Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cook little pot, cook!

Don't wake me...if you'd told me two months ago that the Republican presidential candidates would be tearing Mitt Romney apart like this, I would have dismissed it as wishful thinking. A Rolling Thunder Review of early primary season:
You have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and making $20 million for no work, to have some fantasy [Romney's immigration policy] this far from reality” (Gingrich, 1/25).

When Mitt Romney invented government-run healthcare, Romney advisers helped Barack Obama write the disastrous Obamacare...Romneycare sent premiums spiraling out of control, hiking premiums, squeezing household budgets...Now, desperate to save his failing campaign, Romney promises to repeal Obamacare. How can we trust him? Think you know Mitt? Think again. (Winning Our Future, ad, now running).

Two of the people up here will be hard to elect because of Obamacare. Romney was Governor of Massachusetts who was the father of Obamacare with Romneycare and he still stands by it.  Massachusetts has the highest premiums of anywhere else in the country. Doctors in Massachusetts, over 50% not seeing new patients.  It’s an abject disaster and he’d have to run against a President who’d say “Lookit what you did in Mass and I used your model for what I did to the country”. Then we have Gingrich who is for an individual mandate as late as 2008 and says we should have a mandate or post a $100k bond — these two folks don’t present as clear a contrast as I do when I was talking about private savings accounts. Twenty years ago I wanted bottom up health reform while these two guys were playing footsies with the Left....I am not wrong. 92% of people in Massachusetts had health insurance, and Romneycare just expanded that to be full subsidized by the state of Massachusetts. Romneycare did not create a marketplace. It is a very prescriptive program. He is arguing for and defending a plan that is top down. It is prescriptive in government and was the basis of Obamacare. (Santorum, 1/19)

I think there’s a real difference between people who believed in the free market and people who go around, take financial advantage, loot companies, leave behind broken families, broken towns, people on unemployment.” (Gingrich, 1/10)

Perry told a town hall meeting in Fort Mill, S.C., that firms such as Bain Capital were “just vultures” that “loot” other companies. “They’re vultures that are sitting out there on the tree limb, waiting for a company to get sick,” Politico quoted Perry as saying. “And then they swoop in, they eat the carcass, they leave with that and they leave the skeleton (1/10).

Perry cited two companies in Gaffney and Georgetown, S.C., that he said had lost jobs while the venture capital firm took in millions of dollars. He accused Romney and Bain of “picking their bones clean” rather than working to “clean up those companies, save those jobs.”  (1/10)
I won't even bother with what Mitt and his minions are saying about Gingrich, who's going nowhere. There are assassins every tenth of a mile on Newt's path - e.g., Elliot Abrams this morning. Newt is nothing but targets.  Okay, just one...Abrams:
Such was Gingrich’s faith in President Reagan that in 1985, he called Reagan’s meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich.”
That should take a bit of bite out of the default Obama-Chamberlain comparisons.

Will all this vitriol fade like morning dew in the general election?  GOP partisan Daniel Henninger doesn't think so:
Now Mitt's in the muck. Now we're in the muck. It's kind of fun for insiders. But for those who will decide the election, the appeal may be hard to see. With the Romney and Gingrich camps going thermonuclear on each other—Newt tarring Mitt with Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts—the fallout could damage more Republican infrastructure than just these candidates.

Many of the dark charges that Messrs. Gingrich and Romney are launching at each other are real, or real enough. Newt Gingrich has a serious Freddie Mac problem. It is also disconcerting that so many former, respected House colleagues are critical of his leadership and political character. Mitt Romney's inadequate answers to Rick Santorum's point-by-point critique of his health-care plan are (still) a problem. The Romney tax return screams "tax reform," but he only whispers the phrase. The Bain bonfire burned both Messrs. Gingrich and Romney—the former for doing it and the latter for letting it fester in public.

All this might have been survivable in the old era, after the nomination was secured and the "politics" evaporated. But new media magnifies and extends all the dark charges and bad odor. We are all marinating in it. It sticks. Republicans seem to think these primaries are a family fight. But independents, now perhaps 40% of the electorate, are also in the stinky marinade. The ABC-Washington Post poll just recorded Mr. Romney's unfavorable number rising 15 points in two weeks. It now matches Newt's awful unfavorables.

What's most satisfying is that, aside from the over-the-top demagoging  of Romney's Bain record, everything his rivals are saying about him is true. Morn to night Romney lies about Obama, while his rivals tell the truth about him.

Bonus Update, a little after noon, 1/26:
Newt on Mitt: "How can somebody run a campaign this dishonest and think he's going to have any credibility running for president?"

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