Can you believe that Mitt Romney is leading in the polls for the GOP primary in New Hampshire? This guy flip-flops more than a fish stranded on the beach. Would the Republicans really nominate him?
Stunned in Stanford
* * *
I sort of doubt the Republicans will nominate Romney, but then I find myself sort of doubting that they’ll actually nominate any of the collection of losers fighting for the GOP nomination. (Who would have thought that Newt Gingrich and I would actually agree on something?)
But, obviously, the Republicans will eventually have to settle on one of the available candidates. That is, unless they decide to exhume Ronald Reagan’s body and run him posthumously, something I wouldn’t completely rule out given the absurd degree their hero worship (the 22nd Amendment, which limits a president to two terms, would seem to preclude this approach, but I’m sure Alberto Gonzales’ Justice Department would have no problem recognizing a “Dead Guy Exception,” if they thought it necessary to maintain Republican control).
But assuming the GOP bypasses the Dead Reagan Gambit, realistically, Romney probably has about as good a chance as anyone of pulling off the nomination. In many ways, even with Rudy Giuliani leading in many of the national polls, the Mittster seems to be the dude with the momentum (at least pending the formal launching of the even more ridiculously overrated candidacy of Fred Thompson).
Since I’m a Democrat, what really interests me, of course, is how strong a candidate Mitt will make in the general election if he does win the nomination. Otherwise stated, how tough is it going to be for us to kick his sorry little butt all the way back to his vacation home at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. So let’s add things up.
On the positive side, in terms of his potency as a candidate, he looks really good on television in an “I hire my own high dollar makeup people” pretty boy way. He also has the credentials to run the tired old “I’m a successful businessman and therefore know how to get things done” line, although his business dealings as a corporate raider may not seem all be that attractive upon close examination. As for positives though, that’s about it.
Turning to the negative side, we have, as Charles Dickens might have said, a ponderous list to contend with: to begin with the most obvious problem, he’s a flip-flopper’s flip-flopper who wears his willingness to say whatever it takes to win on his sleeve; he strongly favors a war that’s overwhelming and passionately opposed by the American people (note to inside the Beltway pundits — no pro-war candidate is going to win in 2008, regardless of how much you love him); he’s been groveling regularly at the feet of the party’s extreme right wing — a bunch who are increasingly unpopular with most Americans; and he has a gift for regularly making a fool of himself in ways that tend to stick to a candidate, like his famous hunting faux pas.
Are you shaking in your boots yet, Democrats? Yeah, me neither.
Still, speaking for myself (and fair warning, this is just me talking, without, so far as I’m aware, the DC punditry’s seal of approval) I think Mitt has another, less talked about, vulnerability, assuming the Democrats take advantage of it wisely: he’s been an absolute cad to his home state of Massachusetts.
And, yes, of course, I realize that in the view of much of Republican America Massachusetts is a goofy liberal place you wouldn’t dare enter without first locking up the kids and the womenfolk (and perhaps, pursuant to James Dobson’s teachings, beating them at the same time). So it’s understandable, if not exactly honorable, that in trying to win the Republican nomination, Romney would want to distance himself a little from his home state.
But it’s one thing to distance yourself a bit from your home state; it’s quite another to ridicule it, something Romney has done repeatedly. And here’s the worst of it: he ridiculed Massachusetts while he was still its governor.
Here’s a small sample from a Washington Post article from a couple of years ago:
“Being a conservative Republican in Massachusetts,” he told a GOP audience in South Carolina, “is a bit like being a cattle rancher at a vegetarian convention.”
Bada-bing. For months, this blue-state governor has been pitching himself to conservatives in a way that campaign experts say is highly unusual — perhaps even historic. Instead of talking about his home state with the usual lip-quivering pride, Romney uses it like a vaudeville comic would use his mother-in-law: as a laugh line.
As in: “There are more Republicans in this room tonight than I have in my state!” — another joke he used in South Carolina.
