Jamelle Bouie

Why Does Romney Get a Pass?

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Greg Sargent highlights this portion from an interview Mitt Romney did with Town Hall this morning: “I think it’s very hard to tell exactly what the president would do, other than by looking at his record in his first three and a half or four years. And we can see where he took the nation in these years. It’s a massive expansion of federal spending, an expansion of the reach of the federal government, and there’s no question in my mind but that his Supreme Court nominees and his policies would be designed toward expanding the role of government in our lives. And frankly, America’s economy runs on freedom. And he has been attacking economic freedom from the first day he came into office. ” Sargent sees this as an attempt to downplay the severity of the economic crisis, and pin the blame for economic stagnation on Obama’s policies. That sounds right, given the extent to which Romney’s general election strategy is predicated on inducing amnesia in the voting public. This also serves to...

Don't Underestimate Romney

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Nationwide, Democrats are confident that President Obama will win reelection. But in Massachusetts, as TPM ’s Benjy Sarlin found , Mitt Romney’s former Democratic opponents are far from sanguine: Romney may have reinvented himself as a movement conservative in his two presidential runs, but those on the Democratic side in his two statewide campaigns tell TPM they see plenty familiar in his style. And they’re warning Democrats who are less than dazzled by his primary performance not to underestimate him. “Mitt Romney has been running for high public office since 1994 and in every campaign he’s been in he’s gotten better and more disciplined,” Shannon O’Brien, the Democratic nominee for governor Romney defeated in 2002, told TPM. “He has become a very good politician, perhaps one of the most crafty and ruthless politicians in the country today, and it could well propel him to the presidency.” One rule of thumb, when it comes to presidential elections, is that a major party nominee...

Mitt Romney Hits the Scene with His First General Election Ad

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
The Romney campaign is out with its first ad, a positive spot that highlights Keystone, health care, and tax cuts. The aim of the ad is to show Americans what President Romney would do in his first day of office, and to that end, it gets the job done, even if it’s mostly paint by numbers: Create jobs? Check. Repeal unpopular legislation? Check. Promise tax cuts? Check. It isn’t as blatantly dishonest as a significant amount of what comes from the Romney campaign, but it is misleading on two counts. First, experts are divided on how many jobs the Keystone pipeline would create. From the ad, the implication is that this would make a significant dent in our joblessness rate—otherwise, why would it concern the president? In the past, Romney has claimed that the pipeline would yield “tens of thousands of jobs,” but the independent estimate is that constructing the pipeline would result in five to six thousand jobs. That’s enough work to support a town, or even a small city, but not so much...

Is Mitt Romney Immune to the Extremist Charge?

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
Michael Tomasky looks at Mitt Romney’s speech in Des Moines, Iowa, and wonders why the Republican nominee would tie himself so closely to the radical right of the Republican Party: Obama can say to voters: “Look at how far-right congressional Republicans are going lead this guy around by the nose if he becomes president.” Most independents may want tough talk on the deficit, but they certainly don’t want the Tea Party running the country. Can Romney keep his distance from Boehner? Typically in presidential election years, the presidential nominee is given lots of free rein by others in the party to run whatever sort of campaign he needs to run to win. But the strange brew of Romney’s suspect right-wing credentials and the no-compromise posture of the Tea Party wing might make that a bit trickier this time around the track. As time goes on, and the public continues to see Romney as an acceptable nominee, I’m less sure that he’ll be harmed by his proximity to the Tea Party. Yes, his...

Romney Gets a Fact Check

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Because I devote a fair amount of time to Romney’s dishonest rhetoric—-and the degree to which its ignored by mainstream reporters–it’s worth noting those times when someone shows that the former governor has no clothes. To wit, here’s Phillip Rucker at the Washington Post , on Romney’s response to the attacks on Bain Capital: “We were able to help create over 100,000 jobs,” Romney said of his tenure at Bain, the venture capital and corporate buyout firm he founded. “On the president’s watch, about 100,000 jobs were lost in the auto industry and auto dealers and auto manufacturers, so he’s hardly one to point a finger.” It was an unusual line of defense for Romney considering that the Obama administration’s rescue of the auto industry is one the president’s most popular accomplishments, especially in critical midwestern battlegrounds like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. The federal bailout of two of the Big Three domestic auto companies has been widely considered a success, and...

