He’s kind of lame, and he’s really … annoying. He keeps saying these … things, these incredibly off-key things. Then he apologizes immediately—with all the sincerity of a hostage. Or maybe he doesn’t: sometimes he whines about the subsequent attacks on him. But the one thing he never does? Man up, double down, take his lumps.
In 1987, this magazine created a famous hubbub by labeling George H.W. Bush a “wimp” on its cover. “The Wimp Factor.” Huge stir. And not entirely fair—the guy had been an aviator in the war, the big war, the good war, and he was even shot down out over the Pacific, cockpit drenched in smoke and fumes, at an age (20) when in most states he couldn’t even legally drink a beer. In hindsight, Poppy looks like Dirty Harry Callahan compared with Romney, who spent his war (Vietnam) in—ready?—Paris. Where he learned … French. Up to his eyeballs in deferments. Where Reagan saddled up a horse with the masculine name of El Alamein, Mitt saddles up something called Rafalca—except that he doesn’t even really do that, his wife does (dressage). And speaking of Ann—did you notice that she was the one driving the Jet Ski on their recent vacation, while Mitt rode on the back, hanging on, as Paul Begala put it to me last week, “like a helpless papoose”?
Yes, of course Willard is a wimp. Hey, he doesn’t even have the guts to admit to use his own first name! The only time Mitt feels tough is when he’s beating up on someone weaker than he is–like his opponents in the primaries. He’s still just a prep school bully who’s overcompensating for his own insecurity.
Back to Tomasky:
In some respects, he’s more weenie than wimp—socially inept; at times awkwardy ingratiating, at other times mocking those “below” him, but almost always getting the situation a little wrong, and never in a sympathetic way. The evidence resonates across too many years to deny. What kind of teenager beats up on the misfit, sissy kid, pinning him down and violently cutting his hair with a pair of school scissors—the incident from Romney’s youth that The Washington Post famously reported (and Romney famously didn’t really deny) back in May? The behavior extends, through more sedate means, into adulthood. The Salt Lake Olympics remains his greatest triumph, for which he wins deserved praise. But to many of those in the know, Romney placed a heavy asterisk next to his name by attacking the men he replaced on the Olympic Committee, smearing them in his book, even after a court threw out all the corruption charges against them.
And what kind of presidential candidate whines about a few attacks and demands an apology when the going starts to get rough? And tries to sound tough by accusing the president who killed the world’s most-wanted villain of appeasement? That’s what they call overcompensation, and it’s a dead giveaway; it’s the “tell.” This guy is nervous—terrified—about looking weak. And ironically, being terrified of looking weak makes him look weaker still.
Romney claims the Newsweek cover doesn’t bother him even a tiny little bit. It’s the first time he’s been called a wimp, he says. Really? See here and here. The meme is catching on. If Willard weren’t a wimp, he’d release his tax returns tomorrow and dare the media to find anything to be ashamed of. But he can’t, because he’s terrified.
Psychoanalyst Justin Frank, author of the books Bush on the Couch and Obama on the Couch, provided a first pass on Romney’s psychology at Salon. Frank notes the way Romney frequently responds to situations by seemingly speaking without thinking ahead.
When Brian Williams asked him what he thought about the London games, Romney first tried to answer the question directly – something most politicians usually don’t do. He said, “It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out.” He then began to talk about his own work running the 2002 SLC winter Olympics in what seemed like a canned response. What strikes me is the confidence with which he spoke and the remarkable lack of thought he exhibited. This has become a pattern for him, and not just on this trip. But it is more noticeable than before because he is largely left to his own devices, without prepared remarks that he could use in informal conversation.
In many cases, Romney ends up having to walk back his initial comments as he did in London with his criticisms of Britain’s preparations for the Olympics. Frank’s assessment of Romney so far (emphasis added):
I think the force behind this behavior is massive anxiety, pure and simple. He is anxious about revealing who he is and about interacting with people he doesn’t know. He appears to have much less experience than Obama in interacting with people from all walks of life. Basically, he is uncomfortable except within his own family and in the presence of those who share his wealthy background and Mormon faith. There are many ways to defend against overwhelming anxiety, one of which is to act certain about every answer given.
What comes out besides this sense of smiling certainty are signs of anxious contempt toward others – whether it is how the British run their Games or saying that kids who can’t afford college should borrow money from their parents. Put together, these and many similar statements – his pleasure at firing people or his belief that corporations are people (is that why he can comfortably bankrupt some?) – are all evidence of a hostility not dissimilar to stories about his bullying of others during his prep school days. At this stage, I suspect Mitt Romney is too anxious to be an effective president.
