Monday, May 16

The Way Things Aren't

I AIN'T givin' up, but I'm gonna quit trying hard after this from Digby.

I do not understand. I'm 57 years old; when Social Security was fixed to account for The Worst Generation I was nearly 30. How can this have been erased from the collective memory in a quarter century?

These people cannot be this stupid, as Digby points out. What's the other answer? Multi-generational con game. Oh, I mean "Multi-generational con game?"

I'm not that sanguine about the intelligence of the Press, however. Disney trademarks Seal Team Six! Go on, google it. See how long it takes you to find an article that understands the friggin' fundamentals of trade-mark law.

And speaking of Alan Simpson: Alan Fucking Simpson, somebody please tell me how he went from No Damn Better'n Dick Cheney or Dick Armey or the rest of those Dicks, to dispenser of homespun cowboy wisdom, to elder statesman à la Jim Baker? First of all, the fucker is a goddam legacy Senator, from Wyomaha, which might as well just give everyone a turn. Simpson spent a couple decades helping to effect the Dixiecrat/ Prairie Assholes Living on Taxpayer Supplied Water and Donated Oil and Mineral Rights coalition; he was the Republican wingnut price for supporting the Liberal Bob Dole as Leader. Then he retires, and he mumbles something about how he didn't hate colored people near so much now that he'd met Carol Mosley Braun, and everyone went "See, he's really not a bad guy at all. And kinda moderate." (I happen to be particularly susceptible to this sort of thing, since my own Senator is renowned for his moderation, which consists of his saying something which might almost stretch across the imaginary chasm between the Republican caucus and Ben Nelson, if you squint hard enough, before voting straight wingnut. I swooned and smacked the back of my head the moment I heard the reaction to whatever statesmanlike thing it was the immanently assholish Simpson said that made him instantly lovable. Between the two I've lost whatever it actually was.)

For the life of me, if Alan Simpson ever got anything right in public life it's escaped me.

And speaking of Alan Simpson: I tried twice last week to write about Mitt Romney and both turned into The Same Old Post About Mitch Daniels.

Daniels is what our politics have been and Romney is what they have become; the first is a professional scoundrel and grifter whose team of professional liars work round the clock to paint him as something different, while the second is, well, what th' hell is Mitt Romney, anyway?

Four years ago the guy spent an entire Republican primary season doing Jim Rockford 180s from his actual record. In public. While honking the horn. And this, in the party which so hates flip-floppers it invents them when the other party doesn't provide any. As a result Mitt got the coveted NatRev endorsement and Soviet-heroic cover, and the opportunity to lose to John McCain.

Now he's back, a testament to the fact that if you have money and connections it doesn't really matter if anyone in the known universe actually wants you to be President. And the goddam centerpiece of his campaign (sorry, "exploration") this time, as determined by What The Base Wants To Hear, is an absolute contradiction of his record.

Mitt contra Obamacare! It's like Lincoln being forced to run on an anti-rail splitting- and-stovepipe hat platform.

So last week all the pundits clamoring for a more "serious" Republican nomination horserace--i.e., one which doesn't look anything like the actual Republican party, or its constituents--who weren't rushing off to Indiana to hear First Lady Cheri-with-an-i Daniels talk about bovine lactation were eagerly anticipating Romney's big invitation-only speech at the University of Michigan where he, and they, promised that Mitt would "confront the issue head-on".

If I'd'a gotten that Romney piece finished close to the time I'd started it I could have translated for you: "confront the issue head-on" means "try to find some alternate explanation that sticks".

