Rainy Saturday Reads: Why Romney Is Losing

A rainy day on Boston’s Commonwealth Ave.

Good Morning!!

It’s a rainy Saturday in Boston, and I’ve got a nasty cold. I overslept and I don’t have much energy, but do have a few links to get you started today. There’s lots of talk right now about how Romney’s “47 percent” comments have hurt him. A number of pundits didn’t think it was a big deal at first, but are now changing their tunes.

Nate Silver sees signs that Romney’s callous words are taking a toll.

After a secretly recorded videotape was released on Sept. 17 showing Mitt Romney making unflattering comments about the “47 percent” of Americans who he said had become dependent on government benefits, I suggested on Twitter that the political impact of the comments could easily be overstated.

“Ninety percent of ‘game-changing’ gaffes are less important in retrospect than they seem in the moment,” I wrote.

But was this one of the exceptional cases? A week and a half has passed since Mr. Romney’s remarks became known to the public — meaning that there’s been enough time to evaluate their effect on the polls.There’s a case to be made that they did damage Mr. Romney’s standing some.

Read Silver’s take at the link (if you haven’t already).

Jonathan Chait comes right out and admits he was wrong:

I’ve been wrong before, and I’ll be wrong again, but I may never have been as wrong as I was when I initially predicted that Mitt Romney’s heinous diatribe against 47 percent of America would have little direct impact on the election. It’s an absolutely crushing blow. Obviously it doesn’t guarantee his defeat — if a secret video surfaces depicting Obama promising to impose Sharia law in his second term, Romney will stand a good chance of coming back — but it destroys his public standing in ways that make a comeback nearly impossible.


The damage of the remarks is twofold. Obviously, it deeply reinforces the worst stereotypes voters have of Romney. Indeed, the fact that he is currently running ads trying to make the case that he does care about all of America testifies to the grim position in which Romney finds himself. If you’re trying to clear the threshold of “does this candidate hate me” six weeks before the election, you’re probably not on the verge of closing the sale.

Worse still, the comments destroy Romney’s fundamental credibility. Here America sees what he says behind closed doors. Nothing he can say in public can possibly overcome the damage of these comments, because voters will quite correctly assume that he is telling them what they want to hear. George W. Bush’s campaign figured out how to do this to both Al Gore and John Kerry — by painting them as liars, Bush destroyed them as a message delivery platform. Romney has, essentially, done it to himself.

At Salon, Alex Pareene responds to Jonathan Chait by arguing that what is really hurting Romney is Ryan’s plan to kill Medicare: Why Ryan is worse for Romney than “47 percent.” It’s short, but sweet. Read it at the link.

TPM has a piece on How Democratic Ads Are Exploiting Romney’s ‘47 Percent’ Moment

The usual sports metaphors barely do justice to how easy it is, in theory, to build an attack ad around your opponent demanding half the country “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Softball pitch down the plate? Kickball, maybe? Tee ball?

Evidence is mounting that Mitt Romney’s leaked remarks about how 47 percent of Americans see themselves as “victims” are doing significant damage to his campaign both nationally and in key swing states around the country. While the hidden camera video has gotten plenty of play on its own in the press, Democrats are piling on as much as possible with a growing number of attack ads.

The degree of difficulty may be low, but the current body of ads connect Romney’s quotes to an impressive array of themes in a very short amount of time. Here’s how Democrats are using the hidden camera footage as a Swiss Army knife of messaging.

Ad videos and commentary at the link.

As Romney stumbles, the knives are coming out. Politico is the usual place for Romney campaign leaks, and sure enough, yesterday there was another backstabbing story putting all the blame on the lousy candidate: In the End, It’s Mitt.

It isn’t the chair or the ho-hum convention. Or the leaked video. Or Stuart Stevens. Or the improving economy. Or media bias. Or distorted polls. Or the message. Or Mormonism.
It’s Mitt.

