How I Feel About New Hampshire

Meh. Romney’s going to win it, someone else will come in second place (why not Huntsman?) and then it’s on to South Carolina, where Romney will win it and someone else will come in second place, wash, rinse, repeat through the rest of the primary season. It’s amusing that the remaining candidates, particularly Gingrich, are castigating Romney for being a rich corporate suit, but, you know. In the particular case of Gingrich, when you’ve got a six-figure line of credit at a high-end department store Tiffany’s, get paid millions to be a “historian” and have billionaire pals willing to slip you five million here and there to run nasty ads about your opponents, there’s only so far the outrage can go before it gets clubbed to death by the irony.

That said, as an outside observer it’s fascinating to watch Gingrich go Full Gingrich at this point. I give him credit for trying to be nice for a while there, which suited him about as well as a vegan smorgasbord suits a hyena, but now he’s giving full throat to his petulant rage and he is imperial. In his tiny black heart he knows the presidency will never be his and now he’s set on Romney with the philosophy “I may not win but I can promise you will lose.” And of course the rest of the field is doing the same, because, hey, dogpile.

Too late. Romney isn’t likely to lose the nomination at this point, and if he did there’s no one left in the GOP field who could beat Obama (I’d say Huntsman could strictly on policy, but since he actually worked for Obama, I think that’s poisoned the well among the core “Obama’s a Nigerian Socialist” demographic). It’s possible Romney could beat Obama, but inasmuch as Gingrich et al seem devoted to hamstringing him as much as possible between now and the end of the primaries, the Democrats are seeing about half their job being done for them already. Mind you, Romney’s not helping himself either, with utterances like “I like firing people,” joining “Corporations are people” as Lines That Make Your Opposition Gleeful. Yes, in context it makes more sense. It’s still a pretty clueless blunder.

(Bear in mind that come the general election, the GOP will be doing their damndest to suggest that it’s Obama who is the clueless elitist, not Romney, despite his being the scion of a political family, a business history as a corporate raider, and a personal net worth of $250 million dollars. Obama’s not exactly hurting for cash, I would note (he’s a very successful author, you know), and I’m not going to suggest that the former editor of the Harvard Law Review and former senator of the State of Illinois (not to mention, you know, the President of the United States) has not, in fact, ascended into the ranks of the nation’s elite. And lord knows that the GOP did a fine job of framing George Bush, scion of a political family with a personal net worth of millions, as an ordinary guy. I just think that job’s going to be harder with Romney.)

Still, at the end of the day, things are as they were. Romney’s going to win New Hampshire, and I strongly suspect the nomination, because deep in their hearts GOP voters actually want a chance to win the White House. Gingrich is too toxic. Ron Paul is too out there. Santorum is too unapologetically bigoted. Huntsman is too late. It really is Romney or electoral oblivion.

What Romney really needs to do at this point is win New Hampshire and the next several primaries in a convincing enough fashion and quell all dispute, before Gingrich and the rest of the GOP field stab him enough to bleed him out before the general. Despite the Republican delusion of Obama as a stumbling buffoon, let’s remember that a black man named Barack Obama doesn’t get to be president in the United States, even now, without knowing a little bit about how to win an election. If the GOP field spills most of Romney’s blood before he even gets to the general, that will suit Obama just fine.

160 thoughts on “How I Feel About New Hampshire

  1. You point out one of the parts of to nomination battle that has always baffled me, the no holds barred mud-slinging. Whichever party happens to be in power in any election year has to be chuckling gleefully and rubbing their hands together, thrilled at all the free ammunition coming their way. Talk about doing someone’s job for them.

    And I realize politics are a bit hollow anyway, but to go from character assassination to smiling praise and support in just a matter of months, sometimes weeks, rings a bit untrue. Because you know that most, if not all, of these candidates will be banging the drum soon for whichever candidate gets the Rep. nod. Its theater. But its not good theater.

  2. The meme is that he’s a /Kenyan/ socialist, but I see what you did there and can’t disagree.

  3. Romney is ahead in South Carolina and Florida, according to to the Real Clear Politics poll page. Gingrich and Perry (and to a lesser extent, Huntsman) are all basically just swinging in desperation at this point and hoping something sticks. In some circles, their unfair attacks are actually making even people who don’t like Romney defend the guy. It’s an unusual situation, which is a nice way of saying a complete clusterfark.

  4. when you’ve got a six-figure line of credit at a high-end department store

    Tiffany’s is a department store now?

  5. Or not. With Obama and Clinton, she aired his dirty laundry early and by the general the public was all “meh, old news”. The GOP and Romney may reap the same benefit.

  6. The Obama-Clinton fight got a bit testy at times, especially near the end. But this is cage match stuff. It’s like they’ve had the nasty cranked to 11 for so long they forgot to turn it down when they turned on each other.

  7. Honestly, John, I suspect several of these people are now jockeying for the VICE-presidency nomination and/or a shot at a high-ranking cabinet position….but to obtain those lofty positions, they have to command a significant amount of the voter base to deliver to Romney in a quid-pro-quo basis.

    Of course, Gingrich is insane if he thinks he’s got a shot at any of those, either. Ron Paul would never accept any of those positions (I think), but somebody like a Huntsman may be jockeying for that (and would be a pretty good choice, I’d bet). He’s also probably the only one of the contenders who would consider compromise. My impression is that almost all of the candidates are totally inflexible.

  8. Agree with Ultragotha. You are overestimating the political awareness, interest in the subject, and/or attention span of the American voter — or at least, the undecided American voter. Ah, democracy, where all are equal.

  9. Romney’s not helping himself either, with utterances like “I like firing people,” joining “Corporations are people” as Lines That Make Your Opposition Gleeful. Yes, in context it makes more sense.

    As a general idea of being able to choose your service provider and to reject bad service providers, it was a perfectly unobjectionable notion, inartfully expressed. But, as you say, context matters: and the context in question was health care. This makes all the difference: Romney was wrong, in every conceivable way, and he almost certainly knew he was wrong.

    Under the Affordable Care Act, modeled on the law Romney backed in Massachusetts, you can “fire” your health insurer and switch to another one. You’re just not allowed to fire your health insurer, pocket the premiums, and go uninsured. It may be relevant to Romney’s professed failure to understand this that he built his fortune by firing people and pocketing the savings – although the people who lost their insurance thereby were not Mitt Romney.

    Indeed, with respect to the specific issue of firing and the ACA, the two key changes made by the ACA are:
    1) You will have an increased ability to fire your health insurer, because of shall-issue and community-rating. Under the pre-ACA situation if you lost your insurance no company had to sell you a policy, nor sell you one you could afford.
    2) Your insurer will no longer be able to fire you, which was a huge source of savings for them before, finding niggling technical details with which to eliminate the vexing customers who actually required care.

  10. Or not. With Obama and Clinton, she aired his dirty laundry early and by the general the public was all “meh, old news”. The GOP and Romney may reap the same benefit.

    The difference being that all of Clinton’s laundry was of the Rev. Wright and “lack of experience” line, which are generic. I think there’s a better than 50/50 chance that making hay out of economic pillaging via Wall Street during an election that is more or less a referendum of same would stick a lot better and a lot longer. In addition, Romney has already lost the upper hand in releasing his tax returns (which is not required but always offered by candidates anyway), and the longer he holds off on that the worse it looks. I mean, it’s a lose-lose situation for him given his financial standing, but I can’t see any upside to his campaign by waiting until the general to do so, and plenty of downside to doing that or refusing to release them altogether. And let’s not forget that Romney has a tendency for unforced errors that is often combined with tone-deafness to the average American–a man from a highly successful family in a highly successful business was worried about getting a pink slip?–that neither Obama nor his campaign displayed in 2008 and seem unlikely to start doing now.

  11. I’ve been fairly amused that Gingrich was only able to wear the “nice guy” mask for about two weeks before it slipped off or was discarded for the nasty, below-the-belt(way) streetfighter Gingrich has always been. I figured it was only a matter of time.

  12. This morning I was wondering if knowing the annual income for each of the candidates along with their net worth, would make a difference to the voter when these guys present themselves as the “everyman”.

  13. WizarDru, there’s no way Romney will choose a fellow Mormon for the VP slot.

    It’ll be someone outside of the current contenders, who has impeccable Christianist credentials.

  14. Huntsman is running 7th behind Colbert in South Carolina, and Colbert isn’t even on the ballot (he just wanted to be).

  15. I have never seen a more impractical lump of contenders vying for the presidency. All on the same side at that.

    Huntsman might have a better chance of beating Obama if he were to run against him on the Democratic ticket.

  16. John,

    I agree that Romney is most likely going to win the GOP nomination. I’m wondering though if the fringe elements of the GOP would be angry enough at a Mormon getting the nod that the Tea Party elements would try Santorum or Gingrich in a 3rd party bid?

    Or am I projecting my own hope as a Moderate that the fringe GOP elements start their own party?

    All the best,
    Paul

  17. As an aside, I liked this line by Kelefa Sanneh in the New Yorker’s profile of Newt Gingrich, “Huntsman, who was the Obama Administration’s first Ambassador to China, strikes liberals as the kind of conservative that conservatives should like, which helps explain why many conservatives don’t much like him.”

  18. It’s counterproductive on two levels. Generally, optimistic candidates of vision are more inspiring than self-interested verbal snipers. Newt is hurting himself as much as he is Romney. When Gingrich was doing well, he was the happy warrior in the debates. Ditto Cain during his 15 minutes. In the end, their flaws caught up with them. Cain went out quietly, whereas Gingrich is determined to go out kicking and screaming. The GOP is cringing, but by courting Gingrich, it has put itself in the “give a scorpion a ride across the river and get stung” position. Acting this way is in Newt’s nature. “I can’t believe he is acting this way” said no one.

    Which brings us to how this is counterproductive (potentially) on the second level: larger goals. In theory, Gingrich should prefer a President Romney to President Obama. In practice, I think Newt is mostly concerned with the larger goal of advancing Newt. He uses the conservative brand as the most expedient, but If it advanced Newt, I think he could find a way to “evolve” left, right, or center.

    It is an open question whether Newt’s Kamikaze run (Newt likes the WWII metaphors) will help or hurt the Republicans. By avoiding a Romney waltz to a nomination, I think the GOP ultimately will get a better candidate. Among other arguments, Romney damn well better be able to give a ringing defense of capitalism, his record at Bain, and why his Romneycare was good and yet Obamacare isn’t. (This is his bleeding wound as a candidate – if he would have just said “I was wrong about Romneycare” at the beginning, he’d have the nomination cinched by now). Forcing him to articulate these positions now, in a primary when relatively few are watching, will allow him to work out the kinks for his ultimate fight with Obama. Generally, the primary forces a candidate for the GOP to veer farther to the right than they would prefer in the general, but Newt’s attacks from the left may turn out to be good practice. It’s not like Obama wasn’t going to bring these up in the debates.

  19. If Romney is the candidate, Huntsman hasn’t a prayer of VP. It’s going to be hard enough for the religious/social values voters to swallow a Mormon candidate. An all-Mormon ticket would likely cause serious fits..

  20. While I don’t think the mormon issue will be a big deal in the end, Huntsman will not be the VP. In fact, Huntsman has a better chance of being President than he does of being VP. The leading candidates (per Intrade) are Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. There are several in the second tier (Mc’donnell, Portman, Thune, and Rice). If Mitt is the nominee, he’s not going to be percieved as needing a moderate on the ticket, but rather a VP that fires up the base.

  21. I see that Romney’s latched onto the “Obama’s apologizing for America” meme though it’s been proven false by independent fact-checkers, not that /facts/ matter to the sort of Republican voter who’d react positively to that sort of demagoguery.

    Who came up with that, anyway? Limbaugh?

  22. Since the Republican primaries now assign delegates proportionally, a unified anti-Romney field could conceivably knock him out of contention even relatively late in the game if he’s won a plurality in every single primary, by throwing support behind a consensus candidate.

    But I do not think there will be a unified anti-Romney field, despite the best efforts of the cultural-conservative wing to produce one; most likely most of these delegates would rather fall into line behind Romney than support an anti-Romney other than their own.

  23. I think everyone is discounting the possibility that Romney may do something in the next few weeks to truly self destruct his campaign, a kind of “I like firing people” x100 comment that shuts him down and puts him out. Then we’re going to have to pray that Huntsman can step up because of the rest of the pack he is the only one I could stomach as a possible President.

  24. With regard to the problems with making Obama the elitist even though Romney is the multi-millionaire scion of a political family, I would note the efficacy in turning John Kerry, who had three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star, into the “weak coward” when compared with President Bush, he of the questionable service in the Texas Air National Guard.

    Never underestimate the willingness of voters to overlook facts that conflict with the underlying narrative that they’ve come to accept.

  25. I think the prolonged Democratic nomination battle in 2008 actually helped Obama in the end, by keeping the Democrats constantly in the spotlight and getting supporters fired up (the fear of “PUMAs” sabotaging the general-election campaign turned out to be overblown, and Hillary Clinton ended up as Secretary of State).

    But I don’t see that happening here, since the frontrunner seems to be someone who Republicans have trouble getting enthusiastic about regardless.

  26. I would note the efficacy in turning John Kerry, who had three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star, into the “weak coward” when compared with President Bush, he of the questionable service in the Texas Air National Guard.

    Kerry hadn’t had much (if any) of a national presence before to a majority of voters. Obviously, the same can’t be said of Obama. Not that it wouldn’t work, but it seems like people already have their opinions on Obama, same as they did for W.

