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Free advice for a multimillionaire

As this is the first post from “Pterrafractyl’s Nest”, let’s start off with a bit of lev­ity in the form of free advice to a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire: Mit­tens Rom­ney. The US national dis­course took a sharp turn towards divi­sive racial and reli­gious pol­i­tics a cou­ple of days ago. Well, more than usual. The ker­fuf­fle started after a NY Times report on a leaked brochure out­lin­ing a pro­posal for a $10 mil­lion ad cam­paign by the “End­ing Spend­ing Action Fund”, one of the many new “inde­pen­dent” Super PACs to since the Roberts Court killed democ­racy vig­or­ously sup­ported polit­i­cal free speech. The brochure described a racially/religiously-charged cam­paign focus­ing pri­mar­ily on Obama’s rela­tion­ship to con­tro­ver­sial pas­tor Rev­erend Wright.

The par­tic­u­lar bil­lion­aire that’s inter­ested in “end­ing spend­ing”, Chicago-Cubs owner Joe Rick­etts, is an inter­est­ing choice for an anti-Obama bil­lion­aire. Not just because he’s cur­rently lob­by­ing the city of Chicago for a $200 mil­lion tax-payer ren­o­va­tion of Wrigley Field — where the Cubs play and where Obama’s for­mer cheif of staff hap­pens to be the mayor — but also because Ricketts’s daugh­ter, Laura, is one of Obama’s top cam­paign fund rais­ers.

The polit­i­cal oper­a­tive mak­ing the pitch, Fred Davis, is per­haps the least sur­pris­ing fig­ure in this story: he was John McCain’s media strate­gist in 2008 and pro­posed a sim­i­lar cam­paign focus­ing in Obama’s ties to Wright back then (which McCain rejected). Some­what inter­est­ingly, Davis was also the cam­paign advi­sor for John Hunts­man. And why is it some­what inter­est­ing that a for­mer cam­paign advi­sor for John Hunts­man would be push­ing to make reli­gion a high-profile topic in the race between Rom­ney and Obama? Because both Hunts­man and Rom­ney are Mor­mons and with recent polls show­ing that over 40% of Amer­i­cans would be uncom­fort­able with a Mor­mon pres­i­dent reli­gion may not be the best cam­paign focus for Mitt Rom­ney in 2012.

Per­haps not sur­pris­ingly, both Rom­ney and Rick­etts dis­avowed Davis’s pro­posed plan after it came to light...sort of:

Bloomberg
Rom­ney Rejects Wright-Based Attack as He Decries Obama Tac­tics
By Julie Hirschfeld Davis — May 17, 2012 11:01 PM CT

A Repub­li­can strategist’s plan to air racially tinged ads against Pres­i­dent Barack Obama drew rebukes from Mitt Rom­ney and other Repub­li­cans while spark­ing a fresh debate over what — if any­thing — is off-limits in the pres­i­den­tial race.

Both Rom­ney and a bil­lion­aire activist who was a prospec­tive financier of ads try­ing to dis­credit Obama by high­light­ing his ties with a for­mer pas­tor, the Rev­erend Jere­miah Wright Jr., denounced the idea yes­ter­day. Racially incen­di­ary ser­mons by Wright became an issue that Obama had to grap­ple run­ning for pres­i­dent in 2008.

“I want to make it very clear I repu­di­ate that effort,” Rom­ney told reporters, refer­ring to the adver­tis­ing plan. It was said to have been drafted by Repub­li­can strate­gist Fred Davis for a super-political action com­mit­tee backed by bil­lion­aire Joe Rick­etts, founder of what is now TD Ameritrade.

“I think it’s the wrong course for a PAC or a cam­paign,” said the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee. “I hope that our cam­paigns can respec­tively be about the future and about issues and about a vision for America.”

Rom­ney, 65, also took the oppor­tu­nity to accuse Obama, 50, and his cam­paign of the type of tac­tics the for­mer Mass­a­chu­setts gov­er­nor is dis­avow­ing, assert­ing there is a neg­a­tive slant to the president’s re-election bid.

‘Char­ac­ter Assassination’

“We can talk about a lot of things, but the cen­ter­piece of his cam­paign is quite clearly char­ac­ter assas­si­na­tion, and the cen­ter­piece of my cam­paign is going be my vision to get Amer­ica work­ing again,” Rom­ney said at a brief question-and-answer ses­sion in Jack­sonville, Florida, in respose to the Wright story.

