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July 18, 2012 9:31 AM Is Team Romney Becoming Unhinged?

By Ed Kilgore

It’s beginning to look like John Sununu’s Day of Rage yesterday wasn’t an outlier for the Romney campaign but a sign of things to come. Here’s McKay Coppins’ report on where Team Romney seems to be going:

[F]acing what the candidate and his aides believe to be a series of surprisingly ruthless, unfounded, and unfair attacks from the Obama campaign on Romney’s finances and business record, the Republican’s campaign is now prepared to go eye for an eye in an intense, no-holds-barred act of political reprisal, said two Romney advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity. In the next chapter of Boston’s pushback — which began last week when they began labeling Obama a “liar” — very little will be off-limits, from the president’s youthful drug habit, to his ties to disgraced Chicago politicians.
“I mean, this is a guy who admitted to cocaine use, had a sweetheart deal with his house in Chicago, and was associated and worked with Rod Blagojevich to get Valerie Jarrett appointed to the Senate,” the adviser said. “The bottom line is there’ll be counterattacks.”
The reference to Obama’s past drug use seems to suggest that former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu wasn’t going off-script after all when he dinged the president for spending “his early years in Hawaii smoking something” during a Tuesday morning Fox News appearance.

So it’s the Obama campaign’s “ruthless” and “unfair” attacks that are triggering all this hysteria? Did Team Romney really think their candidate could run around the country citing the brilliant job-creating success of Bain Capital as his primary credential for becoming president and not get challenged about it? And did they not expect demands that the richest man ever to win a presidential nomination release his tax returns? I mean, the attacks they are dealing with now are blindingly obvious. Any Romney opponent who didn’t make them would be guilty of extreme political malfeasance. So what gives?

Coppins suggests there’s one thing in particular sticking in their craws:

Romney’s aides remain particularly livid about Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter’s suggestion last week that Romney committed a crime by filing apparently conflicting documents to the FEC and SEC.
“[Obama’s] policies have been such utter failures, the only thing he can do is to try to destroy a decent man and his wife,” the adviser said. “So he gets some hack political adviser from Chicago who has nothing to point to in her own life, and tells her to call him a felon… When did our politics get to that point? I mean, it’s Nixonian.”

Try to destroy a decent man and his wife? Nothing to point to in her own life? This is such an over-the-top reaction to a banal comment by Cutter (who didn’t call Romney a “felon,” but simply observed that if he did misstate his role at Bain in a SEC filing, that’s potentially a felony) that you have to believe it’s coming from the candidate himself. Apparently, the mere suggestion he might have possibly committed a crime has sent him and his staff into a real spiral.

Don’t you bet Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich wish they had known about this particular soft spot! Mention the criminal code and watch Mitt melt down!

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.

Comments

  • Lolly on July 18, 2012 9:48 AM:


    He's like the ump who tosses the manager because he know the manager is right about the bad call.

  • T2 on July 18, 2012 9:48 AM:

    Ha! isn't it great when the worst thing a Democratic campaign can do is appear "Nixonian".....poor GOPers. Look, if there was anything about Obama that would sink his campaign, Hillary would have used it four years ago. Most everyone has smoked pot....in fact Romney's Mormon "No coffee, no cola" dictum is probably more strange to the majority of citizens than the fact Obama got high.
    Many Conservative sources have started wondering out loud about the Romney campaign and face it, they seem unhinged at the moment. Mostly because of one thing...his Taxes. There is not much chance, now, that he'll release them and !voila! there will be nothing unusual about them. There is something there he doesn't want us to see.

  • c u n d gulag on July 18, 2012 9:48 AM:

    'I love the smell of hysteria in the morning.
    It smells like... Victory.'

    I'm tellin' ya, somewhere before, or soon after, their Convention - maybe even at, smelling Mitt's defeat, some Conservative politicians or spokesperson will start screaming "N*gger! N*GGER!! N*GGER!!!"

  • massappeal on July 18, 2012 9:50 AM:

    Hey! Stephanie Cutter isn't a "hack political adviser from Chicago".

    She's from Massachusetts...where Irish Catholic pols like Cutter are building on over a century's worth of experience at finding and exploiting the political vulnerabilities of rich, square-jawed WASPs like Romney.

