Mitt Romney Says the Thing That Is

Mitt Romney says more income inequality is “worse.” He probably doesn’t mean it, but his saying so is a BFD.

I notice that progressive bloggers and Tweeters are pointing and laughing at poor little Mitt Romney for his sudden outburst of populism. But it seems to me that, as pleasant as laughter is, what’s really called for is a smile of grim satisfaction. He has told the truth – albeit probably insincerely – and there’s every reason to hope that he and his party will come to regret it.

It is among the core Blue-Team beliefs  that the current level of income inequality is unjust, inefficient, and socially destructive, and that public policy should attempt to reduce the degree of inequality.

The Red team – up until today – has believed, or at least said, that market-driven inequality reflects natural differences in economic contribution and is therefore just, while taking from “producers” and “job creators” and giving to the “47%” is unjust, and that the great inequality of outcome maintains incentives and thus contributes to efficiency. They love to criticize redistributive policies as “class warfare” and emphasize the importance of making the pie bigger rather than carving it up more equally, along with (formal) equality of opportunity rather than equality of result.

So when Mitt Romney describes rising levels of disparity – the rich getting richer while the number of poor people increases – as “income inequality getting worse,” he is making a major rhetorical concession to the good-guy side.

Of course he doesn’t really believe it, but hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. Once the GOP concedes the claim that, from where we stand now, more equality would be an improvement, I don’t think it’s hard for the Democrats to win the argument about whose policies would do better at moving money from the rich to the middle class and the poor.

Gingrich/Santorum: might-have-beens and stochastic dominance

Why didn’t they cut cards for who got to run for President and who got to be Deputy Dawg?

So it now comes out that, in February 2012, Gingrich and Santorum agreed to gang up on Romney, but the deal fell apart because neither of them would take second place. Santorum claimed the Presidential nomination on the grounds that his campaign was surging while Gingrich’s was sinking; Gingrich pointed out that he was older and had more wives.

Stalemate.

In some ways this isn’t hard to understand. The dream of the Presidency dies hard, and it’s not clear that being second fiddle on a losing Gingrich ticket would have left Santorum in a better place for 2016. Gingrich, of course, wasn’t going to get another shot. So I can imagine that each candidate preferred whatever his longshot odds were on beating Romney himself to being the VP candidate on a team with a good shot at beating Romney.

But it seems to me that – when the discussions happened – neither Gingrich nor
Santorum had as good as a one-in-five chance of beating Romney without the other’s help, and that the combination would have had no less than an even-money chance.

If so, they passed up a deal that was ex ante superior to no deal for both men. They could have agreed to a combination, and then cut cards for who got to be Top Dog and who got to be Deputy Dawg, giving each man at least a 25% chance of being the nominee.

So either no one in either camp was sharp enough to come up with this idea, or they didn’t trust each other enough to do it.

Too bad! Romney was a weak candidate, but against a Gingrich-Santorum or Santorum-Gingrich ticket Obama might have rolled up a 1984-sized landslide. Anyway, it would have made great political theater: 3 Henry VI meets the Keystone Kops.

Update See below for some very thoughtful and serious comments in response to my primarily snarky post. Some responses:

1. Yes, the Republic is healthier with two sane parties.
2. The Republicans aren’t currently a sane party. That was true with Romney as the nominee, just as it would have been true with a Santingrich or Gingorum ticket.
3. But the craziness would have been more evident to more people, and to the media, in the latter cases.
4. To have a two-sane-party system requires either (a) returning the Republicans to sanity or (b) having them implode and be replaced by a sane(r) party of the right (as the Whigs, after a delay, replaced the Federalists) or having them displaced by a new party occupying part of the same ideological space (as the Republicans displaced the Whigs).
5. Devastating political defeat for the current, Teahadi-driven GOP is the shortest path to either of the scenarios in (4).

It’s a fair question how many additional states Obama might have carried against Santingrich. North Carolina, Indiana, Georgia, Missouri, and Arizona all might have been in play, but probably not much else. But the popular-vote margin would have been substantially larger. More to the point, downballot Republicans would have suffered, either from supporting a lunatic national ticket or by not supporting it. Democrats might have taken back the House, and some state legislative chambers. That’s the lost opportunity.

