Friday, September 21, 2012

Guest Post: The Grumpy Bulldog: Political Deja Vu

The Grumpy Bulldog is doing another guest post, mostly because I'm bored.  A couple weeks ago when I talked politics there was one thing I left out and what's happened with the Romney campaign this week helps to back up my thinking.

What this 2012 election for president is reminding me a lot of, especially lately, is the Michigan gubernatorial race back in 2006.  Long before the economy tanked in the rest of the country the economy in Michigan had already gone down the tubes.  Because of this, the governor at the time--Democrat Jennifer Granholm--wasn't all that popular.  Besides the economy, being a woman probably didn't help just like being half-black doesn't help Obama with a lot of voters.

Going into the election it seemed to me it should be a slam-dunk for the Republicans.  I mean the economy is in the crapper and governor's approval ratings aren't great and about the only accomplishment she could cite is setting up a "Cool Cities" initiative.  Even though Michigan is traditionally a "blue state" with the unions and such it had been in Republican hands from 1990-2002, so a return to that seemed likely.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, the guy who bought the party's nomination that year was Dick de Vos.  You can make a lot of comparisons between de Vos and Mitt Romney.  While both have a connection to the state and both are successful businessmen, they both have the charisma of Kristen Stewart--which is to say none at all.  While Romney has the whole Mormon thing people don't talk about too loudly but you know is in the back of their minds, de Vos's handicap is that his successful business was Amway.

A lot of de Vos's energy then was spent defending Amway in the same way Romney's had to spend energy defending his Bain Capital days.  Exporting jobs to China was a big thing in both cases.

Anyway, between the lack of relatability because of his wealth and lack of natural charm and the whole Amway connection, what should have been a slam-dunk became a fairly large loss.  I think it boiled down to while people didn't like Granholm, the alternative wasn't any better.

For my part I decided to just wash my hands of the whole thing.  I voted for the Libertarian candidate because I didn't like Granholm but I didn't like de Vos either.  So screw 'em both was my thought.  Then no matter who won I could still complain about it, right?

The point of this is that I think a lot of the same thing is happening nationally in 2012.  A lot of people don't really like the job Obama is doing (I am not one of those) but they don't see the alternative as any better.  I read in a Yahoo! article that 75% of people surveyed found Romney unrelatable, versus 60% for Obama.  So obviously Americans don't like either guy all that much but they dislike Romney more for all the reasons I gave above.

The "47% speech" that came out this week has not helped the situation for the Romney camp.  When people already think you're a rich snob it's not good to get caught calling 47% of the country a bunch of freeloaders.

Unlike some pundits I don't think the 47% video is going to sink Romney right away, but it's just another piece of a damning puzzle of failure.  It's part of the likability issue that is going to continue to plague him no matter how many diners he goes to without a tie and how often he has his wife say nice things about him.  In the end politics in the 21st Century are as much about image as anything, something that helped Obama the first time and George W in 2000 and 2004 and it's really hard to change your image with seven weeks left to go.

Just as an addendum it's kind of funny that while de Vos lost in 2006 the next Michigan governor, Rick Snyder, had a lot of the same attributes, except no connection to Amway.  But what he did right was to start off with the goofy "It's Time for a Nerd" commercials in 2010.  Those were kind of funny and helped him avoid the likability pitfall de Vos fell into, even though I don't think Snyder is any more charismatic.  Showing a sense of humor would probably help Romney more in these final weeks.  And maybe do a tearful interview on Fox "News" about whatever trauma a rich white guy faces.  "And then I found out the wine was only from 1965, not 1905, boo hoo hoo!"  "And then I realized the maid had shrunk my silk boxers right before the horse show, sob sob sob!"

Here, I'm going to reassure Michael Offutt about who I'm voting for:

Yes that's my car.  Like I say the good thing about the magnet is I can take it off after the election easily.

Monday is still more Phony Photo Phun...


  1. Please don't throw away your vote to a Libertarian candidate for president this time, Patrick. Michigan is a "battleground" state. My vote for Obama means absolutely nothing in the State of Utah. But yours really does count. So once again, please vote for Obama. I'm with Bill Clinton when he said that the tax cuts Romney proposes for the super rich will add 4 trillion to our debt. Yes, we are in a deep hole. But he will make it even deeper.

  2. Newsflash: all politicians are rich snobs. It's practically the only way to get into office.

  3. Politics - it makes me think of my youth. When I believed my vote might be meaningful.

  4. Honestly, thinking about this election and the 2008 election also....I can't think of a single candidate from either party that impressed me. It just seems like good, honest, sensible, competant people don't want to run for public office. It's only those who want to make a (very handsome) living from all the "inside deals" that politicians are offered in on who run. These guys (and ladies) get RICH(er) once they get in office!

    In my adult life I've probably cast more "protest" votes than I have for legitimate candidates. (Look up Kinky Friedman for Governor.) I can easily do that because in Texas a Republican is a shoo-in to win, regardless of how I vote. I'd LOVE to be in one of those battleground states!


    1. Actually I just read an article on the Huff Post saying that Romney would be a billionaire today if he hadn't left Bain Capital in 2002 and turned to politics. For the most part politics pays far less than the private sector, which is why so many (like Romney's former campaign aide Tim Pawlenty) go on to lobbyist groups or other jobs. But it probably does help to cultivate relationships or like Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee you can use it to a lucrative TV gig.

    2. You're correct in saying public office payroll is less than a high-level private sector position. But what you're not considering are all the "investment opportunities" that admiring constituients make available to elected officials. These are generally slam-dunk sure-things requiring a very modest investment by the politician, which yield incredible returns. And they're perfectly legal. I personally know several state legislators who have benefitted handsomely this way. I can only imagine how lucrative such opportunities are on the federal level. And of course the after-politics / lobbying positions open to politicians who still have connections are immense.


  5. Being in CA, my vote really doesn't matter. I've never been bothered by that before, but, this year, I wish I could move somewhere else to vote. The idea that Romney could get elected scares the crap out of me.

  6. I love the car magnet! It seemed like what Romney said at the dinner was his honest opinion. If only they would be honest when they think everyone is listening. I think things can only get worse with Romney in charge.

  7. I'm pretty sure my vote won't matter much here in Oregon, which is a strong blue state, but I'll happily vote for Obama anyway.

  8. Hey Grumpy!
    Nothing like a guest post from a good ol' dawg like y'all. If I could vote in the USA, I'd vote for Obama. Actually, what say we somehow work out a trade, you get David Cameron, posh git supreme and we get Obama? No? Oh well....



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