Why I’m Writing So Much About Bain

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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317 Responses

  1. Tod Kelly says:

    Even by Elias standards, this was outstanding. The best by far of all of your Bain posts, which were all good. Clear, concise, on target, relevant… just fantastic.Report

  2. James Hanley says:

    Ditto what Tod said. This is far better writing and analysis than is usually found in the op-ed pages. To be fair, you get more space than they do, but you use that space exceptionally well. I’m not sure I’m quite persuaded this will be a killer for Romney, but you’ve very clearly laid out why there’s a very good chance of it being so.Report

  3. wardsmith says:

    Elias, is not the /real/ reason you’re writing so much about Romney because you’re paid to by the DNC? And if you’re not a paid shill for the DNC, why not? Is this truly just a hobby horse of yours? I suspect not.

    You say Obama’s been avoiding scandals, but don’t you /really/ mean the press has been avoiding Obama’s scandals? Over 1000 reporters converged on Wasilla t odig up any dirt they could find on Palin. ZERO reporters converged on ANY of the haunts that Obama had frequented during his noticeably skeletal past. Talk radio and one television station can’t compete with the volume of 100,000 liberal news outlets, even if 90,000 of them are going broke.Report

    • “Elias, is not the /real/ reason you’re writing so much about Romney because you’re paid to by the DNC?”

      If that is the real reason, it’s irrelevant, unless the topic of discussion is “inquiries into the soul and inner motivations and inducements from outside of a Mr. Elias Esquith.” No offense to Elias, but I prefer to focus on his ideas and factual claims–such as some of the ones you mention in your second paragraph–than on his motivations.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to wardsmith says:

      Ward, there are no Obama “scandals” in that list.

      The Secret Service Prostitution issue, the GSA retreat, and the State Department rooftop blowjob…none of those involve Obama, and they’re all pretty minor as scandals go. How he responds to them is not insignificant, of course, but does anyone think the Secret Service agents or the State Department officials were telling Obama about their sexual activities?

      The gun-running and Solyndra issues are policy boondoggles, not scandals. Bad decisions, and Obama is rightly challenged on his policymaking. But not scandals.

      As I see it, Obama has no actual scandals. I’m no fan and I will not be voting for him (although I did the first time, with zero enthusiasm), but calling these things “Obama scandals” smacks of cheap Team Edward/Team Jacob partisanship.Report

      • cfpete in reply to James Hanley says:

        I can think of one scandal, but maybe the real scandal is the fact that nobody gives a sh*t about it.Report

      • I think the gun running might be a scandal, if there was, as has been charged, a cover up over potential violations of the law between the time the justice department denied the operation and the time it ‘fessed up. (I’m out on a limb here….I really don’t know much about fast and furious….and at the end of the day, it seems like a non-issue, at least when it comes to “scandals” and not competence.)Report

        • cfpete in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

          Guess again!Report

          • Errrrr….Applegate?Report

            • cfpete in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

              I find this to be scandalous the Atlantic.
              I am quite certain it would have been a scandal over four years ago.
              Funny how elections seem to redefine “scandal.”Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to cfpete says:

                It would have been hated by the left to a far greater degree, certainly. But scandal seems an inappropriate word, unless we’re going to count the Iraq war and the Patriot Act as “scandals.”Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Also, I thought the Sia Technologies stories WAS a scandal. It was just no one cared, because it was a little too biz as usual for both parties.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Was that one like Solyndra? Because my take on Solyndra was “Dude, the government was playing venture capitalist. Some are going to fail. What’s their overall rate?”

                It’s like criticizing a bank because the occasional loan defaults. That’s life. It’s when more than, statistically, should default do that there’s a real problem.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Morat20 says:

                Actually, no. It wasn’t anything like that at all.Report

              • b-psycho in reply to Morat20 says:

                “Dude, the government was playing venture capitalist…”

                Hence the problem. The government should not be playing venture capitalist regardless.

                If it were principled people bringing up Solyndra, it could’ve been taken seriously as a critique of gov’t intervention. Instead it was the same people that happily hand over our money to oil companies and see no issue with that, so it wasn’t actual criticism moreso than it was a remix of the same old hippie-bashing.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Morat20 says:

                You won’t get much argument from me — I’m a bit iffy with the government playing that role.

                But it was one decided on before Obama, so it’s not like it was Obama’s personal genius idea. Or even democrats in general.

                As it stands, it looks like the government did well enough, and accomplished — more or less — the stated goals of the program. Whether they did so efficiently is another matter entirely.Report

              • Scott Fields in reply to cfpete says:

                The inexorable slide toward a more imperial presidency, at least in regards to execution of the Global War on Terror, has spanned both parties and multiple administrations. It is scandalous, but who out there is clean?Report

      • Scott in reply to James Hanley says:


        So when does bad policy become a scandal? Surely the fact that George Kaiser a major Dem fundraiser influenced the Solyndra loan decision makes this more than a bad decision, especially for a taxpayer loss of half a billion. All the DOE folks had to do was listen to their own folks that this was a bad idea. As for Fast & Furious, why is Holder stonewalling and Barry covering for him if it was just a bad policy?Report

        • James Hanley in reply to Scott says:


          Have you ever heard of executive privilege? From my perspective, presidents have repeatedly abused it, but it’s pretty standard by now. It’s a bit late in the game to start pretending President X’s disinclination to give documents to Congress is abnormal.

          As to fundraisers influencing policy, how about the oil companies essentially writing W’s energy policy? That was far more egregious than Solyndra, not that Solyndra’s remotely admirable.

          What I see now are conservatives who’ve had their mouths tightly shut for years suddenly playing Captain Renault. Conservatives’ sudden passion for clean government isn’t taken seriously by anyone, you know?Report

          • Scott in reply to James Hanley says:


            Have you ever seen a Repub claim as Barry did that he was going to have the most open and transparent gov’t ever? Supposedly all that hope and change was going to wipe away the filth of the Bush years, right?Report

            • Liberty60 in reply to Scott says:

              I have never, ever heard a Republican claim they would run a open and transparent government.

              Well played, sir. Well played!Report

              • Scott in reply to Liberty60 says:

                So they don’t lie like Barry did when he made all his BS hope and change promises.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Liberty60 says:

                Touche. On the other hand, Obama has actually taken concrete steps to promote transparency. The NYT article I just read on it said that he’s been more successful in some areas than in others.

                By my lights, if it’s been successful at all (as measured against the status quo, say) then he’s made government more transparent than it was before.

                The most evah!? That’s a hard nut to crack.Report

              • LauraNo in reply to Liberty60 says:


            • Mike Schilling in reply to Scott says:

              I do recall one campaigning on bringing honor and decency back to the White House. That apparently didn’t cover torture, illegal wiretapping, kidnapping, or turning the Justice Department into a campaign organization, but I must admit that as far as I know there was a 100% reduction in blowjobs.Report

            • James Hanley in reply to Scott says:

              Have you ever seen a Repub claim as Barry did that he was going to have the most open and transparent gov’t ever?

              So stonewalling Congress through executive privilege claims is only wrong if you promise to be transparent, but if you never make such a promise it’s ok?

              There’s an old saying that’s applicable here: Let’s not get stuck on stupid.

              You want me to agree that Obama’s a hypocrite? Jesus, let me count the ways (Gitmo, torture, state secrets privilege…). But try thinking outside the excessively stupid team-red/team-blue box for once. Be mature enough to apply the same standards to each side, instead of trying to find ways that you can justify criticizing the other team for doing things you’re not willing to criticize your own team for. I know this is easier for me since I don’t belong to either team, but it’s never remotely admirable, whichever team’s partisans are doing it.Report

              • Scott in reply to James Hanley says:


                What I find galling is that Dems like Barry does claim that they are running the most open, honest, transparent admin ever when they are in fact just doing what both parties do: lie, cheat and steal, etc. Meanwhile folks like Elias ignore stuff like Fast & Furious and Solyndra in favor of us BS about Bain.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Scott says:


                And conservatives do the reverse while pretending Democrats are doing something uniquely shocking. If you really think you’re going to persuade me that Republicans are any less slimy, while you insist on calling Obama “Barry,” you really are living in wonderland.Report

              • Scott in reply to James Hanley says:

                I’ve never said Repubs are less slimy, the only thing they have over the Dems is that they don’t claim to be more honest than the Dems.

                Whether I him Barry or something else has no baring on his hypocrisy about claiming to have the most open, honest, etc gov’t while conducting business in the same old fashion. Sadly so many folks bought his hope and change BS.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Scott says:

                the only thing they have over the Dems is that they don’t claim to be more honest than the Dems.

                I call bullshit.

                Whether I him Barry or something else has no baring on his hypocrisy

                Of course not; but it does have bearing on what type of person you are.Report

              • Scott in reply to Scott says:


                Which Repub can you name that promised to have the most open, honest, transparent, etc. admin ever? Has their been one that ever rivaled the promises Barry made as a candidate?Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Scott says:

                That’s a hell of an argument you got going on there, Scott. “We’re just as slimy as the other guys, but we’re not slimy in that way.” They ought to make you a paid party spokesman.Report

              • Scott in reply to Scott says:


                My party, the other party, they are all politicians. None of them got where they are by being honest Anyone who thinks they are honest is being naive.

                That being said, you still can’t name a Repub that promised to be the most honest, etc.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Scott says:

                Scott, you can’t win at the hypocrisy game—the other guys invented it. Junky riff, youngblood. If it weren’t for double standards, they wouldn’t have any standards at all. That Reps suck but Dems suck more is just a backwards variation on a theme, so find a song of your own to play.

                And that goes for you Dems, too. Go with your inner Harry Truman.


              • James Hanley in reply to Scott says:


                If they’re all so bad, what point do you think you’re making by going on and on about how Obama is doing what they all do, then whining about somebody pointing out Romney is doing what they all do?

                Your blinders are on so tight they’ve cut off the circulation to your brain.Report

              • Scott in reply to Scott says:


                The Bain attack is particularly sad. What exactly did Romney do at Bain that was wrong? Other than being rich and trying to become richer nothing that I can see. Barry has nothing else to attack him on and can’t run on his own sad record.Report

              • BobbyC in reply to Scott says:

                Scott – I’m curious why you call President Obama “Barry”? … I mean why not “Hussein” or something? Are you on a first name basis with him and every regular chump on this site is off-base to think that you are trying to diminish him?

                Let us in the mind of a name-calling Obama-critic, please.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Scott says:


                I agree, but it’s wholly irrelevant. You’ve already agreed your party is as slimy as the other party. Trying to persuade me that item X of your party isn’t slimy, while item Y of the other party is slimy, doesn’t change the fundamental equation that you already agreed to, that their sliminess is equivalent.

                Sorry, you already blew it. You told me your party’s just as slimy as the other party, so it’s a bit late to try to persuade me I should think it’s any better.Report

              • Scott in reply to Scott says:


                I’m realistic and vote for the lessor of the two evils not the angel who isn’t present. You can wait till you find the angel.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Scott says:


                The Republicans brought us the idiotic war on Iraq, torture, the war on drugs, denial of rights for gay folks, efforts to force my kids to pray in schools, efforts to teach them creationism, and corporate welfare out the hooha.

                The Democrats may be for shit in my opinion, but you’re going to have a hard time convincing me the Republicans are the lesser of two evils. Oh, there are Republicans I’ll vote for. I like my state senator and was happy to vote for him, and I had no trouble voting for my Republican governor over his appallingly bad Democratic opponent. But as a whole I just can’t find today’s Republican party anything but the greater of two evils, and I’ve seen nothing from Romeny–Mr. Double Guantanamo and pander to the Tea Party–that could persuade me he’s not worse even than the execrable Obama.

                You’re free to think differently, of course. But if you think a right-minded person couldn’t possibly disagree with you, then as I said, you’ve got your ideological blinders on way too tight.Report

              • b-psycho in reply to James Hanley says:

                Didn’t Obama himself used to go by Barry?

                Further, I recall Joe Biden referring to him more than once in the time they’ve been in office as “Barry”. I imagine if he felt insulted by it his VP wouldn’t still use it.Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to James Hanley says:

                This is that small part of the Venn diagram where Hanley and I agree- Obama has been awful on these things and its not like we can lay some of the blame on an obstructionist Congress or courts.Report

          • James,

            Scotty might be a hypocrite, but is he necessarily wrong here? I confess I haven’t heard about the Solyndra issue. But concerning fast and furious, if Obama is invoking executive privilege and he is doing so to cover up malfeasance–by which I would mean flat out lying to the public about what the government did and then not admitting it until months later–why wouldn’t that be at least a potential scandal?

            I know it’s become almost a requirement of the job to invoke executive privilege to avoid embarrassing the administration. Also, I have no idea if Obama’s administration has lied, and I’m inclined to a knee-jerk defense of him when it comes to parlous Republicans (and I also think that the House is too quick to hold Holder in contempt). But I can see something scandalous in this, assuming certain claims are true.Report

            • James Hanley in reply to Pierre Corneille says:


              There could be scandal there. Or it could be just a conservative effort to find anything they can stick to Obama. We just don’t know yet. But the refusal to turn over documents is not a scandal.Report

              • I guess you’re right.

                But I do like the idea of Congress checking the executive’s power, even if they’re doing it for painfully obvious partisan reasons. I just wish they had done more of it, when Bush Jr. was around.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

                I desperately wish Congress would do more checking for institutional reasons. I’m torn on whether doing it for partisan reasons functionally achieves that goal or not. I suspect not, since when it’s partisan, you get an inter-institutional fight in Congress, which one side seeking not to hold executives in check, but just this one, and the other side doing their best to prevent this executive from being held in check, but only because he’s their executive.Report

              • Scott in reply to James Hanley says:


                Tell us then, how will Congress know what is going on if Holder continues to stonewall? Issa has tried for over a year to get all the docs but Holder continued to stonewall and then Barry rushed in to rescue him. Then when the contempt vote was bout to take place, the Dems play the race card accusing Issa and Repubs of racism in regard to the vote. How pathetic can you get?Report

            • Bob Wallace in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

              Solyndra is an issue I’ve spent some time looking at.

              Back when solar panels were very expensive, compared to recent prices, Solyndra came up with a unique way to mount strips of thin film solar in glass tubes. These were racked up and simply placed on flat roofs. They were designed to save both expensive solar material and mounting/labor costs.

              Solyndra applied for a DOE loan guarantee so that they could gain a lower interest rate. Their application went to a review committee and the committee reports being “encouraged” by the President’s office to approve the application. Bush’s administration. However the application was incomplete and returned to Solyndra for completion.

              Twelve days into President Obama’s first term the exact same committee approved the Solyndra application and the loan guaranteed.

              At the time Solyndra was viewed as a promising company that was poised to create some decent manufacturing jobs in the US. I’ve found exactly zero people suggesting what they were doing was risky. There is a story that one of their engineers had been casting doubt, but that doesn’t seem to have risen higher than some internal grumbling.

              As Solyndra was building a new factory to increase their production levels there was an amazing development in solar panels. Two new silicon processing plants came on line along with several new panel manufacturers and the price of panels dropped like a rock. Solyndra could not adapt quickly enough to the new price structure and failed.

              Since the loan guarantee technically occurred on President Obama’s watch he has been faulted for making it. There is a tangential connection between one of President Obama’s fund raisers, George Kaiser, and a non-profit which was created by his family and invested some money in Solyndra. There has been no evidence or testimony that Kaiser had any input into the loan guarantee approval. (Remember, this was less than two weeks after the inauguration. Cabinet members weren’t even in place, the bureaucracy was pretty much on autopilot follow Bush’s departure.

              The right has beat the Solyndra drum long and loud in an attempt to damage President Obama. I suspect that they have had some success. Some people believe that the current administration was doing favors for it’s friends. They don’t bother to point out that the CEO of Solyndra was a Republican and that some of the investors in the company were members of the conservative Walton (Walmart) family.

