Is Bush smarter than a fourth-grader?

Notes from the political sidelines.
May 17 2007 3:58 PM

Is Bush Smarter Than a Fourth-Grader?

Maybe he's failing on purpose, to help our young people make gains in civics and history.

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Like conservatism itself, Captain America's alter ego, Steve Rogers, once spent decades in suspended animation, frozen in North Atlantic ice. Thanks to global warming, the late captain and the conservative movement will have to find a different ruse this time. Conservatives can only hope that in the words of another superhero who turned against them, Arnold Schwarzenegger, they'll be back. Just as art imitates life, fantasy sometimes imitates conservatism—but usually, it's the other way around. ... 4:10 P.M. (link)

P.S. Marvel's five-part series on the death of Captain America in 2007 has the same title the Weekly Standard will use to bury Bush in 2008: "Fallen Son."

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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007

The Big Hair: On Tuesday, the Boston Globe uncovered a 77-slide PowerPoint presentation outlining the Romney campaign's strategy. Dan Gross is right: Mitt Romney doesn't just flip-flop like a CEO, he even uses a CEO's favorite tool to walk you through it.

The Globe says that top Romney strategist Alex Castellanos helped draft the document. Judging from the Globe excerpts, Romney has another CEO's weakness: overpaying consultants to assert the obvious. The PowerPoint offers such clichés as "Own the future" and "Does he fit the Big Chair?" It fusses over the candidate's too-perfect hair, describes John McCain as a "mature brand," and suggests Massachusetts-bashing as "Primal Code for Brand Romney."

But by far the best part of Romney's strategy is his campaign's primal code for Brand Mormon. As the Globe explains:

"Enmity toward France, where Romney did his Mormon mission during college, is a recurring theme of the document. The European Union, it says at one point, wants to 'drag America down to Europe's standards,' adding: 'That's where Hillary and Dems would take us. Hillary = France.' The plan even envisions 'First, not France' bumper stickers."

According to his campaign, Mormonism is not some new-fangled, outside-the-mainstream religion. It's Romney's lifelong crusade against heathen France.

While John McCain was squandering his youth in a losing battle against Communists—started by the French—Mitt Romney had a mission worth fighting for: He was going door-to-door on foreign soil, storming the French Bastille before they destroy our way of life. The man has spent his life training to fight Joan of Arc. Other Republicans may attack Hillary, but only Romney will burn her at the stake.

The clunky bumper-sticker slogan in the PowerPoint might have worked better for another campaign—such as "Frist, not France"—but give Romney his due. Considering its politics, Massachusetts ought to be overrun with French types. But with Romney as governor, Massachusetts natives of French descent like John Kerry and E.J. Dionne spent most of their time in Washington—and Romney's Massachusetts remains the most Irish state in the nation, far surpassing Ronald Reagan's California.

Romney is smart to run against France, which may be the only opponent weak enough for him to beat. There's just one problem. In the defining moment of Romney's political career—the Salt Lake City Olympics—he helped France win more medals than it has anytime in the 80-year history of the Winter Games. Mitt Romney not only didn't stop the French from going downhill—he let them beat us at it.

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