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“Another Miscalculation”: Romney’s Odd Insistence On Using Bill Clinton As A De Facto Spokesperson

I’ve written before about the Romney campaign’s odd insistence on using Bill Clinton as a de facto spokesperson. Every so often, Team Romney highlights a comment by Clinton as a critique of President Obama, as if Clinton wasn’t an avowed and enthusiastic supporter of the president. The rationale, I suppose, is to be able to claim bipartisan discontent with Obama. The problem is that this does nothing more but boost Clinton’s credibility by turning him into a nonpartisan figure of repute. And as we saw during the Democratic National Convention, he can use this “referee” status to effectively hammer Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.

Indeed, it was after Clinton’s devastating speech that I expected Republicans to leave the former president out of the election. Turns out, they couldn’t resist: Today, Team Romney is distributing a clip of Clinton in Ohio, where he said that the economy has not been “fixed” under President Obama.

In their eagerness to use Clinton against Obama, it’s obvious that the Romney campaign failed to listen to what came after that statement.

Here’s the transcript:

“This guy ran Bain Capital and is a business guy, and he’s hiding his budget? That ought to tell you something. Well, he’s hiding his taxes, too, but he’s hiding his taxes in the years when he earned ordinary income. He’s given us two years when he was just running for president. And, he’s hiding whether he would have signed the Lilly Ledbetter act. He’s hiding everything. He doesn’t want you to think about him. He wants you to think, ‘Oh this economy is terrible. I’m a jobs guy.’ And as President Obama said in the debate, if I brought you a deal to Bain Capital and I said, fund my new business, I’ll give you the budget sometime in the future, just trust me on that, you wouldn’t give me one red cent, and we should not give him one vote on that.”

This is a potent message—it’s a variation on the “sketchy deal” language adopted by Obama—and by giving credibility to Clinton, Romney is making it stronger.

By: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, October 19, 2012

October 20, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Incrediably Stupid Joe Walsh”: Life Of The Mother Is Never A Reason For Abortion

During a televised debate Thursday on Chicago’s WTTW, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) reiterated his opposition to abortion in any circumstance. It’s similar to the Republican Party’s national platform, which doesn’t have any exceptions for abortion in the case of rape or incest. Walsh is taking it a step further — banning abortion to save the life of the mother.

“I’m pro life without exception. Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception,” he said.

Tammy Duckworth, Walsh’s Democratic opponent in Illinois’ 8th congressional district race immediately denounced Walsh, saying the incumbent congressman would let a woman die rather than permit her access to abortion. Walsh contradicted her, saying she was unfair.

Walsh didn’t have time to explain his stance more fully during the event, and reporters questioned him afterward. CNN says Walsh claimed “there’s no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology. Health of the mother has been, has become a tool for abortions any time under any reason.”

When questioned by WGN radio, Walsh seemed to indicate that women no longer face life threatening pregnancies: “Absolutely. With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance.”

Walsh’s biological knowledge of women’s reproductive health is off, notes the Huffington Post, which points to statistics from the National Institutes of Health. One risk women may face during pregnancy is a life threatening ectopic pregnancy; this occurs when a fetus forms outside the uterus. The fetus cannot survive. The NIH estimates an ectopic pregnancy can “occur in 1 in every 40 to 1 in every 100 pregnancies”.

Walsh’s statement is reminiscent of controversial Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.). Earlier this year, Akin triggered an uproar by remarking that women can’t get pregnant if they’re raped. He said, “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down”. Akin later apologized, saying he “misspoke” by failing to communicate the empathy he has for rape and abuse victims.

Update at 1:41 p.m. ET. Pregnancy Not ‘Risk-Free Life Event’:

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a statement about this issue a short while ago. They say Walsh’s comments are simply not accurate. Pregnancy, they say, is “not a risk-free life event.”

The statement continues:

“Despite all of our medical advances, more than 600 women die each year from pregnancy and childbirth-related reasons right here in the US. In fact, many more women would die each year if they did not have access to abortion to protect their health or to save their lives.”

These inaccurate comments are yet another reason why The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (The College) message to politicians is unequivocal: Get out of our exam rooms.”

