Mitt W. Romney, vulture capitalist, memory challenged individual, and flip-flopper, wants to be president so bad he can taste it. His sole selling point for his ambition is the putative ability to fix the economy — jobs, jobs, jobs — because as a former venture capitalist, he knows how the eonomy works. His counterattack against the incumbent portrays President Obama as comparatively clueless concerning the economy.
The 2012 douche v turd election
With congressional approval in the can, and little enthusiasm for either presidential candidate, voters’ choice is likely ‘least-worst’
Mitt Romney’s poor judgment is already undermining his candidacy
Finally, Obama’s opponent has been confirmed, but can the Republican nominee mount an effective challenge?
Michael Cohen The Observer, Saturday 14 April 2012
I doubt you will ever find a politician more desperate to believe Nietzsche’s aphorism that whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger than Mitt Romney.
With former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum announcing that he is suspending his presidential campaign, it ensures what many political observers have assumed for quite some time – that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president this autumn. Only 26 other men have achieved this goal, so congratulations to Romney are in order. But a larger view of Romney’s political situation takes some of the bloom off this particular rose. Have the past 12 months of campaigning – while certainly not killing him – really made Romney stronger? So far the evidence is not very good.
Only 34% of Americans have a positive view of Romney, which makes him at this point in the presidential campaign one of the least popular presumptive nominees in American history. Even candidates who lost (and lost badly) such as Dukakis in 1988, Dole in 1996 and McCain in 2008 were more popular than Romney is right now. More disconcerting still is the fact that even Republican rank-and-file voters are somewhat indifferent to Romney. His favourability among Republicans overall is a rather tepid 62%. Those who define themselves as conservatives within these ranks have an even less favourable view, with 47% viewing their party’s nominee in a positive light. On the other side, Obama has none of the same problems with a sparkling 86% favourability among Democrats.
Granted, most of these traditional Republican voters will cast a ballot for Romney in November, but it also means that he must spend some of his precious time over the next few months rallying conservatives behind him, to ensure they turn out in droves. On a practical level, this results in Romney not only needing to dent the relatively high favourability ratings of his opponent, but also having to rehabilitate his own.
And he will be doing this against a candidate who is a far cry from the collection of also-rans, fringe politicos and pizza magnates he squared off against in the Republican primary. Barack Obama is not Rick Santorum and in the days since the latter departed the race, the president’s campaign has put out a host of tough videos attacking Romney for his dalliances with the truth, the extolling of his conservative bona fides and even his lack of support for female pay equality. With Obama planning to raise hundreds of millions of dollars (some say it might go as high as a billion), it’s a good preview of the escalating attacks on Romney that are certain to come over the next seven months. Romney’s days of outspending his opponents and carpet-bombing them with negative ads have ended.
All of this suggests that the road ahead for Romney will be extremely difficult (though not insuperable). Still, as bad as Romney’s poll numbers are – and as formidable as his opponent is – that doesn’t actually tell the whole story of his political weakness. From a policy perspective, the slowly improving economy has undercut his key campaign message, namely his intent to run against the economic downturn. In recent weeks, Romney has been reduced to saying that the latest economic improvement would have been stronger if he were in the White House; a legitimate argument but one that is a bit too nuanced for the presidential campaign trail.
But the even greater problem is one that Romney inflicted upon himself. This started in December when Newt Gingrich was rising in the political polls and threatening Romney’s stranglehold over the nomination. One of the charges the Romney camp used against the former Speaker was that he wasn’t sufficiently conservative. It was an odd charge given that Romney had signed a comprehensive healthcare bill remarkably similar to Obamacare and, as a candidate in Massachusetts, had indicated support for abortion rights as well as gun-control measures.
None the less, the Romney team saw Gingrich as vulnerable because he had come out against the House Republican budget passed last spring, which would end the federal guarantee for Medicare recipients (beginning with those under the age of 55) and eviscerate much of the social safety net and modern welfare state in America. The budget, which is generally referred to as the Ryan budget, named after House Republican budget chairman, Paul Ryan, was and remains a toxic political document and one whose key measures are opposed not only by Democrats and independents but also by a wide swath of Republicans. Still, the opportunity to outflank Gingrich on the right – a move similar to what Romney had done on immigration against Texas governor Rick Perry – was too juicy to pass up. And since then Romney has only increased his support for the Ryan budget – going so far as to call it “marvellous”.
