Are you still sure Mitt Romney can't win!


The laziness of his opponents: Our side is so dumb it just hurts.

Consider what happened when E. J. Dionne showed up to chatter with Rachel.

The nonsense in question occurred Tuesday night. E. J. offered this:
DIONNE (10/9/12): In preparing for this show, I noticed something that I hadn’t noticed before. Romney said in the debate, “I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people.” Now, that’s exactly what George W. Bush said in the 2000 debate.

You can cut rich peoples’ taxes by a whole lot of money and still have them pay the same share of the total. So that’s what he was really saying.

He was also— He said he’s going to cut everybody’s taxes by 20 percent. And then he said in the debate, we’re not going to have tax cuts that add to the deficit. Now, if this is math, it’s math on meth. I mean, it just doesn’t add up at all. And I think that’s the issue that has to be raised over and over again.

And then Big Bird is really a good illustration of how—in addition to all these tax cuts, in addition to all the military spending, all he talks about is Big Bird, and it’s got to be turned on him.

MADDOW: In terms of the way the president tried to make that case during the first debate, that is what the president returned to over and over and over again. That’s why he kept saying $5 trillion, talking about the extra trillion of dollars in defense spending and how expensive the tax cuts were going to be. The president, I think, was trying to make that case, but wasn’t able to connect with it.
Valiantly, Rachel defended Obama. He tried, but he couldn’t connect!

In truth, Obama did a very poor job at last week's debate. In truth, he was unprepared. He seemed to be completely surprised when Romney said various things about his tax proposal he has said many times in the past.

But then, if Dionne represents our brain trust, perhaps the president shouldn’t be blamed. Just look at what Dionne was still saying, six days later, concerning Romney’s proposal:

First, Dionne said he had just noticed something Romney said at the debate. Sad! Romney has made that very same statement many times in the past, extending back to the very day he unveiled his tax proposal.

In Dionne’s account, here's what Romney said: “I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people.”

Even now, does Dionne know what Romney means by that? It seems that he doesn’t know. (But then again, Dionne seems to think that this is some sort of new statement!)

Good grief! In making that statement, Romney doesn’t mean that he’s going to “cut rich people’s taxes by a whole lot of money” but cut everyone else’s taxes too, thus keeping rich people’s share of taxes the same. Whatever Romney would end up doing, that just isn’t what he means when he makes that statement.

You know that isn’t what he means because, at that same debate, Romney said that any tax reform he signs will have to be revenue neutral. That completely contradicts what Dionne says Romney “was really saying.”

Next, Dionne entertained us rubes with an apparent contradiction. “He said he’s going to cut everybody’s taxes by 20 percent. And then he said in the debate, we’re not going to have tax cuts that add to the deficit.”

That would be a ludicrous pair of claims. But that isn't what Romney has said.

In fact, Romney has said, from the beginning, that he would cut everyone’s tax rates by twenty percent (with deductions and loopholes to be eliminated). But duh! Cutting someone's tax rates is not the same thing as cutting that person's taxes.

Does E. J. really not know that? How about Our Own Rhodes Scholar? She just bumbled ahead!

Romney’s original proposal didn’t add up. It was mathematically impossible, the Tax Policy Center said, in early August.

Beyond that, it’s amazingly stupid to cite PBS as the way to balance large cuts in tax rates. Romney proposed that too, as Dionne somehow managed to note.

But Obama seemed surprised when Romney said various things about his tax plan—things he has said many times in the past. And six days later, E. J. Dionne still wasn’t making much sense.

Romney is smart and facile. In debate, it’s easy to beat such opponents.

Finally, look at Bill Clinton. Last night, Lawrence exulted over the big pile of piffle which follows. We're sorry, but this is just wrong:
CLINTON: I had a different reaction to that first debate than a lot of people did. I mean, I thought, "Wow! Here’s old moderate Mitt. Where you been, boy? I missed you all these last two years!"

But I was paying attention in the last two years. And it was like one of these Bain Capital deals where, you know, he’s the closer. So he shows up, doesn't really know much about the deal and says, "Tell me what I’m supposed to say to close." Now the problem with this deal is, the deal was made by severe conservative Mitt. That was how he described himself for two whole years.

Until three or four days before the debate they all got together and said, "Hey, Mitt, this ship is sinkin’ faster than the Titanic. But people are still frustrated about the economy, they want it fixed yesterday. So just show up with a sunny face and say, “I didn’t say all that stuff I said for the last two years. I don’t have that tax plan I’ve had for the last two years. You’re going to believe me or your lyin’ eyes here? Come on.”
We're sorry, but that's total horseshit. In fact, Romney hasn’t had his tax plan “for the last two years.” At the debate, Obama said eighteen months. Clinton is even more wrong.

Nor did Romney change his plan in the three or four days before the debate. The things he said at that debate he had said many times in the past, including on Meet the Press.

