There are scary similarities between Romney's VP pick and George W Bush's.
President George W. Bush was such an empty suit it forced him to select Dick Cheney to provide direction for policy in his first term. In Bush's case, his intellectual deficit was such a problem that he needed neocon Cheney to provide some ideological substance. For Bush's first four years Cheney was the de facto president who pushed Dubya to the far right, especially in foreign policy, resulting in disasters such as starting the Iraq war for no reason.
Bush's father and more moderate Republicans were mortified at the results of Cheney being the de facto POTUS. They influenced Dubya to replace Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense with Robert Gates and appointing Condi Rice as Secretary of State. Josh Bolten, White House Chief of Staff, convinced Dubya to moderate his foreign policy. In doing so, Bush was saved from some of the extreme right-wing influence and disasters that would have otherwise been undertaken at Cheney’s behest. Cheney was effectively neutered by these more moderate forces.
We now have Mitt Romney, who is also an empty suit but not for the same reason as the dim witted Bush. Romney's vacuousness is a result of an obsessive fear of making mistakes and a general unwillingness to take responsibility. Since he clinched The GOP nomination he has campaigned with an awkwardness and tone deaf quality that has been a disaster. He has run away from what has defined him personally and professionally. After touting himself as a successful businessman, when confronted with the results of his tenure at Bain Capital by the Obama Administration he tried to hide from his responsibility as the prime mover. His pride and his calling card of amassing great wealth at Bain has turned into a fear of accountability for his tenure there. He has run away from revealing his tax returns, his experience as a governor of Massachusetts, and his role as a chief elder in the Morman religion.
Because of his fear of being held responsible for his past, he has done nothing to define himself. The Obama administration, aided by Romney's fear of criticism, stepped into the breach and defined Mitt as a rapacious, one dimensional man who has been singularly committed to making money at a private equity firm with no regard to the resultant misery for human beings affected by his corporate callousness and cruelty. The result has been a disastrous and failing campaign that is drifting at sea with no captain or rudder.
Given these facts and the knowledge of this by the extreme right wing leaders of the GOP, Romney was forced to name a strong spokesman for the tea party ideology. In the last two weeks Paul Ryan, who is clearly and proudly responsible for a budget that would decimate domestic programs, and give more tax cuts to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and the poor while increasing military spending, has become the favorite. The Wall Street Journal and others on the right have loudly insisted upon Ryan as Romney’s VP. So on August 11, because of Romney's total lack of any core values and obsessive fear, he had no choice but to pick Ryan, his Cheney, as his VP.
It is clear now that the radical, extreme right wing of the GOP owns the party. Romney will now be defined by the core beliefs of Paul Ryan and challenge Rush Limbaugh as leader of the GOP. I am optimistic that the electorate will recognize the choice we are faced with and reject the certainty of irreversible damage of a Ryan/Romney administration.
August 16, 2012
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Bob Menamin lives in Verona and is a former Wisconsin Assembly candidate.