Mitt Romney’s zingers

Mitt Romney makes $10,000 wager with Rick Perry. Zing starburst above Romney's extended hand.

With reports indicating that Mitt Romney has been rehearsing and memorizing zingers for the past couple of months in preparation for Wednesday’s debate, let’s take a look at some of his past zingers to get a feel for what he might come up with on Wednesday night:

  • On going after Osama bin Laden: “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.” [link]
  • Trying to connect with African-American youth: “Who let the dogs out?” [link]
  • On the trail in Jackson, Mississippi: “Morning, y’all. I got started this morning right with a biscuit and some cheesy grits.” [link]
  • He calls this a housing plan: “Don’t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom, allow investors to buy up homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up, and let it turn around and come back up.” [link]
  • Accusing the president of sympathizing with the enemy: “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” [link]
  • Romney’s message to troops during his convention speech:_______” [link]
  • Apparently the troops are just a laundry list item: “When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things you think are important.” [link]
  • But you know who is serving the country? “One of the way my sons are showing service to the nation is helping me get elected.” [link]
  • What he told his lawn care company on hiring undocumented workers: “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals.” [link]
  • So what’s his immigration plan, for Pete’s sake? “The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here.” [link]
  • Explaining why he declined cookies made especially for him by a local bakery: “I’m not sure about these cookies. They don’t look like you made them. Did you make those cookies? You didn’t, did you? No. No. They came from the local 7-Eleven bakery or wherever.” [link]
  • On whether he stands by what he said: “I’m not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was.” [link]
  • Why he loves Michigan: “The trees are the right height.” [link]
  • What he wanted to do to its biggest city: “Let Detroit go bankrupt.” [link]
  • He’s proud Donald Trump believes he’s American: “Now, I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital, I was born in Harper Hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.” [link]
  • But he says Obama is the one running a dirty campaign: “Take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago.” [link]
  • Some of his best friends are corporations: “Corporations are people, my friend.” [link]
  • Some of his other friends are NFL team owners: “I’ve got a lot of good friends, the owner Miami Dolphins, and the New York Jets — both owners are friends of mine.” [link]
  • Not a big NASCAR fan, but a big fan of his NASCAR team-owning friends: “Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans. But I have some great friends that are NASCAR team owners.” [link]
  • Mocking NASCAR fans for wearing ponchos in the rain: “I like those fancy raincoats you bought. Really sprung for the big bucks.” [link]
  • Trying, and failing, to walk back his mockery: “Look, I have worn a garbage bag for rain gear myself.” [link]
  • Speaking of sports, after the NFL ended its referee lockout, someone asked Romney what he thought about the NFL ending the lockout: “I sure hope they do.” [link]
  • For a politician, he’s got an unorthodox jobs plan: “I like to fire people.” [link]
  • But don’t worry, he knows what it’s like: “I know what it’s like to worry whether you’re gonna get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.” [link]
  • Plus, he’s already out-of-work: “I should tell my story. I’m also unemployed.” [link]
  • Although he is ready to gamble: “Rick, I’ll– I’ll tell you what. (CHUCKLE) 10,000 bucks. $10,000 bet?” [link]
  • On those greedy poor people who want food: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what […] who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.” [link]
  • What he thinks his job is: “My job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” [link]
  • He really wants to make that clear: “I’m not concerned with the very poor.” [link]
  • His first impressions about the London Olympics: “You know, it’s hard to know just how well it will turn out There are a few things that were disconcerting, the stories about the – private security firm not having enough people – the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.” [link]
  • Quick timeout for most disturbing thing Romney has ever said: “Sexually active teenage boys are more than twice as likely to be depressed.” [link]
  • He’s either a bad comedian or a terrible scientist: “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous.” [link]
  • And he’s definitely a terrible scientist: “I believe in laboratories, looking at ways to conduct electricity with—with cold fusion, if we can come up with it. It was the University of Utah that solved that.” [link]
  • He thinks he’s underprivileged: “It would be helpful to be, uh … Latino.” [link]
  • Romney wants to fire cops, firefighters and teachers: “He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” [link]
  • Probably will need two car elevators too: “Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually.” [link]
  • You’re weird if you don’t strap your dog to the roof: “PETA is not happy that my dog likes fresh air.” [link]
  • Defending having his staff blow bubbles into David Axelrod’s face: “If the President is going to have his people come into my rallies and heckling, why, we’ll show them that we conservatives have the same kind of capacity he does.” [link]
  • Funny story about Mitt’s dad closing a factory, har, har, har: “One of most humorous I think relates to my father … he decided to close the factory in Michigan and move all the production to Wisconsin. Now later he decided to run for governor of Michigan and so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign.” [link]

Yeah, so keep working on those zingers, Mitt. They’re awesome.