              (This has run on, but I’m about burned out…)

              There was a second loan guarantee after Solyndra found itself in trouble. It was given because the thinking was to get the factory building finished and then the government could recover some of the money through the sale of real estate. A finished building would sell for more than a partially built one.

              BTW, the loan guarantee was part of some money set aside during the Bush administration for funding ‘long shots’. In that allotment were several billion dollars to cover expected failures. This was all about providing potentially valuable startups some help.Report

              • Or not:

                “In a terse one-page memo, dated Jan. 9, 2009, the committee noted that the “apparent haste in recommending the project meant that certain LGPO (Loan Guarantee Program Office) credit procedures were not adhered to.”

                It further stated that: “While the project appears to have merit, there are several areas where the information presented did not thoroughly support a finding that the project is ready to be approved at this time.” It then cited four areas of concern.

                First was the lack of any “independent market study addressing long-term prospects for this specific company.” An independent credit assessment had “raised the issue of obsolescence in marketing this project.” Obsolescence? That’s never a good word to hear in a product marketing study.

                Second, it noted that the committee had never seen a supposed sales agreement the company had for its product even though an unnamed “outside legal advisor” had. In other words, the committee only had vague assurances that there was even a buyer for the product.

                Third, it noted, “There are questions regarding the nature and the strength of parent guarantee for completion of the project.” In other words, the committee wasn’t convinced the project would even be finished.

                Fourth and finally, it vaguely noted “concern” over production start “scale-up” at a second Solyndra facility.

                The memo concludes by saying “the number of issues unresolved makes a recommendation for approval premature at this time” and sent the project back to the LGPO for “further development of information.”


                Source document:


              • Bob Wallace in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I wrote a reply via email. It never made it here.

                I don’t have the energy to write it again.Report

    • DarrenG in reply to wardsmith says:

      Tinfoil hat conspiracies about Elias’ secret puppet masters coupled with a reprise of the “Obama was never vetted” dogma? You should have gone for the hat trick and put something about FEMA camps in there…

      The “never vetted” article of faith is truly bizarre and disconnected from reality. Even if you accept the baseline assumption that CNN and the Washington Post refused to look at Obama’s past despite the abundant evidence to the contrary, it also requires the assumption that the Clinton campaign, the McCain campaign, the RNC, News Corp, Crossroads/AFP/etc., and a bazillion right-wing web sites all utterly failed at opposition research. It smacks of “the total lack of evidence is the surest sign The Conspiracy exists.”Report

    • MikeSchilling in reply to wardsmith says:

      Obama? Where are you Obama? (You gunkie!)Report

    • balthan in reply to wardsmith says:

      This is twice in as many days that you’ve accused someone of being a paid shill. Perhaps it’s actually you that is paid to post and you’re just employing the Rovian tactic of transferring your weakness on your opponents.

      “ZERO reporters converged on ANY of the haunts that Obama had frequented”

      Do outlets like Fox News and Breitbart not have reporters? If there is so much dirt, why have they not uncovered any? Are they woefully incompetent or part of the conspiracy?Report

  4. DRS says:

    Okay, so I’m going to vent here a minute. Blaise supposedly wrote a Bain post of his own – SOMEWHERE – but didn’t link to it in his comment in Elias’s other Bain post. So I have no idea where to find it. And Blaise isn’t listed on the masthead.

    Do you guys design this site to purposefully make sure newcomers can’t find anything?Report

  5. George Turner says:

    So Romney might have outsourced a job, but Obama has definitely outsourced jobs, arguably millions of them. Even Obama’s campaign bus is foreign made, and Obama’s advisors keep their money in offshore accounts. Somehow I don’t think this issue is going to swing many votes. All the unemployed college graduates who voted for Obama in 2008 might be another matter. Boy did they get duped.Report

    • Zach in reply to George Turner says:

      The “I know you are but what am I” tactic has already become a Romney campaign cliche… Obama is the one waging the war on women! Obama is the real outsourcer in chief! Obama’s the real Harvard-educated elitist! Obama’s the flip-flopper who promises one thing and does something else! etc. It’s a lazy campaign strategy that only works in small doses. Somewhat boy-who-cried-wolf-esque. One more time or so and the media will turn on Romney in a deserved bit of mockery.

      Swift-boating was somewhat effective because it happened before Kerry attacked Bush for not serving. Kerry was the one reacting. If Romney’s campaign wanted to employ this strategy in a competent way, they would’ve known these attacks were inevitable and preemptively attacked Obama for outsourcing, etc.Report

  6. Zach says:

    I think Romney’s main problem is that he relies on strategy and rhetoric that’s well suited to, say, a 15-minute presentation to a group of suits, a 5-minute drop-in on Squawk Box or relatively low-press/low-pressure campaigns against incompetent opponents (the just-starting-to-fall-apart MA Democratic party; this year’s GOP primary crew).

    His secondary problem is that he’s completely out of touch with respect to what rhetoric makes sense. His campaign is completely reliant on him defining his tax plan as tax cuts aimed at “job creation.” At some point, Obama and allied PACs will put together a compelling campaign that tells people to mentally replace the words “job creators” with “rich people” whenever Romney says them. His anti-Obamacare campaign is based on (1) opposition to its tax components and (2) lies about its Medicare reforms. The first plank will run into trouble when people realize that repealing Obamacare essentially means tax cuts for rich people paying for lost healthcare subsidies for many tens of millions of people. The second plank isn’t so useful because senior citizens are already strongly in Romney’s camp and it becomes less powerful the more people learn that it’s bogus.

    Romney should fire all of his messaging/strategy team and hire whoever ran Bush’s campaign in 2000. That is how you run on a platform that’s mostly tax cuts for the rich without saying that’s what you’re doing.Report

  7. Murali says:

    Like climatologists who couldn’t help but look with a muted wonder at Hurricane Irene, amateur and professional observers of American politics can’t but be taken with the perfect storm-like qualities of the struggle to define Romney’s tenure at Bain.

    But unlike climatologists, your commentary does cause/affect the phenomenon that you study. Saying how big a role Romney’s tenure at Bain capital will be, not just once, but over many posts will have some effect on what commentary is out there and is read by people. To what extent has your writing about it caused it to happen?Report

  8. Scott Fields says:

    his time at (or not at) Bain — which was, recall, the central argument in favor of his candidacy —

    This is the real Catch-22 for Romney. If he was involved in the management decisions between 1999 and 2001, then he has to own the outsourcing decisions with whatever political implications that has. If he wasn’t involved with management during that time frame, he loses claim to Staples, his only good example of his jobs creator expertise.

    Now, he could make the case for creative destruction as a necessary requirement for economic growth, but Romney has not yet shown the rhetorical skill he’d need to sell that to the voters he has to attract.Report

    • DarrenG in reply to Scott Fields says:

      Exactly. It’s a very fine line his campaign has always had to walk, using just enough from Bain to define him as “Mitt Romney, Galtian Superman,” but not so much of Bain’s seamier side that it becomes “Mitt Romney, Robber Baron/Dickensian Supervillain.”

      Squaring that particular circle ain’t easy.Report

    • MikeSchilling in reply to Scott Fields says:

      The case for creative destruction depends on new, at least as good and probably better jobs being created to replace the old, destroyed jobs. It would take someone a lot more convincing than Romney t make that case right now.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to MikeSchilling says:

        Romney could make the case for creative destruction. But it wouldn’t apply to his practices at Bain. I mean, let’s get clear on this: creative destruction is an unintended by product of the capitalistic cycle. No rational agent as defined by the paradigm would engage in creative destruction for it’s own purposes. According to that paradigm, if there’s no expectation of profit in a venture, then it’s not rational to do it. That’s a first order principle which defines rationality. The principle of creative destruction is a meta-principle that is true (or false) only as a consequence of rational actors being motivated only first order self-interest.Report

  9. MikeSchilling says:

    What’s all this I hear about Mitt Romney being on Diff’rent Strokes?Report

  10. MFarmer says:

    “So instead of discussing the poor economy, Romney and company find themselves spinning his tenure at Bain anew every day, as one reporter after another digs up some new tidbit of information, thus justifying yet another story recapping the whole brouhaha and explaining how new revelations only promise to keep it in the spotlight. ”

    Unfortunately for Obama and the Democrats, Romney doesn’t have to talk about how bad the economy is, everyone knows, especially the millions who’ve been out of work for a long time, and those who’ve given up and dropped out of the job market all together. People are talking to one another about the bad economy — imagine that, a national conversation not guided by media or a political party — how can it be? Oh boy.Report

    • DarrenG in reply to MFarmer says:

      Fortunately for Obama and the Democrats more of the public still attributes our current economic state to the Bush administration and the Republican policies that Romney wants to revert to:


      • MFarmer in reply to DarrenG says:

        You really believe this, huh? Well, of course, a poll says it’s so. I just don’t know anymore.Report

        • MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

          Democrats are desperate right now, so I understand that holding on to these threads of false hope generated by propaganda and personal attacks stave off the fear of losing, but reality always wins, so you might want to prepare yourself. Not that I think Republicans will do much to roll back the damage done by Democrats, but it’s not a difficult call to make to proclaim that Obama will lose in a landslide, much like Carter lost to Reagan. If you ignore the media, which most people do, it’s easy to see that Obama’s screwed the pooch.Report

          • Patrick Cahalan in reply to MFarmer says:

            Gallup is a propaganda machine?Report

            • Did I say that Patrick, or did you combine certain thoughts in a few sentences to ask a mongrel question?Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to MFarmer says:

                Well, sir, if this is not what you were attempting to imply by your previous two comments, I’m afraid you came across as unclear.

                At least to this reader.

                If you were attempting to have me infer something else, you missed the mark, I’d say.Report

              • Jakop in reply to MFarmer says:

                I agree with Patrick. You as much implied that polling is an instrument of propaganda, indeed that the real truth of the matter was plain to see: Obama will lose in a landslide. Patrick merely made the existential generalization of that implication.

                Whether that was your intention is neither here nor there.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jakop says:

                It is rather a “push” question, since Bush is out of the equation. A fairer question is whether Obama’s policies have hurt or helped the economy. Rasmussen says the majority thinks they’ve hurt.


                But he also says that people do blame Bush, and aren’t hot for Romney. Not entirely bad news for Obama atall:

                Unemployment has remained high for a long time, and even 27 percent of those who have a job are worried about losing it. Only half of homeowners now believe their home is worth more than what they still owe on it. Just 16 percent believe that today’s children will be better off than their parents.

                These numbers present a real challenge for President Obama. Americans today rate their own financial health just about the same as they did on the day he was inaugurated, but not nearly as well as they did in the fall of 2008. Only 30 percent believe the country is better off than it was four years ago.

                The president does benefit from a belief that he inherited a bad economy and that the recession was created by the Bush administration. But most voters also believe that his policies have hurt more than they’ve helped. Overall, by a 50 percent to 42 percent margin, voters trust Mitt Romney more than the president when it comes to managing the economy.

                Still, the president remains very competitive in his bid for re-election. This may be partly due to the fact that there has been some very modest economic growth over the past couple of years. It also may be because Americans aren’t feeling all that good about either candidate. If the president is re-elected, just 32 percent of voters nationwide believe the economy will get better, while 37 percent believe it will get worse. If Romney wins in November, 36 percent expect the economy to improve, but 35 percent believe the opposite.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                > It is rather a “push” question, since Bush is out
                > of the equation.

                That’s a fair cop, Tom.

                > A fairer question is whether Obama’s policies
                > have hurt or helped the economy. Rasmussen
                > says the majority thinks they’ve hurt.

                Hrm; much better, but still not great.

                The fairest question would be, “Whose economic policy is more likely to improve the economy?”, with the answers

                (a) Obama
                (b) Romney
                (c) I don’t know
                (d) Neither

                Then we’re comparing this golden delicious to that granny smith and making sure we cover people who think all apples are crap, or who can’t tell the difference between varieties 🙂Report

              • Jakop in reply to Jakop says:

                I should have said existential instantiation, not generalization. These small sorts of errors add up… And as a matter of logic, it would have been better to say that he merely completed the syllogism.Report

          • Where are the personal attacks?Report

          • DarrenG in reply to MFarmer says:

            What Patrick said, plus I’m curious about what support you have for the claim that “If you ignore the media, which most people do, it’s easy to see that Obama’s screwed the pooch.”

            What evidence do you have that most people ignore all media? And even assuming that’s correct, how then do they know the state of the overall economy? And from there, how do they know it’s all Obama’s fault?Report

            • MFarmer in reply to DarrenG says:

              Darren, just because you don’t trust my claims doesn’t mean that Obama is all that. So tell it to the hand.Report

            • LauraNo in reply to DarrenG says:

              Some analyst on cable yesterday explained that the national numbers regarding the economy have more of an effect on people’s mood and voting patterns than the facts they hear about the local economy in which they live. Didn’t explain why this is…Report

          • joey jo jo in reply to MFarmer says:

            projection. claim that you are the arbiter of “reality”. projection. all in a post decrying people believing propaganda. les motes justes!Report

          • James Hanley in reply to MFarmer says:

            it’s not a difficult call to make to proclaim that Obama will lose in a landslide


            • Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

              I recently posted Nate Silver’s numbers on this. He had Obama at 51.8/48.2 popular, a 30ish vote cushion in EC, and a 66% chance of winning. That strikes me as about exactly correct at this stage in the game. Things could change down the road, acourse, but they could change either way. So anyone saying right now (July 13) that Obama will lose in a landslide is smokin somethin.Report

        • “You really believe this, huh? Well, of course, a poll says it’s so. I just don’t know anymore.”

          If the question is, what do the polls say? Then a poll saying something is the right answer. I don’t know anything about Gallup’s methodology or about this poll in particular–and I probably lack the skills to judge. But keep in mind that DarrenG’s point was that Americans tend to still blame Bush, and he provided some evidence for his belief. (I’ll also point out that Darren wasn’t making an argument about whether the public was right to blame Bush….He might believe so, but in that comment he wasn’t making that claim.)Report

          • I don’t think most Americans beleive Bush is at fault. That’s not even something that makes sense at this point. Democrats are grasping at straws based on polls that call people with landlines between 5 and 7. What has become of the America I once had an affair with? Most Americans don’t believe anything that can be counted on as a majority opinion except that polls suck.Report

            • Liberty60 in reply to MFarmer says:

              According to a recent poll, 80% of Americans said polls suck. The other 50% had no opinion.Report

            • Patrick Cahalan in reply to MFarmer says:

              > I don’t think most Americans beleive Bush is at fault.

              Why do you think this? Gut feel?

              > That’s not even something that makes sense
              > at this point.

              I dunno, it certainly seems a commonly held belief among those on the left. Now, they might be wrong, but just because people hold nonsensical beliefs doesn’t mean that it’s nonsensical to understand that people hold nonsensical beliefs.

              > Democrats are grasping at straws based on
              > polls that call people with landlines between
              > 5 and 7.

              This is a very specific critique. It’s actually also wrong, if you read the methodology section of the poll referenced.

              Survey Methods

              Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 7-10, 2012, with a random sample of 1,004 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

              For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

              Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

              Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

              In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.Report

              • Assumptions asides, I find it interesting that someone would assume people sitting at home answering their landlines between 5 and 7 with landlines would be assumed to Dems. I would assume that particular subset of Americans to be the older generation, which is not a demographic that screams liberal.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Human nature tends to lead to conclusions like that. It helps a lot to be aware of it. Most aren’t.

                Call it a less blatant example of the sort of things I tend to send snopes.com links about. 🙂

                I knew people who convinced themselves Kerry was gonna CRUSH Bush in 2004. Or that McCain/Palin was going to beat Obama by 10 points in 2008.

                It is hard to differentiate between someone believing what they want to believe solely because it IS what they want to believe, and someone who just happens to be wrong.

                One key sign that it’s the latter? Their argument is coherent and shows some understanding of the topic. A person screaming about poll biases who didn’t actually read the sample methodology? Believing what they want to believe.

