Friday Talking Points [196] -- Poor Mitt?

[ Posted Friday, February 3rd, 2012 – 17:10 UTC ]


Whoops! Nearly forgot, tomorrow's a caucus day in Nevada. So, very quickly, I'm picking Mitt Romney to win big (perhaps even breaking 50 percent for the first time), but I'm going to call an upset for second place -- Ron Paul will squeak by Newt Gingrich. The polls don't back me up on this, so call it a gut feeling. Santorum will finish in fourth, far back in single digits.

I ran the board with my picks for Florida, so my numbers are improving:

Total correct 2012 primary picks so far: 8 for 12 -- 67%.


Well, that was a pretty good week, at least seen from the Democratic perspective.

Mitt Romney, frontrunner for the Republican nomination, announced he wasn't too worried about poor people. Maybe it would be fun to see Romney debate Joe Biden, just because nobody would know what to expect from either of them. Heh.

Later in the week, Romney squirmed under the spotlight when he was forced to accept the endorsement of Donald Trump, which Trump offered just to boost the ratings for the upcoming season of his reality show. To Mitt's credit, he did manage to look sheepishly embarrassed by the whole spectacle.

A previously-well-loved charity for women's health interjected itself into the political arena, and faced a backlash of enormous proportions for cutting off their funding to Planned Parenthood. This made Planned Parenthood look good all week, and today forced the other charity to reverse itself in a desperate bit of damage control. Good luck with that, as the damage may be deeper and longer-lasting than they think.

Barack Obama was in the news for reminding people, at a prayer breakfast with religious leaders, that Jesus said a whole lot of stuff about those poor people Mitt isn't concerned with. Afterward, some of these religious leaders said they were shocked that the president had the temerity to repeat what is (supposedly) one of the core messages of their faith, even quoting scripture to make his point. Jesus, after all, had precious little to say about the woes of high taxes for hedge fund managers, instead concentrating much more on how we treat the poor. But -- somehow, for some reason -- this became news.

To top it all off, the January unemployment figures came out today, and they told the continuing story of an economy that is getting steadily better. Knee-jerkism in the media (and the Republican Party) abounded with stories of "let me explain why things are actually getting worse," as usual. The Republicans -- from Romney on down -- are terrified of a recovering American economy, because they know full well this is going to help Democrats -- all the way up to Obama -- in the elections this fall. They have staked their entire campaign on: "Things are bad, let us lead again, and we'll make things better!" If things are already getting better, though, then this message is going to fall flat -- and they know it. Look for a massive restructuring of the Republican Party talking points in the coming weeks, to adjust to this new reality.

But I already wrote an article on economic optimism a few weeks ago, so I won't bother to repeat myself here. Instead, let's get on with the show.


Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

Harry Reid got an impressive 96-3 vote this week on a Senate bill named the "We Got Our Hands Caught In The Cookie Jar" Act. No, wait, I think it was actually named the "Corrupt Bastards? Who, us?" Act. Or something like that. A few weeks back, 60 Minutes did an exposé on how members of Congress are allowed to profit off of insider information they get in the performance of their duties, by buying and selling stocks on information not made public. Now, with red faces, Congress is acting to close this enormous conflict-of-interest loophole, and ban the practice. But even with that impressive vote total, Harry doesn't deserve any sort of award -- because idea of banning this sort of thing has actually been around for years. And we simply do not issue "It's About Freakin' Time" awards, here.


Debbie Wasserman Schultz does deserve an Honorable Mention this week, but we aren't going to tell you why until the end of the talking points. This is what is technically known as "foreshadowing," or (if you're more cynical) a "teaser" to get you to read all the way through the rest of the article.

The Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award this week goes to Cecile Richards, the daughter of the late, great Ann Richards. We're assuming Cecile's a Democrat, actually (a pretty safe guess, in our opinion).

Cecile Richards is the president of Planned Parenthood. She was unafraid, this week, to call a blatantly political move by a donor charity exactly what it was -- a blatantly political move. She did not mince words, and her organization came out of the fracas smelling like a rose. Donations poured in, Planned Parenthood got a lot of very good media exposure, and the Republican drive to target Planned Parenthood for extinction got a lot higher profile than it has been getting. Cecile Richards did an excellent job as spokeswoman for her organization this week, and deserves recognition for that fact alone.