The problem: Some people here in Massachusetts are not laughing. Political observers say Romney may have put himself in trouble for next year, when the “vegetarian convention” has another gubernatorial election scheduled.
“For an incumbent governor to make fun of the state seemed gratuitous,” said Jeffrey M. Berry, a professor of political science at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. “I think people sort of felt he was flipping the bird to voters here.”
Romney found a convenient way to avoid facing the Massachusetts electorate, of course: he chose not to stand for reelection. Instead, he started running for president, while all the while continuing to rub his home state’s face in it.
Maybe I’m nuts, but having an incumbent governor, someone who pledged his fidelity to his state to get elected, then turn around and ridicule the people of that state to outsiders for political gain, doesn’t sit very well with me. And my guess is that it won’t sit all that well with a lot of other people. It just sounds too much like a man who professes his undying love to a woman, in order to get her to sleep with him, who then afterwards turns around and makes fun of her to his friends.
Do you think that’s the kind of man most people want for president?
For whatever it’s worth, Stunned in Stanford, I don’t think so.
* * *
* * *
One question’s been haunting me lately: will the truth ever be told about all of the Bush Administration’s misconduct? To be honest with you, I’ve about given up. Bush just keeps stonewalling on everything, and he seems to be getting away with it.
So what do you think, Winston? Will the wall of lies ever come crashing down?
Wistful in Wichita
* * *
Believe me, my friend, I share your frustration. It sometimes seems as though the executive branch of the United States Government has become little more than one big cover-up machine. Whatever the investigation, Bush refuses to cooperate. Whatever the congressional oversight, Bush dismisses it. Whatever the public’s need to know, Bush stamps the information with the words top secret, executive privilege or just a simple screw you.
Back during the Watergate cover-up there was still a fair measure of political independence in the Justice Department as a whole and even at the top, once John Mitchell left, enough so that when Richard Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, in what would soon become known as the Saturday Night Massacre, the two top officials in the Justice Department resigned rather than carry out the order.
Can anyone imagine, even for a nanosecond, something like that happening today in Antonio Gonzales’ Department of Justice? Not a chance.
Nor do we seem to have any likely replacements today for the early 1970s versions of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, or for that matter the early 1970s version of the independently owned Washington Post.
But believe it or not, even with all of this working against us, I still have confidence that someday the truth will out. And much of it, almost certainly, will come out while Bush is still in office.
Although it isn’t mentioned in the text of the Constitution, one of the greatest protections against governmental overreach and abuse — something built into the very genetic code of democracy — is still fully operational even in today’s corrupted environment. It’s called — and may we all bow down in homage at the mention of its name — The Leak.
Leaks have gotten something of a bad name recently, of course, because of the Plame/Wilson case. But there’s a world of difference between those in power using leaks to hurt their critics and others using leaks to expose abuses by those in power. It’s the latter brand, obviously, that we’re celebrating here.
Do you remember how just a few years ago people used to marvel at how leak proof the Bush Administration was? The only leaks coming out of the White House were the ones they wanted to come out. But those days are long gone.
It’s something that’s easy to forget, given the level of betrayal we’ve seen during the last seven years, but even in the face of corrupt leadership there are still always good and honorable people working for the federal government. A lot of them, of course, are in the career service: but don’t sell political appointees short.
For every Alberto Gonzales who makes his way into governmental service there’s also a James Comey. Honorable Republicans may not always speak up (or leak) when we think they should; they see the world, after all, through different eyes. But that doesn’t mean they never speak up. And the worse things get — the more corrupt the conduct and the greater the damage to the nation — the more The Leaks and the whistle blowers will begin to surface.
Given the massive, all encompassing, cover-up we’re experiencing today, don’t expect the whole truth to come gushing out like water flowing over Niagara Falls. No, it will come a bit at a time — a tiny leak here, a little bigger one there. But it will come. And it will grow. And they won’t be able to stop it.
As that TV show used to say, the truth is out there. And in time, far too much time perhaps, but in time — and with our help — it will find its way to the light.
And there will be a reckoning.
* * *