                Someone with a breakdown of the sample and why they think it’s wrong? Well, maybe wrong….but it’s not “I’m required to believe my political foes twirl actual mustaches as they tie virgins to railroad tracks” wrong. It’s just…erroneous. Or right. Who knows? 🙂

                The complaints about Zogby and Rasmussen? They have actual arguments and data behind them. Might be wrong, might be right — you have to dig in and decide yourself. But someone actually sat down and thought about it, someone with an inkling of how polls work.

                This — a critique of methodology that shows he didn’t even look at the polls methods, just assumed it was flawed? That’s just partisan wishful thinking. It’s a word-wall of “words I’ve heard to describe flawed polls” because “This poll doesn’t show what I want, ergo it is wrong”.Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to Morat20 says:

                “Nobody I know voted for Nixon…”Report

              • DarrenG in reply to Morat20 says:

                The term is “confirmation bias,” and yes it seems to be on blatant display here, complete with a Drudge siren on top of its head.Report

              • MFarmer in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                You guys are just too sharp for me. I give. It was all a ploy to subvert Obama because he’s half-white. I confess.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to MFarmer says:

                Huh? Was this meant to be a reply to someone else?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Assumptions asides, I find it interesting that someone would assume…

                Hrumph. I assume you think you’re not assuming when you say you’re assumptions aren’t being assumpted, but it’s a bit assumptuous to assume you’re not assuming, don’t you think?Report

              • Jacob in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Pretty simple right. MFarmer is acting the troll, saying any outrageous thing that he thinks will tickle your goat.Report

            • But the thing is, DarrenG had evidence. It might be bad evidence (or not, or more likely somewhere in between) and we have your mere assertions, along with the critique that, for some reason, people with landlines who are called between 5 and 7 are somehow…..more unrepresentative than other poll’ees. Assuming, of course that the polls are conducted that way, but then, I write in incompleteReport

            • James Hanley in reply to MFarmer says:

              polls that call people with landlines between 5 and 7.

              Actually, an organization like Gallup uses random digit dialing, which picks up cell phones as well as landlines.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to James Hanley says:

                And generally tends to weight samples. I’m really confused as to why so many people think experts — or at least skilled professionals — are always overlooking something blatantly obvious to amateurs.

                The thought “Maybe they’re not” doesn’t seem to cross their minds that often.

                Sure, they can be screwing around with the weights — or flat-out lying and faking the poll — but even if they were BS artists they’d be pretending to have a basic level of competence that belies that.

                I found the whole dust-up between Daily Kos and whatever polling firm they’d hired a few years ago to be quite an interesting bit of history. And evidence, I suppose, that if your client is going to demand to print the internals and methodologies and bored masses will poke at them with a stick, you should probably not fake your polls. 🙂Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Morat20 says:

                People disbelieve polls because the polls don’t support what they hear with their own ears. It’s the Pauline Kael response, over and over, from every quarter. My mother is a classic example; “I don’t know anyone who voted for Obama,” she said, so she couldn’t understand how she won.

                None of these folks understand just how badly biased their own circle of friends is, so it’s easy to dismiss people with different views as unusual, surely a minority. When it turns out they’re not a minority, that’s difficult in itself for them to process, but the prospect that in fact they themselves are actually the minority, the unusual ones? That’s just too brutal a dismantling of their world view for them to be able to accept.Report

              • MFarmer in reply to James Hanley says:

                That’s it. So true.Report

              • MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

                Can this place get any more trite and superficial? Of course.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to MFarmer says:

                Actually, it is very true MFarmer. But of course it doesn’t comport with what you believe, so….

                You know what’s particularly trite and superficial is people thinking that everything that just seems right to them must be true, so they don’t have to put an ounce of effort into studying it. Lazy self-indulgence, what could be more trite and superficial than that?Report

              • MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

                Yes, James, it’s just because I don’t study these issues. I see the light now. I wish I had started studying long ago. There is so much to learn. Thanks. Your wisdom astonsihes me at times. I have to stop and catch my breathe. You must have started studying when you were like 5 or 6, or something, because you certainly know some shit, I’m telling ya. Damn, study! Why didn’t I think of this? Sometimes the solutions are so simple it makes you go — Damn, I should have known that! It’s not like I didn’t have teachers telling me to study. But did I listen? Hell no. I just chased girls, drank liquor and snorted coke like a dumbass.Report

              • Bad-ass Motherfisher in reply to MFarmer says:

                That’s some really weepy, second-class sarcasm.

                If you’re going to be sarcastic, throw just a little bit of wit into. Contempt alone is no fun to read.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to MFarmer says:

                I’ll second Mr. Fisher’s motion for a little wit with the sarcasm. But you gotta swing that door both ways, BAMF, although frankly, if you did, you’d do little else around here. The witless sarcastic one-liner is the staple of not a few ruined comment threads.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to MFarmer says:


              • MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

                Thanks for your critique Mister Mother Fisher. I didn’t learn wit either. I had witty friends who tried to teach me, but did I learn? Hell no. I chased girls, drank liquor and snorted coke like a dumbass. Your wit astonishes me sometimes — I have to stop and catch my breathe. You must have started studying wit when you were like 5 or 6 or something, because you are one witty Mother Fisher I tell ya.Report

              • MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

                Don’t cry, Mister Schilling. I saw the light when I wound up in a Texas with a toothless prostitute in an alley in Austin — I threw down the liquor bottle, snorted the rest of my coke, then swore off, and joined a Hippies for Jesus group headed for Pasadena in a red bus. Shortly after that I became a stock broker, and everything got 99% better.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to MFarmer says:

                Started out a bit weak, but the stockbroker/99% bit was pretty funny.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to MFarmer says:

                FWIW, Mike, I really miss your engaging people and debating issues. You were really good at it, and even made me change my mind on some points.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to MFarmer says:

                “The witless sarcastic one-liner is the staple of not a few ruined comment threads.”

                Pot, Kettle. Kettle, Pot.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley says:

                Is simply living in a tight circle of attitudinal homogeneity itself bias? Or does it merely probably tend to promote bias? It seems to me the effect you’re talking about is pretty much just closure. Not denying that biases will go along with that, but I don’t think it’s necessary for bias to be present in order for people not to have local experience fully reconciled with broader reality at all times. Local experiences are real; arguably more so even than any reality constituted by the aggregated figures that represent the voting in a given election across a country of this size (for example).

                As it happened, your mom wasn’t in all that much of a minority in the global (meaning national) reality in that election. Given that, there’s no surprise at all that, as a McCain voter, and more specifically a self-conscious anti-Obama voter if I understand correctly (ahead of the curve, it seems), she was located in a pocket of like-thinking folks. But even if she had been in a smaller minority, and more broadly, I don’t think it’s bias whenever someone remarks on their experience of the schism that nearly ubiquitously characterizes the meeting between local experience and global aggregated (mediated/represented) reality. Mediated global reality is dependent on the quality of representation for its salience, while local direct experience is inherently vivid at nearly all times. The localized nature of consciousness itself strongly advantages local experience over global for salience and immediacy, and therefore for the pole position for the construction of a default idea of reality. I think it’s a little tough on people to call this bias (and now I’m just having fun and need to make clear you in no way did that, but I think your comment raised the question to an extent).

                To exhibit real bias resulting from over-attentiveness to specific experience, I’d think a person would have to veer into being suspicious of the global figures, even when they’re authoritative, verified, etc. Just exclaiming, “How can that be?” (as opposed to denying facts) to me just indicates a person trying to reconcile local experience with global reality. To me, that’s the opposite of bias: no-one sits in reality itself; everyone’s located. It’s work for everyone to reconcile these, and frequently when we think we hear people being inattentive to aggregate reality, what we’re really hearing is someone doing the work necessary to pay that attention.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

                To be a little less ridiculous about it, what I think is going on is that we’re over-reading what people really are thinking when they express this incredulity. i don’t think many sane people really struggle to understand that there are people unlike them out there in the world. But in the context of elections, what I think is going on is that everyone thinks they’re just a bit less far from the median set of attitudes than they really are (exceot a few people). Ask yourself this: if the vote totals of McCain and Obama had been reversed, do you think your mom would still have been (ostensibly) incredulous at what, if you correctly describe her attitudes, she ought still to have regarded as the stunning number of people who voted for Obama? or is it really just that she was sirprised by the outcome, which she happens to be sophisticated enough to know was determined by a small number of voters right around the median in vote-determining attitudes? My hunch is that, though she might not have thought of it in these terms, what your mom thought was just that the median voter was a bit more like her than he really was, enough to make her think the election would very likely go the other way. I can’t believe she thought Obama was likely to be completely trounced by an unprecedented margin. This is a pretty narrow form of bias, if it’s bias. The median voter’s attitudes are pretty hard to pin down at any one time for professionals; I don’t think it’s all that deeply biased to be just somewhat wrong about where one stands wrt to the MV as just a private observer.

                The Pauline Kael phenomenon is sort of a different animal from this, I’d have to say. NYC is just a different animal, end of story. For folks who have never spent significant time away from there from birth onward, and for some who have just fully taken on that consciousness, bias doesn’t really begin to cover the schism. It’s more like a kind of foreignness (and I say that with greatest love for the place and people, hastening to affirm that they’re as American, and plausibly more, as any of us are). But it’s a place and a people to itself as well.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Michael Drew says:


                All I was saying is that your social group is a biased sample, in the methodological sense of the word. I.e., not a random sample, and almost certainly not representative of the overall ideological distribution of the public. Nothing more than that, and not using bias in any kind of normative sense.Report

    • Bob Wallace in reply to MFarmer says:

      You might want to watch this new Obama campaign ad…


      Obama is talking about the bad economy, the lack of jobs. And he’s making Romney the villain of the piece. Romney is now the Outsourcer in Chief. Romney is becoming the poster child for all the bosses who sent jobs to China.Report

  11. Kris says:

    Great post.

    Here’s a question someone needs to ask a Romney surrogate: If romney had been involved on a day to day basis from 1999 to 2002, would he not have done the problematic deals in question? Does he think his predecessors and former employees acted immorally?

    I’m guessing the answer is clearly “no.”

    So, during the time Bain did the deals in question, Romney:

    1. 0wned the company
    2. was nominal head of the company
    3. hired many of the people at the company
    4. set the company up to run a certain way, according to a certain playbook
    5. could’ve stopped the deals from happening
    6. would’ve done the deals himself
    7. has no and had no objection to the deals being done
    8. was renunerated by the company, and some of the company the money made that was paid to Romney came from those questionable deals.

    But Romney says he isn’t responsible for those deals because he wasn’t involved on a day to day basis because he was busy during the Olympics.

    That excuse might fly if he were willing to call the deals deeply wrong and against the ethos of Bain that he had set up, but he will never, ever say that.

    Game. Set. Match.

    This is a small issue in the overall campaign, but it’s not a good issue to have in the news while voters are getting to know you.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Kris says:

      From what some of the Bain people have said, he walked away in 1999 and didn’t even call or send them memos. He was listed as the head till 2001 because it took them that long to find a buyer. So in terms of engagement, he’d become nothing more than a stockholder.Report

      • Kris in reply to George Turner says:

        The sole stockholder who apparently didn’t disapprove of the deal or of that sort of deal more generally.

        His defense is now “I was away on vacation, running the Olympics. So I’m not responsible for what the company that I owned, and had been CEO of, and still was nominal CEO of, did even though I very much approve of doing that sort of thing myself.”

        That’s not much of a defense.

        Imagine if the owner, long time CEO, and still nominal CEO of Enron or Blackwater or some other company tried the same thing to defend against something his company had done. “I wasn’t involved in the day to day operations of Enron when this happened. And really, even though I was the sole stockholder and made money from the company, I’m not responsible for grandma losing her money. And anyway, I approve of the sort of deals we did that cost Granny her savings, anyway.”

        Really, the big question is whether Romney approves of those deals or whether he is willing to say the guys who were involved on a day to day basis were acting immorally. Until he says he would’ve done otherwise if he had been involved, his defense is mere sophistry and distraction.Report

        • Kris in reply to Kris says:

          And he’ll never say that these deals were immoral. That really is what Obama is hitting Romney with. That’s what hurts Romney, not the direct connection to these specific business deals. Romney thinks these deals are a good way of doing business. He approves of them and made a fortune in a business that does them and that continues to do them. He thinks Bain was a great company and doing God’s work even while he was less involved with day to day operations (while he was on vacation, running the Olympics).

          If Romney doesn’t defend Bain’s business practices and totally stop talking about whether he was actually, technically running the business or not, he is admitting Bain-his company that he built- did bad things. That will hurt him a little bit in the polls. Voters don’t like hair-splitting, lawerly defenses. Either Romney approves of these deals or he condemns them. He’s trying to avoid that issue -I can see why- but I think he’d be better off defending Bain. At least that’s honest, even if it might cost you with voters of a more populist persuasion.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Kris says:

            And, bluntly, they were really good business — for Bain. But it’s not the sort of business experience or the sort of business Americans are fond of, politically.

            Which is the real problem. Yes, he’s a businessman. Yes, that’s often a big plus to Americans in an election. His specific business is not — it touches to close to home, invokes too many negative stereotypes (whether Bain fit those shoes or not).

            And sadly, Mitt doesn’t seem to have the personal charisma to rise above it. If this were Pretty Woman, I’m afraid Mitt can’t pull of Richard Gere.Which leaves him being….that dude from Seinfeld.Report

          • Bob Wallace in reply to Kris says:

            Romney can’t duck what happened at Bain. As the owner he employed this mystical manager who ran things in his absence. If someone steps forward and claims that they were in charge it still comes back on Romney as the person who appointed them and was responsible for supervising them.

            Why hasn’t the not-Romney head of Bain during those years been identified? Why hasn’t the CEO/acting CEO stepped forward and taken a bow?

            Why are Obama’s people asking to see Bain’s corporate minutes? Good lawyers don’t ask questions unless they know the answers. What do you want to bet that there are corporate minutes that reflect “messages from Mitt”?

            This is just going to get more interesting….Report

  12. Kris says:

    I think the story if Romney’s ties to finance are not yet well-known by the public.

    Lots of my academic friends, people who follow politics and the world to some degree, only started to learn about Bain recently. Befroe that, they were willing to say Romney is possibly more centrist than he has let on, especially given Romneycare. But once they hear about Bain, they are more likely to believe he really will implement Ryan-style economics if elected. That’s why The Obama team wants the Bain issue out there. The details of the scandal don’t matter. The mere fact that Romney owned, set up, and ran a company that -maybe while he wasn’t involved on a day to day business- that is -rightly or wrongly- associated with everything bad about capitalism. (Wall Street abuses. Enron-style rule bending. Shipping jobs oversees. Making a fortune without producing anything but liquidity. Finance as gambling. Etc,)Report

    • DarrenG in reply to Kris says:

      This, too. The Bain story just presses so many different hot buttons…

      Another big one is the idea that the game is rigged. Bain (and its executives and shareholders, Mitt being #1 among both) had a nice setup where they made tons of money regardless of whether the companies they invested in succeeded or failed.

      They’re a poster child for the idea that the risk vs. reward function of market-based capitalism in the U.S. has completely broken down, with the risk being all on one side of the divide, and the reward being largely reserved for the other.Report

      • LauraNo in reply to DarrenG says:

        There’s also the idea in the back of most people’s minds that the only reason for putting your (ill-gotten) gains in the Caymans is to avoid paying the measly 14% you pay on other income. We know he paid 14% that one year, because he showed his return for that one year. What are the chances some other years he paid less, for instance, back when he wasn’t thinking of running for President?Report

    • MFarmer in reply to Kris says:

      Oh God yes, when they hear about Bain, it’s freaking over for Romney. I mean, it’s the most awfulest stuff one can imagine what Romney did at Bain. Spread the word.Report

  13. MikeSchilling says:

    “Moria was the flower of dwarven civilization, a place of beauty, a center of culture and learning. Every dwarf knew that if he worked hard and saved his gold, he’d have a good life and a comfortable retirement. Even more important, he knew that was true for his children, too. Then one day it ended. The Moria we knew was no more, and it became what it is today — a ruin, containing only the hopeless and the dead, never to rise to its former glory. All of its riches had been stolen by The One We Do Not Name.”

