Political Animal


October 02, 2012 9:29 AM Liberal! Liberal! Liberal!

By Ed Kilgore

Having looked (via Greg Sargent) at Mitt Romney’s latest campaign ad, I’m feeling a strong sense of deja vu. To be more precise, I’m feeling very 1986, the year no Republican political communication was complete without the “L word,” uttered as an epithet: “Liberal!” The new ad features (twice) a photo of Barack Obama all snuggled up with Nancy Pelosi, as the voice-over talks about “the liberals” raising middle-class taxes to pay for “government-run health care” even as Mitt ‘n’ Paul (and other “common-sense conservatives”) grimly fight to cut middle-class taxes and eliminate loopholes benefitting the rich.

It’s generally assumed that ads launched just before a presidential debate probably indicate the intended messaging of the candidate’s debate appearance. If so, it looks like Romney is going to stare into the cameras as often as possible and utter big, dumb lies aimed at low-information voters while reinforcing the more primitive of conservative “base” beliefs. The Obamacare-increased-your-taxes meme is useful because it take a lot of ‘splainin to rebut, as does the convoluted Romney claim that middle-class folks will do better than the wealthy under his own tax proposals.

I don’t know if this is what conservatives gabbers had in mind when they urged Mitt to “go large” in the stretch run. “My liberal opponent and his liberal friends want to raise your taxes and let government run your lives” is a “big” theme in the sense that Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is “big” entertainment aimed at putting a big stupid grin on your face. I suppose the message in the new Romney ad could be dumbed down even more—the black man and the wicked witch want to take away your money and I want to give you more money—but presumably they want to save the hard sale for the final week or two of the campaign.

All in all, tomorrow night could be the longest 90 minutes in the history of political television.

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.


  • c u n d gulag on October 02, 2012 9:54 AM:

    Yes, the Republicans are the only ones capable of understanding and helping the remaining middle class families in this country (all three of them).

    Who better to understand the issues facing the middle and lower classes?
    President Obama and Joe Biden, both sons who grew up with little in the way of material goods, and took whatever opportunities they had in front of them, and pulled themselves up "by their own bootstraps?"
    The millionaire sons of millionaires, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who grew up with all the material goods rich people can give their children, and were handed opportunies as their birthright, and had their nannies pull up their boots for them - straps and all?

    Clearly, if only Nixon could go to China, then only Romney and Ryan can close the tax loopholes for the "Job Creators!" and allow the middle class and lower classes to blossom as they've never blossomed before.


  • martin on October 02, 2012 9:56 AM:

    All in all, tomorrow night could be the longest 90 minutes in the history of political television.

    Thankfully, I have a night job;>

    As for "Liberal" I think they shout that when they don't want to say "I'm a Republican."

  • esaud on October 02, 2012 9:59 AM:

    Did anyone see the Brown/Warren debate last night? I think Warren did OK, but she bungled a few answers. When asked what Republicans she could work with, she should have said "none of them that are trying to limit access to women's healthcare, or starting pointless wars, or trying to cut social security and medicare/medicaid benefits".

    Moderation by Gregory was the second worst display I have seen (the first being ABC's Steph/Charlie Democratic debate where the first hour was nothing but trivial nonsense). I dare say he had as much time as Warren.

    Also, i finally figured who Scott Brown reminds me of: G.W. Bush. His supposed "nice guy" image he has with media types is completely lost on me.

  • Ronald on October 02, 2012 10:00 AM:

    Mr. Romney managed to look good in his last debates mainly because his opponents were clowns. He just had to stand there and look professional and keep his mouth shut.
    One on one with Mr. Obama? No place to hide now, Mitt. Obama is already moderate, so his only choice is to tack rightwards, and I expect Obama to gently shove him in that direction.
    It could be a long night, but then, it could also be the final nail in the coffin that is Mr. Romney's campaign.

  • BillFromPA on October 02, 2012 10:01 AM:

    If this is the case, our moment has come to reclaim Liberal as a badge of honor. When I get caught in a politial discussion with someone obviously of the opposite stripe, they inevitably toss out, 'What are you, a Liberal?'

    My response is always, 'Of course! You didn't think I was a wignut, did you?'

  • c u n d gulag on October 02, 2012 10:14 AM:

    I've been calling myself a Liberal since I first realized when I was a kid, over 40 years ago, that the term stood for progress and inclusion, and not looking backwards, and seperate people by race, sex, age, religion, etc..

  • Hue and Cry on October 02, 2012 10:14 AM:

    Breaking news--Pennsylvania judge blocks that horrendous Voter ID Lsw.

  • Josef K on October 02, 2012 10:16 AM:

    R/R want to throw "Liberal" around like a curse? Fine. The let them answer the following: "exactly why do you hate liberty and freedom?"

  • mellowjohn on October 02, 2012 10:19 AM:

    since i already know for whom i'll be voting (the pres), i'll be watching my white sox play their last regular season game. the way they've played the past couple of weeks, THAT could be a long 3 hours.

  • stormskies on October 02, 2012 10:19 AM:

    "Moderation by Gregory was the second worst display I have seen (the first being ABC's Steph/Charlie Democratic debate where the first hour was nothing but trivial nonsense). I dare say he had as much time as Warren. "


    This corporate used condom called David Gregory has become so warped by being fucked silly by his corporate masters that the oozing sperm within the used condom truly reflects what is left of his soul.

