The hope and strength of Mitt Romney's candidacy is to position himself as the acceptable "not Obama" guy. His job is to be the bland, I'm-whatever-you-want-me-to-be Ken doll in the Barbie game of politics. It's working so far. Romney is this week's presidential winner because of his strong, unequivocal win in the Florida prom game.
Still, Romney almost undid his "winner" status this week. On his Florida victory lap, he quickly put his foot in the gaping hole that is his mouth by declaring that he didn't care about the poor, underscoring the perception that he's clueless (not to mention highlighting Mitt's "empathy gap"). Not because he truly doesn't care, but because anyone who thinks that the social safety net is a great place to nest is truly out of touch with the liberals as well as the Limbaughs.
Then Romney staggered on to Nevada where he became a prop in a Donald Trump promotional event. Perhaps he was trying to seem more human next to a guy who's an even bigger rich jerk, but the sight of an upstanding Mormon promoting a casino owner in exchange for his endorsement turned the event into a gilt trip. Is this the image Romney really wants to burnish?
Still, in practical terms, Romney has crushed the opposition. He won the Nevada caucuses. Newt Gingrich has abandoned ideas and optimism and been reduced to a sputtering Yosemite Sam venting his rage. Romney's now courting Ron Paul and his followers, and Rick Santorum can't even get on the ballot in Indiana. Despite kissing Trump's rump, Romney rolls.
Losers of the week, the GOP itself, which has not only bungled its process (the Iowa debacle), but generated a low turnout in Florida. So far, the GOP primaries have generated little enthusiasm. Couple that with this week's good news on unemployment, the fact that Obama has benefitted from the GOP primary campaign (his approval ratings have risen while the debates have ground on), and that the president is picking up steam in key swing states like Ohio, and it's only a matter of time before the media picks up on a presidential "comeback kid" theme.
Other winners of the week? Women. The outcry over the Susan G. Komen foundation's decision to drop grants to Planned Parenthood because it is "under investigation" by the far right created a huge backlash. Komen quickly retreated, Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell smiled, but the righteous outrage over politicizing breast cancer has helped to stir people to the fact that women's health is still, and increasingly, an ideological battleground. That alarm could be a big motivator in this election year.
And speaking of women, high-tech women are big winners in Washington state this week. Cantwell's money machine is in high gear. And in the new 1st Congressional District, the money pace for speed fundraising is being set by two former Microsofties, Suzan DelBene and Darcy Burner, who are among the Democrats vying for the seat. We could get a Congresswoman from Microsoft to go with our senator from Real Networks.
The big local loser this week: Whoever watches porn in full view of kids at the Seattle Public libraries. The libraries shouldn't censor what people can access on the Web, but on the other hand, librarians need to crack down on people who view adult, X-rated material in a way that minors can see. Librarians ought to be outfitted with remote off-switches that can deny access to users who are being indiscrete and won't relocate. The Nancy Pearl doll era of the "shushing" librarian apparently isn't enough these days. One shudders to think what the new Library Perv doll would be doing.
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