November 15, 2012 1 Comment
This is just phenomenal. I’ve watched it like 10 times.
Better high-definition video here (just couldn’t embed).
Politics, and lots of other stuff I find interesting
Hadn’t actually planned on writing about Mitt Romney completely embarrassing himself with his latest comments, but since Itchy asked me to… Actually, before I put my own thoughts down, I read Jon Chait which pretty much captured what I wanted to say (and copying and pasting is so much easier):
I think the latest Romney donor remarks ought to put to rest the debate about his sincerity. When the 47 percent remarks emerged, I argued that it was the real Romney speaking. Some moderate Republicans suggested he was merely pandering to people whose donations he badly needed. I never thought this made much sense — surely Romney had ways of relating to wealthy Republicans without launching an extended analysis he didn’t believe — but the latest version of essentially the same riff ought to put that debate to rest. He’s never running again. He doesn’t need these people. The real Romney is indeed a sneering plutocrat.
I’ll also quote Seth Masket from his FB share, “I’m shocked that a wealthy, older white man would think that society is rigged in favor of poor, younger non-whites.”
I really liked Yglesias‘ take, too:
Mitt Romney, chatting on the phone with donors to his campaign, “attributed his rival’s victory to ‘the gifts’ the administration had given to blacks, Hispanics and young voters during Obama’s first term.”
That’s a funny way of phrasing it, but I feel like Romney basically has this right. Obama offered policies that he believed would make people’s lives better, and the people who deemed those promises credible tended to vote for Obama. [emphasis mine] The question is why can’t Republicans learn from this strategy? As I wrote, it’s silly for Republicans to focus on some kind of narrowcasting effort to win the Hispanic vote—the issue is that they need a basic economic policy message that most people think will make their lives better. Lower tax rates on people earning over $250,000 just isn’t an agenda with much appeal.
And, oh man, does Ezra just completely unload (remind me never to get Ezra Klein mad at me):
During the campaign, Mitt Romney repeatedly promised seniors that he’d restore President Obama’s $716 billion in Medicare cuts. He promised them that, unlike Obama, he wouldn’t permit a single change to Medicare or Social Security for 10 years. He promised them, in other words, political immunity. While the rest of the country was trying to pay down the deficit and prioritize spending, they’d be safe.
He also promised the rich that they’d see a lower overall tax rate, and while he did say he would try to pay for some of those tax cuts by closing loopholes and deductions, he also said he expected faster growth would pay for those cuts — which means he really was promising tax cuts to the rich at a time when he said deficit reduction should be a top priority. Oh, and let’s not forget his oft-stated intention to roll back the Dodd-Frank financial reforms and replace them with…something.
Keep all that in mind when you hear Romney blaming his loss on “the gifts” that Obama reportedly handed out to “the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.” Romney was free with the gifts, too, and his promises to seniors and to the rich carried a far higher price tag than any policies Obama promised minorities or the young.
But to Romney, and perhaps to the donors he was speaking to, those policies didn’t count as “gifts.” They were…something else. Good ideas, maybe. Or the fulfillment of past promises. Or perhaps it wasn’t the policies that were different, but the people they were being promised to. [emphasis mine] …
That’s Romney’s political cosmology: The Democrats bribe the moochers with health care and green cards. The Republicans try to free the makers through tax cuts and deregulation. Politics isn’t a conflict between two reasonable perspectives on how to best encourage growth and high-living standards. It’s a kind of reverse-Marxist clash between those who produce and those who take, and the easiest way to tell one from the other is to see who they vote for.
When Romney thinks he’s behind closed doors and he’s just telling other people like him how politics really works, the picture he paints is so ugly as to be bordering on dystopic. It’s not just about class, but about worth, and legitimacy. His voters are worth something to the economy — they’re producers — and they respond to legitimate appeals about how to best manage the country. The Democrats’ voters are drags on the economy — moochers — and they respond to crass pay-offs.
Oh, wait, just read this great take from Jon Cohn. Could not be any better for the last word:
But on another level, if your moral sense is so attenuated you’re able to spout the same vile pabulum even after it’s been thoroughly debunked by the media, even after you went to great rhetorical lengths to distance yourself from it, even after it arguably cost you a presidential election, then it’s safe to say it’s what you stand for in every practical and moral sense. There are no more distinctions for any remotely serious person to parse, if there ever were any.
Matt Steinglass makes the excellent point that what’s so ludicrous about this whole Benghazi “cover up” the Republicans are endlessly peddling is that there’s not actually any point of covering up anything. He starts by mentioning how ridiculous it is to blame UN Ambassador Susan Rice for this (seems like at some point in his life, John McCain was a decent man– that point is long past):
”Berating Rice, who had nothing to do with Benghazi aside from representing the administration on these talk shows, is nuts,” Mr Drum writes. “The intelligence community was wrong about one relatively unimportant fact, and Rice passed along that mistake. That’s it. There’s no coverup, no conspiracy, no incompetence, no scandal.”