  • stormskies on July 18, 2012 9:52 AM:

    This is exactly what happens when the con job called Romney is exposed to actual reality. They don't like actual reality intruding of the carefully laid plans to con the country into voting for con job called Romney specifically, and the Repiglican party in general

    This exposure of the actual reality of these con jobs has now lead to them having a bad case of rabies. And these rich, white, corporate pigs who consider themselves to be Zarathustra's will now try to infect every one else with their rabies who does not support the ongoing con job called pathological liar, and corporate automaton, Romney.

  • Ron Byers on July 18, 2012 9:57 AM:

    When I was in High School debate 45 years ago, I allowed an opponent to get under my skin just like Cutter has gotten under Romney's skin, I reacted in a similar over the top way. I lost the debate. Afterwards one of the judges told me my team was winning right up to the moment I got angry and went over the top. For me it was a learning experience. Romney and I are just about the same age. If Romney hasn't learned how to control his anger by now, he has no business running for President. If his team hasn't learned the same lesson they should all be fire starting with John Sununu.

    gulag, spot on.

  • 2Manchu on July 18, 2012 9:58 AM:

    Lawrence O'Donnell said on Monday he heard Rush Limbaugh say that the Romney campaign needs to get nasty, and launch personal attacks on Obama.

    I'm sure that this is just a coincidence, right?

  • Ron Byers on July 18, 2012 10:01 AM:

    "fired" not "fire." The only advantage the Maddow site has over this one is the ability for 5 minutes to revise and extend. Preview used to be an option, but it hasn't worked well since Ed took over the controls.

  • rick on July 18, 2012 10:01 AM:

    Romney the snow-man
    knew the heat was hot today
    its so hard to run
    as a tax fel-un
    he might just melt away

  • internet tough guy on July 18, 2012 10:02 AM:

    Whew! I was nervous about Mitt's stewardship of the nuclear arsenal, but this episode has eliminated that. After all, knowing that he'd launch because someone called Mitt a name takes the uncertainty away.

  • a different phil on July 18, 2012 10:09 AM:

    "Is Team Romney Becoming Unhinged?"

    Becoming?

  • Josef K on July 18, 2012 10:10 AM:

    Did Team Romney really think their candidate could run around the country citing the brilliant job-creating success of Bain Capital as his primary credential for becoming president and not get challenged about it?

    Very likely that's exactly what they thought.

    Let's be honest here: this campaign team isn't very competent or cohesive. Their man made it through the whole primary process due to his opponents' various weaknesses and a sizable personal war chest that wasn't dependent on outside monies.

    In effect, Romney was running against the Republcian base, which doesn't like him as much as it dispises President Obama, so they were willing to settle on whoever was left standing. The fact Romney made his money through offshoring jobs and financial trickery didn't both the base that much, probably because they either didn't know about it or because they were just focused on November.

    The subtle consequence here was that Team Romney mistook the base's apparent disinterest in his background for complete acceptance. And, by extension, acceptance of it by the Amercian public. Now, when he's confronted with people who don't move in his circles and doesn't like his professional background? Commence the bolivation and whining.

    At least that's my thought. Romney's heavily to blame here as well, given he isn't able to articulate an acceptable agenda to the public.

    I'm seriously starting to wonder if he's going to make it thorugh Tampa, never mind hold on until November. Has there ever been an election where a major party candidate has dropped out of the race after accepting the nomination, but before Election Day itself?

  • jjm on July 18, 2012 10:11 AM:

    Hmm. Smells like Romney might actually have broken the law and lied to the SEC, given this excessive reaction.

  • JackD on July 18, 2012 10:11 AM:

    Now you know why CEO's hate Sarbanes-Oxley. People expect the things they sign to be true, for Pete's sake!

  • DJ on July 18, 2012 10:15 AM:

    She's from Massachusetts...where Irish Catholic pols like Cutter are building on over a century's worth of experience at finding and exploiting the political vulnerabilities of rich, square-jawed WASPs like Romney.

    Based on these events, a better description for Romney might be "glass-jawed."