With Republicans everywhere wondering what has happened to the Mitt Romney campaign, people who know the candidate personally and professionally offer a simple explanation: It’s the candidate himself.
Slowly and reluctantly, Republicans who love and work for Romney are concluding that for all his gifts as a leader, businessman and role model, he’s just not a good political candidate in this era.

It kills his admirers to say it because they know him to be a far more generous and approachable man than people realize — far from the caricature of him being awkward or distant — and they feel certain he would be a very good president.

“Lousy candidate; highly qualified to be president,” said a top Romney official. “The candidate suit fits him unnaturally. He is naturally an executive.”

That makes no sense. If Romney can’t run his own campaign then how on earth would he run the White House and lead the country? It’s only September, and these guys are trying to save their own asses.

Joan Walsh points out that it’s the candidate’s message that people can’t stand: When the Dogs Won’t Eat the Dog Food.

In the end I think Romney killed his own campaign, not because he’s a bad person – he may be – but because, in addition to his ineptness, he came to symbolize what’s wrong with our economy, in every way. The tax rate he pays is a scandal. Shoveling millions of tax-free dollars to his sons is, too. Bain Capital was no job creator (unless you count Bain execs); the firm borrowed money to buy companies, saddled the companies with their debt and made huge fees, whether or not the firm survived.

I said long ago that Romney “is the poster boy for the top 1 percent,” and that it would hurt him with struggling voters. But I didn’t know how much it would hurt him. In the end, maybe he’d have survived coming off like a cross between Thurston Howell III and Montgomery Burns, if we hadn’t heard his remarks about “the 47 percent.” Together, his sheltered wealth, high finance career and plutocrat’s sneer are making it nearly impossible for him to be elected.

But not completely impossible.

Nearly impossible. Not impossible. The other side has so much money and so few scruples these last six weeks could get uglier. We don’t know the toll voter suppression laws will take. And forget about those newfangled laws, there’s old-fashioned GOP voter suppression – robocalls and fliers giving voters the wrong day as Election Day or changing their polling place, voter intimidation, or a shortage of ballots or voting machine in dense Democratic districts.

That should be enough to get you started. I’ll add more links in the comments, and I look forward to clicking on yours. Have a great weekend!

53 Comments on “Rainy Saturday Reads: Why Romney Is Losing”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s something that’s not about politics: Arctic Bigfoot? Balding polar bear? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Is there a Bigfoot on Alaska’s North Slope? One Barrow family thinks so, and it has them worried about a remote cabin property they own about 35 miles south of America’s northernmost community.

    Sarah Skin has been camping at the cabin every year for the last half-century. In the last three years, she and her family say they’ve repeatedly seen 10-foot tall, bipedal creatures that are black, brown or grayish in color. Skin said that they’ve seen the creatures three years running, each time in the fall when the family heads to the cabin to hunt for caribou.

    Before that, she’d never seen anything like the Bigfoot, as she refers to the mysterious beasts, anywhere near her cabin, located about halfway between Barrow and the community of Atqasuk.

    “People from a long time ago used to see them, I guess,” Skin said. “I’m 50 years old and I’ve been camping out here my whole life, and I’ve never seen anything like this, ever.”

    Oooooh, spooky! I suppose I’m probably alone in this, but I love Bigfoot sightings.

    • RalphB says:

      Great post BB!! I like these stories and the Nessy sightings. At least, they’re good for a little laugh and a what if.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    NYT says evidence shows that Bain colluded with other private equity firms.

    In court documents that lawyers for Bain Capitalsought to keep secret, the company and other leading private equityfirms are depicted as unofficial partners in a bid-rigging conspiracy aimed at holding down the prices of businesses they were seeking to buy.

    In Bain’s biggest acquisition, the $32.1 billion purchase of the hospital giant HCA in 2006, competitors agreed privately to “stand down” and not bid on the company as part of an understanding with Bain to divvy up companies targeted for leveraged buyouts, according to internal e-mails.