This is absolutely right as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. At the most fundamental level, the reason it is absurd to suspect the existence of a “cover-up” over the Benghazi attack is that such a cover-up could not have had any conceivable goal. Back to the beginning: the underlying accusation about Benghazi is that the Obama administration deliberately mischaracterised the terrorist attack there as having grown out of a spontaneous demonstration because that would be less politically damaging. Such a cover-up would have made no sense because the attack would not have been less politically damaging had it grown out of a spontaneous demonstration. The attack on the Benghazi compound would not have been any less politically difficult for the administration if it had grown out of a riot, nor would any normal voter have expected it to be less politically damaging, nor would any normal campaign strategist have expected any normal voter to have expected it to be less politically damaging…
Obviously there’s a huge temptation to turn any incident that could reflect badly on the opposition’s government, such as the killing of an ambassador in a terrorist attack, into some kind of scandal. But this attempt is just absurd. The strategy here has been to shout “Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi!” until the public begins to think there’s something fishy going on with Benghazi, and then move on to targeting administration figures because…Benghazi! If this actually works, we are all still in kindergarten. [emphasis mine]
Nice take from Paul Waldman as well:
So what’s going on here? I can sum it up in two words: scandal envy. Republicans are indescribably frustrated by the fact that Barack Obama, whom they regard as both illegitimate and corrupt, went through an entire term without a major scandal. They tried with “Fast and Furious,” but that turned out to be small potatoes. They tried with Solyndra, but that didn’t produce the criminality they hoped for either. Obama even managed to dole out three-quarters of a trillion dollars in stimulus money without any graft or double-dealing to be found. Nixon had Watergate, Reagan had Iran-Contra, Clinton had Lewinsky, and Barack Obama has gotten off scott-free. This is making them absolutely livid, and they’re going to keep trying to gin up a scandal, even if there’s no there there. Benghazi may not be an actual scandal, but it’s all they have handy.
The more the media covers all this absurdity the more they are doing the Republicans dirty work for them. The only story here is just how out-of-line some Republican Senators are.
Really liked this Matt Miller take on the debt ceiling. Basic advice “man up, Obama” (I hate the inherent sexism in the phrase, but a gender neutral one is not coming to mind– help me here). Miller:
For Obama’s own sake — and for the sake of stable governance for future presidents of either party — the president can’t let the GOP hold the country hostage via the debt ceiling again.
The question is whether Obama haslearned from experience and has the stomach now for what’s required. Bob Woodward’s book “The Price of Politics” had some cautionary detail on this question that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves…
The White House attitude last time reminds me of Al Gore’s refusal during the Florida recount to challenge military ballots. Gore said he’d be savaged in the press for such a move and wouldn’t pursue it. I recall thinking that Clinton would have had the exact opposite reaction. “If throwing out some military ballots will help us win, then do it,” Clinton would have said. “I’ll deal with any PR fallout as president.”
This is about presidential will. And a readiness to do what the situation demands…
The president knows he can’t let the precedent established last year become the new normal in budget talks. He knows the debt ceiling is a weird relic that no other country(save Denmark, sort of) possesses. In most nations, the act of the legislature passing a budget simultaneously authorizes its treasury to borrow whatever debt that budget contains. That’s only common sense.
If Ben Bernanke can press the limits of legal authority to save the economy, and Obama himself can press these limits to approve a “hit list” for drones, then defanging the debt ceiling should be child’s play by comparison.
It’s a Reagan air traffic controller moment. The country can’t be held hostage by unreasonable people. The public will be with Obama once he explains.
Miller goes on to explain a couple possible approaches. Would absolutely love to see Obama play real hardball on this one. He damn well should. Heck, I’m all for minting the trillion dollar coin. I’m just not sure it’s in his nature. And that, is what Republicans are gambling on. I hope we’re both wrong.
November 15, 2012 2 Comments
Should have written this post a week ago, but better late than never. It’s long, but this is obviously an important topic going forward.
First, the idea that Republicans just need to cave on immigration reform and that all of a sudden waves of Hispanics will come happily to the GOP is just completely misguided. What the Republicans need to abandon to win over Hispanics is 1) policies that obviously favor the richest Americans, which Hispanics tend not to be; and 2) to stop pandering to white xenophobes in order to win votes, regardless of the specific immigration policies.
