Mitt’s image problem

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Yes, I voted for Barack Obama in the last election.

Yes, I will vote for him again.

No, these two facts do disqualify me from, or make me incapable of, providing an unbiased assessment of what I perceive as Mitt Romney’s and the Republican Party’s image problem(s).

So here goes:

  • They both take too much direction from, and put too much credence in the far-right faction of their party. Rush Limbaugh calls a US citizen testifying before congress a slut – and Mitt Romney does not have the courage to take him to the woodshed. He looked weak and ungentlemanly.
  • They are out of touch with the American populace on almost every social issue of the day. I provide the following discussion with my kids to demonstrate :

Me: Do you think the government should stop Gay people from getting married?

My kids: They look at me, dumbfounded at the question itself. Why would the government try to stop people who love one another from getting married? That’s stupid (and TOTALLY unfair) Dad!

Why we are even talking about such silliness, when we have soldiers getting killed in Afghanistan, rioting and violence in the Middle East, and people out of work in America? Anyone?, Anyone? – –  Bueller?

Me: Do you think people who are gay should be allowed to serve in the military and not have to hide the fact that they are Gay?

My Kids: Again, mystified at the ludicrousness of the question. They ask innocently (I think), “Does being gay prevent them from loving their country and doing a good job Dad?”

Me: Not that I am aware of boys.

My Kids: Then who cares Dad?

Me: Good point boys.

Me: Do you think that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools?

Kids: What is creationism dad?

Me: I explain the concept and point them to a definition of the word.

Kids: But that does not sound like science Dad – that sounds more like a personal belief.  I do not understand how or why you would teach something like this alongside evolution Dad.

Maybe they could teach this in a class about religion –  “would that be OK Dad?”

You see, the kids do not want to tell people not to believe in something -but they are smart enough to know the difference between scientific theory and personal religious beliefs.

Kids: Hey dad, I heard in school today that we are falling behind other countries in math and science. Maybe those schools that teach creationism can drop that course so the kids can bone-up on real science and math.  What do you think dad?

Me: I think that is a swell idea kids. Write the republican governor of Texas.

Me: Do you think immigrants should have a pathway to citizenship in this country?

Kids: Yes they say – almost immediately.

  • White, bright, and way too uptight. When the camera panned out at the audience at the Republican convention – all I saw was white people. Don’t get me wrong, I like white folks (hell, I am a white folk!).

However, my perception was that that the populace in that convention hall was not representative of America as a whole – instead, I saw it as a subset.

My perception is that the republican’s quilt is mostly one color – white (with maybe some dark stitching on the outer edge), while the democrat’s quilt is multi-colored and more representative of the “fabric of our country”.

My perception when Michelle Obama spoke about her and Barack’s early day’s was that she was being genuine – and that “genuineness” resonated with me.

When Ann Romney spoke about her and Mitt’s early days, my perception was that she was trying too hard to paint a picture – trying to strike a chord with a segment of the population that she does not have a lot in common with. My perception was that it seemed faked and rehearsed, almost like she was trying to be something she was not.

And (I know this is superficial) but the contrast of Barack Obama crooning an Al Green classic to Mitt Romney’s geeky and stiff rendering of “America the Beautiful” remains fresh in my mind. Basically, when I see Mitt Romney, I see a decent rich white guy who made his bones on making other rich white guys richer.

Who knows, maybe a predisposition towards one party over another makes you hear and see things differently.  I suspect that my republican friends had a totally different perception.

“And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them”

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I remember how those words, spoken by then candidate Barack Obama, caused such and an up-roar in America.

Yesterday, as violent uprisings spread throughout the Arab world, I thought to myself these same exact words, used to describe attitudes of Americans in small midwestern towns, could also be used to describe the  Islamists storming our embassy in Egypt and Libya.

What does it mean to “cling” to one’s religion? Well obviously it’s not a flattering comment (that’s why so many people got pissed). It’s kind of the opposite of saying people are getting strength from their religion. It conjured up images of angry, white (only because a black man said it); uneducated families huddled around their own prejudiced thoughts while holding a bible in one hand and shotgun in the other.

What Barack Obama was saying was that when times are tough, especially economically, people grab onto these two things (religion and guns), not as a means to get them through difficult times, but as a way of nullifying what they believe to be socio-economic injustice. I may not have all that you have, but I have Jesus Christ and a semi-automatic hand gun – and that trumps everything!

Those extremists storming our embassy have been on jelly-side down side of the socioeconomic sandwich for generations – for many of them, the only thing they have is their God and their religion.

Insult that, or demean it in any way, and they see it as an attempt to take away the one thing they believe they have that is superior to all things material, their God.