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Sunday Late Night: Mitt’s Next Gaffe (Part the Second in September)

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Last Sunday, I thought it would be helpful to notate the Mittron2.012 gaffes, mini-scandals, and delicious errors so far in his seven-year quest to be the Prophet-President. I figured we could pick up that series documenting his gaffes sometime in October.

Little did I know that a mere seven days later, we’d have the chance to count (maybe with our shoes off, too) the examples of wheels-off-the-bus the Romney campaign provided for our amusement since then. Sure, it’s deadly serious, this business of picking a Leader of The Free World as well as a Commander-and-Chief (my least favorite garbling of a Constitutional phrase, ever) but Team Mitt seems determined to help us find the humor in it, on a daily basis.

Recapping since just last Sunday, we have:

— UnivisionGate Uno (threatening to pull out of the televised candidate forum if not permitted to bus in supporters to cheer his every word); UnivisionGate Dos (throwing a ‘temper tantrum’ until he got a do-over of his introduction to the arena); and UnivisionGate Tres (the Boehnering of Mr Juan Percent himself, perhaps in hope of being Tan Like Me– and then having the makeup artist respond).

— TaxGateGate and its multi-gated parts:

1. Releasing Mitt’s tax returns for the current year (2011) along with a note from his accountant saying he’d been a very good taxpaying lad the last 20 years. But, wait!? If the previous whatever years are irrelevant and none of our business, as Mitt seems to believe like he believes in the Golden Plates, why have his accountant certify that a thorough review shows nothing wrong, ever, with Mitt’s returns? And he did this — rife with erroneous categorizations and dubious summings-up — at the end of the second week in a row WaPo’s Chris Cillizza awarded him the winner of his dubious “Worst Week” award because, um, optics?

2. Revealing that this recent release of tax returns was delayed, essentially, to restate them (and take fewer allowable deductions) so as not to make Mitt out to be a liar for saying he’d always paid 13%. I mean, wasn’t he saying not long ago that he took every deduction to which he’s entitled? And that Americans wouldn’t want to elect someone President who didn’t take every deduction to which he’s entitled? Because, per Lindsay Graham, overpaying your taxes is somehow un-American? But now, for public consumption, he’s bumping up his 2011 rate from 9% to 13% because, um, optics?

3. Mini-Me revealed he’s had to amend his returns for the immediately preceding year to account for a ‘forgotten’ $60,000+. They’re telling us Paul Ryan ‘forgot’ trust earnings that exceed the median household income in America. ‘Forgot.’ And the campaign released this snippet this week, along with Mitt’s tax news. All of which yielded a headline in commie rag Forbes about “more questions than answers” because, um, optics?

I mean, does the Romney campaign sit around trying hard to think up ways for pundits to revise and extend their Sunday chatfest remarks about Mitt’s Taxes? Do they think it helps Mitt for the teevee talking heads to have multiple approaches into the Mitt’s Taxes story? Providing each member of a Sunday Gasbag Round-table with a different entry to the Mitt’s Taxes story is polite, I suppose, but, um, optics?

Seriously, MSNBC could now launch a daily one-hour Ezra Klein election-season daytime program called “Mitt’s Taxes” to relieve the pressure on Rachel, Lawrence, Chris, Ed, Rev Al and The Dayside Youngsters to cover this story in-depth. But they probably won’t free up that much time for their other anchors to report the other news stories, because drones-at-funerals.

And while we’re on the subject of revising-and-extending one’s remarks, who is the brilliant strategist who decided that

— Extending candidate comment on “the 47%” is a winning strategy? Sure, if your opponent had made a gaffe about “the 47%” behind closed doors on secret videotaped footage while speaking to donors as well-heeled as himself, incorporating in your guy’s stump speech that he wants to be “President of the 100%” would be a clever way to remind voters about the other guy’s foot-in-mouth chatter about us moocher/victims and our expectations of entitlements like health care, food, and housing — you know, luxuries. But where is the benefit if your own guy made the gaffe? There’s something wrong here and it isn’t simply, um. Optics?

— And who among Mitt’s campaign geniuses is taking credit for sending Mini-Me to sound off about his Voucherizing Medicare program to the AARP? There is no better way to communicate quickly to not-so-engaged voters that a reliable GOP voting bloc (the Olds) are restive and unsupportive of that attractive and well-dressed young man who is running with Mitt Romney. Give the networks that ninety-second clip for their news programs that show Ryan being booed in front of a crowd of Olds and a banner that repeatedly says AARP. “Why was AARP booing that nice young man Paul Ryan, Gladys?” is not the conversation-starter Team Mitt wants at senior bridge tables and elder-care dining rooms across America.

— Oh, Mitt’s campaign co-chair, Bridge Falls Down, quit this week. To work for the big bankers’ lobby. Because the urgent need to get T-Paw up to speed lobbying an out-of-session Do-Nothing Congress is so critical that the Mitt campaign (already highly skilled at the, um, optics) can surely weather the cross-currents of two supposedly locked-up demographics (un-reelectable former governors and Big Bankers) deciding that Team Mitt won’t evolve to Cabinet posts, because, um… ?

At this point in this rendition I think it’s important to recognize that, so far, this is not a list of Things That Happened to Mitt This Week. This is, instead, a list of Things Team Mitt Did. Just like standing up in front of the media to blame still-under-attack American embassy staff who saw a protest develop into a riot right outside their doors for ‘apologizing for American values’ and then doubling down; or just like asking an (isn’t he, really?) over-the-hill actor to speak extemporaneously to an empty chair at your big convention the night everyone is tuning in; or just like taking a well-deserved week-long break after your convention — these new items listed above are self-inflicted wounds. These are things Mitt and Team Mitt actively did. There’s no way to blame outside agency, the librul media, biased reporters or grumpy fellow GOPs for blowing things out of proportion: this is stuff that didn’t happen, but stuff they made happen.

Additionally, of course, speaking of grumpy fellow GOPs… there’s a whole other category called Friendly Fire: things done and said by folks one would guess were on Team Mitt but who don’t sound terribly helpful. Peggy Noonan bellies up to the bar and calls the campaign “incompetent” and then calls for drinks all around two days later when she says it’s a “rolling calamity.” Then Bill Kristol chimes in to call Mitt’s remarks “arrogant and stupid.” And then “jokes” about the ticket conservatives really wanted: Ryan/Rubio.

Ha-ha, Mitt did not chortle with amusement upon reading that.

Mitt can’t really fire back, any more than he can at the people blanketing Ohio with DVDs about President Obama’s commie parentage. In this race, these people are all Mitt’s allies.

He can’t alienate them by saying STFU. As if.

Finally, there’s dear Ann, bless her heart. This week, she let us know that campaigning for the presidency, her husband’s only job for the past seven years is “hard” — really, four public appearances in the seventh-to-last week of a seven-year-long campaign is “hard?” And, also, that we should all try it before we carp. Which makes it all the harder to understand the candidate’s self-inflicted wounds, since Mitt is the one who told his funders on hidden camera that we’d get tired of seeing too much Ann.

Memo to Mitt: You’re right, that could happen. Better rethink that October GMA gig — especially since your campaign is, at best, not in control of events even when you’re completely in control of events.

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