    “Do you mean …”

    “Yes. Romney’s Bain.”Report

    • Ewww…..I like the reference, but I hate the pun, kind of like loving the sinner but hating the sin, or something like.Report

    • Kris in reply to MikeSchilling says:

      3 Rings for corrupt Legislator Kings in Congress
      Seven for Wall Street Barons in their Halls of Gold
      Nine for Mormon Men doomed to run for office
      One for the dark lord (David Koch?) on his dark throne
      In the land of Washington, where Shadows lie
      One ring to escape regulatioms
      One ring to find tax loopholes
      One ring to rule them all, and in the media blind them
      In the land of Washington, where Shadows lie…

      (Not bad, for 5 minutes. I dare anyone to do better. Feel free to do one where Obama and the democrats are Sauron and the wraiths. I hope nobody thought the “Nine for mormon men” was offensive. I just thought it was funny to think if Huntsman and Romney as good men who were corrupted by some power, or greed or whatever, and are now enslaved to run for office or something. Just to be clear, I think Romney’s Mormonism is commendable.)Report

    • Bob Wallace in reply to MikeSchilling says:

      A nice summary of what I suspect to be the Obama campaign for the next several days/months.

      Mitt had only Bain, his not very successful term as MA governor, and Romneycare to use for qualifiers. He’s stomped on Romenycare, can’t use that. His term as governor, not very successful. Now Bain is getting wrecked.

      Perhaps he could talk again about how much he meant to the Olympics? That is about it and it’s sort of minor. No born in a log cabin, came up the hard way. No sports hero. No military service.

      I really think PBO knows how to play hardball and isn’t afraid to throw brush-back pitches.

      I wonder how the Republican convention is going to play out. I expect a “recruit someone, anyone” movement from a significant number of people who have written Mitt off.Report

  14. superdestroyer says:

    Bain is only important is Romney stood any reasonable chance of being elected president. Since Romeny stands virtually no chance of winning, worrying about Bain make no sense from an election POV.

    However, having a two-minute hate against hedge funds and large finance companies makes complete sense when the Democrats are pushing for higher taxes. Raising taxes on rich white guys to fund entitlements for the core groups of the Democratic Party makes complete sense.Report

  15. Mike Schilling says:

    The idiotic thing about this “debate” is that Romney, in his capacity as businessman, has no objections to outsourcing. It’s a strategy to lower costs and thus make a firm more profitable. Period. Seriously, does anyone believe that if he had been the hands-on CEO of Bain during the period in question, there would have been any less of it?Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      And so what if he would have? Will his role as Pres involve making profit?Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        To elaborate…

        First off, I full well realize the problems that outsourcing presents for a candidates electability. Many people are out of work. Some of those folks because of outsourcing (though I’d venture to guess that more folks might attribute their job loss to outsourcing than those who’ve actually had their job shipped overseas). It is a hard pill to swallow when you are out of work, can’t find work, and are struggling and look at a candidate who may have a record of shipping jobs like yours overseas.

        But, leaving that aside, why should a candidate engaging in outsourcing in the private sector raise concerns about his ability to lead and govern? If he did it, as Mike said, because it was the best way to turn a profit, than the worst we can really say is that he put turning a profit ahead of helping his fellow American. That is no small potatoes. But the private sector is so different than public office in a multitude of regards. Unless he is up to far more nefariousness, Romney won’t be put in a position where he has to decide between personal private gain and making good policy choices for his country; at least, not any more than is the norm at this point with fundraising and lobbying and all that lovely jazz. And if you believe that Romney might be involved in such nefariousness (such as taking direct kickbacks), well, you’re not going to be voting for him anyway, regardless of what his stance on outsourcing is.

        So, I guess I’m wondering, outside of the perceptual issue, what is the problem with outsourcing and/or a candidate indulging in outsourcing in the private market? We’ve sort of turned outsourcing into an inherent evil (which, again, I get given the current labor situation), but let’s really look at it wholly and objectively. Outsourcing isn’t all bad. And engaging in it isn’t all bad. Perhaps I am missing something from my admittedly back-of-the-napking analysis here, but I just don’t see what the uproar is all about.Report

        • Pierre Corneille in reply to Kazzy says:

          I agree, and I think if Romney wanted to play this right, he might just say “I was doing my job at Bain and I did it well. At that job, I was supposed to make profits. As president, my job will be different [to help people, increase employment, blah blah blah], and I will do that well, too.”

          [I think someone on another thread, maybe BlaiseP, made this point, too.]Report

          • Bob Wallace in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

            Had Romney had that response ready he might have snuffed this fire before it blazed beyond his control.

            He might even have damped it down a little if he had come up with that response in 24/48 hours.

            The huge question is why Romney does not have someone on his team who can think fast and think thoroughly for him. Look at George W. The guy couldn’t put together a complex thought given two days and a dictionary. But he had Rove there to do that hard stuff for him.

            Romney apparently started running for president in 2005, about two years into his MA governorship. That’s a lot of years to get ready and assemble an effective team.Report

            • I agree with most of what you say except this: “Look at George W. The guy couldn’t put together a complex thought given two days and a dictionary.”

              I think, or at least strongly suspect, he is actually quite intelligent and his allegedly poor speaking ability was in part an affectation and in part just poor speaking ability. A lot of intelligent people get tongue-tied when they speak publicly.

              I’m no fan of W., but I rankle a bit when I hear the “but….he’s an idiot!” critique because such critiques are often not followed by the well-merited facts one can lodge in his disfavor and instead seem (to me, at least) directed at “the type of person who would vote for someone like him,” usually assumed to be uneducated and who speaks English with a non-standard accent and is therefore stupid.

              I realize I’m dealing in impressions, my own impressions. And I realize that they are therefore anecdotal. But I am really concerned about these types of attacks that in practice seem only to rally the base on the opposing side.Report

              • This comment probably came off harsher than I meant it. I really do agree with almost all of your comment above.Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

                Don’t worry. I didn’t take it as harsh, but as an indication that I hadn’t been clear about my opinion of Bush. I fleshed that out in my comment about Bush’s intelligence/curiosity.Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

                I think George W. is a bit above average intelligence. Certainly not anything special, but bright enough to have done a much better job than he did.

                I’ve heard people talk about Bush’s lack of intellectual curiosity and that rings true. Bush grew up very wealthy but yet he basically never bothered to get out and see the world. He could have traveled anywhere he wanted and as much as he wanted. He seems to have attended college in order to get a degree, not to learn things. I see no friendships with smart people, no White House dinners with a stimulating group of thinkers. I don’t see examples of Bush bothering to get on top of ideas and to spin solutions from them.

                People also talk about Reagan not being very bright. That’s certainly how he came across much of the time. But something I read about him was how, in a meeting, he would often know about nothing about what was being discussed but into the meeting he was asking leading questions. Reagan seemed to have come to the job not knowing much but was able/willing to think and understand.

                Bush’s “intellectual” downfall was, IMO, not from his lack of intellectual ability, but his intellectual laziness. He just didn’t seem to want to bother doing the hard work of thinking and left that to others.

                And, since he apparently didn’t do a lot of thinking about what those people were doing, he did some incredible damage to the country.Report

              • You may be correct about his intellectual laziness, although my own preference (bias?) is to be critical of his “leadership style” and not any “intellectual laziness.” Maybe that’s just splitting hairs when we get to that point.

                At any rate, I think you and I are pretty much in agreement that his presidency really did damage our country.Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

                Yeah, we’re just fine-tuning our verbiage…. ;o)

                Lack of intellectual curiosity (if that was the problem) would probably mean that when you off-desk tasks to others you probably wouldn’t check to see how well they were doing and wouldn’t do much thinking about whether they were taking things in the right direction.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

        That’s part of my point. Romney is arguing that he wasn’t in charge when the evil occurred, even though

        1. He doesn’t consider it evil.
        2. Many of his supporters don’t consider it evil.
        3. Even if you do consider it evil, it doesn’t reflect on his qualifications to be president.

        So the whole argument (to what extent was Romney or his legacy still determining policy) is meaningless: it made no difference to Bain’s actions.Report

        • wardsmith in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          How exactly did Bain Capital “outsource” Staples? Naturally the /spin/ that all you demowonks want to provide is that Romney is evil, evil, evil. This article won’t change your mind in fact to protect your cognitive dissonance you won’t even read it. Best to create a one dimensional caricature of Romney and attack THAT than actually talk about a man who flew the firm’s employees /and/ partners to another state to look for a missing employee’s daughter and likely saved her life. Yep, THAT man doesn’t exist and that story will never be repeated, nor the successes of a company like Staples with over 70,000 employees IN AMERICA today. Among the people here including Elias who WOULD NEVER HAVE VOTED FOR A REPUBLICAN ANYWAY this “controversy” has /some/ meaning just like straw might to a drowning man. But lemon picking “facts” to suit your cause won’t help Obama anymore than it helped Gingrich. So to that I say, “Soldier on and don’t stop!” 🙂Report

          • For what it’s worth, I’m skeptical about claims that Bain was all that bad. But I really don’t see many people on this thread, and certainly not Mike or Kazzy, saying that Romney is “evil, evil, evil.”

            And, yeah, maybe Elias would never vote for a Republican (or maybe he would…I apparently missed the post where he said that he wouldn’t). But Elias’s point in the OP, as I read it, was mostly to evaluate in what ways the Bain charge is hurting Romney. Even you, in your own perhaps unwitting, way, are writing comments that suggest you infer that the charges are hurting Romney, although you don’t think what Romney did at Bain was all that bad.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to wardsmith says:


            Is everything alright, bro? You’ve seriously seemed a bit off lately. Out of character. What’s up?Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Was that comment misplaced? It has nothing to do with what I wrote.Report

  16. Kris says:

    No one is arguing Mitt Romney doesn’t love his friends and family.

    Some would suggest that his preferred policies for America and the business dealings he engaged in with Bain imply that Romney’s love for his friends and colleagues doesn’t extend to strangers, the poor, the unlucky, etc., etc.

    Even the Kings and Queens and robber barons of old loved those in their in-group and would sacrifice greatly to protect them. Their problem was that their empathy didn’t extend far enough -to slaves, peasants,mforeigners, blacks, the Irish, or whatever out group- not that they had no empathy for anyone.

    Quite frankly, no one can no what is in a politicians heart. All we can do is judge them on their past and their policies. Are their policies fair, just, compassionate and wise? And does the candidate have a history of self-sacrifice, working for the common good and not just their own finances, patriotism, selfmade success, etc.

    Romney’s biography isn’t all bad, but Bain is not a sterling item in a potential presidential biography. I’d argue it’s quite an ugly mark, but that’s what’s being debated.

    Most succesful presidential candidates have had great bios. The poor candidates have to show how they worked hard to pull themselves out of poverty, usually with exceptional intelligence or military service: Obama becomes Harvard Law review editor after being raised by single mother, Nixon came from poverty and Whitier, peanut farmer Carter becomes submariner, poor Clinton goes to Oxford, etc. The rich candidates usually have to have show that they have put their country above their wealth and status. Kerry, Bush 1 and McCain were war heros. Kennedy too. Bush II served as a fighter pilot and, in some sense, partially devoted his life to religion after drinking.

    We expect the wealthy to show that they are virtuous, especially those born with some advantages like Romney, by doing something self-sacrificing. Has Romney sacrificed of himself? Maybe you could say volunteering for the Olympics was a sacrifice, but that doesn’t fly like Being a war hero or just serving like Bush. Really, Romney’s great sacrifices have been for his church: tithing, donations, and mission work. He needs to talk about that.Report

  17. b-psycho says:

    On a straightforward political win/lose view, it’s obvious why the Bain attacks. Any sensible political strategist, if their strategy works, will keep at it, and this one seems to be working.

    Yet, there’s an underlying implication in why the attacks work that if the audience for them thought it through could easily lead to a conclusion miles beyond “Romney sucks, vote Obama”. Typical business practices for the section of the economy Romney occupied leading to visceral negative reaction isn’t really even about Romney, but about How Capitalism Is Done — and apparently they don’t like it. That manipulating a tiny piece of said reaction happens to help Obama is coincidence, it’s not like he really has much to say to it regardless of how much people in some quarters claim he’s some Marxist or whatever.Report

    • Kris in reply to b-psycho says:

      Take a look at what Brad Delong says here about Bain’s business practices. Some outsourcing is good, but Bain was up to more than that. Some of these LBO’s are pretty awful for employees and they don’t create/improve jobs in other parts of the economy like “good outsourcing” does.


    • Mike Schilling in reply to b-psycho says:

      It’s a bit more interesting than that, in a few ways.

      It attacks the idea that the wealthy deserve constant tax cuts in consideration of their being the ones who create jobs. Actually, they also destroy jobs, or at least move them to where they do you, the audience, no good.

      I also attacks the just-so stories about how, in the free market, only voluntary transactions take place, so they all make everyone better off. That might be true in the aggregate, but if your job gets creatively destroyed or moved to a different hemisphere, you’re significantly worse off.

      And it attacks the idea that all we need to fix the economy is lower taxes and fewer regulation, because that will increase economic activity. The problem there is that there’s no guarantee the economic activity will benefit you personally, rather than all go into the pockets of the 1%.

      That’s a broad attack on the entire GOP economic plan (such as it is.)Report

      • It attacks the idea that the wealthy deserve constant tax cuts in consideration of their being the ones who create jobs. Actually, they also destroy jobs, or at least move them to where they do you, the audience, no good.

        This is perhaps the best framing of the whole Bain thing I have heard to date. I am adverse to attacks on Romney via Bain (they make me more rather than less sympathetic to Mitt), but this has some real substance to it.Report

        • MikeSchilling in reply to Will Truman says:

          this has some real substance to it

          I’m sorry, I’ll try to be more careful in the future.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

          It is a good framing (did Mike sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night?). What’s interesting to me is that everything Mike said goes pretty much unstated by liberals because those are implicit beliefs and judgments most of us already share. In a political context, they don’t need to be explicitly articulated, just appealed to.Report

          • Scott Fields in reply to Stillwater says:

            Actually, I think these implicit beliefs need to be more explicitly articulated. It is far to easy to peg the liberal position as “Capitalism Bad!” while the argument is much more substantive than that.Report

            • Bob Wallace in reply to Scott Fields says:


              The argument is mainly “less constrained capitalism” or “more constrained capitalism”.

              Corner devotees of free markets and almost all will admit that they don’t support monopolies. And on the other side of the spectrum almost no leftish person holds for socialism. We’re discussing where to set the slider in the middle between the two extremes. Unfortunately we don’t verbalize our goals in that way, we tend to use more extreme language.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        There’s also the fact that “tax cuts and less regulation” can’t possibly be it, because then the most wealthy society on earth would be one that was…completely government free. Just, you know, corporations doing whatever on some land.

        There’s obviously crossing points and tipping points. The current GOP belief that anything can be solved if you deregulate it enough and cut taxes enough is a bit wearing, simply because it’s not an honest attempt to address the issue at hand.

        It is an honest attempt to cut taxes and deregulate. In general. Whether or not it actually deals with, say, problems with the US electrical grid or whether we need to fund Star Wars is immaterial. The point is to cut taxes and deregulate.Report

  18. Kris says:

    I’d argue that those sacrifices for his church don’t show the level of self-sacrifice that other wealthy presidential candidates have shown. Risking you life by serving in the military is a bigger sacrifice than going to France to convert people, but c’est la vie.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Kris says:

      True, though it’s still more sacrifice than anything I’ve done for church or country. With fewer opportunity costs.Report

      • Kris in reply to Will Truman says:

        True. But I wouldn’t vote for you or me as president either.

