Posts Tagged ‘insanity’

“MINNEAPOLIS — Republican hopeful Mitt Romney said Sunday he was counting on the ‘voices of conservatism’ and a non-binding caucus in Maine to propel him to within fighting distance of frontrunner Sen. John McCain, who has opened a double-digit lead in polls before Tuesday’s pivotal votes,” writes Andrea Stone in a USA Today article titled Romney courts ‘voices of conservatism’

Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Romney said his win in Maine “shocked” McCain, who had been endorsed by the state’s senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both widely viewed as moderate Republicans. The results showed Republicans were “staying in the house that Reagan built,” Romney said.Romney reiterated a litany of McCain positions he says are out of the mainstream of their party, including votes against drilling for oil in the Arctic preserve and President Bush’s tax cuts and for campaign finance bills and “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

Asked about the McCain campaign accusations that he has changed positions on issues such as a 50-cents-a-gallon gas tax that Romney now rails against at campaign stops, the former Massachusetts governor rejected what have now become familiar charges of flip-slopping.

“They have stretched, twisted and completely walked away from the truth,” Romney said […]

Truth? Just what is the truth to a person like Romney?

Here is the problem for Romney: Romney’s icy-cold persona and ultra-high negatives cannot support a negative message. Romney’s own poll numbers crash whenever he does so. Yet here is, again, in person, attempting to slime McCain at the expense of whatever slim chances the GOP may have had in November against Senators Clinton or Obama.

Rasmussen Reports: Romney has the least core support, and the most core opposition of all the leading candidates, Republican or Democrat—these findings predict the sudden and fierce backlash against Romney’s negative attacks on other candidates

Say for the sake of argument that Romney succeeds in driving up Sen. McCain’s negatives to the point that Sen. McCain is no longer viable. History would predict that the result would be equally disastrous for Romney. This is because whenever Romney lurches to the right, he alienates the very moderates and independents that comprise Sen. McCain’s coalition of voters. Yet Romney will need those very voters—voters Romney has ridiculed for not being real Republicans—in the general election. See:

Romney outflanks himself yet again!–poll indicates Romney’s pull to the right alienates independents, centrists, and moderates

In other words Romney’s fight is not with Sen. McCain. Romney’s fight is with the GOP itself.

[…] While McCain has racked up endorsements from governors and other high-profile Republicans on a wholesale basis since his Florida victory, the conservative commentariat of radio and TV have rallied to Romney. Long-time fan Rush Limbaugh was joined this week by Fox News personality Sean Hannity and right-leaning radio talkers Laura Ingraham and Lars Larson. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter went so far this week to say that if McCain, who has angered conservatives with his stands on immigration, taxes and other issues, were the GOP nominee, she would vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton.

” I don’t think you can buy as much advertising” as radio talk show hosts have provided for free, he said […]

Not entirely for free. Romney’s Bain Capital acquired Clear Channel—the carrier of conservative “voices” like Rush Limbaugh—over a year ago.

The price tag was more like US$26.7 billion.

And the effectiveness of the sale is, at least to date, still in doubt. See:

Here is yet another take on Romney’s sudden bout of Tourette’s syndrome

[…] “ROMNEY ON TW. Mitt Romney came out with guns blazing, accusing John McCain of trying to characterize his positions while he characterized McCain’s,” writes Mark Kilmer in a http://www.redstate.com blog burst titled The Sunday Morning Talk Shows—The Review

Romney said he was winning the “battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” the “house Reagan built.” (He’s still invoking Reagan.) Romney boasted of the conservative commentators “coming out for me in record numbers.” Which begs the question, what is the old record which he claims to be breaking? Also, how many of these commentators are supporting him and how many are trying to flex their muscles concerning McCain?

Romney pointed out that McCain’s positions on ANWR, BCRA, immigration, and global warming “cause many conservatives to rally to my camp.” Is this a big Romney rally or a STOP MCCAIN fest?

Romney did allow that he and McCain agree on Iraq. (But he moved to McCain’s position, not v/v.)

Wallace asked Romney about his support for a cap and trade program to reduce carbon emissions, and Romney accused McCain of twisting his position around. Yes, though, he said that he did support cap and trade.

