Posted by: sweeneyblog | November 11, 2011

Is Mitt Romney a real life Michael Bluth?

Mitt Romney's idol?

I know everyone is chomping at the bit for some local election analysis, and I am working on beautiful spreadsheets to share with you fine folks, but as we wait for the final totals from the auditor’s office, I want to talk a little bit about the Republican field of candidates.

Frankly, they suck, and I don’t say that to be mean or insulting. I say that because they are such a weak field. Most of the really impressive candidates either passed on the opportunity (Jim DeMint), wanted to wait for an easier year (Chris Christie) or haven’t solidified their power base yet (Eric Cantor). The Democrats ran into the same problem in 2004, where our strongest candidates sat it out, and we were left with a less than impressive cast of characters (although I believe that Howard Dean could have done quite well).

So who did the Republicans throw up (yes, intentional choice of words) for the nomination this year? Sarah Palin 2.0 (Michele Bachmann)? Newt  “I have more baggage than TSA” Gingrich? Herman Cain? Jon Huntsmen, who would be pretty darn tough if anyone bothered to pay attention. Rick Santorum? The reliably-impressive-but-never-going-to get-the-nod Ron Paul? Okay, understandably that’s the second tier of candidates, but the top tier isn’t that top.

Rick Perry looked pretty imposing when he launched. An governor of a huge state, 15 million in the bank, folksy charm, there was a couple weeks where I thought, “Wow, this guy might give Obama a run for his money.” Then Rick Perry opened his mouth, and we learned three things about him. One, he’s hilarious when drunk, two, he can’t launch a good attack to save his political life and three . . . and three . . . um . . . he . . . uh, let’s see here. Hilarious when drunk, can’t launch an attack . . . uh . . . there’s three, that’s for sure. Um . . . I can’t remember. Oops!

So that just leaves Mitt Romney. Which brings me to the main point. Michael Bluth from Arrested Development. For those of you who haven’t seen the short-lived but incredibly brilliant sitcom, Michael Bluth is the one competent person who is drawn into his family’s business after his father is arrested for Enron-style shenanigans. He is surrounded by his skeezball older brother, his ditzy sister, his sheltered younger brother, his bizarre brother-in-law, his drunk mother and the rest of the insanity of the family. He ends up running the company simply by default. He’s by no means a good guy, often bitter and callous, but he often comes through just because there is no one else.

Is that Mitt Romney’s fate? To be the last man standing just because everyone else self-destructs? That might do for the primary, but you have got to build some confidence before you hit the general. I actually find this whole deficit of strong candidates a bit disappointing from a good government point of view.

Look, I want to see Barack Obama re-elected, but I also want him to answer for some of the mistakes of his administration, and without strong opposition, that’s not going to happen. Elections are a necessary process by which elected officials have to answer for what they have done, and I’m worried that the opposition is so deeply flawed this year, we won’t get a thorough review of Obama’s first term, and that worries me.

So shape up, Republican field! Arrested Development, and consequently Michael Bluth, was pulled off the air before its time because of, ironically, stiff competition from other inferior shows (Reality TV). I would hate for the Republican primary to be equally as anti-climatic. Bring your A-game folks, because right now, all we are seeing is comedy hour.

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Responses

  1. There’s something to be said about being the last candidate standing. It speaks to persistence, patience and a lot of learning. Many argue that Obama was a stronger candidate because of his primary run. Admittedly, Hilary Clinton is more formidable than the entire 2012 republican field combined but if Romney survives (and not JUST because the others self-destruct), he will have honed his on camera persona and it will be a tough race. I’m surprised you have not cited Nate Silver’s New York Times article last week which has now been made more interactive: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/11/03/magazine/538-gdp-election-calculator.html
    Since the best we can hope for by next year is “sluggish” economic growth, we’re in for a long race.

  2. I like reading your blog Riley. I learn a lot about the inner workings of Whatcom county. But if you mean this sentence seriously, you’re going to lose a lot of street cred — where “street” means the national political scene.

    “Most of the really impressive candidates either passed on the opportunity (Jim DeMint), wanted to wait for an easier year (Chris Christie) or haven’t solidified their power base yet (Eric Cantor).”

    DeMint is a ground-dwelling slug. A truly horrible person whose political stance is somewhere to the right of Father Coughlin. A list of the positions he has taken would curdle your blood.

    Christie is a blow-hard who has so little regard for the citizens of New Jersey that he refused Federal funds to construct a much-needed tunnel between NJ and NY. It would have cut emissions, speeded transit and created hundreds (if not thousands) of jobs. He refused it because he didn’t want to be seen supporting something Obama offered.

    Cantor is utterly unprincipled. He has more opinions that Romney and will slide the shiv between your ribs at the slightest provocation. He may be the only major Republican on the scene with fewer scruples than Gingrinch. He may not have “solidified” his power base but that mainly is due to his premature attempts to undercut Boehner, a move that cost him a lot of political capital.

    You’re a good man Mr. Riley and keep those blogs coming but work on getting up to speed with the national scene.

    I won’t comment on the parallel with Bluth since I never saw Arrested Development but unless Bluth was an empty suit whose only goal was to get elected it probably doesn’t have what scientists like to call “explanatory power.”

