Monday, August 6, 2012

Mitt Romney: The Man Who Would Not Be King

You may know this situation, from one side or the other: a child faces an adult. The adult asks the child questions. the child is evasive. The adult is insistent. The child lies. The child hides things. The child is evasive. No parent is truly fooled by a child who is seeking to hide their transgressions. It doesn't stop the child from trying; they have no idea that their parents probably played out the same tableaux when they were children.

In the Digital Information Age, there really is no hiding anything. Though the Internet has yet to absorb the sum total of human knowledge over the centuries, enough exists in great enough detail for the last fifty years that hiding what you have said and done, if you are a public figure, is nigh impossible. Every utterance on tape, every expostulation before the camera, every missive in newsprint, can now dog you wherever you go. The track of your career can be plumbed in great and gory detail, mined for every iota of potential inference as to your character or position, not just by those who seek to know more about you, but by those who wish to tear you down.

Mitt Romney is in the unfortunate position of having much of his life laid bare, and not just in his biography, but by all those he has interacted with throughout the years. In his business capacity, or as a Mormon leader, or as Governor of Massachusetts, or even trying to rescue the Salt Lake City Olympics, he has left a trail of evidence to be followed in now accessible records. Very few parts of his life are truly closed to prying eyes.

In his second go at becoming President, he has attacked the problem of disclosure by not -- not, that is, disclosing anything. Not answering questions. Not outlining detailed plans. Not releasing tax information. Limiting interviews, and in those few, remaining evasive. On top of this, he seems to have surrounded himself with a staff whose main function is to attack every fact with a thousand counter-charges, to muddy the waters as much as possible, or to distract through impudence and irreverence.

While one can point to any number of positions he holds -- or does not, as the wind blows -- as a reason to avoid voting for him, no specific set of facts is really necessary beyond the fact of his ability to lie with seeming impunity, even in the face of facts to the contrary, and his desire to keep so much of his life hidden from the citizenry, the very people he is attempting to cajole into voting for him.

Mitt Romney is a child. He is the child who has broken his mother's favorite lamp, hidden the pieces, and now stands before her, questions being hurled at him left and right, tossing off rejoinders, spewing evasions, and clasping his hands behind his back with fingers crossed, even as he denies all knowledge of the lamp and what happened to it, a slight smirk barely perceptible.

It does not matter what his tax plan is, though it would appear to be nothing different than that which got us into our financial mess. It does not matter what his immigration policy is, because it is whatever it needs to be depending on your heritage. It does not matter that he wishes to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Day One of his presidency, failing to realize that he can do no such thing. It does not matter his stance on same-sex marriage, because it will come and he will not be able to stop it.

No. None of that matters.

What matters is that the man is slick, he is evasive, he prevaricates at the drop of hat and is unrepentant about it. What matters is that the man is seeking the highest, most public office in the country, and he still tries to hide behind his privacy, as if people have no right to know who the real man is, that they should just elect him on adulation and "trust" him.

A President who chooses to keep secrets is then a slave to them. A President does have secrets to keep, national secrets, but those are things in the interest of the nation. To have personal secrets, which may or may not have value to someone with ill intent, or to be hiding some sort of malfeasance that might considerably darken his already dim character, or trying to paper over some financial embroilment that would reflect badly on him personally, is not the mark of a person we should trust with the keys to our military and our country. While we cannot hope to find perfect paragons of integrity running for President, we can expect those people who do run for the position to be completely open with us. If they cannot do that, they have no business sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office.

Mitt Romney is the man who wishes to be king, to be seated upon the throne before the adoring masses. He runs a campaign that is part inept circus sideshow and part homage to what he clearly feels is a fait accompli. He is busy taking his victory lap before the race is even run. A man with such a sense of entitlement, combined with his obvious detachment from the world he flits through, makes no sense as President of the United States, a position which has aged and torn down more than one man with its rigors. Mitt Romney has gone as far as devil-may-care conservatism can take him, and America is not looking for a king.

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