The “Virtue” of Mitt Romney

 

Those who are supporting Romney because Newt went negative and unfairly attacked Bain ought to be more than a little disturbed that Romney is deliberately distorting Newt’s Congressional ethics record.  

Add (see my post yesterday) that  someone on Romney’s team selectively pulled obscure quotations, deliberately out of context, and handed them to Elliot Abrams (one assumes he has not himself been pouring over age old special orders for quotations one could miscast), to smear Newt as being insufficiently conservative and Reagan-supporting, when Newt’s determined support for Reagan was one of the things we ought to all be grateful for, makes this a pattern.  It ought to give the “Romney’s more ethical” choir pause.  

Newt had many faults for which he can be criticized, but these myriad charges were slung at the wall by desperate Democrats in Congress, who were furious at their defeat, and trying to balance out the sins of Bill Clinton.  The charges DID NOT HOLD UP; indeed, it was a political mugging, and on review the IRS said there were no violations at all.  Romney knows that.

That Romney nonetheless would use these despicable, known-to-be-false arguments (and there are no shortages of others he could legitimately use) unfortunately indicate that he’s just one more ambitious guy who’ll say whatever he needs to say, and spend what he needs to spend, to get what he wants. Apparently he’s just been successful and powerful enough all his career that we haven’t seen what happens when someone gets in his way (who would want to?), and how well that virtue holds up.

It would be MUCH better for the party, and for Romney, if he doesn’t walk away with Florida despite his bottomless financial capacity to saturate the state with breathakingly negative ads. (Will he be that hard on Obama?  If so, where has he been these last years? Where was he in the ObamaCare fight when he actually could have helped the country, not just himself?)

Already we have seen that he — who didn’t have answers for his tax returns, or better defenses of Bain, and didn’t prepare any despite seeing that they were coming, has been improved by not being able to presume his own coronation.  

Moreover, Romney remains deeply vulnerable, something his supporters seem to have trouble seeing, not just to Occupy Wall Street this summer, and the entire fairness 1% meme – whose premise Romney has already accepted in his incremental tax plans – but to Axelrod & Co’s predictable distorting but vicious attacks.  

Those attacks will come, on things like Bain’s connection to the Guinness Scandal and Romney’s adult participation in a church that until 1978 singled out blacks as not having full rights and privileges.  Will the attacks be fair? No.  Will they come? Yes.  Is Romney prepared for them? Given past performance on what should have been layups, one can safely say: absolutely not.

And that leaves aside Romney’s real problem with the conservative base: his own understanding of what happened in MA.  He ignored every accurate prediction the Wall Street Journal made in imploring him not to impose Romneycare, and even now somehow thinks that a mandate which imposes increased costs and fewer choices on everyone only applies to 8% of the MA population.  

His capacity to argue powerfully and persuasively on ObamaCare is deeply compromised by this — there is a difference between a state being allowed to do something, per 10th Amendment, and whether that something is good policy — and if he doesn’t understand the larger principle the Republican base won’t trust him, because so far his redefinition of the idea of “individual responsibility” apparently is “the (state) government tells you you will be responsible, and the (state) government will decide what that entails, and what your menu of choices are” — basically, Obama’s position.  And we will not win, nor likely see full repeal and a genuinely better approach, with Obama v. Obama Lite.

So please, hope that Romney has to work at least a little longer and harder in the primary sparring room, lest like John Kerry he gets to the Main Event, and is unprepared for what hits him.

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Lord, I hope if Romney is get the nomination he’s one-quarter as nasty to Obama has he’s been to Republican rivals. I suppose I can say that about Gingrich as well.

    • #1
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    @Franco

    Romney may be winning the battle but he’s losing the war.

    Part of what happens in the general election are little arguments everywhere. On Facebook, at family gatherings cocktail parties, etc. I defended Bush until 2006. I was tired of it, sure, but once he started doing things like nominating Harriet Miers, immigration reform with McCain, combined with Bush and Rove’s utter cluelessness that they needed to defend themselves, I just stopped. I’m not even going to start defending Romney unless he can defend himself. His cause and mine diverge. I’m against Obama but I’m not FOR Romney.Not at all. And I’m not for empowering the GOP brand such as it is.

