Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mitt Gets Rabbitskeenia And Paul Tells A Fib

Mitt Gets Rabbitskeenia And Paul Tells A Fib

One of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons is 1955’s “Hare Brush”, in which Elmer Fudd is afflicted with Rabbitskeenia, a disease in which the sufferer forgets his own identity and thinks he’s a rabbit.

This isn’t the Elmer Fudd we’ve come to know and laugh at.  He’s Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire, with offices atop the E. J. Fudd Building, dressed immaculately in a morning coat and old-fashioned stiff collar.  Clearly, a one percent guy.  But he startles his Board of Directors (all middle aged white men, as has been true since time immemorial) by hopping in and out of a meeting, worried that it’s hunting season and he’s the prey.  They all agree he must be placed in a sanatorium. 

I was drawn to this sad story while watching the GOP convention this last week, a wonderful confection of the stars of the party delivering a frothy mix of Obama-bashing, made-for-television inclusiveness, self-promotion, and respect (if not adoration) for Mitt.

Ann Romney kicked it off, and, although there has been some criticism that she pandered to women, I think she gave one of the best and most effective speeches I have ever seen.  It was about nothing and everything, about PTA meetings and carpools, and the struggles that young married couples may have, and all the things that women understand intuitively that their menfolk are clueless about. It also subtly reinforced a core value of the Republican Party: that the ideal family unit is Dad out there in the workplace and Mom running the house.

Visually, she was dynamite in reinforcing that message.  She could have stepped out of a Gurney play.  Dressed in red, blonde and immaculately groomed, profoundly un-ethnic looking, she looked every inch the GOP wife and not the candidate.  Compare her speech to Sarah Palin’s in 2008, or even Elizabeth Dole in 1996 for her husband, and you see the stark contrast in message.  Palin and Dole might have been speaking about others, but they were auditioning for themselves.  Ann Romney did something simpler.  In effect, she said “that’s my man up there. I put a wager on him more than 40 years ago, like every woman does when she gets married, and I hit a home run.  Pick him, and you will too.”  Think it doesn’t sell?  I’ll bet it does. 

Chris Christie followed and he delivered a dynamic speech, in full Joisey, which I found better in the first hearing than in the second.  Christie had one powerful idea-that if you (meaning, Chris Christie) make the hard choices, eventually people will respect you (Chris Christie) even if they don’t love you.  They might even vote for you (Chris Christie) in either 2016 or 2020.  The crowd went wild.  Mitt, in the audience, appeared to have just swallowed a healthy dose of Milk of Magnesia. 

Wednesday had several excellent speeches, including Condi Rice’s compelling personal story wrapped around a highly literate attempt to evoke nostalgia for the Bush Era foreign policy.  In case no one is noticing (and they should) Romney’s foreign policy team is largely made up Dubya’s undead.   And, of course, it had the man of the hour,  the dynamic, hyper-intellectual supernova of the GOP, Congressman Paul Ryan.  As billed, Ryan gave a bravura performance, tearing into Mr. Obama and laying out the GOP vision (at least the parts they want us to know.)  He also did something I did not expect.  He lied persistently, shamelessly and shockingly, most notably about a plant closing, about Medicare, and about his role in the demise of Simpson-Bowles.  When the campaign was asked about it on Thursday, they shot the messengers. How dare the fact-checkers check!

Thursday was Mitt day, and in many respects, it showed him at his best.   There were touching stories about Mitt the man, and bold tales of leadership from Mitt the Olympic Savior and Mitt the Governor. There was also Clint Eastwood, however, in deference to my personal memories of Clint the Actor, and Clint the Director, I will merely mention that he came not to praise Obama, but to bury him.

Mitt’s speech was solid and workman-like.  He touched all the bases; criticism of Mr. Obama, lower taxes on capital, drill-baby-drill,  his own personal accomplishments, and his vision for the future.  He got a warm (if not unbelievably passionate) response from the crowd, and was sent off to slay the dragon.

In the aftermath, several things emerged. Mitt did get a post convention bounce in the polls.  Ryan’s reputation took a small hit.  A delicious new little factoid poked its head out.  Runner’s World, a Socialist-inspired screed dedicated to race results, training tips, and running down (sorry about that) true Conservatives, reported that Ryan’s claim of running a sub-three hour marathon was only off by…about an hour.  Heck, if the sadly departed Kim Jong-Il could lie about his athletic prowess, at the very least it shows Ryan has (Dear) Leadership skills.

So, where does Elmer Fudd come in?  Well, while Ryan had a mere veracity problem, it turns that Mitt might have a touch of Rabbitskenia when it comes to remembering his past.  A careful review of the transcripts of the three days of Mitt-managed Mitt-love indicates nary a mention of anything un-pure in his past.  Romneycare, in particular, disappeared into the mists of unutterable history.  An entirely new Mitt, his past sins (and memory) sponged clean, emerged.

It also turns out that Elmer was a pretty shrewd fellow (or rabbit, as the case may be.) He convinces Bugs to change places with him and scampers away to the forest.  Bugs, on the other hand, goes through some drug-aided therapy by a psychiatrist with a Viennese accent, and after constant repetition of “I am Elmer J. Fudd., millionaire, I own a mansion und a yacht” comes to forget his past as well and believe he is Elmer.  He is pronounced cured, released from the sanatorium, picked up by his driver, driven to the forest for a little westful and wewaxing hunting,  and bedeviled by the real Elmer-turned Bugs. 

All of this might have come to an amusing roll-reversed end if not for the arrival of two T-Men, who arrest Bugs (as Elmer) for failure to pay $300,000.00 in back taxes (a considerable sum in 1955, especially since it is before the term “job-creator” was created.)  Bugs is dragged away, complaining it’s all the fault of the screwy rabbit, and Elmer, with a little twinkle in his eye underneath the hood of his bunny suit, gets the in last word. 

“I may be a screwy wabbit, but I’m not going to Alcatraz.”

A shame Elmer couldn’t have hung on until the Romney Administration.  He might have kept his company, the Fudd Building, the limo and driver, and the $300,000.00.