Tag Archives: political rhetoric

Mitt Romney really stepped in it this time.

I have previously defended some of Mitt Romney’s seemingly absurd statements on this blog. I will not do the same for “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” Yes, he clarified that they have a safety net and that’s why he’s not concerned, but it’s impossible to take seriously his promise to “fix it” if it needs repair, while he campaigns on eviscerating the safety net and a massively regressive change in the tax structure. That’s just lying (which, as we have established, he does.)

Rick Perry vs. Romney: Ringtone Edition!

Rick Perry made a ringtone of Mitt Romney. It’s great.

The problem is, I’ve actually been most impressed by Romney over the things for which he’s been most criticized: I’m thinking “corporations are people,” firing workers at Bain, “I like being able to fire people,” etc. All of those are actually things he did right.

First, “corporations are people:” Incredibly dumb sound byte? Yes. But he was also correct: he wasn’t arguing that corporate entities should have equivalent speech rights to people, or even anything close to that. Instead he was arguing that when corporations make money, that money goes to actual people. (This does not apply if the company is Apple.) That means corporate profits are good for people. They may not be good for all people equally, and you may not like the people who benefit from them, but corporations do not take worker’s hard-earned money and feed it to an evil dragon. Profits go to people.

Firing people at Bain: There’s this thing called “creative destruction.” Sometimes, people’s skills get overtaken by technology, or there are people who will do the same work for cheaper, or people stop wanting horse-drawn carriages. Those people usually lose their jobs, since nobody is willing to pay for what they make anymore. Bain bought some companies in that stage of their lives, and they sold off the bits that still had value. Bain is not legally or ethically responsible to the workers, and they probably made the world as a whole better off by re-allocating resources where they were useful. End of story. (Yes, folks, I haven’t got a populist bone in my body.)

“I like being able to fire people:” Again, dumb sound byte. But, importantly, he didn’t say “I like firing people,” and again, he’s right: being able to get rid of an unsatisfactory service provider is a useful tool that, in most cases, will lead people to get better service even if they never actually fire anyone. If a service provider knows you have no other options, they can do a shitty job with relatively little risk–after all, whatever service they’re providing has to be worse than nothing for you to leave. Certainly, most people wouldn’t want a system where they couldn’t get rid of (fire) their health insurer–it would lead to really lousy service. (None of that changes the fact that Romney’s health care plan is stupid, and there is exactly zero evidence that better private competition will lower health care spending, but that’s not what he’s being criticized for.)

So, while I have essentially no regard for Mitt Romney, let’s all be a little more careful how we criticize him. He has lots of dumb ideas–target them, not his rare moments of honesty.

Incredibly poor form

I just lost a LOT of respect for Philip Klein. Here’s his Twitter stream from about an hour ago:

“Ugh, somehow I missed this video of Newt kissing up to the vile Jew hater Al Sharpton. bit.ly/nOGpiV

I despise Al Sharpton. He should be as toxic as David Duke, and yet even allegedly conservative Newt kisses his ass.

Newt may love Al Sharpton, but some of us will never forget the Jewish blood that’s on his hands.

One of the things I’ve always loved about Rudy was that he saw Sharpton for who he was. Refused to meet with him.”

I don’t claim to know much of anything about the Crown Heights riots, or Al Sharpton’s position on Jews, or prominent Jews’ positions on Sharpton. Moreover, I don’t care. Unless there is some sort of country-wide mass amnesia about a murder Sharpton committed, there is no excuse for the phrase “Jewish blood on his hands.”

  1. Saying “blood on his hands” is tantamount to accusing the target of being responsible for someone’s (in this case violent) death. As such, to do so without solid proof is vile, repugnant, and slanderous. To do so as part of a random spurt of political whining about an irrelevant candidate is even more so.
  2. If someone does have blood on his hands, it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference whether that blood is Jewish–or black, or, for that matter, Oompa-Loompa. Klein’s phrasing both accuses Sharpton of deliberately targeting Jews, and suggests that without such targeting, being responsible for someone’s death would be somehow more acceptable. The first is, once again, a serious allegation and, without evidence*, completely indefensible. The second is patently absurd.

Poor form, sir. I expect better.

*Unfortunately, it will not be taken as obvious that Sharpton’s purported anti-Semitic statements do not constitute evidence that he targeted Jews for violence. There is a vast chasm between any of Sharpton’s statements I can find and inciting violence on ethnic or religious grounds.