I have decided that I am not going to audition for American Idol. Or for The Voice. I am, by all accounts (based on the opinions of people who love and/or respect me as a person), an excellent singer; so I’m sure that I could take the whole thing. But I’m old, and I have other talents and other dreams, and it doesn’t seem fair to steal the title away from someone younger and less generally awesome, who could only rely on their (admittedly remote) chance of winning one of those contests. So I am announcing that, despite the clamoring of the voices in my head, I will not be singing for America’s votes this year.
I have further decided that I will not be entering either the NBA draft nor the AAA Red Sox lineup. Again, I personally have no doubt that I could take the whole thing (Both sports, simultaneously, like Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson but better, because basketball is much better than football) by storm — those current “athletes” don’t have anywhere near my smarts or experience, and I know they can’t work a crowd or win over a press conference like I could; heck, that’s what I do — but really, I believe my destiny lies in other directions. So I hereby bequeath my #1 pick ranking to — whoever is the best college basketball prospect. Knock ’em dead, kid. You have my blessing.
Oh — and like my good friend Mitt Romney, I have decided not to run for the Republican presidential nomination.
I love that this is news. Is there any better evidence for the cult of celebrity, and the cult of capitalism, than the fact that this is news?
So he starts off with a nice, long, ego stroke — “The reaction of Republican voters across the country was both surprising” — No it wasn’t, for reasons you go on to explain — “and heartening. I know that early poll numbers move up and down a great deal during the campaign, but we would have no doubt started out in a strong position. One poll just out yesterday shows me gaining support and leading the next closest contender by two to one. Also leading in all of the four early states.”
So really, if he wanted to run, he’d win. I mean, it would be no contest. He’s got the next guy by two to one! (And listen to the tone of his voice when he says it: now that’s good gloat. That’s a big hunk of gloat cheese. You could serve that on a crack- I probably shouldn’t say that about a white man.) As he says, “I’m convinced that we could win the nomination.” (Of course he has learned to refer to himself as the member of a party, of a two-man ticket, of a whole organization of thousands of staffers [and millions of Koch dollars]; but do you think that, just sometimes, he thinks of it as using the royal We?) And he goes on to describe his platform — making the world safer (By running the US military into even more interminable wars that do nothing but increase hostility towards us and destabilize already unstable regions and regimes), increasing economic opportunity (but not educational opportunity, medical opportunity, survival opportunity, or equal-rights-to-voting opportunity) no matter what neighborhood you live in (It is priceless to me that he claims to be the egalitarian one), and working to break the grip of poverty (. . . I got nothing. How does he figure this? Maybe he means the poverty suffered by billionaires who want to leave their estates intact and tax-free to their heirs? Anyway.) — and says this would give him the best chance to beat the eventual Democratic nominee. Even though that exact same platform didn’t work in the last two elections, either for him or for a genuinely experienced politician who wasn’t a walking chin with a nice haircut.
But then the reality hits. “But that’s before the other contenders have had the opportunity to take their message to the voters.” That’s right, sir. You look great as the nominee — if this were still 2012. You’re winning — based on the fact that there has been no campaign and no rivals to your dominance of the Republican party since 2012.
“I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders — one who may not be as well known as I am today,” (“SUCK IT, LOSERS! MITTY IS THE GREATEST!”) “One who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who’s just getting started,” Oh — you mean like Jeb Bush, whose name has been linked to presidential politics since his father first ran for president in 1980? Or Rand Paul, with about the same familial association with national politics? Or do you mean Chris Christie, who has been bandied about as an up-and-coming Republican since his first few years in office? (Who has, by the way, spent nearly as much time in Iowa over the last year as in his own state?) “May well emerge as being more able to beat the Democrat nominee.” Like you couldn’t.
But still, even while making this recording, he doesn’t want to give up. “You know that I wanted to be that next President.” (The one he hopes will be conservative, that is.) “You can’t imagine how hard it is for Anne and me to step aside.” You know, I don’t know the lady, but I bet it’s actually pretty easy for Mrs. Romney to accept this end of your ambition. I think she’d be happy with her national fame, her large and well-groomed family, and the billions of dollars. Don’t you think? And then just listen, around 1:55, to how his voice drops — and almost breaks — when he says “But we believe this is for the best for the party, and the nation.”
And then what does he end with? “I have been asked, many times, and will certainly be asked again, if there are any circumstances,” ANY circumstances! Just tell us what they are, Mitt, and we’ll make it happen! We love you, Mitt! We want you to be our king! “under which I might change my mind and run again. That seems unlikely.”
“That seems unlikely.” Not, “Hell no. ” Not even just “No.” Not Pogo’s immortal, “If nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve, and if you don’t go away I’ll picket yo’ grandchildren!” Just, “That seems unlikely.” That isn’t even a refusal; that is the last desperate cry of a man who wishes he could find circumstances by which he could run again. But he doesn’t think it will ever come true like he wishes it would.
He’s right. It won’t. But why do we care?
Shouldn’t we focus on the people who are running? Shouldn’t this be one line in a newsletter from the Koch brothers to their henchmen? “Mitt’s not running.” Okay, great. Now if we can just cross off Ronald Reagan, David Duke, Boss Hogg, Arnold Schwarzenegger [And just why in holy hell is that name in my browser’s dictionary? Seriously: I had it with a T, and it was redlined; and a right-click gave me the correct suggestion. Seriously? I take this whole post back: THIS is now the most ridiculous piece of celebrity-cult-zeitgeist invasion I know.], Mr. Burns, Dracula, that “The rent is too damn high!” guy, and the original cast of Fame!, maybe we will have a better idea of who we should look at as becoming the eventual nominee.
Look, I get it. He’s a big name; he got millions of votes for President only four years ago. Stuff he does is news. But this isn’t a story about something he’s doing, it’s about something he’s not doing. Maybe we should also have a story about the fact that Barack Obama is not running for president for the first time in eight years. Then we can cross him off of our list of hopefuls, and I can throw away those “Repeal the 22nd Amendment!” bumper stickers.
Thank you for going away, Mitt. Hopefully we will forget about you soon.