Archive for November, 2007
“Romney’s answer [to the ‘do you believe this book’ asked at the CNN YouTube debate] is more problematic,” writes David Brody of the Brody file in a post titled Bible Lesson, Republican Style
I’m not talking theology here. Forget the Mormon vs Evangelical question. What I’m talking about is the way Romney answered that question. He hesitated about whether the Bible was the literal word of God. He looked very uncomfortable up there during that moment. For Evangelicals, that hesitation is code for “not really”. You got the sense that, in that moment of hesitation, Romney was trying to figure out what the best political answer was going to be …
Nota: Brody’s interpretation based on observation is consonant with experts recruited by Psychology Today (August 2007) to evaluate the rhetorical styles of the 08 candidates—Romney was said to e.g. shrug, hesitate, smile defensively (masking), and in other ways communicate detachment from his own themes. In other words, Romney’s words and Romney’s gestures are often incongruent. His most impassioned appeals often evince a divided self … etc.
Back to Brody:
Look, Romney already has an image problem when it comes to flip-flopping on some issues so why not just come out and address the Mormon thing head on …
But Romney refuses to “address the Mormon thing head on”; he prefers delay and a strategy of blurring distinctions. See:
- eyeon08.com: “Is there any evidence that this poll contacted anyone in Iowa who was not a Romney staffer or supporter?”—also: Romney completes step (1) of the Romney crisis protocol, where we discuss Romney’s response to Rep. Inglis’ admonition to Romney that “You cannot equate Mormonism with Christianity; you cannot say, ‘I am a Christian just like you,’“
- how Romney botched the Mormon-Kennedy-speech issue by setting up impossible expectations, by consistently failing to identify opportunity and seize the initiative, and by allowing others to frame the debate
Back to Brody:
He could take the lead on this and be a straight shooter rather than dancing around it. It’s not like he’s fooling Evangelicals in Iowa. They know the deal. They know there is a difference. Why not just recognize the differences between the two religions and then pivot to higher ground by saying this election shouldn’t be about a religious test for office. Romney and his advisors seem so concerned about the Mormon issue, but Romney also has an authenticity issue too. Addressing the Mormon issue may kill two birds with one stone. It was an opportunity missed … etc.
Brody gets it, just as Rep. Inglis gets it. Team Romney, alas, does not. It is acceptable to be distinct; it is unacceptable to be distinct and to claim that there is no distinction.—here is how Romney himself puts it:
“ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said yesterday that he hopes to convince voters that his Mormon faith is mainstream,” writes Joseph Curl for the Washington Times in an article mis-titled Romney puts faith in Christian past.
“I think as people come to know my faith they’ll recognize that the values of my faith are — they very much flow from the Judeo-Christian tradition of this country. I believe in God, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in the equality of all humankind,” Mr. Romney said in an interview with The Washington Times … etc.
Here is the problem for Romney. Christianity is not a philosophy; it is a confession, and what you confess are creeds—e.g. The Nicene Creed, The Apostle’s Creed, The Creed of St. Athanasius—i.e. Christianity discovers its personal and even organizational basis in creedal declarations of belief, intent, and value. Even non-liturgical traditions—e.g. Pentecostals—establish their identity (their difference, their sense of uniqueness) as enumerated sets of claims. To adhere to a creed is to be distinct. And: different confessions depart from one another on the basis of their own creeds—and they cherish their distinctions, even their minor ones—especially their minor ones. And: You cannot stake out common ground until you acknowledge the differences and distinctions.
To say to an Evangelical, as does Romney, “I believe in God, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in the equality of all humankind,” is at best meaningless and at worse inconsistent to the point of being false, because as every confirmed Christian knows the terms God and Christ achieve specificity only as articulated in a line of confession that links the confessor to the witness of the apostles. What is it that you Christians say?—something like this:
… Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble …
The tradition is the terrain, Boy Romney. Learn it, or perish upon it.
P.S. We’re Orthodox Jews, BTW. But we’re also immersed in the classics. A lot of the classics are Christian.
“Romney continues to make the weirdest gaffes,” writes Anna Marie Cox for the Time-blog Swampland in a post titled Romney’s Imaginary Advisers
Yesterday, he told the Tampa Tribune that he was of the “the more, the merrier” mind when it comes to Cuban immigration,* at least, and then went further:
Romney said on matters dealing with Cuba, he depends on advice from prominent members of Florida’s Cuban American community, such as U.S. Reps. Lleana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, and Al Cardenas, a former state Republican chairman and one of Romney’s leading Hispanic supporters.
