Frum Tells It Like It Is
Romney? Not So Much
Published on November 23, 2011


SEND THIS LINK TO EVERY REPUBLICAN YOU KNOW

David Frum writes:

 

I’ve been a Republican all my adult life. I have worked on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, at Forbes magazine, at the Manhattan and American Enterprise Institutes, as a speechwriter in the George W. Bush administration. I believe in free markets, low taxes, reasonable regulation, and limited government.  I voted for John ­McCain in 2008, and I have strongly criticized the major policy decisions of the Obama administration. But as I contemplate my party and my movement in 2011, I see things I simply cannot support.

 

. . . This past summer, the GOP nearly forced America to the verge of default just to score a point in a budget debate. In the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Depression, Republican politicians demand massive budget cuts and shrug off the concerns of the unemployed. In the face of evidence of dwindling upward mobility and long-stagnating middle-class wages, my party’s economic ideas sometimes seem to have shrunk to just one: more tax cuts for the very highest earners. When I entered Republican politics, during an earlier period of malaise, in the late seventies and early eighties, the movement got most of the big questions—crime, inflation, the Cold War—right. This time, the party is getting the big questions disastrously wrong. . . .

 

. . . Over the past two decades, conservatism has evolved from a political philosophy into a market segment. An industry has grown up to serve that segment—and its stars have become the true thought leaders of the conservative world. The business model of the conservative media is built on two elements: provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel). As a commercial proposition, this model has worked brilliantly in the Obama era. As journalism, not so much. As a tool of political mobilization, it backfires, by inciting followers to the point at which they force leaders into confrontations where everybody loses, like the summertime showdown over the debt ceiling.

 

But the thought leaders on talk radio and Fox do more than shape opinion. Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics.  Outside this alternative reality, the United States is a country dominated by a strong Christian religiosity. Within it, Christians are a persecuted minority.  Outside the system, President Obama—whatever his policy ­errors—is a figure of imposing intellect and dignity.  Within the system, he’s a pitiful nothing, unable to speak without a teleprompter, an affirmative-action ­phony doomed to inevitable defeat. Outside the system, social scientists worry that the U.S. is hardening into one of the most rigid class societies in the Western world, in which the children of the poor have less chance of escape than in France, Germany, or even England. Inside the system, the U.S. remains (to borrow the words of Senator Marco Rubio) “the only place in the world where it doesn’t matter who your parents were or where you came from.” . . .

 

Over the past few years, I have left this alternative knowledge system behind me.  What is that experience like? A personal story may be relevant here . . .

 

☞  It’s worth the full read.  Send the link to every Republican you know.  If you want, blame me. 

 

“The conservative shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology,” Frum writes near the end of the piece, “has ominous real-world consequences for American society.”  Even though he and I would respectfully disagree on a lot of things – he really is a Republican – we sure agree on that.

 

“[I]n in the interests of avoiding false evenhandedness,” he concludes, “it must be admitted: The party . . . struggling with more self-­imposed obstacles to responsible governance, the party most in need of a course correction, is the Republican Party. Changing that party will be the fight of a political lifetime.  But a great political party is worth fighting for.”

 

And speaking of a party gone wrong . . .

 

IS LYING REALLY OKAY?

A certain Texas Governor won the presidency in 2000 in part because he lied.  He insisted that “by far the vast majority” of his proposed tax cut – which quite plainly would go mainly to the best off – would go to people “at the bottom end of the economic ladder.”  It was a multi-trillion-dollar lie.

 

Now comes a new Texas Governor running for president.

 

I have not previously written about his lie from a couple of weeks ago – namely, his campaign ad showing Obama seemingly calling Americans “lazy” when in fact the President indisputably called us nothing of the kind – because Rick Perry is obviously not going to be the Republican nominee. 

 

But now that Romney is doing the same thing, it’s worth asking: is it really okay to do this? 

 

If I’m caught on tape saying, “Hitler was not a bad man, he was the most terrible man who ever lived,” is it okay to run an ad quoting just the first part?  “Hitler was not a bad man?”

 

From the Associated Press:

 

. . . [I]t is telling that Romney uses his first ad of his second White House bid to take Obama's quotes out of context and not pitch his own record as successful businessman, the leader of 2002's Olympics or his four years as Massachusetts governor.

 

The ad is the second time in as many weeks that Romney has taken an Obama quote out of context.  In interviews last week, Romney contended that Obama said Americans were "lazy."