        The question of why and how bios should matter in determining who should be president at all is an interesting one. Why not vote for some mid-level executive at Macy’s who has bad credit, a history of using racial epithets, two divorces, and a DUI? I guess the idea is that this bio makes it more likely that she’ll misuse the office or be incompetent or be deeply biased against some groups. She hasn’t shown sufficient empathy, fairness, competence, etc. It’s a messy business all of this.Report

  19. scott says:

    Before this campaign even began, like 3 years ago, I found it very amusing to go through the posts Daniel Larison did at the American Conservative on Romney from ’08. It became clear then, in the painstaking and dry way Larison has, that Romney is unusual even for a politician in having no core of beliefs or principles, along with a propensity to lie on small matters as well as great, even if there’s no clear reason to do so. This was a guy that campaigned against Ted Kennedy as being more pro-choice and more staunch on women’s rights and gay rights, and he’s the conservative standard bearer this year.

    That’s why I agree with EQ that Bain is important because it strikes me as the only thing he actually believes in: making money. If you want clues to who Romney is and what his real priorities personally and (for lack of a better word to describe it) philosophically are, you’re left with no alternative but to examine how he made the money and what that says about him. And let’s not feel too sorry about the guy – Obama didn’t invent this line of attack, Romney made Bain one of the reasons we should vote for him because supposedly it showed that he was so good at making jobs (in China). If you enjoy schadenfreude, watching what happens to Romney should be fun – either the ultimate opportunist learns there’s only so far you take being a hollow man, or the rest of us prove to be the biggest collective bunch of suckers in recent history and elect him, providing another example of the Peter Principle. Good times ahead!Report

    • Bob Wallace in reply to scott says:

      The most interesting/entertaining times might be coming up August 27-30 in Tampa.

      We’re now seeing major Republicans calling for Romney to release his tax records and to be more forthcoming with information he is protecting. That smells to me as the beginning of an ‘assassination by friends’. Destroy Romney now so that there is time to groom someone to be the actual candidate for the fall run.

      Problem is, the Republicans have no “heroes” to shove into the forefront. Very shallow bench. Winning this year is fairly unlikely so those who might be looking toward 2016 might not be willing to take one for the team and go into the next round as a loser.

      Who might be willing to take on the job? Rand? Sarah still rested and ready? Newt got more books to sell?Report

  20. BobbyC says:

    I’m failing to see the point of the OP. Is it: Romney’s resume is starting to be viewed as a negative. And he doesn’t know how to turn the narrative back into making it a positive. And so he could end up like John Kerry insofar as a potential strength, his private sector success, could become a decisive negative. That’s fine but I’m a bit more interested in an accurate picture of Romney on the merits, not how the Romney campaign will fare in the media and the culture.

    I’ll admit that I don’t know what to make of Mitt Romney. It’s not for lack of trying. I really cannot tell if he is the money-culture-jerk that the left wants him to be. He seems to be a mix of earnest do-gooder trying to win at everything he does (that’s the GOOD part) and thin-skinned-rich-guy who doesn’t have much empathy for average people and thinks that his way of life is superior. You have to admit that the guy is a winner – you don’t want to sign up for a competition and show up day one and see Romney is your opponent. The guy is smart and hard-working and committed to getting what he wants. Would that be so bad? And if his policies are better for America, will work, then how much should we care if his attitude is a bit patrician?Report

    • Bob Wallace in reply to BobbyC says:

      Romney has had a long time to prepare for this campaign. This is not the first time he has run for the presidency. He had years between the two runs to think and prepare. He was “vetted” by the primary. He has more than adequate funds to hire a competent staff to think things through ahead of time.

      That he has no name for the person who ran Bain when he was “on leave” tells an enormous story. Romneny simply did not prepare.

      “You have to admit that the guy is a winner – you don’t want to sign up for a competition and show up day one and see Romney is your opponent. ”

      Romney showed up to the tennis match with no racket. How tough of a competitor is that?

      Romney has now had several days to come up with a name, a face to shove out into the spotlight, of the person who ran things at Bain since “he wasn’t”. Where’s that person?

      Romney hasn’t even figured out how to borrow a racket from someone else.

      This should scare the “****” out of anyone who thinks the CoC needs to make good, quick decisions under pressure.Report

      • BobbyC in reply to Bob Wallace says:

        Ok – I don’t buy your Romney-of-no-tennis-racket analogy. He was the CEO of Bain, he went to the Olympics, he was still formally CEO but did no Bain work, then he retired from Bain. This is neither implausible nor suspicious in any way. I’m no Romney-acolyte as I indicated, but I find this particular attack on him to be moronic. I understand when people-of-no-understanding-of-economics-and-capitalism try to attack Romney for investing his clients’ money in businesses that did outsourcing. Those people either don’t understand what his job was or don’t think that capitalism should trump nationalism. It doesn’t in North Korea, for instance. But the attack on Romney of “hey, just when exactly did you quit Bain” with the idea that he somehow didn’t stop running Bain to go run the Olympics, and is now hiding from the fact that he did because Bain did deals that are politically inflammatory, is really dumb. I’m sorry if you think I’m calling you dumb – I’m not really … just the idea that this attack is reasonable or troublesome in any way.

        As for Romney as CoC, that’s the part of a Romney presidency that scares me the most. This guy is a hawk (and as best I can tell it’s for no better reason than that Daddy was a hawk).Report

        • Bob Wallace in reply to BobbyC says:

          Romney is running mostly on his history at Bain. He’s staying away from his record as Governor of MA. That and a couple of years working for the Olympics is what he’s got. Most of his history is Bain.

          At some point Bain was engaged in activity such as cash-raiding companies that they purchased, pulling out cash, even taking out loans against the companies, and then watching the companies go bankrupt. Bain also outsourced/sent jobs overseas.

          Romney does not want to have that vulture capitalism and oversea-ing part of his record. He is saying that he wasn’t in charge when that happened.

          Apparently you think that capitalism should trump nationalism.

          I really do not think that Americans, in general, want corporations put ahead of country. At least they do not want to hire a president who believes that. Most want a president who works for their best interests, not some corporation’s best interests.

          Romney is trying gain votes. That means he is trying to distance himself from the most distasteful of Bain’s activities.


          Romney a hawk? Romney is jello, pick your flavor. If the people he wants to please want him to be a hawk, he’ll be a hawk. If they want him to be a dove, he’ll be a dove.

          Romney has exactly no position, other than to become president. He’ll say anything, wear funny clothes, talk to people he looks down on, force awkward laughs, whatever it takes.

          And that should scare the “****” out of all of us.

          (I’m not worried about someone calling me dumb. I have a pretty good idea what my abilities are. But, thanks for caring….)Report

          • James Hanley in reply to Bob Wallace says:

            Apparently you think that capitalism should trump nationalism.

            Well, fewer people die that way.Report

            • Bob Wallace in reply to James Hanley says:

              I want neither of the above. I don’t want a government that serves only some of the people which is what a strongly pro-corporation government does. I also do not want a nationalistic government. I just don’t enjoy goose-stepping.

              I want a government that tries to do a decent job for all. One that puts no unnecessary roadblocks in the way of business, but also protects us from the greedy and ethically-challenged. One that looks out for the people who, through no fault of their own, get the short end of the stick and helps them climb the ladder.

              I want as few laws and regulations as possible, not not too few. And I recognize that is a task that will never be completed to everyone’s satisfaction.

              I want to pay as little tax as possible, but I don’t want to starve the beast. The beast keeps us safe, builds and maintains our infrastructure, educates our children, and helps smooth over life’s rough spots. Again I realize that never will we reach the land of Goldilocks. Things will always be too much for some, too little for others. The only way around that problem is to have a country of one.Report

          • BobbyC in reply to Bob Wallace says:

            Roughly speaking, capitalism is a good thing and nationalism is a bad thing. I understand that most Americans want a patriotic, flag-pin-wearing, platitude spouting President. But when times are tough, as they are now, hopefully we can make a choice based on who has the better ideas, not the bigger flag-pin or smoother pandering stump speech.

            I don’t think we have very different views of Romney as a campaigner. My point is that it matter whether Romney is fit to be President. In my view, he has the better ideas. This may be in part because the Tea Party is forcing him to sound more like a fiscal conservative than a Rockefeller Republican, or it may be because he has a good understanding of how free enterprise works and the difficulties of excessive regulation and tax complexity. But is he basically a thin-skinned patrician ass? Or a sort-of-out-of-touch Morman do-gooder who moralizes but also walks-the-walk? It matters who Romney is because as a young man watching the George W. Bush presidency I learned that it matters who the President is, not just who he campaigns as or which party he leads.

            (I do try not to be insensitive; thanks for noticing.)Report

            • Bob Wallace in reply to BobbyC says:

              Help me out here. I’ll be totally honest, I can’t see myself voting for Romney but I at least want to try to understand who he is an not just dismiss him outright.

              “Do-gooder”. I’ve heard of nothing that Romney has done outside serve as a missionary for his church. Can you fill me in on his public service?

              (Perhaps one could count the Olympics.)Report

              • BobbyC in reply to Bob Wallace says:

                I don’t really know the answer either. He married his high school girlfriend and seems to be a faithful husband and committed father. He was a missionary in France. He’s Mormon and actually seems to be Mormon – the whole involvement in his church stuff is very revealing to me (unlike Obama, I think this one may be sincerely religious). He left Bain to run the Olympics, which does mean that he is about more than money. I know people on Wall St who are all about the money and they would not, under any circumstances whatsoever, leave a job as CEO of Bain to go run the god-forsaken Olympics. A task somewhere between pointless and thankless in their view. And he wants to spend his time, at age 65, driving around the country trying to be President. Certainly that speaks to ego and ambition, but he is probably sincere in his view that he can help the country get back on track. I think the anecdote wherein his wife asks him of a possible 2012 run “is it too late or can you fix it” is true and actually how the Romney’s think about the situation.

                Maybe it’s more accurate to view him as a rule-follower and an optimizer, as opposed to a do-gooder. Especially in light of the fact that he was known for pulling pranks in high school, and some of them not so innocent. He may also be very self-righteous and intolerable because of it. I’m not signing up to hang out with him and talk about world history or even political philosophy.

                His reputation at Bain seems to be as a risk-averse plodder and I’d tend to see him as a smart guy who was in the right place at the right time. Not a big thinker, but smart enough and politically capable enough in an organization to become the top guy among some seriously talented and smart competition. That’s the real reason I call him competitive – he was at Bain, among some of the nation’s smarter humans, and rose to be in charge. Look, he’d be the dumbest cat among Harvard math professors, but compared to typical politicians I think it’s fair to say Romney is relatively smart and capable. Kind of Chuck Schumer-ish.

                I understand your jello attack on him – I guess what I want to know is what the core really is. No man is jello. Even the worst flip-flopper has goals and priorities in life. Those may be to seek power above all else. Some people seek money. Religious people can be acting out what they think they are supposed to be doing in life. It matters to me what Romney is. And my biggest concern is his temperment.Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to BobbyC says:

                Let me be cynical here, not just to be cynical but to add dimension to the discussion.

                Suppose he did not take the Olympic job out of some desire to serve, but as part of preparing himself for a future political career? Just like high school students who now do all sorts of volunteer stuff just to build their resume.

                He looks at his list of accomplishments and all he’s got is his success in business. Some time spent in a high profile ‘sport thing’ might be another merit badge.

                I think he’s a smart enough guy, in the right place. I think he has business smarts, but I don’t see anything past that.

                I don’t see any sign of smarts on the campaign trail. I don’t see positions or ideas coming from him. He was terrible in the primary debates. His campaign seems to be “I’m not the other guy”.

                Temperament, ability to think on his feet, and there seems to be something wrong with his ability to connect with people. It’s almost like he’s a bit autistic, or something.Report

              • Terry in reply to Bob Wallace says:

                Not a “do-gooder,” ever:

                The thing is, Willard was a “proselytizing missionary,” not a “humanitarian missionary.” That kind of Mormon missionary is 100% about proselytizing, and nothing about humanitarian service.Report

        • Bob Wallace in reply to BobbyC says:

          “Ok – I don’t buy your Romney-of-no-tennis-racket analogy.”

          Romney was not prepared with a response to PBO’s attacks on his Bain history.

          Romney was not ready.

          After several days he still hasn’t come up with a credible story about who, other than himself, was running Bain during the period in question.

          Romney hasn’t reacted quickly and strongly.

          How good a competitor are you if you are neither prepared to compete nor can you mount a defense in a short period of time?

          I do not see Romney as the strong competitor that you apparently do. In fact, when I look back at the primary I don’t see him looking strong at any point. The Republican primary was kind of a game of ‘last man standing’.

          The party looked closely at all the other candidates. At some point all of them experienced a large and swift dash to the top, did they not? At some point it was “anyone but Romney”, but each was found so lacking that they pitched them all out and went with that other guy.

          The best you can say for Romeny’s campaign is that he spent a lot of money burying a couple of less well funded opponents with numerous TV ads. Romney never excited the base and certainly didn’t draw out the middle/independents.Report

          • BobbyC in reply to Bob Wallace says:

            I don’t think Romney is a very good politician. Not sure we really disagree there. The point I was making is that Romney is a winner – he likes to compete, he is good at it, and he wins a lot. It’s hard to look at his resume and think “not a competitor.” As for the Republican primary, I agree that Romney won because everyone else was deemed unacceptable (and except for Ron Paul, I understand why).

            If you read my response actually, my point couldn’t be further than “Romney is a great campaigner” … it’s much more (1) who is Romney really and (2) if he has the better policies should we really care?Report

            • Tom Van Dyke in reply to BobbyC says:

              In chess, they say the hardest thing to win is a won game. Dewey Defeats Truman, 1948. Romney, in retrospect, was clearly a more viable candidate vs. Barack Obama than was John McCain, who picked Sarah Palin out of well-perceived desperation.

              BobbyC, Mitt Romney got the Eye of the Tiger this time around and won’t have to dig for a longshot like Palin to try to save his losing ass. He is a verrrrry good politician. Barack Obama isn’t going to beat him with campaign tricks.

              They understand each other very well. This one might just come down to substance!Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                If it comes down to substance, we just may not have ourselves a president come next January 21.Report

              • BobbyC in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Not sure I buy that he is verrry good … read Reagan’s 1st inaugural (it’s way better than reading my musings!) and then watch a Mitt Romney stump speech and cringe. And then there are the endless gaffes – “corporations are people my friend” or “I like being able to fire people” or telling unemployed people “I’m unemployed too!” or telling Obama “start packing” or trying to bet $10k with Rick Perry in a televised debate. And the jokes. The jokes are so very bad.

                I’d love to see him start to harp on specifics – take some ridiculous federal regulation and just keep bringing it up. Call on Obama to fix it now before the election. Channel some Ross Perot and get specific and have some charts. Stop saying “jobs” as if jobs are the goal of human civilization. Keep explaining that President Obama is a nice guy who is in over his head. And don’t try to defend specifics on Bain or Massachusettes – just be above that. Don’t say “the President is engaging in distractions because he doesn’t want to defend his record” – THAT’S a distraction! Just say, I’m proud of my career at Bain and my governorship, I learned a lot, and now I’m ready to lead this country into economic revival as President of the United States. And then just go to cue on policy. Say what you are going to do to revitalize business – cut regulations, cut taxes, streamline worker training, sign free trade agreements, unleash American energy (and mention that damn pipeline in every speech).

                Is Romney a verrrrrrry good politician? Or is he a careful brand manager, a plodding strategist who doesn’t have the natural gifts of Reagan or Clinton or even contemporaries like Rubio or Christie?Report

            • bupalos in reply to BobbyC says:

              >>It’s hard to look at his resume and think “not a competitor.”>>

              It’s hard for me to look at his resume and not think “guy who was born on third base, was carried halfway down the line, tripped six yards from the plate (which has everyone thinking he tried a hustling headfirst slide), and is now confused as to why his dad’s rich friends are letting this gutter-born umpire call him out.

