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“Romney’s Personality Shift”: Overnight He’s A Practical Moderate, Terribly Concerned About The Middle Class

The strangest aspect of Wednesday night’s debate was Mitt Romney’s decision to change his tax policies on the fly. Having campaigned hard on a tax proposal that called for $5 trillion in tax cuts, he said flatly that he was not offering a $5 trillion tax cut.

“I don’t have a tax cut of the scale that you’re talking about,” Romney said, even though that is exactly the tax cut he has proposed.

Was Romney for his tax plan before he was against it?

Romney’s willingness to remake himself one more time brought into sharp relief a central flaw of his candidacy: Having campaigned as a moderate when he ran for governor of Massachusetts, he veered sharply to the right to win the Republican presidential nomination. Now, with the election just weeks away and polls showing him falling behind in the swing states, he has decided that he needs once again to sound moderate, practical and terribly concerned about the middle class — and that is the person he sought to be in Denver.

The candidate who has repeatedly attacked regulations was quick to insist: “Regulation is essential. … You have to have regulations so that you can have an economy work.” Romney then reiterated his criticism of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform legislation. But this scourge of big government during the primaries took care to let everyone know that he was not about to turn the United States into an Ayn Rand utopia.

Having hidden his Massachusetts health care plan behind “Repeal Obamacare” rhetoric in the primaries, Romney warmly embraced his own plan — without explaining why repealing a national health care system modeled on his plan would in any way be consistent with his sloganeering against the president’s central achievement.

Romney certainly proved his ferocity in Denver, drawing on the persona that had dispatched Newt Gingrich during the primaries. He relentlessly attacked President Obama on the economy, the budget deficit, health care and just about anything else the president has touched. Romney repeatedly used the word “crushed” to describe the impact of the president’s policies on Americans’ well-being.

“We know that the path we’re taking is not working,” Romney said late in the debate. “It’s time for a new path.”

In the early going, Obama seemed reluctant to go on offense and backed away from several opportunities to engage Romney. The president appeared far more interested in explaining than attacking, more concerned with scoring policy points than raising larger questions about his opponent’s approach. The words “47 percent” did not come up.

Obama did return repeatedly to a central point: Romney’s vagueness in his proposals on taxes and health care. He charged that Romney was hiding the details of those plans because they would prove unpopular with and harmful to the middle class. Several times, using different language, Obama effectively asked: If Romney’s ideas were genuinely helpful to average voters, wouldn’t he be shouting their particulars from the rooftops? And at several points Obama spoke of the baleful impact that the budget cuts proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate, would have on Medicare, student loans and community colleges.

Still, Obama chose not to put Romney on the defensive, instead telling voters what he himself had done and why. Obama was more deferential than Romney was to moderator Jim Lehrer and was more willing to let Lehrer interpret the remarkably loose debate rules.

Only in the last minutes did Obama find a stronger voice in describing his achievements. He contrasted his willingness “to say no to some things” with Romney’s refusal to say no to “the more extreme parts of his party.”

Romney entered the debate facing a skeptical pundit class and a party faithful that perceived his campaign as floundering. This he reversed on Wednesday. By going on the attack, he won himself strong press notices and shouts of joyous relief from his own camp. Obama, by contrast, surprised many of his supporters by not even repeating criticisms of Romney he has made in his own stump speeches.

But Romney’s relentlessness may not play as well with swing voters. His decision to change his tax plan on the fly, rather than to defend it, will provide fodder for further Obama attack lines on how it would affect middle-income voters. And his obvious pivot to a new political persona — or, perhaps more precisely, his reversion to his older, more moderate self — will lead to more questions about who the real Mitt Romney is.

 

BY: E. J. Dionne Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, October 4, 2012

October 4, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Meaningless Assurances”: Mitt Romney’s Short-Lived Immigration “Dream”

Mitt Romney raised eyebrows this week with an apparent Etch A Sketch on immigration policy: after months of silence on President Obama implementing many of the goals of the DREAM Act through deferred action, the Republican said he wouldn’t deport immigrant youths who are currently taking advantage of the administration’s policy.

That sounded like a step in a more progressive direction, but it left unanswered questions, most notably whether a Romney-Ryan administration would leave the existing policy in place.
Dreamers” being helped by Obama now would be temporarily secure, but what about in the near future?

Today, we got an answer.

Mitt Romney would not revoke temporary deportation exemptions granted to young illegal immigrants under an executive action by President Obama, but he also would not issue new protective documents if elected. […]

Responding to a Globe request to clarify Romney’s statement to the Denver Post, Romney’s campaign said he would honor deportation exemptions issued by the Obama administration before his inauguration but would not grant new ones after taking office.

