what about the Republican Party and control of Congress? Does Luce have a point here?
I think the party’s problems go deeper than this columnist suggests because the GOP's a gerrymandered coalition with tattered seams on public display. It used to be the Democrats that were the party of the broad tent and, as a consequence, hard to control: a coalition of interests from dirt poor southerners to wealthy Northeast liberals.
But that relationship collapsed with the introduction of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Great Society Program in the 1960s that benefitted blacks, minorities and women but not the poor, largely uneducated and resentful white rural population concentrated in the Old Confederacy.
Today the GOP comes across as a fragmenting collection of people exhibiting all sorts of petty grievances and special interests held together by one single negative goal: to deny President Barack Obama a second term. But their reasons differ from each other – and if the party gains the White House how will its leaders ever sort out the conflicting priorities? Is the motto in fact “Back to the Future?” Or something else.
Here’s the problem: a negative coalition only holds together when its supporters have something in common to fight against – but once that battle’s over: then what?
How can someone like Ron Paul with his anti-war, isolationist views and antediluvian understanding of economics exist in the same party as defense hawks and moneyed business interests? How can conservative economic business interests which Romney presumably most represents that chafe under increased – and in my view needed – regulation be aligned with someone who wants to get rid of the Federal Reserve and return to the Gold Standard?
Then there are the Rick Santorums and Michelle Bachmanns, the anti-abortion proponents, the creationists (aka intelligent design folk) and underneath them: the racists, anti-gays and white Evangelicals - a number of whom are, in fact, one in the same.
Moreover, don’t these people – including Mitt Romney - understand that to replenish the country’s coffers major cuts in defense spending will be required? Squeezing domestic spending and refusing to help fund abortions simply won’t do it.
Besides what about the country’s fraying infrastructure? Highways, for instance? The roadbeds and bridges are crumbling in too many states: how can the US keep claim to First World exceptionalism when its highways equal those in Manila after a typhoon and its public education is a disaster.
What about education?
Unemployment hits the least educated hardest: it’s not the college educated who aren’t employable in the US. It’s the high school dropouts who suffer the most because business has shipped most unskilled jobs overseas.
If the GOP thinks the private sector – which caused the Great Recession in the first place – will suddenly rise up and start producing domestic jobs again with little or no government stimulus they really need to return to economics 101. Reduced government spending eliminates public sector jobs – and public sector layoffs especially at the state and local level directly relate to weak job growth and lower purchasing power. This is rather like the chicken and the egg: Fewer jobs equal a reduced tax base and less tax revenue (the middle class pays the taxes not the wealthy or the poor) and means less money to the IRS. Fewer jobs also negatively affect youth employment and, therefore, increase welfare roles.
It seems to me the US needs to learn from the EURO and the UK which through their ill-fated austerity measures have now tipped their economies back into recession, a recession that weighs heavily on our stock market and causes havoc on youth in particular. Back to the Future anyone?