Of Unfairness, Petards, and the Golden Rule

Here is the problem.

When you become desperate, and spring to manipulate gaffes, misstatements, over-heard comments and poor choices of words into unfair and disproportionate campaign attacks, you set the ground rules for your opponents as well. Unless you really have a bombshell—I’d say Romney’s 47% comment was a bombshell—the tactic is a poor risk, as well as being unethical. No candidate, nor any of his or her supporters, should try to make political points from off-the- cuff remarks, unless they reach Todd Akin-like levels of offensiveness and stupidity. They should apply the Golden Rule, for their own protection, as well as the principle’s ethical virtues.Indeed, Presidential candidates should pledge—to each other and to the public—to run campaigns about substance, not slips of the tongue.

I would have thought the Democrats would have learned this; I would think any politician would have learned this. But they are worried, and falling in the polls, so when Mitt Romney awkwardly talked about his “binders full of women” in the second debate, liberal pundits and Democrats decided to make this the latest way to ridicule Mitt, taking its place aside “I like to fire people,” and “corporations are people,” but sillier than either, though no more unfair. The attacks on those statements were unethical; this attack was outrageous. More important, it re-emphasized that in this dirty campaign, intentionally warped and unforgiving interpretations of statements that the candidates wish they had said better are acceptable weapons of choice, as unfair and misleading as that choice is.

So, as a result, when their candidate makes a far, far worse gaffe, as Obama did by telling “the Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart that “If four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal,” they can expect no mercy from the media, their conservative adversaries, or anyone else, including me. Is the statement as bad as it sounds? No. Does it show that Obama doesn’t care about the death of his ambassador and three other Americans? No. Will it be perceived that way anyway? Yes, absolutely, and because it will, the Republicans will run with it hard, and no Democrat who harped on Romney’s more trivial foot-stuffing exercises can credibly complain.

So they are going to have to live with the mother of one of those slain in Benghazi, telling the press,

“It’s insensitive to say my son is not very optimal – he is also very dead. I’ve not been “optimal” since he died and the past few weeks have been pure hell.”

And they are going to have to put up with this:

…or this..

and, ultimately, this:

I hate to see Presidential elections decided on mistakes that don’t mean what they are made out to mean. Michael Dukakis wasn’t showing he was a soulless zombie when he answered the question about his wife’s hypothetical rape and murder like an actuary. The Democrats might have taken a lesson from how this two-minute miscalculation was used to define their candidate right out of the race in 1988 and strived to take a higher road, but no: they took the opposite lesson. They have been using similar moments to try to stereotype Mitt Romney, most recently stooping the lowest yet with the “binder” nonsense.  They can’t complain now, after a Dukakis-like comment from Obama hands the GOP a deadly, if unfair, weapon, because they decreed, by their conduct, that these were the rules they were playing by. Call it “what goes around,” call it being hoisted by one’s own petard, call it poetic justice, or karma, or just desserts, but I think Obama’s comment will hurt him more than all of Romney’s gaffes combined. I don’t want to hear a single Democrat complain about how unfair it is because he was repeating Jon Stewart’s words, because of course he cares. They knew about the Golden Rule, and agreed to play Cheap Shot Derby instead. Now they are losing at their own game.

It’s a lousy way to decide who will be President,

But it’s good way to remind us to practice The Golden Rule.

______________________________________

Sources:

Graphics: Instapundit

21 thoughts on “Of Unfairness, Petards, and the Golden Rule

  1. Already, today, I have received a forward of a doctored photo, which shows Obama, standing at a podium like we might see at a White House press conference (American flag off to the side). Obama’s left hand is drawn up to touch his tilted, slightly bowed head and face with eyes closed, with a pained expression that could easily pass for, “Oh God, my head hurts – can it get any worse?!” To Obama’s right and slightly behind him, Bill Clinton appears – as if striding out from backstage to the set of a late night talk show to crash Obama’s appearance, smiling broadly, eyes gleaming, face beaming as if Eva Longoria just finished throwing herself naked at him with all the boys watching, his arms spread with palms facing up-and-forward – as if saying the large-lettered caption: “DID SOMEONE SAY BINDERS FULL OF WOMEN???” In the background behind Clinton, somewhat backstage, looking toward Clinton also grinning is a third man, Robert Gibbs I believe. A part of a fourth face is behind Gibbs; that might be me (just kidding).

