Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Is Mitt Romney a Master Debater?

I'll give him credit: Mitt Romney trounced his opponents in the Republican debates. But did you see that crop of crazies battling for King or Queen of the Parallel Universe? It wasn't too difficult to appear as the most electable candidate when the competition resembled the characters in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."  

With a week before the first debate with President Obama, Team Romney has been confidently touting their guy as a verbal warrior, a master debater if you will, who will handily win the three televised contests. But these events will be very different for Romney than his battles with Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman Jr. and Tim Pawlenty.

The GOP debates were woefully lacking logic, rational thought and the truth. A freak show filled with guns, God, gays, "999" and make-believe. The amount of lying and deception was unprecedented, but it surely made for excellent theater.

Romney won the nomination by default. That he walked away with the coveted prize says more about his kooky challengers than it does him. Months later, with the election just six weeks away, his overall political currency and cache is almost indication of how truly unpopular and unlikable he's been from the start.

Now Romney's about to step into the ring with President Obama, who will be armed to the hilt with policy, facts, figures and reality. He won't be able to kick back and hide behind Bachmann's crazy Jesus talk, Newt's outrageous racist rhetoric, Santorum's homophobia, Cain's fuzzy math or Perry's feeble forgetfulness.  He'll have to finally step out from the shadow of his own empty suit and provide specifics as to who he is, what he stands for, his plan for America and why he deserves to be president.

To be sure, Romney will be forced to explain his dubious past and present, including his tenure at Bain Capital, his term as Massachusetts governor, his taxes, the infamous "47%" debacle, Medicare, Social Security, the magical 12-million jobs he projects to create, his cure for a still ailing economy and how he'll deal with Afghanistan, Iran and the outbreak of Middle-East violence. The sideshow is over.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mitt vs. Mitt: A Frank Conversation Between Romney and His Alter Ego

My Fellow Americans (and by that of course I mean you 53%’ers who aren’t home sitting on your fat, food-stamp-eatin' asses watching “Jerry Springer”). As you know, I am locked in a tight race with President Obama (Kenyan Tribal Leader in exile). The simple truth is, we both have a very different vision for America (Check this out…he actually cares about poor people!). He wants to “redistribute” wealth, taking more from you hard-working, salt-of-the-Earth Americans while I believe that, because “you built it,” (or “daddy” built it) you should keep it (C’mon, that’s your inheritance, not the government’s!).

The economic recovery is a disaster (well, it’s actually pretty damned good…but I’m not gonna say that publicly!) I will fight for the middle-class (if by middle-class we mean those making around a quarter-mil?). I will protect and preserve Medicare (honestly, I can’t wait to dismantle that sucker!) And I will ensure that every American has a safety net (ok, you 47%’ers, you parasitical military vets and seniors, just because you served your country and paid taxes your whole life doesn’t mean you get a free ride just because you get old and sick. Get out of that wheelchair and get a damned job!). I will ensure that everyone who wants a college education will get it (even if they have to sell some stock to pay for it). And I will cut funding to Planned Parenthood (because as everyone knows, the surefire way to end unwanted and teen pregnancies is to abolish birth control…er…wait…don’t quote me on that one…I’m still trying to work this whole “Personhood” thing out…).

On Foreign Policy, Obama and I also have major differences (that’s because he has great intellectual curiosity and I, well, I like cheese…). Take Iran for example (or is it Iraq…I always get those “Ira” states mixed up. Our new enemy’s the one with the “n,” right?). We’ll use military force if necessary to wipe out their nuclear-weapons facilities (just don’t count on my five strapping sons to fight that war…as they’ll be doing some other, more patriotic stuff like handing out “De-fund Planned Parenthood” flyers). Obama is a weak apologist (that is of course if killing and toppling bin-Laden, al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda, Qadaffi and droning the snot out of Pakistani terrorists means “I’m sorry”) who cannot protect America (and I know what being tough is…you think it was easy during the Vietnam War being in Paris so far away from my Trust Fund?).

Now I know my remarks from a recent closed-door fundraiser in Boca have caused a stir (and by “stir” I mean “campaign killer”) Let me be clear: I did not mean that nearly half the country is a bunch of lazy-ass, unemployed, government-raping leeches sucking our budget dry (ok, maybe about 44% of you are). You’re hard-working (yeah, hard at working stealing my 13.9% tax money!), patriotic (oh God…here comes that “I served in the military” crap again…oy!) and needy (“I’m 90 and need my Social Security and Medicare …wah-wah-wah…”) and need a little government assistance now and then (and by “now and then” we mean “all the time”). To you I say, don’t worry, I am not going to cut your benefits (that’s because I’ll have my veep Paul Ryan do it! Mwwuuuhaa ha, ha, ha, ha, ha…!)

