Why I Won’t Be Voting for Romney

Perhaps I’m not writing this at the best of times as I think I have a severe case of EF.  Yes, I said EF not ED.  EF is for election fatigue and, as you know,  ED is for….well, never mind.  I’ve previously staked out the rationale for Obama in a piece that I wrote on September 4 entitled “Why I Will Vote for Obama Again”.  If you’re interested, That’s still my plan.  Only more so.

I also know that those who read my stuff from time to time divide roughly in two camps.  First would be the “I’m Preaching to the Choir Group” who will not be any more highly motivated to support the president than they already are regardless of what I say.   If you’re in that group, I luv ya bro’.  Keep it up.  The second group is composed of my dear and not so dear friends who tolerate me; but about matters political, only barely.  They might be pleased to be labeled the “I Don’t Care What You Say, I’m not voting for #&%$*ing Obama”.  To them I would say, don’t worry, I’ll still love you after all this is over, and the Republic will survive.  But this isn’t about Obama.  This is about Romney.

So I guess I’m really writing this for myself.  An audience of one.  I’m doing this for myself.  And I’m pretty hard to please.

I will try to not let this turn in to a strident anti-Romney piece; although I’m sorely tempted.  In fact, I believe Mitt to be a good person.  He’s certainly a good family man, father, and husband.  He’s obviously a good business man.  I believe he loves the republic.  He also knows a lot about leveraged finance and how to make money with other people’s money.  I admire him for that.  And he’s a good and responsible leader of his community.  I’m compelled; however, to speak to two weaknesses, and they are the deal killers for me.

First, he want’s to be elected way too much.  His ambition, his ego, and his unquenchable lust for the highest office in the land may be the very characteristic that keeps him from achieving his ambition.  Yes, I know that he comes across as more than slightly tone deaf to those who haven’t fed at his particular trough, and it’s easy to say about him as Ann Richards famously did about George Bush…”he was born with a silver boot in his mouth”.  He wears jeans, but does he wear boots?  Even I, who am not the most sensitive to the needs and feelings of those around me, would give pause before saying in a rush to show his support for the auto industry that, “my wife, Anne, she even owns a couple of Cadillacs”.  It’s almost as if he’s reprising Joe Boyd in Damn Yankees who sells his soul to the devil to become the best hitter around only to discover that that’s not what he really wanted.  I’m afraid that a Romney deal with his particular devil would be something he really did like, but the rest of us would wouldn’t.  He would say anything to anyone to get elected.  And yes, I believe he would sell his soul to the devil…metaphorically I mean.

Second, and more importantly, is his attitude that those of us not blessed with his skills, ambitions, success, and net worth are somehow not deserving of the fullness of the benefits of being a citizen of this great country.  Not only should we not be entitled in full measure, but that we’re feeding at the public trough. I’m referring to his now infamous 47% comment to a group of high net worth donors.  He divides our citizenry into makers and takers based on whether and how much federal income tax we pay.  I, like most of us, have been both a taker and a maker in my time.  Both Sandra and I took loans from Uncle Sam under the old National Defense Student Loan Program to become the first in our families to get a college degree.  I also received a scholarship from the Arnold Air Society of the United States Air Force.  We struggled to pay off our loans, but, after ten years, we did.  We paid them back in full, and I think Uncle Sam made a good investment based on the taxes we still pay. For awhile, Sandra and I fed at the public trough.  We were takers, then we were makers, but for awhile we certainly paid no taxes.  We were part of the 47% he so disdains.

My father, now deceased, struggled to survive on the meager retirement he received from the Department of Defense for his service to our country in two wars over twenty five years.  In the last years of his life, he also was a taker, but most, if not Mitt Romney and Ayn Rand, would agree that he gave in full measure for what he got even though he paid no federal taxes for the last several years of his life.  My mother suffered a catastrophic stroke at an early age.  She too, for much of her life, fed at the public trough through the small Social Security Disability check she got every month.  They were part of the 47% as well.  These are personal stories but not by any measure unique.  There are millions of our fellow citizens who for a time have been forced by life’s circumstances to be, by Romney’s definition, takers.  I, frankly, am outraged and offended by his comment.

I’m sure that Romney would like a do over on his 47% talk to that group of rich donors, or at least he would like to have the room searched for video capable iPhones before he began to speak.  I see no evidence, though, that he didn’t mean what he said.  The sad fact is that he was just tailoring his message for his audience.  He was telling them what they wanted to hear.  At least he has been consistent about that.  Successful politicians generally have the capability to hone their message to their audience, but Romney has taken this skill to the point of no return.  How can a man say “I respect and will protect a woman’s right to choose” while running for governor in Massachusettes and then say with a straight face, “I never really called myself pro-choice” and support the so called person-hood amendment while running for president?  And his position(s) on a health care mandate are well known.  He was for it before he was against it.  Look, I respect any man’s right to take a well informed position on important issues of the day, but I don’t respect Romney’s consistent practice of changing his position based on his view of what will appeal to the audience he’s trying to reach.  There’s a name for this behavior.  No it’s not lying.  Hell, all politicians lie about stuff.  This is worse.  It’s hypocrisy.  And maybe it’s lying too.

To prevent you from having to pull out your pocket Webster’s, I offer the following definition of hypocrisy:  “hypocrisy is the state of promoting or administering virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, or ideology that one does not actually have…”.  “Hyprocrisy often involves the deception of others and thus can be considered…a lie.”  La Rouchefacauld said about hypocrisy that it is “the tribute that vice pays to virtue”.  Romney is right on point with Francois.  I also agree with Boris Pasternak’s character Yuri in Dr. Zhivago who opined, “Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike…”.

I’m guessing that Mitt Romney must not be feeling very well about now.

I wish I  knew what Romney really thought.  He might actually have some good ideas, but I’m not going to take a chance.  That’s why I’m not going to vote for Romney.



Romney, There You Go Again

I said I’d never do it but I did.  I watched another episode of the long running  political comedy called The GOP Primary Debates-2012.  I can’t explain why I did it.  There were some perfectly good basketball games on as well as some reruns of NCIS that I had only seen three or four times.  I guess it must have been the Icarus effect.  I won’t insult your intelligence by retelling the story of hubris and arrogance that led Icarus….suffice it to say, I couldn’t help myself.

I knew I was going to have a problem with this one though because the field is now reduced to four, which means that each of them would have more time to talk.  I don’t mind listening to Ron Paul, because I’ve always been interested in what a leading political thinker of the 17th century might say, and he does have a sense of humor as well. Ok, I know he’s a little crazy, but cut him some slack.  He’s seventy six years old for chriss sakes. I think there oughta be a rule. If you make it to seventy five, you get to say whatever you want about anything you want, and people have to listen politely and not give you too much grief.

I’ll get to Santorum and Romney later, but I knew I was going to have a problem with the Newtster.  The problem is that he makes my skin crawl.  Well, not literally crawl.  You know what I mean.  He has that snarly look, and I keep thinking about all his wives, and his way of making everything he says seem, well, nasty.  Get this….his own party throws him out of being Speaker of the House,  he gets married again and makes a bundle giving speeches and now he thinks he’s qualified to run for president.  Not be president, just run for it.  So I thought I’d get around my Newt problem by putting the sound on mute every time Newt was asked a question.  It worked for the first question or two, but then it seemed that Newt was looking directly at me every time he said something.  It was spooky.  So I decided that in addition to putting him on mute, I’d put a tea towel over my head and hide my eyes as well.  This worked ok, but since I had to guess how long he would take to answer a question, I often missed some really good stuff from one of the other guys.

Lots of people don’t like Santorum.  I guess he’s rubbed folks the wrong way by saying that you ought to have sex only when you want a baby.  I personally don’t see anything wrong with this, and if we followed his philosophy we might really cut the deficit by reducing all baby related spending.  I don’t like his sweater vests though, and I might have had to give him the Newtster treatment if he had worn one, but thankfully he had on a cheap Sears suit instead.  It’s hard for me to admit this, but my real problem with Santorum, is that he’s a dead ringer for my old sunday school teacher, Hubert Sneed.  Hubert announced one sunday out of the clear blue that if we danced with a girl we would go to hell.  This obviously leaves open the possibility of dancing with boys which I don’t think the evangelical types would go for either.  This was right before the big eighth grade formal for which I had been taking foxtrot and waltz lessons for six weeks.  After a monumental struggle with my fear of hell, I went to the dance, but I’ve been worried about what Sneed said ever since.  I’ll betcha that Santorum would have given me the same warning about hell too.

It’s Romney that I want to talk about though.  Every one says that, not only will he win in Michigan, but he will, sooner or later, get the nod as the republics nominee for president.  Egads.  Can you imagine.  We might have a president who says he likes Michigan because of the size of its trees.  Some people say that it was a little cheeky of him to brag about his wife driving two Cadillacs, but I say, what the hey, just because millions of people are out of work and losing their homes to foreclosure, that’s no reason not to be proud of your wife and her Cadillacs.

