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“No Greater Sin In Politics”: Mitt Romney’s Biggest Problem Is He Disrespects Most Americans

The reason that Mitt Romney’s condescending comments about the “47 percent” have done such damage to his candidacy is simple. As Republican consultant Alex Castellanos said in Tuesday’s Washington Post: “The only thing in politics that is worse than voters deciding they don’t like you is when voters decide you don’t like them.”

In politics there is no bigger sin than disrespecting voters. It is a sin that is rarely, if ever, forgiven. You can explain your policies and programs. You can argue until you’re blue in the face about how effective you are as a “manager.” It won’t matter.

People don’t want leaders who treat them with disrespect — who believe they are unable to “convince” them to take responsibility for their lives.

Respect is such a core element of voter decision-making because it addresses one of our primary self-interests as human beings. More than most anything else, people want to feel that they have meaning — that their lives make a difference. Meaning in life is our core motivator, and once you tell people that they are, in effect, meaningless pond scum, they are not so inclined to choose you as their leader.

Being disrespected is toxic in just about any human interaction. Nothing engenders more hurt or rage than the feeling that someone thinks you don’t matter. Ask the wife who feels that she is being treated like a piece of furniture by her husband. Ask the employee who can’t stand the high-handed attitude of his boss. Ask any high school kid what he or she fears the most — the disrespect of their classmates.

Great leaders inspire people. That’s just the opposite of communicating disrespect. Inspiration is not something you think, it’s something you feel. When you’re inspired, you feel empowered. You feel that you are part of something bigger than yourself and you can personally play a significant role in attaining that greater goal. When a leader inspires you, he or she does not make you feel that he is important. He makes you feel that you are important — that you matter. Disrespect communicates exactly the opposite.

In the 47 percent video, Mitt Romney did not imply that he disrespected half of the country. He said it directly. He said he didn’t care about “those people” because he could not convince them to take responsibility for their lives. What an arrogant, patronizing, disrespectful thing to say about half of the population.

And it was plain to see that this was not a gaffe. Romney wasn’t awkwardly searching for words. What you saw was the real Romney — the one that his campaign tries to hide — speaking to the home-boys and home-girls from the board rooms and the country club.

The tape by itself would have been bad enough. But its power was magnified because it was one in a long line of Romney comments that showed disrespect for everyday Americans. They have ranged from his contemptuous put-down of the cookies a local person had served him at a drop-by at their back yard, to his patronizing, “I love to fire people,” to his constant reference to “those people.”

And his disrespectful comments extended to his “blooper reel” foreign trip last summer, where he managed to disrespect the people of London and their competency to run the Olympics and the culture of every Palestinian.

Then again, it should not be surprising that disrespect should characterize the Romney foreign policy. He has surrounded himself with a neocon foreign policy team from the Bush years that specialized in showing disrespect for pretty much everyone else in the world. That worked out well.

The 47 percent tape simply served to confirm what most people were already feeling about Mitt Romney — and that’s why it is something that Mitt Romney will find it very hard to escape.

He will try hard in the debates to be respectful and empathetic to the voters. It won’t work, it’s not who he is.

When the Washington Post asked them last month the person they would rather have as the captain of a ship in a storm, the voters were about evenly divided between Obama and Romney. Now they choose Obama 52 percent to 40 percent.

That’s partially because the conventions gave voters a chance to think about where each candidate would lead the country, and which one they believe has the vision and skill to effectively solve the country’s problems.

But it’s also because many voters have become convinced that if Romney were the captain, he might have so little respect for them that he would throw them overboard.

Disrespect correlates very highly with another key parameter that affects voter behavior — the perception of whether a candidate is “on your side.” Of course, it is entirely possible for someone not to be “on your side” and respect you all the same. That happens all the time in sports (or as Romney would say, “sport”). Two teams have conflicting goals and do battle to win, but show the deepest respect for each other’s skill. The same thing happens over negotiating tables in business everyday.

But nothing fires up the members of a football team more than the belief that the other side doesn’t respect them.

And nothing makes for a more inspiring story than when everyday people stand up to those who have disrespected them and refuse to be defeated. That’s exactly what is going to happen November 6th.

Bottom line: you can be a rich guy and win Ohio. But you can’t be a rich guy who disrespects the voters and win Ohio.

 

BY: Robert Creamer, The Blog, The Huffington Post, October 2, 2012

October 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Nothing To Say On The Economy”: This Is Not An Accident, It’s Just A Pre-Text For Permanent GOP Goals

Ezra Klein absolutely nailed it yesterday in his assessment of what Mitt Romney needs to provide in the debates but can’t:

[H]e needs to do more than convince voters that the economy is bad at this very moment. He needs to convince them that the economy will be better if he’s elected president. And that means convincing them that he’s got a policy agenda capable of turning the economy around.

