Androids, aliens and annoying lizards
When a major holiday falls on a Wednesday, productivity suffers. With the work week reduced by one shift and cleanly bisected, each remaining workday is effectively either a Thursday or a Friday because you’re never more than 48 hours away from a day off. A festive atmosphere thus tends to prevail even in stodgy confines.
Surrendering to the temptation to screw off, I decided to farm this week’s column out to Raymond Chandler’s signature detective, Philip Marlowe. He’s done some work for me in the past that yielded rather interesting results, including the discovery that Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann were former Stepford Wives who had been reprogrammed to pursue global domination.
This time, I asked him to check out the rumor that Mitt Romney is an android. Here’s his report:
Something about this guy didn’t add up, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on just what it was. David Letterman has compared him to the man in the underwear ads and I can’t come up with a better description.
You know the guy I mean — he’s standing there with a broad smile, hands akimbo, in full-color glory inside the advertising section of your Sunday paper. Hair perfectly coiffed and jaw squared, it doesn’t seem to bother him at all that he’s visiting the breakfast tables of total strangers clad only in white cotton briefs and matching tee shirt, which is invariably tucked neatly into the elastic waistband of his skivvies.
Meanwhile, you’re sitting there unshaven and hung over, nursing a butt and a cup of joe, wondering where in hell they find these people. Like the underwear guy, Romney comes across as inappropriately wholesome.
And though his public pose is reliably robust, his core values are surprisingly flexible. In fact, Mitt seems to be made of political anti-matter because he’s spent the last year campaigning against his former self.
Once a pro-choice moderate who was sympathetic to reasonable gun control, he’s now a pro-life poster boy for the NRA who describes himself as “severely conservative.” As of this writing, he’s vigorously attacking the health care plan he designed.
Apparently, the only position that he hasn’t changed since entering public life is his belief that he should hold high office. It’s a hoot that he’s running as a Washington outsider because the only thing that’s ever kept him out of D.C. was the electorate. Had he won the Senate seat he sought in ’94 or the presidential nomination he ran for in ‘08, he’d be the consummate Beltway insider by now.
I was tempted to dismiss him as another opportunistic political hack whose chief qualification for public office was his professed dislike of government. But this guy had made a fortune playing the high-stakes poker of venture capitalism and had shown some genuine ability by pulling the IOC’s bacon from the fire and salvaging the ’02 Olympics. There had to be something inside this seemingly empty suit.
Mulling the enigma over a jigger of Jack in a dark little dive near my office, I’d just made meaningful eye contact with a redhead who’d seen better days when it dawned on me that to figure out Romney, you had to first understand his adversary.
He’s like a reverse chameleon that changes its colors not to blend in, but to distinguish itself from its foe. He’d spent the primary season campaigning against the moderate Republican he used to be; now with the nomination at hand, it’s time to transform into the anti-Obama.
That task may prove more difficult than you’d think because for polar opposites, these two share some striking similarities. The incumbent rode a platform of hope and change to office so he, like his challenger, appreciates the utility of strategic vagueness.
Both men have alternative identities: Mitt’s given name is Willard; Barack was once known as Barry. Both hold degrees from Harvard, though neither man touts his Ivy League credentials, preferring to accuse his opponent of being a clueless elitist, hopelessly out of touch with mainstream America.
Each candidate has roots in multiple states. Romney claims Michigan, Massachusetts and Utah; Obama hails from Illinois via Hawaii, though a cohort of critics remains convinced that he is a native of Kenya, Indonesia or outer space.
While both profess to represent the “American People,” each comes across as foreign to large segments of that amalgamated tribe. Romney’s detractors find him to be robotic and mechanical; Obama’s believe him to be a literal alien by birth and figurative one by experience.
If the former community organizer or the retired equity capitalist were to enter a blue-collar bar to down a few beers and watch the ball game with the locals, he’d fit in like a Tea Party Republican at the Gay Pride parade.
The fall campaign will feature an android and an alien, waging cartoon warfare over symbolic issues while studiously ignoring the looming budget crisis scheduled to hit next January. Maybe that annoying little lizard with the muddled Cockney accent will stop hawking car insurance long enough to enter the race as an independent. After all, he too is a media creation.
With 4 months to go I can’t tell you who will win. But if you’d like to meet the loser, try looking in a mirror…