Romney’s “Worst Weeks” and the 27th Rationalization

Yeah, yeah, but did you hear what Mitt said to raise money?

Normally I would consider the surreptitious taping and then publicizing of a quasi-private meeting unethical, writes a lawyer colleague, “but these are not normal times.”

I thanked him profusely for alerting me that I had inexplicably allowed a hoary, classic rationalization for unethical conduct with a distinguished pedigree to escape the Ethics Alarms list, though this was not, I gather, his original intent. I just remedied the embarrassing omission, dubbing this The Revolutionary’s Excuse.” Here is the entry:

27. The Revolutionary’s Excuse:

“These are not ordinary times.”

An argument for those who embrace “the ends justify the means”—but only temporarily, mind you!—the Revolutionary’s excuse has as long and frightening a pedigree as any of the rationalizations here. Of course, there is no such thing as “ordinary times.” This rationalization suggests that standards of right and wrong can and should be suspended under “special” circumstances, always defined, naturally, by those who defy laws, rules, and societal values. Their circular logic results in their adversaries feeling justified in being equally unethical, since times in which the other side engages in dishonesty, cheating, cruelty, and more is, by definition, extraordinary.

The inevitable result is a downward spiral of conduct, until unethical behavior is the norm. Ironically, the rationalization that “these are not ordinary times” no longer is necessary at that point. Unethical conduct has become ordinary, the new normal. This is, it is fair to say, the current state of American politics.

My colleague also helpfully flagged a perfect example. For the past week, the media has been flogging with horror an excerpt from a speech Mitt Romney gave to a group of wealthy donors in which the GOP candidate opined that “47%” of the electorate that was dependent on government largesse would not give up a self-serving vote for President Obama regardless of what Romney said, so he wasn’t going to worry about them. Without due concern for the fact that the speech was unethically obtained and that, much like Obama’s “more flexibility” comment to Russian officials earlier in the year, was better explained as salesmanship designed for a narrow audience rather than a window into the soul, this ambiguous comment was treated as the most important news of the week, much as Romney’s previous week’s “gaffe” of correctly labeling the U.S. Cairo embassy’s mea culpa to violent Muslims—which remained on its website after the U.S. Ambassador to Libya had been murdered—was that week’s big news.

Not the fact that the Obama Administration’s Middle East charm offensive, a major foundation of Obama’s argument for becoming President in the first place, had been exposed as the naive, facile failure it is. Not the dragging of a dead U.S. Ambassador through the streets after the State Department ignored warnings and allowed its Libyan embassy to face 9/11, when any fool could have predicted that a terrorist attack was highly likely, with inadequate security. Not the flagrantly dishonest public disinformation practiced  by the White House, Obama spokesperson Jay Carney, and U.N. ambassador Susan Rice insisting that the Benghazi attack was just a spontaneous reaction to the a YouTube clip, even though Libya and the evidence indicated otherwise. Not the midnight interrogation of the alleged producer of the provocative video for suspected parole violations, nicely timed to suggest to foreign critics that the First amendment was not so sacrosanct that the U.S. government wouldn’t find a way to punish a defiler of the Prophet. Not Obama’s refusal to meet with desperate Israeli Prime Minister Netanyehu, choosing to hobnob with David Letterman instead. No, Romney’s out-of-context remarks were the real outrages, the real news.

For the media, like the Obama campaign, like my colleague, and yes, in other recent instances, like the Republicans, the conservative media and the Romney campaign, really believe that these “are not normal times,” and bias, lies, and worse are justified and necessary.

_________________________________________

Graphic: CNN

48 thoughts on “Romney’s “Worst Weeks” and the 27th Rationalization

  1. Thinking back to the kerfuffle over “Harry Reid is a Pederast”, I’m thinking that “This is War” is another variation of #27–a slightly different context and “reasoning” on the part of the rationalizer, but exactly the same long-term consequences as you describe.

    –Dwayne

  2. Dear Mr. Marshall: You write:

    “The inevitable result is a downward spiral of conduct, until unethical behavior is the norm. Ironically, the rationalization that “these are not ordinary times” no longer is necessary at that point. Unethical conduct has become ordinary, the new normal. This is, it is fair to say, the current state of American politics.”

    So this downward spiral has reached the bottomless depths past the point of no return, we are all doomed etc etc etc. Are you saying that American society has never been so unethical? Not in the American Civil War of 1861-65? Not in the Jim Crow society of ca 1870-1960? Not in the race riots of 1919-20? Not in the robber baron era where as the saying went, the Standard Oil Company did everything with the Pennsylvania State Legislature except run it through one of its refineries? Not in the mass relocation of the Cherokees by Andy Jackson? Not when the Weathermen ran around the nation blowing up buildings (and Bill Ayers is now sorry he didn’t do more?) The present state of American society is worse than all these things?

    Piffle. This bawling is good for a hearty laugh. There couldn’t be a better example of the futility of your work. You’ve made a career and I expect, and fine living, out of “ethics.” Yet society in your view has gone to Hell. So what has “ethics” accomplished? Did the passengers of Flight 93 act ethically by fighting back on 11 September? I think they did, but because they didn’t agonize about “ethics” nor do what is implicit in so much of your writing: stand aside and bow to “professionals” i.e. conspirators against the laity in Bernard Shaw’s phrase. They were able to act,and act effectively. This is more than “ethics” can do.

    Go back to what Mr. Zechman idiotically calls the Harry Reid “kerfuffle” i.e. something that isn’t really important, but is raising a fuss. I don’t think either the pederast charge or Reid’s charge that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes is a kerfuffle. I think both charges are serious and if wrong, bad for the country. But you never explicitly said, “This is what Romney’s supporters should have done.” William Dyer did his best to engage you on this point, but you wouldn’t meet his argument. The best point, namely that “Tit for Tat” in the manner demonstrated by Robert Axelrod’s resarch is often effective. Your response? “Shooting Tatters is even more effective.” I note that THE WIZARD OF OZ is your favorite movie,and the Straw Man your favorite character, but that isn’t an answer to the “Tit for Tat” point, nor to the larger question: How should Mitt Romney’s supporters respond? That failure is far more telling than your assertions of the primacy of ethics.

    Sincerely yours,
    Gregory Koster

    • Straw man comment of the year! You’re on a roll, my man! Where did I say or imply any of what you write? The level of dirty politics ebbs and flows, but it is currently one of its lowest levels (I never said it was the lowest), and the argument that the times justify it just threatens to make the culture worse. Actually, you proved my point—these aren’t special times, particularly, and ends-justify-the-means rationalizations are just as bankrupt as they ever were, though you seem to embrace them.

      Your argument for warfare ethics (that is to say, none) is nothing but that: hit back twice as hard, if they lie, lie more. If you want to argue that ethics are a bad idea or futile, by all means, go back to the jungle, but don’t peddle that bile here.

