MoDo has decided to torment us. Again. In “My Mitt Fantasy” she raves that we’re pining for bipartisanship, but a Romney-Biden White House might be a bridge too far. No shit, you stupid bitch! Really??? I wonder if she’s drunk or on drugs. The Moustache of Wisdom, in “Our Secret Sauce,” gurgles that the presidential debate on foreign policy provided some instructive contrasts to ponder. Here’s MoDo:
While I was watching Mitt Romney make up fantasy positions in the foreign policy debate, I had a fantasy of my own.
And given the electoral isthmus the two men are wrestling on, it doesn’t seem like such a wild one. There is growing buzz that the dead heat could slide into a deadlock.
If Romney does suspend voter disbelief enough to tie President Obama, with each getting 269 Electoral College votes, the Republican-controlled House would determine the president — and give it to Mitt. And the (presumably) Democratic-controlled Senate would determine the vice president — and give it to Joe Biden.
So the first election decided by Congress in more than a century would produce a Republican president handcuffed to a Democratic vice president.
I think we can count on good ol’ Joe to devote himself to tormenting President Mittens. When Romney begins his “I, Willard …” at the inauguration, Joe can howl like a banshee, “That’s a bunch of malarkey!”
When Biden sits behind Romney at his first State of the Union address, in that familiar tiered TV shot, the vice president can guffaw and roll his eyes and slap his knee and put his head in his hands and wave a sign behind Mitt’s slick head that reads, “Bunch of stuff.” I think we can count on Joe to ignore an enraged Tagg shaking his fist from the gallery.
A historic tie, which would spur demonstrations that would make the health care battle look like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, seems a logical conclusion of the bitter partisan paralysis here and the bottom-feeding campaign, where hope has been chased out by lies on one side and character exaggeration on the other.
And why is the race so perilously close, given the dizzying fall of W. and the dizzying rise of Obama, a mere four years ago?
It is partly because of Obama’s endless odyssey of self-discovery, where he rattles around in his own head, trying to figure out who he is and why he’s stuck on a Denver debate stage, forced to justify himself in this clownish format against this shape-shifting chucklehead.
At the first debate, the president gave off such a feeling of ennui, he could have used a fainting couch. It suddenly made many voters who thought it only fair that Obama get another term, given the mountain of trouble W. had left behind, wonder if that second chance would be embraced with energy, imagination and zest.
And the race is vise-tight because Mitt’s a marvel. Never in modern memory has a presidential candidate so brazenly contorted himself, switching positions to suit the moment and pushing claims, like about Obama’s imaginary “apology tour,” that have been debunked.
But as Bill Clinton warned the Obama team last year, attacking Romney as a flip-flopper, as the president did Monday night in Boca Raton, can help Mitt with centrist voters who like the idea that he’s actually a sheep in Wolfowitz clothing.
Forgoing his Klingon rhetoric, Mitt played cling-on to Obama’s Spock, suddenly clutching onto the president’s positions on China (which he said had made “progress” on trade), Iran, the Afghanistan deadline, drones and ousting Hosni Mubarak. Romney was running so far to the left of Obama that he never even mentioned the tangled White House response to the Benghazi consulate slaughter, which Republicans on the Hill have been working tirelessly to tee up for him.
In the surest sign that Mitt had donned a more soothing costume, he even made a flattering reference to the United Nations, the bête noire of his hawkish neocon foreign policy advisers.
But it was no doubt the neocons who coached Romney to sheath the bayonet to neutralize Obama charges of warmongering. In The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol urged Mitt to be “pre-presidential.” (Sort of like pre-emptive war.) He advised Romney to speak at the debate “in a bipartisan way” and appeal “to the broad American tradition of international leadership, and to the actions of Harry Truman as well as those of Ronald Reagan.” He advised praising “our diplomats” and “finding something to praise in the actions of President Obama.”
Obama blew the first debate because he can’t stand the phoniness of jousts, and he seemed flummoxed by the mind-boggling phoniness of Romney. For the first time, we see President Cool unable to keep his feelings completely cloaked. In Boca, his dark eyes were glaring daggers at Romney, who was sporting his smarmy smile and mine-is-bigger-than-yours flag pin.
If Romney gets to the Situation Room, will we see Cipher Mitt, the vessel of the neocons? Or will we see Moderate Mitt, chastising the hawks — who are eager to pick up where they left off bombing, in Iran and Syria — with a variation on the line he used about Al Qaeda at the debate: “We can’t kill our way out of this mess”?
It’s impossible to know. Mitt may have made so many compromises to get the prize that he doesn’t have a true self anymore. And that’s the scariest thought of all.
