The lies that politicians of every stripe and nationality utter on the stump are generally ignored as mere background chatter. They are given so little weight by the great unwashed because every candidate so routinely does it. They'll look you in the eye as they spew a new falsehood or make another meaningless promise, knowing full well that its all garbage, and that they'll never be called to account. Because, in the end, its just about winning, whatever the cost. And, once you're in, no one has ever been recalled for the being the better bullshit artist. (See, Barack Obama)
And now we have the curious case of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital in South Carolina. Serial-candidate Mitt has leveraged his time at Bain to fuel and finance his campaign. He has made gross distortions (a kinder way of saying, "lied") about his grand prowess as a creator of jobs -- as though this was a central focus of his time there (another lie), and not the gutting of companies to service his own rapacious greed -- even as he has misrepresented (lied) and skewed the employment figures under Barack (although, to be fair, it must be said, this has not been the finest hour for Mr. Hope and Change).
But the subject of Bain has also caused Republicans enormous discomfort. Newt Gingrich became so outraged that Romney's supporters would tell the truth about him in the Iowa caucuses that he vowed to destroy the Romney brand through a scorched-earth strategy centered on Bain. And so it is curious now that Newt, who has availed himself of every privilege by doing the bidding of the corporatist class, would shine a negative light on capitalism itself. The Republican establishment is apoplectic over this campaign gift that Newt has so mindless handed the Democrats, and it seems they recently read Newt the riot act, since he has begun to back away from his own worst impulses.
As they move into South Carolina, Bain will continue to be an issue, even if Republicans coalesce and rally to paper over the specter of "vulture capitalism" that Newt has unleashed. As John Nichols notes in his piece in The Nation, Romney will be the presumptive Republican presidential candidate if he can,
"unite the Obama-despising Republican party against Occupy Gingrich."But in South Carolina, Romney has another problem; in a NY Times piece today, a Tea Party activist had this to say:
"I don't know a single Tea Party person who does not despise Mitt Romney to the very core of their being."But if Nichols is correct, and Mitt survives the worst of both Newt and the TPers in South Carolina, then we can get past the divisional round, and settle in for the big game, the Superbowl of Mendacity -- the ultimate showdown of lies and liars -- between the best bullshitters each side can muster.
Update. Today Robert Scheer posted at Truthdig the astonishingly obvious thought that the Republicans (Mitt Romney) are likely to sound eerily like the Democrats (Barack Obama) as the presidential race unfolds. In other words, Scheer is suggesting that there's not a dime's bit difference between the two. As he says in his article,
"Expect a razor-thin differences between Romney and Obama on the key issues at the heart of our economic crisis."To which I'm compelled to say, "Really? This surprises you?"
This is, afterall, the norm, not the exception. And especially now as corporate money so openly lubricates both political machines. There is nothing new here. As I said in the main post, if Romney can endure and prevail in South Carolina, we'll be (mercifully) past the preliminaries -- and free of the idiots that posed as contenders -- and we'll watch as the two most accomplished and mendacious politicians from each party portray the interests of the monied class as that of the 99%. And either, or both, will succeed.
Update 2. The Gringrich scorched-earth strategy that I referenced in the main post is centered on a 29-minute video entitled "King of Bain". In today's Washington Post (Friday), you will find an excellent review of it by Fact Checker. And you will see why the Republican establishment is in such a frenzy. As the report states, the video,
"is such an over-the-top assault on former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney that is hard to know where to begin. It uses evocative footage from distraught middle-class Americans who allege that Romney's deal-making is responsible for their woes. It mixes images of closed factories and shuttered shops with video clips of Romney making him look foolish, vain or greedy. And it has a sneering voice-over that seeks to push every anti-Wall Street button possible."Fact Checker also reveals that this video uses many of the same themes (if not some of the same interviewees) that Ted Kennedy employed in 1994 to derail Romney's then-Senate campaign. None of this suggests that Mitt is squeaky clean, but it does show just how potentially damaging Gingrich may ultimately be to Romney's chances. But still, in the words of Mercutio, for Romney and Obama, a plague on both their houses.