Although she's not in public office and is not a politician, Cecile Richards is our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week. To mix two metaphors shamelessly, Cecile is following in her mother's footsteps, and those are some very big shoes to fill. Well done, Cecile, and more power to you and to your organization.

[Congratulate Planned Parenthood's president Cecil Richards via Planned Parenthood's contact page, to let them know you appreciate her efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

This week, sadly, the choice for the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award was pretty easy.

Although the headline was a lot scarier than the actual facts, the facts are bad enough (if true). This week, former Michigan state representative Kenneth Daniels was arrested and charged with being linked to a drug smuggling ring in Detroit. Daniels was charged with, essentially, helping the drug kingpin to launder money to buy a Mercedes. Now, this isn't as bad as if he had been the kingpin himself, but it's still pretty bad.

Daniels only allegedly committed the crime he was charged with, so we'll gladly rescind his MDDOTW award if he is exonerated. But our guess is that he's going to have a tough time explaining why he (allegedly, of course) used cashier's checks to help a drug kingpin buy a luxury car. For now, though, Kenneth Daniels is our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

[Kenneth Daniels is now a private citizen, having lost his race for the Michigan senate, so we do not have current contact information for him, sorry.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 196 (2/3/12)

Kind of a mishmash this week, mostly reactionary talking points from Republican gaffes. But then, hey, that's the kind of week it was.

As always, these talking points are offered up for Democrats to use both in nationally-televised interviews (should you be a prominent officeholder) and around the water cooler at work (for everyone else).

[One technical note, before we begin. Readers have been expressing some confusion as to the formatting of these talking points, so we'd like to clear the issue up. When quoting an actual person who said something worthy of being used as a talking point by others, the text is set in an indented "quote box." When the talking point is just me, suggesting something for other Democrats to say, the text is not presented in a quote box, but instead is just surrounded by quotation marks. As I said, there has been minor confusion over this issue, so we thought we'd define it to better the comprehension of our readers.]


   The Golden Rule

The first two of these are excerpts from President Obama's remarks to the prayer breakfast this week (full text available at the White House website). This one is a little long, but is so inclusive that it's worth reading the whole thing.

And so when I talk about our financial institutions playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren't discriminating against those who are already sick, or making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren't taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it will make the economy stronger for everybody. But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God's command to "love thy neighbor as thyself." I know the version of that Golden Rule is found in every major religion and every set of beliefs -- from Hinduism to Islam to Judaism to the writings of Plato.

And when I talk about shared responsibility, it's because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it's hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone. And I think to myself, if I'm willing to give something up as somebody who's been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that's going to make economic sense.

But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus' teaching that "for unto whom much is given, much shall be required." It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who've been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.


   For the love of God, Mitt...

It's hard to see this one as anything other than a shot across Mitt Romney's bow. Once again, Obama quotes from the Bible to remind everyone of one of the core messages in the New Testament: how you treat the poor matters.

John tells us that, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."


   Anti-American Republicans

This one is just disgusting, and should be denounced in the strongest possible language. [Revolutionary-era facts from Gary B. Nash's superb book "The Unknown American Revolution" (2005), pages 98-101.]

"House Republicans actually had a documentary filmmaker and his camera crew arrested this week for having the temerity to exercise their rights as Americans. Josh Fox, who created the Oscar-nominated film "Gasland" was led out of the House committee room in handcuffs, after attempting to film a public hearing on fracking. This is an abominable and anti-American act. In 1766, a revolutionary idea was forced on the statehouse in Boston, and as a result public galleries were built for the first time ever in a colonial government. The idea had spread to Philadelphia by 1772, and became a foundation of our new American government: The People were allowed to observe their public servants in the legislature at work. No more closed doors. No more secret meetings. The freedom of the press was written into the United States Constitution's First Amendment for the very reason that it would act as a check on the power of government. The Republicans ought to hang their heads in shame for so blatantly ignoring this spirit of openness in government which predates our country's birth. In 1766, public oversight of government meetings was a revolutionary idea. It should not be one, in 2012."


   Republicans talking about the poor? Say what?!?

OK, the rest of these are reactions to the continuing circus they call the "Republican primary process." The first one should be delivered with as stunned an expression on your face as you can manage.

