-or, "Why Who We Vote for in the Primary is So Crucial"
The general consensus amongst the cognizati is that the second term of Barack Obama began on August 30th, 2012, when GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney uttered his now-infamous "Nope; He's my boy!" comment. Only three days after his nomination at the Republican National Convention, and Romney's campaign was seemingly folding like a cheap tent.
Angst had been building inside the circles of the national media within days of Romney announcing his choice of Congressman Alan West as his Vice Presidential running mate. Much hay was being made about Mr. West's relative lack of experience in administrative or elected office, and the appearance that Mr. West, a black American, had been chosen simply as a black foil to Barack Obama.
For Romney's part, he insisted he had chosen Mr. West for his outstanding military credentials, filling in the gaps in his own experience, and also adding a bit of geographical balance to his north-eastern patrician persona, and possibly helping with the GOP odds of taking Florida, to boot.
But, Romney was desperately fighting off accusations of tokenism, especially when he made passing reference to it being his distinct pride to know he had made "the first nomination of a person of African descent to the office of the Vice Presidency". The pride Mr. Romney felt, evidently, only ran to the color of Alan West's skin, not the magnificence of his military or congressional service. Romney, in the eyes of the mainstream media, was digging himself a deeper hole with each utterance.
Rumors, fueled by noisy speculation from the left-wing bloggosphere, began building that Romney had pulled a Thomas Eagleton, and was on the verge of withdrawing the nomination of West. When confronted about that possibility at a rally in Temple, Texas on August 30th that he would soon dump West, Romney made the comment, "Nope; He's my Boy!"
With that simple word --"boy"-- Romney came off sounding (and looking) like a southern plantation aristocrat, and, combined with his grotesquely supine groveling in the days following the gaffe, in which he continued to pour gasoline on the conflagration, race became the dominate issue in a campaign that should have been about the dire economic circumstances facing the country.
And so the campaign lumbered on:
October 6th, 2012: Alan West removes himself from the ticket, saying at a mob-scene presser, "It is quite clear, from the motives and actions of the national media, that Governor Romney cannot continue to press his case before the American People for fiscally sound and constitutionally limited government so long as I remain on the ticket with him. Consequently, I am withdrawing my name as his Vice Presidential Running Mate, and have formally requested that a new candidate be found in my stead".
What Mr. West didn't acknowledge was a Romney "hot microphone" incident at a townhall meeting in Muskegon, Michigan the day before. Just before appearing on stage, the former Governor was overheard speaking with a member of his advance team, and he said, verbatim, "just look at the crap I have to put up with to calm down the snarling right flank"-- meaning, evidently, the choosing of Alan West in the first place.
Now, Alan West was not only a "boy", but, apparently, "crap", too. The Romney campaign was suddenly in full melt-down, from which it never recovered.
October 10th, 2012: After a very public rejection of both Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty, Romney chooses Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin as his running mate, and is immediately beset with comparisons to the selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate in 2008. The left-wing media, in fact, begins to call Governor Fallin "Sarah Fallin". Governor Fallin, much to her credit, says with an iron spine: "I hope I can put up with the media colonoscopy with half the grace and humor that Sarah Palin did".
October 12th, 2012: In one of the few bright spots in the fall campaign for Romney, he has a brilliant exchange with President Obama at the first Debate at Montana State University in Bozeman:
President Obama:"Governor Romney, you know, can talk ad nauseum about what a disaster his Medical Plan was in Massachusetts, and so on, but at one time both he and his own Heritage Foundation called for exactly what I and the congress approved, which is, a single-payer, universal healthcare plan.
Moderator Carl Kastell: Governor Romney, your response?
Mitt Romney:"My response is one of astonishment, frankly. You know, in the, ah, science of psychology, there are a couple of propositions, one called projection, and the other called a Freudian Slip. A Freudian Slip is when someone is speaking off-the-cuff, and reveals something in their talk that they otherwise would not reveal. We just heard this from the President. He said his plan was just like the one that we passed in Massachusetts, that is, a Universal, single-payer healthcare system. Now, I think everyone in this room probably caught this jaw-dropping gaffe, but I can tell by the look on his face that the President is only now aware of it. We passed a healthcare program that provided for mandated insurance coverage, which, as it turns out was a complete mistake. But, and this is the projection part, it wasn't a single-payer universal system. I think President Obama just revealed that this is what he wished would happen here in the United States, pure and simple. He wants Universal, European-style government controlled healthcare. He just said as much.
Other than this bright and lucid moment, the Romney campaign never found it footing, and, by virtue of Mr. Romney's own stated position of "not getting down into barroom brawls", it seemed incapable of effectively countering the relentless attacks on the campaign, the candidate and even his family and religion.
Election Night, November, 2012: Probably the most astonishing thing about the election result was the dispirited nature of the electorate: It was the first time in American history when fewer votes were cast in the Presidential election than in the previous election. Barack Obama, although clearly the winner, garnered 59,600,000 votes to Mitt Romney's 50,770,000 votes. No doubt, of course, the vote totals (- as well as the fortunes of Mitt Romney) were suppressed by the late-season hurricane Winston that tore through Houston, Texas on election morning, and that was pummeling the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex that evening.
