The real Mitt Romney is finally running for president — but not in his own first television spot, a superficial checklist of issues which provides no insight into who he is or what makes him tick. It’s the Obama commercial on Bain and the destruction of GST Steel that starkly reveals the real Romney as a vulture capitalist. And this is just the beginning of what we will hear about Bain, and of a narrative arc that will position Romney as the candidate of the few, by the few, and for the few.
The Obama ad is so powerful because, like the Ted Kennedy ads in Romney’s losing 1994 Senate race, the story is told not by a smoothly modulated professional narrator, but by working people whose jobs and lives were shredded so Mitt and his men could amass their millions. One of the workers voted for John McCain in 2008 and for George W. Bush before that. Now these authentic blue-collar voices, these Reagan Democrats, are talking directly to swing voters — to folks who could be brothers or sisters, friends or cousins — in the battleground industrial states. It’s a different kind of political media — gritty, unslick, and therefore quite convincing.
My then-partner Tad Devine and I conceived and produced the Kennedy spots in 1994. They hit the Massachusetts airwaves with devastating force. In that landmark Republican year, Romney had a slight lead in September, but he swiftly fell in the polls and then melted down in a televised debate that outdrew the statewide audience for most Super Bowls. On Election Day, the boy from Bain lost in a landslide — by 18 points.
It was fascinating to watch how Romney responded as his campaign unravelled. In fact, he mostly didn’t. He seemed paralyzed — a guilty guy caught in the act. In a token push-back, his spokesman alleged that we had “put words in people’s mouths.” The Boston Globe checked and slapped down the story. The workers were spontaneous and unscripted. No political consultant could ghostwrite the rebuke of a packer laid off after 29 years, who looked into the camera and addressed Romney directly: “If you think you’d make such a good senator, come out here to Marion, Indiana, and see what your company has done to these people.”
The workers boarded a bus for Massachusetts and demanded a meeting with Romney. For days, he refused — which kept the episode in the headlines. When he finally sat down with them, he coldly said he’d consider their comments.
He wasn’t ready then, but that was 18 years ago — and he had to know this was coming at him again in 2012. Newt Gingrich stumbled onto the issue in South Carolina, where Romney was routed. But it was never going to be as devastating in Republican primaries as in the contest with Barack Obama. And the presumptive GOP nominee once again appears unready or unwilling to answer beyond offering up ritualistic bromides about “free enterprise”.
This is the false banner under which he campaigns — the claim that he is a job-creating businessman. The total has oscillated from 10,000 jobs to 100,000, to maybe not exactly that. But the abstract number, unsubstantiated and as soulless as Mitt himself often seems, is no match for a steel worker named Jack Cobb, discarded in Romney’s profiteering deal, but sad and defiant now: “To get up on national TV and brag about making jobs… he has destroyed thousands of people’s careers, lifetimes, just destroying people.”
The ads shatter the candidate’s fundamental rationale — that with his business experience in creating jobs, he’s Mr. Fix-It for the economy. It’s a thin rationale, but voters might have believed it. Now disbelief will deepen as the Obama campaign rolls out a dishonor roll of Bain’s depredations. The campaign already has a website that state by state — just coincidentally the battleground states, of course — pinpoints other companies exploited and extinguished by Bain.
I suspect that Romney will eventually have to abandon his strategy of treating the election as a referendum and not a choice — and attempt to defend his business record in paid media. The 1994 outcome suggests that any other course is a road to defeat.
I doubt he will make an ad repeating his disingenuous and dangerous claim that Obama also cut jobs while saving the auto industry. It’s disingenuous because the president saved GM and Chrysler — and Romney frequently did precisely the opposite to other companies. It’s dangerous because if he hopes to compete at all in Michigan and Ohio, he shouldn’t mention the auto bailout outside a confessional. His approach would have doomed the industry.
More likely, Romney will trot out workers — say, from Staples — to highlight jobs he claims to have created. The problem here is that during his tenure, Bain had two businesses. One was venture capital investing in start-ups. The other, which Romney drove, consisted of buying out a firm, hollowing it out, loading it up with debt, cutting wages — and making millions before the firm went belly-up. The one endeavor doesn’t redeem the other: What’s at issue here is not an accounting question, some mere matter of addition and subtraction, but the crass calculation of pillaging jobs and oppressing workers as a conscious business plan while occasionally grabbing a government bailout along the way.