Romney launched waves of attacks into McCain and McCain’s positions as characterized by Romney.

This was Romney knowing that the numbers do not look good for him right now trying to draw sharp distinctions between his rival and himself. It would have worked better, I think, if he could have focused on a few areas at a time, rather than a general broadside, but time is short. We’ll see how this plays on Tuesday […]

[…] ROMNEY ON CNN. Mitt Romney was Wolf Blitzer’s first guest on CNN’s Late Edition this morning; Romney was in Minnesota. Blitzer pointed out that McCain blames Romney for the nastiness in this campaign. Romney said that he attacks only on issues, while McCain got personal in Florida. He said that he was not going to talk about that. (Romney’s stance vis-à-vis the surge is oriented toward an issue. Romney promised that he would keep mentioning that John McCain had repeated reports that Romney had talked of a timetable for withdrawal.)

Romney said that McCain’s “lack of understanding of the economy” was bad for the country, adding that we have to have someone who has had a real job in the private sector in the Oval Office. (That is a personal attack on the former chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.)

Romney belittled “reaching across the aisle” and “making political deals.” He said that he is a man of action, of getting things done.

Comment: Say what!? How does one “get things done” if one sorely lacks the political skill necessary to build coalitions? For more on this melancholy theme see:

Why do only 3 out 22 Republican governors support Romney?—yet more evidence of Romney’s incompetence and lack of political skill

Back to Kilmer:

Romney said that McCain-Feingold hurt the Republican Party (it didn’t) and McCain-Kennedy granted amnesty to oodles of illegals (it didn’t even pass). He said that the Florida primary was close, “only a few points.” (Five points is a big win.) He said that conservatives were rallying behind him as a way to stop John McCain, which is why he won the uncontested caucuses in Maine at which no delegates were awarded. (Maine is a bastion of conservatism, electing Senators Collins and Snowe, both of whom endorsed John McCain after co-chairing his exploratory committee last year.)

Blitzer pointed out that polls show McCain beating Hillary and Obama with Romney losing. Romney claimed that the polls swing wildly.

Romney repeated that with our economy “struggling,” we need to elect someone who has held a “real job.” He compared himself again to Ronald Reagan […]

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dr. g.d.

“In early 1995, as the Ampad paper plant in Marion, Ind., neared its shutdown following a bitter strike, Randy Johnson, a worker and union official, scrawled a personal letter to Mitt Romney, pouring out his disappointment that Romney, then chief executive of the investment firm that controlled Ampad, had not done enough to settle the strike and save some 200 jobs,” writes Robert Gavin of the Boston Globe in an article titled As Bain slashed jobs, Romney stayed to side

“We really thought you might help,” Johnson said in the handwritten note, “but instead we heard excuses that were unacceptable from a man of your prominent position.”

Romney, who had recently lost a Senate race in which the strike became a flashpoint, responded that he had “privately” urged a settlement, but was advised by lawyers not to intervene directly. His political interests, he explained, conflicted with his business responsibilities.

Now, Romney’s decision to stay on the sidelines as his firm, Bain Capital, slashed jobs at the office supply manufacturer stands in marked contrast to his recent pledges to beleaguered auto workers in Michigan and textile workers in South Carolina to “fight to save every job.”

Throughout his 15-year career at Bain Capital, which bought, sold, and merged dozens of companies, Romney had other chances to fight to save jobs, but didn’t. His ultimate responsibility was to make money for Bain’s investors, former partners said.

Much as he did when running for Massachusetts governor, Romney is now touting his business credentials as he campaigns for president, asserting that he helped create thousands of jobs as CEO of Bain. But a review of Bain’s investments during Romney’s tenure indicates that job growth was not a particular priority.

Romney’s approach at Bain Capital was more reflective of the economic philosophy articulated by his opponent, John McCain: to acknowledge that some less efficient jobs will be lost and concentrate on creating new jobs with potential for higher growth.

In many cases, such as Staples Inc., the Framingham retailer, and Steel Dynamics Inc., an Indiana steelmaker, the companies expanded and added thousands of jobs. In other cases, such as Ampad and GS Industries, another steelmaker, Bain-controlled companies shuttered plants, slashed hundreds of jobs, and landed in bankruptcy.