Barack Obama, though, has absolutely no electoral coattails as the United States Senate is swept by Republicans. Michigan, Wisconsin, New Mexico, North Dakota, West Virginia, Virginia, Florida, Montana, Missouri and Nebraska all elect Republican candidates, and the GOP retains seats in every state they were defending. The US House of Representatives also add two GOP members to its numbers.
November 26, 2012:In celebration of the Islamic New Year of Al Hijrah, Iran detonates the first of four underground nuclear devices in 74 hours through the 28th. Barack Obama, traveling to Sumatra to join some members of his family in a post-election vacation, is unavailable for public comment for nearly seven hours during the day of the 26th, during which time Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declares openly that this is an act of unprovoked war. No immediate military response, though, is taken against Iran.
November 29th, 2012: Iran, declaring that it must "crush the militarism and the bellicose language of the International Zionists" attacks Iraq at seven locations nearing the Tigris river. At this moment, the United Nations Security Council is not called into session.
November 30th, 2012: American forces still stationed in Iraq are paralyzed by unclear rules of engagement in the early hours. Their role, since late 2010, has been as support and enforcement, not front-line combat readiness. 39 American soldiers die that day in two separate attacks in the central part of the county. In a clear act of provocation, in Bandar Abbas, Iran moves against closing the Straits of Hormuz. American forces still have made no cross-border engagements.
December 1st, 2012: World oil markets are traumatized by word that Iran has closed the Straits. Throughout the day, the barrel price of oil jumps from $93 to $202 in eight hours. Late in the day, the Japanese stock market begins to crash, losing over 40 percent of its value in the next 48 hours. By December 12th, the barrel price for oil reaches $300, and gasoline retail prices in the United States crack the $6 per gallon threshold.
December 14th, 2012: The United Nations Security Council meeting in emergency session since December 7th, remains deadlocked on a resolution because Russia insists on inserting language in the resolution requiring Israel to "exit" all it's "occupied" lands, in "accordance with UN Resolution 242 of 1968". Fighting intensifies inside Iraq, and Egypt is seen massing rocket batteries near the Sinai Peninsula.
December 17th, 2012 (Black Tuesday): Pacific Retail Partners (PRP) abruptly shutters all it 289 gasoline retail operations in California, Oregon and Arizona after failing to retain it's credit line with it's wholesale gasoline suppliers. In a scene that will be duplicated many times in the month ahead, most major retailers are unable to keep up with the abrupt rise in the price of gasoline stocks as wholesale purchasers increasingly purchase on the open market, and their credit lines are squeezed. Within weeks, retail customers at major urban centers find that their availability of gasoline at the pump has been crimped (as in the case of South Central Los Angeles) by up to 80%. Also, the American and most European stock exchanges crumble, in the case of the United States, the New York Stock Exchange sheds over 40% of it's value starting on December 17th.
Also in the twilight hours of December 17th, the American Embassy in Iraq is shelled intensely. Barack Obama issues a statement calling for calm and opens the door to negotiations with the Iranians. Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Iran's President since early March, ignores the President's pleas and sends a simple statement: "Iran no longer negotiates with criminal regimes that seek to destroy our Motherland, and protect the Zionist entity. The mistake of the UN in 1948 will soon be erased from the map."
December 24th, 2012: The "Christmas Eve Gas Riot" or the "LA Gas Riot" is kindled in East Central Los Angles when a Chevron station in San Bernadino is torched by a rampaging mob angry over the unavailability of gasoline. Such riots quickly spread to Atlanta, Cincinnati and Camden, and other urban centers as gas becomes increasingly scarce.
December 25th, 2012: As Iranian attacks intensify inside Iraq, Barack Obama authorizes cross-boarder military action against Iran, without consent of the United Nations Security Council. At 12:44 AM Local Time on the 26th, nearly two hours after the incursions, in a sparsely populated and rugged area between Latakia and Hims, Syria, what appears to be a 85-megaton nuclear bomb is detonated, but is apparently a "fizzle", and the actual yield is much lower. The destruction, however, within the ten-mile blast zone is total, and radiation levels are immense. President Obama resists the advice of his Joint Chiefs, and refuses to raise the alert level of the national Defense Condition. He claims that doing so might incite the Egyptians and other Middle East powers into thinking America had exploded the bomb. In fact, within the hour, the President of Iran takes to the airwaves to insist his country is not to blame for the explosion, but indicates another blast may be forthcoming shortly. Spectography of the footprint of the blast indicates it is not of American or Western origin, but test are inconclusive beyond this point.
Within minutes of the Syrian misfire, Prime Minister Netanyahu authorizes the nuclear bombing of Iran. "We have said repeatedly that there will be no more Holocausts," says the Israeli Prime Minister, after he announces his decision, "and we mean what we have said for decades. We have also been saved by the very skin of our teeth, and God has granted us the divine opportunity to extract our reprisal before we are hit. May the Lord bless this fragile earth at such a critical moment."
...and this was before the New Year was out...