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Jay Lake
Date: 2012-11-19 05:38
Subject: [politics] More on the wretched character of Mitt Romney, as demonstrated by Money Boo Boo hisself
Security: Public
Since Mitt won't stop talking about politics, I'm not done talking about Mitt.

In my post right after the election [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ], I observed:
Apparently last night somebody did an emergency character transplant into the profoundly mendacious and opportunistic Romney, because he didn't go down the Bush road. I'd like to say good for him, but I flat don't believe this was for any moral or patriotic sensibility. Not given Romney's extremely well documented track record. Someone was cutting their losses.

[info]ericjamesstone had this response:
I believe I have more insight into Romney's character than you do, and I think you're wrong about his motivation. I think he conceded gracefully because that's what a presidential candidate is supposed to do when beaten. Even Richard Nixon knew that.

As I said at the time:
I am certain you do, actually, without argument. My insight into Romney's character comes entirely from the conduct of his campaign. Which did not encourage me to think well of him in the slightest, given everything from his 47% remarks to the profoundly and knowingly mendacious Jeep-to-China ads. The person who said those things and approved those ads is not a person anyone could reasonably assume to be of solid character.

That campaign legacy is Romney's public character, regardless of who he might be as a private person.

Again regardless of his private character, Romney's statements since the election have done nothing except confirm my abysmal assessment of his public character. The gracefulness Eric attributed to Romney the day after the election has been completely absent from the combination of entitled peevishness and sheer ignorant malice emitting from Romney since. At this point, even conservatives ought to be awakening to how close we came to electing Mr. 47%, and the degree of his fundamental disdain for ordinary working Americans of all political persuasions.

"What the president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote, and that strategy worked."

"It's a proven political strategy, which is give a bunch of money to a group and, guess what, they'll vote for you. ... Immigration we can solve, but the giving away free stuff is a hard thing to compete with."

I won't bother reiterating the analysis made over and over again by commentators on the left and right about the so-called "extraordinary financial gifts". Romney's clear assumption is that tax cuts for the wealthy and items like the carried interest deduction are not "extraordinary financial gifts", but rather that they're prudent fiscal policy, while doing things like working to provide universal healthcare to all citizens regardless of economic class or political affiliation represent a giveaway the government can ill afford. That's a very typical conservative viewpoint, to believe that government benefits to their preferred interest groups are critical Federal programs, while government benefits to their disfavored interest groups are wasteful public spending. That's why student loan interest rate abatement is "mooching" but farm price supports are not. Students tend to vote Democratic, farmers tend to vote Republican.

Except government doesn't work that way. It's not about punishing people you disagree with or who vote the wrong way. It's about enabling both individuals and society as a whole to progress and prosper.

This ignorant disdain of the social contract and the role of government in the lives of its citizens is completely consistent with Romney's 47% remarks, and very far off the moderate tone he pretended to adopt during the late stages of his campaign while desperately trolling for votes from the political center. I won't even go into the "stupid-or-evil" dynamic inherent in his fact-free and untruthful reference to the Limbaugh-FOX talking point about "free contraceptives." Either Romney knows he's lying, as he has countless times before; or he doesn't know he's lying because he's dangerously embedded in conservative epistemic closure — which would you prefer for president, profoundly dishonest, or proudly ignorant of reality?

Romney's post-election remarks are not a continuation of graceful concession. These are not the words of a statesmanlike politician contemplating the reasons for his election loss. This isn't even consistent with the good character we might expect from a junior varsity sports team that lost their playoffs.

This surliness is sheer, old fashioned frustrated entitlement. This is the stereotypical shallow lack of self-awareness of the extremely wealthy being played out on the national stage to the deepening embarrassment of Romney's own party. This is Mitt Romney's wretched character being imprinted as his shameful public legacy as surely as Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are John McCain's shameful public legacy. Oddly, much of the GOP is coming to agree with me on this.

If Mitt had simply gone quiet after his surprising concession speech, I might have reluctantly come to agree with Eric's assessment. But he chose to speak up, to rationalize and justify and condemn; and once again perform one of his endless pivots. At least his Republican primary opponents, who had the political qualities and intellectual depth of the Seven Dwarves without their personal charm, possessed the courage of their convictions. The only conviction Mitt Romney is demonstrating now is his conviction that he deserves more than the rest of America, simply for the magnificence of his existence.

But then, we knew that all along. That's why he lost, remember?

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Danny Adams
User: madwriter
Date: 2012-11-19 15:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The Onion had a recent headline along the lines of "A retrospective of the campaign of Mitt Romney, who we hope will go the hell away". :)
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User: rekre8
Date: 2012-11-19 16:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I do wonder, after this, if we could somehow chart out what actions each unsuccessful presidential candidate has done through the years. Pre-internet, it always seemed to me that the loosing candidate just dropped off the face of the earth (but there was a lot of too-young-to-care on my part back then too). Romney has been showing...excuses. McCain I don't hear about (he's painted as unsavory my cartoons, but what has he done since the loss?), but Palin seems to be portrayed as a gold digger. Gore went on the speaking circuit with Inconvenient Truths.

I can't say I'm driven to do research on this, but mildly curious about what reaching for that position and missing does to a person and their career.

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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-11-19 16:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've actually had a very similar thought, but no ability to answer it except very loosely anecdotally. For example, my memory of Michael Dukakis is that he simply disappeared. John Kerry went back to the Senate and behaved himself. George H.W. Bush quietly retired. Likewise Bob Dole. Etc. It's my impression that McCain and now Romney have been very sore losers compared to many of their like-failed predecessors. But is that true? Heck if I know.

