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(In no particular order)

1. Tax cuts for the wealthy

2. Curtailment of female reproductive rights

3. Repeal of Health Care Reform and, ultimately, social safety nets

4. Privatization of everything (see above)

5. Crush unions

6. Start least one more war

7. Obama is an uppity —— who hates America

8. Obama is an uppity —— who hates America

9. Obama is an uppity —— who hates America

10. Obama is an uppity —— who hates America

11. Obama is an uppity —— who hates America

12. Obama is an uppity —— who hates America

The right to vote—the very foundation of the American idea—is drenched in blood, something precious beyond value, for which men and women have fought, suffered and died. The franchise is a right once confined to white male property owners, and only after centuries of struggle was it extended to African-Americans, women, and all other citizens over the age of 18.

Now, all across the nation, Republican state governments are waging war on voting. Using the ruse of “voter fraud”—an invented non-crisis—GOP governors and legislatures, many of them installed in the 2010 elections, are ramming through Voter ID laws that may suppress turnout by several million in 2012. These laws disproportionately affect the elderly, infirm, minorities, the poor and students—most historically Democratic constituencies. In many cases, voters who have cast ballots for decades must now obtain and produce new forms of identification in order to make their voices heard. Often this requires travel and considerable cost—effectively, an unconstitutional poll tax—and a descent into Kafkaesque bureaucracy.

The goal, of course, is that millions of potentially Democratic voters will throw their hands up, surrender—and stay home on Election Day.

The goal, of course, is to defeat Barack Obama.

It’s an old story. The GOP has always sought to suppress turnout. What’s tragic is that the right wing is receiving some unexpected help—from some of our friends on the left.

Disappointed that the President has not ushered in a progressive utopia, some liberals in the media and in cyberspace are encouraging their compatriots to stay home, or perhaps, waste their votes on quixotic “Obama alternatives” like Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson.

Despite unbending opposition from GOP filibusterers in the Senate, and a radical Tea Party House, President Obama has forged a record of domestic legislative accomplishment unsurpassed since the Great Society era of Lyndon Johnson. He saved the American auto industry—and saved America from a second Great Depression.  Millions more Americans will have health coverage—saving untold lives. Gays and Lesbians can now serve openly in the military. In the area of foreign policy the Obama years have seen the end of Osama bin Laden and many  other al Qaeda leaders, the fall of Ghadafy, the end of the Iraq War and a drawdown in Afghanistan. And the Obama administration has ushered in a new era of “smart power”—an antidote to the cowboy neoconservatism that brought on one needless war, another grossly mismanaged and prolonged conflict, thousands of deaths and the accumulation of massive debt. Not to mention the diminishment of America’s standing in the world.

I do not assert for a minute that President Obama is beyond criticism. I have been frustrated at times by his over-willingness to compromise with uncompromising foes, among other things, as well as the Big Pharma deal and a failure to address adequately the foreclosure crisis. But I would take Barack Obama on his worst day before turning the country over to a radicalized, right wing Republican party.

Some liberals seem to think otherwise. They are miffed that Obama hasn’t broken up the big banks and prosecuted Wall Street malefactors who destroyed the economy. They are miffed that he hasn’t closed Gitmo, and that he signed the NDAA. They are miffed that he “caved” on the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy (never mind that everyone else’s taxes would also have risen). They are miffed about his environmental record, and the Keystone Pipleline. They are miffed that he has not come out strongly for marriage equality—even though he repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and has ceased to defend DOMA.

They are miffed that he hasn’t beaten the crap out of Dick Cheney.

All those criticisms have validity. What does not is the response of some disappointed, self-styled progressives: To elect the likely GOP nominee, Willard Mitt Romney.

Oh, they haven’t come out and said it. But the liberal pundits who—like spurned lovers—daily trash the President, who urge progressives to stay home and “send a message,” or vote for a doomed third party candidate, or write in Pat Paulsen—they are essentially wearing Romney 2012 buttons.

For anyone to the left of Joe Scarborough, this is sheer folly. The notion that “they’re all alike” and that a vote for Obama is cast for  “the lesser of two evils” is patently absurd.

