12/12/2011

WILLARD'S WEALTHY, BUT DOES THIS MAKE HIM A RAT?

When not keeping track of all the new ways that the Dallas Cowboys have discovered to lose games, I also follow politics a tad.

I remain amazed so that so few people in the media will acknowledge the stark truth: namely, that the "Anyone But Mitt" movement in the GOP has legs, and that at least one of those legs should be labeled 'bigotry', as a significant number of evangelical Christians can't abide the thought of a Latter-Day-Saint as standard bearer. But hardly a peep on this publicly from the pundits or the political classes. Instead, you get endlessly-recycled questions about whether Mitt, you know, has the right conservative views or a set of core convictions. Much of this stuff rings hollow with me, because you could say similar things about many of Mitt's rivals. And yet, for some reason, this stuff sticks to him more, and I don't think it's because he's the putative favorite going into primary season. It's because voters are looking for a reason to reject him.

For example, you hear endlessly-parsed discussions about how Mitt is a "flip-flopper" (like Gingrich isn't?), or that he is out-of-touch with the mainstream of his own party (um, um, Ron Paul?), or that he is terribly-beholden to K Street (Shoot, that's almost everybody other than Paul, isn't it?) I watch Rick Perry make mountains out of molehill from Romney's book, where an overly generous reading of a self-congratulatory line out his state's health care (which includes the now-vilified individual mandate) is inflated as proscribing the exact same sort of solution at a federal level....which, really, if you wanted to look at it carefully, it doesn't. And, really, how does the Tea Party think they are going to maintain their impact on the legislature unless they rally behind a candidate that polls show actually has the potential to beat Mr. Obama in 2012? I mean, hello: Bachmann, Perry, Paul, Santorum....those guys don't have what it takes to win in the general election, and everyone knows it.

Still, his offer of $10,000 in an off-hand exchange with Perry last Saturday has both his primary rivals and the Democrats gleeful, and another excuse not to talk about the elephant in the room with the elephantine party, Romney's faith. What a shame.

For the record, if I had made an off-hand offer of a wager to Mr. Perry, I would've offered about $30, which I estimate is that fraction of my net worth equivalent to the value of 10 g's to a man of Mr. Romney's significant wealth (in excess of $200 million, by most accounts). Of course, that wouldn't get me even the door at Tiffany's with Mr. and Mrs. Gingrich, and would amount to a valet parking tip for Mr. Santorum, but let's be real: if rank-and-file Republicans really cared about appearing cluelessly invested in the 1 percent as much as some of them demonize Mormonism as a cult, then Romney wouldn't have a snowball's chance. Populist demagoguing against the rich isn't going to hurt Romney as much as with the GOP base as in the general election, and to the extent that other GOP candidates use it, it reflects their cynical willingness to bash Romney on something that doesn't really bother most Republicans that much, in order to avoid having to directly appeal to anti-LDS bigotry.

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