Worth looking into, if I ever find the time and mental energy.
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User: barbarienne
Date: 2012-11-19 21:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, you know, all those guys before McCain were defeated by a god-fearing white Christian, not some mooslim darkie.

Yeah, I dunno if that's part of the equation, since we only have one black president as a data point. But I can't help but wonder if Romney feels extra stung for having been defeated by someone playing life on a higher difficult setting.
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User: ulfhirtha
Date: 2012-11-19 21:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was just seeing a discussion of this a few days ago. Most recent defeated candidates retired from the field with some dignity. Dukakis, Mondale, Dole. HW Bush. Some, like Dole, even showed up places like SNL to poke fun at their own public personas and otherwise (more or less) were good sports about it at least in public.

As a measure of the smallness of his character, I can't see Romeny able to share in a joke about himself. I can't imagine Romney with his arm around Jason Sudekis on SNL. Similarly, McCain used to be on the Daily Show an awful lot prior to 2008 and now seems to be just another permanently angry and bitter man. I think Rolling Stone's profile on him was pretty accurate in showing us a man also feeling entitled - because of his family's military positions instead of wealth, but the legacy is there. I suspect both are also feeling that inner shame of not quite measuring up to their fathers.
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Dave O'Neill
User: daveon
Date: 2012-11-19 22:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In Romney's case I suspect it's not measuring up to his father, but not exceeding what his father did. He pretty much matched it.

I always had the feeling with Romney that he had a check list of things he wanted to do by certain dates and "Become President of the United States" was on there for when he reached his 50s.
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Dave O'Neill
User: daveon
Date: 2012-11-19 22:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Gore didn't :)

Although he did go from being rather badly off... he'd made a career out of government and had a net worth, if memory serves, of about $150K when he didn't become president.

He's now worth something like 100 times that.

That said, he has been pretty good about the whole election thing and has kept that out of all the success he's subsequently had.
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User: a_cubed
Date: 2012-11-20 14:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's interesting that it used to be possible to come back from a failed presidential campaign and get re-nominated (Nixon lost to Kennedy but later won) but since the 80s I don't think an actual nominated candidate has been re-nominated (lots of primary failures have tried again and wasn't Romney a tryout in 2008?).
Certainly the fact that Romney lost against a president which all historical precedent in the US said should lose just due to recent economics (whether blameworthy or not, wasn't it FDR who was the last president to win re-election with unemployment in the US this high)? There's also the documented voter suppression and alleged voting fraud which should have helped him win. Put all that together and the 48.1% he got in the reported count really represents a much smaller proportion and a real kick in the teeth, even beyond any personal feeling of entitlement he has, alongside the sealed bubble which was telling him he was going to win, particularly after the first debate).
None of this makes him any less of a bitter sore loser, and representative of one fo the major things that's wrong with the US Republicans: they're not democrats, i.e. they really don't believe in the "will of the people" and seem to be tracking ever closer to completely non-democratic attitudes that are found in the cling-to-pwoer-at-any-costs dictators like Assad, Mugabe, Putin...
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User: voidampersand
Date: 2012-11-19 16:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Both liberals and conservatives feel that government should provide assistance to some people and tax them less, while others should get less assistance and be taxed more. Where they differ is in their feelings as to who should be helped and who should be taxed more. Liberals feel that government assistance should be given based on need, and taxes levied based on ability to pay. Conservatives feel that is wrong and even immoral because it rewards losers and penalizes winners. Their beliefs are essentially the same as the Romans who worshiped the Goddess Fortuna. Power and prosperity are signs of virtue. To go against them is to defy the Goddess, and that would be unlucky. Unfortunately for the GOP, they are nominally Christian and they struggle to explain their close ties to the ancient pagan cult.
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Jay Lake: funny-do_not_hump
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-11-19 16:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
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Chris McKitterick: FSM fresco
User: mckitterick
Date: 2012-11-19 19:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:FSM fresco

Also, Jay, this is a fantastic summary of why Romney has come across as such a creepy asshat.
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User: barbarienne
Date: 2012-11-19 20:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Startling to think that George W. Bush has been soooo much classier and more intelligent, by just shutting up and staying out of the public eye since 2008.
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houseboatonstyx: smaller-healing-buddha
User: houseboatonstyx
Date: 2012-11-19 21:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
To me the key* to the Romneys' character is what they did to Hilary Rosen.

Context: On a tv panel show, someone said that Romney referred all questions about Lily Ledbetter issues to his wife. Rosen said, "Ann Romney has never worked [outside the home] a day in her life."

Within a few hours, the Romney campaign OPENED a Twitter account so that 'Ann Romney' could tweet "I chose to stay home and raise my sons. Believe me, that was hard work." -- Thus reaching millions of people who didn't know the context, and starting a meme that Rosen had attacked motherhood.

That was a nasty vicious move.

*Well, also bragging about his 'crisis management' in hosing a sick dog and putting it back on the roof at windchill speeds.
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User: cissa
Date: 2012-11-21 03:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
She "raised her children"- with hot and cold running nannies.

Most of us are lucky to afford a babysitter every couple of months.
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Rowan aka: The Seticat: fun - laser-warning - mine
User: seticat
Date: 2012-11-19 22:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:fun - laser-warning - mine
Romney suffers from an acute case of 'Frank Burns Syndrome' - someone else's fault or God's Will.
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