Staring into the Void of Mitt Romney

(Flickr/davelawrence8)

One of the things we’ll learn this presidential election is whether the Republican Party can survive itself. As we’ve seen in the ten days since Governor Mitt Romney picked Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, and most acutely in the last 72 hours since the fiasco involving Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin broke, the party is reaching what may be the most critical moment of its quarter-century-long identity crisis. In the way that Franklin Roosevelt did for Democrats during the 1930s, by sheer force of personality and eloquence Ronald Reagan in the 1980s resolved tensions that had riven the party for years. He could incarnate the party so fully as to invite and absolve fellow travelers who might be suspiciously less than true believers. After Reagan, no one else could do this; even as what now constitutes the conservative wing of the party invokes Reagan’s name with a sobriety that borders on the biblical, that wing has moved considerably to the right of him.

Now the party hastens to control the damage from the Akin episode. This is complicated because, as the record of the last decade makes clear, particularly among Republicans in the House of Representatives, this past weekend Akin expressed, as accurately as he did unartfully, the party’s grim view of women, with its overt implication that rape is the result of women making cavalier and surely sordid choices about their sexuality and its consequences, the conclusion being that a woman who gets pregnant by definition hasn’t been raped. Notwithstanding protests that Akin is an “aberration,” anyone who pays even the most distracted attention knows that what he said reflects not only legislation co-sponsored by Congressman Ryan, not only evangelicals who are closing ranks behind Akin, not only “personhood” amendments on state ballots across the country declaring an embryo a human being with full civil rights, but also the platform that the Republican Party will present to its national convention in five days, with language that replicates language from the platform four years ago and the platform four years before that. Akin is despised by the Republican establishment because his numbskullery has to do not with his convictions, which are entirely in line with the party’s, but with the guileless whim that gave them voice, rather than leaving them shrewdly relegated to less boisterous fine print in a platform that the establishment hopes will appease the party’s base while no one else notices. Whether that comes to pass next week, when the position for which Akin is being chastised this week is codified on the convention floor in Tampa, remains to be seen.

Even as the Akin position on abortion and rape has become more ruthless since the Republican convention that first nominated Reagan more than 30 years ago, the party has gotten away with it because it’s always been able to nullify the position politically. Abortion wasn’t demonstrably a factor in President George W. Bush’s narrow 2004 re-election, and it wasn’t a factor in Senator John McCain’s seven-point loss in 2008. Subterfuge will be more difficult this year. In part this is because of the Akin furor, of course; in part it’s because the furor exists in a context dramatically more difficult to disguise, following similar positions on abortion stated by other candidates who ran for the Republican nomination and the aspersions cast on a female law student by radio goon Rush Limbaugh some months back. In part it’s because the Akin position is held by the party’s prospective nominee for the second highest office in the land. Mostly, however, it’s because the party’s prospective nominee for the first highest office in the land is so spectacularly a political and ethical fraud that no one bothers arguing about it anymore. The base distrusted the party’s nominee four years ago not because it didn’t know what Senator McCain believed but because it did. It knew what he believed about torture as an American policy of war. It knew what he believed about immigration reform. It knew what he believed about campaign-finance reform.

Actually, by now the base knows what Governor Romney believes, too. By now we all know what Governor Romney believes; by now his beliefs are more manifest and less mysterious than that of any candidate who’s ever run. Governor Romney believes nothing. Politically speaking, Governor Romney is nothing. Mustering up outrage over this nothingness makes as much sense as mustering up outrage over a galactic black hole. What’s happening in and to the Republican Party this past week isn’t an aberration; it’s happening because of what the party has become and whom it’s nominating, which is someone caught between the base that he so rapaciously rushed to appease with the Ryan nomination and the other 65 percent of the country that looks at a Rorschach inkblot without seeing a splattered fetus. One of the great modern political organizations of the last century and a half, the party of not only Reagan but Dwight Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt and the greatest president the country ever had, is in the grip of a collective psychosis. Like its nominee, the party itself is caught between two political irreconcilables: its own super-conscience, with its barbaric view of human nature that calls itself moral and its hostile regard of empirical fact that calls itself spiritual; and the 2012 model of its embodiment, the nominee who has no view—of fact or humanity or anything else—that doesn’t serve the ends of his own success. When a party is as deeply stricken as the Republicans in terms of who they are, such a nominee can only be the void that stares back.             

