BEATING HIS WIFE: Bolts from the sky!


Part 3—Trivia and gutless small weasels: Has Mitt Romney been beating his wife?

Well, not exactly beating his wife. Has Romney been insulting his wife about her silly stupid hobby, involving that stupid horse?

By last Thursday, the claim had spread to the Maddow show, where the liberal world’s biggest con person pretended to be upset by Romney’s extremely bad conduct. But even the sensible Kevin Drum had adopted this posture when the fury began.

Drum quoted (part of) something Romney said to NBC star Brian Williams. He said that Romney’s vile remarks had been “painful to hear:”
DRUM (7/27/12): This was painful to hear. I mean, what would any normal husband do if his wife were involved in an Olympic competition, even one he personally found boring? He'd attend! He'd cheer! That's what married people do. But Romney has been taking some flak for being a rich dude lately, and he's obviously calculated that being associated with a multimillion-dollar sport—and an obscure, sort of prissy one at that—wouldn't do his campaign any good. So he threw his own wife under the bus. Mitt Romney is willing to be whatever the electorate wants him to be, and apparently he crunched the numbers in his head and decided that America's heartland voters didn't want him to be associated with his wife's sport.

It's a trivial thing, but still, in its own trivial way it's really contemptible behavior, even for a guy who long ago decided he'd do anything to become president. The first time I read that quote I recoiled, and I still do a day later even after I've seen it a dozen times. What a gutless little weasel.
Romney was a gutless weasel. He had thrown his wife under the bus, where he had proceeded to beat her, displaying “really contemptible behavior” in the process.

Please note: This was the sensible Kevin Drum throwing these thunderbolts down from the skies. One week later, the less reliable Maddow was showing tape of three separate incidents when Romney had beaten his wife.

Well—he hadn’t exactly beaten his wife. That said, his conduct was “low even for him,” the furious Digby declared.

In fairness to Drum, let’s note the ways he was probably right:

In fact, this was “a trivial thing.” This made it all the more striking when liberals bellowed about it for the next week—when Drum declared that this trivial thing made Romney a gutless weasel.

Also this: Presumably, Romney doesn’t want to associate himself with dressage, “a multimillion-dollar sport—and an obscure, sort of prissy one at that.” One reason for that would be perfectly obvious—the children of the press corps “elite” have been clowning around with this topic, moving from Romney’s suffering dog to his over-indulged dancing horse.

Plus, his hair isn't right!

In the modern political world, every candidate will have a topic or two he may want to avoid. Everyone understands this fact—but we liberals now yearn to be Sean.

Result? Even the sensible Drum carried on, noting that any normal husband would attend an Olympic event in which his wife was (somewhat tangentially) involved. Just as a guess, we’ll assume that most of those husbands won’t be running for president when these Olympic events occur. But as we learn to be more like Sean, such minor points fall to the floor.

Did Romney “throw his wife under the bus” before proceeding to beat her? This would suggest that his wife wanted him to attend the event, despite the political ramifications. Why would anyone but a Hannity wannabe make an assumption like that?

(For the record, we’re fans of Drum around here. This wasn’t his typical work.)

Drum at least managed to avoid flat-out misquotation. Before he unloosed his bolts from the sky, he quoted Romney saying this to Williams:

“I have to tell you, this is Ann’s sport. I’m not even sure which day the sport goes on. She will get the chance to see it, I will not be watching the event. I hope her horse does well.”

It may seem strange to read those words, then ponder the fury they provoked. But that’s what happens when tribal players learn the joy of hating The Other.

In Drum’s defense, Romney did utter those 26 words, in the same order Drum reported. Within the 26 words he quoted, Drum didn’t disguise a large deletion, as ABC’s Amber Porter did, in the imitation “news report” which seemed to initiate this fury.

Beyond that, Drum didn’t insert a mark of deletion where no words had been deleted. Porter managed to do that too, in the latest parody of journalism produced by the mainstream “press corps.” (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/8/12.)