Look what’s happening in Congress and across the country. Not only are voting rights under siege, but…

The right wing has waged war on women’s health and reproductive rights—God help the rape or incest victim who seeks to terminate a pregnancy. Even birth control might be imperiled

Republicans advocate the destruction of social safety nets, privatization that will force many seniors and working Americans into poverty. Their “trickle down” policies have yielded historic income inequality—can you imagine what life would be like under Mitt “Bain Capital” Romney?

The radical GOP has also waged war on unions and workers—advocating not only the elimination of the minimum wage and workplace rights, but a rollback of child labor laws. Yes, for the love of God, child labor laws.

A Republican-dominated government would  see the end of myriad environmental and safety regulations—making Barack Obama look like Bill McKibben.

LGBT? Tough. If the GOP has its way, DADT will be reinstated and marriage equality will become a hopeless cause—and Dan Choi can chain himself to the White House gates till Doomsday

Disappointed with Obama’s record on civil liberties? Try your luck with a GOP administration.

What of the Supreme Court? Imagine the ramifications if Romney appoints two more conservatives: A 7-2 right wing majority that, for many of us, will last the rest of our lives.

And, lest we forget, foreign policy: Mitt Romney will bet you 10 grand that within the next four years we will be at war with Iran—or Syria, or someone else—if he’s elected.

Elections have consequences. Several hundred fewer liberal Ralph Nader voters in 2000 might have saved us the Bush years. A bit less liberal apathy in 2010—especially at the state level—might have spared us Scott Walker, John Kasich, Rick Snyder and Rick Scott, not to mention a House full of teabagging wingnuts.

Liberals, before you stay home or throw your vote away, think. Would you rather press President Obama for the next four years—or surrender the country to the Dark Side.

That’s what I call “caving.”

In 1976, shortly after Jimmy Carter was elected president and the post-Watergate GOP lay in ruins, there was an episode of All in the Family in which Archie and Meathead argue over the election. Archie, of course, has the last word—and the final line of the show:

“Yeah—we’ll you’re gonna get Reagan in ’80!!!”

It was meant, of course, as a laugh line—pathetic and absurd. And—whether enhanced in the studio or not—it achieved the desired guffaws, chortles, et. al.

Well, we know how that one turned out.

I’m reminded of that episode today, as Newt Gingrich surges to the top of the GOP pack. Many of my fellow liberals in the media are crowing, rubbing their hands in glee, and all but doing a victory dance—a year early—over the prospect of corrupt, caddish Newtie going up against President Obama. Rachel Maddow—whom I love dearly—crows about it most every night. Pundit after pundit—Republicans included—dismiss Gingrich as unelectable.

Maybe they’re right. They probably are. Newt’s bubble may burst well before Iowa.

But please, Democrats, liberal and otherwise: Don’t spike the ball yet. Despite his titanic flaws, we might still get Gingrich in ’12.

I say this not only because I’m superstitious and constitutionally pessimistic—on Election Night 2008, I sat with my wife in a Barnes & Noble café until I’d learned from the barista that Obama had won Pennsylvania and Ohio, and only then raced home to watch the returns, and savor Keith Olbermann’s announcement of my candidate’s resounding victory.

I clung to this pessimism because I simply did not think this country would elect a black man named Barack Hussein Obama. This despite all the polls, despite the fact that some weeks before the election, a friend of mine who’d appeared on a show with GOP strategist Ed Rollins, had relayed to me that a disgusted Rollins had said off-camera, “It’s over.”

