On an official Mitt Romney campaign conference call this week, former New Hampshire governor John Sununu tested the latest effort to paint the commander in chief as disloyal to his country.
“I wish this president would learn how to be an American,” the Romney surrogate said.
Sununu, challenged, later apologized for the words — but not the sentiment. And that’s not good enough.
It’s not good enough because Sununu, like other prominent Republicans, is winking at those conservatives who continue to make the claim, often race-based, that President Obama is something un-American, something “other” than the rest of us. On Thursday, two days after Sununu’s attack, Romney himself said that Obama lacks “an understanding of what it is that makes America such a unique nation.”
Sununu and Romney are legitimizing people such as Cliff Kincaid. Also on Thursday, Kincaid convened his annual conference at the National Press Club for conspiracy-minded conservatives, this one about Obama and “Radical Islam.”
On the program, Obama’s photo was alongside Vladimir Lenin’s and those of radical Muslim clerics. Kincaid got right to the point: Obama was actually sired by the late author Frank Marshall Davis, identified by Kincaid as a communist pornographer.
There is, Kincaid said, a “distinct possibility that Davis was Obama’s real father.” The host further informed the assembly that Davis was “Obama’s sex teacher” and that “Obama was under the tutelage of a pedophile.” Kincaid asked “what Frank Marshall Davis may have done to a young Barack Obama” and “what other terrible secrets are out there.” For more on this, Kincaid brought in a filmmaker to discuss his work on Obama and Davis, “Dreams from My Real Father.”
The next speaker, blogger Trevor Loudon, provided the additional information that Davis was a “possible Soviet spy” and that there are “a whole host of other communists and Marxists around Obama,” including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, with “a communist-front record as long as your arm.” Loudon figures that Obama is making it possible for Russia and China to attack the United States and that “Latin American states would be invited in for looting rights.”
“You’ve got to ask,” Loudon said, “how involved were the Soviets in promoting the career of Barack Obama, and are they getting a payoff today?” (The Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, the year Obama graduated from law school.)
This isn’t to dignify the nuttiness. But it’s worth noting this latest symptom of Obama Derangement Syndrome, because some of these same people birthed the birther movement nearly five years ago and because this is the sort of craziness that Romney and prominent Republicans are furthering.
Romney has often shared the stage with Donald Trump, the most visible birther. And Romney’s surrogate Sununu followed his original allegation with the charge that Obama “has no idea how the American system functions” in part because he spent “years in Indonesia.”
At lower levels, Republicans are even more brazen. Rep. Allen West (Fla.) alleges that, in the House, “there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party.” Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and four other House Republicans accused Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, of being part of a Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy. Not to be outdone, Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., just came out with the fresh allegation that Obama’s long-form birth certificate is a forgery.
Such disloyalty allegations aren’t likely to stick to the man who vanquished Osama bin Laden and escalated drone strikes on terrorists. More likely, the charges will discredit the complaints from Romney that Obama is being unfair to him with his far tamer line of attack on Romney’s finances. Of greater concern, the disloyalty allegations from Republican officials will legitimize the sort of people who converged on the press club.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Kincaid declared, “what we have today in the White House is somebody who could not survive any reasonable background check but is president, with access to America’s secrets.”
Loudon alleged that Alice Palmer, an early Chicago mentor of Obama, was a “high-level Soviet operative.” He added that if Obama loses in November, “he would just lay waste to everything he can. . . . You could see some serious violence in the streets of America.”
There was little time to fret about this, because the next speaker, Larry Grathwohl, began his presentation, on “reds exploiting blacks,” about how Obama is a “revolutionary mole” and part of a communist-Muslim plot with ties to Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan and the Weather Underground.
Surely Sununu and Romney don’t believe this. So why do they encourage it?
By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, July 20, 2012
John McCain’s former top presidential campaign strategist said Sunday that Mitt Romney’s tax returns had nothing to do with the campaign’s pick of Sarah Palin as the GOP’s vice presidential nominee in 2008.
“Mitt Romney went through this process and what I can tell you is that he’s a person of decency with the highest ethical character and background,” Steve Schmidt said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “There was nothing that was disqualifying. That pick in 2008 was not about any deficiency with Mitt Romney. It was a political decision that we made in a very bad political circumstance.”
