Monday, May 14, 2012

Willard Scissorhands, the Barber of Severe

Full-sized version at DeviantArt

I concluded last night's post about marriage equality with the following observation and promise.
The flip side to this was the story about Mitt Romney's bullying of a high-school classmate. I'll get to that later. Stay tuned.
Thanks for staying tuned. It's later.

I'll start with WXYZ's serious segment about the incident.

The U of M Dearborn professor is right that Romney was probably trying to get this out of the news cycle. He didn't quite succeed, as the story resulted in a lot of mocking, beginning with the snarky animators over at Next Media Animation.

And this story occupied an entire news cycle over at Daily Kos, with the following diaries reaching the recommended list there. The first two mocked Willard the Rat soundly, while the third was more sincerely angry.

Romney adviser: Mitt's no bully, just look at how he treated Rick Perry

The Chronicles of Mitt: May 11, 2012

Mitt Romney should be expelled

As for why this story sprouted legs, let me refer you to Nate Silver's criteria for a good political scandal.
1. Can the scandal be reduced to a one-sentence soundbyte (but not easily refuted/denied with a one-sentence soundbyte)?
Yes, Mitt Romney is bully who picks on gay people.
2. Does the scandal cut against a core element of the candidate's brand?
Yes, Mitt Romney is, according to his branding, a pragmatist who is really above the social issues, regardless of how he panders to the social conservatives in his own party.
3. Does the scandal reify/reinforce/"prove" a core negative perception about the candidate, particularly one that had henceforth been difficult to articulate (but not one that has become so entrenched that little further damage can be done)?
Yes, Mitt Romney really is as big a dick as his critics think he is. Furthermore, he may actually be on board with the homophobia a good chunk of his party espouses. Also, he's as big a bully as they are. Finally, he got away with stuff because he was rich. In other words, it reinforces key negative perceptions not only about him, but about the Republican Party as a whole.
4. Can the scandal readily be employed by the opposition, without their looking hypocritical/petty/politically incorrect, risking retribution, or giving life to a damaging narrative?
Maybe. It looks kind of petty, but as I noted when I first went through this checklist:
I suspect petty goes with the territory, at least for the Facebook quote. Google Santorum if you don't believe me. Somehow, petty hasn't been a problem for that crusade.
I don't think it will be a problem here, either. As for the retribution, Obama as drug user in college is something that has been openly acknowledged by Obama himself. So much for that attack!
5. Is the media bored, and/or does the story have enough tabloid/shock value to crowd out all other stories?
Obviously, yes. It certainly crowded out Willard the Rat's visit to Michigan earlier in the week, as shown on WOOD-TV.

How many of you remember that visit? If you had, you probably forgot about it in all the marriage equality and homophobia news. I know that I hadn't even heard of it until I started looking. Even if you had, there's a ready response to Romney's claims. I'll let the UAW by way of Think Progress show you that one.

Full-sized version here.

Yes, Friday the 13th was a bad day for Romney.