Pete speaks of Romney’s toughness–a toughness learned through a Senate challenge to a Kennedy in Massachusetts in 1994. Repeat: A challenge to a Kennedy in Massachusetts. I’m not so sure the current election is easily analogized to 1994, even if it is meant only as a mere developmental phase of Romney’s training upon which to display his toughness on the national political stage.
Back then, Romney’s “misdemeanors” in the LDS church or at Bain couldn’t beat Teddy’s undisclosed (or undiscussed) literal childhood “felony” record. This says it all–or at least much–about Massachusetts.
To their credit, the media refs threw the flag on the Kennedy’s anti-Mormon religious bigotry, but it resulted in what seemed to be a blown call for a mere five yards backwards while the Kennedy’s were in the “red zone.” Apparently all was fair after the rules of church and state relationships were rhetorically set in Houston circa 1960. After all, hadn’t the Kennedy’s had been kept on their knees through decades of a soft form of anti-Catholic religious bigotry in the Irish Catholic Boston of James Michael Curley and its surrounds? Making millions, gaining the post at the Court of St. James, and attending Harvard were surely not options for this scrappy lot.
Nonetheless, the Kennedy clan and their devotees of the 1990s relented to the called media foul, and they took a new tack off the cape on their mythological yacht of political hopes and dreams. Henceforth they only righteously spoke of issues at the end of Teddy’s indignant pointed finger, i.e., they spoke to issues salient to most Massachusetts voters. As he spoke of business growth and technocratic fifty-nine point plans, Romney couldn’t differentiate himself saliently from such salience, so he eventually lost the election.
Romney has learned his lesson this time and will now only speak of the salient issues on his own terms—issues like Obamacare and Solyndra. Romney will let Trump speak birtherism while he stays on message and continues to speak competently to the issues.
No doubt, the stakes are different this time—it’s not Massachusetts, which needed the death of Kennedy to break the fixation of the Kennedy mystique in Scott Brown (plus a really bad Democratic candidate in Martha Coakley–and later, let’s hope, in Indian princess Elizabeth Warren) as much as Cuba needs the death of Fidel to break its own idée fixe. In some cases, popular piety trumps salient issues. So perhaps one needs a trump in Trump after all? But this won’t work.
To mix sports metaphors, with a media-umpire in the batter’s box calling balls and strikes for Obama, I don’t think Romney can rely on such journalistic professionalism and responsibility as was found in 1994. Back then, it was Massachusetts and Teddy Kennedy—the media could afford to play fair. Not so much this time around nationwide—the stakes are too high, but at least Romney will have Fox and the WSJ. In such an situation, salient issues will sail right by each other like ships in the night (cringe).
Also, Obama is no Kennedy, and the USA is no Massachusetts. So, as Pete says, Romney might as well “hang tough” (as one Boston boy band put it) and focus on the salient issues, and hope that a certain piety outside Massachusetts leans in his favor nonetheless. Unfortunately, Romney is about as tough as Marky Mark, and I’m sure Marky Mark is pulling for Obama anyway. Perhaps, Romney ought to channel the Beach Boys instead for any “good vibrations” amongst the electorate.
If anything, the Obama mystique—such as it was in 2008—has surely worn off after 3 ½ years of holding office.
If not, Romney always has Trump out there—but that is more like relying on a designated hitter instead of a two point conversion, to extend the lame metaphor.
All of this makes Romney sound like a loser come November. It is surely disturbing to me when the case for Romney makes me think of boy bands.
Since I feel cold, and in the spirit of Carl’s recent posts, let me link to a bracing Norwegian ice bath sung by one of his beach bands–Beach House.