    I’m not going to be a shill for Romney. I don’t believe in him. He hasn’t inspired me, in fact he angers me. I am not alone.

    As to electability, I really don’t think Romney even knows what that is. These guys are entitled spoiled politicians and like attracts like. John McCain, Bob Dole and the elder Bush are on board the Romney train. I’m not inspired.

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    @MothershipGreg

    The poisoned well of political discourse may be one of the reasons why we see such unsatisfactory sets of candidates for political office in both parties, not only this year but in previous election years as well.

    Many able and decent people are understandably reluctant to subject themselves and their families to a mud-slinging contest or to media “gotcha” questions. The creeping acceptance of such practices is hardly a justification, but is itself part of the degeneration of our times.

    Wisdom from Thomas Sowell (hat tip to Crow’s Nest).

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    @CrowsNest

    There is no way, it seems to be, that Romney is going to be able to turn the corner on Romneycare. His position is compromised and there is nothing he can do about it—if he renounces it in toto, he reinforces the untrustworthy flipflopper meme; if he defends parts of it, he’s Obama lite. He’s stuck with that millstone around his neck, and it is the #1 reason he’s been a weak candidate from the start.

    With regard to ads that deliberately distort records. Touche.

    This campaign turned downright nasty, and the candidates (and surrogates) are expending more ammunition against one another in a trench war, than on going over the top against Obama. Neither of our two front-runners stack up well against the incumbent right now.

    As many of us feared, with this field, we are doomed.

    With regard to the Mormonism question—they will absolutely come after him on it. This won’t hurt with the African-American vote (Obama has that locked up) but might among some independents. His team better be ready with a JFK-esque response, but their ability to defend themselves on other issues gives me little confidence.

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    @Viator

    Allen West being redistricted out of existence in effort led by Romney Florida spokesman

    “One of Governor Mitt Romney’s spokesmen was Florida Representative Will Weatherford, and during the course of his remarks in the “Spin Room”, he shed a very dim light on the ongoing redistricting process in the Florida Legislature….

    West’s congressional district inexplicably sheds the most out support as compared to all other incumbent Republican and Democrat Congressman. A few weeks back we quoted an unnamed legislator saying that, “Allen West was screwed”, a statement which was originally made about made five months before the purposed maps were made public, leading insiders to believe that the fix was in against Allen West. But in light of Weatherford’s comment, it is increasingly clear that this is a fait accompli.”

    http://legalinsurrection.com/2012/01/allen-west-being-redistricted-out-of-existence-in-effort-led-by-romney-florida-spokesman/

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    @Sisyphus

    The GOP establishment is engaging in the politics of false choices to protect ObomneyCare, and it is killing them in ways that the “message” people, the campaign hustlers who always find the problem in the message, never the candidate, are too profoundly corrupted to understand.

    If the GOP does not discard ObamaCare out of this election cycle, the disenfranchised majority that know ObomneyCare for what it is. and hate it, will erupt. The Parties of Washington have soothed themselves with bad polling of an electorate not yet fully engaged in the election.

    Romney will never be president.

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    @LeslieWatkins

    I’m guessing, Heather, that you do not agree with the point of view voiced by Ann Coulter on the current Left Coast/Right Coast podcast that Massachusetts Democrats were going to force something down the throats of the state’s residents and that Romney’s plan was better than theirs. Also, I’m guessing, you disagree with the Heritage Foundation on this issue. Just wondering if you think there’s anything at all to that point of view. I personally don’t think Ann is correct when she says that Romney will repeal Obamacare. I doubt he—or Newt—will be able to do that. On the other hand, I don’t see Newt being helpful to the congressional races, which are crucial if real changes are to be had.

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    @KTCat

    So please, hope that Romney has to work at least a little longer and harder in the primary sparring room, lest like John Kerry he gets to the Main Event, and is unprepared for what hits him.

    I think this is a noble, but pointless goal. In every case where Romney has had to work harder to win an election, he’s become vicious and misleading. Ed Rollins told Fox News that by the end of the 2008 campaign, every other campaign hated his guts for this very reason. A longer campaign just means more slander from Mitt and more surrogate slander from his supporters in the Republican Party.

