Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Catch of the Day

Nepotism alert: this one goes to David S. Bernstein.

Because he totally called yesterday's Drudge-Hannity-whatever idiocy a couple of weeks ago. He explained why it's important for Mitt Romney's campaign to keep generating stupid junk to throw at Barack Obama, because if they don't...

It's vitally important for, say, the Romney campaign to keep the movement-conservative audience engaged, to keep their interest up so they will turn out to vote in big numbers.

But it's also important that the movement-conservative marketplace not go veering off into dangerous looney-land. And that's really, really likely if you're not feeding that beast. If you're not giving them something reasonably safe to be outraged about, they're likely to go looking for outrages in, say, the latest press releases from the Gun Owners' Action League, or the latest book from Regnery, or worse. 

Which is, more or less, what I think happened yesterday. I could be wrong, but I don't think the Romney campaign wanted to occupy the pre-debate hours with this one. The Biden thingy, yeah (and I'm not explaining what any of these are; if you don't know, you're better off anyway). But ancient news that was guaranteed to leave a sour taste in the mouths of pretty much everyone outside of the conservative closed information feedback loop? I really doubt it.

And yet: as my brother, the keen observer of this stuff, said: if Team Romney doesn't act aggressively to program the Republican-aligned media, then they're going to find something else to run with, and it's apt to be a mess. So by this standard, even if junk like "build it" don't actually work, they might still be a successful way of keeping the GOP partisan press busy so they don't do something even worse.

Nice catch!


  1. I sort of disagree on the Biden thing, because I think Biden may have inadvertently provided the impetus for the Romney campaign to focus on an issue that, if they were remotely competent, they would have exclusively focused on from the beginning.

    That issue of course is the Obama Administration's remarkably shoddy jobs growth record. Shoddy #1: coming off an incredibly low base from the waning days of the Bush disaster, the Obama Administration has nevertheless consistently been unable to generate real jobs growth.

    Shoddy #2: What nominal jobs growth that has occurred during the Obama Administration has been a historically appalling transition from "good" to "shitty" jobs. The combination of shoddy #1 and #2 has been a massive shiv in the collective back of the middle class.

    If the Romney campaign had any competence, they would have pushed this argument first, last, always. Romney's campaign is so feeble that Obama was recently all over the airwaves with graphs touting the (small in number and poor in quality) jobs he's created! Thank for for Biden. What would the Romney campaign do without him?

    1. I agree on the second part. The number of jobs is going up (gradually), but median household income is going down (e.g., Obama's problem is that saying it's the fault of the Republicans because they kill his proposals in Congress is probably bad campaigning. It sounds like ineffective leadership, and it might make people vote for the Republican candidate so things will get done. Romney's problem is that he's pushing Bush-era policies, and job growth was actually weaker under Bush (first term or second term) than it is under Obama. I suppose that's what Obama should stress.

    2. Scott, in the spirit of our recent discussions about "good commenting", in particular that you shouldn't try to 'win' these discussions, I sort of apologize for the following...

      ...caveats aside, if you make a 2% return on your investments in a period where the rate of inflation is 3%, you may be 'richer' in a paper sense, but in a real sense you are losing wealth.

      I have in mind that Obama's job growth record is essentially similar to wealth "creation" from 2% investments in a 3% inflation environment.

      So while TN is right that Romney's got nothing better, nevertheless, when your opponent is comfortable taking credit for substandard results in an area about which the electorate cares (the Romney campaign) probably aren't very good.

    3. I don't necessarily disagree with your basic points. While he'll try to spin it in an election year, though, I don't think it's fair to assume Obama is satisfied with the results so far. I don't want to make endless excuses, but it's true that he needs an act of Congress to do anything in fiscal policy. If the next election ends up with the government still divided as it is now, I have little hope for significant improvement in the future. On the other hand, the Economic Policy Institute predicts that if Romney puts through his policies as promised (which, of course, is not to be assumed either), the likely result will be the loss 608,000 jobs in 2013 and the loss of 1.3 million jobs in 2014.

    4. P.S., I have no complaints about your commenting.

    5. I was going to let this go, but a quick thought: Obama may need an act of Congress for fiscal policy, but not necessarily for jobs. (Obama/Bush got several acts of Congress; you can argue they were insufficient, but they all certainly underperformed vs. expectations). Beyond acts of Congress, there's always the magical "animal spirits".

      We don't talk much about animal spirits; its hard to sound smart in that regard. In Obama's case, we're partly hesitant because we don't want to sound racist or xenophobic or whatever. Last night, though, as Obama tried to get facty and muddled through like the most boring Professor we ever heard, so unlike Bill Clinton's vibe doing the same thing at the convention, you get a sense the role the POTUS 'confidence' factor may have played in Clinton's great jobs record and Obama's poor one.

      Finally, a thought about "the rules", since I left it with the pretentious "you/others should learn something". Well, yeah, but I also take the classicist's point yesterday that the perfect should not be the enemy of the good. A good community is comprised of folks who are genuine, genuine means real, part of being real is here and there saying really stupid stuff. If the non sequiturs and other flaws are driven out, the character of the place will go with them. So I revise: sure, learning is important, but more important than that is goodwill.

    6. So I revise: sure, learning is important, but more important than that is goodwill.

      What a sage!

  2. I think you're right, and there was always a clear opening for Romney to attack the Obama record on jobs, specifically. And certainly he has done some of this.

    The problem for Romney is that he has absolutely no alternative. The only GOP-approved economic policy is slashing taxes for the well-off and cutting government aid to the poor. Americans may not be economically sophisticated, but they can recognize that there's literally zero in there to help with job creation.

    And yet what else can Romney do? "Drill Baby Drill"? He has no plan to create jobs, he has no idea about what the government can do to create jobs, and there is no institutional GOP policy that could help create jobs. Given the choice between a weak Obama employment record and someone who clearly has no idea how to improve employment, people will choose Obama.

  3. Let it also be noted that Republicans will often conflate profits with jobs. They will often sell an agenda that benefits corporations, like the Keystone pipeline, as being something that promotes jobs. Which it could, if the corporations were restricted to using the advantage to hire US residents.

    I'm not sure why Romney hasn't been singing this song louder, but there you are.


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