Going forward, it seems to me that 2014 is won or lost depending on how closely the Democrats can make it resemble a Presidential election: high-turnout and hyper-partisan. The Republican Party is currently slightly less popular than genital herpes. The trick is to pin that label to every GOP candidate. “Friends don’t let friends vote Republican.”

Mitt Romney writes his own obituary

“What I said is not what I believe.”

To Chris Wallace, about “47%.”

What I said is not what I believe.

Just for double irony: it’s clear that the 47% line was the one thing Romney really did and does believe: he said it again, in different words, in the Wallace interview, and made it clear that he was thinking mostly in racial terms. (Note that Romney did just as badly among Asian-Americans, who tend to be higher-than-average on the income scale, as he did among Latinos.)

ObamaCare was very attractive, particularly to those without health insurance. And they came out in large numbers to vote. So that was part of a successful campaign. [snip]

The weakness that our campaign had and that I had is we weren’t effective in taking my message primarily to minority voters, to Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, other minorities. That was a real weakness.

We did very well with the majority population, but not with minority populations. And that was a — that was a failing. That was a real mistake.

WALLACE: Why do you think that was?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, I think the ObamaCare attractiveness and feature was something we underestimated in a — particularly among lower incomes. And we just didn’t do as — as good a job at connecting with that audience as we should have.

In other words, if only rich white folks were allowed to vote, Romney would have won. No wonder the Republican caucus on the Supreme Court is so enthusiastic about allowing Republicans in the state capitals to ensure white minority rule with a combination of gerrymandering and voter suppression.

If I were looking for empirical evidence of the existence of a benevolent Deity, the fact that this moral midget – who has yet to either congratulate his successful opponent or offer him help in governing the country Romney claims to love – never made it to the White House would have to rank fairly high on the list.

Now they tell us

The suckers never get tired of being suckers. Per Matt O’Brien @obsoletedogma: “Romney’s last internal poll had Obama winning Ohio by 5 points.”

Per Tweet from the Atlantic’s Matt O’Brien @obsoletedogma:

Romney’s last internal poll had Obama winning Ohio by 5 points.

Machiavelli and Barnum were right: the suckers never get tired of being suckers.
I’d love to hear a reporter ask some Romney spinner about this tonight: “Why did you lie to everyone about how the campaign was going?

How to say “Romney is full of sh*t” in British

The Financial Times shows how it’s done.

The Financial Times demonstrates:

Mr Romney … has gone through so many contortions to win his party’s nomination that it is hard to see how he would govern in practice. His wishlist includes an aspiration to raise Pentagon spending by a fifth while cutting everyone’s taxes and still somehow balancing the books. Such fiscal alchemy is an exercise in evasion, not a recipe for sustainable economic recovery.

Mr Romney’s latest positioning as a pragmatic centrist appears to fit far better than his earlier incarnation as a rock-ribbed conservative Republican beholden to the Tea Party. The trouble is that it is impossible to be sure. His protean persona relies more on market research than any innate political philosophy.

Four out of five grown-up conservatives agree: Slinky is not fit to be President.

O, what a tangled web we weave …

Jeep ad on the Sunday talk shows. Cantor ducks.

Cheerful tweet from Alex Burns of Politico:

Every Sunday show just going 18 rounds on the Jeep ad. Incredible risk for Romney to have taken.

And here’s Eric Cantor’s bid for his own personal Four Pinocchios:

I’ve not seen the ad. I’ve just heard it now. I’ve not seen the ad. They’re apparently not running it in Virginia. The point is Mitt Romney has a demonstrated ability of building jobs.

Right. Cantor went on a Sunday talk show two days before Election Day without bothering to watch the video that he was sure to be asked about. No, Cantor decided to husband his own credibility at the expense of his candidate, even if husbanding his credibility meant telling a transparent fib.

Romney on waterboarding

He’s for it.

Just in case there was any doubt, here’s the audio.

I can’t make out every word, but I could make out the gist:

Q: Waterboarding: do you think it’s torture?

Romney: I don’t. … We will have a policy of doing what we think is in our best interest. We’ll use enhanced interrogation techniques that go beyond what’s in the military handbook right now.

Of course waterboarding – repeated partial drowning – is torture. It’s war crime under inernational law; as John McCain once said, we hanged a couple of Japanese admirals for it. It’s also a felony under the laws of the United States.

Barack Obama banned it. And W. Mitt Romney wants to use it.

Any questions?