Tuesday Reads: Ooh That Smell!

Good Morning!!

Can you smell the “death stench?” coming from the Romney campaign?  Mark Halperin is beginning to. Yesterday he wrote about The Troubles: all the bad news piling up for Mitt Romney following the conventions–like the fact that the Obama camp raised more cash than Romney in August, multiple polls suggest that Obama is getting a bounce from his convention and Romney didn’t. Halperin says all this bad news is leading to a “congealing” media narrative that Romney’s campaign is dying. And all that was written before the latest CNN poll showed Obama at 52% with a lead of 6 points.

Until Romney breaks this cycle, he is in danger of living out the Haley Barbour dictum: in politics, bad gets worse. Super PACs might start shifting their money from the presidential race to save the House majority and look to pick up Senate seats. Romney’s own fundraising will take a hit. Stories about Romney pulling up stakes in Michigan and other ostensible battlegrounds will add to the death stench. And there will be an avalanche of suggestions and second-guessing from pundits and Republican operatives and politicians about Romney’s tactics, strategy and staff.

How tragic! The “death stench.” Oooh That Smell!

Ooh that smell
Can’t you smell that smell?
Ooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you, yeah

Priorities USA has released a new ad to kick Romney while he’s down.

Everyone is still talking about Romney’s wacky interview with “Disco Dave” on Meet The Press and how he pretended to be in favor of parts of Obamacare on national TV and then quickly flip-flopped in such a way that low information voters might not find out about. From TPM:

“Mitt Romney literally went on ‘Meet The Press’ and misled the American people,” Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the DNC, said on a conference call with reporters Monday. “He acted as if he supports something that he clearly does not.”

Romney said Sunday that he intends to keep parts of ‘Obamacare,’ and cited the law’s rule forbidding discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions as an example.

“I’m not getting rid of all of health care reform,” Romney said. “Of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I’m going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage.”


The Romney campaign later clarified that his position on pre-existing conditions had not changed, and that he only supports coverage for people with pre-existing conditions if they have had “continuous coverage,” according to a statement released to National Review. “[Romney’s] own plan will deal with pre-existing conditions but not in the same way that Obamacare does,” a Romney campaign aide told TPM after Romney’s interview.

Ezra Klein wrote a post about the Obamacare kefluffle called “when begin vague backfires.”

Romney has been playing a little trick. Here’s what he told David Gregory:

There are a number of things that I like in health-care reform that I’m going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with preexisting conditions can get coverage.

To most of the world, that sounded like Romney was saying he was going to keep Obamacare’s protections for people with preexisting conditions. And enough reporters know Obamacare well enough to know that you can’t keep those protections without keeping quite a bit of the law. That’s why people thought Romney’s position had changed.

But to folks who’ve been following Romney’s game of three-card monte on this issue, it was clear he was just being strategically vague in describing his position: Romney has long said he would protect people with continuous coverage from being discriminated against due to preexisting conditions. But this is something that the law mostly does now, and that would leave 89 million Americans out in the cold.

Romney’s play here was obvious enough: By being a little fuzzy about what, exactly, he was proposing, he could sound like he had a way to protect people with preexisting conditions while still saying he wants to repeal Obamacare. He’d get the best of both worlds. But the problem with trying to strategically confuse people is that you actually confuse them, and that’s what happened here. Rather than coming away thinking Romney had a secret plan to protect people with preexisting conditions, they went away thinking Romney had a secret plan to protect Obamacare.

Disco Dave tried half-heartedly to get Romney to provide just one specific loophole that he would close in order to pay for the massive tax cuts he’s proposing. But Romney was determined not to reveal whether he wants to get rid of the mortgage deduction, the charitable contributions deduction or something else. We know he’s not going get rid of all those loopholes that make it possible for him to pay less than 15% of his income in taxes.   I’m sure of that.

Fortunately, TV Pundits are beginning to confront Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan with their attempts to con less-informed voters. Here are two examples.

MSNBC’s Chris Jansing asking Romney adviser Tara Wall for specifics on which tax loopholes Romney would close and getting word salad.

