Saturday, September 29, 2012

romney unplugged

(original artwork by alex ross)

fox news:

bill o'reilly: i don't understand what the controversy is. i think mr. romney should campaign on this point. if i'm governor romney, i run with this all day long.

sean hannity: it is romney unplugged as the GOP presidential nominee delivers one of his sharpest critiques yet of president obama and the entitlement society that he enables.

stuart varney: i think this will be seen as a win for romney.

pollster nate silver @ fivethirtyeight:

after a secretly recorded videotape was released on sept. 17 showing mitt romney making unflattering comments about the "47 percent" of americans who he said had become dependent on government benefits, i suggested on twitter that the political impact of the comments could easily be overstated.

"ninety percent of 'game-changing' gaffes are less important in retrospect than they seem in the moment," i wrote.

... since then, however, mr. obama has gained further ground in the polls. as of thursday, he led in the popular vote by 5.7 percentage points in the "now-cast," a gain of 1.6 percentage points since mr. romney's remarks became known to the public.

it's hard to tell whether this recent gain for mr. obama reflects the effect of the "47 percent" comments specifically. but the most typical pattern after a party convention is that a candidate who gains ground in the polls cedes at least some of it back.

instead, the more pertinent question seems not whether mr. obama is losing ground, but whether he is still gaining it.

... what we can say with more confidence is that mr. romney is now in a rather poor position in the polls.

... the overall story line, however, is fairly clear: mr. romney is at best holding ground in the polls, and quite possibly losing some, at a time when he needs to be gaining it instead. further, it's increasingly implausible for mr. romney to attribute the numbers to temporary effects from the democratic convention. mr. obama's probability of winning the electoral college advanced to 83.9 percent in the nov. 6 forecast, up from 81.9 percent on wednesday.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

romney-ryan: a post-mortem

so how did romney-ryan flub their campaign? plainly stated, they attempted to play the electorate for total fools. the fools, however, were not amused.

romney-ryan (and their moneyed backers) wanted to see just how far they could get away with outright lying as a central strategy, one that was dependent on the media playing along in its contemporary role as neutered stenographers. the stenographers, however, were not amused. the plan fell apart with romney's attacks on obama's welfare waiver; the press, not really enjoying serving romney as thankless eunuchs, chose their remaining credibility over complete irrelevance.

romney-ryan wanted to see just how far they could get away with running a campaign on nothing but glib generalities and baffling banalities. trust my wonk, romney assured us; everything makes sense in the details, which we'll happily bore you with ... after the election. however, a certain now-famous and doubtlessly pivotal tape revealed:

romney: if we win on november 6th there will be — a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. and we'll see capital come back and we'll see — withoutwithout actually doing anything, we'll [chuckling] actually get a boost in the economy.

heh heh heh... surprise! no grand vision up my sleeve, no master plan beyond untethered hope, something conservatives invoking obama's 2008 campaign currently sneer at. meanwhile, the 47% were not amused.

so the romney-ryan bamboozlefest 2012 crashed and burned more than a month before the election, before even a single debate. in truth it never really got off the ground. perhaps they were doomed from the start. the republican brand has suffered nothing less than a total loss of credibility. with credibility goes a certain deference normally given, certainly by the press, to those cloaked in the authority of their reputations. they might have held onto a remnant of it by admitting their mistakes and cooperating in fixing them.

so who knows if it could have worked? perhaps if the team weren't so clearly incompetent, unable to turn either a scripted event, like their london tour or an unforseen one, like the libyan riots, to their advantage. one thing is clear, though: the electorate isn't nearly as idiotic as romney-ryan themselves turned out to be.

Monday, September 24, 2012

"... i mean black people"

in a thursday special saturday night live took a chainsaw to romney's "quiet room" comments about the so-called "47%":

romney (jason sudeikis): "... so you have this 47% that don't pay taxes, and these people are never going to vote for me. and when i talk about these people who don't pay taxes, i don't mean senior citizens. alright? and i don't mean members of our armed services. and i don't mean southern whites. okay, what i mean is ... and real quick — no one is recording this, correct? no? okay, it's very important that no one records this. okay, good, 'cause i'm about to say who "these people" [finger quotes] are. now i would prefer not to have that on tape.

[turns to camera] ah, sorry sir, is that a camera on the table pointing right at me?

[brief camera pans right and left, as if signaling "no"] okay, great.

