Will The Negative Press From Romney’s Foreign Tour Matter In November?

Romney's foreign tour didn't go quite as well as planned, but it's unclear how much the minor gaffes will actually matter.

Mitt Romney’s world tour hasn’t gone exactly the way his campaign likely hoped it would. First, we had the candidate’s comments about London’s preparations for the Olympics which aired on American television the night before he was to meet with the British Prime Minister and other government officials. Justifiably or not, that became the subject of a Fleet Street feeding frenzy the day that the Olympics themselves were set to open. From Britain, Romney went to Israel where he had a largely successful trip although he did cause Palestinian leaders to express public anger over comments he made about the differences between Israel and the West Bank/Gaza andhow that has impacted their respective economies. Quite honestly, though I don’t know if getting the Palestinians angry really constitutes a “gaffe” in an American Presidential election. Finally, there was the incident involving Press Aide Rick Gurka before Romney’s speech in Warsaw today.

Whether it’s true or not, or fair or not, the consensus in the media at this point seems to be that Romney and his campaign flubbed what was supposed to be a pleasant trip for the campaign:

So what’s the best way to view Romney’s overseas trip, which just concluded today in Poland? Since we’re in Olympics season, think of it as a floor exercise in gymnastics. Romney picked a routine with a low degree of difficulty — a cartwheel here (visiting Great Britain), one somersault there (the stop in Israel), and a grand finale featuring a simple back flip (the last leg in Poland). There were some upsides for him: Americans saw him on their TV sets during the opening ceremony at the Olympics; he bonded with Israeli PM Netanyahu; he gave a solid speech in Israel; and got his photo-op with Lech Walesa in Poland. But because the routine was so simple, the mistakes stuck out even more. So as Romney performed his cartwheel in England, he stepped out of bounds when he questioned London’s readiness for the Olympics. He lost additional points for flubbing the end of the somersault in Israel when he tried to explain the economic differences between Israel and the Palestinian Authority through a cultural prism (that may end up offending Mexican Americans as much as he appeared to offend Palestinians). And after sticking his landing in Poland, his campaign got into a spat with the judges — that is, the reporters following him.

That comes from NBC’s First Read so I suppose we can forgive them the generous use of Olympic metaphors there, but it is a fairly accurate summary of how most of the press is viewing the trip, egged on in no small part by the Obama campaign and Democrats such as DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. To be completely honest, the campaign really shouldn’t be surprised about this. In the era of “gotcha” television and the 24 hour gaffe cycle masquerading as news, it was inevitable that any small misstep from the expected was going to be covered as if it were the most important thing ever. Additionally, there’s not much else going on in the campaign right now, so that’s giving them more opportunity to focus on things that, from a distance at least, seem petty and small. Yes, Romney’s Olympic remarks were impolitic, however they were hardly inaccurate, and perhaps his comments about the Palestinians offended them somehow, but to be honest the Palestinians have made an industry out of being offended the past several decades. As for the incident with Gurka this morning, I can’t see how you can hold Romney responsible for that.

The media will continue to talk about these events for a few days, no doubt, but the question is whether any of this will matter in a couple weeks, never mind on Election Day. The Fix notes that there is some potential importance for Romney in the events of the past few days, but that the course this campaign has taken so far suggests that Romney may not have much to worry about:

Call it the commander-in-chief test, which, according to the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, Romney had yet to pass; in that survey 45 percent of respondents said Obama would make the better commander in chief, while just 35 percent said Romney would be superior on that front.

It’s hard to imagine that Romney did himself any favors in answering lingering questions about his foreign policy acumen during this trip.

On the other hand, there is an argument to be made that nothing — literally, nothing — other than than the economy at home matters to undecided voters. And that goes double for foreign policy, which is a bottom-of-mind issue (is that a thing?) for most voters.

In a late May Washington Post-ABC News poll, 1 — yes, one — percent of people said that foreign policy was the most important issue of the 2012 campaign. One!

The problem for Romney coming off of this trip is even many of his staunchest defenders within the party seem to have fallen back on a “he’s not great but he doesn’t need to be great” argument.

While that argument may wind up working — no president since World War II has been reelected with anything close to the 8+ percent unemployment rate Obama is likely to face — it’s not one that will inspire huge amounts of confidence in the GOP as summer turns to fall.

That last part is likely true, but the point remains that the economy is and will remain the top issue in this election. On Friday, we’ll get the July jobs report and, if indications to date are any guide, it seems fairly clear that we will see a continuation of the same trend we have seen since March. Sometime next week, Romney is likely to name is Vice-Presidential running mate. After Friday, there will be three more jobs reports to come out before Election Day, the last one on the Friday before people head to the polls to vote. Does anyone really think that, at that point, people are going to be thinking about the fact that got the British tabloids or the Palestinians angry, or that his press aide cursed out the media one day in late July? That seems unlikely. There are plenty of hurdles that Romney would have to overcome to become President, I discussed some of them yesterday, but minor gaffes in the late summer aren’t likely to be one of them.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    minor gaffes

    Blowing your world stage rollout is minor?

