Romney 2.0.1 Driver Patch Revision

With the most popular question within the Romney campaign being “what did he say now,” Romney-Ryan has become adept at drafting resets, relaunches, new versions, and reimaginings. These do-overs always get marred by the next Romney fumble, and the cycle goes on. Following the discovery or his assertion that 47% of the American people don’t take personal responsibility for themselves, Romney has crafted yet another creative way forward. As you see, this initiative is more of a list of public relations moves rather than risky policy statements. Ahead on the Left has obtained a copy of Romney’s latest attempt to get his campaign on track. Here is what we can expect to see from Romney this upcoming week:
(Click on document to enlarge)

The Economy is Lagging So Romney Must Be Awesome!?

I'm eager to know what it is about Mitt Romney that has made a portion of the electorate's squishy center believe that his skill at turning over the nation's economic engine is better than Barack Obama's. That is to say that I am hoping that there is something that makes them think Romney is better. I hope their criteria is more than just the fact that Romney is "someone else." 

I wonder if these centrists have fallen for the argument that because Romney has created wealth for himself and others, he will somehow produce wealth for the nation. It is probably the most compelling argument Romney has going for him, but not one that stands up to scrutiny. Businessmen have not had a good record as successful presidents. Using the term "businessman" loosely turns up these names: Harding, Hoover, Truman, Carter, Bush, and Bush. With the exception of Truman who was a men's clothier for two years before going bankrupt, none of these names are equated with golden eras. As a matter of fact, most of them are equated with recession, depression, malaise, and downturns in no particular order. 

Voting for Romney because of his business experience takes very little into consideration. For example, what if Congress got out of the way and let Obama spend money on his work/infrastructure plans? Republicans say they oppose this because "SPENDING IS OUT OF CONTROL!" Of course to them, spending was not out of control until the second Barack Obama took office. Republicans act as if our national debt did not exist until Inauguration Day, 2009. They were all curiously quiet when Dick Cheney said in the 2004 vice presidential debate "deficits don't matter." The fact is, between a stalled economy and our debt, the stalled economy takes precedence. Spending money to put people to work so they can in turn spend money is much smarter than closing up shop in the name of debt reduction. You WILL stimulate the economy and eventually reduce debt through the right spending, but you can NOT increase employment through austerity. The fact that Republicans argue the opposite is what feeds the belief that they are intentionally trying to stymie any recovery. 

If Mitt Romney were president, he would have two options. He could turn around and enact those types of programs Obama is pushing for, or he could stick to his Republican prescription of more tax cuts. We have never seen simultaneous prosperity and debt reduction through the latter. It's been almost ten years since the Bush tax cuts went into effect and the most obvious result they have had has been their toll on our budget. And biz whiz Mitt Romney thinks that more tax cuts will get us back on track? People who support Mitt Romney and his logic deserve Mitt Romney. Fortunately for the rest of us, odds of them getting what they deserve are getting slimmer. 

A Better Late Than Never Review of the Republican Convention

Curiously, two names that were barely mentioned at the Republican National Convention were George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. At least Romney received an invitation. Barack Obama was slandered about once a minute, but as they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

The Republican party is a big tent as Republicans say when they act like they want to be more inclusive. It is a big tent that’s come along way. The sign outside must have said “5 blacks allowed.” Of course, one of those blacks had peanuts thrown on her by an attendee who commented “that’s how we treat animals.” No Republican has uttered a word about this, but if they did they would dutifully point out that the same exact thing happens at Democratic (sorry, Democrat) conventions, only there blacks actually throw the peanuts on whites.

It was a show-stopper when Oprah possessed the body of Ann Romney who came out to speak on behalf of her husband saying things like “I love youuuuuu womeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!” and “Mitt wasn’t handed success. He built iiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!” The latter was a variation of this year’s “drill baby, drill” and we know how successful that slogan was. Ann was assigned the double duty of reaching out to women and humanizing Mitt. It was said by some that she should have concentrated on one or the other, but even then, the outcome of zero sum would have probably have been the same. It would have merely allowed her to spend more time doing a half-assed job at whichever. The stories she told of their courtship were pretty underwhelming.

Ann Romney was followed by Chris Christie who talks like he’s got a gun in your face. Okay, so your mother took three buses to get to work. Just don’t shoot me! The word is that people like his tone. They find it real. I find it real off-putting.

Christie and other Republican governors talked mainly about themselves. Guys like Ohio guv John Kasich boasted about how well his state was doing economically, which conflicted with the overall message that Obama effed up the economy. Everyone talked about how their family immigrated here with nothing but holes in their pockets and a dream in their heart so apparently they now have the moral high ground to decide that the wealthy deserve more breaks and the middle class should pay for it.

