Maybe we ought to give our U.S. political journalists and TV pundits the next hundred days off and let the British press report on our 2012 presidential elections instead. The most embarrassing thing about Mitt Romney’s offensive comments on the British preparations for the Olympics games and his infantile obsession with the bust of Winston Churchill is that he was spouting the same kind of condescending nonsense he usually does back here in the U.S without penalty. The Fourth Estate’s job is to be the American people’s proxy, not its patsy.
But all our Sunday morning talk shows and smiling TV pundits have done is enable Mr. Romney to the point that he actually believes some of the gobbledygook that emanates from his mouth. All I can tell my stateside journalists is this: the roar from your counterparts in the British press over Romney’s refusal to release his precious tax returns would be deafening and relentless.
Mitt Romney got off to such a bad start last week in England at the beginning of his pre-nomination barnstorm tour of Europe it almost doesn’t matter what he does in Israel or Poland. After getting pimped by Netanyahu, who was happy to use Romney to triangulate President Obama into making additional assurances to the Israelis, you would think the Mittster would be worn out by now. Ordinarily, I would suggest that he pack it in and head back home, except for the fact that Team Obama is sure to have some fresh scuttlebutt from his Bain Capital days waiting to greet him when he lands back on American soil. If I were Romney, I would retroactively fire my entire senior staff of advisors back to their original hiring dates.
Meanwhile, over in Camp Obama, they’ve got health insurance rebate checks hitting mailboxes all across America thanks to the Affordable Care Act and we are less than 24 hours away from the first day out of pocket co-pays for oral contraception will begin to disappear from all new health insurance plans, and practically no one in the whole country knows this. Political public relations are not a cerebral exercise. Political public relations are retail politics at its most basic – repetition, repetition, repetition of simple, visceral language and imagery. The Obama administration’s PR people need to be fired en masse by email, since they all seem to be under the mistaken impression that posting announcements on whitehouse.gov is the entirety of their job. The two young guys with the fast cellphone service on the “do you guys know how to post videos to Facebook” commercial would be more effective than what the White House has now, even if they did nothing but post videos to Youtube of Americans opening their health insurance rebate checks.
Despite all of their political consultants efforts to the contrary to portray these men as distinctly different individuals, we essentially have a moderate Republican technocrat who is pretending to be a right wing challenger to what he and the GOP insist is a ϋber liberal/socialist/communist president versus a moderate Democratic technocrat who let his supporters believe that he was a radical progressive liberal who would be willing to upset America’s political applecart.
I am an unabashed Obama re-election supporter, yet I have to agree with the coda in Maureen Dowd’s New York Times op-ed column on Sunday, where she wrapped up her lamentations about the Romney’s “Olympic Meddle” by pointing out the obvious similarities between the personal characteristics of the two candidates. “But if we’re going to have someone who’s removed,” Dowd wrote, “always struggling to connect and emote, why not stick with the president we already have?”
I’ve always believed that it takes a president two years to get used to the job. After the last few weeks, I shudder to think what an abominable Mittstake those first two years would be if President Obama were to lose in November.