I came into 2012 quite pessimistic. The economy was weak, most liberals I knew were committed to voting for Obama, but less enthusiastic than in 2008, while on the other side, the right-wingers were virtually bouncing off the walls with manic energy borne of hatred of Obama. Weak economy + enthusiasm gap = problems for Obama.
And obviously, this was the Romney calculus as well. Make the election a referendum on Obama, sit back, and profit.
But I think neither I, nor they, realized what a God-awful politician Mitt is. Now, there are a lot of skills that make for a good politician, of course. And it isn’t all about being personable. But you do need to make a connection.
Nixon was a miserable SOB, but had a long, extraordinary career because even though no one could ever imagine having a beer with the guy, there were a lot of people who identified with him. He was a surly, angry, insecure jerk, which made him a perfect standard bearer for a movement based on resentment.
GW Bush was an arrogant frat boy, but somehow managed to convey the impression that he’d be a nice guy to have a beer with. And unquestionably, a lot of people felt he had their interests at heart.
But Romney. He’s just devoid of a personal touch. He’s not really angry either. I mean, why would be he be? You don’t want to have a beer with him, nor can anyone see him as their standard bearer for some sort of resentment based crusade.
Romney could, I guess, have run as a genuine technocrat… but of course you can’t in today’s GOP since actual facts and logic are anathema.
Romney’s one option would have been to glom onto some sort of genuine populist Veep. But no, he goes for Ryan. Just a mind-boggling choice. Here is a guy who reinforces every negative image for Romney. He’s an “ideas guy,” whose main idea seems to be that if we just make life miserable enough for everyone good things will happen. A guy whose entire worldview is based around that idea that the poor are poor and the middle class is falling behind because, you know, they are lazy. Now, yes, he argues that most American are lazy, not because they are inherently lazy, but because the government makes them lazy, or something. But I don’t know, that just doesn’t seem like a plausible campaign theme, does it?
The Romney/Ryan line is, basically, “It isn’t all your fault you’re lazy, but you are lazy, and we’re gonna get you off your lazy, fat asses whether you like it or not.” Hmmm. Winner?
And how did Ryan come to this sophisticated worldview? Well, it isn’t just reading Ayn Rand. It also involves lots of cozy dinners with fellow right-wing cranks drinking $350 bottles of wine.
That’s the image of Ryan we need to keep front and center. Him, sitting there, whining about how liberals are mean to millionaires while plotting ways to fuck the poor, drinking bottles of wine that each cost more than many Americans take home in a week. Heartless. Out-of-touch. Self-righteous. And cruel.
This is a really a ticket of paired sociopaths. Completely devoid of any empathy for the rest of us. It isn’t that they can’t feel other people’s pain. Rather, they think pain is good for us, and they are going to provide it whether we like it or not.