Posts Tagged ‘campaign stops’

[…] “Over in Michigan, the Republican voters clearly had the same thought on Tuesday when they went out and gave their primary win to a candidate absolutely no one would want to have a beer with,” writes Gail Collins in an NYT editorial titled The Anti-Charm Offensive

(Or in his case, a bracing lemonade.) Mitt Romney! Mitt Romney!Michigan voters are so frightened of falling into permanent economic collapse that they’ll grab onto almost anything. Romney, the native son who lived in Michigan in the Eisenhower era, played them for all they were worth. He was going to bring back the old-time auto industry and the rest of the 1950s with it. There was no lost job that could not be retrieved under Mitt’s skilled-businessman’s supervision. He’d bring them all home!

Human nature being what it is, you have to give politicians a pass for one pander per primary. (The Democrats have spent the last week in Nevada arguing about who is the most against a federal plan to store used nuclear fuel in Yucca Mountain as if it were a plot to tax air.) But in Michigan, Romney went way over quota.

He told the auto executives that they were being picked on when Congress required fuel efficiency to reach 35 m.p.g. by 2020. (Washington told Detroit to improve mileage in 1975, and just 32 years later, here’s Big Brother, harping again.) And he promised $20 billion in federally funded research and development to get the auto industry back on track.

Let’s see, $20 billion for Michigan, and 46 states left to go. We’re looking at nearly a trillion dollars in potential pander just to get Mitt to the conventions. We won’t have to worry about Congress doling out pork anymore — Romney will give the entire store away himself.

In his victory speech, Romney said his inspiration came from “Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush.” I’m not sure how Reagan would have felt about that $20 billion, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time the words “George Herbert Walker Bush” and “inspiration” have appeared in the same sentence […]

Yuh-huh. And it suddenly occurs to York of the formerly conservative NRO—the knuckle-draggers who endorsed Romney for president—how Romney’s proposal to MI will play in the upcoming primary contests:

[…] “if Romney’s success in Michigan prompts more and more candidate attention to economic issues, the campaign will take on a new, decidedly post-war-on-terror feel,” writes Byron York of the National Review in a The Corner post titled Message: We Care

And if that happens, it will probably go in directions that few conservatives are happy with. When candidates start talking about easing voters’ pain, there’s no telling what they will promise – Romney’s $20 billion check to the auto industry might be just the beginning […]

Well, duh. We make the same case here:

[…] Not only does Romney’s plan to nationalize the US automobile industry reflect yet another complete ideological reversal for the hapless candidate—Not only is Romney’s proposal impracticable and nearly impossible on its face, just the worst possible public policy imaginable—Not only will Romney’s proposal issue into in a furious race to the bottom as Romney himself and the other candidates are forced to out-bid each other promising to bail-out, subsidize, or protect from competition other ailing industries and entire economic sectors—but Romney’s plan for MI is also based on a risibly inaccurate and historically flawed assessment of an already globalized and post-industrial US automobile “industry” […]

We conclude this sad blog burst with an excerpt from an editorial by the Washington Times:

[…] “No doubt [Romney] will soon saturate Florida’s airwaves the way he bombarded Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan,” write the crack editorialists of the Washington Times in an article titled Romney’s Michigan Win

Too bad Mr. Romney continues to refuse to tell voters how much of his personal wealth he spent during the fourth quarter even as he ratchets up his personal spending throughout the critical month of January.

… Mr. McCain told Michigan voters what they know in their hearts to be true. Those auto jobs are gone. But they chose to believe, at least for a day, Mr. Romney’s dubious optimism, which, if he is elected in November, will surely become one of the first campaign promises he will have to break […]

We can only hope he breaks it. Now that Romney could actually end up as our president, we need to hope and pray that his lies and duplicities work in our favor.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.


[…] “Meanwhile, the Republican prospects in the fall just got even dimmer,” writes David Brooks in an NYT Campaign Stops blog burst titled Republicans Brawl, Democrats Yawn

I say this not only because a weak general election candidate won a primary, but because Mitt Romney’s win pretty much guarantees a bitter fight for the nomination. If you doubt that, here is what Rush Limbaugh said about McCain and Huckabee on his program today: “I’m here to tell you, if either of these two guys get the nomination, it’s going to destroy the Republican Party, it’s going to change it forever, be the end of it.” This week, Rush and his radio mimics have been on the rampage on the party’s modernizers, from Newt Gingrich on over.

Dear reader, were you aware that Romney’s Bain Capital recently acquired Clear Channel?

Rush Limbaugh is owned and operated by Romney.

Back to Brooks:

This thing will only get uglier.

