Mitt Romney has a problem. His campaign is centered on the notion that President Obama has been uniquely disastrous for the economy. In his telling, Obama’s policies—including the stimulus and the Affordable Care Act—were responsible for the rapid job losses that marked 2009, and the sluggish growth we’ve seen since then. Indeed, the Romney team routinely hits Obama for losing more than 500,000 jobs over the course of his term. This isn’t true, but that hasn’t stopped Romney from running with the figure.
If you are looking for this weekend’s hottest party, look no further than Park City, Utah, where Mitt Romney is meeting with all the bundlers who raised over $100,000 for his campaign. This weekend, they’ll hatch plans for the rest of the election season and raise more money for the Republican nominee. Romney may not have George Clooney or Sarah Jessica Parker, but really, who needs them when you have GOP rock stars like Paul Ryan, John McCain, and Bill Kristol showing up? It’s not all fun and games, despite the planned dinner, dancing, and golf. Woody Johnson—one of Romney’s sports-team-owning friends—called the retreat “very, very important” for the campaign.
On Monday, I did a Bloggingheads with Religion Dispatches’ Sarah Posner discussing my recent piece on Democrats and demographics, as well as Latino evangelicals, and the questionable existence of a “Catholic vote”.
President Obama, about to get yelled at. (White House video)
In the wake of Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro's heckling of President Obama the other day (I called him an "asshat," a judgment I'll stand by), many people argued that we should be respecting "the office of the presidency," even if you don't like the person who occupies it. Jonathan Chait says this is wrong:
This wave of fretting over respect for the institution implies that we owe the president more respect than we owe other Americans — a common belief, but one at odds with the democratic spirit.
The headline story at Politico is a look at the frustrations of journalists and other observers as they pertain to the 2012 presidential election. In short, they are frustrated with the “small scale” of the election, and the degree to which the campaigns are engaged in constant warfare over trivial concerns. Here’s Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns:
Dating to the beginning of the cycle, 2012 has unfolded so far as a grinding, joyless slog, falling short in every respect of the larger-than-life personalities and debates of the 2008 campaign.
It’s obvious that the top line result from the new Bloomberg poll of the presidential race is an outlier. According to most pollsters, this is an even race, with neither candidate at a particular advantage. By contrast, Bloomberg gives Obama a 13-point lead over Romney, who only receives 40-percent support. When you consider that partisans have already chosen sides, and that Obama has lost significant support from white voters, there’s no way that this result is accurate (though it falls within the statistical range).
Do I come down to where you work and heckle you? (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
There isn't all that much benefit to civility in politics. Oh, everyone will say that they prefer candidates who are polite and courteous, but in reality most of us find it amusing when our own side is uncivil, and appalling when the other side is. There are limits, of course—that asshat from the Daily Caller who heckled President Obama during his prepared remarks the other day was condemned by pretty much everybody across the ideological spectrum. But of late, things have gotten pretty juvenile, as when the Romney campaign sent its bus to an Obama event to drive around out front honking its horn. Truly an inspiring testament to the democracy forged by the Founders lo those many years ago.
At Real Clear Politics, Sean Trende doesn’t think that President Obama will benefit politically from his decision to unilaterally implement a lite version of the DREAM Act. In addition to the potential for backlash, there’s the fact that Latinos aren’t a major demographic in most swing states:
In all the furor that gripped the country over Wawagate, I almost missed this tidbit from James Fallows, who despite being a national treasure and one of America's finest journalists is subjecting himself to the indignity of travelling with Mitt Romney's campaign. Apparently, on the stump yesterday Mitt described how "a doctor told him that he had to fill out a 33-page change-of-address form, several times, to get the post office to send his mail -- including reimbursement checks -- to his new location. That is what happens with government-run organizations where you have 'no competition.'"
Aargh. You want to talk disconnected? Forget the Wawa, this shows just how clueless Mitt Romney is, or perhaps just how stupid he thinks the rest of us are.
Today's installment of what Prospect alum Adam Serwer has termed the "dumbgeist"—the latest idiotic trumped-up controversy of the day—offers a demonstration of something important about Mitt Romney. It's just that it doesn't offer a demonstration of the thing the media says it does. I'll explain below, but first, witness the horror of...Wawagate!
In my cover story for The American Prospect last month, I argued that Mitt Romney’s actual beliefs are less important than those of the Republican Party writ large. The modern GOP has transformed into a parliamentary-style party with rigid discipline and broad adherence to a single “program” of ideas and policies. Romney may have a more temperate personal style than other Republican politicians, but if elected president, he will work to implement the GOP’s program.
The term "hot button issue" first appeared in the mid-1980s, but came into common usage during the 1988 presidential campaign, when the nation soberly contemplated such questions as whether Michael Dukakis was planning to unleash a horde of dusky criminals to prey upon our precious white women. Alas, this year's campaign is nearly devoid of hot buttons for the candidates to push. God? Mitt Romney is the last person who wants to talk about religion. Guns? The Obama administration has done nothing to restrict their ownership, and the NRA's fevered warnings of government confiscating your weapons grow ridiculous even to gun owners themselves. Gays? Just a month and a half after President Obama surprised almost no one by announcing his support for marriage equality, Republicans haven't bothered to make it an issue, probably because they understand that the public has little taste for their past demagoguery.
So aside from the occasional temporary flare-up over things like contraception or immigration, we're left with a campaign mostly about the economy, with nary a hot button in sight.
Today's big news is that the Obama administration is, through executive action, enacting a kind of mini-DREAM Act to help undocumented immigrants who were brought to America as children. We'll get to the details in a moment, but one thing we know for sure is that Republicans are going to be very, very mad, or at least they'll sound very, very mad. They'll make three separate arguments: First, they'll have a substantive argument about why it's a bad idea to allow any undocumented immigrant to work here legally. Second, they'll have a process argument about why it's an appalling power-grab for Obama to do this without congressional approval. Of course, they're quite happy with all sorts of executive orders and similar actions when a Republican is in the White House, but that hypocrisy doesn't necessarily make them wrong on that point. Finally, they'll say this is blatant "election-year politics" meant only to secure Latino votes in the fall election.
Which it may well be, at least in part. So my question is, what's wrong with that?
Congressional Republicans discuss health care. (Flickr/nkenji)
The Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act soon, and that has concentrated some Republicans' minds. It was all well and good to shout "repeal and replace!" when there wasn't really anything they could do about it, but if the Court actually strikes down some or all of the law, they'll be under greater pressure to put their money where their mouths are. The central quandary is this: if the law's least popular provision—the mandate for everyone to carry insurance—is struck down, that means the law's most popular provision—the requirement that insurance companies accept everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions—has to go as well. Not only that, some other popular provisions, like the requirement that insurers allow young people up to age 26 to go on their parents' insurance, would disappear if the Court strikes down the whole law.
Should that happen, President Obama and other Democrats will immediately begin attacking Republicans for taking away these popular benefits. After all, the overturning of the ACA is a Republican project from start to finish, from the lawsuits brought by Republican attorneys general to the Republican judges on the Court who will undo it. So what do you do if you're a Republican member of Congress? Well, you start pretending that when you get around to that whole "replace" thing, you'll keep the stuff everybody likes.