On the other hand, Drum didn’t include Romney’s full remarks to Williams—and note how tame these comments were, the ones which were most offensive. When liberals begin to rant and rail about mild remarks which matter so little, we are becoming a great deal like Sean—and we are agreeing to make our floundering nation even dumber.

Needless to say, it fell to Maddow to treat us liberals like absolute fools on this score. Tomorrow, let’s look at Romney’s full remarks to Williams, the famous NBC star. And let’s examine the other vile things the vile Maddow said he had said.

Tomorrow: It’s impossible, Hayes said


  1. Once again, here is the rest of Romney's comments according to the NBC News transcript:

    "Well, it’s a big exciting experience for my wife and, and for the person that she's worked with, the trainer of the horse, who’s riding the horse. And obviously, it's fun to be part of the Olympics in any way you can be part of them."

    "I have to tell you. This is Ann's sport. I'm not even sure which day the sport goes on. She will get the chance to see it, I will not-- be-- watching-- the event. I hope-- her horse does well. But just the honor of being here and representing our country and-- seeing the other Olympians is-- is something which I'm sure the people-- that are associated with this are looking forward to."

    Here is how Porter quotes him, which apparently has Bob's panties in a wad:

    “It’s a big, exciting experience for my wife. I have to tell you, this is Ann’s sport,” he said. “I’m not even sure which day the sport goes on. She will get the chance to see it, I will not be watching the event. I hope her horse does well. But just the honor of being here and representing our country and seeing the other Olympians is ... something which I’m sure the people that are associated with this are looking forward to.”

    1. Well, almost.

      You've almost restored all the context.

      But not.

      Each of the first two Romney quotes is a response to a question.

      You have chosen to omit the questions.

      Each Romney quote is a response to a different question.

      The first question can be fairly paraphrased as "So, what's it like to have an association with a real Olympic event?"

      And Romney, presumably in an attempt to both avoid associating himself too much with the mockable sport of dressage and to come off as humbly saying that it's not really *him* who's involved, produces your first quote -- about which there is really nothing offensive.

      Then there is another question. Which you have omitted.

      That question could very well be paraphrased as "what's dressage all about anyway -- how does the event work?"

      And either Romney doesn't know or pretends not to know, perhaps again to avoid too much association with the quite mockable sport of dressage.

      But is there anything really offensive about this second reply?

      Does he diss his wife quite rudely, as many have been pretending?

      Not in in my opinion.

      So. The quote is doctored. It eliminates the questions asked. And mushes the responses together.

      That's a misleading way to quote people.

      For all that, it isn't the worst misquoting in the world.

      But the pretense from several quarters that the whole thing shows Romney treating his wife with shabby disdain is just bullshit of the first order.

    2. Why did you feel the need to "paraphrase" the question? Uusually when somebody does that, they are trying to get their "spin" across.

      Here is question number 1 exactly as Williams asked it:

      "It seems to me this completes your Olympic experience. You get to run the games and now you actually have a horse in the race. What's (LAUGH) that gonna be like?"

      And here is question No. 2:

      "When is the event, and for those of us who don't follow the sport, what happens? Are there rounds that-- of competition? Is there just one chance? What happens?"

      And since we "paraphrasing" is now permitted, allow me to "paraphrase" Romney's answer to both:

      "I don't know. I don't care. And the whole thing bores me so much I won't even be watching."

    3. Isn't it equally as possible that Romney isn't distancing himself because he's embarrassed, but because he wishes to say that this accomplishment utterly belongs to his wife. That his background with the Olympics did work in her favor. That he pulled no strings nor was involved in any way.

      It's equally possible that Romney is telling Brian Williams not to link this experience to his own accomplishments re the Olympics. He is saying that his hands are entirely off this. It belongs to Anne and her dressage colleagues, Mr Williams. Next question, please.

    4. Background with the Olympics did NOT work in her favor, rather.

    5. "Uusually when somebody paraphrases, they are trying to get their "spin" across."

      Unfortunately for you, the paraphrases of the questions didn't spin them at all.

      While your paraphrase of the answers is nothing but spin.

      So you demonstrate what you decry.

