Wow! Hope Mueller’s team has good evidence of this explosive claim because that’s cray-cray!
One subject that Steele is believed to have discussed with Mueller’s investigators is a memo that he wrote in late November, 2016, after his contract with Fusion had ended. This memo, which did not surface publicly with the others, is shorter than the rest, and is based on one source, described as “a senior Russian official.” The official said that he was merely relaying talk circulating in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but what he’d heard was astonishing: people were saying that the Kremlin had intervened to block Trump’s initial choice for Secretary of State, Mitt Romney. (During Romney’s run for the White House in 2012, he was notably hawkish on Russia, calling it the single greatest threat to the U.S.) The memo said that the Kremlin, through unspecified channels, had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions, and who would coöperate on security issues of interest to Russia, such as the conflict in Syria. If what the source heard was true, then a foreign power was exercising pivotal influence over U.S. foreign policy—and an incoming President.
As fantastical as the memo sounds, subsequent events could be said to support it. In a humiliating public spectacle, Trump dangled the post before Romney until early December, then rejected him. There are plenty of domestic political reasons that Trump may have turned against Romney. Trump loyalists, for instance, noted Romney’s public opposition to Trump during the campaign. Roger Stone, the longtime Trump aide, has suggested that Trump was vengefully tormenting Romney, and had never seriously considered him. (Romney declined to comment. The White House said that he was never a first choice for the role and declined to comment about any communications that the Trump team may have had with Russia on the subject.) In any case, on December 13, 2016, Trump gave Rex Tillerson, the C.E.O. of ExxonMobil, the job. The choice was a surprise to most, and a happy one in Moscow, because Tillerson’s business ties with the Kremlin were long-standing and warm. (In 2011, he brokered a historic partnership between ExxonMobil and Rosneft.) After the election, Congress imposed additional sanctions on Russia, in retaliation for its interference, but Trump and Tillerson have resisted enacting them.
Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign seriously considered adding Chris Christie, the NJ GOP governor as vice president, but didn’t mostly because Romney doesn’t care for fatties – Pufferfish was the code word for Christie, as example – and because there was a lot of potential baggage in Christie’s history. Amused that some back stabbers in the Romney campaign team have released all this opposition research on Chris Christie to Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, prior to Christie’s announcement that he is running for the 2016 ticket. I’d guess these staffers won’t be running Christie’s campaign…
The list of questions Myers and her team had for Christie was extensive and troubling. More than once, Myers reported back that Trenton’s response was, in effect, Why do we need to give you that piece of information? Myers told her team, We have to assume if they’re not answering, it’s because the answer is bad.
The vetters were stunned by the garish controversies lurking in the shadows of his record. There was a 2010 Department of Justice inspector general’s investigation of Christie’s spending patterns in his job prior to the governorship, which criticized him for being “the U.S. attorney who most often exceeded the government [travel expense] rate without adequate justification” and for offering “insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification” for stays at swank hotels like the Four Seasons. There was the fact that Christie worked as a lobbyist on behalf of the Securities Industry Association at a time when Bernie Madoff was a senior SIA official—and sought an exemption from New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act. There was Christie’s decision to steer hefty government contracts to donors and political allies like former Attorney General John Ashcroft, which sparked a congressional hearing. There was a defamation lawsuit brought against Christie arising out of his successful 1994 run to oust an incumbent in a local Garden State race. Then there was Todd Christie, the Governor’s brother, who in 2008 agreed to a settlement of civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission in which he acknowledged making “hundreds of trades in which customers had been systematically overcharged.” (Todd also oversaw a family foundation whose activities and purpose raised eyebrows among the vetters.) And all that was on top of a litany of glaring matters that sparked concern on Myers’ team: Christie’s other lobbying clients, his investments overseas, the YouTube clips that helped make him a star but might call into doubt his presidential temperament, and the status of his health.
Ted Newton, managing Project Goldfish under Myers, had come into the vet liking Christie for his brashness and straight talk. Now, surveying the sum and substance of what the team was finding, Newton told his colleagues, If Christie had been in the nomination fight against us, we would have destroyed him—he wouldn’t be able to run for governor again. When you look below the surface, Newton said, it’s not pretty
Four nights later, on July 19, Myers’ team put the finishing touches on the Pufferfish vetting dossier. Included was a DVD with some of Christie’s most outlandish or unnerving YouTube hits: his castigating a pro-gay-marriage New Jersey assemblyman as “numb nuts,” his angrily berating a constituent while chasing him down the Seaside Heights boardwalk, brandishing an ice cream cone. But the main event was the 35-page written report titled “Chris Christie memo 71912 FINAL.”
