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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Closing Argument: Romney Too Dishonest for Politics

Yes, the title is something of a "reverse-oxymoron."  How could one possibly be too dishonest for politics?  It's a sad state of affairs when a democratic country, with popularly-elected officials, which deems itself "the greatest country on earth" in so many ways, cannot point to a truly honest politician anywhere.  We've made movies about what happens to those kinds of guys, and that's why we don't see any.  Obama had a chance to be different, since he ran and won election on no record at all.  But his team's ineptness, combined with the vicious opposition of the other side, threw the opportunity (if it ever truly existed) away, and now he's just another politician.  Not a bad one, under the circumstances; just not transcendant in the way we hoped for.

Aside:  Seriously, maybe Truman and Eisenhower were the last presidents we've had for whom the word "honest" comes to mind unsolicited.  Try it -- think of any politician since then, and see what adjectives naturally float into your mind.  You don't have to agree with their policies -- perhaps Truman shouldn't have bombed Nagasaki, and perhaps Eisenhower shouldn't have started us down the road of corporate imperialism that has caused so many countries that we've been trying to "help" to hate us.  But as "men", we look at both of them as honest in a way that can't be said of any President -- and few politicians -- since then.  Here's a little something from snopes -- finding the urban legend at issue "mostly true" about Truman -- reminding us how little money he made after stepping down as President, and how he felt that that was the way it ought to be.

But let's talk about Romney.  Two pieces in today's Washington Post -- one by the editorial board, the other by Greg Sargent -- make the points that I would make.  This guy takes dishonesty in politics to a whole new level.  The editorial, labeled Romney Campaign Insults Voters, hits all the key points, and concludes (in the introduction) that "though all the flip-flops, there has been one consistency in the campaign of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney: a contempt for the electorate."  Here's an itemization of the flip-flops:

"He was a friend of immigrants, then a scourge of immigrants, then again a friend. He was a Kissingerian foreign policy realist, then a McCain-like hawk, then a purveyor of peace. He pioneered Obamacare, he detested Obamacare, then he found elements in it to cherish. Assault weapons were bad, then good. Abortion was okay, then bad. Climate change was an urgent problem; then, not so much. Hurricane cleanup was a job for the states, until it was once again a job for the feds."

It then touches on his misleading commercials -- see: Jeep jobs to China and his refusal tell us what his true plans are for health care or immigration policy.

Finally, the piece lays into Romney's "baldly dishonest defense of mathematically impossible budget proposals."

It turns out the "studies" that he cites actually prove him wrong.  If he is really going to decrease taxes for everybody (including the rich) while increasing defense spending AND balancing the budget, he is going to have to take away a number of important tax deductions.  According to Harvard economist Martin Feldstein (whose study Romney cites), Romney's math works only if you deprive "every household earning $100,000 or more of all of its charitable deductions, mortgage-interest deductions and deductions for state and local income taxes."  Of course if the mortgage deduction goes, the housing bubble pops (again).  That could be interesting.

The article's actual conclusion is that Romney "seems to be betting that voters have no memories, poor arithmetic skills and a general inability to look behind the curtain."

One last thing about the campaign.  I spent some time on youtube watching some ads made by an organization called "Rightchange".

The first one I saw was called "What America for me?" or "What America Are You Leaving Me?" and it featured a little girl (maybe 8 years old) who was worried about what the future would be like for her, with all the debt that Obama has been piling up.  Someone should tell her that the the trajectory of debt was initiated by Republicans under GW Bush -- trying to finance two wars while at the same time cutting taxes, and deregulating the financial industry.  And that Romney's plan for the country would almost certainly result in more debt -- that's what happens when you cut taxes and increase military spending, as both GW Bush and Ronald Reagan showed.  Someone should also figure out who she is, and then 15 or 20 years from now ask her how she feels about the people who made her make the ad.

The other ads are mostly animation, and they are actually all very well done, and fun to watch.  But relentlessly negative against Obama, and without any substance.    I wonder how much they cost and who paid for them?  Here's what wikipedia has to say about Rightchange.com.

I'll predict right  now that Obama will win.  Elections nowadays are being decided by the independents.  And independents can be pretty fickle, but they are going to be scared of somebody that blatantly dishonest about things that really matter to this country.  Clinton might have been dishonest, but that was on a personal level.  Here, the country is at stake.

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