That means the number of people who would benefit from Romney’s non-reversal could be minute.

Suddenly, Romney’s move towards a moderate posture looks a whole lot less impressive.

In practical terms, what the Republican is saying here is that those who’ve already received a temporary exemption from deportation can stay until that reprieve expires after two years. But that’s literally it — no other exemptions will be issued, no other immigrants will be protected, no future extensions will be made.

To hear Romney tell it, everything will work out fine — he’ll get elected, convince Congress to pass a “full immigration reform plan,” sign it, and everyone’s needs will be met.

But since he still refuses to tell anyone what’s in his “full immigration reform plan,” the assurances are meaningless.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 3, 2012

October 4, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Immigration | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Life Of The Party”: Todd Akin, A Fine Representative Of The Republican Party Of Today

uesday morning, on a tip from American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal PAC that conducts opposition research on Republicans, I clipped and posted videos for Slate’s Double X blog demonstrating some of the paranoid flights of fancy and routine misogyny that have peppered Todd Akin’s speeches on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Akin, who is challenging Democrat Claire McCaskill for her Missouri Senate seat, became infamous after he said that, based on no science whatsoever, pregnancies rarely happen in the case of “legitimate rape.” That remark was hardly out of character; he is indeed every inch the misogynist and denier of reality that his comment suggests.

The videos prove that Akin is wholly the product of the movement conservatism that controls the Republican Party. While he may be a bit freer of tongue than many Republicans, his basic premises don’t differ from theirs: Feminism is evil. Reality can be denied if it conflicts with ideology. Conservatives are the real victims of this shifting, politically correct America, not the various groups of people they oppress and demonize.

In one of the clips, Akin goes on at length comparing abortion providers to terrorists:

The terrorist is a terrorist, and what does that mean? Well, it means he wants to compel you into doing something because you’re so afraid of him. That’s not very similar, is it, to what we believe, that God gives people the right to life and then the right to liberty. The right to liberty is to be able to follow your own conscience without being terrorized by some opponent. So it is no big surprise that we fight the terrorists, because they are fundamentally un-American. And yet we have terrorists in our own culture called abortionists.

Akin is right that terrorists are people who use violence and the threat of it to try to bend people to their political will. The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” Of course, his accusation that this is what abortion providers do makes no sense. Abortion providers don’t commit acts of violence to get their way. They don’t try to intimidate or coerce anyone. They simply hang out a shingle and invite women who want abortions to come to them. Abortion providers, after all, work in the service of choice.

That doesn’t mean the abortion debate is free of terrorism or other forms of harassment and coercion by those who want people to comply with their political demands. Except that Akin has the roles reversed. Far from being the terrorists in this equation, abortion providers are the victims. Every week, providers in this country have to endure crowds harassing them in front of their clinics under the guise of “protest.” Many providers are stalked by anti-choicers. Their homes are targeted by picketers. “Wanted” posters with their pictures and identifying information have been distributed among anti-choice activists. One doctor who indicated that she planned to provide abortion in the future faced death threats. Clinics are vandalized, broken into, and set on fire. A clinic landlord had to deal with anti-choicers stalking his daughter at her middle school. Doctors have been injured and killed at the hands of right-wing terrorists, most recently in 2009 when George Tiller, one of the few doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions, was shot to death at his church in Kansas.

Such coercive actions unfortunately work. Tiller’s clinic shut its doors after he was assassinated. Just this week, a Brooklyn abortion clinic closed because the harassment from anti-choice obsessives had become too much for both the workers and the patients. A study published this month in the journal Contraception demonstrates a correlation between anti-choice harassment and state legislatures passing abortion restrictions. While no causal relationship has been determined, the study does show that aggressive street tactics contribute to an overall atmosphere that makes it hard for providers to operate. As Akin noted later in his remarks, the number of abortion providers has declined in this country. It’s not because they are terrorists, as Akin supposes. It’s because they’re terrorized.

Akin cannot be unaware of this. He has admitted to being arrested for illegally blockading a clinic and trying to physically force women not to exercise their legal right to abortion, which means he was using unlawful force. The victims? Abortion providers and their patients. In 1995, Akin openly praised the 1st Missouri Volunteers, who were headed for a time by Tim Dreste, an anti-abortion activist who led a series of invasions of abortion clinics in 1988. There’s no reason to participate in and support aggressive and often illegal actions against abortion providers unless your intention is to scare them out of business.