  2. I don’t understand why the Romney remark is at all significant.. where else would you keep a collection of resumes/CVs? Biden was here (Florida) today blasting him for it, basically saying that it demonstrated Romney’s low opinion of women because he had to consult the binders and didn’t just immediately know who had what qualifications and call them. I’m obviously missing something? That or they’re really clutching at straws. ( I don’t know about you but I have to read my own resume from time to time to remind myself of what qualifications I have, places I’ve worked at etc.)

    • I think you have something with that clutching at straws idea. Noise, distractions; anything but the economy. Do you suppose that any of the journalists dreamt of writing this type of story when they were young and idealistic? That they would one day be reduced to parroting this drivel to prop up their failed candidate? I wonder if any of them drink…

      Checking out ones’ resume is very common, especially right about now among administration employees.

    • The worst part about Obama making such a big deal out of the binder comment is that it focuses attention back on Romney and what he said. His answer to the question was pretty good aside from that odd turn of phrase.

      • The focus should be on what Romney said, but not the binder part, because he misrepresented the facts. He did not “request” the binders. They were already prepared, when he came into office, by a bipartisan group who had already noticed the lack of women in high level positions. Although initially women represented over 40% of his cabinet, the number steadily decreased until he left office to about 25%. Same for his Supreme Court nominees. If women pay attention to what the man actually did or says he will do, they will not vote for him.

        • Come on. Really—what a trumped up, trivial, meaningless complaint, over a phony stat-based question that should never have been answered, against a candidate running against the occupant of a White House that has been credibly accused of hosting a hostile work environment for women. Are we into quotas now? Who cares what the percentage of women was? With the size of Romney’s “cabinet” in Mass., the difference between 45% and “about 25%” is what, two people? The only thing anyone, man or woman, should care about is whether the person occupying the post is honest, hard-working, ethical and competent. So Attorney General Holder adds to Obama’s minority stats in his Cabinet—he’s incompetent, and an embarrassment. Some trade off.

          And “same for his Supreme Court nominees” is right. Anyone who nominates judges according to their gender is being a pandering fool.

          • So either Romney asked for the binders and is in favor of affirmative action in the workplace, or he didn’t and is a pandering fool. Apparently it’s the latter.

            The misrepresentation is not trivial because it is part of a pattern of flip-flopping on, just to mention women’s issues: abortion, equal pay in the workplace and contraception. How any severe conservative can trust him is a mystery.

            • Conservatives know he’s a technocrat, like FDR, and essentially a non-ideological pragmatist. They trust him to be more conservative and competent than Obama, and that’s a safe bet.

              • Liberals know that he has no core beliefs–he simply spouts what’s going to get the votes in the room. His campaign contradicts itself constantly–sometimes in the same day. There is hardly an issue that you can’t find him arguing with himself. Given his far right rhetoric during the primary campaign and his shifting positions now, conservatives should be very, very afraid of what he’ll do once in office. I know I am.

                • That’s what liberal politicos do as a matter of business, Jan. That’s also why they’re continually surprised when an elected conservative official goes out and does exactly what he said he would do. This mentality is too alien for the standard liberal hack to grasp.

