Monday, March 22, 2010

Romney is phoney but not funny

Lots of people are amused by Mitt Romney's denunciation of Obamacare, close cousin to Romneycare. Joe Klein finds it hilarious.  And there is something Onionesque in the consistency with which Romney denounces everything he said and did before 2006.

But look at what Romney said. It's not funny:

America has just witnessed an unconscionable abuse of power. President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation — rather than bringing us together, ushering in a new kind of politics, and rising above raw partisanship, he has succumbed to the lowest denominator of incumbent power: justifying the means by extolling the ends. He promised better; we deserved better.

This is beyond disgusting and into dangerous. Betrayed his oath - that's incitement, in effect an accusation of treason against the President for effecting the passage of legislation fulfilling his signature campaign promise. It's an attempt to cast legislation that will pass through our Constitution's "triple veto" -- with a 60-vote Senate majority for the main bill, no less -- not as ill-considered but as illegitimate.

We've grown accustomed to the lies and cries of "treason" and "death panels" from the Bachmanns and Palins in our midst -- a bad sign in itself.  But Romney is supposed to be a relative adult, smart, informed, competent  --- notwithstanding that he displayed to the world in the last election that he has no principles.  This kind of incendiary rhetoric has become the norm for Republicans. 

On the plus side, perhaps the Republicans and the Tea Party know-nothing nihilists to whom they pander have jumped the shark. Americans may turn against protesters spitting on Congressmen and calling them 'nigger' and 'faggot' as they turned against southerners heaping garbage on civil rights demonstrators. At the same time, Republicans have defined political discourse down to the point where demagoguery has gone mainstream -- it's the daily fare of party stalwarts as well as incendiary upstarts. Maybe my perspective's too short -- maybe the screams in decades past against Social Security and Medicare (not to mention communists under the bed) were just as shrill.  But the fact that one of two major parties is showing all the characteristics of a radical fringe party seems like a blinking red alert on the democra-meter  to me.


  1. Should we be surprised by Romney who daily proves to be transparently shameless?
    Did you even watch his "spoken-word performance" at the Republican National Convention? Even David Brooks nearly fell out of his chair and called him "borderline insane".

    I think Josh Marshall has a good take on why Romney went the full-Crazy:

  2. The sad thing is that Mitt is a chameleon. If a sane person could advance in Repub politics, Mitt would pretend to be sane (which probably wouldn't require very much pretense). But, Mitt has analyzed the primary electorate the same way he analyzed the clients for Bain Consulting and has determined from empirical observation that sanity will get him nowhere, so he's adopted the coloring of the loonies. However much relatively sane conservatives like Brooks or Douthat try to minimize (or ignore) the ravings of the "fringe", Romney proves that they drive the GOP.

    As to minimizing the ravings of the fringe, Douthat provides a classic example in his review of "Voodoo Histories" in Sunday's NYT, where he compares "Clinton-era conservatives who insisted that Vince Foster’s suicide was really murder ceded the stage, in the Bush era, to left-wing cranks convinced that the British scientist David Kelly was bumped off by Iraq war hawks desperate to cover up their deception about weapons of mass destruction." In other words, a conspiracy theory embraced by the Wall Street Journal editorial page is equivalent to some left-wing conspiracy theory I've never heard of, despite consuming a whole lot of left-of-center opinion. It sure as hell didn't appear in a WaPo or NYT editorial.

    The problem for Brooks and Douthat, and really for all GOP sympathizers, is that the fringe is the Base and the Base is too big to ignore, but it is also so ugly that it repels independents and anyone with a shred of decency - can't win with them, can't win without them. The GOP needs to move to the center-right to have a prayer of winning elections, but any center-right candidate will get creamed at the polls (which is why Mitt's current coloration is nothing like his previous coloration).

  3. Agreed.

    However, one thing that didn't get spoken about too much during the 2008 campaign was an unspoken discrimination (in my opinion; not verifiable fact) against Mitt Romney by "The Base". I really don't think the hardcore Christianists ever warmed up to his Mormonism.

    If you leave out Obama and just look at McCain, Palin, and Romney, who do you think is the most capable to serve as president?

    Sadly, now we get to witness Romney make a mockery of himself, essentially denounce his own achievement with the Mass. health plan, and be like a chameleon and go the Full Crazy in the hopes of being accepted by the base.

    It's kind of pathetic, kind of like a high school kid desperately trying to get invited to the prom.