      What should Romney have done with Reid’s accusations? What he did, though inexplicably late: tell the truth, reveal the returns, and expose Reid for the petty, lying, vicious scum he is. Your solution: call Reid a pederast. Good plan.

    • For the record, the “kerfuffle” that I referenced was the long discussion on this blog over the “Harry Reid is…” meme, not the meme itself.

      It was in that discussion that the frequently-cited “this is war” comments were made.

      And by your definition, I agree that that discussion was “something that isn’t really important, but is raising a fuss.”

      There was no call for nor provocation to be insulting.

      –Dwayne

  3. So it’s unethical for someone (probably a waiter) to secretly record a private event and then share that event. That I agree with, especially since the person may well have signed a confidentiality agreement.

    What I’m not sure is, are you saying that it was unethical for the media to report on the video, once they had it?

    • No. I do think it is unethical for David Corn, a journalist, to induce a non-journalist to behave unethically. But once they have it, should the media air it? Sure. Should they act like Romney announced himself as a member of the Klan? No. The coverage was biased, over-the-top, partisan and disgraceful. But the fact of the coverage was fine.

      • Romney didn’t announce himself as a KKK member; he announced himself as someone who, when he’s talking to rich donors, describes half the American people as lost causes who will never believe “they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

        I think that’s an appalling thing to say, and that he’d say such a thing is a legitimate character issue. Are you saying it’s not?

        If I were king of the media, then of course this video would be reported on differently. But that’s because I emphasize policy over character. Since you emphasize character over policy, it seems inconsistent of you to object to this being a major news story.

        • Hardly: you can find many posts on this issue, in which I announce that it’s unfair to take another’s unilaterally circulate private comments crafted for one audience as indicative of a message that was intended for all, or represent it as one that the speaker would have ever said in a general setting. Everyone knows both candidates speak differently to partisan, private groups than they do in public, yet the media acted as if this isn’t the case.

          And your characterization is false. Romney’s math was off, but is there a bloc of voters dependent on a government that pays for their needs with the money earned by others? Of course there is. Do citizens who don’t pay income tax have the same civic concerns and commitment as taxpayers? I don’t think so. Are there about 47% knee jerk Democrats who don’t pay any attention to what is said or done by the candidates? That’s the only way I can explain anyone wanting to re-elect this President, on his record, after his 2008 hype. Even so, the comment was part of a Romney sales pitch for big bucks checks, not a policy announcement, and should have been treated as such.

          • A presidential candidate speaking to donors is not a space where context matters, and not a space that should be a safe space for sharing uncomfortable true beliefs. Just like with the Acorn videos, publication is fine.

            Claiming Romney’s math was off is rationalization. His whole point was to connect “Obama Voters” to “lazy moochers”. As has already been noted, most of the 47% of moochers are likely to be Romney supporters, not Obama supporters.Also, the 47% number isn’t close to the actual moochers. It’s mostly working class people and old people who paid into the system that they are now getting money out of.

            • Moochers is your word, not Romney’s, and I don’t see why you think private sales pitches to donors should be taken in the same vein as genuine statements of sentiment and policy. They just aren’t. It’s convenient now for the partisans trying to smear the candidate to say so now, but its still not true, right, or reasonable.

              • Yes, moochers is my word. The quotes were to note groups of people, not direct quotations, which is appropriate.

                I don’t say that sales pitches have to match policy, but sentiment does have to match. Changing emphasis for different audiences is fine, but you can’t demonize the poor and then pretend you care about them.

                Nobody thinks that making people on social security pay taxes is a priority for Romney, but his description of the 47% is telling.

          • “Do citizens who don’t pay income tax have the same civic concerns and commitment as taxpayers? I don’t think so.”

            Jack, YOU ARE DEAD WRONG!!! That is a terrible generalization!!! What Romney said was very offensive to me as a veteran! I was and am in that 47%. I gave Mr. Romney a fair shake until I saw this. Do I trust him to be my president anymore! No way!

            And I am still looking for proof that the Obama administration commanded the U.S. Parole Office to interrogate “Sam Bicile”? Was this speculation on your part? Or do you know someone who knows 100%? And what if the Obama administration told every government agency hands off?

            • Of course its a generalization. Of course it doesn’t apply to everyone. I still think it’s ridiculous to hector those who pay hundreds of thousands or more to the government as not paying their “fair share” when so many who use the same roads, are protected by the same military, benefit from the same infrastructure pay nothing at all. Entitlements are sucking the nation dry, endangering security, preventing economic growth, and those whose stake is in continuing to get as much government bounty as possible are also those who don’t appear to care about the debt and deficit, as long as their check’s in the mail (and never mind that their illegitimate kids’ checks might not be). This administration has managed to increase the number of citizens who are dependent on the government, and has benefited from it, which is outrageous.

              Sure, Michael, you were giving Romney the benefit of the doubt. I’m sure your convictions are well-informed and sincere, but when the candidate talked about those who would be a waste of time for him to try to persuade, I would have assumed that you were among those he was talking about. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

              • Do you see the logic errors in your first paragraph?

                pay nothing at all AND “The Entitlements are sucking the nation dry

                You can’t claim that payroll taxes don’t count as payment and that entitlement spending is coming out of the budget.

                and those whose stake is in continuing to get as much government bounty as possible are also those who don’t appear to care about the debt and deficit, as long as their check’s in the mail

                This can apply to anyone, no matter how much they pay in taxes.

                This administration has managed to increase the number of citizens who are dependent on the government, and has benefited from it, which is outrageous.

                Unless you’re saying the recession was Obama’s fault, this doesn’t make any sense.

                • The FICA portion of payroll taxes come back to the payer, theoretically, usually in considerably more value than paid out, as Medicare and Social Security. If the income tax portion is refunded, then I don’t regard this as paying a fair share for what the country provides, or what its current economic state requires. Do you? General taxes are going to have to be used to pay for the deficits in Medicare and Social Security. What’s the inconsistency?

                  • First, the payments are not running a deficit. There’s only a deficit because the government borrowed the money from the funds. You are on record as previously claiming that despite the programs supposedly being separate from other funding, the willingness of the government to take from them essentially means that the funds are just taxes.

                    By now, talking about those payments as if they are a separate thing, you are going back on previous positions. Moreover, if you actually are switching on this, you have to grant that the deficit in the funds doesn’t exist, as the government owese them that money. It’s really the general government expenditures that need to be taxed.

                    • err… “it’s really the general government expenditures [that are being paid from the general taxes, not the “entitlement” programs”.

            • I never said that Obama commanded that Nakoula be detained. I think its timing was suspicious. I think a competent administration would have taken steps to ensure he WASN’T detained. I think the message it sent was terrible, and to the extent that the Feds were involved, the Administration is accountable.

