Mitt Romney remains as remote as the planet Jupiter
OPINION:Even when he looks genuine, the Republican presidential candidate still seems fake, writes MAUREEN DOWD
Message: they care. Republicans care deeply. They really do. They care deeply about making us think that they care deeply.
That’s why they knocked themselves out producing a convention that was a colossal hoax.
They did that for us. Because they care. With exquisite timing, they started caring last Tuesday at 7pm local time in Tampa, Florida, when suddenly the party was chockablock with tender souls in rainbow colours, with strong-minded women and softhearted men, with sentimental rags-to-riches immigrant sagas.
We all know Republicans prefer riches-to-riches sagas and rounding up immigrants, if the parasitic miscreants aren’t sensitive enough to self-deport.
That’s why my heart swells to think of the herculean effort the Grand Old Party put into pretending its heart bleeds.
Even if it has been bleeding for only five days. Better never than late.
It was remarkable to watch Mitt Romney ignore the empty seats and airless mood and reach deep inside himself to give a speech in which he appeared genuine. It was also remarkable to see that even when he looks genuine, he still seems fake. And despite the soft quiver in his voice, and Ann’s nonstop transfusions of emotion and wrenching testimonials from Mormons forced to relive family tragedies publicly simply to give Mitt a personality, the terribly erect candidate still seemed as remote as Jupiter.
It was truly thrilling to watch the blindingly white older male delegates greet their young, blue-eyed future: Paul Ryan, the 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman who turns out to be more talented than anyone had anticipated – a prodigy of prestidigitation.
In his speech on Wednesday night, the altar boy altered reality, conjuring up a world so compassionate, so full of love-thy-neighbour kindness and small-town goodness, that you had to pinch yourself to remember it was a shimmering mirage, a beckoning pool of big, juicy lies. (The fitness freak may have also fibbed about running a sub-three-hour marathon in 1991; Runner’s World reports that his time was 4:01:00.)
As the writer Dermot McEvoy noted, Ryan has “the so-sincere, so-phoney air of a gloomy Irish undertaker standing outside the funeral parlour where you’ve come to plant your mother, shaking his head consolingly and giving you that firm two-handed Irish handshake.”
Except with Ryan, it’s the safety net in the coffin.
The Tampa convention was an unparalleled triumph of mythmaking, or Mittmaking. Romney was so eager to woo Hispanic votes and join the cascade of speakers sharing immigrant family tales, from Rick Santorum to Ann Romney to Marco Rubio, that he made his father, George Romney, sound Hispanic.
“My dad had been born in Mexico,” he said, “and his family had to leave during the Mexican revolution.”
It was fitting that David Koch was the beaming financial god presiding over this Orwellian makeover of Republicans as generous communitarians who care about grandmas, cherish immigrants and defend Medicare, so movingly described by the vice-presidential nominee who tried to turn Medicare into a voucher system as “an obligation we have to our parents and grandparents”.
Koch leads the Orwellian movement of oil billionaires playing grassroots activists. The industrialist ideologue wants to use his super-PAC to shrink government the way those vacuum sealers on infomercials suck the air out of plastic bags stuffed with clothes until they’re a mere sliver – shrivelling all the social services, environmental regulations and taxes on the wealthy.