The Incredible Shrinking Romney

The man who was a CEO, the man whose vulture-money has dual citizenship, the man who has spent his whole life telling people what to do and when to do it, tried once again to bully his way into the White’s House by running over the President of the United States.

And this time, this time, he met resistance, a determined and dignified resistance, and the Big Man on Campus suddenly looked small, his confidence exposed as arrogance, as insolence. At the end, we saw a different Mitt Romney, one who couldn’t wait to get off that stage.

Early on, and perhaps lost in the theatrics to come, President Obama deconstructed Mittens and turned his off-putting swagger into a much-deserved stagger:

Governor Romney’s says he’s got a five-point plan? Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That’s been his philosophy in the private sector; that’s been his philosophy as governor; that’s been his philosophy as a presidential candidate.

You can make a lot of money and pay lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less. You can ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it. You can invest in a company, bankrupt it, lay off the workers, strip away their pensions, and you still make money.

That’s exactly the philosophy that we’ve seen in place for the last decade. That’s what’s been squeezing middle-class families.

And we have fought back for four years to get out of that mess. The last thing we need to do is to go back to the very same policies that got us there.

What was Romney’s reaction? What could he do? His time on the question had been used up. He had already had his say. But true to form he validated Mr. Obama’s claim that “folks at the top play by a different set of rules“:

CROWLEY: Mr. President, the next question is going to be for you here. And, Mr. Romney – Governor Romney – there’ll be plenty of chances here to go on, but I want to…

ROMNEY: That – that Detroit – that Detroit answer…

CROWLEY: We have all these folks.

ROMNEY: … that Detroit answer…

CROWLEY: I will let you absolutely…

ROMNEY: … and the rest of the answer, way off the mark.

No, as it turns out, it was right on the mark, Mittens. A different set of rules, indeed.

You know who I thought of while I was listening to Romney, watching him almost stalk the President? I thought of Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia. I wondered how Putin, a former KGB officer and all-around bad guy, would handle such condescension. How would he handle Romney bossing him around? How would he handle Romney’s dismissive “I’m still speaking” shtick?

He’d dope-slap him back to La Jolla.

But President Obama is not Vladimir Putin. As is his trademark, true to his brand, he calmly, but assertively, pushed back against the Romney lies, against the arrogance. No part of the debate demonstrated that calm but assertive Obama brand better than when the discussion turned to Libya.

The President called out his opponent for his disgraceful exploitation of the turmoil surrounding the death of our ambassador and three other Americans:

While we were still dealing with our diplomats being threatened, Governor Romney put out a press release, trying to make political points, and that’s not how a commander in chief operates. You don’t turn national security into a political issue. Certainly not right when it’s happening.

Romney’s response included this:

But I find more troubling than this, that on – on the day following the assassination of the United States ambassador, the first time that’s happened since 1979, when – when we have four Americans killed there, when apparently we didn’t know what happened, that the president, the day after that happened, flies to Las Vegas for a political fund-raiser, then the next day to Colorado for another event, other political event.

I think these – these actions taken by a president and a leader
have symbolic significance and perhaps even material significance in that you’d hope that during that time we could call in the people who were actually eyewitnesses.

Obama would have none of that nonsense. Looking straight at Romney, he said:

The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror, and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime. And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.

And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team, would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as Commander in Chief.

It was all downhill from there for the former CEO and BMOC.

Romney, thinking he had a gotcha moment, persisted in making a fool of himself:

ROMNEY: I – I think it’s interesting the president just said something which – which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

OBAMA: That’s what I said.

ROMNEY: [looking at the President] You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?

OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor.

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: It – it – it – he did in fact, sir…call it an act of terror…

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

CROWLEY: He – he did call it an act of terror.


Finally, although President Obama could have done a much better job of linking Romney to the most extreme elements of his party, he managed to strike a decisive blow at the end, the opening provided by Romney himself:

I think the president’s campaign has tried to characterize me as – as someone who’s very different than who I am. I care about 100 percent of the American people. I want 100 percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future.

Uh-oh. That was sort of like Romney saying, “Go ahead, dope-slap me with the truth.” Obama did:

I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about. Folks on Social Security who’ve worked all their lives. Veterans to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don’t make enough income.

And I want to fight for them. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds. 