Here we go again. Today Michael Tomasky discusses the possibility that Hillary could switch jobs with Joe Biden. Tomasky was reacting to a snarky piece in the Washington Times, so take it with a large grain of salt. Tomasky writes:
Clinton’s positive numbers are off the charts. Biden’s are so-so—both approval and disapproval sit in the 40s. Biden’s putative asset, that he helps a bit with white working-class and Catholic voters, is even truer of Clinton, the famous drinker of shots in those proletarian Pennsylvania bars. And women—forget about it. An Obama-Clinton ticket would pulverize any Romney ticket on the distaff side (is that insulting? I’m just trying to avoid repeating the word “women” too much). It wouldn’t matter if he put Carrie Underwood on his ticket.
I know, I know. It’s silly. I can right now picture the friends reading this who will write me to say, “Mike, that’s silly.” It probably is. But here are a few points for your consideration that aren’t silly at all.
Actually, I don’t see anything silly about the idea, but then I’m “on the distaff side.” Tomasky notes that in the recent NYT-CBS poll, Romney is actually leading among women. Is it really possible that Romney has narrowed the gender gap. If so, Obama would be in big trouble.
In other words, it may well be that Romney could close the gender gap. And if he could close it to 5 points, it will be an extremely close election.
Now bring in Hillary. Forget about it. The most consistently admired woman in America over the last 20 years? The gender gap would be 20 points. And the Obama and Clinton machines fused like that—it’s like Secretariat and Zenyatta breeding. And the signal sent to Democrats and women across the country that the whole thing is being teed up for her in 2016. This would be a blowout.
And Biden, you ask? Well, the gay-marriage thing might finally have been the straw that made Obama think it’s not so great having Joe around. But don’t feel bad for him. He benefits from the fact that the White House would have to do this smoothly, which means Biden can’t possibly just be hung out to dry. So he’s going to be landing on a $300 goose-down pillow. He gets to be secretary of state—the job he’s dreamed of for years anyway!
It makes a lot of sense, but it probably won’t happen–not because it’s a “silly” idea, but because Obama doesn’t have the guts to do it. If he did, it would be a real “game changer.” Suddenly this deadly dull election season would become very exciting. And Hillary would be teed up to run in 2016.
What do you think?
UPDATE: Axelrod does a switcheroo, tells National Journal he didn’t really mean what he said yesterday. Oopsie! Did Obama get wind of the overwhelmingly negative reaction, or did Axe actually exceed his authority?
Time will tell…In the meantime, I think we can assume the story is still valid, so let’s get back to ripping Axe a new one.
Zaladonis posted a link to this story in the comments on the morning post: David Axelrod has announced that President Obama will go along with Republicans on an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the superrich. Axelrod’s supposed “boss” is still out of the country, so who is really making the decisions for this administration?
From the Huffpo piece by Howard (ugh) Fineman and Sam Stein:
President Barack Obama’s top adviser suggested to The Huffington Post late Wednesday that the administration is ready to accept an across-the-board, temporary continuation of steep Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest taxpayers.
That appears to be the only way, said David Axelrod, that middle-class taxpayers can keep their tax cuts, given the legislative and political realities facing Obama in the aftermath of last week’s electoral defeat.
“We have to deal with the world as we find it,” Axelrod said during an unusually candid and reflective 90-minute interview in his office, steps away from the Oval Office. “The world of what it takes to get this done.”
“There are concerns,” he added, that Congress will continue to kick the can down the road in the future by passing temporary extensions for the wealthy time and time again. “But I don’t want to trade away security for the middle class in order to make that point.”
Security for the MIDDLE CLASS? WTF?!! Give me a break!
This is all about trying to buy back the Wall Street whiners who have been donating to Republicans instead of Obama’s 2012 campaign. And it is just plain nauseating.
Axe is defining “security for the middle class” as tax cuts. Not “jobs.” Not “access to health care, not just insurance.” Not “a guarantee a bankster can’t just foreclose on their house with a trumped up piece of paper.” Not “some basic safety net for retirement.” But “tax cuts.”
According to Axe, we have to shovel even more money on the already rich so as to ensure the “security” of the middle class by giving them a tax cut.
And while I agree that raising middle class tax cuts at this point would be bad for the economy, it’s not the worst thing that could happen to the economy.
In fact, the worst thing that could happen to this economy may well be passing legislation that continues to hollow out of the middle class and with it increasing the massive income inequality that continues to subject the American people to the craven demands of a few very rich people. That is, precisely what Axe and Obama have now agreed to do.
The slightly surprising element is that Axelrod appears to reject the idea of a temporary-only extension for households above $250,000. This has been the “compromise” under discussion here and there: make the Bush rates permanent for those under the 250 mark, and temporary for those above. [….]
Well, this is not surprising but it’s depressing all the same to see this little dog scurry over to the corner of the room and whimper like this.
Tomasky argues that $250K isn’t really “rich.” Really? Here are the stats for median income for a family of four, by state. The average is about $63,000. Regardless of what Tomasky says, $250,000 is in top 2% of incomes in the U.S. In my opinion, we need a more progressively graduated income tax structure, but that is a separate issue.
This decision is every bit as horrendous as the decision to escalate in Afghanistan. As Dakinikat suggested recently, why don’t these people just switch parties and be done with it?