Should We Forgive Romney’s ‘Off the Cuff’ Remarks? In a Word, No (September 15

Call it the 2012 Presidential campaign shot heard ’round the world. In a contest marred by gaffes and PR debacles of the diverse kind, Mitt Romney is staring down the barrel of hard video evidence that he just doesn’t give a damn about Americans occupying social positions outside the privileged one percent.

By now we have grown used to the candidate’s willful ignorance. Everyone not living in the United Kingdom enjoyed a good laugh at Romney’s clumsy insult directed at London, the host city of this year’s summer Olympics. Nothing was destroyed but a planning committee’s delicate feelings. Silly Mittens.

But Romney’s foreign policy ineptitude took a turn for the more serious last week when U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was killed in a terrorist attack, and the GOP challenger immediately sought to leverage the tragedy for political gain. Without waiting for full details of the incident and before expressing his condolences to victims’ families, Romney made an inexcusable, disingenuous play to tar Obama as an American apologist. As anti-American protests rage in areas where not so long ago, we celebrated “Arab Spring” democratic revolutions, it is important to ask to what extent Romney’s careless words fed the growing fires of Middle Eastern hatred.

Romney doesn’t give a fig what kind of trouble he stirs up overseas. As America works to restore its image from the out-of-touch “Cowboy Diplomacy” of the George W. Bush era, yeoman’s work in which President Obama has been largely successful, Mittens runs around shooting his uneducated mouth off about the long-running Israel/Palestine conflict and other issues which may score him points with his political base, but do nothing to reflect the traits of a leader who understands 21st century dynamics and a hyperconnected, interdependent world ecosystem.

However, until this week it was reasonably safe to assume that Mitt Romney’s blunderous foreign policy soundbites were unfortunate blabber from an unelectable candidate who nevertheless genuinely loves his country. Most of us are not so partisan that we can’t disagree with a man without questioning his patriotism (behavioral patterns of the far right wing notwithstanding). Apologies to the remaining voters who tried to believe that no matter who wins the November election, a real effort would be made to create jobs and otherwise throw the drowning middle class a lifeline.

We have all made dialectical miscalculations in the private company of friends and family members. Comments that would sound gauche in mixed crowds seem palatable around the familiar. Presidential campaigns are particularly scripted, messaged and strategized so when given a chance to go “off the cuff, ” who can throw stones at an exhausted, 24/7 news cycle-beleaguered contender? In making the case here, consider most of Vice-President Joe Biden’s dunce-cap worthy messaging errors.

Mitt Romney’s latest rhetorical scandal cannot be categorized as the mistake of an exhausted, relaxed man in the company of likeminded souls. How do we know this for certain? Just ask him. According to a report earlier this week from Yahoo! News, “Mitt Romney stood by his comments captured on a hidden camera at a closed-door fundraiser earlier this year in which he called supporters of President Barack Obama ‘victims’ and said they are reliant on government handouts.”

Well then. Allow me to take the opportunity to thank Romney for his honesty and candor, an occasion members of the voting public are not awarded often enough. I have to disagree withNew York Times columnist David Brooks when he writes “Mr. Romney, your entitlement reform ideas are essential, but when will the incompetence stop?” Brooks’ rhetorical question implies that Mittens’s characterization of Obama voters as lazy, needy bottomfeeders is merely an error, but in order to accept this position, one would have to willfully suspend belief in the candidate’s own words at the hastily arranged late-evening press conference. I don’t think most of us are prepared to do that.



Dick Cheney Reminds Us That Romney Still Has Stateside Messes to Clean (July 31, 2012)

Last week was a big week for Mittens and the damage control is in full swing. Remember back in 2008 when one of the biggest criticisms leveled against then-candidate Obama was that the junior Senator was light on foreign policy experience? The last three and a half years have generated many criticisms from the right but the POTUS’ deft handling of a variety of thorny issues such as last year’s Arab Spring Awakening and his wise choice of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State (not to mention the killing of public enemy #1 Osama bin Laden) has gone a long way toward establishing the President as a reasoned and thoughtful statesmen.

