For all the Spanish-speaking Florida voters who have been bristling at the 2008 Model Mitt Romney barking at them, “English! Hablé it or get out!”–never mind the Americans wondering if they might get sent to Guantanamo under a Romney Administration if someone reports that Buena Vista Social Club CD in their collection–it must have been a bit jarring at the end of the bright, shining, inclusive Presidential campaign ad last week to hear, “Soy Mitt Romney, y apropbé este mensaje.”
My God, that really was a Mitt Romney for President ad. In Spanish. Just in time for Primary Day in la Florida de muchos españoles this year’s newest xenophobe and honorary Minuteman is going local. Yes, he’s been harping all year, if you come to this country, we speak American, and you darn well better, too. It’s enough that we let you in; if we can’t understand you we don’t want to have to be worried that you’re plotting to take our jobs or making inappropriate jokes about our wives or daughters and a chorizo sausage. However, if you’re a registered Florida Republican, we’ll give you a pass for now on that whole illinguality thing. Just don’t forget to voto para el Mitt!
Reporters and bloggers have to love the idea of a Romney Presidency, because he’s so easy to write. For example, I’m already preparing my post for nine days from now when his campaign photo op has him riding through the southern desert with a self-appointed paramilitary border guard snaring illegals with a net gun, trying to win as many border state votes as he can. “Wanna give ‘er a try, Governor? How ’bout this mama sita and her baby up here at two o’clock. Real easy–just aim it high, point and shoot. We’ll even let you put on the flexcuffs if you want.”
For an electorate that nailed John Kerry to the cross for his boneheaded but at least explainable “I voted for the $87 million before I voted against it”, Mitt Romney has already won a lot of delegates for a candidate so shamelessly malleable on the issues depending upon the room in which he’s speaking. He’s likely the beneficiary of the desperate confusion of a Republican party that can’t decide from one minute to the next which of this motley lot of “top” contenders has the best chance of not getting the snot knocked out of them in November.
Say what you will about Romney, at least he has the shameless good sense and a fearless willingness to lie through his teeth whenever the situation requires it. He won’t, like John McCain, ever confess that he doesn’t know much about economics. If there’s ever a chance to blow his own horn, he’s going to take it, even if he’s never heard a Louis Armstrong record in his life, much less tried to play along with one.
This is an easier strategy to play in the primary, when you’re entertaining one room at a time. In this YouTube age, though, everything you say is permanently on record and only a few-second download away. Just for the sheer sport of it, the heavyweight Democratic strategists like Paul Begala and James Carville have to be champing at the bit for a crack at Morphing Mitt. There’s such an enormous audiovisual treasure trove of his own moments they can turn against him it will make Michael Dukakis in the tank look like a portrait in statesmanship.