I think the most interesting results from the National Black Election Studies conducted during the 1980′s was the fact that the key to Blacks’ support for Democrats was Black racial identity. Basically, the more you identify as Black, the more likely you are to vote Democratic. And every other demographic factor just pales in comparison. The study is dated, but I strongly suspect the basic basic truth of this holds. Now, I don’t think Latinos are to this territory yet, but if the Republicans keep it up, they will be. Honestly, I think the best evidence– especially when you consider that Asians are 12 points more pro-Obama than in 2008– is that non-white Americans are very much under the impression that the Republican party simply isn’t for them, issue content completely aside. Of course, the issue content does matter to. Yglesias had a really nice post on this:
Indeed, perhaps the most telling exit poll result about Hispanics is the almost identical thumping Romney took with Asian and Jewish voters, and even more so with black voters. … Gerald Ford got 17 percent of the black vote while losing overall, while Romney won less than 10 percent. As Tom Scocca wrote last week, all kinds of people vote Democratic, and it’s the Republicans who rely on a narrow ethnic niche to win. The real issue isn’t Democrats courting minority “special interests” (indeed, as an economic matter Latin American immigration is good for everyone except Americans who primarily speak Spanish), it’s Republicans who use targeted outreach to help boost their share of the white vote despite a generally unpersuasive message. Viewed in that light, the anti-Sotomayor demagoguery becomes far more comprehensible. Far from an unforced error, it’s part of a reasonably effective strategy to ensure the loyalty of white voters without altering an economic agenda that’s relentlessly biased toward the rich…
Indeed, perhaps the most telling exit poll result about Hispanics is the almost identical thumping Romney took with Asian and Jewish voters, and even more so with black voters. … Gerald Ford got 17 percent of the black vote while losing overall, while Romney won less than 10 percent. As Tom Scocca wrote last week, all kinds of people vote Democratic, and it’s the Republicans who rely on a narrow ethnic niche to win. The real issue isn’t Democrats courting minority “special interests” (indeed, as an economic matter Latin American immigration is good for everyone except Americans who primarily speak Spanish), it’s Republicans who use targeted outreach to help boost their share of the white vote despite a generally unpersuasive message…
And while I’ll even say the GOP is right to want to preserve regressive tax breaks for investment income, clearly a policy agenda composed primarily of tax cuts for the top 2 percent or 3 percent of the income distribution doesn’t have much to offer the broad mass of people.
Latinos aren’t into that agenda for roughly the same reason that Asians and African-Americans aren’t—absent the frisson of worry about the “white establishment” being forced into minority status—it’s just not very compelling. To do better, Republicans don’t need a different immigration policy or better Hispanic outreach strategy, they need an overall policy that’s more compelling to the middle class and will help them do better with voters of all kinds.
DM: What are the policy takeaways? Obviously Republican attitudes on immigration probably played a role with HIspanics, but did anything else help Obama run up the margins there?
RT: I wrote a piece arguing that [GOP stances on immigration], in terms of projecting hostility toward that population, it clearly hurt them. But I also thought if you looked at Hispanics’ other opinions — opinions on the economy and opinions on the role of government, on education — just look at a wide variety of views on who can handle the economy, they’re very much aligned with the Democratic Party, and an activist view of government, and not with the hardcore, quasi-libertarian approach of the Republicans, which putting Paul Ryan on the ticket seemed to underscore.
It wasn’t just immigration, but the general Republican stance on the role of government. I don’t think it just needs to be moving to the center on immigration, though that would certainly help. It needs to move on the role of government.
I think Tomasky is right that the GOP will likely start with fairly transparent pandering:
The GOP will make the shallow and cynical symbolic gestures. The Republicans are great at cynical gestures. They’ll have mariachi bands at Lincoln Day dinners. They’ll shove every Latino state legislator they have out in front of the national cameras to make it look like they have more than five Latinos in the party…
But Latino people, like people generally, aren’t stupid. Allegiance comes from substance. It’s pretty simple. It doesn’t come from symbolism or rhetoric.
And Kevin Drum is right that Republicans need to get rid of the white cultural elitists (to put it nicely), which I don’t think is going to happen any time soon:
But as Bernie Goldberg admitted earlier this year, ”There is a strain of bigotry — and that’s the word I want to use — running through conservative America….That has to leave the conservative movement….I am sick of it.” He’s right. Lightening up on immigration won’t be enough. Like it or not, conservatives are going to need a much more thorough housecleaning if they want to survive in an increasingly diverse future. No more gratuitous ethnic mockery…
That’s just a start. One way or another, the Republican Party simply has to stamp this out. And not just because they need to do it to survive, but because it’s the right thing to do. That still counts, doesn’t it?
And lastly, Chait really brings all this together:
But here is the problem. Latinos aren’t voting Democratic solely because of immigration. Latino voters have generally liberal views on the whole role-of-government issues that divide the parties. The even-faster-growing Asian-American vote is likewise just broadly out of step with conservatism.
What conservatives are in denial about is that ideological conservatism largely appeals to white people qua white people. Matthew Yglesias has written extensively about the work of Donald Kinder and Cindy Kam, which shows that white ethnocentrism is powerfully correlated with opposition to spending on the poor, as well as to support for spending on universal programs. The Republican party platform of preserving every dollar of social insurance benefits for current retirees while slashing spending on Medicaid, food stamps, childrens’ health insurance, and Obamacare is perfectly toned to appeal to white voters on ethnic grounds.
Short version: Republicans can make a bit of headway by backing immigration reform. But’s its going to take a helluva lot more than that to make a serious difference. And, given the Tea Party base, Republicans actually backing immigration reform is far from a done deal (though, Fox news telling them to can sure go a long way).