  27. The trap is that no one wins the nomination by being clear about THEIR policies.
    They win when they (or something/someone else) destroys the competition.

    Ron Paul – has great ideas and INSANE ideas. BOOOMMMM he is not winning.
    Cain – scandal.
    Bachmann – batshit crazy
    Perry – a dumber W from Texas? really???
    Newt – scandals + crazy + smart is still not enough to be president

    Which basically means that their ONLY HOPE is to destroy Romney before it is too late.
    I find it strange that the rest of the candidates havent attacked Romney on the corporate raider destroying american jobs front. Oh wait, the GOP is FOR destroying american jobs.

    /never mind

  28. @Matt McIrvin:

    Since the Republican primaries now assign delegates proportionally, a unified anti-Romney field could conceivably knock him out of contention even relatively late in the game if he’s won a plurality in every single primary, by throwing support behind a consensus candidate.

    A lot of very bad political reporting has appeared to support this scenario. In fact, nothing of the sort can happen.

    The Republican primaries that take place before April are no longer allowed to be winner-take-all at the state level, as they were in 2008 (lest they lose half their delegates – a price Florida opted to accept). But this doesn’t mean the Republicans have shifted to a proportional allotment of delegates comparable to what the Democrats did in 2008. Not only are the contests after March still winner-take-all at the state level, but contests before April are allowed to be winner-take-all at the Congressional district level. This means there still won’t be a broad distribution of delegates (Ron Paul, for example, will still likely get none, even if he gets 25% of the vote in every state), and the scenario you envision won’t take place.

  29. The amazing thing about this campaign season is that I long ago decided that Romney was the only Republican with any chance of winning the general election, but the longer I watch Romney, the less I like him.

    This is probably why I’m not a Republican.

  30. Peter: Actually, part of Newt’s attack on the Mittster has been based on his job-cremating history at Bain, in terms that have amusing echos of Occupy Wall Street.

  31. As someone who is largely disinterested in politics, I’d just like to give you kudos for an extremely entertaining political post. I particularly liked “there’s only so far the outrage can go before it gets clubbed to death by the irony,” and “suited [Gingrich] about as well as a vegan smorgasbord suits a hyena.” Nice.

  32. Matt @ 2:58: The Republicans are moving towards a proportational system, but currently they use a blend. The only place I can find a description of how each state does it is here:

    http://www.thegreenpapers.com/P12/R-DSVE.phtml?sort=d

    And it isn’t terribly clear. However, I’d note that Florida (for example) remains a Winner Take All state, which certainly enhances Gov. Romney’s position. It looks like South Carolina does a separate Winner Take All on a Congressional District level (the winner of each CD gets the delegate associated with it) and a state wide count (for the rest of the delegates.)

    Pure proportional is done in relatively few states, although New Hampshire is among them.

  33. I find it strange that the rest of the candidates havent attacked Romney on the corporate raider destroying american jobs front.

    Gingrich is kind of doing that now. It’s very strange to see.

  34. @ Jesse: I think that buttresses my point: Obama is already a liberal snob elitist (who is also a socialist-neocolonialist) while Romney’s profile is relatively low nationally. They can define him more easily as an “everyman” and since everyone already knows that Obama isn’t (he’s a celebrity! he thinks he’s the Messiah!) the pieces will fall into place.

  35. let’s remember that a black man named Barack Obama doesn’t get to be president in the United States, even now, without knowing a little bit about how to win an election.

    Barack HUSSEIN Obama. Let’s not forget that part.

  36. I’m thinking Gingrich sees this a bit differently. A lot of Bain profit came right out of the hides (and retirement funds) for hard working Americans. Even as slimy as he was he never stooped that low. My guess is a lot of average Republicans will see the difference too.

    While it was not Bain, I had my retirement wiped out by raiders. After 20 years they took my defined benefit & gave me an IOU worth $18,000 – which they get to keep & use as they choose, paying T-Bill rates until I am 65.

  37. Peter: Actually, part of Newt’s attack on the Mittster has been based on his job-cremating history at Bain, in terms that have amusing echos of Occupy Wall Street.

    You also have Perry criticizing the “vultures” who loot businesses and fire employees. He didn’t mention Bain by name, but the implication was certainly there.

  38. Scalzi
    What Romney really needs to do at this point is win New Hampshire and the next several primaries in a convincing enough fashion and quell all dispute, before Gingrich and the rest of the GOP field stab him enough to bleed him out before the general.

    Actually, all he needs to do is win enough delegates. Once he’s nominated “not-Romney” Republicans will all become “not-Obama” Republicans. Enthusiastically.

    Despite the Republican delusion of Obama as a stumbling buffoon, let’s remember that a black man named Barack Obama doesn’t get to be president in the United States, even now, without knowing a little bit about how to win an election.

    There are many who think that all he knows how to do is campaign. He’ll have to change that impression in the coming year…

  39. Obama is already a liberal snob elitist (who is also a socialist-neocolonialist) while Romney’s profile is relatively low nationally.

    I don’t know if you can make the case that Romney has a relatively low profile. He was the runner-up in a widely-followed presidential primary four years ago, and has been campaigning the entire time since then. Nor do I think the GOP portrayal of Obama has stuck, more that people are disappointed he didn’t do everything that (they think) he promised.

    They can define him more easily as an “everyman” and since everyone already knows that Obama isn’t (he’s a celebrity! he thinks he’s the Messiah!) the pieces will fall into place.

    Yeah, doubt that’s gonna happen. It was easy to contrast John Kerry (who was raised middle class but married into money) with W because the Bushes had been involved in Texas politics for so long that they couldn’t be painted with the New England “elitist” brush very easily. Can you ever remember any GOP candidate pushing either Bush president as the Ivy League candidate in a primary? Romney, on the other hand, has essentially the same apparent negatives as Kerry, but worse, seeing as how he was raised as a member of the political and economic elite to begin with, and has lived publicly as such for essentially his entire life.

  40. “A lot of Bain profit came right out of the hides (and retirement funds) for hard working Americans.”

    I don’t know Republican working class folk seem to have this amazing ability to explain away the abuses of the wealthy. The mind job that has been done on them is a work of art, I’ve never seen anything like it in any other culture.

    No matter how many jobs the loose, no matter how the corporation screw them over, they NEVER turn against the rich. Instead the argue for the rich to have more power to abuse them with. If I didn’t know better I would swear they are all masochists

  41. Actually, all he needs to do is win enough delegates. Once he’s nominated “not-Romney” Republicans will all become “not-Obama” Republicans. Enthusiastically.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say all, necessarily, but most, yes. It’s the right-leaning “independents” that they have to motivate.

    There are many who think that all he knows how to do is campaign. He’ll have to change that impression in the coming year…

    Do you have any evidence of this? I think you’d be hard-pressed to find this sentiment outside the hardcore GOP and their press sources, honestly. On the other hand, there’s plentiful evidence of the impression of Obama not getting stuff done (oftentimes even when they admit Congress is at fault), although this seems to be changing, and will continue to do so if the narrative about the economy continues to be of slow but accelerating growth.

  42. For all intents and purposes, the primaries are over. I think the November election hinges on two things:

    1) Will one of the spurned candidates mount a credible third-party candidacy and attack Romney from the right? Someone like Ron Paul could draw, oh, 5% of the vote and tip the election. Seems like it’s kind of late for this, though.

    2) To what extent will the continuing debacle in Europe affect the American economy by this November?

  43. “Elitist” depends on what the word means in context.

    Generally speaking, when conservatives use the term they mean “upper-middle class social-engineering nannying credentialist”, with overtones of someone who feels disdain for ordinary folk. There are certainly plenty of that type of person around; here in Santa Fe, you meet them all the time. The ones who think they’re making a social statement by buying locavore organic greens and artisanal olives at Whole Foods.

    (I buy organic greens and artisanal olives at Whole Foods, myself; OTOH, I do so strictly because I think they taste good and I can afford it. In other words, I don’t mistake gratifying my appetites with the aid of my large disposable income for aesthetic or moral superiority over people who prefer say, Taco Bell.)

    The term has a political-cultural context, not an economic one.

    Liberals tend to use “elite” as a term of art for “rich person”.

    This is just as hypocritical as the way people like Romney try to pose as tribunes of the people.

    In point of fact, nearly everyone in politics at the national level, in both major parties, is rich. The current Administration’s economic team is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs. Congress and the Senate might as well have a propery qualification of at least $1 million; it wouldn’t make a lick of difference.

    How could it be otherwise? There are differences of emphasis, but both parties are fully supportive of capitalism. Only in America could anyone imagine Obama is a “socialist”, though we all know that what’s really meant is “particular type of capitalist”.

    A solid majority of the actual working class vote Republican; this shows that fundamental economic issues are simply not on the political table in this country.

  44. Jesse, when you said: ” It was easy to contrast John Kerry (who was raised middle class but married into money) with W because the Bushes had been involved in Texas politics for so long that they couldn’t be painted with the New England “elitist” brush very easily. Can you ever remember any GOP candidate pushing either Bush president as the Ivy League candidate in a primary? ”

    I think you’re missing my point. The big thing that the Rs went after (that I think was really damaging)wasn’t the elitism thing (although that was certainly a part of it) but rather the whole “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” The ’04 election featured an American electorate that was still deeply disturbed by the fear of terrorism and was looking for someone that could protect them. One of the reasons that I thought Kerry was a decent choice to run (although not my personal pick) was because he could directly neutralize that by pointing to his war record, which stood in sharp contrast to Bush’s lack of service and could have been an effective counter to the idea that he was “weak.”

    The Rove machine was able to change what was a strength for Kerry into a liability, and created a contrast with Bush. So I’m not drawing the analogy between Kerry the elitist and Romney the common man, but between Kerry the coward and Obama the elitist.

  45. The ’04 election featured an American electorate that was still deeply disturbed by the fear of terrorism and was looking for someone that could protect them. One of the reasons that I thought Kerry was a decent choice to run (although not my personal pick) was because he could directly neutralize that by pointing to his war record, which stood in sharp contrast to Bush’s lack of service and could have been an effective counter to the idea that he was “weak.”

    The Rove machine was able to change what was a strength for Kerry into a liability, and created a contrast with Bush. So I’m not drawing the analogy between Kerry the elitist and Romney the common man, but between Kerry the coward and Obama the elitist.

    Okay, but first of all, the Kerry campaign was not particularly well-run, and the Bush campaign was better. I don’t think anyone is making the case for that this time around. In fact conservatives keep on trying to push the permanent campaign meme (see Frank@3:42pm), and AFAIK it has had little to no effect. Incidentally, all the Obama campaign has to say in response to that is that Romney’s been campaigning longer and, hilariously, with much worse results. And secondly, if we want to use the Swift Boat metric, it would seem that Obama and the Democrats now have the advantage in “Swift Boat”-style campaign fodder. Both of those seem like effective strategies for turning Romney’s strengths into liabilities.

  46. @Jesse

    it would seem that Obama and the Democrats now have the advantage in “Swift Boat”-style campaign fodder.

    Surely it’s important to come up with a consensus definition for “swiftboat”? The famous “swiftboating of 2004 involved (1) unregulated outside money being used (2) to tell an emotionally affecting story that (3) attacked the Kerry campaign directly at one of its perceived strong points. It was also (4) a steaming pack of vicious lies. Your comment alludes to the possibility (heck, likelihood) of a Democrat-backing effort that shares the first three of these traits – but to my mind it’s the fourth trait that truly defines “swiftboating”, and without a clear sign that the attacks on Romney will be similarly dishonest I don’t think the 2004 “swiftboating” is the relevant precedent.

  47. the election will hinge on the economy

    if the economy gets markedly better, Obama wins, markedly worse, Kerry wins

    If the economy stays where it is or improves a somewhat, we have a close race

  48. Your comment alludes to the possibility (heck, likelihood) of a Democrat-backing effort that shares the first three of these traits – but to my mind it’s the fourth trait that truly defines “swiftboating”

    Maybe “swift-boating” is the wrong term by those criteria, but the…truthiness of the attack matters less than the impact, wouldn’t you say? And inside the conservative echo chamber (Gingrich and Perry’s attacks notwithstanding), it will be perceived as a steaming pack of viscous lies regardless.

  49. At this point I’m not sure the GOP primaries a good for anything other than theater. Can anyone truly see one of the other candidates with a chance in hell of winning enough votes to take the nomination away from Romney? Certainly not Santorum, who today took the president to task for wanting an educated America. What will really be interesting is to see how all these Super PAC turn from trying to stop Romney to getting him elected. Once they’re stuck with him, the money will immediately turn toward tearing down Obama.

  50. I will be glad when silly season is over here in my home state of South Carolina. Already today, I have received two (2!) robo-calls from the Gingrich people offering me the chance to attend a luncheon with him and his daughter. Even if I was a full blown Republican, I wouldn’t cast my vote for Newt. Yes, for all intents and purposes, I am a Democrat, although there are several local politicos on the R side of the ballot I vote for, and come primary time I go to vote for the Republican candidate I feel would be best in the job, because hey, ya never know who is gonna get elected and it is best to have someone who at least shares a few of your own beliefs right?

    As for Mitt and his “I like firing people” quote, I have read the whole thing, and overall I understand what he was attempting to get across. However, it is a case where it needed to be worded a lot better than it actually was. Not only will the Democratic party make hay with it, I willl not be surprised if some of the other pretenders to the throne in the Republican party don’t grab the ball and run with it too.

