The last two Democratic candidates for president have been Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Neither man grew up poor — Clinton’s boyhood home was, in fact, one of the larger houses in Hot Springs, Ark., while Obama was a pampered, dope-smoking student at the elite Punahou School in Honolulu — but neither did he come from the moneyed aristocracy. By contrast, the GOP has nominated two scions of the Connecticut WASP oligarchy, George Herbert Walker Bush and George Walker Bush; John McCain, the son and grandson of admirals in the U.S. Navy; and millionaire Willard Mitt Romney, the son of the former governor of Michigan and failed presidential candidate George Romney.
You see where I’m going with this.
Clinton defeated Bush I in an election that Poppy never should have lost in 1992, consigning him to one-termer status, while Obama handily defeated both McCain (another GOP millionaire, who married his money) and Romney, who has now effervesced into the political ether as if he’d never run for president, which I’m still not sure he actually did. Only Bush II managed two wins against the donkeys, first by running against a guy who was ever dumber than he was (Albert Arnold Gore, Jr.) and later by running against a guy who was even richer (John Kerry, who also married his money).
Now you see where I’m going with this.
American’s don’t like plutocrats in the White House. With the rare exception of a JFK or an FDR — to the manner and manor born, but with the common touch — they prefer men who have fought their way up from humble circumstances to grab at the highest rung of the ladder. Men for whom losing means losing everything. What would Bill Clinton be today had he failed in his daring gambit to unseat Bush the Elder? A has-been southern governor with a wandering eye and the gift of the gab, working the rubber-chicken circuit on behalf of lesser men. Or Obama? From non-entity to non-entity in the blink of an eye. They both fought like hell to win because, with their outsized egos and ruthless ids, the alternative was unthinkable. By contrast, here’s Mitt Romney‘s La Jolla consolation prize for losing Ohio.
And this little dump in Massachusetts:
Not to mention the compound in New Hampshire and the ski house in Park City, Utah, and whatever else may suit his fancy down the line.
Now you definitely see where I’m going with this.
Now, this is America: buy all you can eat, if you can stomach it. But the point is, there was no personal downside for Romney in losing the election. Everything in his life continues as before, and he’ll be living off his investment income forever — and living a life completely disassociated from the vast majority of his fellow citizens.
And that is not what the Founders envisaged — governments dominated by kings and aristocrats. Andrew Jackson may have been a son of a bitch in real life, dealing sternly with the Indians, but the “Trail of Tears” was a necessary preamble to the westward expansion of the United States, and Jackson — the quintessential Democrat — was perfectly willing to play Realpolitik when it suited the interests of his fledgling nation. If today we disagree with both his methods and aims, that says more about us than about him; political correctness is moral preening vouchsafed only to those Eloi for whom there are never any consequences in the land of no consequences.
I’ve expressed myself elsewhere on the morality of venture capitalism in general and in particular on Romney’s time as the head of Bain Capital. During the campaign, I thought the knee-jerk defense by some conservatives of corporate vulturism as if it were the highest form and purest expression of capitalism was seriously wrong. True, vultures perform a valuable social service, eliminating carrion and recycling nutritious detritus — but the noble eagle is the American bird, not the avian equivalent of Charon. Further, the notion that the bottom-feeding Willard Mitt was some kind of “job creator” was ludicrous to anyone who’s actually created a job:
Any jobs Romney or Bain “created” were thus incidental to their real function, which was (as Last points out) to maximize shareholder value and goldmine the remaining value of the company so that it might more profitably be used elsewhere. Nothing wrong with that, but don’t try to sell it as “job creation.”
A “job creator” is the bestselling author (Stephen King, Dan Brown, et al.) whose works help keep his publisher afloat and who indirectly provides employment for editors, copy reader, designers, public relations staff and management. A “job creator” is Eastman or Ford or Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or anyone else who creates industries. A “job creator” is the screenwriter (Robert Rodat) who typed out the words: “EXT. OMAHA BEACH – MORNING,” won Steven Spielberg an Oscar and gave employment to all these people through the force of his own creative imagination.
But to call corporate restructuring “jobs creation” won’t fly. Romney is going to have to come up with a far more persuasive, positive rationale for his candidacy if he hopes to beat Barack Obama in November.
Of course, he never did.
And what the Right never realized, right up to the final call on Nov. 6, was that — to paraphrase Sally Field — “You hate us! You really hate us!” Romney became the poster boy for the animus felt by the electorate against those who’ve (legally) gamed the system and, having arrived at third base, thought they were born with a silver foot in their mouths. And then he went before the voters of the country he actually lives in:
By going on every TV show this side of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and appearing on every magazine cover except Guns and Ammo, Obama acted like he wanted to be president. Mitt Romney, who ran a near-perfectly-invisible campaign, did not. The Romney strategy was predicated on Boston’s belief that he was self-evidently a better man than Barack Obama and that all he had to do was show up and stroll through the door of the White House. The first part of that thesis was and remains true, but the second did not ineluctably follow from it.
Nor should it have. The bloodless Romney campaign — whose only display of passion was atomizing Newt Gingrich in the Florida primary — got what it deserved, and so did the establishment GOP, which not only lost the presidency but lost just about every Senate race it should have won, thanks to the candidate’s turnout-depressing coattails and a couple of disastrous candidates.
So, no mas, Harvard boys. It’s time to find fighters with fire in the belly and the wolf at their door. Men or women who will adopt the Left’s winning motto, “by any means necessary” and get the job done. Republicans keep pining for the next Ronald Reagan but should instead be hunting for their own Andrew Jackson. The Democrats have already forgotten about Barack Obama, who’s of no further electoral use to them, and are avidly searching for the next obscure figure they can recast as the smiling avatar of their redistributionist goals.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the talk already is of…
No wonder they call it the Stupid Party.