But in almost all cases Bain Capital made money. In fact, the firm earned substantially more from Ampad than Staples. Staples returned about $13 million on a $2 million investment; Ampad yielded more than $100 million on $5 million, according to reports to investors.

“It’s not that employment grows, it’s that their investment grows,” said Howard Anderson, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. “Sometimes its expansion, and sometimes it’s shutting things down” […]

[…] Bain acquired GS Industries in 1993. The steelmaker borrowed heavily to modernize plants in Kansas City and North Carolina, as well as pay dividends to Bain investors. But as foreign competition increased and steel prices fell in the late 1990s, the company struggled to support the debt, according to Mark Essig, the former CEO. GS filed for bankruptcy in 2001, and shut down its money-losing Kansas City plant, throwing some 750 employees out of work.

Ampad, too, became squeezed between onerous debt that had financed acquisitions and falling prices for its office-supply products. Its biggest customers – including Staples – used their buying power and access to Asian suppliers to demand lower prices from Ampad.

Romney sat on Staples’s board of directors at this time.

Creditors forced Ampad into bankruptcy in early 2000, and hundreds of workers lost jobs during Ampad’s decline. Bain Capital and its investors, however, had already taken more than $100 million out of the company, in debt-financed dividends, management fees, and proceeds from selling shares on public stock exchanges.

By the time Ampad failed, Randy Johnson, the former union official in Marion, Ind., had moved on with his life. After the Indiana plant shut down, he worked nearly six months to help the workers find new jobs. He later took a job at the United Paperworkers union.

“What I remember the most,” said Johnson, “were the guys in their 50s, breaking down and crying.”

In his reply to Johnson’s letter, Romney said the Ampad strike had hurt his 1994 bid to unseat Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and no one had a greater interest in seeing the strike settled than he.

“I was advised by counsel that I could not play a role in the dispute,” Romney explained, adding, “I hope you understand I could not direct or order Ampad to settle the strike or keep the plant open or otherwise do what might be in my personal interest” […]

Yuh-huh. See:

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dr. g.d.

According to the non-partisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network, Romney spent $2 million in an ad campaign lasting for about the past month, compared to McCain’s $744,000 over the last ten days, and Huckabee’s $484,000 in the past week,” writes Eric Kleefield in a TPM ElectionCentral.com post titled Analysis: Romney Outspent Michigan Competitors In A Big Way

Romney spends more on paid media in MI than either of his principal rivals combined. Yet Romney ekes out a narrow victory in a state that he calls his own. Yet more evidence of Romney’s risibly low ROI for his every campaign dollar.

But the real cost of Romney’s MI campaign is the check that he issued that can never be cashed. That check is Romney’s super-preposterous, atavistic promise to nationalize the US automobile industry. And it is a cost that Romney will never have to pay. That bill goes to the US taxpayer.

candidate endorsed by the National Review, Romney, suddenly veers hard left, argues that Washington must subsidize, become “partner” with, US automobile industry

After humiliating defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire, Romney in Michigan finally develops a winning formula. It is a formula consistent with Romney’s risibly low ROI as it allows the hapless candidate to offload his astronomical costs on others. It is simply this: political spoil in its most primitive form. It takes this shape: Promise key sectors of the economy unlimited subsidies from the public treasury.

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dr. g.d.

[…] Wolf [of the Late Edition] played a clip of a Huckabee commercial – “[Gov. Huckabee] remind[s people] of the guy they worked with, not the guy who laid them off [i.e. Romney],” reports Mark Kilmer of Redstate.com in a post titled The Sunday Morning Talk Shows

[In response:] Romney chastised Huckabee for criticizing the guy who gives people their paychecks […]

Romney to the workers of MI: STFU and trust those who who profit the most from your labor.

