And After the Nausea, the Vomiting…The RNC and Lee Atwater’s Sins

I stayed true to my earlier statement: I didn’t watch a lick of the RNC. I did not care. I couldn’t even make it through YouTube videos of the candidate that other bloggers got excited about: Mia Love, Paul Ryan. I read the text of Romney’s speech and thought it a good one, on balance. But if I have to hear one more of these people talk about their hardscrabble upbringing and the Promise of America, I was going to hurl.

This is the downside of a Romney campaign, everything becomes I kind of Hope and Change II: Electric Bugaloo. When what I would like to hear; what would get my blood pumping would be a full-throated denunciation of all the Thousand of Myriad ways that the Government screws with our lives. Something with the intellectual heft of The Federalist Papers with the wit and sheer gob-smackedness of Parliament of Whores. I don’t just want Obama denounced, as though he were the sole problem. There’s a whole mindset of Leviathan-worship that needs to be attacked, going all the way back to Woodrow Wilson.

And sure, Republicans would be preening hypocrites to make that argument. But by the rood, you’ve got to start sometime.

And the DNC will just be sad. Obama looking grey and tired, trying to light that crowd up by painting Mitt Romney as the Mormon Devil and Paul Ryan as his baby-raping accomplice. It won’t work. In 2008 the DNC was a place of Hope and Change; Fear and Loathing will not get the same reaction. Three months is a long time in politics, but I don’t know what plays Obama has left.

Watched an infuriating documentary last night about Lee Atwater called Boogie Man. Everything about it was offensive, beginning with the premise that Atwater made politics “dirtier” than it had been. Terry McAuliffe got to intone sonorously ad nauseam about how awful everything’s been in politics since. You ended up with enough crocodile tears to fill a rain barrel.

Here’s what I’d like to know:

What about the infamous “Willie Horton” ad was contrary to fact? Was Willie Horton not a convicted murderer? Did he not receive a weekend pass under a policy that Gov. Dukakis supported? Did he not, during said pass, stab a man and rape his wife?

And more to the point, why is this information off limits? Why, when violent crime was at a peak, as it was in 1988, was Gov. Dukakis’ crime policies not fit for discussion?

Ah, but raaaaacism! Fine. Pretend Willie Horton was a honkie. Imagine a white face glowering at the screen. What changes? What about the ad becomes less effective? Do we really think that white people are only afraid of black criminals? Why?

What I remember most clearly from the 1988 campaign was the widespread convicition that George Bush was a wimp. I seem to recall Dukakis saying those very words. I also seem to recall that George Bush was a bomber pilot during World War II, shot down more than once. How exactly was he a wimp? Was it that Connecticut accent, that soft-spoken, slightly nasal voice? Who came up with that particular rhetorical attack, and when does the documentary about him come out?

Paul Ryan and the Vice Presidency

I’m starting to thing this pundit business is easy.

Two days ago I posited the following:

So let’s look at the kind of guy Mitt Romney is. He’s a business guy. He’s managerial. He’s serious. He’s sober. He plans and works and works and plans. Which is to say, he does not fly by the seat of his pants, determinedly believing that he will not go down in flames, this time, as a certain maverick senator who shall not be named does.

He does not want his running mate to overshadow him, to become the story. He does not want to have someone he has to keep an eye on.

Now, I’d be hard pressed to think of someone who fits this bill better than Paul Ryan. Ryan is serious, smart, and experienced, yet has a goal beyond getting re-elected. He’s about the best choice Romney could have made, and it reflects exactly that side of Romney that makes him electable. Or, as Jennifer Rubin puts it:

Romney is above all else a problem-solver, a doer and a fixer. Ryan, likewise, is a policy maven who has since 2007 been trying to advance budget, tax and health-care reforms, moving the Republican Party to become the champion of market-based reform. Ryan is a smart man, certainly the smartest in Congress, with an eye for detail and a facility with numbers. Romney prizes brains, precision and the ability to wield numbers. Ryan uses a scalpel, not a sledge hammer in skewering his opposition; Romney likewise uses piles of data to slay his competitors (as he did in the Florida and Arizona GOP primary debates). Ryan is personally and professionally disciplined, a straight arrow with a gee-whiz brand of optimism. Romney is as well.

Now, to the downside. Having Ryan in the Old Executive means not having him in Congress pushing Boehner rightwards. As Dav O, one of Stacy McCain’s commenters, puts it:

With Ryan out of the House, Speaker Boehner no longer needs to worry about spending, cuts, taxation and so on.
Senator McConnell may see a VP Ryan on occasion doing his official Senate duties, but a Veep who isn’t a member of the club is easily dispatched.

