17 October 2012: Romney would be bad for America

Romney would be bad for America

I’m giving President Obama a pass on his less-than stellar performance during the October 4 debate.  By the time this column is printed, hopefully he will have redeemed himself by challenging Mr. Romney to answer “Which Mitt is it?” he has the pleasure of addressing in the October 16 debate.

In the Catholic tradition there are sins of commission and sins of omission.  It is the difference between telling a lie and not telling the truth.  Being a Mormon, Romney isn’t required to kneel in the confessional and later do penance in atonement for his obfuscations.  Too bad.  He’d likely face knee-replacement afterwards.

On taxes, health care, Medicare, Medicaid, and other wide-ranging issues, Romney used an Etch-a-Sketch to erase old positions he had taken to stave off loony opponents during the Republican primaries.  It was an amazing performance even by Mitt’s standards for flip-flopping.

The President failed to call him down on it.  As he has admitted, he had a bad night.  Who hasn’t?

The telling aspect of it will be in the outcome in terms of how many independent voters who claim to be independent thinkers cast their votes for Romney based upon that snapshot.

I’m reminded of Kurt Vonnegut’s line in Slaughterhouse Five when someone dies: So it goes.  In this case, critical thinking and accountability.

The good news is that the election season is nearing its merciful end.  The bad news is that the dynamics have shifted considerably at the national level, and what seemed like a done-deal in terms of Obama’s reelection is up in the air.

Should Obama not prevail, we’ll be facing a long-term rightwing dominance given four justices on the Supreme Court, already the most ideologically conservative court in generations, are in their seventies.  Two of them are solid liberals, which would leave only two remaining.

If Obama is reelected, there’s a good possibility of a shift to a more progressive view of law and society.  If Romney prevails, women will need to accept the fact that their emancipation from state control will revert to pre-Roe v. Wade days.

When it comes to the role of the state in private economic lives, hypocrisy abounds on the right.  Avowed Randians like Paul Ryan demand government cease operating in the private sphere, but then turn around and put their hands into the public treasury in the form of accepting Social Security, seeking stimulus funds for their roads, and voting for subsidies for their favorite corporations.

They run up the national debt by supporting unfunded wars and cutting taxes for the uber-wealthy and plan to add more to it by implementing further cuts under the guise of “job creation.”  Their logic rests on the idea that the only way to fill the hole they more than helped dig is to keep digging, all the way to China.

In their ongoing process of rightwing social engineering, they want to more than turn back the clock.  They want to create a dystopian society as envisioned by atheist Ayn Rand who sees people in a very clear dichotomy: producers and takers.  Ryan, a Catholic idolizing Rand, holds that 70 percent of us fall into that category.  Romney isn’t quite as harsh: For him only 47 percent of Americans are losers, sucking off the teat of government.

Of course, Romney has admitted not only paying a lower tax rate than vast majority of middle-income earners, he has also disqualified himself from being president by saying that if he paid more than what he legally had to pay, he would not be worthy of the office.

In July, he told ABC News, “Frankly, if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president. I’d think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires.”

So, in order to keep his tax rate above 14 percent, he chose not to claim the entire allowable charitable deductions.  Had he done so his effective rate would’ve been about 10.4 percent.

Weep not for the poor rich man, however, because he can claim it next year by refiling since he’ll no longer need to bamboozle the lesser-informed in order to win their votes.

And besides, there are always all those funds stashed in the Cayman Islands and Swiss banks.  It’s always good to stash a few bucks away in case of a rainy day.

Such are the vagaries of the American political climate.  So it goes.

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