But even leaving aside my own neuroses, there are plenty of reasons to be very afraid. The President could be undone, Newt notwithstanding, by any number of factors, such as

  1. GOP economic sabotage continuing to work
  2. The Europe mess
  3. FOX news—and friends; yes, they were there in ’08, but the propaganda and disinformation juggernaut is larger, more virulent than ever. And remember, there was no Tea Party in 2008.
  4. The other mainstream media: They’re sloppy, lazy and terrified of being labeled “liberal.” Hence the false equivalencies, etc.
  5. Citizen’s United, which has given ALEC, Rove et. al., unlimited influence. Next time liberals bash Obama for going to a big-ticket fundraiser, keep this in mind. We’d love to get money out of politics—but for the moment, it’s very much here.
  6. Race: A recent study concluded that Obama lost 5 points because of racism. Do the math. And Newt Gingrich, an angry old white guy, is the perfect candidate to channel Caucasian hate and rage.
  7. Voter Suppression: One of the dire consequences of the 2010 elections has been the dominance of the Right Wing agenda on the state and local level. Using the ruse of near nonexistent voter fraud, there is a coordinated—and downright evil—attempt by Republicans to make it difficult for minorities, the elderly and young people to vote. Of course, this chiefly affects constituencies far more likely to vote for Barack Obama
  8. Liberal self-sabotage: I am not one of those people who says that one must never criticize the President. I disagree with many of the things he’s done. But at some point before the election, Cenk Ugyur, Bernie Sanders (my favorite Senator), Cornel West, Tavis Smiley and all those aggrieved lefty bloggers had better lighten up. Liberal disaffection and apathy may well have played a role in the 2010 debacle. That was disastrous. In 2012 it could be catastrophic. The GOP is doing enough to suppress Democratic turnout. Let’s not abet them. If Romney or Gingrich wins, you will beg for Obama on his worst day
  9. Maybe Newt isn’t so unelectable: Americans tend to have short memories, and believe in second (or third) chances. Perhaps even for someone who got kicked out of Congress, did shady deals, supports child labor, and dumped his cancer-stricken wife on her hospital bed. What Newt has going for him is the appearance of strength. Americans like that—more, perhaps, than the cringing, dissembling, waffling displays of Willard Mitt Romney.
  10. Wild cards, domestic or international

There are other hazards, of course. At bottom, I believe—much as I genuinely love Joe Biden—that the only way to ensure the President’s reelection is for him to run with Hillary Clinton. He’d take heat for having her bail him out. But I believe it would secure most every swing state.

That’s not going to happen. In my heart, I believe the President will be reelected anyway.

But in the meantime, don’t gloat over Gingrich.

Now that—remarkably, and yet perhaps inevitably—The Donald has inserted himself into the GOP debate reality series, I thought it might be a good time to reissue this post, from the spring. Little has changed re-Trump—he’s still a crass, racist, birther who isn’t fit to shine Barack Obama’s shoes (although he and Newt Gingrich might assign an 8-year-old orphan to that task). He’s a grasping, self-promoting D-list Barnum. But the Republican presidential field, it seems, has stooped to his level and kissed his….whatever. Now, to the post:

I imagine that if one were brave enough to lift up the strange, unidentifiable creature playing the role of Donald Trump’s hair, one would find a teeming mass of worms and maggots. Or at least that’s how I imagine it, a ghoulish manifestation of all the vile, rotten, hideousness swirling about in the void of the reality TV star’s skull.

Strong words, perhaps. But they only begin to express the disgust and contempt Trump should provoke in any reasonable person. He was always a cartoonish lout, vulgarity personified, capitalism at its crassest. But in recent weeks, as he has waged a relentless smear campaign against President Barack Obama—a war of demagoguery, lies, hate and racism—this arrogantly ignorant buffoon has outdone himself. He may even have outdone Sarah Palin, an achievement more towering than any of the skyscrapers bearing his name—or, for that matter, his own deluded ego.

Trump has denigrated President Obama’s intellect, which is something like a bad karaoke singer trashing Sinatra. He has suggested that Obama only made it to Harvard and Columbia via affirmative action; he has maintained that Obama’s memoirs were ghostwritten—by Bill “Palling Around With Terrorists” Ayers, no less. And of course, Trump has jumped to the driver’s seat of the “birther” bandwagon, the wild, foil-hat conspiracy theory positing that the President of the United States is an illegal alien, and therefore illegitimate.

