I admit it. I underestimated Mitt Romney.
Knowing that Republican businessmen Herbert Hoover and George W. Bush were the worst presidents of the last century, I was pleased when the personification of America’s hubristic financial sector shambled through the last year as the worst national candidate I’d seen in my lifetime.
Mitt mocked his base, alienated allies and picked a running mate who was only famous for his desire to turn Medicare into an episode of Extreme Couponing. His policies grew increasingly extreme and repulsive, and his convention was an inside joke that nobody but people who would vote for him no matter what got.
Then, after confirming every bias America has against bumbling plutocrats for months and months, Mitt Romney’s first debate performance was remarkable in its disregard for facts.
In a fury of words and indignation, Romney used lies and half-truths to present himself as a moderate father figure who understands the economy and cares about families.
It was a strategic wonder. In one night, the one-term governor of Massachusetts turned a year of seeming unelectability into an asset, casting doubt not only on the president, but the media that had reported his constant blunders as… constant blunders.
Romney shot up in the polls, making the race a dead heat nationally, though the president still maintains slim leads in his “firewall states” Ohio, Iowa and Nevada.
But then in the second debate, America got a more honest glance at Mitt Romney.
After he blamed gun violence on single mothers, and after he said he’d actively sought “binders full of women” that were actually brought to him unrequested, Romney said something about women so remarkably out of touch and archaic that I was shocked my TV didn’t suddenly turn black and white:
“I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible.”