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Clueless at 66 Hanover Street, Manchester, NH now has his chance. With the exit of one major candidate from the Republican nomination process for the presidency, and another saying he’ll skip the upcoming New Hampshire primary, where the first committed delegates will be awarded, former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer finally can make that leap into the public consciousness, break out of the pack, and get his well-deserved attention as a serious candidate for the nation’s highest office.
Not. To be a serious contender, one needs a serious message, which Roemer never has had. He blames his poor showing on the bogeyman of “big money” and shadowy fat cats, financiers (which has been his occupation until recently) who control things with their bucks while he specifically rejects such input with his self-imposed limitation to receive contributions of $100 or less. The conspiratorial outlook, which has more in common with “trilateralism” of the last century and screeds against Jewish bankers of a century ago than with today’s reality, earned him a last place finish in the Iowa non-binding caucuses (behind a candidate already withdrawn, no less).
And that’s what has kept Roemer as a nonentity in the contest so far; the problem is not some cabal of wealth, the media (which, due to his microscopic polling numbers, keeps refusing to invite him to debates that he obsessively believes would permit liberation his message to turn the unaware into adoring throngs), and establishment party figures, but it is Roemer himself and his message. When a Gallup poll last month tell us, regarding “the biggest threat to the country in the future,” 64 percent said “big government” against just 26 percent for “big business” and 8 percent for “big labor” (the numbers were exactly the same for independents, and even Democrats were more likely to worry about big government than big business 48-44), you know anybody would says he agrees with the “Occupy” movement is on the wrong side of the issue.
(Additionally, part of the Roemer thesis that powerful, moneyed interests control too much of affairs stems from his incredulity that a former member of Congress and governor such as himself gets so little attention, with his cosmology ordaining that only the presence of these interests can prevent such a superbly qualified and knowledgeable individual arguing against them from getting much more support. In fact, Roemer himself, echoing some cynics’ assessments of his rubber-band-snapping failed term as Louisiana governor, seemed entirely unaware about the political process regarding Iowa’s caucuses, as this comical exchange shows.)
And if the candidate and his message weren’t enough to repel thoughtful support, his hypocrisy can turn even more people off. Despite Roemer’s campaign donation ceiling pledge, he said he would accept endorsement by the Americans Elect group, accepting huge sums of money from it. It also turns out that he is the only candidate to date that has applied for matching funds from the federal government for the relatively small sum of donations he has received to this point. So let’s get this straight, he’s against “big money” in politics and government, yet he’s willing to accept a public subsidy of his campaign using taxpayer dollars, and, if that doesn’t work out, will seek to have large donors support getting his name on many state ballots and campaigning on his behalf? Does this not make a banker railing against a specter of big money controlling all lose what little credibility he had already?
Yet Roemer can prove he’s been right all along. He has lived in New Hampshire for months, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars there in media outreach, taken up space in their bookstores, and talked to anybody who will listen to him. If elitist interests truly have suppressed his message, this is one place he can overcome that with a demonstration of significant backing in the electorate, especially now that the field has winnowed. If his message truly is correct and resonates, he should expect to do as well as the skipping Rick Perry or somebody who hardly has campaigned there at all like Rick Santorum.
But if he fails at put-up time, then he ought to recognize it’s shut-up time, at least in the sense that he blames everything except himself and his message for his lack of popularity. If he wants to keep going, fine, but delusion in someone competing for the highest office in the land does not commend oneself to voters.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 10:20