Will the Real Mitt Romney and Barack Obama Please Stand Up

Written by Richard Schiffman

Maybe you followed the recent disaster of the substitute referees. With the regular refs locked out since June, the NFL brought in replacements (a few were high school coaches) to officiate. But the scabs proved to be not quite up to the job, leading to comedies of errors like the match between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers. Some commentators described it as the worst-called game in football history.

It made me think of the current election campaign, another comedy of errors where the non-professionals are calling the shots. The amateurs in question are Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. To call them amateurs is actually kind. Take Mitt Romney, whose chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease has rendered his campaign an exercise in slapstick worthy of the Marx Brothers. The president, while lacking Romney’s unerring instinct for self-destruction, has run a lackluster campaign deficient in anything like a compelling vision for the next four years– witness his recent debate debacle.

Candidates are supposed to tell us where they stand and what they intend to use the highest office in the land to accomplish– right? They are job applicants whose task is to convince us that they have got some really great ideas, as well as the will and the skills to implement them. What we have gotten instead are vacuous platitudes and bald-faced lies, character assassination and adolescent gaffe-attacks. These guys clearly don’t know how to call the shots!

Politics as usual, you say? Well, no– it didn’t used to be this way. Remember when campaigns were about things called “issues”? Remember when candidates grappled– sometimes even intelligently and passionately– with matters like war and peace, civil rights, poverty, free trade? Didn’t our aspiring leaders once use the bully pulpit of a national campaign to push for agendas that they cared deeply about?

Think FDR, think JFK, think LBJ. Hell, even Richard Nixon put forth some bold ideas– like opening up a dialogue with China and protecting the environment– during his election bids. Politicians were not infrequently folks with a commitment to improving people’s lives, an instinct for creative leadership, and even in some cases the courage of their convictions.

Ok, perhaps I am letting my imagination run away with me. The past always looks better through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. The truth is that politics has always been more about winning elections than fostering a national dialogue.

But once upon a time winning elections and speaking truth were not necessarily antithetical as they have become today. We actually expected our candidates to talk realistically– and in concrete detail– about the challenges that faced America, and not just to chant magic spells about “rescuing the economy,” “saving medicare,” “bringing the troops home,” “creating jobs,” and “lowering taxes,” as they routinely do today. We also expected them to be themselves, to tell us what they truly think about things.

Both of the current contenders agree that the issue is the economy, and by extension the deficit, which threatens to sink our economic ship for good. But one candidate wants to cure the deficit by– gulp!– further cutting taxes on the rich and further deregulating the scoundrels who caused the near collapse of the economy with their recklessness and pathological greed. The other candidate proposes only token regulation and more federal stimulus packages, half-measures that didn’t solve the problem the first time around. Neither is seriously addressing the long term systemic failures that are at the root of America’s decline.

Voters still say that they expect straight talk from those seeking the presidency. They say that, but truth be told they want their politicians to continue to deceive them. This is the dirty little secret of American political life. How else to explain the fact that we reward candidates when they offer us soporific words of false comfort, and punish them whenever they dare to speak to us like adults about the hard choices and knotty complexities of the real world.

Let’s face it, voters today are looking for simplistic answers to questions that for the most part they don’t even properly ask.

Can we continue to spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere without destroying the delicate web of life, not to mention the basis for the economy? Will we eschew campaign finance reform and allow our democracy to be auctioned shamelessly to the highest bidder? Will we continue to ignore the grotesquely metastasizing deficit? Will we fail once more to regulate the gambling cartels on Wall Street, and allow the banksters to continue mortgaging our collective future?

These are just a few of the questions you won’t hear either candidate talk much about during the next four weeks. Oh, they may mouth ventriloquist-dummy-like some of the buzzwords that their pollsters and focus groups have told them that you want to hear. Who knows, we might even hear that cloying and disingenuous word “hope” again. But don’t expect anything substantive or real. Because they are substitute candidates after all.

The good news is that the NFL solved its dispute with the referees last month, so we can look forward to the return of accurate calls in the game called football. The bad news is that in the game of politics for the foreseeable future the amateurs will stay in charge.