So get out there and vote in November (unless of course you’re poor, black and Hispanic and are being disenfranchised by my party’s rapacious quest to enact Draconian voter ID laws that will prevent you from doing so).

I’m Mitt Romney and I endorsed this ad (wait, this isn’t an ad, right….) 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

We Are the 47%!

In one short, publicly released video clip we now know for certain a couple of previously assumed facts about Mitt Romney: that he has an utter disdain for the nation’s poor, working class and minorities, and that he believes every single one of President Obama’s supporters belongs to a parasitical underclass of voters sponging off the government. You know your campaign's in serious trouble when The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol calls you “arrogant and stupid.”

The man who recently told Meet the Press' David Gregory that every time he speaks 10-million people are watching, spoke before thirty supporters at a closed door $50,000 per person fundraiser earlier this year in Boca Raton, FL and forgot that tens of millions of people are watching.

Here’s an excerpt of what Romney told his rich, white benefactors:

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right -- there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing. My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

I happen to be in that 47% group Romney so effortlessly and summarily demeans and disparages. For the record, I am not dependent or reliant on government assistance. I do not receive unemployment checks, food stamps or Medicaid, nor do I reside in any sort of subsidized housing.  In fact, I not only have a job but own a business which employs forty people, which makes me one of those omnipotent job creators Romney & Co. claims to speak for ad infinitum.

Romney also took a cheap shot at Hispanics:

“My dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico… and had he been born of, uh, Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. He lived there for a number of years. I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.”

Hear that sound? That’s the blissful sound of Latinos saying “Hasta la vista, baby!” to El Grande Blanco CEO.

Just for an extra laugh, Romney also predicted that the stock markets would rise if he were elected. Sure, we all know how desperately the Dow and NASDAQ need that Romney Bounce, having increased just 107% and 155% respectively since Obama took office.

Realizing his silver foot was firmly back in his mouth yet again, Romney gave a lame press conference 10PM Monday night and, as has become his standard m.o., doubled-down, stood his ground and simply referred to his remarks as “not elegantly stated.” Just exactly how would he have “elegantly stated” that he thinks everyone who voted for Obama is a worthless unemployed piece of government-raping garbage?  

To be sure, Romney’s remarks underscore just how painfully out of touch he is with the average American…and with reality in general. He lives in a parallel universe, where privilege and elitism are just the sort of entitlements he contemptuously accuses the poor, blacks and other minorities of mooching from government.  I guess it’s easy to tell everyone else how to make it on their own when you’re a silver-spooner whose rich, connected daddy paved your road to success.

I have some advice for Romney: before you write off every Obama supporter as a lazy, shiftless leech who sucks America's budget dry...check the statistics on poor, uneducated, unemployed white men and see who they're supporting politically. These are your people, Mitt.

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's the Economy, Not Jobs, Stupid!

Every month politicians and pundits eagerly await the release of the latest government employment report like 'tweens awaiting the latest Bieber album. But is it worth the wait?

The 2012 presidential election is going to be decided on the economy, not unemployment. The reason? Because the unemployment rate, at 8%, means that most Americans are gainfully employed. And we're not going to discuss the  "underemployeds," those folks who look a clearly recovering economy and jobs market in the face and say "I'm outta here." Why anyone would think that now, amidst a healthy economic rebound, is the time to quit looking for work is a mystery.

There's a reason why the latest polls show that Americans (1) believe the country is headed in the right direction; (2) are feeling positive about the economy; and (3) are more confident with President Obama's financial stewardship than Mitt Romney's. It's because the economy, when not judged through the singular and misleading lens of the jobs market, is actually doing pretty well.

Anyone who has investments--in stocks, mutual funds, retirement or college savings account for example--has seen a meteoric 100% rise since Obama took office. For homeowners, there's been a stabilization of the housing market and a steady increase in value. Those looking to buy their first home are treated to low prices, historically low interest rates and plentiful credit. Consumers are more confident than ever, evidenced by strong retail and auto sales and record corporate profits. The hotel industry is booming, manufacturing is expanding and even the music industry is seeing strong sales. Overall GDP growth, at around 3% annually, is a far cry from the 6% contraction four years ago. Ok, let's talk employment finally. There's been 30 consecutive months of private sector growth with over 4.5 million jobs created.    