                • “The focus should be on what Romney said, but not the binder part, because he misrepresented the facts. He did not “request” the binders. They were already prepared, when he came into office, by a bipartisan group who had already noticed the lack of women in high level positions. Although initially women represented over 40% of his cabinet, the number steadily decreased until he left office to about 25%. Same for his Supreme Court nominees. If women pay attention to what the man actually did or says he will do, they will not vote for him”

                  If they pay attention to facts and not partisan bloviating like the above they will vote for him. He may have flaws but he has a strong record on hiring women. Those “binders” may have been prepared but he did request them and more to the point is he used them and filled 42 percent of those position with women. Beyond that he continued working with Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus throughout his administration, something his predecessor nor Gov. Deval Patrick have shown to be that interested in. The Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus is supposedly nonpartisan but the preponderance of the members are democrat and give almost exclusively to the Democratic Party. So with their recent comments on the issue and Romney’s history I think it is fair to say they place partisanship well before women’s issues. As for the percentage dropping to 25 percent before leaving office you are correct but your analysis is simply wrong as to the cause of the reduction. Many of the women that held those positions used them as stepping stones for even more opportunities at the end of his administration, a typical occurrence in most administrations, and were filled by ” internal candidates until the governor’s time in office” expired.

                  “So either Romney asked for the binders and is in favor of affirmative action in the workplace, or he didn’t and is a pandering fool. Apparently it’s the latter.”

                  He asked for them because that is what he pledged to do and had a history of using the most qualified individuals.

                  “The misrepresentation is not trivial because it is part of a pattern of flip-flopping on, just to mention women’s issues: abortion, equal pay in the workplace and contraception. How any severe conservative can trust him is a mystery.”

                  I will grant you he presented himself as more conservative during the primaries then he truly is and has a history that shows him to be a moderate, some conservatives won’t like it, but for the country is this a bad thing? By the way are you suggesting Obama never did this? I am not trying to justify it here just pointing out your bias. Romney is running against a “severe” liberal, he is a moderate and the only other choice “severe” conservatives really have so although he won’t be as much as a hardliner as many conservatives would like he is far more trustworthy to them then President Obama.

                  “Liberals know that he has no core beliefs–he simply spouts what’s going to get the votes in the room. His campaign contradicts itself constantly–sometimes in the same day. There is hardly an issue that you can’t find him arguing with himself. Given his far right rhetoric during the primary campaign and his shifting positions now, conservatives should be very, very afraid of what he’ll do once in office. I know I am.”

                  No Liberals spout he has no core beliefs because he can work across party lines to get things done, apparently something most of them can’t do. His campaign has been fairly on message only failing when confronted with some bogus or hyped up charge from the left that is used to distract from the Presidents record. Partisans should be concerned he will get elected as he is a moderate who will likely best serve the People, not his party.

                  • If they pay attention to facts and not partisan bloviating like the above they will vote for him. He may have flaws but he has a strong record on hiring women. Those “binders” may have been prepared but he did request them and more to the point is he used them and filled 42 percent of those position with women.

                    Romney didn’t request them. When they were thrust upon him, he twisted to it immediately (the 42% women), and then ignored it later (dropping down to 25%).

                    You claim that many of the women moved up the latter, but the same can be said for the men. The numbers shouldn’t creep down like that.

                    No Liberals spout he has no core beliefs because he can work across party lines to get things done, apparently something most of them can’t do. His campaign has been fairly on message only failing when confronted with some bogus or hyped up charge from the left that is used to distract from the Presidents record. Partisans should be concerned he will get elected as he is a moderate who will likely best serve the People, not his party.

                    This is just a stupid response. The evidence of Romney tacking back and forth is legion, and it’s a common attack that Romney’s beliefs are whatever is politically expedient.

                    • “Romney didn’t request them.“

                      He did as I have already stated and defined, I made no assertion that he requested them to be created, if you have proof that he did not request and used them then you should provide the info.

                      “When they were thrust upon him, he twisted to it immediately (the 42% women)”

                      Yep, I am sure once the Governor was elected had no choice in the matter. Lately your normally sound logic has fled you; your statement makes no sense or ignores the reality of holding an executive position.

                      “and then ignored it later (dropping down to 25%).”

                      When did it drop? Is your assumption he ignored it based on it going down to 25% or is it based on some fact? Were those positions filled by men, left vacant or filled by internal candidates near the end of his term? What is the basis for your “ignored it” assumption?

                      “You claim that many of the women moved up the latter, but the same can be said for the men.” Yes, what is your point? Mine was that those positions often lead to those holding them to move onto better things near the end of a term, male or female, thus leaving them vacant of an appointee or filled by a staffer or the like.

