Dear Buzz Bissinger:
I know you’re sick of defending yourself to the liberal media after breaking with a lifetime of voting Democratic to endorse Mitt Romney for president, but bear with me. After all, I’m a big fan of your work. I even follow you on Twitter, which as we all know, is not for the faint of heart.
In fact, I think we have a lot in common. You wrote Prayer for the City about Ed Rendell saving Philadelphia from bankruptcy as mayor, and I’ve read that book. You wrote Friday Night Lights, and I’ve seen the movie and TV series based on it. You wrote Father’s Day, and I meant to read that. Your books have sold millions of copies, and you regularly appear on national television. I co-wrote an e-book once that has sold in the low four figures, and today the receptionist recognized me at the dentist’s office. It’s like we’re twins.
You endorsed Romney in a column for The Daily Beast and defended it in several interviews since. In short, you are backing Romney because you’re tired of gridlock and you “no longer have faith in Obama as a leader and man of inspiration.”
“I am not sure Obama really wants to be president in any practical way. He hates the rolling up of sleeves and schmoozing that is politics. I respect his principles, the way he does not veer from them, but politics is not principle whether we like it or not. It is friendliness and compromise,” you wrote in The Daily Beast.
On Obama’s Inauguration Day, Republicans—including Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan—met in secret to plan how to obstruct the President’s agenda, according to Robert Draper’s Do Not Ask What Good We Do—Inside the U.S. House of Representatives. Over on the Senate side, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-19th Century) publicly proclaimed, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Your argument, Buzz, is that Obama should have charmed them? And your solution is to reward them with the White House? I believe you are that frustrated, but I don’t believe you’re that dumb.
You also argued for a bigger stimulus, agreed with the auto bailout, suggested indicting Wall Street bankers, and called Obamacare “admirable,” “right and ... bold.” You even wrote, “Those making more than $250,000 should pay more taxes.” If you’re voting against your own beliefs because to continue to fight for them would prolong conflict, you’re doing America wrong. As you wrote, “The president is not a dictator. There is a congress. There are checks and balances.” Conflict is inherent in the system.
But where your argument veers from the absurd (rewarding the obstructionists for obstruction because you’re mad at the obstruction) into the imaginary is when you depict a President Mitt as “moving to the moderate he always has been” and showing “far more compassion than people think.” You grant yourself access to Mitt’s unuttered thoughts, writing, “I think Romney realizes that lowering the rate to 20 percent will not fly if he is to lower the deficit and make the plan work.”
You’ve even written, “Call me a naïve idiot, but I think Romney does care about a hundred percent of all Americans.” You’re asking Cinderella to the ball, believing that the Fairy Godmother is about to change her into a princess. No one who writes as well as you is a naïve idiot, but the Mitt you’re imagining is a fairy tale you’re telling yourself.
Put another way, you’re imagining things. The Mitt Romney you endorsed does not exist.
I almost don’t mind you voting for Romney. Go ahead. You live in a blue state. Vote twice for all I care. And it doesn’t bother me that you are doing so after being a lifelong Democrat. I used to be a Republican, but I switched when I saw Oliver North acting proud about lying to Congress. I believe that the truth should mean something, and as one of our country’s best non-fiction writers, you should, too. But the reasons you’re giving for abandoning Obama are nothing more than bad romantic fiction.
But don’t worry about it. I’ll still read your books even if Obama loses.
Jason Stanford is a Democratic consultant who has helped elect or re-elect more than two dozen Members of Congress. He lives in Austin, Texas. You can reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @jasstanford.