With Mitt Romney now the presumptive Republican nominee, there’s a real chance that for the first time in history (I think), two classmates will ascend to the American presidency — George W. Bush and Mitt Romney, both members of the Harvard Business School Class of ’75. How cool is that? And to go a step further, they were probably the only two members of their class whose dads were both prominent national political figures. (George’s dad was Chair of the Republican National Committee when he started B-School; Mitt’s had run for president himself.)
Not to say that the two men come from the same mold. Yes, both favor shifting the Judiciary to the right (candidate Bush signaled this when he cited Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia as two of his favorite Justices; candidate Romney signaled it when he appointed Robert Bork to co-chair his Judiciary Advisory Committee). And, yes, both men favor amending the Constitution to prohibit marriage (well, for some citizens, not all) . . . both men favor further cutting taxes for the rich.
But where Bush denied that his tax cuts did favor the rich — responding that “by far the vast majority” of the benefits of his tax cuts would go to people at “the bottom of the economic ladder” — Governor Romney is quite clear: he favors cutting the estate tax rate on billionheirs from 45% to zero. And, as a proponent of the Paul Ryan budget, he would cut taxes on millionaires by an average $187,000 or so.
Beyond that, it’s not entirely clear what he would do if elected.
With the general election now effectively joined, we’ve been told to expect a “reset” — like an Etch-a-Sketch.
Rachel Maddow’s take on the Etch-a-Sketch moment expands into something really harsh. If you missed it at the time – watch. And send it to your friends. (BTW: Did you know that manufacture of the Etch-a-Sketch itself was outsourced from workers in Ohio to Chinese workers making 24 cents an hour working 84-hour weeks?)
The day after she aired it, responding to those who felt she’d been too harsh, Rachel made this point: There is a certain level of distortion “that everyone expects at all levels of politics and on both sides of the aisle. But there is something different about the Romney campaign.” Namely: it’s much worse. The guy, she says, just lies and lies and lies. Watch this, too.
Some of the items she cites are – though untrue – not, I think, “lies.” For example, Romney apparently said we’re the only people in the world who place our hands on our hearts when we sing the national anthem. Well, that’s not true. But to be a lie, it seems to me, he needs to have known it was untrue, top of mind, as he was saying it. (In the immortal words of George Costanza: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”) Even if you’re just pretty much making it up to fit the moment, but not aware that you’re making it up, are you lying? Or just sort of getting carried away? (The man ran the Olympics, for Pete’s sake. If he thought back hard, he might well have been able to picture other nationalities putting hands on their hearts as their anthem was played.)
And Rachel acknowledges that it’s uncomfortable to use the word “lie.”
Still, if you find time to watch those two clips, you just might come down on her side.
But whether you choose to be that direct or to airbrush it, Governor Romney does seem to be compiling quite a record. Here it is, week by week, compiled by her colleague Steve Benen, from just the start of the year. As I say, some are closer calls than others; but taken as a whole?
Is Mitt Romney a really nice guy? I expect that in almost every way he really is. So is George W. Bush. (I actually met President Bush a few weeks ago — completely charming. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t give us the Court that gave us Citizens United and a slew of other pro-corporate decisions. That doesn’t mean he didn’t wreck our national balance sheet and badly disadvantage the middle class. That doesn’t mean he didn’t mislead us into a disastrous war. And on and on.)
But the policies Governor Romney espouses, as best they can be discerned, are mostly horrible. Whereas the President we currently have has shown himself to be consummately steady, wise — and, even in the face of unprecedented obstructionism, effective.
As one bumper sticker puts it: General Motors Lives / Bin Laden Doesn’t.
So, yes, no surprise: It’s Mitt.
But, with any luck, only until November 6.
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