Moreover, the response irresistibly invites a challenge: Romney should release the records of all Bain transactions from which he profited. He probably can’t afford to because the picture could be pretty grim. Presumably, he’s about as likely to risk this kind of full disclosure as he is to release tax returns for years when he may have paid little or no taxes.
There’s a (literally) rich vein to mine in Romney’s record at Bain. But it’s just the beginning of the narrative arc because the Obama campaign will move from the vulture capitalism of his private endeavors to his failures as a public official and the unfairness of his far-right agenda.
Thus the financial manipulator who decimated jobs in the private sector was a governor whose policies left his state 47th in job creation.
The takeover artist who slashed health benefits for workers would end Medicare as we know it, subject seniors to the harsh mercies of insurance companies, and raise their costs by approximately $6,500 a year.
The mega-millionaire with his offshore bank accounts would slash taxes for the very wealthy, and everything from education to food safety for the middle class.
The rapacious Romney, who in business took a government bailout and then would have let the auto industry collapse, now rails against bailouts and calls for rolling back financial regulation for the Wall Street firms that benefited from them.
The list goes on. The narrative is compelling. We haven’t heard the end of Bain — and we won’t until the end of the campaign — despite the inexplicable comments of Newark’s “Democratic” Mayor Cory Booker, who must be spending too much time cozying up to Republican Gov. (and potential running mate) Chris Christie. On Meet the Press, Booker equated the race-baiting, anti-Obama ads about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright that were recently proposed to billionaire clown Joe Ricketts with Obama’s Bain attack: “It’s nauseating.”
Well, Ricketts and his now-renounced smear job certainly was nauseating. But with Romney, what’s nauseating is what happened at his hands to ordinary hardworking Americans thrown out of work so he could rake in the bucks. And what’s worrying is Romney’s austerity agenda that would drive the U.S. into a double-dip recession, which is what such policies have already done to Great Britain.
Within hours, Booker retracted his comments and conceded the point: It is Romney who has made his business experience the centerpiece of his campaign. Bain is the spine that holds the whole Book of Romney together. As one of the workers in that Obama commercial put it, “If he’s going to run the country like the way he ran our business, I wouldn’t want him there. He would be so out of touch… How could [he] care?”
By: Robert Shrum, The Week, May 21, 2012
“Failing The Test Of Courage, Integrity And Loyalty”: Romney Messes Up And Tells The Truth About Austerity
Romney has periodic breakdowns when asked questions about the economy because he sometimes forgets the need to lie. He forgets that he is supposed to treat austerity as the epitome of economic wisdom. When he responds quickly to questions about austerity he slips into default mode and speaks the truth – adopting austerity during the recovery from a Great Recession would (as in Europe) throw the nation back into recession or depression. The latest example is his May 23, 2012 interview with Mark Halperin in Time magazine.
“Halperin: Why not in the first year, if you’re elected — why not in 2013, go all the way and propose the kind of budget with spending restraints, that you’d like to see after four years in office? Why not do it more quickly?
Romney: Well because, if you take a trillion dollars for instance, out of the first year of the federal budget, that would shrink GDP over 5%. That is by definition throwing us into recession or depression. So I’m not going to do that, of course.”
Romney explains that austerity, during the recovery from a Great Recession, would cause catastrophic damage to our nation. The problem, of course, is that the Republican congressional leadership is committed to imposing austerity on the nation and Speaker Boehner has just threatened that Republicans will block the renewal of the debt ceiling in order to extort Democrats to agree to austerity – severe cuts to social programs. Romney knows this could “throw us into recession or depression” and says he would never follow such a policy.