“At this stage none of them have suggested that we abandon that policy and develop a new one,” Romney said … etc.
Question: Is this a “weird gaff” or is this a simple lie? When does a lie become a gaff? Nota: Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Barlart deny that they ever advised Romney.
OTOH, it is probable that Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Barlart did advise Romney and that the two are too embarrassed to admit it. The ignominy of advising a figure like Romney can be too much for more delicate souls. Take for instance this hapless Harvard professor:
Matt C. of race42008.com argues that Romney’s remarks about Muslims and cabinet positions is “much ado about nothing … again.” Others disagree. And even after Romney’s “clarification,” they still disagree. Regard: “The author of a much-discussed op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor — which charged that former Gov. Mitt Romney said he would likely not appoint a Muslim-American to his presidential cabinet – says Romney’s explanation for the comment is a flat out lie,” writes Sam Stein in a HuffPo post titled Author Lashes Out At Romney’s Explanation Of Anti-Muslim Rant
Mansoor Ijaz, a prominent Islamic businessman, told the Huffington Post that Romney’s comments were made in reference to possible cabinet appointments and not, as the former governor has since claimed, in the context of combating Islamic extremism.
“This guy is lying now to the American people,” said Ijaz. “He probably never imagined someone would come out and write a piece the way I did. And I think he made a serious mistake in judgment in trying to disown what he said” … etc.
Romney tell a lie? You don’t say. Meanwhile, the former finance director of the Nevada Republican Party, Irma Aguirre, has gone on public record claiming that “Romney discounted appointing Muslims to his cabinet on more than just the one occasion,” as reported by Greg Sargent in a TPM | ElectionCentral post titled Exclusive: Romney Opposed Naming Muslim To Cabinet On Second Occasion, Witnesses Say
… TPM Election Central has learned that at a private fundraising lunchleon in Los Vegas three months ago, Romney said a second time he would probably not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet — and on this occasion, he made other comments that one witness described as “racist.”
The witness, Irma Aguirre, a former finance director of the Nevada Republican Party, paraphrased Romney as saying: “They’re radical. There’s no talking to them. There’s no negotiating with them.”
A second witness, a self-described local registered Republican named George Harris, confirmed her account.
The new accounts provided by the witnesses lend credence to the now-notorious account of a more recent private Romney event that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor yesterday that already caused an uproar. In that account, a Muslim businessman, Mansour Ijaz, claimed that Romney had said that based on the “numbers of American Muslims” in the country, “I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified” for a muslim … etc.
“It’s getting increasingly hard for Mitt Romney to stick to the script about his record,” writes the estimable Jennifer Rubin for the New York Observer in an article titled A Bad Fight for Mitt Romney
As he traveled through chilly New Hampshire on his post-Thanksgiving campaign tour, he found himself in a toe-to-toe fight with Rudy Giuliani about their respective records.
This is particularly dangerous territory for the Romney campaign.
In broad strokes, Mr. Romney should be happy to tout his executive experience – which he contends Hillary Clinton and many of his opponents sorely lack – as a business executive, Olympics chairman and Governor. But the details of his Massachusetts record are problematic, especially in New Hampshire, where many voters are Massachusetts transplants or live within the Boston media market. Indeed, the more specific the arguments get, the worse they are for Mr. Romney.
The problems start with his immigration stance … The Annenberg Center’s factcheck.org confirmed that Mr. Romney’s plan was a last-minute gambit that never went into effect and that he had a handful of his own sanctuary cities. The result: his latest immigration ad mentions neither issue.
Likewise he has been challenged on his economic record. Mr. Romney contends he “never raised” taxes and balanced the budget despite a liberal legislature. However, that provided an opportunity for the Giuliani campaign to talk about Mr. Romney’s “C” rating from the CATO institute, his failure to deliver on his promised reduction of state income taxes and his efforts to raise revenue by “closing loopholes” in the tax code.
Most troublesome for Mr. Romney is his record on healthcare. Mr. Romney trumpeted his record of achieving near universal healthcare with “no taxes.” Mr. Giuliani and other Republican rivals responded by pointing out that the “no tax” plan sounded quite a bit like Hillary Clinton’s health care plan and included fines on businesses and individuals who did not comply with the mandate to buy insurance. Meanwhile, Fred Thompson and other pro-life rivals were more than happy to highlight another feature of Mr. Romney’s healthcare plan: subsidized abortion services.
