Romney’s bind

Mitt Romney just discovered that he can’t get the nomination without endorsing vicious union-busting measures. But the reason he ducked on Measure 5 in Ohio is that Ohio voters hate it. And he can’t win the election without carrying Ohio.

Seems to me there’s a lesson in Mitt Romney’s flip-flop-flip on the anti-labor ballot question in Ohio. Not the obvious lesson is that Romney has no core beliefs: a deeper lesson about the strategic fix he’s in.

It’s very hard to draw an electoral map where a Republican wins the White House without winning Ohio. Romney knows that. He also knows that the Governor’s union-busting is very unpopular with Ohio voters. So his best play, against Obama, is to say that it’s a matter for Ohio’s voters and he’s not going to meddle.

But, as Romney just discovered, the Republican base hates unions almost as much as it hates black and brown people, and perhaps as much as it hates scientific reasoning. So now he looks craven – again – and also has told the people of Ohio, whose votes he needs, that he supports something that affects them and which they strongly oppose.

The Tea Party-owned, Koch-financed Republican party, openly trying to wreck the country for partisan gain and openly pushing for the very richest to get even richer while everyone else suffers, has suffered less backlash than I would have expected. But eventually Wile E. Coyote looks down. Maybe “eventually” will arrive next year.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

23 thoughts on “Romney’s bind”

  1. Yup, now into full partisan hack mode. Seems to last longer each election cycle, too.

    1. Brett I don’t think Romney has ever left partisan hack mode. That’s Mr. Kleiman’s submerged point.

      And beyond Kleiman’s: “Maybe “eventually” will arrive next year” lies this forward looking question:
      If Romney loses to Obama will he continue in partisan hack mode for another four years?
      I say: Why not go for the record for failed campaigns?
      He has eternal hopes and deep pockets, and one might as well be good at something.

        1. Well, he can’t argue against any of the asssertions in the post, so he resorts to the ad hom. Like always.

          1. I can’t argue against the Republican base hating blacks and brown people? The GOP being tea party owned, and Koch financed? GOP openly trying to wreck the country?

            Reality based? I’d settle for only mild delusion based at this point.

  2. A lot is going to depend on the power of the viral video. But for the time being, anything that would lead a republican candidate to be chary of expressing violently unpopular view in public is probably not in the interests of democrats or the country as a whole.

  3. I can’t argue against the Republican base hating blacks and brown people? The GOP being tea party owned, and Koch financed? GOP openly trying to wreck the country?

    Clearly not.

  4. I can’t argue against the Republican base hating blacks and brown people? The GOP being tea party owned, and Koch financed? GOP openly trying to wreck the country?

    Of course you can. Whenever you’d like to start, I, at least, am listening.

  5. Brett, in case you hadn’t noticed, “hack” is an insult, and therefore against our rules. I’m not going to zap your comment because it inspired a thread. But please don’t do it again.

  6. Mark: Perhaps my vocabulary is lacking, then. Could you direct me to a word which encapsulates the notion of somebody who abandons all pretense of objectivity, loses their sense of proportion, and embraces total mindless partisanship? While not being an insult, of course…

    What bothers me about it is that you’re better than this. You’re quite capable of writing intelligent stuff when there aren’t any elections nearby. But let an election impend, and the spittle starts flying. Where “impend” seems to imply lesser proximity each time around. It’s getting worse…

    And it’s the glaring contrast. It’s like some kind of Jeckle and Hyde thing you’ve got going on.

    Ok, seriously, I’m supposed to defend against such absurd sentiments, as though anybody here would think it cause for anything but banning if I responded in kind, and started attributing actual malice to the Democratic base as a whole. Fine.

    The Republican base hates black and brown people? Really, now, mind reading? It’s not possible that they simply don’t love black and brown people? Think that “black and brown people” isn’t a category one should pay any attention to? Think that “criminal” and “illegal immigrant”, (But I repeat myself…) are the sorts of categories which are the proper interest of government, and that how these happen to correlate with skin color is entirely up to the criminals, and should have no impact on public policy?

    That, if you lock up criminals, and a disproportionate number of them turn out to be black, you should address your complaints to the criminals, as it was their choice to create this state of affairs?

    And, I mean, seriously? Hate? It’s hate to insist on equal treatment under the law? Refusing to further handouts and biased policy is hate?

    Tea party owned? Really now… Can’t make up your minds whether the Tea Party is an astroturf operation, or the controlling entity behind the GOP? It can’t be both, but could easily be neither.

    Koch financed? In that case, can I refer to the Democratic party as Soros quadruple financed with a cherry on top? Motes and beams, people, you shouldn’t be slinging insults that apply more to you than to us.

    Openly trying to wreck the country for partisan gain? Really? Remind me again, who has been driving the drilling rigs out of the gulf in order to suppress domestic oil production. Who is it, again, trying to exhaust what remains of the nation’s capacity to borrow, giving money to companies like Fisker Automotive? Who was it, again, who operates on the principle that you should never let a crisis go to waste? A sentiment that aligns quite naturally with a proclivity to create an extend, rather than avert and cut short, crisis?

    Seriously, it’s absurd that I should have to respond to junk like this, rather than Mark resolving to switch to decaf.

  7. Brett,

    For my entire lifetime, the Republican party has openly embraced policies that harness government power to disadvantage black and brown people, and for large stretches of that time have deliberately used rhetoric that excites hatred of black and brown people. Just this week the Republican Party of Texas was caught openly plotting to dilute minority voting power, as part of a system of removing blacks, browns, and the poor from the voter rolls. A recent Republican presidential candidate just published a book about how increasing the number of non-whites in politics and business leads to corruption and criminality; a current leading candidate had a family ranch called “Niggerhead”.

