GOP Convention Day Four: Lies, Damn Lies, and Romney-Ryan

Mitt Romney continues to campaign against the imaginary version of Barack Obama he created rather than the real Barack Obama. The only way he can keep from being humiliated in the debates is if he can speak to an empty chair like Clint Eastwood did. Unless the goal was to have someone come on to make Romney look good by comparison, the Clint Eastwood appearance was very odd. If they wanted to put on an old crackpot, why didn’t they just go with Ron Paul?

Romney came out by walking through the convention–the first candidate to do this since Michael Dukakis. Romney’s speech started out with his biography. When he got to his father, George Romney, why didn’t he point out how many years of tax returns his father released? He moved on to attack fictional Obama, such as repeating his false claims about Medicare, attacking Obama for an “apology tour” which only occurred in Romney’s mind. He attacked  Obama for raising taxes on small business and the middle class when Obama actually decreased them while Romney’s tax plan will increase taxes on the middle class. It was just bizarre to complain about jobs going to China from the man who was an out-sourcing pioneer. Romney announced a plan to create 12 million new jobs which reminds me of Richard Nixon’s secret war to end the Viet Nam war. Where’s the beef? His talk about Iran was scary, raising fears that he will get us into another war (while failing to pay for it).

Romney’s failure to address the big issues of the day can be seen in his outrageously ignorant attack: “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet.” As Craig Crawford tweeted: “Mitt not worried about rising seas , he’s got a car elevator.”

Paul Ryan’s speech has been called the most dishonest convention speech ever. Romney did have fewer lies in his speech, but only because it was so devoid of content. The Romney-Ryan ticket is shaping up as the most dishonest in history.

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GOP Convention Day One: The Party Which Was Not There

The first day of the Republican convention was cancelled due to Tropical Storm Isaac. You know what one less day of the convention means–twenty-five percent fewer lies.  It also means there is no longer enough time to fit in John Galt’s speech. Mitt Romney is really upset that he doesn’t have an opportunity to remind everyone once again that he is the white candidate. Rush Limbaugh sees this all as an evil plot hatched by the Muslim socialist Barack Obama of Kenya. On the other hand, the Christian Broadcasting Network wonders if prayer moved the storm away from Tampa to protect the Republicans. Would this make Republican prayers responsible for whatever happens in New Orleans or where ever the storm does hit?

This afternoon I received an email from the Romney campaign saying it is my last chance to enter to join Romney in Tampa for the Convention. While this is comparable to the type of fund raiser Obama is also holding, it does seem to be in poor taste to offer to bring people to Tampa at the moment.

One might think that keeping the Republican convention from convening would spare them a day of embarrassment, but it didn’t work out that way. Mitt Romney gave delegates a copy of his book No Apology. His views flip-flopped between the hard cover and paperback editions, and delegates were given the hard cover with his former view that his Massachusetts health care plan could be a model for the nation–a view removed from the paperback.

The Republicans now claim that social issues are a distraction. They are not a distraction–they are fundamental issues of individual liberty. Mitt Romney, who has refused to answer questions about abortion the last few days, would prefer the issue did not come up. Unfortunately for Romney, another Republican candidate accidentally revealed how Republicans think of rape and abortion rights. Tom Smith, the Republican Senate nominee in Pennsylvania, compared rape to out-of-wedlock pregnancy.  Quick, call Todd Akin. If sex outside of marriage is comparable to rape in the GOP world, does this mean that women have a way to shut down pregnancies from sex outside of marriage as they do for legitimate rape?

Can we shut down these ignorant Republicans?

Romney’s convention speech might be his best chance to portray himself as an acceptable candidate as Ronald Reagan once did. While I am skeptical as to how many will actually read the platform, a Pew Research Center survey found that more people are interested in the platforms than candidate speeches. This could be really bad news for the Republicans. As might be expected, the hard line platform opposes abortion and gay rights while adopting crackpot economic ideas from Ron Paul and the deceptively-named Tea Party. The platform goes beyond previous platforms which opposed child porn by also targeting adult pornography. How will this play in the red states, which consumes more porn than the blue states?

I imagine that tomorrow we might hear Mitt Romney blame those in the path of the storm for their suffering. In Romney’s mind they should have borrowed money from their parents to build mansions in safer areas.