Bill Clinton Is the GOP's New Favorite Democrat

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Bill Clinton has emerged as a player in the presidential election, but oddly, not as a surrogate for President Obama. Rather, Mitt Romney is using the former president as a +5 Amulet of Centrism—a way to assert moderate credentials without changing his policies or modifying his rhetoric. This was used to great effect in his speech yesterday , where he decried deficits and disparaged Obama for his “old school” liberalism: Even a former McGovern campaign worker like President Clinton was signaling to his own Party that Democrats should no longer try to govern by proposing a new program for every problem. President Obama tucked away the Clinton doctrine in his large drawer of discarded ideas, along with transparency and bipartisanship. […] President Obama is an old school liberal whose first instinct is to see free enterprise as the villain and government as the hero. It goes without saying that there’s an implicit aim to adopting President Clinton as an avatar for reasonable liberalism...

Rich Republicans Seek to Bring Back Jeremiah Wright

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In general, I’m not too concerned with civility in politics, but it’s hard not to be shocked by the nastiness and aggression of today’s Republican Party. Congressional Republicans routinely accuse Democrats of treason, or worse, with little rebuke from party leaders. Reliably conservative lawmakers—like Bob Inglis and Dick Lugar—are challenged nonetheless for their insufficient hatred of Democrats. President Obama, as most people know, has been subject to a constellation of outlandish attacks, from false claims about his “foreign” birth to attacks on his patriotism—Mitt Romney, to use a prominent example, often trumpets the falsehood that Obama has gone around the world to apologize for America. All of this is why I wasn’t surprised to learn that wealthy Republican donors plan to launch a salvo of personal attacks on the president, in order to hurt his standing with a public that still likes him, even if they are divided on his presidency. Writing for The New York Times , Jeff Zeleny...

Hate It or Love It, the Stimulus Worked

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Mitt Romney is scheduled to give a speech this afternoon in Des Moines, Iowa, where he’ll focus “on the unprecedented growth of government, spending and debt under President Obama.” The American Spectator has excerpts from the address, and they are–for anyone who cares about truthfulness–rage inducing: President Obama started his days in office with the trillion-dollar stimulus package – the biggest, most careless one-time expenditure by the federal government in history. And remember this: the stimulus wasn’t just wasted – it was borrowed and wasted. We still owe the money, we’re still paying interest on it, and it’ll be that way long after this presidency ends in January. Last year, Dylan Matthews did a thorough round-up of studies on the effectiveness of the stimulus. His conclusion was that the stimulus worked to stem the damage of the economic collapse and improve the short-term economic outlook. Earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office issued data on whether the...

The End Is Nigh! So ... Vote for Me

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I briefly mentioned this in my previous post, but the latest Romney video offers a view from Iowa, where—if the narrative is any indication—the economy is in terrible shape. But this message is undermined by actual facts on the ground. For example, the joblessness rate in Iowa has dropped over the last year to 5.2 percent, which is close to full employment: Yes, the unemployment rate has yet to reach pre-crisis levels, but it’s not as if Iowans are living through some Obama-generated dystopia. The same is true for the country writ large; the economy is somewhere between not-quite-bad and not-quite-good, and accordingly, voters are sharply divided on Obama’s performance. Republicans are more likely to see the negative side of things, while Democrats are more likely to emphasize the positive. If Romney wants to win, he has to convince voters that, yes, we are living through a dystopia of economic misery. The danger, of course, is that if he leans too hard, he risks turning off voters...