Mitt Romney has been a part of the American political canvas for nearly 30 years and yet to witness him committing unforced errors last week, like his offensive comments directed at London’s level of Olympic preparedness, was to experience a sense of Palinesque deja vu. Is there any weigh station between Mittens brain and his mouth? Wouldn’t you think he and his handlers might develop one after three decades? Even Pavlov’s dog was capable of learning. But after that mess, Romney wasn’t satisfied with just one pile of international dog doo. He also managed to wade into the long-running Israel/Iran conflict in a a manner that made him appear like a trigger-happy ignoramus while paying Palestine’s socialized health care system a backhanded compliment, oblivious to its implications again his “war” on Obamacare.

If it weren’t such an embarrassing week for America, I suspect those of us rooting for an Obama re-election would be engaging in a much-deserved happy dance. And yet today, the Crypt Keeper himself, former Vice-President Dick Cheney, popped out of his cryogenic chamber to remind the voting public that there are still plenty of Stateside imbroglios to which candidate Romney must attend. Truly it’s getting difficult to account for all of the issues to which the former Governor refuses or simply cannot respond with a satisfying answer.

In an interview with writer Jonathan Karl for Yahoo News, the topic of Romney’s cloak and dagger intrigue regarding the release of his tax returns was broached. When Bush and Cheney occupied the Republican ticket in 2000, both candidates saw the wisdom is releasing 10 years worth of returns. Romney as we know, will not budge on releasing above two years worth of information. The Cheneybot’s predictable response?

“If he had two years out, they’d want four. If he had four years out, they’d want six. If he had six years out, they’d want ten,” said Cheney. “It’s a distraction,” he added. “I’d say do what he feels like doing. If this is his decision, fine. Let’s get on with it.”

Dick Cheney was always a great believer in the Jedi Mind Trick. Just tell Americans that the Patriot Act, a revocation of their basic liberties, is necessary for national security and they’ll go along with it, the sheep. 9/11 is a great excuse to foment a war of choice in Iraq! And since the wealthy can be painted a job creators, let’s pass some unaffordable tax cuts while we’re at it. The American people won’t know the half of it. They’re too busy watching American Idol! It’s genius. Bwa ha ha!

Nope, not this time Cheney. The post-2008 electorate, better informed and inspired by a candidate who is not overrun by internal cynicism, won’t have it. For the last time, wanting to understand a man’s personal finances as a litmus test for predicting his handling of the country’s budget is not a distraction.

But thanks for reminding us that Romney can be every bit as disingenuous here as he can overseas.

Mitt Romney Tells America His Finances are None of Our Damned Business (July 10, 2012)

On Monday, New York Times Op-Ed columnist and economic guru Paul Krugman observed that “the contrast between George Romney and his son Mitt — a contrast both in their business careers and in their willingness to come clean about their financial affairs — dramatically illustrates how America has changed.”

George Romney unsuccessfully ran for President in 1968. At that time, the candidate got in front of questions related to his finances by releasing 12 full years of tax returns, a demonstration of transparency that ought to make those of us in 2012 nostalgic for a simpler time when the people who sought our vote actually treated us like adults. Instead this year, we have another Romney – Mittens – with a far more convoluted financial back story involving blind trusts, mysterious portfolios and offshore accounts, seeking to spoon feed the voting public a bunch of bull. Apparently if he tells America that “there’s nothing hidden there,” we should all act like the hypersensitized lemmings he believes us to be and take his word for it.

Romney has adopted the typical tactic employed by candidates who wish to dodge questions, calling repeated requests for information a mere attempt to distract voters.

Mittens, come on now: how could your refusal to come clean possibly be none of the voting public’s business? You are asking us to entrust you with our very nation and all its resources: military, financial, social and otherwise. Do we need to explain to you that in order to make the best judgment of your potential for stewardship, we need to understand your personal history in depth? If this is something your father understood, why can’t you?

And while we’re on the topic: can we talk about that blind trust? According to a report this morning from Yahoo! News, the “Republican nominee insisted he has little to do with his personal investments because they are managed by a blind trust.

‘I don’t manage them,’ Romney said. ‘I don’t even know where they are.’”