Still, Rom­ney stopped short of dis­avow­ing remarks he made ear­lier this year on Sean Hannity’s radio show, when he said of Obama: “I don’t know which is worse — him lis­ten­ing to Rev­erend Wright, or him say­ing we must be a less Chris­t­ian nation.”

Asked yes­ter­day whether he believed Obama was try­ing to make the nation “less Chris­t­ian” or that Wright shaped the president’s views and poli­cies, Rom­ney said, “I’m not famil­iar pre­cisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, what­ever it was.”

...

Ok, well, kudos to Mit­tens for dis­avow­ing a self-destructive polit­i­cal cam­paign. But this clearly could have been han­dled bet­ter. After all, had this doc­u­ment not been leaked and the whole ad cam­paign came to fruition, that could have seri­ously back­fired on the man try­ing to become the JFK of Mor­monism. There are obvi­ous dan­gers that Mit­tens will have to watch for over the next six months if he’s going to avoid more Mormon-itis and var­i­ously other gaffes on the cam­paign trail, so here’s where the free advice comes in:

1. First, keep try­ing to remind peo­ple of Rea­gan. Your anti-Mormon base can’t get enough of the guy and the more you can asso­ci­ated your­self with Reagan’s mem­ory the bet­ter. With that in mind, don’t say things like “I’m not famil­iar pre­cisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, what­ever it was.” Yes, you want to seem Rea­ganesque, but not in that way.

2. You will be asked many ques­tions designed to let vot­ers get to know the “Real Mitt”. With so many Amer­i­cans still uncom­fort­able with a Mor­mon pres­i­dent, you may not want to empha­size that aspect of your biog­ra­phy. And that includes avoid­ing indi­rect ref­er­ences to Mor­monism. So, for instance, if you’re asked by an inquis­i­tive reporter about, oh say, your favorite book, be sure to avoid any books that are authored by noto­ri­ous cult lead­ers. And since you’re an obscenely wealthy fel­low, you really want to avoid books writ­ten by cult lead­ers when the cult is focused on exploit­ing peo­ple to make money. You really want to avoid those cults. It also helps if the book isn’t noto­ri­ously awful.

3. If you hap­pened to have already told reporters that your favorite book is one writ­ten by noto­ri­ous cult leader AND that cult is focused on scam­ming peo­ple out of their money AND that book is noto­ri­ously awful, you may need to get a new favorite book. If this becomes nec­es­sary, just be sure that the new book isn’t writ­ten by a Mor­mon author. That’s just push­ing it. And since you’re sort of an eco­nomic vam­pire with a bit of a “Mr. Burns” vibe you prob­a­bly want to avoid any vam­pire nov­els. And, of course, your new replace­ment favorite book should also not be noto­ri­ously bad.

4. Ok, so if you hap­pened to choose a new favorite book that’s about vam­pires and writ­ten by a Mor­mon author and noto­ri­ously bad you’re def­i­nitely in unsafe ter­ri­tory with respect to indi­rect Mor­monism ref­er­ences. If it gets to this point, be sure to fol­low this last point tip: Stay off white horses. Non-white horses are ok, but don’t push it. Push­ing the “Mes­siah Mitt” meme may sound nice at first but, like strap­ping the fam­ily dog to a car and dri­ving to Canada, bad ideas often sound good at first. As a vam­pire oli­garch try­ing to trick the nation into vot­ing for its own self-destruction, that’s a con­cept you should be famil­iar with.

Discussion

2 comments for “Free advice for a multimillionaire”

  1. The updated sight looks great.

    PTERRAFRACTYL’S nest is a wel­come addi­tion in my world. I’ll be tun­ing in like the nightly news.

    Posted by GrumpusRex | May 21, 2012, 3:55 pm
  2. @Grumpus: Thanks. It’s prob­a­bly going to be less the nightly news and more a trag­i­cally lit­eral take on the notion of “truly hor­ren­dous Real­ity TV”. And it won’t quite be nightly there should be a reg­u­lar stream of con­tent here. Although with the world sort of col­laps­ing in real-time there shouldn’t be a short­age of con­tent. So stay tuned and put the kid­dies to bed. I’m pretty sure it’s R-rated. Deeply unset­tling con­tent or some­thing like that...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 21, 2012, 11:32 pm

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