              • As far as I know (and this is not an issue I’ve followed closely), Nakoula voluntarily chose to come in and talk to local authorities. (Reuters: “Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, voluntarily left his home in the early hours of Saturday morning for the meeting in a sheriff’s station in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos..”)

                Jack, you say Obama should have “taken steps” to make sure that didn’t happen. What steps, precisely, is that? As far as I know, the President has no legal authority to order the Cerritos Sherrif’s office not to question someone, let alone legal authority to order Mr. Nakoula not to voluntarily talk to the Sheriff’s office. For the President to attempt to micromanage local law enforcement in the way you think he should would be incredibly unethical.

                Nor am I comfortable with the idea that this man should be granted immunity from the laws other paroled people have to follow in order to make a political point about the first amendment. The first amendment was not intended to be a “you get to break the law and face no consequences” rule, as you’re in effect claiming it should be.

                Maybe there’s an argument that Mr. Nakoula’s parole conditions violated free speech (is there a free speech right to use a fake name? Maybe. I could imagine an argument for that). But the proper forum for that issue is a court of law, not the President interfering with a local Sheriff’s office.

                • Federal authorities were involved in taking in Nakoula and questioning him. A press release suggested that the Feds were involved in determining if he had violated parole.The President has interfered with local authorities for a lot less legitimate reasons than this—he told the Cambridge police how to do its job. This is too complicated a topic to handle here—there’s a post draft on it—but prosecutors refrain from charging far more serious crimes in the interest of other law enforcement issues or public policy. That’s legitimate and responsible law enforcement. No, Nakoula probably violated his parole by using a fake name, but a man who knows he will have a target on his back by (stupidly and provocatively) exercising his free speech rights could be granted some slack in that regard. Was it really in the best interest of the country to put immediate enforcement of a technical parole violation above the nation’s perceived support of the principle of Free Speech, when it was under high profile attack internationally? I think the answer is obvious, and I also think, based on its week statements about the film, the administration wanted to have the world think Nakoula was hauled out of bed to answer for the film. And that is disgraceful, if true.

                  • Federal authorities were involved in taking in Nakoula and questioning him. A press release suggested that the Feds were involved in determining if he had violated parole.

                    Wasn’t it established by Ken that this is standard procedure? Do you have any evidence that Obama was involved?

              • Liar.

                I will wait to see if the supporters of President Obama who loudly condemned President Bush and the Patriot Act for monitoring communications of citizens who may have been actually plotting violence against their countrymen, will raise appropriate and similarly vociferous objections when their champion, in direct violation of his pledges to the American people, places the heavy hand of government investigation on a citizen for merely expressing a point of view, offensive, provocative and reckless as that expression might be.

                You claim that “their Champion” Obama “places the heavy hand of government investigation” on Nakoula.

                • I think, when the implications of this are so serious, the connection, if not presumed, should be strongly suspected. Personally, I do not believe the Federal government wasn’t involved. I would expect, given the international implications, that the officials directly responsible checked with the Feds first, and the Feds were happy to green-light it with plausible deniability. Nakoula was and is the designated scapegoat. I’ll cop to over-statement, but the general sentiment stands. Obama is still using his power and position to chill speech by specifically condemning speech and nothing but speech by a citizen, at the United Nations, no less. Is there any precedent for that?

                  As for the hypocrisy of the left in applying a double standard, I think their refusal to object to the international vilification of Nakoula by the government is disgraceful. We can vilify him. The government should not.

                  • Obama is still using his power and position to chill speech by specifically condemning speech and nothing but speech by a citizen, at the United Nations, no less.
                    […]
                    We can vilify him. The government should not.

                    Finally, something in this thread we absolutely agree on.

          • … it’s unfair to take another’s unilaterally circulate private comments crafted for one audience as indicative of a message that was intended for all, or represent it as one that the speaker would have ever said in a general setting.

            As far as I can tell, no one in the media is making this claim. Rather, the media is reporting that Romney says things behind closed doors to wealthy donors that he would neversay in a general setting. This seems to be accurate reporting.

            And your characterization is false.

            I absolutely deny this, Jack, and ask you to withdraw it.

            I characterized Romney as describing nearly half of Americans as people who will never believe “they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Presumably you’re not denying he said that (since he said exactly that). But if you’re not denying he said that, then you have no basis for calling my characterization false.

            Do citizens who don’t pay income tax have the same civic concerns and commitment as taxpayers? I don’t think so.

            This sentence describes two groups as if they were separate: “citizens who don’t pay income taxes” versus “taxpayers.” But the truth is, there’s an enormous overlap between those two groups, since most people who pay no income tax are paying other sorts of taxes. To describe them as a different group from taxpayers shows you don’t understand the issue.

            It may be fair to say that people who don’t pay federal income tax have some different concerns and commitments than those who pay federal income tax. But it’s not fair to say that those who don’t pay federal income tax refuse to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

            The guy working counter at McDonalds to support his family isn’t paying federal income tax, but it’s offensive to say that he’s not taking any personal responsibility or caring for his life. The same could be said for the large majority of people who pay no Federal income tax.

            There’s also an extraordinary hypocrisy in Republicans, who have spent years pushing though tax cuts which were designed to vastly reduce the number of people who pay Federal Income tax, decrying the results. If Republicans didn’t want far fewer Americans paying federal income tax, why did they write and vote for all those laws reducing the number of Americans who pay income tax? At some point, shouldn’t Republicans be taking responsibility for the situation that they created and now say they deplore?

            Are there about 47% knee jerk Democrats who don’t pay any attention to what is said or done by the candidates? That’s the only way I can explain anyone wanting to re-elect this President, on his record, after his 2008 hype.

            1. Yes, there are about 47% of voters who are reliable Democratic voters (and a similar amount of reliable GOP voters). But to conflate that group with the approximately 47% of citizens who pay no federal income tax, as Romney did in his speech, shows that Romney is either dishonest or has no idea what he’s talking about. The two groups are simply not interchangable, and no one, right or left, who knows what they’re talking about should conflate the two groups.

            2. There are all sorts of rational reasons people could support Obama, just as there are all sorts of rational reasons people could support Romney. To suggest otherwise is simply partisan nonsense.

            If you’d like to argue this point — if you’d like to argue that no rational person who pays attention could possibly vote for Obama — I’d be happy to argue it. But that’s not an argument you could win.

            Even so, the comment was part of a Romney sales pitch for big bucks checks, not a policy announcement, and should have been treated as such.

            Are you saying that it’s unfair to hold a candidate accountable for what he voluntarily says, as long as he says it at a fundraiser? I assume that’s not what you’re saying, since that would be ridiculous. But I can’t figure out what you do mean.

            If all you’re saying is that the media reporting should have made it clear that Romney was speaking at a fundraiser, then I agree. But as far as I can tell, the media has in fact made this point very clear.