    Let’s see: disenfranchise, disadvantage, denigrate. Oh, and incarcerate, humiliate, and kill. Forget about mind-reading; if you act in ways indistinguishable from hatred, I don’t *care* what’s in your secret heart of hearts, you’re a hater.

    1. And yet, it’s not too hard to know what’s in the hearts of people like Brett. Ask Brett, and he’ll tell you that unwillingness of blacks to vote for Republicans is a sign that they are too foolish to understand their own best interests (if he’s even willing to be that generous). You don’t need a secret decoder ring to comprehend the contempt in Brett’s heart toward minorities.

      But hey, Robert Byrd used to be in the Klan, so neener neener.

    2. Kevin, for MY entire lifetime, the Democratic party has, for instance, openly embraced policies of racial discrimination in hiring and enrollment. Policies which objectively harm identifiable groups. Now, were I of a mind to, I could attribute this to hate on the part of Democrats. I could claim that Democrats hate Ford stockholders, that was why they gave Ford’s competitors massive government loans. I could, were I of a mind to, attribute a lot of Democratic policies to hate.

      But I don’t, because I try not to be a foaming at the mouth partisan, and I’m pretty sure actual evil is a bit to rare for the entire base of a major party to be actively devoted to it.

      Were to you ignore that frisson you get out of imagining the entire Republican base to be evil, (Which automatically puts you on the side of good, of course.) you might figure out that the GOP doesn’t have to hate blacks to want to reduce their political clout. All it has to do is care how they vote. If people from C to G in the alphabet were to vote 90% plus Democratic, you’d find the GOP plotting to reduce their clout, and it wouldn’t mean the GOP hated people with names like Frank or Gilbert.

      Why, it’s similar to the way the Democratic party likes to disenfranchise soldiers. You don’t hate ’em, you just don’t like the way they vote.

      I’ll have more to say when I get back from some holiday event my wife is dragging me off to.

      1. I could claim that Democrats hate Ford stockholders, that was why they gave Ford’s competitors massive government loans.

        Um, why should anyone claim that Democrats hate Ford stockholders for doing what Ford asked the Democrats to do?

        Yes, I know, it’s not possible that Ford did that because it doesn’t fit into your neat little narrative about how the world works. But Ford did that.

        Still, okay, the management of Ford joins black people among those who don’t understand their own best interests. Let’s let that go. This was more interesting:

        If people from C to G in the alphabet were to vote 90% plus Democratic, you’d find the GOP plotting to reduce their clout, and it wouldn’t mean the GOP hated people with names like Frank or Gilbert.

        Most racists are embarrassed to admit that they seek to disenfranchise blacks, and I think it was accidental that you admitted it here. But maybe not. Tell me: How has the Republican Party acted to reduce the clout of black people?

        1. By using the voting rights act to concentrate them into “majority-minority” districts. You know, winning by 95% of the vote in your district doesn’t give your vote in the legislature any more weight, but it does mean that 44% of the voters in your district might as well have stayed home. Kind of a stupid idea, that black votes only count in districts where blacks are the majority of voters, but Democrats made it law, and Republicans enforce it good and hard to their detriment.

          And I didn’t say that *I* seek to disenfranchise blacks. I’m talking about the institutional GOP here, and they most assuredly are capable of doing evil. Just not because they “hate blacks”, though. Any more than Democrats back affirmative action in college admissions because they hate Asian Americans. It’s just business, no hate involved.

          To paraphrase, never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by self interest.

          “Um, why should anyone claim that Democrats hate Ford stockholders for doing what Ford asked the Democrats to do?”

          Hey, I’m giving an example of the sort of thing I would spout if I aspired to be more like Mark. It wasn’t supposed to make sense.

          1. Yeah, I knew you’d need to walk back your admission about how Republicans treat black voters. But nonetheless, it’s true: Republicans seek to disenfranchise blacks. Black people know that Republicans have a deeply rooted racist tendency, hence black people seldom vote for Republicans.

            I can never tell, Brett, whether you think you’re bullshitting us, or if you’re just bullshitting yourself. But the Republican contempt for African Americans isn’t really some big secret.

          2. No walk back involved, that IS how the GOP reduced black political influence: By exploiting “majority minority’ districts to make a lot of blacks waste their votes on candidates who were going to win without the extra votes.

            What, a form of gerrymandering isn’t nefarious enough for you?

      2. Wait, the Democrats disenfranchise soldiers? How? And you readily admit that the GOP disenfranchises black people but it is ok because they don’t vote for the GOP?

        Brett has in the past been a foaming at the mouth partisan willing to call all liberals evil and attribute to them all sorts of wicked motives, but now he is above it?

        Is this really Brett or someone hijacking his handle?

  8. Re: Brett.

    For the past 17 or 18 years I’ve been on a listserv of Vietnam Veterans that is also open to anyone interested in that war. Long active on the list is a former longhair demonstrator back in the day, now a professor of literature at an eastern state university, truly a “tenured radical” who is also a proclaimed communist — an admirer of Stalin (who was SO misunderstood!). His extreme pro-Hanoi and anti-US postings are tolerated by the rest of us (overwhelmingly in-country veterans) because…. well, because we are tolerant. Most of us. I disagree with nearly everything this guy believes and posts, but have argued strongly that he belongs on the list as much as I do.

    So let it be with Brett. We need him, as the necessary abrasion to our outspoken progressive beliefs.

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