Romney, however, has not opposed Boehner’s threat to use extortion to force austerity on the nation. Romney has the nomination sown up, but I predict that he will stand by and let Boehner try to throw us into a Great Depression rather than upset the Tea Party-wing of the Republican Party. Indeed, Romney will attack Democrats who have the political courage to defend our nation against his Party’s demands for austerity that would throw the nation into recession or depression. What does one call a politician who, solely to advance his personal political ambition, supports his Party’s efforts to coerce austerity even though he knows that the austerity would cause a national economic catastrophe and states that he, “of course,” would never adopt such self-destructive austerity if he were president? Romney is failing the tests of courage, integrity, and loyalty to our nation and people.
Later in the interview, Romney claims that federal budgetary deficits are “immoral.” But he has just explained that using austerity for the purported purpose of ending a deficit would cause a recession or depression. A recession or depression would make the deficit far larger. That means that Romney should be denouncing austerity as “immoral” (as well as suicidal) because it will not simply increase the deficit (which he claims to find “immoral” because of its impact on children) but also dramatically increase unemployment, poverty, child poverty and hunger, and harm their education by causing more teachers to lose their jobs and more school programs to be cut. Fewer children will be able to get college degrees. Austerity is the great enemy of children – it is the epitome of a self-destructive, immoral economic policy.
Listen for the sounds of silence from Romney in coming months. I predict that he will not act to protect our children or our economy from the suicidal and “immoral” austerity his Republican allies are trying to coerce the Democrats to inflict on our economy and our children.
By: William K. Black, New Economic Perspectives, May 25, 2012
He has awful plans that he’ll probably never implement.
Despite what the average voter probably thinks, presidential candidates keep the overwhelming majority of the promises they make. And most of the ones they don’t keep aren’t because they were just lying, but because circumstances changed or they tried to keep the promise and failed. But that’s in the big, broad strokes, while the details are another matter. It’s easy to put out a plan for, say, tax reform, but even if you achieve tax reform, it’s Congress that has to pass it, and they will inevitably shape it to their own ends. This happened to a degree with President Obama’s health care reform: it largely resembles what he proposed during the 2008 campaign, but not entirely. He had said he wanted a public option, for instance, but eventually jettisoned that, and had rejected an individual mandate, but eventually embraced it as unavoidable.
Which brings us to Mitt Romney’s health care plan. In its details, it’s quite horrifying. Jonathan Cohn has done us the service of giving it a close read, and explains: “He wants to scale back health insurance, so that it reaches less people and provides less protection from medical bills. In theory, this transformation will unleash market forces that restrain the cost of medical care. In practice, it will cause serious hardship, by exposing tens of millions of Americans to crushing medical bills or forcing some of them to go without necessary, even life-saving care.” Estimates are that under Romney’s plan—which repeals the Affordable Care Act, makes Medicaid a block grant (leading almost inevitably to fewer people getting covered), eliminates the tax advantage for employer-sponsored coverage (leading to more employers dropping coverage) and turns Medicare into a voucher, as many as 58 million fewer Americans could have health insurance than will once the ACA fully takes effect. Wow.
So the question is, is Mitt Romney really going to do this? I’m guessing the answer is no, and here’s why. If he becomes president, he’ll confront health care under one of two scenarios. The first is one in which the Supreme Court has upheld the ACA. In that case, conservatives are still mad, and will want to repeal it. But as long as there are more than 40 Democrats in the Senate to mount a filibuster, they won’t let repeal happen. So faced with the inability to achieve great big things on health care, Romney will probably settle for some smaller bills, probably including malpractice reform. One year into his presidency, the ACA will take full effect, and at that point, implementing his plan would mean not just preventing people who don’t have insurance from getting it, but actually tossing people who have insurance off their plans. Which just isn’t going to happen.
The second scenario is that the Supreme Court overturns the ACA, in which case they will have largely done Romney’s job for him. The elements of his plan that don’t relate to the ACA—block granting Medicaid, ending the tax exemption for employer benefits—will still run into unified opposition from Democrats, and as far as congressional Republicans will be concerned, the battle over health care will be over, and they’ll move on to other things.
In any discussion of health care, it’s important to remember that Republicans don’t really care about the issue, except insofar as it’s a bludgeon they can use to beat Democrats with. They just don’t. They care about taxes, and regulation, and defense, and many other things, but they’re happy not to worry about health care unless they have to. So chances are that whatever the Supreme Court decides, big, dramatic changes to the health care system during a Romney presidency are going to be talked about briefly, then put on the back burner permanently.