Akin’s move of flipping the role of victim and oppressor may sound extreme, but it’s another example of what has become one of the most common rhetorical strategies on the right. In the topsy-turvy world of right-wing rhetoric, billionaires are hapless victims mercilessly abused by the working class. White people are victimized by affirmative action and black people demanding “reparations.” Men are marginalized by evil “feminazis,” and gay people aren’t asking for rights but are trying to destroy “traditional marriage.” In the funhouse mirror of reality that is the conservative worldview, why not just take it to the next level and reverse the role of the terrorist and the victim? The problem with Akin is not that he’s an extremist but that he’s a fine representation of the Republican Party of today.

 

By: Amanda Marcotte, The American Prospect, October 2, 2012

October 4, 2012 Posted by | Abortion, Senate | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Black and Right”: Conservative Variation’s On High School

So much of politics can be described as an elaborate game of “I know you are, but what am I?” One side makes an attack, and the other side tries to mirror or echo it. For a prime example of this, look no further than yesterday’s attempt by conservative bloggers to turn a five-year-old Barack Obama speech into a campaign scandal, following the “47 percent” video that has inflicted huge damage on Mitt Romney’s campaign.

In 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama spoke to students at Hampton University, where he discussed the alienation felt by lower-income African Americans and others in inner cities. He critiqued the federal government for its poor response during Hurricane Katrina, while also emphasizing ways in which the black community could improve itself. For Obama, this was boilerplate. The thing that made it interesting—for the right’s purposes, at least—was the fact that Obama slipped into an African American accent during the speech. If you pay attention to politicians at all, you know this isn’t unusual. When George W. Bush talked to Southern Evangelicals, he dropped his “g’s” and added a little twang to his voice. Likewise, when Hillary Clinton spoke to black audiences during the 2008 primaries, she sometimes began to mimic a preacher’s cadence. It happens, and it usually becomes an occasion for good-natured ribbing.

For Matt Drudge, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity & Associates, however, Obama’s accent was evidence of his racial “divisiveness” and contempt for ordinary Americans. Here’s how Carlson saw the speech: “He’s saying: ‘They don’t like you’ because they are black. That is the theme of the speech from front to back, from beginning to end: ‘They don’t like you because of your skin color.’ And that is a shockingly— that’s a nasty thing to say. It’s a divisive thing to say. It’s a demagogic thing to say.”

Anyone who has watched or listened to the speech will tell you that this is the opposite of what Obama said. The dominant tone, in fact, sounded like this: “We can diminish poverty if we approach it in two ways: by taking mutual responsibility for each other as a society, and also by asking for some more individual responsibility to strengthen our families.”

To many on the right, it seems, there’s no way that a black person can talk to other black people without being “divisive.” It’s as if they’re angry at the fact that sometimes, African Americans say things to each other, for each other. If the political world is a variation on high school, then conservatives are the people asking—every day—”Why are the black kids all sitting together at lunch?”

 

By: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, October 3, 2012

October 4, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Crying Fraud, Then Creating It”: Republicans, The Villains Of Their Own Conspiracy Theories

For once, the Republicans were right.

They have been obsessively claiming that voter-suppression measures are necessary because of widespread “ballot fraud.” However extensive investigations by the mainstream media have shown that ballot-fraud is a convenient myth.

Even the Bush administration, in an extensive five-year search, turned up no evidence of the kind of voting fraud—fake IDs, voting in the name of dead people, folks being bribed to vote—that the Republicans routinely allege. Republicans, evoking the tactics of the pre-civil rights segregationist South, simply want to make it more difficult for people who might support Democrats to exercise their right to vote. Some five million people, mostly minorities and the poor, are at risk of being denied their right to vote in 19 states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures, according to a report from the Brennan Center. Happily, the courts have struck down the most extreme of these measures, in Texas, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, and most recently Pennsylvania.

Now, however, Republicans can claim some vindication. Serious voter fraud has emerged in Florida. But the ballot fraud is being perpetrated by Republicans!

The Florida GOP had hired a firm with a very sketchy record, called Strategic Allied Consulting. And guess what? The firm tried to register dead people! It also refused to register live people who tried to register as a Democrat or an independent.

An embarrassed party turned over evidence to state prosecutors and fired the firm.

But, hey, the Republicans should be pleased. They’ve now demonstrated, at long last, that ballot fraud does exist. Of course, the remedy is not suppression of legitimate voting, but prosecution of fraudsters. They seem to exist only on the Republican side.

 

By: Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect, October 3, 2012

October 4, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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