By Saul Landau
“Romney now flaunting his wealth to impress voters!” (The Onion)
I smiled weakly when liberal Democrat friends guffawed last week over verbal foibles of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
It was sort of funny when Romney said: “Michigan’s trees are just the right height,” and “I Have Some Friends Who Are NASCAR Team Owners.” And his wife “drives a couple of Cadillac’s.” Both at the same time?
Romney, yearly income of $42.7 million, joked with unemployed workers in Florida last June that he, too, was also un-employed.
Santorum’s attack on the dead Kennedy struck me as less than hilarious. Kennedy's 1960 speech on religious equality in the White House, Rick said, made “me want to throw up.”
Newt (Lunacy) Gingrich and his moon colony? Not funny. One wit dismissed Gingrich as a squeezed pimple with “the pus forming at the top of his head (white hair).”
Then came Limbaugh who offered a startling description of Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke. Denied the right to testify before Congressman Darrell Issa’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on “Women’s Access to Birth Control,” Fluke then addressed a Democratic Steering and Policy Committee session about common concerns among women. Fluke said women needed access to contraception (now very costly). Some states want to outlaw it. She demanded medical insurance cover the costs.
"What does that make her?” asked Limbaugh on his radio show. “It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception."
Rush said since his tax money would pay for her sex he wanted her to watch videos of her having sex online.
On March 3, Rush apologized on air for his name-calling. “My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”
Then Rush complimented himself on his 20 years of “illustrating the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.”
Then he went on to un-apologize. “I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?”
Rush apologized again and lost more sponsors. Some stations have dropped his show. All he’s got left are 15 million listeners, far more than any liberal radio or TV personality.
Limbaugh personifies extremist Republicanism – which has become just Republicanism. His insulting of women cost him sponsors, but it also underlined themes of the major Republican candidates: against contraception, abortion, gay marriage. This, liberals logically deduced, should cost the Republicans the election in November.
Not so fast! Since October, Obama’s job-approval rating has oozed upward, but remains under 50%. On key issues like health care and the economy, the majority disapproves of his performance.
A late February Gallup/USA Today poll had swing-state voters choosing Romney over Obama. In strategic states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Iowa, Obama has difficulty moving to the 50% mark. And 60% claim the country is "on the wrong track." (Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg News, March 6)
In 2008, McCain and Palin amassed almost 60 million votes. Not all of those who cast Republican ballots were men who thought loading the dishwasher meant getting their wives drunk; or who signed up their four year olds for lifetime NRA membership.
The political core issue – who gets what from the budget – has devolved into “social issues.” Republicans stress the biblical virtues of owning endless amounts of guns; saying no to climate change; making abortion a capital crime; erasing affirmative action, and eliminating activist (liberal) judges.
Republican candidates encourage low-income supporters to focus on the peripheral, not on their own core interests. Try to imagine adults living on less than $2 per person per day – almost 1.5 million, and 2.8 million children – and listening to Republicans debate! (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities March 5)
Comedy? Insanity? Or read the sub-text: “save our white country from that African-born, snobby socialist and his commie Jew advisers.” (Gingrich calls Obama the “food stamp president,” who had a guru named “Saul Alinsky,” a Hebrew resonating name indicating communist tendencies. (In fact, Alinsky’s biggest backer was the Catholic Bishop of Chicago.)
The preachers of peripheral focus have somehow twisted the minds of tens of millions of low-income Republican voters to demand the government stay out of their Social Security and Medicare.
Republican apparatchiks have also reduced Democratic registration on voter rolls in strategic places. Phony voter ID rules and other scams abound. On Tuesday March 6, polling station officials turned away a former Democratic Tennessee Congressman and his wife because of an “order” from the Republican Secretary of State. Such hanky panky leads to fewer Democratic voters; the Romney-Santorum chances rise. The February-March verbal screw-ups will fade from national memory as will Rush “The Real Republican” Limbaugh’s misogyny. Gas prices? Economic downturn? War? Don’t count on a Democratic landslide – or even an Obama victory. It will require lots of work.
Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP screens March 16, Berkeley Unitarian Church (924 Cedar) at 7 PM. He’s an Institute for Policy Studies fellow.
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