Mitt Romney has now joined Bob Dole, Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale in the political void that awaits any rejected American presidential nominee who doesn’t care to linger into senatorial senescence. Dole appeared in adverts for Viagra. Dukakis has been a public transport activist. Mondale, in 2002, at the age of 74, ran an 11-day campaign for his old Minnesota Senate seat after Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash. He lost 49-47. Romney lost the state he governed, Massachusetts, 61-38 to Obama. He’s a ‘car guy’, not one to take the train, and it would be hard for a Mormon to hawk erection pills with a straight face. But Romney turned 65 in March and can now supplement his fortune with Social Security benefits. At a breakfast after the election he choked up and started telling campaign staffers which positions he’d have given them in his administration; now they stand to collect unemployment benefit or, more likely, become lobbyists. Paul Ryan, who dreamed of being Romney’s Dick Cheney, returns to Congress at the age of 42, and as long as his 90 per cent white Wisconsin district keeps voting for him, he has another three decades to try to gut Medicare, criminalise abortion and push gay people back into the closet. Ryan’s selection signalled that in all of Romney’s posturing over two decades there was only one message that mattered: you can trust us white guys to cut your taxes.
LRB 22 November 2012 | PDF Download