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Romney’s Travel Troubles Continue

Romney’s international travels gave Jon Stewart a lot of material (video above). Things weren’t as bad for Romney in Poland as they were in London and Israel. He did receive the endorsement of Lech Walesa, but Solidarity distanced themselves, criticizing Romney because he “supported attacks on trade unions and employees’ rights.” Romney was also greeted with chants for Obama and even ran into supporters of Ron Paul while in Poland.

The trip provided another example of Romney’s dishonesty. He denied making the controversial comments which he did make about Palestinian culture in Israel. Greg Sargent found that Romney made the same fallacious argument in his book, No Apology.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak undermined the Republican argument against Obama on Israel in this interview with Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: You’ve studied U.S.-Israeli relations over many years. How would you describe the relationship today?

BARAK: I think that from my point of view as defense minister they are extremely good, extremely deep and profound. I can see long years, administrations of both sides of the political aisle deeply supporting the state of Israel, and I believe that reflects the profound feelings among the American people. But I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past.

BLITZER: More than any other president? LBJ, Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush?

BARAK: Yeah, in terms of the support for our security, the cooperation of our intelligence, the sharing of thoughts in a very open way even when there are differences, which are not simple sometimes, I found their support for our defense very stable.

Steve Benen debunked another anti-Obama talking from the Romney campaign on Israel:

Beth Myers, a top Romney aide, also told reporters recently that it’s “pretty amazing” Obama hasn’t visited Israel.

The attack at least has the benefit of being partially accurate — Obama visited Israel as a candidate, but has not been back during his first term. If Republicans choose to find that outrageous, their complaints are grounded in fact.

The problem, however, is the selective nature of their disgust. George W. Bush didn’t visit Israel at any point during his first term, and neither did Bill Clinton. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush didn’t travel to Israel during their respective terms in office at all.

Many journalists have questioned whether Romney’s gaffes will harm him in the campaign. Chris Cillizza downplayed the damage:

It’s hard to imagine that Romney did himself any favors in answering lingering questions about his foreign policy acumen during this trip.

On the other hand, there is an argument to be made that nothing — literally, nothing — other than the economy at home matters to undecided voters. And that goes double for foreign policy, which is a bottom-of-mind issue (is that a thing?) for most voters.

In a late May Washington Post-ABC News poll, 1 — yes, one — percent of people said that foreign policy was the most important issue of the 2012 campaign. One!

Of course this might be the case when voters think that either candidate is capable of handling foreign policy. This could change as voters see that Romney is as inept as George Bush.

 

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Quote of the Day

“Ron Paul’s son is a senator from Kentucky, and he’s now endorsing Mitt Romney. I know how that feels. My son watches Jay.” –David Letterman

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Huckabee Has Letter Calling Obama Advisers Political Whores Pulled

Honorable move by Mike Huckabee to demand that a fund raising  letter sent on his letterhead referring to Obama’s advisers as “morally repugnant political whores” be pulled. Huckabee denies having approved this. I am inclined to believe him. Compare Huckabee’s action in stating he did not approve this as soon as the letter went out to Ron Paul claiming he did not know about multiple racist and anti-Semitic items under his name, years after pocketing the money raised.

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Mitt Romney Remains A Weak Candidate, Except Among The Very Religious

Last night’s primaries, occurring after Rick Santorum left the race, turned out to give pretty much the same picture as when there was more of a contest: Mitt Romney will be the nominee, but many Republicans would prefer to vote for someone else. Smart Politics points out the weakness of Romney’s victories:

Over the last 40 years there have been nearly 80 contests in which the presumptive Republican nominees played out the string after their last credible challenger exited the race.

In every one of these contests, the GOP frontrunner won at least 60 percent of the vote, even when ex- and long-shot candidates remained on the ballot.

But on Tuesday, Romney won only 56 percent of the vote in Delaware and 58 percent in Pennsylvania, home to Rick Santorum who dropped out on April 10th.

While Romney avoided the embarrassment of winning with a mere plurality, never has a presumptive nominee won a primary contest with such a low level of support at this stage of the race with his chief challenger no longer actively campaigning.

