Posts Tagged ‘47 percent’

Will the ‘Real’ Mitt Please Stand Up?

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Obama's debate implosion, by Andrew Harrar/Bloomberg via Getty Images

By Emily Theroux

One short week ago, President Barack Obama was on top of his game, running 2-7 points ahead in 11 battlefield state polls, thanks to the wave of so-called “waitress moms” (white, blue-collar women without college educations) who had swung the incumbent’s way after his rival’s May fundraiser videotape — which disparaged 47 percent of Americans as irredeemable moochers malingering on taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars —  came to light.

At the time, Obama enjoyed an eye-popping 18 percent margin among all likely women voters. That astonishing lead, however, evaporated after “Mendacious Mitt” Romney used the first presidential debate to flip-flop his way back into the good graces of working-class white women and win over undecided voters. Meanwhile, Obama largely stood by without calling Romney out on his lies.

The MittBot had been in virtual freefall for two weeks before the debate. Obama appeared poised to outshine his badly stumbling opponent by highlighting Romney’s “severely conservative” agenda. I expected the president to mount the stage in Denver and chip away at MittWit’s “47 percent” videotape debacle, then spotlight Mitt’s reluctance to present a detailed picture of what he actually intends to do in office. Obama would likely close by hammering home the question he has posed rhetorically to Romney throughout the race: “What are you hiding in all of those undisclosed tax returns?”

Willard "Etch A Sketch" Romney is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates. You never know which one you're going to get.

But the Republican candidate who showed up for the debate was a new, improved Mitt Romney, freshly cranked out of the Etch A Sketch for some 70 million TV viewers, many of whom hadn’t listened to a word from either candidate before that evening. Multiple Choice Mitt was free to be whoever he wanted to be — with or without the consent of Rush Limbaugh, Erick Erickson, or Ann Coulter.

The centrist GOP pol who turned up on that stage was no “severe conservative.” Obama looked as astonished as any well-informed voter at the modulated, almost-reasonable sound bites that emerged from Romney’s mouth. The problem was that the low-info crowd who usually ignore politics didn’t know the difference.


‘I think it’s fair to say I was just too polite,’ said Obama.

My take on the president’s lackluster performance? Obama took the stage armed with thoughtful retorts to the wingnut demagoguery his opponent had been parroting for the previous 18 months. When Romney reversed one after another of his extremist talking points, Obama was stunned into a perplexed ennui.* He may have been thrown off his game by the previous night’s “race speech” brouhaha, and perhaps he even submitted to a last-minute appeal from his Chicago team to stay cool and fly under the radar.

But whatever the reason for Obama’s apparent malaise, the approach failed miserably. “I think it’s fair to say I was just too polite,”  Obama mused a week later. “Because, you know, sometimes it’s hard to just keep on saying, ‘What you’re saying isn’t true.’ It gets repetitive.”

Massachusetts Mitt stood up there dishing out plausible-sounding positions as if he’d never carried water for Hannity and El Rushbo. His erstwhile “parasitic” 47 percenters — the low-wage workers who keep Uncle Sam at bay by claiming Reagan-era tax credits — slurped it up with a white plastic spork.

Plutocrat Mitt told a roomful of “have-mores” that these have-nots were professional “victims” whom he wasn’t even going to worry about during his elitist presidential run — yet Everyman Mitt smirked through his lying teeth, gushed about “our poor,” and might as well have called them “my base.”

Will the “real” Mitt Romney please stand up?

* A Daily Kos blogger, AmBushed, theorized that Romney used a debate technique known as “the Gish Gallop,” which, according to the Urban Dictionary, “involves spewing so much BS in such a short span that your opponent can’t address let alone counter all of it. To make matters worse, a Gish Gallop will often have one or more ‘talking points’ that has a tiny core of truth to it, making the person rebutting it spend even more time debunking it in order to explain that, yes, it’s not totally false, but the Galloper is distorting/misusing/misstating the actual situation.”


Underwhelmed by Massachusetts Mitt’s debating style

By the second time out of four that Romney repeated his favorite bald-faced anti-Obama lie — “Obama is going to steal $716 billion from your Medicare benefits” — without a sign of challenge or retort from the president, I knew Obama’s chances of winning the debate were in peril. The problem was that he didn’t know it. Obama was subdued, pensive, professorial, and working harder to corral his obvious scorn than he did to make forceful debate points.