Related Stories:

4 Areas Where Romney’s ‘New’ Foreign Policy is Exactly the Same as Obama’s

The Case for Not Voting

Republicans Are So Extreme, Democrats Might Just Clinch the Senate



Patricia H.
Patricia H.5 years ago

Let your voices be heard VOTE

Jaime Dough
Angelus S5 years ago

Mitt Romney apparently doesn't care about any family than his own or those of his friends. In Massachusetts, back in 1994, a friend raised as an orphan in Massachusetts state care was trying to get help finding out who his family was. The man was not adopted. He reached out to Mitt Romney and all Mitt could do was say he couldnt help. Couldn't? or simply could care less?

Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Terry King
Terry King5 years ago

There is no "real Mitt Romney"!

A N M.
anne M5 years ago

What a silly article, really. First of all, Obama has been president for nearly 4 years already, and anybody who thinks the man needs to introduce himself in a stupid debate is about as daffy as they come. Romney, on the other hand, is a lying goofball and no longer needs any introductions either. Anybody who ties his sick dog to the roof of his car instead of taking him to the vet is a brutal creep who doesn't need to apply for any public office period. If people haven't informed themselves yet about Bain Capital and its peculiar endeavors, they really shouldn't even bother to vote. These debates are really stupid because nobody called Romney out on his lies anyway. That pathetic liar just got a forum to make up stuff as he goes along and America swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. So if Romney wins the election, America deserves that nasty individual. Obama is no saint but compared to Romney......
What does that have to do with referees at the NFL? Who cares about the NFL?

Dan B.
Dan Brook5 years ago

Etch-a-Sketch Rmoney Lyin' Ryan = of, by, and for the rich white men and big corporations.

The regressive Republican Party of No is obstructionist, mean-spirited, thuggish, religiously fanatical, scientifically ignorant, untrustworthy, xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, evolution & global warming denying, oily, anti-environment, anti-health, anti-consumer, anti-choice, anti-birth control, anti-education, anti-student loans, anti-equal pay, anti-99%, anti-Big Bird, pro-banks, pro-big corporations, pro-billionaire, pro-voter suppression, union busting, Medicare mashing & Social Security slashing, fiscally irresponsible, misleading, authoritarian, selfish, greedy, out-of-touch, dishonest, lacking compassion, warmongering, and otherwise dangerous.

Don't make a Mittstake. NEVER vote for Republicans!

Newt Gingrich: Romney is "a liar".

Gov. Rick Perry to Romney: "You failed as the governor of Massachusetts."

Michelle Bachmann on Romney: "He's been very inconsistent on his positions."

Jon Huntsman on Romney: "He's been on three sides of every major issue of the day."

Mitt Romney: "Corporations are people, my friend... of course they are."

Lee Witton
5 years ago

Irving - I said plenty in my response to Schiffman's 'contribution' to Care2, and I've said plenty regarding the political state of affairs, corruption, collusion, purging, disenfranchising, oppression, suppression, repression, bigotry, racism, pedophilia, etc. I could go on Irving, but I've said enough to someone who obviously doesn't understand the difference between saying something and saying nothing!

Robert H.
Robert Hamm5 years ago

Monday that President Barack Obama has led a weak foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Eric Nordstrom, the former regional security officer in Libya, said he had requested more security but that request was blocked by a department policy to "normalize operations and reduce security resources." Under questioning, though, he said he had sought mainly to prevent any reduction in staff, rather than have a big increase.

Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/State Dept sync with says never concluded Libya attack protest gone/7366798/story.html#ixzz28vlUX2XO

Robert H.
Robert Hamm5 years ago

WASHINGTON - State Department officials said Wednesday that security levels at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, were adequate for the threat level on the anniversary of Sept. 11 but that the compound was overrun by an "unprecedented attack" by dozens of heavily armed extremists.

The officials testified before an election-season congressional hearing on accusations of security failures at the consulate that led or contributed to the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. The officials said the number of U.S. and local security guards at the compound was consistent with what had been requested by the post.

"We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi at the time of 9-11," said Charlene Lamb, the deputy secretary of state for diplomatic security in charge of protecting American embassies and consulates around the world.

But White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday that in hindsight "there is no question that the security was not enough to prevent that tragedy from happening."

"There were four Americans killed," he said.

Lamb noted that there were five diplomatic security agents at the consulate at the time of the attack, along with additional Libyan guards and a rapid response team at a nearby annex.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has criticized the administration's early response to the attack and has made it a campaign issue, saying Monday that President Barack Obama has led a weak foreign pol

Natural N.
Natural N.5 years ago

The good thing about AMERICA is anyone can be president...
and the bad thing in AMERICA is anyone can be president.