Which gets to Romney’s real challenge in the debates, which has also been his real difficulty throughout the campaign: He doesn’t have an appealing policy agenda capable of turning this thing around, and his party hasn’t given him the freedom to construct one.

Ezra goes on to discuss Romney’s lurch to the right during the primaries on taxes and the budget, positioning him far beyond the pale in terms of promoting fiscal policies that are both plausible and potentially popular. I’d add that Mitt’s ideological shift is all the more remarkable when you recall he was the preferred candidate of movement conservatives in 2008, before he repudiated much of his own record.

But the dirty little secret of the GOP at the moment is that it has to run a national campaign focused on unhappiness with the economy while advancing a policy agenda that has little or nothing to do with the economy, and in fact would almost certainly make the economy immediately worse. It hasn’t gotten much attention, but the Republican Party (including its presidential nominee) is committed to deflationary monetary policies, and austerity federal spending policies. Despite its occasional gestures in the direction of understanding the need for a more skilled work force, the GOP is also fully committed to the destruction of public education as we know it (or at least that’s how I would interpret the full-on, unrestricted voucher system Romney has proposed), and to fiscal policies that would almost certainly get the federal government out of the business of skills development within a decade. More generally, the Republican assault on the very concept of collective bargaining and its treatment of wages and benefits (not to mention regulations and corporate taxes) as nothing more than cost-boosting burdens on “wealth creators” harnesses the GOP to a concept of economic development that if it were effective would have long made Mississippi the nation’s economic dynamo.

Add in the fact that the Right has been promoting this same agenda (though not as radical a version of it) for decades, in all kinds of economic conditions, and you are driven to the unmistakable conclusion that all the talk about reviving the economy is just a pretext for achieving the permanent goals of the conservative movement. And that’s without even looking at its radical cultural agenda, which matters more to a big chunk of Romney foot soldiers than anything to do with the economy (indeed, their favorite candidate, Rick Santorum, argued that “strengthening traditional families” via bans on abortion–including many forms of what most of us consider contraception–and same-sex marriage was at all times and in all places the only way to provide long-term prosperity).

So Romney’s struggle to articulate an economic agenda while running a campaign that is supposedly about nothing else is no accident. And thus he will be driven to evasions and lies. It’s all he’s really got.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 2, 2012

October 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“In The Face Of Federal Law”: Republicans Decided To Commit Voter Fraud To Prove That It Existed

A confusing but heartening decision in Pennsylvania today, where the judge basically ruled that people can vote with or without picture ID.

This is at least the fourth state where conservatives and Republicans trying to pursue voter suppression legislation have lost. We have Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, and now the good old Keystone State. Here for example is the Florida news from late August. And here’s a little summary. A few voter ID laws did get pre-clearance from the Justice Department, in Virginia and New Hampshire, but these are “non-strict” voter ID requirements, meaning that voters without ID can still vote by signing an affadavit vouching for their own identity.

Multiple choice quiz. What is happening here?

A. Vast conspiracy among left-wing judges, joined by the media, to let the freeloaders of America vote without paying taxes.

B. Plot by Acorn, Hugo Chavez, Bill Ayres, and Frantz Fanon, and if you think it matters that Fanon has been dead for 51 years, you don’t understand how these things work.

C. This Little Thing We Have Called Federal Law

In other words, friends, federal law very clearly, and for what I should think are rather obvious historical reasons, comes down on the default side of letting people vote. The law, and the judges seated to uphold it, will generally frown on attempts to impinge upon the franchise in the ways Republicans wish to do.

It’s also just amazing, isn’t it, that the only voter fraud scandal of this election (alleged, at this point) is a Republican one. Unable to find any cases of actual voter fraud on the Democratic side, the Republicans have apparently decided to go out and commit some to prove with finality that the problem exists!

It’s nice to see that open cheating still doesn’t work.

 

Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, October 2, 2012

October 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Take All The Time You Need”: President Obama Should Simply Ask Mitt Romney To “Go Through All The Math”

Paul Ryan revealed every bit as much about the agenda of a Romney-Ryan ticket in his Sunday interview with Fox News as Mitt Romney did in his speech to that now-infamous fundraising event in Boca Raton.

Ryan acknowledged during a very long and very painful interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace that nothing matters to a Republican ticket populated by sons of privilege than lowering taxes for sons of privilege.