Dear, sweet FSM, she gets worse and worse and worse… Here’s The Moustache of Wisdom:
It was striking how much Monday’s presidential debate on foreign policy came down to two subjects: America and the Middle East. The two actually provide some instructive contrasts, starting with one that I’ve noted since the onset of this campaign: the contrast between the high degree of American pluralism and trust that makes our country work, and the near total absence of it in the Middle East, the region most vexing us and most likely to blow up on the next president. Muslims are killing Muslims across the Middle East and Central Asia today: Sunnis versus Shiites, Pashtuns versus Pashtuns and Kurds versus Turks. Christians are not faring well there, either. The absence of pluralism and the prevalence of “rule or die” politics — either my sect or party is in power or I’m dead — is the dominant political trend in the Arab-Muslim region today. Nobody trusts anybody, but it is impossible to build a modern state or an innovation economy without trust. Meanwhile, here in America, we are debating whether to replace our first black president — whose middle name is Hussein and whose grandfather was a Muslim — with a Mormon! Who does that? Nobody else. That radical pluralism is the secret of our sauce, and blessedly so. America, take a bow.
But not for too long.
We have a very special country, but we have to take care of it, not kick it around like it’s a football. And we can’t do that if we’re imitating the Middle East’s rule-or-die politics: my party or scorched earth. Barack Obama has been far from a perfect president. At times, he has treated friends and opponents with arrogance or just a stubborn unwillingness to play the game of politics to co-opt those who needed to be co-opted (he should have embraced the Bowles-Simpson federal debt plan) to get legislation passed. No one would confuse Obama for Lyndon Johnson. But no one would confuse today’s Republican Party for the G.O.P. of the 1960s or 1970s, either.
It is impossible to look at the G.O.P.’s behavior in the last four years — from its unwillingness to consider Obama’s jobs bill, which was praised by independent economists, to the unwillingness of its presidential candidates to consider a $1 increase in taxes for $10 of spending cuts, to the time it spent on sheer lunacy such as questioning the president’s birth certificate — and not conclude that many in the party just wanted Obama to fail in the hope that they could pick up the pieces. Too many Republicans, particularly moderate business types, don’t want to admit how much their party has been led around of late, not by traditional conservatives, but by a radical Tea Party base that has driven decent, smart conservatives — like Bob Bennett of Utah, Bob Inglis of South Carolina, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Olympia Snowe of Maine — out of office.
What I’d say about Obama’s domestic and Middle East policies is that, given the messes and political constraints he inherited in both arenas, he did about as well as anyone could. He kept the homeland safe, prevented us from getting drawn into any sinkholes and killed bad guys. It is not the stuff of foreign policy legend, but it was not bad. I’d say the same at home. He stanched the bleeding in the economy and initiated some smart reforms in education, energy and health — the true effectiveness of which we will only know in the future. It was not exactly the New Deal, but considering the deep hole created by the years of George W. Bush, it also was not a New Depression. A quick turnaround in either arena was never possible.
But while that kind of politics got us through the last four years, it won’t get us through the next four. We cannot have another term of partisan gridlock. We are heading into a world where the breakdown of the European supranational state system, combined with the breakdown of the Arab nation state system, combined with climate change, combined with a much greater global interdependence, means that we will be more and more buffeted by problems that are too dangerous to ignore but too complicated and big to fix alone. And when a country finds itself in that kind of situation, there is one thing it absolutely must do, and that is build resiliency.
We need to weatherproof our house so we can control our destiny and play the vital stabilizing role the world needs us to play. And that leads to another difference between us and the Middle East. We don’t know how to fix their problems anymore. But we do know how to fix our problems. In the short run, we have to invest in infrastructure, education and research — the sources of our strength to stimulate growth — while simultaneously putting in place a credible long-term plan to cut spending and both raise and reform taxes as our economy improves.
Regardless of what they have on their Web sites, neither candidate has spoken honestly to voters in their speeches or commercials about what this will take. Hey, it’s election time. What else is new? Well, there is something new. Just doing as well as our domestic political constraints will allow will not cut it anymore — not given where the global economy, the Middle East and climate change are going. Just doing what the political traffic will bear will not lead us to resiliency. It will lead us to painful, destabilizing vulnerability.
We need a whole new traffic pattern. That will require a president who will dare to challenge the country to do big, hard things together, not just tack with the winds of public opinion, and it will require an electorate that is ready to value and demand such leadership.
It’s telling that Tommy boy uses something on crappy fast food as his symbol for Amurcan Exceptionalism… USA!!! USA!!! USA!!!111!!!