    Cheers,

    Arthur (S. Reber)

    • My point was not that I particularly like any of those three candidates, I mostly agree with your analysis, but all three of them would be stronger Republican candidates than our current crop. The point wasn’t that these people would be good for democracy, just that they could run a competent campaign, that was my point.

  3. Is there some place on your blog where you outline these mistakes you believe the President made? (You knew that question was coming, right?)

    • Not recently. I’ve been critical of some of his actions in the past, but never completely outlined his mistakes. Maybe grist for another post. I would say he is doing a good job, I just want some of his choices to be examined. Off the top of my head, continuing the Bush national security policies towards wiretapping, detainees and disclosure of documents, ramping up the drug war, and not directing Holder to prosecute Wall Street crimes as his top priority.

      • Okay, so not mistakes then. You have disagreements with certain of his policies.

        And there it is: the call for the perp walk. This is me suggesting that you focus on what it is you think are the ‘crimes of Wall Street’ and then do some serious research to find out exactly what they did that was illegal. I’d really like to know what you find out. Then we’ll talk.

        As for the drug war, that’s above my pay grade.
        Detainees? You mean at Gitmo? Yeah, you need to talk to the 90 Senators who voted for that amendment in the War Funding bill in 2009 to keep that place open. The President has not stopped trying to get it closed, but the Congress is fighting him tooth and nail to keep it open. There are no fewer than 6 Bills in Congress right now trying to keep it open. There is only so much a President can do with a Congress determined to stop him.
        Wiretapping, seriously? You have some sort of insider knowledge about exactly what those policies are and which are still in place?

      • I don’t have any insider information, I just read the New York Times.
        http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/us/27wiretap.html?pagewanted=all
        In which it outlines how Obama has not just continued Bush’s warrentless wiretapping program but in some areas, expanded it

        As for the detainees, I wasn’t talking about Gitmo. The President has made it clear he is trying to close that (despite Congressional action). However, he is keeping in place the legal means by which we detained people in the first place. Where we literally rounded people up and held them indefinitely without legal representation or trial or even disclosure that we held them if we determined they were “enemy combatants”.
        http://www.salon.com/2010/01/22/detention_7/
        Make special note of the update at the bottom.

        While I don’t need a perp walk, I do want a heavier focus on White collar crime. The Obama administration made a decision early on that rather than fight for prosecutions of the Wall Street collapse, they would instead work on crafting legislation to prevent such abuses in the future. Which they did, and I am very happy with their efforts. However, I would like the prosecutions as well.

        But let’s get to the core of this. I like Obama and agree with 90% of what he has done. But, that doesn’t mean that he should get to skip his 4-year evaluation just because the Republican opposition is incompetent.

        There are other issues too. Obama’s support for “Clean” Coal, his passing the buck on the Keystone-XL pipeline, his support for Fracking (to pick some energy issues). His escalation of the Afghanistan War. These are things that I disagree with and believe to be mistakes. I think they deserve a fair and open discussion. I think, in the end, most people will look at his record and support him, but you have to look at the whole record. Even the parts you don’t like.

        To balance this out, I really like the Affordable Care Act, while it wasn’t single payer, it certainly addressed many problems and had a direct affect on my life. I like the Financial Consumer Protection Agency, thought the Stimulus was essential and well-timed, cheered wildly at the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and am delighted to see the repeal of DOMA being supported by this administration. I am mostly happy with his trade policy, am glad that he is pouring money into alternative energy. I liked his high-speed rail plan, and am worried that it will become a casualty of the bad economy. I thought his handling of Osama Bin Laden was thoughtful and efficient. I could go on, but the central point is that I support most of what he has done. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t choices he’s made that I believe are mistakes.

  4. Thank you for clarifying…makes some sense. Not sure he actually support fracking…he wants to see a way to make the extraction of natural gas less hazardous. I think he supports the ‘idea’ of clean coal. Pretty sure Sec. Chu has told him that that idea is far from reality. Yeah, he punted on the frickin’ pipeline; not happy with that. Makes it even more critical he’s re-elected so when the topic comes up he will be in office to deal with it, not Romney. Fortunately the Canadians decided to change the proposed route yesterday. Something tells me the Prez leaned on the State Dept to lean on the Canadians.

    • Probably on all accounts. Believe me, I will work hard to elect Obama over Romney, no question. He’s got too much left to do.

  5. Reasonable stance Mr. Riley. My problems with Obama stem from his first few months in office. He had a clear majority in the house and with a some good-old LBJ-type arm twisting a fillibuster-buster in the senate. We needed a stimulus package twice the size of the one he pushed for and it should have distributed its largesse differently (more to infrastructure and shovel ready projects). We needed a single-payer health care program. These were the biggies. He compromised on both and the opposition acted like most competitive folks do when they see they can intimidate their opponents.

    • He never compromised on single payer because single payer was never an option. He said from the get-go during his campaign that he wouldn’t fight for single-payer because it was dead in the water. There were fewer than a dozen votes total in both houses for that option.

  6. […] Mitt Romney has cleared his laughably easy opposition (no offense Rick Santorum, definitely offense intended for Rick Perry), now is usually the time […]


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