Comments

Republicans believe in "property rights". Including the right to view women as "property" which is really a lot about what the anti-abortion people happen to view women as... In Republican eyes you "own" your woman, and the "fruit of her womb" is also yours too. Then of course Republicans want to cut taxes to the point that the "defense budget" (sacred to Republicans like nothing else is) will be the only portion of government revenue that will be "affordable". Then of course Republican multimillionaires like Mitt Romney won't be paying taxes at all except for the property tax on their estates. No capital gains tax means the rich will no longer pay federal income tax because their income is all "capital gains" or "carried interest". Neither will the millions they leave behind at their deaths be "taxable" any more. Instead there will be an economic aristocracy that will rule the country forever. At least until the rest of the American people exercise their Second Amendment rights and rid themselves of these economic parasites who only produce "jobs" in countries most people will need Google Earth to find.

You forgot about war although you mentioned the defense budget. They will be sending the poor to fight their wars to prove America is strong. Young men and women will have to join up because the rich won't create any other jobs for them but they will soon stop when another fiasco like Iraq comes up. I haven't heard much about the current war from the GOP standpoint but I'm going to bet they will stay in and maybe even enter Iran from there. Could be they will want to fight with unfriendly Pakistan. They are the party of war. G.W. claimed to be an isolationist but the Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neill and Richard Clarke both said he had plans for war in Iraq before 9/11. Maybe South America for Romney. Maybe he will want to depose Chavez through some coup or something like Nixon and Kissinger did to Salvatore Allende.

Paul Ryan....“I’ve had to vote to send men and women to war on more than one occasion. I’ve been to those funerals. Obviously I have a lot more experience than Barack Obama did when he became president”...and what about Ryan's service record?...oh, wait...

We should notice that the Republicans don't believe in the property rights of homeowners if those rights might inconvenience big banks.

Steve, this is the best critique of Mitt and the Republican Party I have read this year. Congrats! I am so afraid Mitt will win, and after less then a year, seeing the Republicans scrambling to save the nation as it slides into the abyss of depression if not worst. You can expect who they will blame. But that will not stop their all out attack on minorities, women, seniors, young and weak as if that has nothing to do with governing. Think voting rules, rigged elections, supreme court nominees like Scalia and Thomas( not sure who's worst), judges who's loyalty to the party is forst above the rules of law. Start thinking the Ukraine....

You loons need to get out more often. The only War on Women is coming from the abortion factories on the left, the misogynist White House and lesbian-run Homeland Security. These are not American family values that the majority of women support.

Akin did not speak for Romney but OweBlameA did spend 20 years worshiping with Rev. Wright, hobnobbing with the Pentagon-bombing Bill Ayers and doing drugs enthusiastically. Those are not American family values the majority of Americans support.

The little messiah is a loser, an empty suit, an imposter and a danger. The gig is up. No one is buying your trash.

Nutcase. Go troll somewhere else.

Are men allowed by the government to die?
Well if the republicans get their way, pregnant women will be.
There will be no exemptions for rape, incest or to spare the life of the mother.
That, my friend, is a war on women.
The government does not have the right to tell women what they can or cannot do with their own bodies.

I'm sure you can't understand this because there is NOT one instance where the government tells men what to do with their bodies.
How is allowing a mother to die a family value? How is allowing a rapist full rights to a child(31 states allow this) born of rape?

OweBlameA! OMG that is so LOL! You Refucklicans recite total drivel, but you sure can come up with clever nicknames!

if you have no substantive FACTS to add to the discussion...please go away

Mitt Romney doesn't believe in "nothing". He believes and worships money as a deserved merit system sign of anointment by god. He truly believes that the rich are superior beings and the poor are an albatross around the neck of the successful. The new testament; an inconvenient truth. "Whatsoever you do unto the least of my people, that you do unto me". That's the truth. Deny it at your peril.

best insight into Mitt Romney yet....
Exclusive: Brigham Young’s Great-Great-Granddaughter on Mormonism and Mitt Romney...wouldn't let me put in the link...Google it

Mittster the Flipster used to be pro choice or was it pro life? Clearly his strategy is to be on both sides of every issue sometime or the other and when challenged to wave off the questioner.

