The apathy factor in American presidential politics has seemingly never been higher. As if to combat this, we're getting stories now about how this election is closer than you'd think, how Obama is in for a "tight race" or a "fierce fight" with Romney, and how the Republican challenger is "closing in" to a "statistical dead heat." They're going to say this, and they may even have numbers to back it up, like this week's Gallup poll showing Obama with just a two-point lead. But I think it's a mirage. The people who work for the wire services and the news networks are physically incapable of writing sentences like, "This election is even more over than the Knicks-Heat series." They are required, if not by law then by neurological reflex, to describe every presidential campaign as "fierce" and "drawn-out" and "hotly-contested." But this campaign, relatively speaking, will not be fierce or hotly contested. Instead it'll be disappointing, embarrassing, and over very quickly, like a hand job in a Bangkok bathhouse. And everybody knows it. It's just impossible to take Mitt Romney seriously as a presidential candidate. Even the news reporters who are paid to drum up dramatic undertones are having a hard time selling Romney as half of a titanic title bout.
Obviously Republican voters do hate Obama and genuinely believe he's created a brutally repressive socialist paradigm with his health care law, among other things. But Romney was a pioneer of health care laws, and there will be dampened enthusiasm on the Republican side for putting him in office. Meanwhile, Obama has turned out to represent continuity with the Bush administration on a range of key issues, from torture to rendition to economic deregulation. Obama is doing things with extralegal drone strikes that would have liberals marching in the streets if they'd been done by Bush.I've said much the same thing. Despite the many weaknesses Pres. Obama has displayed, there is no way Mitt Romney can win this year. This is a pity, really. Were the Republican Party the Party of Eisenhower and Robert Taft (at least the good Taft, not the McCarthy-coddler), it might raise a protest or two about the continued abuses of Executive authority and power, including an ongoing program run out of NSA to spy on American communications begun shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Sad to say, the Republicans hitched their wagons not to these men of (relatively speaking) honor and integrity, but rather to Richard Milhouse Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush. Add to that the on-going freak out on the right because the incumbent is (a) black and (b) has a non-Western name and we have this horrid stew of ugliness driving an already teetering party in to the morass of insanity where it currently festers.
I care deeply about politics. I care even more about governance. Because I care about politics and even more about governance, I am not, as I have stated previously, voting for Barack Obama in November, for precisely the reasons Taibbi outlines above (and many more, not least his on-going reticence regarding gay marriage; why this has to be about his comfort with the matter is beyond me, considering LBJ's well-known personal attitude toward African-Americans that was no barrier to him being a great leader for Civil Rights among our political class). Obviously, Mitt Romney does not deserve the votes of anyone who actually cares about governance. This is going to be among the more dull election years in living memory, with the possible exception of 1984.
Wake me when it's over, if you would, please.