    More worrying/annoying/silly to me is another statement he recently made where he said he too had had to worry about receiving a pink slip and losing a job. No, seriously! If you are rich and you lose your job on the board of directors, it is NOT the same as someone who is making $30,000-ish a year losing their job and having to live on pay that may not even equal 2/3 of that, and losing such benefits and semi-affordable health insurance. To even pretend that Mitt getting a pink slip is the same as Digital Atheist getting a pink slip is an admission by Mitt that he has NO grasp whatsoever on how the world really works (as an aside I would like to trip on whatever Mitt is tripping on!).

    Mitt will get the nod because all of the others are either batshit insane or in the singular case of Mr. Huntsman don’t toe the party line about creationism/global warming real/science DOES know what it’s talking about.

    Come primary time here in SC I will probably toss my vote to Mr. Huntsman just because he at least believes in a bit of a reality based view of the world.

  51. Ooh… I forgot to mention that the two robos were within a 30 minute time span during this last hour. How wonderful that they want me to attend. sigh

  52. As I’m not a US voter I have no dog in this fight. What amuses me most is that the post is filed under “uncategorized”. Is that an oversight? Or a comment on the unimportance of the GOP primaries?

  53. My ear to the dog whistle has been telling me they’ve been trying to sell the idea that Obama golfs too much. The term “country club president” was used. I’m amazed this is something they’re pushing, but if they get it in the subconscious now, it might stick with the target audience come election time.

  54. What’s interesting to me, as an ex-Southern Baptist, is how willing Southern Baptists are becoming to line up behind Romney, after their chosen candidate has fallen behind.

    Interesting to me because in the Southern Baptist view, Mormons are the worst kind of non-Christians: a pseudo-Christian cult that claims to be Christian. In the some classes I attended at Church, Mormons were right up there with Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, et. al. as targets for Evangelism.

    So, given a choice between a self-proclaimed Christian with a decent testimony (Obama) and a (in their worldview) non-Christian Cultist (Romney), they’re going to side with the cultist. I guess it’s better to have a cultist who you think is going to hell but shares your political/social agenda, and than a Christian that doesn’t. Strange, that.

    P.S. I swore I wasn’t going to read any political commentary this election year, but you’re so darn reasonable (i.e. you agree with me) and entertaining, I hereby announce that Whatever will be my sole source of political punditry for 2012. :)

  55. @Marshall Ryan Maresca

    Yes, I’ve heard that bit of insanity too. Although they seemed to think that it was okay that President Bush (the younger) spent 977 days on vacation during his 8 years as President. That works out to just a tad over 2 1/2 years, or 32-ish% of his term as on vacation. No, I’m sorry they have no right to talk about anyone’s vacation days after that little gaff. ;-)

  56. Jon Stewart had a great clip last night showing all the republican candidates lambasting Romney. The quotes were all about how Romney had too much money, got it unfairly, inherited it, was out of touch with the everyday voter, and so on. Stewart then points out that Romney is exactly the sort of person that Republicans hold up as the perfect John Galt job creator. Made money due to lack of regulations, low taxes, and small government. But as long as they are competing with Romney for the nomination, Romney as the ideal outcome of a Republican agenda is turned on its head and portrayed as evil. It was hilarious.

    At one point he played a clip of Gingrich sayingthat if Romney gave up all the money he made from firing people then Gingrich might respect him, and Stewart asks rhetorically whether Gingrich was suggesting taking some of Romney’s wealth and redistributing it. Awesome.

    We clearly need instant runoff elections for presidency because this election is going to have two people approved by the one percenters both vying for the presidency. And all other voices are eliminated from the debate.

    It monopolizes the kinds of conversations the candidates have, the kinds of criticisms they have to deal with.

    Choosing between the two 1%-approved candidates isnt much of an election. getting rid of party nominations would give more power to the people and take power away from the status quo that is the party establishment.

  57. A few observations, from someone who bounces back and forth between the Right and the Left side of the InterToob:

    1) There is *intense* dislike of Romney among Paul’s base, Gingrich’s base, and Santorum’s base. They see Mitt as basically Obama Lite — a shiny bauble who, once elected, will just move forward with more statism, more cronyism, more government expansion, and fall through on any/all conservative promises he makes. They do not trust him one little tiny bit. And they’re angry that Romney is the “annointed” candidate who is beating all the hares with his smooth-n-steady campaigning. Oh, and they hate his hair. Oh do they hate his hair! His hair is bulletproof. Like Reagan’s

    2) Paul’s base, Gingrich’s base, and Santorum’s base are all relatively small, comprising at best 15% each of the total Republican base, with an excited number of political wonks and gadflies orbiting here and there. To the extent that each of them wants their man to be the “not Romney” to win, they do not have the numbers to push their man to the forefront nationally. Santorum is too socially scary for many moderates. Gingrich and Paul are too scary when it comes to policy and theory.

    3) Will the Mitt-haters sit on their hands or cast protest votes? Or will they pinch their noses and line up behind Mitt when the time comes? This is a key question and I am not entirely sure of the answer. I suspect that 2 out of 3 will go with Mitt, but even so that’s a drop-off in the national elections, especially if Paul or Gingrich decide to “go rogue” and attempt and independent campaign. This is the scenario Obama must hope for, above all else: an independent Paul or Gingrich. Such a scenario practically seals it for Obama. And both Paul and Gingrich (though not Santorum, I think) are cantankerous and maverick enough to try it.

    3) Assuming no indie break by Paul or Gingrich, Obama’s got the up-hill sell in this election, no matter how thorough your liberal outlook. He’s fallen down on a lot of his promises to the Democratic base, and he’s engaged in cronyist deal-making which will be tough to explain to Americans already obssessed with questions of debt and deficit. He may attempt to play on social issues, but there really is no issue other than the economy in this election. Even military operations overseas are not as important. And unlike in 2008 Obama cannot run successfully on a “blame Bush” platform. Can Obama go “off script” well enough to beat Mitt? Does Obama have enough “hope and change” mojo left in his tank to score the W?

    4) Liberals are making the same mistake I see many conservatives making: talking to their buddies a lot and assuming that the majority of the country thinks, acts, and believes, just as they do. Because the evidence is right in front of them all the time, right? Well, no, not really. There are two Americas — the deeply conservative one, the deeply progressive one — and there is a vast sea of ‘moderates’ separating the two. The side that wins is the side that convinces the sea — in any given election — to come along for the ride. Last time, it was the progressives. But Obama’s been a far different President than even progressives expected, and there aren’t nearly enough people who hate Republicans enough to vote for Obama at all costs.

  58. I agree, mostly, except that I think Rick Santorum is going to win South Carolina, and possibly Florida and Texas.

  59. Brad:

    I think you got a lot right there, but there’s several key points I differ on:

    Will the Mitt-haters sit on their hands or cast protest votes? Or will they pinch their noses and line up behind Mitt when the time comes? This is a key question and I am not entirely sure of the answer. I suspect that 2 out of 3 will go with Mitt

    I doubt that only 2/3rds will hold their noses. As someone upthread pointed out, they’ll mostly fall in line to vote for the supposed moderate with unenthusiastic support, just like they did in 2008. The Muslim Kenyan Socialist Dictator hate is strong with them.

    Assuming no indie break by Paul or Gingrich, Obama’s got the up-hill sell in this election, no matter how thorough your liberal outlook. He’s fallen down on a lot of his promises to the Democratic base, and he’s engaged in cronyist deal-making which will be tough to explain to Americans already obssessed with questions of debt and deficit.

    The uphill sell is entirely due to the economy. This would be a breeze for Obama were that not nearly as big an issue. And despite the media narrative about the Democratic base being dismayed, he’s getting roughly the same high (80%+) approval from the base, as well as demographics like Blacks and Latinos, as he did in 2008. You were closer when you discussed the moderates (more below). And last I saw, a majority of Americans actually supported compromise.

    And unlike in 2008 Obama cannot run successfully on a “blame Bush” platform.

    Not as a main platform, but that’s not his strategy anyway. In fact, I don’t think Bush has been mentioned in anything other than passing for a long time now.

    Can Obama go “off script” well enough to beat Mitt? Does Obama have enough “hope and change” mojo left in his tank to score the W?

    I can’t tell if this is a teleprompter reference (another Fox News audience-only red herring) or not, but I think people are looking less for hope and change than who can fuck things up the least.

    Liberals are making the same mistake I see many conservatives making: talking to their buddies a lot and assuming that the majority of the country thinks, acts, and believes, just as they do. Because the evidence is right in front of them all the time, right?

    I don’t what liberals you’re talking to, but the ones I talk to and see on TV say exactly the opposite, i.e. wondering why the majority of the country doesn’t think, act, and believe like them. And even though it’s to a lesser extent, I see this with the conservatives too.

    There are two Americas — the deeply conservative one, the deeply progressive one — and there is a vast sea of ‘moderates’ separating the two. The side that wins is the side that convinces the sea — in any given election — to come along for the ride.

    Here we agree. One can argue that 2008 was about expanding the base, and 2010 was a failure to do so (which is actually normal for mid-terms). I do think, however, that this election will be less about convincing people to vote for something than against something else. For Obama, that means making this about a Wall Street vulture; for Romney, government expansion. For now, and if the economy keeps getting noticeably better, Obama has a slight upper hand here, especially given RomneyCare and Bain.

    But Obama’s been a far different President than even progressives expected, and there aren’t nearly enough people who hate Republicans enough to vote for Obama at all costs.

    See above re:progressives.

  60. I don’t think the Republicans actually want to win this election. The economy is going to remain in the tank for most of the next term, and whoever’s POTUS is going to pay the price for that (even though the Republicans broke it, as we all know). They’re looking ahead to 2016, where they plan to get another 12-16 years of destroying the environment, wiping out the middle class, and exporting jobs.

  61. So, given a choice between a self-proclaimed Christian with a decent testimony (Obama) and a (in their worldview) non-Christian Cultist (Romney), they’re going to side with the cultist.

    According to a Pew poll in 2010, 20% of Americans and 31% of Republicans still believed that Obama is a Muslim (and the number had actually increased a great deal since 2009). That could be a significant contributor here.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/18/AR2010081806913.html

    (This was at the high point of both the “ground zero mosque” business, so the salience of the issue may have inflated the numbers. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it’s gone down since then.)

  62. As a side note, it’s also interesting to note a trend that seems to be flying under the radar, namely that Obama’s team has quietly been putting together teams in the primary and competitive states to re-energize his supporters. In fact, he was better organized in both Iowa and New Hampshire than the GOP candidates. This might end up being a big deal, since he’ll already have built up a solid election infrastructure such as voter rolls and volunteer signups that is more up-to-date and engaged with voters than the nominee, be it Romney or someone else. Seeing as how he’s managing to keep it close in former GOP strongholds that he won (for example, North Carolina is still competitive), that could make the difference when it comes to enthusiasm.

  63. The difference between Newt Gingrich and a lamprey is that a lamprey has fewer teeth and more morals.

  64. Blah. As a NH liberal, I’m just glad to get all of them the hell out of my state. Sadly, one will be back- too soon.

  65. I’m glad Newt went full Newt. It was scary to see him leading for a while. In general this whole field is bad. Really the best the US has to offer is Romney or Obama? We are doomed. Especially with both parties hellbent on destroying each other. There will be nothing left to fight over if this continues.

  66. 1)Not everyone who votes in a GOP primary wants the GOP to win. Since incumbents are typically shoo-ins for renomination, this gives Democrats and left leaning independents an opportunity to throw a monkey wrench into the works.

    2)Ron Paul is getting support from peace activists who would never consider voting Republican under any other circumstances.

    2)Anyone who votes for Santorum probably sincerely wants to see him elected. If you disagree with that man as much as I do, you don’t want to help push the GOP even farther to the right.

  67. The way I see it, Romney is going to be the nominee because he’s got a more organized campaign machine and the money to plaster his message on every conceivable media outlet. Of course, his problem is the same that McCain had in 2008; he’s a pragmatic moderate that will change his positions as easily as you and I change our shorts. Of course, McCain was more disliked by fiscal/social conservatives because of his tendency to backstab them in the media and then try to wrap himself in the mantle of fiscal conservatism when it suited him. Romney has an advantage that McCain didn’t; the economy is lousy and not looking better and he’s not the one currently in charge screwing it up. He also needs to find a way out of the morass that Romneycare/Obamacare will become. How well he does that is anybody’s guess.

  68. ‘…core “Obama’s a Nigerian Socialist” demographic’–Please tell me this was intentional. It’s SO much better that way. ;)

    I too like the “outrage clubbed to death by irony” meme. That may wind up leveraged somewhere. It would be even better if you added a baby seal in there somewhere around the clubbing, as a metaphor.

    Wait, what? … Republicans!–REPUBLICANS!–are claiming a mulatto from Hawaii named Barack Obama spends too much time at the country club?

    I realize I grew up far too long ago, in the rotting, faux-genteel remains of a benighted culture (that I was pleased as punch to show my heels to a third of a century ago, never to return), but in THAT milieu he’d only be at the country club if he were working for minimum wage and hoping for tips.

    Republicans are selling this? REPUBLICANS!? Someone get me an old yaller dawg and a ballot petition.

    Inconceivably,
    Jack Tingle

  69. Obama has been the golfer-in-chief since the day he took office and he takes about the same amount of vacations that Bush does and has held LESS press conferences than Bush did. These things made the Washington media go ballistic when Dubya did them and yet I hear crickets from them with regards to Obama’s time on the golf course. Coincidence? I think not.

