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Ignoring the polls

Gosh, if you’ve been reading Digby, Paul Krugman or Charles Pierce (among many, many others) you’d think that Mitt Romney was Thurston Howell III born with a silver horse in his mouth.  He’s out of touch, insensitive and politically tone deaf.  And rich.  And his rich friends are arrogant, condescending, name dropping uber contributors of the 1% who think they are more equal than the rest of us.

There’s nothing to like about this guy.  Seriously.  He is very unlikeable.  Plus, he’s a Mormon.  Those damn Mormons.  I think they have some weird eugenics program where they only breed good looking ones that have outwardly perfect families and where the mother has a homemaking blog and does interior design in her DIY tiny house that she built herself while caring for 4 small children under the age of 3.  Don’t ask me how she does it but women like her make other women feel inadequate.

Mormons and scientologists.  I’m always disappointed when I run across a blogger or celebrity who is a believer of either religion.  I feel like they’ve let me down.  Like Elizabeth Moss who plays Peggy Olsen on Mad Men?  Every time I see her on TV, it’s like she’s got “SCIENTOLOGIST” stamped in spacey ultraviolet across her forehead.  I can’t get past it.  She might be the best damn ad copywriter in Manhattan but she still thinks she’s full of engrams and that’s where the careful constructed illusion of the brilliant writers falls apart for me.  I *almost* buy into her character and then, boom, there I am, thinking about Sea Org instead of her Heinz bean pitch.

Who in their right mind believes that humans who pass all their earthly tests may get their own planet someday, or are the re-embodied spirit enemies of an intergalactic overlord named Xinu?  Who really believes that stuff?  It’s like fairy tales and horror stories and the made up religion of a con man.  But whatever.  There are some mainstream people who believe in trees with magical fruit and talking snakes, so, you know, Mormons aren’t so far out there when you think about it.  Still, if you’re going to start a religion in the modern age, why wouldn’t you create a story that’s a bit more believable, unless religions have to be unbelievable to be believed in one of those weird manifestations of human psychology.  Maybe Joseph Smith would have been the first guy to think up the Nigerian bank scam email if he were alive today.  I think that’s why I get so disappointed when I find out a blogger is a Mormon.    I understand (sort of) why the Judeo-Christian religions took root.  They’re too old to have had a conman starting them.  They’re the aggregation of myths and histories and traditions over thousands of years. Sure, it’s time to retire them for an updated God v2.0 but I can understand why it’s harder to resist religions that are so entrenched.  But Mormonism and Dianetics? People should know better.

I wandered significantly off topic there.

Ok, so the topic wasn’t really Mormonism (or Thetans).  The topic is that despite the non-Mormon related glaring faults of the Republican candidate, and all of his lackeys, he is still in a statistical dead heat with Barack Obama.  Yep, you’d think with all that Obama supposedly has going with him, he’d be kicking Mitt’s ass all over Utah.  But that’s not what’s happening.

And if you look at the numbers, it’s not like the Republicans love their candidate.  They don’t.  It’s just that he is their instrument to score one against the Democrats.  It’s up to the political scientists to tell us why this is but my opinion, for what it’s worth, is that Barack Obama doesn’t really stand for anything except persistant failure over the past four years.  It is because he is running on his “achievements” and his “achievements” were not transformative that he is having trouble.  If he’d done something earth shaking in the Democratic tradition, voters would have a more defined opinion of him.  They’d either love him or hate him. A Republican Town Hall meeting might end up going something like this:

But the healthcare reform act didn’t actually do much.  A lot of the ACA isn’t going to go into effect until 2014 so there’s no way to say whether it is a success yet.  And the ACA doesn’t really make any bold transformative changes anyway.  It’s not like the WPA or Social Security or Medicare that had a lot of popular support.  There won’t be enough personal testimonies before election day.  Instead, there is persistent unemployment and an unending drag on the economy as our jobs, wages and standard of living are eroded away.

Sure, the Republicans are standing in the way of progress.  But this president didn’t bother to differentiate himself.  When The Village repeatedly urged him to compromise bipartisanly against our better judgement, he did.  Well, Ok then.  Now that we’ve run that experiment and have shown conclusively that it does not appear to work with this group of Republicans, the White House should have grown a unibrow and gotten tough, not doubled down on a wimpy losing strategy.

I love how Paul Krugman keeps yelling at the Tom Friedman types to stop pining for a centrist because they already have one in Obama.  But in these poll numbers, that’s part of the problem.  The public doesn’t see Obama as the centrist that he is.  They see him as a liberal Democrat, which he most certainly is not.  If he were a liberal Democrat, promoting liberal Democratic things and rallying the Democrats in Congress with purpose to help homeowners and working people, he wouldn’t be tied in the polls with a clueless, wealthy Mormon.  He’d be eating the Mormon’s decaffeinated lunch.  I don’t think Americans think Obama cares all that much about them.  A lot of that has to do with the right wing noise machine.  But let’s remember that the noise machine and Congressional opposition was just as strong against Bill Clinton and he wasn’t tied with Bob Dole at this point in 1996.

You can blame racism on the tie but politicos who do that are only making it worse for Obama.  To blame the voters ignores the real, lasting effects of this prolonged recession on our society.  Everyone knows someone who doesn’t have a job or is losing their house or can’t afford their student loans.  There’s a lot of anger.  There’s a lot of confusion by the right wing about what the solution should be to fix these problems.  And there’s also a candidate who will be held responsible for not putting more effort into doing his job.

No matter how unlikeable you make his opponent, this election was always going to be a referendum on Obama.  That’s what the polls are saying and what we have been saying all along.