I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around that. I mean a president’s name should carry some weight, no small measure of gravitas. The occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is, after all, the leader of the free world, not a loading dock foreman. “Hey, Mitt! Willy ain’t comin’ to work today, again.”
Mitt? That’s a headline writer’s dream. Already we’ve seen “Mitt happens.” And if he ever loses his cool in a debate we’ll get. “Mitt comes unstrung.” And if he visits a school ceramics class the headline might read “oven Mitt.” OK, that’s a stretch. But don’t underestimate the guys down at the New York Post. Doubtless they gather nightly at various New York watering holes to plot and plan this stuff. And no doubt everybody raised a glass and offered a lusty cheer for whoever came up with “Mitt happens.”
True, true, we’ve had a Jimmy (Carter), a Teddy (Roosevelt) and a Jack (Kennedy), even a Tricky Dick, but that’s another story entirely. And if 10 years ago anyone had told me our future would include a President Barack I’d have said that’s about a likely as another headline, “Mets Win World Series!” (Yes, since we’ve reached the time where it’s accurate to say “spring training starts next month,” I’m feeling cocky. But I’m not alone.
(On a recent “Law & Order” rerun, Det. Lenny Briscoe opened a murder victim’s wallet and deadpanned, “Married and a Mets fan. He was a glutton for punishment.” Funny stuff! Well, except for the married comment, which, um, wasn’t the least bit humorous. Not one iota.)
The thing is you’ll never hear Doris Kearns Goodwin, John Beschloss or any other esteemed presidential historian refer to the foreign policy challenges faced by Tommy Jefferson or the monetary policies of Johnny Adams or the toll the Depression and World War II took on Frankie Roosevelt.
Mitt (most likely) v. Barack? It’s a sign of the apocalypse, I tell ya. The good news is we apparently averted a Barack-Newt throwdown.
With the Iowa caucuses (whatever the heck they are) and the New Hampshire primary behind us, we’re on the downhill run to the summer nominating conventions and then, finally, the Election Day all those pundits, pollsters, politicos, progressives, populists and propagandists are fairly salivating over.
Perhaps it’s a direct result of hearing all the endless, and often mindless, chatter that preceded and followed the 437 GOP candidates’ debates … What? It wasn’t that many? Good lord, it sure seemed like it. Anyway, I just can’t seem to get psyched about this year’s race. Still, from now until Yankees World Series time — sorry. (Actually, no, not one iota.) There will no way to avoid the electioneering onslaught.
You won’t be able to watch an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants without hearing about somebody’s vision for a better America, for ourselves and our children. Then there’s those “personal” phone calls. “Honey, some guy named Mitt left a message for you. No, not Barack. Mitt. No, I’m not making that up.”
In no particular order, here are my predictions for some of the expected highlights, if you can call ’em that, for the rest of the campaign.
Mitt: “Mr. President, how do you account for your deficit spending, which the GOP says will bankrupt our nation and leave our children and grandchildren with massive, crushing debt?”
Barack: “Did I mention that I killed Bin Laden?”
Debate moderator: “Let’s turn to health care reform. Mr. Obama, beyond expanding insurance coverage, what precisely does your legislation do and how much will it cost?”
Barack: “Beats the bejeezus out of me.”
Moderator: “Mr. Romney … Wait. ‘Mitt?’ You’re sticking with that? Anyway, what would you do differently?”
Mitt: “Who the hell knows. And, yeah, pal, it is ‘Mitt,’ OK? I’m named after Milton ‘Mitt’ Romney, my dad’s cousin and a former Chicago Bears quarterback. No, I’m not kidding. Let me add that while my opponent hails from Chicago, I’m confident that neither he nor anyone else in his family ever played for the Bears.”
Barack: “I will have to concede my opponent’s point. But did I mention I killed Bin Laden?”
Moderator: “With what little time we have left, I’d like to focus on the ‘Occupy Wall St.’ movement. Since the protesters have hit both major parties, who include and are funded by the 1 percent, it’s become a ‘third rail’ issue few, if any are willing to address. That said, what should …”
Barack: “You’re serious? Mitt played for the Bears? Sweet! That is a cool name and you’re lucky to have it. You could have been stuck with mine.”
Mitt: “Oh, stop. Yours has that exotic flair and it suits you. I bet the girls …”
Moderator: “Uh, gentlemen? Getting back to ‘Occupy Wall St.’ If I could just … Guys? Hello? OK, how about the Mets? You want to talk about the Mets? Throw me a bone here, will ya?”
Tim Kelly is the editor of The Suffolk Times. He can be reached at [email protected] or 631-298-3200, ext. 238.