• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Grope & Thud - The Battle of the Failed Records

It was all so tediously predictable.  President Obama looked a little livelier than hung-over and the press was gaga about how he had regained and recovered momentum and footing. Whatever news story one read, the talk was about "biting attacks" as the candidates "slugged" it out in "fiery" debate.  And so it has come to this: that in America's epoch of Haute Empire, a presidential debate was inescapably indistinguishable from the contrived Grope and Thud of World Wide Wrestling.  It was all so tediously depressing.

Within this slippery farce, the press valiantly sought to retrieve some peanuts of substance -- peanuts provided, we might add, only from the gallery.  "I'm glad you asked that, Sally...."  But no peanut was big enough to obscure the fact that what we witnessed was the Battle of  Failed Records.

And it is for this reason that we think Romney won the second debate as well as the first. Romney failed as an entrepreneurial "job creator" and governor but Obama has failed as a president.  It was ironically distressing that Romney's attacks on Obama's record should sound like they were cribbed from the leftish likes of Counterpunch, Truthout and (even!) Socialist Worker.  But, howsoever cribbed, contrived and oozing in crocodile tears, the fact is that things today are as lousy as they were four years ago.  That was, and remains, an albatross from which Obama could not free himself.

Gasoline prices were emblematic.

Under Wonderous Boy George, Romney cried, gasoline was $1.86 a gallon!   Yeah, replied Obama, with incisive sarcasm, only because the economy was in the tank.  (Actually, the bon mot was missed in Obama's leaden performance, but that was the gist of his reply.)  The only problem with Obama's ripost is that the economy is still in the tank and gasoline is upwards of $4.00 a gallon.

Neither candidate, it appears, has any desire or willingness to tackle the real bete noire of gasoline prices including speculative abuse of futures trading and (we do suspect) price manipulation.  Since neither of them disagree on the fundamentals of oil and gas production, the net distinction is the fact of $4.00 which ends up being Obama's loss.

We do not deny that there are differences within the fine print of the candidates' otherwise identical boilerplate contracts with America.  A case in point was the Administration's termination of preferential and profitable use-licenses for companies that didn't use the rights except as a paper asset or tradeable derivative. While Obama's executive action was not a bad thing, it left the fundamentals unchallenged and it is the fundamentals that are killing families at the pump.

Both candidates are in agreement that all will be well if we tweak and tinker with the tax code and let "Market Magick" do its miraculous work.  But all will not be well if that is all we do. 

Given that things are as lousy as they were four years ago; that Obama does not propose to do anything different from what he has been doing, and that he refuses to go grind the obstructionist opposition into the pink slime they are, it is hard to see how Romney does not come out the winner.  After all, all Romney has to do is "look presidential" and provide some plausible chimera for hope and change. 

It is here that come to the real substance -- albeit the psychological substance -- of the debate. Romney certainly looks presidential, given our normative socio-racial and cultural expectations.  It may be illogical and unfair, but Obama looks like a "black" Dennis E. Kucinich and is not what we expect to see on dollar bill.  Romney's height, his ease on stage, his stentorian grey at the temples and his healthy pancake all look the part.  To be objective, he has a bit of the F.D.R. air about him.

Romney also sounds presidential, as is proved by Chipster's Kitchen Test :  Turn on the debate and go fry something in the kitchen so that you can't hear what the candidates are saying but only the modulation, inflection and cadence of their voices.   What you will hear is that Obama is not a good speaker.  His delivery is interrupted by clipped sentences, abrupt pauses and unusual punctuations. His voice is down-beat and protesting.  Romney's delivery is fluid, commanding, rapid and upbeat even when accusatory. He urges utter bullshit and lies with earnest sincerity and facile argument-- a skill he no doubt acquired early in life during his two years of missionary work.

In short, the psychological substance of the matter is that Romney comes across as the Alpha Male and Obama does not -- and he does not because he is not.   The sad fact is that Obama is an arriviste. No one wants to say it because it hearkens to America's Ugliness.   But race in the United States is what gentility of birth used to be in Europe.

No one could have been more nouveau tout than Bill Clinton.  But he could expect and count on being forgiven all because, in Metternich's inimitable phrase, he fell into "baron and above."  Obama does not.  That is not his fault but it does not change the result.  In virtually every picture we have seen of Obama either golfing with Bohner or dining with executives, he has a looks that says, "I can't believe I am actually here."   And the "I" of the matter comes burdened with a lot of history that has nothing and everything to do with Obama. 

No one will get anywhere in the United States unless they are willing and able to accept "the system" on its terms.   A person goes to law school to learn the rationales and excuses that buttress the political structure.  A person goes to business school to learn the accepted theories  and  modalities of "generating" wealth.  For sure,  America has been gracious in allowing non-conformists a more or less free space at the sidelines to carp and cavil.   One can even make a living out of being an irrelevant pest.  But if you want to play the game, you swallow the oyster --and no oyster is swallowed in halves.  

In swallowing, Obama is no different than Clinton or anyone else.  But in arriving at the table Obama won a far, far, far harder struggle.   Thus, when Obama says he does "not begrudge"  Blankfein his huckstered millions he really, really means it and is (evidently) not about to jeopardize his place at the table.  In contrast, a man like F.D.R. (who swallowed oysters at birth) would have had no problem in calling Blankfein a disgrace to his class.  

In Romney's case, the "alpha" in the male stands for more than just "top".   The ostentation of his car-elevator is exceeded only by the obscenity of his off-shoring, tax-evasion, asset plunder, job destruction and -- lest we forget -- appalling hypocricy.   But rather than rip this monster a new Alpha hole,  Beta Bama will simply not begrudge "governor" Romney his tissue of decency.  That is a failing that lost the debate and could  cost the president his reelection.