Monday, August 13, 2012

"Mutt" Romney says he's sure his VP pick isn't Paul Ryan -- you'll be surprised to learn who it is


Capt. Peter "Wrongway" Peachfuzz, skipper of the SS Andalusia, where President-in-waiting "Mutt" Romney made his latest remarks, has been tapped by the former Massachusetts governor for big things.

by Ken

As I've mentioned a number of times, as a reader I have a deeply "Yes! . . . but" relationship with The New Yorker's brainy and connection-happy Adam Gopnik. I can recommend without reservation his critic-at-large piece in the current issue, "I, Nephi: Mormonism and its meanings." Drawing on four recent books he sketches the curious history of the faith, stressing its kinship with all manner of other religious cults that sprang up in the early 19th century, then looks at why -- and how -- it survived and metastasized into modern times. And then he comes to this:
All of which leads to the inevitable question: To what degree is Mormonism responsible for Mitt Romney? Is there a thread, dark or golden, that runs from Moroni to Mitt? Garry Wills has argued, after all, that Irish Catholic ideas about sin -- that sin is negotiable currency, to be practiced, done penance for, forgiven -- allowed John Kennedy some serenity as he screwed his way through the White House typing pool, just as the habits of Protestant Evangelical belief, in forgiveness and temptation and forgiveness, in a never-ending cycle, helped Bill Clinton find a common language with working-class people. The most striking feature of Mitt Romney as a politician is an absence of any responsibility to his own past -- the consuming sense that his life and opinions can be remade at a moment's need. Romney, according to Romney, never favored the individual mandate, or supported abortion rights, or opposed the auto-industry bailout, or did any of the other things he obviously, and on the record, did.

One could presumably make a case that beleaguered faiths always shy from admitting errancy in public. Dominant faiths can afford tales of failure and redemption, with sinners becoming saints and saints dropping in and out of the calendar like blue-plate specials; beleaguered ones have to put on a good face in public and never lose it. Donny Osmond talks about the anxieties that arose from a need to appear perfect, and the impossibility of admitting in public to flaws or errors. Better to have a new revelation about, say, health-care mandates that renders the previous one instantly inoperable than spend time apologizing for the old ways. When, in 1978, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abandoned the rule prohibiting blacks from serving as priests, one church leader, Bruce McConkie, explained, "It doesn't make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June 1978." You could find, or think you've found, a similar logic behind Romney's blithe amnesia when it comes to the things he used to think and say.

Yet class surely tells more than creed when it comes to American manners, and Romney is better understood as a late-twentieth-century American tycoon than as any kind of believer. Most of what is distinct about him seems specific to the rich managerial class of the nineteen-eighties and nineties, and is best explained so -- just as you would grasp more about Jack Kennedy from F. Scott Fitzgerald (an Irish and a Catholic ascending to Wasp manners) than from St. Augustine. In another way, though, this is precisely where faith really does walk in, since commerce and belief seem complementary in Romney's tradition. It's just that this tradition is not merely Mormon. Joseph Smith's strange faith has become a denomination within the bigger creed of commerce. It's unfair to say, as some might, that Mitt Romney believes in nothing except his own ambition. He believes, with shining certainty, in his own success, and, more broadly, in the American Gospel of Wealth that lies behind it: the idea that rich people got rich by being good, that the riches are a sign of their virtue, and that they should therefore be allowed to rule.

Then again, almost every American religion sooner or later becomes a Gospel of Wealth. . . .


Governor Romney appears to have been under the impression that the Andalusia is a U.S. naval vessel. "From now on," he said, "I'll be making all my official announcements on board of military aircraft . . . or, uh, you know, vehiclecrafts. It makes me feel like a, you know, soldier-type person, what are they called again?"

ABOARD THE SS ANDALUSIA, SOMEWHERE ON THE BOUNDING SEA -- The likely Republican presidential nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Willard "Mutt" Romney, denied today that he had picked Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan -- whom he referred to as Paul "Riley" -- to be his vice presidential running mate. "I don't know where these stories get started," Romney said. "Probably it's you media types, being that you're all a bunch of socialist liberals."

Asked about the official statement he made on Saturday, with Representative Ryan at his side, aboard the USS Wisconsin, Governor Romney said, "Wow, wasn't that a doozy of a boat? Wasn't it Hazel who always used to say 'doozy-this' and 'doozy-that'? I had such a good time on the Wisconsin boat that I've decided that from now on I'm going to make all my official annoucements on board of, you know, war boats. I always thought you had to be a . . . like, uh, what do they call Army people on boats again? Well, whatever, that in order to go on board of one of those kind of boats you had to be, like, a, er, one of those guys in uniform. Or gals in uniform. Which I'm not, unless you count when I get all dressed up for when Ann and I play 'French maid.'

"You know, nobody's ever caught me in uniform. I always think of that funny old book Don't Go Near the Army. Me and my boys too, those fine strapping lunks. My spawn, I call them. Real doozies. How many of them are there again? Four? Five? Six? You're sure, five? Okay, and not one ever served a day in, you know, the Army. Five for five! Real patriots after my own heart. But that's not what we're here to talk about. Um, what were we here to talk about again?"

Reminded by a reporter that it was his alleged pick of Paul Ryan to be his running mate, Governor Romney said, "Who told you that?"

The reporter, Watt A. Tool, replied, "Do you mean that you had picked Representative Ryan, or that it's only alleged that you picked him?"

"Either," the governor said. "Or both. Why? Which did you think?"

The reporter took out his phone and played back for the governor his Saturday appearance aboard the USS Wisconsin. The governor said, "Well, as to that, you're familiar with my policies. Now I know there was something else I was going to say, another statement. It's on the tip of my tongue . . . ."

"About your running mate?" another reporter prompted.

"Oh, right. All I know is it's not that guy, what's-his-name, the kooky guy who looks like the troll under the bridge. It's a shame he's not blond and cute, or I'd tackle him and cut off his hair. That's really a blast. I don't get to do it as often as I used to. Now where were we?"

"The, uh, you know, vice presidential nominee?"

"Oh, right. What were the choices again? Oh, never mind, I'm a shrewd judge of character. I didn't get where I am today by not being a shrewd judge of character. That guy there, the one in the fancy uniform . . ."

"You mean Capt. Peter 'Wrongway' Peachfuzz?"

"Yeah sure, I like the cut of his jib. I say, why the heck not? Let's go with, uh, Pooper . . . what was that name again?"

And that's how Capt. Peter "Wrongway" Peachfuzz came to be the designated vice president-in-waiting of the United States.

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At 6:10 PM, Anonymous Bil said...


make me miss Moose & Squirrel!

At 6:28 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Moose and Squirrel play cards right, are in line for big government jobs with President Romney.


At 11:25 PM, Anonymous Bil said...

Foghorn Leghorn?

Press Secretary?

At 4:50 AM, Blogger John said...

What, Willard expropriates the USS Wisconsin but the media fails to deliver a "neither side can do it" excoriation a là the Dukakis tank incident?

John Puma

At 6:19 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Bil -- Foghorn Leghorn, sure, why not?

John -- I admit it took me an extra beat to do a double take on Willard's (ab)use of the Wisconsin. Then my first thought was that it's just another round of our old game, If the Shoe Was on the Other Foot.

I'm thinking of taking the high road and pointing out the "glass half full" side: Now when President Mutt and his sidekick VP Paul go starting wars all over the globe, at least they'll have some military experience.



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