Political Animal


September 14, 2012 9:43 AM Still More Laser-like Focus on Jobs

By Ed Kilgore

So yesterday on the presidential campaign trail we saw the econo-manic campaign of the business genius Mitt Romney do two basic things: (1) sourly reject with nineteenth-century cliches a step by the Federal Reserve Board that had markets here and around the world leaping like happy puppies; and (2) reiterate even more loudly than before the contention that only the manly-man-ness of Mitt Romney can keep Americans safe.

Long-time if somewhat muted (at least outside the Ron Paul campaign) Republican muttering about stimulative monetary policies broke out into the open in the Romney campaign’s reaction to the Fed’s QE3 announcement yesterday (via policy director Lanhee Chen):

The Federal Reserve’s announcement of a third round of quantitative easing is further confirmation that President Obama’s policies have not worked. After four years of stagnant growth, falling incomes, rising costs, and persistently high unemployment, the American economy doesn’t need more artificial and ineffective measures. We should be creating wealth, not printing dollars. As president, Mitt Romney will enact bold, pro-growth policies that lead to robust job creation, higher take-home pay, and a true economic recovery.

No mention of any details about those “bold, pro-growth policies,” although the upper-end tax cuts that is the lodestar of his and his party’s economic philosophy would “create wealth” all right, for those who are already wealthy. But it’s the ancient gold-bug “printing money” denunciation of monetary stimulus that’s most striking, reflecting a world view in which high interest rates are considered a good thing and all seven deadly sins are inflation. Not exactly the hallmarks of a campaign looking high or low for ways to boost jobs.

Meanwhile, Team Mitt has taken the interesting approach of simultaneously backing off the specific charges the candidate was making the day before about the president’s reaction to violence in the Middle East, while generally becoming much more aggressive in claiming that Romney’s projection of “strength” would itself intimidate troublesome elements in the Middle East and elsewhere into respectful silence.

“There’s a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you’d be in a different situation,” Richard Williamson, a top Romney foreign policy adviser, said in an interview. “For the first time since Jimmy Carter, we’ve had an American ambassador assassinated.”
Williamson added, “In Egypt and Libya and Yemen, again demonstrations — the respect for America has gone down, there’s not a sense of American resolve and we can’t even protect sovereign American property.”

As on domestic issues, the “Romney difference” isn’t that clear:

“What would the governor do differently? It really starts with having a vision for the future of the Middle East, supporting those that have been shortchanged by the administration,” Mitchell Reiss, a top Romney policy adviser, said in an interview. “There are things that we can do in terms of what we say, the constancy of what our vision is — pluralism, respect for law, human dignity — these are things that you don’t hear from the administration, and the people in the region want to hear that.”

Other than “we’ll do whatever Bibi says,” it’s not clear what any of this means. But it does seem clear the Romney campaign is so locked down on tactical day-to-day maneuvering that it’s lost sight of any coherent strategy or rationale-for-candidacy, as the days quickly pass.

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.


  • Bo on September 14, 2012 9:57 AM:

    There is a delicious irony in the day-to-day fiasco also known as GOP presidential ticket.
    The MittWit would have us all believe that he should be elected because of his "business success" . . . so one could assume that he fancies himself a good manager.
    However, his performance as a candidate disproves that theory. The poor soul can't manage a message, a convention or a bounce in the polls. I am beginning to think that he can't manage anything and would be even more of a disaster than GDumbya was.

  • stormskies on September 14, 2012 9:58 AM:

    I am sure we are all tired of commenting on the utter derangement, lies, deceptions, and out right evilness of this Zarathustra creature called buffoon Romney. But, fuck, he and his surrogates just get worse on a daily basis.

    It is simply stunning that such a creature as this can actually run for the president of the U.S.A, and even more stunning to realize, that after all that has transpired over this very long campaign by him, and all that has been exposed and go horrible wrong, that literally millions of Americans will vote for this evil automaton anyway.

    And then of course they are the parts of the corporate media, that no matter what he does or says, that will defend him at any cost. Just watch for the Sunday shows for this spectacle to unfold.

  • Ronald on September 14, 2012 10:04 AM:

    One more nail in the 'It's 1980' coffin would be inflation-
    in 1980 it was around 14%. Today it is 1.3%. That is a HUGE difference and was one of the reasons Carter was so soundly defeated.
    Republican braying about monetary policy and inflation now seems silly and misplaced.