It is unfortunate the Democratic Party has chosen to become so aligned with with the Abortion Industry as to make it supporting it a litmus test for the Party.

He was also for the individual mandate before he was against it, not to mention to the left of Ted Kennedy on the issue of gay rights before he discovered that this did not go over too well with his base.

Let's talk american "values" since Obama is so "unamerican" in one commenter's mind based on no facts to back up other than the usual right wing conspiracy theories. It isn't demonstrating "american" values to make your money dishonorably as Romney has and then hide it foreign countries-bolstering the economies of THOSE countries and not the US. It's isn't american to run for President and not be an open book, not show us who your "associates" are, what you support with your money, and to not articulate any plan for the country lest we find out what you really have planned. I won't go into Romney's father being born outside the US just like Obama's and wonder why it is HIS birth certificate isn't demanded in long form, over and over and over. Or why his secretive church career in a church that oppresses women and minorities isn't an issue unlike Obama's old (years ago now) occasional attendance at a church he's denounced. Obama has more "american values" than Romney could ever hope to have.

More nonsense from a liberal fool.

Obama has no record to run on in 2012, so once again he relies on racism, polarizing tactics and lies to keep the focus off of his record. Smart voters will not fall for his lies.

Dear Mr President. Please run on all the wonderful things you have done for our economy. Run on Obamacare. Run on the fact you are taking 700 billion dollars from medicare to fund Obamacare, Run on 15% unemployment.
Run on the failed 800 billion dollar stimulus, Run on 47 million people on food stamps, Run on bankrupt government funded green companies, Run on a 5 trillion dollar debt. Run on the failure to close the borders. Run on llegals released by thefeds that committed 19 murders, 142 sex crimes. Run on Fast and Furious, Run on the National Security leaks coming from your administration, Run on $4.00 a gallon gas.

Obamas new campaign slogan. Forget that hopey changie crap its now " Gloom and Doom"

That's right Mr. President. What you did by having the top leaders of al Qaeda killed, even going so far as crossing international borders without permission from the host country indicates your weakness. Why should you care about the people who cannot get insurance because of preconditions? Why should you care that insurance companies estabish ceilings, and when met drop the insured. Why do you care that the Repubicans lied about the $700 billion, which was due to increased efficiences and does not affect the people on Medicare? What kind of man are you that wants to help seniors? Mr. President, do you care that there are so many idiots like egent47 posting.

for the millionth time....the $700 billion came out of the PROVIDERS (ex. hospitals, etc) not the beneficiaries (ex. YOU AND ME)...the EXACT same amount in RYan's budget DOES come out of you and me....
The truth is that the stimulus increased employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million people, compared with what employment would have been otherwise. That’s according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Obama increased our national debt by 13.8% in 2010
Bush's increased the national debt 18.8% in 2009 and he increased the debt 11.2% in 2008.
The national debt at the end of 2000 before Bush's first budget was submitted was $5.6 Trillion, for the last Bush budget in 2009 the debt had increased to $11.9 Trillion, a 110% increase.
Right-wing sheeple who have no idea now things work in our government think Obama wrote the fiscal year 2009 budget instead of Bush.
and lastly, gas prices are controlled by the GLOBAL ECONOMY....we actually export a WHOLE lot because ..guess what..the oil companies make more money that way
so why don't you listen to someone other than FOX and read something other than the Tea Party News...or better yet, just go away

The claim that Mitt Romney is a mysterious unknown is something that should be discussed by the author and his therapist. The Democrats will soon place their values, agenda, priorities, etc. before the American people at their convention. Whether that will resonate will the voting public is another question. Look at it this way both sides will then know the future of governance and can make their plans accordingly.

I appeal to readers to consider the tone of writers. Why the attitude? When you compare Obama with anybody, which liberal writers refuse to do, Obama appears more extreme to me. On abortion, energy, taxes, negative campaigning. he was the one unable to compromise, on the ACA and budgetary matters.

We have to elect someone that has some common sense. The liberal policies are taking us over the cliff on more ways than one.