I know, you're saying "Get to the bad part." To be sure, the economy has a long way to go before we see the glory days again. But there's no escaping the simple truth that Americans are feeling good again about the present and the future.  They view their personal providence through the prism of their wallets. Right now that wallet seems secure and getting fatter. And that's very bad news for Romney. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Romney Sticks Silver Foot in His Mouth Again

If Mitt Romney loses his bid for president, chalk up Tuesday September 11th as the day, along with the moment he named Rep. Paul Ryan his vice presidential running mate, that it all fell apart.

In the wake of violent protests and terror attacks at U.S. embassies in Libya and Egypt where an American Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three other diplomats were killed, Romney deemed it politically expedient to criticize President Obama and the administration's "leadership" in protecting American citizens and interests abroad. In a statement issued late Tuesday night Romney said:

"I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."

The "first response" Romney was referring to was an early Tuesday statement issued by the Obama administration in response to the outrage caused by the release of an amateur American film which offensively depicted the Muslim Prophet Muhammad:

"The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."

The problem for Romney is that while the administration's statement was issued before it knew about the attacks on the embassies and the deaths, his statement was issued after he knew...making it the most ill-informed, ill-advised, ignorant, reprehensible and irresponsible decision so far in the campaign, and a clear sign of pathetic desperation. It certainly wasn't presidential, and it was a glaring example of how Romney's in over his head, especially when discussing matters of homeland security and foreign policy. He's about as much a statesman as Mike Tyson. I take that back. Tyson's smarter and more eloquent.

But rather than admit that he spoke prematurely, Romney doubled-down on Wednesday, maintaining the appropriateness of his harsh criticisms:

"It's a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values," Romney said in Florida. "I don't think that we ever hesitate when we see something which is a violation of our principles. We express immediately when we feel that the president and his administration have done something which is inconsistent with the principles of America."

Restraint, discipline, sensitivity, integrity, dignity, decency, diplomacy, stability. Those are precisely some of the principles and characteristics Obama rightly exemplified as he gathered the facts in this rapidly developing crisis; traits so utterly foreign to the sabre-rattling, red-meat-rhetoric-tossing Romney.

"There's a broader lesson to be learned here.... Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later," Obama said in response to the attacks. "And as president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that." He added that it was critical "to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts, and that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them."

Romney's attack was sharply criticized by prominent Republicans such as Peggy Noonan, Steve Schmidt, John Sununu, Matthew Dowd and Rep. Peter King, and was absent any support by GOP leaders including Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Eric Cantor. You know you're in serious trouble when your only support's coming from Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh.

It's one thing to fire off the inflammatory rhetoric when it's part of the day-to-day grind of a close election. It's another to shamelessly exploit for political purposes the deaths of Americans who've sacrificed their lives to make the world a better place. As with so many other blunders Romney's made, this latest strategic debacle, perpetrated amid the solemnity of 9/11, underscores a supreme lack of empathy and a mind-boggling inability to read situations.

Romney's actions this week highlight an unprecedented bankruptcy of character. Democrats can criticize Republican presidents and candidates such as Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and John McCain, but they were largely clear in what they stood for.  The only thing Mitt Romney stands for is getting elected president, a rapacious quest for which he'll do and say anything, no matter how dishonest, destructive and craven.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Romney: Afghanistan is Just a Word

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At eleven years old, it's the longest war in United States history. It's taken the lives of over 2000 American troops. It's cost U.S taxpayers $500 billion. But to Mitt Romney, Afghanistan is astonishingly just a "word."

Speaking with host David Gregory of NBC's Meet the Press, Romney, when asked if his omission of the war during his convention speech was a mistake, reiterated that he’d spoken about it the night before the convention to veterans at the American Legion. The Republican presidential nominee laughed and said it’s "interesting that people are curious about mentioning words in a speech as opposed to policy. I've been to Afghanistan and the members of our troops know of my commitment to Afghanistan and to the effort that's going on there. I have some differences on policy with the president. I happen to think those are more important than what word I mention in each speech."

