Political Animal


July 19, 2012 4:03 PM Down On Your Knees to the “Job Creators”

By Ed Kilgore

The stupid brouhaha over Barack Obama’s alleged insult to American entrepreneurship has been pretty thoroughly masticated hither and yon, so I’ll just quote TAP’s Paul Waldman on the upshot:

When this quote worked its way up from the conservative media to the Romney campaign, they knew they had something. Sure, it’s obvious that when Obama said “you didn’t build that” he was talking about roads and bridges. But who cares? You can take that one sentence out of context, lie about what “that” in the quote refers to, and you’ve got evidence of Obama’s America-hating heart.
And yes, it is a lie, a word I use carefully. Romney and the people who work for him know full well what Obama was and wasn’t saying. But they decided to go ahead and engage in an act of intentional deception anyway, and I’m sure he’ll be repeating it many times.
There’s actually a discussion to be had about the radical individualism that has taken over the conservative movement, which Obama was responding to in his speech.

Yes, there is, and the odd thing is that even as he has been lying about what Obama said, Romney himself has affirmed the very point the president was actually making about the contributions of the public sector to private-sector economic opportunities. Yet Romney and other GOP leaders have consistently pursued both rhetoric and policies that seemed entirely based on the Randian concept of the Creative Titan before whom the rest of us should bow down in gratitude for our ability to eat, and stop asking for luxuries like health insurance or anti-market powers like collective bargaining rights or anything approaching the laughably archaic twentieth-century idea of job or retirement security.

The really scary possibility was nicely articulated in a tweet today by Josh Marshall:

I think Romney really thinks he was 1 of those builders like Gates, Carnegie, Ford rather than trust fund kid who made lots of money

Maybe that’s it: Mitt expects gratitude, too, and not all this carping about outsourcing or his tax returns.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Peek on July 19, 2012 4:08 PM:

    Ann sure as hell wants the gratitude!

  • Buggy Ding Dong on July 19, 2012 4:14 PM:

    "He was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple."

    Ann Richards, 1988 Democratic National Convention.

  • DJ on July 19, 2012 4:19 PM:

    No, that quote was from Jim Hightower, not Ann Richards.

  • Jose Hipants on July 19, 2012 4:24 PM:

    The lie has fallen on fertile ground. I watched Luke Russert "interviewing" a republican operative who was talking about how the President said Steve Jobs didn't build Apple. No pushback, no pointing out that that's not at all what he said. An hour later Andrea Mitchell did basically the same thing. If they don't challenge the lie, it might as well be true.

  • T2 on July 19, 2012 4:30 PM:

    the newspaper report I read this morning use the quote in the way Romney is using it, then mentioned it was taken "somewhat" out of context. As Jose says, if the Media lets them get away with lying....they'll lie. And after enough lies, it becomes urban truth.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on July 19, 2012 4:50 PM:


    As despicable as it is, IT WORKS. Republicans have no compunction against it. It's what they are. It's one thing to complain about it, but what are they going to do? It's "1984," folks. Can the Ministry of (un)Truth be defanged?

  • Josef K on July 19, 2012 4:55 PM:

    I suggested yesterday that Team Romney was responding so badly to the pressure for tax disclosure because they literally never thought it would be brought up. To be fair, the whole primary dramady played out in ways that perhaps reinforced this; I don't recall any of his opponents seriously pushing about his wealth or how he got there.

    Additionally, the crowd that it was playing for didn't seem interested at the time; they wanted a gladitorial clash and got one. Romney emerged simply because his opponents weren't viable and he could self-finance a range of negative ads to tear them down further.

    Romney's mistake here was, I seriously suspect, that he mistook the Republican base's nominal acceptance of him as actual approval. And by extention, the approval of the national electorate. He's effectively bought his own story and rhetoric and can't see beyond it anymore. This leaves him badly unprepared for demands like his tax records, questions about his 'work' at Bain, and the rest.

    Team Romney's position is, I think, actually worse than we might think. He doesn't have a strong presence or storyline withwhich to answer critiques, nor are there any surrogates who can step in and shore his image up. Ann Romney is pretty weak tea as a surrpgate as she lacks Hillary's professional record and Michelle's more relateable personality. The whole "you people" blurt may become her defining tag line.

