If you haven’t already read Mark Halperin’s lengthy interview with Mitt Romney in the recent issue of Time magazine, you really should. I do believe a Ken doll could have given more substantive answers to Halperin’s questions, but then maybe that’s Romney’s intent. Maybe he’s counting on an American electorate whom he perceives to be remarkably stupid with memories the size of an amoeba. Just keep looking good and saying nothing. That’ll work.
I know, I know. The polls keep saying this is going to be a reeeeally close race. The Times even said it was going to be the closest since Bush v Gore when the Bush team (with a little help from the Supremes) stole the 2000 election. Maybe so, but for some reason that is still rather difficult for me to believe. For one thing, the Americans who elected Obama with a high voter turnout in 2008 and gave him a substantial margin of victory over McCain are still here. Romney can hardly be said to be a superior candidate to McCain, and some (such as myself) might even say he’s worse. Even when you factor in the disenchantment among some Democrats with the Obama record, few are so disenchanted that they prefer Romney. Voter suppression is a definite problem, as are the Super PACs, but both issues can be counterbalanced with enough strategically placed door-to-door foot soldiers on the ground. And as we get closer to that fateful November day, voters will see the stakes rather clearly. This race is one of the most clearly defined us-vs-them contests in quite some time, which means fewer are likely to sit this one out.
Then there is the Huffington Post’s 2012 Election Dashboard, which breaks the race down to who is most likely to win which states, and how many electoral votes are assigned to each of those states. In the final analysis, this is where the election is won or lost. Polls showing this many or that many voters saying they prefer Romney to Obama or the other way around don’t matter nearly as much as how many voters it takes to win the key states. And when viewed as a whole, as HuffPo has done in fine detail, their projection is that Obama could walk away with as many as 284 electoral votes as compared to 181 for Romney. Only 270 are needed to win the election. Now the caveat, of course, is that just 237 electoral votes are considered ‘strong Obama’, but that’s still compared to only 170 considered strong for Romney. Furthermore, 47 electoral votes are leaning Obama’s way as compared to 11 for Romney, and two of the states leaning toward Obama are Michigan and Ohio where the resurgent auto industry and an energized labor base will factor in heavily. The 73 votes considered a tossup are a definite wildcard, but even factoring all that in it looks much better for Obama than for Romney.
In the interview with Halperin, there is more than enough nutrition-free meat to chew on for Romney opponents, but one of my favorite exchanges between interviewer and interviewee has to be the following (bold emphasis mine except for names of who is speaking):
Halperin: But you welcome scrutiny of your business record, is that right?
Romney: Mark, what I can tell you is this. The fact is that I spent twenty-five years in the private sector. And that obviously teaches you something that you don’t learn if you haven’t spent any time in the private sector. If you were to say to me, tell me what you learned from your schooling that would help you be a President, it’s like, well, how do I begin going through a list like that? You learn through life’s experience. The President’s experience has been exclusively in politics and as a community organizer. Both of those are fine areas of endeavor. But right now we have an economy in trouble, and someone who spent their career in the economy is more suited to help fix the economy than someone who spent his life in politics and as a community organizer.
Halperin: One more question generally about jobs. For people out there, for voters who want to know what you’re about in terms of job creation, is there some new idea, some original idea, that hasn’t been part of the debate in American politics before, that you have that you think would lead to a lot of new jobs?
Romney: Well the wonderful thing about the economy is that there’s not just one element that somehow makes the whole economy turn around, or everybody in the world would have figured that out and said there’s just one little thing we have to do – you know, Greece is settled, and France and Italy are all back and well again. No, it’s a whole series of things. It’s a system of factors that come together to make an economy work. What is it that makes America’s economy the strongest in the world, the most robust, over a century? It’s a whole series of things – everything from our financial service sector, to the cost of our inputs, our natural resources, to the productivity of our workforce, to our labor and management rules and how they work together, to our appreciation for fair trade and free trade around the world, and negotiating trade arrangements that are favorable to us. It is a whole passel of elements that come together to create a strong economy, and for someone who spent their life in the economy, they understand how that works.
It’s funny how Romney persists in insisting that his experience as a corporate titan makes him better qualified than the experience of a former community organizer (a line he stole from Sarah Palin), especially when you consider that the nation in which we all live much more closely resembles a large community than it does a large corporation.
Keith Owens (AKA Black Liberal Boomer) is a Detroit-based writer who has worked for The Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s alternative newsweekly the Metro Times, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and other newspapers. He was also a nationally syndicated columnist with Universal Press Syndicate for three years beginning in 1993.