A guy named Mitt Romney had lunch with the president yesterday at the White House. Consequently, our nation is far from done seeing the words “Mitt Romney” splashed all over the goddamn place, because even after spending six long years in vain pursuit of the presidency, here he is—out and about once again, making us aware of his existence.
On election night, Romney was reportedly “shell-shocked” after learning he’d been resoundingly defeated. “Intellectually, I've felt we were going to win this and have felt that for some time,” the candidate had mused to campaign trail reporters aboard his private jet, mere hours before news agencies declared Barack Obama the victor. “But emotionally, just getting off the plane and …” Romney trailed off, then concluded: “Seeing people there cheering as they were connected emotionally with me—I not only think we're going to win intellectually, I feel it as well.”
He “felt” this despite the preponderance of crystal-clear polling data available for the world to view on the New York Times’ website, which projected a decisive loss and had for weeks. Romney chose instead to rely on his own perceived “emotional connection” to cheering supporters as the most authoritative predictor of election outcomes, which is an excellent metaphor for his campaign’s chronic refusal to acknowledge empirical reality.
Weeks later, the failed candidate should finally account for his wrongdoings—look in the mirror, own up to his most glaring bad actions and lies, and reckon with the public’s negative perception of him, instead of continuing to blame his loss on “gifts” Obama supposedly gave minorities. In other words, isn’t it time for Romney to do something truly drastic and redemptive? I think so. The solution is to embark on an “apology tour.”
The phrase “apology tour,” of course, refers to when Romney—in one of his many substance-free talking points—accused Obama of going around the world to genuflect before unfriendly foreign leaders and “apologize for America.” This was a charge that had percolated within the fever-dreaming fringes of the GOP, and emanated into the mainstream. No “apology tour” ever happened, of course, but Romney went on repeating the allegation till the bitter end. Given his interest in “apology tours,” here’s one the failed candidate might consider taking:
Stop 1: Washington, DC
When the two men met in private yesterday, perhaps Romney took the opportunity to apologize for his decision in September to accuse Obama of “sympathizing” with Islamist radicals during a major diplomatic crisis. (As you might recall, in response to news that the American embassies in Egypt and Libya had been besieged, Romney issued a statement pronouncing that Obama was on the side of the US’s enemies.) Post-election reporting has revealed that at the time, Romney realized he’d leveled an erroneous charge—but he decided to press on with it anyway, for fear of how neoconservative hawks in the Republican Party might react if he changed course or showed indecisiveness. Incredibly, the next morning, when the deaths of the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were announced, Romney convened a press conference specifically to reiterate that line of criticism.
If Romney opted not to apologize for basically calling Obama a traitor, I imagine their lunch would be a little... tense.
Stop 2: Seaside Heights, New Jersey
Next, Romney should head northeast for the New Jersey coastline. Any of the many areas wrecked by Superstorm Sandy would be an acceptable as an Apology Tour stop, but I personally recommend Seaside Heights, where the smell of gas spillage may still linger in some neglected coves.
Following the storm, Romney’s operation orchestrated a hasty, last-minute transformation of long-scheduled Ohio campaign rallies into fake “storm relief” events. Neither Romney nor Paul Ryan bothered to survey any of the affected areas; Sandy’s devastation was largely confined to solid “blue states,” and therefore it would have been strategically imprudent for Romney to visit those places when he could have been politicking in swing states. (By the way: Let’s get rid of the Electoral College already!) Upon arrival to the New Jersey barrier islands, Romney should be forewarned that the sight of storm surge-barraged neighborhoods and other miseries may come as a bit of a shock.
Stop 3: Trenton, New Jersey
Romney should then head to Trenton, the state capitol, where he can apologize directly to Governor Chris Christie. Campaign operatives launched scurrilous attacks on Christie after he dared praise Obama for overseeing the federal government’s relatively competent response to a mammoth natural disaster. Funny how freely the fat jokes flowed on right-wing sites after they decided their former idol betrayed Team GOP. After all, it was only August when Christie proclaimed, to rapturous applause from the Republican National Convention, “Tonight, we are going to choose respect over love.”
