Two instantiations: good and bad politics

November 1, 2012 • 8:07 am

This is the way politics should work. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican who’s stumped for Mitt Romney, was asked by a reporter if Obama had done a good job helping out his state during the hurricane. Here’s his strong “yes”, describing how Obama facilitated government help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

And here’s the way politics shouldn’t work, but does. In this bit from the Rachel Maddow show, Mittens implies in a debate that he would get rid of FEMA but then refuses to answer reporters’ persistent questions about that:

UPDATE, Thursday a.m. Mittens has flip-flopped once again:

“I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters,” Romney said in a statement supplied by his campaign Wednesday. “As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission, while directing maximum resources to the first responders who work tirelessly to help those in need, because states and localities are in the best position to get aid to the individuals and communities affected by natural disasters.”

Wednesday’s statement came after the candidate ducked a spate of opportunities Tuesday to personally clarify his position and the statement essentially endorsed the current disaster aid system.

The only principle Mittens has is this: “I must get elected, and will say anything to do so.” If you vote for him, you’re voting for a mustelid.


52 thoughts on “Two instantiations: good and bad politics

  1. I disagree: mustelids are far cuter and more charming* than Mitt Romney. On the other hand, both are in the group of ‘beings I do not want in a leadership role’.

    * Trying to make off with potatoes/tomatoes the size of your body by rolling it off the table and down the hall is far more adorable than threatening to repeal health care reform.

    1. I erred in dissing mustelids by comparing them to Romney. After all, I had a pet skunk for six years. Let’s just say his actions are “weaselly”.

      1. But weasels are mustelids! I doth protest; these creatures will make their feelings clear when confronted. They don’t lie and evade truth like Romney.

        1. how interesting. But I have seen Romney has some very dumb supporters, I don’t think they would even bring him to task on the statements he keeps making left and right!

  2. Don’t diss the mustelids! They are not sneaky backstabbers. Much less so than your precious felids, at least. The mustelids should be admired for showing us all just how far the (nose + heinous teeth + bad attitude) formula can take a brother mammal.

  3. ‘The only principle Mittens has is this: “I must get elected, and will say anything to do so.” If you vote for him, you’re voting for a mustelid.’

    I beg your pardon, Prof. Coyne, but that’s a gross insult to mustelids.

    Mr. Romney is in a class of predator all of his own.



    1. Actually, Romney isn’t a predator at all.

      He’s a parasite. Something of a cross between a tapeworm and those bugs that make ants climb up to where birds can eat them.


      1. Is there any real difference between predators and parasites? They both sponge off the labour of others.

        I suppose the difference is that predators tend to be bigger and/or stronger than their prey and kill them, whereas parasites are smaller and weaker than their prey and don’t usually kill them. Makes parasites look not so bad in comparison.

          1. All kinds. Many species of small animals use sponges for shelter, and they’re eaten by various critters.

  4. If there is any good to come out of this election, it will be in the form of the GOP coming to grips with the Tea Party faction. With any luck, after Palin and Romney, the Republican Party will come to realize that, yes, the Tea Party really is batshit fucking crazy, and that, no, you really don’t want to hitch your wagon to them or let them hitch theirs to yours.



    1. Ben, this has been my hope throughout this campaign, but sadly it doesn’t look like it will happen. The GOP deserves to be so severely whupped that they go back to their trenches and reconsider the take-over of their party by the insane. What it looks like, however, is that if they are only narrowly beaten by Obama this time, they will double-down in the next election and mid-terms and decide that they need more crazy to actually win.

      As an outsider who has lived in the US for a few years, and got out because I couldn’t stand Bush, I remain completely baffled how half the voting public are even considering voting someone who is so clearly ill-suited to the job.

      1. We’ll see, of course. But I think a Romney loss will cause both the GOP powerbrokers and the Tea Partiers to decide to go their separate ways. The Tea Partiers will be disgusted with the establishment that sold them out, and the establishment will realize that the Tea Partiers can’t deliver the goods.



        1. Romney leaned so far right during the Primary campaign that his left leg really atrophied.

          Now, he’s disingenuously flopping to the center, even contradicting his written policies and statements (as Obama pointed out in one fo the debates.)

          Anyone who thinks this guy has integrity is a fool.

          The most salient political fact of the late 20th century in the US is: How the GOP has persuaded the working class (and middle class) to vote against their own economic interests, using the 4-Gs: God, guns, gays, and blacks.

          Romney’s economic program has been proved not to work by the US economy since 1981, when Reagan took office.

          If making the rich richer “created” jobs, then we’d be swimming in jobs. The rich have never had it better.

          If cutting tax rates on the wealthy “created” jobs, we’d be swimming in jobs. The rich have not had lower tax rates since the 1930s (at least.) Also see: The Buffett Rule.

          In constant dollars, everyone in the US has gone downhill economically in the last 30 years EXCEPT for the top 20% of earners. And especially the top 5%, who have claimed a huge chunk of the gains of the last 30 years.

          There has been income redistribution in the last 30 years alright (Nitt): From the bottom 80% in the US to the top 20%. That’s the GOP idea of fairness and balance.

          1. The basic premise that cutting taxes for the wealthy will create jobs for the middle class doesn’t even pass the sniff test.

