family & parentingpolitics & government

The plague of dads

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Mitt Romney has suffered serial pantsing through the primaries, some of it self-inflicted. Count the Iowa caucuses as an own-goal. If he hadn’t made his puny “win” by eight votes (against Rick Santorum for cripes!) into some sort of historical landslide then his puny loss by thirty-odd votes and the quick-change dealing involved would not have landed with such a thump. The lash bit especially deep as he also played his genuine and unsurprising win in New Hampshire as the second in a streak! And don’t you know that NOBODY has ever won both Iowa and New Hampshire and NOT won the Republican primaries! This factoid suffers explosive decompression when it is likewise understood that none of those gents ever won the general. But Triumphalism is largely the coin of the primary realm. With momentum any uptrend is rideable all the way to the White House, so Mitt was certainly counseled, that is IF he had to be convinced to take his victory lap and did not, as seemed to happen, leave all salaried employees in the dust. We can forgive Willard his enthusiasm perhaps as he was doing it for Dear Old Dad.

Not much is heard about George Romney though he was as prominent a politician back in the Nixon era as, say Chris Christie is today. He made his own mad dash at the White House, then running as the forward-looking Governor of Michigan and riding the Motor City Model of prosperity into the dawn of a new age! Like our current Romney, he was a liberal Republican to say the least, wildly expanding Michigan’s state government and imposing her first income tax, something previous Governors had attempted and failed. Are these the accomplishments to take to a Republican primary? Then as now, “accomplishment” had a cache’ independent of ideological, practical or ethical considerations. Then as now, George’s record of getting Democrats to vote for his plans was counted as virtuous bipartisanship; as if it took hot tongs to get the Johnson crowd to replicate the New Deal at the State House. Regardless of that good foundation for his campaign, it faltered. The most remembered event was an unforced flub by George. In explaining an about-face on Vietnam that took him from a proud proponent of the fight against communism there to a fiery opponent of it as near-treason, he explained that he had been expertly “brain-washed” on a fact-finding junket he and other mucky-mucks had attended. If it weren’t for the bad history, Mitt might employ this gambit to explain his equally abrupt and equally unsourced about-turn on healthcare but the history persists and it is one area of history Mitt knows with a bitter familiarity. The young man was out on that familiar ritual of the Mormons, the biking tour, when he received a Panglossed note, Don’t worry about your mother and I. ‘tsall for the best…. But George and the family harbored grudges and just like in kung fu movies, in politics it falls to the youngest boy.

Is that what drives Willard Mitt Romney? It is impossible to tell but more than fair to so assert. He demonstrates no great principle he feels called to promote. “Pragmatism” is his claim and like his father he forwards his business acumen, proved by his balances, as his foremost asset. His labors on projects that should be anathema to conservatives or Constitutionalists are promoted as examples of his genius and energy. In other words he follows his father’s path just as closely as one could imagine yet he hopes, we presume, for a far different ending. His one notable deviation is encapsulated in his campaign book, one you may indeed judge by its cover. “No Apology”, it is titled and given the singular I think it is safe to say that he has ONE issue in mind and it is healthcare. He will make no diversion. He will accept no blame. Indeed in his view there is nothing to be blamed FOR! In Massachusetts his program, that he stipulates is clearly Unconstitutional at the federal level, has performed to specs. Heck-fire, it has OVER performed! So he states boldly, repeatedly and without fear of contradiction, not least because he had his book edited to muddy the question. If only Rick Perry had called Mitt’s bluff! But even high-level PR gymnastics cannot alter the basic facts; the most stubborn of which is that Mitt’s former satrapy is trapped in a medical quagmire largely of his devising and YES, Masscare is indeed the philosophical germ from which Obamacare has sprung. Is it this contradiction that has brought Romney down to a wan second in the crucial Sunshine State? Yes, and many others. It is too bad Mitt has taken the vindication of his father’s failure so close to the heart. Claiming he was “brainwashed” by medicine-oriented self-dealers would have been more prudent and plausible than what he has done and is doing, which is to simply declare facts to be falsehoods and arrange political chits in defense of  his most aching weak point. Still this is just the summit of his true problem; vacillation, the one his father took to such an absurdity that the early computer industry developed the soft-key, a shorthand to enter the phrase, “Romney later explained…. ” (shft/ctrl R)