Romney argues further on Face the Nation that not only should CEOs be immune from criticism, they should also be subsidized at public expense for their insane decisions:

[…] [Romney] said that though it would be difficult to bring back the automotive industry, government could invest in “basic science and research”: fuel technology, automotive technology. With the money of the taxpayers. “We, frankly, are lagging behind,” proclaimed Mitt, and government is the solution […]

Further:

[…] Schieffer brought up a Huckabee remark, that Mitt’s business would buy businesses and people would lose their jobs. Mitt claimed that he rebuilt businesses, protecting “as many jobs as humanly possible” […]

Romney protected jobs? Really? This is not consonant with Romney’s earlier testimony. Elsewhere Romney argues for cutting jobs because US workers are lazy and overcompensated:

Romney: American workers are lazy and over-compensated

—and—

Romney really knows how to cut jobs, as he boasted in a live debate:

“Romney was doing great on the job creation answer until he said he knows how to get rid of people who need to be gotten rid of,” writes Andrew Cline of the NRO in a The Corner blog burst titled Romney on Jobs

That is not going to help him in New Hampshire, where another paper mill closed this year and the loss of manufacturing jobs remains a huge issue […]

We used to ask rhetorically who Romney’s natural constituency could possibly be. Now we know. It is the executive classes of the equity sector. See:

how Romney plans to enrich himself by liquidating the US manufacturing base

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dr. g.d.

“Imagine if John McCain had narrowly lost to Mitt Romney in New Hampshire last night, and, when you down broke down the results, it was clear that the voters most concerned about the war in Iraq and terrorism went heavily for Romney—plus thought he would make a better commander in chief,” writes James Pethokoukis in a USNews.com blog burst titled Struggling Romney Needs an ‘Oprah Moment’ to Win

That would kind of kill McCain’s whole rationale for running, don’tcha think?

Well, that is pretty much what did happen, except in reverse. Voters who were most concerned about the economy went strongly—41 to 21 percent—for McCain over Romney, the multimillionaire venture capitalist. The Wall Street legend. The guy with the M.B.A. The guy who turned around the Salt Lake City Olympics. The guy who says, “I know how the economy works.” Even worse, Romney lost to a fellow who has admitted in the past that economic policy is not his strong suit and that he might need more of an expert as his veep if nominated.

See, the problem with Romney isn’t necessarily that voters don’t like his ideas—such as cutting corporate taxes or eliminating investment taxes for middle-class voters. It’s that voters don’t think he understands their problems. Until that hurdle is overcome, ideas don’t matter.

You have to do politics before you can do policy […]

We concur. The struggle for NH has entered its archival phase. As we wrote before of Iowa, this is when the political community and various media dispute, interpret, or redact he outcomes of the contest.

Team Romney has failed at every task it set for itself. It failed to consolidate the social-conservative base as evidenced by the exit polling from IA and NH. It crucially failed to return clear decisions for Romney in IA and NH. Further, Romney massively-titanically overspent and received precious little in return. How much? Upwards of US$20 million of his own money on top of the US$80 million that he raised, but no one really knows. Tellingly, Team Romney isn’t saying.

Romney now leads in delegates, but by one estimate Romney has spent almost US$1 million dollars per delegate—so the question then becomes, given this preposterously low ROI, just how sustainable is the Romney tribe’s campaign?

This is also when a new discursive front opens up against Romney’s flank as

(a) pressure for Romney to withdraw begins to develop

-and-

(b) doubt, dissensus, and discord breakout within Romney’s own ranks.

To address (a) Romney has radically scaled back his operations, particularly his massive and massively ineffective media buys. To address (b) Romney has issued internal memos and issued promises to major financial backers.

“BOSTON (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has decided to pull his advertising from South Carolina, where he was hoping to take on Mike Huckabee and John McCain, and from Florida, where Rudy Giuliani has been spending time and money,” write Jim Kuhnenn and Glen Johnson in an AP release titled Romney Pulls Ads in SC, Fla.

“We feel the best strategy is to focus our paid messaging in Michigan,” Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said Wednesday.

The decision comes on the heels of back-to-back second-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire for the former Massachusetts governor. Romney, a multimillionaire who had used some of his own cash, had invested heavily in both states, counting on the two to give him the momentum toward the nomination.

Earlier on Wednesday, Romney had assured his top financial backers that he will win the upcoming Michigan primary, as he and his staff worked to soothe supporters unsettled by his losses in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

“It’s just getting started,” the presidential contender told hundreds of supporters gathered at a convention center for a followup to the “National Call Day” that raised an unprecedented $6.5 million a year ago

He promised to carry on to Michigan, which votes Jan. 15, as well as Nevada and South Carolina, which vote Jan. 19.

