Neither President Obama nor Governor Romney is a good politician. Obama came from a background of compromise. That may once have worked in politics; it doesn’t work now. He reached out to the other side only to retract a bloody hand. He should have known better. He also needs to play hardball with his own party people. Lyndon Johnson knew how to do that. How else could he have gotten a civil rights bill through a bunch of southern politicians still worshipping at the altar of Jimmy the Crow? Lyndon at 6’4” would invade your personal space and make you an offer you couldn’t refuse; at least you couldn’t if you wanted to keep your leadership positions. Obama can’t be bothered even to schmooze with his own people. He often won’t even return their phone calls. That is abysmal politics.
He also overpromises: case in point is Gitmo – he said he’d close it. That was a campaign promise and it’s been thrown back at him. He shouldn’t have made that promise without thinking about what he would do with the prisoners. A few who were simply released have gone back to fighting us. He could have muscled them into federal prisons on the mainland. The federal government owns those prisons and the states can whine all they like about those awful people getting out but Obama could have put them in there anyway. Now it seems that 70% of our population are happy to keep Gitmo open and the only people complaining about it are the RNC boys checking on campaign promises. That’s a promise a good politician wouldn’t have made.
Then there is the “Obamacare” disaster. The conservatives have really outflanked him on this one. People are in favor of many of the components. The insurance industry sees a potential bonanza because everyone has to buy insurance. Wouldn’t you like to sell something the government says everyone has to buy? There is much noise from the right about the awful cost but nearly everyone is already covered. The scare boys insist that employers will drop coverage because it will be too expensive. Massachusetts has the same sort of plan and the people there like it. I guess their business people are better at what they do. The point is that the administration has simply handed this issue to the other side by not telling the public about the bill. (One of my favorite bits of idiocy was when Nancy Pelosi said we wouldn’t know what was in the bill until it passed. How the demagogues leaped on that gaff; poor Nancy. She shouldn’t have said it but she was exactly right. No one knows what will be in any bill until it passes because until it passes any bill is subject to changes. Never underestimate the way demagogues can twist things to make their opponents look stupid. That isn’t the only example of politicians telling the truth but being stupid politically. We’ll see another one when we get to Romney.)
Speaking of Romney why isn’t the administration all over his record as governor of Massachusetts? He says he didn’t run for a second term because he had accomplished everything he wanted to accomplish in his first term. I think the Obama people should have claimed that was a pants on fire comment. Romney had as much chance of being reelected governor as Alf Landon had against Roosevelt in 1936 when Landon got all of five electoral votes. A month before the end of Romney’s term as governor his approval rating was 34%; it climbed a bit the next month but he was hardly popular. This was partly because when he began his campaign for the presidency he was still governor and he started making some negative statements about Massachusetts. Obama hasn’t had the wit to go after that or after Romney’s staffers buying their computer hard drives so no one could know what was on them. Romney has said that he wanted to keep that information out of the hands of his political opponents. Really, why? And why have we heard little from Obama about this. I doubt that any of Obama’s visitor lists rise to this level. It’s more a reminder of Dick Nixon’s tape erasure. In any event, for these and other reasons Obama hasn’t been very apt as a politician.
Now we come to Romney: Obama may be the luckiest incumbent in history to have this politically impolitic man as an opponent. Not only is he inept but his handlers are equally so or maybe Romney is ignoring their advice. In May, an openly gay adviser on foreign policy, Richard Grennell, was told to “shut up” in front of his junior staffers. He quit when Romney, who hired him knowing he was gay, refused to come to his defense. The American Family Council opposed his hiring and finally got to Romney. This was not smart politics. The AFC would never desert Romney for Obama and now Romney is not a big favorite of the Log Cabin Republicans.
Romney has a habit of changing his mind about things. When he was governor he banned assault weapons claiming they had no target or hunting purpose and were designed only to kill people. He also quadrupled the state tax on gun owners. Now he’s the NRA’s favorite. His positions are that we don’t need new gun laws and although the national ban on assault weapons has expired there is no need to renew it. Even one of his own advisers, referring to his ability to reset his positions called him the Etch-a-Sketch candidate. Poor Mr. Fehrnstrom; I wonder if he’s still employed.
Romney’s taxes continue to plague him. Other candidates have managed to release just a year or two of their tax returns. Kerry released his but not his wealthy wife’s. On the other hand these other candidates did not have overseas bank accounts and offshore sources of income that raised questions. The democrats have pounced on this issue and Romney is encouraging the suspicion by refusing to budge on his tax returns. He provided them to McCain when he was being vetted for VP; if then, why not now? It doesn’t look smart.
Then Harry Reid proclaims that an unnamed source told him that Romney paid no taxes at all for a couple of years. Of course this produced an explosion of righteous rage from the Romney camp calling Reid a liar …but they can’t prove he’s a liar unless Romney releases his taxes. When asked by a reporter if there was a year when he paid no taxes Romney replied, “I don’t remember. I’ll look it up and get back to you.” That remark was bone stupid. Romney will now be asked at every opportunity when he is going to “get back” to that reporter. Meanwhile the Romney folks are way off message. Their supporters on the Sunday talk shows talked of nothing but that awful Harry Reid.
We also have the candidate’s overseas trip. He tells the Brits they aren’t ready for the Olympics. That did not go over well. He and his handlers excused the gaff because they said it was true. Really? So you meet your mother-in-law to be for the first time and it’s, “So happy to meet you Mrs. Jones. Do you know that you have a big pimple on your nose?” Then when your now ex-fiancé tells you to get lost you say in your defense that it was true; she did have a big pimple on her nose. Only the politically naïve believe that truth is an excuse for a political gaffe.
Romney is just not likeable; it comes across every time he takes the stage and there is little he can do about it. He seems plastic, mechanical and insincere. Obama may be insincere as well but he doesn’t come across that way. All you have to do is look at the polls on likeability.
Romney’s elephant in the room is his Mormonism just as Obama’s is his skin color. Many Southern Baptists and other fundamentalists will not vote for him. They won’t vote for Obama either. (He’s black after all.) It must be hell to be of that religious persuasion and have to vote for either a Mormon or a black man. I guess you stay home.
I could go on but this is long enough and it will surely get the usual comments from the usual sources. Good for me, it’s supposed to do that. Looking for a politician or a talking head or a commentator who isn’t trying to mislead you? Try finding water that isn’t wet!