Government & Politics

Buddy’s last best chance: Punch out a Wall Street protester

Roemer: glass chin? caricature by DonkeyHotey

Former governor Buddy Roemer is doing exactly the wrong thing. Instead of making overtures to the Occupy Wall Street movement, he should get in a fight with them. A viral video of Roemer confronting a protester and landing a punch might be the last, best hope for his campaign. Surely it would catapult him past the one percent threshold in national polls. Overnight he’d be eligible for televised GOP debates. And once you get on the debate stage, the sky’s the limit.

Understand, this is a purely amoral, political observation based on the fact that it’s Oct. 11 and the Roemer campaign remains grounded. Roemer needs to take some risks, and staging a physical confrontation with the Occupy Wall Street movement offers the greatest political upside. Perhaps he could get an operative to push a protester into him, and then he could hit back in “self-defense” and yell, “I’ll whip yer ass, hippie!” Presto, the moribund Roemer campaign would be transformed into a controversial media delight. The Roemer campaign war room (Buddy’s bathroom mirror?) might term this political ploy: “Defend the 1% to Clear 1%.”

What else can Roemer do to get traction? It’s too late to reinvent himself. Edgy new slogans and policy plans won’t help. He’s based his campaign in a rented apartment in New Hampshire to directly engage primary voters — an “Adventure in Latitude,” some (like me) might snicker. But nobody’s convinced that a country banker from Louisiana is the perfect antidote to the special interests controlling the nation’s capital.

Roemer might object and say such a juvenile stunt is beneath him, but desperate and bizarre times cry out for creative campaign tactics. The nation is struggling through the aftermath of a Great Recession and largely disapproves of its current President. Conservative voters are in no mood for moderation. They want candidates who can slaughter a herd of scapegoats and serve up the red meat. They don’t want folksy storytellers with goo-goo ideas about campaign finance reform.

Granted, Republicans are un-thrilled by their current frontrunner, former Gov. Mitt Romney, but they seem even more dispirited when a rival to Romney attacks him with insufficient vigor. Thus, Roemer physically demonstrating his “fight” in the streets against an unwashed socialist would make for a powerful statement in the GOP primaries.

So come on, Buddy. Don’t seek common ground with Big Government socialists. Confront the “99%” movement — take ‘em on! Later you can explain that you weren’t defending Wall Street, you were sticking up for Main Street.

Assuming, of course, that you really want to be president.

Some reports have suggested that Roemer isn’t fully committed to winning this one, that he’s running to raise his profile as a preparatory step for future campaigns:

Roemer may be using the [Republican] primary race as a way to get back into political office – even if it’s not the White House, says Ford O’Connell, chairman of the Virginia-based CivicForumPAC.

“He wants back into politics, Mr. O’Connell says. “This is his way back in…. Buddy’s looking down the road possibly to a run, maybe back in Louisiana.”

Talk about quixotic! What’s the tagline for the Louisiana race going to be: Roemerlution 2.0, or Now’s the Time To Turn Back The Clock? I suppose Roemer could switch back to the struggling Democratic Party, as some have suggested, and at least be assured of getting into a runoff. But at this point any opponent for office in Louisiana could easily beat him. Roemer doesn’t have any electoral base to speak of, and his opponents need only play back old Roemer quotes to craft the perfect attack ad. I can see the verbiage scrolling down the screen before the image of a lone figure sitting in a skybox of the (then) Louisiana Superdome. (Two decades ago Roemer got caught reading a book while sitting in the Governor’s Suite at an exciting Saints game. I’d give my left lung to know the title he was so engrossed in. Perhaps: All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned at a Positivity Retreat?)

Roemer celebrated a birthday last week. The biggest present he could give himself (and his struggling campaign) would be to smack a Wall Street protester upside the head, before one of his rivals steals the idea and leaves the birthday boy even farther in the dust.

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