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Posts Tagged ‘Mitt Romney’

In the aftermath of the trouncing last Tuesday, some in the media and on the Right are finally beginning to examine the consequences of the conservative echo chamber. I’ve had friends who have been part of the conservative movement for decades complaining to me about this for years, and the chickens are — yes — finally coming home to roost. How far we’ve come from the days when an editor named William F. Buckley Jr. used media, like National Review and Firing Line (a program broadcast on PBS) to provide a forum for informed debate and exchange of ideas.

Insightful analysis here from POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin, and a personal portrait of one loyal GOPer’s personal bubble-bursting experience in the Post. And for reference, Bill Maher has been talking about this (with a literal bubble as a prop) for years.

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After President Obama’s decisive victory last night, the reaction from the conservative chattering class has been fast and furious (to coin a phrase) and they’re all over the map. Starting with Karl Rove’s on-air conspiracy theorizing about stolen votes in Ohio, the bloviators and echo chamber residents — as well as the more thoughtful folks on the right — are at it with a wide array of finger-pointing allegations, none of which seem to include the fact that Americans just plain rejected the Republican message.

Here is the top ten list:

1) Romney wasn’t conservative enough. (Laura Ingraham)

2) Romney was too conservative. (David Frum)

3) Romney needed to reach minorities and broaden the base. (Marco Rubio)

4) White Americans have too much guilt to vote against the first Black President. (Rush Limbaugh)

5) Half of the country likes handouts rather than working so they vote Democratic. (Rush and in turn Sean Hannity)

6) Liberals like Chris Matthews were happy about the hurricane Sandy, which clinched it for Obama — and Chris Christie is a closet Democrat. (Fox News)

7) The entire mainstream media was in the tank and handed Obama his victory. (Rich Noyes)

8) The Romney campaign was inadequately managed. (Peggy Noonan)

9) Wingnuts like Donald Trump highjacked the mainstream GOP message. (Steve Schmidt)

10) The GOP did not rely enough on its “strong bench” of up and coming leaders. (Charles Krauthammer)

This schizophrenic reaction is telling. Another view, which I and some more thoughtful conservatives and students of conservatism hold, is that the movement has fallen apart, lost its intellectual bearings, and needs to right itself or accept its status as a permanently frustrated, disorganized minority.

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The meme of the evening is most certainly President Obama’s rejoinder to Mitt Romney’s assertions about the size of the Navy now versus 1916. The Washington Post examined the matter seriously here.

So, the meme is out of the paddock…facebook is up, as is the tumblr.

But Obama delivered the rhetorical zinger of the night by acknowledging that “we have fewer ships than we did in 1916,” but that “we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”

Couldn’t help thinking of Jeff Daniels in his epic scene from the film Gettysburg, at the battle of Little Roundtop.

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The dean of the Actors Studio was back on Hardball tonight with his analysis of the performances of the two candidates in last night’s debate. Lipton’s bottom line: characters are set; Romney is running for boss (and a boss you never liked that much) and Romney is running for President.

Cf. Chris Matthews’ comment that Romney is the fellow sitting in business class who won’t get off his cell phone until the flight attendants come and tell him he is holding up the plane’s departure. (Wait not plane, “aircraft.” As Lipton said in an earlier interview, most of us fly in airplanes, or pilot them — perhaps if you own them, they become “aircraft.”)

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After a long hiatus, we are back with debate awards following tonight’s rumble on Strong Island.

 

Alexander P. Butterfield There Is A Taping System Award: Candy Crowley. For shutting down Mitt Romney’s bogus assertion that Obama did not use the phrase “terror attack” in his initial rose garden comments about the Benghazi consulate attack.

 

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Big (Organized) Love Award: Mitt Romney, for telling us about all of his binders full of women. Tumblr here. Facebook here. ‘Nuff said.

Bill Mazeroski Bottom of the Ninth Home Run Award: Barack Obama. With one minute to go, in extra innings, Romney served up a “100%” middle-of-the plate softball and the president hit it out of the park. If Obama had once again left out the 47% comment his supporters would have been up in arms. As it turned out, his opponent solved this problem for him.

Warren G. Harding Forgotten President Award: George W. Bush, who was treated as a sad relic from the distant past by both candidates.

Sarah Palin Red Herring Award: Mitt Romney, for his Fast and Furious attempts to throw red meat to the conservative base, who are obsessed with the Fast and Furious investigation. As a classic red herring rhetorical fallacy, it is true but not relevant.

Joseph N. Welch Have You No Decency Award: Barack Obama, for his indignant reaction to Mitt Romney’s suggestion that he was not appropriately presidential in his response to the attack on the Benghazi consulate and the resulting deaths of the Ambassador and embassy personnel.

Dan Rather Folksy Metaphor Award: David Axelrod. While we’d prefer to give the award to a Texan, the Rather Award must go to Axe, who told Lawrence O’Donnell in postgame spin that “the American people are not going to buy a $5 trillion pig in a poke.”

Newt Gingrich Moon Colony Award: Barack Obama. For using Mitt’s own line, used he so effectively in the GOP primaries against Newt, when he pilloried Newt’s goal of lunar colonization by saying that if one of his executives came to him with a proposal like that, he’d fire him.

