Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 31, 2012
From time to time I receive campaign mail which seems to assume that I am a Republican. I’ve sometimes attributed that to my address, which has been in Republican districts. However, it must be more than that; now I am "one of America’s most notable Republicans." I know that because a letter from Mitt Romney tells me so. Now, one of us is confused, and I think I can say without much chance of error that it’s Mitt.
Mitt tells me in this letter that he’s running for President. I suppose there are people unaware of that, despite his years-long campaign, but would a notable Republican not know? Never mind; Mitt also wants to tell me why he’s running. Here it is: "I believe in America." As a reason for wanting to be POTUS, that’s a little vague, but there’s more: "I am sick and tired of BIG GOVERNMENT." Mitt isn’t sick of run-of-the-mill big government; he’s sick of the capitalized form, so maybe ordinary big government would survive: you know, like a massive military. Mitt is running "to bring true and lasting fiscal discipline to Washington." Fiscal discipline would seem to preclude cutting taxes and spending more on the military, but perhaps "true" discipline somehow gets around that.
The bottom line is that Mitt wants me to join "Romney Victory" a group "100% committed to defeating President Obama . . . ." That does seem to be the entire platform.
Mitt advises me that the "first $5,000" of my donation will go directly to Romney for President, and that the maximum contribution is $75,800, which is useful information because, as a notable Republican, I might have been tempted to give more. If I pony up $5,000, I will be offered exclusive updates and will be connected to a dedicated Romney Victory staff member who will stand ready to assist me with up-to-the-minute election information. I wonder if that would include explaining what, after all the flip-flops, Mitt really stands for, if anything.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October 2, 2012
The Seattle Times, in its house editorial on Sunday, came out for Barack Obama and summed up the election rather well. It isn’t enthusiastic about Obama and its opinion on some issues would seem to line up with the affluent, so the fact that it supports the President for reelection is a dire prediction for the Romney candidacy.
It led with this: "In 2008, Barack Obama was The Seattle Times’ choice for president. Four years later, we endorse him again, with less enthusiasm. But he is a better choice than Mitt Romney, and could still go down in history as a good president." Faint but apt praise and the only sensible conclusion. Here are the details, using the Times’ categories:
Foreign affairs. The Times thinks that Obama has been too slow in getting out of Afghanistan, certainly a reasonable argument. However, it praises his restraint regarding Iran and the uprisings in Libya and Syria. "On these matters, Republican nominee Mitt Romney is at his worst, parading his eagerness to use force. Romney has no experience in foreign affairs, and it shows." It does indeed, but Romney supporters apparently want him to go after Obama on foreign policy, a ploy which would require some nerve after Romney’s embarrassing trip abroad and the reaction to his grandstanding about the assault on the embassy in Bengazi.
Monday’s Washington Post web page included links to two blogs by Romney fan Jennifer Rubin. (I don’t understand why the Post gives her any space, let alone the multiple links she often enjoys, but that’s another matter). She wants Romney to be more assertive, criticizing his recent Wall Street Journal foreign policy op-ed as too general. According to Ms. Rubin, "we are in an urgent situation in which the president refuses to see the flames lapping around us." She wants to intervene in Syria and join Israel in threatening Iran. As to the latter, "a forceful set of policies" would "make a military threat credible by obtaining authorization from Congress for use of force . . . ." The last time we did that it certainly worked out well.
Trade. The Times worried that Obama would propose dumping NAFTA; he didn’t, so all is well, at least as the editors see it. "Now it is Romney who rashly promises to pick a trade fight with China."
Spending and debt. "What’s needed here is steady, long-term reduction in the nation’s debt. Obama hasn’t done it, and it may be his greatest failure." No, on the economy his error was in proposing too small a stimulus and then letting deficit worries prevent further efforts. "Romney promises to rein in entitlement spending, but to protect military spending." The editors didn’t comment on that; certainly it would be the wrong policy.
The financial system. "Obama should have pushed for a separation of investment banking from commercial banking in a new version of the Glass-Steagall Act, which safeguarded the financial system from 1933 to 1999. He should have broken up the top four or five big banks, ending ‘too big to fail,’ and he should have moved more aggressively to make complex securities transparent . . . . Romney will not do these things, but Obama still could." All true.
The Main Street economy. "Romney knows leveraged buyouts, but he has little understanding of the needs of employers on Main Street America." More to the point, he has even less understanding of the needs of non-employers. "Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on the $250,000 bracket, and to set the death-tax rate at 45 percent, shows that he also is out of touch." Out of touch with the Blethen agenda, they mean: low taxes protect the inheritance of the Blethen family. "He promised an active antitrust policy but mostly has not delivered. Romney would probably not, either." That apparently refers to the next topic, also a Blethen priority.
Media control. "In 2008, Obama promised to use the Federal Communications Commission to block the consolidation of the news media into a handful of giant corporations that threaten the functioning of our democracy. He has not done it. Romney is not going to do it — but Obama still could." The Times has opposed cross-ownership of media for years, partly out of principle but, at least prior to the demise of the P-I, out of concern for survival.
Education. "Obama deserves credit for defending charter schools and other education reforms within the Democratic Party." I’m not convinced that charter schools are a good idea, and the second point sounds like union-bashing.
Health care. "During a year of economic crisis, when that should have been his focus, Obama instead spent his political capital on the Affordable Care Act — “Obamacare” — and did it on a party-line vote. It has little cost control in it. It need not be repealed, but it will have to be fixed." If Obama truly had focused on spurring the economy, the Times would not have liked it, as it would have meant more spending and a larger deficit. The health care act has more cost control than usually acknowledged; Obama has received hypocritical criticism rather than praise for the 716 billion lopped off provider payments.
Romney doesn’t even appear under this topic and the previous one nor, strangely, under the next.

Partisanship. "Obama promised to bring a less partisan style, but he has been aloof, with few friendships across the aisle. If in the past two years, the House Republicans have cooperated little with him, he has also cooperated little with them." That is an absurd, if not unique, conclusion.
"Bottom line: Obama’s presidency has been disappointing, but he still has promise. Romney would be too much of a gamble." The Obama term has been disappointing but, for many of us, in different ways than the editorial states. Evaluating Romney as a gamble is generous.

Update: a third Rubin link appeared on the Post’s main page around 2:30 PDT, in which she reassured the faithful that the polls don’t really show an Obama lead.
Posts © 2011-2012 by Gerald G. Day