It’s a Puzzle

This Presidential Race Should Never Have Been This Close

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

September 25, 2:10 PM ET

Unless someone snags an iPhone video of Obama taking a leak on Ohio State mascot Brutus Buckeye, or stealing pain meds from a Tampa retiree and sharing them with a bunch of Japanese carmakers, the game looks pretty much up – Obama’s widening leads in three battleground states, Virginia, Ohio and Florida, seem to have sealed the deal.

That’s left the media to speculate, with a palpable air of sadness, over where the system went wrong. Whatever you believe, many of these articles say, wherever you rest on the ideological spectrum, you should be disappointed that Obama ultimately had to run against such an incompetent challenger. Weirdly, there seems to be an expectation that presidential races should be closer, and that if one doesn’t come down to the wire in an exciting photo finish, we’ve all missed out somehow.

The mere fact that Mitt Romney is even within striking distance of winning this election is an incredible testament to two things: a) the rank incompetence of the Democratic Party, which would have this and every other election for the next half century sewn up if they were a little less money-hungry and just tried a little harder to represent their ostensible constituents, and b) the power of our propaganda machine, which has conditioned the entire population to accept the idea that the American population, ideologically speaking, is naturally split down the middle, whereas the real fault lines are a lot closer to the 99-1 ratio the Occupy movement has been talking about since last year.

These people represent everything that ordinarily repels the American voter. They mostly come from privileged backgrounds. Few of them have ever worked with their hands, or done anything like hard work. They not only don’t oppose the offshoring of American manufacturing jobs, they enthusiastically support it, helping finance the construction of new factories in places like China and India.

The people in this group inevitably support every war that America has even the slimmest chance of involving itself in, but neither they nor their children ever fight in these conflicts. They are largely irreligious, rarely if ever go to church, and incidentally they do massive amounts of drugs, from cocaine on down, but almost never suffer any kind of criminal penalty for their behavior.

For all this, when it came time to nominate a candidate for the presidency four years after the crash, the Republicans chose a man who in almost every respect perfectly represents this class of people. Mitt Romney is a rich-from-birth Ivy League product who not only has never done a hard day of work in his life – he never even saw a bad neighborhood in America until 1996, when he was 49 years old, when he went into some seedy sections of New York in search of a colleague’s missing daughter (“It was a shocker,” Mitt said. “The number of lost souls was astounding”).

If the clich├ęs are true and the presidential race always comes down to which candidate the American people “wants to have a beer with,” how many Americans will choose to sit at the bar with the coiffed Wall Street multimillionaire who fires your sister, unapologetically pays half your tax rate, keeps his money stashed in Cayman Islands partnerships or Swiss accounts in his wife’s name, cheerfully encourages finance-industry bailouts while bashing “entitlements” like Medicare, waves a pom-pom while your kids go fight and die in hell-holes like Afghanistan and Iraq, and generally speaking has never even visited the country that most of the rest of us call the United States, except to make sure that it’s paying its bills to him on time?

Romney is an almost perfect amalgam of all the great out-of-touch douchebags of our national cinema: he’s Gregg Marmalaard from Animal House mixed with Billy Zane’s sneering, tux-wearing “Cal’ character in Titanic to pussy-ass Prince Humperdink to Roy Stalin to Gordon Gekko (he’s literally Gordon Gekko). He’s everything we’ve been trained to despise, the guy who had everything handed to him, doesn’t fight his own battles and insists there’s only room in the lifeboat for himself – and yet the Democrats, for some reason, have had terrible trouble beating him in a popularity contest.

The fact that Barack Obama needed a Himalayan mountain range of cash and some rather extreme last-minute incompetence on Romney’s part to pull safely ahead in this race is what speaks to the extraordinary brokenness of the system.

(W)hen one of the candidates is Mitt Romney, the race shouldn’t be close. You’ll hear differently in the coming weeks from the news media, which will spend a lot of time scratching its figurative beard while it argues that a 54-46 split, or however this thing ends up (and they’ll call anything above 53% for Obama a rout, I would guess), is evidence that the system is broken. But what we probably should be wondering is why it was ever close at all.

1 comment

  1. ek hornbeck

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