Point of View Columns

Why Mitt Romney Ought to Lose

The election is less than 24 hours away there are a lot of reasons why Mitt Romney ought to lose but it might be useful to consider a few major ones. First, he has utilized lying as a campaign strategy that is unprecedented in presidential politics. Second, he has simply refused to provide full disclosure of his financial records (including taxes). Third, he has come very close to wallowing in the racial sewage that has characterized so much of the opposition to President Obama during the past four years. And then, there is that vision thing.

First – The Romney campaign has specialized in the Big Lie, thinking that if you tell it enough times people will believe it. His latest foray into mendacity was the blatant lie that claimed Jeep was shipping American production jobs to China. And even after the CEO of Chrysler, Jeep’s parent company flatly denied this assertion, the Romney campaign continued to broadcast advertisements containing this lie.

If the Jeep fiasco was an isolated incident it could be chalked up to end of campaign desperation. But the RomneyRyan team has lied about everything from Paul Ryan’s marathon time to Mitt Romney’s stance on universal healthcare (he was for it before he was against it). As importantly Mitt Romney has engaged in an ongoing falsehood offensive by refusing to tell the American people what government services will be eliminated when the RomneyRyan budget cuts go into effect – Planned Parenthood? FEMA? EPA? The American people should have the right to know before voting.

Second – Mitt Romney’s failure to disclose his financial records flies in the face of a political tradition begun by his father almost a half century ago. The arrogance and disdain of his stance should be an immediate disqualifier. And then there is hypocrisy.

As the CEO of Bain Capital Mitt Romney would have never hired a person to be CEO of a Bain portfolio company without a thorough background check which would, of course, include financial information. If that initial background check indicated bank accounts and investments in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland further inquiry would ensue as a matter of course. Not to do so would be the equivalent of corporate malpractice and have left Bain management vulnerable to all kinds of lawsuits in the event of misdeeds by that CEO.

Somehow Mitt Romney feels that the American people are not entitled to the same information that he would require, indeed demand, from any key employee. The logical explanation is that if Mitt Romney does not see himself as applying for the position of being employed by the American people perhaps he envisions a more regal or imperial position for himself.

Third – Too much of the opposition to Barack Obama has been tinged with the fetid sewage of racism. Any sane person knows that President Obama has not and has never been a socialist, a fascist, the anti-Christ or a citizen of Kenya. But all of those attacks are thinly veiled attempts to portray Barack Obama as the black “Other” who should have never been elected president in the first place.

During his presidential campaign John McCain had the courage and decency to distance himself from this dog whistle strategy. Mitt Romney has bought a freight load of dog whistles and has exhibited no hesitation to align himself with these appeals to the worst instincts of the electorate.

Mitt Romney has “joked” about his own birth certificate and has never reined in his pit bull surrogate, John Sununu, who has stated that President Obama “needs to learn how to act like an American” and that Colin Powell only endorsed Barack Obama because both men are black. Mitt Romney, most recent attack dog, Rudy Giuliani, distinguished himself as being the most racially-divisive mayor in the history of the City of New York.

Mitt Romney has had ample opportunity to display statesmanship – and he has failed at every turn.

Finally – There is the matter of vision. In the final analysis, the RomneyRyan vision of America is a more selfish, stingy and mean country. Dismantling Planned Parenthood, claiming that disaster relief provided by the federal government is “immoral”, shredding the social safety net and denuding the national infrastructure which is in need of renewal not simply repair are all hallmarks of the RomneyRyan vision.

If you are wealthy, self-satisfied and believe that the social contract is a one-way deal. For most people, the RomneyRyan vision will have cruel and unjust results and that is why Mitt Romney ought to lose.

Point of View Columns

R-E-S-P-E-C-T 2012

One of the notable aspects of the presidency of Barack Obama has been the blatant disrespect that the right wing of the right wing has been directed towards him, his administration, his policies and anything and everything that is associated with him. There can be no doubt that the spigot that has spewed this sewage has racism contaminating its source. The question now stands as Election Day arrives on November 6th – do Americans have the ability to overcome America’s original sin and vote rationally and in their own best interest?

It is true that the presidency of the United States has been a bull’s-eye for horrible insults and horrific personal attacks. George Washington was termed an idiot, Abraham Lincoln was likened to an ape and Franklin Roosevelt was rumored to be part of a global Zionist cabal. And certainly, the freedom of speech that is one of the foundations of democracy does result in personal attacks. Anyone who steps into the political ring should certainly wear their Big Boy or Big Girl Pants.

Nevertheless, an honest and thoughtful analysis of the sludge storm directed at President Obama will discern a difference from historical patterns of political attacks and criticism. The so-called “birther” controversy can serve as Exhibit A because it has meant so much more than a search for a birth certificate. It has been a concerted and focused effort to delegitimize the first black president of the United States.

Mitt Romney has “joked” about having no need to show his birth certificate (even though his own father was born in Mexico) sending out the same, tired, dog whistle – “Barack Obama is not one of us…..he’s black”. Rather than taking the high road, Mitt Romney has to wallow in the racially-tinged mud that has been tossed around by the birthers ever before President Obama was elected.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, Teapublicans and media outlets have managed to give a patina of respectability to the really awful behavior of Donald Trump with regards to President Obama. It is bad enough that he refueled the flagging birther crusade a year ago, his latest demand for the school transcripts of Barack Obama was insulting, disrespectful and stupid. But somewhere under that fake hair Donald Trump’s mind was working overtime to rebroadcast the dog whistle message – “Barack Obama is not one of us…he’s black and he could not possibly have honestly and legitimately attended Columbia University and Harvard Law School”.

