Fans of gallows humor must delight in the mounting farce that is Mitt Romney's campaign. Could his cavalcade of confusion blunder on, even get worse? Common manners might restrain gleeful cries when derision is this easy -- but have we celebrated a more appealing, richer punching bag in years? Recall that GOP power brokers once dreaded calamity from Perry, Santorum, Bachmann or Gingrich -- yet Romney, with marvelous irony, turns out to be the rank amateur.
Here's the most premeditated, studied, nearly content- and personality-free campaign that money can buy imploding because Mitt's an epic fail at retail politics, a crashing, burning, non-stop, unforced gaffe machine. Imagine, squandering ten years and billions of even richer folks' money only to shoot yourself in the foot, with jaw-dropping repetition. This qualifies as neither melodrama nor tragedy but high farce, and I await Mitt's latest attempt at redemption: ham-fisted debate "zingers." Besieged, this second least charming GOP politician (after Donald Trump) has decided to polish up his comic timing. Oh, lord of misrule, let it be.
Second, inadvertent comic narrative: Mr. Obama remains the luckiest politician in our history, undeterred by his endless quest for higher office (and luckless in only one imprudent House run). This master of retail politics (however deficient in vision, leadership or governance) looks to cruise home, as if all is forgiven. So the president had awful tunnel vision about economic dilemmas; delivered neither hope nor change, nor redirected addictions to endless wars and shameless defense spending; so there's little reform (even worsening) to the civil-legal-judicial abuses inherited from neo-con, anti-constitutional overkill. Obama as Bush III is no joke, but let that bide.
The Season's Laugh Riot Hit
It is, however, a howler that Romney's pitiably inept presidential run is orchestrated by a top-down control-freak with alleged management prowess. Absent political bragging rights (allergic to his own office tenure in Mass.) and dishing out neither campaign promises nor programs, what can Mitt sell beyond "management competence"? And that's utterly undermined by his campaign train wreck.
It's hard to imagine any president in our lifetime will outdo W. for unintentional White House comedy, mangling language and concepts with equal abandon. Such ignorance, we pray, is a once-a-generation phenomenon. And few jokes came from Don Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney, though shooting your friend in the face evokes wicked irony. But no modern presidential candidate matches Mitt for unforced errors, bringing on self-defamation with nothing to show for it. Mitt's religion denies the holy trinity but his campaign channels another trio, the Three Stooges.
Significantly, Mitt's fiasco is not without real-world ripples. Even billionaires resist embrace of a laughing stock a month before election, and the GOP brand will pay a price, especially when base turnout is depressed. GOP Senate takeover already looks doubtful and, if Romney-Ryan wither, a most improbable prospect still -- the GOP losing the House -- rears its head.
Is it not a wonderful, epic joke that Romney, just by talking foolishly, is now less popular than W.? Second in shock value to Ann Romney's concern for her husband's "mental stability" were he elected, Bloomberg polling records W.'s current ratio of 46% favorable vs. 49% unfavorable -- yes, that trumps Romney's 43% favorable vs. 49% unfavorable. Yikes! And Romney earns mammoth dishonor without yet doing anything, well, anything truly notorious, compared to Bush's egregious eight years of pro-active misrule.
Romney's Flub for the Ages
Already, Romney stands alongside icons like Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and James Stockdale (Perot's V.P) as national jokes. We've moved beyond Mitt's monumental flip-flopping, lying and distortions, to now settle on an even worse category for political boobery: the epic flop. Note, these other transient objects of ridicule were mere V.P. candidates -- Romney's self-destruction breaks new ground for presidential wannabes -- and with such conspicuous visibility. Mr. Control, meet Mr. Nincompoop.
The poetic and moral ironies are so great, one can only wonder if there's a divine hand here somewhere, perhaps a deity who cares not for Mormon "cult" aberrations. Does America -- with a lust for self-sabotage by denying all that made us great (open, well-funded education and freer immigration, government research and national infrastructure) deserve such a transparent blessing?
Okay, it takes a special sensibility, as civilization crumbles around our heads, to appreciate high farce, even posit serious pendulum shifts. By 2016, especially for establishment Republicans, I predict professional, safe politicians like Mitch Daniels or Rob Portman will displace today's cavalcade of clowns -- or else. Why, Romney may even dissuade other super-rich, non-politician fat cats from trying to buy the White House. The mortification is too great. Thank God for small blessings.
If the allegedly rational and controlled Romney can so effortlessly (or strenuously) wreck himself, one can only wonder if the party returns to the center (and there's no proof for this) or goes whole hog and puts forth a Bachmann or Perry. Both prospects have their appeal, with all the glory of full-fledged, unintended consequences.