For many years, I have railed against the never-ending state of American presidential politics and the damage it does to our form of government. But this year, I am rethinking that.
This year, I am beginning to see one thing of value in the Eternal Campaign and the relentless scrutiny to which it subjects candidates: By the time you vote, you have a pretty good idea of what kind of man or woman you are voting for.
That wasn’t necessary this time around with President Barack Obama. We’ve been watching him in office for close to four years, and, like him or not, we know what he’s all about.
The new kid on the block this time around — except for the citizens of Massachusetts, who saw him as governor — has been Willard “Mitt” Romney.
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And after the events of the past several weeks, especially the second presidential debate, two things are as clear as clear can be about Romney.
First, he’s a bully.
Second, he’s a relentless and spectacular liar. Bring back Tricky Dick — I want to buy my used car from him, not the Mittster.
Either of these traits is bad enough by itself, but in combination they’re downright sinister, should this man become president.
First, let’s look at the bullying.
Did you catch the menacing way Romney dealt with debate moderator Candy Crowley? Crowley can take care of herself, but I’m sure his body language was not lost on those who were viewing it, especially women. They’ve seen this before, from abusive boyfriends and husbands.
In the same debate, Romney treated Obama like a field hand on a Southern plantation. Again, Obama can handle bullies — he is the president, after all — but Romney revealed himself to be a world-class intimidator.
His behavior brought to mind the story of Romney and his prep school buddies beating up a gay kid when he was a teenager. That has been well documented, and now that we see his domineering persona, it is all too clear that he not only does not regret his despicable actions, but that he learned nothing from them and, at 65, has not changed.
As to the lying, it’s true that “they (politicians) all do it.” But Romney takes dissembling to new horizons. He’s almost light-hearted in the open way he changes his tune. He cheerfully admits that he said something different last week, and doesn’t seem to care that everyone can see it.
Romney and his camp own up to his lies as though they were an unimportant and necessary cost of doing business.
You will hear them say that they lurched to the far right during the primaries because, hey, that’s just what you have to do to get the Republican nomination.
That was then, they will say, this is now. Tonight, to a national audience, our guy is Moderate Mitt, and he agrees with a lot of the positions taken by the president — positions he was savaging a few months ago.
So cheerfully transparent is the Romney camp about this deception that any day I expect the candidate to say, “Sure, we lied to the rubes in Alabama and Georgia. And they bought it, the dummies.
“But they’re going to vote for me in November anyway, even though I played them for the yokels they are, because they have no place else to go. They’re sure as hell not going to vote for Obama.
“Oh, and by the way, you folks who saw the moderate me during the third national debate: I could be lying to you. Maybe the Southern Romney was real. Put me in the White House if you want to find out if there is any there there.”
That’s just what the nation and the world need: a bullying liar in the White House.
My own feeling is that this would be bad enough all by itself, but especially disastrous in foreign policy.
It’s clear that when Romney says he wants America to “lead” he means he wants to tell everyone in the other 190 nations in the world what to do, and intends to come down on them with American firepower if they don’t play along.
So, we will once again be viewed as a lying bully around the world, and the perception will be accurate.
A bit of bad news for would-be President Romney, however: Leaders and citizens of other nations are not patsies that you can bully in the boardroom. You can’t ship their jobs overseas.
Do we really want this guy to be president?