Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Archive for April 2012

Mitt Romney tries to dog Barack Obama’s childhood dog meat eating, but that dog won’t hunt

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If someone looked back on my life and judged me based on what I ate when I was 6 years old, they would say I was full of bologna.

This particular Mitt Romney reaction to the Seamus controversy gives us some insight on what kind of campaigner Romney will be and what the next 6 months or so will be like.

The Seamus story has dogged Romney for some time. Yes, the puns will run through this column like brown liquid down the back of the station wagon. The story keeps going on its four legs because of the way Romney has reacted, or not reacted, to the story. Ann Romney told Diane Sawyer that Seamus loved the crate. The crate isn’t the issue, after all, a crate inside a car next to loving people is a good way for a dog to travel.

And no one in the MSM, certainly not Diane Sawyer, will ask the Romneys the obvious question: Is it true what one of your sons said that Seamus ran away once the family got to Canada?

But this isn’t about how a potential president does in a crisis situation. That would be too easy. No, this has to be about what the current president ate when he was 6 years old.

Let’s try and follow the Romney logic. To be fair, 6 years old is a good age because this feel more like “he started it.” Romney is 65 years old.

In Romney’s world, what Obama was served as a child to eat is worse than decisions made about the welfare of a dog as an adult. And the transgression of what Obama did should absolve Romney of what he did.

Obama admitted in his book “Dreams About My Father” that he ate dog meat, snake meat, and grasshoppers. This is totally outrageous in a land that dines on corn dogs, deep-fried Twinkies, and Baconnaise.

Eating dog meat is distasteful in the United States, but is more common in other areas of the world. Despite what Americans think, most people in the world don’t have anywhere neat that kind of access to meat. This was the late 1960s in Indonesia.

But even if you roll with this thought process, this is about what the individual has done when it comes to animals. Just because Obama was served dog meat … as a child doesn’t mean he did anything personally to the dog. This logic also comes from the teabaggers who insisted Obama had lost his citizenship (and his right to be president) when the family was relocated to Indonesia when he was 4 years old. As I put it in December 2008, “you don’t have the power at the age of 4 to say otherwise.” As every child can tell you, when you are a child, you eat what gets put in front of you.

Romney’s actions as an adult with adult responsibilities are clearly up for grabs as “Dogs Against Romney” will prove. The same goes for George W. Bush’s DUI conviction. We don’t even know close to the whole Romney story, but we sadly know more about that incident than Bush’s DUI conviction.

This isn’t new territory. Ask the ghost of Grover Cleveland who had to deal with accusations of paternity out of wedlock. The accusations weren’t true, but voters made up their mind based on those accusations.

If Romney did cover up the story, if true, that Seamus did run away in Canada, should that say something about Romney’s decision-making process?

Obama’s campaign may be taking advantage of the Romney story, but Romney’s attempt at an attack, well, you know, “that dog won’t hunt.”


Mitt Romney’s VP pick won’t be a game-changer

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This is the point where I admit that despite what I thought would happen in the 2012 GOP presidential nominating process, Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president. I thought for certain that the teabaggers would rally around one candidate who would gain the momentum for the nomination.

Michele Bachmann or Herman Cain spoke their language better than Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich, but neither candidate should sustain those numbers. If Santorum is right about this being 1976 in an analogy, then 1980 would bring the teabagger messiah, but it won’t be Rick Santorum.

The feeling that Romney would win the nomination all along was that this fit the Republican pattern of picking the second place finisher of a previous campaign (Romney, John McCain). Republicans don’t like dragged out fights, but thanks to Michael Steele, they got one in 2012.

So if Romney loses in 2012, why wouldn’t Santorum be the presumptive nominee? No one thought Jack Kemp would be the front-runner for 2000. The pattern only works in elections where a Democratic politician has been president 0 or 4 years. After Bob Dole lost to Bill Clinton in 1996, the Republican field became wide open. Also, several Republicans sat out 1996 as they did in 2012, waiting four more years for a run.

2016 looks much better for GOP candidates: outside of VP Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, neither of which is expected to run, the Dems list is pretty small. Sen. Mark Warner (VA) and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley lead a small, yet unknown list.

So if Santorum has little shot at the 2016 nomination, why not accept Romney’s VP pick if Romney makes that choice?

Every VP pick wants to be Al Gore in 1992 not Jack Kemp in 1996. You want to be on the ticket if you think your “team” will win.