After 11 days of teeth-gnashing labor, several of the issues that the vetters had unearthed around Christie were still unresolved. Myers and her team were sticklers. Uncomfortable producing a final report they considered incomplete, they made a point of being meticulous about framing and flagging the problems, including a refrain in bold applied to a number of items.
On Todd Christie’s securities-fraud settlement: “[Governor] Christie has been asked to disclose whether Todd Christie incurred any monetary or other penalty as a result of the SEC/NYSE action. If Christie’s possible selection is to move forward, this item should be obtained.” On Christie’s defamation lawsuit: “Christie has been asked to provide the terms of the settlement of this matter. If Christie’s possible selection is to move forward, this item should be obtained.” On Christie’s household help: “Christie has been asked to provide the names and documented status of all domestic employees. This material has not been received. If Christie’s possible selection is to move forward, these items should be obtained.” On Christie’s lobbying clients: “Christie has provided only one of the twelve or so [public disclosure] filings made [in the time he was a lobbyist] … If Christie’s possible selection is to move forward, these items should be obtained.”
Then there was this: “In response to the questionnaire, Governor Christie indicates that he has no health issues that would hinder him from serving as the vice-presidential nominee. Published reports indicate that Christie suffers from asthma and was briefly hospitalized last year after he suffered an asthma attack. He is also obese and has indicated that he struggles with his weight. ‘The weight exacerbates everything,’ he is quoted as saying. Christie has been asked to provide a detailed medical report. Christie has been asked to provide a copy of all medical records from his most recent physical examination. If Christie’s possible selection is to move forward, this item should be obtained.”
Finally, the never ending 2012 election is over, and the anti-American GOP lost. Whew. Take a deep breath, and let’s start speculating who will run in 2016! Kidding, sorta…
Thank You For Voting
Electoral College prediction
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I did pretty good guessing which state’s electoral votes would go to President Obama – the only state I guessed incorrectly was North Carolina, and that was an optimistic guess that I didn’t really expect to happen. In the official count, as of this exact moment, Florida is not declared, so either there is going to be a recount, or they are just taking their sweet time. From the reported votes, Romney lost Florida too.
Actual Electoral College Results 2012
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The New York Times reports that with 100% of Florida counted, the totals are:
The continued authorship of something called “On Faith” by Beltway social-climber and Hall of Fame trophy wife Sally Quinn remains the most hilarious thing about The Washington Post, a once-great newspaper now d/b/a an adjunct to the educational testing institute. In her dotage, Sal has become a spiritual explorer, a religious quester, and a thoroughgoing loon. Reading her stuff is like showing up at Lourdes and finding Bernadette Soubirous standing there, dressed in Prada, chilling the champagne and offering the Blessed Mother a couple of seats at the owner’s box at the next Redskins game.
Anyway, she seems to have been transported to something resembling ecstasy by the fact that Willard Romney took time out from stomping on the Eighth Commandment the other night long enough to mention a certain Deity, although not by name….
So, about that sick joke: What Mr. Romney actually proposes is that Americans with pre-existing conditions who already have health coverage be allowed to keep that coverage even if they lose their job — as long as they keep paying the premiums. As it happens, this is already the law of the land. But it’s not what anyone in real life means by having a health plan that covers pre-existing conditions, because it applies only to those who manage to land a job with health insurance in the first place (and are able to maintain their payments despite losing that job). Did I mention that the number of jobs that come with health insurance has been steadily declining over the past decade?
What Mr. Romney did in the debate, in other words, was, at best, to play a word game with voters, pretending to offer something substantive for the uninsured while actually offering nothing. For all practical purposes, he simply lied about what his policy proposals would do.
As I watched Romney tonight, I saw the guy who made those completely candid 47 percent remarks. …but I didn’t find him pleasant or especially appealing. I found him to be exactly like that dude talking to billionaires about people being victims and dependent on government before sitting down to the cheesecake dessert with his fellow billionaires.
