I found Ann Romney calling the Hilary Rosen controversy “a birthday present” a little odd. The outrage machine ginned up the culture war to defend Ann’s “choice” to stay at home, but she’s telling us she enjoyed it? She wasn’t really hurt and offended? If the president had declared a “war on moms,” as Republicans claimed, could she really experience that as “a birthday present”? Is it really all about Ann?
On “The Ed Show” last night I said it revealed Ann Romney’s sense of entitlement, that she would call such apoplexy “a birthday present.” But I hadn’t even heard the most entitled part of her interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, in which she exclaims, “It’s Mitt’s time. It’s our turn now.” In the same interview, her husband told Obama to “start packing,” rather presumptuously (who orders around the president?), but Ann Romney declaring “It’s our turn now” is even worse. Ann, the voters will decide that. Don’t order the car elevator for the White House quite yet.
On CNBC Tuesday night, the candidate himself sat down with former Reagan staffer Larry Kudlow for a mostly admiring interview. Although it was interesting that after Romney got through slamming the Obama administration for “scaring” American businesses and generally wrecking the economy, Kudlow asked him to explain why the stock market is soaring. “Right now what you’re seeing in stock prices is the fact that businesses are profitable,” Romney acknowledged. Despite Obama, of course.
But Romney had one of his great Romney moments when Kudlow asked him if he thought the gains would continue. He tried to quote Yogi Berra, you know, like a regular Joe. Here’s how it came out:
I’m not going to predict the direction of the stock market. I–you know, I always like to quote the Yogi Berra line or as close to it as I can, which is that Yogi Berra said, in effect, that he doesn’t like making predictions, particularly if the future’s involved.
“Yogi Berra said, in effect” is a perfect example of how not to quote Yogi Berra. That’s old Mitt winging it.
By; Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, April 17, 2012
After weeks of pressure, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) appears to be backing away from long-term efforts at creating barriers to voting (voter-ID laws) and pushing “Stand Your Ground” legislation. The latter allows those who feel threatened in public places to use force; Florida’s version is currently at the center of the Trayvon Martin case. Giving in to public pressure, ALEC announced Tuesday that it was disbanding its Public Safety and Elections task force, which promoted such legislation and helped see it proliferate. The organization is now “reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy.” ALEC’s spokesperson did not respond to interview requests nor did Public Safety Task Force Chair Jerry Madden, a Texas state representative.
ALEC, which proudly calls itself “the nation’s largest, non-partisan, individual public-private membership association of state legislators,” has operated as a largely secret arena in which corporate sponsors and conservative legislators share ideas. The group offers model legislation to its members, which has in the past simply been introduced in legislatures unchanged. While the group says its goals are job growth and economic development, it has actively promoted voter-ID legislation to make it harder to vote as well as anti-union measures and those to limit lawsuits. The group also pushes for law taxes and decreased regulation.
As controversy grew around the slaying of Trayvon Martin and Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws, ALEC found itself on the ropes. The Martin shooting sparked widespread public outcry. Civil-rights group Color of Change helped lead public campaigns against ALEC and its affiliated companies for its support of such laws. In the face of growing grassroots pressure over the last few weeks, major ALEC corporate members like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have dropped membership, as have McDonald’s, Kraft Food, Mars and others. Just Monday, a New York Times editorial slammed ALEC for its role in promoting Stand Your Ground legislation.
In the statement announcing the end of the Public Safety and Elections task force, the organization shifted its focus to “free-market, limited government, pro-growth policies.”
But this hardly constitutes a victory. ALEC still has a variety of task forces: There’s the Civil Justice Task Force, Education Task Force, and Health and Human Safety Task Force, all of which seem a bit removed from the group’s ostensible goals. The Civil Justice Task Force’s efforts appear largely focused on tort reform, as evidenced by the latest initiative “Expanding the Law Under New Restatement of Torts” and its latest publication, “The State Legislator’s Guide: Tort Reform Boot Camp.”
Then there’s the disturbing impact on health care and education. As The Nation showed in its “ALEC Exposed” series, the group has lobbied all out against health-care reform, while its education task force, headed partially by an executive for the for-profit online education company Connections Academy, has pushed hard for vouchers and increased privatization in American public schools. Its latest publication, a report card on education, begins with by comparing the battle over education reform to the World War II, with teacher unions being—you guessed it—Germany and Japan.
In the end, the Public Safety and Elections task force has already had its success. Voter-ID laws have proliferated around the country, making voting harder for poor and minority Americans. And according to the Times, Stand Your Ground is already law in 24 states.
Color of Change and its boycott isn’t likely to stop the pressure any time soon. In a statement responding to the news, executive director Rashad Robinson didn’t mince words: “To simply say they are stopping non-economic work does not provide justice to the millions of Americas [sic] whose lives are impacted by these dangerous and discriminatory laws courtesy of ALEC and its corporate backers.
