Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Another opening, another show

 I’m a sophisticated guy... in a populist moment. I’ve ended up dumbing myself down.

David Brooks writes:

Ladies and gentlemen, Jim, I'd like to start off this debate in a somewhat unconventional way. You see, under the pressure of a political campaign, with all the consultants, and party people, and makeup artists, and wives, and what have you, a lot of things get said that may not be what you wish you would have said, or present you in a light that may not jibe with the person you really are.

For instance, I've given people the impression of being a heedless, clueless, upper-class twit who thinks anybody that disagrees with him is a parasitic mooch, and my opponent has seemed to be a nonideological, sophisticated guy who goes around pragmatically repairing the world, killing terrorists and saving the auto industry, and still looks great in evening dress when it's time for your five o'clock virgin chocolatini, whereas nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, it's the exact opposite.

1960 Rambler American. Photo by Dmentd.
And the worst thing was, it wasn't even working. I mean, we thought this stuff out pretty carefully, with the business acumen we've accumulated over the years, and we were competing like monsters all throughout the primary season, and then all of a sudden bang! we hit that wall, and the thing stopped happening for us, and old President Obama there was kind of dancing on his toes, like Dad was the time Ford came out with that Edsel. Sold a lot of Ramblers that year.

So I knew we had to do something, and the first thing I said to myself was branding. When a marketing campaign starts to go sour, you can't just start tweaking it, you need to throw that sucker out, if you'll pardon my Mexican. We were going to be in deepest dada if we couldn't rebrand ourself, and I mean tout de suite, before these debates got started. And then the other morning my wife said something—I was eating my Count Choculas, and she was reading the papers, and she looked at me and said, "Willard"—because she calls me that sometimes, just being a tease, you know—she said, "Willard, why don't you just try being yourself?"

Well, frankly, she had me there. She was reading one of those self-help columns, I guess, and she said, "You know what I mean? I mean not insane, like those guys who can't think past their sex and abortion obsession, or stupid, like the tax maniacs, but just your own sophisticated, nonideological self?"

"That's crazy," I said. "So crazy it—"

"Just might work!" Because you know how you finish each other's sentences after you've been married a long time, especially if they're sentences you hear a lot on the television.

So the upshot was, we decided to take over. I mean, not fire everybody, I got a bad rap on that one, I only like to fire service people, not anybody I've actually, you know, had breakfast with. But to take a more executive tack on it myself, put a little E back in that CEO—E is for Elbow—and get the train back on the rails. And I knew it would be a risk being me, with so little time to practice, but then isn't risk what CEOs are all about?

Now, the next president is going to have to deal with three truly evil problems. The first of the evil problems is what the inside-the-Beltway types are referring to as the "fiscal cliff", which is that unless Congress can stop it, on January 1 everybody's taxes are going to go way up while everybody's budget is going to go down 20%, including our military. Now, you ask, what can I do about this when even if I get elected I still won't be president on January 1? And the answer is, frankly, nothing. [Governor Romney has a clearer idea of this than David Brooks does.--ed.]

Then again, it won't be my fault, will it? It will be President Obama's. After all, he's had four years to straighten this out, and the reason he hasn't done it is that he has no people skills, because he's spent his entire career as a community organizer, a college professor, and a state legislator; he's never even had the chance to get acquainted with any people. Also, he's impossible to negotiate with because he's as sneaky as an Arab with a rug to sell. All he had to do was bring Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner out to the golf course, for Pete's sake, and give them their orders, but the man's so out of touch he thinks golf is a sport.
Edsel Citation. From Gad-Fly.

Of course I also have to admit that Republicans have been part of the problem, and I haven't exactly helped, egging them on to vote no on everything from judicial nominations to National Pancake Day, but I could, and if I'm elected I will: I promise to ask Republicans to support my programs, no matter how embarrassing it may be.

In any case, by the time I do become president, after the fiscal has gone over the cliff or whatever, the country will be in deep recession, and then I'll have to fix it; so I'll cut all the job-killing taxes back again, reallocate funds to the Pentagon and oil price support, and there's your Grand Bargain right there. And Dick Cheney can go on TV to tell them deficits don't matter.

The second evil problem is economic growth, creeping like a slug and leaving one of those slime trails behind it too. Naturally, I won't be able to do anything about that either, because everything I've been saying on the subject, along with everything President Obama's been saying, is a lie. Truth is, if you expect me to create jobs you should just send me back to my old shop, where we constantly created jobs for yacht builders and executive jet manufacturers, French and Italian artisanal farmers, charter schools, and the cocaine industry.

True, a president can create civil service jobs, but that's nothing but the modern-day equivalent of slavery, with its exams, and its government-run health care and pension benefits. And it takes taxes. So you can forget about that right now. But then the recession we fell off the cliff for will have to come to an end sooner or later, and maybe by then Paul Ryan will be ready to run for president.

Finally, the third evil problem is that of escalating medical costs. That one's still a mystery to me, but it is to everybody else as well. Some say we should use the mechanisms provided in Obamacare, which is a terrible idea, depending on overoptimistic predictions of the workings of an untested program. I say when we repeal and replace Obamacare, we should replace it with the same thing; maybe we can call it Ryancare, so the poor kid gets at least something out of all this.

Others say we should bring market forces to bear on the issue: for example we could set up a network of privately run charter clinics, with nonunion nurses and doctors, to compete with the clinics and hospitals we have; then consumers would be able to choose the doctors with the best test scores and the other places would go out of business. Judging from the experience of the Medicare Advantage Plans, which gave Medicare patients the same services at a higher price and with better designed logos and websites, this kind of competition would not so much slow down the rise in costs as it would hive off more money for the job creators, but what the heck. Even a president has to do something for his own guys.

Any questions, wise guys? Because the real me doesn't answer 'em, so you can suck on it.
1954 Nash Rambler, from Jalopnik.

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