A little over ten days ago, President Barack Obama, who has been frequently criticized by members of his base (myself included) for anemic fence straddling throughout his first term, came to Virginia in a vigorous mood. Our sitting Commander-in-Chief chose the swing state he won in 2008 to formally launch his drive for re-election, casting the 2012 race as “a make or break moment for the middle class.”
Declaring himself “still fired up,” those of us who have enthusiastically followed his trajectory from Illinois State government to U.S. Senate to the White House can vouch for Obama’s ability to excite a crowd. His ample charisma and message of hope is one of many reasons BHO drubbed John McCain on election night four years ago.
The irresistible orator has turned out to be a far more pragmatic leader than the revolutionary-minded among us may have wished, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We have some epically serious problems with which to contend and although there have been times when I would loved to see Obama challenge a political rival to an old-fashioned duel (see John Boehner and last summer’s debt ceiling tango), my better self understands that this is no way to move the country forward. And however quiet his methods, the POTUS has certainly done that. As Joe Biden said correctly, “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.”
So after a rousing start to what is sure to be a long general election campaign, the nation settled into several presumed months of contemplating the Veepstakes. Which GOP crazy would Romney tap to be his second-in-command? Boring conversation for certain. Then two very awesome things occurred…
BOOM! Obama tells ABC’s Robin Roberts that “at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.” It may have taken a lot of words to state a simple fact: everyone has the right to decide who to love and wed. And the admission may have been forced by a clumsy, off-message but must-love-his-honesty Joe Biden, who unequivocally declared his support for gay marriage on Meet the Press, but the important thing was that the words were finally said.
And BOOM! JP Morgan Chase, one of the pillars of Wall Street, an institution long heralded for its ability to manage risk, announced it had lost two billion dollars through hazardous betting, adding new chum to the waters surrounding the debate on financial regulation and oversight.
Folks we have a live one!
In no time at all, Mitt Romney raced for the podium to declare “My view is that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” Romney said. “That’s the position I’ve had for some time, and I don’t intend to make any adjustments at this point. … Or ever, by the way.” Well good, glad we cleared up your permanent inflexibility Mittens.
Except that was a lot easier to get away with in 2004. Fortunately, society’s pendulum is swinging quickly on this issue, with a March 2012 Gallup ABC News poll showing that 52 percent of Americans support the legalization of same-sex marriage. I know the Republicans have long stopped caring about majorities or embracing the mainstream, but they continue to isolate themselves at their own electoral peril.
Likewise, the Romney camp wasted no time stepping in it over the JP Morgan Chase debacle. Romney spokesman Rick Gorka issued a statement that read in part, “JP Morgan’s investors, not taxpayers, will incur any losses from this hedging trade gone bad. As president, Gov. Romney will push for common-sense regulation that gives regulators tools to do their jobs, and that gives investors more clarity.”
Um, didn’t JP Morgan use taxpayer money, in the form of savings, holdings and other securities in the bank, purchased and stored with the honest dollars of hard working people, to execute this financial belly flop? Are we expected to believe that the bank will sell off buildings, reduce executive salaries or liquidate other assets to compensate for the loss?
Out of touch, and come November, out of time, the Republicans will finally be forced to take themselves out to the shed and contemplate a platform overhaul that includes elements of reality, modernity and tolerance. But until then, it will be wildly amusing to watch Mittens try to grapple with unscripted events as they happen, generally coming out looking like an ass, as has occurred in this first week of the general election campaign.