In short, Trump has played to the Republican base—a word that in this instance carries at least two meanings. For the hard-right core of the GOP—the Obama-era GOP—is base in the extreme, caked in philosophical fecal matter, rife with fear, paranoia, hate and, to be sure, racism.

Anyone who tells you that racism is not the driving force of birtherism—and at least an ingredient of some strains of the Tea Party movement—is lying, either to you, or to themselves. Millions of us sat in amazement when this country elected its first African-American president—until the West coast map turned blue, vaulting then-Sen. Obama over 270 electoral votes, I didn’t believe it possible, not in my lifetime. Even many of those who voted against him, I suspect, felt the nation growing up before our eyes.

But for all that “post-racialism” happy talk in late 2008, Obama’s ascendancy to the White House has unleashed a volcano of simmering race-hate, from the Confederacy and beyond. Elements of White America feel threatened, not just by African-Americans, but by Hispanic and Asian immigrants who are fast consigning Caucasians to the minority.

But the greatest affront to these angry white folks is Barack Obama. No president has received so many death threats; and those who would not kill him attack his birth. Surely the entire “birther” fiction would never have been invented were Obama white, and his “foreign” father Swiss. Nor, of course, would we have witnessed the revival of secessionism and talk of nullification.

I don’t know what Donald Trump’s racial views are. His statement to the effect that he’s always had a great relationship with “the blacks” may provide a hint. I suspect his vendetta against President Obama is motivated by some mix of greed and a lust for attention and notoriety. But regardless of his personal attitudes, Trump is causing enormous damage to this country; with his lies and rhetoric he has inflamed the worst elements of our society; through the vehicle of his celebrity he is causing the cancer of race hate to metastasize. A fringe fiction has entered public discourse, repeated and repeated, lent a whiff of legitimacy simply because—in our low-information, reality TV culture— the host of Celebrity Apprentice stamps it with his imprimatur. “Birther bills” are being fast-tracked through state legislatures. 75 percent of Iowa Republicans either believe President Obama was foreign-born—or aren’t sure.

Yes, Donald Trump is a charlatan, a clownish figure. But do not underestimate his impact. The world has dismissed ostensibly absurd demagogues before—and paid dearly for it.

It’s not Mitt Romney’s fault that he famously looks, in Mike Huckabee’s words, “like the guy who fired you,” a smarmy, shifty middle-to-upper manager. In fact, he’s a plutocrat, who made many of his millions helping to “streamline” companies to make them more profitable–in part, through massive layoffs.

But that’s in the past. For now–since, despite all the GOP flavors of the month, the Republican Party will almost surely (kickingly, screamingly) make him its 2012 Presidential nominee, the only candidate with a prayer against President Obama–it is instructive to focus on Romney’s seemingly pathological shape-shifting. While his GOP opponents have been overly charitable on this score, Mitt’s signature trait is that he owns more flip-flops than Jersey Shore’s Snooki and JWoww and Sammi Sweetheart combined. I happen to think an occasional change of political position is commendable–flexibility, instead of ideological rigidity, can be a sign of leadership. We’ve seen how George W. Bush’s simplistic certitudes worked out–and continue to see the consequences of an unyielding right-wing extremist Tea Party dogma.

But with Romney, the flip-flopping, the sheer lack of principle and moral spine,takes your breath away. Just in the course of the early primary season, we’ve seen him reverse course, sometimes within 24 hours, on the Ohio union-busting bill (for it, then, when it was doomed to spectacular failure, not so much), climate change, personhood for zygotes, privatizing the Veterans Administration and.. Romney likes to say his positions “evolve” (making him the one Republican who seems to believe in evolution of any kind), but the effect is that of a cowardly opportunist, who  almost cartoonishly tailors his views to whatever room he’s speaking in.

As governor of a Blue State, Mitt feigned Left. When he needs to kiss up to the GOP base, he cuts Right, bending over backward  to burnish his conservative street cred. His greatest sin, to be sure, was “Romneycare,” the sweeping  health care reform legislation that served as the model for the Affordable Care Act. That’s box office poison to the GOP , naturally, and so Romney has taken pains to atone for it.

