The worst political campaigner in 75 years just got a whole lot worse!
Granted that Romney can hardly distance himself entirely from the auto industry, given that it made his family rich. But does he have to rub voters' noses in how he would have let the whole industry go into bankruptcy, just like he did with companies acquired by Bain?
Mitt Romney now has an ad running in Michigan that shows three awful things. First, he's driving a car. Second, there's shots of a big "woodie" (a station wagon) pulling up to a house which seems to be his boyhood home. Third, there's auto show clips of the big old chrome-laden cars of the 1950s.
Mitt Romney apparently has a thing about ads showing him driving a car. He ran this sort of ad in New Hampshire for that state's primary. In each ad, the whole time he's driving, he's maundering on about the state being his "home". Each state. A TV talking head has noted that at this rate there will be five sets of ads declaring Mitt's love for his "home" state: Michigan, New Hampshire, California, Utah, and Massachusetts. So it's a little hard to credit Romney on the sincerity of his love for the old homesite. Which, of course, fits perfectly with his reputation for fickleness about political positions.
But that's not the worst of the worst. The LAST thing Mitt Romney should want voters to associate with him is his driving a car. Sure, there's no dog shown strapped to the top of the car in these ads, but can we be sure the poor dog's not actually up there on the roof, just out of camera shot?
More important, ANY association between automobiles and Mitt Romney is bad political advertising. Didn't he watch the Super Bowl half-time? He's the guy who OPPOSED the Obama bailout that saved the auto industry, preserved a million jobs, and probably kept the US economy from the Second Great Depression. He's already in an indefensible position, given the soaring success of Obama's auto rescue. So why be portrayed driving a car and thus remind everybody that he opposed saving an industry dear to the hearts and economic health of the American people? He might as well be in an ad where he's kicking mothers downstairs and barfing at the sight of apple pie.
This takes me back to the question I posed in a recent blog: Why in hell did Romney choose to run this year anyway? Of all the might-have-runs, he was the least-likely-to-succeed by any hard-nosed political assessment. All the political talking heads say he looked good on paper. No, he didn't.
The baggage he carries is heavier than Newt's. Newt's luggage is colorful stuff, but it's rather old. Mitt's is of the now. There's the Romneycare issue and his opposing the auto industry bailout. With these two burdens, even on paper Romney looked like a three-legged horse from the outset, not only among the GOP base he is unable to win over but in the general election against Obama.
Now his own ads underscore one of those two big problems.
But you ain't heard nothing yet!
There's the problem of that station wagon. Back in their day, station wagons were the vehicle of the rich. Maybe not the super rich (they drove Lincolns and sent the chauffeur for the kids). But the "rich" family in YOUR neighborhood, those snooty folks the rest of the working class neighborhood hated. The family that belonged to a country club! For voters of a certain age, Romney's ad reminds them that he grew up with a silver tea service in his mouth. So let's have an ad, Mitt, that reminds everybody that you are poster boy for the 1%! And always were.
And the shots of the old '50s cars, bless them? They emphasize how out-of-date a guy Mitt really is, how he has never moved beyond "Leave It To Beaver" America. He is not only unhip and extremely uncool, he's antediluvian! He uses expression like "the Big House" for prison. No one has used that expression since James Cagney set fire to himself on that tower in the '30s film "White Heat". And we have all noticed Mitt's fondness for such expletives as "Gosh" and "Golly". And his use of "crevase" to describe New Hampshire valleys as he drives in that ad? No one has used the word "crevase" on prime time since Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Mt. Everest in the '50s. No New Hampshire resident has ever used the word.
Sixty years has passed Mitt by.
So has the last fifteen years.
With all the money in the world to hire a good staff, Romney hired the political team that served former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld. That was a dumb move!
Have you ever heard of Bill Weld? Likely not.
And that's the point. The man disappeared! Once a bright star of the GOP, Weld allowed himself to be sent to oblivion by crafty President Clinton. Seeing Weld as a future GOP threat to the Democratic party, Clinton offered Weld the ambassadorship to Mexico in 1997. Weld resigned his Massachusetts governorship and took the bait. I can remember saying to my husband, "What an idiot!" Everybody in politics knows that ambassadorships exist so that presidents can send potential rivals off-stage forever, never to regain their spot. Just ask Jon Huntsman.
But Weld and his team didn't know this fundamental of politics? Oh, my. (As it turned out, Weld didn't even make it to Mexico but disappeared into Sen. Jesse Helms' grasp and never secured Senate approval.)
Let's hope Weld's old team continues to advise Mitt Romney about his ads and everything else, with the same non-astuteness they rendered unto Weld about taking the ambassador bait. From a Democrat's point of view, they're doing a hell of a job, Brownie!
P.S. Weld continued to be an odd duck. In 2007 he was one of Romney's early supporters for the GOP nomination. After McCain trounced Romney, Weld jumped ship entirely and endorsed Obama! Maybe Romney should now do likewise and jump from his own candidacy to support Obama? In the Weld-Romney playbook that fits right into their ongoing idiot grasp of politics!
Ain't we got fun!