As the world celebrates its gifts and youth at the Olympic games, Mitt Romney went to the barricades. His hurdles and lane markers were mental and his enemies and opponents were in his own mind. Not once did he comment on the amazing skills of the world’s youth to run and jump and shoot and fly and hit with accuracy; not once did he marvel about the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, with its artistic oeuvre of the values and traditions he praised. Even got the Queen into the act with an outsized flight of fancy–a pun on the maudlin side of being Her Majesty.
(The values and traditions on display [flying Mary Poppins!, dancing nurses, sledge-swinging industrial workers, a black “Cinderella” who lost her cell phone only to find love, a history of cinematic kisses, including one with girls!] were also tweeted as “leftie multicultural crap” by one Tory member of Parliament—who was roundly condemned by the Prime Minister as “completely wrong” and “idiotic.” The MP, who has admittedly participated in Nazi-themed stag parties where he dressed up and sang Nazi songs, claimed his explicit statement was “misunderstood.”)
No, Mitt was busy raising money from the participants of the Libor rate scandal, whose rigged transactions go around the world and whose impact numbers ripple as far out as the number after $999 trillion. Barclay’s Bank, the scandal’s leader, were among Romney’s main supporters. He put no distance between them and himself.
Apart from his penchant for the balance sheet, Mitt Romney’s subtle side is the bold bias that hides his beliefs. He speaks of “heritage,” “culture,” “shared values;” yet he persists in ignoring the whole mainstream of history–that this heritage and values has creative expression in all communities.
He is doggedly determined to exclude the bright gifts of initiative, intelligence, insight, and creativity from the majority of the world. He defines these “others” by subtle exclusion. They can, he said at the NAACP convention, go other there and get the “free stuff.” (You’re not like me!) He doesn’t name blacks, Asians, Arabs, women, but regularly insinuates by excluding them from the pool of those who are successful. They are not only different but incapable, pitiful, and undeserving. It is the Romney version of Manifest Destiny.
Silent is the media whose “straight” reports lack critical review of Romney’s claims, faux pas, and dinner partners. Ignored, for example, was his statement at a Jerusalem fundraising breakfast that cultural differences enabled Jews to assemble higher wealth–a direct restatement of one of the most offensive stereotypes of Jews as amorally money-driven. A presidential candidate with 23 offshore accounts has an overseas fundraiser attended by an operator (#8 on the list of America’s wealthy!) of casinos in a protectorate of China, and instead of a look at the money trail, we get the press reporting more denials and evidence of Manifest Destiny and tough talk of him being the white boy with the bully club.
Its best use has been to hit himself in the head. But Mitt has a tin ear, not a glass jaw. But he has a blind eye; he claims American virtue but has no vision that isn’t self-serving. Mitt makes no mention of humanity or a global goal, no leadership for the world except the American will. No word on the Olympics as more than business, a glorious gathering of nations. No word on world hunger, clean water, sexual violence in conflict, nuclear treaties, AIDS, women’s equality, fishing, forestry, child trafficking, actual shooting wars in Africa and other regions–or terrorism. Instead, his pilgrimage turns the place of faith and unity into a political wedge that shouts war because he has no vision of peace.
With 96 days left to the election, disappointed Democrats have missed Barack Obama’s artful statesmanship. In an irony unique to American politics, the fact that Republicans despise him and some Democrats are disgruntled means Barack succeeded. He blocked the GOP agenda and thwarted their presumptive takeover. His steady progress didn’t widen the gap of differences to the point of total chaos and dysfunction. Despite Republican willingness and the calls of many Democrats, he didn’t inflict damage to himself or the country. We are better off than the day he took the oath. He held the union together with his Zen-like repose, when others, driven by their fantasies and dreams of power and fortunes, tried to tear it apart for hate and greed.