1. The Presidential campaign: an update


    I don’t write about politics very often. It doesn’t win me many friends. The people who agree with me still agree with me, and the people who disagree – well, they can just shut their pieholes.


    But I cannot resist commenting on the past week’s Presidential-campaign events, which have been truly delicious.


    The overture was Mitt Romney’s speech to the NAACP. “ROMNEY IN THE LION’S DEN!” trumpeted any number of commentators. See? Mitt is the prophet Daniel, and the NAACP were the lions, or the Persians, or the Assyrians, or something. Anyway, it didn’t take long to see that Mitt was using this as an opportunity to show his (white) supporters that he isn’t going to take any backtalk from any (nonwhite) minority groups when he becomes President. It reminded me of those wonderful moments in professional wrestling when the villain grabs the microphone from the scrawny announcer and begins to berate the audience. He knows they hate him. That’s what it’s all about.


    This is an interesting campaign strategy, trying to win the Presidency with not a single minority vote. (Mitt might still pick a ringer for VP, like Marco Rubio, but I doubt it; it’ll be a whitey like him and me, like Pawlenty or Ryan (well, Ryan sounds Irish, so I don’t know), or that guy from Ohio that no one’s ever heard of. Absolutely not a woman. Not Sarah Palin, and not Condi Rice. She’s pro-choice! She’s been on “30 Rock”! She’s black!)


    Then there was the call for Mitt to release his tax returns. He will not, will not, do it. (Do you wonder what’s in them? So do I. I’m not normally eager to read other people’s tax returns, but these I’ll take a glance at.) Speculation is running wild. Were there years in which he paid no tax at all? Quite possible. Would the itemizations yield up interesting facts about the Romney fortune? Also quite possible.


    There was a day or two of Mitt looking strangled and hopeless over this issue. Then the GOP figured out its riposte: OBAMA ISN’T AN AMERICAN!


    Yes, you heard me.


    Mitt called his policies “foreign” in a speech a day or two ago. John Sununu said that he wished “Obama would learn how to be an American.” (John Sununu, by the way, is an Arab-American. You would think – wouldn’t you? – that an Arab-American would realize that this kind of rhetoric can be inflammatory.  Apparently not.) Sununu said lots of other unkind things. Obama’s team are “liars” (because the Obama campaign has said – with perfect reasonableness, and in the absence of any extenuating evidence – that, if Romney lied about his status at Bain on his tax returns, it might have been a felony. Naturally this can be disproven if Romney were to release his returns.). Also: Obama has “demonized success.” (Not at all. Would that we could all be as wealthy as Mitt Romney! Of course, he inherited part of his fortune, and his handsome sons will inherit even more, from all those fat Swiss / Cayman bank accounts.)


    Most deliciously: Rush Limbaugh has decried the new Batman movie, because the villain’s name is Bane. Obviously this is a reference to Bain Capital. (One Tumblr wit pointed out that, since the Batman villain Bane is a fat drug user who was popular in the 1990s, you’d think that Rush would like him.)


    Oh, it’s all pretty funny.


    So why am I not laughing?


  2. Rush Limbaugh


    Rush Limbaugh apologized on Saturday for calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.”


    Well, you could have knocked me over with a bulldozer, as Dorothy Parker said.


    You know the story: Fluke testified very passionately before a Democratic congressional panel about contraception as an aspect of women’s health care.  Rush intemperately demonized her, making it sound as if Fluke was popping birth-control pills uncontrollably and demanding Federal funding to pay for it.


    The public turned on him. In his traditional style, he doubled down and stuck out his chin and dared the public to come get him.


    And they – correction, we – did.


    Petitions.  Social media. Bad press.  Bill O’Reilly tried to side with Rush the other night, and I think it actually made matters worse; it poured even more fuel on the fire, and made them both look incredible incivil and stupid.


    And then the sponsors began to peel away.  Carbonite.  Sleep Train.  Sleep Number.  LegalZoom.  Citrix.  Quicken Loans.


    See? If you want to punish a Republican, you take away the only thing he understands and respects: money. 


    I’m sure Clear Channel was very quick to go to Rush and give him the bad news: Apologize, babe.  The jig is up.  Glenn Beck got canned by Fox, and when was the last time you saw or heard anything from him?  (He’s still around, and I know he still has a Tea Party / lunatic following, but he has nowhere near the audience he did once.)


    Rush’s Saturday apology was thin and whiny and unsatisfying, but it was remarkable in that it’s really the first time he’s apologized for anything he’s said.


    On Saturday morning, Mary Matalin said coolly that the liberals were silly to expect him to apologize; he’d never apologized for anything.


    Surprise, surprise, Ms. Matalin!


    I think this is really a by-product of the recent dust-up between the Susan Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood.  Komen tried to tighten the political screws on Planned Parenthood; people went nuts on the Internet about it; and overnight, Komen went from Everyone’s Favorite Pink Charity to the John Birch Society.  They pulled back, they retreated.  And now people have learned the power of the Internet and social media in mobilizing on these issues.


    (By the way: I wonder how Komen’s fundraising is doing?  I bet a whole bunch of people have realized that, instead of wearing pink and doing 2K runs, they could actually be giving money to other worthwhile organizations.)


    And, even after Rush’s “apology,” another of his advertisers, ProFlowers, pulled out on Sunday.  It’s almost as if they want nothing to do with him.


    Buckle up, Rush. This may be only the beginning.