Before his election to a prison cell, Edwin Edwards won and then won again the office of Governor of Louisiana. He was phenomenally popular, and it helped that his opponent the second time around was David Dike, of Ku Klux fame.
Edwards was asked what needed to happen for David Duke to lose. He answered: “For me to stay alive.”
He was asked how he could lose “…if I’m caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.”
The favorite bumper sticker in the state came to be: “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important”.
Nobody was surprised by his victory or his later conviction.
Mitt Romney's campaign staff has to be surprised by the year-long Christmas Day that was once called the Republican primary season. His opponents are not of David Duke caliber. And Mitt Romney is untouched by personal illegality. The nearest to scandal, outside his slippery regard toward anything resembling principle, has been his former willingness as a financial manipulator to crush the hopes and dreams of working people in order to make a quick bundle for himself. That was well before he joined the family business of politics.
He is not a crook but, like Edwards, he has been blessed and blessed again by his opposition. In fact, his cup runneth so over it seems the source of a mighty political river.
The Bachmann train derailed quickly as the applause lines for tea party activists became stale with repetition. What little variation has emerged has been startling. The President will now move troops from Libya to Africa? I keep thinking of the long commute of a worker living in St. Louis who must travel the long road to Missouri. Does she really determine health policy at the direction of a stranger met in a hallway after a debate?
Herman Cain is ... well ... godfathering himself downward, nailing one foot to the floor on abortion then the other to the wall on a hopelessly inept response to whatever harassment scandal is served up this week. His muddled thoughts on how to firmly stand on rigid interpretation of abortion law hold. The rights of a fertilized egg are equivalent to that of a person from the moment of conception all the way through. Until families determine otherwise. Government should not interfere if they decide to break that law. He does have a sense of humor, though, amusing audiences with imaginative ideas on how to kill immigrants.
Rick Perry seems unable to string words into sentences, or sentences into paragraphs. He gazes, bewildered, at the building blocks of thought lying in a jumble around his feet. The complexity of any exchange of ideas confuses him. "I'm a doer not a talker." His latest performance in New Hampshire was mesmerizing in exaggerated gestures and overly broad expressions. Actors moving from Vaudeville to movie screen faced similar hurdles. They learned nuanced communication.
It is almost always seems at least slightly absurd to regard anyone as President who has not actually been cast into the role. But Romney's opponents are in another zone.
Romney's every-position-on-every-issue is ... well ... his position on every issue. No supporter will compose a replica of the Edward bumper sticker. No "Vote for the Crook" here. Instead, perhaps, "Vote Romney - Whatcha gonna do?" Decisions are sometimes simplified when there is no alternative.
In a perverse way, Mitt Romney's lack of moorings may help him in the general. Although he embraces the tea party in an improbable "in sync" speech, his lack of credibility on extreme issues may insulate him from attack next year. "Vote Romney - You know he didn't mean it."
Positions are not important to this odd candidacy. His strategy is not based on what he is for. It is based on the inadequacy of any other choice. If the economy is bad enough, he hopes a similar path will lead into a successful next November. The operative, unspoken, slogan is his one point of constancy, his only Northern Star.
"Vote Romney - the Lesser of Who Cares"
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