By: Abby Rapoport, The American Prospect, April 17, 2012
Among politicians, as among athletes or practitioners of a hundred other arts, there are “naturals,” people who have an instinctive feel for how their endeavor ought to be done and display an effortless level of skill. Then there are those who have less of an instinctive feel for it but work hard to master the various components until they become the closest approximation of the natural as possible. Bill Clinton, for instance, would be in the first category, while Hillary Clinton would be in the second category. Then there are people like Mitt Romney, who not only isn’t a natural but can’t quite seem to put all the pieces of being a candidate together.
Look, for instance, at this exchange from an interview Romney did with ABC’s Diane Sawyer:
DIANE SAWYER: I want to talk about a couple of issues relating to women. This 19 point difference between you and the president on women. Here are some specific questions. If you were president– you had been president– would you have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Law?
MITT ROMNEY: It’s certainly a piece of legislation I have no intend– intention of changing. I wasn’t there three years ago–
DIANE SAWYER: But would you have signed it?
MITT ROMNEY: –so I– I’m not going to go back and look at all the prior laws and say had I been there which ones would I have supported and signed, but I certainly support equal pay for women and– and have no intention of changing that law, don’t think there’s a reason to.
This is something Romney has done before: talking about what he will and won’t talk about, instead of just talking about the thing he wants to talk about (for instance, when he gets uncomfortable questions about Mormonism, he tends to say things like “I’m sorry, we’re just not going to have a discussion about religion in my view”). He has a meta-communication problem. It pulls him outside the moment, making him an observer of his own campaign. It’s a subtle thing, but it reinforces the idea of Romney as a distant, overly analytical, and ultimately unknowable figure. As every aspiring writer learns in their first writing workshop, the first rule of storytelling is “Don’t tell ‘em, show ‘em.” Until now, Romney hasn’t found a way to show Americans much; he’s much more comfortable just telling us.
Unfortunately for him, it isn’t as though there is some kind of dramatic change Romney could make to address this basic problem. If he tries, he might start singing “America the Beautiful” again, and lord knows nobody wants that.
By: Paul Waldman, The American Prospect, April 17, 2012
Mitt Romney begged NRA board member and aging rocker Ted Nugent for his endorsement last month, and the brash, verbally-violent sometimes Washington Times columnist even bragged about it. But over the weekend at the NRA’s annual fundraiser, Ted Nugent’s mouth ran wild and Mitt Romney has been nowhere to be found.
Ted Nugent said President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder “don’t believe in the Constitution,” the Obama administration is “wiping its ass with the Constitution,” called the four non-conservative Supreme Court justices “evil anti-American people,” demanded the America people “chop their heads off in November,” and suggested if Obama wins re-election he might kill him.
If you want more of those kinds of evil anti-American people in the Supreme Court, then don’t get involved and let Obama take office again. Because I’ll tell you this right now: if Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year….
But if you can’t go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil, America-hating administration I don’t know what you’re made of. If you can’t galvanize and promote and recruit people to vote for Mitt Romney we’re done. We’ll be a suburb of Indonesia next year….
Our president, and attorney general, our vice president, Hillary Clinton, they’re criminals, they’re criminals. And if you take that adamant ‘we the people’ defiance, remember we’re Americans because we defied the king. We didn’t negotiate and compromise with the king, we defied the emperors. We are patriots, we are bravehearts. We need to ride into that battlefield, and chop their heads off in November.
We’ve got four Supreme Court justices who don’t believe in the Constitution. Does everyone here know that four of the Supreme Court justices not only determined you don’t have the right to keep and bear arms, four Supreme Court justices signed their name to a declaration that Americans have no fundamental right to self-defense.
Of course, this rhetoric is nothing in comparison to Hilary Rosen’s statement that Mitt Romney’s wife Ann “actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and how do we — why we worry about their future.”
Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart writes today that until Mitt Romney ”condemns the rocker, we should all assume he’s fine with that kind of talk from a surrogate. After all, if then-Sen. Barack Obama had to publicly condemn his pastor who said in a 2003 sermon ’God damn America as long as she keeps trying to act like she is God and she is supreme!’ then Romney should do the same with Nugent. That he won’t speaks ill of him and the campaign we can expect him to run in the fall.”
Media Matters today added that ”Nugent refused to back down from his recent inflammatory comments about the Obama administration in a radio interview with CNN contributor Dana Loesch on The Dana Show.”
Nugent told Loesch that “I will stand by my speech” and said that he was being attacked with the “Saul Alinsky Rules for Radicals playbook.”
Speaking at the NRA’s annual meeting Nugent accused President Obama of having a “vile, evil America-hating administration” that is “wiping its ass with the Constitution.” He went on to tell a crowd that “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November” and said that “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” The Secret Service is reportedly reviewing Nugent’s comments.