I thought President Obama could have done better, for sure. He missed some key opportunities to be sharper about Obamacare, …
In the end, people are going to remember that Mitt’s down with killing off Big Bird and PBS so he can do his Mitt magic with numbers that just don’t add up, no matter how it’s spun.
Jim Lehrer kept saying the point of this debate was to define their differences. Unfortunately, the biggest difference didn’t come through: one was telling the truth and one wasn’t.
In the end, Big Bird’s life still hangs in the balance, and im Lehrer should never, ever be allowed to moderate anything even resembling a debate ever again
I thought this article was worth reading, especially this part…
The math does not add up for this statement that Romney directed at Obama.
The president’s 2013 budget called for elimination of tax breaks for oil subsidies, which the White House estimated at $4 billion per year. Dividing $90 billion — the federal money that Romney claims went toward clean energy — by $4 billion in breaks for the oil industry amounts to 22.5 years, not 50 years.
It’s also worth noting that the $90 billion was not “breaks,” but a combination of loans, loan guarantees and grants through the stimulus program, and they were spread out over several years rather than one, as Romney claimed.
Furthermore, not all of the money went to the “green energy world.” About $23 billion went toward “clean coal,” energy-efficiency upgrades, updating the electricity grid and environmental clean-up, largely for old nuclear weapons sites.
I thought this article was worth reading, especially this part…
It may be that Romney was trying to shake the etch-a-sketch starting tonight, or it may be that he was trying to win over the undecided voter who pays little attention to news except to watch one or two debates. If the latter, then it won’t matter to him how much fact checkers rip apart his statements …
But the Obama campaign may see fit in the coming weeks to put Romney’s sudden pretenses at being a moderate tonight alongside his actual speeches and statements from no more than a few days ago. That will have the effect of reinforcing Romney’s image as an ambitious used car salesman who will say anything to get elected. And that will hurt him as voters go to the polls.
In the end, Mitt Romney sacrificed his long-term standing in order to try to fool undecided voters in the immediacy and win a news cycle. And he still didn’t win enough voters in the news cycle to make even that short-term strategy successful.
Paul Krugman notes the inherent disdain for workers in the GOP, and in Mitt Romney’s world…
Consider the Twitter message sent out by Eric Cantor, the Republican House majority leader, on Labor Day — a holiday that specifically celebrates America’s workers. Here’s what it said, in its entirety: “Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success.” Yes, on a day set aside to honor workers, all Mr. Cantor could bring himself to do was praise their bosses.
Lest you think that this was just a personal slip, consider Mr. Romney’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. What did he have to say about American workers? Actually, nothing: the words “worker” or “workers” never passed his lips. This was in strong contrast to President Obama’s convention speech a week later, which put a lot of emphasis on workers — especially, of course, but not only, workers who benefited from the auto bailout.
And when Mr. Romney waxed rhapsodic about the opportunities America offered to immigrants, he declared that they came in pursuit of “freedom to build a business.” What about those who came here not to found businesses, but simply to make an honest living? Not worth mentioning.
The point is that what people are now calling the Boca Moment wasn’t some trivial gaffe. It was a window into the true attitudes of what has become a party of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy, a party that considers the rest of us unworthy of even a pretense of respect.
Paul Krugman makes a good point that bears repeating, namely that GWB was treated with deference by the corporate media in 2000, and it was one of the factors that cost Al Gore the election. Luckily, Willard is a lot less likable than the Shrub…
I’ve seen some comparisons between Mitt Romney’s position right now and that of George W. Bush after the Democratic convention in 2000, and by the numbers there is some resemblance. But what really happened in the final months of that election? The answer — not a popular one with journalists, but very obviously true to anyone who lived through it — was that the press took sides. Reporters liked Bush and didn’t like Gore, and as a result they treated Bush with kid gloves while gleefully passing on every smear against his opponent (“Gore says he invented the internet!” No, he never did).
That probably wasn’t going to happen this time in any case. But now Romney has really ensured that everyone in the news media, the GOP propaganda organs aside, is going to view him with distaste and alarm — as well they should.
Romney could still win, but he has just made it even harder for anyone to consider him suitable for the job.
