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Ralph S.: “Yesterday’s check list is alone worth the annual subscription to your site. Much appreciated.”

☞ Don’t thank me, thank Rob Shook. As with so much here, the best stuff comes from you all.

SANTORUM: UNAMERICAN

Sarah J.: “Did you see this?: ‘Criticizing President Obama for “absolutely un-American activities,” [Santorum] said he was running to ensure he left the country in better shape for his children.’ Really? Un-American how? I come from a family which has members that have had that epithet thrown at them. Shades of Senator Joe McCarthy. Great. This is where the Republicans have sunk to.”

☞ The most unAmerican of activities, it seems to me, is intolerance of others’ ideas. You can call them wrong-headed – maybe it was wrong-headed of Obama to want to save the American auto industry or take that chance killing bin Laden or ramping up the stem-cell research that could one day save your child’s life . . . maybe it was wrong-headed to cut taxes on small business 18 ways or to raise taxes on the investment income of the best off* to extend health coverage to the uninsured without adding to the deficit – but un-American?

In fairness to Santorum, I think he would be quick to say he doesn’t believe the President is personally un-American. (Leave that to the large swath of Republicans who do question his citizenship or patriotism.) Just that he has engaged in “absolutely un-American activities.”

But I join Sarah in asking: what un-American activities? Tearing down discrimination against people like me, to allow us to fight and die for our country? Is that unAmerican? Seeking to rebuild the country’s infrastructure? Or to catalyze a clean and independent energy future? Or to provide consumer protections? Or to launch an educational race to the top? Does he consider these to be un-American activities?

As the campaign continues, perhaps we will find out.

*To 18.8% from 15% . . . compared to Reagan’s 28%.

ROMNEY: GRITTING HIS TEETH

I disagree with most of Governor Romney’s views. For example, according to this report, he would cut taxes for the top 1% yet another $82,000 a year, on average, while raising them $157 a year for those in the bottom quintile. But it’s hard not to feel a little sympathy for someone no one seems to like.

From the Washington Post:

Mitt Romney out of control
By Dana Milbank

MANCHESTER, N.H. — If this is Mitt Romney’s idea of a victory rally, one shudders to think what would have happened if he had lost the Iowa caucuses.

The day after his impossibly thin eight-vote victory, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination flew here for a town hall meeting at Manchester Central High School, where he was to bask in the endorsement of his 2008 arch rival, John McCain. [“If the candidate is a phony, we’ll know it,” opined an editorial McCain approved for an ad in 2008. “Mitt Romney is such a candidate.”]

But the senator grimaced when he was introduced, and as Romney delivered his own stump speech, an increasingly impatient McCain pulled up his sleeve and checked his watch. McCain gave his endorsement address without mentioning Romney’s Iowa win until the end. “By the way, we forgot to congratulate him on his landslide victory last night,” he said, laughing. Romney ignored him.

Then came the questions: First, one from an Occupy Wall Street infiltrator needling the candidate about his belief that “corporations are people.” A second questioner wanted to know why Romney flip-flopped on universal health care when he was governor of Massachusetts and why he would not increase health-care costs. Later, a Chinese American woman accused Romney of saying “degrading” things about China, and she complained that “after 20 years of Reagan trickle-down economics, it didn’t help me. My tin can is still empty.”

Romney sat through most of the ambush with a tight grin and raised eyebrows. At length he attempted to challenge the woman to name a place where income is higher than it is in the United States.

The Occupy Wall Street guy began heckling. “The U.S. has the highest income inequality in the entire developed world!”

Romney tried to regain control. “Excuse me,” he said. “You’ve had your chance.”

McCain walked toward the Occupy guy. “Be quiet,” he said, menacingly.

The woman, no longer in possession of a working microphone, began hollering.

“For those who didn’t hear,” Romney offered, “she says she loves this country and don’t put any Asians down. I hope I haven’t put any Asians down.”

The woman’s muffled shouting continued. Romney tried to answer. A baby started to cry.

When the end mercifully came, the candidate gave a final rallying call to “get the White House back.” All but a few rose and put on their coats without applauding.

This undoubtedly was not the victory lap the campaign had in mind. Everything about Romney is controlled, precise and disciplined. Flying from Des Moines to Manchester on Wednesday, he went to his seat right when the pilot turned on the seat-belt sign; many other politicians on charters have been known to remain standing right through landing.

His staff applauded dutifully when he got on his plane (a Miami Air 737 named “Diane” on the fuselage but labeled Hair Force One by others), and he went up and down the row congratulating each staff member with a “nice work” and a “thank you.” The grin he wore when he boarded remained throughout the flight — even when he entered and exited the lavatory.

When he went to the back of the plane to visit the press corps, he made a labored attempt to demonstrate that he was at ease. He noticed an aide’s manifest for the media and pretended that was funny. “Is that right? A seating chart? Ha, ha, ha.”

“What do you think of your eight-vote landslide?” the Associated Press’s Glenn Johnson asked.

“No interviews yet,” the candidate said. “We’ll be back later,” he said, repeating this three times.

(He did not come back later.)

In need of a new subject, Romney looked at the staffer sitting in the row ahead of the press corps. “Is this the referee?” he asked. It wasn’t clear why he regarded this staffer as a referee, but he continued to joke about the demarcation between staff seats and media seats. “The line? The DMZ? Is that it? No, I know what it is: It’s the emergency exit! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Yeah. Ahh.”

The candidate fielded a couple of questions about his activities on caucus night, and then tried to answer a question about his margin of victory. “Ha, ha. Uh. I think landslides are terrific,” he said. “I just didn’t, uh, see that in last night’s figures. I’m not sure about you. Ha, ha, ha, ha.”

Maybe he should have gotten more sleep.

Driven to Manchester on a bus he dubbed “Landslide Lounge,” Romney continued to wrestle with words when he took the stage at the high school. “What a, uh, big night we had last night, or what a big morning we had, uh, last morning, this morning, in, uh, Iowa,” he began.

Not long after that, he vowed that he would help to promote “businesses big and large.”

McCain, finally granted the microphone, told many of the same jokes he used on the campaign trail in 2008. Romney smiled politely. It was then time for the disastrous question-and-answer session, beginning with the Occupy activists hectoring Romney about corporations-as-people.

“Hold on!” the candidate volleyed. “You had your turn. Now it’s my turn.”

After Romney’s win in Iowa, it is his turn. But he doesn’t seem to be enjoying it.

 

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