You can call it political savvy, I suppose, but to me, when I think of Mitt Romney, the only words that come to mind are “weak,” “dishonest,” “duplicitous…”

And wimp.

Here, then, are some of the greatest hits from Willard Mitt Romney‘s Flip-Floppy Disk, culled from various sources, including the nice summaries on The Washington Post, FactCheck.org and Log Cabin Republicans sites:

1. ABORTION

Ms. Magazine Mitt:

During a senate campaign debate with Ted Kennedy in 1994 Romney declared: “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a US Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years we should sustain and support it.”

-(Boston Globe, March 2, 2006)

“I respect and will protect a woman’s right to choose.”

-2002 Questionnaire for the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL)

Boston Globe, July 3, 2005

Moral Majority Mitt

“I am pro-life. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect that view..”

- Boston Globe, Op-Ed, July 26, 2005

“Every decision I have made as Governor in a very liberal state has been on the side of favoring life.” – Robert Behre, “Romney Gets S.C. Support,” Charleston Post-Courier, January 30, 2007

2. STEM CELL RESEARCH

Enlightened Mitt:

“At a campaign appearance at Brandeis University in June 2002, Romney strongly endorsed stem cell research.”

- Boston Globe, December 17, 2006 Read the article

Mitigating Mitt:

“Governor Mitt Romney set off a storm of criticism yesterday after he declared in a published interview that he favored banning a specific type of stem cell research. Scientists and the leader of the state Senate accused him of trying to block a promising avenue of research, even as antiabortion groups assailed him for declaring that he did not object to stem cell research involving embryos from fertility clinics.”

- Boston Globe, February 11, 2005

Moral Majority Mitt II

” I became persuaded that the stem-cell debate was grounded in a false premise, and that the way through it was around it: by the use of scientific techniques that could produce the equivalent of embryonic stem cells but without cloning, creating, harming, or destroying developing human lives.”

- Governor Mitt Romney, Op-Ed, “A Stem-Cell Solution,” National Review Online, June 15, 2007

3. GAY RIGHTS

Rainbow Mitt

“All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual orientation. While he does not support gay marriage, Mitt Romney believes domestic partnership status should be recognized in a way that includes the potential for health benefits and rights of survivorship.”

- Romney’s 2002 campaign website

“Mitt and Kerry Wish You a Great Pride Weekend! All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference”

- A flier handed out at “Gay Pride” by the Romney/Healey Campaign

” I believe that [the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell] compromise was a step in the right direction. I am also convinced that it is the first of a number of steps that will ultimately lead to gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military. That goal will only be reached when preventing discrimination against gays and lesbians is a mainstream concern, which is a goal we share…”

- Governor Romney letter to Log Cabin Republicans, October 6, 1994 Read the letter here

Moral Majority Mitt III

Questioner: “What about the 1994 letter to the Log Cabin Republicans where… you seemed open to changing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military? Are those your positions today?

Gov. Romney: ” As for military policy and the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, I trust the counsel of those in uniform who have set these policies over a dozen years ago. I agree with President Bush’s decision to maintain this policy and I would do the same.”

- Interview with National Review, December 14, 2006 Read the interview

4. MARRIAGE AMENDMENT

Rainbow Mitt

In 2002 Romney denounced as “too extreme” the effort by pro-family groups to enact a preemptive state Marriage Protection Amendment prohibiting homosexual marriage, civil unions and same-sex public employee benefits.

- Boston Phoenix, May 14-20, 2004

Moral Majority Mitt IV

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough: “Do you support a national constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage?”

Governor Romney: “Boy, I sure do..”

- MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” September 17, 2007

5. MINIMUM WAGE

Labor Mitt

“The minimum wage is important to our economy and Mitt Romney supports minimum wage increase, at least in line with inflation.”

- Romney 2002 campaign website

The Mitt Who Laid You Off

Governor Mitt Romney yesterday rejected the Legislature’s plan to raise the state minimum wage to $8 an hour over two years, angering Democratic lawmakers and advocates who accused him of abandoning a 2002 campaign pledge to significantly boost the pay of low-wage workers.