(Thanks to Daniel Kurtzman for compiling a helpful reminder of some of these quotes.)


Paul Ryan tells voters they’re stupid. That’ll work.

Ah, Republican logic. Telling voters they’re stupid or gullible or brainwashed by the almighty Democratic machine is a great way to make voters agree with you, right?

Must be:

On Charlie Sykes show, Ryan says the president has “duped” people about his Medicare plan, once they realize it won’t buy his rhetoric.
@Rebecca_CBSNJ via TweetDeck

And why is Ryan so sure that the president somehow used his extra special secret Kenyan ninja powers to dupe the country?

Paul Ryan on @SykesCharlie show: “We were actually winning the Medicare debate in the beginning.”
@RosieGray via TweetDeck

Right. So, they were “winning” with their “end Medicare as we know it” plan, until that crafty Obama got his hooks into voters and “duped” them into not wanting to end Medicare as we know it after all. And if only the easily dupable electorate would stop buying the president’s rhetoric, they could all go back to being super-smart and Romney/Ryan could go back to “winning.”

Yep, great talking point. No way this one won’t work.


Mitt Romney’s debate plan: Zing and goad

Mitt Romney makes $10,000 wager with Rick Perry. Zing starburst above Romney's extended hand.

Mitt Romney’s debate strategy, according to reporting from The New York Times:

Mr. Romney’s team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August. His strategy includes luring the president into appearing smug or evasive about his responsibility for the economy. […]

During rehearsals, Mr. Romney has tried lines of attack suggesting that Mr. Obama distorts the facts and sloughs off responsibility on others. Mr. Romney’s aides recall Mr. Obama’s tart “you’re likable enough” line to Mrs. Clinton in 2008 and hope to goad him into a similarly churlish moment. Mr. Romney will win, the advisers said, if he can force Mr. Obama to come across as condescending or smug.

Who knows whether this actually reflects Romneyland’s thinking or if it’s just a head fake (Eric Ferhrnstrom refused to comment on it directly), but if they really think the only thing standing between Mitt Romney and the presidency is his ability to deliver zingers and goad President Obama into a “likable enough” style mistake, they are stone cold insane.

First of all, zingers are great entertainment, but zingers don’t win elections. Just ask Vice President Lloyd Bentsen. And don’t forget, Bentsen was only able to pull off his zinger because he had the stature to deliver it—and because Quayle so richly deserved it. Romney has neither of those things working in his favor.

Second, the reason that Obama’s “likable enough” moment caused him trouble is that he was attacking a sympathetic figure who had a real political base. In other words, Mitt Romney is no Hillary Clinton. I mean, in light of Romney’s 47 percent video, there’s probably a fair number of people who would cheer the president if he walked across the stage and punched Mitt Romney in the face on behalf of the tens of millions of Americans that Romney so callously dismissed. But even if it were possible for Obama to say something that generated sympathy for Romney, it’s not like Obama’s “likable enough” comment cost him the nomination.

Romney’s real challenge on Wednesday is the same challenge he’s had throughout the general election: he needs to convince voters who supported President Obama in 2008 that they made a mistake. A strategy of zingers and goading won’t help him do that. Instead, he needs to not just criticize President Obama, but make the case that the country would be better off today if John McCain (or he) had been elected president in 2008. And probably the biggest problem Mitt Romney has in this election is that most people don’t believe that—because it’s not true. No amount of zinging and goading can change that fact.


Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did

Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul

Reposted on the anniversary of the assassination of Rev. King. MB

This will be a very short diary. It will not contain any links or any scholarly references. It is about a very narrow topic, from a very personal, subjective perspective.

The topic at hand is what Martin Luther King actually did, what it was that he actually accomplished.  

What most people who reference Dr. King seem not to know is how Dr. King actually changed the subjective experience of life in the United States for African Americans. And yeah, I said for African Americans, not for Americans, because his main impact was his effect on the lives of African Americans, not on Americans in general. His main impact was not to make white people nicer or fairer. That’s why some of us who are African Americans get a bit possessive about his legacy. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy, despite what our civil religion tells us, is not color blind.

Head below the fold to read about what Martin Luther King, Jr. actually did.