He's weird

>> Tuesday, August 09, 2011

So, Politico is claiming that Obama's advisors are already going on the offensive against prospective Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney:

Barack Obama’s aides and advisers are preparing to center the president’s reelection campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background, a strategy grounded in the early stage expectation that the former Massachusetts governor is the likely GOP nominee.

The dramatic and unabashedly negative turn is the product of political reality. Obama remains personally popular, but pluralities in recent polling disapprove of his handling of his job and Americans fear the country is on the wrong track. His aides are increasingly resigned to running for reelection in a glum nation. And so the candidate who ran on "hope" in 2008 has little choice four years later but to run a slashing, personal campaign aimed at disqualifying his likeliest opponent.

Oh, goody. There's something to look forward to. Some nice, policy-driven campaigning. What the fuck is it with the President that when he needs to get his hands dirty, he doesn't seem willing to do it, and when the context is one where the best approach would be to intellectually engage, wham, out come the hammers?

The best explanation I can think of right now for the current political climate is: aliens. John Carpenter's They Live was a documentary. This has the added benefit of explaining Carpenter's subsequent career: aliens forced him to make Escape From L.A. in a successful attempt to discredit him.

The second-best explanation is that we're living on planet Htrae. Me hate politicians so me vote for them so they can make jobs by not spending money! Our country best country because we poor and have no opportunities. We freest country in world because we spy on telephones and want law to collect everybody Internet records and stripsearch grandmas at airport! Everybody want come here so we can deport them! Other country worst country because they have free doctor for everybody! Our leader is socialist who gives breaks to big corporations and agrees to cut programs for poor and elderly! But no taxes because government need money!

Be still, oh my beating head against my desk.

So, anyway, the President's men think that the most exploitable thing about Mitt Romney isn't that busloads of Republicans hate him so much for being a once-moderate Mormon from ultra-liberal Massachusetts who established a successful state healthcare system that they'd rather vote for an escaped lunatic. No, Obama's folks have decided that Romney's Achilles heel is that he's "weird".

"There’s a weirdness factor with Romney and it remains to be seen how he wears with the public," said the adviser, noting that the contrasts they’d drive between the president and the former Massachusetts governor would be "based on character to a great extent."

Because, you know, between Mitt Romney and an intellectual with an odd name from Hawai'i who loves Conan The Barbarian comic books who spent part of his childhood living abroad before becoming an übernerd on the Harvard Law Review, weirdness is what you really want to hang your hat on as the distinguishing fine point. Don't get me wrong: the President's nerdiness remains one of the traits I continue to revere about the man and that continues to resonate with me even when I want to throw my hands up in the air and wonder what the Hell he thinks he's doing every single fucking time he holds some kind of conference to announce that in the spirit of civil discourse and compromise with the people who don't think he's an American citizen and have vowed to make him a one-term President (or less if they can find grounds for impeachment proceedings), he's prepared to surrender. As someone who would happily describe himself as "weird", I revere the President's weirdness; while I think I've said before that supposed "relatability" is the lousiest reason possible to vote for somebody--I want a President who can lead the United States Of America through adversity and prosperity alike, not someone I can have a beer with, thanks--I'll admit it doesn't hurt me that President Obama is a comic-book-loving Star Wars fanboy with a law degree.

But then, I'm weird, right?

What's also troubling about the dumb strategy they're announcing is something Alex Pareene hits on over at Salon: the weirdest thing about Mitt Romney is his religion, and does anyone really want to go there? I mean, to be fair, all religions are kind of weird (sorry): I completely agree with Pareene when he writes:

Mormonism, though! That's weird, to a lot of people. And I'm trying not to be unfair to Mormons. If Catholicism was 100 years old, people would be like, "what the hell is this about?" But like, ancient Israelites took a boat to America in 2500 BC, and they settled in western New York, and then Jesus visited them after he died? Just seems kinda unlikely! (And I mean, Jonah and the whale is pretty unlikely too, but that story's been around since the fourth century BC so everyone's used to it.)

Lots of stories in mainstream Christianity are at least odd and some of them are downright squicky ("Hey, Sis, remember that time Pop tried to get us gang raped by an unruly mob?" What a great dad--we should totally get drunk and sleep with him so we can give him grandkids!" "Okay! I was just going to buy him a tie for Father's Day this year, but your idea's much better!")

Mormonism isn't just so new that nobody's much used to it yet. It's also recent enough that we actually have, you know, actual contemporary records surrounding the founding of the faith and whatnot so that you can actually get a pretty good idea of how (sorry, but) kooky and kind of dumb Mormonism's founding really was ("Hang on while I stick my head in this hat so I can read some ancient Egyptian writing off a bunch of metal slabs I can't show you but are totally real and not imaginary at all!"). It's rife with material for a classic and hysterical South Park episode, for instance. But the thing is, as Trey Parker and Matt Smith themselves point out in that same South Park episode: Mormons are just such gosh darn nice people. I mean, okay, yes, there's the history of racism and homophobia, but that's just one of the things they share with a lot of mainstream Christian religions, you know? I mean, the Catholic church still has issues with gays and women, and there's basically a straight line between the anti-Semitism of the early Lutheran church in Germany and the acceptance of Nazi anti-Semitism in the 1930s, just off the top of my head. And I'm not sure either of those sects are nearly as nice as the Church Of Latter-Day Saints; I mean, first thing Martin Luther did was put a bunch of holes in someone's door so he could hang a flier without asking, how nice is that?

So do we really want to go there? Pointing to Romney and saying, "he's weird" with the implication being that he's weird because of his faith, I mean, (a) I thought that was so 1960 and we'd gotten over it and (b) the kinds of people who are likely to be offended because they think Romney is some kind of faux-Christian are probably, let's face it, the types of ultra-religious ultra-conservatives who, sorry, have consistently voted Republican for the past few decades and are especially likely to when the Democratic candidate is a black dude with a funny name who they think is one of them Muzz-lamms what blew up the World Trade Tower and (c) as for everybody else, sure, LDS is kind of a funny church, but (as I may have mentioned) they are so darn nice--whatever else Romney's faith conveys, it also conveys a sort of Osmondesque sense of uncanny politeness and strong family values. Or it reminds everyone of polygamy, but, seriously, are the Dem strategists thinking asking for Mitt Romney's marriage certificate is a good rebuttal to the rightwing 'tards asking for Obama's citizenship papers?

There are times, of late, that I have to wonder if the Democrats really just want people to stay home and not vote for them. And seriously, I might do that in 2012 if it weren't for Republicans. Every time I want to shake my head in disgust, they do something like the debt ceiling debacle or have a spokesmoron like Rush Limbaugh say something ridiculously offensive, mean and dumb and it's like, "Oh, right, I have to vote for the party that isn't actually steering for the cliff," and there it is. I'm not sure the GOP wouldn't be well-advised to skip the 2012 elections altogether, as it would probably improve their credibility; instead, they're going to have a nominating process in which Michele Bachmann will briefly shine as a serious contender before cooler, wiser heads panic and piss themselves trying to find a way to disqualify her from ever holding national office again. They'll probably offer a lucrative pundit gig on Fox, if history is any kind of indicator.

Andorra sounds kinda nice. Anyone know how hard it is to learn Catalan?


Steve Buchheit Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 10:13:00 PM EDT  

"It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see..."

"You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?"

"No," said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."

"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."

"I did," said Ford. "It is."

"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't people get rid of the lizards?"

"It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."

"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"

"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."

"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"

"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in."

I'm starting to feel like that all the time.

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