If the word "absurdist" is the perfect word to describe Samuel Beckett's monumental Waiting for Godot, then that same word is most applicable to Mitt Romney's quest for the U.S. Presidency.
Let's look at it this way. The essence of the play is that nothing happens. Vladimir and Estragon are on stage as the play opens. They are very confused as evidenced by their conversational schtick that smacks of Buster Keaton with some Charlie Chaplin thrown in. Then, too, a hat-trading routine can only be Laurel & Hardy. Their confusion is accompanied by disappointment when they learn that Godot, an enigmatic figure for whom they wait will not come that nght but will come tomorrow.
Vladimir and Estragon are us and Romney would make an excellent Godot. We are very curious about him but know nothing other than mostly what others have told us. While it's true that Romney brought success to an Olympics in Salt Lake City where it could hardly fail, his only political gig was as governor of a state (Massachusetts) hardly known as a harbinger for political conservatism. He ruled as he had to and his major plus was a very successful use of ObamaCare. How mysterious that Romney's greatest triumph cannot be used as evidence of it? On the other hand, it was that accomplishment that prompted attack by all preliminary competition starting with the Tea Party.
What Mitt Romney represents is frightening to at least 47% of us when he appealed in May to a well-heeled fund-raising roomful during which moochers at the public trough like me were branded as heavy users of entitlements, a term that has been fiercely building for many years in the vocabularies of conservatives. By the way, let's start calling him by his real handle: Thurston Howell Romney. That's what conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks called him in a devastating September 17 column. Anyone with a sliver of a doubt about Thurston Howell absolutely has to read this one.
Yes, I'm one of the 47 percent as a guy, by Romney's calculations, who receives Social Security and Medicare benefits. This "victim" worked for both of those and I caddied and peddled newspapers as a kid. My experiences carrying golfer's bags at $1.00 a round ($1.50 for doubles) gave me insight into how wealthy minds tend to work. Rare were the cold Coca-Colas offered on hot days while tips amounted to either 10 or 25 cents. I was known to trade off a 25 cent hacker bore for Lou Bushara, the Pontiac dealer, because of his two handicap.
With Brooks leading the way, something approaching a pile-on has resulted with right wing media types including Charles Krauthamer (Washington Post/Fox News), William Kristol (National Review), Peggy Noonan (columnist and ex-Reagan writer), Jonah Goldberg ("O'Reilly Factor" regular), and Scott Brown (he's running for Massachusetts senator) throwing such barbs at the GOP nominee as "incompetent," "arrogant and stupid" and "donor remarks reflect Romney's political naivete," you get the feeling the game is over. Then, there was the crowning blow. Scott Walker, his vice-presidential running mate, came up with "inarticulate." How devastating.
So, maybe, you had a little trouble with his "likes to fire people" comments, the fact that his plans for the economy are totally without specificity, that his self-reassurance can't possibly compensate for a remarkable self-destructiveness, or that his scary travels in Europe proved without question he's a diplomatic disaster. Thurston Howell is like a superb satirical invention by Terry Southern, the guy who co-wrote Dr. Strangelove.
Romney, bizarre during the mess of a convention (A National Review editorial was critical), was quite possibly at his worst when asked by Fox News's Brett Baier why he failed to mention the war in Afghanistan? The only other convention reference to the war was by Clint Eastwood who managed to slide in a confused reference in his infamous empty-chair "speech."
Replied Romney to Baier: When you give a speech you don't go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important and I described in my speech my commitment to a strong military, unlke the President's decision to cut our military."
This is straight out of the vaudevillian efforts of Vladimir nd Estragon. There's nothing quite like a would-be commanders in chief who doen't think an active war qualifies as being "important"
Beckett left the party 23 years ago and it's tempting to suggest someone do another parody of Gogot. People of noble writing skills including Turkish playwright Ferhan Sensoy and the American Meron Langsner have done so. Even an independent film, Waiting for Woody Allen, was produced in 2004. The tragic comedy involves two quarrelsome Hasidic men who wait on a Central Park bench for a no-show Allen. On the surface of things, Thurston Hewell Romney is the perfect Godot.
Some of Beckett's best lines could be used again. For example, Romney, who somehow escaped the military along with his five sons, is reluctant to discuss war although a reference could be made to George W. Bush, a much more accomplished dodger since his memorably accomplishments in that area of endeavor were while in service. Bush's eight years in the White House beg Beckett's line: "We are all born mad. Some remain so."
There are thoughts that Godot (Romney) is a miracle worker of some sort but not everyone agrees. According to a former Baine and Co. employee, quoted in this past August's Vanity Fair, the memories are mixed. The person quoted in the article by Nicholas Shaxson recalls Romney a being "nice, he was fair, he was logical...he was really encouraging." He also recalls Romney, the seeker of vital infomation, selling the philosophy of "falsifying" identies by pretendintg to be a graduatte student (Harvard) at Bain for the summer. Romney's approach: "We won't ak you to lie. I am not going to tell you to do this, but (it is) a really good way to get the information."
We kept looking for the real Romney during the political prelims. There were all those questions about income tax returns even after he finally came up with reports for 2010 pluz a 2011 estimate. He and his wife paid $1.94 million in federal taxes in 2010 on $13.7 million, a rate that falls considerably short of American middle-incomers. That's because he takes his pay from Bain Capital as investment income. According to Romney, he never broke the rules while keeping an eye on the White House. Tx expert Lee Sheppard, quoted in the the Vanity Fair article, suggests that anyone running for President "might want to err on the side of overpaying your taxes, and not chase every tax gimmick that comes down the pike. It kind of looks tacky."
Romney, tacky? If it took one to recognize one, then Newt Gingrich's your man. It was Gingrich who gave us a great take on Romney's offshore accounts and he did it with humor during one of those, otherwise, humor-less debates: "I don't know of any American President who has had a Swiss bank account." Gingrich could have gone much further but chose brevity as the soul of wit. Romney has other holdings in such tax havens as the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.
One of Romney's problems has been the contrast his refusal to release more than one year's worth of tax returns offfers to his open-book father, George. A cards-up guy all the way, the senior Romney released 12 years' worth immediately prior to his run for the Presidency. His 1967 comment should bring embarrassment to son Thurston Howell: "One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show." We've been waiting a long time for George's son to ante up.
As we now know, Romney finally released 2011 tax information late Thusday plus a re-written 2010 in addition to an accountant's letter outlining the past 20 years. By doing this on News Dump Friday, Romney and his brain trust ducked tapings of the Sunday political TV shows and bet that short media memories will have bigger fish to fry on Monday. We shall see.
The tax "claims" (more than seven years have been available to smooth out the numbers) have a Romney "promise" to be not less than 13%. They appear to be that.
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