Games People Play

Mitt Romney comes under withering fire for offshoring his millions to Bermuda and Switzerland—and for refusing to allow light to shine into what the Times calls his “financial black hole”—Senator Lindsey Graham came up with what is surely the year’s most novel line of defense today: “It’s really American to avoid paying taxes, legally.” No doubt, the Romney campaign apparatus was delighted to hear this: Thanks for being so helpful, Lindsey! At least he added that “legally” word. But there was more! "As long as it was legal, I'm OK with it," Graham said. "I don't blame anybody for using the tax code to their advantage.” And more still! "It's a game we play. Every American tries to find the way to get the most deductions they can. I see nothing wrong with playing the game because we set it up to be a game."

To be scrupulously fair to the Man from South Carolina, he was trying to combine his defense of Romney with a call for a flat tax, which he and others claim would bring a welcome end to those tax “games” (while also shifting more of the tax burden to the middle and working classes, but that’s neither here nor there). But in doing so, Graham not only gave a whole new meaning to “Americanism”—taking your assets out of the country is now a service to your country? Who knew?—but also, unwittingly, highlighted for the umpteenth time how far removed the mindset of the corporate and GOP elite is from the vast majority of Americans. Sure, we all might be eager to scare up as many deductions and loops as we can find—all legal, of course!—but most of us are lucky if we can pay H&R Block to help us find them. “Gaming” our taxes might indeed be an American pastime, but—like everything else—it’s one that Mitt Romney and friends play on an entirely different field from the rest of us.

So They Say

"I can't tell you anything about the VP process. If I did, I would have to come after you with my Men In Black flashlight and erase your memory."

—Presidential candidate Mitt Romney

Daily Meme: Romney's Imaginary Black Friends

  • Romney gave a speech at the NAACP convention today as part of an effort to woo black voters (or was it?). The NAACP president said, “If he’s going to pick up more support in the black community, he has to send a message that he’s prepared to lead on issues that we care about.”
  • Well, today was not that day. Romney's remarks that “If you want the president who will make things better in the African-American community, you’re looking at him," were quickly shouted down.
  • The line that really brought the house down? When Romney promised to repeal Obamacare if he got to the White House.
  • And by brought the house down, we mean, booed quite loudly.
  • But Romney says he expected the boos anyway … and that he has secret black supporters you don't know about.
  • There's no doubt he was trying really, really hard to win the hearts of the crowd, though. To wit: “I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African American families, you would vote for me for president."
  • But as Adam Serwer points out, "It happens to matter very little what candidates feel in their heart. What matters is the party they represent, and the policies they've committed to pursuing."
  • Republican bloggers, on the other hand, think he did pretty great.
  • National Journal called it "an updated, reformed, Romneyfied Sister Souljah moment, 20 years after the original and with a different operating plan executed no less adroitly." 
  • Alec MacGillis says that Romney had plenty of narratives and successes that he could have shared with the convention … but the problem is that Romney is trying to keep those parts of his political career off the campaign trail.
  • The chair of Women in NAACP said "I believe his vested interests are in white Americans. ... You cannot possibly talk about jobs for black people at the level he's coming from. He's talking about entrepreneurship, savings accounts—black people can barely find a way to get back and forth from work."
  • The Atlantic Wire unpacked the meaning of Romney's "boo face."
  • It was probably a dead-end mission in the first place. As Dan Amira notes, "As far as futile efforts go, trying to win the support of black voters when you're a Republican running for president against Barack Obama ranks up there with avoiding 'Call Me Maybe.'"


What We're Writing

  • Jamelle Bouie: Will Romney’s big fundraising advantage actually mean anything?  
  • Paul Waldman: A CBO report shows that Americans are paying historically low taxes. Why, pray tell, has this not led to economic nirvana? 


What We're Reading

Poll of the Day

 Television news continues its long descent toward universal hatred, with only 21 percent of Americans expressing great confidence in the medium, according to a new Gallup survey. When Gallup started tracking confidence in television news in 1993—around the birth of CNN—46 percent of Americans trusted TV news a great deal. Newspapers don't fare much better—only 25 percent of Americans express great confidence in print, far behind the salad days of confidence in '79 when 51 percent of Americans trusted newspapers. 

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