  70. @Christophe Shaffer:

    I will beg you to consider that dubya spent 977 days of his 8 years in office on vacation… in other words 2.5 years, or 32%, which ever you prefer. In his first year Obama only spent 26 days on vacation, and he is NOT the first President to sneak in a game of golf any time he could. Do not think that because he has played a few–or even a lot–of games of golt that it is in any way comparable to George W. Bush’s penchant for taking a vacation any time he could… not for just days but weeks and even months when he thought he could get away with it.

    You are presenting a false comparison. I would much rather my President took a few hours of to play 18 holes and get some down time than to realize that my President spent nearly 1/3 of this time away from the job.

  71. Obama has taken far fewer vacations than Bush did (but more than Clinton) and every source I’ve read that wasn’t Fox News agrees with this.

  72. According to Nate Silver, it looks like turnout will be around 185k for NH. For comparison, in 2008 they had 240k, which led the NH Secretary of State to expect 250k this time around. Combined with Iowa, where they barely beat their 2008 totals (122k vs 119k, which is arguably not enough to be statistically significant) the enthusiasm gap from 2010 may not be near as big. And both of these were supposed to have been driven by the moderates, especially NH.

    If these primaries are anything like the general in terms of enthusiasm or turnout, Obama’s team is probably cautiously excited. Not that they think it will be a blowout as it was with McCain, but it’s got to concerning the Romney campaign that the base can’t make up for the moderates (or vice-versa) in a down-economy election where they have a good shot and defeating the person they more or less consider the devil, Stalin, Hitler, and Osama bin Laden rolled into one. Of course, once we’ve got $20 billion in campaign and superPAC money flying around, that might change.

  73. @AlanM:

    That is because Fox News/Rush Limbaugh/et al consider 18 holes of golf to be equal to 2 weeks of Bush vacation time… or maybe higher considering which ratio they choose to use.

  74. @Christophe Shaffer:

    Any proof, or just Fox News talking points? At 31 months in office, Obama had spent 61 days on vacation, compared to 180 days for W.

  75. @Christopher Shaffer:

    I apologize for leaving off the final “R” in your name, a really, really embarrassing things since Christopher is my first name IRL.

    Lmao… :-)

  76. All Obama has to do is play the first sentence fo this video over and over again and Romney’s goose will pretty much be cooked.

  77. Romney’s not helping himself either, with utterances like “I like firing people,” joining “Corporations are people” as Lines That Make Your Opposition Gleeful. Yes, in context it makes more sense.

    Regardless of context, The Mittster uttered a string of words that — in *this* economy, with so many out of work — should have remained unuttered under any circumstances. And it was clear, given the stumbling word salad that immediately followed this utterance, that Mitt realized he’d screwed up, big time.

    It’s a gift, I say, that will keep on giving.

  78. @Digitial Atheist – no worries about my name, the state of New York does far worse things to it on my driver’s license…..

    With regards to vacation comparisons; Bush took the majority of his “vacation” to his home in Crawford, TX whereas Obama has gone to Martha’s Vineyard and rented homes in Hawaii (and Indonesia if memory serves, though that probably was an official trip so that really doesn’t count) and spent tons of taxpayer money for his vacations. Bush was hammered in the media for his “vacations” when it is extremely likely that he was doing work as well as relaxing. I would think it accurate to say that both presidents were getting briefed on issues, making phone calls and making decisions, yet Bush got hammered for choosing to not stay in DC all the time. It really all boils down to how the narrative gets presented in the media. Steering this topic back to what our esteemed host was talking about (and avoiding the Mallet!). I think Romney is going to have a hell of a time winning the general election, simply because Obama is no slouch when it comes to campaigning (although his incompetence and fecklessness in governing is another story) and Romney is going to get hammered in the media for whatever he says or proposes. Personally, I think Romney is as Establishment as it gets and does not have any enthusiasm about reducing the scope of the federal government as his more conservative competitiors. But, he’s the adult in the room and thus is probably going to be the nominee

  79. The “firing” gaffe is not a gaffe at all. Oh, it might play well with people who would never vote for Mitt under any circumstances, but the lengths to which Mitt’s opponents have already gone to manufacture this thing into a problem, are somewhat amusing. I’ve been fired before. Not recently, but it has happened. Some of us understand that firing — and hiring — are part of the cycle. You get the next job and life goes on. Unless the economy is in the tank, and there are few jobs being created. If this is the best ammo Romney’s opponents can come up with, it’s rather shallow and easily brushed aside. What the anti-Romney campaigns really need is a serious moral fuck-up. A mistress who comes forward, a secret gay lover, a herd of we-done-wrongs reporting on a major Mitt back-stab. Which has not materialized, nor do I expect any such to materialize. The curious part about Mitt is how he just kind of cruises past the chickenshit complaints, and keeps creeping up in the polls. And this is the one Team Obama says they can beat with one arm tied behind their backs? I think they’re misunderestimating the Mittster. (yes, I wrote that exactly the way you read it!)

  80. No, Romney said, “I like being able to fire people.” The word able is a huge key. And he said it in the context of a consumer being able to make choices. This is basic stuff for fiscal conservatives, for whom choice in the consumer market is a big deal. Doubtless it’s bogey-man scary for unionists and some progressives, but then Romney’s comment was never intended for the unions or the progressive ear. Ironically, those who’ve tried to blow it up and paint Romney as Scrooge McDuck have actually done for Romney what Romney’s struggled to do for himself: illustrate plainly where and how Romney is, in fact, a fiscal conservative champion — in contrast to his peers — and a businessman who understands Economics 101 in ways the permanent Beltway class does not. I foresee problems for Obama if he attacks Romney on this. Such a complaint plays well among those who’d never vote for Romney in the first place, but among conservatives and moderates with a modicum of business and economic acumen, Romney’s comment is just fine.

  81. Brad —

    Fiscal conservatives were going to vote for Romney regardless; that point is moot. If he’s to win anything other than the primary, he’s got to get the folks in the middle of the political field, and I’d wager they — the folk who’ve been subject to downsizing, rightsizing, outsourcing and termination for no reason at all — are more sensitive to being on the firing line than you’d want to believe. Partner that up with Romney’s refusal to release his taxes (what’s he hiding: his low, low tax rates or off-shore accounts?) and he’s definitely in Scrooge McDuck’s company.

  82. deCadmus, I’d like to think the middle isn’t that easily spun. But then again the middle did fall all over itself to vote for Obama in 2008, so you might be right. Maybe there are enough bitter and vengeful victims of the hatchet who want nothing more than to take their anger out on a stand-in for their former bosses… by re-electing someone who’s best contribution to the economic crisis has been to give free bailout money to corporations who haven’t earned it, while driving up the deficit and the debt to historic proportion? I’m not saying the Republicans are clean on this. They are not. And part of Mitt’s expectation — assuming he wins — will be for him to be an authentically anti-bailout, anti-debt, anti-deficit President despite his own party. For Mitt to win in November — and win again in 2016 — he’s got to convince people he’s the good business man, not the business-as-usual business man. I think he’s got the best shot of any Republican candidate. Whether or not this is enough to topple Obama… I remain hopefully optimistic. Not wholly convinced. But hopefully optimistic. I think Obama’s a decent guy who is in over his head and tacking in the wrong direction, for these economic times. I see Mitt as the best available remedy. Not the best possible, just the best available. At least where the Oval Office is concerned. He will have to deal with Congress and the Senate like anyone else in those shoes.

  83. @Brad:

    Maybe getting fired lots is the way things work /now/, but some years ago, there was something called a career. People worked for the same manufacturing company for 40 years.

    What makes this particularly delicious is that the era in which this was the reality is the same one conservatives have spent the past two decades stirring up BS nostalgia for, simultaneously with their “corporations good” message. They have a lot of their own momentum to undo in one election year; I’m reminded of Wile E. Coyote running over the cliff’s edge and looking down before gravity kicks in.

  84. Some of us understand that firing — and hiring — are part of the cycle. You get the next job and life goes on.

    Wow, Brad. It must be wonderful to have so much money and privilege that being fired from one’s just merits more than a casual shrug. As opposed to, oh, I don’t know, wondering how you’re going to pay the electric bill or the rent next money. It’s precisely this attitude that got Romney spun in the media; the attitude that Romney is one of the bosses doing the firing, who sure as shit doesn’t have to worry about his job, because his worst-case scenario is a golden parachute. Was it taken out of context? Absolutely. Did it hit a sore spot for rather a lot of people? Well, yeah.

    BTW, the “SOME of us aren’t foolish nitwits and grasp the truth” shtick isn’t getting any better with age.

  85. After Bush the Younger, we don’t need ‘ordinary’. We need bright, innovative, intelligent, deep. Obama has the latter two, but he’s lock-stepped with modern liberalism. Not that Romney will break the mold he was cast in.

    I wish Huntsman had taken NH; for all our sakes I hope he doesn’t drop out.

  86. Maybe there are enough bitter and vengeful victims of the hatchet

    Yeah, Brad, that’s what they are: irrational, horrible people who can’t take a long term view of the world, where it’s just a perfectly normal thing to happen, and if they happen to lose everything as a result, they should just shrug and accept it.

    The “firing” gaffe is not a gaffe at all

    You know, since Romney’s campaign ran an ad that deliberately and mendaciously misquoted Obama, I’m joyful that the same thing is going to happen to Romney. That quote is going to be running every 30 seconds throughout the national campaign in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. Enjoy.

  87. Oh, man. Brad, there’s so much wrong with your posts, I almost don’t know where to start

    The “firing” gaffe is not a gaffe at all. Oh, it might play well with people who would never vote for Mitt under any circumstances, but the lengths to which Mitt’s opponents have already gone to manufacture this thing into a problem, are somewhat amusing.

    It’s not that the firing thing is a gaffe on it’s own. It’s that it’s part of a consistent narrative that Romney seems to be building all on his own of either clueless elitism, inability to articulate real-world concepts, or both. He’s a man who’s lived a privileged life since birth, and he tells people that he’s worried about getting a pink slip. He tells people he’s unemployed because he’s not actually working, but is still pulling down millions in pay from his various Wall Street venture. He refuses to release his tax records because there’s a close to 100% chance that he’s being taxed well under most Americans thanks to tax loopholes. He claims he’s part of the middle class, but is worth over $200 million. He thinks foreclosures should continue until we–in his word–hit rock bottom. Yes, some of these are taken out of context, but this is the guy who famously took one sentence of Obama’s that was the complete opposite of the context, and has defended as it normal campaigning ever since. Karma’s a bitch.

    I’ve been fired before. Not recently, but it has happened. Some of us understand that firing — and hiring — are part of the cycle. You get the next job and life goes on. Unless the economy is in the tank, and there are few jobs being created. If this is the best ammo Romney’s opponents can come up with, it’s rather shallow and easily brushed aside.

    If you’d been fired before, then you would know that no one calls it “firing,” nor do they express interest in doing so. Of course, Romney represents the exact hiring and firing via buyouts and predatory trading that got us into this mess in the first place, since he didn’t actually run the companies that did the hiring and firing, just invested in them, often quite poorly or with malice aforethought. That’s a problem, whether you think it’s shallow or not. Personally, the only truly shallow part of the criticism is that he used “like” and “fire” in the same sentence. But it makes for good video, and as Romney’s team likes to point out, that’s fair game now.

    What the anti-Romney campaigns really need is a serious moral fuck-up. A mistress who comes forward, a secret gay lover, a herd of we-done-wrongs reporting on a major Mitt back-stab. Which has not materialized, nor do I expect any such to materialize.

    Nor will it, and even if it did, it wouldn’t make a difference. See also: Rev Wright, the mythical Michelle Obama “Whitey” tape, Gennifer Flowers et al, Whitewater, W’s alcoholism and cocaine days, and a host of other serious moral fuck-ups (or attempts to create them) that didn’t stop presidential candidates from taking the WH.

    The curious part about Mitt is how he just kind of cruises past the chickenshit complaints, and keeps creeping up in the polls. And this is the one Team Obama says they can beat with one arm tied behind their backs? I think they’re misunderestimating the Mittster. (yes, I wrote that exactly the way you read it!)

    Are you serious? It’s a down economy with a president that has been unpopular more than not in the last year. Most candidates (that aren’t Newt-style crazy) would be measuring the WH drapes by now. And anyone who knows anything about politics knows that Obama’s campaign isn’t taking this lightly. They’ve already started tapping volunteers to update info from 2008, and seem to have more and better state-level organizations than the GOP candidates combined.

    No, Romney said, “I like being able to fire people.” The word able is a huge key. And he said it in the context of a consumer being able to make choices. This is basic stuff for fiscal conservatives, for whom choice in the consumer market is a big deal.

    Actually, it’s not all that much better put into context. First of all, when taken into context of the health care he was talking about, it was a defense of health-care exchanges, an integral part of both his and Obama’s health care plans. The major difference is that Obama care doesn’t let your health care company fire you just because you happen to have cancer or a difficult pregnancy or special needs. Second, it’s tone-deaf, since Mitt has never had to worry about health care as anything but a service, rather than a necessary. That’s fine for him, but a lot of people (you could easily make the argument for most) don’t have anywhere near that level of access. There are millions of lower-class women without adequate access to pre-natal and infant care, for instance. Most companies don’t provide the top-shelf care he’s had all his life, and even if they do, it’s limited to executives. It’s impossible (or nearly so) for most Americans who are denied coverage to just blithely fire their insurance company and then go buy a better policy.

