Quemoy, Matsu, Soviet Domination in Eastern Europe and Newt’s Open Marriage…
So, Mitt Romney’s campaign bandwagon is stuck in the mud, in the cowpie-ridden fields of some Flyover Battleground State.
Fire Stu Whatsisname! Concentrate on the “messaging”! Pull that TV ad! Run this TV ad! PANIC! Change the Polling “screens”! (-Why? Too many moths getting in the room, and eating up the argyles?) For heaven’s sake, head for the hills!
Easy now. Calm down. Concentrate, folks.
Remember Michael Dukakis puttering around in an M-1 Tank, about a month before the 1988 election, looking for all the world like Sargent Snorkel? The little label on his helmet might have said “Dukakis”, but it might well have been “Knucklehead”. Riding as high in the polls as he was in the tank, the Electorate was Dukakis’ oyster. Soon after that, though, the Democrat Maestro from Massachusetts was asked if he would mete out retribution on the perpetrator of his wife’s hypothetical rape, and all he could sputter was something about ‘restraint” .
Uh huh. Restraint. THAT from Mr. Tough Guy in the M-1.
After this chuckle-worthy bit of political burlesque, there was nothing restrained about the voter’s judgement of Mr. Dukakis: He’s a liberal, a weakling, and a loser. All it took was a week or two of thinking about it.
Then there was Gerald Ford, who, when not bumping his head on the door –or stumbling down the staircase– of Air Force One, was south in the polls by some thirty points to Jimmuh in the spring of 1976. Soon, though, even the Guvenuh’s infectious (–and suddenly omnipresent) smile was wearing a bit thin. Ford had climbed back in the ring, and the polls showed a dead heat by the second televised Presidential debate in early October of that year. Then Ford famously said:
“There is no Soviet Domination of Eastern Europe, and in a Ford Administration, there never will be!”
Most people, upon hearing the pickled pronouncement from the man who was forever thumping his chest about the Helsinki Accords, shook their heads, convincing themselves they hadn’t just heard what they thought they heard. Not only was the statement laughingly wrong, most simple folks said to themselves: “Aren’t we already IN the Ford Administration?”
Dick Cheney, Ford’s Chief of Staff, who was watching the debate in his West Wing office shook his head, too, and said, “we just lost the election”. And, of course, they had. The razor-thin lead in the polls President Ford was husbanding evaporated overnight.
During the Nixon-Kennedy spat of 1960, an ugly battle between the two putative Cold Warriors blew up a few weeks before the election, when the Chinese Communists decided to re-start the ongoing festivities in Taiwan Straight by shelling the flyspeck islands of Quemoy and Matsu. Suddenly, the two little dots of land took on enormous proportions in the second televised debate between a now properly cosmeticized Nixon and a clearly discomfited Kennedy when Nixon wondered aloud if Kennedy would support Chaing Kai-shek with nuclear weapons if the Communists made an all-out assault on what the west believed to be a democratic outpost in the Far East. Kennedy demurred. Nixon pounced.
…and Nixon opened his first sizable lead in the polls. Finally, despite the old General finding little good to say about his Vice President, Dwight Eisenhower joined the fray, and campaigned hard for the Nixon-Lodge team. Then, in the forth debate, Kennedy got his own jab back at Nixon by positing an obvious question: Why was the Vice President so fixated on two tiny island half-way around the world, when his own administration did nothing when the commies seized a much larger island only ninety miles off the United States mainland –Cuba?
Kennedy was quoted as saying that until that moment, with Eisenhower out calling him a “little boy”, he could “feel the votes leaving” his campaign. If it had gone one week later, he was sure, he would have otherwise lost the election.
The point is this: If there was ever a word that cannot be applied to an American Presidential Election is stasis. Things change, sometimes in ways that seem subtle, then reach a crescendo –a critical mass– that is entirely impossible to predict. Sometimes, the election changes on a dime. When is the last time anyone made an overture to a “Perot Voter”? And yet, when George H. W. Bush yawningly looked at his watch during the last debate of 1992, this supposedly sent leagues of the Precious Uncommitted Voter over to the Little General. Who knows?
Mitt Romney might lose this election. I doubt it, though. I have too much faith in the regular, hard-working men and women of this nation to believe they will throw their liberties so blithely on the bonfire of free condoms, race-guilt and class envy.
But, I do know this:
Mitt Romney WILL lose this election if the fighting is never kindled. His AND ours.
Mitt needs to take off the cocktail gloves, and put on the brass knuckles; his rival is already wielding a switchblade, and Romney better arm up, too. We need the same Mitt that leaked word to Drudge of an “open marriage” in Newt Gingrich’s past. We need the same Mitt that tracked down the now long-forgotten name Susan Bialek. We need the same Mitt that was Mr. Gung Ho to open the floodgates against Rick Santorum. That’s fighting…
But, we must fight, too. Writing diaries on RedState won’t have nearly the effect of writing a letter to a son or daughter, or a neighbor, or a co-worker, who is on the fence, and persuadable to reason and logic. A hand-written letter, with a hand-addressed envelope will have an impact many orders of magnitude greater than a slick flyer from Romney Headquarters.
I am sending out perhaps a dozen of these letters. They are sincere, and heart-felt. I am signing them, too. If you REALLY think this election is the most important of your lifetime, don’t leave it to the professionals to get the job done. Mitt Romney wasn’t my horse in the race, but he’s all we have now. He’s our only option. Four more years of Barack Obama is intolerable to contemplate.
I spoke earlier of the building crescendo–
Let’s help it out a bit, shall we?