Is the Republican Convention Over Yet? Pleeeeze…

1 Sep

2012 RNC MontageThe Grand Old Party has now devolved into a Karl Rove’s bank, where Sheldon Adelson is his most valued customer, and where blast walls, fences, and armed troops are necessary to sanitize a city, so Americans can participate in politics. What is the Republican message: “I’m rubber you’re glue, your words bounce off me and stick to you.” In August, 2012, everything the Republicans did to play their political role, from the Senate’s abuse of the filibuster for four years, to playing chicken with the nation’s credit rating in 2011, has become this Romney campaign cartoon. Mitt Romney can’t talk about leveraged buyouts, but calls it “business”. He manipulates images of family and love. He knocks President Obama for inflating government, when the record is the exact opposite. In 2012, the Republicans have made the political battle an “us versus them” contest, and then blamed a straw man for the ugliness brewing in Republicans’ hearts and a bogeyman only the smallest imagination could fear.

Here’s some links to videos and articles I’ve found important:

1. “The biggest fib offered up last night in Tampa was the claim Republicans wanted President Obama to succeed.” (Hardball)

2. The Colbert Report: “America Strikes Back 2

3. Democracy Now! (August 31, 2012)

Arun Gupta: I think, actually, one of the things that goes unremarked is, we’ve kind of entered the era of big science politics. What big science is about is like the cyclotron. You spend massive amounts of money for incremental improvements. If we actually look at the number of swing states and how small the number of swing voters are in those swing states, we may be talking about only a pool of four to six million votes are being fought over. Yet over $2 billion is going to be spent in this election. That’s something like $300 to $500 per voter. I think in the future it will just be easier to give them vouchers.

(…)

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, let’s go back to Clint Eastwood’s address, when he’s addressing the empty chair of President Obama and talks about Obama not closing Guantánamo, says to—says about Obama that he hasn’t ended the war in Afghanistan and that Mitt Romney would pull out the troops the next morning.

GLENN GREENWALD: Obviously, that speech was so completely bizarre in all sorts of ways, which is one of the reasons why I really loved it. It’s—you know, these conventions are so incredibly suffocatingly scripted and manufactured and contrived, that to have this sort of moment of spontaneity, as bizarre and warped as it was, was kind of refreshing.

But it was—the weirdest part of the speech was not only when he criticized Obama for not pulling the troops out tomorrow, as though Romney would, when Romney has criticized him from the other direction, saying that he’s made a mistake by committing to withdraw—the stranger part was he actually seemed to criticize the commencement of the war in Afghanistan itself, by saying, “Why didn’t we look at what happened to the Soviet Union and their experience in occupying Afghanistan for 10 years?” meaning we should have never commenced that war in the first place. And strangely, the Republicans, all of whom, with the exception of the Ron Paul delegates, obviously believe that war is a good war and that we should stay, somehow cheered. So, it just showed how off script it was that he was inadvertently criticizing the war policies of both the Republican and the Democratic parties, I think without his even realizing that he was doing so, and certainly without the cheering throngs realizing that that had happened.

4. “Confident Romney hits the road after mixed response to presidential pitch” (The Guardian)

Republican strategists described Romney’s 40-minute speech as “competent” and “solid” rather than inspirational, but insisted that it would play well with the tens of millions of viewers watching at home. Alex Castellanos, a Republican consultant and media commentator, said Romney had ticked all the boxes. “I thought he did a workmanlike job,” he said.

A former member of the Bush administration, speaking after the speech in Tampa, described it as “homely” and low-key but said it would resonate with voters tired with Obama’s soaring rhetoric.

5. “Mitt Romney acceptance speech: I’m the real hope and change” (The Guardian)

But the night was perhaps stolen by the Oscar-winning director and actor Clint Eastwood, who ad-libbed his way through an “interview” with an empty chair representing Obama, and spawned his own Twitter trend – #eastwooding.

“Referring all questions on this to Salvador Dali,” Obama’s campaign spokesman, Ben LaBolt, emailed reporters. Shortly after, Obama tweeted a picture of himself in the president’s chair in the White House cabinet room with the caption: “This seat’s taken.”

The heart of Romney’s speech was a five-point plan for economic recovery – that he promised would deliver 12m new jobs within four years. The plan – deliberately lacking in detail – covered energy independence, small business, deficit reduction, skills training and international trade, and included the veiled threat of a trade war with China.

Romney touched on foreign policy only briefly, pledging to show “backbone” to Russian president Vladimir Putin and deriding Obama for failing to halt Iran’s nuclear development. But while he praised Obama for ordering the raid that killed Osama bin Laden there was no mention of other international issues, notably Afghanistan, and in the main he focused on attacking Obama’s domestic record.

6. “Did Anyone Else Think This Romney Line Was A Bit Rich Considering His Former Profession?” (Business Insider)

In the middle of a section of the speech aimed at the middle class that might have been summarized as “I feel your pain,” Romney said the following:

…when you lost that job that paid $22.50 an hour with benefits, you took two jobs at 9 bucks an hour and fewer benefits.

(…)

In Romney’s prior profession—corporate consulting and company-restructuring—eliminating jobs that pay $22.50-an-hour-plus-benefits in favor of $9-per-hour jobs or, better yet, no jobs, is generally viewed as a shrewd money-making move, not a bummer.

And I am confident that Romney’s Bain Capital helped eliminate thousands upon thousands of those jobs over the years.

And it’s not as though Romney’s stated presidential policy plans address the loss of $22.50-an-hour-plus-benefits jobs. On the contrary, Romney’s policies are designed primarily to put more cash in the hands of companies and investors, not in the hands of folks who are working two $9-an-hour jobs. Romney is certainly not proposing any huge hikes in the minimum wage or encouraging companies to pay their workers more or suggesting tax changes designed to incent increases in hiring and compensation or anything.

So as one Twitter user observed last night—Paul Begala, I think—when Romney spoke that line, what most Americans probably heard was this:

When I laid you off from that job that paid $22.50 an hour, you took two jobs!

7. “That Line In Romney’s Speech That People Are Outraged About Actually Gets At A Profound Reality…” (Business Insider)

“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans. And to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”

(…)

But Romney’s line does get at an important truth:

When it really comes down to it, if you forced most people to choose between easing human suffering OR slowing the destruction of the planet, they would choose easing human suffering.

Put differently, the health of the environment will always be a lower priority for most people than the health of themselves and their families and friends. And that’s perfectly fair.

So if we really want to help the planet—and we should want to, given that we live on it—we need to remember where that priority falls in the hierarchy of most people’s decision-making. And we need to do everything we can to help everyone on the planet satisfy their basic needs—food, shelter, safety, and healthcare.

Because it’s only once those needs are met that people can reasonably begin to care about things that are as vague as “rising oceans” and “healing the planet.”

8. “How not to protest the RNC” (The Agonist)

The RNC protesters took a shot at it by melting huge chunks of ice written as “the middle-class.” But it doesn’t make me laugh or gasp. If inspiring is a goal, ho-hum actions should be stricken from our toolbox.

Too often, however, activists are stuck repeating the tactics they know. They then begrudge the media, or their comrades, or potential allies, for not getting it. At a direct action workshop I co-led with George Lakey in South Korea, we heard young movement activists lamenting that the press stopped covering their movement’s tactic: public suicides in the middle of a protest. How could the media and their allies be so callous?

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