  • Peter C on October 02, 2012 10:22 AM:

    I agree with @BillFromPA. I think it is time to reclaim 'Liberal'. Back in the 'Reagan/Bush 1' years, the Republicans were able to smear liberals just by saying "Liberal" with a sneer in their voice or by tacking-on phrases like 'tax and spend' (as if Republicans would do neither). The sneer works when spoken by someone with credible respectability, but having shown that they create horrible problems when unchecked, the Republicans have lost this presumption of repectability and honest dealing. Now, their sneers sound like the disdain of the 1% for the populace they have screwed.

    I'm a liberal. I've always been a liberal. I don't care if Bush or Limbaugh or Cheney or Palin hate me for it. Liberals solve problems. Liberals deal with reality. Liberals believe in facts and data. Liberals believe that people are fundamentally good and deserve justice, support of their general welfare, defence of their homes, and the liberty to live their lives without a religious morality imposed by the state.

  • Janet on October 02, 2012 10:29 AM:

    "The black man and the wicked witch"? You're much too kind. The GOP message about Obama and Pelosi will be, and has always been, "The n#gger and the b#tch..."

  • Grumpy on October 02, 2012 10:30 AM:

    ...it take a lot of ‘splainin to rebut...

    Really? How long does it take to say, "He's a goddamn liar"? If that's too wordy, leave out the "goddamn." If that's still too wordy, use the "goddamn" buy itself.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on October 02, 2012 10:30 AM:

    Should we really be offended by the expression "Liberal"? Certainly better than being a hate-mongering, backwards-ass ignoramus who can't add or reason right and don't know how lady parts work "conservative"...

    Anywho, I wonder which Obama Mitt's being prepped to debate: Commie-Nazi-Sochlust Obama; Big, Black and Scary Obama; Pansy-Ass, Weak-Willed Obama; Leader of the Anti-Christian Muslim Hordes Obama? Or will they "go big" and do an all-of-the-above blitz and have Mitt hurl pithy talking points in the President's general direction? Does Mitt use an Empty Chair in the debate Rehearsals.

  • Butch on October 02, 2012 10:33 AM:

    Peter, Republicans these days don't do tax and spend, they do spend and borrow.

  • DIane Rodriguez on October 02, 2012 10:34 AM:

    The only thing worse about the pre-frenzy of pundits whipping up the ratings with the constant expectations game is the "who won" aftermath. Jeebus. In the interests of keeping ratings high, Romney will be declared the hands-down-winner. He's the underdog via the polls and the media makes it a formulaic pursuit. The choice of moderators should have been the first clue that the script has been written.

    Gwen Ifill, Soledad O'Brien, Jose Ramos as moderators might have given the debate some substance.

  • Keeping Track on October 02, 2012 10:35 AM:

    POTUS, or at least somebody should utter the challenge, did your tax rate go up or did your tax rate go down? ASK YOUR TAX PREPARER! (i.e. Ask someone you trust)

    In my office, when the 2009 tax rates came out for figuring FICA, etc, my office manager, a staunch Republican, said "there must be a mistake, these rates have gone down! Everybody knows he's raising taxes." That's how under the radar the payroll tax cut was. I told her "this is the famous Obama tax cut" and she looked at me like I had three heads...

  • Hue and Cry on October 02, 2012 10:39 AM:

    We liberals/progressives/forward thinkers are happy with our names and our identity.
    Romney can't keep HIS identity straight.

    Best line on the web:
    No wonder Romney's wife is worried about his mental health. Poor Mitt is stuck in a revolving door and can't escape from himself.

    Here is the PDF of the Pennsylvania court ruling interrupting the Republicans' goal of stealing the election in PA, from this morning:


  • stormskies on October 02, 2012 10:47 AM:

    As Diane Rodriguez said:

    "The choice of moderators should have been the first clue that the script has been written"


    Yep, this speaks for itself. All the moderators are in fact corporate Repiglicans.

  • bigtuna on October 02, 2012 10:48 AM:

    So I am in one of the reddest states in the land, so my views are biased, but .... has anyone seen an analysis of how Obama and Romney are using their time? It sure seems that between fund raising, since they are not taking public money, and preparing for the debates, they spend a lot of time not campaigning, at least in the sense of rallies, meet and greets, etc...

    Maybe that doesn't matter, but after the Romney goofs, it seems like the news on the political front is pretty damn lame.

    ANd I agree - take back the work Liberal, and wear it proudly. Do the same with Obamacare, etc.

  • Peter C on October 02, 2012 12:17 PM:

    I agree @Butch. During the Bush Administration (with its two unbudgeted wars), I used to say the Republicans were 'Attack and Spend'.

  • schtick on October 02, 2012 3:30 PM:

    Liberal? Is that all you got, you Bagger!!!

  • Markg on October 02, 2012 5:40 PM:

    I'd like for Obama to be able to say in rebutting claim that he raised taxes -- "Don't believe me? Check your 1040s from 2009 (?) and last year.". Probably too many variables?

  • Mark Combs on October 03, 2012 3:11 AM:

    Okay, that's twice you've mentioned Honey Boo Boo. One more, and I can do without this website. You got a pass on the first one thanks to using "Here Come the Warm Jets" and appealing to my inner Eno fan, but enough is enough. Cut the crap.