- Boston Globe, July 22, 2006

IMMIGRATION

Moderate Mitt

Romney also said in the interview that it was not “practical or economic for the country” to deport the estimated 12 million immigrants living in the US illegally. “These people contribute in many cases to our economy and to our society,” he said. – Boston Globe, March 16, 2007 Read the article

Round ‘Em Up Romney

Q: You said that for a lot of illegal immigrants who are here, under your plan, we could deport many of them within 90 days. How could we do it that quickly?

A: My plan is this, which is for those that have come here illegally and are here illegally today, no amnesty. Now, how do people return home? Under the ideal setting, at least in my view, you say to those who have just come in recently, we’re going to send you back home immediately, we’re not going to let you stay here. You just go back home. For those that have been here, let’s say, five years, and have kids in school, you allow kids to complete the school year, you allow people to make their arrangements, and allow them to return back home. Those that have been here a long time, with kids that have responsibilities here and so forth, you let stay enough time to organize their affairs and go home. —Republican Presidential Debate, 1/30/08

BUSH TAX CUTS

Barney Frank’s BFF

Romney didn’t support President Bush’s tax cuts in 2003. That earned him praise from liberal Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA)

- Boston Globe, April 11, 2003.

The Guy Who Laid You Off II

ROMNEY: I have never opposed the Bush 2002 tax cuts. I supported them.

(2008 Presidential Debate, 1/6/08).

There’s more. But these are some of his gems.

When it comes to Presidential Elections, the Beltway Media and 24-hour cable networks and blogosphere need a horse race. Daily, weekly,  monthly polls, from Gallup, Quinnipiac, Reuters/Ipsos, ABC/Washington Post, NBC/Wall Street Journal, Marist, and…

…God help us.

Right now the narrative is that President Obama is in dire trouble—although, in fact, his poll numbers are mixed, with some showing him headed for sure defeat, while others—in spite of the bleak economic picture— have him up on all the GOP contenders, nationally and in most swing states.

Still, the prevailing meme is that if the unemployment rate doesn’t drop to some magic level or another, Obama is headed for a one-term presidency. Jimmy Carter territory.

What pundits tend to overlook, is that elections are not merely about the latest labor department stats—though, those numbers are hugely important. But when we go into the voting booth, or fill out our ballots, we are voting for (and against) people. As in, human beings. Physical beings with personalities and characters. And, for the most part (rightly or wrongly) we tend to vote for the more likeable, appealing candidate. The one we want to look at and listen to for the next four years. The one we think is sincerely trying to guide the nation to better things, or the one who just gives us a good vibe.

Look back through the elections in your lifetime, and you’ll find, for the most part, that the more widely appealing, down to earth, charismatic or relateable candidate won. Of course, there are exceptions (Richard Nixon, anyone?). But our two-term presidents—Ike, Reagan, Clinton and yes, even George W Bush (if we believe he won both elections) won in part because more Americans liked them.

That’s not to minimize the major political factors—chiefly wars and the economy. They are, indeed, dominant. But in a close election, the likeability factor could well swing the outcome.

Let’s look at 2008. As I’ve said in my header, just two months before the election after his post-convention bounce (fueled, in part, by America’s fleeting crush on Sarah Palin), Gallup gave John McCain a 5-point lead over Barack Obama. But over the next two months, Americans took a good, hard look at both men. Their campaigning, their reactions to the financial crisis, the debates. And they also learned that Palin was a hate-mongering cipher, a train wreck.

We know how that one turned out. What about 2012? A year out, we haven’t a clue. The economy may limp forward, unemployment may creep down—or things could worsen, especially if Europe blows up. There could be an international crisis.

But all things being equal, the 2012 election will very likely come down to Barack Obama versus Willard Romney.  Like many leaders, President Obama inspires hatred—all the more because of his race. But overall, his likeability scores have been consistently high, even among many who aren’t pleased with his performance.

