Posts Tagged ‘Mitt Romney’

Last night was the “foreign policy” presidential debate, which takes place in a magical fairyland with no connection to the real world.

The President’s signature foreign policy — drone strikes and targeted killing — received a brief mention and total agreement from Mitt Romney.

Both Obama and Romney “talked tough” on China, but failed to mention that a currency war with China would mean 20% inflation. But let’s ignore that, why not?

Both Obama and Romney said that they would stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons using diplomacy, but failed to mention what concessions the United States might make. After all, in negotiations, if one side gives something up, the other side has to give something up.

As bad as Romney was, Obama was almost as bad — dodging every question of substance (Iraq/Afghanistan draw-down, military funding, Syria, Libya) and pivoting to areas of strength.

Obama has always prided himself on treating the American people like adults. In the case of foreign policy, unfortunately, there is nothing but demagoguery, jingoism, and rah-rah over-the-top patriotism.

Is there any hope for the foreign policy debate? Goofy though they are, at least the domestic policy debates give some notion of the kind of economic policy the candidates espouse. The foreign policy debates are simply untethered from reality.

One solution might be the questions asked. Schieffer did all right, but consider what was not discussed. Our allies? Forget them. Free trade agreements? Never heard of ’em. Latin America? One platitude by Romney. India? Nonexistent. Japan? Only mentioned in a question about Israel. Although geopolitical hotspots are of great importance to us, America’s success in the next century will have more to do with our allies than our perceived enemies. Instead of just asking questions about how best to warmonger, we should be considering America’s full foreign policy when asking who will lead us.

Foreign policy wonks seem to believe that the American polity simply can’t handle nuanced foreign policy discussions, but that strikes me as massively cynical. The only way to combat this is with genuine engagement with the issues by public figures, like, say, presidential candidates. Otherwise, we may as well just give the presidency to the guy who waves the flag the hardest.

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Here it is:

This ad impressed me. Not because it hits Romney hard (though it does), but because of the sound editing. Listen to it again, and make sure to note the images that appear as the sound changes. The editing manages to evoke empty warehouses, open spaces, an office intercom, and a voice from very far away. An interesting discussion of how this is done, including reverberation and high-pass filtering, can be found here.

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Well that was fast. A week ago, Romney appointed openly gay national security spokesman Rick Grenell who had all the right conservative bona fides. It “signal[ed] a new attitude” towards gays in the Republican party. At least until it didn’t:

I have decided to resign from the Romney campaign as the Foreign Policy and National Security Spokesman. While I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world stage, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign.

As with other minorities, Republican outreach continues to be stifled by the bigotry that the party has stoked and exploited for years. A perfect attack dog, earnest in his hatred of Barack Obama’s foreign policy, Grenell should have been the right man for the job, but it was too much to ask for the Republican activist base.

Why can’t Marco Rubio get traction on his watered-down DREAM Act? Why did Colin Powell endorse Obama instead of his friend John McCain? Why do Latinos continue to leave the party in droves?

The Republican party has encouraged and condoned bigotry in order to create its current electoral coalition. Eventually, it will pay the price in human capital and long-term electoral success.

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I am generally of the opinion that big money will not matter that much in determining the winners in American presidential politics. Because each party wins about half the time, we would expect rational people (and corporations, although I guess they are now people too) to support both parties; higher spending overall will not necessarily mean higher spending by one party relative to the other. Plus, because presidential politics rely on so many macro issues, and the candidates become very well known by the time the election comes around, the benefits of the extra marginal dollar become quite small.

And yet, I can’t ignore Mitt Romney’s ad blitz in Florida and its effectiveness. After reading the piece in the NYTimes this weekend following Romney’s campaign, you would think that the reason Romney is doing better in Florida is because his campaign told him to “unleash” his aggressive side and start attacking Gingrich. But actually, it just means he outspent Gingrich 5:1. We can look at isolated examples where the bigger money candidate lost (Boxer in CA, Kerry in 2004). But the asymmetry of the Florida election suggests that the age of superspending is just beginning and it will have consequences. It also suggests that because the Establishment can’t rally around a candidate in the way they used to (for fear of incurring Tea Party wrath), their circling of the wagons will just involve tens of millions of dollars.

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OK, this will not be a full-throated defense. Instead, it’s more of a complication of the narrative being pushed by both Democrats and Romney’s Republican rivals. I hate to say that I’m agreeing with Michael Steele here, but I do agree that our moral qualms with Bain Capital and its business may end up implicating a lot of capitalism as a whole. (Unlike Steele, I don’t think this is entirely a bad thing, but let’s start here.)

Bain Capital, Romney’s company, has the M.O. of a lot of private equity firms: they invest in a variety of companies, lay off workers, slim down unprofitable assets, and groom them to be resold.

As with a lot of companies, if they can make more money elsewhere, they will. Capitalism is about making profits for individual companies, and we should expect companies to lay off workers if that makes the more profitable. Industries shift and costs fall elsewhere; that’s just the cost of capitalism. Each entity, acting in its own self-interest, makes decisions that impact the broader web of goods and services. Bain wasn’t playing the system, manipulating currency markets, or performing rent-seeking behaviors per se. Instead, it was just doing what one expects firms to do.

If we don’t like it, we can try to ameliorate these decisions: better education systems, better unemployment benefits, better job retraining, more government jobs to which to shuttle some of these excess workers, etc. We may also build a system that makes companies contribute more to the costs of terminating workers. But the core problem itself — that private equity firms buy up (often failing) businesses, lay off a bunch of workers, and make a profit off of it — is a core problem of capitalism, not just of Mitt Romney.

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Yeah, it’s been a while. Here’s the latest from Linus and me, as we discuss the current ups and downs of the Republican primary.

We discuss:

  • Newt-mentum and its sustainability
  • The anti-Mitt Republican bubble
  • Mitt Romney’s problems — health care or Mormonism?
  • A dark horse entering the race late in the game?
  • A chance for The Honorable Dr. Ronald Paul, M.D.?
  • What are Obama’s odds?

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Kos, the namesake of Daily Kos, makes a case for why Michelle Bachmann will be the GOP candidate for President. It is an intriguing argument. I agree with him that the only real contenders right now are her, Pawlenty, and Romney. Santorum is a wanna-be without the name recognition, polling, or cash to compete. Ron Paul has (as always) no chance. Jon Huntsman is like the Wesley Clark candidacy of 2004 (great on paper to moderates but unlikely to catch fire). Newt Gingrich is a terrible person who will never get women to vote for him. I’m also assuming that the grifter from Wasilla will prefer to make boatloads of cash in favor of doing the hard work that campaigning requires, and that an outsider like Rick Perry won’t get in and shake things up, though that certainly could happen.

Thus, I agree with Kos that one of those three – Bachmann, T-Paw, and Mittens – will win the primary. However, I’m hesitant to agree that she will get it, for the same reason that John McCain beat Mike Huckabee in 2008. Around the Iowa caucus, and especially right after, a lot of people were high on the Huckster’s chances. I remember I was. He played so strongly among the religious and socially conservative, and I thought those voters would control the primaries. But in modern presidential politics, the GOP tends to reward the insider who waited his turn time and time again (most notably McCain in 2008 and Dole in 1996). And so if I had to choose right now, I’d guess that Romney will win.

That being said, the biggest factor Kos’ argument has going for it is if ideological purity is king and electability is less a factor these days. After all, if the GOP voters of Delaware chose Christine O’Donnell over Mike Castle, then maybe all bets truly are off.

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