It's time to start worrying about Mitt Romney. Seriously. The guy may just be running the worst campaign ever. And yes, that includes the McDLT, print ads for organic hemp underwear and France in '39. Not to mention McCain/Palin in '08. Which currently holds the gold standard for lousy campaigns. Sure to be a Hall of Fame inductee in a couple years.
Willard has taken bad to a whole new level. Bad like a dumpster behind a fish market during a garbage strike bad. Bad like a three-dollar Dark Knight Rises DVD bought off a Times Square cardboard table with Albanian subtitles bad. Bad like Todd Akin at a NARAL benefit bad. Bad doubled down. Beyond breaking bad to the point of broken bad.
And every time the former Governor of Massachusetts opens his mouth, it gets worse. He's tone deaf, tongue tied, logically challenged and as approachable as a near-sighted porcupine in heat. The Anti Ray Romano -- Nobody Loves Mitt.
So uncomfortable around real people, you can practically hear him whisper "icky, icky, icky," under his breath while shaking hands at rallies. You know there's an aide with a bottle of hand sanitizer waiting for him on the bus. Maybe even a 55-gallon drum connected to a shower head.
Let's speak about The Bounce, shall we? The Bounce being the jump that a three-day, red-white-and-blue infomercial is expected to produce on a candidate's polling. The idea is to use The Bounce as a slingshot of momentum to whip you down the campaign straightaway directly into the swivel seat behind the desk of the Oval Office. Or close enough to let the Supreme Court appoint you. One or the other.
What usually happens, after both conventions have drop-kicked their last balloon, is an equilibrium is struck. One side goes up four to six points, then the other side goes up four to six points and you're pretty much back to where you started. The Bounce evens out. Not very exciting. Like sugar-free cookies. Or kissing Andrea Mitchell. Knocking back a shot of non-alcoholic wine. Otherwise known as grape juice.
This time around, the net result of two weeks in the Southeast in the dead of summer is President Barack Obama got a cumulative bump of between 3 and 5 points. Hard to say which event was more responsible for his ascension: his own Democratic National Convention, the Republican National Convention or Hurricane Akin.
Gov. Mitt Romney got the same kind of Bounce you'd expect from an anvil dropped onto a swamp. Even his own staff called it "not large." Yeah. Not large being a euphemism for non-existent. It was not large in the same way that August in Charlotte does not feature a cluster of destination luge runs. Similar to how Kim Kardashian is not a Nobel Prize-winning nuclear physicist. Banana fritters aren't magnetic. An echoing abyss of whistling emptiness.
And now a few words on the Democratic National Convention, which was ALSO interrupted by bad weather, and from this we can deduce that God is not overly fond of politicians. Proving that he/she indeed has something in common with a majority of the American public. We are special.
The Dems opened their quadrennial confab headlining Michelle Obama, and the president's wife loud wowed the crowd. Authentic and classy and inspiring, people immediately started examining the 25th Amendment for loopholes that would allow the First Lady to jump to the top of the line of succession. At least leapfrog Boehner. If not Biden.
The next day, Elvis re-entered the building. The Obama folks buried their '08 bones of resentment in yesterday's backyard to let the Big Dog off-leash, and the whole house howled at the moon. For 48 minutes, Bill Clinton barked it out old-school. Some naysayers scoff the only reason he was in North Carolina was confusion over whether Charlotte was host city or a dinner date set up by Eharmony.com.
No matter the motive compelling the 44nd POTUS to attend, it became obvious from the get-go that whatever it was that Hillary's husband at one time had, he's still got it. In spades.
While thunder rumbled just outside the Time Warner Cable Arena the real electricity was on the inside. Single-handedly he systematically laid out the most persuasive argument yet to re-elect President Bill Clinton... er, unh, Barack Obama.
Delegates swooned. MSNBC collectively spilled coffee on their laps wetting themselves. Even Michelle couldn't hide a secret grin. Wouldn't be surprised to find out Ann Romney had one too. Perhaps even he with the lean and hungry look, Paul Ryan.
And now a few words about the Republican National Convention. AKA: Women with Big Hair and the Men in White Shoes Who Love Them. And white certainly was the operative word in Tampa. Mashed potatoes on paper plates with a side of leeks white.
