Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Belief Systems

During the GOP presidential debates a few months back, Newt Gingrich referred to Mitt Romney as a “vulture capitalist”.  During those same debates, Mitt Romney claimed that his work at Bain Capital was responsible for the creation of “100,000 private sector jobs”, and he was proud of that record.  He in fact touted that experience as making him uniquely qualified to be the President of the United States.  He did not response to claims by his competitors on the debate stage that during his only stint in a government role trying to create jobs, his state ranked 47th in the nation.

Today, if Obama mentions Romney’s years at Bain Capital and its woeful record of helping American workers, it is labeled “off limits” and a “distraction”.  Huh?  Romney not only brought it up in the first place, he has used his business experience at Bain to bolster his unique qualifications for the presidency.  So forgive me, everyone, but Romney’s tenure at Bain is not only germane, it is at the core of his raison d’etre.

Romney’s job was not to create jobs – it was to create wealth.  In that role, he clearly excelled.  In the one job he has held in government, where his role was to create jobs, he failed.  That is not only relevant.  It is critical to highlight.  It is not an attack on “free enterprise” to mention that when Romney claims he was a job creator at Bain, not everyone agrees.

But enough about Bain Capital.  There will be plenty of time for that legitimate path of inquiry over the next 5 months, and most of it will take place on MSNBC no doubt.

What I want to know is how far into GOP orthodoxy has Mitt Romney committed himself.  When confronted with what the GOP has become and what the modern GOP believes, does Romney agree or disagree?  I want to know how Etch-A-Sketch this guy is before November.  Don’t you?

The Iowa Republican Party released this week its draft state party platform.  Iowa is where presumably “real Americans” live.  It made news with its “all in” birther plank, demanding that all candidates for federal office produce proof of citizenship (which the state party leader went out of his way to point out that this is aimed specifically at Obama, whom he considers illegitimate despite evidence to the contrary).  Here are the rest of the highlights from the platform, as reported by Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly:

“…the birth certificate requirement is far from the crankiest of provisions. It calls for the abolition of the federal Departments of Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Energy, Interior, Labor, and Commerce. It demands a phase-out of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and immediate provisions to make Social Security voluntary. Though it’s a bit confusing on this point, it seems to call for the abolition of public education, or, as it often refers to them, “government schools.” It calls for U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations and the repeal of all hate crimes and non-discrimination legislation. It endorses a Fetal Personhood Amendment. It demands permanent restriction of total federal spending to 10% of GDP (the draconian right-wing Cut, Cap and Balance Act would limit it to 19.9% of GDP), and reversal of the Supreme Court precedents that made possible the New Deal and civil rights laws.”

The whole platform draft can be found at

As Kilgore points out, the platform writing was heavily influenced by Ron Paul supporters, but nevertheless, contains plenty of specific, Republican base red meat that is not just idle rhetoric.  It is a specific outline of plans that many GOP candidates have advocated publicly for months and in some cases years.

So I ask the Republican nominee for the Presidency of the United States – which of these platform planks do you support?  Which ones do you reject?

Richard Cohen in the Washington Post wrote this week about Romney that the “forces that shaped him in the primaries and caucuses will not go away. He has been clay in the hands of the political right, and this will not change.”

If Richard Cohen is correct, and the Iowa platform draft reflects the direction that Romney may lead the nation (or be led by Congress in this direction), then discussing Bain Capital would be a distraction – a distraction from the radical agenda that Romney will either implement or allow to be implemented by his Congressional Tea Party masters.

There is much to consider before Election Day, so don’t let yourself get distracted.

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