Willard Channeled Captain Kirk; Changed the Kobayashi Maru!

It’s time to Break It Down!

OK, so I apologize for infusing the title with trendy esoteric cinamatic jargon, but I’m an avowed Trekkie, so humor me.  As a StarTrek fan, there are numerous episodes between the various TV shows and movies, which I find entertaining, and occasionally inspiring.  The Kobayashi Maru, featured in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, is a test, and is an element in at least two of the Star Trek franchise films, as well as in several novels.  The test is a euphemism for “a no-win situation.”

Having said that, it is worth noting that just a couple of weeks ago, the GOP put forth a conspiracy theory that suggested the pollsters had aligned against their candidate.Indeed, they argued, the polls were inaccurate.  Not surprisingly, at the time, a wide array of polling services showed Governor Romneytrailing; a number them, significantly.

Similarly, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly Jobs’ Report lastFriday and reported that unemployment fell below 8% (7.8%) for the first time in 43 months, a number of the worlds most famous and influential conservatives stated and echoed the notion that the President or his surrogates and/or operativeshad “cooked the books.”  That is a really interesting assertion, when one considers that for 43 consecutive months, the GOP has used that very report, produced by that same agency (almost universally agreed to be a stable of numbers geeks and policy wonks, not aligned with the White House, no matter the occupant) as the source of choice to demonstrate the President’s inability to whittleunemployment to any number below 8%.

Suddenly after one report (on numbers that had been trending that way, even if slowly), neither the source nor the number, just as with the polls, is valid any longer.Speaking of polls, Willardreceived a significant (and expected) bounce after his debate performance.  Perhaps I just missed it, but I have heard very few Republicans question the accuracy or validity of these newly resurgent Romney numbers. 

Based on these examples, there appears to be an interesting relationship between the GOP and what President Clinton loosely referred to as arithmetic.  Did I hear someone say 47%?  Since candidate Romney, after 2 ½ weeks of doubling down, finally disavowed his infamous comments on that subject, I will let that go.

The scenario at that time of the debate was viewed in some circles as hypercritical; so dire in fact, it was widely rumored that were Romney to lose the debate, the enormous GOP funding streams, Super PACs included, were set to shift their focus from Governor Romney to the Senate, where Republicans hope to garner a majority in November.  It is not a stretch, with just less than 5 weeks left (last Wednesday) in the campaign and a plethora of negative news and polling, that Team Romney viewed the environment as close to “a no-win situation.”

What a difference the debate made.  Just so no one is confused, let me be clear, this is not an Obamaapology or excuse story.  Allow me to stipulate, without caveat, Willard Romneywon last week’s debate.  No amount ofspin can change, or even amelioratethat fact.  President Obama, strategy notwithstanding, underperformed.  In doing so, he missed a golden opportunity to put an inordinateamount of pressure on the Romney Camp, and instead, now faces tougher sledding than he would have, had he just held serve, to say nothing of the different dynamics that would have materialized had he actually won.

But this is a post about Willard.For months now, he as been characterized, based on statements by one of his own operatives, as an Etch-A-Sketch candidate (Remember that “Etch A Sketch” entered the campaign lexiconMarch 21, 2012, when Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom signaled on CNN that Romney could transform his primary campaign message for the general election by hitting a reset; “it’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch,” he said then.).

In the Great Debate, Part I, Governor Romney eschewed the Tea Partymagnet positions he successfully parrotedduring the GOP Primaries, and even up to this point in the general election campaign.  In effect, he looked a lot like the Massachusetts moderate that hard-right mavens, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum tried, diligently but fruitlessly, to warn true conservativesto shun.                                                               

Back to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, (USS) Starship Enterprise, then Admiral, James Tiberius Kirk, and the Kobayashi Maru.  The gist of this episode, as it relates to the test (Kobayashi Maru) is that it is revealed StarfleetCadet Kirk took the Kobayashi Maru3 times while he was at the Academy.Moreover, he is the only Starfleetcadet ever to “pass” the test.  However, the backstory is that he reprogrammedthe computer simulation so that the “no-win situation” became resolvable. Now in the real world, what Kirk did is known as cheating…but recall, Star Trek is science fiction (sci-fi); sort of a universe unto itself, where regular rules do not apply.We learn, in Star Trek II thatStarfleet Administration not only didn’t kick the mercurial Kirk out of the venerable institution; they gave him a commendation for original thinking.Perhaps sci-fi and politics have more in common that we are willing to concede.

That scenario mirrors Willard’s tactics in the first debate, and what the GOP appears to have done in response.  Faced with a situation where Governor Romney’s long-held, positions, complete with the Tea Party Stamp of Approval, were weighing him down like a proverbialmillstone around his neck, For all practical purposes, last Wednesdaynight, Willard reprogrammed the computer.He became a walking, or rather a standing (behind his podium)contradiction in relation to his previous policy statements.  In response, erstwhile dispirited conservatives have rallied to commend cadet…I mean, propelcandidate Romney back into contention in a race that a week ago appeared to be on the verge of slipping away.

A man on a mission, Governor Romneydistinguished himself by making a 180 degree turn and after firmly and repeatedly vowing to slash taxes for the wealthiest Americans and hurling the class warfare label at President Obama for saying he would raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires, the Governor quite simply reinvented himself on camera. In doing so, he went on to make at least 10 head-scratching assertions, including:

  • He will not reduce the taxes of high income Americans.
  • He will, after repealing Obamacare, advocate the implementation of his own   individual mandate plan — “And the best course for health care is to do what we did in my state” — but it would be state by state, along a federalist model.
  • He played the MediScare card – by most accounts, a discredited Democratic tactic against     entitlement reform, but apparently acceptable if it is done by a Republican trying to win Florida.
  • He obfuscated     around the question of whether he supports ending “too big to fail” — which might mean breaking up     the big banks, and/or restoring safeguards from the 1933 Glass-Steagall     banking reform act, repealed in 1999— or simply repealing the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, which regulates Wall Street.
  • He declined to specify, or even clarify what     exactly it is he proposes to put in place of Obamacare or Dodd-Frank,     should he repeal them
  • He indicated he would end oil company subsidies     if corporate rates were lowered enough – that may be news to Exxon.
  • He said Obama     should have backed the Bowles-Simpson     Commission’s deficit reduction proposals, though he did not back the     recommendations of that panel himself.
  • He advocated a balanced deficit reduction plan but refused to raise any     revenue
  • He vowed he’d kill “Sesame Street”icon Big Bird; though his enthusiasm for budget cutting does not     square with his commitment to increasing military spending to 4% of GDP.
  • He chose not to specify the loophole closures     which would make his 20% tax     cuts revenue-neutral for top     income earners.

Governor Romney’s debate performance was impressive.  However, the most outstanding aspect of that outing may not have been his opposition to President Obama’s policy positions, but rather his disregard for his own policies and positions.  As a Star Trek fan, I know I will always remember the night Willard Channeled Captain Kirk; Changed the Kobayashi Maru!”  I’m done; holla back!  

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