Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, August 1st, 2012.

Mitt’s World

Obama Administration

There’s a profile of billionaire Jeff Greene in New York magazine that’s worth reading. Greene thinks the folks who live in the Hamptons need to be a lot less oblivious about what’s going on in the middle class.

“This is my fear, and it’s a real, legitimate fear,” Greene says, revving up the engine. “You have this huge, huge class of people who are impoverished. If we keep doing what we’re doing, we will build a class of poor people that will take over this country, and the country will not look like what it does today. It will be a different economy, rights, all that stuff will be different.”

So, yeah, he’s worried about his own skin, but you get a sense that he understands that upward mobility is getting more and more impossible, and people are sinking.

This past April, at the Milken Conference, the annual confab hosted by the felon turned philanthropist, Greene sat on a lunchtime panel with Charles Murray, the author of Coming Apart: The State of White America, and historian Niall Ferguson, whose recent book could have been called the same thing. “Do you see this?” Greene asked the audience, pointing to a slide that showed the widening income gap. The crowd, whose members had paid the $6,000 entry fee to get investing tips, not guilt trips, made restless noises. Then there was a smattering of impressed applause, followed by uneasy laughter. Greene blinked, surprised. “People look at Occupy Wall Street as, This is just a little kind of a disorganized joke,” he said, raising his voice. “If we take another 10 percent of middle-class America’s income, who knows what kind of other social unrest could happen in this country and the changes that could happen to our way of life?”

You might remember that Charles Murray’s new book postulates that the reason so many white folks are falling into poverty is that they have abandoned American cultural values. The white middle class is sinking because they aren’t getting married and going to church and being “industrious.” Hold that thought.

Get this:

More often than not, fears like these manifest as loathing for the current administration, as evidenced by the recent wave of Romney fund-raisers in the Hamptons. “Obama wants to take my money and give it to do-nothing animals,” one matron blurted at a recent party at the Pierre for Dick Morris’s Screwed!, the latest entry into a growing pile of socioeconomic snuff porn geared toward this audience.

Greene, a registered Democrat, isn’t buying this school of thought. “It is kind of a problem in America that so many Americans believe if they elect a different president, everything is going to be fine. This whole idea of American exceptionalism, that we’re the greatest, when people don’t have health insurance, don’t have housing,” he says, swinging past the guesthouse, which has 360-degree views of the bay, and the staff house, which does not. “There are all these people in this country who are just not participating in the American Dream at all,” he says. This makes him uncomfortable, not least because they might try to take a piece of his. “Right now, for some bizarre reason, a lot of these people are supporting Republicans who want to cut taxes on the wealthy,” he says. “At some point, if we keep doing this, their numbers are going to keep swelling, it won’t be an Obama or a Romney. It will be a ­Hollande. A Chávez.”

So, basically, at least part of the 1 percent appears to believe they are the 1 percent not because they got really, really lucky or enjoyed extraordinary opportunity, but because they are inherently better than everyone else — More virtuous, more deserving, more industrious, even if they are living on an inheritance.

This takes us to Mitt’s statements about Palestinian culture — yesterday he denied he had said anything about Palestinian culture, and then he published an op ed in National Review restating his remarks on culture.

I strongly suspect this is the real Romney. It explains why he doesn’t think he needs to explain anything. He doesn’t need to show his tax returns. He doesn’t need to cultivate good relations with the peons in the press corps. He’s just inherently superior, and everyone ought to be able to see that. And all America needs is more “freedom,” which means tax cuts for the rich and less regulation for the financial sector.

See also Paul Waldman, “Mitt Romney Thinks You’re a Sucker.”

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Gore Vidal, 1925-2012

News Media

Great moments in punditry:

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Whiplash Mitt and the Swing Voter

elections, Mittens

Random thoughts that don’t necessarily hang together to make a coherent essay —

Yesterday I read a number of analyses of Mitt’s Gaffapalooza Tour that decided it would have no impact on the fall election. Most voters, especially “independent” ones, care more about domestic issues and aren’t interested in the Middle East or what gets printed about the candidates in the British tabloids, they said.

While there’s some truth to that, it’s not all-the-way true. First, I question how much issues, foreign or domestic, really factor into voters’ decisions on presidential candidates. Those of us who are politics junkies care passionately about where the candidates stand on this or that issue, but we’re a minority. I think at least a large chunk of voters, especially “independent” ones, vote with their guts and not their heads. They vote for the guy who feels right to them. In the event neither candidate really feels right, they vote against the guy who frightens or angers them more.

IMO in an incumbent, cluelessness is a bigger sin than incompetence. An incumbent whose performance hasn’t been all that great, but who seems to understand how the electorate is seeing things, and who can persuade voters that he “gets it,” whatever it is, probably will be re-elected. IMO Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush failed to win re-election mostly because the electorate got frustrated with them for not “getting it.” On the other hand, George W. Bush could screw the pooch up one way and down the other and still make a lot of Americans feel he was their guy, like it or not.

IMO Romney can’t sing that song. No way, no how. I don’t care how white he is. Except to the ideologically blinkered, Romney is just too much of a space alien, even to white people. Of course, there are plenty of those who would vote for a white space alien over a black human.

Yesterday there was some muttering that Mitt’s foreign tour probably helped him more than hurt him with the Republican base. That’s no doubt true, although it hardly matters. I read another analysis, somewhere, that said Mitt has a floor of between 40 to 45 percent of voters who will vote for him no matter what. I suspect that’s true. About the only way he could attract fewer than 40 percent of the vote is if someone video-recorded him eating a baby. Maybe not even then. Because to between 40 to 45 percent of voters having a Kenyan Muslim foreign usurper communist n***** in the White House just feels all wrong, and any other (white/right-wing) candidate will get their vote. Baby eater or not.

So, anything that ingratiates him even more with that 40 to 45 percent doesn’t concern me, because it’s not going to get him more votes than he will get anyway. Well, unless baggers and wingnuts get a pass to vote twice.

Nate’s got Mittens at 48 percent right now, and he may hang on to that. But that’s unlikely to win the election, especially since Mittens is losing in many of the “big” electoral college states, like New York and California.

And I sincerely believe that once we get past the conventions and more people begin to pay attention to the campaign, Mitt’s social awkwardness and general cluelessness will be more evident to more people. Right now I suspect that at least a small sliver of that 48 percent only knows what Mittens looks like and that he was a businessman who made a lot of money, and that might appeal to them, but they’re not going to stick with Romney when they get a closer look at him.

The gaffes of Mitt’s foreign trip may not register with tuned-out voters consciously, but I do think a steady drip, drip, drip of bad press about a candidate does sink in to the American collective subconscious and impacts how voters feel. That’s what killed Al Gore in 2000, IMO, and allowed the vote to be close enough so that Bush could steal it in Florida. Regular Fox News/Rush Limbaugh news consumers are inoculated, but there aren’t enough of them to give Mittens a win by themselves.

Also, I think if Mittens’s foreign tour had gotten him some good press, or even better, cheering crowds such as Obama got in 2008, that would have given Mitt a big boost, and swing voters possibly would feel more comfortable with him. That would have been significant. However, he didn’t get that.

So, while the foreign trip may or may not have a direct impact on the election that will show up clearly in polls, I think indirectly it was huge.

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