An unwelcome victory

Notes about undemocratic, non-representative findings aside, the victory of Mitt Romney in this weekend’s Iowa straw poll is heartening and troubling. Heartening, because it positions as the Republicans’ leading hope a man with no discernible positions, whose chief political experience is four years spent running away from Massachusetts while running for President. As Talking Points Memo points out, it speaks to a lack of enthusiasm for the field. Half the leading Democratic contenders should be able to make mincemeat of this guy.

The disheartening part is that so many damned people in the straw poll voted for this inflated ball of suit and hair. Hasn’t anyone learned anything from watching his performance in Massachusetts? If there is one lesson to be taken away from the last seven years, it is that electing a weak façade of a politician for president means handing over control to the back-room apparatchiks that have been setting up secret prisons, wiretapping America’s citizens, waging war on moisture, and dismantling checks and balances systematically since Cheney and Bush took office. And nothing about Romney’s track record in Massachusetts suggests that he is prepared to say no to the cabal.

I would really like to see both parties giving us a vision for how the country is going to move away from the Bush/Cheney administration’s lunacies. I don’t think that’s going to happen in 2008.

Further proof that no training in life goes wasted

For this weekend’s Tanglewood residency, I am staying at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. It’s a ramshackle monster of a place, in continuous operation since the late 18th century (with sloping floors et al to prove it); has a prominent place in an iconic Norman Rockwell painting (“Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas”); and bills itself as a luxury destination. Which is why I always wondered how the BSO and the TFC could afford to billet volunteer singers there, as they do for nearly every residency.

The answer, it seems, is simple. There is this class of room at the Red Lion called B&B rooms. Neither of the Bs stands for en suite bathroom.

So—just like on the Lawn—I am throwing on a robe in the morning to go get a shower, etc. Unlike on the lawn, there is only a single shared shower and toilet per floor, for about 12 B&B rooms per floor.

I shouldn’t really gripe. The other amenities are nice; the service is great; the live jazz quartet I heard in the Lion’s Den on Thursday and Friday nights was exceptional. But I thought I left wearing a bathrobe in public behind me 13 years ago. Ah well. Apparently, plus ça change…