By: Korva Coleman, NPR, October 19, 2012

October 20, 2012 Posted by | Congress, Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Mitt’s Ever-Slippery Position”: More Bobbing And Weaving on Abortion By Romney

Strangely enough, Mitt Romney’s ever-slippery position on abortion policy, one of the enduringly shameful features of his entire public career, is at the center of an argument that the mean old Obama campaign and the mean old Democrats are lying about Mitt’s positions and denying him his proper mantle of moderate conservatism.

Kevin Drum’s not having any of that:

It’s true that Romney thinks (accurately) that no flat ban on abortion is likely to cross the president’s desk in the near future. So in the sense of trying to figure out what will actually happen over the next four or eight years, it’s probably true that a President Romney wouldn’t have a chance to sign a flat ban on abortion.

But that’s only half of what any election is about. The other half is about what a prospective candidate wants to do. I don’t think the United States will ever return to the gold standard, for example, but the fact that Ron Paul supports it tells me that he’s a crank. That’s reason enough not to vote for him.

Likewise, even if Romney never has the opportunity to sign a nationwide ban on abortion, he’s obviously saying that he’d like to if he ever got the chance. What’s more, Romney probably would get a chance to overturn Roe v. Wade by appointing a Sam Alito clone to the Supreme Court, and he knows very well that this would result in plenty of states flatly banning abortion. This tells me he’s an abortion extremist, and it tells me a lot about who he is. It’s fair game.

Correct. But I’d go further. Aside from Romney’s comment on a hypothetical flat federal abortion ban, which would be obviously unconstitutional until such time as a President Romney stacked the Supreme Court to reverse Roe, he promised in his “My Pro-Life Pledge” ukase published by National Review in the early stages of the nomination fight to “advocate for and support a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.” That would be a federal version of the state legislation being promoted around the country testing the very margins of Roe by banning abortions before an arbitrary point at which a very small minority of scientists and a very large majority of antichoicers claim a fetus can feel pain.

So looking at the big picture, Mitt Romney’s promised to do everything within his power to restrict abortion rights under Roe, and then everything within his power to get it reversed, all within a “pro-life” position that sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t include exceptions for the incredibly tiny percentage of pregnancies resulting from rape, incest, or direct threats to the life of the woman involved. And this has been his basic position since 2007, or at least as long as Paul Ryan has refrained from public praise of Ayn Rand as his great mentor and become a self-proclaimed Thomist.

It should also be recalled that Mitt has identified himself unambiguously with the argument of conservative religious figures that the HHS contraception coverage mandate is objectionable because it includes “abortifacients,” reflecting the belief of anti-choice ultras that Plan B, IUDs, and even standard contraceptive pills actually kill human beings.

This does not add up to a “moderate” position on abortion, however Team Mitt tries to bob and weave and play the victim.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 19, 2012

October 20, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Too Many Mitt’s”: Shameless And Shape Shifting; To Know Him Is To Mistrust Him

It will have zero effect on a certain Romney landslide in Utah, but the particular wording and reasoning of the Salt Lake Tribune‘s editorial endorsing Barack Obama will resonate far and wide. The “Trib” chose to write its repudiation of semi-favorite-son Mitt with the tone of someone familiar with a pol who’s sold his birthright for a mess of pottage:

Nowhere has Mitt Romney’s pursuit of the presidency been more warmly welcomed or closely followed than here in Utah. The Republican nominee’s political and religious pedigrees, his adeptly bipartisan governorship of a Democratic state, and his head for business and the bottom line all inspire admiration and hope in our largely Mormon, Republican, business-friendly state.

But it was Romney’s singular role in rescuing Utah’s organization of the 2002 Olympics from a cesspool of scandal, and his oversight of the most successful Winter Games on record, that make him the Beehive State’s favorite adopted son. After all, Romney managed to save the state from ignominy, turning the extravaganza into a showcase for the matchless landscapes, volunteerism and efficiency that told the world what is best and most beautiful about Utah and its people.

Sounds like the buildup to an endorsement, eh? Not hardly.