And this weekend, Mr. Giuliani seized on a Romney-appointed judge’s decision to release a convicted murder (who proceeded to kill a newlywed couple) as an opportunity to label his rival as weak on crime. Mr. Giuliani produced FBI crime statistics to argue that murders went up over 7 percent during Mr. Romney’s tenure. Mr. Romney shot back that crime rates overall decreased (by over 8 percent). But still, comparing crime-reduction records with Rudy Giuliani is surely an activity the Romney campaign will want to move on from as quickly as possible … etc., etc.
In an NRO The Corner post, Andy McCarthy comments on Romney’s bitter and personal attacks on Mayor Giuliani:
… I am a declared Rudy guy who likes Mitt, so I’m not enjoying the cross-fire. But after reading Byron’s piece, I gotta say I’m surprised — and offended — that Mitt claims voters are worried about a candidate who has “been married more than once.”
Like Ronald Reagan, I’ve been married twice. So have a lot of people. It’s to his great credit and good fortune that Mitt found the right person at a young age and has obviously enjoyed an enduring, wonderful marriage. But, y’know, Bill Clinton’s only been married once, too. Does Mitt really think there is upside in playing this game? I think he’s gonna turn off many more people than he’ll appeal to. It’s not the sort of thing people base their vote on, but I liked him less after reading it than I did before …
“I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that ‘jihadism’ is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today,” writes Mansoor Ijaz in a CS Monitor release titled A Muslim belongs in the Cabinet; Muslims are uniquely qualified to help deter Islamist threats
[His excellency, the imperious and remote Romney himself] answered, “…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration.”
Romney, whose Mormon faith has become the subject of heated debate in Republican caucuses, wants America to be blind to his religious beliefs and judge him on merit instead. Yet he seems to accept excluding Muslims because of their religion, claiming they’re too much of a minority for a post in high-level policymaking. More ironic, that Islamic heritage is what qualifies them to best engage America’s Arab and Muslim communities and to help deter Islamist threats … etc.
Set aside Romney’s bizarre theory of cabinet leadership that links the religion or ethnicity of cabinet members to whether those religions or ethnicities are of a sufficient level to warrant representation—set aside that cabinet members are not representatives of any kind, whether representatives of peoples religions or some other sort of representatives—set aside that Romney proposes to exclude people from his cabinet based on their religion—set aside that Romney is himself a member of a religious minority—set all of that aside and simply ask yourself: do you really want this misguided man to be your president?
LJ of race42008 further comments:
… [Romney’s policy of excluding Muslims] is all the more extraordinary because Zalmay Khalilzad is the highest ranking Muslim in the US government and currently serves as UN Ambassador, after doing stints as US Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention being one of the brightest thinkers to come out of RAND). And yet, he would be excluded from a Romney cabinet position. That’s just great … etc.
“HAMPTON, N.H. — Mayor Giuliani is attacking his closest rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, for failing as governor of Massachusetts to lower taxes, fight illegal immigration, and stand by politically tarnished allies and friends,” writes SETH GITELL for the New York Sun in an article titled Mayor Giuliani Attacks Romney on Record as Mass. Governor
Mr. Giuliani embarked on two-day bus tour across the Granite State over the weekend as a political controversy surrounding Mr. Romney rippled across New England.Prosecutors in Washington State have charged Daniel Tavares Jr. — who was freed in July by a Massachusetts Superior Court judge appointed by Mr. Romney, Kathe Tuttman — in connection with the murder of Brian and Beverly Mauck. The story has played out on the front page of a local tabloid, the Boston Herald, whose reach extends into the voter-rich districts of southern New Hampshire, where Mr. Giuliani campaigned yesterday.
On Saturday, Mr. Giuliani told the Associated Press that Mr. Romney would “have to explain his appointment” … etc.
Why does Mayor Giuliani call out Romney directly when Romney himself couches his bitter attacks on Mayor Giuliani in expressions of friendship and affection (see here)? Because he can. Mayor Giuliani’s negatives are far lower and he is a nationally respected figure in his own right, apart from the primary process.Can Mayor Giuliani win NH? Probably not. But he doesn’t need to. The Giuliani campaign’s task at this stage, pre-Florida, is simply to further diminish Romney’s ROI for his every campaign dollar by
(a) placing NH back into play such that Romney must spend more and more money to defend his lead; see:
(b) raising Romney’s already ultra-high negatives
Giuliani’s strategy? See here:
“If Mitt Romney is rising in the polls in New Hampshire, this might explain why: He appears to be spending huge sums on TV in the state, and has been doing so for some time,” writes Greg Sargent for Election Central | Talking Points Memo in a post titled Romney Spending Huge Sums On TV Ads In New Hampshire
Mitt was spending $100,000 a week through October, and he’s now upped the ante to $200,000 a week, according to a report from GraniteProf that the Romney camp has not disputed. He notes that this level of spending translates into some 200 ads per week.
