Enough with that down-home, baseball glove moniker for Willard. Let's identify Mitt the unfit with his most compelling doppelganger, that paragon of phoniness so fully satirized by Sinclair Lewis he's America's icon for narrow-mindedness: Babbitt. Indeed, tainted Babbitry today rules the GOP, uniting materialistic complacency with unthinking conformity -- ever fostered by the God of Progress and sponsored by rabid, small-minded Boosterism. Thus, today's self-righteous spawn: deluded American Exceptionalism.
Now that full public glare unzips what remains of Romney's sanitized image, what emerges is a most disagreeable huckster, a Babbitt on steroids. Romney creeps us out because he's so much richer and more predatory, yet still the calculating striver, oblivious to others, rushing to conform to the latest and lowest rightwing denominator. Exchange bank accounts and Protestant denominations, brother Romney tops Babbitt for hypocrisy and presumption, for the latter only idly dreamed of becoming a governor.
Devotee to Romney's campaign slogan, "Believe in America," Lewis' smug Zenith booster insists a hard-nosed businessman should run the federal government, like an efficient, unyielding machine. That echoes the most infamous paean to 1920's capitalism from President Calvin Coolidge, the "chief business of the American people is business." Nor would Babbitt nor Romney challenge this other, transcendent Coolidgism, "The man who builds a factory builds a temple. The man who works there worships there." Yes, the religion of business, and vice versa.
Manipulators, not Makers
Does not Romney the unfeeling, buffoonish vulgarian exemplify Lewis' introduction to Babbitt, as middle-aged, middle-brow, mid-westerner who "made nothing in particular, neither butter nor shoes nor poetry, but he was nimble in the calling of selling houses for more than people could afford to pay"? The protean Romney pitchman is just as meretricious, proving again America still blesses greed and conformity, anointing today's "severe conservative" despite the glaring contradictions with all his centrist past. Is not Romney the zenith of modern campaign pandering? Does his political exploitation now augment his exploitative Bain rampage, likewise profiting not by "making things" but manipulating people, pensions, loopholes and assets.
Aptly enough, Romney is ever behind the times, a 1950's throwback whose formidable hustle is inventing the most plausible, whitest candidate against a minority, still implausible president. In fact, this born-again zealot transcends Babbitt as a far nimbler, more audacious con man, pitching a fistful of business and tax subsidies we can't possibly "afford to pay." Babbitt just cheated his neighbors and practiced small-time vulture capitalism; Romney won the sweepstakes and his shadow looms larger.
Look how "Babbitt" synonyms snugly fit Romney: philistine, boor, bounder, conformist, low-brow, nouveau riche, square, upstart, vulgarian, and yes man. Both follow a ruthlessly greedy creed: let the sucker beware. The essential link appears willful ignorance of inner needs, thus you hear cant, not sympathy for the pain and suffering of others. That way lies abusing pets on car racks, bullying and assaulting a gay-seeming fellow student, or maliciously bragging about firing people.
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