Had to feel bad for the one black guy the networks kept cutting to during the speeches. They tried everything to make him look like a crowd. Different camera angles. Probably had his own wardrobe assistant. "Now put on the cowboy hat. Okay. Okay. Let's try a handlebar mustache." Must have been someone's driver.
The first day of this GOP quadrennial confab got canceled for the second consecutive conference due to a hurricane bearing down on the city of New Orleans. The only two tropical storms to threaten the Crescent City since Katrina. Hey, guys, want some crow sprinkles on that karma cone?
But any worry about the optics of unrestrained celebration while parts of the country drowned faded fairly quickly. "Oh, quit your belly aching. At least your pesky drought is over." And with that, the convention shifted into stealth mode.
The festive conservatives were so successful at concealing their core convictions, that at times it was difficult to discern which party was nominating whom. "We're saving Medicare." "The Party of Diversity." "Our Platform May Say No Abortions, No Exceptions, But We Haven't Even Read It." "Dubyah Who?" "Mitt What?"
With the election slipping away like a handful of mercury on a turbocharged merry-go-round, Mitt Romney managed to change the conversation from unreleased tax returns and foreign misadventures by plucking Paul Ryan out of the Wisconsin wilds to be his running mate. "Romney-Ryan." Short, alliterative and one syllable more conservative than "Obama-Biden."
The situation appeared so desperate the choice couldn't wait until after closing ceremonies of the Olympics, forcing the House Budget Committee chairman to share the weekend spotlight with enough English pop stars to clear out the hairspray aisle at seven Boots drug stores. The Republican Congressman may be famous for his P90x work-out regimen, but the Spice Girls have much better legs. And they're way older.
Ryan was universally hailed as a bold choice. Yeah, well, maybe, but bold is not always synonymous with good. Whiskey for breakfast is a bold choice. Spun glass underwear is bold. Forehead dragon tattoos. Passing an 18-wheeler on a blind curve doing 80 in the rain. Incredibly bold. Not necessarily smart.
Another white male Christian conservative. That is bold. But only when not compared to absolutely anything else. It's been speculated a major reason for awarding the Wisconsin congressman the prize spot at the bottom of the bumper sticker was to energize the base. And total slam-dunk there. The question is: Which base?
Republicans are shaking like a Brazilian supermodel on a Lake Superior beach shoot in January. Only happier. Haven't seen them this excited since John McCain hooked up with some governor of Alaska. Meanwhile, Democrats are salivating so uncontrollably, they'd be advised to invest in bibs to keep from soiling their $5,000 Man-of-the-People suits.
Planetary props to the City of London for a monumentally memorable 30th Olympiad. It was obvious from the opening ceremonies that these would be games nobody would soon forget. From the queen jumping out of a helicopter to Charles Dickens wearing a top hat at Stonehenge contracting black-lung disease during the Industrial Revolution or whatever was going on there. Beautiful, is what it was. And odd.
Then for two weeks, the world's greatest athletes captivated global attention by setting records and shedding tears and pulling hamstrings in familiar events and sports we didn't even know existed. Men's rhythmic marathon gymnastic BMX diving?
It continues to amaze how every four years, humans continue to incrementally evolve to be faster and stronger and higher and longer and as far as synchronized swimming is concerned, creepier.
The weather was oh-so-British; mercurial, unpredictable and tipsy by dark. And added kudos must be laid at the feet of England's capital city for keeping the contests pretty much controversy- free. Except, of course, the momentary ugliness that was the women's semifinal field hockey match between Great Britain and Argentina. AKA: The Falklands War II. This time it's personal! Utilizing less-lethal sticks.
One can never entirely keep politics out of games or games out of politics. The two have too much in common. For instance, we cheer for our team no matter what opponents they line up against. And if a player switches sides, that's fine too. As long as they wear our uniform. So essentially, what we root for is laundry.
Score is kept and grudges held for generations. Contestants blindly resort to any strategy within the law to win, often finding themselves on the wrong side of strictly legal. And invariably one over-caffeinated idiot will try to psych out the other side with smack talk about somebody's mama.
You might say it was a turbulent week for Mitt Romney. You could also say a light lemon sugar wash makes for ineffective mosquito repellent. He claims to have totally left Bain Capital to run the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics even though his company handed the government multiple signed documents stating otherwise, and now financial questions plague his campaign like a swarm of dive-bombing bees in a bathroom stall.