            Finally, in another comment, you write:

            This administration has managed to increase the number of citizens who are dependent on the government, and has benefited from it, which is outrageous.

            The main way that the number of people who are “dependent on the government” has increased is through increased numbers of people using food stamps, unemployment insurance, etc., because of the recession and the unemployment crisis. Surely that’s appropriate — do you really want a government that responds to a recession by cutting back on food stamps and UI?

            It’s true that Obama has advocated for extensions to Unemployment Insurance, with some success. It’s possible that some voters agree with this policy (and I’d argue it’s an extremely reasonable policy for current economic conditions), and are more likely to vote for Obama (and other Democrats) as a result. That’s not “outrageous”; that’s how representative democracy is supposed to work.

            You could also be referring to Obamacare, I guess. But if so, you’re being inaccurate, since I haven’t seen any analysis that suggests that Obama has “benefited” from Obamacare at the ballot box.

            • Barry, it was your characterization of Romney’s remarks as saying the 47% were “lost causes” that is false. H esaid thaty he couldn’t worry about getting their vote, not that they were beyond hope. If I misunderstood your use of “lost cause” to refer to Romney’s lost cause of ever getting them to vote for him, then I do withdraw it.

              I’m saying that context matters, that candidates are forced to address different audiences differently, and that both parties and the media are disingenuous to pretend that this is otherwise, meaningful, and fair to exploit. I don’t believe for one second that Obama thinks immigration reform is his biggest failure—-obviously getting unemployment down and reducing the deficit are. He was talking to Hispanics. If true, his statement would mark him as out of touch with reality and priorities—and talk about hypocrisy, as he has blocked attempts by the states to deal with out of control illegal immigration. Romney’s statement was sloppy but not essentially untrue—truer than Obama’s pander to Hispanics. It did not warrant the firestorm the media generated in any way.

              This administration dealt with unemployment by repeatedly extending unemployment benefits–bad policy, unfair, (what about the unemployed in other years whose benefits ran out like it was supposed to?), and inhibiting self-reliance and motivation. That’s called making people dependent on the government. The Administration is using advertising to encourage people to get on food stamps, and chipping away on the work requirement for Welfare. It is telling women that that they have a right to make someone else pay for their contraception. Yes, that’s a policy of encouraging people to believe the GOVERNMENT should take “responsibility and care for their lives.” It may be a sincere ideological position by Obama, but it is also a voter base strengthening one, and toxic to the long term health of society.

              Yes, the Republicans are hypocritical on this issue. Everyone needs to pay more. Everyone.

              • Barry, it was your characterization of Romney’s remarks as saying the 47% were “lost causes” that is false. H esaid thaty he couldn’t worry about getting their vote, not that they were beyond hope.

                He said he couldn’t worry about getting their vote BECASUE they are beyond hope. That’s what lost causes are, the unredeemable.

                I’m saying that context matters, that candidates are forced to address different audiences differently, and that both parties and the media are disingenuous to pretend that this is otherwise, meaningful, and fair to exploit.

                As already noted, this is a strawman.

                I don’t believe for one second that Obama thinks immigration reform is his biggest failure—-obviously getting unemployment down and reducing the deficit are. He was talking to Hispanics. If true, his statement would mark him as out of touch with reality and priorities—and talk about hypocrisy, as he has blocked attempts by the states to deal with out of control illegal immigration. Romney’s statement was sloppy but not essentially untrue—truer than Obama’s pander to Hispanics. It did not warrant the firestorm the media generated in any way.

                Again, change in emphasis is not the same as doublespeak. Also, Romney’s statement was intentionally untrue, not sloppy. He directly compared the 47% voters for Obama to the 47% who don’t pay federal income tax. This wasn’t a word mixup. It was the point.

                This administration dealt with unemployment by repeatedly extending unemployment benefits–bad policy, unfair, (what about the unemployed in other years whose benefits ran out like it was supposed to?), and inhibiting self-reliance and motivation.

                First, pretty much every economist says that you need demand to recover an economy. Second, fairness to the past is a red herring. By your logic, it’s not fair to ever raise or lower taxes, and has never been fair to do so.

                That’s called making people dependent on the government.

                I think it’s actually called keeping the populace from starving, but you seem to forget about context when it doesn’t match your ideology.

                The Administration is using advertising to encourage people to get on food stamps, and chipping away on the work requirement for Welfare.

                Advertising the existence of social programs isn’t a bad thing, and the work requirement waivers were requested by governers… Republican governers. You can’t put that on Obama.

                It is telling women that that they have a right to make someone else pay for their contraception.

                Adding preventative medicine to health plans, something that is good for everyone involved (lower costs all around) is clearly creating a dependency.

                Yes, that’s a policy of encouraging people to believe the GOVERNMENT should take “responsibility and care for their lives.”

                You switched it from (A) people shouldn’t take responsibility and care for their own lives to (B) government should take responsibility and care for it’s citizens. Those aren’t equivalent. People should take responsibility and care for their own lives, but the government should also take responsibility for the livs of its citizens and care for them. That’s what government is for, the good of the people.

                It may be a sincere ideological position by Obama, but it is also a voter base strengthening one, and toxic to the long term health of society.

                It’s clearly toxic for a government to care about it’s citizenry.

                Yes, the Republicans are hypocritical on this issue. Everyone needs to pay more. Everyone.

                Sold, but this doesn’t defend Romney’s comments in the least.

              • TGT’s response covered almost everything I’d say, but I wanted to comment on this:

                Romney’s statement was sloppy but not essentially untrue—truer than Obama’s pander to Hispanics. It did not warrant the firestorm the media generated in any way.

                That’s not your call to make, Jack.

                The fact is — and much to my surprise — the 47% speech has so far been devastating to Romney in the polls. (Although there’s still time for him to recover.) And that’s not because of media spin, or the Democrats. It’s because a large number of independent voters, when they hear what Romney said, genuinely think it’s both relevant and repulsive.

                And although you’ve convinced yourself that nothing Romney says in the context of a fundraiser is fair to criticize Romney for, that’s a subjective view that very few Americans hold, and that you’ve been entirely unable to come up with a convincing case for.

                One of Obama’s current ads in Ohio consists of almost nothing but Mitt Romney’s 46% quote, presented verbatim. I can’t recall another political ad, ever, that consisted of nothing but a single extended quote from the opponent for 30 seconds. Can you?

                That’s what is causing most of Romney’s recent drop in the polls — his own freely-chosen words. Not the eeevviiiilll media, not the demonic Democrats, Just ordinary Americans hearing Romney’s words and not liking what they hear.

                That’s not the fault of the media, which did the right thing in reporting on something that they know is true (Romney did actually say that) and which is of genuine interest to voters. Everything you’ve claimed the media did wrong (report Romney’s words as if they were something he’d say in a speech to the general public, fail to report the context in which Romney said the 47% stuff) is simply not true. At this point, you’re simply mad at the media because they reported on a story that hurts the candidate you favor.

