Most of the regular readers of this column are familiar with my fondness for Titanic allusions. Here is another one. I figure that the Republican Party is now at a point equivalent to the moments when crew members on the bridge of the White Star liner watched in horror as the iceberg got closer and closer, every one of them hoping and praying that there was still enough time for the ship to steer clear of disaster.
It wasn't as if there was no warning in either instance. And it wasn't as if there was no concerted effort to avoid the impact. First Officer Murdoch did what he could do to avoid catastrophe and a lot of Republicans did the same thing. Now, there's nothing left to do but wait for the inevitable.
The GOP's figurative iceberg was in England recently flouting his diplomatic skills by making comments about the slipshod preparations that the British have made for the Summer Olympics. Romney, who has done more backtracking than an Indian scout at a cavalry outpost, tried to soothe the Brit's ruffled feathers by saying that what he said wasn't what he said, but I can't imagine anyone, at this point, paying any attention to what he says in the first place. (I hope that reasoning is convoluted enough for you.)
Romney's tactless comments might be a harbinger for the future, a continuation of Bush Junior's startlingly successful foreign policy of bullying or blundering our way into making every nation on earth detest America. Mitt's job may be easier. We don't have that many friends left.
In his defense, Mr. Romney wasn't saying that the London Olympics was so badly botched as much as he was conveying the impression that his management of the Olympics in Salt Lake City was so much better. They proved that he is a great businessman (as long as $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars are figured in) and that's just what America needs right now. He sacrificed a lot to helm the Utah games, too, temporarily leaving his post as CEO of a venture capital firm, if not his six-figure salary at Bain to help buy groceries in the interim.
Romney is running for president solely on his record as an astute businessman, a guy who puts all his faith in the private sector to cure the country of what ails it.
Speaking of what ails America, I wonder if it struck people as odd that George W. Bush decided not to attend the Republican National Convention in Florida, the playground of his kind of folks. Mr. Bush was the GOP standard-bearer for eight very long years and it certainly seems strange that he is just skipping their big shindig like it was a Live Earth concert that Barbara Streisand was hosting.
If W. was the "you're either with us or against us" president, then the Republicans have become the "you either remember us or you vote for us again" party. No word as to whether the organizers of the convention sent Mr. Bush a please reconsider plea or a thank you note. I'll bet that the collective sigh of relief generated a giant wave off the beaches in Tampa.
I have to say that I'm skeptical about Mr. Romney's claims to be a great businessman except in the sense that a bird that can spot a piece of carrion from a couple of miles up is a great buzzard. I guess that I am skeptical of the entire litany from the GOP that great businessmen are good for the rest of us. It seems to me that deregulated great businessmen got us into the mess in which we still find ourselves.
First of all, Mr. Romney, like his GOP predecessor in the Oval Office, began at a point 99 percent of Americans will never attain. It's nice to begin where most people can never even hope to finish. No draft worries. His obligations to further the Mormon doctrine fulfilled trudging around dull old Paris. The Ivy League with no school loans to pay off.
The responsible social legislation he fought for during his tenure as governor in Massachusetts have mostly been disowned as he shamelessly panders to his constituency. But Mitt just can't get too far beyond his years as a great businessman -- so great, as a matter of fact, that he had to start stashing money in Swiss bank accounts and in the Cayman Islands while employees in some of the companies that Bain swooped down upon filed for unemployment benefits.
Romney flacks can drone on about how everything the boss has done is completely legal. That, unfortunately, is probably true. But it is also true that Mr. Romney is fooling no one with his indignant pose. He is salting his millions in the Caymans to avoid paying taxes on income in the country where it was earned, to the detriment of other people in that country. Someone working in a fast food restaurant doesn't enjoy the option of off-shore accounts to avoid paying taxes and the burden that they bear is far more wearisome than Mitt Romney's ever was or will be.
The Polident smile fades quickly when Romney is questioned on subjects he'd just as soon not talk about, as if his income bracket alone should preclude them. An obviously miffed Ann Romney told an interviewer that her husband has told "those people" all he is going to about his personal wealth.
Unless I miss my guess, "those people" means us. It usually does from people with elevators in their garages.
Alden Graves is a reviewer and columnist for the Banner.