    The documents have become part of a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Boston brought against Bain and other firms by shareholders who say the firms’ bid-rigging artificially deflated the sales price of more than two dozen companies and cost them billions of dollars.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      HCA the company that Florida’s governor, Rick Scott founded & headed. And that company had to pay fines for Medicare fraud (but Scott had already left the company at that point).

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Don’t miss this! Dailykos diary by a guy who is 1/4 Native American and looks “White.”

    And he used Native American scholarships to help pay for college.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      My father was 100% Irish. My mother was half Irish, half Bohemian.

      I take after my father’s side of the family having the “map of Ireland” etched on my face. My brother, on the other hand, favors my mother’s coloring: dark skin, dark hair, dark eyes.

      Though we are brother and sister we look nothing alike and would never have been mistaken for siblings because we look so different from one another.

      How anyone could look at my brother and suggest he was not Irish, though in actuality he is 3/4ths, shows the stupidity of Scott Brown’s statements.

      You could look at me and never know that I am 1/4th Bohemian since I my coloring is fair: light skin, light hair, light eyes.

      • dakinikat says:

        girlsMy two daughters have a Japanese Grandmother. You can tell with Dr. Daughter. Youngest daughter is blue-eyed and has blonde hair having taken after my dad and sister. Brown has no clue about genetics. My ex is half Japanese and we always had to discuss what to do with the “race” box for him when it was census time. The census people said to check the box based on which heritage he felt most connected. That’s as difficult as looking in the mirror and saying “wow” you look asian or wow you look white.

        Yup. Both of these girls are 1/4 Japanese. Consider that Scott Brown.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        They sure are lovely though! You must be so proud!

      • dakinikat says:

        Yes. They’ve turned into some really great young women. Both of them now working careers and in steady relationships. It’s amazing to watch them both.

      • NW Luna says:

        What a lovely family!

      • ecocatwoman says:

        Yes, your daughters are lovely & both have your smile. Just to confess how dumb I am, when I first read your comment I wondered why you didn’t say anything about your 3rd daughter in the picture. Seriously, it took me a couple of minutes to realize that YOU were “the 3rd daughter” in the picture.

      • RalphB says:

        That’s a really gorgeous family. I agree about the 3rd daughter, you whippersnapper 🙂

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    Though I thoroughly agree that Mitt himself is a disaster as a candidate, he is also carrying the agenda of a party that promises to gut every social program that touches many of those who reside in that 47% demographic while upping the ante even more for the 1% he essentially represents.

    His lies have taken on a life of their own: nothing he says is genuine. He has managed to change positions so frequently it is difficult to keep up. One day promising to eliminate Obamacare, the next day taking credit for its passage in MA.

    He promises to create 12 million jobs but we have no idea how he plans on
    doing that. We are asked to “trust him” from day to day when each day brings another dismissal of what he said the day before.

    Mitt was never up to the task as evidenced by the primaries when each of his challengers at one time or another was treated as the “front runner” in an effort to deny him the nomination. At best he could only rely on 25% of the primary voters up until the end. His “luck” was in that the challengers themselves were even more “wanting” in that department which gave him a slight edge. But overall the GOP did not want or trust Mitt. They were correct in that assessment.

    Mitt created a firm with himself as the CEO. He has never had to sit for an “interview” up until now and he has failed the initial test. In Mitt’s world this is an unnecessary action when money speaks louder than any other qualification.

    How anyone can support a candidate with this much baggage, who has repeatedly lied to this extent, whose integrity is always in question, and who stands for very little outside of his own privileged sphere, is incomprehensible.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The 12 million jobs are expected to happen no matter who is elected, so basically, Romney plans to do nothing and take credit for the economy recovering naturally.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Romney backtracks on his criticism of Obama during the Libya attacks.

