At some point during Monday’s debate the Romney campaign must have panicked at the sight of their candidate taking a full throttle shellacking from President Obama, and frantically sought for the proper “spin” to camouflage what America was witnessing. Immediately following the debate it was clear that the “talking points” had been distributed quickly as every Republican pundit on television, radio and over the Internet was claiming Mitt Romney passed the credibility test because he “looked presidential” while the President steamrolled him on the stage at Lynn University during the final presidential debate.
As if the claim that looking the part is sufficient for the presidency is not insulting enough, many Republican spin doctors had the gall to suggest that President Obama looked “angry” and was “too aggressive.” While just two weeks earlier, a defiant and arrogant Mitt Romney was praised after the first presidential debate for taking the President to task. This is not just partisan blindness, it is a critique borne of history and our nation’s sordid racial past and tenuous racial present. Clearly, a white male can be aggressive yet considered intelligent and exhibiting leadership, while an African-American male is expected to be subservient and deferential when addressing a white person. This expectation of antebellum “social etiquette” is apparent among Republicans who cannot accept the legitimacy of a Black man in the White House for any job except butler.
The idea that Mitt Romney is qualified to lead the nation because he looked “presidential” lowers the threshold for leadership and plays voters for fools. It is the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig and calling the animal beautiful. Republicans want to reduce the presidency to a beauty pageant and are trying to convince us that Mitt Romney is somehow qualified to sit in the Oval Office because he passed the personality portion of the pageant. The post-debate spin by the GOP is a tacit admission that their guy is superficial and can only rely on appearance to make the case for his election to the highest office in the land and the most powerful in the world.
This not the first time Republicans have engaged in “role play” in trying to convince the nation that they are credible leaders. Remember President George W. Bush’s stunt on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln when he tried to convince the nation that the war in Iraq had been won? Though the Navy ship was just off the coast of San Diego, Bush flew on a combat jet to the carrier to create the appearance of a warrior, the tough commander-in-chief coming to declare victory over the enemy. To top off that farce President Bush gave a thundering victory speech under a banner claiming “Mission Accomplished” hung across the aircraft carrier’s tower. This act of deception was complete with a camera angle that suggested the vessel was out at sea in a combat zone when a quick turn would have revealed the San Diego skyline.
As much as Republicans like to crow about Hollywood and its liberal leanings, the party has perfected the art of political theater. Substance be damned, so long as the party can create the imagery of leadership it believes it can dupe an American electorate that is so dumbed down that it really believes folks like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are journalists. Heck, even Ronald Reagan controlled the “shot” in death as his memorial service ended with his casket framed by the California sunset. They could have put an Old Navy mannequin on that debate stage, and they literally did, and Republicans would have declared their candidate looked strong and resolute.
Mitt Romney’s campaign has been a farce from the very beginning. This is a man who wants to be President but does not want to lead. His candidacy rests on the singular claim that he is qualified to serve because of his business background. There is no doubt that private sector experience is an asset but not the type that Mitt Romney brings to the table. His father, George Romney, the former governor of Michigan and presidential candidate, was a credible businessman because he led a company that actually produced a product and jobs. His son Mitt has engaged in the practice of corporate butchery, laying waste to companies, selling their parts and decimating workers, while producing nothing except profits for him and his Bain cohorts. That’s not business experience. It is greed and debauchery.
Americans must decide if they want someone who looks “presidential” or the real thing. If they fall for the logic that only appearances count we will suffer the consequences as a nation and lose whatever credibility we have left in the global community after the disastrous Bush years.
Walter Fields is Executive Editor of NorthStarNews.com.