By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, May 24, 2012
Gosh! When did I end up in bed with Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber? Could it be because I did specialize in blowing things up while serving my country for four years as an airborne combat engineer? I also watched human beings blown up. I had friends and Navy SEALs I was in battle with blown up. My own intestines exploded on the first of my four combat embeds, three in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Took seven operations to fix the plumbing. I later suffered other permanent injuries.
Yet now I find myself linked not only with the Unabomber, but also Charles Manson and Fidel Castro. Or so says the Chicago-based think tank the Heartland Institute, for which I’ve done work. Heartland erected billboards depicting the above three declaring: “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?” Climate scientists now, evidently, share something in common with dictators and mass murderers. Reportedly bin Laden was scheduled to make such an appearance, too.
You see, I’ve published articles saying I do “believe in global warming.” Yes, I’ve also questioned the extent to which man-made gases have contributed to that warming and concluded that expenditures to reduce those emissions would be as worthless as they’d be horrifically expensive. No matter; just call me “Ted.” Or “Charlie.” Or “Fidel.”
This is nuts! Literally. As in “mass hysteria.” That’s a phenomenon I wrote about for a quarter-century, from the heterosexual AIDS “epidemic” to the swine flu “pandemic” that killed vastly fewer people than seasonal flu, to “runaway Toyotas.” Mass hysteria is when a large segment of society loses touch with reality, or goes bonkers, if you will, on a given issue – like believing that an incredibly mild strain of flu could kill eight times as many Americans as normal seasonal flu. (It killed about a third as many.)
I was always way ahead of the curve. And my exposés primarily appeared in right-wing publications. Back when they were interested in serious research. I also founded a conservative college newspaper, held positions in the Reagan administration and at several conservative think tanks, and published five books that conservatives applauded. I’ve written for umpteen major conservative publications – National Review, the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, among them.
But no longer. That was the old right. The last thing hysteria promoters want is calm, reasoned argument backed by facts. And I’m horrified that these people have co-opted the name “conservative” to scream their messages of hate and anger.
Extremism in the defense of nothing
Nothing the new right does is evidently outrageous enough to receive more than a peep of indignation from the new right. Heartland pulled its billboards because of funder withdrawals, not because any conservatives spoke up and said it had crossed a line.
Last month U.S. Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican recently considered by some as vice-president material, insisted that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party, again with little condemnation from the new right.
Mitt Romney took a question at a town hall meeting this month from a woman who insisted President Obama be “tried for treason,” without challenging, demurring from or even commenting on her assertion.
And then there’s the late Andrew Breitbart (assassinated on the orders of Obama, natch). A video from February shows him shrieking at peaceful protesters: “You’re freaks and animals! Stop raping people! Stop raping people! You freaks! You filthy freaks! You filthy, filthy, filthy raping, murdering freaks!” He went on for a minute-and-a-half like that. Speak not ill of the dead? Sen. Ted Kennedy’s body was barely cold when Breitbart labeled him “a big ass motherf@#$er,” a “duplicitous bastard” a “prick” and “a special pile of human excrement.”
The new right loved it! Upon his own death shortly after, Breitbart was immediately sanctified and sent to lead the Seraphim. He was repeatedly eulogized as “the most important conservative of our time never to hold office,” skipping right past William F. What’s-his-name Jr.
There was nothing “conservative” about Breitbart. Ever-consummate gentlemen like Buckley and Ronald Reagan would have been mortified by such behavior as Breitbart’s – or West’s or Heartland’s. “There you go again,” the Gipper would have said in his soft but powerful voice.
Civility and respect for order – nay, demand for order – have always been tenets of conservatism. The most prominent work of history’s most prominent conservative, Edmund Burke, was a reaction to the anger and hatred that swept France during the revolution. It would eventually rip the country apart and plunge all of Europe into decades of war. Such is the rotted fruit of mass-produced hate and rage. Burke, not incidentally, was a true Tea Party supporter, risking everything as a member of Parliament to support the rebellion in the United States.