  • DaveR on July 18, 2012 10:19 AM:

    Somebody needs to make a photoshop mashup of Rmoney/RNixon with the caption "I am not a crook!"

  • T2 on July 18, 2012 10:19 AM:

    Guys like Mitt Romney (and George W. Bush) go through their whole, privileged, life never hearing the word NO. When they get in a situation where someone stands up and questions them, it usually doesn't sit well. Remember Bush's smirks and grimaces during his debates with Kerry?
    Also remember the GOP primaries. Each time another candidate jumped ahead of Romney, he'd unleash attack ads at a huge rate until the guy folded. Now, when he's the target...it's "Nixonian".

  • exlibra on July 18, 2012 10:19 AM:

    [...] a banal comment by Cutter (who didn’t call Romney a “felon,” but simply observed that if he did misstate his role at Bain in a SEC filing, that’s potentially a felony)[...]

    "A guilty man flees, where none pursueth" is, I think, the applicable proverb here. She stated a simple fact -- lying to SEC, if proven, would have been a felony -- and they went ballistic. Why? She cut too close to the truth, perchance?

  • Steve P on July 18, 2012 10:20 AM:

    It just keeps coming up. You have got to know that Romney has never had an adviser, co-worker or friend (Friend? This princeling has subjects, not friends) who told him face to face that he's full of sh*t.

    Even worse, it's never occurred to him that he is.

    Guess that means we can look forward to more of this:

    http://thelastword.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/18/12801268-limbaugh-tries-to-rewrite-romneys-past

    Epic. Homeric.

  • Kathryn on July 18, 2012 10:22 AM:

    Hope your right Gulag, it would be a moment of clarity for all the euphemisms thrown around to date, if that's the right word. Mitt's skin is so thin your could read a book through it, can't wait for those debates. One wonders how Romney has lived 56 years without a challenge to his status, what a bubble. He did show a lot of testiness in the " so called" Republican debates. Mitt and the Republican Party are so entitled and have been coddled for so long by the press, they're in a state of shock, My only concern is the amount of insanity in their ranks packing heat and I'm not kidding.

  • Ronald on July 18, 2012 10:30 AM:

    What is interesting is that this is the sort of campaign tactic that we're used to seeing from the Republicans- there's nothing unusual there...but it is only JULY and not October.

    It is obvious that the mega-bucks from the 'aging 11' are going to be used totally for this kind of attack...but so soon? In July?

    So he shoots his wad and....nothing happens. Why? Obama has already been vetted and those pseudo-factual attacks are only going to feed the base, not convince the middle of anything other than Romney is becoming unhinged. President Obama needs to merely sit back and 'be Presidential' while his opponent gets wilder and wilder.

    Yeah, any day now before we start getting the 'black' attacks.

    Goodness, I need more popcorn.

    captcha: evangelii, ptypment hmmm....

  • burro on July 18, 2012 10:30 AM:

    c u n d gulag on July 18, 2012 9:48 AM:

    "I'm tellin' ya, somewhere before, or soon after, their Convention - maybe even at, smelling Mitt's defeat, some Conservative politicians or spokesperson will start screaming "N*gger! N*GGER!! N*GGER!!!"

    So what? It will be no surprise. It's no less offensive for it to be screamed here, (repeatedly posted; caps, exclamation marks), with the caveat of asterisks. It is the word, asterisks or not, and I haven't heard them say it, (at least not in a public enough forum to make the news), but I'm sure seeing it here a lot. And it's still ugly, hateful and nasty, asterisks or not.

  • schtick on July 18, 2012 10:30 AM:

    I love it! The dems use truth and facts so they are ruthless and unfair.
    I'm thinking that Willard isn't goint to debate Obama either, but if he should decide to debate, I'm betting there are going to be a ton of restrictions for Obama with number one being no facts allowed.

  • 57andFemale on July 18, 2012 10:30 AM:

    Has PBO's campaign started calling Mitt a liar yet?

    It's time. that's the word. Mitt lied yesterday about the President. He lies if he's awake.

    It's time. They went there. We need to go there.

  • beejeez on July 18, 2012 10:32 AM:

    Yeah, Romney's so unhinged and incompetent that he's polling within the margin of error against our fella. Sorry, folks, I ain't laughing yet.

