Monday, July 23, 2012

Blowing It

Here is Romney's new ad:

And this is what the president actually said:
But you know what, I’m not going to see us gut the investments that grow our economy to give tax breaks to me or Mr. Romney or folks who don’t need them. So I’m going to reduce the deficit in a balanced way. We’ve already made a trillion dollars’ worth of cuts. We can make another trillion or trillion-two, and what we then do is ask for the wealthy to pay a little bit more. . . .
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President -- because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.
Which is a less artfully stated version of this argument from Elizabeth Warren:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory, and it turned into something terrific or a great idea: God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.” ---Elizabeth Warren

Slate's David Weigel calls the sound bite from Obama's speech
a magic word gaffe—a statement that reveals not what a politician believes, but what you already feared, in your bone marrow, that a politician believes. Democrats still can’t understand why Obama’s speech is supposed to offend anyone. Republicans know that he’s a closet socialist, and that this sentiment only comes out when his energy is flagging. 
So, here's the deal: any intelligent voter is going to figure out that Romney has taken this quotation out of context with the intention of misleading voters. And while Republicans believe that the quotation confirms what they already believe about the president, Romney is wasting his time talking to them. Those republicans will suffer from temporary idiocy and eagerly take the quotation out of context and pretend that the rest of the speech doesn't exist. They wouldn't vote for Obama in a million years. Romney should be trying to reach independents. But Romney can't count on independents to share Republicans' preexisting beliefs about the president. And I'm sure that most of them don't like being manipulated by a deceptive politician. So I don't know how this ad is going to do the job.

Hey, Republicans: why should I vote for your candidate when he has to mislead me and resort to fiction to get me to vote for him?

Republicans: your terrible candidate is blowing it.


  1. “To fail to experience gratitude when walking through the corridors of the Metropolitan Museum, when listening to the music of Bach or Beethoven, when exercising our freedom to speak, or ... to give, or withhold, our assent, is to fail to recognize how much we have received from the great wellsprings of human talent and concern that gave us Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, our parents, our friends. We need a rebirth of gratitude for those who have cared for us, living and, mostly, dead. The high moments of our way of life are their gifts to us. We must remember them in our thoughts and in our prayers; and in our deeds.”

    William F. Buckley Jr.

  2. Thank you for the quotation, icastico. That is an interesting version of the kind of argument Warren presented and one that had not occurred to me.

  3. That is from arch-conservative Buckley's book "Gratitude:reflections on what we owe to our country" where he also quotes, with approval, John Stuart Mill's contention that "every one who receives the protection of society owes a return for the benefit".

    In the book he calls for a year of voluntary national service for young people eighteen and over, in areas such as health, day care, and the environment, to strengthen their feeling and appreciation for their nation. Importantly, he proposed a federal agency to facilitate this plan.

  4. Interesting. I suppose Republican leaders would now consider Buckley, the patron saint of modern conservatism, a socialist. For a while now I've considered the Republican Party to be a freakish coalition of political enemies, created by Nixon to win an election. You have your racists, your anti-abortion fundamentalists, your sociopathic capitalists, your libertarians, your soldiers, and your patriots. Here is a clash between patriot Buckley and capitalist Romney. No one should be surprised by Romney's past. American capitalism encourages the sociopathic pursuit of profit above all else, so it's no wonder that Romney put profit before country. Thanks again for the information!


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It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. ---W.K. Clifford

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. ---Thomas Jefferson