    6. Anon 2:47, are you saying that Williams didn't formulate a question predicated on the notion that Romney's (not his wife's) Olympic experience had come full circle?

    7. Here's Williams' formulation:

      "It seems to me this completes your Olympic experience. You get to run the games and now you actually have a horse in the race. (Laughing) ..."

      YOu have to play mighty dumb to suggest that Romney could not have been reacting to some possible implication that his wife's accomplishment had been stage-managed by his 'Olympic bigwig' self.

    8. No, I'm saying no one's more full of shit that Anon of 2:13.

    9. ceceliame - I agree that the whole thing about Romney and dressage is an outgrowth of the pathetic way the media covers elections, and to a large extent, the way the public follows them. Look at the flak Kerry took because he went wind surfing (apparently jet skiing on a tranquil scenic lake emitting sounds like an amped up dentist drill is acceptably non-elitist). There are constant examples. That said, the more reasonable construction of this is not so much that Romney was insulting his wife, but he was trying to distance himself from the effete, elitist dressage sport, for which he has taken all sorts of ridicule, doing so in a seemingly disingenuous way, pretending that he knows nothing about the sport. AC/ sharon MA

    10. I think he was definitely trying to distance himself from Dressage. I'm not entirely sure that it may be for the reason that you mention. I think it was a reaction to Williams' formulation that the event was all about HIM and his experience with the Olympics. It is entirely possible too that we both are right.

      What is settled in my mind is that Romney goes from being too blunt to rather inarticulate. He's inarticulate in a manner that doesn't come off as Every Guy in the way that spared G.W. Bush the full ramifications of such an impediment.

      Romney can't afford this in the way that Pres Obama weathered the disconnect between his seeming engagement during the campaign, then seeming distance afterward. Romney isn't articulate and the president is that, and Romney doesn't come with an automatic legacy as being an icon for historic national progress.

      We'll see if Romney is able to be more thoughtful in his responses, or if he makes the mistake of not learning from mistakes.

      Unfortunately, THIS sort of subjective bull session stuff is the heart and soul of the majority of media analysis anymore. We get little else, even as the media bemoans this presidential campaign season as the least substantive in history... (cue scary music).

    11. ceceliame - personally, I don't see it that Williams' formulation was that the dressage was all about Romney, and Romney then modestly tried to divert the credit to his wife. It was a natural, though not particularly brilliant, way of putting it by Williams, that Romney had been a major figure in the Utah winter Olympics, and now (obviously thru his wife and his wife's horse, which Romney bought for her and in in essece co-owned) was a participant himself in the Olympics, heroically saving those Olympics single-handedly.

      While Romney isn't glib, and he is in the top 1% of the top 1%, so his world isn't anything like that of almost everyone else, the real problem isn't his personality, or gaffes, or how clever he is in avoiding them - the issue is what he policies actually are, and what the potential impact would be if they were adopted. Basically, he is advocating the Paul Ryan, Tea Party, radical rightwing agenda. How can he promise to cut taxes for everyone, and cut taxes for the richest by the largest margin, increase military spending and then balance the budget? What cuts will he make inspending? What loopholes will he close? He won't say. With all these cuts, how many people will lose their jobs? While the answers to these questions are crucial, the press more or less ignores them.

      I'm from Mass. so am more familiar with Romney. He ran for guv and senator as a moderate republican. Now, he has joined hands with the gruesome, neo-John Birch Tea Party , Club for Growth faction. Kerry got flayed to the bone for allegedly being a flip flopper, and here we have Romney.

      AC/Sharon Ma

    12. Anon 11:45 am, I wouldn't be surprised at all that most local media conveys more news about candidates and campaigns than what is discussed in a college dorm session.

      That 's not the case where I live, but it may well be the case in other localities.

    13. ceceliame- sorry, you don't seem tobe making sense, or if you are, I don't understand what you just said.
      AC/sharon ma

    14. I said I have little doubt about your assertion that the press in MA covered Romney's campaign positions in more depth than our national media has, so you may be more informed than most.