His likely opponent has his fans, of course. But to many (including this writer) Romney  comes across as the face of everything Americans are pissed off about—the “guy who fired you,” as Mike Huckabee once described him, a plutocrat—and a shifty, flip-flopping, unprincipled political coward who made his money “streamlining” companies—in other words, getting people laid off. And whose trickle down gospel seems certain to do what it’s always done—help the wealthy get wealthier, while the rest of us flatline—or worse.

Some of those detractors may hold their noses and vote for Romney. Or not. The point is, the polls right now are next to meaningless. They give the punditocracy something to chatter about.

But while they’re panting over the latest Gallup, or Marist or PPP or Rasmussen or…

Remember these numbers:

McCain 49, Obama 44.

The 2012 Presidential Election is all about the hot steaming pile we call the American economy, stupid, right? Whether you blame President Obama or the Republican obstructionists who would sacrifice the nation just to destroy him. It’s all about the unemployment rate and the debt and revenue and entitlements and the GDP and the Tea Party and Wall Street and #OWS and the one percent and the 99 percent—in sum, as Keith Olbermann now signs off each night, the day after day of “this crap” we’re all trying to get through.

On a broader scale the election is also about the wars on women, labor and voting rights. It’s about repealing the 20th century, whether a Right Wing coup will take us back to a Kochian-utopia circa 1893, when folks worked in sweatshops—and liked it, goddammit—for magnates and robber barons and other plutocrats who threw parties at Sherry’s and Delmonico’s and Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish’s —and essentially ruled the earth (even more than now).

And it was about an America where “our blacks,” as Ann Coulter so Ann Coulteresquely put it, knew their place.

Indeed, as much as anything—perhaps more—the 2012 election is about race.

For three years, we have heard the Right vow to “take this country back.” We have heard endless other coded messages—“dog whistles,” they call them these days— reinforcing the fact that Barack Hussein Obama is an uppity African-American. Aside from the racist signs and blogs and GOP emails, and the efforts  to paint this moderate (too much so for much of his base), reasonable, enlightened man as a wild-eyed radical who does not believe in “American exceptionalism,” there is (still, remarkably) “birtherism”—a racially-charged lunatic conspiracy theory designed to smear him as an “other” or even a Manchurian Candidate foreign agent.

There have also been the systematic attempts by leading Republicans to delegitimize the President—the “You lie!”style dissing by members of Congress–including Speaker Boehner, who historically denied the Commander-in-Chief  his preferred date to address a Joint Session.

And now, as Rick Perry would phrase it, they’re “having some fun” with his grades—for, after all, how could a black man legitimately make it through two Ivy League Schools, head the Harvard Law Review and teach constitutional law?

The GOP is a white man’s party, still pursuing its pernicious Southern Strategy (which certainly works in states like Mississippi, where a recent poll showed that 46 percent of Republicans either believe interracial marriage should be illegal, or aren’t sure). There are exceptions, so few you can name them. Some well-paid TV pundits. Michael Steele. Wingnuts like Alan Keyes and Allen West.

And then there is  Herman Cain. Whether or not you dismiss him as a “minstrel” providing the GOP cover against charges of racism–as the African-American writer Toure has said; or as just another part of the Republican sideshow, no one can take this demonstrably ignorant carny barker for real presidential candidate.

And of course there is his campaign commercial. Not the “cigarette man” spot, but the one nobody talks about–the climax of which shows a white redneck punching out a black man.

No, the real candidates are two 60-something white guys, one a plutocratic Mormon—and while I wouldn’t brand him racist, his sect  has, certainly, a complicated racial track record; the other a states rights Texan who sees nothing wrong with confederate flags, secession talk and rocks inscribed “N—–head.”

So, Barack Obama, who had the temerity to defeated an old white guy in 2008, will likely  face another in 2012. Should he lose, God forbid, they’ll get their country back—or so it will seem for a time.

But the national complexion is changing—it’s getting browner, and there is nothing Pat Buchanan or the racist wing of the Tea Party, or Rush Limbaugh or Donald Trump or the Florida GOP can do about it.

 

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