All of today’s right-wing darlings got there by mastering what Burke feared most: screaming “J’accuse! J’accuse!” Turning people against each other. Taking seeds of fear, anger and hatred and planting them to grow a new crop.
Conservatism has also historically emphasized empiricism. Joe Friday of “Dragnet” must have been a conservative: “All we want are the facts, Ma’am.” When President Reagan famously said, “Facts are stupid things,” he meant to quote President John Adams’ observation that “Facts are stubborn things.” But how much fact was there in Heartland’s billboards, whose shock purpose has been likened to tactics of the hard-left animal activist group PETA, with whom I’ve repeatedly locked horns. Or in West’s assertion? Or Breitbart’s tirades? Rush Limbaugh compared Breitbart, who never wrote a single investigative report, to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the dynamic duo who brought down the thoroughly corrupt presidency of Richard Nixon. He actually said Breitbart’s work was superior. Oh, dear!
I know these words coming from somebody identified with the right are heresy – as defined by this new right. An invite to a marshmallow roast with you as guest of honor. Or worse. It’s to be labeled with the ultimate epithet: RINO. Republican in name only. GOP Sen. Scott Brown bears that mark of Cain. Coming from super-liberal Massachusetts, he only has a 74 percent American Conservative Union rating. There you go, then!
So there’s an auto-da-fé out there right now with my name on it. Torquemada is holding the torch; the wieners and s’mores are flying off the shelves. Truth be known, though, I haven’t considered myself a Republican since 1982. Why? That was the year of the massive Reagan tax hike. I figured that’s what liberal Democrats are for. Tore up my donor card and never gave again. By being a conservative at that time, I was a RINO. By being one now, I’m also a RINO. A very curious animal, that.
The hate, anger and fear machine
A single author, Ann Coulter, has published best-selling books accusing liberals, in the titles, of being demonic, godless and treasonous. Michelle Malkin, ranked by the Internet search company PeekYou as having the most traffic of any political blogger, routinely dismisses them as “moonbats, morons and idiots.” Limbaugh infamously dispatched a young woman who expressed her opinion that the government should provide free birth control as a “slut” and a “prostitute.”
As a conservative, I disagree with the political opinions of liberals. But to me, a verbal assault indicates insecurity and weakness on the part of the assaulter, as in “Is that the best they can do?” This playground bullying – the name-calling, the screaming, the horrible accusations – all are intended to stifle debate, the very lifeblood of a democracy.
Meanwhile, these people who practice shutting down the opposition through shouts and smears accuse President Obama of having dictatorial dreams? A recent email I received, based on accusations from umpteen right-wing groups, blared in caps-lock fury: “BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA HAS SIGNED A MARTIAL LAW EXECUTIVE ORDER!” This specific message, from a group calling itself RightMarch.org, goes on: “THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! BARACK OBAMA IS TRYING TO VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTION, BECOME A DICTATOR, AND TAKE AWAY OUR RIGHTS!”
Outrageous, indeed. Obama’s order updated a National Defense Resource Preparedness act, which was essentially identical to one signed 19 years earlier and actually originated in 1950. It granted no authority to Obama that he did not already have under existing laws.
President Obama is regularly referred to as a Marxist/Socialist, Nazi, tyrant, Muslim terrorist supporter and – let me look this up, but I’ll bet probably the antichrist, too. Yup, there it is! Over 5 million Google references. There should be a contest to see if there’s anything for which Obama hasn’t been accused. Athlete’s foot? The “killer bees”? Maybe. In any case, the very people who coined and promoted such terms as “Bush Derangement Syndrome, Cheney Derangement Syndrome and Palin Derangement Syndrome” have been promoting hysterical attitudes toward Obama since before he was even sworn in.
No, I’m not cherry-picking. When I say “regularly referred to,” interpret literally. Polls show that about half of voting Republican buy into the birther nonsense (one of the more prominent hysterias within the hysteria). Only about a fourth seem truly sure that Obama was actually born here. In her nationally syndicated column Michelle Malkin wrote regarding Limbaugh’s slut remarks, that “I’m sorry the civility police now have an opening to demonize the entire right based on one radio comment.” In a stroke she’s expressed her disdain for civility and declared the new right’s sins can be dispatched as an itsy-bitsy little single faux pas, “one radio comment.”