[turning back to guests] alright, now when i say "these people", i mean black people."

snl got it exactly right: this is the elusive "whitey tape". the real one. glad somebody finally aired it.

since the surfacing of romney's "47%" comments, a narrative has settled in that romney has carelessly damaged himself with huge swathes of his own voters. while there is definitely anecdotal evidence of some defections, and while i can certainly see this hurting him badly among any remaining undecideds, anyone who's been following conservatives, especially hardcore conservatives, knows that this tape only validates what wingnuts rich, middle and poor already believe. to them, romney's statements come simply as an extension of his already established coded attacks on welfare.

the american spectator: "when i hear romney's words at this event, my reaction is "say more of this stuff in public, mitt." it's a strong and correct message (other than the use of a number as high as 47 percent) and it will resonate with many americans, including quite a few who don't pay income tax."

"i entirely agree, and this should be the campaign focus. if the truth doesn't get him elected, then the country is gone at this point in history anyway." (pieceofthepuzzle)

as i recently commented on daily kos:

... romney's saying that the OTHER half of the country are freeloaders (colored people).

HIS half of the country, his white base, regardless of class or income level, will always exempt themselves from that description. they rightfully deserve their govt largess (tax cuts, loans, subsidies), which don't count as loathsome handouts (welfare, food stamps, unemployment).

cnn's john king carried the conventional narrative by poignantly making the case for the 47% via his own experience:

"... so, a lot of these voters could be republicans. and ah, i understand your back-and-forth, but alice, i, i make a personal note here: a lot of americans, of all income stripes, have struggled for the last few years and the risk for gov. romney is that it is insulting to them. as a kid, my family was on food stamps for a couple of years when my dad got sick. ah, we didn't feel entitled, and we weren't victms, and my father was pretty embarrassed about the whole thing. ah, but in the end my mother was grateful she was able to feed her kids."

meanwhile, hardcore conservatives not only exempt themselves from admissions or accusations of government assistance, they deny their government assistance is a form of government assistance! craig t. nelson on glenn beck's show:

"i've been on food stamps. anybody help me out? no."

just another episode in the GOP's long-running but more and more often flaccid southern strategy:

interviewer: but the fact is, isn't it, that reagan does get to the wallace voter and to the racist side of the wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

lee atwater: you start out in 1954 by saying, "nigger, nigger, nigger." by 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. backfires. so you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. you're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. and subconsciously maybe that is part of it. i'm not saying that. but i'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. you follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "we want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "nigger, nigger."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

romney-man to the rescue

(story and art by ty templeton)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

a campaign about nothing

(via "seinfeld" fan booman tribune)

[Scene: breakfast at fancy hotel restaurant, morning of November 3rd, 2008, the day after Barack Obama is elected president. Mitt Romney and long-time Bain Capital consigliere Bill White enjoy poached eggs.]

BILL: Salsa is now the number one condiment in America.

MITT: You know why? Because the country is being overrun by people who like to say "salsa." "Excuse me, do you have salsa?" "We need more salsa." "Where is the salsa? No salsa?"

BILL: You know it must be impossible for a Spanish person to order seltzer and not get salsa. (Angry) "I wanted seltzer, not salsa."

MITT: "Don't you know the difference between seltzer and salsa?? You have the seltzer after the salsa!" You really should look into acquiring the Serrano's salsa company. They're up and coming.

BILL: See, this should be the campaign. This is the campaign.

MITT: What?

BILL: This. Just talking.

MITT: (dismissing) Yeah, right.

BILL: I'm really serious. I think that's a good idea.

MITT: Just talking? Well, what's the campaign about?

BILL: It's about nothing.

MITT: No policy?

BILL: No forget the policy.

MITT: You've got to have policy.

BILL: Who says you gotta have policy? Remember when we were waiting for that table at L'Espalier that time? That could be the campaign.

MITT: And who runs against us? Who are the characters?

BILL: Rick Santorum could be a character.

MITT: Santorum?

BILL: Yeah. He's a riot.

MITT: So, on the campaign, there's Rick Santorum?

BILL: Yeah. There's something wrong with that? He's a character. People are always saying to him, "You know you're a quite a character."

MITT: And who else is on the campaign?

BILL: Michele Bachmann could be a character. Newt...

MITT: Now he's a character.

BILL: Right.

MITT: And our campaign will be about nothing?

BILL: Absolutely nothing.

MITT: So you're saying, I go in to the big donors, and tell them I got this idea for a campaign about nothing.

BILL: We go to the big donors.

MITT: "We"? Since when are you a campaign strategist?