    15. Ceceliame - ok, but that isn't what my post said.

      AC/sharon ma

    16. Sorry, I thought your point was that you know Romney is a flip-flopping opportunist currying to the gruesome tea party BECAUSE you understand his past and present positions by being an informed local.

      I see now that your point is simply that Romney is a rudderless lout.

      Sorry to have read more into it.

    17. ceceliame - anyone can see the breathtaking flip flopping, it's in the open. After all, it was an irresistable theme of his opponents in the Republican primary. I do believe that being from Massachusetts, where he ran as a moderate for the senate and governor, and as governor was somewhat pragmatic, it is shocking to watch him now.

      AC/ Sharon MA

  2. It seems very obvious to me that the reason this story got the attention it did is that it so perfectly encapsulates Romney's disingenousness. And this anecdote is something that anyone can understand, whether one follows politics or not. This would have been a non-story if he had just said that he hoped the US Equestrian team and all other American olympians perform at their best, or something like that, and that he would make every effort to watch the events if his schedule allowed it. Instead he gave that ridiculous answer.

    1. "if he had just said that he hoped the US Equestrian team and all other American olympians perform at their best, or something like that, and that he would make every effort to watch the events if his schedule allowed it"

      Which is basically what he did say.

    2. Fail. He said "I will not be watching."

    3. He didn't spell out why. WAAAHHHHH! What a bad man!

    4. Any man who wouldn't watch his wife's horse's event in the Olympics is clearly a MONSTER.

    5. Ivan, it's just as possible that Romney didn't answer in the way that you suggest that he should have, because he was answer the question that Williams put to him.

      Romney was rejecting William's formulation that having a horse in the Olympics is a continuation of ROMNEY'S experience with the Olympics as both a former organizer and now competitor.

      Romney completely waved away that particular formulation by making it clear that he had NOTHING to do with the latter, averring that this is completely his wife's and her colleagues' accomplishment (thus laying to rest any notion that his experience, connections, etc., helped them.)

      Did Romney put these possible implications, and what likely is his own frustration at THEN media focus on a dog or a horse, to rest in the most graceful way possible. Indeed not.

    6. Ah, so we are down to the "isn't it possible" game!

      Yes, it is also "possible" that the Mayans are right and none of this will matter on Dec. 22.

      Here is the problem though: It is perfectly reasonable to take Romney's words to mean his is so disinterested in his wife's sport/hobby -- you know, the one she took up as therapy for multiple sclerosis -- that he won't even bother to look up the day the event takes place.

      It is also "possible" to spin his response into an expression of such devotion to his wife that he doesn't want to take any of the spotlight off her.

      But of course, in the world of Somerby's minions, "possible" always trumps "reasonable" and no interpretation of what he actually said is even "possible" at all.

      After all, taking his words at face value involves "mind reading" Or -- "The Doctor Is In!"

    7. Your patently insincere concern for Ann Romney is only slightly less ludicrous than your claim that you're taking Romney's words "at face value." Do you even know what that means?

    8. Anon 5:20, so it's reasonable to think that Romney truly didn't know when the event was to take place, or is it reasonable to believe that he was lying in order to distance himself from fancy-smancy Dressage?

      It seems to me that the latter interpretation is the one that is most popular, so as you can see, you have YOUR opinion on what is reasonable and others have theirs.

      I think it's perfectly reasonable to interpret Romney's answer as a graceless reaction to the formulation that was actually asked-- What is it like for YOUR Olympic experience to come full circle in your having run the show and now having a horse in the show.

    9. No Cecelia, it is reasonable to think that since Romney didn't even know the day his wife's Olympic event took place, that he truly didn't care or was lying in order to distance himself from his wife's "elitist" sport. Take your pick. They both make him look like a wimp. And a self-absorbed one at that.

    10. Sosa now it's not a matter of "playing what is possible"?

      Now, it's as long as it makes him look bad, who cares.

      Why go with my reasonable interpretation that Romney was gracelessly responding to a question that framed his wife's accomplishment only in the light of her husband's, when you can call THAT playing the possibilities, while you play TWO ways, yourself...