Not to be outdone, Tagg Romney, the self-satisfied, pampered and entitled son of Mitt Romney was quoted as saying that he “wanted to take a swing” at President Obama. And while the Secret Service probably realized that Romney the Younger probably never threw a punch in his life, the disrespect offered by Tagg Romney was not followed by an apology from Tagg Romney, his father, the Teapublican Party or supporters of Mitt Romney. The dog whistle plays the tune – “Barack Obama is not one of us and I don’t care if he is president of the United States, he is black and is not worthy of even basic respect in our white right wing universe”.

Bringing up the rear, Sarah Palin and John Sununu seem to be in some kind of demented contest to come up with the most racially charged epithet to hurl at President Obama. John Sununu called the president “lazy” and claimed that he needed to learn how to “act like an American”. The Grizzly Mom decided to accuse President Obama of “shucking and jiving” when it came to Libya. The racist and racial implications of these statements and thousands more are clear and sad.

What is truly sad is that there are millions of white Americans who are prepared to vote against their own personal and family interest because their judgment has been clouded by the dog whistle politics practiced by Mitt Romney and the Teapublicans. Millions of white Americans are part of the 47% that Mitt Romney has derided and charged with lacking personal responsibility. Millions of white Americans are uninsured or underinsured and will suffer greatly if Obamacare is repealed.

And millions of white women will be given a real time history lesson of what life was like before reproductive rights were established. That life will be absent of choice, contraception services and not only will pregnancies from rape be the “will of God”, the outcome of any pregnancy will not be a woman’s choice.

It is sad that millions of white Americans might allow appeals to racism overcome their own instincts for survival and self-preservation. This election is not about race it is about the choice between competing visions for this country. Those who have chosen to make this election about race are the ones who have sought to cloud and blur their real message until they are able to seize power.

We can only hope that every American who votes does so with his/her eyes open and that we all can ignore the dog whistles.

Point of View Columns

Mitt’s Magical Mystery Tour

During the past week most of us have understandably been distracted by the pageantry and sheer wonder of the 2012 Olympics in London. Also understandably, some of us have been distracted and disturbed by the commissar-like attitude of fellow progressives when it comes to Chick-Fil-A. After all, if you don’t like what its management says, what’s wrong with a boycott? But banning the company from doing business in a town near you? And all along, Mitt Romney engaged in a mildly entertaining international foot-in-mouthathon that managed to anger allies and enemies around the world.

But while he was in London, lost in the furor over his snide remarks regarding preparations by the London Olympics organizing committee was his very troubling remarks about “Anglo-Saxon heritage”. It seems that Mitt Romney, as the prototypical WASM (White Anglo Saxon Mormon), felt that it was really really important to point out that he understood the importance of the Anglo Saxon linkage that the United States has with the United Kingdom.

And, to put a cherry on top, he stated that the first black president of the United States doesn’t fully “appreciate” that heritage.

Mitt thinks that he is being cute, traipsing around the world with his platinum-plated dog whistle in hand. Aside from the idiocy of touting Anglo Saxon heritage as being so important (more Americans are of German heritage than Anglo Saxon heritage, and in another couple of decades more Americans will be of non-white heritage in any event), Mr. Romney has chosen yet another occasion to appeal to white voters by nakedly playing the race card.
In this column I have pointed out that his surrogate John Sununu declared that Barack Obama “needed to learn how to act like an American”. The dog whistle message? Calling all white voters — don’t forget that a black man is president of the United States.

Mitt Romney, while he was in Israel, successfully threw rhetorical gasoline on the burning embers that are found in all corners of Palestinian-Israeli interaction by lauding the superior cultural aspects of Israel. And to make sure that every Palestinian knew where he would stand as president, he proclaimed that “providence” was on the side of Israel.
Certainly if he loses the presidential election, Mitt Romney can get a job as a recruiter for radical Islamists around the world.

But once again, lost in that particular gaffe, many people missed Mr. Romney praising the Israeli healthcare system. That would be the Israeli public healthcare system that has as its central feature, the individual mandate. That would be the same individual mandate that Mitt Romney championed while governor of Massachusetts. That would be the same individual mandate that Mr. Romney and the Teapublicans get cross-eyed crazy about if the words are even spoken out loud.

Just before he left the United States, Mr. Romney was widely quoted as saying that there was something “foreign” about President Obama’s policies. Considering his praise of the healthcare system in Israel, it would seem that the only thing “foreign” about the policies of the Obama Administration is that they are the policies advanced and supported by Barack Obama.

The dog whistle has been used until Mitt Romney and the Teapublicans are blue in the face. To their everlasting credit, the Teapublicans have stopped hanging Barack Obama in effigy and no longer allow posters of the president depicting him as some stereotypical African witch doctor with a bone through his nose. They no longer call the president a liar on the floor of the Congress.

In what must pass for subtlety in the Teapublican universe, Mitt Romney and his cohorts regularly and casually refer to Barack Obama as “foreign” – meaning he may or may not have been born in Kenya, but he certainly is not an American white man. We hear that the preposterous notion that the president of the United States needs to learn to act like an American, and we realize that it is not so preposterous if the underlying message is to remind white voters again and again that it mission of Teapublicans to get that black man out of the White House.

Trotting out Herman Cain will not drown out the dog whistles. Pretending that Condoleezza Rice is a possible presidential candidate isn’t fooling anyone but fools. The underlying theme of the opposition to President Obama certainly reflects serious policy differences with respect to the economy. But the dog whistle of race politics has been there all along and Mitt Romney should be ashamed of himself by using this eternally discredited strategy.