  2. C. Clavin says:

    The only way this matters is that Romney failed in achieving his goal. He wanted to burnish his foreign policy bonafides. Instead he tarnished his foreign policy bonafides.
    Now, the question is if foreign policy bonafides will matter in November. Clearly Romney believes they will because he wanted to burnish his foreign policy bonifides. I assume he knows better than me…so I’ll say yes…it will matter. Romeny and I could both be wrong.
    No matter what Romney thinks…I personally think this trip has hurt his image as a serious person. A candidate wants to project an image of a substantial person qualified to be President…in my eyes he went backwards on that. Others may disagree…that’s why we hold the election.
    Of course Romney’s party…saddled with an un-serious candidate…is intent on limiting the number of people who can vote in that election…but that’s another issue.

  3. David says:

    Will these events change people’s minds on who to vote for? I agree that they will it. However, if his campaign continues to blow these types of things, it will start to have an impact.

  4. How much did a tank ride matter to Dukakis?

    The problem with these things is that any one of them can stick, if people perceive it as emblematic.

  5. Eric J. says:

    How likely is it that anyone who is truly undecided has read a single article about Romney’s trip?

  6. David says:

    Ok, I’m not posting from my phone ever again. I don’t think this will impact a voter’s decision, unless the campaign continues these type of miscues, then it will.

  7. jan says:

    No.

  8. anjin-san says:

    @ Jan

    No, Obama did not say “America is not exceptional.”

    FTFY

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    Drip – Drip – Drip

  10. C. Clavin says:

    “…perhaps his comments about the Palestinians offended them somehow, but to be honest the Palestinians have made an industry out of being offended the past several decades…”

    Seriously??? I know you are a Romney supporter…but c’mon. He took a position built on a foundation of bigotry and you think it’s just Palestinians being easily offended?
    Romeny himself has already tried to walk back the comments.
    The Romney campaign has refused to comment further on the remarks for the NYTimes.
    And yet you still carry tote that water jug…

  11. stonetools says:

    I agree that the economy is paramount in voter’s mind. Indeed, one of my frustrations with the Obama Administration is that they have consistently underestimated just how critical the economy and in particular unemployment is to voters. When faced with an economic crisis, curing the economy and getting down the unemployment rate isn’t just one item in the Presidential agenda. It isn’t even the number one item. Its the ONLY item on the agenda, as far as your re-election hopes are concerned.

    Despite that, Romney’s foreign trip has shown 2 things:

    1. Foreign policy is HARD
    2. The Obama foreign policy team is pretty damn good.

    If you think FP is important at all, then you might want to think hard about replacing a veteran team thats playing .900 ball with the untried Texas Leaguers of a future Romney Administration.

  12. @jan:

    As counter-evidence, I would cite your own mood.

    You just don’t seem too relaxed or happy about the state of the Romney campaign, nor about his public perception.

    You seem kind of crabby.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    @ Jan…
    Please provide the link for when Obama said: ““America is not exceptional.”
    Until then you are simply another liar.

  14. Modulo Myself says:

    If Romney is flat in the polls after the convention, then the media is going to start asking constantly if the voters feel Romney is up to being President. And this trip will definitely be pointed to as indicative of Romney’s place in the voters’ minds.

  15. Jeremy R says:

    This about sums it up, from Roger Simon, Politico’s chief political columnist:

    Mitt Romney should have stayed home

    Maybe Mitt Romney should have just stayed in London and watched the dancing horses.

    Or just stayed home. Even though his recent trip to England was largely a public relations disaster, he made a more serious mistake in his next stop, Israel, and got a major rebuff in his last stop, Poland.

    Romney’s trip abroad in the waning months of this presidential campaign had three goals: establish his credibility on foreign policy while in England, woo the Jewish vote while in Israel and entice Catholic voters while in Poland.

    In retrospect, he should have spent the time in Ohio, Virginia and Florida …

  16. @stonetools:

    So the last time Obama went big with a pragmatic, centrist, accommodating and compromise-ready economic plan, how did that go?

    The sad history is that entirely reasonable things like end of life planning get labeled death panels. A grand bargain that offers far more spending cuts than tax increase gets labeled as big government.

    We may wish the Obama campaign would “go big” with reasonable solutions, but history has shown that to feed the wingnut telegraph.

    Without specifics they have to swing at vague “socialism” and that might have less power than it used to.

  17. Gulliver says:

    No.

  18. C. Clavin says:

    @ C. Clavin from 12:32…
    Romney is not just walking back his comment…he is lying about it and saying he didn’t say it.
    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/07/31/romney-denies-criticizing-palestinian-culture/
    Which I think brings us right back to the wimpy candidate thread from yesterday.

  19. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    Hey I agree with you for most part.I actually think that Obama’s original sin was to go too centrist with the stimulus, in a vain attempt to attract a substantial number of Republican votes. He should have gone the full Krugman and at least tried for a much bigger stimulus. That’s water under the bridge though.