                      “The numbers shouldn’t creep down like that. “ Really? Based on what? How does it compare to other administrations?

                      “This is just a stupid response” yeah I kind of went off on a tangent on the last paragraph, and will again here but the point is he has been consistent on many things, typically only slipping on social issues or made up/overblown gotcha moments.

                      “The evidence of Romney tacking back and forth is legion,”
                      Based on his record please said evidence.

                      “ and it’s a common attack that Romney’s beliefs are whatever is politically expedient.”

                      I will use something that you have confronted me with before, because it is commonly held does not mean it is true or even ethical. Romney has a record and a history; arguably some of his statements contradict each other but that does not mean that the binders line of attack is valid, representative or ethical.

                    • Me: Romney didn’t request them

                      Steven: He did as I have already stated and defined, I made no assertion that he requested them to be created, if you have proof that he did not request and used them then you should provide the info.

                      We all agreed he used them initially. Red herring.

                      Romney did not request them be brought to him: http://blog.thephoenix.com/BLOGS/talkingpolitics/archive/2012/10/16/mind-the-binder.aspx

                      Romney lied in his statement and your attempt to change his meaning to make it truth fails.

                      Me: When they were thrust upon him, he twisted to it immediately (the 42% women) […]
                      Steven: Yep, I am sure once the Governor was elected had no choice in the matter. Lately your normally sound logic has fled you; your statement makes no sense or ignores the reality of holding an executive position.

                      and

                      Me: […]and then ignored it later (dropping down to 25%).

                      Steven: When did it drop? Is your assumption he ignored it based on it going down to 25% or is it based on some fact? Were those positions filled by men, left vacant or filled by internal candidates near the end of his term? What is the basis for your “ignored it” assumption?

                      As I already said, it would have been politically bad to ignore the bipartisan group. My ignored it assumption is that replacements thoughout the course of the administration were clearly slanted towards men. The numbers change is a prima facie case for that. I think the ball would be in your court to show that there was a special case where that many more women than men left office for the result to be so low.

                      TGT: You claim that many of the women moved up the latter, but the same can be said for the men.
                      Steven: Yes, what is your point? Mine was that those positions often lead to those holding them to move onto better things near the end of a term, male or female, thus leaving them vacant of an appointee or filled by a staffer or the like.

                      and

                      Me: The numbers shouldn’t creep down like that.
                      Steven: Really? Based on what? How does it compare to other administrations?

                      My point is that if women were still promoted and hired at a 38% clip, there should be little change in the number of women. Unless you can show that many more women left than men, the math is pretty simple.

                      —-

                      I’m tired of quoting. Off the top of my head, a list of Romney’s flipflops for political expediancy:
                      * Open tax information (for it when running against Kennedy. Against it now)
                      * Where he lived during olympics timeframe
                      * abortion (he was against it, then for it, then against it, then not going to touch it, then against it)
                      * his own freaking healthcare bill (with numerous subcategories like whether “people can always go to emergency rooms” (soft quote) is a point for or against a mandate)
                      * deficit spending (he was for it)
                      * The stimulous (he was for it)
                      * Detroit (he was for letting them fail, and then for a managed bankruptcy which he claimed Obama should have done, then took credit for the manage bankruptcy that Obama had already done, then claimed the bankruptcy that Obama did was not what he wanted (it would be better if Obama had listened).
                      * defense spending (he was against it)

                      —-
                      I am not claiming that since Romney has flip flopped before, he is flip flopping now. My comments were pointing out that your claim was completely insane:

                      “No Liberals spout he has no core beliefs because he can work across party lines to get things done, apparently something most of them can’t do. His campaign has been fairly on message only failing when confronted with some bogus or hyped up charge from the left that is used to distract from the Presidents record. Partisans should be concerned he will get elected as he is a moderate who will likely best serve the People, not his party.”