    The leopard isn’t going to change his spots. All he’s going to do is splatter those spots on everyone around him from Bob Dole to Mike Huckabee. In exchange for all of this intra-party discord, the Republican Party is getting … the progenitor of Obamacare. Unbelievable.

    I’m hoping against hope that some big name in the party will finally stand up and dis-endorse Mitt because of this. (Talk about being a dreamer!)

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    @Percival
    Franco: I’m not going to be a shill for Romney. I don’t believe in him. He hasn’t inspired me, in fact he angers me. I am not alone.

    I already have been, with my mom. I got her to say she’d vote for him if he was the nominee. This was before the “nothing to get angry about” line. I know what kind of effect that had on her — I said something similar once and it didn’t go over well. Somebody is going to have to talk to her again, and I don’t feel like doing it right now.

    I wouldn’t say he angers me. He just depresses me. If he had come out against Obamacare and had his epiphany in regards Romneycare back then, he would have been a Colossus striding through the ankle-biters to pick up the nomination.

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    @MothershipGreg
    Ed Rollins told Fox News that by the end of the 2008 campaign, every other campaign hated his guts for this very reason.

    FWIW, as someone who was much less aware of politics in 2008, and more like the large number of people who decide who they are voting for in the two months before the election, I did pay some attention to the Republican primary, and I was convinced that the Romney campaign was quite nasty. Nastiness (or perceived nastiness) does not play well with independents.

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    @Viator

    Number of elections Newt Gingrich as won – 11

    10 – US House of Representitives

    1 – Speaker, US House of Representaives

    Number of elections Willard Romney has won – 1

    1 – Governor of Massachusetts

    • #11
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    @Percival

    The “Heritage Foundation made me do it” defense has a little problem — they don’t think that anymore. From The Volhokh Conspiracy

    Even so, why were so many on the Right willing to embrace an idea that conservatives attack as unconstitutional today? How can the Heritage Foundation’s legal scholars attack an idea once championed by its health care analysts? One possibility is that the Heritage Foundation is simply more conservative, or more free market, than it used to be. Another is that the legal environment has changed dramatically. In 1994 it had been over 50 years since the Supreme Court had invaildated a federal law for exceeding the scope of the Commerce Clause. The Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Lopez , striking down the Gun-Free School Zones Act, was not until 1995 — after the Clinton health care plan had been defeated and after the Republicans had retaken Congress, effectively ending the debate over health care reform.

    That’s the thing about think tanks. They think, then they disseminate what they have thought, then they rise and think again. If they don’t think again, they become thought tanks.

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    @Misthiocracy

    I doubt many people vote in primaries based on “dirty tricks”.

    It’s politics. Dirty tricks are too common to think twice about. Besides, with the Internet any candidate that thinks this stuff won’t be debunked is fooling himself.

    Instead, Romney’s surge can be attributed to two things: his strong performance in the last debate, and “a permanent base on the moon.”

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    @
    Viator: Allen West being redistricted out of existence in effort led by Romney Florida spokesman

    “One of Governor Mitt Romney’s spokesmen was Florida Representative Will Weatherford, and during the course of his remarks in the “Spin Room”, he shed a very dim light on the ongoing redistricting process in the Florida Legislature….

    West’s congressional district inexplicably sheds the most out support as compared to all other incumbent Republican and Democrat Congressman. A few weeks back we quoted an unnamed legislator saying that, “Allen West was screwed”, a statement which was originally made about made five months before the purposed maps were made public, leading insiders to believe that the fix was in against Allen West. But in light of Weatherford’s comment, it is increasingly clear that this is a fait accompli.”

    More betrayal from the Republican party establishment.

    Yet another sign that they are vastly more interested in keeping control of the party away from the Tea Party than they are in defeating the left.

    They will fail, if only because they will drive rank-and-file conservatives right out of the party, forever and all time.

    Amazing. These people are utterly clueless.

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    @MothershipGreg
    Misthiocracy: Dirty tricks are too common to think twice about.