  • davidp on September 14, 2012 10:05 AM:

    Romney's unconvincing body language at the press conference yesterday and the wild flailing of his campaign suggest that the momentum has turned against him, and he knows it. It's hard to imagine him winning now. The fact that, in the last few days, Cheney and Rumsfeld have emerged from their holes to speak in his support may well be the kiss of death.

  • Ronald on September 14, 2012 10:05 AM:

    One more nail in the 'It's 1980' coffin would be inflation-
    in 1980 it was around 14%. Today it is 1.7%. That is a HUGE difference and was one of the reasons Carter was so soundly defeated.
    Republican braying about monetary policy and inflation now seems silly and misplaced.

  • FlipYrWhig on September 14, 2012 10:08 AM:

    You know, look. John McCain could run as tough, because he endured some nasty stuff. George W. Bush could run as tough, because he had built up a believable cowboy persona -- fake as all hell, we know, but plausible. Ronald Reagan, damn, he invented the fake cowboy persona.

    Mitt Romney can't run as tough. He doesn't have the personality and he doesn't have the background. He's just a jackass. It's not going to work.

  • berttheclock on September 14, 2012 10:10 AM:

    Gerry Adams said it best about Michell Reiss, when, he commented on Reiss working under Shrub as an envoy to Northern Ireland. He said, "If he is giving advice to the President, then, he is giving him very, very bad advice".

    In addition, what have the efforts by Williamson accomplished in Sudan?

  • c u n d gulag on September 14, 2012 10:12 AM:

    This is too good to pass up:

    'Thereís a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, he could have flown around the Earth backwards in time, and saved the Ambassador.'

    'Thereís a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, all it would take to fix the economy, is one snap of his noble fingers.'

    Thereís a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, he would heterosexualize the gay, lighten the browns and blacks, make women realize their place, and Christianize the whole world - bringing about the World Peace that everyone has always wanted.'

    Now, on to more serious matters:
    About the QE, shouldn't REAL Conservatives be
    embracing it and hugging it close to them, instead of whining about it?

    Since, according to their theories and statements, when nothing improves, it will prove once and for all that Government can't do anything about jobs!

    "We Conservatives welcome the Fed's QE, since it will do nothing to help anyone, validating what we've been telling you about government intervention for years!
    We say, 'Bring it on!'

    Instead, they whine.
    Food for thought, no?

  • Mudge on September 14, 2012 10:13 AM:

    "Respect for America" is sabre rattling in the Romney campaign's mind. It's constrained behavior due to fear. Republicans (neocons) believe this. It is the way the Soviet Union kept the Eastern Bloc quiet for so many years. Stalin seems to be Romney's role model on this issue.

    John Bolton is back there somewhere, doing his magic.

  • berttheclock on September 14, 2012 10:14 AM:

    "those short changed by the Administration"

    So, horrors of horrors, should Mitt become President, where is he going to erect those monuments to Quaddafi and Mubarek? White House lawn or at one or two of his estates?

  • boatboy_srq on September 14, 2012 10:18 AM:

    It makes you wonder whether the GOTea thinks that everything will be hunky-dory once all Teh Immigrunts have been shipped home, and that we'll reach full employment with all the (private) Border Security guards, transvaginal-ultrasound-tech Abortion Prevention officers, and other "jobs" created from all their culture war efforts. It's as if they actually intend to set up the RCs and/or AoG as an outsourced Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (a/k/a Thought Police).

  • boatboy_srq on September 14, 2012 10:23 AM:

    BTW - you'll notice, in Romney's rhetoric, despite all the sabre-rattling subtext,assurances of DoD overexpenditures and obvious willingness to go to war with anyone/everyone, there's not one mention of anything as patriotic as universal compulsory service. Wingnuts don't wage war unless they can hire the underclasses to do the actual fighting.

  • jpeckjr on September 14, 2012 10:24 AM:

    "we'll do whatever Bibi says" . . . has caused me to speculate, purely speculate . . . on what Mr. Netanyahu might have said . . . to Mr. Romney . . . right before Mr. Romney made his initial statement on the Cairo tweet. Which was issued very quickly. We've all interpreted that as a stupid misstep by the Romney campaign.

    But, and it's all speculation, what if Israeli intelligence knew what was coming down in Benghazi, told Mr. Netanyahu, who called Mr. Romney, told him about before it made the news, perhaps even before the Benghazi attack began, and urged him to "get out ahead of Obama" on it, that it would make him look both better informed than the President and tough on national security.

    Then, Mr. Romney did as he was told and, being inept in diplomatic speak, it did not make him look strongly pro-Israel. It made him look, well, inept in diplomatic speak, an understatement.