No, Michelle, incivility – nay, outright meanness and puerility – rears its ugly head daily on your blog, which as I write this on May 23 has one item referring in the headline to “Pig Maher’s boy [Bill Maher]” and another to “Jaczko the Jerk,” [former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko]. She calls Limbaugh target Sandra Fluke a “femme-agogue” and her supporters “[George] Soros monkeys.” Pigs? Monkeys? Moonbats? It’s literal dehumanization.
Sure, there are enough hate-and-anger mongers on the left to go around. Among the worst was Keith Olbermann, who once called Malkin a “mashed up bag of meat with lipstick on it.” Very edifying, Keith! But as the Christian Science Monitor reported, his ratings recently collapsed from an average of 354,000 viewers a night when he debuted on Current TV, to 58,000 viewers by the first quarter of 2012. He was recently fired. Again. Air America was intended to counter right-wing talk radio, especially Rush Limbaugh. I was on Al Franken’s show while he made fun of a soldier from my first battle who is now permanently paralyzed. Touché, Al! But Air America also failed.
Malkin, who revels in playing the victim, says that she’s been called all sorts of horrible things, many based on her Filipina heritage. But most of what she cites come from email or anonymous comments on blog sites. It wasn’t usually from paid professionals with large audiences, like her, aimed at paid professionals like her. It’s thus hard to compare with the host of the most popular talk show host in history taking shots at an unknown 22-year-old woman. (She’s hardly that now; Limbaugh himself promoted her to a national spokeswoman.)
Incivility is hardly the domain of the new right. American society grows ever coarser. But this is cold comfort. Conservative ideology demands civility of conservatives; demands, yes, self-policing. Let others act as they will, bearing evidence of the shallowness of their positions. It also demands respect for official offices, such as the presidency. When our guy is in office, you give him that modicum of respect – and when your guy is in office, we do the same. The other party is to be referred to as “the loyal opposition,” not with words the FCC forbids on the air.
Muckraking becometh buckraking
In the grief-fest at Breitbart’s death, forgiven (and indeed practically forgotten) was his crucial role in building the single most popular liberal website, the Huffington Post. Some of Breitbart’s friends admitted he was absent of ideology. “I don’t recall Andrew Breitbart ever mentioning electoral politics,” wrote Tucker Carlson. “It bored him.” Breitbart’s inspiration, then? George Washington through Benjamin Franklin – printed in primarily green ink on cotton stock.
Limbaugh pulls down a stunning $38 million annual salary. Leaked Heartland Institute documents revealed it’s gotten over $14 million in the past six years from a single individual. RightMarch.com accompanied the Obama-cum-tyrant message with an offer to “Blast Fax” every member of Congress for $139 – for a profit of about $139. Surely these people have their fingers crossed that President Obama is reelected.
I personally know a lot of the leaders of this new rabid right. Most are very nice on a personal basis. Honestly, you’d be shocked. Unlike Breitbart, some began as real conservatives. One called me her mentor in her first book and attended my wedding. Many once sang my praises. Again, unlike Breitbart, Malkin was once a true investigative reporter. You can still see elements of actual research in Ann Coulter’s work, too.
But when times changed, and it became profitable to move from honorable advocacy to shrill name-calling, they changed too. They cashed in their reputations, as well as their ideology, for lucre. Those who didn’t – because conservatism runs against screaming, extremism and sensationalism – began disappearing from the talk shows, magazines and store shelves. They were replaced by pod people.
You cannot be identified by what you oppose, only by what you stand for. But this curious creature’s main claim to the title of “conservative” is that it hates liberals – as do liberals and lots of others on many points of the political spectrum. Obama is routinely bashed in such places as the Nation. The right-wing Nation?
Indeed in any violent anti-democratic revolution – Jacobite, Bolshevik, National Socialist – the first goal is to eliminate the real competition, those with ideals. The guys who really believed in liberty, fraternity and equality or rule by the proletariat were identified, isolated and eliminated early on to leave only two extremes to choose from. “It’s us or the Bourbons! It’s us or the Romanovs!” In Germany, the conservatives and liberals were dispatched to the labor camps before the Nazis felt safe to send the Jews to the death camps.