    Two weeks after sharply criticizing the Obama administration for its handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, Mitt Romney said Friday that it was “premature” to cast judgment on how his Democratic rival handled the developments in Libya and said he would wait for the results of an investigation.

    It was a clear tonal shift on the part of the Republican presidential nominee.

    • RalphB says:

      Looks like he’s clearing out a potential problem before the debates. Same goes for his statements about military action with Iran.

      Take a couple of juicy targets away from Obama, maybe.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Romney says military action in Iran may not be necessary.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      This is another area where most people are unaware of the Iranian people.

      A pundit made reference to the fact that the majority of their population is under 30 yrs of age. They enjoy a vibrant middle class where many of their students have been educated outside of the country and have experienced interaction with othe sophisticated and educated people.

      There is a certain “admiration” for all things Western. Aside from the ruling mullahs, many of the population chafe against the restrictions and long for democracy. The supposition is that in a matter of time the younger generation, who outnumber the theocrats, will eventually overturn the present ruling class.

      What some fail to consider is that Iran is not Iraq whose “middle class” was quite small by comparison and wholly dependent upon Saddam to maintain their position.

      The middle east experts call for “patience” declaring that even the mullahs are not stupid enough to wage a nuclear war that would also destroy themselves in the bargain.

      The suggestion is that given time the Iranian people will eventually overthrow the theocracy they are currently forced to live with since they are more enamored of the West regardless of what their present day leaders maintain in an effort to keep their control.

      • RalphB says:

        From what reliable information I’ve read, the population in Iran may be the most pro western of any peoples in the Middle East. The only reason they support their own government is that some feel as if they are under an attack.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Romney’s 47% Video Has Been Viewed 3 Times As Often As His Convention Speech

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/romneys-47-viewed-more-than-convention-speech-2012-9#ixzz27rztut5V

  8. ANonOMouse says:

    Great stuff this morning BB, thank you. I hope you begin to feel better soon.

    As for the reasons Mitt Romney is doing so poorly, I believe, and have believed since I watched the GOP/TP debates, it is the message, it sucks. Most American’s are just beginning to tune in and the message of balancing the budget on the backs of the middle class and poor is a loser and the messenger is an out-of-touch plutocrat who’s never spent a minute attempting to imagine life without other plutocrats having his back.

    We’re not going to buy the “shared sacrifice” model or the help the “job creators” model or any of the other false narratives they’ve crafted and offered as solutions. The middle class and poor are no longer inclined to buy the message of the “Savior Class” or that “all good things come from and through the rich”. We know the truth. We know what drove the economic holocaust of 2008, it wasn’t the janitors or the manicurist,or the servers, or the hairdressers, or the nurses, or the call center people, or the grocery store clerk, or the secretary or the hourly office worker, or the hamburger flippers, or the street sweepers, or the bus drivers, or the school teachers, or the carpenters, or the plumbers, or the road crew, or the lawn cutters, or the bread bakers, or the factory workers, or the farmers, or the firefighters, or the police officers, or the daycare workers, or the sales clerks. The GOP can no longer frame the argument in a way that can make su surrender to their greed. And it is the greed of the plutocrats that has driven our nation to the brink of destruction

    This is a MESSAGE election. When Obama & Congress understand that message, then they will know that not another fucking dime will come out of our hides until the other sources of revenue pay up. American’s will not give up what we’ve worked for and paid into and earned. We will not sacrifice Medicare/Medicaid or SS, public education, unemployment insurance, healthcare reform, student loans or assistance to the poor, disabled or the employed. We will not bare the burden so that Plutocrats and Mega-Corps can dance on ever larger piles of profit and tax subsidy. Time for the Plutocracy to ante up.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    NYT on the candidates’ debate prep.

    Mr. Romney’s team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August. His strategy includes luring the president into appearing smug or evasive about his responsibility for the economy.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  10. Pat Johnson says:

    I’ve got “Jersey Boys” blasting from my cd as I make a batch of spaghetti sauce.