There’s a good possibility that this could be the most damaging act by Romney in his quest for the presidency. Indeed, it wasn’t Romney’s various and embarrassing gaffes that were the centrepiece of President Obama’s speech to the Associated Press – which represented the nominal kick-off to the autumn campaign – it was the Ryan budget and his none-too-subtle effort to link it to Romney.
Calling the budget a Trojan horse, disguised as a deficit-reduction plan, Obama said that the legislation is “really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It is thinly veiled social Darwinism. It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everybody who’s willing to work for it; a place where prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class. And by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that’s built to last – education and training, research and development, our infrastructure – it is a prescription for decline.”
Obama’s speech also covered all the areas of government that would be reduced by the Ryan budget – Head Start (a comprehensive programme for low-income families), support for education, measures to fight crime, laws that protect food and safety, Medicare and Medicaid, and even national parks. As Obama noted: “If this budget became law, by the middle of the century, funding for the kinds of things I just mentioned would have to be cut by about 95%… as a practical matter, the federal budget would basically amount to whatever is left in entitlements, defence spending and interest on the national debt – period.”
This is a potent political argument because even though both parties like to disparage “big government” and voters regularly decry the overweening influence of the federal government on the lives of the American people, in reality Americans love government spending and they love federal programmes. They love Medicare; they love Medicaid; they love social security; they love education, transportation and environmental regulations. With the sole exception of foreign aid (and this is largely because they overestimate how much of the federal budget goes to it), the American people are actually quite besotted with big government.
This is a regular trap into which conservative Republicans fall, namely believing that when voters nod their heads at calls for cuts in government spending they actually want politicians to do just that when they get into power. And one might expect such behaviour from blinkered ideologues such as Paul Ryan and his Tea Party cohorts in the House of Representatives.
But Mitt Romney, to put it bluntly, should know better. That he has embraced a piece of legislation likely to cause him so much damage in November is a telling indication of his larger – or, rather, lesser – political skills. But in his defence, it’s also an indication of how conservative the Republican party has become. According to a recent survey by Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, political scientists from respectively the University of Georgia and New York University, the Republican party is more conservative than at any point in the last century.
None of this necessarily means that Romney is finished. There are already some indications that the economic recovery might be faltering and a major event from “outside” the campaign (such as the Supreme Court overturning Obamacare) could hamstring the president. Moreover, Obama’s approval ratings are barely at 50%, which is hardly laurel-resting territory.
Still, the Republican contender begins his pursuit of the White House on remarkably shaky political ground – buffeted by the statements and promises that he made to capture the nomination of a party that is radically conservative. That, more than anything else, may be what kills his presidential dreams in the end.
JANUARY 10, 2012 12:00 A.M.
The Unsatisfying Mitt Romney
He runs a near-perfect campaign, but fails to inspire.
By Rich Lowry
Mitt Romney has one advantage over his rivals above all others: He is running a presidential campaign. None of his competitors has been able to manage it in quite the same way.
A Romney rally in Exeter, N.H., the other day was a textbook exercise in traditional presidential politics. The venue was big, a high-school gym. The advance work was flawless. The American flag backdrop was enormous. The three generations of the Romney family arrayed in front of it were so picturesque that they might have arrived straight from a photo shoot for a Tommy Hilfiger advertisement.
When so many commentators have said that, with anti-establishment sentiment running so high, everything is different in Republican presidential politics, Romney has been the old-school candidate. He hews to the familiar instruction manual with a pharisaical devotion. Raise scads of money and build a national organization. Always stay on message and evaluate every move with an eye to the general election. Win endorsements. Take apart opponents precisely to the extent necessary, no more, no less.
As Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner has observed, Romney has been the only guy to show up for the job interview wearing a suit. He hasn’t been on a book tour masquerading as a presidential campaign (Herman Cain). He hasn’t banked everything on the debates (Newt Gingrich), or showed up unprepared (Rick Perry). He hasn’t bet on his performance in just one state (Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman). Anyone who has won a presidential nomination during the past 30 years would recognize what Romney is doing and why.
After Santorum tied Romney in Iowa and landed in New Hampshire, he immediately began engaging hostile college students in long Socratic dialogues on hot-button social issues. A few months ago, Romney had a New Hampshire town hall where he, too, was asked repeatedly by kids about gay marriage. He refused to say anything beyond that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman and that he had already answered the question. Santorum’s approach is more sincere and intellectually laudable; Romney’s approach is more studied and likely to achieve his larger aim.
