Monday, December 19, 2011

Almost Somewhat Accurate

The Atlantic's Kevin Drum and The New York Times' Paul Krugman are annoyed at Mitt Romney for claiming at the Sioux Falls GOP debate

is a president who fundamentally believes that this next century is the post-American century. Perhaps it's going to be the Chinese century. He is wrong.

Krugman terms "justified outrage" Drum's remark "where does he get this stuff? It's just made up out of thin air. Obama's never said this or anything even close to it." He himself adds "I can’t think of any candidate who has lied so freely, with so little compunction," obviously "playing into right-wing fantasies (of) what a liberal sound like."

Romney does lie rather freely, although with a campaign that includes Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, Krugman really should think a little harder. Additionally, there is Newt Gingrich, whose discomfort with the truth is discomfiting to many of us, and who plays into right-wing fantasies of what a liberal sounds like. There was the time in 1999 he blamed the evil liberal triumvirate of media, university, and politicians for the Columbine horror, accusing "the elite of this country – the elite news media, the liberal the academic elite, the liberal political elite: I accuse you in Littleton.... of being afraid to talk about the mess you have made, and being afraid to take responsibility for things you have done, and instead foisting upon the rest of us pathetic banalities because you don’t have the courage to look at the world you have created.” Or in November, 2000, exploiting the horror of violent crime by remarking "I think that the mother killing the two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things.... the only way you get change is to vote Republican." Or last year, appealing to fear of the other by contending "the folks who want to build this (not quite at Ground Zero, not an actual mosque) mosque-- who are really radical Islamists who want to triumphally prove that they can build a mosque right next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists-- those folks don't have any interest in reaching out to the community."

Compared to Gingrich, Romney is a piker when playing into right-wing fantasies- and occasionally, perhaps accidentally, he gets it right, such as when he recently charged President Obama with being

someone who is now so desperate to get reelection that he’s doing things that are very much counter to the interest of the country and he knows it.

There are many examples- e.g.,, withdrawing the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel and bypassing Elizabeth Warren for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau- of President Obama subordinating principle to politics. More recently, however, Obama's Health and Human Services Secretary, the pro-choice Kathleen Sebelius, rejected the FDA's recommendation that Plan B be made available to girls under the age of 17, the first time HHS has rejected the FDA's position. Responding to a query posed at a news conference, Obama supported the decision, leading Amanda Marcotte to argue

Turns out a lot of people---especially men---who think of themselves as "reasonable" or moderate or even liberal, quickly glommed on to the argument that this ruling was addressing a parent's right to know. They falsely assumed that putting Plan B out of reach of teenagers will force teenagers to talk to their parents, and didn't consider that for many to most teenagers who were already not talking to parents, it will actually cause them to shut up about it and hope that they just don't get pregnant.

And take the payroll tax cut, a politically popular position, as with almost all tax cuts, and which has been used by the President as a cudgel to bash Republicans. Currently, as worked by President Obama, general revenue is compensating the Social Security trust fund for the loss in revenue to Social Security incurred by the payroll tax cut, as it presumably would by any extension. But redistricting prompted by the 2010 census is accruing to the benefit of the GOP, which controls state governments, and which is the stronger party in most of the states gaining congressional seat(s) due to population shifts. (If the new congressional map were in effect in 2008, John McCain would have won more than 270 electoral votes and the presidency.) In November 2012, Republicans will be defending 10 seats- and Democrats, 23. Barack Obama's re-election is in jeopardy.

And so it might be as early as January, 2013 that the Republican Party controls the federal government. The payroll tax cut, of course, would continue under the control of the GOP, which currently is opposed for leverage and/or because it is Barack Obama's idea, reasons completely unrelated to ideology. And the GOP will continue to reimburse the trust fund? Not on your life. The idea of either increasing fees or taxes to supplement Social Security or blowing a bigger hold in the deficit will be off the table, especiallly when the GOP will have an opportunity to bleed the trust fund, thereby enhancing its (fictitious) claim that Social Security isn't solvent, and strengthen its argument that it must be "reformed"- i.e., privatized.

Barack Obama isn't the smartest person in Washington- that would be Mitch McConnell, and Haley Barbour, when he's around. But he sees the end game as very few in his party do. When Mitt Romney says that the President is "so desperate to get reelection that he's doing things that are very much counter to the interest of the country and he knows it," he is not completely correct. he's only almost right, not in terms of the policies he means, and ony accidentally,but there is a germ of truth to the charge. And for a GOP presidential candidate, that's actually pretty good.


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