    Doubtless it’s bogey-man scary for unionists and some progressives, but then Romney’s comment was never intended for the unions or the progressive ear.

    Really, we’re going with “unionists” as a perforative? Is this 19th-century England? In any case, unions membership is a mere fraction of what it was in the post-war period (and what conservatives still believe). Almost as an aside, economically, this was a period of high growth and employment, expansion of infrastructure and manufacturing (what you likely would derogatorily refer to as “stimulus”), and marginal tax rates almost 3 times higher than they are now.

    Ironically, those who’ve tried to blow it up and paint Romney as Scrooge McDuck have actually done for Romney what Romney’s struggled to do for himself: illustrate plainly where and how Romney is, in fact, a fiscal conservative champion — in contrast to his peers — and a businessman who understands Economics 101 in ways the permanent Beltway class does not.

    Or, alternatively could show people that, in reality, how business acumen almost never translates to how national or international economies work. After all, a CEO who puts a large chunk of his workforce out of a job and produces roughly the same amount of product generates a profit to the company and shareholders. But in an entire economy, the workforce are also the shareholders (aka consumers), and they don’t get that profit sharing thanks to trade, inflation, and the like.

    I foresee problems for Obama if he attacks Romney on this. Such a complaint plays well among those who’d never vote for Romney in the first place, but among conservatives and moderates with a modicum of business and economic acumen, Romney’s comment is just fine.

    See above as to how “business acumen” is meaningless when expanded many factors to an entire economy.

    Maybe there are enough bitter and vengeful victims of the hatchet who want nothing more than to take their anger out on a stand-in for their former bosses… by re-electing someone who’s best contribution to the economic crisis has been to give free bailout money to corporations who haven’t earned it, while driving up the deficit and the debt to historic proportion?

    Sooooo much wrong here. First of all, the consensus among economists on the financial bailout was that it was shitty and the companies took advantage of it, but doing nothing would have been worse. And bailouts elsewhere have worked, often phenomenally. For instance, 3 years ago GM was on the ropes, and the bailout was widely derided amongst conservatives who claimed to have a “modicum” of business knowledge as ineffective SOCIALISM(!) of the worst kind. In less than two years, GM was able to give that money back and then some. This year, they’re expected to–brace yourself–retake the global lead in car sales. And Solyndra notwithstanding, the alternative energy industry has done better than it did with any other president, and is starting to generate results even in states that would be resistant to admit it, such as Virginia.

    I’m not saying the Republicans are clean on this. They are not. And part of Mitt’s expectation — assuming he wins — will be for him to be an authentically anti-bailout, anti-debt, anti-deficit President despite his own party.

    Well, then he’s doing a piss-poor job of at least two of those. His tax cuts, for instance, exceed even that of the 2003 Bush versions. Considering that in the current economy those tax cuts are responsible for more of the deficit than both wars, the stimulus, TARP and other bailouts and the economic downturn combined? Well, to use a phrase I know you’re gonna hate, that’s not change, that’s more of the same (or worse, since both the debt and the deficit get exponentially larger over the next decade unless said tax cuts are repealed or allowed to expire).

    He will have to deal with Congress and the Senate like anyone else in those shoes.

    I love how you’ve gone this entire time laying all this blame for America’s problems pretty much solely on Obama’s feet (or at least without mentioning Congress), and suddenly, Romney magically has to deal with Congress like anyone else. It’s as if there’s a fantasy world where the de facto 60-vote Senate didn’t exist thanks to GOP filibusters, where Obama had no defections from his own supposed allies like Nelson or Lieberman or Manchin or Landreiu on major legislation, where Franken was sworn in immediately and Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd were around until the 2010 elections, and where a off-the-wall crazy House GOP majority just didn’t exist for the last year, arguing for keeping “In God We Trust” on currency (est. 1956, not 1776) and redefining rape to mean it didn’t matter unless you were savagely beaten.

  88. I’m getting quite a few chuckles out of the protestations above that Pres. Obama is “liberal” or “progressive” (much less a Socialist – which is utter nonsense for anyone to whom words have actual meanings).

    There is a Left Wing in the U.S. with whom I feel some sympathy, esp. regarding social issues (e.g. repealing DADT, supporting same-sex marriage, and the like). But they, like me, realize that it’s the President, not Romney, who is most properly labeled “Republican Lite.” Egads! the man is basically a bit right of center on practically anything of substance. The Left will simply hold its collective nose and vote for him this Fall the same way most of the hard Right will do for Romney. But they certainly don’t see Pres. Obama as one of their own…

  89. Bush took the majority of his “vacation” to his home in Crawford, TX whereas Obama has gone to Martha’s Vineyard and rented homes in Hawaii (and Indonesia if memory serves, though that probably was an official trip so that really doesn’t count) and spent tons of taxpayer money for his vacations

    I can’t even begin to imagine what you think you’re arguing, here. Did Bush fly commercial to get back to his “home”? (which I note got sold right after he left office for a cozy place in Houston) Did he not take Air Force One? Did the Secret Service not accompany Bush during his “vacations”? (cute use of scare quotes there). If the answer to both of those are “no”, then the costs to the taxpayer were the same for both Bush and Obama.

    The difference is that Bush spent 2.5 years on vacation and Obama has spent 26 days. One of them actually tried to be President; the other was more interested in photo ops of him cutting brush.

    But they, like me, realize that it’s the President, not Romney, who is most properly labeled “Republican Lite.”

    Oh piffle. Look, I’m no happier that the American political spectrum has shifted to the right over the past few decades, but let’s not do this “Democrat in name only” thing, or we’ll end up voting for Ralph Nader. In the current day political scene, Obama is a moderate Democrat.

  90. Wow, I never figured SM Stirling to be a troll.

    You do know what condescending means, don’t you?

  91. Saint Timonious:

    I’d be happy if you didn’t make ad hominem attacks on other commenters here, please. If you have a problem with his argument, address it instead.

  92. Beware: long response, to the continued “firing” thing…

    I am sympathetic to those who’ve lost work. No, really.

    I’ve been fired 4 or 5 times in my 21 years in the work force, and I’ve been laid off exactly once. My wife has also been fired and/or laid of several times in the same span. Each time for both of us it was an event of no small magnitude in our humble house, and if it happened again today it would still be an event of no small magnitude. I “get” the life storm that a firing or a layoff can bring. Been there, done that. May do it again. In 2009 I was very, very close to getting axed — by a (now former) boss who was on the hot seat himself, and trying to take others down with him. It made for a very stressful year.

    My point is that the era of eternal job security — if it ever existed at all, which I doubt — has long since passed. The modern vocational or professional person must expect transition. There are ways to stay ahead of the curve. To see the layoffs and the firings before they happen. To store up a sufficient reserve for the transition points, so that when they come, they don’t wreck everything down to the ground. I think many people have learned this the way my wife and I did: the hard way.

    And there are tons of people with their heads in the sand. Who persist in believing that the job they have now is the job they should have forever, and that if ever they are fired or layed off, it is an act of the utmost and supreme evil, curse those devil bosses in their shiny top hats, twirling their finely-waxed handlebar mustaches, saying, “Nyah nyah nyah!”

    Many of these same Americans happily plunder their credit cards and run up fantastic amounts of consumer debt on “things” while putting not a cent aside for a potential rainy day. My wife and I used to be among these people. We learned better as we got older, and after enough life storms taught us the hard trick of living more sensibly, and taking action to jump to new jobs when the clouds of the tempest are still far on the horizon. Not on your doorstep.

    Romney must sound like a horrible man, if you’re a head-in-the-sand type. ZOMG he said he likes to fire people, oh noes!

    For those who are in touch with the new reality — which seems not so new, and in fact appears to have been the norm for at least the last 25 years, or more — Romney does not sound evil. He sounds like a realist. Companies need to compete, and to compete you occasionally have to cut staff and/or prune the unproductive. Sucks. Sure thing. I’ve been on the shit end of that stick many times. It’s a real gut punch. But expecting companies to take on and keep staff forever…. unreal. Literally.

    Now, we might argue about golden parachutes, and corporate millionaires skating across the gulfs while the poor working class take it in the shorts over and over and over… but I don’t think Romney was defending golden parachutes or corporate graft of the sort that’s been highlighted in the last few years among the “bankster” set. Trying to spin it as if Romney was defending golden parachutes and corporate graft, or that he likes firing poor innocent working people, you know, because he’s a dirty rotten bastard deep down in his rich little black heart of hearts… it’s just silly. Populist, for sure. But still silly. And I don’t think it will fly in November. Not with the 51% necessary to win.

  93. Brad, again: it’s not very persuasive to suggest that the only reason somebody might perceive Romney as an elitist – or more charitably, that he has an image problem – is that they are “silly”, that they “have their head in the sand”, that they just aren’t as hip to the modern workplace as you are, etc etc. It may make you feel better or more superior to those who disagree with you, but it’s kinda missing the point.

    What’s coming across is that you really like Romney and think he’s a fiscal conservative. That’s swell, but that’s orthogonal to the problem: image matters. That’s why the previous President’s handlers put in so much effort to paint him as a down-home, average Joe, despite the moneyed family and the Yale education and the playboy lifestyle up until middle age. That’s why Obama’s people trumpet when he goes to a hamburger stand. That’s why John Edwards took a huge hit for his $400 haircut, and why the senior George Bush got merry hell for wondering aloud at the miracle of supermarket scanners. Rich-guy credentials tell the majority of voters “this guy has no clue what your life is like”.

    More prosaically – I promise that you are not the only person wise enough to have noticed that the economy changed a little, or that lifetime employment and corporate loyalty (to the degree they ever existed) are gone, gone, gone. You are committing the error of assuming that people who are afraid of losing their jobs cannot possibly be responsible spenders, or aware of the world today, or simply too stupid or lazy to stay ahead of the curve. Whatever that means.

    TL;DR: I urge you to consider that people who are struggling, and fearful for their jobs (if they have them) are motivated by something other than an amusing lack of perspective coupled with a heaping scoop of frivolity-related debt. Otherwise, you sound less like someone arguing against Romney’s image and more like a cheerleader for that image.

  94. My point is that the era of eternal job security — if it ever existed at all, which I doubt — has long since passed

    That doesn’t mean you need to enjoy firing people.

  95. Mythago, image is precisely the issue. Obama was all image, and I think 2012 voters are wanting more than just a picture of a man upon whom they will load hopes and dreams and imaginings for which no mortal can possibly account. This was Obama’s greatest triumph — the savior of us all! — and it is Obama’s greatest failure. Because he couldn’t possibly deliver on even half of what was expected of him, and on the other half, he’s outright contradicted himself, or struck middling bargains, or simply ignored his base and been a money and power broker for cronyists in the public and private sectors.

    The notion that was put forth in the rebuttals to me was that Romney hung himself with the “firing” quip and that somehow the struggling middle class will reject Romney because they will associate the “firing” quip with all the job loss and heart-ache that’s been going around since the housing loan and market collapse touched off the general recession. Ergo, Romney will be ‘punished’ for his verbal error — and for generally being a rich SOB like all the other rich SOBs — when people march to the polls and re-elect… Obama? Obama’s got even more to answer for, and less ground to stand on, than Romney. At least where issues of jobs and economics are concerned.

    This is Obama’s economy. Rightly or fairly, or not, the sitting President always “owns” the economy after four years in office. Obama’s going to need twice as much populist zeal as he did the first time, to convince people the economy is a) not his fault and that b) he’s actually their best hope for recovery. I don’t think there is enough shine left on Obama’s apple, for this line to stick. He’s coordinated and permitted and aided and applauded too much cronyist activity. To the chagrin of all the Hope’n’Changers who were awed by him in 2008.

    Mitt needs 51% to win. The operating assumption among Obama supporters is that the working-class middle will rally to Obama, because Mitt is a clueless rich bastard. I don’t think the working middle-class is that wholly gullible, actually. Oh, a lot of us are true blue Left and would never vote for Mitt under any circumstances. No question about it. I know more than a few who are in the tank for Obama. And if people want to say I am in the tank for Romney, I won’t argue it. I like Mitt. Have thought well of him since he cleaned up the Olympics. Thought it raw of the Republicans to ditch him in 2008. And am pleased to see him come back and press forward towards the nomination despite all the shit he’s taken from his own party en route.

    Cronyism is the linchpin. Who is the man more likely to combat it, and who is the man who is most vulnerable to charges of being a cronyist? If we define cronyism as the act of funneling tax dollars to corporations, so that those corporations can avoid competing in the real market, then Obama’s on the hot seat. If we define cronyist as any rich dude who’s ever been a corporate man ever, then maybe Mitt’s on the hot seat? Obama’s team will hammer him endlessly on Bain. I just don’t think selling Mitt as a job-cutting corporate vulture rich asshole will wash with the economically sensible. Especially not when people like Staples’ or Sports Authority’s former CEO vouch for him. Who will vouch for Obama? Goldman-Sachs? Citigroup? JP Morgan? Banksters??

  96. Brad, clearly for *you*, the comment about firing will not affect your unadulterated love for Mitt. And you can claim that the only people who will give the firing comment any weight are people who are die hard left wingers anyway.

    But I think you are projecting wishful thinking or perhaps more likely a lack of empathy to stand in anyone’s shoes who has been fired and had their job shipped overseas or knows someone who had that experience, and imagine how they would feel about Mitt’s comment if they arent a die-hard republican like you.