And less satisfying. Romney’s campaign is all technique and no music. His speech in Exeter was schmaltz piled on top of saccharin in a perfect storm of substanceless sentimentality. First, he said he believed in America. Then, he said he loved America. And in conclusion, he quoted verses from “America the Beautiful.” In Romney’s case, patriotism is the first refuge of a politician who doesn’t dare say anything new or interesting. It wasn’t until New Jersey governor Chris Christie, a Romney supporter, took the stage and slapped down a heckler that it felt like someone had thrown open a window in the tidy structure created by Team Romney to let in a gust of spontaneity and irrepressibly joyful combativeness.
Neither of those will ever be a quality associated with Romney. He continues to excel in debates by routinely coming up with answers that feel as though they were produced by a crack marketing team for maximum unassailability. His stumbles are so rare that they become as noticeable as the tiny wobbles of an Olympic skater trying to nail a triple Lutz. Challenged over the weekend on why he didn’t run for reelection as Massachusetts governor in 2006, he said he “went back into business,” even though he was already running for president when he left the governor’s mansion. Romney wanted to hang on to the scripted presentation of himself as a businessman above all else — plausibility be damned. It was a small falsity that stood for larger worries about his genuineness.
Very few politicians have what it takes to follow the old rules with the proficiency of a Mitt Romney. It takes brains, discipline, and managerial skill. But people have trouble warming up to the (almost) flawlessly executing candidate from a flawlessly executing machine. The Romney campaign notwithstanding, there’s no rule against inspiring people.
It turns out that there is at least one question on which Mitt Romney is not a flip-flopper: He has a utopian view of what an unfettered, lightly taxed market economy can achieve.
He would never put it this way, of course, but his approach looks forward by looking backward to the late 19th century, when government let market forces rip and a conservative Supreme Court swept aside as unconstitutional almost every effort to write rules for the economic game. This magical capitalism is the centerpiece of Romney’s campaign, and it may prove to be his undoing.
ALLBAUGH: It’s Romney versus Carter
Americans have an easy choice in November
By Joe M. Allbaugh Monday, April 23, 2012
Mitt Romney will win in November, and the reason is simple: because of President Obama’s record. Before my friends in the conservative movement spend the summer gnashing their teeth over the supposed ideological impurities of a Republican who governed one of the nation’s most liberal states, let’s all remember who we are running against: the greatest presidential failure since Jimmy Carter.
Mr. Obama took over in the throes of a reeling economy. He made it worse. His stimulus plan was taken hostage by Democrats in Congress, who loaded it up with pork and precious few sources of actual economic stimulus. Then, $787 billion later, our deficit reached record heights while our economy listed. Sure, the Obama administration says we are in recovery, but it’s the kind of recovery no one can believe in. Americans don’t feel it, jobs have not increased at nearly the pace that was promised, and sluggish growth speaks of the added weight of debt and an unpredictable business climate as investors worry about what burdens will be heaped upon them next by a bureaucracy modeled after a Western European social democracy. Nearly $2 trillion in investment sits on the sidelines awaiting the outcome of this election.
No president in the modern era has been re-elected with unemployment above 8 percent. Add to this the fact that our president has displayed absolutely no seriousness about addressing the debt, which led to the first downgrade of our credit in history, and you have economic conditions that give voters great worry, not encouragement. While the Obama forces certainly will villainize Mr. Romney’s business record, at least he has one. I predict the answer to the most important question, “Whom do you trust to run the economy?” will clearly show the American people trust a successful businessman like Mr. Romney over a president who has few economic accomplishments to claim and nothing in his previous experience that indicates he knows what it takes to create opportunity.
In fact, what we see is a college professor, like many of his tenured colleagues, who learned the wrong lessons from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s handling of the Great Depression. Government intervention didn’t end the Depression – it prolonged it. Only a world war brought us out of it. The Keynesian model of throwing money at the problem failed then and is failing us now.
Americans have lost faith in a president who refuses to take on the deficit in a serious manner, who rammed government-run health care down their throats and has failed to revitalize the economy. On these issues and many more, Romney offers a better contrast: a thoughtful, deliberate leader versus an ideological interventionist, and an effective executive who has experience as a turnaround artist versus an inexperienced manager overwhelmed by the morass of the bureaucracy.
Americans will not wonder whether Mr. Romney is up to the job – he has the track record and demeanor for the job, regardless of whether he meets the definition of the kind of guy someone would want to knock down a couple beers with. Americans also have little doubt as to whether Mr. Obama is up to the job. He isn’t. And this time we have his record to prove it instead of slogans of hope and change to decipher.
To my friends in the conservative movement, I say simply this: Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Mitt Romney is a good man who will make a good president. The real opposition is the liberal ideologue in the White House. The mission is to defeat him for the sake of our country.
