Monday, March 5, 2012

A lesson in math and civics (in honor of Super Tuesday)

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday - a highlight in the never-ending Republican presidential primary season. And no, this post is not about the dog on the roof.

The GOP contest is a spectator sport for me. I was relatively late to the party, but I became a registered democrat when W launched the war in Iraq. R., however, being a stubborn Connecticut Yankee, has never joined either party and is therefore eligible to vote tomorrow. (The MA primary is open to GOP members and voters with no registered party affiliation.)

Everyone with half a functioning brain knows Romney will win Massachusetts handily tomorrow. He may well get half the vote - a bogey he has yet to hit in any contest, despite campaigning for six years.

But, here's the fun part: The winner doesn't win all the delegates. They're apportioned proportionately, with any candidate who gets 15% of the vote receiving a share.

A long GOP primary season is good for the President, and I rather enjoy watching the angry old white men of the republican party spend millions attacking each other. But my motivation in egging on R.'s political mischief is bigger.

So tomorrow, R. and the Grape will trot down to the senior center, hold their noses, vote for either Santorum or Paul, return home and bathe in sanitizer before touching anything. (The Grape likes voting. The ladies working the polls give him a sticker.) Let me be crystal clear: if the United States chooses either Paul or Santorum as its president, we will emigrate to Finland.

And while I love Finland, I'm confident we won't need to move.

I'm digressing. This is really about Mr. Romney, a man so uninspiring that even George Will (the nation's most syndicated conservative writer) has conceded that Obama's re-election prospects are excellent.

Since Mr. Romney is so incapable of stirring positive passion, many friends and family members have asked why I loathe the man.

Several points:

1. I don't trust him as far as I could throw him (which is not far). Mr. Romney may not, in his heart of hearts, care if women have access to abortion or if gay citizens can marry or not.
But his willingness to throw women and gay people under the bus to pander to the far right disqualifies him as a man of principle. I don't trust him to protect my right to choose.

But this is bigger than my view. In early days, my father, a successful businessman who usually ignores social questions and votes his wallet, announced he was going to write a big check to Romney.

Naturally, I freaked out. This was while the Personhood brouhaha was going down in Mississippi. I wrote dad an email, saying I understand I cannot dictate his vote, but if he goes further - and actually supports the guy financially - I will view that as a slap in my face. I told dear old dad he cannot dismiss contraception and abortion as "the woman thing"(his words) because he has daughters and granddaughters.

Guess what? Dad wrote me back and agreed. I know, I almost fell off my chair, too. Sorry Mitt, no dollars from my dad for you.

Dear Old Dad now LOVES my "Mitt is Mean" bumper sticker. He also noted, as a hard-working, tax-paying businessman, that Mitt's "almost $400,000 isn't a lot of money" remark pissed him off.

And I suspect dad found the Let Detroit Go Bankrupt bit disingenuous. Mr. Romney is a smart business man. He knows as well as anyone that hell will freeze over and become a ski resort before the big three auto makers could attract the private money required for Romney's preferred type of managed bankruptcy. Which brings me to point two.

2. It's okay to get a pony for your birthday. Yay for you! What's NOT okay: reaching an age greater than six and not realizing that everyone else doesn't get a pony, too.

Or, it's okay to be wildly successful. Yay for you! But if you want to lead the free world you should have a little empathy for the rest of us.

Mr. Romney is often called tone deaf, for good reason. You can't run on the bad economy and go around saying things like, "corporations are people," or "Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs." Or my recent favorite: "Some of my good friends own Nascar teams."

Simply put, Mr. Romney elevates the old cliche about being born on third base to a previously unseen level. This matters because his unfavorable rating among registered voters is already the highest of any major party presidential candidate. People don't like him. He's out of touch, awkward when questioned, sweaty when attacked, and flat out DESPERATE. Nobody wears desperation well. Enough said.

3. Point three is more subjective. When I look at Mr. Romney, I see a boss, not a leader. The difference is subtle, but important. Bosses order people to do things. Leaders inspire others to act. Mr. Romney has gravitas and intellect, but he lacks the charisma - that spark - to be the kind of leader anyone (even most republicans, judging by primary results to date) want to follow. And that charisma is key. Obama has it. W had it. Carter didn't. Nor the first Bush. Anyone see a trend?

4. He drove to Canada from New England with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car. Many friends have questioned the veracity of this outrageous statement, but Mr. Romney himself has confirmed the incident, on tape. I don't vote for anti-choice candidates. I don't vote for anti-gay candidates. I don't vote for animal abusers.

For those of you in the burbs, think about it as you drive to the polls. None of the cars will have live animals traveling on the roof. And if they do, the police will stop them for animal cruelty.

Which leaves the Grape and R. scooting down the street to fill in the oval for either Santorum or Paul. We'll check the polls in the morning and see which nut job needs more help getting to 15. We'll do this in honor of my dad. If I can get dad (old, male, comfortable, self made) to reject Romney, I bet I can persuade a few more fence sitters to do the same.


  1. Well said! And while we're at it, on top of Romney's flaws which you've so eloquently mapped out here, I'm personally dismayed by what's looking more and more like a shameless display of greed and power hunger by the 3 republican front-runners. Shouldn't at least one of them have dropped out of the race already? If nobody does so tomorrow (preferably two, in fact), I'll really start to wonder whether any of them cares about this country or whether in fact it really is all about their personal rise to the top. And if the super PAC donors continue pouring millions into even the 3d-place campaign at this point ? What a waste of money that could potentially do so much good if spent elsewhere.

  2. I agree, Sharon. Though I do find it amusing that the GOP candidates are using super PAC money to cannibalize each other.

    I think the GOP needs to hit rock bottom and nominate a total yahoo in order to come back to reality. When I was growing up in RI, we had GOP Senator John Chaffee. He was one of those (now extinct) NE Republicans, pro-choice, VERY pro-conservation/environment, but fiscally conservative. He died several years ago and was replaced by his son. The son's views were virtually indistinguishable from his father's. He lost his seat in the midterm anti-Bush purge, then ran for governor in RI and won.

    The point of this recitation: To win the governorship, Chaffee ran as an independent TO THE LEFT of both major party candidates. Yet his views/positions hadn't changed. His former party had.