    All this is speculation. All of it is plausible. Mr. Netanyahu is looking for a way to create more enemies for Israel to attack, maybe adding Egypt to the list.

    Does anyone else sense there is a breaking down of the Carter-era Camp David accords? All the references to President Carter are interpreted as being about the Iranian hostage situation. What if Mr. Netanyahu is trying to undermine Camp David? What if the Carter references are meant to evoke Camp David, to put the wisdom of it in doubt?

    Our aid to Egypt is the price we pay for peaceful relations between Egypt and Israel, our two largest recipients of foreign aid. If Camp David is abbrogated, bellicose Bibi gets another enemy.

    As TCinLA noted in a comment yesterday, "Whose interests are served?" Mr. Netanyahu's, but not necessarily Israel's?

  • Celui on September 14, 2012 10:25 AM:

    Yet another moment of repetitive archaic egononsense from TeaMitt. Condemn the decisions that have been taken for QE3, dismiss the need for these decisions ('job creators' can more effectively 'create jobs' if there's capital in the credit market and consumers in the buying market), and then blame the Obama administration for failing to surmount the long-term GOTPer intransigence. It's like revisiting Akin's 'legitimate rape' nonsense on the entire country. How obtuse can these 'advisors' be??? Keep it up, TeaMitt!!!

  • bigtuna on September 14, 2012 10:26 AM:

    So.... we are to believe that the Mittsters will be able to monitor all the crude, insulting videos made by deranged Coptic immigrants from Egypt, realize when they are translated into arabic, and posted on Youtube, and at the same time, monitor the development of hard core militants in all of the Aarabic nations of the world, in time to thwart every crazed demostration, some of which might be used, or formeted by, said militant groups?

    Oh, and go into all of these newly developing nations, and get many of their weapons secured before they get looted?

    Sounds like a very intrusive foriegn policy to me.

  • gregor on September 14, 2012 10:28 AM:

    Romney is eerily reminiscent of top management of large corporations which are in a stage of decline. Lot of bluster, but no results, and despite all the talk, the company's traversal of its downward trajectory goes unabated at ever accelerating pace.

  • Josef K on September 14, 2012 10:29 AM:

    And millions of Americans are going to vote for this guy? Seriously?

  • esaud on September 14, 2012 10:31 AM:

    My economic theory: For the big money boyz like Romney, unemployment is at a sweet spot right now, not so high as to cause rioting in the streets, but high enough to extract all kinds of concessions from workers afraid of losing their jobs. The GOP doesn't want to do anything about unemployment.

    My foreign policy theory: All of those right wing war mongers have really serious cognative impairment. It is astonishing to me that the GOP went all in with the nutty neocons who lied and tortured their way into a horrible war, and no one says boo.

    Why aren't any Republicans saying we have to hit the reset botton and get rid of them all? Talk about a party that is completely off the rails.

  • Josef K on September 14, 2012 10:40 AM:

    From jpeckjr at 10:24 AM:

    But, and it's all speculation...

    What jpeckjr is describing is tantamount to actual treason. If Romney had early warning about the attacks on our embassy (which is legally US soil), and made no effort to warn either the State Department or the White House, he could be argued to be as responsible for the death of our ambassador and diplomats as those lunatics who attacked.

    Granted this is speculation, and presumes Israeli intelligence successfully penetrated these Libyan radicals somehow to learn of their plans (provided they actually had any). More to the point, it presumes Bibi is deluded enough to think Romney wouldn't eat both his feet at his little presser.

    Still, crazier and crazier have happened in recent years. Even the Bush Administration didn't go so far as what's being suggested, and its too terrible a prospect (a Presidential candidate deliberately committing treason) to be entertained sober.

    At least I hope it is. I'm cynical enough about our world as it is.

  • T2 on September 14, 2012 10:49 AM:

    One more time.....the Romney camp and Mitt Romney do not have a "strategy" for the Mid East, for the Economy, for anything (not counting huge donations to LDS).
    They are simply drifting through this campaign, hoping that huge sums of money from mystery donors under Citizens United and racial hatred of Obama will be enough to put them in the White House. Once there, they won't have to worry about policy at all, just politics. That's the GOP.

  • Peter C on September 14, 2012 10:58 AM:

    "protect sovereign American property", eh? What, exactly, are we talking about here - embassy buildings or oil tankers?

    If we're talking about embassy buildings, what are we protecting them so that they can do? The way Romney is reacting, he's protecting the rights of the wacko right-wing frige to insult other cultures and provoke a religious war. Is THAT the proper function of our diplomatic team???