              I mean seriously, what the hell does “being a competitor” mean when you were (and are) handed what this guy was handed? The Olympics were 1000% taxpayer-bailed, the majority of the Bain money comes from a kind of rigged, vulturous gambling with someone else’s money, and Romney probably made more money from Bain during his time (allegedly) NOT there than most people make in a lifetime of hard, productive work. Probably a LOT more, though he’s not telling.Report

              • BobbyC in reply to bupalos says:

                Your analogy is fun, but I think you understate Romney’s success. Does being the son of George Romney give you a better chance to become CEO of Bain, Gov of MA, earn a fortune of $200m and be nominated by a major party for President? Sure it does, but there are many people who have advantages similar to Romney and do less well. If you take all the people between the ages of 50 and 70 who had a parent who was a Governor, there’s maybe 500 people like that? And 250 men (since that’s still a big deal in America). I’d say Romney is one of the 5 most successful people in that group. So he’s top 2% among a group of “born on 3rd base” kids. And I will make mention that he made his own money, certainly using the advantages of his birth, but not from daddy’s fortune.

                Anecdotally, I know kids whose parents were CEO of Fortune 500 companies and others whose parerts had extreme wealth. All went to college and had acceptable / successful life outcomes. Some went to elite universities and others did not. The wealthy kids all got money from their parents and live at a lifestyle out of line with their vocation. But of all of them none is a big success in his or her own right. And while a couple may give a few thousand dollars to Romney or Obama, you’d never confuse their resumes with those of either candidate. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that both Romney and Obama are outstanding success stories.Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to BobbyC says:

                I’d say that Romney had double good luck. He was born into a rich and influential family that allowed him to enter a very high quality secondary school and that opened the way to the best undergrad and graduate programs. I’m not going to say that he got a free pass through those schools, as far as I know he was a good student.

                The second major piece of luck was to be a young ‘up and comer’ at the moment a unique opportunity appeared – vulture capitalism. Someone identified an opportunity to leverage poorly preforming companies and profit whether they succeeded or failed. IIRC Romney did not make that discovery, someone else in the original company did. Romney undertook that venture only after being given the assurance that he could return to the parent company and resume at the level and salary he would have risen to had he stayed in his first position.

                Obama had one luck. He was born into a family, a mother and maternal grandparents, who valued education and put him on the path to enter a high quality high school and that led to undergraduate and graduate programs equal to those of Romney.

                Now, does two lucks make Romney a less viable candidate? I don’t think so. But I also see nothing particular in his Bain career that makes him more qualified than any other business person to be president. He has a basic knowledge of business. We can’t say that he knows how to build a large business that produces jobs and creates a profit. He hasn’t done that. He’s run a ‘small shop’ of, I think, less than two dozen ‘partners’ along with their support staff. There are grocery stores with more employees.

                My take is that Romney might be one of the “top 2% among a group of “born on 3rd base” kids”. But I really don’t see him getting into that group based on his abilities as much as simple raw luck.Report

  21. Bob Wallace says:

    Responding to comments via email does not seem to be working for me. I wrote several replies on a couple of threads last night and see none of them posted.

    I also see no way to contact ‘the management’, so I’m posting here.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Bob Wallace says:


      I am not sure why your comments are not going through, unless they had multiple url links; in that case, know that our spam filter requires them to be be reviewed prior to approval. At this moment, however, there are no comment of under your name in our spam filter.

      Should you have a need to contact anyone about any issue on the site, you should feel free to contact myself, Erik, Jason or Mark. Erik and I might be the quickest to get ahold of because of our work schedules, but any of the four of us all get back to you. You can contact us here:

      Me: rtodkelly@mac.com

      Erik: erik.kain@gmail.com

      Mark: mwthompson88@gmail.com

      Jason: jason.kuznicki@gmail.comReport

      • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I have comments fail to launch all the time, from home or office cmptrs. And sometimes I still have the comment in my clipboard so I resend it—the site says “Duplicate comment detected, you already said that,” yet neither attempt shows up. [Even in reply to stuff on my own sub-blog!]

        Ghost in the machine thing. I’ve learned to trust The Ghost, that mebbe the comment was best left unsaid, or the idea turns out to be even more germane an hour later to reply to a different comment.

        The Ghost is your friend.Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          I’ve only had that once: comment did not appear, any attempts to resubmit it, even from a different machine, resulted in “you already said that.” Since it included a complete solution to the problems of race, class, and AGW, I am forced to differ with my learned colleague about the Ghost’s good intentions.Report

  22. Bob Wallace says:

    “It’s a bad sign for Mitt Romney when conservatives begin to question why the presumptive Republican nominee won’t release more of his tax returns. But on Sunday, that’s what happened. Conservative analysts joined Democrats in wondering whether Romney is just being impolitic in not releasing several years worth of returns — or whether he’s trying to hide something.”

    George Will, Matthew Dowd, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former RNC chairman Michael Steele and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, and Bill Kristol are names mentioned in the article.

    Here’s the Democratic talking point of the moment…

    “The Romney campaign isn’t stupid,” Emanuel said. “They have decided that it’s better to get attacked on a lack of transparency, lack of accountability to the American people, versus telling you what’s in those taxes.”

    It’s on Talking Point Memo – hesitant to include a link at the moment….Report

  23. Bob Wallace says:

    More “did’t Romney check any facts over the last eight years?”….

    “When the it comes to the contentious topic of Mitt Romney’s tax returns, the Romney campaign has invoked precedent, defending their decision to release just two years worth of returns as the standard set by the campaigns of John McCain and John Kerry. The Romney campaign renewed this argument on Sunday.

    In fact. Sen. Kerry (D-MA) had released 20 years of tax returns when he ran for president in 2004.”


    Seems as if you really want to keep your tax history secret you’d double check stuff ahead of time rather than have the media do your research for you. It just doesn’t make you look competent….Report

  24. Morzer says:

    “What’s clear from a review of the public record during his management of the private-equity firm Bain Capital from 1985 to 1999 is that Romney was fabulously successful in generating high returns for its investors. He did so, in large part, through heavy use of tax-deductible debt, usually to finance outsized dividends for the firm’s partners and investors. When some of the investments went bad, workers and creditors felt most of the pain. Romney privatized the gains and socialized the losses.”
    I admit that I haven’t kept up with the latest right wing craziness, but are they really fans of “socializing” losses these days? Or have we reached the predictable post-nomination stage when the GOP would bow before a goat in a golden shawl if it had the scarlet letter R prominently displayed on its person?
    Then again, we have the .. interesting issue of Stericycle:
    “Earlier this year, Mitt Romney nearly landed in a politically perilous controversy when the Huffington Post reported that in 1999 the GOP presidential candidate had been part of an investment group that invested $75 million in Stericycle, a medical-waste disposal firm that has been attacked by anti-abortion groups for disposing aborted fetuses collected from family planning clinics. Coming during the heat of the GOP primaries, as Romney tried to sell South Carolina Republicans on his pro-life bona fides, the revelation had the potential to damage the candidate’s reputation among values voters already suspicious of his shifting position on abortion.
    But Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, tamped down the controversy. The company said Romney left the firm in February 1999 to run the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and likely had nothing to with the deal. The matter never became a campaign issue. But documents filed by Bain and Stericycle with the Securities and Exchange Commission—and obtained by Mother Jones—list Romney as an active participant in the investment. And this deal helped Stericycle, a company with a poor safety record, grow, while yielding tens of millions of dollars in profits for Romney and his partners. The documents—one of which was signed by Romney—also contradict the official account of Romney’s exit from Bain.”
    I must confess that I hardly expected the right wing to suddenly discover an affection for people of a tangential, shall we say, Christianity who made substantial profits by disposing of the corpses of the innocent unborn, brutally slaughtered etc etc etc…. (insert obligatory references to Hitler, Mao, French cheese/wine/sexual mores, the imminent outbreeding of the West by Islamists etc etc. Kindly also make mention of the Amero and FEMA concentration camps.).Report

    • BobbyC in reply to Morzer says:

      I guess someone should point out that “socializing losses” refers to passing losses to the taxpayer / society, not private debt holders. Having a private business financed with private debt and private equity doesn’t constitute “socializing losses” if the debt holders loose money – that’s not a pro-Romney statement, but it is a fact about the problem of crony capitalism and why it doesn’t apply here.Report

      • Montanareddog in reply to BobbyC says:

        BobbyC, you are correct when you state that this is not a case of “socializing losses”.

        Nevertheless, I have qualms about what Bain were doing. My impression is (but I will be happy to be corrected) that a major part of the Bain business model was to raise funds for a company by bond issues (thus, unlike an equity issue, no voting rights for the creditors), and pay the investors and partners huge dividends. If the company survives, flip it; if it fails, declare bankruptcy and the bondholders lose their money, and the workers lose their jobs. Rarely, does there seem to have been a serious effort to invest, nurture and grow a business. A far cry from the capitalism of Adam Smith (or Steve Jobs).

        So, while Bain did not privatize gains and socialize losses, it did make vast fortunes for its partners with minimal downside risk, by successfully gaming business practices and fiscal regulations.

        Would Romney have lost anything if Bain itself had gone bust? There seems to have been no great risk/great reward trade-off here.Report

        • Bob Wallace in reply to Montanareddog says:

          I’ve had a closeup view of Romney/Bain-type business.

          A couple decades ago we had a thriving timber industry in our county. A large part of the activity was done by a single timber company that, for a timber company, was a pretty good community member. They treated their employees well, gave them health insurance and a good pension plan. They cut trees at a sustainable rate, actually a bit less than what they could have taken and been sustainable.

          A Bain-type corporation looked at the books, floated a lot of high interest (junk) bonds, and bought up enough stock to take over the company.

          Cut rates went to the max. Workers were brought in from all over the country, even from outside the US. In a few years mature trees and the less than mature trees were stripped from the hillsides. Toward the end of the cut the company started selling off millyard equipment and trucking. That stuff was no longer needed in the county, the trees were gone for a generation.

          This entire time only the interest on the bonds was paid. The employee pension plan was raided. The cash went into out of state pockets. The company declared bankruptcy leaving the employees without jobs or their pensions. Bonds holders got degraded property rather than the money they were promised. The county’s economy was wrecked.

          Companies like Romney/Bain are leeches, not “job creators”.Report

      • Montanareddog in reply to BobbyC says:

        I am just thinking out loud now – what Bain were doing in Romney’s time was relatively cutting edge in terms of financial engineering. The risk in terms of regulatory actions, and the possibility of civil lawsuits, was probably unknown and unknowable. Which could plausibly explain, as much as for the purpose of minimising tax, why Romney seems to have stashed so much of his gains off-shore.Report

      • Scott Fields in reply to BobbyC says:

        BobbyC – don’t you think “socializing losses” is the appropriate framing of what happened to the workers at these companies? As the Bloomberg article states, the creditors and the workers bore the brunt of the Bain business model.Report

    • Bob Wallace in reply to Morzer says:

      Here’s part of Bloomberg’s report on Bain’s business activities…

      “In 1986, in one of its earliest deals, Bain Capital acquired Accuride Corp., a manufacturer of aluminum truck wheels. The purchase was 97.5 percent financed by debt, a high level of leverage under any circumstances. It was especially burdensome for a company that was exposed to aluminum-price volatility and cyclical automotive production.

      Forty-to-one leverage is casino capitalism that hugely magnifies gains and losses. Bain Capital wisely chose to flip the company fast: After 18 months, it sold Accuride, converting its $2.6 million sliver of equity into a $61 million capital gain. That deal, which yielded a 1,123 percent annualized return, was critical to Bain Capital’s early success and led the firm to keep maximizing the use of leverage.

      In 1992, Bain Capital bought American Pad & Paper by financing 87 percent of the purchase price. In the next three years, Ampad borrowed to make acquisitions, repay existing debt and pay Bain Capital and its investors $60 million in dividends.
      As a result, the company’s debt swelled from $11 million in 1993 to $444 million by 1995. The $14 million in annual interest expense on this debt dwarfed the company’s $4.7 million operating cash flow. The proceeds of an initial public offering in July 1996 were used to pay Bain Capital $48 million for part of its stake and to reduce the company’s debt to $270 million.

      From 1993 to 1999, Bain Capital charged Ampad about $18 million in various fees.

      By 1999, the company’s debt was back up to $400 million. Unable to pay the interest costs and drained of cash paid to Bain Capital in fees and dividends, Ampad filed for bankruptcy the following year. Senior secured lenders got less than 50 cents on the dollar, unsecured lenders received two- tenths of a cent on the dollar, and several hundred jobs were lost. Bain Capital had reaped capital gains of $107 million on its $5.1 million investment.”

      There is more information about how other deals were done. It’s not just one deal where Bain/Romney got rich and existing companies got trashed.

      “While Bain Capital wasn’t alone in using financial engineering to turbo-charge its returns, it was among the most aggressive under Romney’s leadership. Enriching investors by taking leveraged bets isn’t a qualification for a job requiring long-term vision and concern for public welfare. It is appropriate to point that out to voters.”


  25. Rufus F. says:

    You know, I watched a few of the recent Romney interviews online and I gotta say his supporters should just worry about the fact that he looks like he’s getting beat up. They’re still neck and neck, but he acts like he’s losing and a lot of voters aren’t keen on voting for wimps or losers.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to North says:

        I remember back in school, after getting in a playground fight, the next day being humble about outfighting the bully whose nose I bloodied and a friend saying to me, “What are you doing?! When people ask how the fight went, you say, ‘I kicked his ass!’ It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not- you tell them you won!”

        I think Republicans need to drop the argument that Obama’s a really tough Chicago politician altogether. Switch to saying that Romney’s kicking his ass.Report

        • Bob Wallace in reply to Rufus F. says:

          That’s being said now. But the numbers are going the opposite direction.

          Obama is badly damaging Romney with the Bain attacks. Romney’s got nothing other than Bain and people are starting to understand that Romney was in no way a job creator but a job destroyer. He’s not likely to recover from this.

          Watch for the calls for a different candidate to start rising from the right.

          Remember how that happened over and over in the primaries? One potential would get shot down, people would look over, see Romney, and start “Well, how about ….”.

          We saw a parade of ‘how abouts’ – one of the most amazing series of rises and falls I’ve ever seen. Remember how Newt was on top, then it was Perry, then Cain, then Trump, then Newt was brought back for another round, and finally Santorum?

          I don’t recall the actual sequence. I also don’t remember Romney ever being on top. He was just he last person standing. Kind of like when the team runs out of pitchers and puts a fielder on the mound for the last inning….Report

    • Bob Wallace in reply to Rufus F. says:

      It’s only close if you use the popular vote. With what counts, the electoral votes, it’s a wipe out.

      TPM has it 281 to 206, Obama, based on poll numbers by state.

      Takes 270 to win?Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to Bob Wallace says:

        Huh. Whaddyaknow! Pretty amazing considering the state of the economy. We’ll see if that lasts. Still, I’m saying that, if I was in the Romney campaign, I’d be claiming that Obama’s a big loser who’s going down in flames instead of begging for him to run a less aggressive campaign because it’s so unfair!Report

        • Bob Wallace in reply to Rufus F. says:

          Romney is trying to do that. But it doesn’t work well because, it seems, most people don’t blame PBO for the poor economy as much as they blame the previous administration, Congress, and the financial industry.

          And what Romney is saying is not news. Everyone knows that the economy is not good and recovering much slower than what people want to see. It’s not an effective weapon to use against Obama.

          What Obama has is information that is helping to define Romney in a very negative way. It’s helping define Romney as part of the reason the country is in such bad shape.

          Did you watch the “America the Beautiful” Obama ad? The last frame – “Romney is not the solution. Romney is the problem.”

          This is the heavyweight class. Romney just can’t punch at that level.