Clearly the author doesn’t consider either Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul to be a credible challenger, and the assumption looks valid. Even Newt Gingrich has realized this, dropping out of the race. While Ron Paul’s chances at winning are still the same as at any other point in time,  zero, it will be interesting to see if he manages to receive more primary votes as the last candidate standing, allowing him to take a larger block of delegates to the convention than would otherwise occur.

Jimmy Carter says that, while he would prefer Obama, he would feel comfortable with Romney:

“I’d rather have a Democrat but I would be comfortable — I think Romney has shown in the past, in his previous years as a moderate or progressive… that he was fairly competent as a governor and also running the Olympics as you know. He’s a good solid family man and so forth, he’s gone to the extreme right wing positions on some very important issues in order to get the nomination. What he’ll do in the general election, what he’ll do as president I think is different.”

I would refer Carter to yesterday’s post on this subject. There is certainly a reasonable chance that Romney is more moderate than he now claims to be. It is really impossible to tell what opinions Romney has, or if he even has any, considering the way he can sound sincere while taking either side of any issue. Unfortunately Romney has painted himself into a “severely conservative” corner and will have difficulty moving out. Even should he prefer more moderate positions, it is hard to see him resisting the wishes of a far right wing Congress, which is the most likely result should conditions in the fall favor a Romney victory.

It is clearly far too early to predict who will win. Polls now favor Obama, but they can change by November. I am encouraged by Obama’s strength in most of the battleground states, although he is likely to lose some states he won in 2008. Republicans who were encouraged by a narrow Romney lead in Gallup’s daily tracking poll will not want to see that Obama has jumped to a seven point lead. I suspect that this is more a measure of the uncertainty among many voters as opposed to a major change in positions, but does emphasize the weakness of Romney as a candidate.

Gallup has also found that the usual partisan breakdown along religious lines still holds in a race between Obama and Romney:

Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama by 17 percentage points, 54% to 37%, among very religious voters in Gallup’s latest five-day presidential election tracking average. Obama leads by 14 points, 54% to 40%, among the moderately religious, and by 31 points, 61% to 30%, among those who are nonreligious.

If this is viewed purely based upon religion, the results might not make any sense considering Obama’s religious views. There are two additional factors in play. Many Republicans are still fooled by the attacks from the right wing noise machine, with a meaningful number still believing Obama is a Muslim. The other factor is that the concern among many on the religious right is not whether a candidate is religious but whether they will use government to impose their religious views upon others. In this case, perhaps the religious right has a better understanding of the outcome of a Romney presidency than Jimmy Carter shows.

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Santorum Suspends Campaign; Romney Nomination Inevitable

It is time for Romney to shake his Etch A Sketch. Rick Santorum has suspended his campaign.  Most likely he realized that it is better to get out now as opposed to being humiliated by a loss in Pennsylvania.

Gingrich is still in but his campaign appears dead. Even Herman Cain is dropping Gingrich for Romney. Ron Paul is still in the race, running ads attacking the other Republican opponents, but he remains with zero chance of ever winning the nomination. It was already pretty clear, but in case anyone had any doubt it is now as certain as it can be before the conventions that the general election will be Romney vs. Obama.

May the honest, consistent man with integrity win.

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Can Paul Deliver His Support To Romney?

There has been a lot of talk lately about Ron Paul teaming up with Mitt Romney. This has raised some questions in my mind. First of all, will it matter? Paul is concentrating on the caucus states where the final delegate counts might not be entirely consistent with vote, but at the moment Paul does not have all that many delegates. Even if for the sake of discussion we assume that Paul wins enough delegates to matter should Romney be just short of enough to win the nomination, there is also the question as to whether he will be able to deliver his support to Romney. After all, with the lack of enthusiasm for Romney, it is certainly possible he could fall short of the required amount.

Paul’s supporters have created a myth that Ron Paul is a hyper-moral and consistent non-politician. His career has demonstrated just the opposite. This ranges from his support for earmarks to his pandering to racists to raise money. Even his support for freedom is quite inconsistent, opposing the right of a woman to control her own body at the level of federal legislation. His support for freedom in other areas remains limited to the level of the federal government, with his view of the power of state governments making him the ideal candidate for the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who make up much of his support.

