In 2004, it arguably cost John Kerry the election. The image of a Presidential candidate and his “rich boy” hobby was a bit too much for the electorate to take. Granted, John Kerry had several negatives. He was robotic, non-charismatic, running against an incumbent and he lacked perfectly symmetrical features. He also had a pretty great track record as a US Senator, but Bush hadn’t yet let the economy crash by 2004 and Dick Cheney was still out there telling us that the bogey man was going to get us if we elected someone else. Oh, and there was Ohio and there was Swiftboating.
Let’s fast forward eight years. Once again, the opposition candidate is wealthy beyond imagination. He’s robotic, non-charismatic and running against an incumbent. Unlike Kerry, Romney has perfectly symmetrical features, so much so that it makes you wonder if he came off an assembly line in his father’s American Motors plant. However he is still on the road, which pretty much blows that theory out of the water. Despite Republican efforts to push it back down, the economy is climbing its way out of the gutter, much (I assume) like George Bush during his days of coke and booze. The bogey man is gone and Ohio still has a Republican Secretary of State and electronic voting machines.
Romney has two main credentials which hint at his priorities as a potential President,
ObamaRomneycare, from which he hides, and his career as a vulture capitalist. ObamaRomneycare is hated by his base and if he spends too much time bragging about his ability to fire people, people could actually start to see him as part of the problem, as he is.
So, what does a politician talk about when he has nothing to talk about? He lies and he talks sports, and that is where things go horribly wrong for him. No, I’m not talking about the lies. We have a media that finds it difficult to probe beyond the latest tweets. We have an electorate with the attention span of gnats, despite every past statement being posted on the internet for all to see. We have Fox News. No, where things go horribly wrong for Romney are what are really important to Americans, sports.
In his attempts to relate to “regular” people, Romney boasted of having friends that owned NASCAR teams. Later, after not having learned that lesson, he boasted of having friends that owned NFL teams. Another time, he mocked NASCAR fans for their cheap rain ponchos, the type that are available for sale at the track. In non-sports related rich guy flubs, he bet Rick Perry $10,000. He asked a group of African-Americans, “Who let the dogs out?” He said he liked “being able to fire people.”
Despite the evidence that Mitt Romney is a slow learner (is this a quality we want in a Commander In Chief?), he might have learned a lesson, of sorts, from John Kerry and his windsurfing. Apparently, Mitt Romney, like most rich and admittedly, like many non-rich people, likes to water ski. In his defense, his home states of Michigan/Utah/Massachusetts all have a lot of water. Water skiing there is like snow skiing to my home state of Colorado. But, really, is this the time for a photo-op of him water skiing? Probably not, so Romney leveled the playing field, by challenging President Obama to waterskiing. Unusual? Yes. Kind of Richie Rich sounding? Yes, but there’s no danger of the photo causing damage when President Obama is in the same shot, right?
Is this really a gaffe? I doubt it, at least it shouldn’t be. Romney is rich. So what? So are most politicians. What is different about Romney is that he lives an insular life. It’s clear that his months (and years) of running for President have done nothing for his ability to truly hear the issues that voters have. It’s pretty obvious that he puts himself and his economic class on a pedestal above the serfs who ultimately pull the levers to vote for the President. What frightens me about Romney is not THAT he is rich, but that he wants to be President of the rich, and only of the rich.