BILL: (Scoffs) Campaign strategist? We're talking about the American public!

MITT: You want to go with me to the big donors?

BILL: Yeah. I think we really got something here.

MITT: What do we got?

BILL: An idea.

MITT: What idea?

BILL: An idea for the campaign.

MITT: I still don't know what the idea is.

BILL: It's about nothing.

MITT: Right.

BILL: Everybody's doing something, we'll do nothing.

MITT: So, we go into the big donors, we tell them we've got an idea for a campaign about nothing.

BILL: Exactly.

MITT: They say, "What's your campaign about?" I say, "Nothing."

BILL: There you go.

(A moment passes)

MITT: (Nodding) I think you may have something there.

[Scene: breakfast at fancy hotel restaurant, morning of January 21st, 2009, the day after Barack Obama is inaugurated as president. Mitt Romney and future campaign manager Matt Rhoades enjoy poached eggs.]

(Matt Rhoades pitches campaign strategy)

MATT: ...And you're the manager of the circus.

MITT: A circus?

MATT: Come on, this is a great idea. Look at the characters. You've got all these freaks on the campaign. A woman with starry eyes? I mean, who wouldn't tune in to see a women with starry eyes? You've got the dumbest man in the world; a guy who's just a head.

MITT: You mean Bachmann, Perry, and Gingrich?

MATT: Look Mitt, the show isn't about the circus, it's about watching freaks.

MITT: I don't think the networks will like it.

MATT: Why not?

MITT: Look, I don't want to do a campaign that is just about freaks.

MATT: Oh come on, Mitt, you're wrong. People they want to watch freaks. You'll be a shoe-in. This is a "can't miss."

Monday, September 03, 2012

not reg'lar folks

comment of the day from "yellowdog" @ ed kilgore's blog "political animal":

the attacks on obama's religion, on his birth certificate, on his purported lack of patriotism, and on his associations with folks like ayers all draw water from the same poisoned well. calling obama an affirmative action president is just one more way of taking away his legitimacy as a candidate and as a leader.

if anything, obama and his team should be very familiar with these sorts of attacks by now. all of them are rehashed and reheated from 2008 — and they will need to dent obama's credibility with people now who were not bothered by them four years ago. in tandem with the false welfare attacks, they might sway some voters. romney likes the welfare lies because they are 'new information' about obama.

problem is, though, romney's basic approval ratings are not budging — and he is not an easy person to cast as a savior of ordinary working people, of any race. taking cruises on yachts registered in the caymans tends to undercut the regular-guy appeal ... ann romney is supposed to help — but it is not an easy or natural message for her either. these are not regular folk — and their attempts to play regular folk fall flat because they are not convincing at it.

the rich are different — isn't that what randians believe after all? the air of natural superiority bleeds through. in rand-world, the wealthy and industrious are superior because their place in the capitalist order has proven them superior. they built it ... they proved their worth, in dollars and cents. the market is a perfect moral arbiter. it's not lake wobegone — every child in rand-world is not above average. the successful are inherently better than the non-successful. if there are winners, there have to be losers. and, wow, what losers now populate our society. what better way to make the case for this moral vision of the world than to point to the distortions of the 'natural' order of things represented in affirmative action? obama stands for all the losers, those who corrupt the natural hierarchy of society. obama is out of his place. he has gotten uppity in the words of one congressman (my own, i regret to say). he has gotten above himself. he is mingling with his betters.

this is the GOP vision right now. we are not all created equal. the capitalist system will sort us out efficiently as to rights and to basic human worth. if you are worthy, you can vote and join the club. if you are not worthy, ashes will be heaped on your head. if you are poor, it is because you deserve to be poor. you did not build it. you did not try. ipso facto — you are a loser. further, you will always be a loser. (and you will try to steal elections, join unions for benefits you did not earn or deserve, and you will always ask government to subsidize your sorriness.)

just think, though, of what this moral view makes of the struggling middle class — what a bleak vision this is for them, for people who are trying harder than ever. is their failure because they are unworthy? is their worth at issue? rand would say yes. of course romney and co. want to blame the problems of the middle class on welfare and affirmative action. if the middle class got a whiff of what the rand-reading yacht-riding class really thinks of them — in randian clarity — it would be pitchforks for mitt. in randworld, you are measured by what you earn. your net worth is your moral worth. if you are not earning enough, it is because you are unworthy. you lack something. your economic problems are your own damn fault.

no wonder mitt wants to talk about welfare ...