Mitt’s Cotton Candy Speech

I both watched and read Mitt Romney’s speech in New Hampshire ushering in his general election campaign.  While the speech got good press, both for Mitt’s improved delivery and for its message, I thought it was nauseating.  His tone was condescending, as if we were all grade-school children, and his content was cynical.  As for policy or substance, Mitt stood before us and spun a giant cone of cotton candy.

He promised us a “better America,” but he didn’t say how.  He said that he wanted to know “what you think we can do to make this country better.”  Um, Mitt, you’re the candidate, that’s kind of your job.

But then he said he’d tell us “a little bit about myself.”  So I thought, ok, now he’s going to get into some policy.  But no, he said he’d tell us about Ann and his kids and grandkids and how much he loves this country and what a success he’d been in business.

When he said, “And after 25 years, I know how to lead us out of this stagnant Obama economy and into a job-creating economy,” I was sure he was finally about to tell us how.  But he just left us hanging again at he “knows how,” without sharing what he knows, and immediately pivoted to criticizing President Obama.

After talking about Obama’s government-centered vision, Mitt said he had a very different vision.  So again I thought he was going to offer some substance.  You know his vision?  It’s “an America driven by freedom where free people, pursuing happiness in their own unique ways, create free enterprises that employ more and more Americans.”  Who the hell wrote that — Chauncey Gardiner?  He faults Obama for still blaming George Bush.  Mitt seemed to be blaming George III.  If only we had our freedom, if only we could pursue happiness, if only we had free enterprise…  Oh, wait, we’ve had all that for about 230 years.

The pandering was so over-the-top it could have come from an SNL sketch.  Mitt did shout outs to single moms working two jobs, couples on food stamps, and grandparents who can’t afford enough gas to visit their grandkids.  Forget all that tough primary talk, new “general election” Mitt feels your pain.

It got especially deep when he said that as he looks at the unemployed, “it breaks my heart.”  This from the guy who caused so many Americans to become unemployed when he ruthlessly ran Bain Capital, thinking only of his bottom line and not those who would hit bottom because of him.

There were the usual hyberbolic howlers:  “With Obamacare fully installed, government will come to control half the economy, and we will have effectively ceased to be a free enterprise society.”  “We’ll stop the days of apologizing for success at home and never again apologize for America abroad.”

Mitt looked good by comparison when he was surrounded by the unqualified and the extreme, by Cain and Bachmann and Gingrich and Santorum and Perry.  Without them, he looks like the same insincere empty suit he was last time around.

Terrible speech, terrible candidate, terrible campaign.

It Matters Whether You Were Born on Third Base or You Hit a Triple

From “Why the battle over Mitt Romney’s ‘silver spoon’ upbringing matters,” Greg Sargent, WaPo:

The upbringings of Obama and Romney — and the contrast between them are relevant not just because presidential races are a clash of personalities and biographies. They also bear directly on the basic policy argument between the two men over how best to create opportunity and shared prosperity, a central dispute in this campaign.

“Obama argues that government needs to play a larger role in facilitating opportunity, via more investments in education, financial aid, and so forth. He cites himself as an example of someone who might not have been able to advance in life without such assistance.

“Romney, by contrast, argues that the government activism to combat inequality Obama advocates amounts to government-enforced “equal outcomes,” or worse, the politics of “envy” and “class warfare.” Romney insists that rolling back government and unshackling the private sector is the best way to combat inequality, by creating opportunity, shared prosperity and social mobility. Romney, too, has cited himself as proof of what the private sector can accomplish along these lines, if only we’ll let it. He has directly equated his own success with the benefits that “free enterprise” can shower on anyone.

“In other words, both men are citing themselves as walking emblems of their own policy visions. No one is claiming that Romney didn’t earn his money or that he isn’t a very hard worker. But if Romney is going to argue that his own success proves that unshackling the free market is the primary way to facilitate broadly shared prosperity and opportunities for those who currently don’t share in either — and that Obama’s call for more government efforts to promote both would be counter-productive — the early advantages Romney enjoyed are directly relevant to the debate.”  Emphasis added.