Thursday, January 19, 2012

Coming Attractions

I'm starting to feel like Circus Boy (yeah, that's Mickey Dolenz before he became a Monkee.  He starred in the Circus Boy TV show in the 50s.)  I'm enjoying this circus too much.

I'm not the only one. I wonder if anybody at MSNBC will be able to sleep tonight.  There are several potentially big stories that could break in the next day or two that together or separately could turn the GOPer primary circus into real chaos.

One is the ABC interview granted by the second-ex Gingrich wife, expected to air Thursday night, which is potentially explosive.   She apparently once claimed that she could end his political career with one interview.

Another is the possible certification of the Iowa caucuses results (maybe by Friday), which may well change the winner from Romney to Rick Sanctimonious.   Combined with Gingrich's rising in South Carolina (and national) polls, it could create new doubts about Romney, who increasingly  appears to be vulnerable, if not to fellow GOPer attacks, then to the same attacks mounted by Dems in the general. 

But what if BOTH of these things happen?

And oh yeah, a couple of Rabid Right "leaders" have called for Cowboy Rick to drop out before the voting in South Carolina, in favor of Gingrich, who was endorsed by Sarah Palin Wednesday, as well as another megachurch minister.  There's also rumor that some sort of Tea Party coalition is going to endorse a candidate before S.C. votes.

Meanwhile His Romneyness is slowly being bronzed as Richie Rich, the guy who thinks his speaking fees--which in one year added up to seven times the average US annual income--don't amount to much.  Not when he probably has many millions in offshore tax shelters.

And what happens in South Carolina if this ABC story gets traction?  That while at Bain, Romney directed millions of dollars worth of investments to the Mormon Church.

In his New York Magazine piece entitled "Romney Caricatures Himself," Jonathan Chiat concludes:

"Whatever the merits, the total self-portrait Romney has helped craft is utterly devastating: the scion of a wealthy executive, who helped create, and benefited from, revolutions in both the market economy and in public policy in the last three decades that favored the rich over the middle class, and who appears blithe about the gap between his privilege and the lot of most Americans.

As I’ve said before, Romney has been positively associated with “electability” because he is more electable than most of his rivals. But he is the one-eyed man in the land of the politically blind. Romney, by normal standards, is a terrible candidate. He is nowhere near as formidable as John McCain was four years before. The latest poll from PPP has his favorability rating at a miserable 35 percent positive, 53 percent negative. He may win – he probably will win if the economy dips back into recession – but he is a weak candidate who in many ways embodies the public’s distrust of his party."

I'll add this caveat: while the political mood seems to be strongly against Richie Rich, the appeal of a powerful rich guy can't be dismissed.  There's an undeniable "participation mystique" thing that goes on when ordinary people are confronted with the rich and powerful: they may identify with them, imagine what it would be like to be them, and want to be like them--want to be recognized by them, and included within their aura.  It's a powerful pull and can't be dismissed.  Romney has shown no signs of being able to capitalize on this, but it's a long time until the election.

Romney as without core beliefs is an image that won't go away.  There's the opposition research book put together by the McCain campaign in 2007 that's just been leaked.  One observer commented: "In extensive detail, the book documents Romney’s various turns on major issues—how he changed his mind on the Bush tax cuts, gun ownership, abortion, and immigration, just to pick a few issues. Romney’s flip-floppery is so pervasive that it cannot be summed up except to say that it is a fundamental part of his political self."

Its possible effect in the general election is dramatized, cartoon style in this Gingrich campaign ad which shows President Obama debating Romney.  The Obama voice is actually pretty good.

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