Digging Deeper: The Cultural Case Against Mitt Romney

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Athletes have it, but writers and everyday people get it too: self doubt. For athletes, it’s driven by a prolonged drop in performance. For a writer, its loss is tied to an audience that suddenly doesn’t get what once was a shared point of view and doubt leaps forward.

I’m having mega doubts. The national audience is ignoring an issue I thought was clear cut. I thought it was a clean kill. I seen three clean kills in politics: Michael Dukakis (the tank ad, not Willie Horton), Tom Turnipseed’s South Carolina governor’s race (Turnipseed having been treated for depression with electric shock, Lee Atwater declared the state “didn’t need a governor hooked up to jumper cables”), and Strom Thurmond’s takedown of Abe Fortis’ Supreme Court nomination (Thurmond set up 24-hour private Senatorial screenings of the results of Fortis’ ruling supporting community standards for decency in a case over pornography). No, four: Barack’s takedown of Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner last year.

But Romney has a bigger bulls-eye. It rivals Benedict Arnold in its nasty, anti-American duplicity. It has everything in common with sleazy, morally bankrupt, self-aggrandizing, power-mad dictators of lesser developed countries. This one, I thought, was in the pocket.

But no. The rapidly spreading news of Mitt Romney’s 12 or more offshore accounts, in dummy corporations he legally established, turned into a loud inquisition about his bypassing the tax code. That’s the main reason for opening accounts in the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands! Or Switzerland. Mitt has accounts in all three. But these arguments miss the mark, and for three reasons I’m left with self doubt about America’s common sense.

Opus 1

Is Mitt Romney America’s fair weather fan? Even Pete Rose swore he never bet against the Reds. But Romney spreads bets against the home team. He puts on rival colors. His loyalty is thinner than a torn ticket stub. He betrayed a value that cannot exist offshore. He ran down the flag.

Would China’s Jen Jiabao put a large portion of his personal fortune in an American fund? Germany”s Merkel, England’s Cameron, the new leaders of France, Italy, or Greece? Would these leaders guiding countries in dire trouble place their own personal funds in out-of-country accounts–and win the trust and support of their citizens as national elected leaders?

Once, America’s leaders had to be enthusiastic, loyal, cheerleaders–patriots; their  commitment to America complete. But Romney, who slams the President at every turn for abandoning American values, sold his loyalty and public virtue for a few dollars more. Sure, it may be “legal,” but do those we elect as our best turn their backs on our laws and snub us for profit?

Think of Romney walking into a meeting of the G-8, or G-20. Each leader is silently chortling about how he doesn’t even have his money in the country whose strength and values he touts. He looks like an undeveloped world sleazeball, a man without integrity or love for anything but wealth. Tell me who in that room of international leaders will give him respect?

Opus 2

My daughter, a Tuck grad, and I were laughing at the cultural implications of the Romney’s camp miscalculations. If you can turn a $6K annual contribution into $100M, everybody wants to know how that’s done! Show us! We want to know! Do you actually think that will make us less inclined to vote for you?

Obviously, they think yes. The very “success” they tout as bona fides will turn to ashes if we see the marvel achieved. They think we can’t handle the truth. Whether or not the offshore, outsourced trusts are suspicious, they suspect us! Why fear the people you want to lead?

This cultural calculus is important. This is a Presidential candidate so uncertain he projects a fear of his success–his only claim to lead the country. So look at the jobs he “created.” Ignore jobs lost and destroyed through extracted, outsized bankruptcy fees–ignore the amazing returns offshored, outsourced in European and Caribbean accounts.

Ignore 28 months of job creation, the European collapse, Britain’s double dip, and the entire political and moral universe outside of jobs–voter purges, women’s rights, micro-targeted budgets, the House’s obstinacy, the brinksmanship with the US debt, the demand for even lower taxes on billionaires–ignore the lies about health care, foreign policy, income equality (the safety net isn’t a hammock, Karen Garcia points out!)–ignore it all! I’ve seen angst over Gitmo–from the right!

We have a saying in the South: “I may be stupid, but I ain’t no fool.”

Opus Three

Romney is so uncertain that he has a misplaced, unreasonable fear about his own success, keeping it secret while he claims it as the basis for his campaign! Such irrationality will spill over to other areas of decision-making, in ways that can not be positive for the country. Imagine the expansion of secrecy in a Romney presidency; imagine the elimination of access to data, the transparency of government’s acts posed on websites, imagine the 1000s of ways that obsession with secrecy will expand beyond his tax returns.

Insecurity in institutional settings becomes secrecy. Romney has demonstrated his insecurity by taking no firm position with full details on any issue important to governing. Every speech during the primaries, win or lose, sounded the same. His wealth can’t cover up his wimpishness.

Romney is a paranoid, controlling, out of touch; a wimp with a major blind spot. He is distrustful, obsessed with secrecy and wealth beyond all else, and long ago abandoned the core values of America’s leaders: my country, wrong or right, no matter the rate of return. Can a man who would be the laughingstock of world leaders bring confidence to America’s policies or be the compass of American politics? Snide, snarky, daily spinning Mitt isn’t even a patriot. He’s a lousy cheerleader who outsourced his American pride. The country doesn’t seem to get this. While we debate what he is hiding and speculate whether it’s legal, no doubt we miss what Romney has left in plain sight.