Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Word associations for a winner

   Head bone's connected to the neck bone. Shoulder bone's connected to the arm bone. Arm bone's connected to the thumb bone. Thumb bone's connected to the "mute" button.

   This election has been a pain in the neck bone.

    To win our hearts, the dueling sides cumulatively have spent enough to build gated communities on Mars.

    All that, all the grave and grim narrators, all the stirring images, charts, graphs, and . . . Not a line sticks in my mind except this:

    In a locally produced commercial — yeah, one of those — a bespectacled "grandma on the street" says this about a Republican congressman: "He's more like Rush Limbaugh than you and me."

    The ad looks like it was done by the high school Audio-Visual Club, but that's a great line — the clearest statement about what's at stake Nov. 6.

    Understand, until a few days ago when Mitt Romney showed he could debate, Limbaugh was the titular head of the Republican Party. We'll see how long it takes for Rush to reclaim the throne.

    My wager: It will be as long as it takes for Barack Obama to decide "punching bag" isn't a good look for him. That would be their next debate at Hofstra University.

     To do that, the suggestion here is that the president emulate the grandma on the curb. Practice some name association.

     Romney did it in the first debate when he mentioned Solyndra, the failed solar firm that defaulted on a federal loan. A favorite of the Fox News smoke machine, the name is dropped often to obscure the tidal turn to alternative energy and conservation built into Obama's 2009 stimulus bill. One year later, Time magazine termed it truly transformative: "the most ambitious energy legislation in history."

    But, hey; give debate points to Romney. We knew full well the sound bite would make it onto Fox News.

    If Obama wants to reverse fortunes in the next debate, he needs to drop some names. This should not be hard.

    If "Solyndra" was a one-word jab, two words by Obama would be even more powerful.

    "Tea party."

    They are the most important words in the election. Romney may portray himself as a moderate. Whatever he may believe, if elected he will be a mount, a vessel, for the most strident conservative movement since the days of night riders and Red scares.

    George W. Bush came to government posing as a moderate, too. He became a vessel for neocon schemers with wars to wage. We know what war the tea party wants waged. It's against everything government does that doesn't directly benefit those holding the antigovernment signs.

     So, Mr. President. Say "tea party." Say it repeatedly. Remind moderate Americans who the real opponent is.

     Then drop these words: "Scalia." "Thomas." "Alito." Don't be shy. Remind Americans of these stakes. This will help get some progressives to put down the pout, act like citizens and vote, if nothing else, to blunt the gestation of an intractably authoritarian, "corporations are people" Supreme Court.

    Two more words: Grover Norquist.

     Mr. President, point out the no-new-revenue pledge Romney made to Norquist, he who would delight to see federal government "drown in the bathtub." Who runs America? People? Or Norquist? We know the answer Norquist would like. It's run by the corporations that furnish him his plush headquarters and all that walking-around money.

     Don't forget to mention G.W. Bush, too. Though the Republicans call him yesterday's news, with their trickle-down "solutions" to our fiscal straits, everything old would be new again. As a bonus: On the foreign policy front, that could include another war with another oil-rich Middle Eastern country.

     Drop names, Mr. President.

     Though the effort goes on to brand you as a radical, foreign, out-to-destroy-America type, you're more like most Americans than Rush Limbaugh will ever be.

      Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

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