I’ve said before that Mitt Romney is a lousy candidate, and it didn’t take him long to validate my assessment. Speaking before a group of supporters in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Romney chastised Obama for wanting to hire more firefighters, policemen and teachers. This comment is going to haunt him, at least until he comes up with something even dumber than this–and make no mistake, he will.
It is inevitable that he will say something dumber than this in the next few months–hell, I’ll say the next few weeks–because Romney is a lousy candidate for president. He’s a good, solid, mid-range candidate, capable of winning local contests, even state level–but that’s where he caps out. Romney has found his Peter Principle level of incompetence. Publicly running against teachers, firemen and policemen isn’t even good politics at the state level, but the gaffes in that league are more manageable. This one is going to get maximum airtime, mark my words.
I don’t get the sense that the people of Wisconsin feel they have too many policemen, firemen, or teachers, and if Scott Walker had based his recall defense on getting rid of them he would have lost in a landslide. In fact, the Walker battle against public sector unions was always careful to separate the firefighters and policemen from the fray, because Scott Walker isn’t as stupid as Mitt Romney.
Ignore the political analysts on the cable news shows and in major print publications who say this is a tight race, that Obama is vulnerable in November. It’s all hype. They say that because they have to say it, because the alternative is pointing out that this election was over when the Republicans didn’t send up a single serious candidate for this year’s primary. Political reporters have to pretend like this is a clash of the titans, the same way sportscasters pretend a match between a powerhouse team and a bunch of scrubs is a game for the ages. They have to, really; otherwise, they look like they’re “in the bag” for the winning side.
Romney’s putative “economic credentials” aren’t nearly as strong as he thinks; he ran a venture capital firm that was too risk averse to venture much capital, and had no problem taking government money. His “successes” in Massachusetts are easy to pick apart merely by explaining or contextualizing them; he didn’t raise taxes, but did raise government “fees” to the tune of roughly half a billion dollars. He balanced the budget–but balanced budgets are a legal requirement in Massachusetts. It’s like bragging that he drove the speed limit. his jobs rates claims are dubious. Most importantly, Romney’s term as governor of Massachusetts was on a leash: the state legislature was controlled by Democrats, basically hemming him in to a bunch of policies that limited the amount of damage he could do. It’s why he signed “Obamacare” into law at the state level, before calling it “Obamacare” and bashing it was cool.
Attacking three categories of public servants who are generally recognized to be performing a public good–fire fighters, police officers, and teachers–might win Romney some points with the rabidly ridiculous base, but it won’t win him the swing voters he needs to win in November. The rabid base of which I speak advocates policies that mirror the political reality in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia, to name a few–but none of them would support the reality of a world where schools, police stations, and fire stations represent an extravagant waste of money.
How, exactly, do we “help the American people” by letting them be crime victims while their houses get robber or burn down and their kids grow up undereducated? Not explained. Judging by the cheering in the video there’s no need to explain it, it makes sense–to people in Council Bluffs, Iowa, who can show up in the middle of the afternoon for a political rally (OK, possibly some residents of Omaha, Nebraska with free time in the afternoon could have showed up, too–it did sound like there were at least 40 people there).
I’ll be the first to admit it if I ever see signs of life from this campaign and it begins to look like he’s got any serious chance of winning–there are several months before the election, after all, and a lot can happen (I suppose)–but for now, the Romney campaign still looks more like Lord Fopney’s Gaffetastic Parade Without Clue than a serious challenge for Obama in November.