When my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and he got a G.I. Bill and that allowed him to go to college, that wasn’t a handout. That was something that advanced the entire country. And I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. That’s why I’m asking for your vote and that’s why I’m asking for another four years.

Those were the last words of the debate, words that no doubt are still ringing in Romney’s ears this morning, as hopefully they are ringing in the ears of undecided voters.



  1. It is remarkable that in an event where the President was decidedly superior to the failed Governor (Obama leads Romney by 20 points in Massachusetts — which should be THE stat voters are looking at relative to Mitt’s governance expertise) the news media (mostly a bunch of whores, these days) has said very little about the debate. After the first debate, they were ready to proclaim Mittens — egregious lies and all — “Lord of the Realm”. It’s very sad. But — WELL DONE, Mr. PRESIDENT!


    • I, too, have been very disappointed in the media coverage. I will have more on that later, I think, but it has been disgraceful as far as I’m concerned.

      Your point about Massachusetts I have heard made only by folks on our side. Imagine, if you can, if Mr. Obama were losing in Illinois. Would that be a story journalists would cover? Of course it would. It would be non-stop coverage on Fox and thus would, as Fox knows very well, force mainstream outlets to repeat it.



  2. ansonburlingame

     /  October 17, 2012

    What I saw last night was two knowledgeable and passionate men defending their very different positions and doing everything possible to RIP the other man for his views. There was not a single instance of “give” or compromise on the part of either man.

    Said another way it was a playground mud wrestling contest with inane charges, counter charges and intransience from both sides. Did that debate not look exactly like what we have heard out of Congress for four long years with no hint of the ability to compromise by either side. THAT is NOT what this country needs for the next four years and if you are dumb enough to think that rhetoric, spin and inane accusations of what one man WILL do if elected, then God help America if your views prevail.

    NO ONE knows what Obama in fact WILL DO nor Romney either in the coming four years despite the rhetoric. How America is ulitmately governed is decided by a very broad base of American politics. NEITHER side is going to always get their way and EITHER side that tries to do so is going against the entire history of American politics. And of course BOTH sides are trying hard to do exactly that, only get their way and to hell with others.

    Obama did as expected, he PREPARED for this debate and came out swinging just like Biden did a week ago. Fine with me. Romney on the other hand did NOT play to a careful and relatively quiet approach followed by Ryan a week ago. Nope Romney swung back. At the end both men were still standing and neither scored anything close to a knockout punch unless viewed as such by people that made up their minds long ago.

    Last night was like a heavy weight championship fight but in that fight there are about 120 Million judges. You no more know who won than I do today and we won’t know until Nov 7th or later.

    The KEY to ANY American progress in the next four years in how we change slightly how we decide to govern America will depend on COMPROMISE. YOU would not even come close to showing such willingness to do so based on the theme of this blog of “repentance”. And based strictly on past performance for the last four long years you know how much confidence that I at least have of your ideological candidate’s ability of achieving, not talking about, compromise. Whether Romney can do it is a guess as well but he has a record from his past of doing so, at least!!!



    • Kabe

       /  October 17, 2012

      AB, I think if Obama is reelected he will surely go to the center on certain issues. Second term Presidents always seem to. (Clinton-NAFTA, Bush Jr. Auto and Bank bail outs) If you think Romney will compromise, then are you assuming that Congress will be thrown out along with Obama and in the Dems control? This is the most interesting scenario to me. If one truly blames Obama for our problems, then I believe you must hold certain members of Congress just as responsible. You know as well as anyone that some congressmen did not have the countries best interest in mind, but were dead set on making sure Obama failed, some said it out loud. When Obama offered cabinet positions to Republicans, and was turned down, I knew it was going to be a long for years. If Congress aproaches the next 2 years in the same manner, I believe the House will for sure go back to the Dems.



      • Kabe,

        If Obama gets relected, it is likely he will do so while keeping a Democratic Senate and a House with fewer Tea Party members in it. But teapartiers will still attempt to stop any compromising, particularly in the Senate, where only 41 votes are needed to stop business.

        I think Obama would be willing to cut a deal on deficit reduction involving entitlement reform. In fact, I think that is inevitable. Once we get passed the fiscal cliff mess (which will get resolved in Democrat’s favor if Obama wins), then stabilizing entitlements are the only big thing left he can get done in his second term (immigration reform may be possible, too).