Misleading, But Effective

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
The centerpiece of Mitt Romney’s campaign today is a web video on the human cost of the “Obama economy.” It focuses on three individuals, still out of work, and ends on this note: “Hope and change has not been kind to millions of Americans, but they still believe in this great country, and deserve a leader who believes in them: Mitt Romney.” The video is a little long, but worth watching in full: Like the Bain Capital ad from the Obama campaign, this works because it keeps the Romney campaign out of the way, and gives individuals the space to tell their stories. What’s more, if the Bain Capital ad was an effective attack on Romney’s claim to competence, then this is an equally effective attempt at obscuring the Republican roots of the economic crisis, and pinning all blame on President Obama. What stands out about this video is that the Romney campaign has moved away from acknowledging any roots to the crisis, which would require a nod to the previous, Republican pesident–and treating...

The Tea Party Looks to the Senate, Again

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
The Tea Party’s power may have waned with the public writ large, but as The New York Times shows , the brand still has plenty of currency with Republican primary voters: In Arizona, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas, Republican Senate candidates are vying for the mantle of Tea Party outsider. A number of them say that they would seek to press an agenda that is generally to the right of the minority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and that they would demand a deeper policy role for the Senate’s growing circle of staunch conservatives. Some say they have not decided whether they would support Mr. McConnell, who could find himself contending with the type of fractious rank and file that has vexed the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio. Remember, these primary challenges don’t have to succeed to be effective. If they can force establishment Republicans to work hard for reelection, and move further to the right, then they will have met their main objective. That the Tea Party...

Obama Hits Mitt Where It Hurts

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The latest advertisement from the Obama campaign—which will air in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Virginia—is, so far, the most important one of the president’s re-election effort. Take a look: This is a brutal attack on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, and far more effective than anything launched by the former Massachusetts governor’s Republican opponents in the GOP primary. The workers are given space to speak for themselves, and the result is a focus on the human toll of Romney’s career. The ad insinuates that this is what a Romney presidency has in store for America. When coupled with continued emphasis on Romney’s opposition to the auto bailouts, it presents Romney as a cold, cruel plutocrat. Here’s why this is crucial. If President Obama has built his“ brand” around honesty and likeability, then Mitt Romney is trying to center his on competence; you may not like the former Massachusetts governor—you may not even trust him—but you know that he can fix the United...

Today in False Equivalence

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The 111th Congress was practically defined by Republicans who turned an extraordinary measure–the filibuster–into a routine tool of obstruction. GOP senators invoked holds and filibusters on virtually everything that came from Senate Democrats, resulting in a session that saw more filibusters than any previous session in history. This nifty graph is illustrative: Democrats aren’t blameless, but their use of the filibuster pales in comparison to Republican abuse, which made 60 votes a de facto requirement for the passage of any legislation. This is obvious to anyone who looks at the last two years of congressional action—Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, for example, have been excoriating Republicans for filibuster abuse for the past four years. Regardless, false equivalence continues to reign in congressional coverage. Here’s Politico ’s Manu Raju, who seems to have missed 2006 to 2010: It takes 60 votes — and time-consuming cloture motions — to overcome a filibuster, a tool that has...

How Gay Marriage Might Hurt Romney

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If same-sex marriage will harm anyone in this election, it’s not President Obama; his position is supported by most Democrats and independents, as well as important portions of his liberal base. By contrast, Mitt Romney is in a serious bind. If he shifts his rhetoric to emphasize opposition to marriage equality, he could energize the conservative base, and deepen his support among evangelicals and other members of the religious right who doubt his commitment to the cause. Already, he’s made steps in that direction. Yesterday afternoon, Romney reiterated his stance on marriage: “You don’t change your positions to try and win the states or certain subgroups of Americans, you have the positions you have,” Romney told Fox News’s Neil Cavuto on Thursday afternoon. “And as you know, for a long time, I think from the beginning of my political career, I’ve made it very clear that I believe marriage should be a relationship between a man and a woman. “ The problem, of course, is that—in the...

Obama Comes Out for Marriage Equality

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Three days after Joe Biden announced his support for same-sex marriage on Meet the Press , President Obama has done the same in an interview with ABC News: I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married. For as much as this is an important moment in American political history, there are a few other things to remember. First, Obama has not endorsed marriage equality as a...

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