published Monday, August 6th, 2012

New day, same play

In sports, if a play works, expect it to be used again. And again. Why not? It's smart ball.

The same is true in politics. Say your political opponent is dumb and see that it sticks. George W. Bush was dumb. Forget Yale and Harvard and the MBA — and his being the only president to have earned one. A general and later a president named Grant was supposed to be none-too-bright, too. Just don't ask Robert E. Lee's opinion on the matter. Ike couldn't say anything, or even play golf, without being ridiculed by his supposed betters. LBJ was just a hick. Ronald Reagan was an amiable dunce, and one whose re-election would mean the end of the world. Literally. Or so said Dale Bumpers in 1984. That line went over big at Columbia University if nowhere else.

If you can't get away with dumb, try ugly. A prairie lawyer named Abraham Lincoln was just a buffoon and Harry Truman was the puppet of Boss Pendergast's machine in Kansas City. And all them Kennedys were too rich, and too Catholic, for their own good.

Which brings us to this year's presidential campaign. The morning line on Mitt Romney is that he's a wimp. Though it's not spelled out quite so explicitly. The latest cover of Newsweek -- yes, it's still around, but the print edition soon might not be -- shows a smiling Mitt Romney. The caption? "The Wimp Factor."

In case you didn't get it, the subtitle asks: Is he just too insecure to be president?

So, no, that wasn't a partisan attack. Newsweek's editors were just asking a friendly question, you see. Fair and balanced and all that. And that's what the media are supposed to do, right?

But it was all vaguely familiar.

The Wimp Factor. Where had we heard that before?

Oh, yes. The 1988 campaign.

There once was a vice president named George H.W. Bush who aimed to succeed his term-limited boss. That particular George Bush was running against someone named Michael Dukakis. It was a forgettable campaign all around, what with Joe Biden's plagiarizin', Bill Clinton's speechifyin' and Paul Simon's bow-tyin'. A merciful memory has obscured the details, but as best we recall, George Herbert Walker Bush won because: (1) he said the pledge of allegiance at every stop; (2) Michael Dukakis poked his head out of a tank; and (3) Mr. Bush looked healthy enough to ward off fears that Dan Quayle would actually become president.

Bush the Elder, who would soon enough become Bush 41, had to answer silly questions about The Wimp Factor. Why? Because the media asked them. Which media? Newsweek. How times haven't changed. Newsweek's cover showed an up-close shot of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush wearing his yellow slicker as he steered his boat. And the headline was almost the same: George Bush Fighting the 'Wimp Factor' Well, sure. The man only joined the Navy on his 18th birthday, became the youngest fighter pilot in the Navy at the time, got shot down over the Pacific, and then went on to fight for the duration. Some wimp. But he had to deal with the Wimp Factor because Newsweek said so.

Now Mitt Romney has to do the same. Because Newsweek says so. And here we thought standing headlines went out with paste-up.

It's said that newsmagazines — like Newsweek — are facing hard times. We don't wonder why. But who knew they'd resort to re-runs? That's so television.

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John_Proctor said...

"A merciful memory has obscured the details, but as best we recall . . ."

Well try a little harder to recall the details of the source of the nastiness of that campaign.

Your selective amnesia omitted the principal reason Bush I was elected, the vaunted Willie Horton ad. That covert appeal to racism, authored by the original attack dog Lee Atwater, is responsible for much of the negative tone of campaigning that we endure today. Even Atwater, right before his death, lamented the forces he had unleashed. Your memory is more selective than "merciful" because that ad had more to do with Bush I's victory in 1988 than any picture of Dukakis in or out of a tank.

August 6, 2012 at 6:27 a.m.
rosebud said...

Hi Drew! Anything new on publishing the salaries of TFP executives, managers and department heads?

August 6, 2012 at 7:43 a.m.
moon4kat said...

And, in the midst of rescuing the economy and dismantling Al Qaeda, President Obama had to deal with wing-nuts in the GOP.
As for identifying Romney's wimp factor -- he earned that by flip-flopping on virtually every issue that has come up in the campaign. Plus, he's afraid to even release his tax returns. He's a wimp and he's hiding the truth from the American public. Who would even think of voting for such an empty box?

August 6, 2012 at 9:48 a.m.

Wow, no mention of your own side's misconduct regarding a certain CURRENT president?

That omission is rather telling. Sometimes a silence speaks a lot.

August 6, 2012 at 10:49 a.m.
moon4kat said...

As one among those interested in having an honest, rational, fact-based discussion about our nation's future, I'm not impressed with Drew Johnson's editorial offerings to date. Seems that all he's got is a propaganda playbook from Faux Friends and Rush Limbaugh.

August 6, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.
Leaf said...

I won't vote for him, but I don't buy into the idea that Mitt is a Wimp. If he is, then every normal person is. I do think he panders egregiously, but then so do most politicians.

August 6, 2012 at 2:57 p.m.
timbo said...

Who could be more of a wimp than Obama and democrats in general? They all believe in every namby-pamby thing you could ever think of.

Obama is about as scary as a wounded puppy. The rest of you liberal wimps are just as bad.

Newsweek...another biased liberal rag that is full of crap.

August 6, 2012 at 4:12 p.m.
timbo said...

moon4kat...AND WHAT IN THE HELL IS HARRY AUSTIN????? He has never met a crazy liberal idea that he didn't write some stupid column supporting. Austin is a wimpy liberal with about as much sense as a slug.

We finally, finally have a true conservative thinker as a columnist on the right side of the TFP in Drew Johnson. His observations and writing subjects have been spot on.

You liberal idiots are just mad because he nails you every day.

You are just too dumb to get it.

August 6, 2012 at 4:18 p.m.

Lies and omissions don't count as thinking. They count as deception.

You're just too dishonest to admit the duplicity. You are just mad because we're pointing it out.

August 6, 2012 at 4:24 p.m.
moon4kat said...

timbo, I agree with happy. slinging around lobbyists' talking points and deceptions does not rise to the level of actual thinking about the facts related to various options and policies.

August 6, 2012 at 7:29 p.m.
joneses said...

Hussein Obama has added over 5 trillion dollars in debt after promising to cut the debt in half. How in the world cannot you people that supported this fool to occupy the white House not admit he lied to you? it is amazing how gullible you are. The only reason I can explain is you want more debt as an excuse to confiscate wealth to turn us in to another European Socialist country. That is where we are headed with fools like you liberals supporting fools like Hussein Obama.

August 7, 2012 at 5:16 a.m.
moon4kat said...

joneses . . . how much time have you spent in Europe?

August 7, 2012 at 10:46 a.m.
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