The new right cannot advance a conservative agenda precisely because, other than a few small holdouts like the American Conservative magazine or that battleship that refuses to become a museum, George Will, it is not itself conservative. Pod people are running the show. It has no such capability; no such desire. I find that disturbing for obvious reasons. But, based on my own conversations with liberals, I think – nay, I know – that if more of these allegedly godless, treasonous people understood real conservatism a lot would embrace many conservative positions.
Thus everybody realizes government spending has lost its airbrakes. But while the new right screams the most about big government, it nonetheless supported President George W. Bush as he presided over the largest expansion of government spending since uber-liberal FDR and left us with a massive debt before President Obama was sworn in. Why? Silly rabbit! Because the left opposed him.
The same has been said for the right’s otherwise seemingly unfathomable enchantment with Sarah Palin; it’s a defense of their damsel in distress. The veracity of the left’s claims about her are irrelevant. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Or so thought that uber-liberal FDR about good ol’ “Uncle Joe” right to the end, even as conservative Winston Churchill tried desperately to convince him otherwise. And so fell the Iron Curtain.
Eating its own
Obsessed with attacking, the new right will carpet-bomb positions of the old right if the left comes around to it.
Thus the right has traditionally opposed government subsidies. My first cover story was in Buckley’s National Review, arguing against ethanol subsidies that ultimately grew to $6 billion annually. But when the Senate sought to repeal the subsidy last year, right-wing guru and Jack Abramoff henchman Grover Norquist fought it – with the stunning argument that cutting a government subsidy is actually a tax hike in disguise!
And how ironic that for decades liberals unfairly accused conservatives of “McCarthyism” to shut down debate. (Oh, how I remember!) Yet now the right countenances a prominent congressman who has literally outdone “Tailgunner Joe.”
McCarthy’s infamous list comprised only 57 Communists who were merely State Department employees, not “78 to 81” of the nation’s top elected officials.
Pity the poor Onion; there’s nothing left to satirize.
Apart from gaining fame and fortune for a select few, all the new right is accomplishing is turning Bismarck’s words upside down, making politics the art of the impossible. It demonizes the opposition even as it brutally enforces “team loyalty.” So nothing gets done, and bad trends just get worse.
- Drastic action is required now, nay yesterday, to start bringing expenditures in line with income. About half our government spending is fueled by borrowing, and that spending accounts for a fourth of GDP. Without borrowing, then, our GDP would drop 12 percent or more – well into depression range.
- Entitlement spending, that which requires no new legislation, is en route to consuming all tax revenue.
- Excluding the very top earners, household incomes have been declining for a decade.
- The real employment level has been trending downward since the mid-1980s. Unemployment for a year or more, the kind that just sucks the heart and soul out of people, is about double what it was in late 2009 – and yet in the 1960s it was essentially nonexistent.
- Income inequality is the highest since before the Great Depression, understandably fostering resentment.
For many, the American dream became a nightmare long ago. It’s little wonder that Americans are afraid and angry.
One member of the new right seemed to acknowledge that reckless character assassination was merely stalemating the system. “Let’s come back to the issues,” he told NPR in an interview last year. “Let’s come back to talking about how do we set the conditions here in Washington, D.C., for long-term sustainable economic and job growth.” Unfortunately, that was congressman Allen West.
The right didn’t create this reservoir of fear, anger and hate. But it has both tapped into it and roiled it. Indeed, the right-wing mass hysteria is what sociologists call a “moral panic.” It occurs when a society is undergoing a wrenching transformation. Somebody then comes along and creates a “folk devil” both to provide an explanation for bad conditions, real or imagined, and a target. Kill the devil; eliminate the bad conditions. But the right has no serious incentive to help solve or ameliorate these problems. Indeed, as with the reelection of Obama, it will benefit from their continuation or worsening.
So animosity has now reached levels both hysterical and historical. The last time anything like this occurred was during World War II, when at least it was aimed outward. Before that? Just before the Civil War.
Back then a tall bearded Republican declared, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Just another one of those idiot, moron, “duplicitous bastard” RINOs.
