In political parlance, it is time for the quadrennial Endorsement Dance of Hypocrisy. Once one candidate has been all but certified as the party nominee, the vanquished warriors, the Also-Rans, must disavow every attack and every suggestion that the campaign victor is weak, immoral, untrustworthy, or worse, unelectable. This was easier in the BYT days (Before You Tube).
“When I said that Mitt Romney was the least conservative candidate in the field and that his election would be as bad as reelecting Barack Obama, those remarks were taken out of context.”
“I never said he was a Massachusetts moderate. I said he was a Massachusetts ‘moderator’ – he moderated the state’s excessive liberal leanings with his sound and competent conservative management.”
“I might have derisively referred to the Massachusetts health plan as ‘Romneycare’ in the heat of battle, but now I realize that ‘Romney Cares’….about the little people.”
“I once strapped my dog to the roof of my car. Everybody does it. No big deal.”
“I personally like him. I’d love to have a beer with him.”
Everybody does it. Ted Kennedy stood up at the Democratic Convention in 1980 and assured the nation that Jimmy Carter, the man whose career he spent 6 months destroying, was THE best man to captain the country for 4 more years. Paul Tsongas changed his mind about Clinton and told us that ‘slick’ was actually better than ‘competence’. John McCain swallowed his pride and endorsed the man whose campaign allowed rumors that McCain’s adopted daughter was actually a love child from an interracial affair to fester and metastasize. There is no shame in selling your soul when “everybody does it”.
It is a painful dance, but one the public accepts without so much as a whimper of protest. Ho hum. After all, deep down we knew they were lying about the other candidate during the debates and the town halls. Expecting the truth in a heated political battle is the original bridge to nowhere.
Not all, but many reluctant endorsers do the dance in exchange for future benefits. George H.W. Bush rethought his position on Reagan’s “voodoo economics” and decided that when offered the Vice Presidency, trickle down theory made more empirical sense. Hillary Clinton demanded assistance in retiring her campaign debt before reneging on her 3 AM phone call advertising slam. It should then come as no surprise that the multitude of former candidates for the 2012 GOP nomination should get something in exchange for their public displays of affection for Romney and his various amorphous positions on the issues.
This year, it’s Cabinet-level positions that are being dangled in front of the eyes of the fallen. Of course, to please the base and to allow the endorsers some maneuvering room to argue with a straight face that their flip flop towards Romney is principled not self-aggrandizing, the current Cabinet jobs and departmental missions required some minor adjustments.
Here are the offers on the table:
Rick Perry, Secretary of the Department of Self-Defense: Described to the Texas governor as slightly less prestigious than the SecDef role, this new job will demand a quick trigger finger on executive orders that expand the rights of gun owners. Perry’s first assignment will be to reinforce Stand Your Ground laws nationally by allowing justifiable homicide in all states below the Mason-Dixon, a modern interpretation of the Missouri Compromise that worked out so well for the country.
Michelle Bachmann, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Insecurity: After a careful study of prior Republican administrations, the Romney people saw a need for a single spokesperson to drum up fear and feelings of insecurity in the general population. When the people are scared and unsure, it looks to Republican ‘strength’ to protect it, regardless of the impact of those policies on the national well-being. This job calls for weekly announcements about non-specific terrorist threats from foreigners, mysterious outbreaks of illness that might be caused by alternative energy sources, and warnings about walkers coming alive to eat your brains.
Herman Cain, Secretary of the Department of Selling Stuff (formerly Commerce): This is a perfect role for the man who once said privately to Romney, “If you wanna dance, you gotta pay the band. If you want my endorsement, you gotta pay the man.” Cain has also insisted that he conduct all subordinate position interviews personally in a setting that allows for privacy and discretion.
Ron Paul, Secretary of Department of Golden Treasury: This newly named department reflects a move to the gold standard long supported by Paul, and reminds him of the Golden Treasury book series, a collection of children’s literature that emphasizes the good ol’ days when kids rarely got sick and everyone had a friendly doctor down the street who accepted payment for services in trade.
Jon Huntsman, Body Double: At a quick glance, it could be hard to tell the two apart in a crowd, and this would give Huntsman an important part in Romney’s physical security and regular access to some of the perks of the job. It also benefits Romney in a more obvious way.
Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are not inclined to dance for Romney quite yet. First, their financial and egotistical demands must be met. Once proper tribute has been received from Mitt and his people, they’ll come around. They always do. Here are the Cabinet carrots for these gentlemen:
Rick Santorum, Secretary of the Department of Home Education: What better way to get the federal government out of the business of insuring an educated populace and workforce than shifting that burden back to parents? After all, who best to explain quadratic equations and quantum physics than Mom and Dad? The Founders learned at home, and that should be good enough for the 99% in a Romney administration.
Newt Gingrich, Secretary of the Department of State: The grueling requirements of the SecState job got Hillary out of Barack’s hair for 3 years. Maybe it will get Newt off of Mitt’s back. The Romneys considered giving him Secretary of Child Labor but opted for Newt to spend 320 days each year outside the country touring global hot spots instead.
Yup, it’s all falling into place now.