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The Art of Political Suicide


Now we will be stuck with him [Obama] for another four years because Mitt the unfit can’t get his shit together.

Anonymous GOP strategist, Capitol Hill Blue, Sep 18, 2012

Electoral suicide is a skill, mastered through the ages with a degree of diligence one can admire.  Monarchical states had it right without perhaps knowing it – one doesn’t take a regime to an election for fear of finding something worse.  The politics of the vote is the politics of the knife – candidates fed by party machines, stumbling into the abyss, not realising they have made a blunder until it is too late.  Did you watch that capacious mouth of yours, dear candidate?  Hopefuls flounder only to perish because they misread the shrivelled tea leaves.

Mitt Romney, amusing political creation that he is, is demonstrating why he is making the venerable Japanese ceremony of seppuku more attractive by the day.  Not liked within his own ranks, endorsed by anti-Obama necessity, he is fast moving towards the deadly ravine.  “God, this guy is a loser,” claimed an unnamed GOP strategist on Capitol Hill Blue (Sep 18).  “We just lurch from one disaster to another.”  Inner sniping is beginning to gather pace with tribal force, and the sounds of the cutting can be heard from across the country.

There is much one can forgive a running candidate for, provided he is blind, oblivious and lost.  Romney’s spectacular effort of not caring “about 47 percent of voters” was a confession that power is something that he would wish other people to have.  Yes, it wasn’t vetted with the GOP wizards and maladjusted astrologists, but shot by a hidden camera at a session where he was caught off guard.  Shockingly, the professional mendacity of the GOP is starting to rust.  If one is to lie, one better well be damn good at it.

The resumes of these unfortunates are, for Romney, inglorious, spanning those “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.  That’s an entitlement.  And the government should give it to them… These are people who pay no income tax.”  Electoral death, it seems, by video, is something of an entitlement.

This is, of course, to the good, if you are backing the other side, but hardly desirable for your punters, who are channelling funds into your campaign hoping for a first class finish.  Romney is fast moving into the zone of caricature, the clown of political challenges.  His finish may well be a fatal second.

Not that it really matters, but America’s grand aircraft carrier – Her Majesty’s Great Britain – is not particularly keen that Romney move into the White House.  That’s if you believe the enthusiastic confessor Harvey Weinstein.  “I witnessed [the British] Prime Minister saying to a group of people, myself included, that Mitt Romney had that unique distinction of uniting all England against him with various remarks.  On behalf of my love of England, I have to support the President [Barack Obama] who is anything but making faux-pas” (Telegraph, Sep 16).  One vacuous fool, it seems, about another.

One doesn’t win elections mocking very large blocs, be there the entitlement crowd, or any other set even if such comments were, in the candidate’s words, “not elegantly stated.”  There is even a case at times that elections are not won by denigrating a small group of individuals, be they wrapped in disentitling clover.  The Obama campaign has done no favours turning the screws on the Romney crew by taking the negative low ground, showing that they are fresh out of ideas.  Romney has kindly responded by suggesting that he is one step down, a man of even lesser imagination.

His defeat is only conjecture till it takes place, as is the suggestion that an Obama victory is inevitable. Romney may sneak into the White House with sheer dumb luck, or rather, crawl in with surprising blessings.  That won’t be because of the efforts of his chief strategist Stuart Stevens, who is now being blamed for not being a suitably influential, and vicious, juju man.  Should Romney win, it will be one of this century’s more miraculous events.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email:


Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email:

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