It didn’t take long for the political gaffe sound bite uttered by the Romney campaign’s lead political strategist, Eric Fehrnstrom, to hit the airwaves. Fehrnstrom made a comment that the Romney campaign was like an Etch-a-Sketch, the popular toy originally called L’Ecran Magique by it’s French inventor and manufactured in Ohio until 2001 when its manufacturing was (ironically and appropriately in Mr. Bain Capital‘s case) shipped to China. The meaning of the statement was that the campaign would reboot its strategy for the general election but critics and opponents picked up the sound bite and turned it into an internet meme for Romney’s lack of positions on any particular policy. Both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich subsequently showed up at events with an Etch-a-Sketch in hand to criticize Romney’s political positions(s).
Nor did it take long for illustrations like the one above right to pop up on every internet political blog. And why not? The comedic and political material of the Republican nomination practically writes itself. Has there ever been a more entertaining comedy of errors?
Case in point: look at all the Mitt Romney gaffes. There was the $10,000 bet made by Romney to then presidential candidate Governor Rick Perry during one of the debates. That was one of the first of many comments made by Romney that illustrated how out of touch the rich boy Romney was with regular Americans. $10,000 bucks is a lot of money to most Americans. Romney’s flippant gesture to Perry came across as condescending.
Romney would go on to mention that he understands being unemployed by saying that he, himself, is unemployed. This is a fairly hollow statement coming from someone sitting on a quarter of a billion dollars in corporate raider wealth.
In trying to endear himself to the auto industry in Michigan (where he had once written that they should be left to go bankrupt), he mentioned that his wife had a couple of Cadillacs. This was intended to convey an affinity for American automobiles but came across as a condescending since most people can’t afford even one Cadillac.
When Romney was trying to illustrate that he was ‘one of the guys’ at a NASCAR event, he made the ‘some of my best friends are black’ style statement by saying that some of his friends are NASCAR owners. Not drivers or fans; owners.
Then there was the quote, “I like firing people” in regard to his penchant for corporate expediency. For someone who purports to be about job creation, this also rang a little hollow.
The list goes on but it’s lengthy enough to detect a pattern: Mitt Romney will tell you whatever you want to hear in order to get elected. Also, his language illustrates just how out of touch he is with regular American values. He wants to be one of the guys but he cannot escape being Richie Rich.
These gaffes belie a deeper meaning. It’s not that they’re mistakes or misstatements; it’s that the Romney campaign thinks that they are the norm. The thinking being that politics are inherently corrupt, therefore it’s okay to be corrupt. It’s okay to tack to the extreme right in order to gain their votes but it’s also fine to gibe back to the center when you’ve wrapped up the nomination. It’s okay to make false claims if the means benefits the ends. In other words, lying is okay.
Rachel Maddow drove this point home in a segment this evening where she dug up every ‘misstatement’ Romney has ever made. She points out that Mitt Romney is a serial liar.
For example, Romney has made these claims in numerous appearances.
Obama has made the economy worse. One can go about criticizing the President’s methodology but the statistics don’t lie: the economy has been slowly improving since Obama took office. Romney is just pulling this one out of his ass.
Mitt left the world of politics after his first term as Massachusetts Governor based on some altruistic claim that he served for their benefit. No he didn’t. He’s been running for President ever since.
He didn’t intend for his landmark Massachusetts health care reform to apply on a national level. False.
Obamacare will increase deficit. Lie.
Obama doubled the deficit. Another lie.
Obama cut Medicare benefits. Nope.
The Obama administration raised corporate tax rates. Didn’t happen.
The Obama administration didn’t negotiate any trade deals. South Korea, Columbia, and Panama would beg to differ.
Americans are the only nation to put our hands over our hearts during national anthem. Just plain weird and wrong.
To quote a conservative Republican; Mike Huckabee, ‘Someone who is deceptive to get the job is probably going to deceive you when they have the job’.
The deeper meaning in Mitt Romney’s campaign becomes more clear every day. In absentia of a clear policy, the only real reason Mitt Romney is running is to oust President Obama. He has no stable platform, he really isn’t all that interested in governing, he is merely a tool of corporate interests who perceive President Obama as a barrier. And despite Romney’s ham-handed attempts to make us believe that he’s one of us, he will never be.
Romney’s verbal gaffes and language betray his intentions. He isn’t running to represent the people. He’s running to represent corporations.