        The problem for Democrats is that many of them won’t like what Obama has to do to get a deal with stubborn Republicans. But we all know that when it comes down to it, whether you call Obama a second-term centrist or not, whatever deal he makes will be better than a deal engineered by Mitt Romney.



  3. Treeske

     /  October 17, 2012

    Interesting and thought provoking documentary on Link TV hosted by Woody Harrelson; “Ethos a time for change” If no Satellite can be watched online. The History of Banking and Federal Reserve and the loss of Democracy.


  4. Sedate Me

     /  October 17, 2012

    Said another way it was a playground mud wrestling contest with inane charges, counter charges and intransience from both sides. Did that debate not look exactly like what we have heard out of Congress for four long years with no hint of the ability to compromise by either side. THAT is NOT what this country needs for the next four years…”

    If there’s ONE thing you can bet the farm on this election, it’s that America will remain broken and bleeding no matter who wins. Nothing that will significantly change America for the better will happen in Washington over the next 4 years…if ever.

    Given the likely outcome of Congressional elections, neither candidate will be able to get much of anything done, or undone. Last I checked, Congress was headed to another deadlocked in which neither side has control and neither side is remotely interested in compromise. I don’t care who the President will be, compromise will still be a dirty word in Congress. Anybody who compromises might as well have a “Ass Rape Me” sign on their back.

    American politics has become nothing more than a 24/7 dung throwing competition to see which team of apes is dominant. Whichever establishes dominance wins over the handfuls of undecideds who decide everything. Making matters worse is that’s the way the voting public wants it. Their mouths say “no” but that’s what they respond to. They DEMAND their guys stand their ground and that the other side should give in.

    For as long the politicians put on this wrestling show for our viewing pleasure, it will draw all the attention to it and make the wrestling promoters rich. Meanwhile, the entire political system will quietly do the bidding of the real power in America; Wall Street, corporations and the super rich. Unlike most of America, they’ve been doing great over the last 25+ years, no matter who is in Washington. That will not change one bit for the foreseeable future.

    There are only 2 ways left to improve anything and neither is going to happen:

    1) A 3rd party, a centrist party, appears in Congress with enough strength to carry the balance of power, so that the existing parties must woo their support. Unfortunately, the system is rigged to make that impossible.

    2) Big money is drained out of the political system. Far too many people are getting 6&7 digit incomes by strategizing, propagandizing, advertising, etc etc. Unfortunately, that requires the foxes to run the hen houses in the best interest of the chickens.

    So what America now has is probably what it will always have, if not worse, until the whole thing collpses.


    • Sedate,

      I know this isn’t a popular view, but I think if Obama gets elected with a Democratic Senate and some gains in the House, I think he can get something significant done.

      The question is whether those of us on this side will like it. I think the fiscal cliff nonsense would get resolved in our favor, in terms of the tax issues. And I think Mr. Obama would strive to get something done on stabilizing entitlements. I fear, though, that a lot of liberals will not like what gets done, particularly because in order to get past the uncompromising bastards in the other party, he will have to give a lot.

      What we don’t know is how much he is willing to give in order to get a deal done during his second term. The urge to not be instantly irrelevant will be strong, but hopefully Obama will play a much better negotiating game than he did on healthcare and the debt ceiling debate. Hopefully he learned something from those fiascos.

      As far as the gridlock in the country, I wouldn’t be all that opposed to it if we weren’t gridlocked in such a bad place, a place that favors reactionaries and works against the interests of ordinary folks. And a place that has us locked into a 15 or 16% revenue fraction of GDP and spending needs well beyond that.

      I agree with you that a third party is not a viable option. And I agree with you that money in politics is a problem. I happen to think it is by far the biggest problem we have. It is the root cause of the continued polarization because it keeps the moneyed class in charge. Unfortunately, the only way, the only bleeping way, to fix it is through a constitutional amendment. And we can thank our sometimes-less-than-genius Founding Fathers that the likelihood of that happening is very low. Why? Because not only is the process so difficult, it is set up to allow the very moneyed interests we are trying to curb with the amendment to influence the outcome of the fight by, uh, spending money to influence voters.

      And that situation is what makes American politics so depressing.

      But I don’t agree that we will collapse. Before that happens, I suspect a demographic change will eventually come to the rescue and throw out the defenders of the moneyed interests.

