The other day I got an e-mail from someone named Tagg Romney. I had no idea what a Tagg Romney is, but I assume it is someone related to the Romney who is running for president of the United States, the one called Mitt. Where do they get these names?
Yes, Tagg is a son of Mitt. One of the several sons of Mitt who have gone forth to multiply and fill the earth, starting with all the Romney mansions in New England, one of which is a summer home in Wolfeboro, NH, where most people didn’t know they were living in the vicinity of a possible "summer White House." That is, if Mitt can do nationally what he did in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race in 2002 and snatch victory from the jaws of victory, instead of turning it into defeat as he did in the U.S. Senate race there in 1994.
Then, you may recall, he had the mighty Ted Kennedy on the ropes but let him get away. Well, Mitt is nothing if not nice and it’s not nice to hit an old man. So he didn’t. He stood back and let Ted back into the center of the ring, where he pummeled Mitt with the Mittster’s lack of knowledge of what was what and how you get thing done in the U.S. Senate, the way an old pro like Ted with a name like Kennedy can. Ted has been saying that since 1962, when, with brother Jack in the White House and brother Bobby as attorney general, Ted’s campaign theme was, "Kennedys do more for Massachusetts." Yes, by Gawd, ask, Massachusetts — go ahead and AHSK — what your country can do for you!
Anyway, most residents of Wolfeboro were not even aware they had a future president in their midst until Romney began visiting and entertaining there when he began "exploring" a run for president. "Exploring," by the way, covereth a multitude of sins. My fine Irish father, God bless him, was quite an explorer. He would explore the neighborhood taverns, taking polls on whether or not he should have another drink. There being no objections, the "ayes" invariably would have it.
Anyhow, it is widely believed that, but for Mitt’s presidential campaign, President Sarkozy of France would have been seen more frequently in Wolfeboro than summer resident and taxpayer Mitt Romney.
And it took a Romney victory in Michigan to inspire an e-mail from a boy named Tagg. (I have no idea what his age is, but I can hardly believe a grown man would allow himself to be called "Tagg.") Apparently, Tagg doesn’t do Wyoming caucuses. On primary eve in New Hampshire, even Concord attorney Tom Rath, who has seen more New Hampshire primaries than the late, great Old Man of the Mountain, was spinning Wyoming as a big win for Romney. That was crucial to minimize his impending defeat in New Hampshire, the neighboring state that knows Sarkozy, but does not vote for Romney.
I can’t wait to see from whom I will get an e-mail when Mitt wins another primary or caucus. I am not acquainted with the governor’s warm and wonderful family. Is there a Hide-and-Seek Romney? A Two-Hand Touch Romney? A Spin-the-Bottle Romney? I’ll bet there’s even a Charades Romney. And a Masquerade Romney. Oh, I forgot. That’s the former governor and would-be president himself.
Because at least one of the Romneys we have been seeing in political campaigns in Massachusetts has got to be in a masquerade. You remember the Romney that was endorsed by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League? The one who told the Massachusetts "gay rights" crowd that he would be better for them and their cause then Sen. Kennedy had been or would be? Well, to out-pander Ted Kennedy, you have to go to great lengths and Romney will go to almost any length. This, after all, is the man who told his campaign staff to "Make all the promises you have to."
So now Mitt is masquerading as a conservative. He wants the NRA to know he’s their man. Likewise, the national Right to Life Committee, which endorsed Fred Thompson, because hey, they’re for the Right to Life, not the way to pick a winner. So NARAL feels betrayed? Well, that outfit has already outlived its usefulness. Who needs NARAL in a Republican presidential primary? Let them have Rudy.
Let’s see now, Romney was a) "for" or b) "against" the Bush tax cuts? The answer to a question like that is usually, c) "both" or sometimes d) "all of the above." But Romney has had his "epiphany" and is now against abortion and for the right to life. Except those lives that get in the way of righteous Republican bombs falling on Baghdad and other trouble spots around the world. "Trouble spots" are made less troublesome, we are encouraged to believe, by the expenditure of American bombs and bullets, purchased with your tax dollars by the U.S. Congress and blessed by our military chaplains.
Mitt looks good, though, the candidate from Central Casting. He is more Kennedyesque than Kennedy, more handsome even than John Edwards and without the Huey Long neo-Marxism that flows like mint julep through the silver-tongued oratory of the smooth-talking and cagey Carolinian. And Romney knows how to sing from the Republican hymnal: sacred songs about small government, less spending (except on that poor, half-starved military machine), encouraging enterprise and all that. Yes, we may have all that and guaranteed (even mandated) health insurance, too. As the son of a millionaire, Mitt may have been born on third base, but he’s got all the bases covered.
The man speaks well, too. He waxes eloquent and with the proper inflection of indignation when talking about wasteful government spending on redundant programs. Quick, how many economic development programs does the federal government run? Mitt will tell you — 342. The governor is a fair-minded man and will allow that some of them may even work. The federal government has more than 40 job-training programs. Mitt would trim that to a more manageable five or six. But here’s the killer — the "feds" have 13 programs to reduce teenage pregnancy. We might find one or two that actually work and just fund those, suggests the magnanimous Mitt.
As Archie Bunker used to say when one of Edith’s stories ran too long, "Help me, Lord!" This is what conservatism has become in our time. Reducing the number of federal programs on teenage pregnancy to one or two. The Founders would be amazed to find any programs at all on teenage pregnancy. People married young in the early days of the republic and teenage pregnancy was the norm. Extramarital sex was not. But you can’t come out against extramarital sex in these enlightened times. Not even a righteous Mormon Republican who takes the name of the Lord in a political speech would dare do that.
So we have "programs" to deal with problems that are none of the federal government’s business and which are guaranteed not to tackle head-on whatever problems they are not solving. The great columnist Joe Sobran once said that conservatism in the days after Bill Clinton announced the end of "big government" had degenerated into the promise of "a little less Socialism in seven years." Right.
And the next Republican administration will likely enact the Dennis Kucinich platform of the cradle-to-grave welfare state with a single-payer universal healthcare system, universal pre-school, universal Phd’s, and a comprehensive, one-size-fits-all universal universe, dedicated to the principle of diversity. There will be, as a sop to social and religious conservatives, a new cabinet-level Department of Teenage Chastity, which will subsidize condoms, birth control pills and abortifacients. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education will keep teaching kids there are no simple answers, like "Just Say No!"
In a few more campaign cycles, we will no longer need the circus. We have the presidential campaigns and a government that is to late-night comedians "the gift that keeps on giving."
Manchester, NH, resident Jack Kenny [send him mail] is a freelance writer.