  • TT on July 18, 2012 10:35 AM:

    Apparently, Romney believes that the presidency should just be handed to him. Like everything else in his life.

    The Romney presidential campaign is the most pointless, vicious, and vacuous exercise in personal vanity in our lifetimes. Romney wants to be president for the sole reason that he believes he deserves to be president. His ambitions begin and end with himself.

  • OKDem on July 18, 2012 10:39 AM:

    Josef K - the closest I can find to your scenario is that Horace Greeley in 1872 died after the election and his electors were split over four candidates. Grant had run in a landslide in any case.

  • c u n d gulag on July 18, 2012 10:41 AM:

    burro,
    Believe me, I understand your point.

    But the "N-word" euphemism doesn't have the hateful feel of the real thing - even if everyone knows what the word means.

    And if everyone knows what it means, isn't the euphemism the same as sticking an "*" in the middle of the word?

    Sometimes, it's worth going for the visceral, since the euphemism is too tame.

    Sorry if I offended.
    I was going for people's "gut" feelings about the word. And "*'s" in the actual word get a more visceral reactions than writing "The N-word."

  • boatboy_srq on July 18, 2012 10:41 AM:

    Item one: Sununu has been an embarrassment to New Hampshire for a long time now for just this kind of offensiveness, and he has plenty of baggage of his own (just mention "Seabrook" in his hearing and you'll see him explode). And as the former governor of one of the most Caucasian states in the Union, for him no doubt TABMITWH is enough.

    Item two: the whole assumption of the Romney campaign that all the substantial attacks (that is, attacks with substance pointing to quantifiable issues with the Romney campaign) are nothing more than character assassination on a decent upstanding individual are more of the entitlement living in the Romneys' collective cocoon fosters: this is right in line with "it's our turn" and the other clearly naive "let them eat cake" statements we've been hearing from both of them, as well as their fixation with winning over the issues of the debate. It's delicious that attacks on Romney the tax-dodging vulture capitalist, Romney the waste of space in the governor's office in Massachusetts or Romney the responsibility-shirking sometime-head-of-Bain-if-he's-not-too-busy-with-the-Olympics execudrone somehow morph into personal attacks on Romney and his wife: the only way it makes any kind of sense to take offense as a couple is if he's actually considering Ann for Veep (which given the rest of the field and Romney's obviously insular, entitled mindset may not be all that inaccurate), and the only way it makes sense to portray this as personal is if there's at least some truth there over which Romney is sensitive (which would indicate that there's a real issue in there that is just begging for investigation and exposure). To them, though, the Obama campaign staff are criticizing their "betters," which is just, well, impolite. And that, of course, goes right back to TABMITWH once again.

  • gregor on July 18, 2012 10:44 AM:

    To anyone who has worked in a large American corporation Romney's style is reminiscent of the unscrupulous middle level managers who love to exercise their authority on their underlings (that's what they think people who work for them to be).

    To anyone who watches some TV, Romney seems to be the perfect fit for an actor in a Ciallis commercial.

    To anyone who has worked mentally disturbed people, Romney appears to be a psycho.

  • T2 on July 18, 2012 10:45 AM:

    I'm with beejeez.....we can laugh and recoil however we want at the Romney Follies, but there he is, running neck and neck with Obama. And here's the take-a-way....even if he released his tax returns today, and they show he made millions and paid no taxes at all, if the Media finally get it that the SEC forms are Legal documents and his name is on them....even if we find that he has four other wives living in Mexico....he'll still be running neck-and-neck with Obama and outspending him 2-1.

  • cmdicely on July 18, 2012 10:49 AM:

    Is Team Romney Becoming Unhinged?

    Were they ever hinged?

  • leopoldvonranke on July 18, 2012 10:49 AM:

    Given comments made by Limbaugh, Trump, the Fox gang, Sununu, Arpaio and other Romney "surrogates" about Obama's pedigree as an American, don't you think this is the first volley in a bout of full-on birtherism from the Romney campaign?

  • N.Wells on July 18, 2012 10:52 AM:

    Anyone who fails to realize that around a billion dollars of special-interest advertising was already scheduled to go into astoundingly negative advertising against Obama in the fall, including all of this plus a bunch of outrageous lies, wasn't awake during Swiftboating. The upside of this slightly accelerated melt-down by the Romney campaign is that now they will own the negative advertising completely, no matter how unhinged third-party interests become.

    This reaction seems well beyond their normal faux outrage / fainting-couch / attack of the vapors routine: Romney has always liked to come across as Mr. Clean (in terms of archetypal Tammany Hall corruption), so this one apparently hurt. It is fascinating how the Right thinks that any criticism they care to offer is just fine, no matter how dishonest or over the top, while a tiny jab in their direction (and as Ed said, she only said he might be a felon IF he lied to the SEC), sets them off so badly.

    I'd guess that a steady diet of Romney whining and moaning versus Obama's impressive ability to keep his cool through all this ( http://media.klewtv.com/images/120717_Obama_Brazil_USA_Mens_Basketball_5.jpg )is likely to infuriate R's to worse behavior and look pretty good to low-info voters.

  • MuddyLee on July 18, 2012 10:57 AM:

    Romney can't stand these kind of "ruthless" attacks? Obama had to put up with the birther nonsense and repubs calling him un-american. Maybe it's time for some attacks on Mitt's polygamist grandparents in Mexico. And by the way, real Americans aren't afraid of caffeine. And who really believes that political power in America should be inherited? We've been through that with George W. Bush, and it wasn't pretty.

  • TR on July 18, 2012 10:57 AM:

    Jesus Christ, someone get Romney to the fainting couch.

    Sack the fuck up, Republicans. We're just playing your game.

  • FlipYrWhig on July 18, 2012 10:57 AM:

    Mitt Romney is not a decent man. He's an asshole and has always been one.

  • SecularAnimist on July 18, 2012 10:59 AM:

    Ed Kilgore wrote: "Apparently, the mere suggestion he might have possibly committed a crime has sent him and his staff into a real spiral."

    It is not the "mere suggestion" of criminality that has Romney and his staff going nuts.

    It is their knowledge that the suggestion is true.

    Romney's advisor said: "When did our politics get to that point? I mean, it’s Nixonian."

    Well, Mr. Adviser, you just answered your own question. "Our politics" got to that point with Richard Nixon. The problem is, that you have gotten used to the idea that only Republicans engage in the politics of personal destruction. Democrats aren't supposed to do that.

    I can only wish that Obama would get "Nixonian" on Romney's ass.

  • John Dillinger on July 18, 2012 11:03 AM:

    Every day the Romney campaign chooses to relitigate the Obama background issues of 2008 is another day wasted for them. Swing voters will vote for Romney if they think he will improve things, but they won't be persuaded to do so by ads that, in essence, tell them they made a mistake by ignoring Obama's pre-Presidential years.

  • DRF on July 18, 2012 11:05 AM:

    I don't know whether or not Romney was a "decent man" prior to his entry into Presidential politics. I do know that the way he has waged his campaign to date is absolutely disgraceful, with no regard whatsoever for the truth and with an appalling lack of principles, and that he certainly no longer deserves to be described as a "decent" man.

  • James M on July 18, 2012 11:08 AM:

    3 things:

    1. c u n d gulag: I wasn't offended because I always enjoy your posts, although I think that burro is right that this sort of thing certainly shouldn't be overdone. However, I think your underlying point is sound. No one in Mr. Romney's camp or the GOP leadership has used the 'N' word so far, but it seems clear to me that the 'Let's take our country back' battle cry is just a polite substitution.

    2. A classic bully: I have found that bullies tend to be very good on offense and very poor on defense. In that sense, Mr. Romney seems to fit the mold perfectly.

    3. Tax returns: My political prognostication success rate is improving these days so I will go out an limb again and say that Mr. Romney will NEVER release additional tax returns. I am not sure what, but there must be something in them so terrible that Mr. Romney fears it would cause his candidacy to instantly implode. He will take the heat, accept the rep as a shifty wheeler-dealer, try to stay close in the polls and hope that some disaster like a domestic terror attack or a Euro implosion happens between now and November.

  • LAC on July 18, 2012 11:08 AM:

    Sorry, T2 and bejesus : this is a race, not a sprint. Yes, it is close, but I think the Obama campaign has been pacing itself well and Romney is weaknesses are becoming glaring. There is a lot of work to do and a ways to go, but I am optimistic. No need to piss in the cornflakes.

  • DRF on July 18, 2012 11:10 AM:

    Another thought on this: This may merely be the Romney team's attempt to scare off further attacks on Bain/tax returns by threatening to personally attack Obama. They have to know that the personal attack approach carries high risks for Romney--potentially alienating a lot of independent and nominally Republican voters. Also, much of this is merely guilt by association, which didn't really move anyone in 2008 and isn't likely to do so now.

  • bdop4 on July 18, 2012 11:18 AM:

    Memo to Romney campaign: you've already got a lock on the old, white racist vote. Who do you think you're persuading with this crap?

    The birthers who obsess over Obama's past drug use are already voting GOP. I think the undecided voters are looking for answers.

  • Zinsky on July 18, 2012 11:25 AM:

    Two words - Vince Foster. The lows were reached by the Republican reptiles in 1993 when they accused Bill and Hillary of murdering their good friend Vince Foster without a shred of evidence, which was agonizing not only to the Clinton's but more importantly to Foster's widow, Lisa, and her children. Those bastards plumbed the very depths of sliminess with those attacks and the Clinton's were expected to just "deal with it" because they were from Arkansas or something. No, asking Romney about his predatory business practices is small potatoes compared to falsely accusing someone of murder.

  • j on July 18, 2012 11:28 AM:

    Anyone hear about the youth camp for troubled teens that Bain took over, of course profits were the objective and teens kept being found dead!

  • RaflW on July 18, 2012 11:30 AM:

    @beejeez

    Obama is ahead in state polls in key swing states. That's what matters, and that's where Team Obama is investing in ads as well as an early ground game.

    There's a lot of media investment in hawking the 'close race' concept. And the popular vote (at the moment) would probably be fairly close, and the national polls do reflect that.

    But the electoral math is what matters. If Romney carries Arizona, Texas and the deep south by wide margins, well, good for him. But a 60 or 65% vote in Texas gets him the same number of electors as a 50.1% squeaker.

    So look at the polls in swing states. That's where it's gonna matter, and the picture there is OK and more to the point, getting better.

  • rea on July 18, 2012 11:33 AM:

    Nobody said Romney committed a crime. What they said was, he could not have been making false statements to the SEC, because after all, that's a felony. Romney gets mad, insists that he really lied to the SEC, and resents being called a felon as a result. If you can make sene of Romney's poositin, then you're a lot smarter than me.

  • T2 on July 18, 2012 11:35 AM:

    @LAC - I'm saying that unless Romney turns black, its going to be a close race.

  • square1 on July 18, 2012 11:40 AM:

    "What? I wasn't calling Romney a felon! I just said that he may have committed a felony. There is a huge difference!"

    I wish Kilgore wouldn't be so coy about all this.

    The bottom line is that Romney is an unmitigated greedy prick. And there is a high likelihood that he broke a number of laws along the way. Romney's financial and business dealings are completely legitimate areas for criticism and attack. Romney's team knows this and probably knows that a convention revolt -- a rarity in modern presidential politics -- is not out of the question if they don't immediately get back on track.

    Nevertheless, none of the attacks on Obama are remotely unreasonable: his past drug use, potentially improper real estate deals, or possible unethical political deals.

    This isn't birtherism or accusing Obama of some wild conspiracy. These are garden variety political attacks.

    Personally, I couldn't care less if Obama used drugs when he was younger (aside from the fact that he is now a hypocritical jerk for sending his DOJ on a jihad against medical marijuana sale and use.) But some people do care and if Romney wants to make an issue of it, so be it.

  • Kevin Hayden on July 18, 2012 11:41 AM:

    Unhinged? No. Trying to change the subject? Check. Trying to rally the troops by utilizing all the standard dogwhistles (racists, xenophobes, birthers, tea partiers, billionaires, etc)? Check.

    Sure it looks crude to thinking people, but I'd say it's well-calculated to anchor the base, try to change the subject and continue to evade all transparency, while trying to get the media off his butt.

    Fortunately, we soon get the Olympics with the dressage events. Perfect for a Tory who imagines himself as the next Queen of England.

  • Anonymous on July 18, 2012 11:41 AM:

    DRF: "This may merely be the Romney team's attempt to scare off further attacks on Bain/tax returns by threatening to personally attack Obama."

    And I think what has the GOP & the Romney camp in a massive tizzy is that Obama will not fold over this. They're still expecting Obama to collapse in Democratic wimpiness - and there's a lot of general Dem history to suggest that.

    But one thing I've come to know about strong African American leaders (through local coalition work I do) is that decades of character-building bullshit dished out by rich white people makes these men and women incredibly tough and resilient.

    I agree with the many here and elsewhere that are noting Mitt's extreme brittleness. It's not hard to see how those two defining characteristics will play out.

  • Matt on July 18, 2012 11:42 AM:

    very little will be off-limits

    Jesus Christ. Are we supposed to believe there were lines they weren't going to cross?

    Someone ought to ask Romney: what effective attacks, no matter how below the belt, weren't on the table before now? "My friends, out of respect for the process, I wasn't going to say anything, but it turns out Barack Obama is a serial rapist."

    The reason Romney hasn't previously mentioned the fact that Obama smoked pot (and worse!) is that Romney figured nobody would care. Since, y'know, people have known about that since before Obama ran for the Senate. And maybe it would look bad under normal circumstances if Obama's second presidential election opponent suddenly started jumping up and down saying "Neener neener neener, he's a druggie!" after all this time.

    The thing about "desperate" political attacks is that they're QUITE OFTEN VERY EFFECTIVE. Swift-boating was "desperate" and laughable until it wasn't. This is one of the rare occasions when a politician's "desperation" actually makes me think he's desperate.

  • Ed from Watertown on July 18, 2012 11:45 AM:

    "...comment by Cutter (who didn’t call Romney a “felon,” but simply observed that if he did misstate his role at Bain in a SEC filing, that’s potentially a felony)..."

    Cutter actually said that the SEC filing was potentially a felony or that Romney was misrepresenting when he left Bain to the American people. She never said it was more likely a felony than a misrepresentation, just that it had to be one or the other. It couldn't be both.

  • bcinaz on July 18, 2012 11:56 AM:

    Not ready for prime time. Not ready for the campaign they have to run with the candidate they're about to nominate. Let's face it, the guys running his campaign don't know what's in his tax returns either.

  • T2 on July 18, 2012 11:57 AM:

    @Hayden.....I think the image of Ms. Romney receiving a Gold Medal at the Olympics for fancy horse stuff will cement the idea of the Romney's being Out of Touch Rich People in the minds of most folks.

  • Hedda Peraz on July 18, 2012 12:01 PM:

    I'm late to this picnic, darlin's, because I been he'ppin' Governor Perry, who is desperately stemming the flood tide of federal dollars that threaten to wash away our Lone Star ills.

    So, it seems that our gulag introduced that dreaded "N" word a while back, and has our heart aflutter.
    Sorry, but yesterday Governor Sue Knew Who beat him to the punch, slyly spillin' "denigrate" into the mix.
    Next up, Rush will be calling Obama the DeNIGrator in Chief.

  • Mimikatz on July 18, 2012 12:03 PM:

    Attacking Mitt and his presumably decent wife: I think this refers to publicizing the fact that they took a tax deduction by claiming that her prancing pony was for therapy, a deduction that was bigger than the median yearly family income.

    I also think e Obama camp had studied Mitt carefully and knew he overreacts under pressure. Exposing this goes beyond making him look lime a weak bully; it also calls into question his fitness for the Presidency. Recall McCain's erratic reactions during the financial crisis and on foreign policy, suggesting we should go to war with Russia to defend Georgia. This sort of thing can really damage a candidacy in the minds of both voters and opinion makers.

    I had expected all this, but in October. Expect the campaign to hit new depths of sleaze if this continues. The only way out for those of us who will have to suffer through it is if a hurricane hits their convention and prevents Romney's formal nomination, leading the fundamentalists to believe God really doesn't want Romney to be President.

