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!”