Obama showed no sign of knowing. Six days later, E. J. Dionne still seemed basically clueless.

Our leaders are lazy, indifferent, dishonest. Given the laziness of his opponents, are you still sure Mitt Romney can’t win?


  1. If you're so sure of what Romney DID say, could you please explain it to the rest of us? Because now I am honestly, totally confused.

    1. I don't know that Somerby or anyone else, including Mitt Romney, can explain what Romney said.

      But Somerby certainly knows what Romney didn't say, and when he didn't say it.

  2. Never mind that Romney doesn't have a coherent, consistent message on any issue, including his tax plan, that he won't change or deny depending on the audience he's talking to.

    The real issue here is that Obama, and now Clinton, have got the date wrong about when Romney first didn't say it.

    1. Fixed this for you:

      "The real issue here is that... the Democratic talking points developed so far are ridiculously easy for Romney to knock down."

      Not that you care about that. You just hope to look smart. (It isn't working out so well.)

    2. Right, they're easy to knock down because Romney is going to say, "Aha! You said the tax plan that I have now flip flopped on was two years old, when in reality it's only 8 months old!!! Got you!!!"

      Someone IS trying to look smart here, and I agree, it isn't working out very well.

    3. Yeah, real easy to knock down.

      Obama: You're $5 trillion tax cut doesn't add up.

      Romney: I never proposed a $5 trillion tax cut. (spoken forcefully and with energy!)

      Somerby: Romney wins!

    4. Wake up call:

      It wasn't "Somerby" who thought Romney won the debate, it was people who watched the debate who thought that.

  3. "In fact, Romney has said, from the beginning, that he would cut everyone’s tax rates by twenty percent (with deductions and loopholes to be eliminated). But duh! Cutting someone's tax rates is not the same thing as cutting that person's taxes."

    Jan. 25, Debate at Myrtle Beach: "I would like 25 percent, but right now it's at 35, so people better pay what is legally required. But ultimately let's get it down to as low as we possibly can, if it's 20, if it's 25 but paying more than 25 percent, I think, is taking too much out of our pockets."

    Sounds to me his tax plan was meant to put money back in people's pockets. But let's continue.

    Oct. 11, 2011 Dartmouth debate: "People are having a hard time making ends meet. And so if I'm going to use precious dollars to reduce taxes, I want to focus it on where the people are hurting the most, and that's the middle class. I'm not worried about rich people; they're doing just fine. The very poor have a safety net; they're taken care of. But the people in the middle, the hard-working Americans, are the people who need a break, and that's why I focus my tax cut right there."

    Tax cuts. Not tax rate cuts.

  4. Details of Romney's plans are vague but can trust his capabilities and that he offers the best chance of success. We know Obama will continue to fail.

    1. Just in case that wasn't a poor attempt at sarcasm, the details of Romney's plans aren't vague, they are non-existent.

    2. And yet he's ahead because people are smart enough to know they've witnessed a failed "plan" for four years and have reason to think they will see success from a skilled and knowledgeable leader who doesn't put forth details until he knows the lay of the land.

    3. Is Romney really ahead?

    4. Ahead or tied but the point is "a plan" beyond broad strokes isn't important, and everyone understands the reality once you're there won't match the results you sell during a campaign. Obama failed, "plan" and results. Romney voters are seeking an alternative to failure.

    5. So we should trust Romney to fix things, even though he, in effect, admits he has no idea how to fix things, and the only "plan" he's put forward is the same one that created the mess in the first place. Happy days are here again.

    6. He doesn't "admit he has no idea how to fix things" he is vague because he lives in a world called "reality" where adults understand they have to know the makeup of congress and create relationships with personalities and evaluate the political landscape to figure out an approach. Community organizers have no such knowledge or experience.

    7. Ah, so he has a myriad of plans to fix things, all secret, and each one finely tuned to a different mix in congress, and all of them would be spoiled as soon as he actually talks about them. I understand now. Thanks for sharing your own secret knowledge of Romney's secret plans.

    8. No. I doubt he has a myriad of plans given that he doesn't have the information necessary to create a plan beyond a crude outline. Explaining to you why he is winning despite vagueness but it seems to be going over your head.

    9. So he knows what needs to be done (but can't say what it is), but he doesn't know what needs to be done until he gets in office and gets information, and understands the composition of congress. You're right, it goes over my head.

    10. Everyone in America knows what needs to be done. How and if it will be done will depend on which candidate wins and his subsequent actions.

    11. So everyone in America knows what needs to be done (except Obama apparently), but Romney can't say what it is until he gets in office and gets more information and knows who will be in congress, and only Romney can get it done. Your brilliant expository skills have brought things back below my head. They are now about level with my ass. Or yours, I'm not sure about that part.

    12. "Community organizers have no such knowledge or experience."