    And I am saying this as someone who voted Obama and hates him for every campaign promise he has broken since being elected. I am not loyal to the president. I am loyal to certain progressive principles like due process, a fair tax system, and suficient market regulation to prevent tragedy of the commons and prisoner dillemma type issues from playing out.

    Unfortunately for me, Obama is quite a ways to the right of those progressive views. Also unfortunately for me, every Republican candidate against Obama is simply more to the right than Obama is.

    Any Republican who hates Obama has to be an extreme right wing republican, or a bigot, or simply basing their response off of labels like Democrat rather than Obama’s actual actions while in office. The tea party for example is far, far, far right wing and nothing short of the complete destruction of the government will satisfy tuem.

  97. @ Brad 12:51 “I just don’t think selling Mitt as a job-cutting corporate vulture rich asshole will wash with the economically sensible. Especially not when people like Staples’ or Sports Authority’s former CEO vouch for him.”

    Not sure how having CEOs and former CEOs vouch for you helps much when the attack is that you’re an out-of-touch corporate suit.

  98. My point is that the era of eternal job security — if it ever existed at all, which I doubt — has long since passed.

    Red herring. Unless you’ve got non-anecdotal evidence of such, I don’t believe very many people actually believe this.

    The modern vocational or professional person must expect transition. There are ways to stay ahead of the curve. To see the layoffs and the firings before they happen. To store up a sufficient reserve for the transition points, so that when they come, they don’t wreck everything down to the ground. I think many people have learned this the way my wife and I did: the hard way.

    But that’s no the way that Bain worked. They didn’t really give people a chance to see the layoffs before they happened. Take Ampad for instance: Bain invests $5 million in the company in 1992. By 1996, it’s getting 53% compound annual growth in net sale,s totaling $200 million (up from $9 million in 1992) and ends up going public. You’d think the employees, or at least the company itself, would have benefitted, right? Well, you’d be wrong. As early as 1995, before the company went public thanks to a fantastic year, factories were being closed and workers dismissed. By 2000, Ampad’s profits are in the tube, yet Bain walks away with well over $100 million in dividends for stockholders. You’d figure that a company that had managed to generate a 2000% return on their investment would, I don’t know, put that money back into the company and find a way to reward employees. Instead, they loot the company, and it ends up filing for bankruptcy. So, tell me how were people supposed to stay ahead of that curve? Who expects to have their factory closed and be laid off during a landmark year in sales?

    And there are tons of people with their heads in the sand. Who persist in believing that the job they have now is the job they should have forever, and that if ever they are fired or layed off, it is an act of the utmost and supreme evil, curse those devil bosses in their shiny top hats, twirling their finely-waxed handlebar mustaches, saying, “Nyah nyah nyah!”

    Many of these same Americans happily plunder their credit cards and run up fantastic amounts of consumer debt on “things” while putting not a cent aside for a potential rainy day. My wife and I used to be among these people. We learned better as we got older, and after enough life storms taught us the hard trick of living more sensibly, and taking action to jump to new jobs when the clouds of the tempest are still far on the horizon. Not on your doorstep.

    Again, please show us even a shred of evidence that this is the prevailing notion or that could refute mythago.

    For those who are in touch with the new reality — which seems not so new, and in fact appears to have been the norm for at least the last 25 years, or more — Romney does not sound evil. He sounds like a realist. Companies need to compete, and to compete you occasionally have to cut staff and/or prune the unproductive. Sucks. Sure thing. I’ve been on the shit end of that stick many times. It’s a real gut punch. But expecting companies to take on and keep staff forever…. unreal. Literally.

    Of course, expecting companies to do that is another one of your red herrings to begin with. In the meantime, read about Ampad and the other 30% of Bain investments under Romney’s lead that either filed for bankruptcy , shut down, or were proven to be investment losses for Bain. They all had the same story. Now tell me who’s not in touch with a “new reality” and how Romney (or at least Bain) shouldn’t seem anything less than business as usual types.

    Now, we might argue about golden parachutes, and corporate millionaires skating across the gulfs while the poor working class take it in the shorts over and over and over… but I don’t think Romney was defending golden parachutes or corporate graft of the sort that’s been highlighted in the last few years among the “bankster” set.

    Except that he was engaging in it, of course.

    Trying to spin it as if Romney was defending golden parachutes and corporate graft, or that he likes firing poor innocent working people, you know, because he’s a dirty rotten bastard deep down in his rich little black heart of hearts… it’s just silly. Populist, for sure. But still silly. And I don’t think it will fly in November. Not with the 51% necessary to win.

    Sure, Romney probably isn’t evil in the accepted sense of the word, but the best I could give him is callously insensitive. And I know you believe it’s silly, and a lot of other people do too. That doesn’t mean it’s not true or that you’re not wrong. Whether or not that will work in the general, who knows? But there’s plenty of ammo there.

  99. I apologize. I was wrong to be a jerk.

    Mr. Stirling, if I understand you, you say that what a word means depends on its context. I agree. Yet, you define what conservative and liberals believe what “elitist” means in one context: the conservative one.

    You also say:
    “A solid majority of the actual working class vote Republican; this shows that fundamental economic issues are simply not on the political table in this country.”

    You’d have to define working class and solid majority.

    So, maybe. This majority wasn’t very solid in 2008, though. Obama actually won that demographic:

    http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls/#USP00p1

    or here:

    http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1023/exit-poll-analysis-2008

    In 2010, it shifted, but not by much; it’s definitely not a solid majority. I think it shifted for two reasons: because of economic reasons (And the party in power is primarily held responsible for the economy), and the Republicans convinced enough old, white people that Obama cut Medicare, and disguised their position enough.

    In 2010, Dems won 54% of the vote of those making less than $50K (versus 43% for Republicans), and 49% of the vote of those making less than $100K (versus 48% for Republicans):

    http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2010/results/polls/#USH00p1

    You could argue that what’s left of the Democratic Party may not represent the working class as well as it used to. I’d agree. There is still a large progressive base in the Democratic Party, and in the Congress that does still represent the working class.

    I agree that that most politicians are rich, and they reflect the needs of the class that they come from, as well as those from whom they raise money. I do not agree that economic issues are not on the political table in this country, unless you mean for one particular party. I think the party in charge gets the blame or responsibility for the current economy. Political marketing brings up other issues that may not be as important as the economy.

  100. @Jesse: your core contention seems to be that Bain destroyed businesses for Bain’s own profit, thus destroying jobs for people who’d otherwise have had them without Bain’s meddling, yes? That every company that failed post-Bain was a victim of Bain’s “vulture capitalism?” I want to be sure I understand your contention and have it right, before I respond.

    @Greg: I voted Perot, Clinton, Gore, Bush, and a write-in for 2008. I have never registered with any party. Yes, clearly I am a Republican.

    Also, didn’t I just point out that my wife and I have been fired and laid off before? That we ourselves are dead-center middle-class people? We’ve sailed the rough seas of the firing and the layoff. We know.

    Empathy I have in plenty.

    But not so much that I can’t see how many other middle-classers need to either adjust their thinking, or adjust their spending and saving habits, or both.

    If my middle-class fellows want to flip Mitt the bird and expect an Obama administration to rescue them while they stare at mountains of revolving debt, little or no personal savings, drowning in consumer products stuffing homes chained to variable interest rate loans (they should have known better than to take) all I can say is: good luck with that.

    Sometimes, the middle-class is right to complain. And sometimes, the middle-class needs to grow up.

    And I have no doubt that Mitt-the-corporate-vulture-rich-SOB will frighten off loads of voters. Not just left-wingers. Not just Democrats. Mitt’s not bowling over the hard-core Paulists any time soon. There is a lot of nose-holding happening — if it’s happening at all. Many Republicans and conservatives and moderates are unconvinced. Many.

    I just think Mitt-the-economically-sensible-manager-with-a-good-cleanup-record will happen to resonate with enough of a percentage to secure the W in November. Barring a miraculous economic turnaround in 10 months, or a colossal scandal of some sort breaking out in the Romney camp.

    If Mitt performs well in South Carolina and Florida, I may even soften on my belief that the Bible Belt would sooner eat its collective hat than vote for a Devil Mormon.

  101. I think Romney’s speech last night starts him on the road to now building some enthusiasm with the base. That and putting Marco Rubio on the ticket. He’ll need some enthusiastic support from the Tea Party crowd and he’ll need some bona fide support with social conservatives. Rubio probably delivers them both. And Florida, too. But I think — and certainly hope — he can win in November.

    (I think a Rubio VP also makes this race all come down to Ohio. I hope you enjoy the view, Mr Scalzi).

  102. Brad, have you ever seen the youtube videos of people criticizing the Occupy movement? The people who say they have three jobs to make ends meet and they are the 54% or whatever percent it is that pays taxes? Being in the middle class as far as income goes has nothing to do with whether that person actually identifies with the middle class or not. Anyone arguing ‘I made it, you should suck it up too” isnt exdemonstrating empathy but rather the complete opposite. They’re saying in effect ‘my experience covers every one else’s experience. everyone should ne able to do exactly what I do and get by just as good as I am” and tohell with the differences introduced by reality.

    Much of the republican plarform is focused o n getting people to vote against what is in their own personal best interests in favor of ideology positions like “abortion is wrong” or “only lazy people collect unemployment” or whatevrr.

    So when you say you were laid off or fired, that doesnt have anything to do with whether you have any empathy to speak for people who have been laid off or fired as a whole.

    The difference between you and I here is that while you keep trying to speak for everyone, I am simply trying to point out that you are too biased to claim that pulpit. If you simply said you were Mitt’s man, fine. But to keep coming across with these statements about how everyone but the die hard democrats are going to vote is just foolishness. You are far too biased to be taken seriously around those kinds of statememts. If you want to speak for the Mitt supporters, go right ahead.

    I was laid off right at the worse part of the crash. I would spend hours every day going theough want ads looking for work. it took me almost a year ti find a job. if it hadnt been for unemployment extensions I probably would have lost my house. I wont try to claim to speak for everyone who has been fired. But what I can say is that the economy has definitely gotten better since I was unemployed. For that near year, there were probably 3 recruiters who called with jobs. everything else was jobs I found in want ads and other places like that. I am now getting probably 3 or 4 calls a month for job openings. If Obama owns the economy like you say, he also owns whatever improvements have been made since being elected. And I clearly see improvements. Not perfect, but it is better from where I am looking.

    Note, I am not trying to speak for anyone but myself there. It would improve your believability if you ciuld do the same.

  103. @Brad: it shows a startling lack of empathy to lecture people fearful about their future by suggesting they’re ostriches, profligate, or are simply not in the elite “some of us” who have enough sang froid to be relaxed about unemployment. It’s particularly clueless when retconned as an admonishment to the “middle class”, as if a) the working class isn’t worth discussing and b) you and your wife and some of your buds overdid it a little at Best Buy ergo that must be everyone’s problem.

    That said, the problem is NOT that you are in the tank for Romney. The problem is that you are trying to persuade others to jump into the tank, and you’re failing spectacularly, because your arguments ultimately boil down to OMG ROMNEY. You cannot, it seems, perceive the difference between addressing concerns and dismissing them.

    The ‘firing’ line did not happen in a vacuum. It is part of a long string of Clueless Rich Dude comments. That, coupled with his extreme wealth, means that he (and you, as an advocate) need to alleviate people’s concerns and explain why he DOES care about the little folks, and how his policies have and will help the economically stressed.

    But arguing that anyone concerned by ‘corporations are people’ is simply living in the past and clearly needs to spend less money on video games actually reinforces the message you claim you are trying to counter.

  104. Brad: “And sometimes, the middle-class needs to grow up”

    You just lost any claim to empathy right there. Dismissing any person who disagrees with you as childish isnt *empathy*. It is NOT putting yourself in the shoes of someone with a different opinion and trying to see their point of view. It is amlmost the antithesis of empathy, which would be best summed up in the word “indifference”. You know? That thing that people keep saying is wrong with the 1% running the country? Its because they are only 1% of the people while maintaining something like 70% of the influence while being completely *indifferent* to the problems faced by those not as rich as they are. Indifference.

    Feel free to stop pretending you speak for the entire middle class any time now.

  105. @Jesse: your core contention seems to be that Bain destroyed businesses for Bain’s own profit, thus destroying jobs for people who’d otherwise have had them without Bain’s meddling, yes? That every company that failed post-Bain was a victim of Bain’s “vulture capitalism?” I want to be sure I understand your contention and have it right, before I respond.

    Man, you’re really all about the diversions today, aren’t you? In essence, no I’m not going to bite on your old “prove a hypothetical while I claim anecdata as fact” ruse that you’ve tried before. I’m refuting your assertions that:

    1) Romney doesn’t have a history of being tone-deaf before the whole firing gaffe
    2) That Romney has actual fiscal conservative bonafides rather than the conservative/right-leaning libertarian perception of such
    3) That said bonafides confer business smarts to the people who fall for it
    4) Being fired seems to be entirely due to people willfully ignoring what should have been obvious
    5) The problems thereafter are the fault of inadequate preparation, but mainly people being financial idiots rather than misled by banks and companies like Bain
    6) That Obama is allowed to own the faults of the economy but not any successes or attempts to fix it
    6a) That neither actions under Bush and GOP Congresses nor obstructionism via minority rule need be mentioned
    7) That Romney somehow operated as a reasonably moral capitalist rather than profiteering

    None of these have been addressed by you in any way that was backed up..