And speaking of Mitt’s Libyan mess, the film that allegedly sparked the riot was created by a mysterious character. I wouldn’t be surprised if Karl Rove was involved somehow, or that this guy, Sam Bacile is a former Bain Capital employee, and the money was routed through a Cayman Islands account, via someone like James O’Keefe or Simon Adelson…
TPM has a good overview of this increasingly bizarre tale:
Who is Sam Bacile? So far, the answer depends on who you ask and what you read.
Early reports after Tuesday’s violence against American diplomatic posts in Egypt and Libya identified Bacile as the producer and director of an absurd anti-Muslim film blamed for inspiring the anger of the mobs.
But his biography remains sketchy at best. He has claimed to be a real estate developer, but nobody with his name has a real-estate license or appears in corporation records in California. He has been described as Israeli, but Israeli officials have not confirmed or denied that he is a citizen. He has also claimed to have raised millions for his film, but the results, a low-budget, offensive mess, seem to speak for themselves.
update: maybe this is the guy. Basseley is pretty close to Bacile:
Has the mystery been solved? The AP on Wednesday interviewed a man named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who admitted to being the manager of the company that created the movie. Nakoula, 55, was tracked down to an address outside Los Angeles linked to the cell phone with which Bacile spoke with the AP on Tuesday.
Nakoula denied being film’s director, and instead said that he knew Bacile. He described himself as a Coptic Christian, and offered a driver’s license to prove his identity, but, according to the AP, he “kept his thumb over his middle name, Basseley.”
And, it turns out, federal court documents suggest that Nakoula has been associated with the numerous aliases, including: Thomas J. Tanas, PJ Tobacco, Ahmad Hamdy, Kritbag Difrat, Amal Nada, Erwin Salameh, Daniel K. Caresman, Robert Bacily, and Nicola Bacily.
In 2009, Nakoula faced federal bank fraud charges in California. In 2010, he was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution, and sentenced to 21 months in federal prison. He was also ordered not to use computers, cell phones, or the Internet for five years unless he got an ok from a probation officer.
Team Romney is more interested in scoring political points than reverence for the dead, or even getting the facts correct. Not to worry, Romney’s family will probably baptize Ambassador Christopher Stevens into the Mormon faith posthumously.
A damning fact check from AP: The gunfire at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had barely ceased when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney seriously mischaracterized what had happened in a statement accusing President Barack Obama of “disgraceful” handling of violence there and at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
“The Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks,” Romney said in a statement first emailed to reporters at 10:09 p.m. Eastern time, under the condition it not be published until midnight.
In fact, neither a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo earlier in the day nor a later statement from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered sympathy for attackers. The statement from the Cairo Embassy had condemned anti-Muslim religious incitement before the embassy walls were breached. In her statement, issued minutes before Romney’s, Clinton had offered the administration’s first response to the violence in Libya, explicitly condemning the attack there and confirming the death of a State Department official.
Gail Collins is worried about Mitt – he does seem a bit unstable. He might be a borderline General Jack D. Ripper type.
Virtually nobody seemed to think this was all that great a plan. The Romney campaign, according to CNN, helpfully passed out suggestions for supporters who might want to defend Mitt. (When asked whether he was too quick on the attack, loyalists were supposed to say: “No. It is never too soon to stand up for American values and interests.”)
But not all that many other Republicans seemed excited about joining in. A few social conservatives did unveil a hitherto-unnoticed passion for the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom to make fun of religion. “It was disheartening to hear the administration condemn Americans engaging in free speech that hurt the feelings of Muslims,” said Senator Jim DeMint.
And, let’s see, who else. Donald Rumsfeld tweeted support. Party chairman Reince Priebus chimed in: “Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.” Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona said the embassy’s comment “is like the judge telling the woman that got raped, ‘You asked for it because of the way you dressed.’ That’s the same thing.”
On this side: Mitt Romney, a totally disgraced former secretary of defense, a person named Reince Priebus, and a new Republican rape comment.
Two months to go and we’re rethinking our presumption that the Republican primary voters picked the most stable option.
“Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later.”
—President Obama to CBS News
Democrats were—obviously—outraged by Romney’s response to the crisis in Libya. But (some) Republicans have been quite miffed by their presidential candidate too.
Former Reagan speechwriter and eternally opinionated Peggy Noonan said, “In times of great drama and heightened crisis … I always think discretion is the way to go.”
