Well, we’re a month out from the presidential election, more or less, and most of the punditry seems to be coming around to the opinion I’ve had for the whole race, which is that Mexican-American presidential candidate Willard M. Romney is an abysmal candidate who stands about as much chance of living in the White House as I do. Romney’s supporters, what few he has left, are quick to point out that the national polls are still quite close. But that’s the last refuge of a losing campaign. As I and anyone who follows these things closely will tell you, despite the fact that horse-race-obsessed reporters throw out national poll numbers with all the breathless enthusiasm of a 10-year-old at a Toys R Us, national polls are largely insignificant. The presidential election is not decided by the national vote, but by a state-by-state vote, with each state victory handing a candidate a certain amount of electoral votes based on that state’s population. So, what does it matter that the national polls are close when, if we go by the state-by-state polls and the election were held today, Obama would win by something like 328 electoral votes to 208, with New Hampshire’s 4 votes in a tie? Or even 332 to 191 with North Carolina’s 15 as a tie? Is it even worth talking about this doomed campaign anymore? Maybe so, ace, maybe so. But I can’t see why. The only thing left to do is find out when the damage was done. Was it the infamous 47 percent line? Certainly, Romney had been facing the distinct possibility of a loss before that. But I think all but the shouting was over much earlier. August 2011, in fact.
It was Romney’s appearance at the Iowa State Fair that first marked him out as not merely a less than stellar candidate, but a sure-fire loser. That was when he started talking about how to make entitlement programs work and set up his no-taxes-evah position by saying that one way to do it is to raise taxes on people. He was about to knock down that position when someone yelled, “Corporations! Corporations!” Romney responded to this tax-the-corporations voice in the crowd with five simple words:
“Corporations are people, my friend.”
And that was it. Election over. Just a few years after bankers nearly destroyed the economy and walked away scot-free, with average Americans still desperate to find someone to blame for the Great Recession, someone to slowly squeeze the life out of, some suit with a heavily jowled face, turning blue and then purple as he pays for his crimes. People do not like corporations; that’s why politicians always use the phrase “small businesses” instead. And people hate the idea of corporate personhood. And yet, in this climate, with as much distrust of Big Business as there has perhaps ever been in this country, Romney warmly responded to this heckler that corporations area people. He was never going to win.