    Also, didn’t I just point out that my wife and I have been fired and laid off before? That we ourselves are dead-center middle-class people? We’ve sailed the rough seas of the firing and the layoff. We know.

    Empathy I have in plenty.

    Obviously, you don’t, given your previous statements and the rest of your post (see below).

    But not so much that I can’t see how many other middle-classers need to either adjust their thinking, or adjust their spending and saving habits, or both.

    If my middle-class fellows want to flip Mitt the bird and expect an Obama administration to rescue them while they stare at mountains of revolving debt, little or no personal savings, drowning in consumer products stuffing homes chained to variable interest rate loans (they should have known better than to take) all I can say is: good luck with that.

    Sometimes, the middle-class is right to complain. And sometimes, the middle-class needs to grow up.

    Y’know, we’re still waiting for you to back this assertion up with anything that’s not something out of “The Fountainhead.” Nevermind the fact that variable interest loans looked fantastic during the housing boom of the 2000s, in essence because people were being hoodwinked by the banks, it’s obviously all their fault for not having Ph.ds in macroeconomics or CPAs. Never mind that almost all of the problems coming from the financial crisis was how the banks mishandled the money after it was in their hands, it’s all the fault of people for trusting the banks, who are trustworthy except when they’re not and no they can’t tell you when that is, no one would understand anyway. Never mind that “consumer products” is made up largely of products essential to those with tiring jobs with long hours, such as refrigerators, heaters, air conditioners, microwaves. No, the middle class is just a bunch of thankless whiners or those urban welfare queens that Reagan talked about, buying nothing but flatscreens and Escalades and Nike Airs. If they were only those omniscient Heinleinesque/Randian bootstrappy archetypes, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Sure, let’s put the onus on them and not the people who played with the money in the first place.

    I’m not seeing hardly empathy at all, here. I’m seeing Fox News and Ron Paul, just barely avoiding the usual dog-whistles, which I will give you at least some credit (just a tiny bit) for.

    I just think Mitt-the-economically-sensible-manager-with-a-good-cleanup-record will happen to resonate with enough of a percentage to secure the W in November. Barring a miraculous economic turnaround in 10 months, or a colossal scandal of some sort breaking out in the Romney camp.

    If this was the case or his record, why hasn’t Romney already sealed the deal? Why is it that he still falls under Obama in key battleground states, even those that are historically Republican? Why isn’t Romney at sky-high approval, or conversely Obama at sub-30s?

  106. David, 1/11/12, 9:32am: Oh piffle. Look, I’m no happier that the American political spectrum has shifted to the right over the past few decades, but let’s not do this “Democrat in name only” thing, or we’ll end up voting for Ralph Nader. In the current day political scene, Obama is a moderate Democrat.

    I respectfully disagree that my opinion counts as “piffle.” Never said the President was anything but a moderate Democrat, which is certainly the case as far as I can see. It’s just that what passes for “moderate Democrat” these days has little or nothing to do with being Liberal or Progressive in any, meaningful sense. Moderate Democrat ≈ Center to Center-Right on most issues for any, real Progressive.

    And I’m still vastly annoyed at Nader for his role in spoiling the 2000 presidential election.

  107. If my middle-class fellows want to flip Mitt the bird and expect an Obama administration to rescue them while they stare at mountains of revolving debt, little or no personal savings, drowning in consumer products stuffing homes chained to variable interest rate loans (they should have known better than to take) all I can say is: good luck with that.

    Attitudes like the above make the Republicans Obama’s single best electoral ally. Yay, GOP!

  108. Never said the President was anything but a moderate Democrat, which is certainly the case as far as I can see.

    David H. at 9:27 am “But they, like me, realize that it’s the President, not Romney, who is most properly labeled “Republican Lite.”

    I’ll repeat the “Oh, piffle,” thanks.

  109. Not a Romney (or GOP) fan, but he didn’t really say, he likes firing people. He said “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,”. and went on to say “You know, if someone doesn’t give me a good service that I need, I want to say, ‘I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.” Most people do this all the time. You don’t like the service at a restaurant you don’t go back.

  110. mythago and greg, I never deluded myself into thinking that I could change *your* opinions. We’ve observed each others’ stances long enough that I knew fully well that neither of you were going to vote for Romney. Your votes are foregone conclusion. I am mostly trying to point out that what passes for conventional wisdom in these threads, doesn’t necessarily hold true in other parts or for other people.

    mythago, I admit surprise that you differentiate between “working” and “middle” class. I have never made this distinction. I live in a solidly middle-class neighborhood. I am solidly middle-class myself. Whole lotta work happening in the middle-class. In fact, I’d say George Carlin was right: the middle class pays all of the taxes, and does all of the work. I think the middle-class has a lot going for it. But I struggle to connect the dots with middle-classers who would turn their backs on Romney due to his being “rich” or for being a Bain man.

    In fact, I’d recommend this video for anyone who is spooked by accusations of “vulture capitalism” and tries to trot out class warfare slogans against Romney. If it really were Jimmy Carter sitting in the White House in 2012, I’d say the class warfare artists were in the cat-bird seat. Carter being the last of the truly authentic “working man” Presidents to have come from humble means. But Obama is not Carter. Obama is as much of an elite (or moreso) than Romney, and he has richer and more powerful corporate friends. Whom he has been very adept at rewarding, I might add.

    If the answer to “….not Romney!” is four more years of Obama, who exactly is voting against his or her interests??

    I’ve got empathy for the middle-class and for the laid-off and for the fired. But as I’ve stated above, this empathy does not blind me to the fact that when it comes to the middle-class especially, my fellows have in many ways forgotten the hard lessons of their parents and their grandparents. Thrift is a vanishing value. Living within one’s means? Also a vanishing value. To the extent that I have empathy for my fellows, I chastise the rampant accumulation of revolving debt and the hoarding of “things” on borrowed funds. Likewise I chastise the purchasing of homes on poorly-termed loans which could have been avoided if people had done their due diligence. And been willing to tell themselves, “No.”

    Empathy isn’t just about patting someone on the head and saying, “Poor soul, oh yes, it’s so awful. Terrible. Yes, I know. Dreadful. Not a thing you could have done about it. Yes. Someone else’s fault, to be sure. My goodness, yes.”

    Of course, if we really take it that far we could say that nothing is the middle-class’s fault. That all has been heaped upon us and the lower-class unfairly and without our say-so. And in the case of the bloated Federal debt and deficit this would be partially correct. But when it comes to personal debt, ’tis not so. And I hope very much that no matter who wins in November, we middle-class take a long, hard look in the mirror and realize that no white knight is coming to rescue us from our own poor spending, poor saving, and poor foresight.

    If that sounds cruel or mean, I think it far crueler and more mean to pretend that we the middle-class are faultless and blameless and ought to change nothing. If we want the government to change for the better, we ourselves must change for the better, too.

  111. Brad, twisting empathy to mean first “pity” and then “blameless of any wron doing”, simply demonstrates that in addition to not *having* empathy, you more importantly don’t know what the word means.

    You worldview is fairly clear: anything that isnt rugged individualist, pull yourself up by your own nootstraps, do it all by myself, is an excuse for weakness, laziness, and a slippery slope to communism. That is tea party levl right-wingedness. Which is fine in and of itself. The problem for me is you keep trying to speak for the middle class undecided voters and you clearly dont fit that demographic. And you dont even know what empathy means, which would be the skill needed to try and understand someone’s point of view different than your own. I am not trying to change your views about Romney. They are obviously immovable. All I am trying to do is get you to stop speaking in the royal we and get you to stop pretending to be the representative speaker for the undecided voter, middle class, I have been laid off so I feel your pain, approach to the conversation on this thread.

    To put it in a more direct statement, try peppering the phrase “for me” in your comments to see how much you are speaking whats so for you and how much you are trying to pass off your opinion as the opinion of a larger group that you dont actually represent.

  112. With respect to liking being able to fire people, the context everyone is going on about is being able to fire your health insurance company if they treat you badly.

    The way things worked before Obamacare in the USA, unless you were very rich, your HI company could fire *you*, but your options were much more limited. Oh, my HI company decided to revoke (“recission”) my contract for dubious reasons just after I got a horrendous illness? Great, I’ll just switch providers, right? Except I’m too sick to fight and have a pre existing condition preventing me from from getting a different provider, even if I have a choice. (Many Americans’ have one choice decided by their employer.)

    Obamacare removed recission and PECs, and at least tries to broaden purchasing options for HI.

  113. likes to fire people, corporations are people too, bet you ten thousand dollars, etc.

    Romney certainly has been feeding Obama quite a few great one-liners with which to cast Rom ney as a corporatist hack. The only piece missing is Romney on tape saying “let them eat cake”, and given Romneys indifference, it would not surprise me in the least were he to have the cluelessness to utter such a phrase.

  114. Greg, the last thing I could possibly say is this: understanding someone’s viewpoint and agreeing with it are two very different things. You seem to be assuming that understanding automatically leads to agreement, and I don’t think that’s true at all.

    Mitt by 52% in November. That’s my bet. Not because I have no empathy and therefore hate the middle-class — hating myself? — but because I don’t think the middle-class will swallow “Hope and Change” a second time. Nor do I think the lessons of the last four years have been what many liberals assume them to be.

  115. ‘Bush took the majority of his “vacation” to his home in Crawford, TX whereas Obama has gone to Martha’s Vineyard and rented homes in Hawaii (and Indonesia if memory serves,’

    When Obama was growing up, he spent time in both Hawaii and Indonesia. Those are places he might call home just as honestly as George W. Bush, who was born in Connecticut, might call Texas home.

  116. “you differentiate between “working” and “middle” class. I have never made this distinction.”

    Man, this is just dangerously wrong. “Working class” is not synonymous with “middle-class”, nor has it ever been. Nor is one a subset of the other. A large part of the working class has never been, and most likely never will be, part of the middle class. These are often referred to as the “working poor”, which is a subset of the working class, but in reality encompasses a much larger portion of the working class. In fact, much of the working class only got into the middle class when the middle class expanded during the post-war era.

    Empathy is about understanding, yes. But if your understanding turns to admonishment, recrimination, and blame, then that’s not actually empathy. The empathetic man does not tell the man with a broken leg, “Walk it off, that’s what you get for being near these rocks in the first place.” Nor does the empathetic man pat the injured man on the head and start cursing the rocks. The empathetic man, being reminded of the pain the injured man is feeling, offers to help that man find a doctor, and to avoid the rocks in the future.

    “If we want the government to change for the better, we ourselves must change for the better, too.”

    Wait, you’re not suggesting that we are the change we have been waiting for, are you? Are you?

  117. Dunno if my comments were getting eaten or not, but Brad, the only person here making any of those assertions about the fecklessness and motivations of the middle class was you. And it’s being made with zero basis, even upon repeated requests for evidence.

    @Corey Feldman:

    In one of my early responses to Brad, I mention why the fact that the context of that quote (health care) makes no sense both in relation to the average American or Romney’s own past positions

  118. @Brad: I’m a registered Republican and have been for many years; I’m voting for somebody in the primary and it won’t be Obama. In your haste to assume everyone to the left of you is of one mind – really, you think Greg and I agree? – you show that you prefer the smug comfort of an ivory tower to the less-secure position of convincing the skeptical.

    So far, your answer to comments (hardly limited to me or Greg) about Romney’s image problem is denial and attack, not substance. That suggests that either you are so pro-Romney you are unwilling and unable to point out why this is a false image; or, perhaps, that you don’t see a problem with ‘yay rich guys’. Which is fine, but really, most people need to hear more than “Nuh UH”.

    As for the working class, I am frankly astonished that you choose not to see any distinction between that and middle-class, and the comment about the middle class “working hardest” is nonsense.

  119. It’s also worth noting that some of the best sources for the information about Bain have been from the NY Post and the Wall Street Journal, both owned by Murdoch and neither known for being either lefty or moderate in outlook.

  120. And one more issue that Romney doesn’t seem to understand (emphasis mine):

    QUESTIONER: Did you suggest that anyone who questions the policies and practices of Wall Street and financial institutions, anyone who has questions about the distribution of wealth and power in this country, is envious? Is it about jealousy, or fairness?

    ROMNEY: You know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare. When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 percent versus one percent, and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent, you have opened up a wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God.

    QUESTIONER: Are there no fair questions about the distribution of wealth without it being seen as envy, though?

    ROMNEY: I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like. But the president has made it part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it will fail.

    Whether or not he thinks the attack will work (and obviously it’s in his interest to state that it won’t), to dismiss the anger at the people making millions as “envy” and that it’s ungodly, and then to say that it shouldn’t be a cause for protest is another example of his tone-deafness. “Let them eat cake” indeed.

  121. Brad@3:43; I asked you to use the phrase “for me” in your posts to stop speaking for groups you dont represent and you respond with sweeping statements about how the “middle class” amd how “liberals” will respond to Obama??? How do you claim to have any idea whatsoever to be able to speak for “liberals”??? No. Dont answer that question. No good can come of it.

    Out of curiosity, do you find it all odd that the disparate groups you claim to speak for all happen to match you position as well and those who dont match your views need to grow up and/or get their heads out of the sand????

    Really, I would be quite happy if you were able to limit your comments to speaking your own opinion rather than speaking for various seemingly random groups. But I am starting to doubt even that is an attainable goal.

  122. Jesse at 4:57:
    “99 percent versus one percent, and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent, you have opened up a wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God.”

