Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Money Ball

Even political junkie can reach a saturation point.  I’m getting closer to mine.  I could not watch the Republican National Convention coverage last night, and not (solely) because I am blindly partisan.  I probably won’t watch all of the Dems convention next week either.  Some days I need a break.  I know you understand particularly if you live in one of the top 10 media battleground states that are being flooded with deceptive ads already.

I need a break and a diversion.  So Thomas and I watched part of the movie Moneyball with Brad Pitt during Ann Romney and Chris Christie’s scheduled appearances.  It’s a movie about how smart, passionate people who use facts, science and statistics can overcome a conventional wisdom based on tired, empty platitudes matched with overwhelming financial resources.  In that way, it is much like the Money Ball gala in Tampa this week.  Facts take a Florida vacation, but facts can be remarkably resilient.  Facts might even win.

I can’t help myself. 

So I read Christie’s speech instead of watching.  Confession: I recorded it to watch at a later date.  Here are a few pieces of commentary on his remarks based on my reading of the words of my former Delaware classmate:

“You see, Mr. President, real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls.”

This is an interesting take on leadership, given that his party’s nominee has taken every side of every position over his years in politics.  His ‘evolution’ on abortion rights has paralleled polling numbers for his targeted electorate throughout his career, and one only needs to look at how he has abandoned his signature gubernatorial achievement, health care reform, in the face of its unpopularity with his new friends. 

“Tonight, we’re gonna do what my mother taught me. Tonight, we’re gonna choose respect over love.”

I recognize that Ann Romney and Chris Christie were probably not initially scheduled to speak one after the other, except Mother Nature had other plans.  Still, to hear Ann Romney say that she was “going to talk about love” in her address, and then Christie throw in his dismissal of love immediately after, it was awkward.

“Now, I know this simple truth and I’m not afraid to say it: Our ideas are right for America and their ideas have failed America.”

The ideas of the GOP are SO right for America that the name of the last GOP President and his VP, who ruled for 8 years to open up the century, were not mentioned the entire evening.  Not once.  To quote Ann Richards, “Where was George?”

“Their plan: whistle a happy tune while driving us off the fiscal cliff, as long as they are behind the wheel of power when we fall.”

His choice of the words “fiscal cliff” reminded me of the debt ceiling debacle last summer, when the full faith and credit of the United States was deemed by Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell to be “a hostage worth taking.”  It was the Republican caucus that was whistling while S&P downgraded us.

“They believe in teachers unions. We believe in teachers.”

OK, that’s a good line.

“We believe it's possible to forge bipartisan compromise and stand up for conservative principles.”

No, your party does not.  John Boehner and Eric Cantor could not even use the word “compromise” in public for fear it would be interpreted as weakness.  It’s on YouTube, you don’t have to look far.  Richard Mourdock, GOP Senate candidate from Indiana said it best:  ”I certainly think bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”  That’s not compromise – that’s capitulation, Einstein. 

“It doesn't matter how we got here.”

Yes, it does.  Those that ignore history are doomed to repeat it.  That’s not blaming – that’s thinking.  If your proposed policies made things worse, then it DOES matter how we got here since you are proposing that we do the same things all over again – deregulate, cut taxes for the rich, and hope things trickle down.

“Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the debacle of putting the world’s greatest health care system in the hands of federal bureaucrats and putting those bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor.”

This could be the greatest contortion of the evening.  The party that is fully committed to putting a federal bureaucrat between “an American citizen and her doctor”, be it through mandating medically unnecessary transvaginal probes designed to shame the victim, or denying a doctor the right to confidentially discuss guns as a health threat in the home with a patient, as Rick Scott wants in Florida, wants to save women from bureaucrats.  He’s kidding, right?

“We win when we make it about what needs to be done; we lose when we play along with their game of scaring and dividing.”

I grow weary of pointing out the Republican zeal for scaring and dividing Americans, but here I go again.  The rationale for the war of choice in Iraq was built on nothing but coordinated fear-mongering.  Who could forget the week long drumbeat using the phrase “a giant mushroom cloud”?  Also, who could forget the oft-repeated line that dissent with GOP war policy gave “aid and comfort to our enemies”?  Today, one need only to look at the discredited welfare attacks to know what party has division as part of its strategy.

“Our leaders today have decided it is more important to be popular, to do what is easy and say ‘yes,’ rather than to say ‘no’ when ‘no’ is what’s required.”

The exception would be the Keystone Pipeline decision, when approving it would have been politically expedient for the administration and removed the issue from the national conversation.

“We all must share in the sacrifice. Any leader that tells us differently is simply not telling the truth.”

Really, Governor?  If we must all share in the sacrifice, then why can’t the Bush era tax cuts for the top earners be returned to the Clinton era rates?  Why are tax increases off the table if “we must all share in the sacrifice”?  Had Obama said the exact same words, I have little doubt that the GOP would have eviscerated him for asking for more sacrifice at this time.  By the way, the last GOP President did not ask for sacrifice.  After 9/11, he told Americans to go shopping.  When he signed the prescription drug bill, he did not ask that it be paid for.  When Christie says we must all “share in the sacrifice”, he talking about the poor paying more.

Tonight, Paul Ryan speaks at the Money Ball, and odds are I will not watch.  Anyone who believes that turning Medicare into a voucher system and shifting costs to the elderly is a good solution does not deserve my attention.

OK, I’ll record it.  I can still soak in a little bit more before complete saturation.

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