Archive for January 2012

Dear Grey Lady? A Request…

January 8, 2012

…Please, oh please, do not let the Style section editor assign or publish anything to do with politics.

Consider the latest atrocity.  In it, a group profile of four out of the five Romney sons, we learn that:

They stump for him across the country as surrogates; they offer a square-jawed, Christmas-card-ready backdrop for him onstage; and they telling humanizing “Dad” stories, as well as recite his basic talking points. The Romney boys: charming, amusing and relentlessly on message.

“I think one thing we offer is a perspective on his character,” Matt said.

And there’s more:

They have developed a set of habits and rituals to tolerate life on the campaign trail. The ultrafit brothers work out together, sometimes swimming in the hotel pool. On primary nights or after debates, they often split chocolate shakes with their parents as they await the returns.

You can shoot me any time now.

This is the worst kind of  “journalism” — a piece based on interviews only with the principals, presenting an “as told to” portrait of people trying to persuade American voters to trust their family enterprise with enormous power.  If children are relevant to the potential presidency of Romney or anyone else, then something much more is needed; if they are not, then this is at once free advertising for one candidate…plus a pure distraction from the real question: is that self-made-son serving as the representative from Plutocracy, M. Willard Romney, fit to be president?

Oh — and you’d have thought that this might have sparked something like a reporter’s (or, really, an editor’s) news sense:

Though the sons say that they’re only focused on helping their father win the presidency, politics may be in their future. In 2008, Josh considered a Congressional run in his home state, Utah, and Mr. Romney introduced him at his campaign headquarters in December by saying, “He really should be the politician in the family, not me.”

Friends and aides, as well as Mr. Romney himself, say that Tagg, who now manages a hedge fund, also has the interest and the talent for public office.

Given the Bush experience, and the news that Joseph Kennedy III is considering a run in the Congressional district now represented by Barney Frank,  you’d think there’s your lede.  What makes a forty-something hedge fund (sic!) operator a potential political leader?  His dad and grand dad, of course, combined with a mountain of wealth his father’s candidacy aims to protect at all costs.  You’d have thought a piece on the resurgence of the phenomenon of hereditary political dynasties in American politics might be worth a look – and the Romney clan makes that an easy story to develop.  At worst, you’d get more out of such a piece than the revelation that “everyone is afraid to fall asleep on the bus right now, because everyone knows Josh has smelling salts, just waiting for someone to doze off.”

Did I mention you can shoot me now?

The selection of a president is a real challenge; this article, (and, to be fair to its, to my eyes, feckless reporter, many others) frames it with all the gravitas of the old Family Feud game show.  Which, of course, is a feature not a bug, if the goal is to let Romney’s fellow class warriors make their choice, unencumbered by interference from those inconvenient upstarts —  you know, American citizens.

To channel my inner Brad DeLong:  Why oh why can’t we have a better press corps?

Image: Paul Cézanne, Bathers, 1890-92

Things You Think About <7 Hours Out From Gum Surgery*

January 6, 2012

Like, what would actually be the theme song that captures  the geist of the Romney campaign.

He’s tried stuff like “Eye of the Tiger” — which is exactly the kind of cliché you’d expect a never-hip cyborg to seize upon.  It instantly dates/ages anyone whose neural circuits flare even momentarily, and it has all the motivational draw of a stack of green stamps.

No…especially after the descriptions of the Mittens/McCain event crater described here, I think that pain and a swollen gum have led me to the perfect Romney signature tune.  What could be better than this:

After all:  no one could deny that the tune delivers precisely the kind of uplifting message any candidate would want to deliver, right?  This version, though, is perfectly adapted for use in the RomneyVerse.   As performed (by soshalist Swedes!), it precisely evokes the feeling induced by any amount of time spent  too close to the RomneyBot:  the nearly uncontrollable urge to gnaw one’s own arm off at the shoulder if that’s what it takes to escape the room.

So here’s the challenge for anyone choosing to comment:  give us your choice tracks (for all the candidates).  And/or consider this an open thread.

*Aging Deteriorating, though better than the alternative, sucks rocks.

Image:  Samuel Coleman, The Edge of Doom, between 1836 and 1838.

Another Sign That The Apocalypse Is Upon Us…

January 5, 2012

….this, presented without further comment, via TPM:

Former New Life Church pastor and self-described “bisexual” Ted Haggard swapped wives with actor and self-described “church” Gary Busey for the ABC reality show Celebrity Wife Swap.



Speechless, me.

Really.  The Mayans might just have bee on to something. 2012 could be it for our species, or at least for any culture that could spawn Celebrity Wife Swap. (Which is, I suppose, perhaps the perfect habitat for the guests mentioned above.)

I say we throw in the trowel and await our Vogon overlords.

Image:  Lovis Corinth, In Max Halbes’ Garden, 1899


I Am Never Going To Be A Steelers Fan But…

January 4, 2012

…this is how a class (and smart) act behaves:

Ryan Clark sat down in Mike Tomlin’s office and did something a little out of character for the normally verbose Pittsburgh Steelerssafety. He listened.

And when Tomlin told Clark he couldn’t play in Sunday’s wild card game at Denver because of a sickle-cell trait that becomes aggravated when playing at higher elevations, Clark just shrugged his shoulders and nodded.

“I said `OK coach,”‘ Clark said Wednesday. “It wasn’t any fight … does he seem like a man who changes his mind anyway? I knew there wasn’t going to be any changing in that.”

And for that, Clark is grateful. If given the choice, Clark would give it a shot even when faced with potentially dire consequences.

“Y’all have seen me play, I run into people all the time, so clearly I’m not that bright,” Clark told reporters with a laugh.

Tomlin told Clark that if Tomlin’s son Dino was in the same situation, he wouldn’t let him play, the kind of blunt assessment that Clark has grown to appreciate during Tomlin’s five years on the job. (via Sports Illustrated)

I’ve been watching football for a long time now.  I enjoy doing so, though I find myself taking less and less pleasure in it over time, the more I learn about the way the game — played as directed — eats up and spits out young men.

(Alas, for the viewer, consider the alternatives):

Nothing in this story changes that essential dynamic, of course.  But at least Tomlin — and the Steelers organization — get one key fact right.  The game (even a playoff game, forsooth!) is not life.

Ordinarily, in a Denver v. Pittsburgh matchup, I’d be struggling to decide who to hate more. (Born in Raider country, spent more than half my life in the land of the Pats.)  Not this weekend.

Though I struggle to type it:

Go Stillers!

Image: Winslow Homer, The Croquet Game, 1864