A self-made man. Romney is not.
The country continues to recover from the severe downturn that damaged many sectors of the economy—housing, employment, energy, currency—during the last couple years of the George W. Bush administration, a contraction characterized by many as the worst since the Great Depression, and one that President Barack Obama inherited at its most onerous depths, not to mention two deadly wars that contributed to the buckling of morale and resources. President Obama has enacted a number of resuscitative measures, including stimulus, health care reform, ‘corporate rescue’, and military draw-down, and while progress has been made, joblessness and debt have persisted. Enter the Republican brain-trust, who, emboldened by gains in the 2010 midterm elections, chose the route of political disengagement, and after several cycles of disengaging with the White House, steered to the nomination, through fits and starts, a single-issue candidate for the presidency, a six-year campaigner for the office, former governor Mitt Romney. In addition to offering scant specifics on his single issue, that is, his claim to be the supervisor who can revitalize our sluggish marketplaces, Governor Romney defaults to a set of antiquated stances on social issues and traffics with the electorate amid a host of bumbling personal narratives that cannot be remediated, despite his attempts at likability. Blood And Gutstein endorses President Barack Obama for reelection in 2012, based, in particular, on clear-cut differences between the candidates in the following five arenas, but also because I distrust Romney’s appetite for indiscriminate criticism. He reminds me, in a certain way, of an over-anxious bachelor who cannot pick-up women, and trust me, Mitt Romney could stand to ‘pick-up’ a few women, the majority of whom will vote Democrat this year.
1. TAX POLICY AS A TOOL FOR LOWERING DEBT AND GENERATING GROWTH. We have managed to avert economic catastrophe, and in order to avoid a return to the precipice, it would make sense for wealthy individuals and (wealthy) corporations to feed the kitty at a higher clip than in a period of stability. Obama supports this tax policy, while the G.O.P., led by Romney, does not. Romney advocates for companies and the “upper crust,” only he cannot demonstrate how routine tax cuts would generate the millions of new jobs he’s promising, with an implication that high-wage factory slots would appear in short order. The phrase “voodoo economics”—championed years ago by George H.W. Bush—comes to mind, as such a promise skips too many intermediate stations. I believe that wealthy persons and corporations can adapt by paying more tax and investing in growth, simultaneously. Obama terms this “economic patriotism.”
2. PRESERVATION AND EXPANSION OF INDIVIDUAL LIBERTIES. A large number of Americans—probably a majority—believe, for example, that a woman should have the opportunity to make every decision about her health. Obama supports this individual liberty, while the G.O.P. platform, as espoused by Romney, does not. The Republicans—perennially, daily—stress their commitment to shaping a less powerful federal government, one that would relieve us from its own smothering presence in our lives, except for the part where this depleted federal authority would regulate the reproductive practices of every American household, loom in every doctor’s office, and potentially, dictate arrests, prosecutions, and prison sentences. The contradiction notwithstanding, restrictions on a woman’s right to choice, for example, would especially imperil low-income families and single mothers.
3. APPEARING PRESIDENTIAL IN THE FOREIGN POLICY ENVIRONMENT. During his carefully manicured trip to the London Olympics, Romney recklessly (and prematurely) criticized the security apparatus at the summer games, eliciting “Mitt the Twit” headlines, and drawing the ire of English political leaders. The prime minister reminded Romney that securing the entirety of big, bustling, international London was just a tad more cumbersome than securing venues in “the middle of nowhere”—a potent dig at Romney’s stewardship of the 2002 Salt Lake City (winter) Olympics. No security breaches materialized in
The diplomatic ink-stain, however, accompanied Romney on the remainder of his “break-out”
international tour, a dud that fizzled out in Israel
but was intended to buttress his soggy profile. Romney’s more disconcerting error
involved criticism of the President shortly after the American ambassador to Libya
had been killed as part of an insurgent attack. He was vitriolic when, instead,
he should’ve projected the calm statesman: “Today, I will put politics aside
and stand together with the President during these difficult moments for our
diplomatic mission,” or words to that effect, but the G.O.P. challenger cannot muster
this sonority. Obama, on the other hand, matched coolness to the demands of the
4. CHOICE OF A RUNNING MATE WHO COULD ASSUME THE PRESIDENCY. It’s not clear to me how Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan, Representative from Wisconsin, broadens the tent for Republicans. He may prize them a few additional voters in his otherwise ‘blue’ home state, or reassure the legions of ‘tea party’ activists, or stamp a youthful grin on the ticket, but at 42, with just a couple years under his belt as Chairman of the House Budget Committee, he does not reassure as broad a swath of voters as does the presence, on the Democrat ticket, of seasoned political veteran, Joe Biden. Prone to the occasional gaffe, the otherwise affable Biden has been involved in government since 1973, when he was first elected Senator from Delaware, and when Ryan was about three years old. He has chaired various committees in the Senate, served for nearly four years as Vice President, and owns a track record, in this position, of negotiating across party lines.
5. PERSONAL NARRATIVE IN THE ERA OF CORPORATE GREED. Mitt Romney wasn’t reared in an apartment above a storefront, the way Ronald Reagan grew up, but was the son of George Romney, CEO of American Motors and Governor of Michigan. Mitt Romney’s enduring fantasy—that he’s a self-made man—must enable additional delusions on his part. Surely, he understands what it takes to create millions of manufacturing jobs, despite the fact that Bain Capital, where he served as CEO, never manufactured anything, and wasn’t headquartered in a factory. A self-made man would have little to hide on his tax returns, and would release them to the public, although a self-made man might, out of unrelated cruelty, strap the family dog to the roof of his automobile. Several contemporary presidents, including, to the right, Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan, and to the left, Carter, Clinton, and Obama, could be described as men of humble origins. Obama was raised by a single mother, and as a person who identifies as African American, has probably overcome more obstacles than Romney can imagine.
The tenor of 2012 America calls to mind, in certain ways, the tenor of 1944 America, in particular for a half-remembered quote by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who charged Americans to keep entrusting him with the country’s efforts in World War II, even as it was a dark era filled with uncertainty. He might’ve said something akin to, “Don’t trust the war to anybody else,” and while I may have the quote jumbled-up, the nation reelected him over his Republican challenger, Thomas Dewey, with that sentiment at heart. A different America now grapples with a different type of uncertain future, but there are compelling reasons—policy and character, alike—to keep entrusting President Obama with the nation’s economic recovery efforts.