Romney’s performance, however, was appalling. He was shifty-eyed, devious, oblique, and overbearing. He lied shamelessly and with few challenges from the moderator, made up his own rules for the debate, and contradicted every position he has ever claimed he espoused throughout the campaign. “OmniMitt the Apostate” argued the right, left, and center positions of every issue. He abandoned his own party’s platform, uttering heresy after heresy against conservative orthodoxy.

Does Mitt Romney even privately believe in any of the things he says, or does he simply practice situation ethics, selecting a “core belief” to match every occasion? He’s altered his “message” so many times in the past week that it’s giving me vertigo. The “severely conservative” primary candidate, with his hard-right bromides about tax cuts, regulations, and mandatory vaginal probes, changes his opinions on taxes and abortion nowadays more often than women change their tampons.

Yet Romney continues to deny his Etch A Sketch rap. “You want to know my position on issues?” he challenged a journalist. “Ask me, and I’ll tell you.”

And what would he tell you? It depends on his mood, his audience, his campaign’s current machinations, and the edicts of the far right. One day, he’s fiercely pro-life; the next, he doesn’t foresee acting on any kind of anti-abortion proposal. Yesterday, he railed against regulating business; today, he insists some type of regulation is essential. Throughout his campaign, he promised a 20 percent, across-the-board tax cut; during the debate, he flatly rejected its $5 trillion price tag. Mitt disputed his own positions on energy independence, cutting Medicare funding for current seniors, and firing teachers. He also assured debate viewers he would keep Obamacare’s popular “pre-existing conditions” provision (an assertion his campaign staff immediately  “walked back” offstage).

In the end, the only really consistent principle Romney has followed is that it doesn’t really matter what he says from one day to the next. If he works enough variation into the mix, he succeeds in confusing voters, confounding his critics, and backing his opponent into a corner. Obama now understands why his own straightforward, linear approach has worked against him thus far. As a general rule, Republicans believe the end justifies the means, while Democrats view that type of dissembling as a moral failing. If they’re not using the same playbook, how can the “right-versus-might” team get a jump on the “anything goes” crowd?

“Last week, Mitt Romney was the Lance Armstrong of politics, using performance-enhancing lies to win the debate,” MSNBC’s Martin Bashir observed.

How do you catch a dancing laser beam, or snag a really slippery fish while it’s furiously flipping in and out of the water?

“MittFlop” never promised to fight fair — or to hold still while Obama struggled to bait his hook.

Mittastrophe! Secret Videotape Reveals the Republicans’ Real Class Warfare

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Still photo and videotape* courtesy Mother Jones

*Videotape, Part 1 ………………………………………………. *Videotape, Part 2

By Emily Theroux

“Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. … Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

— Matthew 25: 41-45, The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats

* * *

Malingerers, moochers, freeloaders … the ugly, racially charged words roll in with the wholesome manure-reek of Mitt Romney’s imagined heartland, where the bounteous harvest is in, “the 53 percent” pay their taxes, and true patriots don’t take nothin’ from nobody. Unemployed bottom-feeders who don’t want to work for a living — that’s how the “severe conservatives” Mitt emulates have characterized the “least of these,” the poor, sick, hungry, and downtrodden whom Christ taught his followers to care for.

Almost half the American populace “are dependent upon government,” Mitt tells an audience of fellow zillionaires. The objects of his derision are folks who, he asserts, “believe they are victims” or “believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing” and other perks of deliberate parasitism on the taxpayers’ dime.

If you voted for Barack Obama for president in the 2008 election, that’s how “Willard of Oz”, as Chris Matthews crowned him, perceives you.

During the months after May 17, when a videotape was surreptitiously recorded of Romney addressing a $150-a-plate fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., bits and pieces of it surfaced on YouTube without attracting much attention. Then James Carter IV, former President Jimmy Carter’s activist grandson, gave a copy to investigative reporter David Corn, who posted a salient snippet of it on the website of Mother Jones magazine.

