What would Romney do?

In raising the question why both campaigns are ignoring Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts, Ezra Klein (a liberal) goes on to show how that record might not matter too much.  In doing so, he gives a succinct account of what both Romney and Congressional Republicans are planning to do should the election go their way:

In Massachusetts, Romney governed a blue electorate, and negotiated with a Democratic legislature. If he wins the presidency this fall, he will almost certainly be negotiating with a Republican House and Senate, which would be swept into office along with him.

We don’t have to pore over every decision Romney made in Massachusetts to discern what he would do in Washington if elected. Romney and the Republicans in Congress have explained exactly what they intend to accomplish — and their plans are remarkably in sync.

The budget prepared by Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, and the Romney campaign’s general-election platform look quite similar. Both would cut taxes while flattening the tax code. Their Medicare-reform plans look similar; Ryan even modified his original draft to make it look more like Romney’s, which allows seniors to choose between traditional fee-for-service Medicare and private options. Their plans to increase defense spending are alike, as are their plans to cut domestic spending and to turn Medicaid, food stamps and other safety-net programs over to the states.

Because it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which Romney is elected and Republicans don’t hold the House and win control of the Senate, Republicans wouldn’t be stymied by Democratic opposition. They would have the votes to pass their agenda. True, they won’t get a filibuster-proof majority of 60 in the upper chamber, but Ryan’s budget is, well, a budget, which means it could be passed through the budget reconciliation process — and couldn’t be filibustered. To enact a radical change of direction, Republicans need only a simple majority of votes.

via Why neither Obama nor Romney wants to talk about Romney’s record – The Washington Post.

What both parties don’t want to talk about

As the Mitt Romney campaign hails his business experience and as the Obama campaign demonizes it neither side wants to talk about what is surely Romney’s most pertinent qualification for the presidency; namely, being governor of Massachusetts.  Ezra Klein explains why both parties are avoiding that topic:

Why have we spent approximately no time talking about Romney’s governorship?

The answer, again, is that neither campaign really wants to. The Romney campaign wants to avoid it because Romney governed from the center in ways that could now alienate the right. In a Republican Party looking for a true conservative, Romney sees little but danger in his record. His signature legislative accomplishment was the forerunner to “Obamacare.” Meanwhile, his state ranked 47th in job creation during his term. (So much for the secret knowledge gleaned from Bain about how to create jobs.)

The Obama campaign doesn’t want to discuss it because Romney’s centrist record as governor might comfort independents, who otherwise may fear that Romney is a creature of the right. “I think people recognize that I’m not a partisan Republican, that I’m someone who is moderate, and that my views are progressive,” Romney said in 2002.

His health-care reform extended coverage to the uninsured, undercutting the image of a rapacious private-equity pirate. Although his state didn’t create many jobs, unemployment nevertheless fell from 5.6 percent to 4.7 percent while he was governor. In a country that’s looking for an alternative to Obama but is scared of the extremism of the modern right, the Obama camp doesn’t see much upside in emphasizing Romney’s moderate gubernatorial record.

via Why neither Obama nor Romney wants to talk about Romney’s record – The Washington Post.

So Romney is running to the right.  Which is exactly where Obama wants him!

To Bain, or not to Bain?

Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, is a rising star in the Democratic party.   He’s in trouble with Democrats now, though, for objecting to the Obama campaign’s attack on Mitt Romney’s old private-equity firm, Bain Capital.

Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, a close ally of President Obama in the upcoming election, slammed the president’s campaign Sunday for ads attacking Mitt Romney’s work for the private-equity firm Bain Capital.

Booker, who noted that many of his constituents are investors in or employees of New York-based financial firms, said it was wrong for the Obama campaign to portray the expected Republican nominee as someone who pursued profits by slashing jobs while serving as Bain’s chief executive.

“If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses,” Booker said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And this, to me, I’m very uncomfortable with.”

The mayor later released a YouTube video in which he tried to clarify his comments and emphasize his support for the president.

Booker’s remarks earlier Sunday were aimed at a television advertisement introduced by the Obama campaign last week that sharply criticized Romney’s record at Bain — a line of attack seen as central in an election whose outcome is expected to be shaped by voters’ economic concerns.

via Newark Mayor Cory Booker slams Obama campaign attack on Romney’s work for Bain Capital – The Washington Post.

Bain would buy up troubled companies and either get them up and running again or sell off their assets.  Jobs were sometimes created and sometimes lost.  But dying companies are going to lose their jobs eventually anyway.  Still, it’s easy to portray companies in this line of work and their executives with vulture imagery and to bring out people who have lost their jobs in the corporate takeover and put them on TV, as the Obama ads have been doing.