Second, Mitt Romney found, as Hillary would say, his voice. I remember watching him campaign at a financial company about 6 months ago. He talked about business and was fantastic. The next event was at a senior citizen center. He was ideological and dreadful. In Michigan, the full corporate Mitt was on display.

His campaign was a reminder of how far corporate Republicans are from free market Republicans. He proposed $20 billion in new federal spending on research. He insisted that Washington had to get fully engaged in restoring the United States automotive industry. “Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner,” he said, “not a disinterested observer.” He vowed, “If I’m president of this country, I will roll up my sleeves in the first 100 days I’m in office, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders and together we will develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership.”

This is how the British Tory party used to speak in the 1970s […]

Well, duh. What Romney describes is redolent of the “social market economies” of post-war Western Europe. Soziale Marktwirtschaft, in German. Here is an adequate description of the model:

[…] The social market economy seeks a middle path between socialism and capitalism (i.e. a mixed economy) and aims at maintaining a balance between a high rate of economic growth, low inflation, low levels of unemployment, good working conditions, social welfare, and public services, by using state intervention.

Basically respecting the free market, the social market economy is opposed to both a planned economy and laissez-faire capitalism. Erhard once told Friedrich Hayek that the free market economy did not need to be made social but was social in its origin.

In a social market economy, collective bargaining is often done on a national level not between one corporation and one union, but national employers’ organizations and national trade unions […]

In the 90s the model reappears in the less administrative-pragmatic-compromising, and more heatedly ideological form of “third way” speculation by Anthony Giddens et al.

U.S. self-funded outsider campaigns tend to articulate themselves in an intuitive, naive “third way,” “beyond right and left” rhetoric that describes a polity or a society, in weirdly medieval way, as an organic whole comprised of various components, e.g. towns, guilds, fueds, church, estates etc. Ross Perot and Romney both speak of “bringing together” government, labor, corporate interests, engineers, specialists, communities etc. to develop the consensus necessary to support policy solutions. Social problems become technical problems. Political questions become administrative tasks—e.g. Romney’s now infamous to-do list for Washington.

The rubes at the formerly conservative National Review who endorsed Willard Milton Romney because of his—snarf!—guffaw!—constant and steadfast commitment to conservative principles—cough!-cough!—are of course anxious to revise and redact the hapless candidate’s atavistic proposals.

Regard the following strained casuistical divisio to arrive at a mixed ruling:

[…] [Douthat] “thinks that conservatives are going too easy on Romney’s supposedly left-wing, “back-to-the-’70s, ‘D.C. will save the auto industry’ promises” and giving McCain too much grief over his “2000-2001 preference for a more progressive tax code,” complains Ramesh Ponnuru in an NRO The Corner post titled Douthat on Romney

Many of Romney’s policy specifics involved removing Washington-imposed burdens on the industry, such as the prospect of new regulations. You can think he exaggerated their impact—I do—but that’s not left-wing.

Rejoinder: Granted. Only this is not the claim or claims to which Douthat refers.

Convening industry reps and government officials to gab about the industry’s problems doesn’t strike me as all that alarming, either: It’s what comes out of the meeting that matters, and Romney didn’t commit to anything statist.

Rejoinder: We must assume that Romney wants his proposals to be received as meaningful and relevant. So does Ponnoru therefore argue that Romney’s proposal to convene government and industry actors to address the problems of the US automobile industry is at best a palliative exercise or at worst a cynical ploy?

And: does Ponnoru have no experience in political activism, community organizing, or politics in general? What Romney has proposed is called agenda setting, and political formations on the left and center-left use this technique to co-opt and corrupt actors and organizations on the right or otherwise uncommitted all the time. Organize a committee or convene a conference to investigate e.g. healthcare issues, invite lots of different stake holders etc., and everyone present will return a ruling in favor of reform at public expense. Why? Because the principal assumption governing whether you organize a committee or convene a conference is that you have a task, and that task is to address an issue—to attend at all is to assent to the proposition that there is an issue, that the issue resolves itself into a political question or quetions, and that all involved need to act to resolve it.

Romney’s proposal assumes in advance that the Government is committed to, and responsible for, the performance of the US automobile industry. The questions that remain are questions of degree—how much is the US government responsible, what is the US government expected to do, and how much is this going to cost us beyond the US$20 billion already committed.

Romney’s plan to quintuple research spending was pretty bad, in my view—but plenty of free-market folks are okay with such subsidies. The reason Romney got a “slap on the wrist” is that it’s all he deserved […]

Rejoinder: Granted, Ponnoru. This was bad, as you put it. Really, really bad. But this is still not what has people like Douthat, Brooks, and ourselves exercised. It is rather Romney’s explicit claim that “Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner,” combined with his subsidies etc.

Your eagerness to completely miss the point speaks volumes.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.