Mitt Romney, a man of falsehoods
By Richard Cohen, Published: April 16
Among the attributes I most envy in a public man (or woman) is the ability to lie. If that ability is coupled with no sense of humor, you have the sort of man who can be a successful football coach, a CEO or, when you come right down to it, a presidential candidate. Such a man is Mitt Romney.
Time and time again, Romney has been called a liar during this campaign. (The various fact-checking organizations have had to work overtime on him alone.) A significant moment, sure to surface in the general election campaign, came during a debate held in New Hampshire in January.David Gregory, the host of “Meet the Press,” turned to Newt Gingrich and said, “You have agreed with the characterization that Governor Romney is a liar. Look at him now. Do you stand by that claim?”
Gingrich did not flinch. “Sure, governor,” he started off, and then accused Romney of running ads that were not true and, moreover, pretending he knew nothing about them. “It is your millionaire friends giving to the PAC. And you know some of the ads aren’t true. Just say that straightforward.”
Me, I would have confessed and begged for forgiveness. Not Romney, though — and herein is the reason he will be such a formidable general-election candidate. He concedes nothing. He had seen none of the ads, he said. They were done by others, he added. Of course, they are his supporters, but he had no control over them. All this time he was saying this rubbish, he seemed calm, sincere — matter of fact.
And then he brought up an ad he said he did see. It was about Gingrich’s heretical support for a climate-change bill. He dropped the name of the extremely evil Nancy Pelosi. He accused Gingrich of criticizing Paul Ryan’s first budget plan, an Ayn Randish document whose great virtue is a terrible honesty. (We are indeed going broke.) He added that Gingrich had been in ethics trouble in the House and ended with a promise to make sure his ads were as truthful as could be. Pow! Pow! Pow! Gingrich was on the canvas.
I watched, impressed. I admire a smooth liar, and Romney is among the best. His technique is to explain — that bit about not knowing what was in the ads — and then counterattack. He maintains the bulletproof demeanor of a man who is barely suffering fools, in this case Gingrich. His message is not so much what he says, but what he is:You cannot touch me. I have the organization and the money. Especially the money. (Even the hair.) You’re a loser.
There are those who maintain that President Obama, too, is a liar. The president’s recent attack on Ryan’s new budget proposal sent countless critics scurrying to their thesauruses for ways to say lie — “comprehensively misrepresenting” is the way George F. Will put it. (He also said Obama “is not nearly as well educated as many thought.”) Obama does indeed sometimes play politics with the truth, as when he declared that a Supreme Court reversal of his health care law would be unprecedented. He then backed down. Not what he meant, he said.
But where Romney is different is that he is not honest about himself. He could, as he did just recently, stand before the National Rifle Association as if he were, in spirit as well as membership, one of them. In body language, in the blinking of the eyes, in the nonexistent pounding pulse, there was not the tiniest suggestion that here was a man who just as confidently once embodied the anti-gun ethic of Massachusetts, the distant land he once governed. Instead, he tore into Obama for the (nonexistent) threat the president posed to Second Amendment rights — a false accusation from a false champion.
A marathon of debates and an eon of campaigning have toughened and honed Romney. He commands the heights of great assurance, and he knows, as some of us learn too late in life, that the truth is not always a moral obligation but sometimes merely what works. He often cites his business background as commending him for the presidency. That’s his forgivable absurdity. Instead, what his career has given him is the businessman’s concept of self — that what he does is not who he is. This is what enables the slumlord to be a charitable man. This is what enables the corporate raider to endow his university. Business is business. It’s what you do. It is not who you are. Lying isn’t a sin. It’s a business plan.
The bottom line is that experts at the agency that generated the data and the organization that analysed it, as well as the person who used it in congressional testimony, all say Romney is starting with the wrong date.
By using the 2008 numbers, Romney essentially is comparing pre-recession figures with post-recession figures, not data that reflects what happened under President Obama. Just as with job creation under this president, the results starting from 2009 are not great, showing a slight overall decline and then modest improvement once the recession ended.
As the president well knows, that uncertain result has made for a challenging reelection campaign. But Romney has goosed his figure so much that it has little credibility.
Romney using ethics exception to limit disclosure of Bain holdings
Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, whose wealth has become a central issue in the 2012 campaign, has taken advantage of an obscure exception in federal ethics laws to avoid disclosing the nature and extent of his holdings.
By offering a limited description of his assets, Romney has made it difficult to know precisely where his money is invested, whether it is offshore or in controversial companies, or whether those holdings could affect his policies or present any conflicts of interest.