The presumptive GOP nominee finds himself in the uncomfortable position of having to convince skeptical voters someone can serve as a firm's president, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, sole stockholder, junior janitor and cafeteria server in a plastic hairnet and still have absolutely nothing to do with the direction of the company or anything that's going on. You might say he's invoking a modified Wall Street bankers' defense.
It boils down to whether he played any active role after leaving in 1999 and his subsequent retroactive retirement. Whatever that means. He says no, dividends be damned. And all those SEC filings listing him as boss were simply corporate publicity moves, like Donald Trump putting his name on various hotels and statuesque fashion models. Which many psychologists define as an edifice complex.
Adding to the confusion, in 2002, Willard successfully disputed tax records listing him as an inhabitant of Utah because he was required to have seven years of residency in Massachusetts for gubernatorial eligibility. Then again, who would quarrel with having a president who could live in two places at the same time?
All of America should drop to its knees and thank the GOP for attempting to provide us with replacement fireworks. As you undoubtedly know, cities all over the country this year were forced to cancel Fourth of July festivities due to fear of fire, glitchy computers and twitchy bureaucrats. Like there's another kind.
The Republican House took great pains to salve our sensory-deprived souls by trying to set off enough indoor fireworks to make the San Diego Big Bay Bust look like a fluttering votive candle. It was designed to be a spectacular explosion fueled by ego, obstinacy and behavior so self-absorbed, the casual bystander might assume we were in the middle of an election year.
For the 33rd time, all House business slammed to a grinding halt to accommodate another vote to repeal Obamacare. Again. Thirty-three times. Let's look at that, shall we? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33.
You got to give the majority party credit for being able to flog this dead horse without getting any flying bits on them. Thirty-three times is at least 32 times more than the administration ever tried to sell this bill to a public overwhelmingly in favor of its component parts.
They persevered even though everyone knows there's a better chance of flamingoes flying out of monkey butts than the Senate ever signing on. And getting past a presidential veto, substitute polka-dotted pterodactyls for the flamingoes.
From out of the green mist enveloping the campaign doldrums they come. Relentlessly. Doggedly. Cattedly. Trudging, blank-faced and soulless. Armies of cash-hungry zombies brandishing partisan pickaxes, shovels and crowbars, with only one goal rattling around their feverish brains. Campaign booty. Pieces of eight. Entire 8s. Eight-figured 8s.
We're in that lazy seam that marks the home stretch to the National Conventions, with little else to occupy opposing squads than raising moolah to prepare for the epic upcoming battle. Negative ads don't grow on trees, you know.
The peripatetic participants are as frenzied as reef sharks in shallow, tuna-rich waters trying to raise a little bit of money here, some more money there, how about all that money -- everywhere. At this point, the staffs are so laser-focused you'd think they were being pursued by the hounds of fund-raising hell. Maybe they are. Or the ghost of John McCain's '08 late October.
In May, President Obama picked up a measly $60 million versus $76 million for the presumptive Republican nominee ,and those figures were considered by most experts to be a drop in the Suck-It bucket. Slack City. Chump change. Must have been distracted. Weren't really trying. Had their minds on other things. It was Sweeps Week.
Disregard the almanac. And the calendar. Forget whatever the meteorologist or the astrology charts or your next-door neighbor with the hair growing out of a mole shaped like the state of Delaware on his nose told you. The true wormhole opening to summer is not the upcoming solstice on Wednesday, June 20th; it is, has been, and forever shall be the last Monday of May -- Memorial Day.
Memorial Day: when the world alters unalterably for every kid and teacher and parent and water-park operator across the land. By now, the cages have either sprung open or the locks are being picked, and the imprinted DNA of every true-blooded American tingles in anticipation of the ten-to-twelve weeks of school-free adventures looming ahead like a sun-kissed valley below a fog-enshrouded summit. Even those of us who don't get to stop and romp in the valley are able to recall extended days when we did, and can't help but grin wistfully.
Officially, the last Monday of May was carved out as a peaceful respite to lay a wreath at the tomb of all the young men and women who sacrificed their lives for the security of our nation, not to mention the multitude of valiant drivers tragically lost in Midwestern automobile races.
Unofficially, it's the time for the whole of America to stop in the headlong momentum of the year to lean on a freshly painted picnic table and catch our collective breath.