Here’s the critical exchange:

WALLACE: [What’s] more important to Romney? Would he scale back on the 20 percent tax cut for the wealthy? Would he scale back and say, OK, you know, we’re going to have to raise taxes for the middle class? I guess the question is what’s most important to him in his tax reform plan?

RYAN: Keeping tax rates down. By lowering tax rates, people keep more of the next dollar that they earn. That matters. That is incentives. That’s pro-growth policy. That creates 7 million jobs. And what should go first…

WALLACE: So that’s more important than…

RYAN: That’s more important than anything.

Cutting taxes for the rich is “more important than anything.”

More important than creating jobs.

More important than renewing manufacturing.

More important than maintaining Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

More important that reducing deficits.

More important than addressing debts.

“More important than anything.”

That’s a striking statement of anti-tax absolutism that goes far beyond any agenda Ronald Reagan or most of the great conservative leaders of the past would have dared to advance. And it defines the Republican ticket every bit as thoroughly as did Mitt Romney’s remarks at the fundraising event in Boca Raton.

Romney said to the wealthy donors who had gathered to provide the money needed to elect a Romney-Ryan ticket:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it—that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.… These are people who pay no income tax.… my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

So Romney does not “worry about those people.”

But that is just part of the equation. It prompts another question:

Who would a Romney-Ryan administration worry about?

Ryan has provided the answer: the recipients of the Bush-Cheney tax cuts, who for a decade now have enjoyed the benefits of a redistribution of the wealth upward so sweeping that it has opened a yawning gap between rich and poor.

That’s a political position that Ryan has every right to take. And there is no reason to doubt that he is sincere—as sincere as Mitt Romney was when he said it was not his job to worry about the 47 percent of the American population that has been on the losing end of that redistribution of the wealth upward.

But it is, as well, a position that President Obama and Vice President Biden have every right—and, arguably, every responsibility—to discuss.

When he was being interviewed by Wallace, Paul Ryan was asked to explain the details of his economic agenda. He replied, “It would take me too long to go through all of the math.”

That caused a bit of an outcry.

Ryan responded by telling Milwaukee radio talk show host Charlie Sykes: “I like Chris; I didn’t want to get into all of the math on this because everyone would start changing the channel.”

Ryan argued that “when you’re offering very specific, bold solutions, confusion can be your enemy’s best weapon.”

On Wednesday night, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will take the stage for the first debate between the major-party presidential nominees.

The debate could go anywhere.

The candidates have a good deal of freedom to provide direction.

Perhaps President Obama should simply open up with a simple restatement of what Romney and Ryan have said about dismissing the most vulnerable half of Americans while pouring their energies into maintaining tax breaks for a very wealthy and very politically connected few. Then, on the assumption that an hour and a half might be enough time to “go through all the math,” the president might invite Mitt Romney to take all the time he needs to explain an economic agenda that certainly sounds like a plan to “take” from the 99 percent and “give” to the 1 percent.

 

By: John Nichols, The Nation, October 2, 2012

October 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Usual Litany Of Bogus Economic Promises”: Romney Avoids Social Issues On The Campaign Trail

Colorado is supposed to be Mitt Romney’s most promising major swing state. According to Politico’s Mike Allen, Republicans’ internal polls show Romney ahead in Colorado, even as they acknowledge that he has fallen behind in Florida, Ohio and Nevada. Other Republican-leaning polls, such as Rasmussen Reports, show Romney with a slight edge here, although Rasmussen’s most recent poll is two weeks old. The Real Clear Politics polling average shows Obama ahead in Colorado by three points, which is consistent with Virginia and Florida, but smaller than Obama’s commanding leads in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa.

But Colorado presents Romney with a challenge. In order to win it he must simultaneously appeal to three constituencies: the ardent conservatives—both religious social conservatives and current and retired military personnel—in the Colorado Springs area, the more economically focused Republicans in the Denver suburbs and at least half of the state’s large independent electorate.

The Romney campaign is aware of the importance of the state’s nine electoral votes. Romney has already visited the state repeatedly, and in advance of Wednesday night’s debate in Denver his campaign has scheduled a series of events. Ann Romney will hold a rally here on Tuesday and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) will hold one on Wednesday. On Monday night, Romney spoke in a warplane museum—Republicans seem to love that as a setting for campaign stops—in Denver. It was apparent from Romney’s remarks that he is carefully trying to balance the aforementioned constituencies. But, ultimately, he is betting that he already has the most ardent conservatives in his pocket and so he avoids any mention of his party’s polarizing stance on social issues.