Clearly for Romney, the man who's trying to convince voters he's worthy of being Commander in Chief, the war is an afterthought. It has such little significance to him that he limits discussion of it to an important yet small interest group like veterans rather than make it central to all Americans under the broader context of his foreign policy. Reserving his thoughts on the war exclusively for an American Legion audience is like talking abortion to evangelicals; energy and pollution to environmentalists; immigration to border states. Romney's reduced the war to a mere talking point.

It's unconscionable, and quite frankly unfathomable, that a candidate running for president when his nation's at war would fail to mention that war, and worse, the brave men and women who've sacrificed everything, including their lives, to fight it. Perhaps if one of Romney’s five sons had worn the uniform the war would have greater meaning and urgency to him.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Obama's Speech...Yawn.....

They say that great things come in threes. So after Michelle Obama's eloquent, heartfelt speech and Bill Clinton's blistering, rock-star-like missive, Democrats expected a knockout performance by President Obama Thursday night. But what they got was the same old same old from a man who sure as heck knows how to deliver sweeping oratory, but without the requisite emotion and passion, especially at this critical juncture in the campaign, that makes it truly meaningful. If I were an independent voter watching his speech I'd have headed into the kitchen for a snack a minute into his delivery.

What Democrats saw from Clinton the night before was the kind of speech pundits on both sides of the aisle talk about for years. A brilliant, witty, awe-inspiring impassioned plea replete with vision and promise. Not because he's a better speaker but because he inhales politics, politicians and the process like I inhale air. His heart, not just his mind, is fully in it. Contrary to Obama, whose heart seems to already be on that plane back to Chicago.

Don't worry about Democrats. I suspect Obama's speech was good enough to keep them solidly in the family. But it's not the base, or the "enthusiasm gap," as former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell suggested Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," that the speech was written for. It was supposed to directly and forcefully appeal to Independents, for it's this highly coveted group who Obama should be panicking about, and a group which were likely disappointed with his message. What they didn't get from him was any sort of detailed plan or specifics on job growth and economic recovery that might've given them reason to believe four more years with him at the controls is the answer to America's problems. Instead they got the standard Obama routine, which at this point in the game seems uninspired, stilted and repetitive. At this crucial stage, do we really need to hear the same "Fair shot...fair share...same set of rules" line? Unlike Clinton, who masterfully ad-libbed his way through almost half of his 48-minute speech, Obama just seemed terribly scripted, like he's delivering a well-tuned performance. Unfortunately, now is not the time for the president to appear as if he's merely phoning it in.

Obama needed to hit it out of the park, as Clinton did, and bring home the winning run. Instead, he hit a ground-rule double, leaving the winning run on third. Whether the runner ever makes it to home plate remains to be seen.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The Biggest Difference Between Obama and Clinton

It was the kind of speech that sent Democrats into a giddy orbit of pure, unadulterated love. Their rock star, Bill Clinton, delivered the sort of sincere, rousing, rallying cry they wish Barack Obama could. The social media sites Twitter and Facebook were like a streaming Bubba fan page as the former president stood at the podium with the excitement of The Beatles, the cool of Elvis, the charisma of Sinatra, the passion of Bono and the moves of James Brown. Quite simply, he dazzled.

Clinton said what needed to be said. And he pulled no punches in punching the living daylights out of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, which he accused of bringing the country to the brink of financial ruin and who now wants a to be back in the driver's seat. "We left him a total mess, he hasn't cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in," Clinton mocked.

But it wasn't until the end of his speech, as Clinton was met onstage by Obama in a hug that Romney and Paul Ryan wish they were secure enough in their manhood to pull off, that the stark contrast between the two men became painfully clear. Clinton's magic, which is so woefully lacking in Obama, is his rapacious hunger for the spotlight and a genuine love of politics and politicians. Clinton absorbs it all like an addicted sponge, while Obama rejects it all like a saturated sponge. Sure, he's totally in love with himself, but that doesn't matter. Democrats love him even more.  

As the former and current president exited stage right, Clinton slowly sauntered towards backstage, beaming in all his uber-affable narcissistic glory, basking in the afterglow of his Messianic impact, shaking hands and chatting up supporters, Obama was the picture of disconnection, disinterest and disdain for the entire process as he impatiently waited for Bill to end the lovefest. Between his body language and the look on his face, it's as if he was saying, "C'mon Bill. Can we leave.? Enough already. I need to get the hell out of here. Jeez, he's still touching people...eeewwwww. I don't get why he loves this crap so much.  Bill...Bill....let's go! I'll just have to go grab him by the arm and lead him out."

