Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Mitt Romney - a US presidential disaster in waitingMARK WIGNALL
The great American author and humorist Mark Twain once described the vegetable cauliflower as "cabbage with a college education".
The idea, I suppose, was to endow excellence to the delightful cauliflower by elevating the lowly cabbage to a pedigree that it could not otherwise claim.
As our nation prepares to celebrate our 50th anniversary of political Independence and awaits the expected display of Olympic excellence by our track and field athletes, I am nevertheless drawn off on a tangent by the very lack of refinement I see being displayed in the US presidential race.
For a country like Jamaica with its long marriage to economic peril, its extended date with social nightmares and too many politicians with suspect motives, it should be more than a game of hazard for anyone of us to criticise anything about America's politics. We have to bear in mind, however, that we claim an umbilical link to our mighty neighbour to the north, not just because it is home to many Jamaicans and the source of regular remittances, but also because we love things American and are much too eager to copy the worst that the northern behemoth has to offer.
Additionally, the moment Barack Obama entered the race for US president and won in 2008, people of all nations have significantly increased their interest in US politics. To many, the "impossible" occurred when a man of colour was elected in 2008 to what is seen as the highest office on Planet Earth.
In this technological age, even as we had ringside seats to the election of a bright and highly articulate Obama who gave precise indications of his future leadership, we were astonished by the most important sideshow of the 2008 presidential race.
The same America whose three million farmers (less than one per cent of the population) are able to supply agricultural produce to feed two billion people globally was the same America that was the first real mega-industrial power; a country of great inventors and innovators which landed men on the moon six times. With numerous tracking satellites in geo-synchronous orbit, the most awesome war machine on the planet and still the number one economy in the world, that same America unearthed Sarah Palin, a most stunning dullard, to be John McCain's running mate as likely vice president on the Republican ticket.
If in vegetable terms, Obama is cauliflower with a few advanced degrees, and Palin is inedible wild callaloo seeking entry into primary school, what are we to make of Mitt Romney, the certain presidential nominee for the Republicans?
The foregoing is not to be taken as my belief that college maketh the man, or woman. Let's face it - Palin eventually graduated. For a better reading of my real meaning, the mantra in the Tom Hanks movie, Forrest Gump, captures it perfectly: "Stupid is as stupid does".
As the end result of a comedy of errors, Romney is the most "liquid" political personality that America has seen in a long time. He fits into any container in which he is poured. But it could have been worse.
Since 2010 the far right Tea Party wing has captured the GOP and the "wingnuts" are in the ascendancy.
It could have been former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich, a guy badly in need of his rest so that he could more concentrate on... being a husband, again. It could have been Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, a Sarah Palin on steroids, or former senator Rick Santorum, a "defender of the faith", or Rick Perry, governor of Texas, another Bush in the wings. But then again, it could have been Herman Cain, the pizza minstrel and troubadour of the gathering.
Which planet do these people come from? Or are they close relatives of Forrest Gump?
A subtle narrative is being played out in the presidential race that only a few US media personalities are willing to admit into the full script. Yes, the dirty word - racism.
On every major policy from abortion to immigration to health care and beyond, Romney has changed his position to suit the political winds.
Many White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS) are fully awake after the "shock" of 2008 has sunk in. Did we really elect HIM? Many commentators in the US media are scared to admit that the Tea Party movement has more than a racist tinge. Granted, politics, especially at a time leading up to any elections, is basically a contact sport, and as in the NFL, many get their joints dislocated.
In the 2012 campaign, the GOP is not even pretending that Obama has been the unifier and the all-inclusive president that he has tried to be, with all of the obstructionist approaches that the GOP has placed in front of him since 2010.
To be fair, it doesn't appear that Obama is good at political horse trading. One gets the distinct impression that he believes if his goals are just and his policy proposals to Congress make good sense then, that's it. They ought to get done.
In the real, nasty world of politics, he needed to have got his hands a little dirty in a few political "fistfights".
Mitt Romney's religion, Mormonism, is firstly governed by the Book of Mormon which has many anti-black verses between its covers. The US media has agreed to be silent on that. The Romney adviser who "misspoke" in England about Romney appreciating the "Anglo Saxon" relationship between Britain and England, unlike Obama - that was purely racist.
In Israel, without being prompted, Romney was pushing for the sabres to be rattled as if that was what he thought the far right Tea Party wing needed to hear. Let's kick some Iranian butt, boys, and to hell with the global consequences!
A Romney presidency will not be to Jamaica's and especially Cuba's benefit. The man is totally absorbed by the lack of facts on anything and is likely to be led by hawks who will put words in his mouth and dangerous weapons at his disposal.
He believes that America best expresses itself by its military strength. For that reason, he is likely to take America into increased war-mongering in the Middle East. The world will be the worse if he is elected in November.
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