    Diplomacy is a task for cool-headed and savvy adults, not hot-headed, grenade-throwing, religious zealots acting like petulant toddlers. Mitt and his team are not ready for this responsibility. George Bush and his team were not suited to it either, indeed two teams are essentially identical. I, for one, will do all I can to keep them from power again. I'm sick of having to apologize for their boorish ugly-americanism.

    The United States (unlike many other nations) does not regulate the thoughts and speech of its citizens. The government is not given that power and I am proud of the fact that we have the freedom to think as we please and to speak our minds. In effect, we have the right to be wrong. But, it is not something to celebrate when it happens. Romney and the Republicans cannot admit to being wrong and they feel 'attacked' when their mistakes are brought to their attention. Perhaps this is a failing that is enabled by their great wealth; they have enough so that they don't feel the consequences of their mistakes. Thus, they are able to pretend that they didn't happen.

    But we must bear the consequences. When they send us into war, we die. When they crash the economy, we lose our jobs and our houses. And those who do not recognize their mistakes will repeat them.

    We are not serfs who must support the lord of the manor. We choose our leaders and give them power. It is our responsibility to choose wisely and avoid ones who have not learned from the mistakes of the past or who seem unable to recognize their capacity for error.

  • david1234 on September 14, 2012 11:18 AM:

    I do not think the attacks in Libya would have occurred if Romney had been President. There is a pretty compelling case that Bin Laden would still be alive and Qaddafi would still be in power.

  • jonh on September 14, 2012 11:23 AM:

    c u n d gulag wrote:

    >Thereís a pretty compelling story that if you had a >President Romney, he would heterosexualize the gay, >lighten the browns and blacks, make women realize their >place, and Christianize the whole world - bringing >about the World Peace that everyone has always wanted.

    That pretty much describes the German states at the outbreak of the 30 years' war. Protestants and Catholics might be indistinguishalbe for an outside observer (kinda like Jews and Arab Muslims), but their mutual ethnic hatred led to the deaths of some millions of Germans. Apparent ethnic homogeneity does not lessen ethnic conflict. Those who dream of a happy place where everybody is alike, should learn this.

  • boatboy_srq on September 14, 2012 11:24 AM:


    That sounds just too plausible. Plus, it's what the GOTea gets for hanging its hopes on a guy the Brits would deride as a "publick school boy" (all education and no learning, who gets up in the world from wealth, inheritance and connections and NOT talent).

    For Bibi this would mean:
    INTENT: make BHO look weak, thus putting friends back in power and forwarding your agenda.
    POSSIBLE REAL-WORLD RESULT FOR LIKUD: sink your own administration right along with the GOTea thanks to your inept friends in the US.

    @Josef K:
    As I said yesterday (among other times), between IOKIYAR and TABMITWH you'll find the entirety of the Romney campaign for pResident. Those seem to be the only boundaries.

  • c u n d gulag on September 14, 2012 11:34 AM:

    My comment was meant as "snark," not observation, anylysis, or prognostication. :-)

  • Quaker in a Basement on September 14, 2012 11:46 AM:

    Goodness! Is Romney running a campaign or auditioning to become the next Red Rascal?

    "No, Adbul! We must not attack the American Consulate! Willard Romney, hero of the Olympics is now the American president!"

  • Rick B on September 14, 2012 11:48 AM:

    "... the Romney campaign is so locked down on tactical day-to-day maneuvering that itís lost sight of any coherent strategy or rationale-for-candidacy"

    Romney is acting as though he was an accountant suddenly trying to make political and military strategy. He and his staff are looking at financial statements to tell them how to deal with a situation in which financial data has no significant intelligence value.

    Then his staff acts entirely tribally as though the modern world did not exist.

    They haven't lost sight of coherent strategy or rational thinking. They are unaware that rational strategic thinking even exists.

  • JM917 on September 14, 2012 12:09 PM:

    FlipYrWhig: "Mitt Romney can't run as tough. He doesn't have the personality and he doesn't have the background. He's just a jackass. It's not going to work.

    Mitt Romney comes across as a rich eastern dude rancher trying to mount a jackass, and getting into the saddle backwards.

  • beejeez on September 14, 2012 12:13 PM:

    Yeah, Mitt would cower our enemies out of his sheer manliness, bring prosperity to all Americans through his business acumen, and heal the spirit of our republic by his moral example. But the best thing is that he'd replace that arrogant Obama.

  • berttheclock on September 14, 2012 12:21 PM:

    So, please tell us, Mitt, how would you protect any American naval vessel similar to the USS Liberty, from an attack, once again, by the Isrealis?