If Romney were to make the pick tomorrow, Marco Rubio might be at the top of the list. If Rubio wants a political future beyond 2012, he might not take the VP offer. Selecting a relative unknown is risky for the presidential nominee, but if you are the relatively unknown, a VP run shapes what the country thinks of you. If you don’t believe us, ask Sarah Palin.

Hiding Palin away from the time of the initial welcoming speech on Friday to the convention speech on Wednesday proved to be a fatal mistake to the campaign … and Palin. When others define you, getting back the narrative is extremely difficult.

Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Mitch Daniels, Nikki Haley, and countless other potential future GOP presidential candidates need to introduce themselves to the American public on their own terms. Sarah Palin would have been wise to take that advice.

Rubio has a story, and that is pretty much all he has. Believe it or not, Palin had a really good story before the world discovered her.

As we’ve noted, Romney would be the 4th oldest person to be inaugurated if he wins in November. He is only 7 years younger than McCain was on Inauguration Day 2009. A safe choice, someone who is known, would suit Romney’s style and not scare Republicans fearful of another “Sarah Palin.”

We won’t know for months who Romney’s VP pick will be, but the one thing for certain, that person won’t be a “game changer.”

Canada cuts back on food safety, even if it is still ahead of the United States

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The Harper government is taking a teabagger type look at the federal budget in its significant cuts. Ares important to liberals, NDP supporters, and Green members suffer disproportionally. Even in Canada, food safety is a political issue by conservatives.

The irony, if you want to call it that, is that in the last Canadian federal election, the Conservatives promised $100 million more in spending over a 5-year period for food safety. Guess that didn’t work out.

At least Canada has a federal agency — Canadian Food Inspection Agency — devoted to food safety. The U.S. can’t even spare that as a concept, real or weak.

While Canada doesn’t have the scares of eggs, spinach, and tomatoes that Americans have recently had, the country to the North did suffer from a listeriosis outbreak in 2008 from tainted deli meat that led to 22 deaths. And yes, the Harper government was in charge.

For more on this story, check out our perspective from our sister blog, And you can keep up on Canada and its politics (and more) at

Hilary Rosen/Ann Romney battle diminishes real concern over women surviving in bad economy

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“Guess what — his wife has actually never worked a day in her life.”

As we’ve learned in politics, the difference of opinion often comes down to literal translation vs. concepts in context. Religious differences often mirror this, but usually in those areas that also involve politics.

If you somehow missed the context or translation of the above quote, this came from Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen in response to Mitt Romney saying that his wife was his resource on women in the economy.

In that context, the context in question, Rosen noted that Ann Romney had never worked outside the home. This is a true statement.

If you take the quote literally AND out of context, your literal translation would be “parenting isn’t work.”

Guess which way the media took it?

Men fight each other in the ring, ice rink, baseball diamond, football field, basketball court, whatever the UFC does, where people pay money to watch. Oh sure, on a Saturday night, somewhere in a bar, a man is hitting another man for, uh, what was the reason again?

Outside of a catfight, women fight by tearing each other down. Single? The married woman is your enemy. Childless? Those with offspring become objects of scorn.

I love women, and I like women, but I just don’t get that.

The GOP and media team up to try and equate this with the actual “war on women” that the Republicans are fighting. Never mind that Rosen has no connection with the Obama campaign, or that Rosen apologized for his poor choice of words, or that even the worse translation doesn’t equal transvaginal ultrasound probes.

While Rosen’s words could/should have been better, her overall point — context — is noteworthy: in an environment where Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a law repealing Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act and transvaginal ultrasound probes and abortion policies that treat women as children, understanding women and the economy should involve a woman who works in the economy.

Of course, this point will be lost because the MSM considers this the fair way to “balance” the argument.

The other “brilliant” context is the Romney charge that women have accounted for most of the jobs loss under President Barack Obama. Romney is borrowing a GOP talking point, but you get the impression that he doesn’t even know if it’s true. The Washington Post fact checker ruled it “true but false.” The irony is that women dominate government-related positions (this includes public school teachers), and that conservatives want to sharply reduce government payrolls. Of course, the fact that Obama fought hard in what stimulus could get passed to ensure that state government workers, including teachers, kept their jobs.

Romney’s party has been fighting to cut those jobs that are dominated by women. Not that gender is the reason, but the direct result suits their purposes.

What women (and men who support them) fought for 40-50 years ago was for the right to choose whether a woman stayed home to raise the kids or went to work. Some women, due to economics, don’t have a choice but have to do both unless, of course, they don’t want to have children.