The public spectacle, a rarity for the normally tightly controlled Romney political operation, included appeals for calm from a top financial backer, eBay CEO Meg Whitman, and a top political supporter, former Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri […]

To assuage his paid staff and hirelings in field, Romney’s strategist Alex Gage issued one of his infamous “internal memos.”

Gage’s argument: Despite Romney’s losses and setbacks, “the Republican race remains wide open.” Talking points include:

  • Gov. Romney’s message of change generated momentum in New Hampshire.
  • Gov. Romney is the best candidate in the Republican field to match up against the Democrats in the fall.
  • No other candidate is competitive in as many states as Gov. Romney.
  • Gov. Romney has a clear path to victory moving forward.

That the Republican race remains “wide open” is true on its face. The other points in support of a continued Romney candidacy are false or simply meaningless until Romney solves his ROI problem, especially as the campaign transitions to a far more long-term, slow-accumulation-of-delegates strategy. Did e.g. Romney’s message of change generate momentum? No. Or: even if the answer is yes, the outcome of the contest indicates that it was not enough momentum. And how much did Romney spend per day in NH to promulgate his non-momentum message?

Sargent: “[Grrrr-Romney] was spending $100,000 a week through October, and he’s now upped the ante to $200,000 a week [in NH]”

Does e.g. Romney have a clear path to victory? Maybe. Perhaps. But at his current spending levels it he would have to blow his entire fortune to pursue it.

What Romney needs, and does not have, is a message that connects with people on the ground—a narrative, a story, something, anything. A successful message could resolve or at least ease his ROI problem. As Pethokoukis argues, what Romney needs is an Oprah moment.

Only Romney needs more than a moment. And Romney’s own moment may have already passed.

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dr. g.d.

“(JOHNSTON, Iowa) — Rudy Giuliani still leads in national polls of GOP presidential candidates, but Mitt Romney said Friday that will change as the field narrows and voters must choose between the former New York City mayor and a more conservative candidate,” writes Mike Glover for the AP in a story titled Romney Predicts Giuliani’s Support Will Fade

… Romney said Giuliani has maintained his lead in polls because so many candidates are vying for support from social conservatives. That dynamic will change as the field narrows.

“There are a lot of us fighting on that side. There are six, seven or eight of us going after that audience and Mayor Giuliani is pretty much alone on the other side,” Romney said. “It’s not a big surprise that he continues to hold that portion of the party.”

Romney spoke during a taping of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program and later during a meeting with reporters.

At some point, Romney said the party’s conservative base will coalesce around a candidate, making it tough for Giuliani.

“Those of us who represent that base will find that we can get that support and ultimately face up one to one with Mayor Giuliani,” Romney said. “At that point he’ll have a more challenging time because I do not believe the Republican Party is going to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House by acting like Hillary Clinton.

“We have to be distinct. We have to act like Republicans.”

The Romney campaign—in the person of Romney himself—is talking to itself again. Regard: the argument is about Romney relative to other candidates, and concludes on an outcome in Romney’s favour. Also note the contradictions.

“We have to be distinct. We have to act like Republicans.”

This is the solution: be distinct, like me. Isnt’ this a contradiction?—or, worse, a double bind like “be spontaneous!” For Romney to be distinct like him is the solution to both the Clinton and the Giuliani problem, two distinct problems that Romney wants you to link. Yet Romney’s explanation for his low poll numbers and non-performance is this:

“There are a lot of us fighting on that side. There are six, seven or eight of us going after that audience and Mayor Giuliani is pretty much alone on the other side,” Romney said. “It’s not a big surprise that he continues to hold that portion of the party.”

Romney’s alibi for the non-performance of his campaign: Romney’s distinct lack of distinction. Romney argues: There are six or seven or eight of him, candidates just like him. According to Romney, only Giuliani is distinct, and only Giuliani enjoys the support of a coherent base (“that portion of the party”).

How can one man, attempting to emit one message, elaborating upon one theme, contradict himself so many times, and with a straight face?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.