"I noticed that the Republican candidates were beating each other up over how much they cared for poor people. Is anyone as flabbergasted at this turn of events as I am? Republicans? Talking about how they're going to help poor people? I'm sorry, did I just wake up in some sort of alternate universe or something? Maybe now Republicans will go from talking about the plight of the poor to actually doing something about it -- like reconsidering the policies they've been promoting which would make the lives of the poor insufferably worse. But maybe that's expecting too much of them, I don't know."


   Fix the safety net? Are you kidding me, Mitt?

Mitt's convinced that everyone quoted him out of context. Because this "safety net" thing that he's heard about is obviously in fine shape, and gosh darn it, he'll do whatever he can to "fix" it, if need be. One might consider uttering this talking point while rolling your eyes in a sarcastic manner. Just a suggestion.

"Mitt Romney says he'll, quote, fix the safety net, unquote, if it needs it? Who is he trying to fool? I mean, are you kidding me, Mitt? When Republicans talk about 'reforming entitlements' that is the same as saying 'gut, defund, and destroy the safety net,' plain and simple. That is what the Republican Party is all about, today: shredding the safety net and kicking the poor to the curb. If you go through the policy ideas of Mitt Romney -- or, really, any Republican -- you'll find that they all make the lives of the poor more miserable by far. Republicans aren't going to 'fix' the safety net if they get elected, they're going to try their hardest to eliminate it. Mitt Romney simply cannot be believed, there's no other way to put it."


   Mitt: 60% tax hike for the poor.

The Democratic National Committee released an ad immediately following Mitt's "let them eat cake" remark. It's a pretty good ad, other than the choice of some very bizarre music as a soundtrack. Talk about the ad, and maybe the media will show it for free!

"Have you seen the new D.N.C. ad over Romney's remarks on the poor? It uses a Chris Matthews clip to point out the embarrassing fact that Romney's own policies, should he be elected, would raise taxes by 60 percent on those making less than $20,000. That's Mitt Romney's actual policy for poor people: hit them with a whopping big tax hike, while cutting taxes for millionaires by 15 percent. It's quite obvious who Mitt Romney cares about -- and it certainly isn't the poor."


   Debbie Wasserman Schultz wins the spin

And finally, Debbie Wasserman Schultz once again shows other Democrats how to create a damn fine talking point. Her response to The Donald endorsing Mitt was priceless, and deserves to be repeated by everyone, whenever the subject arises. When asked about Trump and Romney, Debbie skewered both elegantly and hilariously:

They both like firing people. They both make millions doing it.

-- Chris Weigant


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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: Democrats For Progress
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post


31 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [196] -- Poor Mitt?”

  1. [1] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    I'd like to apologize in advance for the cheap shot on Joe Biden, to our resident Biden Fan Number One.

    All in good fun, Liz, all in good fun.



  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    That was hilarious.


  3. [3] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    It has been noted, and I believe it to be very true, that R's and D's (and their assorted allies however you define them) live on different worlds.

    For R's people on welfare are there because they love it. For D's people are on welfare because they have no other options.

    In the R world, violence is a first resort in diplomacy. In the D world violence is done after all else is tried.

    In the R univers Right and Wrong are absolute. In the D world Right and Wrong are not clear cut. Circumstances change.

    I could go on for hours, but others have done a much better job than I. The point I'm trying to make is that Romney is not hurting his chances of winning the nomination with these fluffs.

    Unfortunately, except for firing up Obama's base, I'm not so sure that he's hurting his chances at the Presidency with these gaffs.

  4. [4] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    Time passes.

    Our 6 yo grandson just informed my wife that he was too old to take a bubble bath with her.

    He's right. But she's devastated ... and happy (she HATES bubble baths!)

  5. [5] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Well, so far, I have to say Ron Paul might actually make it 3-for-3 for me in NV... although it's still pretty early...



  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Now will you get a delete function around here!?

    Just kidding. :)

  7. [7] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Liz -

    Well, OK, maybe not... looks like I spoke too soon...



  8. [8] 
    dsws wrote:

    In the R universe Right and Wrong are absolute. In the D world Right and Wrong are not clear cut. Circumstances change.

    I would replace "absolute" with "simplistic and not to be questioned". The left is more likely to espouse universal values, whereas the right is more likely to espouse American/Christian/whatever-group values. Also, moralistic assertions are much more important on the right, whereas actually doing the right thing is more important on the left.

