Did We Learn Anything New From Thursday's Debate?
The video above is a brilliant ad from the DNC based largely on Thursday's tragically flawed, distorted GOP debate. It's pretty devastating for Romney-- maybe not with brain-dead Republican primary voters in the Old Confederacy, but with normal people across the country. Watch the whole bits it was based on below. After the debate last night I listened to a Terry Gross interview with Scott Helman and Michael Kranish, authors of a new book, The Real Romney. They're both longtime Boston Globe reporters who have delved into all the places where Romney doesn't want any delving.
Romney can seem detached in political settings, they write, and often struggles to connect outside of his closest confidants. Though his political career strongly mirrors that of his father, George, the former governor of Michigan, it also differs in significant ways: "If George Romney shot from the hip, his son, before he shoots at all, carefully studies the target, lines up the barrel just right, and might even fire a few practice rounds," write Helman and Kranish.
They start their biography by examining Romney's ancestors, many of whom played crucial roles in the development of the Mormon faith.
"I really felt that the ancestral story [of Mitt Romney] was very important because through that story, you can really understand the story of Mormonism as well," says Kranish. "And Mitt Romney doesn't want to talk about this extensively, but if you're writing a full-scale biography like we set out to do, you need to go back in history and explain where this family [came] from, how they [came] to the United States, what made them tick."
Using genealogical records, Helman and Kranish learned that Romney's great-great-grandfather Miles immigrated to the United States from England, after hearing a missionary from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints preach. Miles became a prominent leader in the Mormon faith, and later designed several historic buildings in Utah. His son, Miles P. Romney, a colleague of Brigham Young, had five wives and more than 30 children. He founded a Mormon colony in Mexico in the 1880s after being forced to flee from the United States for practicing a polygamous lifestyle.
That's an interesting sideshow, but it's not going to be what the presidential election is-- or should be-- about. (If for no other reason than comedy, though, I do wish Republican primary voters, especially in the Deep South, understood that the Mormons revere the Mayan and Aztec feathered-serpent deity Quetzalcoatl as the resurrected Mormon version of Jesus Christ.) What the election will be decided on is the judgment of the swing voters about which man is best equipped to lead the country out of the economic mess the Bush regime created and Obama's tepid, moderate policies haven't cured yet. Clearly, Obama should have spent more time in the last three years listening to Nobel laureate Paul Krugman than to the band of clueless conservative, near-Republican Wall Street insiders he hired as his economic team. But he didn't, and now he's stuck with a record that will bolster his reelection prospects only if Democrats manage to get this across:
But Krugman was helping with that as well, even if he wishes Obama had taken his advice for a more muscular, populist approach to the country's fiscal and economic mess inherited from Bush and the Republican ideologues. Right after the South Carolina debate, Krugman was sticking pins in Romney's pious baloney about tax policies:
A further thought about the proper calculation of tax burdens on very high income Americans: if you remember past debates, it’s kind of peculiar to see conservatives jumping up and down to say that Mitt Romney does too pay reasonable taxes if you include the profits taxes on the corporations in which he invests. Because if memory serves me, just a few years ago conservatives were denouncing the “flypaper theory” of tax incidence, arguing that much of the burden of corporate taxes really falls on labor, not on stockholders. Is it just my imagination?
No, it isn’t. They really did make this argument. Repeatedly.
And the truth is that I always took this argument semi-seriously; enough to make me hesitate about placing too much emphasis on the Piketty-Saez calculation (pdf) showing a huge cut in taxes on the rich since the 1960s.
The point is that there is a strong sense of trying to have it both ways. When people raise questions about big tax cuts for corporations, we’re told not to worry, because corporate taxes mainly fall on labor, not on stockholders. When people raise questions about low taxes on the very rich, we’re told not to worry because once you include all the taxes corporations have paid on their behalf as stockholders, their taxes aren’t really that low.
Funny how that works.