“Hit the Road, Barack!” and Related Matters



This week’s magazine cover


Wow.  I honestly never expected to see anything like this in Newsweek.  Certainly not on the cover.  And especially nothing of this sort that had been written by a professor of history at Harvard who is also a senior research fellow at Oxford.  Such people typically cluster around the likes of . . . well, Barack Obama.


Of course, there’s still some lingering Obama-veneration out there.  (Technically, I believe it should be called hyperdulia.  I respectfully disagree with those who contend that it’s actually crossed the line over into actual latria.)  Here, for instance, is a peculiarly amusing instance of it.


Though, just today, he finally met for a few minutes with actual news correspondents, Mr. Obama has spent weeks and weeks and weeks avoiding serious questions from serious reporters (while routinely opening himself up for fawning and shallow interviews with lightweight entertainment shows, etc.).  But he and his surrogates have remained focused like a laser on the pressing matter of Mr. Romney’s tax returns:



This is, obviously, a bogus issue.


The Obama campaign is attempting to insinuate, without really saying so (which might be legally actionable), that Governor Romney may have committed a crime by paying the taxes that he did, and, if not, that he certainly should have paid more taxes than he was legally obligated to pay.  Yet, if there were any substantial evidence that such a crime had been committed, one would imagine that the Internal Revenue Service would have been looking into the matter.  And does anybody seriously think that anyone has a moral obligation to chip in more in federal taxes than the law actually requires?


The real point, of course, is to attempt to highlight Mr. Romney’s wealth — and, thereby, to accentuate his Otherness — and, if possible, to tie him and his campaign up in endless explanations and justification of this or that item in his tax returns or his income.  Recently, the Obama campaign indicated that, if Governor Romney would just release, oh, five years of his tax returns, they would have nothing more to say on the subject.  But, of course, if what they’ve been vocally claiming in the wake of the Obama Super PAC’s suggestion that Mitt Romney  is personally responsible for the death of steelworker Joe Soptic’s wife from cancer is true, they don’t, can’t, control what their pro-Obama fellow travelers say and do — which means that this promise is precisely worthless.


The tax returns of a very rich man are likely to be quite complex.  And it may very well be that he has substantial accounts in various tax shelters and overseas — as any prudent person with the means and with competent financial advisors is likely to have.  There would, in other words, be enough in Mr. Romney’s tax returns, even if (as seems overwhelmingly likely) they have been legally and competently prepared, to keep him off balance and off message from now until the election — and, thus, to distract the attention of the electorate from Mr. Obama’s disastrous economy, from high rates of unemployment, from the financial catastrophe that looms on America’s horizon, and from the Obama administration’s policy stance (nicely summarized in the image immediately below) regarding the impending collapse of Medicare and related entitlement programs.  The Romney campaign is right to refuse this cynical invitation from the Obama attack machine.


The Obama administration takes decisive action to deal with the future of Medicare.



New Testament 92
Volcanic Lightning and the Book of Mormon
A touching short video about daddy-daughter relationships
An invitation to be amazed
  • Eric Ringger

    Dan, with regard to the subject of Ferguson’s arguments, there is a thought-provoking fact-check over on the Atlantic. For your consideration:
    Regards. –Eric

    • http://Loydo38.blogspot.com The narrator

      Dan doesn’t care about “facts.” nothing gets in the way with his love affair with the do-know-wrong Romney.

      • danpeterson

        “The narrator’s” hostility to me is personal, comprehensive, vocal, routinely insulting and uncivil, and of long standing. My disagreement with him can’t be intellectually honest or sincere, of course. It has to be evidence of my disdain for truth.


        • http://loydo38.blogspot.com the narrator

          Oh Dan…. In my nine years of blogging I have written 2 posts addressing you–both of which in response to you misrepresenting me. 2. I think I had a couple more lines on facebook, and a series of fb posts responding to your blatant misrepresentation of me in your FAIR presentation.

          How many posts about Obama have you written on your blog–on the Mormon channel, of all places?? How many facebook posts have you done about Obama?

          If my supposed “hostility” towards you that you imagine me to have is really that “personal, comprehensive, vocal, routinely insulting and uncivil, and of long standing,” then your hostile obsession with Obama–and corresponding amorous obsession with Romney–is probably worthy of clinical treatment and Secret Service attention.

          Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Get a grip on reality, dude.

          • danpeterson

            LOL. It’s not just your blog entries, of course. (I was only aware of ONE of those, by the way, and came across THAT one by sheer chance.)