    Ah, this dovetails nicely with

    The creeping acceptance of such practices is hardly a justification, but is itself part of the degeneration of our times.

    • #15
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    @Schwaibold

    “Romney remains deeply vulnerable, something his supporters seem to have trouble seeing”

    Yes. Deeply vulnerable on the left and the right. If his base won’t vote for him or defend him, why should anyone else? Pollsters underestimate the effect of ‘passion’ in an election – it can be contagious (see 2008).

    Does anyone else remember how effectively McCain attacked Romney in 2008, and how hesitant he was to attack Obama in the general election? This seems like deja vu all over again.

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    @DavidFoster

    Both men have engaged in dirty attacks, but there is a difference. Gingrich’s attack tactics tend to undercut the entire philosophical basis of Republican and Conservative belief. I’m not talking so much about the Bain thing, rather about Newt’s assertion that Mitt, through his position in Goldman, profited from foreclosures.

    Foreclosures aren’t usually about profit, of course; they’re about limiting losses. If foreclosure was not an option, there would be no mortgage lending industry and either homeownership would be reserved to the wealthy, or would be provided exclusively through some kind of government program.

    So one could conclude that either Gingrich is against homeownership for the vast majority of people, or he is a Socialist, or he is making a conceptually-incoherent argument for the sake of what he things (almost certainly incorrectly) is a minor tactical advantage.

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    @
    david foster:

    So one could conclude that either Gingrich is against homeownership for the vast majority of people, or he is a Socialist, or he is making a conceptually-incoherent argument for the sake of what he things (almost certainly incorrectly) is a minor tactical advantage. ·

    And he hates freedom too. And Ronald Reagan.

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    @KTCat
    Misthiocracy: Instead, Romney’s surge can be attributed to two things: his strong performance in the last debate, and “a permanent base on the moon.” · 34 minutes ago

    I find the dismissal of the moon base incredibly sad. It’s like we’ve completely forgotten that America came from conquering frontiers. Now all we want to do is download porn on our iPads.

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    @DavidFoster

    X…I was actually pretty pro-Gingrich prior to his comments like the one cited above.

    Do you think that implying foreclosure=profit=evil helps to move the national mindset in a direction that will be long-run beneficial to Conservatism?

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    @
    david foster: X…I was actually pretty pro-Gingrich prior to his comments like the one cited above.

    Do you think that implying foreclosure=profit=evil helps to move the national mindset in a direction that will be long-run beneficial to Conservatism? · 1 minute ago

    So did Romney in fact profit from the actions of Goldman-Sachs and in what way, specifically? I’d like to see more about what was actually said by Gingrich before I’ll believe he concluded profit was evil.

    Plus, the collapse of Wall Street resulted in trillions of dollars worth of debt dumped on the taxpayers.

    As far as I can tell the GOP including Romney doesn’t have a problem with this.

    If Gingrich does, then good for him.

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    @jetstream
    david foster: X…I was actually pretty pro-Gingrich prior to his comments like the one cited above.

    Do you think that implying foreclosure=profit=evil helps to move the national mindset in a direction that will be long-run beneficial to Conservatism? · 1 minute ago

    Goldman doesn’t make money on foreclosures. Goldman was neck deep in creating the real estate disaster and is the post boy for crony capitalism at it’s worst.

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    @MisterD

    Distorting the record and comments of your opponent is standard for any primary, and this is no different. We may wish it were otherwise, but I don’t consider necessarily consider it something to hold against our candidiates. And the truth is almost every attack that has been leveled is one that would be made by the Dems and their allies in the general.

    The difference in the attacks is that Gingrich’s specifically was using the words of the left, and attacking essentials of capitalism. When called on it he tried to weasel out of it, parse his terms better (much as he later did with his “language of the ghetto” remarks), but the first impression mattered. And that is a problem Newt has – failing to grasp how his comments will be seen.

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    @
    Mister D:

    The difference in the attacks is that Gingrich’s specifically was using the words of the left, and attacking essentials of capitalism.

    I’m not buying this argument.

    We’ve got the guy who invented Romneycare running against the guy who led the GOP takeover of congress. And Romney famously distanced himself from Reagan while running against Kennedy, while Gingrich was busy taking over congress and stopping Hillarycare.