You gotta admire someone who will go to the state that employs more auto workers than any other and repeat, and repeat again, that it would have been much better if we had let Chrysler and GM liquidate and fire all of their employees.  At least he sticks to his story.  I give you an excerpt from his (in)famous op-ed in that dreaded left wing rag, the New York Times on November 18, 2008. “If GM, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their CEO’s asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American auto industry good bye.  It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.”  Boy, did he nail that one.  Last week GM reported record profits for 2011 two years after their government supported bankruptcy (the government bailout) and paid each of their 47,500 union workers a cash bonus of $7,000.  You can see why Romney was so successful as the head of a major financial buy-out company.

But that’s not the worst of it.  In these aforementioned debates he said again, that rather than get support from the government, they (the auto companies) should have engaged in a “managed bankruptcy”, to which Santorum nodded sanctimoniously and said, yeah, man, “a managed bankruptcy, an ordinary bankruptcy process.”  Unfortunately, having recently been through a corporate bankruptcy, and although I’m no expert, I’ve been up close and personal with the bankruptcy laws.  Even I know that in order to conduct a managed bankruptcy (one in which you keep the company running while you reorganize, you’ve gotta have new capital.  I suspect what he meant was that they should have gotten their new capital, called debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing from the private capital markets rather than the government.  Well, duh.  You think they didn’t look.  As every person who knows how to take a taxi to Wall Street knows, there was no private capital available for them on any basis.  The government was the financer of last resort.  It was that or let them go poof.  The real problem, though, is that Romeny knew this.  He knows capital markets.  He was a partner in Bain Capital.  This is what he did for a living.  He knows the bankruptcy code, including Section 363 under which GM proceeded.  He knows GM and Chrysler and the government had no other choice.  And he just flat lied.  I don’t blame Santorum.  Hell, he doesn’t know DIP financing from dip s**t.  He was just shooting off his mouth.  Romney, on the other hand, was lying.

Some  will say, “but all politicians lie”, and I must admit, that many, even most, do.  But I think that we deserve something better.

How to Not Get Elected

I dunno why exactly, but I’ve been ruminating on the results of the Iowa GOP caucus.  I guess it’s in part because I’ve actually attended an Iowa caucus (see  I Caucus, Too November, 23, 2007), and in part, because I’m fascinated by the fact that Romney won/lost this caucus after spending only $1,642 per vote cast in his favor. My preliminary conclusion is that there’s a lot of people including a bunch of really conservative Iowans who are pretty well convinced that Anyone But Mitt (ABM) would be a far better candidate.  Go figure.

Ok, this may be too clever by half, but the parallels between this caucus and the 1972 Democratic caucus that I attended in a neighbor’s living room in Iowa are compelling.  Those of you, of a certain age, remember the 1972 presidential election.  There are many memorable facets of this another in a long line of political charades known as presidential politics, but the Anyone But McGovern (ABMc) coalition of 1972 that failed to derail an unelectable George McGovern calls to mind our current day ABM movement of 2012.  Yes, I mean the Anyone But Mitt movement of today’s GOP who is also bound to fail to prevent the Mittster from being nominated and inevitably losing to Obama.

Both the Dems of 1972 and the Repubs of 2012 were riven by internecine warfare.  The establishment Dems of 1972 were horrified by an overly pacifist, overly progressive, overly “let’s hold hands and hum” McGovern going up against and losing to the Nixon machine just as the the died-in-the-wool right wingers, cum tea party, cum stone age constitutionalists, are horrified by an overly moderate. overly establishment, overly non-evangelical christian losing to an Obama challenged only by a weak economy and a mean steak that persists in a certain slice of Americana.

Let’s review the candidates, then and now.  I think we can all agree that neither is a stellar slate to put up against an incumbent president.  For the Dems we have:  Ed Muskie (the hands down favorite from the get go), George McGovern (the Eugene McCarthy clone), George Wallace (nuff said), Hubert Humphrey (already a one time loser), Scoop Jackson, the neo-con’s neo-con of his era) and newcomer Shirley Chisolm, who was not only black. but, gulp, a female of the species.  The Repub candidates of 2012 are fresh on our mind:  The Mittster (whose flip flopping brings a worn out shower shoe to mind), The Newtster (those who know him well know of his razor sharp tongue and his intellect prone to flights of fancy), The Hermanator (ok, I understand he dropped out before the first vote was cast), but I gotta include him for balance, Rick (Mr. Sanctimonious) Santorum, Rick Perry (who makes Scoop Jackson’s militarism seem mild), John (who’s that) Huntsman, and finally Ron Paul (who pretty much doesn’t agree with anything ever uttered by any other Repub).  I didn’t list those who didn’t quite make it out of the starting gate, but I was tempted to include my favorite New Yorker,  Jimmy McMillan who campaigned on a platform of “The Rent’s Too Damn High”.  He may be the only one of the whole crowd who ever spoke the truth.