      You really have no idea what community organizers do. In fact, I would wager, from that statement alone, that the only thing you know about community organizing is from four-year-old Rudy Giuliani/Sarah Palin soundbytes, and the late Andrew Bartbeit's ginned up ACORN "expose."

      Let me put it in a nutshell for you. Community organizing is all about building consensus within a community to identify common problems,research solutions, identify various levels of government whose job it is to solve it, and confronting those levels if necessary into action.

      Some 10 years ago, the community I live in was plagued with crack houses. Using the PICO model (and I am certain you have never heard of the Pacific Institute for Community Organizing), we organized, researched, and eventually got the cops, prosecutor's office, building codes department, probation department, and even judges on the same page for the first time to work together on innovative strategies beyond sending undercover cops into these houses to make a buy, which we were told at first was the only way to shut them down.

      Within two years, we shut down 200 of these houses in our broad, big neighborhood (and were even featured on a PBS special). We still have a neighborhood in which our kids can go outside to play, instead of a neighborhood living in fear behind locked doors for the next gunfight to break out.

      So buddy, please don't knock "community organizing" to me. And please limit your comments to something you actually know something about, which should restrict your comments severely.

    13. And to sum up, community organizing is about building leadership within a community. It's about taking responsibility, following through, building consensus, and acting.

      I was a Hillary Clinton supporter during the 2008 primary season. But it surprised me not one bit when Barack Obama blew her away in the caucus states because he was much better equipped to build his organization from the ground up because he learned that from his experience as a community organizer.

      I also understand completely, much to the chagrin of my more ideologically pure "progressive" friends, why Obama had to give so much to get the first national health insurance plan passed.

      The first thing you learn in the community organizing process is that YOU don't get your way entirely. Everybody gets a voice, and every voice is heard. But we coalesce around the principles we hold in common and don't confuse achieving the ultimate goal with achieving the "perfect" as each individual defines it.

      And that is why I gladly cast my vote for Barack Obama, and will do so again.

  5. Bob,
    The Romney tax plan has evolved somewhat over time; he has grown more specific about the cuts in individual tax rates and about the elimination of estate taxes and the AMT. But the broad outlines of the plan have not changed. Well before February 2012, back in November 2011, Howard Gleckman was blogging for Christian Science Monitor that "For individuals, Romney would extend the 2001/2003/2010 tax law. He promises to lower ordinary income tax rates—but to unspecified levels at some unidentified time in the future." Romney's plans to lower corporate taxes were solidly in place even earlier.

    You're trying to hang part of your argument on Romney's plan only coming to life in February, but the changes in the plan from 18 months ago to now are not apparent at all. Romney has gotten more specific about the happy news of individual tax rate cuts, but those were always part of the plan-that's not really a change.

    So, to sum up, Romney had a plan 18 months ago that was in no way inconsistent with his current plan; we can talk about the tax plan that Romney has had for over a year. Clinton and Obama are fine talking about the long espoused Romney plan--if you have evidence that Romney had no plan, or some other plan, before February 2012, then you have to show it.

    1. And if you go back five years to his 2007-08 run for presidency, he was saying the same things in the same broad general terms, and calling it a tax cut for the middle class.

    2. One aspect of Romney's tax plan, which I understand to be 20% across the board rate cuts balanced by adjustments in deductions, exemptions and loopholes, that is not being discussed is the stimulative power of the plan. If the "job creator's" taxes are not being cut, how will the economy be stimulated? I don't believe in trickle down but I assume Romney and Ryan do. Have they come around to Obama's point of view? I guess Obama had a better understanding of how the economy works after all. Romney kept saying he couldn't possibly understand because he never even ran a lemonade stand.

  6. It's probably imprudent, for purely practical reasons, to accuse your opponent of lying. That may be Somerby's main point, and I would agree. But I am very tired of people (including Mr. Somberby here, but also most of the MSM) allowing it to pass as honesty when someone intentionally misleads people by being vague or by phrasing things in an ambiguous way. And I emphasize intentionally here, because Romney clearly intends to mislead different groups of voters, in different ways, about his policy plans, sometimes by being vague, other times by leaving an impression by a statement that he can, before other audiences, weasel out of because of technicalities in his phrasing.

    The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Bob S. appears not to value much the notion of the "whole truth."

    Teenagers are known for a certain gambit when, for instance, they say they're going out to an (approved) place but actually go to another (forbidden) place. When asked about what how the time went, they come up with technically "honest" answers. But they're certainly not being honest. In fact, it would be fair to say they're lying.

    Romney is not off the hook here, however ineffectively he is covered by MSM journalists and countered by political pundits. I cannot understand why Somerby doesn't seem to see that but sticks to analyzing technicalities (and not doing that analysis particularly well).

  7. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Bob S. appears not to value much the notion of the "whole truth.