Viewers were astonished to hear the GOP candidate speaking in a straightforward but glib and cynical tone of voice — a total departure from the practiced, artificial wheedle he employs on camera or the sanctimonious platitudes he dishes out at campaign rallies. You may notice that he sounds slicker (and, if possible, even more calculating and ruthless) than you previously imagined. After listening for a moment, you realize that this new, no-nonsense tone is something you’ve never heard before: the unaccustomed sound of Mitt Romney telling the truth — to people he doesn’t look down on, about people he does.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what, all right? There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That it’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. … And they will vote for this president no matter what. These are people who pay no income tax. My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Mitt thinks his job, I repeat, is “not to worry about those people.” (Shades of Lady Ann, Rafalca the Austrian warmblood, and #YouPeople!) Willard Romney had written off 47 percent of the public — a stupendous number of people to hold in utter contempt — with the sole purpose of pandering to a handful of rich donors. The gobsmacking “tale of the tape” went viral within hours, ricocheting around cyberspace. Two days out, the one-minute video had been viewed 7.1 million times, the second-highest number of YouTube hits ever on a political story. (Katie Couric’s 2008 interview of Sarah Palin topped the list, with 24.4 million views.)

While far-right radio talkers didn’t wait for a cue to defend the standard-bearer they had once conditionally accepted, reviews of Romney’s “performance” by mainstream pols and pundits were withering:

  • “A sneering plutocrat” (Jonathan Chait, New York magazine)
  • “Thurston Howell Romney” (David Brooks, The New York Times)
  •  “Arrogant and stupid remarks” (Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard)
  • “Not big, not brave, not thoughtfully tackling the issues … An intervention is in order” (Peggy Noonan, WSJ)
  • “An increasing problem with him being able to connect with voters” (Mark McKinnon, GOP strategist)
  • “The worst presidential-candidate gaffe since Gerald Ford announced in 1976 that ‘there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe'” (David Frum, former George W. Bush speechwriter)
  • “You don’t win an election by disparaging just about half of the electorate” (Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, on Fox News)
  • “Inaccurate, insensitive, almost callous in (his) disregard for the American people ” (Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania)
  • “You trashed the very people who are your margin of success” (Chris Matthews, MSNBC)
  • “A magnetic moral compass that has no true north” (Alex Wagner, MSNBC)
  • “That’s not the way I view the world. … (B)eing on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in.” (Scott Brown, GOP senator from Massachusetts, who “grew up in tough circumstances”)
  • “(T)he vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be” (Linda McMahon, Connecticut Senate candidate)
  • “We’re losing” (Jim Dyke, veteran GOP strategist)
  • “This is what it looks like for the wheels to come off” (Rachel Maddow, MSNBC pundit, Rhodes scholar, national treasure)
  • “Mitt Romney is not the face of Mormonism” (Dr. Gregory Prince,** Mormon historian and author)
  • “I’d say Romney’s performance will help to determine most of the close Senate contests” (Larry Sabato, University of Virginia political scientist)
  • “My feeling is maybe you haven’t gotten around a lot” (Barack Obama, President, USA)

Lord Willard writes off people ‘who don’t pay taxes.’ Does he?
Un-freaking-believable! Lord Willard Romney’s blowing off half the nation because of the GOP’s misleading “new orthodoxy,” popular during the Republican primary season, which suggests that 47 percent of Americans “don’t pay any taxes” or don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes. The way Romney explained it to what Eddie Murphy once termed a “roomful of rich dummies,” I don’t think even Mitt knew what he meant.

The now-infamous 47 percent statistic (which Mitt mangled into his own inaccurate Obama vote percentage) actually refers to a taxpayer analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, showing that 46.4 percent of American households did not pay federal income tax in 2011. “The households in question consist primarily of the retired, the poor and low-income families with children,” two New York Times reporters explained. “Moreover, they do pay taxes, if not income taxes: Just 8 percent of households do not pay payroll or federal income taxes, discounting the elderly.”

“Many people don’t pay income taxes because they’re so poor they don’t make enough money to be able to pay income taxes,” former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. “But they pay payroll taxes, they pay state taxes, they pay excise taxes. This man apparently feels that if you’re not a part of his social class or you don’t have his economic status, that somehow you’re a parasite.”