    If moral assertions are true or false, then they're something you might be mistaken about. If they're just an expression of feelings (usually at the level of a whole culture, not just an individual's feelings), then there isn't anything there to be wrong about. The left is much more likely to admit the possibility that we might be mistaken.

    That's correct, but politically it's disastrous. Having phony morals makes it easy for the right to look moralistic. Having to struggle with real moral questions makes it impossible for the left to be unified, and easy for the right to smear us as amoral or immoral.

  9. [9] 
    dsws wrote:

    I still say Gingrich is about to drop out.

    Romney got an actual majority in Nevada. It's not just that the ABR vote is split. It's that the Party has accepted Romney as the nominee. When Gingrich has to buy his plane tickets and robo-calls out of his own pocket, he's not going to keep going for long.

  10. [10] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    Well Dsws [9], you might be right. Far be it from me to make a prediction ... I've pretty much gotten nothing right so far.

    But, somehow, I don't see 51% in the best state for Romney (outside Utah) as being the resounding victory everyone says it is.

    Sounds more like resignation to me.

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    This Republican primary season defies predictions and so, you're doing pretty well.

    By the way, I hear that this isn't even the most important race in town. What's really important for the Republicans is to maintain control of the House and win absolute control of the Senate and then go on to "box out" President Obama or "box in" any Republican president and have the legislative agenda set entirely by Congress.

    When did the congressional Republicans become so intent on usurping the Constitution? Heh.

  12. [12] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    When did the congressional Republicans become so intent on usurping the Constitution? Heh.


    it's actually kind-of a reaction to the increased power of the presidency under bush. they didn't mind such overreach when their own guy was doing it, but when it's the ultimate "other" wielding the power of the unitary executive, then congressional republicans suddenly must obstruct at all costs. one side goes too far and then complains to high heaven when the other side does it too. it's not just republicans either. the democrats were the ones who started the pro-forma sessions to stop excessive bush recess appointments, then the obama administration were long frustrated by the same tactic. it's an endless cycle of escalation that's been going on since the 1980's.


  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Please don't try to tell me that the Republicans are just like the Democrats.

    They are not.

  14. [14] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Are you OK, Michale? You've been noticeably absent from the comments lately, or are you just really busy with something else? Hope it is the latter and that you aren't dealing with health problems or those of a family member.

  15. [15] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    of course they're not the same, but they interact within the same system of escalation. republicans overreach, then instead of standing up to that overreach, democrats innovate some sketchy tactic to dial it back. republicans appropriate said tactic to overreach even more, and the media treat it as equal because it's the same tactic.

    rinse, repeat, and nobody learns anything, least of all the media. i'm not surprised that folks like michale think the two sides are exactly the same, because that's how every mainstream media outlet portrays them.


  16. [16] 
    dsws wrote:

    Far be it from me to make a prediction ... I've pretty much gotten nothing right so far.

    No need to let that stop you. My record is dismal, but it's still fun.

    But, somehow, I don't see 51% in the best state for Romney (outside Utah) as being the resounding victory everyone says it is.

    When the Party is solidly resigned to its inevitable nominee, that's still a resounding primary victory for him. His ceiling in polls was in the 20s for a long time, so any majority means he's about doubled his numbers.

    The number I had seen was a hair higher, either from partial results or from exit polls. Still, Newt isn't even on the ballot in what was it, Virginia.

    it's actually kind-of a reaction to the increased power of the presidency under bush.

    The presidency has been gaining ground at the expense of Congress for a long time, not just under Bush. FDR picked up the pace, but even he didn't start it.

    Democrats and Republicans are definitely not the same. But they both breathe air, eat food, and so on. The shift of power from legislative to executive isn't a partisan matter.

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Have you heard the latest ... the Republican plan is to forget about who wins the White House this fall.

    They are now focused on the House and Senate races and have let it be known that whether it's a Republican or Democrat at the head of the executive branch, the legislative agenda will be completely set by Congress.

    A Republican majority in the House and Senate will see to it that Obama will be completely "boxed out" or the Republican president will be completely "boxed in" and forced to "do the right thing", so to speak.

    You have to hand it to Republicans in Washington and their enablers ... they dream big dreams. Heh.