Schmidt, who said he did not personally view Romney’s tax returns, said Romney is an “extremely wealthy man” and his tax returns “do not look anything like the average American.”
As a chorus of voices have called on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to release more of his tax returns, Romney has held firm. He told National Review in an interview that the Obama campaign’s hammering him on his taxes to distract voters from the tepid economic recovery and the president’s failure to put more Americans back to work.
However, New York Times columnist David Brooks told NBC’s David Gregory that Romney is a “hidden man” and that releasing his taxes won’t help that perception.
“I don’t care about the issue. Can you think about a president who was qualified or disqualified about taxes? What’s relevant is who the guy is,” Brooks said. “His family had gone across the west, poverty, building an empire, poverty, building an empire. He can’t talk about it because it involves Mormonism. He is a decent guy but he is not willing to talk about it. He’s a hidden man, so one of the turning points in this campaign is when he comes out and if he can come out. and I don’t know why they’re waiting so long.”
Democratic presidential strategist Bob Shrum agreed, saying Romney’s failure to release his tax returns makes him a “punching bag.”
“It does make him a hidden figure and a punching bag,” Shrum said. “…I tell you on this tax issue, Steve [Schmidt] and I have both been there. You sit down with the candidate and you say, ‘Look, we should release these tax returns.’ And either Romney or people in his campaign who have seen it said we’ll take worse damage if we release these returns than if we hold on to them. So I think he’s going to live with this issue all the way through.”
By: Juana Summers, Politico, July 22, 2012
In the wake of tragic gun violence, most politicians realize the decent, responsible thing to do is send sympathies to those affected while leaving politics out of it. Others aren’t as sensible.
After the Columbine massacre, for example, then-Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) blamed science textbooks for the murders: “Our school systems teach the children that they are nothing but glorified apes who are evolutionized [sic] out of some primordial soup.”
In 2007, after the Virginia Tech massacre, Newt Gingrich blamed liberals for supporting “situation ethics,” adding, “Yes, I think the fact is, if you look at the amount of violence we have in games that young people play at 7, 8, 10, 12, 15 years of age, if you look at the dehumanization, if you look at the fact that we refuse to say that we are, in fact, endowed by our creator, that our rights come from God, that if you kill somebody, you’re committing an act of evil.” Gingrich, explaining the VT tragedy, went on to condemn Halloween costumes and the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law.
And this morning, after the slayings in Aurora, Louie Gohmert weighed in with some stupidity of his own.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said Friday that the shootings that took place in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater hours earlier were a result of “ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs” and questioned why nobody else in the theater had a gun to take down the shooter.
During a radio interview on The Heritage Foundation’s “Istook Live!” show, Gohmert was asked why he believes such senseless acts of violence take place. Gohmert responded by talking about the weakening of Christian values in the country.
“Some of us happen to believe that when our founders talked about guarding our virtue and freedom, that that was important,” he said. “Whether it’s John Adams saying our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people … Ben Franklin, only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters. We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country.”
“You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of a derelict takes place.”
I see. So, in the mind of this strange Republican congressman, a madman killed 12 people because of … the separation of church and State? The First Amendment is to blame for a shooting spree in a movie theater?
If decency had any place in American politics, this would be an immediate career-ender for the ridiculous congressman from Texas. Some political missteps are simply unforgivable.
Update: Gohmert also wondered aloud why no one else in the theater was armed, complaining that the victims should have shot back.
By: Steve Beneb, The Maddow Blog, July 20, 2012
Though much of the nation’s attention has shifted to the tragic overnight violence in Aurora, Colorado, the political world will apparently move forward. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney had already scheduled a campaign event in New Hampshire, and his staff alerted reporters this morning that their plans have not changed.
With that in mind, there are new questions about the candidate’s controversial private-sector background that deserve answers. The Boston Globe has this new report, for example, noting Romney’s ongoing ties to Bain Capital after his departure in February 1999.
Interviews with a half-dozen of Romney’s former partners and associates, as well as public records, show that he was not merely an absentee owner during this period. He signed dozens of company documents, including filings with regulators on a vast array of Bain’s investment entities. And he drove the complex negotiations over his own large severance package, a deal that was critical to the firm’s future without him, according to his former associates.