By: Michael Fumento, Salon, May 24, 2012
So Mitt Romney’s newest fundraising effort involves not only appearing with the world’s most famous birther, Donald Trump, but also dining with him and a lucky, raffle-winning supporter. OK, I give up: What exactly is Romney thinking?
My own snarky first reaction is that Donald Trump is the kind of rich guy that Mitt Romney imagines the common people can relate to. Romney, remember, has a habit of saying things like he doesn’t follow NASCAR “as closely as some of the most ardent fans, but I have some friends who are NASCAR team owners.” Maybe he thinks Trump—known far and wide for a decorating style that gives new meaning to the word vulgar—has the common touch in a way that stolid Romney doesn’t? That can’t be it, right?
Thinking I must be missing something here, I checked with a couple of top GOP operatives. “I got nothin’,” one says. Another offers the Godfather theory for dealing with Trump: “Yes, it reinforces the ‘I have wealthy friends’ stereotype,” the Republican strategist says. “And whenever Trump says something stupid it’s magnified 10-fold, so there are serious downsides to it. But in the end you would rather embrace it—like the Godfather line about keeping your enemies close.” It’s better to have Trump running amok inside the tent than causing trouble outside of it, in other words. Trump, remember, has floated the idea of a third-party candidacy, which could only serve to divide the anti-Obama vote (a December Public Policy Polling survey had Trump pulling 19 percent in a three-way race with Obama and Romney, with 7 in 10 of his supporters coming from Romney’s column). “We’d rather have Donald Trump saying ‘you’re hired’ than ‘you’re fired,” the strategist says.
Maybe so. But Trump has become inextricably linked to the birther movement, and he won’t shut up about it. Just this week, he spoke to the Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove and after getting the preliminaries out of the way (saying he’s “honored” that Team Romney wants him and his Las Vegas hotel to help fundraise), then Trump “launched into a furious disquisition concerning Obama’s place of birth.” To be clear: Trump wasn’t unwillingly goaded into spouting his Obama-was-born-in-Kenya theories. He practically lead with them.
From the Beast:
“Look, it’s very simple,” said Trump, who has spent the past 13 months questioning Obama’s constitutional eligibility to occupy the White House (and only doubled down with his stubborn skepticism after Obama produced a long-form birth certificate, certifying he was born on Aug. 4, 1961, in Hawaii[)], … “A book publisher came out three days ago and said that in his written synopsis of his book,” Trump went on, “he said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia. His mother never spent a day in the hospital.”
Actually, Obama’s literary agency at the time, two decades ago, published a recently discovered catalogue of clients and their projects that included erroneous information about Obama and a prospective book about race that he ended up not writing. An agency assistant back then, Miriam Goderich, said last week that she was mistaken when she wrote that Obama was born in Kenya.
But Trump isn’t buying it.
At what point does Romney throw up his hands and run screaming from this guy? Trump isn’t simply off-message, talking about something other than the economy, he’s dangerously off-message, reminding anyone who will listen that a nontrivial portion of the GOP has been taken over by conspiracy theorist weirdos.
Maybe Romney thinks Trump can help shore up his support with the conservative base? That seems dubious. The most recent poll numbers for Trump I could find were a year old, but after briefly leading the GOP field last year, the Apprentice host had cratered in opinion surveys. As of May 2011, 34 percent of GOPers viewed Trump favorably while 53 percent viewed him unfavorably. This was mere weeks after he was leading the field.
Nevertheless, the Romney campaign has invited supporters to contribute $3 for the chance to win dinner with the Mittster and the Donald. This is a copy of the Obama campaign’s $3 low dollar fundraising efforts where dinner with the president has been raffled off (such a small amount not only adds up, but also gives people buy-in, making them more likely to support the campaign financially and in other ways down the line).
While the GOP offers dinner with Trump and Romney, the Democrats are asking for $3 for a chance to dine with Obama and Bill Clinton. Honestly, while dinner with the current and former president would no doubt be more interesting and intellectually stimulating, there is a certain freak show appeal to watching Romney and Trump interact. And freak show does sell.
Maybe Trump really is Romney’s idea of a rich guy with the common touch.
By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, May 25, 2012