If Romney is plagued by the debts of his father, and we thereby plagued with him, this doesn’t reflect any notable, relative defect. It seems like nearly everyone clambering for high office has some sort of Daddy Issues. Anyone with the temerity to wear a Bush t-shirt from, say, 1998 to the present has heard the patented denunciation; well, he just ran to please his father. And probably he did, in some measure. Certainly he did not run to DISplease his father and let us hope that win, lose or draw, Bush the Elder would not have been displeased at least with W. So it can be admitted that at least in part, the highest fliers compete in search of their fathers’ approval. We can say this equally of Newt and Bill Clinton, both of whom had absent biological fathers but dedicated surrogates. Is it too much to think that they run and speak and strive on the high wires to vindicate fathers they never knew as well as father-figures that they did? John Sidney McCain’s family is a naval institution which is most of why he was also. It seems for little more than his father’s good opinion McCain lay in captivity for years when he could have been released. This may have redounded to the good of the country; it is unclear, but absent paternal loyalties it seems McCain would have been in an American hospital long before he actually was. Reagan’s drunk of a father drove Ronnie to industry, to California and to acting. Did he also drive him to high office? It is Al Gore who is the realbleader in the pack of daddy’s boys. His father had the young Al plow up hilly fields with a mule team at a time when a mule had scarcely been seen outside a Founders’ Parade for decades. And why? So that when he ran for President, ostensibly from Tennessee, he could claim that he knew what it was like to do so; a claim more pertinent in the ’60s when the senior Gore might have run. Failing to win the Presidency by failing to win his base of Tennessee, Gore now inhabits a fantasy world where he is nothing so pedestrian as Chief Magistrate. No, he is Savior of the Earth! How do you like that, dad?

It is quite dismaying but no less true that our “leaders” generally are expiating their personal demons, vendettas, insults, accounts and traumas at least as much as they are serving any recognizable national interest. Not all these accusations are created equal however. The common rap on W even to this day is that he “started” the war in Iraq because of Saddam’s attempt to murder Bush Sr in revenge for Desert Storm. This event of course took place on Clinton’s watch. Did he launch an air assault on Baghdad since he doesn’t know who his daddy is? As for Saddam, his entire career of mayhem could quite well be explained, if not excused, by brutalization at the hands (and other extremeties) of his male relations. And we can go back through our history and ancient history finding again and again that the sins or other faults of the fathers are charged to the sons, mostly with the sons’ collusion. For the most part they never are paid, thankfully, but if the Daddy Issue is relevant it is incumbent on the Incumbent as much as any of the challengers.

What are the glaring Daddy Issues of one Barack Hussein Obama? Since the gentleman has offered not one but TWO autobiographies the field is well-sown. Just on the vital statistics we see some points of interest. For one, the ill-documented marriage of his parents took place long after his quasi-documented birth. There is scant evidence that the toddling Barack ever lived with his mother and father as a family. Obama the Senior was a minor apparatchik in his native Kenya whose benefactor was succeded by assassination, eliminating his civil service seniority. According to the most public of facts, Barack Sr. was a bigamist, a socialist, a drunk, a lecher, an abuser of both wives and children and above all, a highly self-destructive man who killed himself with drunken car crashes one leg at a time. And these facts were never secrets from the public or from the maturing Barack Junior, or Barry as he was known when adopted by Lolo Soetero who enrolled him in a school in Indonesia with a muslim curricullum. Mr Soetero’s history seems unblemished except perhaps that he was susceptible to the charms of Stanley Ann Dunham. Can Lolo or Barack Sr be seen in any of the statements, actions or habits of our Barack? It is considered rude to wonder; racist even but we continue. The youthful Barack had nearly a stable of fathers. His mother’s father Stanley Dunham did most of the paternal rearing. He was a communist and had seen that Stanley Ann Dunham had a red elementary school education. Is that of any relevance? Grandfather had a friend who also pitched in on Barack’s reering. This is the “Frank” described in “Dreams from my Father” as a black paternal stand-in. This is the same fellow who wrote an anonymous autobiography called “Sex Rebel: Black” (which was also salciously subtitled). He describes himself as bi-sexual and we could safely call him try-sexual, in that he would try anything; gender roles notwithstanding. Marshall was “down low” before it was cool but just when he was mentoring a pre-teen Barack Jr. In another startling coincidence Marshall recounts what was plainly a statutory rape of a thirteen year old white girl named Ann at about the time and about under the circumstances that would allow Barack’s mother to fill the role. Shall we include recalcitrant Mommy Issues as we do Daddy Issues? We could, to be fair and thorough but even in the ghettos they hesitate, usually, to bring your mother into it.

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