                Will there ever come a point where you think Romney bears responsibility for his own words?

                • Your comment, to the extent its accurate, just proves my point. The media allowed the Democrats to make the ridiculous argument that a secretly recorded, unscripted remark by Mitt Romney to potential donors was more important than the White House lying about the Al Quida involvement in the Libyan attacks, the President’s dereliction of duty by choosing David Letterman and The View over meetings with Israel’s leader and world leaders at the U.N., the frighteningly obvious failure of Obama’s “charm offensive” in the Middle East, and the fact that he refuses to fire a total and devious incompetent from the rather key job of Attorney General. Meanwhile, over the same period, Obama made his own share of gaffes, such as referring to “bumps in the road” after an ambassador had been murdered, and the silly immigration comment

                  I recognize that there is inherent unfairness in the fact that Romney is mostly going to be judged on what he says, while Obama also has the disadvantage of having to be judged ( one would think, anyway) based on the results of his conduct, leadership and policies. But a competent media would also demonstrate a fair sense of proportion, and not attempt to manipulate the news. There is no way that comment warranted over a week of constantly negative coverage. Of course it affects the polls, at least for a while (though this time I really believe that Rasmussen is the only one playing it straight). But the 47% was just about as telling as Obama’s “You didn’t build that” incoherence, which the media, except Fox, rushed to defend (correctly, as I wrote.)

                  I have never said that Romney should not have to take responsibility for his words, nor do I believe that. I think that words intended for a private audience and surreptitiously recorded and publicized, however, usually deserve to be discounted, unless he had claimed to be Jesus Christ or announced a secret plan to sell Hawaii to Japan. Ann Althouse recently wrote that the media onslaught to defeat Romney is so unfair and so undemocratic and openly biased that she’s tempted to vote Republican just to register her protest. What amazes me is that a perceptive, fair individual like you isn’t similarly bothered by it, but rather still seeks to deny it. And yes, this ongoing issue, and my disgust with it, undoubtedly influences my inclination to cut Romney some slack.

                  • Regarding the plan to sell Hawaii to Japan:. Are you in favor of taking strong measures to pay down the debt or aren’t you? :-p

                    Most of your issues that you say deserve more coverage are extremely partisan spins; a press that was as virulently anti-Obama as you’d prefer wouldn’t be a fair press, it would be Fox News.

                    The one issue where I think you’re right is Libya; it’s clear that the Obama administration was spinning that inexcusably, and that’s disgusting. I think the press should be reporting that more, and if they did, that would be fair.

                    However, although I think you’re right on your positive case (the press should be covering a lot more harshly on Libya), I can’t agree with your negative case (the press should give Mitt Romney a break and not cover his 47% remarks as if they matter).

                    First of all, the unemployment crisis is, in my opinion, possibly the most urgent issue facing whoever wins the election. Romney’s 47% remarks have obvious salience to that issue. (And by the way, if you had asked me what the greatest failure of the press is this cycle, I would say it’s their failure to keep unemployment front and center.)

                    Second of all, like it or not, some crucial swing voters make their decision based on character, not on policy, and I don’t think it’s the press’ job to withhold information that those voters consider relevant. For a lot of voters, it is relevant that what when Romney thinks he won’t be held accountable for his words, he sounds like a rich elitist with no compassion for Americans who are struggling.

                    Finally, you argue that the press is simply biased in favor of Democrats. I think that’s your own bias speaking. In the Gore/Bush election, the press was far more anti-Gore than anything we’ve seen against Romney this cycle. They didn’t hate Kerry as much as they hated Gore, but they certainly weren’t on Kerry’s side. Mondale got slaughtered by the press. The press loved Clinton, until Monica happened.

                    I think press bias is a moving target, having to do with whatever narratives they’ve settled on about each candidate, and also to do with who they think is winning (whoever is winning gets systematically better coverage).

                    I think anyone who thinks that the press is only against their own partiy, and is never unfair to the other party, has got a serious case of partisan bias themselves.

                    Oh, last point: Regarding Rassuman, when it comes to polling, a good rule of thumb is that the outliers are wrong (on both sides), and the pack is right. In the Kerry election, Democrats convinced themselves that the polls were wrong and Kerry would win; that was just confirmation bias at work. How positive are you that a similar thing isn’t going on with Republicans this cycle?

                    I guess we’ll know after voting closes on November 4th.

                    • If, as I understand it, the polls are oversampling Democrats is the belief that the turnout will mirror 2008, then this is a case where the outlier just has a better formula. The country is unequivocally in worse shape than it was under Bush in 2004, and whatever Romney’s faults as a candidate, he didn’t salute, and he isn’t the obvious fool that Kerry was and is.

                    • The question is what shape the country is compared to 2008 (and really, 2009, when Obama’s policies* began to be in effect), not to 2004.

                      Contrary to what some people claim, virtually all the polls (with the exception of Fox) are showing fewer Democrats compared to the vote in 2008, so the “the polls are saying that there are as many Democrats as in 2008” claim simply doesn’t hold water. (See the data table here.)

                      If the polls are accurate, then both major parties have lost numbers compared to 2008, and more voters are now identifying as “independent” than did four years ago. Romney’s problem is, the reduction in Republicans has been larger than the reduction in Democrats. (If the polls are accurate).

                      [*I kinda hate calling them “Obama’s policies,” or “Bush’s policies,” since the president is not a dictator. But it’s too convenient a shorthand not to use.]

                    • I wrote: “Romney’s problem is, the reduction in Republicans has been larger than the reduction in Democrats.”

                      Cross off that sentence, please.

                      What I should have said is, Romney’s problem is that the reduction in Democrats compared to 2008 isn’t as large as it would need to be for him to be ahead.

                  • The media allowed the Democrats to make the ridiculous argument that a secretly recorded, unscripted remark by Mitt Romney to potential donors was more important than the White House lying about the Al Quida involvement in the Libyan attacks, the President’s dereliction of duty by choosing David Letterman and The View over meetings with Israel’s leader and world leaders at the U.N., the frighteningly obvious failure of Obama’s “charm offensive” in the Middle East, and the fact that he refuses to fire a total and devious incompetent from the rather key job of Attorney General.

                    What do the media’s failures with topics X, Y, and Z have to do whether they failed or not on this topic? This is pure rationalization on your part.

                    Meanwhile, over the same period, Obama made his own share of gaffes, such as referring to “bumps in the road” after an ambassador had been murdered, and the silly immigration comment,

                    One thing there was an actual gaffe. One thing there is a change of emphasis based on the audience, and one thing there is a ridiculous lie about half the population. You, again, are making false comparisons.

                    But a competent media would also demonstrate a fair sense of proportion, and not attempt to manipulate the news. There is no way that comment warranted over a week of constantly negative coverage.

