Grenell Was the Canary in Mitt’s Mine

All through the primaries, GOP voters were told that the silver lining of unlikable Mitt’s getting the nomination was that he could beat President Obama because he would appeal to moderates.  The base might not like him, but the candidates they preferred couldn’t win in November.

But if Mitt deserved such moderate support he would have stood up for Ric Grenell, whom who hired as his foreign policy spokesman, but wouldn’t defend against vicious attacks simply because Grenell is gay.  It doesn’t matter if Mitt’s personal beliefs are more reasonable if he won’t act on them.

If you wouldn’t vote for Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann, you shouldn’t vote for Mitt.

Whether the bat-shit wing of the party wins by nominating one of their own (Santorum, Bachmann) or by intimidating a less radical candidate (Romney), the result is the same — they win.

The extremists own Mitt now and will throughout his term if he’s elected.  He won’t want to face a primary in 2016.

Ric Grenell was the canary in Mitt’s mine of moderation.  He didn’t survive.

Mitt Should Keep His Mouth Shut

This is a challenging moment in our relations with China.  We have been getting cooperation from them on Iran, Syria, North Korea, and the valuation of their currency.  Now, relations are strained because of dissident Chen Guangcheng’s escape from house arrest and flight to the U. S. embassy in Beijing.  The Obama Administration wants to help Mr. Chen and his family without derailing the progress we have made with China on vital national security issues.

The timing is especially bad, given that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner are on their way to China for long-scheduled meetings.

So when he should just shut up and let the President handle this crisis (which some are calling the most serious with China since Tiananmen Square back in 1989), Mitt Romney jumps in to declare that we must confront the Chinese on their one-child policy.  The President is in a delicate diplomatic situation, and Mitt uses the moment for a purely political shout-out to the pro-life Republican base.

Great pandering, Mitt!  Leadership?  Statesmanship?  Not so much.

Mitt and bin Laden

In response to the Obama campaign’s questioning whether Mitt would have authorized the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Mitt is now saying that “of course” he would have, nothing to see here folks, move on.

But when you go back to the positions each candidate took in the primaries before the 2008 general, you find ample evidence to doubt Mitt.

In August 2007, Obama said, “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”

A couple of days later, Mitt attacked that position as wrong and specifically said he would not do a unilateral raid into Pakistan:  “I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours.”

Would Mitt have gotten bin Laden?  Based on the record, I would say, “Of course not.”

What Europe — and the U.S. — Should Be Doing

From “Hey, Not So Fast On European Austerity,” Christina D. Romer, NYT:

“The result is that austerity is uniquely destructive right now.  Indeed, because of the harsh effect of budget cutting on growth, debt-to-GDP ratios in Europe have continued to rise.

“The core of a more sensible approach is to pass the needed budget measures now, but to phase in the actual tax increases and spending cuts only gradually — as economies recover.  To use economists’ terminology, the measures should be backloaded.

“They should also be specific — no more deficit targets without specifying how they’ll be  achieved.  Instead, lay out right now whose taxes will be raised and what spending will be cut.  And specify when the measures will take effect — either along a set schedule, or tied explicitly to indicators of economic recovery.

[C]ountries that are not in distress, both inside and outside Europe, could help by stimulating their own economies.  For example, Germany has a relatively modest long-run deficit and an enormous trade surplus.  A tax cut for German consumers would raise domestic growth at a time when it’s anemic, and increase imports from its neighbors, helping them to grow as well.

“What about the United States, which faces a terrible long-run budget problem, but no immediate threats from the bond market?  The best policy here is to combine the backloaded consolidation I’m recommending for troubled countries with the short-run stimulus I’m advocating for countries like Germany.  We could enact something like the Bowles-Simpson plan to reduce the deficit sharply over 10 years, and include in it more near-term investment in infrastructure, education and scientific research.”

Dream on, Christina.  Angela Merkel is not about to listen to you, and neither is Mitt if he is elected.  If President Obama wanted to take your advice, you’d still be Chairwoman of his Council of Economic Advisers.

Hey, GOP, Darwin and Keynes Were Both Right

I guess it’s too much to ask from folks who can’t accept Darwin, but why can’t the GOP recognize that Keynes was right?  They look at Europe and draw exactly the wrong conclusions.

From “Europe’s Ills Reach the Heart of the Presidential Race,” Richard W. Stevenson, NYT:

“But whichever side of the ocean you are on, few topics are more ideologically divisive than fiscal policy, so it is no surprise that left and right are drawing very different conclusions from what is happening.

“From one perspective, the European experience provides yet more evidence that trying to cut budget deficits too aggressively can backfire in a big way when economies in most nations remain fragile.

“Britain’s austerity experiment in particular has been judged by economists to have been ill-timed and poorly constructed at best.  It is a reminder, in the consensus view, that the basic tenets of Keynesian economics — primarily, that government spending plays a key role in maintaining demand when the private sector is struggling in a financial crisis — remain as valid as ever.

“In the United States, the British experience is being held up by Democrats and mainstream economists as an object lesson in the risks inherent in aggressive short-term budget cutting amid signs that the recovery could be losing traction again.

“However flawed the stimulus plan that Mr. Obama pushed through Congress in 2009, fiscal policy has helped the United States generate stronger growth rates coming out of the recession than Britain or the euro zone countries as a whole.”  Emphasis added.


Right Track/Wrong Track/More Wrong Track

My husband, who will vote for Mitt, keeps reminding me that back in 2008, I kept telling him to ignore head-to-head polls, favorables/unfavorables, and anything except right track/wrong track stats.  By that measure, President Obama is currently not doing well, with wrong track voters at about 61%, and right track voters at only about 32%.

But I think voters also realize that just because they think the country is on the wrong track doesn’t mean they should vote for Mitt.  I’m convinced they recognize that in addition to the right track and the wrong track, there is a “more wrong” track, and that is where the Mitt express would take us.

It’s the track that Europe’s on right now, and the GOP is all for the sort of drastic austerity that would take us further away from the right track.

It Would Be Ironic If…

I think President Obama will be re-elected.  But one of the things that could cost him the election would be if the economic crisis in Europe spins out of control and has consequences here so dire that Americans lose turn to Mitt out of panic.

It would be ironic if Europe costs Obama the election because the same policies that are ruining Europe and causing further economic contraction and suffering — too much emphasis on austerity without enough emphasis on growth — are the ones the Republicans favor and Mitt wants to impose on us.

Greece Is the Word

The false talking point that the U. S. is on the path to becoming Greece is popular among GOP politicians and pundits, designed to strike terror into voters’ hearts and make them vote for Mitt.  The effectiveness of this lie depends on voters knowing a little, but not too much.

To be scared about our becoming Greece, voters have to know that Greece is in huge trouble.  But they can’t know that the analogy doesn’t hold, that we are nothing like Greece.  Fewer votes know this.  Fewer voters will stop to think that we have our own floating currency, while Greece does not; that we have a central bank, while Greece does not; that we can print money, while Greece cannot.  Fewer voters will know the actual numbers of the incredibly low rates at which the U. S. borrows money and the incredibly high rates at which Greece borrows.

This cynical GOP strategy proves the old adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  A Republican victory in November relies on low-information voters.  For the Obama campaign, more information will lead to more votes.

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.