Can I see a show of hands from folks who find this credible? A man who has built a business empire and a Presidential campaign predicated upon his financial savvy, a quality that he claims is powerful enough to warrant the unseating of the highly-competent current Commander-in-Chief, would just love to have it both ways. He is both a wizard and a naive foundling, witlessly trusting those whose job it is to count his millions.

The Yahoo! Report goes on: “Responding to reports that some of his investments have been overseas, Romney insisted his ‘trustee follows all U.S. Laws.’ He added: ‘All the taxes are paid, as appropriate. All of them have been reported to the government. There’s nothing hidden there.’”

The double talk here is literally mind-bending. He is ignorant of his investments, can’t understand why we’re even interested, but rest assured, he hasn’t dodged any taxes. How do we know this? Because he says so. Stop it Mittens. Enough of this. Be a man and release ALL of your financial records and let us make decisions for ourselves, as we have been politically trained to do since we were old enough to vote. No one believes what you’re saying anyway – even the members of your own party. The best way to convince your constituents that you are not hiding anything is to stop hiding. It’s an idea that your father comprehended.

But what else should we expect from a man who has changed his tune on just about every issue before him? The Romney cynicism appears to know no limits.

Latino Voters Self-Deport Mitt Romney (June 2, 2012)

According to the latest round of NBC-Marist polls, President Obama and presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney are locked in a virtual tie among registered voters in Iowa, Colorado and Nevada. This Midwest and Western states are considered by those in the know to be key battleground venues in the November elections.

In Iowa, Obama and Mittens polled at an even 44 percent favored rate, with 10 percent declaring themselves undecided. In Colorado, the President currently edges Romney by a mere percent while his lead stretches to two points in the home of Las Vegas. While the election season remains in its early stages (I know that may be difficult to believe given the oversaturation many of us already feel), the numbers are cause for concern to the President’s re-election team.

Meanwhile the results of a new Washington Post-ABC News sample ran with the headline, “Poll shows Romney becoming more likeable.” The challenger’s favorability rating registered at 41 percent, up six points from a month ago. This statistic may be less of a concern for the Obama camp, not simply because the Commander-in-Chief’s own likability index is 11 points higher at 52 percent. If there’s one thing that most members of our dysfunctional two-party political system can agree upon, it’s that Mitt Romney is a crushing bore.

So yeah ok, the race is becoming more competitive as we approach convention season and Mittens is doing courageous work trying to overcome liabilities that include anger from animal lovers (the whole driving to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof bit – thank you Gail Collins), women (this year’s tone-deaf assault on female reproductive rights), the gay community, people who prefer their politicians to have genuine, stable positions on the issues and last but not least, Latinos. It makes me wonder who exactly these pollsters are speaking with when they collect their data.

This question could be posed relative to any of the groups mentioned above, but the results of an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll published last week indicate that Obama enjoys a staggering 34-point lead over Mitt Romney amongst Latino voters. How does the Romney Team think they can bridge that crater? Perhaps of even greater concern: only 26 percent of Spanish-heritage voters view the GOP candidate positively, while 35 percent reported a negative opinion. There are 50 million Latinos in this country with a 3.1 percent population growth between July 2008 and July 2009 alone. This is not likely to change and in the midst of many challenges faced by the Romney campaign, the lopsided nature of the candidiates’ perception within the Hispanic citizenry should be a five-alarm panic.

The aversion to Romney amongst Latinos is not entirely the Dull One’s doing. For this state of affairs, Mitten can thank members of his own party like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer who has helmed a crusade against her state’s prominent Spanish contingent, or former Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain who offered an electrified barbed-wire fence on the US-Mexico border as the answer to out nation’s outdated immigration policies. Forward thinking like this from the new crop of GOP standard bearers almost makes one pine for the comparatively progressive views of Dubya.

Despite what general election polls suggest, the numbers don’t add up and history teaches us that statistics are themselves only another statistic when it comes to predicting U.S. Presidential contests. The insights are useful and needless with almost equal frequency. The doom spelled for the future of the GOP’s appeal in its alienation of women and minorities has yet to be experienced at its height. This gives us something to anticipate in future election cycles. But any Republican strategists who think that rich white men can carry Mittens to victory in November are kidding themselves. There’s only so much disenfranchising you can do, though I expect GOP lackeys to continue giving it the old college try.