  26. MikeSchilling says:

    But whining is so manly. It goes with the “shoulders you could land an aircraft carrier on” mem.Report

  27. Bob Wallace says:

    News from TPM:

    “Mitt Romney is rebooting his campaign with a bold new attack against President Obama: The White House, he claims, is a hotbed of “crony capitalism” designed to pay off big-time Democratic donors.”

    Problem is, Romney is refusing to identify his big money supporters. This is likely another poorly conceived attack that’s going to backfire. That’s already being suggested by leading Republican players.

    ““Mitt Romney is raking in big bucks from lobbyists whose main goal is to secure government contracts and get deals for their clients,” Adam Smith, communications director for Public Campaign Action Fund, which has been monitoring Romney’s supporters, told TPM. “He should be careful about throwing stones from his big glass house.””

    I’d bet serious money (were I a betting person) that PBO was ready for this attack at least a year ago. The Obama team plays the long game. They’ve got massive research done and ready to be used.Report

    • But the Obama White House IS a hotbed of crony capitalism. This attack was planned all along.


      • Liberty60 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Whose mind and vote is this meant to turn?
        Is there an independent voter out there who is going to think, “well, I was going to vote Obama, but since it looks like he is in the hip pocket of the Wall Street banks, I’m going with Mitt Romney ecause he’s more man of the people.”?
        Someone with those kinds of reasoning powers likely isn’t allowed out unsupervised.

        The most powerful populist card the Romney campaign has is to stoke the class fires of “Gummint Elitists” vs “Applebees Merkins”.Report

        • Bob Wallace in reply to Liberty60 says:

          Take that route and along the way someone is going to ask Romneny what he likes at Applebees.

          He’ll probably say something like “My father used to take there for most superb cider. Non-alcoholic cider, of course.”.Report

        • James Hanley in reply to Liberty60 says:

          Is there an independent voter out there who is going to think, “well, I was going to vote Obama, but since it looks like he is in the hip pocket of the Wall Street banks, I’m going with Mitt Romney ecause he’s more man of the people.”?

          Heh, probably not. But maybe, just maybe, it will cause some likely Democratic voters to throw their hands up in frustration and stay home. Each would-be Obama voter who stays home is as good as an independent who switches his vote.Report

          • Bob Wallace in reply to James Hanley says:

            Probably very small hit, if any at all. This one is likely to get canceled partly by painting Romney as a real fat cat and partly because “they all do it”.

            I think the left and independents are going to turn out for Obama because there are things they want the government to do things for them. Rather than to them.Report

          • Liberty60 in reply to James Hanley says:

            Actually, James I was thinking a similar thought- partly to disenchant Democrats, or to fire up Republicans. Or maybe to appeal to the “both sides are the same” voters who might flip a coin.Report

            • James Hanley in reply to Liberty60 says:

              I should sat that was my second thought. My first response was to laugh out loud in agreement with you. I’m sure you’re right about the non-effect in independents.Report

            • b-psycho in reply to Liberty60 says:

              The logic of people who see both parties as steaming piles of corruption and lies flipping a coin to nonetheless pick from one of the two steaming piles is…lacking, to say the least.

              They should find someone who is *not* a corrupt liar and support *them*. Or if they feel (like I do) that the system is rigged so that only corrupt liars hold meaningful political power, then the problem is the system, not Liar A vs Liar B.Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to b-psycho says:

                I’ve never been fond of the “both sides are the same”.
                It’s lazy, self-righteous and itself a form of moral corruption.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Liberty60 says:

                Yeah. Best to go firmly with My Team is Good And The Other Team is Evil and avoid that whole pesky self-righteousness trap.Report

              • b-psycho in reply to Liberty60 says:

                How is deciding that neither lives up to ones standards “moral corruption”?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to b-psycho says:

                Moral Nihilism in the face of an obvious Manichean struggle is something The Devil cultivates.Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to Liberty60 says:

                It’s moral corruption, because self-righteousness disregards the complexity of other people’s human nature.

                Both teams are flawed and compromised. But when it is ever different?
                What two forces have ever struggled against each other, in which one team was perfect and the other evil?
                But also, when have any two forces been exactly the same, with absolutely no difference in the outcome?

                So we always have to choose between things that are imperfect, yet clearly of different value.

                Rejecting both is putting our desire for our own gratification as the main focus and ignoring the impact of the outcome.Report

              • b-psycho in reply to Liberty60 says:

                Isn’t the whole point of voting (at least within the popular narrative/myth about it) that via the magic of “representative democracy” your interests are to be reflected at least to some degree? If neither of the choices that gets any traction reflect you, and in fact they spend the majority of their time stomping your interests to pieces, what reason do you have to support either?

                Maybe if it were a matter of one side supporting 80-85% of what somebody wanted vs the other side supporting less it’d make some form of sense. But it’s more like 3% vs 2%. You’re giving up so much, and for what?Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to b-psycho says:

                If you can find no commonalities with either party then you might want to consider how you fit into society in general. Perhaps you are so far out of the mainstream that you are irrelevant.

                That’s not necessarily a bad thing. One can be extremely different and be a valid person. But they aren’t going to sway the nation in their desired direction with an n of one.

                If that’s the situation you find yourself in, only 2% to 3% ‘good for you in the best of the two choices, how about turning it around and decide which choice is likely to cause you the most pain?

                The math might be as simple as (100% – 2.5%) vs. (100% – 0%).

                (Avoid the larger number….)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to b-psycho says:

                Say what you will about the racist, homophobic, sexist Republicans: At least they fit in!Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to b-psycho says:

                @ Bob.

                This is a calculus I’ve considered myself. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a terrible American, in the sense that almost none of my policy preferences (or even, sociologically speaking, my process preference for establishing communitarian policy preferences) align with the average bloke or blokette .

                About the best I can hope for is to be a decent member of my local community.Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to b-psycho says:

                Patrick – that makes sense to me. Seek out a community in which you are reasonably comfortable and then vote in the larger scale elections against whom is likely to hurt you the most.

                I certainly did the first. And I’ve been known to do the last.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to b-psycho says:

                Anybody familiar with “The Lonely Crowd”? I’m not , but it seems relevant. Consider this a bleg.

                I did run across a review


                and the final graf jumped out:

                “Even so, much in The Lonely Crowd seems to describe the life North America lives today. It doesn’t, however, identify one character type we know well, the driven entrepreneur of technology who follows an inwardly shaped dream, works 14 hours a day, and is declared a hero. People in that mould are familiar figures on our social landscape, and probably inspire millions. They await the sociologist who can write about them as well as Riesman wrote about the types he observed in the middle of the 20th century.”

                Considering that President Obama just popped that defenestrated that notion of “heroism,”


                The American Dream is fully on trial just now, the great debate of 20th century political philosophy returns—what are governments for, anyway, and where does the individual fit into all this?Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to b-psycho says:

                This deserves much more attention that this deep of an indent can provide, maybe even its own post.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to b-psycho says:

                “Consider this current example: the Obama campaign employs a PowerPoint series of cartoons called “Life of Julia” which follows Julia, a faceless paper doll character, through her frictionless life. Cradle to grave, swaddled in President Obama’s social policies, Julia’s life proceeds free from conflict or failure. Julia is also free from men other than a son who simply appears in one slide, then disappears from the rest of Julia’s life. Without a husband, Julia seems married to the Federal government, enjoying various presidential allowances of tax dollars that ease her way through the coming decades.

                The right wing commentariat was in stitches about Julia (who resembles an international symbol for “Ladies Room”), but really, her story is not funny at all; it is chilling to someone who has experienced the liberal arts. The practice of the liberal arts, especially literature, involves comparison, contrast, allusion, resonance, recognition of irony, suggestion, implication—all the artistic architectonics of meaning and sensation that arouse in us what it is to be human. Julia is only a cartoon but what is so unfunny and repellent about her is that she represents what her creators think about human beings.

                This is why selling the Julia concept frightens me. She doesn’t yearn to be free, like a human; she yearns to be kept. Julia embraces the piano key life that the president offers, and like W. H. Auden’s Unknown Citizen, she will act and behave predictably, she will choose and think correctly.

                But in literature (and life) we recoil from those who trade freedom for safety nets and soft landings. The great anti-utopian novelists warned us over and over what happens when we make that bargain: George Orwell’s Winston Smith, Aldous Huxley’s John Savage, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s D-503 would rather suffer or die than join the Party, take the soma, or blend into the One State.

                So what I find most chilling about the Julia ad concept is its creators’ cynical view of Americans, particularly women. And what if her creators are right? As Michael Walsh writes, “It’s tough to accept that perhaps a majority of our fellow Americans would cheerfully trade liberty for a false sense of security.” That is, how many workforce-ready but literature-free voters see The Life of Julia and find her flat, subsidized, feckless life desirable? With the liberal arts in decline, how many “miss the connection?” One must have been exposed to Orwell, Huxley, and Zamyatin in order to see their relationship to Julia and hear the warning.

                A perennial question that divides the political left and right is this: what sort of beings are we? Do we have an immutable, perhaps transcendent, nature that will surrender everything utopia for autonomy, agency, and freedom (Elvis)? Or is there no inherent nature, and humans are just socially constructed, plastic, seeking nothing but safety and a reliable sense of well-being (Julia)?

                Political Science, Psychology, and Anthropology cannot answer that question, and the sciences can only measure what is measurable. The liberal arts and humanities, however, insist that we are like Elvis, and that those who trade liberty for comfort always live to regret it.”—David Clemens


              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to b-psycho says:

                A capital idea, Lib60. I’ll have it up in Off the Cuff shortly, then have at it.Report

              • Scott Fields in reply to b-psycho says:

                If neither of the choices that gets any traction reflect you, and in fact they spend the majority of their time stomping your interests to pieces, what reason do you have to support either?

                b-psycho –

                I earnestly want to understand this position, so please accept this is an honest question: What reason do you have to support neither party?

                You say you are giving up so much for what you don’t know, but what is it you are giving up? Even if one party aligns with your interests only 2% more than the other, doesn’t it make sense to vote to garner that 2% improvement rather than withhold your support from both of them? Is it principles over practicality?

                Though I think Liberty60’s “moral corruption” framing is overblown, I just do not understand the “pox on both their houses” position. Is being able to say “Don’t blame me; I hate them both.” worth forgoing a stake in even a modest differential?Report

              • b-psycho in reply to b-psycho says:

                To Scott Fields above:

                I earnestly want to understand this position, so please accept this is an honest question: What reason do you have to support neither party?

                On playing Policeman-of-the-world, on the drug war, on self-serving cronyism, the nigh-unquestionable status of high finance with its symbiotic relationship with the state, and the surveillance state, for the most part both major parties agree — and in my view that makes them both on the wrong side.

                The LP comes closer, but they have a huge blind spot when it comes to labor, and would more than likely balk at anyone asking like Karl Hess did in his time what was to be done in a free society with the leftover ostensibly “private” entities that actually owed their status to government collusion.Report

              • Scott Fields in reply to b-psycho says:

                b-psycho –

                Thanks for the response. I completely understand the reasons for finding both of the parties on the wrong side of the issues. Believe me – I’m with you on your entire list above.

                But I am asking a different question: Unless both of the two major parties are exactly equally wrong on all these issues, there should be one that is at least nominally more in line with your views than the other. Faced with the choices of voting for the one of the two major parties that is in your view incrementally better or a third party that does not have enough political clout to win the election or staying at home, why is the first choice still not better than the other two, if you ever want to see movement toward your positions?Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to b-psycho says:

                Humphrey vs. Nixon. IIRC, I actually left the voting booth and then turned and went back in and voted against Nixon.

                It was at least a small consolation later to remind myself that my vote slightly reduced the odds of his doing to the country what he did. I’ve never hesitated to vote since if I see the possibility of someone I really dislike gaining office.Report

              • b-psycho in reply to b-psycho says:

                Scott: Well, I’m pro-choice, so that would technically give the Dems a slight advantage in the decision you describe. But a vote is 1 or 0, all or nothing. It’s not like I or anybody else can write on their ballot “if you’d pursue THIS I’d REALLY support you…”.Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to b-psycho says:


                “I’d really support you” is something that you communicate prior to voting day. Do it with your money or with your energy.

                On voting day you force the 0/1 decision and mark a box.

                If you’re looking for an alternative party that better fits your need, look for that at the local level/in times when the worst of the major options won’t harm you.

                The rise of alternative parties/movements does change the behavior of the majors. Look at what has happened to the Republican party because of the Tea Party. Look at what the youth movement of the 1960s did to the Democrats.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to b-psycho says:

                Scott F.,

                Faced with the choices of voting for the one of the two major parties that is in your view incrementally better or a third party that does not have enough political clout to win the election or staying at home, why is the first choice still not better than the other two, if you ever want to see movement toward your positions?

                If I vote for major party X, I send the message that I approve (to the extent my single vote sends any noticeable signal). If I vote for them given their current positions, what incentive do they have to move toward my position?

                If I vote for minor party Y, that’s one less vote for major party X, so the extent my single vote sends any noticeable signal, that signal is that X needs to move toward my position.

                A book I frequently recommend is Albert Hirschmann’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. He discusses the role that voice and exit play in trying to change the direction of an organization. Both have their place, but if voice does not work, all that’s left is exit. Of course frequently the most effective is to exercise both–exit the organization and tell them why. Voting for minor party Y is simply exercising exit from major party X, and since it does not limit the voter’s voice, we can assume the voter continues to exercise just as much voice, so that exit serves to amplify it (turning complaints from cheap talk into real action).Report

              • Kazzy in reply to b-psycho says:

                “If I vote for major party X, I send the message that I approve (to the extent my single vote sends any noticeable signal). If I vote for them given their current positions, what incentive do they have to move toward my position?

                If I vote for minor party Y, that’s one less vote for major party X, so the extent my single vote sends any noticeable signal, that signal is that X needs to move toward my position.”

                Goddamn you, Hanley! And going a step farther, Major Party X is much more willing to consider the needs and interests of Minor Party Y the larger it gets, especially if its size trumps the common gap between the major parties.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to b-psycho says:

                Major Party X is much more willing to consider the needs and interests of Minor Party Y the larger it gets,

                “it” referring back to Minor Party Y, correct?Report

              • b-psycho in reply to b-psycho says:

                Bob, do you & Scott remember when there was talk during the Bush years of the “libertarian democrat” (Kos tried to glom onto that without really furthering it)? Obviously it later turned out to be the typical demonstration of how the party out of power talks about the party in power, but at the time me & a few other people were actually running a group blog (freedomdemocrats.org) aimed at refining that idea. Basically the definition we attempted to offer then was taking left-libertarian principles and trying to fit them into a somewhat less radical package.

                The project fell apart & the site crashed, each of us going our separate ways bloggingwise, though I keep in touch.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to b-psycho says:

                Yes. “It” refers to Minor Party Y.

                If Major Parties X and Z both have membership rates that fluctuate between 900 and 1000, a Minor Party Y of 5 folks isn’t really much to consider. Get to 50 and maybe you make some noise. Breach 100 and you are a force to be reckoned with.

                I never really thought of third party voting this way. I tended to see it as a “wasted” vote.

                With this in mind, what do you make of the Nader impact in 2000? It seems as if he was simply chased away by the Dems who blamed him for Gore’s loss. Were any attempts to reach across that aisle after the fact, outside of simply shaming his supporters?Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to b-psycho says:

                I don’t specifically recall that “label”, but I’ve been in and around multiple discussions about how “none of the parties fit me”. And I understand that feeling.

                There’s nothing in the discussion about only two political parties, but at least for the next few years we’re stuck with that reality. It makes some sense to have more of a multi-party system like other countries in which the highest vote getting party then has the opportunity to recruit other parties to form a majority. But we won’t have that in the near future, if ever.

                So the issue, IMO, is how to pull the “least objectionable” party more in your personal direction. Again, I’ll hold that Big Voting Day is not the day you risk letting the other guys take over. (And I really don’t buy into the idea that we can improve things by letting them get worst.)

                Go to the store and they’ve got only two sized pants. Gotta buy the pair that doesn’t fit you as badly as the other size.

