Sunday, September 23, 2012

A fresh crop of Romney Rules

As we've noted before, Romney's approach to any contest seems to be an aggressive drive to rig the game in his favor -- leading, in the political arena, to codifiable Romney Rules (e.g., context for me, but not for thee).

Well, in the past week, Romney has written (or tipped his hand to) a crop of new beauts.  Exhibit A: Romney's now-infamous pronouncement, at a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser secretly taped last May, that the 47% of Americans (actually 46.4%) who pay no income tax are people "who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it." Revelation of that outburst pairs instructively with Romney's release of his 2011 tax return, in which his effective federal tax rate, admittedly punched up for show, is just under 14% -- in other words, less than the payroll tax for salaried workers who earn too little to be assessed for income tax (if you count the employer's contribution). Hence,

Romney Rule #15:  Accessing the tax breaks allowed by the tax code is a sign of moral turpitude in poor people, and a sign of virtue justly rewarded in the hyperwealthy.

Exhibit B is the tale of how Romney played Univision, which is now having its revenge via BuzzFeed. Univision hosted first Romney and then Obama on succeeding nights for dual language q-and-a before a live audience at the University of Miami. Obama's audience was cold; Romney's, raucous. That's because the Romney camp abrogated a previous agreement that the audience would be composed mostly of students, because they couldn't scare up enough sympathetic students at U. Miami. So they demanded leave to pack the audience with bused-in supporters, and Univision caved.

That was only the first work-the-refs. The second one was last-minute:
While introducing Romney at the top of the broadcast, Salinas's co-anchor, Jorge Ramos, noted that the Republican candidate had agreed to give the network 35 minutes, and that Obama had agreed to a full hour the next night. Ramos then invited the audience to welcome Romney to the stage — but the candidate didn't materialize.

"It was a very awkward moment, believe me," Salinas said.

Apparently, Romney took issue with the anchors beginning the broadcast that way, said Salinas, and he refused to go on stage until they re-taped the introduction. (One Republican present at the taping said Romney "threw a tantrum.")

"Our president of news was talking to the Romney campaign and negotiating it," Salinas said. "But at that point, you can't really argue with that. The candidate is there, everyone is in their seats, the show must go on. There's a limit to how much we can object to it."

The compromise reached was that the anchors would note the discrepancy in the candidates' time commitments at the end of the broadcast. But Salinas said, by then, the crowd was cheering so loudly that they drowned out the anchors' words.
Hence, Romney Rule #16: Rules of engagement negotiated with a media outlet (or presumably, any other corporation or person)  may be abrogated at will if said outlet is spineless enough to relent.

Come to think of it, we might as well add Romney's denunciation of the administration for the statement put out (without admin approval) by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo deploring "any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others" -- followed, two nights later, by Romney's denunciation of any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. An instance of Romney Rule #17: Acknowledging error or wrongdoing by any American on the international stage is dangerous weakness when the administration does it, but laudable candor when it I do it.

The complete-to-date Romney Rules are here.

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