                    Seriously? A presidential candidate claims that nearly half the population are lazy moochers, and that doesn’t warrant a week of constantly negative coverage? Or are you still going with your fictious interpretation of Romney’s words?

                    Of course it affects the polls, at least for a while (though this time I really believe that Rasmussen is the only one playing it straight).

                    And off the deep end you’ve gone.

                    But the 47% was just about as telling as Obama’s “You didn’t build that” incoherence, which the media, except Fox, rushed to defend (correctly, as I wrote.)

                    This is incoherent. Obama’s comment, as previously noted, was clearly talking about the roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. It had a messed up antecedent. That’s it. Romney’s speech, on the other hand was clearly intended to demonize all Obama supporters as lousy moochers. There is no comparison.

                    I think that words intended for a private audience and surreptitiously recorded and publicized, however, usually deserve to be discounted, unless he had claimed to be Jesus Christ or announced a secret plan to sell Hawaii to Japan.

                    Or said that half the country is lazy moochers? You still haven’t come up with a coherent reason why surreptitiously recorded speech to a private audience should matter less than public speech. This usage in focussed groups but not generally shows a knowledge that the statements would not be acceptable generally. It shows an intent to deceive… either the small group or the general group.

                    Ann Althouse recently wrote that the media onslaught to defeat Romney is so unfair and so undemocratic and openly biased that she’s tempted to vote Republican just to register her protest. What amazes me is that a perceptive, fair individual like you isn’t similarly bothered by it, but rather still seeks to deny it. And yes, this ongoing issue, and my disgust with it, undoubtedly influences my inclination to cut Romney some slack.

                    Could the media be in the tank for Obama? Yes. Are any of your arguments here good? No. Which one of those matters on this specific topic? Bad arguments are bad arguments, and yours are ridiculous.

                    • 1. My argument, in brief, and it was clearly stated, is 1) Romeny’s words were part of a sales pitch, a tailored message to get contributions, and it was wrong and dishonest for the media to allow Democrats to spin it as anyything else. The Obama immigration comment, clearly bullshit, was allowed to pass through on exactly that basis. 2.) It is usually unfair to take words tailored for a specific audience and present them to the audience most likely to be offended by them, as if such tailored words are an accurate reflection of the speakers’ beliefs.

                      2. That the other news items that were neglected to “get” Romney are hardly a rationalization. Pat Caddell made essentially the same point today: “First of all, we’ve had 9 days of lies…If a president of either party…had had a terrorist incident and gotten on an airplane [after remarks] and flown off to a fundraiser in Las Vegas, they would have been crucified…it should have been, should have been, the equivalent, for Barack Obama, of George Bush’s “flying over Katrina” moment. But nothing was said at all. Nothing will be said. […] It is [unacceptable] to specifically decide that you will not tell the American people information they have a right to know. [The MSM] has made themselves the enemy of the American people. It is a threat to the very future of the country; we’ve crossed a new and frightening line on the slippery slope, and it needs to be talked about.” The grief Romney is taking for his remark is unfair, but less concerning to me than this part of the incident, that the media allowed that minor episode to dominate the news.

                      3. You are taking the Democratic line that this is some kind of a smoking gun. It is, rather, like Obama’s “you didn’t built that!” comment, an off the cuff, badly stated point that was a partisan rallying point. Obama was NOT “clearly” talking about roads, not when he said before that line, “I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.” This sounds like the old, socialist/communist, its only luck and power, not hard work and ability, that makes anyone successful, and it had nothing to do about bridges. Yes, the “you didn’t build that” was blown out of proportion, but Obama was saying more than “you need roads to get to work. I find the first part of the speech offensive, frankly.

                      4.Tgt, you are dead wrong about the polls, and I’ll expect your acknowledgement on November 4.

                      5. As we discussed, he did not say either lousy or moochers. He is right that there is a class of government-dependent Americans, right that Obama is trying to pander to them rather than make them less dependent, and right that many of them will vote Democratic for just this reason. He just overstated it.

                      6. Of course there was an attempt to deceive, like the whole campaign on both sides has been one deception after another. it was so far from the worst effort to deceive, however (the small group, mostly), that the media concentration was grotesque.

                      7. Your “rebuttals” of my “bad arguments” essentially consist of saying “no, it isn’t.”

                      8. But it is.

                    • 1. My argument, in brief, and it was clearly stated, is 1) Romeny’s words were part of a sales pitch, a tailored message to get contributions, and it was wrong and dishonest for the media to allow Democrats to spin it as anyything else. The Obama immigration comment, clearly bullshit, was allowed to pass through on exactly that basis. 2.) It is usually unfair to take words tailored for a specific audience and present them to the audience most likely to be offended by them, as if such tailored words are an accurate reflection of the speakers’ beliefs.

                      Yes, and this argument is bunk for multiple reasons. First, the mass media and secondary media I have seen has not taken Romney’s words out of context or spun them. Second, the Obama immigration comment is in no way similar to Romney’s statement. Third, while it may be usually unfair to present words from one audience to another, a Presidential candidate completely ragging on half the population is not one of those cases. The sentiments directly affect his fitness as president. The media isn’t taking the words out of context to attack Romney, this is so devastating because Romney was intending to call half the population moochers.

                      2. That the other news items that were neglected to “get” Romney are hardly a rationalization. Pat Caddell made essentially the same point today: “First of all, we’ve had 9 days of lies…If a president of either party…had had a terrorist incident and gotten on an airplane [after remarks] and flown off to a fundraiser in Las Vegas, they would have been crucified…it should have been, should have been, the equivalent, for Barack Obama, of George Bush’s “flying over Katrina” moment. But nothing was said at all. Nothing will be said. […] It is [unacceptable] to specifically decide that you will not tell the American people information they have a right to know. [The MSM] has made themselves the enemy of the American people. It is a threat to the very future of the country; we’ve crossed a new and frightening line on the slippery slope, and it needs to be talked about.” The grief Romney is taking for his remark is unfair, but less concerning to me than this part of the incident, that the media allowed that minor episode to dominate the news.

                      And again, I’ll say that there is no bearing there on Romney’s statements. That there was other news not covered does not mean that this news was inappropriately covered.

                      3. You are taking the Democratic line that this is some kind of a smoking gun. It is, rather, like Obama’s “you didn’t built that!” comment, an off the cuff, badly stated point that was a partisan rallying point. Obama was NOT “clearly” talking about roads, not when he said before that line, “I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.” This sounds like the old, socialist/communist, its only luck and power, not hard work and ability, that makes anyone successful, and it had nothing to do about bridges. Yes, the “you didn’t build that” was blown out of proportion, but Obama was saying more than “you need roads to get to work. I find the first part of the speech offensive, frankly.