There you have it.  What a cast of characters.  It just goes to show that neither side of the aisle has an exclusive on stupidity.  Let me start at the end.  The anti-McGovern forces who labeled him the candidate for Acid, Amnesty, and Abortion failed to prevent him from being their candidate from hell.  He lost all but one state in the general election wherein Tricky Dick Nixon (soon to resign in disgrace as a result of Watergate) garnered over 60% of the popular vote.  McGovern’s vice-presidential nominee, Thomas Eagleton resigned in a puddle of emotion after failing to disclose his prior treatment for mental problems. Whazzat?  Hell, if we’re going to make people get out of elective politics because of mental defects, we’d have slim pickings for sure.  How many of you remember who replaced Eagleton?  Look it up, you’ll be surprised.

I’ve got to give a little context about the Dems of 1972.  As I said earlier, the party was injuriously divided along a fault line of Viet Nam, but also between the progressive movement of McGovern and McCarthy and the old line, shall we say establishment, democrats represented by Hubert Humphrey, John Connally, and our own Bob Strauss.  They distrusted, even despised each other with a passion which brings to mind today Tea Baggers, oops, I mean Tea Partiers.  Add to that calculus of the state’s rights (I guess that’s more or less a code phrase for rascist) faction centered in the southern states and headed by George Wallace.  You remember of course, that George got shot in an assassination attempt in mid campaign.  What you may not remember is that he still got 23.5% of the primary votes cast to McGovern’s 25.77%.  And he was laying in a hospital bed for much of the campaign.  He won every county in Florida, and that was before hanging chads.  One last bit of context.  Ed Muskie, who had resounding wins in both Iowa and New Hampshire faded fast with his tearful defense of this darling wife who had been disparaged in a newspaper column which alleged that she was a person of low character because she drank (one supposes whiskey) and used off color language.  Hmm.  I guess that let’s me out too.

So, you say, what about the parallels with 2012.  Well, you gotta start at the sheer theatre of the respective casts and then move to the great divide of the respective parties.  On the one hand you have the Hermantor who had to leave the field because he hadn’t been able to keep his pants zipped, and then you have dear old Ed M. who faded from sight after crying about his wife telling off color jokes.  You have Rick Perry who carries a .357 magnum and shoots a coyote while jogging, and on the other you have Scoop Jackson who had the temerity to accuse Ike of being soft on national security.  You have Sactimonious Santorum who believes that everyone who doesn’t think like he does should be excommunicated from the church and the nation, and on the other you have ( well, not exactly on the other) George Wallace whose views offended just enough people (thank god) to make sure he couldn’t be elected.  On the one hand you have Ron Paul, who only a handful of people in America understand what he’s saying (what’s up with this Austrian economics thing), and on the other we have Shirley Chislolm who pretty much never said anything of interest to anyone.  And finally, we have the Mittster who believes his time has come, and who will take pretty much any position on any issue to get the nod, and on the other we have Humphries who thought his time had come just because he had already lost once and thought that lightening couldn’t strike twice.  For this analysis, I’ve left out the Newtser for the simple reason that he’s (in crossword terms) a oner.  There’s no one quite like him in either party.  I hope he stays in just for the shear entertainment value.  I may even write him a check.

The great divide is easier to understand.  For the Dems it was Vietnam and progressive versus establishment control of the party.  For the Repubs it is the Tea Party vs. everyone else (particularly the establishment types).  I’m excluding Ron Paul from this because, well, just because.

So what does it all mean?  Well, just as the ABM’s of 1972 failed and selected a candidate who couldn’t and didn’t win, the Repubs of 2012 are on a track to do the same.  Their ABM movement will fail and they will select a candidate who can’t and won’t win.  It’s kind of a shame because we really do need two strong parties for our system of government to work well,  But if one is bent on self destruction, what can you do.  I say again, we adopt the middle ground and resolve to “just throw the bast**ds out, whoever they are”.