                Then you start working on the store manager to increase their stock selections.Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to b-psycho says:

                Kazzy – I have voted for the Green Party knowing that their candidate had no chance of winning. But I did that only when the Democratic candidate was very safely in the lead.

                (Haven’t done that since the Greens ran Nader. I don’t think it likely Nader put George W in office, but I’m outraged that they took that risk.)Report

              • James Hanley in reply to b-psycho says:


                Re: 2000. One loss is an anecdote, an oddity to be explained away. Only with multiple losses does there become a trend worth paying close attention to.

                Of course in the case of the Greens, there may not be enough votes there to offset the votes the Dems would lose by shifting away from the middle; so the Greens may be able to threaten the Dems with losses if they don’t shift without being able to offer them the potential for wins if they do shift. That’s an empirical matter, though, and while I suspect it’s true, I could certainly be dead wrong.Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to b-psycho says:

                We’ve seen the Republican Party threatened by further right parties before. In fact, it looked for a while as if the Tea Party might run its own slate of candidates and hurt the Republicans.

                What happened (so far) is to pull the Republican Party further rightward. Prior to the general election.Report

          • Murali in reply to James Hanley says:

            Actually, it is every 2 would be obama voters who stay at home is as good as 1 independent who switches. Each Obama voter who stays at home reduces the difference in final votes (O’s votes – R’s Votes) by 1. Each independent voter who switches from team blue to red reduces the difference by 2. Staying home reduces the number of Obama votes by one while not changing the number of Romney votes. Switching over reduces the number of Obama votes and increase the number of Romney votes at the same time. So, the effect is doubled.Report

            • MikeSchilling in reply to Murali says:

              What would someone from Singapore know about democracy?

              (Just going with the whole ad hominem thing from the AGW thread. You are, as usual, entirely correct.)Report

            • James Hanley in reply to Murali says:

              Well, yes, Murali. I almost wrote it that way, then went for simplicity. And then I get called on it. Oh well.Report

              • Murali in reply to James Hanley says:

                I wanted to preface the comment with “not to be pedantic”, but then I realised that the comment was pure pedantry. But is it me or does it always seem to be the case that everytime someone prefaces their comment with “not to be X” what follows is pure X?Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Murali says:

                Yes, always. But your pedantry is, of course, correct, and I’m not unhappy that you made the correction.

                (In my original comment I almost put in an analogy to basketball; the difference between a team causing the offensive team to run out the shot clock vs. stealing the ball and getting a layup.)Report

      • Liberty60 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        “But the Obama White House IS a hotbed of crony capitalism”

        FWIW, I don’t (entirely) disagree with that charge. There IS merit in the notion that the Dems have used the rhetoric of social action to reward a favored few.

        Of course, trying to use Mitt RMoney as the banner carrier for working class populism isn’t a winning hand.Report

        • Bob Wallace in reply to Liberty60 says:

          “But the Obama White House IS a hotbed of crony capitalism”

          What are the confirmed facts behind this charge?

          Yes, Obama saved GM, Chrysler and most likely Ford along with many of their suppliers and dealers. But that wasn’t from prior friendship as far as I know. Might those companies be grateful and responding now? Sure.

          Which corporations have gotten sweetheart deals like we saw with Bechtel back in the Bush days?Report

          • Liberty60 in reply to Bob Wallace says:

            The revolving door between Wall Street and Treasury is still spinning. The pathway from government staffer to lobbyist hasn’t been altered or blocked.

            Keep in mind- there isn’t anything unique about the Obama administration in this regard. And I do agree he has been better than a McCain/ Bush III administration would have been, and is a hell of a lot better than a Romney admin.

            Pelting Obama with the charge of “crony capitalism” is fine by me. It can only drive the voting populace leftward.Report

            • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Liberty60 says:

              Dems are bad, Reps are worse. Check.Report

            • Bob Wallace in reply to Liberty60 says:

              I’d rate you partially correct on the claim “The pathway from government staffer to lobbyist hasn’t been altered or blocked.”

              I’ll give you ‘not blocked’ but not ‘not altered’. Here’s what I’m basing that on…


              Now, I’m not so naive to believe that every person running for office is going to meet every single promise made. Sometimes it turns out impossible to do so as with the closing of Gitmo. That promise couldn’t be kept because Congress prevented PBO from following through.

              (I suppose one could argue that he could have issued a presidential pardon to every prisoner in Gitmo and put them on a plane home. But that would be a stretch, would it not? ;o)

              Pelting PBO with crony capitalism. When I hear that I think about stuff like Harding Administration. Friends of Cheney. But if it floats your boat….Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to Bob Wallace says:

                Note Tom’s reply above.
                After the Right raises the “Crony Capitalism” shtick, where do they go with it?

                But now that phrase, last uttered by Noam Chomsky, is on the lips of every blue collar worker who listens to Fox News.

                They are on foreign territory here. They don’t speak the language and don’t know their way around. What are they going to do next, start talking about surplus value of labor and worker exploitation?

                Chris Hayes makes a good point that under the layer of ethnic tribalism of the Tea Party is genuine class resentment that could easily turn leftward.Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to Liberty60 says:

                If we could give the ‘working right’ a pill that cured racism and homophobia most would turn Democratic.

                Many of them vote against their own self interests for the reasons above.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Bob Wallace says:

                What’s the matter with Kansas, anyway?Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to Bob Wallace says:

                The New Deal Coalition wasn’t any less racist than the Tea Party. Which is to say, they were painfully racist.
                But white Southern racists and the black people they persecuted both voted Democrat, joined together by their hatred for the banks.

                I don’t think many people have grasped yet the depth of anger, anxiety, and complete disenfranchisement with the current political class as I am hearing now in the groups I am active in. Not from the usual suspects, but from middle class Orange County types who drive Lexuses.
                Rush capitalizes on it- the guys who listen to him know damn well they are one layoff away from living in their pickup truck.

                But once these fires get stoked, how will the GOP satisfy them? Since the 2010 elections, the GOP has spent the last 2 years squandering their opportunity with the comfort food of abortion politics and circuses instead of fixing the economy and claiming credit.

                Where are the people running around promising prosperity if Romney is elected? Who really thinks his economic plan will restore the middle class to prosperity? Even the RedState cultists won’t make that claim.

                The old culture war wedges of gays and race are played out. But the anger at the banks is still white hot and every layoff and foreclosure adds more fuel.Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to Liberty60 says:

                Do you think those people will buy the trickle down idea one more time? Or have they figured out that making the rich richer is not helping them?

                Is Rush not sticking with the Reagan doctrine? Or is he starting to teach his followers to hate people like himself?

                A long time ago I used to listen to Rush when I went to lunch. Back then he was talking a pro-ordinary Joe, anti-rich guy line. He was fine with taxing the rich. And then he got his first big contract and over a 2-3 day period did the most amazing morphing to a trickle down advocate. It was a wonder to withhold, listening to him one day praising his callers who wanted more taxes on the rich to punishing the same ideas a couple of days later.

                It was an amazing Mitt-flop.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Liberty60 says:

                Among other things, they are unlikely to vote on the same side as people who they perceive as holding them in contempt.

                There’s a lot of indifference to the Republicans out here. The alternative, though, is Democrats. So they will vote for Republicans.Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to Liberty60 says:

                Thats what I keep telling my newfound friends on the liberal side, Will.
                The American Left failed (IMO) because it never made friends with the proletariat it claimed to represent.

                The Rockefeller Republicans formed a highly successful coalition with the blue collar folks they held in contempt, so we know it can be done.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Liberty60 says:

                they are unlikely to vote on the same side as people who they perceive as holding them in contempt.

                WillT, honest question here. You said that those folks “perceive” that Dems hold them in contempt. How much of that is factual – that all Dems, or a majority of them, or the fringe actually do hold them in contempt, and how much of it is grievance-based motivation entirely constructed by the political machinery which informs conservative beliefs?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Liberty60 says:

                Or, another way to ask that question is this: how much of that “perception of contempt” derives from conservatives going on the attack against liberals for the “sin” of holding liberal beliefs, which causes liberals to respond derisively allowing conservatives to calin that liberals hold them in contempt? (Again, honest question.)Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to Liberty60 says:

                This is a good sign:

                “This is a bunch of people that don’t count,” Limbaugh said, according to a transcript. “This is a bunch of people with miserable, meaningless lives who are lying to themselves; trying to tell themselves that they matter.”Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Liberty60 says:

                Stillwater, it’s difficult – if not impossible – to tell where one thing ends and the next begins. The GOP is exploiting the divide, but it didn’t really create it. The Democratic Party is actually doing what it can, for the most part. So you get two Democratic senators from Montana, two of four in the Dakotas, a Democratic congressman in Utah (and one in Idaho, briefly), and so on. People who can speak the language and understand.

                That’s harder to do nationally, in part because of the cultural divide. Not even just the partisan issues with which we are all acquainted. Even if the administration does everything it can to scramble to allow wolf hunting in cooperative states, it’s still his compatriots who are going to court to prevent it. It’s not just the traditionally and contentiously partisan issues. It’s gray wolves, the FMCSA proposal, family farm labor regs, “navigatable waters”, and so on. These issues don’t just sting those affected, but at the local identity.

                It’s part policy disagreement, part identity, part lifestyle, part a lot of things. The sense, partly real and partly imagined, of simply being disregarded.

                Expand on that a bit and you get to common perceptions that go beyond specific disagreements. Disapproving of Mormons’ views on gay marriage gets turned into disapproving of Mormons more generally. When Salt Lake prohibits anti-gay discrimination, waving it away because they’re still against gay marriage. Mocking comments about believers of incredulous religious things… rarely from Democratic politicians, but still from the people who support them. These things matter, in the aggregate.

                (Not that this is at all unilateral! I’m just talking about a single direction here.)Report

          • TPM will give you better talking points in a few days, Bob. Let’s wait and not spoil all the fun.Report

            • Bob Wallace in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Good news Tom. We don’t have to wait.

              The Washington Post has taken care of the drought.

              “The Obama campaign’s aggressive attacks show signs of working. Polls indicate that Romney’s business experience was widely seen as a positive attribute early this year, but has taken a hit in swing states since attacks hit the airwaves. A June NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Romney’s business record drawing especially negative views in a broader swath of swing states, with 33 percent saying they feel “more negative” vs. 18 percent “more positive” toward Romney given what they’ve heard about his work “buying, restructuring and selling companies.” Nationally, the split was 23 percent positive to 28 negative on Romney’s work.

              Bain Capital has definitely gained some traction as a campaign issue in the last week. ABC’s Emily Friedman points out that “Bain Capital” was one of the top ten Google searches Monday morning, and a Google chart tracking search traffic for Bain Capital over the last 30 days shows that interest has increased dramatically since last week. Six of the 10 top states where interest in Bain stories is highest are swing states, The Atlantic points out.”


              • You don’t think an Obama supporter would tell a pollster, yes, this made me hate Romney? That’s a duh.

                Think for yrself, man. This blog isn’t about repeating talking points you read somewhere else.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                “This blog isn’t about repeating talking points you read somewhere else.”


              • Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

                Repeating other bloggers’ talking points is almost as bad as repeating a candidate’s talking points, e.g. the Rice “leak”, where, as Daniel Larison writes:

                If anything, the absurdity of promoting the idea of Rice as a serious VP candidate was an invitation to pay more attention to Bain and Romney’s tax returns. The attempt at misdirection was so blatant that it was almost insulting. Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Is there a mistake in your quote?

                Seems like it more probable that the Rice VP was a bright, shiny object thrown in an attempt to distract from Bain. Seems like it should say “pay Less attention to Bain”.

                Or perhaps it’s the morning coffee I haven’t yet had….Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                It’s like when a four-year-old says, out of the blue “I didn’t punch Johnny at school today.” What do you think happened?Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Yep, that’s a duh. A true-blue Obama supporter is likely to express more distaste for Romney.

                And the team-loyal right winger will grit her teeth and lie that it made her love Romney even more.

                This stuff cuts both ways. The tell is what happens to poll numbers over the next few days. Should give us an idea how the independents are taking it.

                Let’s set some markers. Right now Romney is polling:
                45.3% Unfavorable

                41.6% Favorable

                And just in case you suspect this attack on Romney may hurt Obama:
                47.9% Favorable

                46.0% UnfavorableReport

              • I have no idea what poll that is. Right now, I’d rather read the entrails of an owl.

                The fight is barely in the second round and if you think I’m going to keep responding to your hourly regurgitations of Talking Points Memo, you haven’t been listening.

                This ain’t that kind of blog. There are a couple miscreants from either side who can’t utter a word unless it’s partisan posturing, but no votes are going to be changed here, and it’s still more than 3 months to Election Day, fer shitssakes.

                So if you want to hang with the adults, pull up a chair, dial it back from 11 a bit, read more, write less, and pick your spots, preferably with something interesting and/or original. You seem a smart and charming fellow when the occasion calls for it, call for it this does.

                Cheers, mate, and welcome.Report

              • Bob Wallace in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Well, I yield to my betters….

                (Walking backwards with a slight bow, while tugging his forelock….)Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                “There are a couple miscreants from either side who can’t utter a word unless it’s partisan posturing…”


              • Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Best TVD comment ever.Report

            • Bob Wallace in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Oh, and this might give you a chuckle…


  28. Bob Wallace says:

    TPM, just out:

    “President Obama conceded that Mitt Romney’s tax plan would create 800,000 new jobs at a downhill in Cincinnati on Monday, but added a twist: The jobs would be overseas.

    “I’ve got to be honest, today we found out there’s a new study out by nonpartisan economists that says Gov. Romney’s economic plan would, in fact, create 800,000 jobs,” Obama said. “There’s only one problem. The jobs wouldn’t be in America.” ”

    This is pretty brutal stuff for July. Can you imagine what must be in the ammo lockers for later in the season?


    Mitt Romney the presumed Republican candidate. He’s not even cleared that hurdle.Report

  29. Bob Wallace says:

    Romney pitches. Gets smacked by the hit.

    “Mitt Romney’s campaign kicked off a new effort on Monday accusing President Obama of engaging in “crony capitalism” that rewards people who donated to his campaign. But when asked to name one single policy reform Romney would implement that would prevent such corruption, a top surrogate demurred.

    “I don’t think you can do this with one overarching rule,” Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) told TPM on a conference call organized by the Romney campaign. “It hasn’t worked with prior administrations. You really need to elect someone who is committed to weeding it out and not making political bundling the top requirement for a job application.”

    Cuccinelli repeatedly attacked Obama for appointing “bundlers,” or top campaign fundraisers, to his administration, but offered no assurance at all that Romney would institute a policy restricting their appointments. Even if Romney did insist on keeping bundlers out of his administration, it would be impossible to tell. Romney, unlike Obama, John McCain and President George W. Bush, won’t release a list of his bundlers, according to campaign finance advocates”


  30. Scott says:

    Funny now Barry is telling everyone that, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” I wonder if that includes Romney and Bain? I thought Bain was only Romney’s fault?


  31. M.A. says:

    “”The only person who has seen Romney’s taxes is John McCain and he took one look and picked Sarah Palin.”Report

  32. Scott Fields says:

    Continuing a well-indented discussion further up thread…

    Thank you, James, Bob, Kazzy and b. I appreciate the thoughtful responses. I better understand the choices being made. I’ll have to check out Hirschmann’s book, because I think that is really does come down to voice and exit (loyalty being off the table if you feel both parties are wrong) and which option you personally feels carries the most weight at a given election.

    I’m also confident that, as Bob suggests, the option you choose would depend a great deal on how much space you seen between the major parties and risk you see in one governing over the other.

    b-psycho – yes, I remember the liberaltarian project and I’m much in favor of it.Report

  33. damon says:

    Question I didn’t get a chance to ask my old man while visiting him.

    Since my Dad isn’t voting for Obama this year, and he only has one other choice, he’s still under the illusion that voting matters, why would anyone care about Bain if they don’t want BOB re-elected?Report