Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Circus Violence

Violence in the circus--verbal, that is.  And to think that the circular firing squad used to have a Democratic patent.  His Romneyness opened the doors wide to the circular circus firing squad with two eminently soundbitable statements that played directly into the top candidate for the most damaging non-flipflop charges against him: his rich guy ego plus his predatory behavior plus his politician hypocrisy.  He's a circular firing squad in himself.

His first statement was a variation on the phony regular guy I'm one of you (and I'm not a witch) pandering he's awkwardly tried before, but this one was really ill-timed.  He said he knew the pressure people were feeling, they might lose their jobs, because he's been there--he's been afraid a few times of being fired, of getting that pink slip.

Okay, so you know that there are only about 3,000 Americans in total who are richer than Romney.  Much of this wealth was inherited, so he's never, ever had to be afraid for a micro-millisecond that he would miss a meal or a mortgage payment or a health insurance premium.  People may not know much about him, but people living on the edge are likely to know that he really is not.

He then committed another unforced error by uttering the words, "I like to fire people."  Though he was talking about a health care system that enables people to fire their insurance provider, the words play perfectly into the growing attacks based on the predatory practices of Bain, the place where he got all that vaunted business experience.  (Bain even sounds like some evil kingdom in a comic book mythology.)  But even before the DMCers could reach for their editing tools, Romney's fellow GOPers were taking his words exquisitely out of context with all the temeritry his Romneyness used to take Barack Obama's comments completely out of context.  Jon Huntsman zinged him--Romney wants to fire people, he said, but I want to get jobs for people.  Gingrich has some really awful paid ads already hitting Romney on this, and his Newtitude jumped on it. 

But one candidate put both statements together with true eloquence.  And that candidate is--you're really not going to believe this--Cowboy Rick.  First he quoted Romney: "I know what’s it’s like to worry whether you’re going to get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.”  Then he fired away: I mean, he actually said this,” Mr. Perry told more than 100 diners at a breakfast gathering here. “Now, I have no doubt Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips — whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out because his company, Bain Capital, of all the jobs that they killed,” Mr. Perry said. “I’m sure he was worried that he would run out of pink slips.”

He said that people in nearby Gaffney, S.C., in particular, “would find his comments incredible,” because it is where Mr. Perry said Bain shut down a plant and fired 150 workers. “That didn’t happen until Mitt Romney’s private equity firm, they looted that company with more than $20 million in management fees.”
He also charged that Mr. Romney’s firm took $65 million in management fees out of a steel company in a deal in which 700 steelworkers in Georgetown, S.C., and Kansas City lost their jobs, their health insurance and “large portions” of their pensions.
“There’s nothing wrong with being successful and making money — that’s the American dream,” Mr. Perry said. “But there is something inherently wrong when getting rich off failures and sticking it to someone else is how you do your business. I happen to think that that is indefensible.” “If you are a victim of Bain capital’s downsizing, it’s the ultimate insult for Mitt Romney to come to South Carolina and tell you he feels your pain — because he caused it,” Mr. Perry said."

Both quotes--but especially the "I like to fire people" clip--went viral all day Monday.  Today--Tuesday-- is voting day in the New Hampshire primary.  We're going to learn how many smart phones there really are in that state, which is likely a measure of how fast this soundbite spreads.  Because the trend lines were already showing Huntsman moving up and Romney moving down.  Most pundits say that not enough time has elapsed for Huntsman to actually overtake R's huge lead, but that he's in position to come in second, closely followed by Ron St. Paul. 

But an emotional backlash can come on faster than a headcold.  If some hefty percentage of New Hampshire GOPers were preparing to delicately hold their noses and vote for the guy who seemed most likely to compete in the general, they might be simultaneously feeling enough disgust to deny him their votes, while suddenly realizing that Huntsman is a pretty good alternative. 

If the final vote of the primary has Romney at 30%,  Huntsman north of 20%,  with St. Paul getting 15% and Gingrich north of 10%, then South Carolina and Florida begin to look less inevitable for his Romneyness.  There's also the theory that if Huntsman does well, his own fabulously wealthy father will open the bank vaults, and his Romneyness will face wall-to-wall Anti-R ads from both Gingrich and Huntsman.  And those ads are on TV sets in places where not just GOPers can see them. 

No comments: