Political Animal


July 09, 2012 8:51 AM Romney Has Asked For It

By Ed Kilgore

As Ben Jacobs said here yesterday, and as Mark Kleiman said at Ten Miles Square on Friday, criticisms of Mitt Romney’s offshore investments, like other questionable aspects of his business record and personal finances, seem to be having a relatively strong effect on public perceptions of the putative GOP nominee. And the efforts of the Romney campaign and conservative gabbers to call these criticisms “disgusting” or “irrelevant” or “demagogic” aren’t deflecting the arrows because Mitt has undertaken such an over-the-top attempt to make his Jehovian status as a job-creatin’, numbers-crunchin,’ efficiency-dispensin’ titan the centerpiece of his entire presidential bid. If he was campaigning on his record as governor of Massachusetts or his policy proposals or his ideas or—God forbid—his party’s ideology, it wouldn’t matter nearly as much.

As others (including, to give the devil his due, William Kristol) have suggested now and then, Romney has made the same mistake that arguably did in John Kerry in 2004: making his message so totally dependent on a positive spin of his biography that any negative interpretation of it undermines everything. But in reality, Kerry was a paragon of transparency, on both the personal and policy front, as compared to Romney; if anything, Kerry may have talked too much about policy minutiae. For all we know, Romney has a third-grader’s grasp of an awful lot of subjects that he resolutely refuses to talk about as he sets his lantern jaw and stares into the camera and demands that Obama be sent to the principal’s office for failing to fix the economy.

Until such time as Romney comes clean on his agenda for the country, and owns up to the many promises he’s made to the crazy people in his party, then of course every single thing about his business career and the fabulous wealth it has earned is fair game. Politicians who stand for something bigger than themselves don’t have to be perfect. But those whose message is essentially “Ecce Homo”—Behold the Man!—must be held to a different standard. Romney had better be ready to defend every wrinkle in that perfectly tailored suit and every shadow in that born-to-rule profile.

In every way you can imagine, he’s asked for it.

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.


  • David in NY on July 09, 2012 9:08 AM:

    To the credit of Obama's campaign, they're following the format Bush II did in 2004, except they're telling the truth. Hit the challenger's allegedly "strong" point early and often.

    I went on vacation to Europe, pretty much out-of-touch for a few weeks, in August, 2004, but then got onto the internet. I had a terrible sinking feeling when I saw that people were still talking about the Swift boating. And if they keep talking about Mitt's Swiss bank accounts, etc., he'll suffer Kerry's fate.

  • rick on July 09, 2012 9:10 AM:

    Let's bring it on. Show him no mercy for we will receive none in return. He's gonna sleep in the bed he made, even if its somewhere in the Cayman Islands, or is it Switzerland? Bermuda perhaps?

  • Steve P on July 09, 2012 9:13 AM:

    The other critical difference between Kerry and Romney is that Kerry's history was attacked by lies and Romney is being gobsmacked by the truth.

    BTW, 8 years on it might be an interesting project for some young cub reporter to look up those Swift Boat Veterans now and see what they have to say for themselves--like just how quickly they found out what happens to one of Karl Rove's tools when he doesn't need it anymore.

  • Peter C on July 09, 2012 9:26 AM:

    One of Romney's biggest weaknesses is the fact that he personifies the 1%. Republicans, being the party of the 1%, didn't hit him very hard for it in the primaries (although Gingrich and Santorum tried), because the 'have mores' wouldn't have liked it, and frankly, it is a weakness for the whole Republican party.

    We must hammer the point, over and over again, however. Mitt has more money than he could possibly spend (except in a nation-wide campaign to get to be the most powerful person in the world). All of his economic proposals would benefit him personally, and leave us in the cold. These aren't 'mean personal attacks'; they are facts.

  • Skip on July 09, 2012 9:43 AM:

    The Mitt campaign liveth in a dream world. As Anne Romney so spoke, it's their turn. The rest of us were born only to protect their precious dream, and follow the commandments of not making waves, not asking any relevant questions, not ruffling the perfectly constructed portrait that is Mitt least he falter in his climb to the Oval Office and his rightful place therein.

    Those of us who wriggle about in unrich, uninsured, uninsulated reality need to keep our eyes cast upon the ground for we are DISGUSTING. It is not for us to comment upon nakedness of our wonderous king-to-be for he is ordained.

    The Mitt Campaign hath spoken.

  • c u n d gulag on July 09, 2012 9:52 AM:

    Make that "Icky Homo" - nasty man.

    Or, "Icky Rich Man" - nasty rich man.

  • T2 on July 09, 2012 10:09 AM:

    sometimes I wonder, given the obvious distaste that the GOP has for Romney, if they aren't just using this election as an opportunity to get rid of him. Let him run, he loses to an incumbent, and they'll finally be rid of him. He won't run for office again. Then the GOP can go ahead and reveal their true selves by nominating Paul Ryan in 2016.

  • joanneinDenver on July 09, 2012 10:21 AM:

    Not so quick. The republican party strength is in the states. The question is will voters vote the Republican down ticket and then vote for a Democrat for President?

    Are voters more fed up with the Congressional stalemate than they are disinterested in Romney?

    I do not share others optimism here about the outcome of this election.

  • Diane Rodriguez on July 09, 2012 10:28 AM:

    It would be more effective if Democrats would finish the loop of Romney offshore money. Shady, yeah. The real problem is that it stands for Romney's lack of faith and failure to invest (re-invest money made from picking US carcasses) in the US. If he believes so passionately in US exceptional, why are large chunks of his money invested overseas. Unfortunately, the obvious has to be spelled out in simple terms repeatedly for the electorate.

    Yeeha for the investigation to uncover this money parking offshore. However, leaving it at merely shady isn't getting it.
    I bet Ann Romney wonít be able to remain silent on this issue either. She is the definition of entitled and clearly the backbone of the partnership. Itís not the backbone thatís troublesome, itís her unshakeable entitlement. What little political capitol she has will vanish by November. Canít hide her disdain for the great unwashed much longer.

  • DAY on July 09, 2012 10:32 AM:

    joanneinDenver is right.

    Not only is 90% of the electorate tuned out, the same 90% have already made up their "minds".

    Ticket splitting is hard. Yanking the party lever is easy. Guess what Americans prefer?

    (But, then, the choice is pretty much like the old beer commercial: "Less filling! More taste!")

  • N.Wells on July 09, 2012 11:13 AM:

    "Obama be sent to the principalís office"
    This touches on something that's been grating on me for a couple of weeks: every time Romney talks about Obama in terms of "it's time for him to stand up and take responsibility" my teeth get set on edge by what I perceive as obnoxious and insulting paternalistic overtones, very much talking down to a junior. However, this could just be me because I don't like Romney and what he stands for - does anyone else agree, or am I out in left field here?

  • Doug on July 09, 2012 7:34 PM:

    "...lantern jaw..."? How about glass?
    I'd be willing to bet Romney has NEVER been told "No" - he'd just fire them, if they did. Any opposition he's ever faced he's been able to out-buy - and THEN fire them. Or he gathers a bunch of like-minded types and "jokingly" humiliates whovever has "earned" his disapproval.
    He's shallow, empty-headed, self-centered and, to top it off, vicious - just what the GOP deserves. Our job is to show those attributes to the voting public and how such a person is not only unfit for the Presidency, but may actually deserve an orange jump-suit.
    Okay, that last is just a wild dream...

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