So I watched the debates between Romney and Obama with more scepticism than is normal, even with two American politicians in my face.
Yes, I am afraid that Obama is now merely another American politician. The tears of joy four years ago, the awed silence in Wilde’s as we relayed his post-victory speech over the net, the belief that ‘yes, he can’ – they are all long gone. He has not seized the moment that was presented to him, and although it is true, as one of my heroes, Water Mosley, points out, that he was like “a surgeon with a rusty scalpel”, he has disappointed profoundly.
The alternative is far worse.
Not because Romney is an ideologue. He is, of all the Republican candidates, the least ideological, although he has ‘balanced’ the ticket with one of the most ideological in Ryan. What he tries to do, in the context of Republican ideology, is become ideological. And that’s where his problems start.
The Boston Globe quoted a classmate of Romney at Harvard Business School. He was, then, a “driven pragmatist”. Each day he, pragmatically, adjusts. There has been no significant philosophical shift, because there has never been a significant philosophy in his life. On health care and gay rights, climate change and the economy, he has pragmatically adjusted and even reversed his views according to the prevailing Republican wisdom.
In his campaign for election as governor of Massachusetts, he claimed that “I think people recognize that I’m not a partisan Republican, that I’m someone who is moderate and my views are progressive.”
That worked, then. But you can’t run against Obama, who is moderate and progressive, saying things like that. And you can’t gain the support of the anti-Obama electorate saying things like that. You have to be conservative. The driven pragmatist has therefore changed.
He is now, he says, a “conservative businessman”, and he is:
Pro second amendment
Pro less regulation
Pro lower taxes
Pro repealing Obamacare
Anti an amnesty for illegal Immigrants
Anti gay marriage
When these positions are held, not with genuine ideological fervour but with a cynical ‘pragmatism’ to win votes, that’s when you get very worried.
And how about this? Romney claims to support the Sox, but he invested in the Yankees.
Would you buy a second-hand car from this man?
Today's listening: Babel, the new album from Mumford & Sons. Frankly, a tad disappointed.