In short, this is the Mitt Romney we knew, or thought we knew, as one of us.

Sadly, it is not the only Romney, as his campaign for the White House has made abundantly clear, first in his servile courtship of the tea party in order to win the nomination, and now as the party’s shape-shifting nominee. From his embrace of the party’s radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: “Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?”

The evidence suggests no clear answer, or at least one that would survive Romney’s next speech or sound bite. Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear.

The editorial eventually gets around to some measured positive comments about Barack Obama, but it’s clear from the headline–“Too Many Mitts”–that its main thrust is aimed at showing not everybody in Utah is buying this particular snowstorm.

The president is entertaining audiences today by referring to his opponent with his vast number of serpentine manuevers as someone suffering from “Romnesia.” The Salt Lake Tribune begs to differ: Mitt hasn’t forgotten a thing; he’s just doing whatever the political markets call for, and hoping voters suffer from Romnesia.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 19, 2012

October 20, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Failure Wasn’t His, It Was Ours”: George McGovern Will Die Vindicated On War And Peace

Speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 1972, George McGovern kicked off his ill-fated presidential bid by focusing on his opposition to the ruinous war in Vietnam. “I have no secret plan for peace. I have a public plan. And as one whose heart has ached for the past ten years over the agony of Vietnam, I will halt a senseless bombing of Indochina on Inaugural Day,” he said. “There will be no more Asian children running ablaze from bombed-out schools. There will be no more talk of bombing the dikes or the cities of the North. And within 90 days of my inauguration, every American soldier and every American prisoner will be out of the jungle and out of their cells and then home in America where they belong. And then let us resolve that never again will we send the precious young blood of this country to die trying to prop up a corrupt military dictatorship abroad. This is also the time to turn away from excessive preoccupation overseas to the rebuilding of our own nation. America must be restored to a proper role in the world. But we can do that only through the recovery of confidence in ourselves.”

Over the course of his career, McGovern made a lot of arguments that I personally find unpersuasive. But he sure did get the most important issue of his time right. Think of all the Americans who’d be alive today if the country had listened to McGovern rather than his opponents about the Vietnam War. Think of all the veterans who’d have been better off. Think of how many Vietnamese civilians would’ve been spared death by napalm. But America didn’t listen.

The country would eventually come to see Vietnam as a mistake.

But ours is a people who are dismissive of men who lose presidential elections. We behave as though the electoral outcome discredited their ideas, even on matters where they’re ultimately proved right.

Of course, it was about more than one war for McGovern. A World War II veteran, he liked to say that he’d been persuaded by Dwight Eisenhower, under whom he served, about the dangers of the military industrial complex. The Democratic Party grew comfortable with it over time.

But McGovern never did.

When America launched its war in Iraq, a lot of Democrats signed on. McGovern opposed it. “I oppose the Iraq war, just as I opposed the Vietnam War, because these two conflicts have weakened the U.S. and diminished our standing in the world and our national security,” he wrote.

He was right again.

After Obama took office, McGovern wrote him an open letter, published in Harper’s magazine, that said, “When I entered the U.S. Senate in 1963, the defense budget was $51 billion. This was at a time when our military experts felt it necessary to have the means to win a war against the combined powers of Russia and China. Today we have a military budget of over $700 billion, and yet neither Russia nor China threatens us, if indeed they ever did. Nor does any other nation.”

Once again, few Americans are listening.

It’s strangely common to think of men defeated in presidential elections as losers, though they are invariably men who’d be regarded as especially accomplished if they’d never run for the office. McGovern was a decorated combat veteran, a college professor, a three term senator, and a humanitarian who worked for years to alleviate global hunger, among other things. As he lays dying in hospice, his country remains as beholden to the military industrial complex as ever, years after the decisive defeat of its only credible geopolitical foe. When the obituaries are published, they’ll note McGovern’s electoral loss. It’s far less likely that they’ll note the two ruinous wars America would’ve been spared had its leaders and voters taken McGovern’s advice.

The failure wasn’t his, it was ours.


By: Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, October 19, 2012

October 20, 2012 Posted by | Politics, Senate | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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