The Prefects, an 80s indie band from the Midlands with a name so twee you can immediately picture a gang of long-fringed people wearing over-large t-shirts in pastel colours, famously opened their first ever set in Brum with a tune titled ‘Birmingham’s A Shithole’. They were bottled off stage. America is beginning to realise that Mitt Romney, the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency, shares the same knack for knowing a crowd.
In a leaked video from a private fundraising event last week, Romney claimed the 47% of Americans receiving government help were “victims” of dependency and it wasn’t his job to chase after their votes. I will return to smutty knob gags and random stream-of-consciousness bollocks very shortly but forgive me if I actually attempt to make a serious political point.
Unemployment figures for the U.S. are running at 8%, which means that according to Romney, 39% of Americans are working but still “dependent”. He used to run a company called Bain, which specialised in gutting businesses of all expenses (code for sacking lots of people, making them reapply for less money and outsourcing their jobs overseas) before selling them on. Therefore, of those 39%, at least a few will be reliant on government support because of Romney’s antics, whereby they don’t earn a decent enough wage to live independently. Then he has the cheek to effectively call these people scroungers, even when they are often the most under-paid, over-worked people in every company.
Plus, the man is a liability in almost every sense. It takes something to make George W. Bush appear likeable but if you place both men side-by-side, you’d sooner go for a pint and pretzels with Bush (making extra sure he doesn’t choke on the pretzel). Romney cannot relate to ordinary people due to his $250 million fortune and he is an extremely robotic public speaker. When I watched his speech at the Republican convention, I remember thinking the last time I saw something so stiff was after watching a video by The Pussycat Dolls. See, it only took me a paragraph to shoe-horn a knob gag in.
Romney’s foot is permanently in his mouth. He slagged off London during the build up to the Olympics and questioned whether we were ready for such an event. If anything is going to make us scream our support and welcome the capital’s extra visitors with open arms, it’s some jumped-up Yank with ideas above his station. He also accused the Palestinians of being entirely responsible for the cluster-fuck that is the Middle East and has suggested he would be first in line to bomb Iran, which I’m sure will be viewed as harmless horseplay by the well-known (and by all accounts, rather well-armed) comedian President Ahmadinejad.
He then accused President Obama of being part of a privileged elite (cough cough, $250 million fortune) because he has probably spent “too much time at Harvard”. Mitt Romney has two Harvard degrees. He is also a dab hand at describing the American dream. You know the one, that old saw that any man or woman (unless they happen to be in the 47% of people who are dependent on government) can become middle class and rise up the ladder, perhaps reaching high enough to be in a position where they can sack lower-paid workers and shift jobs overseas? Well, here we go. “I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love”. At least ‘vague’ can’t be added to his list of faults.
Perhaps the most frightening thing of all, above the threat of immediate nuclear war should Romney come to power, worse than the decimation of federal support for the poor, more worrying even, than the fact he regards nearly half of all Americans as Obama’s scum, is that Mitt Romney was the Republicans sane choice. The party has moved so far to the right, they are barely plottable on a political GPS map. The rest of the mob who lined up to defeat him on the Republican ticket did so with attacks from the right, making Romney the bleeding heart liberal of the contenders.
Newt Gingrich, front-runner for a short while, was asked what should be done after a homeless man was shot near the White House. “Give the park police more ammo” was his cuddly response. Rick Perry described the BP oil spill as “an act of God”. So it’s nothing to do with official incompetence or lack of regulation or maybe genuine human error? No. The bearded white guy in the sky doth make birds die in floaty black stuff. Michelle Bachmann, Tea Party favourite (ie batshit mentalist), equated the swine flu outbreak with Obama’s presidency, saying it was an “interesting coincidence” that the previous outbreak of the disease was also under a Democrat president, Jimmy Carter.
When you consider the time, money and effort Romney had to put in to come on top against these nutters, you do start to wonder why there is still only four points or so between him and Obama.