Given some recent comments and maneuvers made by his campaign, I’m finding that lately I like Mitt Romney less with every passing day. The latest example of impetus for my diminished opinion of him: the State of the Union Pre-buttal.
First of all, the very notion of a pre-buttal constitutes a sad statement about the status of our national discourse. Has it really come to be too much to ask for the participants in a debate to try to let one another speak before they attempt to refute the statements that each is likely to make? What kind of example are you setting for your audience if you indicate that they don’t even have to listen to the other side of the argument in order to know that it’s wrong? I get it: You disagree with whatever he says whenever he says it. But that provides you with plenty of material to comment on from the recent past, without having to ask your audience to gather round the crystal ball while you go into detail about what’s wrong with the statements that are yet to come.
There’s no such thing as a pre-buttal. It’s a goddamn oxymoron. You either make the first volley in a debate or you rebuff the initial comments in a response. You can’t preemptively undercut the lead participant’s position and then stand back and gloat over his failure to address your objections in the remarks that he prepared well ahead of time. Your confidence is admirable, Mitt, but it’s belied by your refusal to let the audience have another opinion in memory, to which they can compare your grandstanding.
Now to be fair, Mitt Romney didn’t invent the pre-buttal. It seems like it’s becoming common practice now during the Obama administration, but John Edwards made the same dick move before George W. Bush’s 2008 address. But neither the fact that it has been done on both sides of the aisle nor the fact that he’s just going along with the devolution of political etiquette is an excuse. Anyone who thinks that a debate doesn’t have to have structure is a dim-witted political opportunist more interested in manipulating a crowd than making a valid argument, and he’s worsening the state of American politics.
But just giving a speech a stupid name doesn’t make it that objectionable, right? You’ve got to look at the content; it could be a perfectly normal campaign speech that just happens to coincide with the State of the Union address.
Well, first of all, it truly lives up to the stupid name:
“It's shameful for a President to use the State of the Union to divide our nation.”
He hasn’t said anything yet, jackass!
Mitt refers directly to the State of the Union further into the text of the speech, as well, and couples the manipulative anachronism with vibrant red herrings:
“If tonight were the first message to Congress in a Romney administration, I'd have the courage to tell the American people how it is and tell Congress what we really need to do. I wouldn't spend my time blaming others for how we got in this mess; I'd explain how we're going to get out of it. I'd use the State of the Union to lay out an agenda that will get our country back on track and get our fiscal house in order.”
Well that’s great, Mitt, but it’s really not of issue right now, is it? If you were giving your first State of the Union address, it would be either a fictitious two years ago, or a potential two years from now. And guess what? Whatever President Obama says tonight – which, again, we haven’t heard yet – it’s going to be markedly different from the remarks he made during his first year in office, or that he will make during the first year of his second term.
If you want to create an elaborate false reality in which you’re president, Mitt, fine. But you can’t choose which year of your presidency it is, so let’s assume either that it’s the present and you’ve been in charge since 2009, or that it’s 2015 and you’re three quarters of the way through the term you’re seeking now. If by some chance – and I know this is a tremendous stretch of the imagination – you haven’t managed in that time to reduce unemployment to record lows while eliminating the debt and growing the army into something that “no one would think of challenging,” what would your speech be like then? Would you charge forward and explain how we’re going to get out of it this time, and never pause to explain the context for why a Romney administration doesn’t preside over utopia? Would you still expect no one to call you on your bullshit?
Even if I were going to vote for you Mitt, I wouldn’t expect you to come remotely close to fulfilling your insanely delusional promises. I didn’t expect it of Obama, and I wouldn’t expect it of anyone. Promises do not constitute “the courage to tell the American people how it is.” Honest, thorough explanations do.
But the piece de resistance of irrational political discourse comes near the end, though one has to admire the balls on a man who is willing to essentially tell people with a straight face that he’s blowing smoke up their asses:
“Do we want a president who will try to explain again why his policies haven't worked? Do we want a president who will keep promising that this time he will get it right? Do we want a president who keeps telling us why he's right and why we're wrong? Or do we want the sense of excitement that comes with a new beginning?”
Seriously, Mitt? That’s your argument? That we’d be better off electing somebody different simply because he’s different, because that would be exciting and allow delusional Republicans to experience the ecstatic expectation of miracles that delusional Democrats enjoyed four years previous? You think your constituents should vote for you because you won’t have to explain why your policies haven’t worked? No kidding, they haven’t worked, you haven’t fucking done anything yet! You think they should vote for you because when you promise that you’ll get it right, you’re promising it for the first time? You think cocksure certitude about his own views somehow distinguishes Obama from you?
Jesus, Mitt, given how well-groomed you are, you must look in the mirror once in a while. Have you ever paid any attention to yourself? A few moments of introspection would probably prevent you from being increasingly insufferable. If amidst the tight schedule of your campaign you don’t have time for that, I’ll look forward to the next thing you say or do to make me despise you more.