For as long as Mitt Romney has been running, I have been convinced that there is no way the American people would elect a president they can’t trust. To my mind, Romney portrayed himself as a liberal to get elected governor of Massachusetts, and then portrayed himself as a conservative to get the Republican presidential nomination. His shifts are so rampant that it seems like his only exercise is jumping from one position to another. I was so sure about the outcome tomorrow that I bet my stepbrother Obama would win 40 states.
It turns out I’ve never been more wrong in my life.
As this is written, the day before the country’s 57th election, I’m flabbergasted to find that pollsters predicting that Romney – whose picture is in the dictionary, along with his running mate, next to the definition of prevaricator – may be favored by more than half of the country.
And even more astonishing, according to this New York Times article, there are people who believe he is dishonest who are still supporting him for president. It states, “According to a Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News Swing State poll released Wednesday, President Obama has a 9 percentage point lead over Romney in Ohio among likely voters on the question of who is honest and trustworthy (most people thought that the president was honest while most would not say the same about Romney). But that same poll found that the president only had a 5-point lead in the horse race numbers in Ohio.”
Apparently, these are people who want to live in the United States of Disneyland, where everything is a fantasy and that’s okay.
I thought we purged all this it’s-okay-to-have-a-president-that-lies stuff out of our system after Lyndon Johnson’s credibility gap over Vietnam and Richard Nixon’s Watergate. Heck, I thought we purged it after George W. Bush kept telling us there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and … oops.
What’s really astonishing is that Romney supporters have been piling on the president about the economy. The last time I looked, the economy is growing, gas prices are down, while construction starts and manufacturing are up. Yet half the population wants to return to the presidency the same party that got us into this unregulated financial meltdown in the first place. What am I missing?
And then there are the articles claiming to predict a Mitt Romney landslide. The polls, they say, are wrong, the same way the ones that showed John Kerry leading into election day were wrong. One guy is using Facebook data to predict a landslide. Another guy named Wayne Allyn Root, a Las Vegas oddsmaker, says in The Washington Times, “The average pollster is either biased or has terrible gut instincts. I have a history of predicting political winners and losers without ever taking a poll.” His technique: he just takes “the pulse of the thousands of people I know from my background” in sports, business, politics, and media. He once ran for vice-president on the Libertarian ticket and he writes a conservative column.
Digging into those predictions makes me feel a little better. I have no doubt all Root’s friends are rooting for Romney, so no wonder he thinks it’s a landslide. And conservative Republicans are well-known for ignoring voices that disagree with their own.
Still, the question nags: What if? According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there’s a group of nervous Obama supporters who check poll numbers daily to make sure they’re not shifting. I’m one of them. I go to a Web site called Election Projection. And at the top of this page is the number that really matters: the Electoral College tally. The Electoral College was dreamed up by a Virginia politician named Gouverneur Morris (that’s his name, not his title), as a way to ensure that presidents were popularly elected without bigger states overwhelming the smaller states. We’ve only thought about it 57 times in the last 200-plus years. But that’s the tally that’s important. In that tally, Obama has never been behind.
But as Santayana said, “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” A part of me worries that this country is condemned.
Middle Age Cranky at 100: Fine Whines & Muddled Memories, a compilation of the first 100 columns, is now available as an e-book at Smashwords and other digital bookstores.