      At least I hope so.



  5. ansonburlingame

     /  October 18, 2012


    Thank you to the above two commenters for NOT just calling me …….. We actually seem to agree on the point that stalemate, again, is a strong possibility after this presidential election.

    My only addition to that view is as voters we should give careful consideration as to which party and candidate leading that party can in fact move things FORWARD, constructively to IMPROVE conditions in America.

    Making that kind of decision is in no way a perfect decision as well. Take any progressive position espoused herein or a conservative position espoused by radical conservatives and you meet exceptionally strong resistence from the “other side”. That is exactly where we have been for four long years now with neither side giving to any degree. The EC of course blames it all on conservatives which to me is ridiculous and thus my long running comments that challenge such crap on specifics.

    In my own blog I “cut loose” on BOTH “debaters” in round 2. My conservative supporters essentially told me to “calm down”. My comment back to them was more “calm” and of course I am going to vote for Romney. My comment “over there” explains why that is the case. In this election I will pick a pragmatist over an ideologue any time. A pragmatist will compromise enough to achieve some forward movement while an ideologue has no idea HOW TO compromise against his strict ideology!!!

    The EC is a good example in my view. He USED to rant from the right and now from the left. He went past the middle in such leaps of ideology and has no idea how that middle might feel about things. And yes, there are membetrs of the Tea Party and OWS together that are in that same boat!!!



  6. ansonburlingame

     /  October 18, 2012

    Responding to all the above expressing things that might happen if Obama wins a second term.

    The first and foremost question that must be resolved is is he such an ideologue that he will be unable or unwilling to compromise. He showed such idealism in his first term and I have yet to see any movement away for that position. Is it “in his blood” to do so? I don’t know for sure nor do I know how hard the real left, like the EC might push him to such extremes.

    To me the evident compromise that COULD take place and receive no negative reactions from me, at least is simple. I would give up and let a 4% tax hike on the rich take effect. I would try hard to insist that the attendant revenue increase be used for DEFICIT REDUCTION only however. That gets or deficit down for $1.1 Trillion to $1.03 Trillion in 2013 and an overall deficit reduction over ten years down about $700 Billion.

    But don’t forget, the REAL goal is to regain growth in GDP which the above will not even touch and you will get MORE than $2 Trillion sitting on the sidelines.

    But you know as well as I do that such deficit reduction is pissing in the wind and not nearly enough to get the federal house in order financially. It will take a LOT MORE to get the deficit down to where it belongs and $1 Trillion is ridiculous in any year.

    Then as part of a “deal” I would insist on a Dem PLAN to reduce the financial impact of Medicare, Medicaide and SS in the near term and on into the out years where they are sustainable, period on their own merits. THEN GOP and DEMs can battle over vouchers, restrictions on services, raising the eligibility age, etc., etc. as part of a BIPARTISAN .package which we all know is needed.

    Defense spending must come down as well. But to do so we MUST have the debate over how our national security objectives must change to accomodate reductions in our defenses. That strategic debate will take at least 2 years as we withdraw from Afghanistan, today as far as I am concerned on that point alone.

    Want to renew the fight over HC.and try for a full up public option. Go ahead but show how to PAY for the damn thing and not just say “we need it”. And YOUR arithmetic must add up as well.

    throw in BIPARTISAN immigration reform and we MIGHT have a better second Obama term than the last four years. But I doubt it as he STILL will not unleash the private sector enough to grow GDP to anything close enough to sustain a recovery. You might get me to agree to the above but the big money will sit on the sidelines for another four years in my view with Obama in the WH and who knows what next on taxes and HC and the costs associated with them.

    But don’t get too smug if Obama wins, the senate stays Dem and the Tea Party comes down but not out in the House. The GOP might be so…. that Obama will get sequestration full up and in his face just from a House refusal to compromise per the above. THEN we go over a small cliff and wait for two more years to let your demographics get rid of the Tea Party but for sure not the whole GOP!!

    Can anyone wait that long? I don’t want to but we might have too.

    As well I have just posted a blog saying “Keynesian economics will work, IF” But be sure and read the “ifs”. Without some academic effort I would never have been convinced to write such a blog before. And if we as a nation ignore the “ifs” then the really BIG cliff is in front of us. From all I have studied thus far, Keynes would agree as well, I think, but certainly not “you guys”!!



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