Two days ago, Barack Obama went before AIPAC (which is commonly known as "the Israel Lobby" but would be better understood as the Likud lobby, since it advocates not Israel's interests per se but the perspective of the right wing of Israeli politics, but that's a topic for another day), and said, among other things, the following:
"I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power: A political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency. Iran?s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests."
This didn't surprise anyone, because it's the same thing Obama has been saying for a while, in scripted and unscripted remarks alike, in both speeches and interviews. Yet later that day, Mitt Romney went out and said the following:
"This is a president who has failed to put in place crippling sanctions against Iran. He's also failed to communicate that military options are on the table and in fact in our hand, and that it's unacceptable to America for Iran to have a nuclear weapon."
So here's my question: Just what will it take for reporters to start writing about the question of whether Mitt Romney is, deep within his heart, a liar?
Because he does this kind of thing frequently, very frequently. Sometimes the lies he tells are about himself (often when he's trying to explain away things he has said or done in the past if today they displease his party's base, as he's now doing with his prior support for an individual mandate for health insurance), but most often it's Barack Obama he lies about. And I use the word "lie" very purposefully. There are lots of things Romney says about Obama that are distortions, just plain ridiculous, or unfalsifiable but obviously false, as when he often climbs into Obama's head to tell you what Obama really desires, like turning America into a militarily weak, economically crippled shadow of Europe (not the actual Europe, but Europe as conservatives imagine it to be, which is something like Poland circa 1978). But there are other occasions, like this one, where Romney simply lies, plainly and obviously. In this case, there are only two possibilities for Romney's statement: Either he knew what Obama has said on this topic and decided he'd just lie about it, or he didn't know what Obama has said, but decided he'd just make up something about what Obama said regardless of whether it was true. In either case, he was lying.
The "Who is he, really?" question is one that consumes campaign coverage, but in Romney's case the question has been about phoniness, not dishonesty, and the two are very different things. What that means is that when Romney makes a statement like this one, reporters don't run to their laptops to write stories that begin, "Raising new questions about his candor, today Mitt Romney falsely accused President Obama..." The result is that he gets a pass: there's no punishment for lying, because reporters hear the lie and decide that there are other, more important things to write about.
To get a sense of what it's like when reporters are on the lookout for lies, remember what Al Gore went through in 2000. To take just one story, when Gore jokingly told a union audience that as a baby his parents would rock him to sleep to the strains of "Look for the Union Label," everyone in attendance laughed, but reporters shouted "To the Internet!" and discovered that the song wasn't written until Gore was an adult. They then wrote entire stories about the remark, with those "Raising new questions..." ledes, barely entertaining the possibility that Gore was joking. Why not? Because it was Al Gore, and they all knew he was a liar, so obviously if he said something that wasn't literally true it could only have been an intentional falsehood.
That is not yet the presumption when it comes to Mitt Romney. There's another factor at play as well, which is that reporters, for reasons I've never completely understood, consider it a greater sin to lie about yourself, particularly about your personal life, than to lie about your opponent or about policy (I wrote about the different kinds of lies and how the press treats them differently here). Because Romney is lying about his opponent and about a policy matter, reporters just aren't as interested. But at some point, these things begin to pile up, and they really ought to start asking whether this dishonesty is something fundamental in Romney's character that might be worth exploring.
For those thinking that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would say one thing in public and another in private while in the White House, you can probably put that to rest. For reports are leaking out about that White House meeting, and the best[...]
Read The Full Article:
You might have missed this, what with it being Super Tuesday and all, but yesterday, ?Ohio Gov. John Kasich said thanks but no thanks to immediate federal disaster relief Saturday, even as governors in Indiana and Kentucky welcomed the help.?
That sound you hear is my mother, a township trustee in a semi-rural exurb in southern Ohio, spitting in disgust. Even at this distance, I can read her mind: Libraries are closing; schools are cutting staff; we worry about paying our firefighters; you?re trying to force state workers? unions to give up pensions and health care and the other benefits of a decent middle-class job. Sure! The state of Ohio has so much extra money, let?s just turn down getting back some of the money we pay in federal taxes for precisely this purpose!
Meanwhile, in a private email, reproduced here with explicit permission, Katha Pollitt quipped, ?If those people want taxpayers to pay for their tornadoes, at least they should put porn videos of themselves online.?
Everyone should have stood up and said this was inappropriate as apparently many of Rush's advertisers now have said it was inappropriate.Axelrod said he believed Romney gave such an evasive answer out of fear of Rush Limbaugh:
I was kind of shocked, Anderson, when Governor Romney all he had -- all he had to say about the thing was, well, that isn't language I would have used. What about the spirit of what was said? I thought that was a cowardly answer and it was a test of leadership and one that he failed.