This is why the GOP war on birth control and abortion is so much more horrible than meets the eye. Economics often factor into whether a woman can/should have a child. When economic times are better, fewer women have abortions.

And while the Democratic Party has too often nodded along with Republicans in spreading the wage gap, the GOP gets the credit for creating a world where economic realities are a lot more difficult unless you fall within the 1% clan: e.g., Ann Romney.

The division among women often comes from women. Guys, even conservative rich white guys, aren’t nearly as concerned as women are over the categories of stay-at-home vs. working mothers.

Women who do stand up and fight for women who are drowning in this economy often get drowned out by fear of attacks on stay-at-home women. The main point of those women who are suffering has been lost in this fake political fight.

The frustration of women tearing down other women came to fruition, admittedly on a different level, from the recent rebuttal from actress Ashley Judd on whispers of her having had “work done” on her “puffy face.”

Judd explained that her “puffy face” was the result of steroids, medicine for battling sinus and flu, but the whispers of plastic surgery had become so loud that Judd felt it necessary to respond.

While Judd focuses on the issue of female body image, her essay in the Daily Beast has reflections that pertain to the “battle” between working moms and stay-at-home moms.

“It affects each and every one of us, in multiple and nefarious ways: our self-image, how we show up in our relationships and at work, our sense of our worth, value, and potential as human beings.”

Guys, let’s be honest. We see women reading those celebrity magazines. This actress lost 10 pounds. That actress gained 6 pounds. Is this model/actress pregnant? Sadly, there is an audience that deeply cares about this world.

Even though women are 51% of the population, they are treated as mere political pawns. If you are a stay-at-home mom, would you really vote for Mitt Romney because his wife stays at home? Some pundits might cynically think so.

Ann Romney is right. We shouldn’t attack mothers who stay at home. Hilary Rosen is right. No one attacked mothers who stay at home. Women suffer disproportionately in the workplace and at home. The most logical way is to fix that by women working together instead of tearing each other apart.

“I ask especially how we can leverage strong female-to-female alliances to confront and change that there is no winning here as women,” said Judd.

If 2012 presidential election comes down to Internet savvy and knowledge, four more years for Barack Obama

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When John McCain ran for president in 2008, a lot was made about him not knowing the Internet, leading us to wonder if a president should be somewhat tuned into the Internet. Four short years later, we find Rick Santorum running for president who understands the Google. The one skill he hasn’t learned is finding things on the Internet that are true.

Euthanasia of old people in the Netherlands. Not teaching American History in the University of California system. Rick Santorum found these on the Internet. The stories weren’t true; then again, that would have been easy to check on the Google, so maybe Santorum’s Internet skills need fine-tuning. Now that he has dropped out of the race, Santorum can take those lessons.

Mitt Romney hasn’t talked about his Internet skills. But if Romney is elected in 2012, he will be the 4th oldest person to be inaugurated. Ronald Reagan, William Henry Harrison, and James Buchanan comprise the top three.

Jon Stewart had a bit of fun with Obama engaging his supporters through social media, but Stewart won’t have to worry about doing a similar story on Romney.

The Internet has been bad news for Romney because people who do know how to use “the Google” can find out where Romney stood on positions that the former Massachusetts governor has changed. There is even video of some of those moments. You can even find the speech where Barack Obama quoted John McCain that Romney manipulated in his first ad as Obama saying it about himself.

George W. Bush was the last Republican who skated through without having his record seriously questioned. And look at what happens when the press fails to do its job. Would have been easier to find that DUI conviction or the real truth behind what he did (or didn’t do) in Alabama in the National Guard.

Perhaps it isn’t fair to conclude that the Dems understand the Internet better than Republicans. This has been true, so far, but the cluelessness (and age, somewhat) of the GOP candidates has been a factor. Santorum is three years older than Obama, but in terms of the Internet, Obama is light years ahead.

This doesn’t even factor in the modern definition of Santorum, thanks to Dan Savage and his readers.

Barack Obama had the advantage four years ago with the youth vote thanks to his advantage with the Internet. Now we have a new fresh batch of the 18-22 years old potential voters. The only Republican strategy in dealing with these people is passing laws to restrict their ability to vote. While Romney is the best-looking 65-year-old not in Hollywood, when it comes to the Internet, you are as old as you use the Internet. On that level, Obama has the advantage once again.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton had no chance to win the Democratic nomination. Still, we had 6 weeks of hanging out in Pennsylvania, waiting for the commonwealth’s primary. The 2012 wait won’t be as dramatic, since the pundits were mostly turning up the heat for Santorum to leave the race. Pennsylvania is Santorum’s home state; perhaps losing his last election there by 18 points played a role. Santorum had just come back after dealing with his daughter who was hospitalized. Hope she’s doing better.

