FISH WRAP: WEEK ENDING 9/23/12

by E.C. Fish on September 24, 2012

ISSUE OF THE WEEK — ROMNEY REVEALED, SOME MORE: Mother Jones’ release of a video recording of Mitt Romney addressing a May 17 fundraiser at the home of private-equity mogul and orgy host Marc Leder has sufficiently dominated this week’s news as to make any extended discussion of the tape itself by your humble Wrapper an exercise in needless repetition. In this week of the first anniversary of the Occupy movement, talk of the 99% and the 1% was replaced by talk of the 47%, the segment of the population that supposedly pays “no taxes” (give or take payroll taxes, sales taxes, and, indirectly, property taxes through rent), whom Romney said “believe they are victims . . . entitled to . . . you name it.” In his remarks, Romney dismissed them utterly, saying they will “vote for the president no matter what” and stating, “[M]y job is not to worry about those people.”

While it is certainly a newsworthy first for a presidential candidate to dismiss out of hand almost half the electorate, the 47% comment overshadowed many other controversial statements on the tape, most notably Romney’s further trashing of his own foreign policy credentials in his comments on the Israeli/Palestinian peace process, which he dismissed as utterly as he had the moochers of the 47%. “[T]hese [are] thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way,” he said, promising to address this long-held priority of US foreign policy by basically doing nothing. “[W]e kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen…”

Those who have not yet watched the tape are urged to do so, with the caveats that it is long and often boring, and that just about everyone who speaks on it looks like an imbecile.

 THE SKITTERING OF LITTLE RAT FEET:  While some in the Republican party, notably  RNC Chair Reince Priebus and senator and Romney surrogate Marco Rubio (R-FL), defended Romney’s remarks (based in some cases on a 14-year-old tape of Obama that they quoted out of context), the order of the week for most of the GOP was either tongue-clucking disappointment or self-preservation. Former Minnesota governor and Romney co-chair Tim Pawlenty resigned to take a position as head of a Wall Street lobbying organization. Conservative talking heads David Brooks, Bill Kristol, and Peggy Noonan (for the second week in a row) were all harshly critical of the candidate, mostly abandoning constructive criticism on the grounds that the foundation was shot to begin with. Governor John Kasich (R-OH), Governor Susana Martinez (R-NM), former governors George Allen (R-VA), Linda Lingle (R-HI) and Tommy Thompson (R-WI), Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Scott Brown (R-MA), Republican senatorial candidate Linda McMahon (CT) and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne (NH) all sought to put as much distance between themselves and Romney’s remarks as possible, with Brown and Heller (among others) even claiming 47-percenter status.

While Kasich and Martinez — past and future GOP “rising stars” — seem to be simply hoping to maintain a GOP to star in, the rest (save would-be Governor Lamontagne) are actually running for Senate seats this year. Even before Romney’s remarks, New York Times analyst Nate Silver had cast doubt on Republican chances of a Senate majority, and this week downgraded those chances even further. With the top of the ticket in seeming free fall, down-ticket candidates seem to view the task of avoiding getting caught up in Romney’s coattails as a matter of political survival.

MITT CARRIES ON: Romney himself — in keeping with his “no apologies” policy — rued the inelegance of his “off-the-cuff” remarks while otherwise seeming to stand behind them (though, in a typical display, he walked off the stage when invited to confirm his beliefs). He continued with a light schedule of appearances and mostly tried to pretend that there was nothing wrong. Things continued to go wrong.

Having remarked on the Mother Jones tape that “it would be helpful to be Latino,” Romney appeared on a candidate forum for the Spanish-language network Univision in a fake-tan makeup job (highlighted by stark white ears) that gave new meaning to the phrase “pandering on its face.”

And — perhaps figuring, “What the hell?” — Romney made use of the traditional late-Friday “take out the trash” news window to release the second of his two promised tax returns, which revealed that he had met his assertion that he paid at least 13% in taxes, but only by failing to take advantage of a chunk of his charitable deductions. He thus paid more than was legally required — an act he had stated in July would, in his opinion, disqualify him from being president.

While my warnings last week about overconfidence and complacency stand, it is becoming goddamn difficult not to succumb.

SENATE REPUBLICANS STAND FAST: Perhaps oblivious to the above, Senate Republicans continued their program of denying Democrats any accomplishments whatsoever by first stalling (via a Rand Paul [R-KY] filibuster on an unrelated matter) then killing a jobs bill for returning veterans that was both bipartisan and fully funded, with some of the “no” votes coming from the bill’s sponsors and co-authors. Loathe as I am to make political predictions, much less wagers, I would bet the contents of my meager coffers that many of these Senate Republicans will, before the end of the campaign season, characterize the election as being about jobs and accuse the administration of inadequate support for the military. Any takers?

FISH TAKES (ANOTHER) HOLIDAY: I’m going to be traveling next weekend and may not  be able to post a Wrap. I may try to compensate for this with short posts during the week. I may end up stranded somewhere in the greater five-state area. Life is exciting — let’s just roll with it, shall we?

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E. C. Fish is the editor and publisher of The Spleen.

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