A reader writes:
I can’t believe the stupidity of Romney’s campaign flacks, choosing a site near a venue where the President had spoken a day or so earlier, giving the impression of Romney tagging along behind the President, nipping at his heels. Or staging this frat-level stunt itself. Gosh, Romneys’ noticed that the President’s work toward economic recovery has not been as successful as everyone would have liked it to be. Truly, Romney is a man of genius and destiny.
Americans won’t throw an incumbent President overboard because he or she seems inept, unaware, and not up to the challenges the nation faces. Realizing that your car is nearing the end of its service life doesn’t translate into running out and buying a new car. If Jimmy Carter had run only against John (“I’m looking at the Berlin Wall”) Anderson, Carter would have had a second term. Americans will vote President Obama out of office if they think he’s inept, and if they think Romney’s not. Romney can’t get elected by claiming that Obama isn’t living up to his billing and that the election is about leadership. It’s true, but it’s only two-thirds of the case. The indispensible third leg is that Romney is a leader. You don’t make that case by following President Obama around and noticing that a warehouse is empty enough to fit the offices of your entire private-equity firm, with room left over for your Cadillacs.
Ditto Romney’s whining about Obama “punishing success.” That’s also a pretty stupid move when most people think that only the rich are succeeding in the first place. It sounds as though Romney thinks the American electorate is watching The Poseidon Adventure and that we should be rooting for the private-equity and investment-banking guys, portrayed symbolically by the plucky Shelly Winters, to make it out alive. Why punish the only people with the capital and vision to succeed in our economy? It’s not like the rest of us have a flaming hope in Hell of sending our kids to good colleges, spending a week at the beach every year, and retiring before we’re 82.
There’s a funny similarity between Romney and Obama, the GOP and the Democrats. They’re both vitally interested in capital. For the GOP, this vital interest is a pie-in-the-sky fantasy about the uber rich getting richer and oh, by the way, creating ripples of prosperity that will eventually lap at the sides of middle-class rowboats (which are increasingly resembling flotsam). For Democrats it’s a ridiculous hallucination about natureless individuals making irrelevant sexual and ideological choices within spheres of state permission maintained by taxing the uber rich. Both parties care desperately about America’s capital and money interests, about what makes them happy, what makes them useful and productive, and how America can take full advantage of their wonderful ability to accumulate more and more wealth. President Obama and Mitt Romney wonder whether the money interests can afford X tax, or whether they’d be happier with Y cuts. Are the money interests too regulated? Perhaps they could be better regulated? Answer those questions and you’ve taken care of the non-rich. What’s good for the boardroom is good for everyone. And that’s the choice we have in November.
And so this Man of the People is already driven to having to try to force members of his own party to pledge to vote for him –with limited success. Way to win an election, Thing That Used to Be Conservatism.