Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Stanley Crouch explains how Mitt Romney & the Republican Party are pulling each other down

It's too early to develop a false sense of security about the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, since a lot can happen between now and November 6.  But an increasing amount of evidence suggests that the Romney/Ryan ticket will probably lose, and recriminations on the right have already begun.  A lot of Republicans are complaining that Romney's weakness as a candidate not only has undermined his own chances, but is threatening to pull down other Republican candidates across the country.

That may be true, as far as it goes.  But it's a one-sided and self-serving analysis which conveniently overlooks a crucial point—among the popular contenders for this year's Republican presidential nomination, Romney was clearly the most viable general-election candidate.  Do Romney's Republican critics really believe that Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum or Rick Perry or Herman Cain or Ron Paul (or the candidate many of them dream of, Paul Ryan) would be doing better right now?

Fareed Zakaria recently offered some sensible observations on this matter:
President Obama has surged in the polls in recent weeks, and Republicans have been quick to identify the problem: Mitt Romney. The columnist Peggy Noonan eloquently voiced what many conservatives believe when she said that Romney’s campaign had been a rolling calamity.

And yet shouldn’t it puzzle us that Romney’s campaign is so “incompetent,” as Noonan calls it, given his deserved reputation for, well, competence? After all, he founded one of this country’s leading financial firms, turned around the failing Salt Lake City Olympics, and was a very successful governor. How did he get so clumsy so fast?

In fact, the problem is not Romney, but the new Republican Party. Given the direction in which it has moved and the pressures from its most extreme yet most powerful elements, any nominee would face the same challenge:  Can you be a serious candidate for the general election while not outraging the Republican base? [Etc. ....]
On the whole, what Zakaria has to say is correct and illuminating, and it's worth hearing him out in full.  (The British journalist Nick Cohen asked that same question, in a somewhat sharper tone, back in January.) But in some respects Zakaria's criticisms of both Candidate Romney and the current Republican Party are a bit too mild and polite. For an assessment that cuts a little deeper, we can add a recent column by Stanley Crouch (below).

As a writer, Stanley Crouch has always been a bruiser who doesn't pull his punches. (It's no accident that a collection of his essays and reviews from 1979-1989, my first encounter with him, was titled Notes of a Hanging Judge. And his recent description of Cornel West as "no more than an academic loudmouth with a good show business game" is a mild put-down by Crouch standards.) Over the years, some of his rants have been on-target and some have been off-base. This one is on-target.

—Jeff Weintraub

P.S.  Crouch would like to believe that, in the end, "the nation is not so easily fooled, neither by Romney nor by those from whom he takes his cues." Right now, that does look possible. But then again, maybe the Romney/Ryan ticket will some how pull it off on November 6, and Romney will have the last laugh.  For the sake of the nation and the world, let's hope not.

New York Daily News
Monday, October 1, 2012
A desperate man in search of votes
Mitt Romney has done his best to pretend that he's a true member of the far right, but it hasn't helped

By Stanley Crouch

Our time is full of remarkable ironies. Among those that loom large today is the career of Mitt Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor has long been known as a flip-flopper who constantly changes what he claims he believes — a political prostitute, legendary for the willingness to do anything for a vote, a buck or committed support.

Now, finally, he is paying the full price for it. The Republican Party has moved far, far to the right, and the former “moderate” has been pulled along. On almost every issue, he has taken the most extreme position demanded by his party. And just about every poll seems to be saying the same thing: The gamble is not going to pay off come November.

Romney had too much faith in the Republican base, weaned on the propaganda of Fox News, and the ruthless billionaires who fuel the whole machine of factoids and lies that brings uninformed life to the radical right. He must have thought that if he just mimicked the positions of the GOP’s loudest blowhards, political love would follow.

But the nation is not so easily fooled, neither by Romney nor by those from whom he takes his cues. Men like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity cynically believe that the public has no intelligence, that its memory is nonexistent and it has no ability to tell fact from fiction.

They come from a long tradition of using vicious lies disguised as hard truth, employed in the service of fooling the American public. Too often in the past, it has proven successful.

In 1915, legendary racist and cinematic genius D.W. Griffith convinced many with “The Birth of a Nation” that the Confederate South had wrongly lost its freedom and its rights in the Civil War — and was doomed to all manner of mistreatment by the rise of assertive blacks.

Rednecks like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond started off as Democrats but turned to the Republican Party. Like many “Dixiecrats,” they were angry with President Lyndon B. Johnson, who turned out to be the greatest civil rights legislator since Lincoln.

Richard Nixon would use a “Southern strategy” to play on racial fears on his way to the White House.

Bitterness from white Southerners has since evolved into a so-called dog whistle in far right rhetoric. It plays on the same ideas found in Griffith’s racist film — you cannot trust blacks in power not to do you in.

But that tried-and-true strategy is suddenly failing, lying on the road, bruised with the blues. The wealthy buyers are afraid that they can't win this election with big bucks alone.

They are no longer sure that they can lead the public by the nose, under Karl Rove’s expertise and with the hundreds of millions available from the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and the media empire of Rupert Murdoch. None of their power can stop the clip of Romney talking about the 47% of Americans he supposedly knows all about and doesn’t care much for.

Big Mitt cut his own throat by talking the way he really thinks. The damning comments were made at a private show for fat cats who were tired of being soaked, or imagining they were. It’s a safe bet that Romney was told he had to step up and defend them.

Americans could see the bare flesh of Romney’s crooked hand. Every indicator is saying the same thing: He and Paul Ryan are not the bargain the American public is willing to buy, no matter how high the sheen on the GOP’s fool’s gold.