It’s yet more confirmation of the extent to which the Romney camp is putting all its chips on big wins in New Hampshire (where he’s widening his lead) and in Iowa (where the race is rapidly tightening) in advance of Rudy’s predicted success on super-primary day, Feb. 5. (Via Jonathan Martin.) … etc.
Just so. Let us ponder the depth and scope of Romney’s error for a moment. From Von Clausewitz’ On War:
… It is even possible that the attacker, reinforced by the psychological forces peculiar to attack, will in spite of his exhaustion find it less difficult to go on than to stop—like a horse pulling a load uphill. We believe that this demonstrates without inconsistency how an attacker can overshoot the point at which, if he stopped and assumed the defensive, there would still be a chance of success—that is, of equilibrium. An attacker may otherwise take on more than he can manage and, as it were, get into debt …
… this is why the great majority of generals will prefer to stop well short of their objective rather than risk approaching it too closely, and why those with high courage and an enterprising spirit will often overshoot it and so fail to attain their purpose. Only the man who can achieve great results with limited means has really hit the mark … etc., etc.
Romney has vastly overshot the mark in both Iowa and New Hampshire. So much so that he has prejudiced in advance the conclusions that will be drawn from his victories, and doomed himself completely should he fall short of overwhelming victory. Hence: Boy Romney is pinned. Against Gov. Huckabee, against Mayor Giuliani, against Sen. McCain, all of whom have suddenly begun advertising whether in New Hampshire or in Iowa or both, Romney must hemorrhage disproportionately more money, more credibility, and more of his dignity, because he himself has created conditions such that a loss in either state may be fatal to his campaign. We predicted this—we predicted precisely this:
Question: has there ever been a dumber candidate? Has any candidate in the history of US political campaigns ever botched a race so badly—in advance?
“As governor, Mr. Romney did little direct managing, delegating much of that to his staff, Mr. Kriss said. When addressing challenges, including solving the state’s budget crisis and shaping its universal health care plan, he took an analytical approach. Both efforts began with Bain-style strategic audits,” writes MICHAEL LUO for the NYT in an article titled For Romney & Company, Campaign Is All Business
His style in the campaign is similar, his aides said, with Mr. Romney relying on a circle of lieutenants, many of whom are longtime friends from Bain, the Olympics or the Statehouse, who are familiar with what he expects.
“He describes himself as the chairman of the company and me as the C.E.O.,” said Beth Myers, Mr. Romney’s campaign manager and former Statehouse chief of staff. “He does not manage this campaign.”
Romney’s small-circle of lieutenant-adepti management technique is also the way Romney addressed the health care question in Massachusetts
BOSTON–Only weeks after I was elected governor, Tom Stemberg, the founder and former CEO of Staples, stopped by my office. He told me, “If you really want to help people, find a way to get everyone health insurance.” I replied that would mean raising taxes and a Clinton-style government takeover of health care. He insisted: “You can find a way.”
I believe that we have. Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced. And we will need no new taxes, no employer mandate and no government takeover to make this happen.
When I took up Tom’s challenge, I assembled a team from business, academia and government and asked them first to find out who was uninsured, and why. What they found was surprising … etc.
Here is the result:
Here is impression that Romney and Romney’s methodology leaves upon voters:
“It’s often true that our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses,” writes Bruce Wilson in a Salt Lake Tribune release titled Is Romney’s business background a blessing or a curse?
And so it is with Romney. His admirable record of accomplishment in the business world was enabled by the application of analytical skills and business acumen he acquired as a consultant and executive of Bain Consulting and later Bain Capital.
But something else Romney acquired from Bain – dispassionate detachment – makes for a rough campaign road. Anyone who has worked with consultancies and investors like Bain would likely acknowledge they are hired primarily for their minds, analytical skills and access to capital – not their hearts.
Don’t get me wrong. They aren’t heartless. It’s just that the job requires them to keep their hearts in check so tough business decisions – even painful layoffs – are considered.