Santorum had seen himself as the 1976 version of Ronald Reagan. Or perhaps as “Rocky” (also from Pennsylvania), who did lose in the original film but later came back to win. Mitt Romney is Gerald Ford in that scenario, though Ford was the incumbent. The conservatives were howling so loud in 1976 that Ford was forced to dump Nelson Rockefeller as his running mate, marking the last time that a sitting VP wasn’t on the national ticket. Yes kids, Bob Dole was seen as being more conservative in 1976 than Nelson Rockefeller.

A major hole in Santorum’s theory is that conservatives have made inroads in the last 30 years, so they control the energy of the GOP. Dole and Reagan would have no chance in the 2012 version of the GOP. While the old version of Romney might have been comfortable in the GOP in the era where Dole ran for president (1996), the new Romney would have been seen as too conservative in 1996. Then again, Santorum would have know this if he had taken a class in American history with those snobs in college.

Katie Couric never got fired for making similar ‘mistake’ to NBC producer fired for editing George Zimmerman phone call

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NBC News fired a producer who edited a call from George Zimmerman to police. The network also mentioned that “several people” involved were disciplined. While the infraction was a serious journalism offense, punishment was dealt and the incident was explained as “a mistake and not a deliberate act to misrepresent the phone call.”

Of course, the intense media scrutiny of the Trayvon Martin case led to people being more interested in the journalism infraction.

Still, this makes what happened to Katie Couric, or rather what didn’t happen to Katie Couric, rather remarkable. Couric made a similar edit in an interview to make presidential candidate John McCain look better. Couric nor anyone else was disciplined much less fired. And this was after Couric’s producer was fired for plagiarism for a first-person story that Couric said was her own, but it wasn’t.

So why wasn’t Couric fired? Disciplined? Fined? Sadly, we don’t know since while CBS News admitted that what Couric did was a violation of its practices, no action was taken.

When Katie Couric worked on the “Today” show and when she pinch-hit on “Good Morning America,” she was on shows that while a part of the news department, they aren’t treated as real news shows. Viewers see “Today” and “Good Morning America” as news. Even though Couric was the managing editor of a Big 3 nightly newscast, her news skills weren’t the reason why she was hired by CBS News.

Sarah Palin was guest-hosting on Katie’s old show “Today” sneaking in her attacks on the lamestream media. Not that Palin wants to be in the same room as Couric ever again, but it would be fun to get Palin’s reaction to Couric helping her running mate at a key point in a presidential contest.

That conversation would be more interesting than anything we got out of Palin and Couric being on the morning shows. But then again, those shows aren’t interested in hard-hitting news.

“Of course, Gupta can’t interview the high-fructose corn syrup people because they need to be protected. Mike Wallace wouldn’t have done it this way.”

We don’t know if Wallace watched last week’s “60 Minutes” but it was his final episode of the program where Wallace made his reputation as a newsman.

Though Wallace got his start in more frivolous forms of TV entertainment, he showed about three generations of TV viewers how to get answers from people who weren’t happy to share them with millions of people.

Gupta’s story on “60 Minutes” was something that would not have passed the muster of Wallace or Don Hewitt. They both would have been horrified at what the NBC producer and Katie Couric did.

American TV Journalism is lesser after Wallace retired, but greater for having had him on the national stage for as long as we have him, RIP. You deserve it.

Keith Olbermann a necessary force in journalism, but needs to find a good home

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You can tell when Keith Olbermann is about to be fired when he stops doing “World’s Worst.”

Coincidence, perhaps. But the fact that he stopped doing the segment just before being fired by MSNBC and now Current TV.

Long-time fans of my political coverage know I do like Keith Olbermann, but for those who might not have been reading me for long, well, you should know that. That being said, Olbermann is much better when he gets rolling on “Worst Person in the World.”

I’ve watched Keith on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports Net, Fox, NBC, MSNBC, and now Current TV. Maybe I watched him on CNN, hard to remember. So you would think I would have loved what he was doing on Current. But his program never got the same kind of traction that it did at MSNBC.

Sometimes, too much freedom is the problem.

Yes, Current TV was amateur hour right from the first episode. Problems with graphics led to other problems, such as basic lighting. My local 24-hour cable news channel had a better setup.

