Pro-Obama super PAC American Bridge 21st Century has released opposition research books on five of Romney’s most likely VP choices, and the messaging is as predictable as you’d expect. Rob Portman’s file ties him to Bush’s economic policies, Tim Pawlenty’s rehashes his anti-Romney attacks during the primaries, Marco Rubio’s targets his autobiographical errors, Bobby Jindal’s hits him about tax cuts for the wealthy, and Paul Ryan’s is one long Mediscare attack. And that’s just the beginning; the booklets are hundreds of pages long and cover everything from the candidates’ statements about contentious social issues to their remarks on the Ryan plan, and (in Rubio’s and Pawlenty’s cases) an entire section on their “neoconservatism.”
Democrats obviously have attack plans lined up for each of them, so there’s no such thing as a completely “safe” pick. Not that it matters — as we’ve seen from the disgraceful Priorities USA ad, if the Obama campaign runs out of attacks, their backers have no problem just making things up.
I went to hear Mitt Romney this morning in New York, and he gave what I assume is his standard stump speech. He is now emphasizing five points, which is a vast improvement on his 59-point economics plan of last year. First is to exploit America’s vast new energy resources unlocked by fracking and potential new areas now off-limits to create a large number of new, well-paying jobs, greatly improve our balance of payments, and improve our geopolitical position in the endless game of international politics.
Second is to reform the education system so as to put the interests of children ahead of the interests of teachers in order to prepare them with the skills needed in the 21st century. Third, pursue foreign trade. Fourth, cut the deficit and put the federal budget on a path towards balance. Fifth, repeal ObamaCare.
Several months ago, after Montgomery County, Maryland imposed a bag law taxing both paper and plastic bags, I questioned whether the new law would be a money loser for retail establishments. The tax gap between Maryland (where I live) and Virginia (where I shop) has never been so large. Since the bag law past, I have easily taken several hundred if not a couple thousand dollars worth of grocery and other purchases out of the county, not only to save money but also to gather the bags which I use for trash can liners, throwing away diapers, and cat litter disposal. If I can avoid an irritating shopping experience, driving an extra ten minutes (and saving $0.50/gallon on gasoline while I’m there) is well worth the price.
Proponents of the bag law and the overwhelmingly Democratic Montgomery County government say that the law is about reducing litter and promoting a cleaner environment. Few people believe police departments when they say that quotas and revenue do not play into speed limit enforcement, and the County’s bag explanations also strike a false note. Let’s put aside that there are litter laws already on the book, so the bag tax is effectively punishing the innocent rather than the guilty. In the last couple of days, I received a glossy flier in the mail promoting Montgomery County green initiatives. The flier didn’t look like it was made out of recycled paper and mailing it was a waste of money; I’d be willing to bet far more will end up in the trash than anywhere else.
We’re several days into the controversy about the Priorities USA steelworker ad, and the Obama campaign has repeatedly declined to condemn it. Campaign staffers have said they don’t know enough about Joe Soptic’s story to comment (even though they organized a conference call for Soptic to share the same story with reporters in May). They’ve also argued that the ad is being run by a super PAC that’s unconnected to the campaign, and therefore Obama has no responsibility for it.
Would the Obama campaign have bought the same excuse from its opponents? Of course not — in fact, the campaign has previously demanded that its opponents denounce sleazy attacks from outside supporting groups.
There is much to mock in the New York Timesreport on how President Obama’s obsession with his own press coverage has convinced him the media is not biased quite enough in his favor. But I come not to mock, but to offer some unsolicited advice to the president. The Times writes:
While former President George W. Bush and his aides liked to say they ignored the Fourth Estate, Mr. Obama is an avid consumer of political news and commentary. But in his informal role as news media critic in chief, he developed a detailed critique of modern news coverage that he regularly expresses to those around him….
Privately and publicly, Mr. Obama has articulated what he sees as two overarching problems: coverage that focuses on political winners and losers rather than substance; and a “false balance,” in which two opposing sides are given equal weight regardless of the facts.
Mitt Romney’s Press Secretary Andrea Saul was hit with a biblical flood of conservative outrage yesterday, after she mentioned that the steelworker’s wife in the Priorities USA ad would have had health insurance under Romneycare if she had been living in Massachusetts. Calls for Saul’s firing (and eulogies for the Romney campaign) commenced immediately.
In an interview with Fox News Channel on Wednesday, Andrea Saul invoked Massachusetts’s expansion of health coverage as a defense to a harsh new ad funded by a super PAC supporting President Obama. In the spot, a former steelworker whose plant was closed by Bain Capital blames Romney, who co-founded the firm, for his family’s loss of health insurance and his wife’s subsequent death from cancer.
“To that point, if people had been in Massachusetts, under Governor Romney’s health care plan, they would have had health care,” Saul said in the interview. “There are a lot of people losing their jobs and losing their health care in President Obama’s economy.”
A few days ago, I speculated in my occasional Kurdistan Tribune column that Turkey might be losing its fight against the Kurdistan Workers Party, better known by its acronym, the PKK. Considered by the United States, European Union, and Turkey to be a terrorist group, the PKK has waged a bloody insurgency since 1984, which has claimed the lives of 45,000.
I have been a vocal critic of the PKK in the past, and was held up at gunpoint by the group once in Iraqi Kurdistan. The PKK—like many Kurdish political parties—trends toward the personality cult and is intolerant of dissent. Make no mistake: I still find the group to be noxious and, so long as the U.S. government considers the PKK to be a terrorist group, I will as well. But, as an analyst rather than an advocate, it is important to consider what events bode. Frankly, it seems as if Turkey could now lose its fight against the PKK:
Bill Burton, former White House deputy press secretary and head of the pro-Obama Priorities USA super PAC, is struggling to defend his latest ad that suggests Mitt Romney is responsible for the death of a steelworker’s wife. You can hardly blame Burton; fact-checkers have found that the ad is dishonest, blatantly misleading, and sleazy, so it’s no wonder he can’t defend it. But why would he run something that is indefensible in the first place? CNN’s Wolf Blitzer pushed Burton on the issue last night (starts around four minutes into the video):