Walter Rhett

What Resides In The Background?

In Perlo on October 6, 2012 at 8:47 am

~Romney may be just doing the very sort of thing David Brooks is espousing and insisting that he’s really a moderate who was just being pragmatic when he presented himself as a severe conservative, in order to get elected.  I suspect David himself uses a similar justification for what he does as a conservative pundit who has been known to toe the party line but is the moderate darling of Democrats and liberals.  The problem is, to put it in language David might understand, is character; what kind of person does this, and can such a person ever be trusted?  How do we know when he’s posing and when he’s being sincere?  Others need from him, if not consistency, then the through-line of a coherent theme that an inner core, that is intact and to which we connect, allows.  And we don’t want the cheap substitute of being bullied or lied to or manipulated instead.

These are penetrating, core questions, clearly framed, aimed at how ideas, actions, and decisions relate to trust and authenticity. I offer 3 methods to determine “how we know” our interpretations are accurate.

One (drawn from addictions), when a behavior is center stage, increasingly dominates the frame or can be seen through the other positions or actions (not a Romney example, but lynching empty chairs points to deeper problems!). Repeated, long-term behavior, appearing in all phases of a process points to a character anchor unlikely to change (Obama’s or Romney’s).

Two, when the behavior is strongly tied to short term goals and is often quickly abandoned.  (Those who ask for money for food, but walk away if you offer to buy a meal. I doubled a gift once in NC when a person made a specific menu choice, demonstrating authenticity.)

Three, when a central life experience resides in the background but is glimpsed repeatedly. (Again, definitely not a Romney example, but serial criminals have a disguised central goal.)

I submit for Romney, flip-floping is an action strategy to keep others off base, options open, and disguise intent. Poland, England, the NAACP were quickly abandoned after being used and no appearences have taken place at former Bain sites. Coded and uncoded language, fictions, personal behavior and a budget sheet emphasis on capital extraction disguise–and affirm–Romney’s real goal: a massive redistribution of public wealth.


  1. Worth reading, not least because a reading leads this reader to consider alternative ways of phrasing some of the same points made in the post. I particularly like the opening lines (Those in italics), which I believe are quoted from Walter’s own comment filed in the New York Times perhaps a day or two ago (counting from today 9/6). I happen to remember because I was puzzled by Walter’s assertion that David Brooks is the “moderate darling of Democrats and liberals.” I am both Democrat and liberal (in the American sense, I am writing from Sweden) and I am consistently appalled by David Brooks formulations. (And FYI, Sweden’s liberal newspaper Dagens Nyheter regularly presents Brooks in translation but I cannot determine exactly why.)

    I wonder, Walter, if you believe that Romney uses flip-flopping as an action strategy after carefully evaluating the benefits and costs (unintended consequences) or whether he is so deeply committed to helping the rich get richer that he flips whenever he discovers that it enhances his (apparent) status.

    I must add the following, even though it has nothing to do with Romney, but instead is triggered by your strategy when confronted by the beggar asking for money for food. Each year with the exception of 2011 I spend 5 weeks in Burlington, Vermont. Strangely I am confronted on Burlington’s legendary Church Street by one beggar after another, each holding a sign. Most of them seem completely able bodied and relatively young. Next summer when I will be there again I think I will test your strategy. You say you want money for food, OK I will buy you a Fast Food meal.

    Only 6:15 AM in your part of the world


  2. Actually, italics represent the comments and responses of others I include in the post. I edit the order for continuity or when I’m posting a reply. Many points of entry are possible–and valid. I wanted to began the discussion, move it beyond and back to politics by broaden the “tests” and reviewing the validity of the ideas.

  3. This is so very good. I think of this as “clearing the clutter” so we can see the truth. Thanks so much.

  4. Actually, Walter, both Romney and David are Bait and Switch salesmen. Romney behaves like old-time politicians, seemingly unaware that his speech in Florida or Pennsylvania is viewed it the collective states at the same time. This should make it hard for him to ‘diversify’ for a segmented population, but the new American propensity to sort out and ditch whatever you don’t like in a speech makes intelligent voting a near impossibility. I hope we get smarter as time goes on, but . . .

    David has a job to test his ability to walk a narrow line without falling off into either the snake pit or the alligator pit. So he begins his formula writing with “Once upon a time . . ” and first invites you (NYT lefty reader) in to the flower garden where he hands you a lovely bouquet to soften you up for the next act. We then get to the main text, called “picking the legs carefully and slowly off flies” where he begins to asasinate your Democratic choice with softly-chosen words. Last, we get to the conclusion, where he concludes that when you come to your senses, you’ll realize that his wise writing will open your eyes and you will see that Romney has everything that is missing in our present choice, and that we’ll thank him in the morning . . .

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