Mayor Booker is rejecting the demagoguery, as well as recognizing that corporate tycoons are big contributors to Democratic coffers.  (Though now Booker has apparently been pressured to back off his criticism.)

Is portraying Romney as a corporate villain a winning or a losing issue for Democrats?  Or, conversely, is nominating a corporate executive in a bad economy with high unemployment a winning or losing issue for Republicans?

Be skeptical about political journalism

The New York Times broke a shocking story:

Joe Ricketts, an up-by-the-bootstraps billionaire whose varied holdings include a name-brand brokerage firm in Omaha, a baseball team in Chicago, herds of bison in Wyoming and a start-up news Web site in New York, wanted to be a player in the 2012 election. On Thursday he was, though not in the way he had intended.

Word that Mr. Ricketts had considered bankrolling a $10 million advertising campaign linking President Obama to the incendiary race-infused statements of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., brought waves of denunciation from Mitt Romney, the Obama campaign and much of the rest of the political world.

via Joe Ricketts Rejects Plan to Finance Anti-Obama Ads – NYTimes.com.

It seems Ricketts, an owner of the Chicago Cubs, started a Super-PAC to support Mitt Romney.  One of the proposals put forward by a political operative was to associate President Obama with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his radical former pastor.  Apparently, the proposal was “racially tinged.”   So Ricketts and Romney are getting slammed accordingly.

But Mitt Romney has repudiated the tactic.  Even more to the point, RICKETTS repudiated the ad.   There is no ad!  Ricketts refused to fund it.  Not once it hit papers, at the time it was proposed!   Somebody suggested doing this, but everyone said “no.”

So what is the story?  There is no story.

It would be as if a reporter from Fox News was in a bar and overheard some drunk say, “I’m for Obama, and I gave his campaign twenty bucks!  And I think the first thing he should do is kill all the capitalists!”  The reporter then runs a story with the headline, “Obama supporter calls for killing capitalists.”


So what happened while this blog was down?

This blog was knocked out of the worldwide web for a whole week due to technical difficulties.  I have learned that some of you have become overly dependent on this site as a source for what is happening in the world.  (I appreciate the sentiment, but you might want to broaden your web-surfing!)  Still, lots of things happened this past week that I wanted to bring to your attention but couldn’t.

We had posted about Chinese pro-life activist Chen Guangcheng, who escaped from house arrest in the provinces and made it to Beijing, hundreds of miles away, even though he was blind.  He took refuge in the American embassy.  But he was sent away–whether voluntarily, because he was talked into it, or because China reneged on a deal worked out by American diplomats is not completely clear–and he is now in Chinese custody.  Diplomatic efforts continue in an effort to protect Mr. Chen and his family (which had been threatened).  He may end up coming to the USA, which China has found is a good way of removing their dissidents from influence in the country.

In political news, Newt Gingrich dropped out, leaving Mitt Romney triumphant, with only one other candidate, Ron Paul, still in the race.  Though Paul has no chance for the nomination, his supporters have been maximizing their presence among convention delegates, especially in caucus states.  They put themselves forward as being willing to go to the convention, and though they have to vote as directed, usually for Romney, on the first ballot, they will be exerting their influence on the party platform and in other ways.

We blogged yesterday about the European anti-austerity elections and President Obama’s announced support for gay marriage.

So what else happened while this blog was away?  What else occurred that you had wished we could discuss?

Was Mitt Romney a high school bully?

The Washington Post has a big story of the sort that opposition researchers love, an event from the past that can discredit a candidate with voters.  Reportedly, when Mitt Romney was in high school, he and some friends jumped a guy with long hair–someone who was also teased as being gay–and cut his hair.

Romney does not remember the incident, but has apologized anyway.  Meanwhile, some bloggers are questioning the story, noting at least one big contradiction in the account.

First of all, is this a legitimate story, or is it biased gotcha journalism with a political purpose?

Second, is it fair to use a person’s childhood or adolescent behavior to discredit him as an adult?

Third, does this incident disclose a character flaw that should disqualify a person from public office?

Fourth, do you think this report could harm Romney’s squeaky-clean image, to the point of making voters–who often care more for image than for issues–think that he’s mean and so refuse to vote for him?

Finally, is this story a portent that  journalism, political discourse, and our democratic republic are all doomed?


via Mitt Romney’s prep school classmates recall pranks, but also troubling incidents – The Washington Post.