Saturday, September 01, 2012

Runnin' On Empty

Today, Eags turns the snarky shiv with the empty chair/empty suit trope that was inspired by the Dumbo National Convention 2012. Thanks to the amazing resource aka the Internet/Web, here is a scene after the Convention ended:

(Click to embiggen)

However, the Dumbos have not been locked in padded cells and 'tis a pity for the Land O'The Free and the Home O'The Brave. Of course the key word for Dumbos is empty: heads, hearts, and — if such a thing exists — souls. GOP now stands for Goofy, Out-Of-Touch, Pathetic. If this is a (fair & balanced) shovel of dirt on the GOP, so be it.

[x NY Fishwrap]
Humanize This!
By Timothy Egan

Tag Cloud of the following article

created at

He was going to fill in the blanks, a nowhere man no more. He was going to show his human side, to offer us a glimpse of the guy who said he “lives for laughter.” Not lovable, or even very likable, but at least a fleshed-out leader with a plan.

The empty chair that a befuddled Clint Eastwood spoke to had to compete with the famous empty suit of Mitt Romney. In the speech that was supposed to seal the deal with a divided public, the man who sheltered his money in foreign lands went on about his “belief in America”; it sounded like the chords of a flat song. The substance of his speech was the rhetorical equivalent of the elevator music the nominee loves. This was President Platitude, the aspirant.

Romney is not auditioning for orator in chief, so it doesn’t really matter if the speech was more Pat Boone than Winston Churchill. It was absurd, after all, to think that a strangely unknowable man who has been campaigning for president for half a decade would somehow reveal himself in a fresh launch of focus-tested words.

In these ragged times, where progress moves along on three wheels and a flat tire, most Americans do not need to fall in love with a leader. Yet trying to raise the likability meter seemed to be the sole intent of the buildup to the Romney kicker.

From Ann Romney, we heard a tease about a love story. But the days of tuna pasta on an ironing board dining table did not pass the smell test, since it was already known that the honeymooners lived off family stock money.

From Paul Ryan, we got a blue-eyed son of the heartland, likable and plainspoken. Many convention viewers, to cite the old country-western song, went to bed at 2 with a 10 and woke up at 10 with a 2 when they found out that Ryan’s flat-voweled cadence was at odds with the many distortions and falsehoods he delivered from the podium. As for anecdotes about Mitt, the new BFF brought nothing to the authenticity potluck.

So it was up to the nominee to fill in the blanks. Guess what? He loved his parents. He loves his wife and kids, and one of them speaks Spanish. He loves women. He loves his church, and was there when fellow Mormons needed him. “We prayed together, our kids played together and we always stood ready to help each other out in different ways,” he said. “And that’s how it is in America.”

Great. Give the man a hand and a plaque for his wall and send him on his way.

At the very least, we wanted a story — a grand narrative about the leader and about a nation stuck in a Groundhog Day economy. Who are you? Where do you want to take us? And please, some details.

But in the same way that this convention failed to fill the shell of Romney the man, the big speech came with no telling specifics on how he would govern. Romney has provided no detailed blueprint because what is known of the limited blueprint is unpopular. Cut taxes on the rich. Prolong old wars, and even intervene in new ones, without even mentioning the service members now risking their lives in the longest of these forgotten conflicts. Put gay soldiers back in the closet, or kick them out. Ignore climate change. (The delegates laughed at the idea.) Cut or kill government aid to students, the poor, energy entrepreneurs and the arts.

“President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet,” said Romney. “My promise is to help you and your family.”

How? A few specifics on the plan to create those 12 million new jobs he’s promising would have helped. Corporations are sitting on piles of cash; interest rates are rock bottom; and taxes on the wealthy have not been this low since Chatsworth Osborne Jr., was palling around with Dobie Gillis.

And his prescription is for more of the same: tax cuts, wealth concentration, corporations as people with the best rights money can buy.

Romney was lucky that he did not have to be heard above a hurricane. How would it sound to bash government while thousands of Americans looked for their salvation to a newly built, 133-mile ring of levees, flood walls, gates and pumps paid for by taxpayers?

“I am who I am,” Romney said in the run-up to Thursday night’s speech, a way to lower expectations that weren’t that high to begin with.

Yes, we knew. Sort of. The man to bring universal health care to his state did not mention that stupendous feat; it was airbrushed out, Soviet style, from the film that introduced Romney. A man whose father walked out on the Barry Goldwater convention of 1964 because it was too extreme let the heirs to those toxic politics write a platform that would move the country backward by two generations.

At the end of the night, the great mystery remained: not just who is Mitt Romney, but how does he cut taxes, raise or maintain defense spending, save Medicare and do it all without adding to a burden of debt that may outlive Romney himself. He gave no answer, because the real substance of his campaign is a construct built on a fantasy. Now he has to sell it. Ω

[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]

Copyright © 2012 The New York Times Company

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Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves by Neil Sapper is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available here.

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