And that's just what Obama did. It was an extremely telling moment. It was clear Clinton hated leaving, and it was equally clear Obama hated staying. It's precisely that obvious contempt for the game, coupled with an inability to truly connect, genuinely connect, with voters--especially white, blue-collar men--that is Obama's Achilles heal. A liability big enough to, as the Republicans wish, send him back to Chicago in January if he doesn't soon find his mojo.  

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Republican Governors Messin' with Romney's Gloom and Doom Narrative

It's a comically contradictory message within the Republican Party that is justifiably confusing to independent voters. On the one hand there's the presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan attacking President Obama’s record as they insist Americans are not better off than they were four years ago. On the other, Republican governors across the country including John Kasich (OH), Chris Christie (NJ), Terry Branstad (IA), Rick Scott (FL) and Nikki Haley (SC) are downright giddy as the say the exact opposite, self-servingly touting their home states' economic turnarounds as they seek another term.

The impact is so potentially harmful to the GOP ticket that Team Romney has reportedly asked Kasich, Scott and others to tone down the positive statements. But Republican governors care about one thing: getting re-elected. As such, they’re forced to acknowledge what the Obama administration and Democrats have been saying about the national economy’s progress, even if their blatant self-promotion clashes with Romney’s gloom and doom narrative. So while his mutt may have been thrown onto the car roof, these governors are throwing Mitt under the bus. There can’t be such appreciable progress on the state level if the broader economy isn’t experiencing similar growth as well. And that’s good news for Obama, not their nominee.

At their convention this week, Democrats would be wise to hammer home two main talking points: that Americans are absolutely better off now than they were four years ago, and that the economic bragging by Republican governors across the nation is incontrovertible proof of that.

Monday, September 03, 2012

You're Damn Right We're Better Off...

Are we really having this debate four years after the nation's worst financial crisis in eighty years? After a near-catastrophic meltdown brought on by eight years of Bush Administration-led tax cuts, deregulation and Wall Street recklessness? Talk about the "fiscal cliff"; have we forgotten that America was on the brink of financial ruin in the Fall of 2008?  

During the past several days the ghost of Ronald Reagan has reared its partisan head to incessantly ask, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" It's as if a memo went out Friday morning to every conservative pundit, surrogate and politician requiring them to hammer home this talking point ad nauseam. The answer to the question, of course, is yes. But not surprisingly, Democrats seem to be tripping over their own feet trying to answer without seeming insensitive to or dismissive of the continuing struggles of the poor and middle-class.  

But it's a simple question to answer if, rather than spew partisan rhetoric, one compares the key economic indicators of today vs. before President Obama took office. These include unemployment and job creation, GDP, the credit market, consumer confidence, foreclosures, the stock market, housing, manufacturing, the auto industry and corporate profits, all of which have greatly improved since 2008 and 2009. 

It's critical that Obama and Democrats confidently head into their convention this week in Charlotte prepared to effectively remind voters just how far they've come and that yes, they're much better off than they were. The following message should be incorporated into every single speech: 

If you're poor, you're better off
If you're middle-class, you're better off
If you were unemployed, you're better off
If you have Medicare, you're better off
If you're sick, you're better off
If you were without affordable, accessible heath care, you're better off
If you're a female wage earner, you're better off
If you're a college student, you're better off
If you're gay, you're better off
If you're a homeowner, you're better off
If you're looking to buy a home, you're better off
If you're seeking credit, you're better off
If you're invested in the stock market, you're better off
If you're a corporate CEO, you're better off
If you work on Wall Street, you're better off
If you work in the auto industry, you're better off
If you work in banking, you're better off
If you work in retail, construction or manufacturing, you're better off
If you're a consumer, you're more confident and are better off
If you or your loved one was fighting in Iraq, you're better off
If you or your loved one is fighting in Afghanistan, you're better off
Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi are not better off

But Republicans, who seem to loathe facts and fact checkers, claim that "many people" still don't believe the economy's improved or that it's headed in the right direction. But it really doesn't matter what "many people" think. Many people still believe blacks should be riding in the back of buses, Mexicans should be fenced in their country, Jews should be kept out of their neighborhoods and country clubs, women should be denied contraception and abortions, and that it's wrong for gays to marry. "Many" doesn't make "right." 

Republicans may not hold much regard for facts and the truth, but the truth is, the economy, and Americans as a whole, are far better off than they were four years ago.