Political Animal


October 26, 2012 3:31 PM Romney’s “Closing Argument”

By Ed Kilgore

For the candidate afflicted with “Romnesia,” you never know when you hear that he’s making his “closing argument” if that is indeed the case, or he’s got three or four more in his pocket. But that’s the label BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller is giving to Mitt Romney’s speech in Ames, Iowa, today—a place, you may recall, that he strictly avoided when Iowa Republicans kicked off the presidential cycle with a straw poll in the summer of 2011.

But anyway: the guts of Mitt’s final pitch is that he and Paul Ryan are thinking big and bold while Barack Obama is petty and timid:

Four years ago, candidate Obama spoke to the scale of the times. Today, he shrinks from it, trying instead to distract our attention from the biggest issues to the smallest—from characters on Sesame Street and silly word games to misdirected personal attacks he knows are false.

This is pretty rich coming from the guy who has spent much of the last month relentlessly pandering to the coal industry. But at any rate, what’s interesting about the “big and bold change” stuff is that it’s true: but not in any way he’s admitting. To hear his “closing argument,” here’s a sample of what he and Paul Ryan are fighting for:

We will save and secure Medicare and Social Security, both for current and near retirees, and for the generation to come. We will restore the $716 billion President Obama has taken from Medicare to pay for his vaunted Obamacare.
We will reform healthcare to tame the growth in its cost, to provide for those with pre-existing conditions, and to assure that every American has access to healthcare. We will replace government choice with consumer choice, bringing the dynamics of the marketplace to a sector of our lives that has long been dominated by government.

I’m sure you know by now how Mitt ‘n’ Paul plan to “save” Medicare. The “save Social Security” bit presumably refers to “reform” plans they haven’t had the guts to reveal, though Ryan was an early backer of partial privatization and Romney has talked vaguely about means-testing benefits.

But it’s the “health care reform” claim that is really incredible. By repealing Obamacare, Romney and Ryan would eliminate health insurance coverage for 30 million people who would otherwise be covered beginning in 2014. The Medicaid block grant they propose would according to the most credible indeeliminate coverage for another 17-23 million people. That’s 47-53 million Americans who will have to find some other way to secure health care or simply do without. And what are the “reforms” proposed instead? The Romney campaign has already been forced to admit that its candidate’s deep concern for people with pre-existing conditions extends only so far as preserving current laws allowing people to pay both employer and employee shares of health premiums after they’ve lost their jobs, or try to buy terrible, expensive policies through state risk pools. But believe it or not, the big and bold Romney/Ryan agenda would make things worse by the “market-based” reform of interstate insurance sales, which would create a race to the bottom sure to eliminate most of the protections available to poorer and sicker people.

I won’t even get into the hypocrisy of talking about getting government out of health care while demanding that the single-payer Medicare program keep paying insurance companies and providers $716 billion in unnecessary reimbursements. But the gap between what Romney is saying on health care and other issues, and the reality of his agenda, already gigantic when this campaign began, has only grown. If you like your dishonesty big and bold, he’s your man.

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.


  • Both on October 26, 2012 3:46 PM:

    Romney's contempt for the intelligence of the electorate is total.

  • c u n d gulag on October 26, 2012 3:47 PM:

    If President Obama loses, every MSM pundit who didn't point out Mitt's "post-truth" campaign while it was going on, should be drawn-and-quartered.

    The MSM will be the one group most responsible for the coming Fascistic Evangelical Plutocracy.
    Sure, the Republicans are the ones who want that, but the "Fourth Estate's" job is to tell the people what's what.
    And they are failing epically.

  • Marko on October 26, 2012 4:07 PM:

    Sounds like another load of bullshit to me.

  • T2 on October 26, 2012 4:11 PM:

    I already posted about this lie-packed speech, but the thing that is most striking is that the man KNOWS he is lying about most of what he said. It's all been debunked. So there are only two explanations - one - he is crazy and doesn't know what he's saying.
    two- he is quite aware of the fact he is feeding pure lies to the public and is ok with it.

    And,for the millionth time, the GOP aligned Media is letting him get away with it. They want this man to be president.

  • TCinLA on October 26, 2012 4:22 PM:

    From a refiew of Harry G. Frankfurt's book, "On Bullshit" (emphasis mine):

    One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern. We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, as Harry Frankfurt writes, "we have no theory."

    Frankfurt, one of the world's most influential moral philosophers, attempts to build such a theory here. With his characteristic combination of philosophical acuity, psychological insight, and wry humor, Frankfurt proceeds by exploring how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying. He argues that bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit need not be untrue at all.

    Rather, bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner's capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not (the situation known as "romnesia" - TC). Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.

  • JMG on October 26, 2012 4:24 PM:

    I'm sad to say that even if the horrific, stupid, corrupt and venal political media were calling Romney a liar 24/7, it wouldn't make a difference. People WANT to believe lies that tell them things will get better without them having to do a damn thing.
    By 2010, repentance will be in full swing. Too late.

  • bdop4 on October 26, 2012 5:04 PM:

    This election is going to be seen as the Great American IQ Test, and around half of the participants will flunk it. Whether it's more or less than half remains to be seen.

  • Yellow dog on October 26, 2012 7:21 PM:

    Ed - I love your last sentence. The only boldness in Romney is in the whoppers he is willing to tell.
    Why do I keep waiting for MSM to point this out?

  • Anonymous on October 26, 2012 7:30 PM:

    Four years ago, candidate Obama spoke to the scale of the times. Today, he shrinks from it, trying instead to distract our attention from the biggest issues to the smallest—from characters on Sesame Street and silly word games to misdirected personal attacks he knows are false.

    WTF? it was Romney who brought up Big Bird!

  • DisgustedWithItAll on October 27, 2012 10:00 AM:

    There's nothing horrible that could happen to Mitt Romney that would make me feel even the slightest bit of sympathy. And I hope every possible horrible thing does happen to him.

    Him and Paul Ryan.

    And then to America's press.

  • Dave Lister on October 27, 2012 3:55 PM:

    Romney called today's GDP report of 2% growth "discouraging economic news".

    For each of the years Romney was in office, the economy grew 1.49 percent, 1.86 percent, 1.14 percent and 1.43 percent, respectively.

    Or as Romney described it then "Today, jobs are being created by the thousands and our economy is stronger."