    Anything to tune out the weekend of punditry of “handicapping” who will or who will not do better in the first debate.

    Like the misery that was this year’s Red Sox Nation, this election cannot end soon enough.

  11. RalphB says:

    Rmoney has been practicing “zingers” since August? 🙂

    TPM: In Debate, Romney Plans To Drop ‘Zingers’ On Obama

    Looking forward to the first presidential debate next week, Mitt Romney has a plan: Knock President Obama off his game with some well-rehearsed “zingers,” reports the New York Times:

    Mr. Romney’s team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August. His strategy includes luring the president into appearing smug or evasive about his responsibility for the economy.

    • NW Luna says:

      ….luring the president into appearing smug or evasive

      As opposed to Romney himself, who is always smug. Or evasive. Or both.

  12. RalphB says:

    HuffPo: Matt Taibbi: Mitt Romney’s ‘Insane’ Comments Reveal Delusions Of The Super Rich

    “I think he really genuinely believes that the only reason that his particular message isn’t resonating is that people want something for free and he’s not offering it to them,” Taibbi, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, told The Huffington Post on Tuesday. “It’s crazy.”
    Taibbi, who famously labeled Goldman Sachs a “vampire squid” and recently lambasted Romney in a Rolling Stone article, said the top one percent on Wall Street looks down on the poor because it’s the only way they can psychologically excuse their “mass fraud and theft.”

    “It’s all based upon this idea that ‘poor people deserve to be poor because they don’t work hard enough and I deserve the money that I make because I do work hard,'” Taibbi said. “It’s just a pervasive belief … the psychological underpinning of almost everything they do. If they didn’t have this way to excuse their dismissal of the poor, then they wouldn’t be able to do a lot of the things that they do.”

    • dakinikat says:

      Most of them have all been born on third base and want serious applause for their ‘run’ when the system pitches the right pitch to the next hitter who aims the ball at the place where these folks can ‘trot’ to home. They have no idea what it’s like to have to actually get to first base and work to get to each base.

  13. Pat Johnson says:

    Mitt Romney is about as funny as a crutch.

    There have been times recently when Obama has made me laugh out loud with his delivery and just the right degree of snark.

    Taibbi is one of the few real journalists out there doing his job. The fact that none of these politicians from either side impresses him makes him all the more “dangerous”.

  14. RalphB says:

    I love this story about the budget deficit and associated bullshit peddled by “serious people”.

    CEPR: A Heaping Helping of Ridicule for Ruth Marcus

    • bostonboomer says:

      This is nice:

      Yes, thank God for serious people. You would recognize these serious people as the folks that were too thick to recognize the $8 trillion housing bubble, the collapse of which wrecked the economy; oh, and by the way, also gave us trillion dollar annual deficits. They were too busy yelling about budget deficits. (I’m not kidding, they were screaming about budget deficits even when the deficit was less than 2.0 percent of GDP.)

      Contrary to what Marcus and the Serious People want people to believe, there is no spending problem, there is a problem of out of control health care costs. The United States pays more than twice as much per person for its health care as the average for people in other wealthy countries, with little to show in the way of health outcomes. If we paid the same amount as any other wealthy country we would be looking at huge budget surpluses, not deficits.

      The deception here is simple and extremely important. Honest people would talk about the need to reform the health care system. That addresses the health care cost problem that the country really does face. Marcus and the Serious People would instead want to leave the broken system intact and just have the government pick up less of the tab.

      • RalphB says:

        Goes right to the point and does it plainly. The “serious people” are clowns.

      • NW Luna says:

        What we pay to “healthcare” includes approximately 30% (probably more) to middlemen. Single-payer is far more efficient and make use of economies of scale.

        Of course TPTB don’t like a “socialized” single-payer system because they and their friends wouldn’t be getting so many $$$.