  18. [18] 
    dsws wrote:

    I saw [11], but this is the only place I've heard it.

    Congress does still matter, but the executive branch matters more. Most law is regulation, made in the executive branch. Foreign policy is almost entirely done in the executive branch.

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Have you noticed what's been going on lately? Should the Republicans win an effective majority in the House and Senate this fall, then the executive branch will matter not a whit.

  20. [20] 
    dsws wrote:

    I must not have. How could the executive branch not matter?

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What do you think Obama/Biden will be able to accomplish if the Republicans take effective control of the House and the Senate?

  22. [22] 
    dsws wrote:

    Destroy the Republican Party, by identifying it with a Congress that Americans love to hate? Only if Congressional Republicans were stupid enough to give them that option, though.

    Can't happen, though. Gaining 13 seats in the Senate, while losing the presidential election, is just impossibly skewed. It's going to be a big year for Republicans in the Senate, with 7 Democratic-caucus vacancies and only 2 Republican vacancies. But not that big. They would have to not only sweep the vacant seats but also pick up 6 of the 16 Democratic-caucus seats up for re-election. Knocking out 37% of incumbents in a US election? Not going to happen without something big that would affect the presidential race too.

  23. [23] 
    dsws wrote:

    Actually, make that 14. To have effective control of the US Senate, you need 61 votes not 60. If you only have 60, then every senator in the party is the 60th vote. You get the garbage like the Louisiana Purchase and the Cornhusker Kickback. Authoritarians are always more unified than democrats, but that wouldn't be enough to let them make it through four years without a major fiasco.

  24. [24] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    [23] -- logic absolutely correct. Actual believability of the results of logic: Balls on a stick, mountain oysters, and so forth.

    If the R's get 55 senators you'll see that 60 vote limit drop like a rock to 53-55. The the rules of the Senate can be changed by a majority vote at the start of any 2 year session.

  25. [25] 
    dsws wrote:

    Actual logic: it would be good to ease off from having an absolute 60-vote requirement for everything; therefore the Republicans probably won't do it.

    The way some Democrats were talking about doing it, it maybe-sort-of requires the president of the Senate to be involved.

  26. [26] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    I don't think its the President of the Senate, I think its the Senate parlimentarian. I can't imagine the VP having to bless it, but then again, you might be right.

    More disgustingness from the RW:
    "We will see what happens with Obama. Israel may attack Iran. Europe may collapse. Something might happen, we don’t know." These guys are praying for disaster to happen so that Mittens can beat Obama.

    Irrationality runs rampant.

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Only if Congressional Republicans were stupid enough to give them that option, though.

    Oh, I think they've amply demonstrated that they are plenty stupid enough.

    What else would they have to do to convince you?

  28. [28] 
    dsws wrote:

    To actually destroy a major party, it would take a whole new level of stupid. And how can you say they've demonstrated any stupidity at all (other than the moral stupidity implicit in their fundamental positions), when they're poised to take power?

  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    How might the Republicans take effective control of the House and Senate, if not the executive branch itself, after having demonstrated behavior that can only be described as a "whole new level of stupid", you ask?

    Do you really want me to answer that? In full?

  30. [30] 
    Michale wrote:


    rinse, repeat, and nobody learns anything, least of all the media. i'm not surprised that folks like michale think the two sides are exactly the same, because that's how every mainstream media outlet portrays them.

    Of course, they are not EXACTLY the same.. I never claimed they were...

    But, as wise ole Yarnek tells us....

    "They use the same methods to achieve the same goals."

    This latest issue with Citizens United/Super PACs is a perfect example.

    Obama has been telling everyone ad nasuem that the ruling and the resulting Super PACs it created are "a threat to our democracy"..

    That's an EXACT quote...

    ".... a threat to our democracy"
    -President Barack Obama

    Fast-forward to today and look who is snuggling up to the Super PACs...

    None other than Barack They-Are-A-Threat-To-Our-Democracy Obama....

    So, you tell me..

    Do Democrats and Republicans use the same methods to achieve the same goals??

    Damn skippy....

    So, this begs the question...

    Why does the Left get away with it, but the Right gets scorned and attacked for it??


  31. [31] 
    Michale wrote:

    OK, on a completely and totally unrelated note...

    An extinct whoolly mammoth???

    Or a bear with a big fish???


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