Paul Ryan did his most important bit for the campaign yet by delivering a speech some say consisted of lies. The truth is that Ryan was intentionally deceptive, leaving out important elements of his telling of events for the purpose of making Barack Obama the villain and Paul Ryan the hero. Oh the skilled orator he was, Ryan delivered his deceptions with the earnestness of a high schooler delivering a Model U.N. speech. Ryan's fact challenged summary of the past four years led the headlines the next day. That just led to more digging which has turned up that Ryan lied about his finish time in a marathon he ran over 20 years ago. Add this to Ryan's claims he never requested Stimulus funds in spite of the existence of signed letters in which he requests Stimulus funds and one can see the impulse of a few people to do a jig in Chicago. 

One of the things polls and pundits dictated Romney put on his convention laundry list was to convey he was made of heart and not hardware. Like Barack Obama and his accomplishments, Mitt Romney does not wear his good deeds on his sleeve. This precipitated an awkward parade of members from his community coming forward to attest to all the nice stuff Romney did for them. There’s no reason to doubt any of the testimony given, but neutral people are more convinced when they are shown and not told.

One key to winning the presidency is to be less fodder than the other guy for the late night funny folks. Mitt avoided flubbing for the most part, but it was Clint Eastwood who really sent things a-Twitter with his comedy routine.  Clint became a surrogate gaffer for the Romney campaign and while Mitt didn’t take the initial heat, he gaffed by association. In all truth, Eastwood did nothing wrong. In another venue it would have just been more funny and less jaw-dropping. Being that it happened at a political convention, judgment tends to be on the puritanical side. Maybe it was his stuttering. Maybe it was his suggestion that the president is profane. Maybe it was that it was prop comedy or that it was a comedy routine at all. Word is that the performance got the Palin vetting, which is to say they had a warm body and a good feeling that things would just work out until something otherwise happened.

The moments during and immediately after Eastwood were like a slow poisoning. Only those with their finger on the pulse were aware that something wasn’t right. As for the floor of convention, he brought down the house, but those were all people who hate Obama, for the most part. I know I found the whole thing surreal and the MSNBC panel had a WTF response. For better or worse it was the Twitter response that delivered the verdict that the Eastwood routine was a near mortal blow.

While the Eastwood appearance was in the process of becoming a controversy, the remaining hour of the convention passed with Marco Rubio introducing Mitt Romney, again by talking about himself and his family’s immigrant past and predictably likening Obama’s America with Castro’s Cuba.

Finally, it was Mitt’s turn. The biggest risk Romney took was walking through the crowd like the president does during a state of the union address, shaking hands on his way to the stage. The speech itself was risk-free and perfunctory signaling Romney’s strategy to let any victory come not from any boldness on Romney’s part, but from the perception of Obama’s failure – that and the oodles of super pac money that will assist his campaign.

And then it was over. The assessment was much like the assessments of everything else Mitt Romney has done in this race which was lukewarm at best. Poll trackers are chomping at the bit looking for Mitt’s bounce and thus far, all indications there is little if any. Some say to wait a little longer, but it fits with Mitt’s designation as a guy that doesn’t strike chords.  That’s cool for a guy that runs companies, but in electoral politics the rich guy that won’t let anyone see his taxes needs to show more than placeholder emotions. Romney did not do that. Now we begin the Democratic convention which will be capped off with speeches by working class hero Joe Biden and chord striker Barack Obama.  Though most people are locked in as to whom they are supporting in this election and it is a close race, more people like Barack Obama personally. More people will be inclined to watch his speech and that event is not likely to be overshadowed by an iconic coot with an empty chair. 



Universal Pictures

I've been an Eastwood fan for over 40 years and his performance on the last night of the RNC has left me ambivalent. As a Democrat, I am happy because Eastwood embarrassed both himself and his party. As a fan of Eastwood and the characters that he made legendary I can't help, but see the contradictions of the man campaigning for a party as non-inclusive as the GOP.

In High Plains Drifter he was The Stanger, hired by townspeople to protect them from the three released convicted felons bent on revenge. He is told by town elders, anything he wants is his. Eastwood is his own man. A couple of scenes stick out to me.

In the general store there is an old Native American man with two small children. The storekeeper tells them to leave. The Stranger takes a stack of blankets and loads the old man down. He gives the children all the candy they can hold. The storekeeper can do nothing.

Later in the saloon he makes Mordecai, a little person who has been picked on and used for any undesirable job in town the mayor.

