Jimmy Zuma

Jimmy Zuma
Washington, District of Columbia,
August 01
After ten years haunting online political forums and much longer as a disability rights advocate, Jimmy Zuma started the online political journal, Smart v. Stupid. Since then, he has emerged as one of the left’s most direct new voices. Almost immediately, Jimmy was offered the opportunity to join the political team at Technorati where he writes DC Water Cooler, a weekly feature on what the politicians and pundits are talking about. Most recently, his columns began appearing in the Tucson Sentinel in Tucson Arizona. He is also an occasional contributor to OpEd News. Jimmy's goal is to return vetting to the marketplace of ideas, by elevating the status of smart ideas and debunking dumb ones.

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APRIL 27, 2012 8:23AM

Mitt Romney’s “bless his little heart” strategy in post-raci

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Now that Mitt Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee, we’re starting to get indications of his general election strategy. Apart from romney davelawrence8 flickr commons croptrying to etch-a-sketch the radical-right positions he took in the primary, what is emerging is an election strategy based on two tactics: be vague and make liberal use of belittlement.

Be vague, is a publicly acknowledged plan for the campaign. Romney has said he believes he lost a 1994 Senate race and the 2008 nomination because he was too specific about what he’d do as president. In other words, when he said what he wanted to do, people wouldn’t vote for him. So he plans to talk a lot, but not say too much.

Unless you’re a potential donor, of course; in that case he wants you to know that he’d gut federal programs for low income housing and make the Department of Education’s only mission to oppose the right of teachers to organize in order to get better pay and working conditions. You can see his problem.

The second strategy, in essence, is to say bless his little heart; he’s a perfectly nice young man but he’s just not up to the job. I call it Southern-style snark. You can just imagine TV chef Paula Deen saying it as she throws another stick of heart disease into the roux.

So how will these two strategies work?

Certainly the platitudes-before-policies strategy has had longstanding success for Republicans, even before Reagan made high art of it. Republican voters practice what I like to call “faith-based politics.” They vote for people (like George W) who say the things they’d say. And they operate on a strict belief system. If something they believe in doesn’t work, it never crosses their mind that they are wrong. They just need to do it more, they think.

So for them, fist-pumping while yelling “America is best!” is enough. They’ll turn out for Mitt. Candidate Romney’s say-nothing strategy will get the votes of traditional Republicans and those “Independents” who always vote Republican. “We’re the greatest, thank God, and pass the ammunition!” is all they need.

But by itself, say-nothing won’t win a majority, much less an election. So Mr. Romney needs the second strategy. He needs to make Obama seem inept and foolish, despite the evidence otherwise. Ridicule is the most powerful force in politics. No one votes for the motley fool.

Don’t believe me? Just ask Michael Dukakis (who was killed by a funny hat) and Howard Dean (whose promising candidacy was killed by an enthusiastic scream.) Either would have been a good leader. But they were winning one day, dead the next.

The Republican Party has already been successful at holding down President Obama’s popularity by (arguably made up) ridicule about his popularity, his capability, his relatability and his experience. It works with anyone who is not listening too closely. That said, after years they haven’t managed to deliver anything close to a knockout.

Is Mitt Romney the guy to deliver a fatal blow? He has his own ridiculousness issues, of course. He’s the out-of-touch rich guy who likes to fire people. And Romney’s ridiculousness is entirely his own making. He calls Paul Ryan’s slash and burn budget “marvelous” a view probably shared only by Paul Ryan. Even before the primary, Mr. Romney was already famous for, as Michael Eric Dyson says, “blowing in the wind.”

Romney seems intent on making the case that rich people deserve to be honored, simply for being rich. This is the kind of talk you hear at country club cocktail parties, but it is usually privileged 20-something children doing the talking, not the grownups. Nonetheless, we’ll all be sure to admire Bernie Madoff, Muammar Gaddafi and Pablo Escobar, won’t we?

The other way that belittlement could backfire for Romney is if it is seen as racial. Certainly, any hopeful delusions of a post-racial America have been quashed of late. But just as certainly, we live in a post-racist America. The recall of Russell Pearce, architect of Arizona’s Paper’s Please Law and the national outcry over the killing of Trayvon Martin are clear evidence that a large majority of Americans – and most white people – simply won’t abide racism. Racism, when discovered, simply isn’t tolerated anymore.

If people come to believe Mitt Romney is calling President Obama “boy” his candidacy is over. It’s a fine line of perception that Mitt is probably not deft enough to avoid. Trying – or failing – may just neuter Romney’s attempt to ridicule – a tactic he desperately needs if he is to win without saying anything about what he plans to do.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if Romney’s campaign was brought down not by any of his actual flaws, but by the views he made us guess about?

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well its our fault if we can't all get together and tell him what we want to hear. Ah yes "Independents" able to criticize all without fear of being criticized but still a step above the internet "Liberals" who strangely espouse only conservative views.
Not sure I agree about Russell Pearce, whose racism was likely less important to his recall than his profiting from private prisons and other corruption. I'll grant that the outcry over Trayvon Martin, not to mention the election of Barack Obama, do indicate a great deal of progress on race in America.

But ... living as I do in the buckle of the Bible belt, I can assure you the battle is far from over, which is why I must disagree with your assertion that "Racism, when discovered, simply isn’t tolerated anymore."

Sorry, but it is, particularly in private. In public, it is much less so than it once was, but the ugly truth is that it is still very much alive in certain quarters, particularly in the Party of the Worst Part aka the Republican Party aka the New American Independent Party. That Party has been trading on racism since the Dixiecrats turned in their DINO cards and took the Republican Party straight down into the sewer of racist politics. Every Republican President since has run on a thinly-disguised racist appeal.

I'm sure you're aware of the "deathbed confession" of Lee Atwater, but it is so despicable, it bears repeating at every opportunity:

"Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger.
The biggest fear I have is falling alseep while listening to him speak. If this happens while driving I could injure someone.
This guy has less reality than one of those terrible dead person holograms, and probably uses more electricity.
I'll be voting for VCR tapes of old presidents once again.