Tag Obama

Mitt Romney, Carnival Barker

I am not entirely sure that I agree with Joan Walsh’s handicapping of the election in early September–so much could happen between now and November.  But I agree with her gist: Romney crossed a line, today, when he held rushed and cheaply staged presser, wherein he used the tragedy of the Libyan embassy deaths in order to once again accuse a sitting President of being embarrassed by–and by extension, disloyal to–the very country he leads.

Even worse, he repeated for the thousandth time this obnoxious smear with the nervous glee of someone truly pleased with himself.  Striking a grim tone as if he had something really serious to tell us Romney pretended to inform us all that the President of the United States isn’t really on our team (e.g.), nor is his entire staff, because they are really on the side of the angry mob that shoots RPGs at cars filled with diplomats in response to some douchebag’s piece of crap video spewing hate about Islam.

Except, Romney forgot to pretend he was grim all the way off stage and off camera.  Instead, he flashed a boyish smile as he turned away from the microphone.

And we all know that smile. It’s the smile that says,”Yeah, that’s right–it was me who put that dead skunk in your gym locker and you’ll never find out because I’m so much bigger and smarter than you.” Except this is not high school anymore for anyone but Mitt Romney.  Behold, America, this is the man who wants to lead this nation.

In my mind, the transformation is not so much from potential winner to just-go-home-now loser.  Rather, the shift is from candidate to carnival barker.

It’s no secret that Romney’s party has become a dime store carnival replete with competing sideshows.  But until now, it was never crystal clear that Romney wanted little more than to be the man standing at the entrance of the dusty lot shouting at passers-by about the wondrous and dazzling sites they will see, all for a dime or your money back.

And that’s just it: Romney did not just embrace his role as a front-man for a carnival full of the political equivalent of bearded ladies, monkey men, and dancing Siamese twins.  He also reminded us just how cheap the GOP carnival is–just how much it scrapes the gutter.

Ultimately, what’s so contemptible about the carnival barker is that the sideshow performers he supposedly manages actually look down on him.  They know that despite their extra limbs, facial disfigurements, oozing tumors, and shocking contortions, their physical ownership of natural spectacle will always get them an audience, somewhere and somehow.  The carnival barker, by contrast, is just a boring opportunist who thinks he can make a name and a quick buck for himself by standing near an empty lot filled with freaks. In the end, the carnival barker needs the freaks much more than they need him.

And that’s Mitt Romney.

That old pretense that Mitt is somehow a man of substance because he helped rescue the Winter Olympics from going into the red (gasp, applause, cue star-spangled banner)–today’s spectacle rendered it insignificant, like the bouquet of fine wine uncorked in a room filled 20 feet high with pig manure.

Mitt Romney may yet be President.  In a world where the Ebola virus exists–nothing is for certain.

But win or lose, Romney gets to spend the next two months barking outside the GOP carnival lot, desperately longing for the pocket change of passersby who wish he would just leave town and vying for the respect of a freak show ensemble that never had anything but contempt for him.

“Step right up!”

Romney’s “Europe Stinks” Narrative

A new poll out, this week, suggests the damage Mitt Romney has done to  himself and to the GOP on foreign policy competency is far more extensive than previously believed possible.  Bottom line: If Romney wins the election, Europeans will hate the US even more than they did during Dubya’s reign of never-ending stupid.  What’s going on, here?

Europeans, obviously, do not follow the endless fascination of the Romney campaign (zzz…). So, this negative view of Romney cannot possible be the result of evaluating his foreign policy positions.  Also: Romney does not articulate any policy positions. No, the problem Europeans have with Romney is most likely a frothy mix of European stereotypes of the dumb American, Romney’s “tour de blunder” overseas trip, and a broad story that the Romney campaign has used as an attack on the Obama administration’s domestic policies–a narrative I call: “Europe Stinks.”

That’s right: Romney has most likely damaged his foreign policy potential with our allies in Europe as a result of being the leader of a party that has tried to rally voters with the accusation that Obama wants us to be like Europe.  Spend months and months on the trail talking down Europe as some kind of Socialist economic nightmare awash with immigrants, out of control debt, hate for Christians, riots, and: “Tell him what  he’s won, Johnny!” It’s a giant shiny box of: Europeans resent you, now.

The irony in all this, of course, is that Romney spent his draft-dodging youth in France.  He could have played up that aspect of his character development and positioned himself as a Commander-in-Chief with an organic connection to our most important global allies.

Imagine a candidate Romney saying, “I know how to work with Europeans better than the President because I lived there, I spoke the language, I got to know run-of-the-mill European citizens in the same way that I know Americans–by talking with them about their hopes, dreams, and prayers. Not only do I know how to work with them on foreign policy issues, I know exactly how to bring European investment to the places we need it most in the United States.  My experience in Europe means more security and more jobs for America.”  Say something like that for a few years and Europeans will be eager to see you take the reins.

But, alas, that Mitt Romney–if it ever existed–is nowhere to be found in a GOP currently lost in the Twilight Zone of its own xenophobia.

In other words: the “Europe Stinks” narrative Romney has embraced by way of lambasting Obama’s domestic policy will, if Romney wins, not only have derailed any chance this country ever has at maintaining our social safety net, but also have deep-sixed diplomatic and economic relations with the EU.

A permanently damaged middle class and the end of European allies–you’re welcome!

Democrats should tread lightly on these EU opinion polls, but should remain aware of how much damage Romney has done to himself and the GOP brand. Nobody likes a candidate who brags about being liked more in Paris than the other guy–unless, of course, you are talking about Paris, Texas.

Still, Democrats would be wise to see how Europe has become a campaign topic in discussions of both foreign and domestic policy.  That is a big deal.

As debate prep revs up, Democrats will want to put a new card into the deck for Obama and Biden: a story about how economic recovery and the generation of new jobs depends not just on investments at home, but also attracting investments from our European allies.

And on the question of working with Europe to invest in, say, manufacturing plants in Ohio, North Carolina, or Michigan, the Obama campaign has a real opportunity to paint Romney as someone who has poked the EU in the eye with a sharp stick instead of extending an open hand.

It’s a way of shining a light on the Romney campaign’s language that could leave a bad taste in voters’ mouths about the GOP “Europe Stinks” narrative. Ultimately, all this talk about Europe could lead many people to give the Obama-Biden ticket a second chance.

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