  3. I woke up to dancing horsies on MSNBC this morning. I guess it takes some measure of athleticism to control a huge animal like that, but I couldn't help wondering how it looks when it's time to pass out the medals. Do the riders stand on the pedestals decked out in their fancy Edwardian riding digs, or do the horses themselves crowd all four hooves onto those little boxes?

    1. FYI, dressage is by far and away the most difficult equestrian sport. It requires an incredible amount of athleticism and discipline on the part of the horse particularly. Also FYI, all of these moves were originally developed over the centuries for military horses on the battlefield.

  4. No,Jeeves, Olympic medalists in Dressage, change into Mao jackets for the awards ceremony, just as the Show Jumpers do,and the sequin costumed ice skaters in the Winter Olympics.

  5. In this instance it is very hard to disagree with TDH, but more troubling, the conduct of the leftist reporters might indeed be destructive, as the less partisan could well be expected to find said conduct repulsive. The Daily Howler often dubiously suggests (his overwrought musings on the commercial yesterday were an example), that the left is fixing it's own wagon, but here it's quite credible.
    Digby, Drum and the rest are not creating events out of whole cloth, as was done to Gore, but it is the general PETTINESS of their response that is repugnant. They are also jumping to all sorts of nasty conclusions about the nature of Romney's personal life. Of course, we can well imagine the likes of CeceliaMc cracking all kinds of ugly jokes about the Clinton's marriage, as was the unchallenged low standard of the time, but their is no reason for principled people to like it any better when it is done to
    The Romneys. And that is where we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.....

    1. Par for the course, Greg. You're nearly always reacting to things that you've imagined.

    2. I will say this for you, Greg. I think that in this latest brouhaha, "even" you have gotten a sense of the vicissitudes of our national media, and the polarizing degenerating effects it has had on us.

      The media sets up a scenario where Romney MUST deal with the knock that he's an out-of-touch rich guy (even though he's run a state govt and spent a year traveling all over the country talking to folks), then they react in horror when they think that he's taken them seriously and done just that.

      Their reaction is a game. It's Kabuki Theater. They do it to all candidates.

      Unfortunately, this sort of thing makes all into their fellow pretenders. What's worse, is that it gives credence to extreme partisan tyrants who truly are con-artists.

    3. The scenario, such as it is, is that Romney is a greedy fool who couldn't care less about anyone not in the winner's circle of the very, very rich and the rest of us can get stuffed. There is much to support this scenario, and the fact that he was a state gov and (stretch Cecelia, STRETCH) spent a year traveling the country and talking to "folks," hardly alters that, as TDH admits.
      I think you are a fraud. I don't think you reacted at all with distain when all the bars were being lowered during the Clinton/Gore media dumb down.
      Sometimes the Daily Howler, as Media Matters does with the right, makes a big deal out of not very much. Today he was on to something, and the sighted bloggers and Maddow were writing from a childish, perhaps destructive place.

    4. Greg, suggesting that Romney isn't a cartoon character and hasn't spent his life in a men's club, is not a ringing endorsement of his facility with people, or of his concern for them. Too ringing for you I understand, but it was meant to convey how unrealistic and downright idiotic media narratives can be (and I said they do it it ALL candidates).

      Yes, I'm guilty of not being much aware (but was starting to be) of media dumbing-down during the .Clinton Era. I started watching at the end when the media made the Lewinsky thing "just sex".

  6. Sorry, but I do think it's odd that Romney won't be watching .

    1. Remember that statement Anon 5:46 pm, the next time you hear a charge that the president has been neglecting his duties met with the counter that he must just as reasonably campaign for re-election too.

    2. "Sorry, but I do think it's odd that Romney won't be watching."

      Or doesn't even know the day it will take place.

    3. CeceliaMc, here's a story of another husband who wasn't able to watch his wife in person compete in the Olympics. Contrast his words with Romney's "I don't even know what day it will be."

    4. Treanor is very graceful, indeed, but realize too that he wasn't being asked to comment on his wife's accomplishments as though they were part and parcel with his own.

