To call Mitt Romney a lemon of a presidential candidate would be an insult to lemons. When the Republican Party began the arduous process of numbing themselves to the reality that Mitt Romney was their last, best hope for The White House, you have to think that they consoled themselves with the notion that he was the “safe” candidate. They must have thought that, while he wasn’t exciting or likeable or socially conservative, at least he was a professional—a man with a sterling business acumen and plenty of political pedigree. Romney could be the blank canvas upon which the American electorate expresses their intense disappointment with the Obama administration. All he needed to do was play the part. Sadly for the GOP, it doesn’t seem as if anyone looked over the script first.
In just the past month, Mitt Romney has racked up a resume of political ineptitude that would make Michael Dukakis blush. Like the entire Republican National Convention that preceded it, Romney’s nomination speech was pedestrian at best and pathetic at worst. Mitt’s potential “breakout moment” ended up polling as the most poorly received convention speech by a presidential hopeful since Gallup began keeping track of such things in 1996. Last week, as the American ambassador to Libya lay dead along three of his countrymen in Benghazi and while massive riots against the US were popping up around the world, the Romney campaign thought it prudent to attack President Obama for sympathizing with the rioters, despite chronological inaccuracies in their accusations and an absolute disregard for anything like the truth. And, as if he needed a cherry on top of his shit sundae, Mother Jones recently posted an undercover video of Romney at a $50,000 a plate private fundraiser in May, where he called 47% of the country a bunch of whiny entitled brats, mocked the possibility of a two-state solution in Israel and jokingly claimed that winning the race would be easier if he was Mexican. It has been epic demonstration of self-destructive impulse that makes George W. Bush look like an elegant statesman by comparison.
That Mitt Romney actually did all of the things that I’ve just mentioned is not terribly shocking. Ask left-of-the-aisle Americans if they think Romney is a vacuous, opportunistic elitist with utter disdain for the working class and you’d be hard pressed to find any of us coming to man’s defense. Our surprise wasn’t with his remarks, but rather with the fact that his campaign was unable to keep them under wraps. It’s evident that the man’s elusive tax returns and penchant for vulture capitalism belie his comments about “the entitled masses, while his bromance with Bibi Netanyahu and desire to make inroads with the Christian Right underscore his contempt for the Palestinian people. But, when he quipped about wishing he were Mexican so he would rake in some more votes, I just thought he was playing to his audience by being a xenophobic asshole. I never thought that it would actually become a part of his campaign strategy.
This past Wednesday, Romney flew down to Miami to do a “Meet The Candidate” forum hosted by the Spanish-language news outlet, Univision. With hispanic and latino voters becoming a more and more powerful voting block, it makes perfect sense to court their votes on Spanish-language TV, as was evidenced by the fact that President Obama did the same thing a day later. The forum was hosted by refreshingly dogged interviewers Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas, who raked Romney and Obama over the coals—at least by contemporary US journalistic standards—for their stances on immigration reform, deportation and host of other issues of interest to America’s hispanic/latino population. Yet, the most noteworthy thing about Romney’s interview with Univision wasn’t anything he said—it was how he looked while he said it.
I don’t know how it happened. Maybe Romney lost a bet or an Obama staffer was in cahoots with Univision‘s makeup guy. It’s quite possible that Romney’s campaign Chief Strategist Stuart Stevens was up late and had an epiphany while watching Silver Streak on AMC. Like I said, I don’t know. What I do know is that Mitt Romney showed up to his Meet The Candidate forum in brownface. There is no mistaking the fact that Mitt’s skin tone had gone from “pale” to “oompa loompa” in a day or two’s time. Unwittingly or not, the Republican candidate for president just went all Al Jolson on us. Short of sudden exposure to massive amounts of radiation or some serious food allergy, there is no way that Mittens’ face goes from peach to burnt umber between campaign appearances. If his skin got that way naturally he would have been in a physician’s waiting room and not an auditorium Wednesday night.
I think I can safely say that if this was conscious decision by Team Romney to spray-tan the ever-loving hell out of their candidate’s face to grab the latino vote, then we have officially entered the Twilight Zone. In no reality that I can think of would it ever cross anyone’s mind, much less the minds of campaign advisors raking in six figures, to varnish a politician’s face to ingratiate him to voters. This is something out of a Christopher Guest movie, not real life. It’s hard enough to take the bile that spills out of Romney’s maw on a normal day. When the man shows up caked in a half-inch of bronzer and starts spewing nonsense about being concerned about 100% of Americans my brian just shuts down in self-defense. It looks as if all we can do to stave off the campaign madness is try and forget that this ever happened and pray that BET doesn’t invite Romney to a candidate forum of their own.
Categories: US Politics