I don't think that Eastwood or the GOP realizes The Stranger stood up not for the townspeople, but for those who couldn't or weren't powerful enough to protect themselves. This is counter to the message and actions of the current Republican party.

In Unforgiven, his character Will Munny makes sure that Sally Two Trees, the widow of Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) gets a share of the bounty the men were after.

Seeing Eastwood's rambling improv with the chair reminds me of another icon who was past his prime. The over-sized suit looked like it had been picked out by Richard Nixon.

As a boy I heard my father, uncles and grandfathers rave about Willie Mays. They told me about the overhead catch he made off the bat of Vic Wertz in the Polo Grounds during the 1954 World Series. The Willie Mays I grew up watching who was 42 in 1973 stumbled around the outfield trying to catch fly balls he wouldn't have broke a sweat catching during his heyday. 

The Repubs need to realize that even though Eastwood is an icon, they need to re-watch some of his movies to see what The Stranger and Will Munny represent. He is more than just "Dirty Harry."

To close it out, I remember a story about the late Cary Grant. He was told by someone that every man wanted to be like Cary Grant. Grant replied, "So would I."

Paul Ryan's Hair: Before and After

As long as all the talk from the Republican National Convention is on the comedy stylings of Eastwood and Chair, it affords me the occasion to be just as petty. I do have a review of the week in the works, but while that is simmering, I would like to address something a little less pithy. I'm talking about Paul Ryan's hair.

I have never been into style or fashion, which makes it more peculiar that for me, the most notable feature of Paul Ryan (pre-Romney-Ryan) was his hairstyle. It totally fit with what we knew of Ryan's political persona. The above portrait on the left is typical of the veep nominee's do prior to his elevation to the next person to lose the race for the vice presidency. Notice the proximity of the hair part, running about an inch to an inch and a half off the centerline of his scalp. There are many ways to describe this look: Hokey, nostalgic, kooky, Norman Rockwell, strange, 1930s, old timey, cultish, holdback, offbeat, patronizing, 1830s, Third Reichy, cornball, supercilious, quaint, sanctimonious, aberrant, etc.

So, I'm no fan of Paul Ryan or his politics and I have always figured that line he hacked just askew off his widow's peak was a metaphor for his personality. "How can I get people to respect me as a real jerk from the past" I imagine him asking himself one day in the mirror. If that was what he was going for, hang a "Mission Accomplished" banner over his pate.

Just watch this now famous propaganda video. In it, Ryan extolls the virtues of Ayn Rand's philosophy of a humanity void of humanity.

The only other hairstyle appropriate for tossing this chum has horns rising out of it.

The reason Ryan finds himself running against Joe Biden now is because of his fan base among hardcore modern Republicans. Republicans love the austere persona Ryan has adopted since a Democrat with a Kenyan father was elected president. Everyone knows, but does not talk about Ryan and the Republicans' desire to shut down America as long as they are not in control. Ryan has become a star of that cabal by talking up more tax cuts and spending cuts, a fierce combo which guarantees a cessation of any agenda, and not to mention an economic standstill which puts any sitting president on the spot.

Ryan is a poster boy for Republican activism, but as Romney needs to shift to the center, optics matter. Ryan can continue to believe the same crazy crap, but I'm guessing that hardcore fuddy-duddy look had to go. It's just like how the list of speakers at the convention was far more moderate than the actual platform. In the same fashion, Ryan had to moderate his hardline hair into something a little less scary and freakish. When Ryan was (erroneously) introduced as the next president of the United States he was sporting the less severe coif we see on the right side of the above photo. Whereas the left photo says "I don't care about your problems unless you're rich," the photo on the right says "Let's all barbecue."

The old hairstyle was fine for Paul Ryan, the suddenly severely fiscally conservative chairman of the House Budget Committee, but there was no way he could address the nation as the VP nominee for the GOP looking like the ghost of Simon Legree. It just is not a sympathetic look. If you rant to the nation about how much more wicked Barack Obama is than you are with that passe hair part that looks like it was combed with shard of glass, people will know you are lying. If you want to lie and get away with it, your odds are better if you bring the parting of the hair closer to zero degrees latitude.

I believe the hair was addressed in the vetting process. Five bucks says the "before" hair was a deal breaker. Someone in the Romney campaign knew it looked like Ryan was wearing his a-hole on his sleeve and gave a "lose the strangeness" ultimatum. One Fantastic Sam's visit later, the Pride of Janesville was ready to go. As a proper toady Ryan kept his mouth shut on Romney's own hair issues, and for that matter, the fact that Romney walks like he still has Gingrich's foot up his butt.