Romney was introduced by John Elway, the legendary Denver Broncos quarterback, who just endorsed Romney. In what passes by Romney’s standards as regular guy sports talk, Romney effused, “You guys have some real teams here, no doubt about that!” He then went on to list to the Denver area’s other assets: “This is the home of the Air Force Academy, of NORAD, that helps keep our skies safe, home to great universities.” It appeared not to have dawned on Romney, nor his enthusiastically clapping audience, that the US military is a government program and that Colorado’s universities are all either public or draw heavily upon federal support for student tuition and research. But the biggest applause by far came when Romney said, “and it’s the home of Focus on the Family.” (The socially conservative advocacy organization, like NORAD and the Air Force Academy, is based in Colorado Springs, about an hour from Denver.)

Given the subtle signal his crowd sent—that these are what used to be called “family values” voters—you might have expected Romney to talk about how he plans to stifle gay marriage, appoint judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade and free Catholic organizations from covering employees’ health insurance for contraception.

But no. Romney delivered his usual litany of vague, bogus economic promises. He will simultaneously increase free trade and get tough on China. He will hand out drilling rights on federal land like it’s candy, and somehow that will create millions of jobs by magically bringing back the manufacturing sector thanks to cheap energy. He will defenestrate teachers unions, so that our workforce is better educated and cut spending to balance the budget. And by extending the Bush tax cuts he will make small businesses grow and then they will go on a hiring spree. Isn’t Romney lucky that every long-held Republican plot to please a group of Republican donors, or antagonize a group of Democratic donors, is also sure to induce economic growth?

In case the message were not clear enough, there were giant letters behind Romney’s lectern: “J-O-B-S.” The only supplement to his economic message was a nauseating pander to Colorado’s large military population. Romney attacked the sequestration defense spending cuts that President Obama agreed to with the Republican Congress, and for which his own running mate, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), voted. “It will cost thousands of jobs here, and millions of jobs across the country,” Romney complained.

Millions of jobs? That sounded exaggerated to me. And sure enough, it is. Romney did not cite a source. Knowing Romney, he may have simply made it up out of thin air. But most likely he is referring to a report by the Aerospace Industries Association, which claimed, “A total of 1,090,359 jobs with a total labor income of $46.5 billion would be lost due to DOD budget cuts in FY 2012-FY 2013.” However, as the Brookings Institution explained, the AIA estimate is totally bogus. (This should come as no surprise, given AIA’s vested interest in the subject.) As Brookings notes, the AIA is predicting that a 10 percent cut to defense spending will lead to one-third of all jobs in the defense and aeronautics industries being eliminated. This is extraordinarily unlikely, especially in light of the fact that not even all of those jobs are defense-related.

But even if what Romney said were true, it’s a disgusting sentiment. We should spend everyone else’s hard-earned tax dollars on building weapons simply to keep people employed? This is wasteful big government at its absolute worst.

“I do not believe in shrinking the military,” declared Romney. “I believe it should be second to none in the world.” Romney did not bother to explain why the sequestration cuts would make the US military lose its spot as number one in the world. Nor did he say who would replace us. The United States spends about six times as much as its nearest competitor, China. So it would still vastly outspend China if the sequestration cuts do occur.

Romney’s effort to tie his views on military spending to his economic pitch was a vague statement that “we need a strong economy to support a strong military.” Almost as an afterthought he added, “We need strong homes.”

And that was about it, as far as social conservatism was concerned. Not a single one of the infamous “three Gs”—God, guns and gays—that Republicans once used to peel away working-class and rural white voters appeared in the speech. There was no mention of abortion or stem cell research. The only time Romney came to close to mentioning any of that was when he claimed, “The founders [had a] great insight that rights come from the Creator, not the government.” That’s a nonsensical false dichotomy: the founders saw fit to enshrine those same rights in the Constitution, the basis of their new government. But Romney was not trying to be historically accurate. His purpose was to nod to theocrats while wrapping even his token religious reference into an argument for small government. Except for military spending, everything with Romney comes back to fiscal conservatism.

That may not please of all his supporters. A young woman named Carol whom I met on the way into the speech said she likes Romney “because he is a conservative like me, he is pro-life, like me.” But you would never know Romney opposes abortion rights from hearing him speak. Lee Ann Barnhart, a middle-aged mother in attendance, told me that she was disappointed that social issues were never mentioned. Still, she is growing to like Romney, she said. (She supported Gingrich during the primaries.)

Romney’s calculation is clearly that he can count on these voters coming out for him in opposition to Obama, and so he can avoid reminding swing voters of the Republican War on Women. It’s probably wise politics. But Democrats devoted much of their convention to making sure women are not fooled. The question now is whether that message gets through.

By: Ben Adler, The Nation, October 2, 2012

October 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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