    One thing that really wierds me out about GOP religious commentary is that they consistantly portray Jesus as on the side of the rich, or at least indifferent to to wealth. Didn’t they read his book? He wasn’t unclear…

  123. You know who else created a wave of [re]proach?

    “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

    Class warfare!

  124. @Brad

    As a member of the Middle Class, please stop promoting yourself as our spokesperson. Seriously. You are NOT helping us out by promoting a rich dude who made a living out of buying companies and firing people with no intent but to make a profit out of it. I know this may shatter your delicate Republican sensitivities, but many of us struggling to make enough money just to pay the bills really don’t care for a person who says his agenda is to deny us health insurance/care, after working sooooo hard to provide it for people in his own state. The Republican party loves to blabber on and on about “flip-plopping”, while pretending that there heir apparent pretender to the throne Mitt isn’t the pictorial definition of “flip-flop”.

    Mitt and the rest of the field of pretenders to the throne are nothing but a bunch of unsympathetic, unfeeling, non-empathetic psychos. I bid you adieu and buen noche.

    P.s. I spent 9 years in the Army and one of the things I promised to fight was domestic enemies. I hereby proclaim to one and all, the Republican part IS Domesticus Hostilis. May the burn in the hell they want everyone else to burn in.

    P.p.s. John if you decide to use the hammer on me, do so swiftly and without mercy… take me out of the world with extreme prejudice. In other words strike swift and hard!

  125. Digital Atheist:

    I do think condemning roughly a third of American voters as domestic enemies is a bit much, yes. A little more nuance would be nice. Let’s try for that moving forward.

  126. @ John

    Actually I agree with you to a certain extent on that. Truly I do. Yet living in a place where I am constantly told that I am stupid or shouldn’t be allowed to vote, or should shut the fuck up (yes that is a term I’ve heard) because my belief is that every one of us deserves the same rights as the others has made me a bit bitter in this regard. I apologize for my… err.. choice of words and hope that at some point everyone will take my mother’s philosophy: never judge someone by their color, place of birth, religion (or lack thereof), gender, or sexual orientation.

    Damn me for forgetting that, bless her.

  127. Two things to note about New Hampshire:

    1. Republican turnout was below 2008, when the voters were dispirited by eight years of Shrub. Good sign for the “enthusiasm gap.”

    2. Your twelfth place finisher? Barack Obama.

  128. Since Brad is not really the subject of this post and since he has in any case endeavored to move some of the side issues to his own blog –

    I don’t think the GOP is going to be able to pull a W and de-elitify Romney; it’s a little late, especially given that the guy keeps putting his foot in it. I suspect we’ll get more of a “class warfare” spin on it. And let’s face it, the wealthy corporate sponsors whose interests skew Republican *want* one of their own.

  129. As Patrick Nielsen Hayden has said, we’re in a class war, all right—and the other bastards shot first.

    I personally would like to see the Republican Party in pretty much the same position as the Whigs: of interest only to historians, not one anyone really belongs to any more. The Democrats are quite conservative enough to be the right in any sane country. What we need is a new party on the LEFT.

  130. I personally would like to see the Republican Party in pretty much the same position as the Whigs: of interest only to historians, not one anyone really belongs to any more.

    And then you have the situation we do at the state level in California, where the Democrats are not necessarily making anything better except for their party leaders, while the few Republicans driven enough to seek office are, for the most part, wackaloons. Not recommended.

    But then I’m old enough to remember when Reagan was thought conservative, so don’t mind me.

  131. Xopher wrote: The Democrats are quite conservative enough to be the right in any sane country. What we need is a new party on the LEFT.

    Exactly the piffle-ous point I was trying to make above ;) (e.g. Prime Minister Harper’s Conservative Party in Canada is practically indistinguishable from moderate Democrats here). The hard-right wing has plenty of choices here in the U.S., but the left ? Not so much. (Bernie Sanders maybe ?)

  132. Exactly the piffle-ous point I was trying to make above ;) (e.g. Prime Minister Harper’s Conservative Party in Canada is practically indistinguishable from moderate Democrats here). The hard-right wing has plenty of choices here in the U.S., but the left ? Not so much. (Bernie Sanders maybe ?)

    Double piffle. There’s no immutable political spectrum, abstract and forever unchanging. Each country has its own range of political issues that define “left” and “right”, and comparing the two and then complaining that the US is “too far” right is a silly thing to do. For example, in Britain, abortion is largely non-controversial. Both political parties support the right to choice. On the other hand, both political parties also support a level of civil rights intrusiveness and surveillance that would make Glenn Greenawald’s head explode (again, I know). So is Britain farther right or farther left than the US?

    The left would have _lots_ of choices if it could get its vote out (if that vote actually existed). Absent that, it doesn’t.

  133. I think some true progressive candidates would include Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren. Obama has clearly caved to corporate money. But Warren has been protecting regular folkss against wall street and Grayson is not afraid to call republicans on their bullshit. Both of them are extremely bright people. Warren is running for senate and Grayson is running for congress. They are running as democrats but they are clearly of the “progressive” flavor of the democrat party.

  134. There are a number of progressive Democrats (YMMV on if that number is too high or too low). However, none of them are running for president. In terms of “corporate money”, it’s not an apples to apples comparison. Also, Warren, at least, has yet to be elected to senate while eschewing corporate donations. And Senate campaigns are as different from House campaigns as they are from presidential campaigns. But now we’re running into that whole other can o’ worms called campaign finance.

    The most progressive Democratic presidential candidate in recent years, of course, was Kucinich. But he was largely laughed out of the room in the primaries, and the right painted him (not entirely unfairly) as a dangerous radical. In other words, he occupied the same place in the discussion as Ron Paul, just on the other side of the aisle.

    Note: I’m not saying Kucinich is equivalent to Paul, I’m saying he’s analogous. I’d happily vote for Dennis Kucinich. We agree on a lot of issues, but where we differ is neither deal-breaking nor terrifying.

  135. @Doc Rocketscience

    I’d vote for Kucinich in a heartbeat too, plus he has the best debate story of all time, which is that during one of the debates of the 2008 campaign, at each break, Kucinich and his wife would make out under the bleachers. Love that story.

  136. the person they more or less consider the devil, Stalin, Hitler, and Osama bin Laden rolled into one.

    You left out Malcolm X and Jimmy Carter.

    Brad said: I’ve got empathy for the middle-class and for the laid-off and for the fired. But as I’ve stated above, this empathy does not blind me to the fact that when it comes to the middle-class especially, my fellows have in many ways forgotten the hard lessons of their parents and their grandparents. Thrift is a vanishing value. Living within one’s means? Also a vanishing value. To the extent that I have empathy for my fellows, I chastise the rampant accumulation of revolving debt and the hoarding of “things” on borrowed funds.

    You ARE aware that the single most common cause of bankruptcy in the USA is _medical bills_, right? Not buying big-screen TVs on credit.

    But hey, it’s all the same. Wanting not to die of gangrene is EXACTLY THE SAME as wanting a new car, RIGHT? Damn those Undeserving Poor for not having PLANNED their lymphoma, like any decent hardworking American!

    9_9

  137. unit 5012, please do not disrupt the right wing narrative. if the cause of the crash was welfare queens driving their welfare cadillacs to best buy to purchase welfare flat screen tv’s and the sudden surge in electrical power caused the grid to implode, sending us into economic darkness, who are we to say otherwise?

  138. during one of the debates of the 2008 campaign, at each break, Kucinich and his wife would make out under the bleachers.

    Have you seen his wife? I can’t blame the man.

  139. Have you seen his wife? I can’t blame the man.

    Have you seen Kucinich? Four words: high octane nightmare fuel.

  140. I was going to complain about Romney being misquoted, but never mind. Obviously a distinction too subtle for the crowd.

    I’ve been fired and laid off and outsourced and defunded and … oh, a dozen times over the last fifty years. “You’re fired!”, the actual words, I remember twice. Both times bosses were very angry with me, because I’d been publicly shown to be correct. I’ve laid people off, fired people, and quit rather than do so when I was told my group “had to lose a head”. (A head hunter had been sniffing about, I called him back; my team didn’t need me to finish the project, and they were going to be sent to different places when the project was done. They finished on-time, exceeded specs, and under budget.) Win-win-win-win except for that yahoo several layers higher who refused to understand the idea of “team”. He was let go in the next round of cuts, my team members were not.

    There was a time when there were “careers”; for the vast majority that’s gone. I can’t find the numbers now; it used to be that the average non-farm employment was four or five employers in a lifetime; now it’s four or five in a decade. There still are careers, but they are not single-employer type careers, they’re single-task multiple employer careers, and you move from employer to employer very rapidly. New hires are cheaper, loyalty is pretty much non-existant. ‘Tis sad.

    There were a number of candidates the D could have nominated instead of “Reporting for Duty!” Kerry; that choice was yours, not mine. You were warned by the vets in the Democratic party that his reputation would be a drag on his ballot appeal, and it was. Doubtless the Republicans will make the same kind of mistake this time around.

    Brad, they’re not able to hear you. Save your breath.

  141. htom, likes to fire people, corporations are people too, millionaire envy. Taken singly, any one of those quotes would raise red flags about Romney’s position of economics. Taken together, they reflect sympathy for poor picked on corporations and indifference towarda those mean nasty people who live below the poverty line but obviously have secret powers in government to unfairly pick on those trillion dollar corporations who are just fightimg to make ends meet. corporations are NOT people. They are artificial legal entities. They do not gt to vote in elections and they should not have a right to free apeech. They should absolutely not be able to purchase politicians. And the folks behind Occupy dont ENVY millionaires, they see corporations breaking the law, causing the collapse, and then buying off politicians to avoid prosecution. Romney’s propaganda about these two are about as connected with reality as Ayn Rand objectivism.

  142. I was going to complain about Romney being misquoted, but never mind. Obviously a distinction too subtle for the crowd.

    Given that Romney’s campaign ran an ad that explicitly misquoted Obama and then crowed about it, all I can say is karma’s a bitch.

    There were a number of candidates the D could have nominated instead of “Reporting for Duty!” Kerry; that choice was yours, not mine. You were warned by the vets in the Democratic party that his reputation would be a drag on his ballot appeal, and it was

    I’d like a cite on that vets comment, please, cause most of that statement is just baloney. Kerry’s war record was–absent the catastrophically toxic Swift Boat stuff–admirable. And coming from someone whose candidate had chickened out of going to Vietnam, laughable.

  143. I was going to complain about Romney being misquoted, but never mind. Obviously a distinction too subtle for the crowd.

    Wow, a blanket condemnation of a large portion of the commenters, both passive-aggressive and completely lacking in subtlety, and on a topic that had, in fact, been brought up and discussed. What an amazingly douchey little drive-by. And you’re usually a pretty smart guy. Well done! And by “well done”, I, of course, mean “WTF, dude?”

    I’ve been fired… I’d been publicly shown to be correct. I’ve laid people off… yahoo several layers higher…

    Cool story, bro. Was there a point in there somewhere? I must have missed it.

    ‘Tis sad.

    Yes it is sad. It’s damn near tragic, actually. A lot of good things came to this country as a result of an environment where a job was a stable thing, let alone a career. If you care to explain how the current situation is an improvement, or even just a neutral shift, I’d really like to hear it. Or did you actually sneer when you typed those two words.

    There were a number of candidates the D could have nominated instead of “Reporting for Duty!” Kerry

    And now we’re into complete non-sequitur territory. Who the hell mentioned Kerry? That was 8 years ago. Kerry ran a rookie campaign, failed to counter any criticism, and rightly lost that election. But it was still 8 years ago!

  144. My own take on this is that it was something of a Freudian slip: If you don’t do exactly how Mittens orders, he wants you to be fired from your job and your family to lose their healthcare… Frankly that scares me.
    I am a little surprised that no one has put up a link to Paul Krugman on the subject of Romney, but these (like most of his blog posts) are well worth reading:

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/uncompassionate-conservatism/

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/who-fires-whom/

    Krugman does a great job of showing how it is dishonest for Mittens to claim that he’s being taken out of context, when the broader context is that you cannot just switch your health insurer if you’ve got an expensive preexisting condition. (As a personal example, my employer offers a choice of exactly two plans, both from the same provider.) Only an incredibly rich son of an already rich banker – the sort of spoiled brat who makes $1000 bets just for fun – would just believe that most people are able to “fire” their insurer.
    Personally, I’d vote for Colbert above any of the republicans and most of the democrats. Let’s hope he can get on the ballot!

  145. Andy, minor correction, it was a 10,000 dollar bet, not 1000.

    I think your links stab at the heart of the problem. Romney is speaking from a position of privilege. Anyone who has ever gotten their own health insurance as a small business will know that (1) your options are limited to begin with, and (2) once you actually get sick, you’d be a fool to “fire” your insurance company because now you have a preexisting condition, Romney is talking as someone who can clearly throw money around and probably could pay for his medical expenses out of pocket if need be.

    Also, I’d vote for Colbert too at this point. And a Stewart/Colbert ticket would get monetary donations from me.

    While we’re at it, Elizabeth Warren 2016.

  146. Thanks for the correction. And that could be important, since that means he proposed to commit a class C felony live on TV…
    You’re also right about Elizabeth Warren!
    The sad thing is that from what I know of Mittens record as governor he’s one of my more favorite republicans but, just like McCain did, he seems to be selling out his few remaining principles in pursuit of power.

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