Dispassionate detachment is necessary in the consulting and investment worlds, but it can be a fatal liability in the political world. In fact, the opposite approach – passionate authenticity – is often more attractive to voters.
There are many examples of this phenomenon, but Ronald Reagan is probably the best case in point. Many voters disliked some of what Reagan stood for but voted for him anyway because they liked the fact that he actually stood for something. They believed Reagan not only because of what he said and did, but also because of how he said it. To many it seemed Reagan’s heart, mind, words and actions were all in-sync … etc.
For our own critique of Romney’s method see:
Who was it who once said, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?”
“With rival Rudy Giuliani also spending the weekend in the Granite State, Mitt Romney called the former New York mayor a ‘friend,’ but said he said he ‘left a bit of a problem’ in New York City by leaving a three billion dollar deficit,” writes the cerebral and remote Sareena Dalla, the New Hampshire Producer for CNN, in an article for the CNN Political Ticker titled Romney attacks Giuliani’s fiscal record
“Mayor Giuliani is a friend of mine, I think he is a good man, the former Massachusetts governor said. “And I know he did a good job as mayor of New York City, but on spending and fiscal matters, they left a bit of a problem there, because when he came in, there was a budget gap, but when he left, he left a budget gap twice as big as the one he inherited – over three billion dollars” … etc.
Note the sniveling language: “Mayor Giuliani is a friend of mine, I think he is a good man.” Recent events have taught Team Romney the painful lesson that their their candidate’s ultra-high negatives and cold, remote demeanor will not support a negative message. Their solution—strangely, unbelievably—is to couch their bitter attacks in expressions of friendship and affection, a gesture redolent of a mafiosi kiss of death.
But what about Romney’s record?
“Anti-tax advocates are scrutinizing Mitt Romney’s (R) record as governor of Massachusetts and focusing on the fact that he increased fees in the state by $500 million and proposed nearly $400 million in business tax increases,” writes Alexander Bolton in a thehill.com release titled Romney’s tax record gets a closer look
This could erode whatever advantage on tax policy he hopes to have over 2008 presidential rivals such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (R).
The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, published a fiscal-policy report card for 2006 that gave Romney a C grade, ranking him behind 11 other governors, including Democratic White House hopeful Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico.
Cato found that Romney increased annual state fees by $500 million as governor and proposed two corporate tax increases totaling close to $400 million a year.
When he took office, Romney faced a budget deficit of $3.2 billion, which he eliminated. He did not hike personal income or sales taxes. He is now highlighting his efforts to cut Massachusetts’s income tax rate from 5.3 percent to 5 percent and his successful shepherding of a $250 million capital gains tax refund through the Democrat-dominated state legislature.
But he increased fees for getting married, buying a house, bringing a case to court, and using a public golf course, to name a few reported examples. However, in a move that could prove controversial with social conservatives, Romney decided not to raise fees for convicted sex offenders. He vetoed a $75 fee for offenders required by law to register with the state.
“Romney’s people are trying to spin this by saying he kept his ‘No new taxes’ pledge,” said Stephen Slivinski, director of budget studies at Cato. “I guess if you consider only personal income taxes and sales taxes, he’s within bounds. If you take a broader view, he is not.
“The spirit of [anti-tax pledges] is to force governors to find more innovative ways of funding government,” he added. “If the spirit is to save money before you increase revenues, I don’t think Romney has held to the spirit of the no-new-tax pledge.”
Slivinski said he based his report on publications by Tax Analysts, a non-partisan group that tracks state and federal tax activity, and by the National Conference of State Legislatures … etc.
- AP: “As governor, Mitt Romney’s efforts raised the tax bill on Bay State businesses by $300 million”
- The Brody File: “Romney campaign won’t beat Giuliani on who cut taxes more as a public official.”
“I knew it would happen when I pulled the trigger,” writes the estimable Justin Hart in a mymanmitt.com post titled “Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated”
I knew that Soren, Dotan, Flap and others would try to make hay out of the act. And they did. They did so for propaganda. They did so with a bit of vitriol. They did so without asking me to clarify why.
First know this, I am still very much here and will be blogging non-stop for Mitt. All I did was simply remove my name from the Faith and Values Steering Committee so that Soren, Dotan, Flap and others could not use it as a weapon against me … etc.
Vitriol!? Mr. Hart is our only friend. If you doubt please follow the link to our Facebook page and see for yourself.
Anyway: we are pleased to concede to every point that Mr. Hart raises. And we thank him for his clarification.