Another reason that a larger percentage of people pay less in taxes is that Republican fiscal policies have provided tax incentives to low-income workers — including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the child tax credit, which enable low earners to offset a portion of their income tax obligation with exemptions similar to the mortgage interest and property tax deductions that benefit middle-class workers.

Erick Erickson, above, of the right-wing blog RedState, angered by the Occupy Wall Street movement, started the "We Are the 53%" Tumblr to provide a site where conservatives could express their views.

Since Obama’s inauguration, however, GOP legislators have become so resentful that they’ve turned against their own policies, including the EITC, originally passed by Gerald Ford and later expanded by Ronald Reagan. This deduction was intended to help “lift people out of poverty” and provide them with an incentive to keep working at tough jobs that paid very little. But when President Obama’s stimulus bill and other tax legislation expanded EITC benefits and extended relief from the “marriage penalty,” Tea Partiers viewed it as providing lazy “moochers” with unfair advantages. (The right-wing “We Are the 53 Percent” movement was founded to express such sentiments, after the Occupy Wall Street movement caught on nationwide.

A final question, after slogging through the videotape: Isn’t Mitt himself one of the 47 percent he dismisses, by his own definition? He doesn’t have a job. (Translation from Republican: He’s a lazy POS.) He pays neither income tax nor payroll tax. (In other words, he’s the paragon of “victimology.”) And because he refuses to release his tax returns, 100 percent of Americans remain in the dark about whether he really pays the measly 15 percent capital gains tax on his investment “income” (already the biggest scam in the annals of tax avoidance — and yet the wannabe Veepster, Paul Ryan, wants to eliminate this loophole altogether!).

As it turns out, CNN Money published a story about this very subject after the “Mittastrophe” tape went viral. “The Tax Policy Center estimates that 4,000 households with incomes over $1 million ended up with zero federal income tax liability in 2011,” Jeanne Sahadi wrote. “Another 14,000 made between $500,000 and $1 million.” Mitt Romney admitted to his Boca Raton audience that he is one of them.

Release the tax returns!!!

Colbert: ‘He dropped the R bomb: redistribution. Which is just fancy talk for a black guy’s coming for your stuff’
The Romney campaign has apparently done some tape-sleuthing of its own, digging up another golden oldie: a grainy recording of then-Illinois State Senator Obama, speaking at a 1998 Loyola University conference on Chicago city government. Obama had the misfortune to have uttered the word “redistribution,” albeit in a completely different context from that of the current GOP “Romneyhood” feeding frenzy over the designs of the poor on rich people’s’ “rightful” lucre.

It didn’t matter that Obama was really talking about “fostering marketplace competition” and business innovation, not rampaging serfs pillaging the fortunes of their feudal lords. Mitt’s team pounced anyway, diced and spliced the tape, and excerpted the sliver they wanted from the part might have resonated with the great unwashed 47 percent. Bingo! You stay classy, Romney-O!)

Will the scum-suckers, leeches, and other assorted parasites that Lord Romney so viciously disdained, when surrounded by his “peerage,” buy the new, improved “Moderate Mitt” who came out last night as the candidate of “the 100 percent”? No, if you ask me. Will the wingnut blowhards breaketh wind? Too early to call.

I say let’s Occupy Romneyworld and throw him to the crocodiles circling the sorry carcass of his candidacy in the moat below the castle walls.

* * *

* Click the following links to view Part 1  and Part 2 of the videotape, which was recorded surreptitiously at a May 17 Romney campaign fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla. Videotape courtesy Mother Jones.

** “When the news of Mitt Romney’s Florida video broke on Monday evening, I was incensed — but not for its political implications,” wrote Dr. Gregory Prince, Mormon historian and author who knew the candidate personally. “His arrogant and out-of-hand dismissal of half the population of this country struck me at a visceral level, for it sullied the religion that he and I share — the religion for which five generations of my ancestry have lived and sacrificed, the religion whose official mantra is ‘to take care of the poor and needy throughout the world.’ My first impulse was to rent an airplane towing a banner: ‘Mitt Romney is Not the Face of Mormonism!'”

In a future column, I’ll discuss the people who actually do receive government checks – and ask why in hell Mitt Romney thinks he has any right to look down his nose at them.