The point here is not my amazing track record of prediction after the fact; it's how this could be taken seriously in the first place. Romney signs Romneycare; Obama signs Obamacare; Republicans howl; Romney objects to the latter. In real life, that Real Life Ross Douthat chronicles without ever losing sight of the Atlantic, we call this "transparent toadying", "first-degree pander", or "a fucking load". In real life, the Real Life David "Appleby's" Brooks is sure is going on at Olive Gardens across the country while he ties into fifty bucks worth of expense account vitello tonnato somewhere, one "confronts" a public discrepancy like this one by explaining it, by correcting one position to reconcile with the other, by apologizing for inconsistency, by demonstrating a sincere change of heart, or mind, or by pleading insanity, and then hoping for forgiveness, not banking on forgetfulness.

Of course Romney did none of this. Romney tried to make a distinction between the healthcare needs of Massachusetts, where people evidently occasionally take sick or get into accidents, and are consequently presented with a "bill" for "medical services", with the general run of Americans, and with the wisdom of surgically-precise state-by-state actions vs. that Federal government which turns everything it touches into a blasted hellscape, except, oddly, for multibillion-dollar weapons systems designed to created blasted hellscapes.

Just consider, for a moment, that if Mitt Romney had come out and actually confronted the issue head on--if he'd said something like "The leading country in the industrialized world should be providing basic health care for all its citizens before it provides its navy with another unnecessary aircraft carrier," or "My plan in Massachusetts, so similar to the Federal plan now known as 'Obamacare' in Republican circles, made a lot of sense, morally and economically, and the often virulent, and often fabricated, Republican reaction to the latter is not the way our politics should proceed," the same people who were urging us to anticipate this major clarification would have been telling us, by the next morning, that Mitt Romney had lost his marbles in public, just like his Brainwashed Dad* did.


* I was thirteen years old when George Romney made that statement, and I'd had a public school education. Yet, somehow, I knew exactly what he meant. I knew he was speaking figuratively. Every adult in the country reacted as though he said he'd been locked in a tiger cage by Bill Westmoreland's batman. Maybe it was something I picked up from Saturday morning cartoons. At any rate, it was 1967, meaning that the generals and diplomats had been lying to us about Vietnam for the six years we'd been in the field, and the twenty-one years we'd been fucking around there defending French colonialism, but somehow Romney was the loon. It was the template for our modern political coverage.


Rugosa said...

Romney should take a few yoga classes; it would help him contort himself to fit the Republican agenda. I get some wry amusement from the fact that he will be skewered by his party for making an (almost) principled statement - that he made the right decision for Massachusetts. Of course, trying to explain why the rest of the country should get worse health care is what's got him trying to put his leg behind his ear.

Poicephalus said...

thanks for the Vitello tonnato. I'd never heard of it. Now I will spend the rest of my Houston existence looking for it.
Mmmmmm, veal.....


bjkeefe said...

... a testament to the fact that if you have money and connections it doesn't really matter if anyone in the known universe actually wants you to be President.

To be precise, I can think of someone: K-Lo (at least in 2008), whose overgrown schoolgirl crush on Mittens was beaten in the Most Nauseating category only by the thought of Callista and Newt.

Which, if there was ever an occasion to say "the exception that proves the rule," is now.

StringonaStick said...

I sat in a conference room with Alan Simpson and Gary Hart a month or so ago, as they and the rest of the assembled discussed the Catfood Commission recommendations. A few things really stick with me: (1) Hart saying we should mentally add another $4/gal to what we pay for gas so that we all understand how much we are paying for the military adventurism required to obtain that fuel, and (2) Simpson harping on the over 1,000 military installations the US has world wide and that they need to be seriously reduced, saying "Germany and Japan can defend themselves; we need to leave".

The fact that Simpson didn't stroke out when Hart stated item 1 should have prepared me to hear him say item 2, but I was still surprised. Of course, both of these former senators stated that they can only say these things because they aren't running for re-election.

Other than some refreshing honesty from such public figures, my final impression is that Simpson still acts like a crotchety old fart uncle that you try to avoid inviting to anything because he is such a total dick about everything. Oh, it also helps that while prescribing austerity for us, both of these guys are rich and have perpetual grade AAA health care thanks to their ability to get people to vote for them.