Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mitt's Masseuse-Aching For 2016

Mitt’s Masseuse—Aching For 2016

Did you hear the one about Mitt and the Masseuse?  Seriously. Mitt Romney was in a hotel room with a masseuse.  A Latina, to boot. 

I know this sounds like a bit of opposition research, but Mitt owned up to his sins on the opening episode of “With All Due Respect,” a new offering from Bloomberg News. 

It gets better (not really, if you were hoping for actual sin….) Turns out that after a hard day of campaigning in 2012, Mitt had shaken so many hands that his back was tight.  So he asked one of his advance men if a masseuse could be located to meet him at his hotel.  The Ritz-Carlton provided one and, with the advance man in the room (presumably as chaperone) with the “Hispanic-American” (Mitt’s phrase) Mitt got kneaded.  The masseuse might not have been as up on politics as you or I, because after she finished she apparently asked the chaperone if Mitt was a dancer. Mitt apparently is a man of powerful legs,

The image of Mitt’s legs lifted my spirits in an otherwise depressing week.  Why depressing?   No, it’s not because the entire country is about to take one gigantic dunk in a tureen (spittoon?) filled with crimson. I’m depressed because, in the same interview, Mitt Romney has (almost completely, almost categorically, almost absolutely, almost finally) ruled out running in 2016.

And, that puts me in a funk, because it tells me something important is going on in the GOP.  It’s not just Mitt, but Mitt Romney’s kind of Republican, the business-oriented “country-club” type, that is passing from the visible ranks of leadership. 

That is not a good thing.  Before people think I have gone all wobbly and learned to love the dark side, let me point out the obvious: Would you rather have a Ted Cruz, or a Mitt Romney in the Oval Office?   

To me the answer is self-evident. Romney is at the core of his being an experienced, competent executive.  His talents are managerial and his inclinations are to make the business bigger and more successful.  He isn’t all that sensitive or sympathetic to the sacrifices others make to insure maximum efficiency or profitability, but he’s certainly willing to roll up his sleeves and do what needs to be done.  Mitt’s is the way of the Republican leadership class of the past, both in business and in politics.  It’s the way of the first George Bush, Gerald Ford, Howard Baker, Bob Dole, Lamar Alexander, etc. People who had ambitions to lead, but a sense of duty to lead well.  The “Old Guys.”

Ted Cruz, who just won both the hearts and the votes of attendees at the Value Voters Summit with a full-throated roar, is decidedly not an Old Guy. He is undeniably highly intelligent, but he hails from the Vengeance Wing of the GOP.  Look at what Cruz says and how he says it, look at what brings them to their feet, and what you see is a man tapping into the anger of people who feel their culture and their way of life are under assault, and want a champion to do something about it, and take a few scalps along the way.  If Cruz sees any duty beyond himself, it’s only to those who agree with him.  In this, he’s strangely like Sarah Palin—he has a gift for speaking outrage at a dog-whistle frequency.  Many of us can’t hear it, but it makes a lot of people howl. Those folk are ready to march, to vote, and to carry the pitchforks and the torches.  Liberal (and moderate) America, they are coming for you.

But first, they are visiting Kansas.  In Kansas, we have two of the most fascinating races in years, one for Governor, and the other for Senate.  Kansas, by way of background, is an unusual combination of quite conservative politically but very moderate in temperament. Midwestern, traditional values, farm, faith, family, etc., but tempered by community.  Kansas likes its politics Republican, but friendly.  The state has voted Republican in every Presidential election since 1936, except for LBJ’s landslide in 1964.  For Senate, the last Democrat they elected was George McGill in 1932.

Incumbent Governor Sam Brownback hails from the Cruz wing of the party.  He’s the man who declared he was going to conduct a “conservative experiment” in the state.  And he has, cutting taxes substantially on business while raising sales taxes on working people, cutting spending (particularly to education) and spearheading a harshly conservative social agenda.  Hard-right conservatives love Brownback, particularly because he conducted a purge of Republicans who were more moderate than he was.  It should have been a great strategy for a state that has no love for President Obama.  But, Kansans value nice, and Brownback isn’t.  Some of those purged Republicans have endorsed Paul Davis, Brownback’s Democratic challenger.  Recent polls (except for Fox) showed Davis with a small lead.

The Senate race has its own arc.  There, the incumbent, Pat Roberts, who was first elected in 1996, has had a comfortable last three terms enjoying the temptations of Washington.  So comfortable that he may not have any place to actually live in Kansas.  This became a serious issue in his primary campaign, where he staved off Milton Wolf, a Tea Party endorsed challenger. That made him the overwhelming favorite to win reelection.  From that point forward, the very weird began to occur. The Democrats had a sacrificial lamb, Chad Taylor, who was preparing himself to get less than 30% of the vote. Then, a wealthy independent, Greg Orman, jumped into the race and began to poll at numbers that indicated that his and Taylor’s votes, combined, could have challenged Roberts.  Taylor decided to withdraw; Secretary of State Kurt Kobach, a co-chair of Robert’s campaign, resisted him, with taxpayer funds, of course. The Kansas Supreme Court sided with Taylor (who had apparently followed the directions given to him by Kobach’s office and added “in accordance with the statute.”) Kobach angrily denounced activist judges, but the ruling stands.  This created a free-for-all, with recent polls showing the race a toss-up, but leaning Roberts.

Still, with control of the Senate looking good for the Republicans, no stone can be left unturned.   Mitt (you knew I would come back to him) has endorsed Roberts, as has Bob Dole and virtually every other member of the Republican establishment in Kansas, which makes complete sense.  Surprisingly enough so have both Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz, who is personally flying in to give Roberts his blessing.

So, Bob, Mitt, Ted, and Sarah, all singing from the same hymnal.

It’s hard to know which one is more disorienting—Mitt and the Old Guys hanging out with the Vengeance Wing, or Mitt (and chaperone) hanging out with the masseuse. 

My hunch is all this hugger-mugger will last about 28 days.  Then, with 2014 in the bank, the lions and the lambs will go back to their usual postures. 

Maybe it’s a good thing that Mitt has strong legs…

October 9, 2014

Michael Liss (Moderate Moderator)

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