Saturday Morning ReadsPosted: October 20, 2012
Let’s see what’s going on out there in the world today. It looks like the Salt Lake Tribune endorsement of President Obama for a second term has shocked right-wing world a bit, because it’s the top story this morning at right leaning Memeorandum.
The endorsement is especially noteworthy for its assessment of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. The editors begin by saying that Romney’s run for president had been “warmly welcomed” in Utah, especially because of “Romney’s singular role in rescuing Utah’s organization of the 2002 Olympics from a cesspool of scandal, and his oversight of the most successful Winter Games on record.” But now, the editors say, they barely recognize what their “favorite adopted son” has become:
Sadly, it is not the only Romney, as his campaign for the White House has made abundantly clear, first in his servile courtship of the tea party in order to win the nomination, and now as the party’s shape-shifting nominee. From his embrace of the party’s radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: “Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?”
The evidence suggests no clear answer, or at least one that would survive Romney’s next speech or sound bite. Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear.
More troubling, Romney has repeatedly refused to share specifics of his radical plan to simultaneously reduce the debt, get rid of Obamacare (or, as he now says, only part of it), make a voucher program of Medicare, slash taxes and spending, and thereby create millions of new jobs. To claim, as Romney does, that he would offset his tax and spending cuts (except for billions more for the military) by doing away with tax deductions and exemptions is utterly meaningless without identifying which and how many would get the ax. Absent those specifics, his promise of a balanced budget simply does not pencil out.
If this portrait of a Romney willing to say anything to get elected seems harsh, we need only revisit his branding of 47 percent of Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, yet feel victimized and entitled to government assistance. His job, he told a group of wealthy donors, “is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
More than half of the editorial is devoted to explaining why Romney doesn’t deserve to win the election, and although the editors praise Obama’s first term achievements–the auto industry bailout, health care reform, and foreign policy successes–it is clear that the editorial board would have preferred to endorse the Mitt Romney they once admired.
The Tampa Bay Times endorsement of Obama is also near the top of Memeorandum this morning. Theirs contains much more full-throated praise of the president’s first term achievements, but they also condemn Mitt Romney’s vague and negative agenda.
The economic stimulus package, which Mitt Romney and his Republican allies deride as a failure, had its flaws but stopped the collapse. It preserved or created up to 3 million jobs, and it invested in smart projects such as expanding U.S. 19 in Pinellas County and connecting the Port of Tampa with Interstate 4 in Hillsborough County. The auto company bailout, which Romney opposed, preserved jobs and rejuvenated the industry. The Dodd-Frank financial regulations, which Romney would repeal, protect consumers and force banks to act more responsibly. Undoing those reforms would be a mistake and invite the abuses that contributed to the economic crisis.
The Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature legislative achievement, offers sweeping health care reform that presidents from both political parties unsuccessfully pursued for decades. More than 30 million uninsured Americans will get health coverage. Millions of young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance policies, and insurers no longer can refuse to cover children with pre-existing conditions. In 2014, insurers also will have to accept adults with pre-existing conditions, and most people will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty. This is a historic step toward universal health care and a fairer sharing of costs, and it should be improved upon rather than repealed as Romney promises. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the guts of the law, and it is time to work as hard on containing health care costs as on providing access to care.
Although he came to the job with limited foreign policy experience, Obama has been reasonably sure-footed. His appointment of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state reflected the Democrat’s self-confidence to invite a former rival and wife of a former president to join his administration. Obama followed through on his promise to withdraw troops from Iraq, which Romney called a mistake. The president’s temporary troop surge in Afghanistan stabilized the country and checked the Taliban’s momentum. Yet the president recognizes Americans have no appetite for a never-ending war for diminishing returns. He pledges to pull combat forces out of Afghanistan in 2014, while Romney remains fuzzy about his intentions.
There’s an interesting drama playing out in Indiana between far right Senate candidate Richard Mourdock and the man he defeated, long-time Republican Senator Richard Lugar.
The Boston Globe reported last week that Lugar was angered when Mourdock sent out a campaign mailer claiming that Lugar was supporting Mourdock.
Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said Wednesday the piece was ‘‘clearly unauthorized’’ and comes from a group that spent $100,000 against Lugar in the primary. Conservative lawyer Jim Bopp’s super PAC sent the mailer to Hoosier voters this week.
Mourdock has continued to try and win Lugar’s mantle in the general election — claiming in Monday’s debate that he had been endorsed by the senator — but Lugar has kept him at arms-length throughout the campaign. Mourdock said Wednesday he’s not responsible for messages sent by outside group’s like Bopp’s.
Retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar reiterated Wednesday that he will not campaign for Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock after a mailer from a longtime conservative opponent claimed Lugar’s “torch has been passed” to the tea-party hero who beat him in the primary.
The mailer comes as both Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly fight desperately for the “Lugar Republicans,” or moderate voters, who appear likely to swing Indiana’s tight Senate battle.
Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said Wednesday the piece was “clearly unauthorized” and said Lugar’s refusal to campaign for Mourdock has not changed.
“During the primary, Mourdock and his supporters perpetuated misleading statements about Sen. Lugar. Unfortunately, that has continued with this mailer funded by a committee that spent over $100,000 to defeat Sen. Lugar. It was clearly unauthorized and done without consultation with us,” Fisher said in a statement.
WISH TV in Indianapolis notes that Lugar is campaigning for another Republican.
Senator Richard Lugar won’t campaign for Richard Mourdock, yet he is campaigning for another Republican, Attorney General Greg Zoeller.
Lugar is staying out of the Senate race but he’s clearly not quitting politics. It helps make the point that his refusal to campaign for Mourdock is personal and intentional.
Just last Thursday, Dick Lugar hosted a fundraiser at the Conrad Hotel for Greg Zoeller. Zoeller has distributed photos of it on his website and his Facebook page, showing Lugar delivering remarks, posing for pictures and working the crowd.
24-Hour News 8 caught up with Zoeller by phone in Washington, DC.
“I’ve supported him over the years,” said Zoeller, “so I was glad to have his help and would accept it again.”
For Lugar, it’s the return of a favor. Zoeller appeared in one of his ads before the May primary. But it comes at a time when others are trying to convince voters that Lugar and Mourdock hold similar views without the benefit of a Lugar campaign appearance.
“Richard Mourdock is so much closer to Richard Lugar than the other gentleman,” said South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham at a Mourdock event Wednesday.
The Washington Post headline calls this “sour grapes.” Really? Lugar is an old-style moderate Republican who worked with Democrats in the Senate. Donnelly might be a moderate Republican if he lived in a more liberal state. Anyway, I hope this helps Donnelly. Mourdock would be a disaster for Indiana and for the country.
Here are a few more suggested reads, link dump style.
The New York Times: Romney as a Manager: Unhurried and Socratic.
Jonathan Bernstein at Salon: Fox News cost Mitt the debate
Laura Gottesdiener, Alternet: Ann: Mormon missions are just like military service!
Amanda Marcotte on the ugly right wing response to Katherine Fentons’s equal pay question at the second presidential debate: You Don’t React Like This to a Simple Question Without Being an Outrageous Misogynist
David Ignatius at the Washington Post: CIA documents supported Susan Rice’s description of Benghazi attacks