JANSING: What are the loopholes you would close? Will you tell the American people how you’re going to to this better place that you say they have?
WALL: Well, again, the campaign has laid out a number of specifics relative to the principles that will guide the policies of a Romney-Ryan ticket. […] Again, the specification include policies that are pro-growth in nature, that reduce the deficit, that reduce the burden on taxpayers and small businesses, small businesses number one have been hit hard by a number of regulations that have stifled growth and job creation. And so number one, those are some of the things you have to start with.
JANSING: Well, with all due respect, a pro-growth policy is not specific.

WALL: The other part of that is energy independence. That’s an approach to energy independence that will create millions of jobs. There is a target of 12 million jobs by the Romney-Ryan target. Relative to those loopholes that you mention, I agree that Congressman Ryan pointed out taht have to be put out in a public debate. But I think, again, we have to look at the overall principles that are going to drive the policies and not ram through policy as we saw with Obamacare.

WTF?! Is that the kind of thing Romney is going to say in the debates?

Here’s Norah O’Donnell of all people confronting Paul Ryan on his vote for the sequester that he’s blaming on President Obama.

Amazing! Too bad Disco Dave can’t do that.

Yesterday Jonathan Chait reported another Romney conspiracy theory: the media is conspiring with pollsters to help Obama win.

These comments from a “top Romney adviser” to National Review…are pure derangement:

PPP has these polls that just put chum in the water for the media. Sometimes I think there’s a conscious effort between the media and Chicago to get Republicans depressed. And I hope our friends realize that all these media analysts out there are Democrats WHO WANT US TO LOSE. And the more Washington DC controls our economy, the more important inside-the-beltway publications are and the more money they make. The 202 area code is dominated by people who will make more money if Obama is reelected, so it’s not just an ideological thumb they’re putting on the scale for him, it’s a business interest.

If this is the Romney campaign’s genuine theory of the race — that political reporters are deliberately trying to mislead America into believing Obama is winning in order to fatten their profits — the Romney campaign is in a lot of trouble.

Again, WTF?! That “death stench” is getting stronger.

Think Progress caught something else odd in Romney’s interview on MTP. I noticed it when I listened to the interview but I thought it was just more Romney strangeness. Romney told Disco Dave, “I’m as conservative as the Constitution.”

Now what the hell does that mean? TP says it’s a dog whistle to “Tenthers.” From Wikipedia:

The Tenther movement is a political ideology and a social movement in the United States that espouses that many actions of the United States government are unconstitutional. Adherents invoke the concept that the states share sovereignty with the federal government and with the people by citing the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution as the basis for their legal and ideological beliefs:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”

Adherents believe that political authority enumerated in the United States Constitution as belonging to the Federal Government must be read very narrowly to exclude much of what the national government already does. They argue for the recognition of limited sovereignty of the States. Opponents use the term in order to draw parallels between adherents and 19th century states’ rights secessionists, as well as the movement to resist Federal Civil Rights legislation.

This is the Ayn Randish version of the “Constitution” that Paul Ryan believes in.

Last September, GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan spoke at the Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center, a Washington, D.C. arm of the conservative institution that was founded under the leadership of Supreme Court spouse Virginia Thomas. The speech was delivered in commemoration of Constitution Day, and it provides a fairly substantial window into how he understands America’s most important document. Unfortunately, the speech also raises very real doubts about whether Mr. Ryan can distinguish the founders’ vision from his own. Ryan’s speech does not simply defend his laissez faire vision for the country, it suggests that this austere vision is mandated by the Constitution itself:

We can strengthen our defense of liberty if we remember to keep in mind those who are struggling to make ends meet. What makes our Constitution such an extraordinary document is that, in making the United States the freest civilization in history, the Founders guaranteed that it would become the most prosperous as well. The American system of limited government, low taxes, sound money, and the rule of law has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed.

That is scary. Make sure you click on the link and read the whole thing. Good thing that “death stench” is surrounding Ryan too.

I guess this has been kind of a strange post, but I’m in a strange mood today. I hope it makes at least some sense.  I realize I didn’t mention that today is the anniversary of 9/11, but JJ will have something about it later on.

So… what are you reading and blogging about today?