    5. And realize that Treanor did NOT say, "I don't even know what day Misty competes."

      But then, I guess in the New World of Bob and the Bobinistas, we can never hold Romney responsible for anything, including for the words that came out of his own mouth. It was all that sly, tricky Brian Williams' fault.

    6. Well, you should care less about the particulars of other people's marriages, even if they are running for President.

    7. Who said anything about Williams being "tricky" , and generally calling a candidate "graceless" is not considered a compliment or a desirable trait in a politician.

      You guys ARE what Somerby says that you are. You are warriors and will brook nothing else from your own or toward an opponent.

    8. No, that's not true, Greg. An enormous effort goes into projecting some sort of appealing family image in candidates.

      Voters most certainly should attend to any discrepancy between campaign hype and reality.

      Not to be too subtle here.... No, that's not the same as saying they should buy into all the media and opponent's memes.

    9. Greg, I honest could not possibly care less about the particulars of any one's marriage but my own, and I am as disinterested in the Romney's marriage (and have no reason to believe they are anything but devoted to each other.)

      This isn't a question about the quality of their marriage.

      The question I have is: What kind of man doesn't even know when his wife's Olympic event will be?

      In other words, it's a question about Romney's character, his principles (and I have seen no evidence he has any), and what, if anything, will he stand for simply because it is the RIGHT thing to do?

      And once again, trying to gain political advantage by distancing himself from his one of the proudest moments of his wife's life is pretty pathetic.

  7. I don't see any "hate" in any of this. A campaign is on, and this fits into a couple of negative narratives about Romney: (1) that he is not authentic, has no beliefs or principles; and (2) that he is wealthy and unconnected to the real world. So partisans are trying to feed that narrative to strip as many votes as possible from Romney. So what else is new? People are entitled to give it whatever significance they want, but there certainly is a political logic behind it.

    I also do not see how Porter's deletion or her failure to indicate the deletion changes the quotation in any substantive way relative to those critiques. The critical things are the dismissive word "even" -- i.e., I'm so uninterested I'm not EVEN sure what day it is -- and the deliberate emphasis on his intention not even to watch it.

    1. Well, that brings up a good point. Is it the job of media pundits to function as campaign strategists and spokesmen ala Sean Hannity, or should they offer up some sense of perspective regarding moments like this?

      Suggesting that it's good politics might be okay if you're talking David Axerod, but it's not so exculpatory with everyone else.

    2. Let me help you Cecelia. The job of "media pundits" is to draw an audience. Period.

    3. Good grief, since the first two Athenians ran against each other, the goal of campaigns has been to define your opponent before he can define both himself and you.

      Romney has already been defined by his GOP primary opponents as the out of touch, rich elitist. (And, author of Romneycare) without a single principle he wouldn't sacrifice to be president.

      And some times, a narrative can be right on the mark.

    4. Anon 7:04, It's easy to understand the attitude that says if we can't get Dillion for dealing and murder, let's get him for tax evasion. Let's get him for Dressage, if not for vulture capitalism.

      The problem is that this only turns out well for our national soul when we're truly dealing with murderers.

      Otherwise, no matter how much you congratulate yourself for saving the republic, you've sold out our standards and our opportunity for real change to do it.

    5. Dillion? Did you mean John Dillinger? If you did, you even got that wrong. The guy they famously got on tax evasion was Al Capone. Dillinger met a very different end.

      Cecelia, honestly, don't try to make historical analogies unless you know the history to which you are referring.

      You really wind up looking, well, stupid.

    6. So we're able to get the mistake in the historical reference but were unable to ascertain, or entertain, or address the larger and most sincerely stated point.

      Ever at battle.

  8. Anon 7 pm, I suppose if you have media pundits confused with carnival barkers, you are perplexed at their being criticized.

    The fact that you do regard them as that tends to make my point.

    1. So your point is that they are nothing but carnival barkers too, trying to attract the largest audience?

      Gee, tell Somerby. He's devoted his life to exposing how they are destroying Truth, Justice and the American Way.

    2. No...I said that Anon 7pm had confused them with being the equivalent of carnival barkers.

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