Posts Tagged ‘Mitt Romney’

No. 1: Joe Paterno

Why didn’t he quit, or why wasn’t he shown the door, several years ago? As it is, he remained the face of Penn State during the worst big-time-college-football, sex-abuse scandal in history, as far as I can tell.

If he had quit several years ago, the backlash from the scandal (including his failure to alert authorities to an assistant coach sexually assaulting a young boy in the showers) would not have caught him full blast. He might well have slipped to second-rung culprit and undoubtedly would have been remembered in more glowing terms by the general public.

So, why did he stay on? You know why — EGO! Now he’s dead and gone and not many people outside of State College, PA, care.

No. 2: Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte.

In his 2012-2013 budget proposal last week, Schulte recommended reducing the Fire Department by 105 positions. The justification? Fire calls have dropped dramatically in the past decade. How would the estimated $7.6 million in savings be used? To give other city employees raises.

Only Schulte, who doesn’t have to stand for election, would dare propose something that dramatic. And, trust me, even he doesn’t believe it will happen. He might be hoping that the council — most of whose members won with backing from the fire fighters’ union — will approve a cut of somewhere between 10 and 20 firefighters. That’s about the best he can hope for, at least until there’s a real budget crisis, which probably is coming within five years. At that point, we’ll probably see a “hatchet council,” which will have no choice but to fire a lot of employees or see the city go broke.

No. 3: David Brooks

One of my favorite op-ed columnists veered off track last week, when he wrote about Mitt Romney having made a fortune because he was “a worker and a grinder.” Brooks proceeded to trace the family background of Romney, a Mormon.

A central figure in the family history is Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Romney. Brooks recounts the journeys and travails of Miles Romney and “his three wives and their many children” like he’s talking about an everyday, conventional, American family. Mitt might come be a hard worker who comes from sturdy stock, but when someone starts talking casually about a candidate’s great-grandfather’s “three wives and many children,” my attention naturally shifts from the up-from-the-bootstraps story to, “Did you say three wives?”

No. 4: Newt Gingrich

It’s unnerving that a fat guy with a phony, adultery-abetting wife can catapult to victory in a state — even a mostly irrelevant, backasswards state like South Carolina — by attacking the “elite news media”; the “elites in New York and Washington”; and “the most effective food-stamp president in history.”

It’s promoting class warfare, with the goal of rallying hourly wage-earners and unemployed people to take up arms against the so-called “elites?” But who would really benefit under Newt’s scenario? The true “elites,” the one percenters.

No. 5: Thomas L. Friedman

I want to end on a hopeful note…

Perhaps the most incisive op-ed person in the opinion business, wrote in Sunday’s New York Times about what kind of candidate he would like to vote for.

It would be a candidate who:

“…advocates an immediate investment in infrastructure that will create jobs and upgrade American for the 21st century…and combines that with a long-term plan to fix our fiscal imbalances at the real scale of the problem, a plan that could be phased in as the economy recovers.”

A candidate who…

“…is committed to reforming taxes, and cutting spending, in a fair way. The rich must pay more, but everyone has to pay something. We are all in this together.”

A candidate who…

“…has an inspirational vision, not just a plan to balance the budget.”

And, finally, a candidate who…

“…supports a minimum floor of public financing of presidential, Senate and House campaigns. Money is politics is out of control today. Our Congress has become a forum for legalized bribery.”

Friedman concluded: “I hope it is Obama, because I agree with him on so many other issues. But if it’s Romney, he’d deserve to win. And, if by some miracle, both run that campaign, and the 2012 contest is about two such competing visions, then put every dollar you own in the U.S. stock market. It will go up a gazillion points.”

Happy days could be here again, if only Abe Lincoln was reincarnated.

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If Mitt Romney wasn’t finished as a viable presidential contender before Tuesday, he most certainly was, in my opinion, after his comments on taxes and income that day in Greenville, S.C.

Asked directly what his effective tax rate was, Romney said:

“It’s probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything. For the past 10 years, my income comes overwhelmingly from investments made in the past, rather than ordinary income or earned annual income. I got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away.”