Former ambassador Jon Huntsman said, “This is above all a reminder that politics should end at the waters’ edge.”
Indiana Senator Dick Lugar said, “I’m not going to make any comment about the political. None.”
Some Republicans did echo Romney’s words, like Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon: “Again and again under President Obama we have met threats and thugs with apologies and concessions.”
…[Sarah Palin said something stupid about wanting to see Obama’s penis]
Most Republicans stayed above the fray, though. Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan knew what to say: “The attacks on our diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya … this is outrageous. Our hearts are heavy. And our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
Senators McCain, Lieberman, and Graham released a joint statement saying, “We cannot give in to the temptation to believe that our support for the democratic aspirations of people in Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere in the broader Middle East is naive or mistaken.”
Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.
That’s the actual, nominal head of the Republican Party speaking, not some radio shock jock.
There is politics. There are lies, exaggerations and half-truths aplenty in politics. But then there are times when playing this sort of mendacious politics is even more offensive than usual. The death of a U.S. Ambassador is one of those times.
But this this is who they are, and what the official Republican discourse has been reduced to. It’s time the press started reporting the callous, lying extremism of the mainstream Republican Party for what it is.
By now, you’ve probably read Kurt Eichenwald’s bombshell OpEd about the Bush Administration’s negligence. If you haven’t, go read it. Many of us suspected as much about Bush’s priorities, or lack of, which is why the 9/11 Commission was such a disappointment. Bush should have been impeached for dereliction of duty. I’m sure the GOP is gearing up to smear Mr. Eichenwald as soon as they can figure out a way to do so, because his revelations undermine the carefully constructed edifice of the Republicans claim to power.
The NeoCons were so concerned about overthrowing Saddam Hussein so as to be able to privatize the Iraqi oilfields that they let thousands of innocents die – in the US, and in Afghanistan and Iraq. Civilians in Baghdad and Kabul had nothing to do with the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Mr. Eichenwald writes:
The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.
But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.
In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.
Which brings me to another, related point – Mitt Romney’s campaign team employs many of these same NeoCon morons, as Ari Berman of The Nation reports:
A comprehensive review of [Romney’s] statements during the primary and his choice of advisers suggests a return to the hawkish, unilateral interventionism of the George W. Bush administration should he win the White House in November.
Romney is loath to mention Bush on the campaign trail, for obvious reasons, but today they sound like ideological soul mates on foreign policy. Listening to Romney, you’d never know that Bush left office bogged down by two unpopular wars that cost America dearly in blood and treasure. Of Romney’s forty identified foreign policy advisers, more than 70 percent worked for Bush. Many hail from the neoconservative wing of the party, were enthusiastic backers of the Iraq War and are proponents of a US or Israeli attack on Iran. Christopher Preble, a foreign policy expert at the Cato Institute, says, “Romney’s likely to be in the mold of George W. Bush when it comes to foreign policy if he were elected.” On some key issues, like Iran, Romney and his team are to the right of Bush. Romney’s embrace of the neoconservative cause—even if done cynically to woo the right—could turn into a policy nightmare if he becomes president.
If we take the candidate at his word, a Romney presidency would move toward war against Iran; closely align Washington with the Israeli right; leave troops in Afghanistan at least until 2014 and refuse to negotiate with the Taliban; reset the Obama administration’s “reset” with Russia; and pursue a Reagan-like military buildup at home. The Washington Monthly dubbed Romney’s foreign policy vision the “more enemies, fewer friends” doctrine, which is chillingly reminiscent of the world Obama inherited from Bush.
War criminals and their enablers like John Bolton, Paula Dobriansky, Eliot Cohen, Robert Kagan, Robert Joseph, Dan Señor, Eric Edelman and others. A vote for Romney is a vote for a belligerent American foreign policy based on faulty assumptions without consideration of consequences. Is that really what we want? We still haven’t recovered from the first time those idiots were the Decision Makers.
