President Obama got a bounce. Wealthy Republican financier Willard Milton "Mitt" Romney got none. Key swing states are slipping his reach. Many in the progressive blogosphere are a bit too confident for my comfort 50 days out. The richest men and most powerful industries in America are not prepared to see their hundreds of millions of dollars contributed to Romney and Citizens United-enabled GOP super PACs flushed down the toilet. Voter suppression efforts are in full gear, especially critical in Ohio.
No question the Romney campaign is in such disarray that, as Politico reports, the long knives are already out. The Republican Convention ended in calamity, from Chris Christie's Tony Soprano 2016 acceptance speech to Clint Eastwood's performance art with an empty chair — and little memorable about the nominee. Then last week, Mitt's "Lehman moment" on Libya, that moment, as with McCain in 2008, when the man shows himself profoundly unqualified for the presidency.
And why would he be? He's not "Mr. Fix-It" the businessman. He's Mr. Break-It, the kind of finance capitalist that has spent decades weakening the nation by looting the productive wealth it took a century to create. He was a failed one-term governor of a mid-sized state. If Mr. Obama lacked executive experience, he at least has a first-rate temperament, to use Oliver Wendell Holmes' famous assessment of FDR. Unlike Roosevelt, he also has a first-rate intellect, although my discontents with the president are well known.
On top of his basic unlikability, Mitt has piled a record of waffling and opportunism and lack of any fixed principles, aside from winning, "closing the deal." Then he is saddled with a Republican platform that banks on enough of the public forgetting which party wrecked America in the 2000s. Indeed, the GOP is offering more of the same. Are there enough ignorant older white people (and don't forget their younger progeny) out there to swing the election just because they hate the idea of a Negro as president (hence all the dog whistles on the campaign trail)? Robert Reich narrows it down to middle-aged white men and concludes, Romney is going down.
I'm still not sure. Not only for the reason stated previously about the plutocrats, but because of average Americans' ongoing project of apathy, ignorance and voting against their self-interest. Enough, that is, to bring elections within stealing distance (ask Presidents Gore and Kerry). Or, in a state such as Arizona, where the Kooks vote and the rest take it in depressed acquiescence. This is not the "alert and knowledgeable citizenry," as Ike put it in his Military-Industrial Complex speech, that can "compel" government by the people, not by corporations. And even if Mr. Obama does win, if he doesn't gain majorities in Congress, we'll be back to the same Republican policies of destruction. Where is the Harry Truman campaign against a "do-nothing Congress"?
The worst outcome is that our two-party system has failed to offer a viable choice. I could and have laid out a host of reasons why Mr. Obama doesn't deserve a second term. We don't get another option — Franklin Roosevelt, or Theodore, or LBJ for the new century. So we all must vote for the conciliator-in-chief to avoid the extremist candidate upchucked from the toxic belly of the oligarchs and theocrats that now run the Party of Lincoln. It's enough to make you sick.
UPDATE: Monday afternoon, Mother Jones posted a secret video of Mitt Romney with millionaire donors, dissing Obama voters as tax cheats (irony alert) who are dependent on government programs (but he doesn't mean big business). Romney said:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.
Romney continued: "[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." Economist Mark Thoma makes the point that these non-taxpayers are overwhelmingly students and the elderly. In addition, the working poor pay a highly disproportionate amount of their income in sales taxes and FICA. If the mainstream media are doing their jobs, this may be the moment when Mitt Romney lost the election. Jonathan Chait's take on this is the best I've read.
UPDATE 2: Some good reading material. Krugman nails a disturbing reality with When the Inner Party Believes Prolefeed. Ezra Klein shows who doesn't pay federal taxes. The Washington Post fact-checks Mitt's talk. And back to Klein for why Romney's "taker class" theory really matters. A couple of more points: While we're talking about "takers," remember nearly all the red states are net takers, receiving more federal money than they pay, while all the blue states are net donors. And Mitt is quite a taker himself, with the federal carry credit for private equity and the bailout the feds gave Bain. But he was talking to his peeps here (this is the full, unedited video). This was the real Romney.Still, much can happen before election day, and Obama voters should not grow complacent. Romney is now playing fully to the base, and it will vote, even if much of it had to hold their noses. Will the "47 percent" disaster change votes? I'm already hearing from righties defending him, and comparing it to Obama's 2008 clings-to-guns-and-religion kerfuffle. The big difference is that Obama was talking about how to win the votes of those red-state whites. Romney explicitly states the 47 percent are not his concern. I leave you with my persistent question: Why is this race even close?
Read more about the election on Rogue's Campaign 2012 page.