 

Obama was actually talking about U.S. efforts [mainly, government efforts] to lure foreign investment, not [about] Americans themselves.  But Romney didn't make that distinction and mischaracterized the president's comments at an economic summit.  Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is challenging Romney for the GOP presidential nomination, aired an ad using the same incorrect claim. . . .

 

From the Washington Post:

 

. . . Perry and Romney have ripped Obama’s remarks completely out of context, similar to Romney’s ridiculous Four-Pinocchio claim that Obama ‘apologized’ for America overseas. In both cases, the candidates are trying to feed into a subterranean narrative that Obama is not quite American, or certainly not proud to be an American. . . .

 

From Politifact:  

 

Mitt Romney ad charges Obama said, 'If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose'

 

Ruling: Pants on Fire

 

On the eve of a presidential trip to New Hampshire on Nov. 22, 2011, Mitt Romney’s campaign released an ad targeting President Barack Obama. . . .

 

The 60-second ad, called "Believe in America," is designed to contrast "candidate Obama from 2008 with President Obama of today" . . . [and] has a clip of Obama saying, "If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose."

 

The clear implication is that Obama believes that his economic record is so bad that he will lose in 2012 unless he can steer the conversation away from the economy.

 

. . . Here’s what Obama [actually] said . . .

 

"Even as we face the most serious economic crisis of our time, even as you are worried about keeping your jobs or paying your bills or staying in your homes, my opponent's campaign announced earlier this month that they want to ‘turn the page’ on the discussion about our economy so they can spend the final weeks of this election attacking me instead," Obama said in the speech. "Sen. McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose.’"

 

So the comment is drastically different than the way it's portrayed in the Romney ad. Obama was actually saying that his opponent’s campaign three years earlier had said, "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." That context is not included in the Romney ad -- and leaving it out sends a profoundly different message.

 

Our ruling: . . . ridiculously misleading . . . Pants on Fire.


From The American Prospect:

The Lying Lies of Mitt Romney

Jamelle Bouie | November 22, 2011

In New Hampshire, the former Massachusetts governor begins his television campaign with a hefty dose of dishonesty. . . .

 

From Washington Monthly

 

In October 2008, a month before the president was elected, then-candidate Obama spoke in New Hampshire and told voters, “Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.’”

 

In Romney’s new attack ad, viewers only see Obama saying, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” The obvious point is to deceive the public — Romney wants voters to think the quote reflects Obama’s current thinking, not McCain’s three years ago.

 

Romney, in other words, is choosing to mislead voters and hoping they don’t know the difference.

 

. . . [H]ow much more deception can Romney try to get away with before he develops a reputation as a candidate with an honesty problem?  Last week, an MIT economist who worked with Romney said the former governor is “just lying” about health care policy.  The same week, Romney was caught lying about the makeup of the last Congress, and also got caught lying about a quote from the president.

 

Three weeks ago, the former governor got caught lying about his tax plan, and several times over the last few months, Romney has also been caught lying about economic conditions and whether the president “apologized for America” (he didn’t).

 

Over the course of a campaign, it stands to reason a candidate who speaks all the time is going to make some mistakes. He or she will invariably also make occasional claims that aren’t supported by the facts. But it seems as if Mitt Romney, when he’s not wildly flip-flopping or avoiding taking firm positions on controversial issues, is frequently just flat-out lying. These aren’t minor slip-ups; these are examples of a candidate who looks more like a con man than a leader.

 

Romney is taking a huge risk playing this game. He’s already the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, and the political world is starting to solidify its take on his personality. The more the former governor is caught deceiving the public, the more questions about his character will be unavoidable.

 

YMI

Avik Roy, a health care analyst at Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co. (and a Forbes columnist), noted the YMI’s sharp drop, from $1.86 a few days ago to as low as $1.03 yesterday on heavy volume (closing at $1.35) and – while acknowledging that someone may know something we don’t – reiterated his analysis and his $6 target price.  Only with  money you can truly afford to lose.

HAPPY  THANKSGIVING!

As I’ve said so often in this space, almost all of us live better than the kings of England, czars of Russia, pharaohs of Egypt ever did.  We have magic carpets with seats that recline; we have jesters, bards, gladiators and orchestras on instant call (with remote control, volume control, pause, fast forward and reverse).  We have cell phones, antibiotics, zippers – Velcro, even – Google, anesthetics, and aspirin.

We have air-conditioning.

We have each other.


Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.

 



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