That was bad enough because he pays a federal tax rate much lower than most salaried workers. (For example, a married couple filing jointly pays at a rate of 25 percent tax rate for taxable income above $69,000 in wages. Obama reported paying an effective tax rate of 26 percent on his 2010 income, the majority of which came from sale of his books.)

But Romney went on to really put his foot in it.

Finishing off the comment, he said, “I get speakers’ fees from time to time, but not very much.”

Not very much?

Well, according to his personal financial disclosure, from February 2010 to February 2011, Romney earned $374,327 in speaking fees.

(Unfortunately, if you only read the print version of The Kansas City Star, you wouldn’t know about the uproar over Romney’s speaking fees because it wasn’t included in The Star’s three paragraph “campaign roundup” on Page 2 Wednesday.)

In its front-page report on the story, The New York Times said that $374,000 “would, by itself, very nearly catapult most American families into the top 1 percent of the country’s earners.”

In December, The Times reported that Romney, with an estimated family fortune of $190 million to $250 million, “is among the wealthiest candidates ever to run for president.”

In that story, The Times also said that after Romney left Bain Capital, the hugely successful private equity firm he helped start, “he negotiated a retirement agreement with his former partners that has paid him a share of Bain’s profits ever since, bringing the Romney family millions of dollars in income each year and bolstering the fortune that has helped finance Mr. Romney’s political aspirations.”

The ever-prescient Times went on to say that since Mr. Romney’s payouts from Bain “have come partly from the firm’s share of profits on its customers’ investments, that income probably qualifies for the 15 percent tax rate reserved for capital gains, rather than the 35 percent that wealthy taxpayers pay on ordinary income.”

So there’s a thumbnail sketch of the man who’s going to try to beat Obama by contending that average Americans will do better under a Romney presidency than they have under Obama.

Talk about a disconnect. Voters are going to listen to that pitch, consider the source and flee into Obama’s arms.

I can’t imagine how Romney is going to be able to convince ordinary, working Americans that he should be their guy.

I’m going to predict that he’s ultimately going to lose the votes of the majority of the millions of people who don’t read newspapers, proclaim they don’t care about current events and just want to bitch about how bad Obama is. They can cover their ears and hum, but osmosis will do the job.

Immediately after Romney is nominated — if he survives the Gingrich mauling — he might match or go slightly ahead of Obama in the polls. But after that, I see him slipping steadily downhill.

I can’t remember a presidential campaign where one major candidate had so much working against him before the general-election campaign got underway.

Understandably, the Democrats are drooling.

The Times’ story on Wednesday quoted Bill Burton, a spokesman for Priorities USA Action, a “super Pac” supporting Obama as saying, “We won’t be waiting until he (Romney) reveals his returns in April to remind voters that Romney’s tax policy would keep taxes low for millionaires like himself, putting a burden on the middle class.”

If Romney is the Republican nominee, you’ll see me smiling next summer and fall…I’ll be much more worried, however, if  Obama has to run against Newt and Callista.

There’s a gal that will probably appeal to the rednecks, whose votes the Republicans can’t win without.

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I want to preface this piece by saying I’m no fan of Mitt Romney. In fact, I think he’s the most opportunistic and malleable of the candidates for the Republican nomination for President.

He will say just about anything to get elected, which, fortunately, probably isn’t going to happen. President Obama is the only candidate on either side who is consistently logical and reasonable when he opens his mouth. Plus, Romney probably won’t get the vote of a single black person.

Like most people, I enjoy humor at the expense of some of the gaffes that politicians make, but I don’t like cheap shots. Especially cheap shots that are fashioned into a running joke.

And that’s exactly what liberal columnist Gail Collins of The New York Times is guilty of. Collins is often funny, and I look forward to her columns, but she has gone way overboard on the subject of Romney and a nearly 30-year-old incident involving his family’s Irish setter, now deceased.

Every time she writes about Romney — and I mean every time — Collins works in a line about the time that Romney “drove to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of the station wagon.”

