This election is already historic for, win or lose, Mitt Romney has shaken up the game by expanding the talent pool. With a surge that notched his credibility, Mitt gained no small victory against a skillful professional second in brand promotion only to Bill Clinton. Hell, the self-righteous Bishop could win, and that doubles down the damage.
My question: is Romney a one-off outlier, or do the floodgates open for like-minded, ruthless, perhaps more charming members of his exclusive corporate club? If Mitt the besmirched "vulture capitalist," a pedestrian campaigner at best, imperils a personally-popular incumbent, what office holder won't shudder when better "outsiders" come forth, bristling with unlimited insider fortunes?
Though only the lead warrior, Mitt's success thus expands the second stage of the Citizens United contagion: first gobs of money, now higher caliber, corporate generals taking the field. Why suffer dim bulb, merely elected prima donnas when business heavies may command power centers from which they've been exiled for a century? That makes this election a game-changer, even if Obama survives. Think smarter versions of Herman Cain who discover how to lock in our under-regulated, under-taxed, heavily subsidized capitalism.
Thanks to Romney, never again will the once-unelectable 1% be summarily excluded from running -- now you can't be too rich, with too many extremist billionaire backers, a past littered with shattered companies and outsourced workers, too low a personal tax, too many certified offshore accounts, and too many hidden tax returns. What astonishing resume reversals, all in one season!
Bets are Really Off
All bets, 10K or otherwise, are off, thanks to Romney-ization of Citizens United, as moneyed personhood covets the presidency, the Senate, state houses, indeed, the political landscape. CEO candidates, after all, need neither education nor motivation to enact their belief system -- making government run like a business (and thus run into the ground). Mere candidate Romney already distrusts government (like FEMA) more than the Reagan-Bush faction. Why not dig up Calvin Coolidge from the grave, broadcasting "the chief business of the American people is business"? Or sing out, "what's good for General Motors is good for the country, and vice versa"?
Second, anything but trivial Romney achievement: he managed to utterly banish from campaigning meaningful content, even the facade of talking issues, programs or numbers. That's worse for me than somersaulting like a crazed monkey. Mitt's refusal to detail anything makes this an "election by faith alone," founded on the shifting sands of his windy bromides. Obama's certainly no model of clarity (both vague and deceptive), nor guiltless in betraying the letter and spirit that won him office. But let's distinguish crass contempt ("just trust me") from a re-election narrative like a Rorschach inkblot, where there's some outline upon which fans can project? It ain't much, but Romney outpoints even his GOP ancestors as a whirling top spinning in his own void.
False Narratives, False Players
Frank Rich describe this
rightwing vacuity as the "rise of false narratives:" with "fewer facts
available to get wrong . . . I don't think it matters when [Republicans are]
called out. That's the really interesting thing. The right always was against
moral relativism but now they've embraced it. "With our facts, there is no
climate change.'" This disease qualifies as "making reality up as you go along"
and Romney breaks new ground in what a candidate can get away with -- without
mysteriously getting tarred and feathered.
Of course, as politics becomes a multi-billion dollar growth industry, "investors" will insist on experts in finance and banking to protect their outlay and coyly fudge very large numbers. What master of the universe readily entrusts billions to inept politicians who "never ran a business, made a payroll, dealt with regulators, or fought off creditors"? Especially as America declines, so goes the pitch, we need tough CEOs who respect hard facts and the bottom line, convinced that the end (efficiency, cost savings, or agency "profit") justifies whatever (horrendous) means are brought to bear? If the "chief business of the American people is business," why not hire "independent, non-politicians" to function as American CEOs?
So I say the plutocratic paradigm informing Mitt's every breath has triumphed. If he wins, the field widens culturally for "cult" Mormons, or even more gung-ho sectarians. And if he loses, imagine an open field for those better skilled at selling "public service" while claiming riches grant immunity from bribery or selling out. Romney and his ilk are shameless, zeroing in on cost benefits, agency slashing, shredding employment, and feverishly cutting "waste" like pensions, vacations and sick pay. Recall Wisconsin: nothing, as they say about Iran, would be off the table.
Katy, bar the door
Sure, we've had wealthy presidents like JFK and
FDR, and medium-time operators (both Bushes toiled at business). But no one
before Romney so blatantly pitched his "private sector" prowess (not being
governor) as perfect training to "rationalize" government bloated
with entitlements. And that message alone, absent plans or details, advanced
his credibility, no doubt tied to Obama's loss of same.
Of course reality lives elsewhere: democratic governments aren't (so far) run for profit, nor cash flow, nor debt avoidance, and their "deliverables" buttress an entire citizenry's quality of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A government that no longer serves the majority get enslaved by the paying minority, especially when this model of CorporateThink wins election -- hard-nosed, bottom-line, market-tested CEOs simply know better, about everything, whatever the complex, planetary challenges they deny.
Finally, there's one final Romney-plutocratic blessing. With all that noblesse oblige, multi-millionaire politicians won't grumble if not sufficiently thanked when departing, scoffing at rousing send-offs or fancy bronze monuments. Hell, they're rich enough to built statues to themselves, like William Randolph Hearst. Few fat cats will suffer from self-shredded government pensions, nor will life-styles change if they lose office or, like W., crawl away in disgrace. W. lives an affluent life of Reilly, with big commissions for hoodwinking hopefuls deluded his career holds the magic key to success. Dream on, unless you change your name and find a Karl Rove.
Indeed, what hundred-times millionaire wouldn't consider the conquest of the low world of electoral politics mere icing on the cake? It's not like a real career, to be enshrined on the ornate family mausoleum. Some, like W., may well learn, however, that fame is a b*tch, as grandchildren shudder at his disgraced memory, reinforced by judgmental historians. Though Romney has opened the way for the super-rich, there is hope: enough humiliation and failure are disincentives for healthy adults. On the other hand, when plutocrats are blinded by the triumph of Mitt the Mendacious, maybe not. Gosh, anybody for a statutory limit on how many houses or offshore accounts a president can boast?