A post at The Hill’s Pundits Blog provides further insight into the difficulties Paul is having over his romance with Mitt Romney:

The perception of a secret side deal between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney is now creating a major backlash from conservatives and relegating the Paul campaign to third-tier status. While major media have begun withdrawing embeds and reducing coverage of the Paul campaign, conservatives are increasingly angry with Paul (and Gingrich) for helping Romney. I never thought I would say this, but Rick Perry has been acting like a far more honorable and consistent conservative than Paul, who may well be engaging in old-style politics backroom behavior…

Paul has a very limited amount of time left to restore some purpose to his campaign. He is very close to being marginalized into insignificance. His romance with Romney is destroying his candidacy and creating a growing anger and backlash against him from conservatives. His behavior is damaging his own credibility and doing long-term damage to Rand, with the broader conservative movement that does not want Romney and does not appreciate Romney enablers.

While Ron Paul is doing poorly in his campaign, at least the comments to the linked post do show that Paul continues to maintain support on line from the same types of irrational kooks as he had back in 2008.

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Jeb Bush Accurately Describes Current GOP Field

Jeb Bush, generally regarded as George’s younger, smarter brother,  has been receiving a lot of credit this week for saying what any sane conservative should realize:

“I used to be a conservative and I watch these debates and I’m wondering, I don’t think I’ve changed, but it’s a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people’s fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective and that’s kind of where we are.”

It is a shame he didn’t speak out when his brother was in the White House. While the Republican Party has moved even further to the right, the fact remains that George Bush was probably the most radical right wing president in our history, and few (if any) other presidents have done as much harm to the country as Bush.

I wonder if Jeb is laying the groundwork for a 2016 campaign, already realizing the importance of distancing himself from what could be a disastrous campaign in 2012. This assumes that the Republican Party will be more sane in 2016 than it is now, which is a very questionable prediction. It is easy for Jeb Bush to sound more sane now when he is not running. If he was a candidate for the 2012 nomination he might be forced to act just as insane as Santorum, Gingrich, Paul, and Romney.

There was a time when perhaps Mitt Romney would be the Republican candidate who tried to tone down the extremism and campaign as the sane candidate. Instead Romney has actually tried to campaign with claims of being to the right of Rick Santorum. As Bill Maher has pointed out, that cannot work:  “he can’t be to the right of Rick Santorum because there’s nothing to the right except Kirk Cameron and the Neo-Nazi Party.”

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Romney Wins on Saturday–Barely

In quick follow-up of yesterday’s look at the Republican nomination battle, Mitt Romney did the minimum necessary to win yesterday’s events, but not in a very convincing manner. Both many commentators and Rick Santorum have attributed Romney’s win at CPAC to busing in large numbers of college students on from the east coast, analogous to how Ron Paul won the past two years. Today Santorum is outright accusing Romney of rigging the vote:

Romney beat Santorum by 7 points Saturday in a straw poll of almost 3,500 attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Santorum pointed out that Ron Paul had won the poll in both of the past two years “because he just trucks in a lot of people pays for their ticket, they come in and vote and then leave.”

“I don’t try to rig straw polls,” Santorum said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Paul actually came in last on Saturday, having declined to address the conference or to activate his base for the straw poll. But Santorum said that wasn’t the case with Romney.

“You have to talk to the Romney campaign and how many tickets they bought,” Santorum said. “We’ve heard all sorts of things.”

Romney won with 38 percent, followed by Santorum at 31 percent, Gingrich at 15 percent and Ron Paul at 12 percent. It is notable  that the combined voted received by Santorum and Gingrich significantly exceeds that received by Romney. I believe that if Newt Gingrich were to leave the race, Rick Santorum would be the most likely winner. On the other hand, polls show that Santorum supporters are more mixed in their second place choices, probably due to Newt Gingrich’s past, and Romney would remain the front runner if Gingrich dropped out.

Romney also won in Maine, but only by three points over Ron Paul, the only other candidate to actively campaign in the state. Only beating a crackpot such as Ron Paul by three percent is hardly very impressive. This might be partially be because the major Republican candidates have seen no point in devoting any effort to campaigning against Paul, hoping to keep some of his supporters in the party. They know that any concentrated effort to bring up Paul’s negatives would easily knock him back into the single digits should he ever become a real threat.

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