If there’s one thing that made the GOP fume with hatred this election cycle, it was any sign of a fellow Republican expressing even the mildest support for Obama. Christie’s praise was therefore deemed not just unacceptable, but morally despicable. While New Jersey residents shivered in the wet darkness, members of Romney’s operation saw fit to anonymously leak their “sour grapes” to every campaign hack’s favorite tabloid, POLITICO—which of course gleefully egged on the saucy intra-party feud. Weeks later, major Romney donors are still whining about Christie’s kind words for Obama having been some kind of “game-changer,” and they blame Governor Wrecking Ball (as he was once more commonly known) for handing re-election to Obama. Mitt will probably understand why he should apologize to Chris for this nonsense when he observes firsthand the wreckage on the coast.
Stop 4: London
Romney—who endlessly touted his “rescue” of the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics—should return to the UK to repent for his previous trip there this summer, during which he bashed the City of London’s Olympics preparations for no reason—though the rebuke delivered by Mayor Boris Johnson was enjoyable. Eh, on second thought—screw the Olympics. Mitt can insult annoying gymnasts all he wants.
Stop 5: Salt Lake City, Utah
Here, Romney is advised to seek forgiveness from the hierarchy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As president of the Church’s Boston stake from 1986 to 1994, he established strong ties to top church officials; in January 2008, Romney suspended his first failed presidential campaign to attend the funeral of church president and “prophet” Gordon B. Hinckley, described by USA Today as Mitt’s personal “spiritual leader.” How well did he carry out his duties as a global representative of the faith?
Well, the LDS ought to consider casting judgement on Romney’s partnership with conspiracy hate websites like Breitbart.com, which churns out a daily avalanche of wild, resentment-filled invective under the guise of “news.” Breitbart readers include many folks who still harbor big questions about Obama’s “background,” incriminating past “associations” that have yet to be uncovered, and the like. Few will relent on their demand that Obama release his undergraduate college transcripts, as he eventually did his long-form birth certificate.
While in Salt Lake, Romney is advised to apologize for his cynical prevarications about LDS doctrine. When prompted, he’d typically offer only generic platitudes on “Judeo-Christian values.” Fortunately for Romney, national political media generally agreed that adversarial questions regarding Mormonism were impolite and therefore not to be asked, so it never became a major general election campaign issue. (Members of the national political media also have a lot to apologize for)
Stop 6: Lake Jackson, Texas
One of Ron Paul’s two district offices is located in Lake Jackson, and it’s being packed up. At age 77, the iconoclast is retiring from Congress on January 3, having opted not to seek a 14th term in office. Ron Paul was personally cordial with Mitt Romney throughout the 2008 and 2012 presidential primaries and they appeared together in dozens of televised debates. But the Romney operation and GOP “establishment” decided to sandbag his supporters anyway, shocking even some in the Ron Paul apparatus who hoped for reconciliation with party power brokers. At the RNC, fervid Ron Paul cadres adopted “Remember Maine” as a rallying cry after part of the Maine delegation was arbitrarily blocked from being seated, prompting a mini-uprising on the floor.
Romney campaign spokespeople would occasionally make overtures geared toward appeasing Ron Paul people, but on the issue that most animates Ron Paul himself—non-interventionist foreign policy—Romney was horrendous, far worse in his sabre-rattling and war-mongering than Barack Obama and perhaps even George W. Bush.
As if by karmic law, Ron Paul will ultimately get the last laugh. His peculiar advocacy engendered a powerful, decentralized grassroots movement and aroused political consciousness for a very unorthodox assortment of young people, many of whom first became aware of Ron Paul by watching YouTube clips of his debate performances. Paul’s supporters typically feel great personal affection for the man. By contrast, Romney almost never inspired any such feelings, except maybe among his former colleagues in the private equity business.
Stop 7: Grand Rapids, Michigan
This will be Romney’s final stop; his home state, where his father served as governor and where last spring he declared admiration for the fine vegetation: “The trees are the right height.” In Grand Rapids, Romney is advised to deliver his last remarks and then withdraw peacefully from the public arena forever.
First, Romney should apologize for subjecting innocent Americans to repeated renditions of the song “Born Free” by Kid Rock, one of his most prominent surrogates on the campaign trail (other prominent surrogates included Meatloaf, Pat Robertson, and Donald Trump). Second, he’ll apologize for signing a pledge to support a Constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage and nullify all existing marriages in states that recognize them. Third, he’ll apologize for suggesting that the federal government ought to make things so hard on undocumented immigrants that they’ll voluntarily “self-deport” in order to escape the suffering.
Upon successful completion of this proposed Apology Tour, Romney will have done his part to put America back on the right track. Good luck, Governor.
Michael Tracey is a journalist based in Brooklyn, New York