            Companies don’t hire more people because their owners have more cash on hand; that’d be stupid. They hire more people when demand for product is so great that the current workforce can’t keep up.

            So, to create more jobs, we have to increase demand.

            And, when it comes right down to it, there’s remarkably little individual variation in demand between the middle class and the very wealthy.

            A family earning (generously) $100,000 combined will have one home, a couple cars, a few TVs, one each of the major appliances, several sets of clothes, and replace all of those on fairly predictable schedules.

            A family earning a hundred times as much — $10,000,000 per year — will be hard pushed to spend more than a few times as much as their upper-middle-class counterparts.

            Thus, you’re going to get far more bang for your tax cut buck as far as job growth is concerned if you give it to the middle class as opposed to the very wealthy. Hundreds, if not thousands, of times more effective, indeed.

            This is not rocket science — indeed, it’s why trickle-down theory is called “voodoo economics.” And it illustrates very well how the drive to reduce taxes for the rich amounts to nothing more than a naked power grab and a drive towards modern feudalism, what the Italians called “fascism” a few generations ago.



          2. “A family earning a hundred times as much — $10,000,000 per year — will be hard pushed to spend more than a few times as much as their upper-middle-class counterparts.”

            Excellent point.

          3. I thought it was called the trickle down theory because it only worked on people who were dumb enough to believe it when someone told them that it was just rain that smelled like pee.

          4. 4-Gs: God, guns, gays, and blacks

            I’m sure the four categories are correct. However, I’ve never explored why that is called the 4-Gs? Is it because Republican voters don’t know the difference between a “g” and a “b”, just as they don’t know the difference between “uu” and a “w”?

        2. Why are you hoping for the R’s to stop self-destructing? It’s only when the batshit crazy is prominent that the Dems stand a chance of winning elections. Get rid of the extremists and you’re still left with a party of plutocrats, just a warmer, fuzzier party of plutocrats…

          1. While there’s a certain type of entertainment to be had in watching a train wreck in progress, especially when it’s the other team and the crash is something you warned them about…

            …in a healthy society there are a diversity of views represented rationally and substantively.

            Republicans used to be nobly misguided…and then came Reagan. If the GOP can find its roots and return to the days of Goldwater and even pre-Watergate Nixon, the country will be much the better for it.

            And, honestly, there’s a lot to be said for old-school Republicanism over its main modern competitor, Libertarianism. I’d much rather see an election come down to a choice between a Green and the reincarnation of Barry Goldwater than a Green and the reincarnation of Ayn Rand.



    2. It’s going to be the same craziness for a while. The South, which is still refusing to concede the Civil War, is 37% of the electorate, and considers the rest of us illegitimate, not real Americans like them. God’s Own Party can’t compromise with the heathens.

      While it’s true that the economy typically does worse when the Republicans in power, there are a few who benefit: corporate hirelings with a brief opportunity to loot benefit enormously from tax reductions, and owners of vast quantities of fossil fuels are threatened by any sort of environmentalism. A sentiment shared alike by the wealthy and those scraping by is that they deserve what they have and should not have to share.

      The crazies we have now were just as crazy when Clinton was president. Unlike Clinton, Obama hasn’t been accused of corruption, murder or sexual impropriety. Only the most severe beer snobs have complained about the White House brewery.

      Perhaps that effort was foregone because the base could tell at a glance that the president was not One Of Us. Didn’t a recent poll show that more people now believe that Obama was not born in the U.S. than four years ago?

      They’re not going to change. Our only option is to keep winning.

  5. The IORW, International Organization of Reasoning Weasels, strongly objects to your denigration of our species… 😉

  6. You Amerikanskis have to choose between sociopath Robo-Mittens and George W. Bush version 2.0 (Obama). Bleh, where are all the good candidates?

    1. He didn’t mince words, did he! There was even a trace of contempt in his voice. I didn’t watch the whole thing (it’s Fox “News”, after all), but did they ask Christie about Obama?

  7. I think the problem is Mitt says anything that goes through his head, and then his handlers and spin doctors have to clean up the mess. They must have mini-strokes all day long. I suspect it comes with being a ‘captain of industry’ type. He says whatever, and anyone who disagrees is fired. It’s always worked for him in the past, he doesn’t get why it isn’t working now.

    Obama on the other hand is a lawyer and realizes he has to measure his words.

      1. It wasn’t straight law school, it was a melding of law and business school. I think the hypothesis can be advanced that he used whatever law he learned to enable him to leverage the tax code to his maximum advantage.

  8. Poor mustelids – they’re tarred with the stench of Romney. FEMA is antithetical to the libertard agenda. Rmoney+Paul are committed to destroying it regardless of what Rmoney currently says. 4 legs good, 2 legs baaaad.

  9. but then refuses to answer reporters’ persistent questions about that

    You are talking about Obama and Benghazi, right?

  10. It’ a masterstroke by Christie who obviously wants Romney to lose so that 2016 is left open for his own GOP run.

    Machiavelli would be proud. After Obama wins on Tuesday, Christie has 36 months of Weight Watchers before the 2016 campaign starts in earnest.

  11. Romney needs to be asked, repeatedly, as in the Maddow clip: “Do you still find humor in the rising seas..(pause).. if you will?”

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