Monday, January 09, 2012


If I seem skeptical every time it's suggested that a Monty Burns-esque remark from Mitt Romney is going to hurt him in the Republican primaries, it's because, as Gallup noted last month,

Americans' concerns about the threat of big government continue to dwarf those about big business and big labor, and by an even larger margin now than in March 2009. The 64% of Americans who say big government will be the biggest threat to the country is just one percentage point shy of the record high, while the 26% who say big business is down from the 32% recorded during the recession. Relatively few name big labor as the greatest threat.

The numbers in the general public have a depressing enough skew, but among Republicans the skew is mind-boggling: a whopping 82% consider big government the biggest threat; 11% say big labor and only 6% say big business. (As recently as 2006, 18% of Republicans said big business, while "only" 68% said big government.) There's your modern GOP. (Though the rest of America isn't much better.)

So when I read about the Romney comment that's got everyone so excited, my response is ... mixed:

"I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means if you don't like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know if someone doesn't give me a good service that I need, I want to say I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me."

The short version -- "I like being able to fire people" -- has the advantage that yesterday's "never get involved in politics if you have to win election to pay a mortgage" doesn't: it's easy to absorb instantly, and an awful lot of people (although, in America, not nearly enough) are going to find it arrogant and chilling.

But that's taking it out of context. The Romney campaign is eventually going to get self-righteous if opponents persist in taking it out of context; Team Romney is going to appeal to media fact-checkers and other fairness cops, and may whine long enough to make an opponent's use of the quote into the real issue. (If it's Obama, I say: don't back down. Politics ain't beanbag, or as Romney would say, "the beanbag.")

In context, Romney's remark just comes off as ... well, odd. I know capitalism-worship is widespread on the right, but while wingnut voters admire rich CEOs, I don't think they think they are rich CEOs. They may think they might be rich CEOs someday, but most know that they aren't. And most of the rest of us know we aren't rich CEOs, either.

Right-wingers, and some others, like the "health care should be between you and your doctor" talking point, the one that has big government evilly interceding in that relationship unless prevented. Never mind that it's big insurance that does most of the evil interceding in the real world -- it's a nice fairy-tale view of health care, and a lot of people fall for it.

But even if they've got you thinking of health care as just another consumer product, you probably don't think of yourself as firing the purveyors of consumer products who sell you lousy stuff, give you bad service, or stiff you on price.

But Americans don't hate big business enough to find the full, in-context quote offensive. They may, however, find it odd.


Meanwhile, what the hell is wrong with the entire GOP field if it took till now for this to surface?

Mitt Romney's presidential campaign on Sunday disavowed a flyer that claimed he supported "equal rights" for gay citizens and has long been reported to have been distributed by the Massachusetts Republican during his 2002 campaign for governor.

Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney's chief spokesman, told The Huffington Post that the flyers were not official literature from Romney's 2002 run, despite the fact that they include the tag line "Paid for by the Romney for Governor Committee," on the bottom....

And this?

"When they learn that [Romney] quadrupled the tax on guns in Massachusetts I think it will be just fine in South Carolina," Mr. Gingrich said. "That is the kind of issue that they will instantly understand."

Hurt Gingrich with the party's base voters? This is how you do it -- or should have done it, weeks and weeks ago: with gay-bashing and gun paranoia.

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)


c u n d gulag said...

THAT line will resonate!

And Obama and his team should use it, or encourage the 527's and others to make hay. And if they don't, heads must roll!

It's turnabout is fair play to the lies Mitt's been spewing.

And what's good for the gander, is also good for the golden goose.

So, right now, it appears as if the Republican frontrunner is a guy who didn't support Reagan and Reaganomics, was once pro-choice and pro-gay, who claimed he was the progressive choice in MA over Ted F'in Kennedy, and gave health care to a state.


That's some big time 180% turns there, Mitt.

Those should only be attempted by stunt-driving professionals in Bond movies, and TV shows like 'Starsky and Hutch' and 'The Dukes of Hazzard' - not putative Conservative politicians.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the staff's of these Republicans are as inept as the candidates themselves. Only a f*cking imbecile would hire people only more f*cking stupid and ignorant.

lovable liberal said...

Eric Fehrnstrom is a bald-faced, unrepentant fucking liar. His position with the Romney campaign - and past Romney campaigns - is sufficient proof of Romney's complete lack of principle. As if more of that proof were needed...

Comrade Misfit said...

Mitt Romney complaining about people taking stuff out of context is like the Menendez brothers whining about being orphans.