So far this election season, there's been something about Mitt Romney that I've found rather strange, but I haven't quite been able to place it. Finally, this week, I figured it out: Romney is a retro-Republican. He is like the Republicans of my childhood, before the loony, ante-diluvian, populist wing-nutters consolidated their rule over the GOP. (Contrary to popular belief and mythology, this did not happen under Reagan, but after the Republican sweep in 1994.) He reminds me very strongly of George Bush the Elder, a scion of the wealthy elite (both were sons of senators) who is so out of touch with the general public that he is not even capable of realizing that he is out of touch. When Romney recently laughed about how his income from public speaking, which amounted to over $300,000 in 2010-2011, was "not very much," it reminded me of nothing less than Poppy Bush's infamous bewilderment over a supermarket checkout scanner in 1992.
Romney has been trying desperately, and I would say comically, to appeal to the Tea Party wing of his party. His attempts to curry favor end up being laughable because they are so transparently craven and disingenuous. On foreign policy, he makes the ludicrous promise to "double Guantanamo." To appeal to Tea Party nationalism and its attendant hatreds, he plays up his "American" credentials by reciting patriotic songs and calling the president un-American. He lies without shame, claiming that the president has somehow gone around the world "apologizing" for America, and that he personally created 100,000 jobs in his time at Bain, a number concocted without taking into account the jobs slashed at the companies that he took over. Like Bush the Elder and other Republicans of his ilk, Romney has to mouth pro-life hosannas to get the nomination, whether he believes them or not.
When you get down to it, despite the Tea Party shenanigans of 2010 and the fame attained by the likes of Sarah Palin, the GOP has been and will remain principally the party of the monied business interests. Hence the supposed insurgent Newt Gingrich calls for the complete elimination of the capital gains tax, a measure that principally benefits a small number of wealthy capitalists. Those interests, in the form of the Koch brothers, gave all kinds of money to the Tea Party movement in 2010, but only because it protected their interests. The new governors have made union-busting their signature issue, and that's hardly a surprise, since that's exactly what their wealthy donors pay for. As long as Romney stays loyal to the moneymen, Newt and Frothy McSweatervest (my name for Rick Santorum), won't come close to unseating him.