When I first read it, sometime last year, I was horrified. With subsequent references, however, I started wanting more details. A few months ago, I sent an e-mail to Collins, asking her if the dog was strapped bodily to the car or if he was in a crate. If he was in a crate, I asked, was he protected from the wind?

A few weeks later, Collins wrote back, saying that the dog was in a crate and protected from the wind, but she noted that the dog must have been in distress because he got diarrhea during the trip.

A week or so after my e-mail, Collins included the first and only reference I have seen her make to the dog having been in a crate. Thereafter, it was back to the dog being strapped to the roof.

Take these recent references in Collins columns, for example:

Jan. 12: There is nothing Gingrich won’t do to get Mitt. At the end of the video, there’s a clip of Romney speaking French! And now Newt’s Web site has a video that basically asks whether America will elect a president who once drove to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car. Which is, of course, an excellent question.

Jan. 5: Did I ever mention that Romney once drove to Canada with the family Irish setter strapped to the roof of the car? The dog’s name was Seamus. New Hampshire Republicans, if you can’t think of anybody to vote for on Tuesday, consider writing in the name Seamus when you go to the polls. Maybe we can start a boomlet.

Dec. 15: …the odds are very good that no one has ever called Mitt zany in his entire life. Unless it was when he drove to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of the station wagon.

Dec. 1: And maybe we could get over his driving to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car if he’d just admit it was because he was too cheap to hire a dog-sitter. Maybe.

That’s at least four mentions in the last six weeks. In my opinion that’s beating a dead horse.

And the horse doesn’t deserve to be beaten. Here’s why…

Los Angeles Times columnist Meghan Daum did some reporting on the Seamus situation recently and, in a Dec. 29, column set the record straight, doing so deftly and humorously, without taking a sledgehammer to Collins.

Daum’s column begins:

“In 1983, a 36-year-old Romney and his wife and five young boys piled into the family station wagon for a 12-hour drive from Boston to Lake Huron in Canada. As was the custom, Seamus, their Irish setter, rode in a crate strapped to the top of the car.

“Somewhere along the way, the dog began to experience, shall we say, digestive trouble that made its presence known via, uh, streaks on the back windshield. Ever the efficiency enforcer, Romney pulled into a gas station, hosed the dog off, put him back on the roof and continued the trip.

“The anecdote was first relayed in a Boston Globe article in 2007, the last time Romney ran for the Republican presidential nomination. Since then, it’s endured a long telephone game of exaggerations and misconstruels. (Gail Collins likes to write about it in her New York Times column.)

“Many versions of the story imply that the dog was not in a crate but rather tethered to the luggage rack in the manner of a silent movie damsel tied to railroad tracks. Others seem to conflate it with the scene in National Lampoon’s Vacation…in which Chevy Chase inadvertently (and supposedly hilariously) drags a dog to its death after forgetting to untie it from the car after a picnic.”

Daum goes on to say that “the truth is considerably less cartoonish than the myth.” Not only was Seamus in a crate, she said, but Romney had fashioned a windscreen that protected the crate.

“Look,” Daum continued, “I’m not suggesting that Seamus’ rides on the roof were ecstatic journeys akin to Snoopy piloting his doghouse in the spirit of the Red Baron. But let’s try to think objectively. Assuming his car sickness was an isolated event, would Seamus really have been better off crammed into a station wagon with seven humans than up top in a secure, enclosed crate with a windscreen? Moreover, if Seamus had been, say, a Texas dog in the back of a pickup, as opposed to a Massachusetts dog on top of a car, would anyone have batted an eye?”

Excellent observations, especially about the Texas dog in the back of a truck. For example, if George W. Bush drove across Texas with his dog (if he still has one) in the bed of the pickup, would anyone other than a card-carrying SPCA member voice concern?

In conclusion, Daum suggests it’s time to give Romney a break on his idea of proper pet transportation.

“Sure, his judgment may have been lacking when it came to canine transportation,” she said, “but if this is the extent of his personal baggage, he’s been traveling light.”

That’s for sure.

Seamus -- RIP

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