By Chez Pazienza: Can we just finally admit that Mitt Romney is the worst candidate the GOP has offered up in, well, maybe ever? Is there anyone who still thinks Romney is anything more than one big walking punchline, an ongoing political disaster of Irwin Allen-esque proportions? Look, I get that if you’re a Republican there’s a pretty good chance that your ebullient hatred of Barack Obama runs so deep that you’d vote for a flaming paper bag full of dogshit if the party nominated it for president, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have to hold your nose while you were doing it. You’re more than welcome to cast your ballot for Romney in November and to support his candidacy every second of every day until then, but there’s no way you can tell me you’re happy about it. Romney’s not simply the worst possible guy to trot out as your party’s figurehead and message-carrier at this particular point in our nation’s history — with the global economy having been gang-banged by untouchable aristocratic assholes just like him — he’s also thoroughly incapable of relating to anybody on anything approaching a human level without coming off like a creepy version of Jeff Bridges in Starman.
I get that all of this has been said before in one form or another; Romney’s aloofness and awkwardness are well-documented. I also get that I’m not breaking any new ground by pointing out that even the Republican establishment can’t muster up much enthusiasm for him; Cesca’s been chronicling for months what he jokingly calls “Romney Fever,” basically the instances when powerful Republicans have been asked about Romney and have come back with, shall we say, less-than-effusive endorsements. I also understand that despite Romney’s potential to be the next “FAIL” meme on the internet, he still has a chance of winning the presidency in a few months; counting on the intellect of the American electorate is generally a fool’s errand. Again, though, there’s just no way that Mitt Romney could be anyone’s first choice to take to the prom. Hell, the Republican Clown Car Primary all but proved it — and I seriously doubt that anyone’s really warmed to him now that he’s shown himself to at least be capable of being the last man standing among a crowd of idiots.
I bring this up because Romney’s coming off a particularly horrible week. It’s one that, as the usual suspects among the punditocracy are all lining up to intone, is not likely in and of itself to have any serious impact on his chances of becoming president. But everything that went wrong — and a lot went wrong — on Romney’s trip overseas didn’t happen in a vacuum; it’s part of an ongoing series of colossal fuck-ups that over the past several months have formed one giant Jenga tower of political liability.
Believe it or not, I laughed at but certainly wasn’t personally insulted by Romney’s idiotic, tone-deaf and entirely undiplomatic statement that London may not have been ready for the Olympics; the instant karma from that really dumb comment bit him on the ass in such a big way that I figured piling on would just be superfluous amid the sound and fury. I didn’t really stress too much, either, over the Romney Unit’s inability to address Ed Miliband by his actual name as opposed to the painfully artless “Mr. Leader” or his astonishingly ill-advised decision to violate strict protocol and even mention MI6. I also chuckled at his aide’s mildly profane and eminently entertaining temper tantrum aimed at reporters in Poland; if hearing a grown man representing a candidate for President of the United States angrily telling a bunch of people to kiss his ass doesn’t make you smile, you have no soul. I got through all of that and just kind of marveled along with everyone else how silly and bush-league — no pun intended — Romney was making himself look. Only the most delusional among the GOP faithful would really think he was ready for prime time.
No, in spite of all of the above proving that he can’t compete on the world stage, the real takeaway from Mitt Romney’s disastrous overseas adventure came during his time in Israel — when he basically slammed an entire nationality as being inferior by comparison to its neighbor due to the strength of that neighbor’s “culture.” Romney’s comment about the Palestinians quickly drew cries of racism — and those cries were pretty much on the money. His statement about Israel’s culture being the reason for its economic success and standard of civilization — the implication, no matter how you parse it, being that Palestinians are borderline savages — is reminiscent of what bigoted whites in this country used to say to justify the subjugation of blacks. To make matters worse, and this is the part that really twists the knife in the minds of those who understand that Mitt Romney is 100% full of shit, Romney quickly backtracked in an interview with Fox News’s Carl Cameron, saying that he “did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy.” In other words, he lied. Bald-faced. As he has over and over again since his campaign started.
But lest you think that Romney is merely a Pop Warner-level bullshit artist, he then — on the same day — published an op-ed in the National Review in which he doubled-down on the racist comment he had made in Israel then quickly denied. “During my recent trip to Israel, I had suggested that the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity, and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it,” Romney says. “In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy. But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture?” To use the vernacular leveled so effectively at John Kerry eight years ago, that’s two flip-flops in a period of about 48-hours.
The thing is, this is old hat for Mitt Romney by now. Steve Benen has spent the past few months keeping track of Romney’s lies — at some point you have to knock off the faux-fairness and call it what it is: lying — and I think his record is something like 21 in one week. 21 lies. In one week. An epically privileged, almost disquietingly detached former college bully and established, unapologetic corporate raider who seems incapable of actual empathy and who can’t go more than a week without telling at least a half-dozen flat-out lies.
Considering what the party has morphed into these days, Mitt Romney may be the perfect Republican.
But he’s a lousy candidate no matter how you try to convince everyone otherwise.