                      *sigh* Or I read the speech myself, then watched it. That could have happened. Also, it is absolutely not communist to note that luck is a huge component in success. It’s the rational response. I am a successful person who has been considered smart and did well on tests. It’d be easy to fall into the “I just worked harder” or “I’m just better” meme, hell, I thought that all through high school and college, even after I took multiple logic classes. It wasn’t until later that I tried to look at my life objectively, and that I’m fortunate enough to have a very good memory did no favors for my edo. I remember the time I distractedly ran a redlight in high school, just missing other cars. I remember the time I got into a fight that could have caused me to be suspended for a week or two, but I got the benefit of the doubt because I was a “good kid” and the other party was a “troublemaker” (hard quotes). I remember the coincedences and weird breaks that occasionally helped me fail upwards. I remember that I was a published mathmatician at 15 only because I couldn’t get a handle on what I was supposed to be working on during math summer camp, so the teacher gave me a “simpler problem”. Then there was the internship I applied for at {Defense contractor} during college. They guy interviewing me improperly told me I had the job. I didn’t get it, and I found out through a side channel (one of my relatives worked there) that the hirer was overruled by an upper level manager who wanted his kin to be hired, sight unseen. I wrote an ill-considered email to their HR department saying that reneging on a verbal commitment to go with nepotism isn’t the best approach in the world… and they created a new, real job position for me for the summer, at 25% higher pay. The job I have now? I was completely unqualified for it coming out of school. They only wanted people with 5+ years experience and very specific credentials. I should have been dismissed out of hand, and I was, but I was dismissed by the recruiter who was supposed to give all resumes to the company’s managers, and one of those managers set up an interview with me solely TO SPITE HER. He had no intention of hiring me. Yes, four of these five things were only possible based on my qualities (I was a good, logical student who comes off well in interviews), but they all involved externalities and just one of them occurring differently likely would have greatly changed my life. This last anecdote probably nails it the best: before I got that job that my resume was completely unqualified for, I had been substitute teaching, tutoring, and waiting tables for a year to make ends meet. I had essentially given up on applying for software development positions in favor of teaching. I’d taken the praxis exams, applied all over, gotten lessen plans from relatives, worked out with administrators on how to get certified while teaching, and was just waiting for the week before school when uncertified math and computer teachers could be hired for the positions I knew were open. If I hadn’t gotten that interview (Where my resume was submitted by my girlfriend’s coworker’s boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s dad), I’d have been a teacher. The week I started working was the same week I got called with half a dozen public school teaching positions. The difference between me being lower middle class and upper middle class is a series of ridiculous coincedences and timing. I was smart enough and good enough for my job, and I’ve more than held my own, but am I completely responsible for my success? Absolutely not.

                      Obama’s speech was simply recognizing reality. We all get where we are based on a combination of factors, some of it is our own traits, and some of it is completely external. When people fail, they tend blame the external factors. When they succeed, they tend to think it was based on themsleves only. It is also true that when other people fail, and when other people succeed, the third party swaps the factors. They just weren’t good enough or they got lucky vs I was unlucky and I’m worth it. This is a known human bias.

                      Pointing out something that people don’t understand might not be good politics, but it wasn’t communism and it wasn’t offensive.

                      4.Tgt, you are dead wrong about the polls, and I’ll expect your acknowledgement on November 4.

                      You realize that a Romney win wouldn’t actually say the polls are wrong, right? Nate Silver’s futurecast still had Romney around 20% last time I checked. That said, since I believe the pollsters aren’t skewing things, I’d be willing to place a friendly wager on the outcome. Maybe a steak dinner or a trip up to Camden Yards when the Red Sox come to town?

                      5. As we discussed, he did not say either lousy or moochers. He is right that there is a class of government-dependent Americans, right that Obama is trying to pander to them rather than make them less dependent, and right that many of them will vote Democratic for just this reason. He just overstated it.

                      He’s wrong that all the government dependent people vote for Obama, he’s wrong that Obama is trying to make them more dependent instead of less dependent (cutting off benefits would have 2 actual affects: Worse off citizens, and more abject poor that have no ability to come off payments), and you’re wrong in claiming it was simply an overstatement and that Romney was not calling them lousy moochers.

                      Your best case scenario is that Romney is an idiot making a claim that can be made about some supporters of every politician ever, including himself. Occam’s razor takes precidence over Hanlon’s here.

                      6. Of course there was an attempt to deceive, like the whole campaign on both sides has been one deception after another. it was so far from the worst effort to deceive, however (the small group, mostly), that the media concentration was grotesque.

                      Both sides do it! This wasn’t the worst! It’s not news because he only told a few people! I don’t think you have a rule about the last one yet. You should.

                      7. Your “rebuttals” of my “bad arguments” essentially consist of saying “no, it isn’t.”

                      8. But it is.

                      My rebuttals have included arguments where necessary. Your responses have mostly dismissed my arguments by repeating your original statements. There is a major exception there. My comments about whether or not the media has misrepresented the context of Romney’s statements do not have listed evidence backing them, but the same go for your original statements that mine are counterpoints to. Since you’re the one making a claim of something outside the norm, it’s on you to show that’s actually the case.

                    • 1. The statements were by definition taken out of context. They were crafted and intended for one context only, one specific audience with specific characteristic. Like Obama’s statement pretending that he gives a hoot about immigration, when he had zero legislative initiatives on the matter. Furthermore, you misrepresent the statement, which was about the portion of the electorate that Romney (correctly) believes he is unlikely to sway, because of an entrenched reliance on government. And moochers is your characterization, and a misleading one.

                      2. It’s offensive. And it was designed to be a useful rationalization for failure, while justifying penalizing the successful because they don’t “deserve to be.”How could it be otherwise with the OWS rhetoric, which the Democrats cynically embraced, being the flavor of the day? That was the message to the base, just as Romney was talking to the base. I give both a margin because of the context—you and the media give Obama that margin, correctly, but withhold it from Romney. [ASIDE: I canNOT type “Romney” correctly. Ever.] Of course success is partially luck. I’m sure Obama knows that: he’s one of the luckiest men alive.

                      3. Arggh. Come on. Choice, placement, emphasis and priority of coverage is as much a distortion and manipulation as misreporting the story itself. That’s Drudge in a nutshell, isn’t it?

                      4. I think the USE of polls is wrong, and that the media’s “the race is over” trope is unforgivable even with the polls skewed as they are. And I’ll take that friendly bet, though I owe you at least one dinner already for enlivening the blog and trying to keep me honest.

                      5. “Your best case scenario is that Romney is an idiot making a claim that can be made about some supporters of every politician ever, including himself. Occam’s razor takes precidence over Hanlon’s here.” You do realize this is EXACTLY the conservative argument that “you didn’t build that!” couldn’t refer to bridges, right?

