— Bud Norman
— Bud Norman
The folks at Newsweek are now questioning the manhood of presumptive Republican presidential Mitt Romney, with their latest cover story going so far as to call him a “wimp.”
They probably figured that the slur worked well enough back in ’87 to dog George H.W Bush, who had been a star college athlete, decorated combat pilot, and former CIA chief, so it should work again with a candidate lacking those macho credentials. The “wimp” tag didn’t keep Bush from winning the election in ’88, though, and there’s no reason to believe it will be any more effective now.
For one thing, Newsweek is a shell of its formerly fearsome self. The magazine was sold to a new publisher two years ago for the partly sum of one dollar — even The Central Standard Times could fetch as much as ten times that amount — and is now rarely read except by people waiting for dental treatment or oil changes.
More importantly, the “wimp” charge is unlikely to trouble Romney because he’s running against Barack Obama. As voters weigh the relative wimpiness of the two candidates they’ll inevitably be linked to video of Obama’s girlish throwing arm, photos of the dorky helmet he wears when pedaling his girls’ bike slowly along smooth surfaces, be reminded of a physique so slight that none dare call it “skinny” for fear of being branded a racist, and perhaps even remember that very same Newsweek thought it was doing Obama a favor by dubbing him “America’s first gay president.” Once an avowedly dovish sort who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for George W. Bush-bashing speeches, Obama now prefers to strike a more cowboyish pose with “unnamed administration sources” boasting of his top secret swashbuckling, endless celebration of the death of Osama bin Laden, and increased use of the drone attacks he once condemned, but that can’t change the perception that has come about after resetting Russo-American relations to a supine position, having his minions boast of “leading from behind,” and being increasingly ignored by foreign leaders.
Such comparisons have thus far blunted all of the attacks on Romney. The Obama campaign and its media allies have tried to portray Romney as an out-of-touch rich guy, but after four years of gushing over his glamorous lifestyle, and spending more time with his fellow rock stars than with the guns-and-Bible-clinging masses, the charge merely serves as a reminder that Romney earned his money in ways that suggest a familiarity with what makes a private sector economy work. They charged that he ruthlessly shipped jobs overseas, and were met with a flurry of stories about the millions of stimulus dollars that were lavished on foreign concerns. They tried to make an issue of Romney’s alleged bullying while at a fancy prep school, and conservative media responded with Obama’s own words describing how he was drunk, stoned, and prone to radical ideologies during his time at an equally fancy prep school. They tried to define Romney as a dog-hating brute who strapped a pooch atop the family station wagon, and heard countless replays of Obama’s fond recollection of eating a dog.
— Bud Norman
One of our Democrat friends was warning us a few days ago that the Republicans would be foolish to make a campaign issue of their opposition to Obamacare. This seems to be a fashionable notion among Democrats, as we’ve heard it several more times since then. Sen. Chuck Schumer, for instance, took to the airwaves on Sunday’s “Face the Nation” to give the same advice.
Perhaps all these Democrats genuinely have the Republicans’ best interests at heart, and are generously offering what they truly consider wise council, but we can’t quite banish a nagging a doubt about their motives. Given that no Democrat seems eager to run on the party’s support of Obamacare, the warning sounds suspiciously like Br’er Rabbit imploring Br’er Fox not to throw him into that awful briar patch.
What Schumer told the nation, or at least the miniscule slice of it watching “Face the Nation,” was that “if the Republicans make as their number one issue the repeal of Obamacare” they will suffer electoral losses, and he’s correct to the extent that it shouldn’t supplant the bad and worsening economy as the Republicans’ main argument. There’s no reason not to add Obamacare to the lengthy list of complaints with the current administration, however, and Mitt Romney’s campaign should be able to make a convincing case that the health care reform law’s byzantine regulations and expanding costs are among the reasons that employers are reluctant to take on new help.
Our aforementioned Democrat friend acknowledges that the poll numbers don’t look good for Obamacare, but insists that they overstate the intensity of the opposition to the law. We think he’s got it precisely backwards. Much of Obamacare’s support comes from young people and other inattentive sorts who still believe that it will provide free health care, and that they’ll soon be able to go to a clinic for a dose of needed penicillin and have them send the bill to some rich guy, so when they find out that it really means they’ll be paying a penalty in order to have no insurance the law should become even more unpopular. Much of the opposition is comprised of people justifiably worried that the law will cause them to lose existing coverage that they’re mostly satisfied with, and that provides a strong motive to make it a voting issue.
Chief Justice John Roberts’ convoluted argument that Obamacare’s individual mandate passes constitutional muster because it is a tax should make it clear even to the most uninformed Americans that Obamacare isn’t free. The ruling has already provided plenty of comedy as Democratic spokespeople have desperately tried to explain why the costs that taxpayers will be forced to pay aren’t really a tax, even if that is the only reason the bill wasn’t struck down, and all the stuttering is in itself a sufficient reason to press the issue. Alas, Romney also has some explaining to do as a result of his support for a similar state health care reform plan while he was governor of Massachusetts, but at least he can always conclude by saying that he’s going to repeal the bill and institute more effective ideas such as tort reform and interstate competition.
— Bud Norman
— Bud Norman