    I'm still of the mind Romney might bow out of the race, especially if he can't defuse the tax records speculation in the next couple weeks. His support isn't really pro-Romney as it is anti-Obama, and that support is limited to a small slice of the national electorate. The bigger chunk of it doesn't like what they see, and his performance to date has been pretty incompetent at diffusing those fears.

    These are definitely "interesting times" to live in.

  • Diane Rodriguez on July 19, 2012 5:18 PM:

    Blah blah blah give me money I'm a job creator... Well Jeebus, if someone could actually produce some facts on that statement, I'd ride Lady Godiva style in the Olympic dressage competition and bring home the gold. I know I would becasue I'm a former Ms universe...mostly because I say so and THAT'S all you people need to know.

  • Mimikatz on July 19, 2012 5:19 PM:

    Mitt feels so entitled to be Preaident, and Ann obviously wants to be First Lady (although I seriously wonder if they have thought through how much exposure that means their lives will get) that I just can't imagine him quitting. I can't imagine that he would have gone into the race if there was something so toxic in his tax returns that releasing them would kill his candidacy. It is always possible that he thought he could tough it out refusing to release the returns, and he may try that, but all that does is give the Dems the opportunity to raise all kinds of toxic things that might be in the returns and expose him to a direct question in the debates when the maximum number of people are watching. And more ads of the "what is he hiding? Doesn't he love America enough to help keep it going with his taxes?" variety.

    If it just that he doesn't want an army of people poring over the stuff I think he will eventually release them, maybe during the Dem convention. But if there really is something toxic in there like 3-4% rates paid one year, shenanigans with the IRA or use of the amnesty provision on the Swiss bank account or something else, he will try to tough it out, releasing his 201 returns in late October and refusing the rest.

    BTW, how much evidemce is needed to get the IRS to take a look? The 2008 returns are still fair game until he files his http://www.globalchange.gov/publications/reports/scientific-assessments/us-impacts/2011 return, and the 2009 ones until he files ipfor is year, IIRC.

  • Mimikatz on July 19, 2012 5:24 PM:

    Sorry for that extraneous insertion at the end. will join the chorus asking fie an edit option.

    I meant, his 2008 returns are still open until he files his 2011 return and the 2009 returns are open until he files his 2012 returns. Until then the IRS can pursue him for any errors or omissions, at least as I understand the law.

  • c00p on July 19, 2012 5:35 PM:

    I believe it was Newt Gingrich who used the phrase "breathtakingly dishonest" in regards to a certain conservative presidential candidate....

  • beejeez on July 19, 2012 6:06 PM:

    The response to this is:

    Every person in this room is a job creator. When you drive out to buy groceries for your family, you create jobs for the grocery manager, the checkout clerk, the stock person, the bagger, the guy who gets the grocery carts, the truckers, the farmers, the gas station attendants, the guys who built the road, put up the stop lights, engineered the intersections, coordinated the money to pay these workers, and on and on. So don't get the idea that rich people are doing anything special or noble by creating jobs. People on food stamps and unemployment create jobs. We all create jobs.

    In fact, the only people who probably don't create jobs are people who downsize businesses and government.

    Drop mike and walk off.

  • Zorro on July 19, 2012 6:56 PM:

    As Ann Richards once said about Dan Quayle, Mittens "was born on third base, and thinks he hit a triple."


  • James M on July 20, 2012 1:28 AM:

    The push back from the GOP against Michelle Bachmann's latest rant shows that at least the party leaders still retain some shreds of human decency. However, the national GOP's devolution into a full-out con operation is nearly complete.

    Spinning has always been accepted in American politics but outright lying has not. Can any of the commenters here remember any politician in any race who has lied as frequently and extensively as Mr. Romney? In fact, how many factually correct statements has he actually made?

    At one point, I did an extensive Internet search regarding con men for a book I had hoped to write. The thing that left the biggest impression on me was the total contempt that swindlers had for their victims. Con men would swindle an 80 year old women out of her life savings and not fill even a twinge of remorse. I shudder to think about what Mr. Romney and his campaign staff must actually think about their 'base'.

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