U.S. Kills Bin Laden
More from The Nation on the Romney NeoCon team:
Bolton is one of eight Romney advisers who signed letters drafted by the Project for a New American Century, an influential neoconservative advocacy group founded in the 1990s, urging the Clinton and Bush administrations to attack Iraq. PNAC founding member Paula Dobriansky, leading advocate of Bush’s ill-fated “freedom agenda” as an official in the State Department, recently joined the Romney campaign full time. Another PNAC founder, Eliot Cohen, counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from 2007 to 2009, wrote the foreword to the Romney campaign’s foreign policy white paper, which was titled, perhaps not coincidentally, “An American Century.” Cohen was a tutor to Bush administration neocons. Following 9/11, he dubbed the war on terror “World War IV,” arguing that Iraq, being an “obvious candidate, having not only helped Al Qaeda, but…developed weapons of mass destruction,” should be its center. In 2009 Cohen urged the Obama administration to “actively seek the overthrow” of Iran’s government.
The Romney campaign released the white paper and its initial roster of foreign policy advisers in October, to coincide with a major address at The Citadel. The cornerstone of Romney’s speech was a gauzy defense of American exceptionalism, a theme the candidate adopted from another PNAC founder and Romney adviser, Robert Kagan. The speech and white paper were long on distortions—claiming that Obama believed “there is nothing unique about the United States” and “issued apologies for America” abroad—and short on policy proposals. The few substantive ideas were costly and bellicose: increasing the number of warships the Navy builds per year from nine to fifteen (five more than the service requested in its 2012 budget), boosting the size of the military by 100,000 troops, placing a missile defense system in Europe and stationing two aircraft carriers near Iran. “What he articulated in the Citadel speech was one of the most inchoate, disorganized, cliché-filled foreign policy speeches that any serious candidate has ever given,” says Steve Clemons, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation.
Romney’s team is notable for including Bush aides tarnished by the Iraq fiasco: Robert Joseph, the National Security Council official who inserted the infamous “sixteen words” in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union message claiming that Iraq had tried to buy enriched uranium from Niger; Dan Senor, former spokesman for the hapless Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer in Iraq; and Eric Edelman, a top official at the Pentagon under Bush. “I can’t name a single Romney foreign policy adviser who believes the Iraq War was a mistake,” says Cato’s Preble. …
Shortly after McCain’s 2008 defeat, Kagan, Edelman, Senor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol launched the Foreign Policy Initiative, a neocon successor to PNAC. FPI’s mission has been to keep the Bush doctrine alive in the Obama era—supporting a troop increase in Afghanistan and opposing a 2014 withdrawal; advocating a 20,000-troop residual force in Iraq; backing a military strike and/or regime change in Iran; promoting military intervention in Syria; urging a more confrontational posture toward Russia; and opposing cuts in military spending. Three of FPI’s four board members are advising Romney.
Edelman, having worked for Dick Cheney in both Bush administrations, is Romney’s link to Cheneyworld. (Edelman suggested to Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, the idea of leaking the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame to undermine former ambassador Joe Wilson for his New York Times op-ed detailing the Bush administration’s falsified Iraq-Niger connection.) As ambassador to Turkey in 2003, Edelman failed to persuade Ankara to support the Iraq War. Turkish columnist Ibrahim Karagul called him “probably the least-liked and trusted American ambassador in Turkish history.” Edelman later moved to the Defense Department, where in 2007 he became infamous for scolding Hillary Clinton when she asked how the Pentagon was planning its withdrawal from Iraq. He’s one of nearly a dozen of Romney advisers who have urged that the United States consider an attack Iran.
Truth. Willard being shocked that a Democrat might use the same tactics that the GOP has been using, without pause, since Lee Atwater whispered in Ronald Reagan’s ear is one of the funniest things about the 2012 election. Especially since the oh-so mean things that are making Willard cry are not very vicious by Tea Bagger standards.
Can’t See the Couch For the Forest
Kos has more:
Bullies don’t like it when their targets punch back, which is why the GOP is apoplectic right now. I mean, their reaction to Biden’s “chains” thing is comically hysterical. And Mitt Romney is genuinely unhinged. I’m not sure why Republicans think that crying and whining about the big bad meanie Democrats is such a political winner. It never worked when Democrats tried it (just ask John Kerry).
Of course, the media punditry getting the vapors was nowhere to be found when Romney systematically mowed down his primary opposition. Or, for that matter, for decades of GOP smear campaigning. It wasn’t the media who called out Lee Atwater for his “naked cruelty” against Michael Dukakis in 1988. It was Lee Atwater himself.
But let them kvetch on their fainting couches. We finally have Democrats who have learned from a long line of Republican no-holds-barred strategists—from Atwater to Karl Rove. And if there’s one thing that bullies hate most, it’s being on the receiving end of their own tactics.