Nugent insisted to Loesch that his message had been “100 percent positive,” and Loesch agreed that he was being used as a “scapegoat” by the Obama administration.
Later in the interview, Nugent added more derogatory comments about Democrats. He described Democratic chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as a “brain-dead, soulless, heartless idiot,” and said House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi was a “sub-human scoundrel.”
Asked about a request from the Democrats that Mitt Romney (who sought and received Nugent’s endorsement) distance himself from Nugent’s comments, Nugent claimed that “Mitt Romney knows what I’m saying is true. He puts it into words for him, I put it into words for me.”
Former Breitbart editor Dana Loesch interviewed Nugent and tweeted some of his statements, including, “I’ve never in my life threatened anyone’s life.”
We’ll let the Secret Service decide.
Obama himself and the Obama campaign were quick to denounce publicly Hilary Rosen’s comments — which, if anyone bothered to hear both sentences and not the soundbite, most Americans would have agreed with, but Mitt Romney, in his ever-cowardly, ever-flip-flopping way, won’t denounce — but won’t support, either, — Nugent’s comments.
I wonder why?
By: David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement, April 17, 2012
Among the attributes I most envy in a public man (or woman) is the ability to lie. If that ability is coupled with no sense of humor, you have the sort of man who can be a successful football coach, a CEO or, when you come right down to it, a presidential candidate. Such a man is Mitt Romney.
Time and time again, Romney has been called a liar during this campaign. (The various fact-checking organizations have had to work overtime on him alone.) A significant moment, sure to surface in the general election campaign, came during a debate held in New Hampshire in January. David Gregory, the host of “Meet the Press,” turned to Newt Gingrich and said, “You have agreed with the characterization that Governor Romney is a liar. Look at him now. Do you stand by that claim?”
Gingrich did not flinch. “Sure, governor,” he started off, and then accused Romney of running ads that were not true and, moreover, pretending he knew nothing about them. “It is your millionaire friends giving to the PAC. And you know some of the ads aren’t true. Just say that straightforward.”
Me, I would have confessed and begged for forgiveness. Not Romney, though — and herein is the reason he will be such a formidable general-election candidate. He concedes nothing. He had seen none of the ads, he said. They were done by others, he added. Of course, they are his supporters, but he had no control over them. All this time he was saying this rubbish, he seemed calm, sincere — matter of fact.
And then he brought up an ad he said he did see. It was about Gingrich’s heretical support for a climate-change bill. He dropped the name of the extremely evil Nancy Pelosi. He accused Gingrich of criticizing Paul Ryan’s first budget plan, an Ayn Randish document whose great virtue is a terrible honesty. (We are indeed going broke.) He added that Gingrich had been in ethics trouble in the House and ended with a promise to make sure his ads were as truthful as could be. Pow! Pow! Pow! Gingrich was on the canvas.
I watched, impressed. I admire a smooth liar, and Romney is among the best. His technique is to explain — that bit about not knowing what was in the ads — and then counterattack. He maintains the bulletproof demeanor of a man who is barely suffering fools, in this case Gingrich. His message is not so much what he says, but what he is: You cannot touch me. I have the organization and the money. Especially the money. (Even the hair.) You’re a loser.
There are those who maintain that President Obama, too, is a liar. The president’s recent attack on Ryan’s new budget proposal sent countless critics scurrying to their thesauruses for ways to say lie — “comprehensively misrepresenting” is the way George F. Will put it. (He also said Obama “is not nearly as well educated as many thought.”) Obama does indeed sometimes play politics with the truth, as when he declared that a Supreme Court reversal of his health care law would be unprecedented. He then backed down. Not what he meant, he said.
But where Romney is different is that he is not honest about himself. He could, as he did just recently, stand before the National Rifle Association as if he were, in spirit as well as membership, one of them. In body language, in the blinking of the eyes, in the nonexistent pounding pulse, there was not the tiniest suggestion that here was a man who just as confidently once embodied the anti-gun ethic of Massachusetts, the distant land he once governed. Instead, he tore into Obama for the (nonexistent) threat the president posed to Second Amendment rights — a false accusation from a false champion.
A marathon of debates and an eon of campaigning have toughened and honed Romney. He commands the heights of great assurance, and he knows, as some of us learn too late in life, that the truth is not always a moral obligation but sometimes merely what works.
He often cites his business background as commending him for the presidency. That’s his forgivable absurdity. Instead, what his career has given him is the businessman’s concept of self — that what he does is not who he is. This is what enables the slumlord to be a charitable man. This is what enables the corporate raider to endow his university. Business is business. It’s what you do. It is not who you are. Lying isn’t a sin. It’s a business plan.
By: Richard Cohen, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 17, 2012