                      First, liberals have been attacking Romney for having no core beliefs. Repeatedly. Second, your “bogus or hyped up charge” is a no true scotsman. Anytime Romney is not on message, it must be because something’s being trumped up…like how Romneycare and Obamacare are essentially the same law, and Romney is someone running against Obamacare. Maybe like when Romney tried to flip back to the middle on abortion and had to retract the next day.

          • Really Jack? You think it’s trivial when a politician claims he did something when other people did it? If you were hiring a choreographer, and he claimed to have created and taught dance lessens somewhere, then you found out he just taught the dance lessens that other people created, would you hire that choreographer, or would you immediately write him off as a liar?

            Also, it wasn’t simply a 2 person difference. This wasn’t a 10 person cabinet. It was for pretty much anyone with supervisory capacity. The math should have been obvious there.

            • The binder nonsense was beyond trivial. He appointed women. Who got the “binders”—who cares? President Obama didn’t physically shoot Bin Laden, did he? The whole exchange was a non-answer to a dishonest question (the “72%” lie) about a case the President misrepresented. (The Ledbtetter case was narrow, and only involved when the Statute of Limitations starts running. It didn’t address Lilly’s substantive complaint at all. She’s another Sandra Fluke.)

              • Rationalization city!

                The binder nonsense was beyond trivial. He appointed women. Who got the “binders”—who cares?

                Say I told you that I saw homeless people in baltimore, so I decided to volunteer at a soup kitchen. I’m awesome. Then it turns out that I was sentenced to 30 hours of community service, and the soup kitchen was on the volunteer list. Changes your opinion of me, right? Not only am I not someone who volunteers because I want to, I lied to make you think I was.

                Does it matter why I did community service? If it didn’t matter, why would I have lied about it?

                Obama didn’t physically shoot Bin Laden, did he?

                Not at all the same situation. The problem isn’t that Romney created the strategy to hire women and oversaw his team to get the job done. That wouldn’t be a problem at all.

                The whole exchange was a non-answer to a dishonest question (the “72%” lie) about a case the President misrepresented. (The Ledbtetter case was narrow, and only involved when the Statute of Limitations starts running. It didn’t address Lilly’s substantive complaint at all. She’s another Sandra Fluke.)

                This has zero to do with what Mitt Romney said. You’re trying to say that the President did something worse, so it doesn’t matter what Romney did.

                • You believe that Obama “created the strategy to hire women and oversaw his team to get the job done”? He signed off on a done deal, handled by experts, who kept him in the loop.

                  Romney, as I understand it, said nothing dishonest, had nothing to hide, and the use of binders in the story, which is what the criticism has focused on, was absurd. He took credit for hiring qualified women, which he did. It was his administration. If someone put the names under his nose, he get credit for hiring that person and saying yes. Hence the correct Obama-Bin Laden analogy.

                  • You believe that Obama “created the strategy to hire women and oversaw his team to get the job done”? He signed off on a done deal, handled by experts, who kept him in the loop.

                    I didn’t make any claims about Obama and they’d be irrelevant to Romney’s conduct.

                    Romney, as I understand it, said nothing dishonest, had nothing to hide, and the use of binders in the story, which is what the criticism has focused on, was absurd.

                    Romney lied about what occurred. Flat out. He created a series of events that simply did not occur.

                    The criticism that I’ve seen from the left was focused on his lies. The responses I’ve seen from the right have, like your comment, ignored his lies to attack a strawman. In any case, it doesn’t matter what other people have said. Jan didn’t attack him for using the word binders. I haven’t. You’re attempting to defend Romney from an appropriate attack by saying an unrelated attack is invalid.

                    He took credit for hiring qualified women, which he did. It was his administration. If someone put the names under his nose, he get credit for hiring that person and saying yes. Hence the correct Obama-Bin Laden analogy.

                    Taking credit for doing X when you did X is fine. Creating a fiction of A, B, and C leading up to X is absolutely not fine. Your analogy doesn’t touch the actual criticism.

    • Weren’t the attacks on the binders because he flat out lied about the situation? He didn’t go looking for more women. He didn’t commision them. They were thrust upon him.

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