  • bcinaz on July 18, 2012 12:04 PM:

    Also too, Obama has been enduring the worst and the craziest accusations and insinuations for three and a half years. Romney is now going to swoop in and tell us something we haven't already heard? Do you think there's anything that hasn't already been all over FOX News? Amateur Hour.

  • jukeboxgrad on July 18, 2012 12:16 PM:

    There is no doubt that Romney committed a felony, because what he said to SEC (that he remained CEO etc) is brazenly contradicted by what he later said to FEC (that he "retired" on 2/11/99). The only way to reconcile that contradiction is to introduce the concept of retroactive retirement, which is a statement about time travel and therefore an unintentional joke.

    Cutter's comment could have been stronger.

  • leopoldvonranke on July 18, 2012 2:11 PM:

    jukeboxgrad -

    Apparnently, you haven't heard, the Romney campaign issued a press release today retroactively placing Seamus inside the car.

  • stephen on July 18, 2012 4:20 PM:

    It all just makes me more curious about what Mitt is so desperate to hide in his tax returns.

  • tcinaz on July 18, 2012 4:47 PM:

    This becomes all the more delicious because Cutter isn't the only one to use the word felony. Glenn Kessler, WaPo's notoriously pro-Romney "fact" checker, walked back his defense of Romney's Bain position deep in his July 14 analysis of the criticism he'd taken for his fact check, 3-Pinocchio blast at Cutter. He said: "You can see Romney’s signature, on the first page. If Romney lied on this form, that would be a felony." When even your friends admit there is smoke here, and your best response is to call out an attack dog known as a race-baiting loudmouth, it means Dems are onto something here. If they really want to win, and I have no doubt they do, pressing the point seems like a good strategy, and so far the results have been a goldmine.

  • mudwall jackson on July 18, 2012 5:22 PM:

    "Guys like Mitt Romney (and George W. Bush) go through their whole, privileged, life never hearing the word NO. When they get in a situation where someone stands up and questions them, it usually doesn't sit well. Remember Bush's smirks and grimaces during his debates with Kerry?"

    romney is a bully. his reaction to the obama campaign is just like a bully finding out the hard way that his 'victim' can fight back. not fair!!

  • alix on July 18, 2012 5:52 PM:

    Is it against the law to shelter your income in Cayman and not report the income? (It ought to be-- really, if waitresses who make $4 an hour are committing a tax crime because they don't report all their tips, how could it be legal to hide millions offshore?)

    anyway, is that what he's scared of?

  • beejeez on July 18, 2012 8:20 PM:

    There's many a slip tween the cup and the lip, y'all.

    1. The Pubs have deployed a solid blockade of lefty-leaning types who don't have their voting papers together.
    2. We are about to see an onslaught of attack ads that will make the last few elections look like Ike v. Adlai.
    3. Obama has been looking shaky on the campaign trail, doing OK but not exactly setting the world on fire, 08-style.
    4. If the economy continues to slide, it'll be easy to sell the suburbs on the notion that we're headed in the wrong direction.
    5. Even if Obama wins, if Dems don't do well in Senate and House races, then we're just as screwed as we are at present.
    6. Seems to me a certain GOP candidate made an ass of himself practically every time he opened his mouth during his presidential run in 2000. He "won."

    Don't get me wrong; it's more probable this will be a laugher than a debacle. But I thought Gore was a lock, too.

  • Doug on July 18, 2012 8:39 PM:

    This isn't explainable even by granting Romney a sense of priviledged entitlement that scorns displaying HIS tax returns to commoners. If THAT were the case, why did he stoop to even showing one and promising (if we're good?) to show one more?
    Possibilities:
    - Something beyond fishy occurred with Romney's IRA account in the Caymans. Insider trading on stocks purchased and then signed over to the IRA, perhaps? Which might explain the, ah, interesting rate of growth for that IRA.
    - Releasing his tax returns would confirm that Romney HASN'T paid taxes - at all?
    My guess is the latter. I'm certain the tax returns were done up all proper and legal, BUT for someone to run for the Presidency and, however legal it may have been, to NOT have paid ANY taxes for X number of years would, literally, blow his campaign out of the water and reduce his total vote to his base and nothing but his base.
    By "base" I am, of course, referring to the 1%-ers...