    What else can Romney do except attempt to tar Gingrich as a leftist?

    He certainly can’t tout Romneycare, as he likely expected he could. Absent the full court press from the establishment Romney would likely lose to Gingrich, as he deserves to.

    • #24
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    @DavidFoster

    Here is specifically what Gingrich said re mortgage foreclosures:

    Governor Romney owns share — has an investment in Goldman Sachs, which is today foreclosing on Floridians. So maybe Governor Romney in the spirit of openness should tell us how much money he’s made off of how many households that have been foreclosed by his investments? And let’s be clear about that.

    This is demagogy. There are intellectually-honest ways to critique both Bain and Goldman without undercutting free-market capitalism; unfortunately, that’s not the path that Gingrich chose.

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    @
    david foster:

    This is demagogy. There are intellectually-honest ways to critique both Bain and Goldman without undercutting free-market capitalism; unfortunately, that’s not the path that Gingrich chose.

    That was stupid of Gingrich, but it undercut free-market capitalism not at all.

    What is undercutting free market capitalism is the crony capitalism of outfits like Goldman-Sachs and others.

    Again, the GOP establishment seems to have no problem at all with trillions in debt ending up on the public balance sheet due to the bankruptcy of some of these outfits- but it will condemn Gingrich because he clumsily attacked Romney?

    I also note Romney has been attacking Gingrich as unethical due the relentless attacks on him during the 1990s- even using footage of David Brokaw to do it.

    So I’ll put it this way: there are intellectually honest ways to critique Gingrich; unfortunately that’s not the path Romney chose.

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    @KTCat
    david foster: Here is specifically what Gingrich said re mortgage foreclosures:

    Governor Romney owns share — has an investment in Goldman Sachs, which is today foreclosing on Floridians. So maybe Governor Romney in the spirit of openness should tell us how much money he’s made off of how many households that have been foreclosed by his investments? And let’s be clear about that.

    This is demagogy. There are intellectually-honest ways to critique both Bain and Goldman without undercutting free-market capitalism; unfortunately, that’s not the path that Gingrich chose. · 28 minutes ago

    If only Gingrich was honest and forthright like Romney! How I wish he’d never started this war. It’s time to stand up to this cannibalism and submit to, err, support Romney!

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    @jetstream
    david foster: … what Gingrich said re mortgage foreclosures:

    Governor Romney owns share — has an investment in Goldman Sachs, which is today foreclosing on Floridians. So maybe Governor Romney in the spirit of openness should tell us how much money he’s made off of how many households that have been foreclosed by his investments? And let’s be clear about that.

    This is demagogy. There are intellectually-honest ways to critique both Bain and Goldman without undercutting free-market capitalism; unfortunately, that’s not the path that Gingrich chose

    David you don’t seem to understand Goldman’s activities in the CDO (collateralized debt obligations) market or the MBS (mortgage backed securities) markets in general. Goldman always made it’s profits upfront and has been a consistently large beneficiary of crony capitalism e.g. there’s been a decades long revolving door between Goldman and the Treasury Dept. I profited from owning GS in the past, betting against Goldman is a bad idea. They are connected and plugged in everywhere that matters throughout the world and they have the ability to affect policies and bend markets to their benefit.

    Greece could not have committed financial suicide without Goldman.

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    @KTCat

    It’s simply mind blowing that staring four more years of Obama’s Peronist fascism right in the face, the Republican Party is tearing itself to shreds for the sake of Mitt Romney, unrepentant author of the template to Obamacare.

    After he gets blown out in the general election, he’ll retire to one of his mansions where he’ll be a regular guest on the Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved shows, receiving 30-minute tongue baths each time, barely listening to the hosts’ drooling while he absent-mindedly plays with an Excel spreadsheet to find new ways to pick up a few more percent on his hundreds of millions.

    How does he do it? Seriously, how does he do it?

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    @KTCat
    jetstream Greece could not have committed financial suicide without Goldman. · 3 minutes ago

    And Goldman knew what was coming to Greece the whole time. Like they cared.

    • #30
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