Indeed, by remaining CEO and sole shareholder, Romney held on to his leverage in the talks that resulted in his generous 10-year retirement package, according to former associates.
“The elephant in the room was not whether Mitt was involved in investment decisions but Mitt’s retention of control of the firm and therefore his ability to extract a huge economic benefit by delaying his giving up of that control,” said one former associate.
So, on the one hand, we see Mitt Romney telling voters, “I was in Utah full time. I had no responsibility for management at Bain Capital.” On the other hand, we see evidence that Romney was not in Utah full time and had quite a few responsibilities for management of Bain Capital.
In the meantime, David Corn has a new report on Bain, during Romney’s tenure, investing millions in a pair of companies that specialized in outsourcing high-tech manufacturing.
As for the still-hidden tax returns, the number of Republicans urging Romney to disclose more materials continues to grow.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 20, 2012
Its report on what anchor Ginny Simone termed “the unthinkable tragic shooting that shocked the country today” lasted 35 seconds. It concluded with word that, “at this hour the NRA is telling all media, including the NRA Daily News, that its policy is that it will have no comment until all the facts are known in this case.”
She then segued to a report about ongoing United Nations negotiations on a global arms treaty to regulate trade in conventional arms. That segment, making clear the anchor’s own outrage with the negotiations, lasted more than 10 minutes.
It was thus far easier to bash the U.N. for its audacity in trying to curb arms sales to wayward nations and faraway criminals than to wonder if there just might be a link between Friday’s tragedy and the easy access to firearms in this country.
The U.N. talks result from years of lobbying by human-rights groups and also mark the Obama administration’s decision to reverse Bush-era policy and to support the negotiations involving 200 nations.
However, amid opposition from pro-gun legislators, the administration has backed off its support of what some see as a quite important provision to also cover trade in ammunition.
The thrust of the U.N. proposal involves a wide range of weapons in a worldwide market thought to be as much as $60 billion a year. The U.S. is the biggest exporter in a system in which only a minority of governments regulate arms dealers, with a variety of regional and multination arms embargoes seen as generally ineffective.
The Christian Science Monitor has put it the overall context succinctly: “While the U.S. and a few other countries have relatively tough regulations governing the trade of weapons, many countries have weak or ineffective regulations, if they have any at all. The result is that there are more international laws governing the trade of bananas than conventional weapons, like AK-47s.”
As far as the NRA newscast was concerned, the “news” was that “the treaty may be in trouble of being approved by July 27, a deadline set by the U.N.”
That didn’t surprise the report’s primary interviewee, former Bush-era U.N. ambassador John Bolton. He proceeded to belittle the slow-moving ways of the organization and added that “August is a sacred month in New York,” with few working at the U.N.
But Bolton fretted that an inability to come to a resolution by month’s end could thus mean that President Obama might swoop in during September, prior to the annual convening of the General Assembly, and influence the final result.
Simone then turned to the NRA’s primary correspondent covering the talks New York, Tom Mason. He’s an official of the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities. She opened by indicating that Mason had told her that “panic has definitely set in at U.N. headquarters. They realize time is running out.”
Both Mason and Simone derided many elements of the treaty and the views of proponents. Those included linking the internal arms trade with violence against women.
Simon cited unidentified nations she terms “some of the worst human-rights abusers in the world” that were involved in the talks. She wondered how the treaty “will stop the killing and rape of people with no chance to defend themselves.”
The U.N. agenda, she said, is “to disarm people,” implying it would leave the defenseless even more so.
Both Mason and the anchor alleged a de facto media conspiracy of silence in covering the talks.
With one of several rhetorical questions, Simone asked him, “Is it fair to say civilian ownership and ammunition are very much on the hit list?”
“Yes, very much so,” said Mason.
The duo concluded with a broadside against the UN’s record in dealing with human-rights abuses, with Mason claiming, “They’ve never really thought this concept through of stopping human rights abuses.”
“But they have thought about how they can erode the Second Amendment in the U.S.,” he said.
Not mentioned was that the treaty is all about international transfers of weapons, not their internal domestic regulation.
By: James Warren, The Daily Beast, July 22, 2012