Romney is a good man, and he is really the only chance we have.

No negativing campaigning on the part of Republics? I am afraid I can't agree with you on that one. Across-the-board tax cut of 20% at a time of $1 trillion deficits? Sorry, can't see that this will actually help the problem. Ending Obamacare and taking away health insurance from 30 million (or more) people and gutting Medicaid? Sorry, I don't see how that will improve matters. I think I will stick with the president in 2012.

Biden says that during the transition, he was warned not to expect any cooperation on many votes. “I spoke to seven different Republican Senators, who said, `Joe, I’m not going to be able to help you on anything,’ he recalls. His informants said McConnell had demanded unified resistance. “The way it was characterized to me was: `For the next two years, we can’t let you succeed in anything. That’s our ticket to coming back,’” Biden says.
The vice president says he hasn’t even told Obama who his sources were, but Bob Bennett of Utah and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania both confirmed they had conversations with Biden along these lines.
Maybe that's why the President couldn't get a lot done. The Republicans have stated in the press and on video (LOOK IT UP)that their sole goal is to make him a one term president..and guess what? that means the hell with what's good for the American people.

Saying all Republicans are against abortion in any case is like saying all Democrats are vegans. Romney is trying to appeal to every element in his base in order to drive voter turnout. Obama should be doing the same instead of promoting class warfare. While that may play well the ditto heads and Obamaniacs he invites to his low turnout campaign stops...er, smaller crowds, I think independents are starting to see past that and recognize the lack of substance below.

As far as what Romney's intentions are for his time as president, he has spelled them out clearly. Repealing ACA, lowering taxes, and easing federal regulations. A lot of people are hopping on board with that.

I'm still a little confused as to what Obama plans to do if elected for another term other than play golf and take vacations.

How is Romney going to balance the budget? What specific government programs and what specific tax expenditures is he going to abolish in order to balance the budget? Romney is simply promising the moon. Anybody can do that.

Interesting -- in 2008, Obama was quoted as saying that he was a blank screen, and that people projected on him whatever it was they wanted to believe about him. So who contains the void?

Source? (Rush does not count.)

I created an account here today hoping to find some non-partisan independent thinking on the issues and this election. I thought this article was pithy and well-written though I disagree with some of the ideas. I am sorely disappointed though by the commenters. I came here looking for Independents and so far all I have found is more of the partisan vitriol you can find on any party-affiliated blog. Just Google "are Independent voters really independent" and you'll see what the media thinks of us. Come on guys, put on your thinking chapeaus and prove them wrong. Where is the critical thinking? You erode our credibility when you use words like "O-blame-A" and "Mittster the Flipster." If you really think like that and can't see the nuggets of value to be found in both positions, go drink the Coulter Kool-Aid or cozy up to the Huffington Post. You are not Independents.

At least Romney has a plan and is fleshing it out more each day.
"O's" plan is the Romney and Ryan are devils and ZERO DETAILS ON WHAT "HE" WOULD "DO" FOR THE COUNTRY.
"O" is totally SILENT on any details to bring us out of HIS recession.

Why don't you let us know from your knowledge of Mittens's detailed economic plan what government programs he plans to end to balance the budget. Also what tax expenditures he plans to do away with so that his tax reform plan will be revenue neutral. I have looked and looked but I have not been able to find out any details. Maybe you can supply them. I am afraid, though, that abolishing the NEH and NEA will not be enough.

Since when is vote for me then I will tell you what I am going to do after I am in office a plan?

well played, SgtCedar

The issue goes beyond abortion -- the GOP stand reveals a total lack of compassion. Do they honestly think a girl of 12 or 13 who is raped and becomes pregnant should bear the child of the rapist? What about the health of the mother emotiionally? She would be a child having a child. Who is going to support this girl who would be destroying her future and would probably need psychiatric care for years? Certainly not welfare -- a program anathema to the GOP. Would these men feel the same way if it were one of the daughers or granddaughters or even their wife? F. No. They are hypocrites to the inth degree. Disgusting.