So who replaces Ryan? An Establishment GOP? And in the House? Jerry Lewis returns to provide the intellectual and moral underpinnings of GOP Budget-Think?

He has a point. However, I think it overstated for one reason: we’ve moved beyond the “bucket of warm spit” era of the Vice Presidency. The last man to suffer the indignities of the post without a serious role in the executive branch was probably Dan Quayle. Gore was more significant to the Clinton Administration, Cheney even more significant to the Bush (43) administration. “Sherrif Joe” Biden is a not insignificant part of the Obama White House. So I expect Paul Ryan to be a junior partner of a Romney administration, one who has experience and capital that Romney wants to tap.

So I was right. Mitt Romney’s Veep pick is boring, and by boring, I mean boringly excellent.

Romney’s Veep is Going to Be Boring

Unlike Stacy McCain or Bob Belvedere, I am not enough of an insider-politics kind of guy to follow the buzz and make educated guesses. I don’t know who’s going to get picked. So what follows is merely the emanations of feelings in my gut.

And to be treated as such.

So let’s look at the kind of guy Mitt Romney is. He’s a business guy. He’s managerial. He’s serious. He’s sober. He plans and works and works and plans. Which is to say, he does not fly by the seat of his pants, determinedly believing that he will not go down in flames, this time, as a certain maverick senator who shall not be named does.

He does not want his running mate to overshadow him, to become the story. He does not want to have someone he has to keep an eye on. He wants an asset he can draw from when needed, and which will stay in its glass case when not.

So regardless of who Romney picks, that person is not going to be exciting. That person will understand the role of the Veep candidate — and that of the Vice Presidency — is that of a very junior partner. It doesn’t matter how right-wing the person initially seems to be. The running mate could be “hooker’s-lipstick-red”, as Ace of Spades might put it, but perfectly willing to march to the beat of Romney’s drum machine. Because Romney wants to sell himself.

Whether he’ll be able to do that is a whole other story.

Romney Concludes That People Dislike The Government More than Bain Capital…

Stacy McCain offers up the new attack ad.

You can demagoge about corporate fatcats until Demosthenes himself says “Dude, we get it,” and people play right along. But when you ask the question: “So what’s the government going to do that’s any better?” You won’t get an answer that makes any sense. We have an opportunity to ask that question over and over and over again this year, and it’s refreshing to the the Republican candidate aware of it.

David Brooks Starts to Sound Like Jeff Goldstein

[Insert Mayan Calendar Joke Here]

The Romney campaign doesn’t seem to know how to respond. For centuries, business leaders have been inept when writers, intellectuals and politicians attacked capitalism, and, so far, the Romney campaign is continuing that streak.

One thing is for sure. As Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute has said again and again, it’s not enough to say that capitalism will make you money. You can’t fight what is essentially a moral critique with economics.

Romney is going to have to define a vision of modern capitalism. He’s going to have to separate his vision from the scandals and excesses we’ve seen over the last few years. He needs to define the kind of capitalist he is and why the country needs his virtues.

Let’s face it, he’s not a heroic entrepreneur. He’s an efficiency expert. It has been the business of his life to take companies that were mediocre and sclerotic and try to make them efficient and dynamic. It has been his job to be the corporate version of a personal trainer: take people who are puffy and self-indulgent and whip them into shape.

That’s his selling point: rigor and productivity. If he can build a capitalist vision around that, he’ll thrive. If not, he’s a punching bag.

Throw in a bit about defining your terms and that could be any Protein Wisdom post. Which is to say, any post that Jeff tosses off when rather torqued about the philosophical pre-surrender he sees in the Romney campaign, as opposed to something earnestly and seriously written, such as this heavy swipe at the errors of Scalia’s textualism.

FactCheck Spanks the Obama Campaign…

Via A Checquerboard of Nights and Days, The Obama Campaign complained about FactCheck’s call about whether Romney “sent jobs overseas” while he was head of Bain Capital. They tell him he’s still wrong.

For all these reasons, we respectfully reject the Obama campaign’s request that we amend our original story.

We re-state our conclusion that “some of the claims in the [recent Obama] ads are untrue, and others are thinly supported.” And we suggest that should Obama campaign officials discover any actual evidence that Romney personally participated in any management decisions at Bain after February of 1999, they should produce it to a federal prosecutor.


Bloomberg vs. Rasmussen

Bloomberg has Obama up 13 points. Rasmussen has Romney up 2.

I mention these because they’re the most recent polls, and they’re polls of Likely Voters, not just Registered Voters.

Now that’s an 11-point difference. Rasmussen’s sample is about double the size, but that’s the only noticeable difference.

So unless Bloomberg is heavily weighting Democrats, I can’t figure out what’s causing the difference.

Except to say that polls, at this stage of the race, are largely bunk.