                      6. Foul. I’m not arguing that it wasn’t wrong; I’m arguing that if it was news at all, it wasn’t news deserving the emphasis it was given. When everybody does it, it doesn’t mean its ethical, but it does mean that one person doing it isn’t very newsworthy. What’s newsworthy is that everyone is doing it. I’ve covered that story, many times.

                    • The election could prove the polls wrong – just not the current polls. But if nearly all polls the week of the election show Obama as winning by more than the margin of error, and if Romney wins, that would be fairly strong evidence that nearly all the polls were systematically wrong.

                      My main objection to the way many right-wingers are currently talking about polls is that it suggests that they don’t understand even the very basics of how polling works, and can’t be bothered to research it.

                      I agree with you (Jack) that it would be better if poll results weren’t reported at all. But given that we live in a capitalist society (where no news organization would dare to not report on polling, because they’d get creamed by their competition, because the public is very interested in polls) with a first amendment (so the government probably can’t outlaw public polling), I just don’t see how that could happen.

                    • @Jack,

                      1. The statements were by definition taken out of context. They were crafted and intended for one context only, one specific audience with specific characteristic.

                      You just claimed that nothing can ever be reported without being taken out of context. You’ve defined “taken out of conext” into a meaningless term.

                      Like Obama’s statement pretending that he gives a hoot about immigration, when he had zero legislative initiatives on the matter.

                      Executives don’t have legislative initiatives, but Obama did push the Dream Act early, and did make enforcement changes in reference to immigration. Your statement is both false and misleading.

                      Furthermore, you misrepresent the statement, which was about the portion of the electorate that Romney (correctly) believes he is unlikely to sway, because of an entrenched reliance on government. And moochers is your characterization, and a misleading one.

                      How did I misrepresent the statement? If you drop the numbers down to the actual numbers of people in each category, it’s no longer an attack on the President, as it applies to everyone just as much. His use of the 47% backing Obama supporters and the 47% who don’t pay income tax either ties the two sets of people together, or is completely irrelevant. Moochers is my characterization and pretty much everybody’s characterization on both the right and left. Why? Because it’s what he was saying.

                      2. It’s offensive. And it was designed to be a useful rationalization for failure, while justifying penalizing the successful because they don’t “deserve to be.”How could it be otherwise with the OWS rhetoric, which the Democrats cynically embraced, being the flavor of the day? That was the message to the base, just as Romney was talking to the base. I give both a margin because of the context—you and the media give Obama that margin, correctly, but withhold it from Romney. [ASIDE: I canNOT type “Romney” correctly. Ever.] Of course success is partially luck. I’m sure Obama knows that: he’s one of the luckiest men alive.

                      This is you imputing reasoning that does not follow. To me, the speech looks like a sane discussion of the system. That you consider the successful paying more than the unsuccessful as a penalty that needs to be justified shows that you aren’t actually engaging with the speech. You’re still attacking strawmen.

                      Obama’s statement was specifically targetted to the successful and those who think that the government has not been a factor in their success. I’m pretty sure that’s not Obama’s base.

                      Of course success is partially luck, but for your comments about the speech to make sense, success would have to have no luck component. No matter how obvious something is, if people don’t understand it, speaking about it is completely valid.

                      3. Arggh. Come on. Choice, placement, emphasis and priority of coverage is as much a distortion and manipulation as misreporting the story itself. That’s Drudge in a nutshell, isn’t it?

                      I agree, but I’m not sure what this was supposed to counter.

                      4. I think the USE of polls is wrong, and that the media’s “the race is over” trope is unforgivable even with the polls skewed as they are. And I’ll take that friendly bet, though I owe you at least one dinner already for enlivening the blog and trying to keep me honest.

                      I agree that the horse-race media coverage is beyond stupid, but I think there’s a place for the polls, just not front and center. The polls tell us about the populace and what affects different segments of us. They don’t say anything about the fitness of the various candidates.

                      So, dinner on you in any case, we’re just wagering on who pays for the tickets and the hot dog and beer.

                      5. “Your best case scenario is that Romney is an idiot making a claim that can be made about some supporters of every politician ever, including himself. Occam’s razor takes precidence over Hanlon’s here.” You do realize this is EXACTLY the conservative argument that “you didn’t build that!” couldn’t refer to bridges, right?

                      For X, argument A is correct. People are incorrectly applying argument A to Y. I don’t see a problem here. The conservative commenters are complaining that Obama is claiming that people don’t build things, when he was saying that people work off of what the government built and not every poor person was lazy.

                      6. Foul. I’m not arguing that it wasn’t wrong; I’m arguing that if it was news at all, it wasn’t news deserving the emphasis it was given. When everybody does it, it doesn’t mean its ethical, but it does mean that one person doing it isn’t very newsworthy. What’s newsworthy is that everyone is doing it. I’ve covered that story, many times.

                      You have been arguing that Romney’s statements weren’t wrong. Your argument has been of the form: “Romney didn’t say X, and whatever he said, it was wrong for anyone to tell on Romney for saying X, also, it’s not important if Romney said X, and even if it is important, there are more important things than X”.

                      It’s one rationalization after another, but never ceding that you were incorrect at any step…just giving up each argument in favor of another. That way, you can recycle your previous arguments.

                      —————-
                      @Ampersand,

                      Yes, yes, and yes.

      • David Corn did not induce anyone to tape the speech. Some of the tape was already on Youtube, and his attention was called to it. He then sought out the person who posted the Youtube video and talked him/her into letting him see the raw footage.

        There is no proof that Ambassador Stevens’ body was dragged through the streets. There are also credible reports that it was sympathetic Libyans who took him to the hospital. The photos are, at best, ambiguous. To state either as fact at this point is irresponsible.

        • 1. Taping the speech isn’t unethical, if you don’t play it for anyone. He induced the taper to make it public. That’s unethical.
          2. His being dragged through the streets is immaterial to the point being made. Or does the fact that our ambassador was less brutally abused make the US attempt at a cover-up more acceptable to you?

          • Corn didn’t induce the taper to make the speech public. The taper was already doing it bit by bit. Corn wanted the unedited footage to see if this was falsely edited like O’Keefe’s videos.

  4. Parts of the tape were already public on Youtube. Actually, he put the comments “in context” when Mother Jones released the entire tape. Shouldn’t this work in Romney’s favor?

    Repeating rumor as fact is always irresponsible, even if immaterial to one’s point.

    • I generally agree with that last statement. However, due to the cover-up and misrepresentation by the State Department on the Benghazi issue, rumor and half-baked information is all we were left with. The left-biased media are spinning with the State Department, trying to make the scene seem less horrific, as if that matters when an envoy is being murdered. Right-leaners, like the Examiner, are asserting that the interpretation of the video and photos make no sense. The video makes it more than rumor, so your ecomium doesn’t apply. Call it Roshomon. Thanks to the Libyans, an American Ambassador was lying wounded and dying in the street.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.