Paul Krugman is not fooled by Paul Ryan, nor Willard’s cynical choice in selecting Ryan as VP candidate…
The trouble, of course, is that it’s really really hard to find any actual conservative politicians who deserve that praise. Ryan, with his flaky numbers (and actually very hard-line stance on social issues), certainly doesn’t. But a large part of the commentariat decided early on that they were going to cast Ryan in the role of Serious Honest Conservative, and have been very unwilling to reconsider that casting call in the light of evidence.
So that’s the constituency Romney is targeting: not a large segment of the electorate, but a few hundred at most editors, reporters, programmers, and pundits. His hope is that Ryan’s unjustified reputation for honest wonkery will transfer to the ticket as a whole.
So, a memo to the news media: you have now become players in this campaign, not just reporters. Mitt Romney isn’t seeking a debate on the issues; on the contrary, he’s betting that your gullibility and vanity will let him avoid a debate on the issues, including the issue of his own fitness for the presidency. I guess we’ll see if it works.
I guess we will. Early returns show mixed results: there are plenty of soft, substance-less pieces on Ryan, but there are plenty of discussions of Ryan’s plan to shred the safety net, privatize Social Security and demolish Medicare as well.
Everybody Is Going to Make It This Time
Kos has more in this vein:
Yet rather than earn him some breathing room in the campaign and a nice honeymoon, the reception has been cold at best. Sure, there’s been a smattering of puff pieces about Ryan’s body fat composition, but the coverage has been more focused on the facts that Romney has moved to the Right rather than the center, that he had to pacify an increasingly hostile base, that Ryan endangers GOP advantages with seniors, that his presence on the ticket is a nightmare for downballot Republicans, and that his budget gives Democrats a treasure trove of material with which to attack.
Indeed, in the last several days, half the questions Romney has gotten have been along the lines of, “Where, exactly, do you disagree with the Ryan budget?”
Romney is on the breaking point. He’s already had to cancel campaign appearances (though not fundraisers!) because of exhaustion. He’s used to being surrounded by yes-men who tell him he’s wonderful. Now that Obama fellow (and even critics on his own side) has the temerity to talk about him!
Romney whines: The president’s campaign has put out a campaign that’s talking about me and attacking me. I think it’s just demeaning to the nature of the process, particularly when we face the kinds of challenges we face.
It’s so demeaning to elections to have candidates talk about each other! Of course, it wasn’t demeaning when Romney accused Obama of not being American. That part was as perfectly all right as was insulting the British prime minister, the cookies at a campaign stop, and the ponchos worn by NASCAR fans. That’s just Mitt being Mitt (IOW, a dick). But to have other people talk about you? That can’t stand!
even Jacob Weisberg apologized for his initial praise, admitting that
I reacted too quickly and didn’t sort out just how laughable Ryan’s long-term spending projections were. His plan projects an absurd future, according to the Congressional Budget Office, in which all discretionary spending, now around 12 percent of GDP, shrinks to 3 percent of GDP by 2050. Defense spending alone was 4.7 percent of GDP in 2009. With numbers like that, Ryan is more an anarchist-libertarian than honest conservative.
Look, Ryan hasn’t “crunched the numbers”; he has just scribbled some stuff down, without checking at all to see if it makes sense. He asserts that he can cut taxes without net loss of revenue by closing unspecified loopholes; he asserts that he can cut discretionary spending to levels not seen since Calvin Coolidge, without saying how; he asserts that he can convert Medicare to a voucher system, with much lower spending than now projected, without even a hint of how this is supposed to work. This is just a fantasy, not a serious policy proposal.
So why does Saletan believe otherwise? Has he crunched the numbers himself? Of course not. What he’s doing – and what the whole Beltway media crowd has done – is to slot Ryan into a role someone is supposed to be playing in their political play, that of the thoughtful, serious conservative wonk. In reality, Ryan is nothing like that; he’s a hard-core conservative, with a voting record as far right as Michelle Bachman’s, who has shown no competence at all on the numbers thing.
What Ryan is good at is exploiting the willful gullibility of the Beltway media, using a soft-focus style to play into their desire to have a conservative wonk they can say nice things about. And apparently the trick still works.