First, in reply to the Obama haters here: If you vote for Mitt Romney, you are several things but, smart isn't among them. The anti-Obama comments reflect a mind that will spend hours watching an NFL game or the latest singing contest on television, but scans the newspaper in 10 minutes. More likely; they'll sacrifice what small amount of gray matter they have remaining to FOX/Limbaugh and crew to avoid the work of discernment. Mitt Romney along with the overwhelming majority of "today's" GOP, is intellectually vacuous. They've morphed into a sick, twisted, sadistic cult built from big billionaires that are laughing uncontrollably at the simple minded drones eager to vote for a ticket even WORSE, than Bush/Cheney. You Obama haters remember those years right? The two exhalted businessmen who did everything conceivable to screw us over: Yaaaaay! for EXPERIENCED businessmen to bring us into prosperity and return us to the red side of the ledger! After all, as Cheney bravely exclaimed : "Deficits DON'T MATTER". Apparently jobs don't either, as refected in the job figures during the criminal Bush years : worst EVER. President Obama, hasn't been perfect; that's just the reality of politics. But his record is absolutely remarkable in light of the fact the Republican Party has obstructed him every millimeter of the way, when they should have gotten behind him in joint 'patriotic' effort, to get the economy on track. From day one, their objective was to disrupt government in order to get back into power to finish the mission of destroying our representative government and creating plutocracy. Go ahead you idiots, vote for R.R. Inc. That's when the black helicopters will start flying in a neighborhood near you.

Interesting to refer to Romney as a "black hole" (obviously the reference is astronomical, not racial), but then to say it can be ignored. A black hole in astronomy can be ignored, at least for a few billion years, if it is far enough away, but when it is close, it CANNOT be ignored (or defeated or escaped). A black hole is not "nothing", it is a great deal of "something" with an immense gravitational pull, but we can no longer tell what that "something" is.

The GOP agenda is "black" or secret only if we do not look behind the campaign speeches. Romney may not have deep policy convictions (or he may have recently acquired them), but he DOES have deep convictions to do what those who put him in power want, and anyone who looks beyond the Limberger talking points can see what that is. As Grover Norquist told us during the primary, the Tea Party radicals (more properly the Koch party) do not want a leader with convictions, only a warm hand capable of using a pen to sign what they ask him to sign.

The only thing religious about his agenda is to create a Biblical economy: he and his buddies will be Herod, Caiaphas and Pilate in their palaces, and the rest of us will be begging on their doorsteps for scraps of bread, and trying to help our 12 year old daughters raise the children given them by rapists. But not voting (there were no elections in Jesus' day), because only white men with property will eventually be allowed to vote; and until that goal is reached, most of us will have the legal right to vote but no practical way to do so, when we realize too late that we have been bamboozled.

Who said, "I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views."

Who used the mendacious and utterly empty promises of "Hope" and "Change" to fuel his vacuous, rockstar-like campaign?

Who continues to have no plan to present to the country for ecnomic recovery and deficit-spending control, except for budgets that have not garnered a single vote in either the House or Senate?

Who continues to make references to tax returns and dog-on-roof stories in public speeches, instead of focusing on serious issues like our national debt and the 8%+ unemployment rate the country has enjoyed for 3 1/2 years?

And then the American Prospect has the audacity to call Mitt Romney a void, or a nothingness, when his opponent and accompanying campaign is the epitome of vacuity, inanity, and intellectual exhaustion.

who recently became a birther and is now hiding behind his religion in refusing to release any more tax returns? 1) the only candidate to ever refuse to do so and 2) his own father (who also Mormon!) released 12 years in his attempt and must be rolling in his grave...

Steve,
Most of your fiction is brilliant; however, if this is an example of your "nonfiction," I implore you to give it up.

Mitt Romney will be the President for the next 8 years. The economy will rebound immediately when the results are read on November 6th. Industry is just waiting to hear those results. The country will start healing and prosperity will be back for everyone.

One item that has been overlooked is that the Republicants want to expunge the 14th Amendment from the constitution! This was something that my congressman (whom I wish not to name) spoke of when he was on "tour" of his district recently.

Why not expunge the 1st, 4th, 5th,13th, 15th, and 20th while you're at it ... of course, this would make the 2nd Amendment 1st ... which is the one that is dearest to the cavity in their breasts.

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