Olbermann made the best of it, doing the show in the dark. That made for fun TV, but after all, it reminded you how cheap the operation was at the cable channel.

He spent his time on CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman” blaming himself for taking the job. He didn’t speak much specifically on what happened (a number of issues are still pending), but you got a better sense of what made him miserable.

What also didn’t help was Olbermann using the anchoring of primary coverage as a way to try and get those improvements to be made. Olbermann was sick on some of the time he was gone, but there appeared to be too many awkward times where someone else was at the desk. Rachel Maddow, Olbermann’s former MSNBC colleague, pointed out that recently that she had missed 3 days in a recent span, but one of those was reporting on what became a special episode. I couldn’t keep track of how many days Keith missed.

I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Olbermann on why those days were missed (outside of being sick). But from the standpoint of the TV viewer, the situation looked bad. And if you are one of those people who can’t stand Olbermann, consider that he never did anything like this elsewhere, not even at ESPN.

Even on primary nights where Olbermann did anchor, the Current TV coverage wasn’t as good as MSNBC. Perhaps the GOP dominance of the agenda made the events less intriguing, but I often flipped back to MSNBC way more often than Current TV.

Yes, MSNBC was in HD and that doesn’t hurt in 2012. But the channel covered the speeches in their entirety, the analysis was layered and reasonably balanced, and Rachel Maddow is growing quite comfortable as an anchor. Olbermann would switch away from speeches, and even if you think that is a good thing, well, his replacement coverage didn’t stack up to what was being offered at his former home.

Olbermann put together an amazing list of contributors, and certainly had an influence in developing shows around him, such as The Young Turks (who started out at MSNBC) and former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm. Given that he has built up two left-leaning news outlets, Olbermann should receive some kind of liberal medal.

The Olbermann at Current TV became almost a caricature of what Olbermann made fun of when he and Bill O’Reilly had their Fox-MSNBC rivalry. The Olbermann at Current TV didn’t feel like he needed to care as much about balance. Preaching to the converted is boring; this is why Olbermann was so good at MSNBC by poking fun at O’Reilly, Hannity, and Beck.

Olbermann became obsessed with the now late Andrew Breitbart over his yelling at Occupy protesters. Breitbart deserved one, two, maybe 3 “World’s Worst,” but the mashup videos weren’t funny or entertaining. And they made Olbermann look bad, even though he was in the right.

Countdown on Current TV was Keith Olbermann getting to do what he wanted to do, and it just wasn’t as entertaining as Olbermann fighting back against the system at MSNBC.

Still, nobody was better on the Murdoch scandals than Olbermann. This was a story that needed to be pounded night after night, and nobody on this side of the pond was better. When Occupy got barely any notice or coverage from the MSM, Olbermann was on that side and brought needed attention to this story.

Keith’s personality can annoy people (not me). But that drive with a little bit of anger on some stories makes for amazing television and is vital to a thriving democracy.

At a crucial time in a presidential campaign, Olbermann doesn’t have a TV home. Olbermann made light jokes to Letterman on the subject of his future, but didn’t expand any serious thoughts. Even though he recruited and has inspired many on the air who do similar type shows, they can’t hold a candle to Olbermann when he is on his A game. But where will Keith get a chance to do that?

Option #1: Olbermann can find a cable channel that would convert to what he has envisioned. However, finding a currently (pun intended) available channel will be even more difficult, and getting a new cable channel is virtually impossible these days.

Option #2: CNN could use his star power, but as strange as this might sound, Olbermann has a better chance of getting hired on at Fox than CNN. Still, CNN might be able to find a place for him, even on election coverage.

Option #3: A weekend show at MSNBC along with being at the desk for election coverage. Going back to MSNBC might seem more impossible, but of the three major cable news channels, this is still the best home for him. The channel is beefing up its weekend news programming. Doing a weekend show might deflate Olbermann’s ego, but he is more likely to stick around. Ending a show with a special commentary would be a lot easier if he is doing 2 shows a week instead of 5. Being a weekend host would allow him to appear on other MSNBC shows AND occasionally pinch-hit as host. Plus, if he sits at the election coverage desk, Olbermann would get a chance to shine in a desperately needed area for the channel and the viewing public.

Option #4: Olbermann’s talents are many, especially his writing ability. A syndicated political column is certainly viable. While he would be great on radio, doing a audio version of Countdown wouldn’t be that interesting or viable in the marketplace. Of course, having a column or radio show could propel him to be a guest on some of the same shows he helped nuture.