Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Profiles in Verbiage

Consider the following crow from the stump and then try to guess the speaker:



For decades, the Washington sun has been rising in the east - Washington has been looking to the eastern elites, to the editorial pages of the Times and the Post, and to the broadcasters from the coast.

If America really wants change, it's time to look for the sun in the west, cause it's about to rise and shine from Arizona and Alaska!


Sounds kinda like the daffy dyslexicon we've known and gleefully mocked for the last twelve years, yes? Coming from W, the punchline would be the bald stupidity of it. What is a "Washington sun" after all? And how will it rise from the West without first anointing that other American Gomorroah: the Left Coast? No, if W said this, we could at least be comforted it with the hope it was another bumbling mistake. You could count on him that way.





Problem is, Mitt Romney read those words from a teleprompter at the 2008 St. Paul convention and he said them with the same declarative timbre as "ask not what your country ..." I guess one man's gaffe is another man's gospel. Lacking any semantic or metaphoric value, Romney's statement can only be read as a raw expression of desire. But exactly what kind of emotional succor are we supposed to derive from retrograde planetary movement? I'm glad I asked. Because stupidity alone doesn't explain this one. The best I can figure is the man feels oppressed by the Copernican Mainstream Media.

Now consider the name of Romney's SuperPAC: Restore Our Future. How does one restore what hasn't yet happened? I've been dizzy with contemplation of that splendid little koan of a slogan but I'm starting to feel like a cat chasing the dot from a laser pointer: there's nothing to grasp, so what can one do but sink one's claws into the guy at the lecturn?




Romney has hearty, well-funded flanks of marketeers under his command. Say what you will about the guy, even his detractors and outright foes believe he should be good at this sort of thing. If it's not a mistake in the Bushian sense and it's not for want of campaign expertise, then what in the ever-turning world is the strategic angle to this hollow, pithy mush? Citizens on both sides of the aisle have been rightly put off and suspicious of the mechanical where they expected the human -- but that same phenomenon is also the source of all comedy, so maybe Romney intends to numb the opposition with its own bitter laughter? Do Romney's formidble powers of confusion somehow neturalize Obama and Obama supporters like me? Arguing with my once-hippy-now-conservative sister about the election last week, it suddenly struck me that I was in no position to oppose Mitt Romney because I have no earthly idea what the man is talking about.




Pause to survey the fractious field Romney must walk and smooth over: Ron Paul's libertarian cohort puts off the hawks and social conservatives. Santorum's evangelical cohort doesn't welcome Mormons among its ranks. And just for fun, add a plump (or is it rump?) establishment candidate that currently appears in the shape of a Newton Gingrich.* The overthrow of Obama is not enough to unite this motley confederacy and as a credit to their tenacity and sincerity, I submit that Romney can't unite them either because his business experience doesn't translate into political prowess after all. Maybe knowledge of mergers and acquisitions isn't enough to reconcile disparate political interests. Maybe focus groups and marketing acumen cannot yield compelling poetry or even coherent campaign speeches. Maybe, just maybe, running a country is different from running a private equity firm. The last and first MBA in the White House was George W. Bush. And that turned out just awesome. The last businessman in the White House was Herbert Hoover. And that was even awesomer. Which of these futures are we supposed to restore?


We worry Citizens United gave corporations rights they did not need or deserve because corporations cannot feel remorse and they do not cast shadows. Mark it now: this is the defining civil rights issue of our time. Romney not only affirms corporate personhood, he appears to be corporate personhood itself. He emits baffling patter for a product so amazing we don't even know what the fuck it is anymore. But even mangled language casts a shadow of a sort, and this we might interpret. It's not about Restoring (or even Winning) Our Future. We should strive to Prevent Our Past. That's the shadow more telling than the substance. Romney thinks we can do that by forgetting how we got here. And forgetting how far we've come.


Heap those passionate factions above into a diesel-powered content aggregator and you get the cumulous word cloud that is Mitt Romney. The cloud is cottony-white and kinda looks like a confused badger if you tilt your head and squint. But it never seems to provide the rain our parched partisans need. Nor is it capable of any lightning.



FOOTNOTE:



*Notice there is no Tea Party candidate in this list. In fact, notice there is no Tea Party: for the most part, they have taken off the tricorns and absorbed into Santorum. The Tea Party was against the Deficit and then against Government Spending and then against Giving Medicine to Poor People and then For Jobs and now? They don't line up behind the libertarian who has fought for the same for much longer; they quietly confess they were really social conservatives in libertarian drag after all. How much longer will the libertarians settle for this? Is it not painfully clear they have much more to gain from an alliance with liberals?



Santorum was right at the thumping heart of the decadent Bush Spree and the economy remains the defining variable in this election. While we've all been yearning for a grand, gooey Santorum closet coming-out party, Republicans secretly know his real skeleton is his affiliation with the Bush years. The Economist -- no liberal rag, that -- called him a splendid candidate for the thirteenth-century, for god's sake. Put simply, Santorum is W without the redeeming quality of alcoholism. If W charmed because he treated every public occasion like a third date, then Santorum charms because he treats every public occasion like a third date with your daughter.




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