By Rawlein G. Soberano, Ph.D.
Germantown, MD (June 18, 2011) – Sen. John Kerry lost the 2004 presidential race because he failed to distinguish himself and his position from George W. Bush. Given the period of war and uncertainty, the American people decided to go with President Bush instead of a challenger who might be better, or to put it in simple, popular terms, if you have to make a choice, “the devil you know is better than the one you don’t.” It was a gamble they did not want to take. It was exacerbated by Kerry’s lack of a compelling and substantive narration about change for America which was the reason for his defeat in the polls.
Kerry had voted for the war or the authority to strike the anti-war stance he so eloquently had done in his testimony before Congress many years prior in the Winter Soldier project about the war in Vietnam. His refusal to say Iraq was a mistake was a signal to voters that his position was not radically different from GWB’s. It seemed he wanted to move things along in Iraq that was not different enough for the American people to change chief executives. Bush’s lapdogs then released their dirty name-calling machine flooding the air waves with television ads and robo calls hitting Kerry from everywhere. He did little to dispel the derision that he was a flip-flopper, giving the opposition a slam dunk opportunity with his comment that “I actually voted for the $87 billion (supplemental) before I voted against it.”
The Winter Soldier Investigation (Jan 31, 1971-Feb 2, 1971) was a media event sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans against the War (VVAW). It was intended to publicize war crimes and atrocities by US armed forces in Vietnam and their allies in the Vietnam War. The VVAW challenged the morality and conduct of the war by showing the direct relationship between military policies and war crimes in Vietnam. The 3-day gathering of 109 veterans and 16 civilians took place in Detroit. Discharged servicemen from each branch of the military service, civilian contractors, medical personnel and academics gave testimony about war crimes they had committed or witnessed during the years of 1962-1970.
Now enters the biggest flip-flopper of them all, running under the Republican banner, Willard Mitt Romney, the former governor of MA who brings with him some record of accomplishments to distinguish himself from the other wannabes. One of these successes is his healthcare reform for the uninsured of the state. The Bay State is proud of the universal coverage—no resident left behind—which he signed into law. It was presented with all the fanfare of fife and drum corps underscored by a banner that proclaimed “Making History in Health Care.” MA was the first state in the nation to effectively guarantee universal health coverage, a landmark he called “an achievement” that “comes once in a generation.” He did not care for Detroit going bankrupt 2 years ago. Now he takes credit for the recovery of the automobile industry there.
One of his major assets is his ability to raise funds, but this election will show that it is “the voters who go to the polls that can make or break a candidate’s campaign rather than money from corporate sources. This is no surprise when Romney rhymes with money. This money will go to pay high-priced lobbyists, TV and radio stations, et al. which will suck it dry fast, but they can’t manipulate or buy the outcome of the races. His greatest liability is the rejection from the far right that he is not conservative enough (not right-wing enough to be acceptable), exacerbated by his flip-flops, e.g. healthcare, support of Ryan plan, among others..
The most damning indictment of Romney’s 2008 campaign came from Mike Huckabee who told a story to reporters before he beat him in the IA caucus. He told the story of a wealthy man opening a dog-food company, hiring the best nutritionist, marketing people and sales force in the industry. When the product was released, it was a big failure. When the wealthy man demanded of his staff to know why, the silence was broken when someone in the back room blurted, “because the dogs won’t eat the darnned stuff.” Are GOP voters going to eat what Romney is selling this time? He has opened the door for ordinary people to see the real Romney who has issued acerbic reactions to just about any Obama policy and pronouncement. Incredible for a supposedly decent man! An embarrassment to our strongly-held values in this country!
It seems like the man from the Bay State wants to win at all costs, changing positions whenever it is beneficial and convenient to him. His flip-flops have made him vulnerable to unnecessary criticism. The first volley was fired at him, while linking all GOP leaders” to the radical agenda (the new litmus test) to kill Medicare. Priorities Action USA unveiled the first TV ad last month in anticipation of his visit to SC, swiping him for his support of the Ryan budget plan which was mocked by Newt Gingrich as “radical” and “right-wing social engineering” (right on target but politically toxic).
The fear and desperation in the Romney camp is already visible. His spokesperson lamented that “Pres. Obama’s first campaign is an attack ad; Pres. Obama and his team are desperate to change the subject to anything other than jobs and the millions of Americans out of work.” Are these people stupid or blind, or both? BHO is accomplishing the creation of jobs, e.g. comeback of GM and Chrysler, in spite of the opposition of and sabotage from the Republicans who want unemployment to remain high to blame him for it, thereby hoping to make him a one-term president.
In describing the Obama healthcare law, he parrots the standard GOP talking points that it is “a government takeover of healthcare.” PolitiFact has repeatedly rated that claim as False and selected it as the 2010 Lie of the Year. (In 2009, it was Sarah Palin’s Death Panels). Romney still keeps repeating it. In a speech in Ann Arbor last May he tried to explain that the healthcare plan he signed as Governor of MA was different from the law signed by Pres. Obama. Regardless of his denials, the MA plan, as evaluated by third-party commentators not connected with either political parties, shares many features with the Obama plan, thereby creating a political problem for him with his fanatic and hate-consumed base.
Government takeover conjures a European approach in which the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees. The law Congress passed relies largely on the free market. It is a system that relies on private companies though it significantly increases government regulation of health insurers. The FAA imposes detailed rules on airlines. State laws require drivers to have car insurance. Regulators tell electric utilities what they can charge. Yet these regulations are not described as “a government takeover.” He keeps talking about it as such, which is dishonest. Is it because it sounds like sweet music to the ears of his supporters? He is no different from other GOP candidates who make preposterous or mendacious statements, e.g., padding their resume or putting down their opponents, with untruths.
Some samples of his flip-flops… At one time earlier he said he would “preserve and protect” reproductive rights but in 2008 he changed his mind. He was a big fan of Sen. John McCain’s vision of comprehensive immigration reform but by the time they were campaigning against each other, Romney was calling it an amnesty plan. He also made several reversals on “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” gun control and campaign finance reform. Now he is taking a bold stance against the healthcare reform package that he worked hard to make a reality in MA to win the approval and support of the hateful and fanatic GOP base. I have problems with a candidate who is a habitual liar or is uncomfortable with the truth. Is there any issue (any at all) he has a firm position on? Political wimp!
There are hurdles facing Mitt Romney, whether just or unjust, to connect with the powerful religious wing of the Republican Party. The religious issue remains a hurdle, especially in red-state America and the South, in particular. The media and individual voters are going to bring it up. It is part of the story. Is it going to be different this time because he is facing weak challengers? He is partly encouraged by this that he can take refuge from a French proverb “Au royaume des aveugles, les borgnes sont rois.” (In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.) In the NH presidential debate, he performed his mission with mechanical efficiency. He was generous to others on stage, polite, relaxed, and respectful. He even tried a few jokes though they fell flat.
Romney’s biggest problem is credibility. He talks well and big, but when you ask him, “where’s the beef, he starts to waffle, is a miserable failure and is definitely not a competent executive. He can run on the claim that “he is a successful businessman” which does not necessarily translate to a record. This is the record of his corporate experience when he was Governor of MA—The US Dept of Labor ranked MA 47th (a pitiful 0.9%) in the nation which badly lagged other high-skill, high-wage, knowledge economy states like NY (2.7%), CA (4.7%) and NC (7.6%). Mitt Romney doesn’t have a proven record of successful leadership, someone who has managed budgets, created huge surpluses and actually created jobs. He can only claim them but the record proves him wrong.