Election Day 2012 Boils Down Not to Fantasy But to Our Shared Reality

Obama and victims of Hurricane Sandy (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

American conservatives find themselves in desperate straits four days before Election Day. They are so desperate to have Mitt Romney win that they will believe anything, including a vaguely-defined hope that Hurricane Sandy will have been President Obama’s undoing. And Mitt Romney? Mitt himself, ship he himself poked full of holes sinking around him in heaving political seas, strikes out for…Pennsylvania for salvation.

Yes, Pennsylvania. The Blue State. The state where Obama leads 49 to 45 precent, according to Wednesday’s  Franklin and Marshall College poll. Romney will be in Philadelphia on Sunday, where the Constitution he hopes to destroy was promulgated, and Paul Ryan will appear in Middletown, Pennsylvania on Saturday.

Desperate I said. You betcha. And Team Obama agrees. In a statement made by Michael Czin, regional press secretary of Obama’s northeast campaign,  we find: “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are going all in Pennsylvania, following the lead of every Republican presidential candidate since 1992 who have made last ditch investments in the Keystone State. Not one of them carried the state.”

Even more desperate is the belief that Sandy destroyed Obama’s hopes. Sandy convinced some cuckoos that God was wrathful, but they already believed that. None of them were going to vote for the Kenyan Muslim anti-colonialist Obama anyway. The rest of America got to see Obama as “Not Bush”, as Johnny-on-the-spot and immaculately competent and calm. He displayed leadership and forcefulness and even earned praise from Chris Christie, a Romney supporter, and a man who, like Obama, showed that there were more important things in the world than politics.

Romney, on the other hand, was left with a truck full of unwanted supplies his campaign had paid for and which the Red Cross did not want. Barack Obama opted for reality; Mitt Romney grasped for a fantasy photo-op and got the ridicule he deserved.

It isn’t difficult to tell which man looked more presidential. It was a case of Johnny-on-the-spot versus Johnny-where’s-the-spot? Mitt looked helpless and weak and selfish for not canceling his campaign appearances. President Obama looked like a president. Which is what a crisis demands.

Right Wing Watch noticed that Neil Munro of the right-wing Daily Caller, however, wants to believe that Sandy was Obama’s Waterloo. He sees not a president but a ruthless leader trying to “game the race”. For Munro, these were campaign stops for Obama. Maybe conservatives are so used to photo ops taking the place of actual leadership (remember George “Mission Accomplished” Bush landing on the aircraft carrier in a fighter jet?) that they can’t conceive of a president who actually does presidential things – like lead from the front.

Munro got together with fellow kook Fred Grandy of the Center for Security Policy, on Secure Freedom Radio Wednesday. In a rather sad circle-jerk, these two wishful thinkers convinced themselves that because Obama was unable to save us from Hurricane Sandy, he is going to lose.

It’s unclear how they thought a human being could save a country from a hurricane, but when you’re grasping at straws, I guess, anything goes. It went a little something like this:

Grandy: If the administration is actually going to try and game the election with Hurricane Sandy, how do you see them going about doing it?

Rather than ask Munro, Grandy might have watched and listened to Obama, who explained in detail what was being done and how. But remember: it is not facts these two are interested in, but spin. Facts will only get in the way of their lurid fantasies.

Munro: They are going to game the race with everything they got and in as many ways as they can, they’re highly evolved, entirely professional and entirely ruthless. As for Sandy, Sandy created a big risk for them when it came in and it smashed up New Jersey and New York, how do they react? Well, they can’t go back on the campaign trail, Romney too stepped off the campaign trail, it looks too crash, too selfish to be campaigning. So he endeavored to look helpful, competent and fatherly, so he turned up on evening television from the White House, then he went to the Red Cross and then he went to New Jersey trying to look useful and leaderly. It’s not at all clear whether the images of him amid the storm give people confidence in him or unnerve people about his time in office. To some extent the storm could be seen as a symbol of his term in office, where the economy has been damaged, unemployment has remained very high, the debt has grown, we’ve been flooded in red ink. But the one advantage for Obama is it distracts the media and many Americans from boiling scandals that he’s doing his best to suppress.

And here is where it gets deep:

Munro: Unless the President has done such a remarkable job as leader of the country, saving us from Sandy’s destruction—which he doesn’t appeared to have—it could be to his benefit, it may. It took him three days off the campaign trial in critical swing states like Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado and so it may turn out to be bad luck for him, he’s been a lucky politician all his life and this may have been just a little bit of bad luck that could push him under.

The Washington Post’s The Fix, projects a close election, with Ohio falling into the “tossup” category, as do Wisconsin and Colorado.

Rasmussen Reports, of course, shows Romney leading in Ohio, 50 to 48. HuffPo, however, is tracking Obama 48 to Romney’s 46 in Ohio. According to HuffPo, Obama is also up on Romney in Colorado 48 to 46. Wisconsin is even bleaker for Romney, according to HuffPo, which has Obama leading 50 to 46.

All in all, it does not appear as if Hurricane Sandy destroyed President Obama. Rather than making the disaster a photo-op, as did Bush (“Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job“), President Obama understands that a disaster calls for a president to lead.

Conservatives, as the old saying goes, can wish in one hand and crap in the other. And if wishes were horses, Mitt Romney would have soared over Sandy on a White Horse. But a political philosophy that divorces itself on facts, that relies entirely on fantasy and wishful thinking, will come up short every time when matched against the facts on the ground.

This is what conservatives want America to see:

But this is what America sees:

President Obama and Governor Christie talk to Sandy’s victims in Brigantine, New Jersey (Larry Downing / Reuters)

What Republicans want you to hear is how badly Obama wants to destroy America, how the federal government is the anti-Christ. What they hear is Governor Christie praising Obama; what they hear is Governor Christie saying on Morning Joe, “The president has been all over this, and he deserves great credit.”

What America finds out, what America sees for itself, first hand, is that the federal government is your friend. And how many victims of Sandy, being Republicans, will spurn a helping hand from the FEMA Mitt Romney calls immoral?

Politics may be sound bites, photo-ops and spin, but leadership demands a connection with our shared reality. Because our very existence is reality based, our politics must have at least some connection to facts, because what you don’t know – what you refuse to know – can hurt you. It can hurt you very badly.

As Mitt Romney is likely to discover in four days.

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