Frequent Flier Metaphor Award: Chris Matthews. For calling Mitt Romney the guy on the plane who won’t get his cell phone as the flight attendants are trying to prepare for takeoff.

The full debate:

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All kinds of folks from the ideological Right are calling for a break with the newly and awkardly reconstituted Romney GOP. Is it time, as Laura Ingraham said, to just start over? My thoughts here on POLITICO this weekend.

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Along with the other great speeches tonight from Bill Clinton and others, North Carolina’s own Jim Hunt put the progressive message out in its best form. There’s a reason he served 4 terms as our state’s Governor, and strengthened the University system where I teach.

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My piece published on POLITICO today, taking a further look at how the GOP ticket’s response to the Akin “legitimate rape” blowup reflects a broader rhetorical strategy of avoidance and evasion — a denial of categories in law and language. Paul Ryan (and Todd Akin) favored creating new categories of “forcible” or “legitimate” rape; on the other hand, Mitt and Ann Romney talk about “paying all of our taxes” while carefully avoiding the category “income,” as in income taxes.

 

None of this is wording happens by accident…

 

 

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My thoughts here on POLITICO about a strange week in politics, here in North Carolina and elsewhere. We’re already getting bombarded by political advertising here in Tar Heel country, as a vital swing state and the host of the Democratic National Convention. The state party has been rocked by scandal, and our recent vote on same-sex marriage equality put us on the national agenda. The past week not only saw the strange re-emergence of birther-in-chief Donald Trump, but also the sad spectacle of John Edwards’ trial here in Greensboro.

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Over the last week the President is making it clear he’s going to go after Mitt Romney’s elite social status as a campaign issue, a gambit that could pay off if played right. We heard it yesterday at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where Obama milked a joke about how Mitt would view the spacious DuPont Hilton ballroom as a “fixer-upper.”

Earlier in the past week the President made a conscious issue out of Republican opposition to renewing the student loan interest rate, framing the debate as a specific attack on Romney, who never needed a loan. Obama did so to great fanfare in a speeches before college audiences in Iowa and North Carolina, both key battleground states. The crowds of students could not have been more responsive, especially when the President pointed out that he and Michelle only paid off their academic debt eight years ago. But he was clearly previewing an attack that has a much broader reach.

The student loan issue will be kept alive by the White House for political reasons, regardless of policy implications. It serves as a rhetorical wedge for the President to hit his presumptive opponent on one of his weakest fronts: His patrician aloofness, life of privilege, and wealth.

“When Michelle and I got married,” the President said in those speeches, “we got poorer together. We added up our assets, and they were zero. We added up the liabilities, and there were a lot of liabilities.” A stark contrast to Romney, the millionaire asset manager.

Hillary Rosen was wrong to talk about Ann Romney never having to work, but the theme is the same: Romney is not capable of sympathizing with the average American because he is not one. Barack Obama is. The White House is on a rhetorical war path, and rightly so.

The deep divide between conservatives and liberals on wealth and equality is very real, and never more important now in a time when income inequality is at an all time high. Conservatives have always been skeptical of egalitarian thinking, dating back to a time when Edmund Burke was warning of the perils of the Egalité of the French Revolution. In a turn of phrase worthy of my old boss Frank Luntz (who flipped the Estate Tax into the Death Tax), we hear Candidate Romney talk of “Punishing success” whenever the President brings up equality or fairness.

Obama countered this argument head on. “In America, we admire success,” he said. “I want everybody to be rich.” But: “America is not just about a few people doing well. America is about giving everybody a chance to do well.”

The narrative is clear. Addressing audiences of college students recently–as they periodically shouted out to him their thousand dollar loan tallies–Obama was justifiably able to say “I’ve been in your shoes.” The other guy has not.

“I didn’t just read about this,” Obama said. “I didn’t just get some talking points.” Like that other guy, the one born with the silver spoon.

“Class warfare” shouts the conservative side. “Fairness” shouts the other. But these concepts have not always belonged to one side or the other, and, as always in politics, they assign their own meanings to the words.

A generation ago, Richard Nixon built a political legacy by championing the Silent Majority, the working man, the hardhats, the people–who like him–made something out of nothing, working their way up, hardscrabble. It’s why veteran journalist Tom Wicker called Nixon “One of Us.” Other, earlier Republicans have been able to connect with the public by talking about the challenges of everyday life. Abraham Lincoln often referred to his family’s finances as “the national debt.” Lincoln led a nation through war while his own budgets were consistently out of balance.

Conservatives may champion “success” and wealth in an Ayn-Randian libertarian sense, but Obama’s student loan attack puts him in the role of the self-made man, the person who worked his way up, in contrast to the one who was given everything and expected “success” as a natural outcome. Mitt Romney thinks he should be president. It’s only fair, after all. “It’s our  turn,” as Ann Romney said.

President Obama offered his rebuttal with his personal story. A difficult childhood, a broken home. Struggles for work and education, student loans that burdened his family even as he rose through the ranks as a political leader.

“Hey, check it out. I’m President of the United States,” he told the cheering crowd in Chapel Hill last week.

Winning elections is ultimately about painting contrasts, and Obama is using the student loan issue–as well as the Buffett Rule debate–to do just that. Romney is not one of us, and the President is. Make no mistake, this debate is ideological: “class warfare” to some, on the right, who reject progressive ideals of equality and fairness. The President should continue engaging this argument.

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