Mitt Romney is a carny.
Now before anyone wants to jump down my throat and argue across party lines or tell me I don't know what I am talking about, let me give you some information. I am the daughter of a carny so I know one when I see one. This has nothing to do with gender, age, race or political alliance. It has to do with the fact that the man could have a brilliant career on the side show circuit.
See here's what any good carny will tell you is the key to a successful pitch--a good bally and then distract the marks! Yes sir, yes sir, step right up and see the giant! Nine feet ten inches tall (never mind that the guy is six foot six). Then they'll be pointing out the fine quality stuffed bears on the top shelf that you could win--yessiree!--with their right hand while they are setting the rig on the game with their left foot. Engage the mark with enthusiasm and promises and then distract them so you can set them up and send them home with empty pockets.
And here's what Mitt Romney did.
In the first debate he went after PBS. And then for good measure threw in Big Bird. It's a brilliant bally! Take something that you know the liberals will flip their wigs over (public television) and throw in an icon. Now watch the marks tripping over themselves to get onto facebook and kvetch about it.
The reality of this is that the federal government is not a major source of funding for PBS. It is however, a major source for Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Well, major for them. In terms of annual federal spending the amount they get is a blip. And Big Bird doesn't work for either of them. He works for Sesame Street. Granted they are all connected but please don't suggest to me that if public broadcasting disappeared tomorrow, that Nickelodeon wouldn't jump on the chance to syndicate Sesame Street. And they would make a boat load of money on it.
The internet was on fire!!!! No one was talking about any of the issues. No siree Bob! It was all about Big Bird. No conversations on the monetary value of pre-school preparatory education that shows like Sesame Street provide. How many children, I wonder, have started school already knowing their numbers, their letters and having a good running start on learning how to read because of Sesame Street. An analysis of the actual value of federal dollars spent is the real point. Big Bird is a puppet--he'll be fine.
Distraction at its finest.
And last night's show was even better. Distract distract distract! "I have binders full of women" is the debate equivalent of "Come see the living headless body!" It's a mirror trick. There is no such thing as a living headless body. And so far, there is no such thing as any significant female presence in the Romney campaign or cabinet planning. It's a trick. A sleight of hand. And it's all anyone can talk about today. Truth be told, I'm having a really hard time stopping myself from making binder jokes. It's really fun!
Here's the part where this gets political. I blame the Republican Party for building this midway. In 2008, the Palin family was trotted out like the Tiny Tim and Miss Vicky of the election. At the time, I believed that the Palin's were there so the party could have a scapegoat when they lost. But it turned out, the Palins fired the country up. The result--an even larger gap between the Democrats and the Republicans. The rhetoric of the past four years has been outstanding. From the birthers to the Tea Party and everything in between the lack of focus on real issues and real accountability has been profound. And the party seems to have decided that "Step Right Up" is the new campaign slogan. And this year we are getting an even bigger and better show.
Our current administration did not start the bailouts but I have lost count of the number of times that President Obama has been blamed for them. The wars were already going full force. The economy was already in the crapper. I could go on but I won't.
What we got from the Republican Party was a series of sideshows. So often information was either misleading (the famous man eating chicken gag) or patently false (the girl into a gorilla gag). And Governor Romney, who claims to be an intelligent man, allowed himself to become the pitch man for this hot mess.
Which is the main reason why I don't like him. He believes that we are all willing marks who will fall for any trick or gag that they come up with. It's insulting, it's dangerous and it reeks of hubris.
I am proud to be categorized as a liberal based on my values and my beliefs (actually, my uncle called me a screaming pinko liberal when I was in seventh grade but that's a story for another day). A huge part of my value system is respect for other people's opinions, values and beliefs unless I find them illegal, hateful or immoral. For most conservatives, that is not the case. They are simply good people who see the world differently than I do. And I am fine with that. I like living in a country where we are all allowed to be different and to share our differences.
As proud as I am of being a liberal, I am equally proud of the people who share my values of acceptance, mutual intelligence, discourse and tolerance regardless of their politics. I wish our political system would do the same.