          • danpeterson

            Incidentally, once more, for “the narrator” and the perhaps two others who have complained about my making political comments on Patheos:

            “Sic et Non” already existed before it came to Patheos. I was already making political comments on it. Patheos invited me to bring “Sic et Non” into Patheos. They approached me. I didn’t approach them. They knew what they were getting. I explicitly asked them if coming into Patheos would require me to post only on religious topics, and specifically asked whether I would need to eschew politics — because, I said, I happened to like what I was doing (which had typically involved comments on religion, movies, politics, travel, and a variety of other topics) and didn’t particularly want to change it in any fundamental way. Part of the purpose of my blogging was, as G. K. Chesterton might have put it, to express my own potty little self, and, among other things, I’m very interested in politics and economics. They said that no fundamental change was required. So I made the jump. And I’m quite capable of making the jump back to independence, as well.

            It absolutely doesn’t bother me, by the way, that “the narrator” holds and expresses his wrong-headed political opinions. I’m unlikely ever to write to him or about him expressing the desire, even implicitly, that he shut up.

    • danpeterson

      I’m sure that there are those who disagree strongly with Niall Ferguson. I would imagine that he can speak up in his own defense.

  • christine

    I am trying to imagine, (IMAgine) that our tax attourney would be subject to media attention…. poor Sammy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • John Talbot

    Dear Mr Peterson,

    You may like to download and listen to the 2012 BBC Reith Lectures, delivered by the same Niall Ferguson. The first and fourth of these lectures are especially good, and I think that you, a spirited polemicist, would relish the flair with which Ferguson, during the Q-and-A portions, holds his own against his hostile audiences at the London School of Economics and in Edinburgh. http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/reith

    • danpeterson

      Sounds like fun. I’m quite confident that he can hold his own.

  • Toadvine

    Dear Dan,

    There are (all too) many legitimate ways to critique the Obama presidency. . . and als0 to disagree with Niall Ferguson’s Newsweek article. But there are facts that it doesn’t take much effort to check, and the figures Ferguson cites and the truth-shading tactics he employs have now been debunked across the political spectrum. In addition to The Atlantic post Eric linked to, there is also this piece — among many — from Business Insider:



    • danpeterson

      I’ll let Professor Ferguson defend himself. He does it very well.

      • Toadvine

        Certainly not in this incident. His culling of the CBO quote has made him a laughing stock:


        Nor has he been able to defend his many egregiously wrong economic predictions made since 2009. Business Insider has a recap of his streak of economic errors and lost bets:


        Finally, this is not just a left-liberal critique. Many conservatives, like the realist Dan Drezner, have critiqued his shoddy hackwork:


        As Drezner and Byers note, Ferguson’s defense simply compounded his errors. Dan, having read these rebuttals and the full context of the CBO wrote what defense of Ferguson’s have you found so cogent?


      • Toadvine

        And before any further defense of Ferguson is made, one should be acquainted with his treachery to his own side. He writes in the Newsweek article that:

        “I was a good loser four years ago. “In the grand scheme of history,” I wrote the day after Barack Obama’s election as president, “four decades is not an especially long time. Yet in that brief period America has gone from the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. to the apotheosis of Barack Obama. You would not be human if you failed to acknowledge this as a cause for great rejoicing.”

        That is highly deceptive. In the Daily Mail article he cites from November, 2008 he claims that he didn’t lose . . . he switched sides to the Obama team after McCain proved to be a terrible disappointment incapable of the office he was running for! This is an opportunist of the lowest order and highest suspicion, one no side should trust. Here’s the Daily Mail article:


        Key quote:

        “Not long after this marathon campaign got under way nearly two years ago, I became one of John McCain’s foreign policy advisers. At that time, he struck me as ideally suited to the job of president.
        With America preoccupied by terrorist threats and foreign wars, he combined first-hand military experience and gritty personal integrity.
        If national security had remained the dominant issue in this election year, I might have stayed on board.
        But when the facts change, you have to be ready to change your mind; and the facts changed dramatically when the financial crisis that originated last year in the sub-prime mortgage market blew up into a full-scale panic this September and October.
        Economics, John McCain was frank enough to admit in an unguarded moment, is not his strong suit. It turned out not to be his party’s strong suit either.
        Not since the early Seventies – perhaps not since the early Thirties – has the U.S. experienced a financial crisis of this magnitude. It is a crisis that calls for an entirely different set of skills from those John McCain evinced in this campaign.
        While McCain was impulsive, his opponent was cool. While McCain was irascible, his opponent was calm.
        And while McCain made the single worst decision of his political career – choosing the lightweight Sarah Palin as his running mate – his opponent was collected.
        In all three presidential debates, as the public mood shifted from economic anxiety to outright panic, the two candidates diverged. The more edgy McCain became, the more centred Obama became.
        In a crisis like this, we need three things from a new president. We need an inaugural address as inspiring as Franklin Roosevelt’s in 1933. We need a temperament that doesn’t overheat under pressure.
        And we need disciplined, focused organisation, to ensure that the new administration does not bungle its first 100 days the way Bill Clinton bungled his in 1993.
        In this campaign, which has combined soaring oratory with superhuman sang-froid and faultless management, Obama has shown he has all three qualities. McCain’s went missing in action.
        The tragedy – the word is not too strong – is, of course, that the first black president is inheriting such a huge financial mess.”

        Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1083405/NIALL-FERGUSON-Prejudice-crushed-march-history.html#ixzz24OjMM8p0

        • danpeterson

          Wow. It seems that the knives are really out. I guess people at Harvard aren’t permitted to oppose Mr. Obama’s reelection and/or to do it in Newsweek without their characters being defamed. They’re traitors to their class, and must be destroyed. Dissent is not permitted. It’s total war.

          • Toadvine

            As someone who has experienced too much war that’s hyperbolic and silly, Dan, and I’m unpersuaded that you actually read the DailyMail link and very words of Niall Ferguson I provided above. If you now do so, you’ll see that Ferguson boasts of signing on as a John McCain foreign policy advisor . . . only to collect his check and stab him in the back by writing that he actually supported Obama in ’08! Later, he would mischaracterize his stance as having ALWAYS supported McCain and being a “good loser” (link provided above). This is not defamation of character, these ARE HIS OWN WORDS for you to read and meditate on.

            In addition, you can read William Dalrymple catching Ferguson flat-footed in his abandonment of American Imperialism and the Bush Doctrine. In 2007, Ferguson would whine in the NYRB that:

            “William Dalrymple [”Plain Tales from British India,” NYR, April 26], accuses me of having “encouraged the US to embrace empire.” He adds in a footnote that I have “recently expressed doubts about the capacity of the US to sustain the imperial interventions he earlier supported.”

            Dalrymple, in his reply, quotes Ferguson from 2003:

            “Let me come clean. I am a fully paid up member of the neoimperialist gang. Twelve years ago—when it was not fashionable to say so—I was already arguing that it would be “desirable for the United States to depose” tyrants like Saddam Hussein. “Capitalism and democracy,” I wrote, “are not naturally occurring, but require strong institutional foundations of law and order. The proper role of an Imperial America is to establish these institutions where they are lacking, if necessary by military force.” Today this argument is in danger of becoming a commonplace…. Max Boot has gone so far as to say the United States should provide places like Afghanistan and other troubled countries with “the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets.” I agree.”


            Dan, regardless of ideology, to defend Ferguson’s many lies and evasions is to be wholly unfamiliar with his well-established and easily accessed printed record. I encourage you to take the minimal efforts to recognize the blatant works of a charlatan.


          • danpeterson

            I don’t buy into this kind of rhetorical total war. Sorry.

          • Toadvine

            Dan writes: “I don’t buy into this kind of rhetorical total war. Sorry.”

            If you bought into Ferguson’s Newsweek article, replete with errors exposed by Left and Right, then you already have.

  • DGarr

    Mr. Romney is running for President of the United States.
    This is a position of Trust.
    Ronald Reagan said, “Trust but Verify.”
    Mr. Romney has said, “Trust me,” re his tax returns.
    It is not unreasonable for voters to want to “Verify.
    It is not just liberals who want to see Romney’s tax returns.
    It is 63% of American voters who do.
    The longer Mr. Romney delays, the more suspicious it appears.
    Obama released 8 years of tax returns
    GW Bush 10 years
    Clinton 12 years
    GHW Bush 14 years
    George Romney 12 years.
    What is the problem, Mr. Romney? Release your tax returns.

    • danpeterson

      The IRS evidently spotted no problem, so you think some pro-Obama Super PACs need to have a look?

      This is silly.

      Are you insinuating that Mr. Romney has committed tax fraud, and that he should be presumed guilty until he proves himself innocent to hostile observers?

      Again, this is silly.

      Reveal ten years of YOUR tax returns. Unless and until you’ve done so, I’ll presume that you committed felonious fraud. And I’ll very likely think so even if you DO release them.

  • christine

    @DGarr so you presume to know if Romney/his accountants are lying in those tax returns if you are allowed to study them ? Good luck. Here are some names of nice people who could do a Romney audit for you. http://www.nndb.com/company/947/000121584/