[Update II: I have a companion post up about why I’m not voting for Obama either.]
I’ve got to admit it. The Convention knocked me off of my game. For a brief few days, I was being wooed by the scripted politi-fest of the Republican National Convention. I ended up listening to Paul Ryan’s speech live on the radio (on NPR, no less!) after a long day at work, and for some reason, I really resonated with it.
I started thinking, “Hey, I know they are jerks, and immature, and arrogant, and reactionary, and obstructionist, but I could maybe sort of think about thinking about thinking about voting for these guys!” (Clint Eastwood notwithstanding.)
But then a few things happened. First, this 8-minute dismantling of the Republican National Convention (and the GOP generally) by Jon Stewart. Brilliant. (If these Hulu clips ever expire, you can find the clips at the Daily Show website at the alternative links below.)
Part 1: (Daily Show link)
Part 2: (Daily Show link)
Second, Bill Clinton. My-oh-my. That was the best political speech I’ve ever heard in my entire life. And I don’t think I’m exaggerating. Even though that speech was shown to not be so objective, it still showed how the case for which “side” is more economically sound is a lot less objective than Republicans make it seem.
Third, I ran across this blog post on what may be the most important blog in America, Wired’s “Threat Level”. The post is about a recent speech made by Michael Hayden, the former CIA chief (and head of Bush’s torture program) about the “War on Terror”, it’s abuses (which he feels are absolutely justified), and how Obama has pushed them even further. Hayden says in this speech that he has been a consultant to the Romney campaign and that he knows for a fact that Romney would largely continue the abuses that Obama has taken to new precedents and heights. Considering my one-issue voting in this election, this turns Romney into a non-starter for me. (By the way, if you didn’t catch it, I wrote a short story about my one-issue. Some of you may find it interesting.)
And lastly (and the main reason for me writing this post), I read this strange article by Doug Wead, a presidential historian, consultant to multiple Presidents, and, most recently, senior advisor to the Ron Paul campaign.
In the post, Wead recounts how Romney helped re-write the rules for primaries in the country to guarantee his nomination for President. He also talked about the shady things he’s done to those who have opposed him in previous elections or didn’t support him this time. He also tells of what the Paul delegates went through during the Republican National Convention, and how Romney’s folks, again, lied, cheated, and changed the rules and acted terribly towards them, just to avoid embarrassment and any sign of distrust in his leadership.
Seriously, read the post. It will change the way you look at this man and this election. Admittedly, the post is written by a spurned loser of the race, and has many nameless sources behind what he says. Not much is on the record. But in the end, my main take-away was this:
Romney seems singularly obsessed with becoming President. Why?
I’ve heard many conspiracy theories concerning Mormon theology on the relationship between church and state, and it’s well-known that Romney’s father did a failed campaign for the Presidency. Does all this play some part in Romney’s desire? I have no idea.
But now Romney seems to be doing whatever he has to do to take himself into the White House–and more so than candidates usually do. He seems so myopic about this, that he’ll grossly over-react and politicize what those more responsible politicians have learned to be more cautious about. As Obama experiences a post-Convention bump in polls that Romney has not, I’ve come the closest to seeing Romney become (what I can only call) “unhinged”.
As this idol becomes threatened, we see Romney’s truest colors being exposed, and it appears to be the colors of a man with a very off-putting need to be in the White House. For what reason? Again, I have no idea.
But, to me, this is the clearest explanation for the specific nature of Romney’s policy shifts (abortion), gaffes (“I’m severely conservative”), flip-flops (ObamaCare vs. RomneyCare), entirely policy-less and empty rhetoric (his Convention speech), way over-the-top attacks of Obama (this whole embassy thing), over-compensation to any even slightly perceived problem (his excessively absurd platitudes and rhetoric to the military after being slightly dinged for not mentioning the troops in the aforementioned speech), and his general habit of “becoming all things to all people” depending on the audience and goal at the time.
Some may point out that Obama has been being groomed for the Presidency since at least his college days, and his life seems to have been one where he simply “expected” himself to become President as well. First, this post is in no way a defense of Obama (just wait until my post tomorrow). Second, I still think his desire for the Presidency was a little more “normal” among politicians than Romney’s (even though all politicians are a strange breed of human).
At the end of the day, my fear about Romney is that his seemingly inordinate eagerness for the Presidency comes not from a genuine belief in Obama’s weakness as a leader or desire to serve America well. It is either something deeply psychological, or something deeply religious that motivates an apparent need to sit in that office.
And I have to ask, even if his policies might be preferential, is this really the character of the person we want to see grabbing the reigns of the nation? I have my doubts.
Now go read the children’s story I wrote for today.
Update: Over at the “Arena” at POLITICO (sort-of an “open mic” section for various topics), Jonathan Riehl, a professor and congressional speechwriter, has a great and insightful comment about how Mit Romney marks the end of the Republican Party. He concludes his comment with these words:
Romney is not a successor to any legacy–his father’s, Ronald Reagan’s, or the movement solidified by great thinkers like William F. Buckley Jr. He is only interested in being a successor to Barack Obama. That is not the kind of mentality that the conservative movement was built on.
[image credit: Ben Baker for Bloomberg Businessweek]