The Insipid Campaign Cycle Of 2012
Is it just me, or is this not the dreariest Presidential election anyone can recall?
An incumbent this weak shouldn’t be leading in the forecasts so consistently and so convincingly.
Consider: a guy people can at least get excited about, whether for or against, has noted that despite the mandatory optimism required of him, if the election were held today instead of 42 days from now, “that would be a problem” for his party’s candidate. But if you ask me, someone who has called himself a political junkie in the past, if the election were held today instead of 42 days from now, that would make me pretty happy because it would be over.
No one’s heart is in this thing. No one likes their own candidates, they only dislike the other guy more. It seems like we’re spending a lot of time either hammering on the drum that one guy is a plutocrat or hammering on the other drum that the other guy is a socialist. Everyone I know or engage with seems to at least impliedly think that we could and should have done better with our choices for President, but damn if anyone I know can actually come up with a name that garners both enough enthusiasm to seem better, and which is at least minimally acceptable to someone else of a different shade of ideology. Even the pundits seem to be mailing this one in, just going through the motions.
Progressives and just plain liberals are understandably disappointed in the decidedly un-liberal Barack Obama. I find myself more than a little bit disappointed at his listless, directionless consensus-building mistakenly labelled “leadership.” Four years into his Presidency and I still have no real idea what Obama wants to do with America. Whatever it is, we should have known that it would be expensive, but I can’t see that there’s all that much to show for all the money that’s been spent. More than four years ago, it occurred to me that Barack Obama is Jimmy Carter redux, and I still think that was accurate.
Conservatives cheer for Romney because they feel obligated to do so. They don’t like him. They don’t trust him. His core beliefs are so thoroughly ciphered, and in fact were remarkably plastic when he first ran for President five years ago, that he merits no real trust or enthusiasm. Consider, for instance, this telling bit from back in the primaries, by Roger Kimball at PJ Tatler, written back in March when Mitt Romney was moving into the endgame phase of sewing up the Republican nomination for President:
I believe that this country is at a fateful crossroads. One road leads to prosperity and freedom. The other leads to the drab slavery of socialist control. Mitt believes (sort of) in the former. Obama believes, with a vengeance (just wait!), in the later. Alas, Mitt will be powerless to stop Obama: how can he, since he has endorsed all the most controversial aspects of Obama’s policies?
I am, as I have said before in this space, a syphlitic-camel sort of chap. That is, I would vote for a camel with a social disease before I would vote for Barrack Hussein Obama. Which means, as the logicians among you will have concluded, that I will vote for Mitt Romney should he, as seems very likely, be the candidate. Quite soon, in fact, I will begin writing cheerleading-sorts of pieces about him here and elsewhere.
Isn’t it remarkable how candid Kimball was about assuming the role of insincere advocate? That jacket is colored red here, but there’s plenty of blue garments similar to this floating around too as progressives have deep misgivings about the policy choices made by Barack Obama over the past forty-something months. For the record — Mr. Kimball hasn’t made good on his promise. He has, however, written several pieces about how President Obama is simply so awful a ham sandwich would be better than him.
Which has pretty much been Mitt Romney’s strategy all along: it’s self-evident to his 47% that a ham sandwich is a better choice, so he’s been running as a ham sandwich. And when you think about it, a ham sandwich usually is pretty bland fare. A slice of ham, some mayonnaise, an unwrapped piece of that tasteless orange film known as “American cheese.” Maybe some lettuce and tomato, likely on spongy white bread. You can do better. You know you can do better. Throw in some turkey and call it a “club sandwich” at least. But no, there’s the ham sandwich at the deli counter anyway and for some reason, people ask for them and eat them anyway.
I sometimes hear people bemoan the absence of a “moderate party.” In fact, these two candidates are pretty much as moderate that their respective parties’ primary processes will generate. As much as we bemoan the extremism and polarization characterizing our national political dialogue, and as much as actual people disagree with one another, what do Obama and Romney really disagree on? Whether we should raise taxes a little bit on some really rich people. Whether we should have one flavor of nationalized health care subsidy or another. Whether we like Israel a whole lot as an ally, or only kind of a lot. Whether we should have good trade relations with China or really good trade relations with China.
Mr. Kimball averred that the country was at a fateful crossroads earlier this year, but it’s just plain not. And I think we all realize this. Yes, there are important policy decisions to be made. But they’ve pretty much been made already, in all but degree and minutae.
Why is there no moderate party? We fool ourselves into thinking there is none. In fact, there are two. Why is no one really excited about this election? It doesn’t really seem to matter all that much. That may well be why, as a whole, America seems likely to stick with the boring technocrat that is already there — there’s not really a good enough reason to change, even though the status quo isn’t all that great to begin with. I guess I’ll have another ham sandwich today, please.
One of the things I’ve noticed no one seems to be talking about in the Presidential race is the Supreme Court. Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy are both 76 years old, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 79. Here is a place where whoever gets elected will have a real impact on things should one of these three die or retire, and that, probably more than anything else, is what will wind up influencing my vote.
And one last thing: where the hell did Paul Ryan go? Where has Joe Biden been? These guys could at least add a little bit of color to the poorly sepia-toned festival of dull that is the 2012 Presidential election.
(The original image for this can be found here.)