  15. RalphB says:

    Rebecca Solnit has one of the best articles I’ve read in a very long time. Our own elitists are really why we can’t all have nice things.

    MoJo: Stop Leftsplaining!

    Dear Allies,

    Forgive me if I briefly take my eyes off the prize to brush away some flies, but the buzzing has gone on for some time. I have a grand goal, and that is to counter the Republican right with its deep desire to annihilate everything I love and to move toward far more radical goals than the Democrats ever truly support. In the course of pursuing that, however, I’ve come up against the habits of my presumed allies again and again.

    O rancid sector of the far left, please stop your grousing! Compared to you, Eeyore sounds like a Teletubby. If I gave you a pony, you would not only be furious that not everyone has a pony, but you would pick on the pony for not being radical enough until it wept big, sad, hot pony tears. Because what we’re talking about here is not an analysis, a strategy, or a cosmology, but an attitude, and one that is poisoning us. Not just me, but you, us, and our possibilities.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I wonder how Glenn Greenwald will dismiss that one? I’m sure he’ll find a way.

      • RalphB says:

        From an Erik Loomis post at LG&M…

        Glenn Greenwald has basically spent 24 hours attacking this site on his Twitter feed and essentially claiming that we are mouthpieces of the Democratic Party. Which if so, where’s my paycheck from the DNC? I hope it’s as much as Glenn makes from CATO.

        Greenwald will probably dismiss her article out of hand, if he notices at all. He really seems to hate it when anyone disagrees with him.

        Wonder if he is somehow associated with Cato? Freidersdorf and Megan McArglebargle are, or were at least.

    • NW Luna says:

      Huh? I read the article, and I’m not convinced the writer has a valid point. Where were all these “leftsplaining” people when Obama backed away from single-payer? Or voted for FISA?

      The writer herself says she applauds strong Dem stands by politicians but doesn’t shy away from pointing out when they fall short or take R stands. So why is she upset when others do the same thing?

      For all her lauding of “gradual,” we didn’t get Medicare by gradual. Eligible Americans got Medicare benefits in six months from the bill’s signing, not in being signed, not several years later. That author reminds me of some managers I’ve had who believe you’ve got a negative attitude if you bring up ideas for improvement and efficiency. But could be I’m still cynical about non-existent ponies.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Well, plenty of former Obots were angry over single payer. The FISA vote came before Obama was elected, but I recall anger then too. I think what Solnit is saying is basically what I argued a couple of days ago. That it simply isn’t realistic to hold out for perfection in politics. She is pretty far left, BTW, as is everyone at TomDispatch.

        She was arguing that it pays to be aware of good moves by the Democrats and push for more. It also pays to fight back against the bad things like spying and drone wars. What she doesn’t like is the constant nitpicking so that when something positive happens, one must always uncut it by pointing out that the policy is not perfect. I don’t think she was focusing on one issue like health care. She was focused on those like Glenn Greenwald who have become so obsessed with foreign policy issues that they can’t see the forest for the trees. They completely dismiss women’s reproductive rights, the SCOTUS, and on and on. So you end up with Greenwald and others defending Ron Paul, for example!

        Here’s the link to the blog post Ralph references above.


      • bostonboomer says:

        Here’s an example: Obviously, Obama is no LBJ. On the other hand he hasn’t escalated the Iraq war into another Vietnam. Kennedy had ordered withdrawal of advisers from Vietnam before his murder. LBJ reversed that order as one of his first moves and took us into a horrendous bloodbath of a war–and he used a fake attack on our forces to justify it. No president and no politician is perfect.

  16. ecocatwoman says:

    Chris Hayes’ show was terrific this AM. However, MHP’s show was even better. It focused mostly on voter suppression and ended with education. If you missed the show, here’s a link to all of the videos from today: http://mhpshow.msnbc.com/

    Sheila Bair was on Chris Hayes. Here’s a link to those videos as well: http://upwithchrishayes.msnbc.com/