I think one of the reasons why Governor Romney and others were so timid in speaking out is because Rush is the de facto leader of the Republican Party, so to take him on would be to risk your own standing within the party.Romney said Limbaugh's words were "not the language" that he would have used. But this wasn't just about Limbaugh's word choice: it was about the substance of what he said. And by refusing to comment on that, Romney was effectively condoning it.
While Kodak is trying to pull its head out of the sand. (BTW, it was clear what it should have done[...]
Read The Full Article:
In assessing whether to make tough decisions, policy makers tend to weigh the cost of action versus inaction. As critical as we are of our dear policy makers, when push comes to shove, they may rise to the occasion. But what if they are not told when it’s time to act, when it’s time to stop printing and spending trillions? In our assessment, the voice of reason has been silenced, posing potential risks to economic stability, as well as the U.S. dollar. That voice of reason is no other than the market itself. Let us explain.
Ahead of the likely celebratory night for Mitt Romney's supporters, I wrote a cautionary note this morning about why neutral observers shouldn't take Romney's success in the Republican primaries as a sign of they accept him as a moderate. Instead, Romney has gained his spot in the party by aligning himself with every conservative whim.
Still, conservatives don't fully trust Romney's sincerity. The former Massachusetts governor will have to watch his back at every turn in the general election; any misstep from conservative dogma will incite a round of handwringing among movement Republicans who would view it as confirmation of their worst fears about Romney. Unlike, say, Rick Santorum, who can adopt the occasional heterodox view without fear of being tarnished a RINO (Republican in Name Only), Romney must maintain a perfect track record to keep conservatives satisfied.
That predicament could very well cost him in the general election. His favorability among the broad electorate has disappeared, leaving the GOP headed into a general election in which most voters have a negative view of the presumed Republican nominee. And as former Prospect editor Michael Tomasky argues, at some point Romney will need to stand up to reactionary forces within his party's base, lest he drive independents further toward Democrats. Tomasky urges Romney to show a bit of backbone:
Take a stand. Choose something and take a stand that surprises people. Stand up to your base on one thing. Show that you have a spine. Because right now you are a jellyfish. People laugh at you. Your father told people where to get off constantly. For whatever psychological reason, you decided to be his opposite. Your choice. But if this race goes the way it looks as if it?s going to go, you will not only lose, but you will go down in history as a punch line. Your name will become a verb, and not a flattering one.
Tomasky thinks Romney's initial opposition to the Blunt amendment?a provision considered by the Senate last week which would have allowed any employer to refuse to cover any health procedure they found disagreeable?as a prime opportunity for Romney to have rebuked the talk radio crowd. Rather than holding strong, Romney rushed to correct his momentary divergence.
Unless the poll numbers are widely inaccurate for tonight's Super Tuesday races, Romney should soon dispatch with Santorum and Newt Gingrich, clearing the final hurdles before accepting the party's nomination (no, Ron Paul's devoted band of followers do not count as one such obstacle). But even when the nomination contest is over, folks like Rush Limbaugh or Erick Erickson will maintain their watchful stance, guarding against any move toward the center. Based on his conduct during the primares, it's hard to see Romney developing the spine to defy them anytime soon.
Neck and neck in OhioRepublicans have to feel a little dispirited about Ohio, even with polling showing an extremely tight race in the state's Republican primary today. That's extremely tight as in multiple polls have it tied, or Rick Santorum ahead within the margin of error, or Mitt Romney ahead within the margin of error. But it's not extremely tight in the excitement-building sense of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008; rather, it's within the context of an Ohio electorate that remains pissed about Republican attacks on public worker unions and is giving Obama a lead in general election polling.
Voters soundly defeated Issue 2, which would have taken collective bargaining rights from public workers, in November, after a campaign that built capacity in the state for unions and the Democratic party and drew a strong bipartisan vote against a signature Republican issue:
"I am socially conservative, I am a registered Republican voter and voted a strict Republican ticket in 2010 - but I am voting with Democrats in '12," said Brian Barnhart, 33, a lieutenant with the Columbus fire department.If the Issue 2 fight is likely to hurt Republicans in the general election, it's also probably not doing Mitt Romney any favors today; back in October, he angered some conservatives by visiting a Republican phone bank on Issue 2 and another ballot measure opposing health care reform, then saying "I?m not saying anything one way or the other about the two ballot issues ... But I am supportive of the Republican party?s efforts here," when he'd already formally endorsed the Republicans' Issue 2 effort months before. Add that to his many affirmations that he would have let the auto industry go bankrupt, as the revived auto industry adds jobs in Ohio, and it's no wonder he's not walking away with this thing.
"The main reason is the attacks on workers that I have been seeing with the Republican Party," he said.
New insights into how Goldman Sachs operates. [...]
Read The Full Article:
Over the weekend I started writing an article about Rush Limbaugh, apologies and what we used to call "hang time" at TPM -- namely, the period of time between a Republican politician's rebuke of Rush Limbaugh and the inevitable abject apology. But of[...]
Read The Full Article: