Hello Everyone,

My promise of another commentary on Obamacare will have to wait. More pressing matters have caught my attention.

In September 2008, during the closing months of the last presidential campaign, I interpreted two high-risk decisions by Sen. McCain as indications that he believed he was on the cusp of losing – the pick of Gov. Palin and the “suspension” of his campaign to intervene in the unfolding financial crisis with embarrassing consequences. (See Obamagram #35.) Remembering my grade school math, I argued that two points make a straight line, in that case pointing to his conclusion that he was losing.

I have now come to think that Gov. Romney is sending signals similar to Sen. McCain’s, but in this case there seem to be three high-risk decisions making a straight line. First, Gov. Romney’s out of character pick of the controversial Cong. Ryan. Then, last week, Gov. Romney’s decision to impetuously wade into a brewing foreign affairs crisis when the opposition in a political campaign normally defers to the incumbent on such sensitive matters. And, finally, Gov. Romney’s now infamous claims about the “47%” and, critically, doubling down rather than backing down.

Barring some truly catastrophic event, the die may be cast.

1.) Cong. Ryan
Cong. Ryan’s views are so controversial that the campaign is going out of its way to avoid discussing the particulars on his agenda. It seems like a big risk for a former Massachusetts moderate to select as his running mate an ideologue with Cong. Ryan’s views.

2.) Muslim World/Middle East
When asked last weekend if the situation in the Muslim world would have been different under a President Romney, as his campaign has claimed, the respected conservative commentator George Will said:

No. The great superstition of American politics concerns presidential power. And during a presidential year, that reaches an apogee and it becomes national narcissism. Everything that happens anywhere in the world we caused or we could cure with a tweak of presidential rhetoric.

By the way, you could substitute “the economy” for “the Middle East” and make the same observation about “the great superstition of American politics concerns presidential power” and our “national narcissism.”

Remember my comments on “emergent systems” in #58? They are dynamic and highly complex systems which are impossible to fully comprehend, let alone control. Applies to economics as well as foreign affairs.

More recently, Gov. Romney waded further into the thicket of Middle Eastern diplomacy. It was reported that, based on the now-infamous video, “he suggested that a two-state solution for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians – longstanding United States policy – was not feasible.” Another high-risk decision.

3). Pilloried for the 47%
The last straw was probably the “47%” video. After it appeared and was actually embraced by the candidate, the conservative David Brooks wrote, in a column entitled “Thurston Howell Romney” (see Attachment 1):

…as a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney.

Personally, I think he’s a kind, decent man [I’ve written before that I agree] who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater.

…Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers. Forty-seven percent of the country, he said, are people “who are dependent upon government…”

… he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits.

… Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. [Some people live in “gated communities.” Similarly, many have what I have come to call “gated minds.” They seldom interact with ordinary people, don’t really understand them, see them as “the other,” and close their minds to them.]

…Romney’s comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact. In 1987, during Ronald Reagan’s second term [you should know that I voted for Reagan twice], 62 percent of Republicans believed that the government has a responsibility to help those who can’t help themselves. Now, according to the Pew Research Center, only 40 percent of Republicans believe that.

…The Republican Party, and apparently Mitt Romney, too, has shifted over toward a much more hyperindividualistic and atomistic social view – from the Reaganesque language of common citizenship to the libertarian language of makers and takers…

Look at the Wikipedia page on “Thurston Howell” if you don’t get the reference. I didn’t. It’s a hoot.

It is both unseemly, and revealing, to hear a member of the .01% talking derisively about the 47%.

Some of you will remember that from the beginning, I have said that I support now-President Obama because of his “intellect, temperament, and worldview.” We now have a real insight into Gov. Romney’s intelligence (or his analytical capability or integrity; pick one) – he severely misinterpreted or distorted the “47%” data; his temperament – he recklessly thrust himself into the situation in the Muslim world; and, his worldview – he not only didn’t disavow his point of view on the 47%, he doubled down on it.

Some have called the comments on the 47% a “gaff.” I don’t think so. I think of gaff as a half-dozen words, carelessly uttered in an unscripted moment, for which the candidate immediately apologizes and seeks to correct. Like Sen. Obama’s “guns and religion” comment or George Romney’s “brainwashed” comment.

In this instance, Gov. Romney apparently believes what he said about the 47% because he has defended in public what he said in private. There is only one other plausible explanation – he really doesn’t believe what he said about the 47% — he was just telling the wealthy donors what they wanted to hear — but he couldn’t retract it without once again appearing wishy-washy. He was trapped. Either way, the comments are damning – and telling – and much more than a standard gaff.

This latest piece by an exasperated David Brooks is an extension of a truly hilarious parody he wrote in August during the convention entitled “The Real Romney.” (See Attachment 2)

At the time, I didn’t know what to make of it. Now I do. Here’s a snippet of it: “[His] teenage years were more turbulent. He was sent to a private school, where he was saddened to find there are people in America who summer where they winter. He developed a lifelong concern for the second homeless, and organized bake sales with proceeds going to the moderately rich.” I now wonder if that was really a parody, or did Brooks see then what we’re all seeing now? From parody to pillory in less than a month. Amazing. And, probably fatal.

Last November, in #60, I wrote that Gov. Romney would win the Republican nomination. Now, in September, based on these three pieces of evidence, it appears that he’s on the verge of losing the election, barring an unforeseen catastrophe. Of course, for all the obvious reasons, the media and both campaigns will attempt to convince us otherwise all the way to November 6.

Please, as always, pass it on.  And, remember that previous Obamagrams are stored on www.obamagrams.com


adobe pdf fileAttachment 1 – Brooks – Thurston Howell Romney – NYT – 9-17-12


adobe pdf fileAttachment 2 – Brooks – The Real Romney – NYT – 8-27-12


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