    To win from here , Obama will have to pin the blame for the stalled economy on Republican unreasonableness. He has been unable to do that yet. He will have to do that between now and November.

  20. Modulo Myself says:

    @C. Clavin:

    This is what I don’t understand. He said something about the Palestinians which was pretty inane, but it’s not like Obama or the Obama campaign is going to make a big issue about the Israeli occupation in order to go after Romney. But now he offers this halfwit disclaimer that brings attention to his own inability to stand by anything he does or says.

    Why keep on digging?

  21. Latino_in_Boston says:

    It won’t, of course, except in a drip, drip, drip type of situation, but perhaps not even then because the American electorate simply does not follow these types of things closely and even if they did, they mostly could not care less.

    I so wish it would matter, though. American choices matter for the rest of the world, sometimes in matters of life and death and the latter have no recourse whatsoever.

  22. wr says:

    So Doug — Basically you’re saying that nothing either of the campaigns or candidates does over the next couple of months will have any effect on the election at all? One wonders why they don’t just both give up campaigning and let everyone decide based solely on the job numbers. And yet, they keep going on…

  23. C. Clavin says:

    @ Modulo…
    All I can say is that he is both a weak candidate…and at the same time the best the Republicans have to offer us.
    But actually the Obama campaign did say that his comments affect Romney’s ability to represent the US in the Middle East because:

    “…American credibility and influence in the Middle East depend on us being seen as an honest broker…”

  24. Drew says:

    Jan

    Getting tired of these ticks at OTB yet?

  25. C. Clavin says:

    Hey Drew…How many M&A negotiations did you do today???

  26. DRS says:

    No individual incident matters as much as the impression received from a steady accumulation of incidents that all reinforce a perception: in this case, that Romney’s campaign is not ready for prime time. And nothing that happened in Europe contradicts that perception. He’s got twelve weeks, more or less, to pull his socks up and stop acting like a total amateur.

  27. anjin-san says:

    I think a question that Republicans have to be asking about Romney is “can this guy put a win on the board?” Aside from outlasting the freak show that was the GOP primary field, that is.

  28. James in LA says:

    What will matter most are the lies Mitt Romney himself has told, and the video record of it happening for the past six years he has played at running for President.

    It evidently extends to Twitter:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/07/statistical-probability-that-mitt-romneys-new-twitter-followers-are-just-normal-users-0/260539/

    The electoral college math is deadly, and Mitt lacks the ability as a politician to do anything about it.

  29. Gulliver says:

    @ C. Clavin answering on behalf of Jan

    @ Jan

    Please provide the link for when Obama said: ““America is not exceptional.”
    Until then you are simply another liar.

    Do not attempt to adjust your brain, because we are in control. Presented for your inspection, the curious case of Obama’s stating that America is not exceptional.

    Obama’s April 4, 2009 press conference in Strasbourg, France. Asked about “American exceptionalism,” Obama responded:
    I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.

    In other words, Obama states there is nothing truly exceptional about America, but we love our country as much as any one else loves their country. If the point escapes you – and it probably does because it requires extrapolation and as a liberal you are likely challenged in that ability – then watch the movie “The Incredibles” and listen for the line when the bad guy states ” I’ll make everyone a superhero… and then no one will be a superhero.”

    Meditate on it a bit, and maybe you’ll actually get it. Or, alas, it may be too complicated for you.

  30. @Drew:

    You seem kind of crabby too …

  31. C. Clavin says:

    @ Gulliver…
    A: That does not explain away a quote which does not exist…ipso facto, a lie.
    B. Superheroes (e.g., Batman, Superman, Syndrome) do not exist.
    But thanks for playing.

  32. anjin-san says:

    @ Gulliver

    Are you old enough to remember rabbit ears on TV sets? You know, when you had your little brother hold one of the antennas, and to see the picture the way you wanted to he had to stand on one leg, lean backwards, and touch his nose?

    Kinda like you trying to pretzel logic Obama’s remarks in Strasbourg.

  33. Gulliver says:

    To Jan

    Don’t let these jokers run you off; don’t stop commenting unless you get tired of the cotton-candy emotional logic they offer up as a substitute for reason and decide to find other sources of entertainment.

    Just keep in mind that they’re long on nonsense and understand you’ll know when they can’t respond effectively, because then they just start insulting you. Remember, they’re liberals and they like to feel like they’re making sense, so feed them once in a while and you’ll find that they’re kinda cute when they get really pissed off at you at start throwing tantrums.

  34. C. Clavin says:

    The entire quotation from which Gulliver takes a snippet in an effort to prove a lie:

    “…PRESIDENT OBAMA: I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. I’m enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world. If you think about the site of this summit and what it means, I don’t think America should be embarrassed to see evidence of the sacrifices of our troops, the enormous amount of resources that were put into Europe postwar, and our leadership in crafting an Alliance that ultimately led to the unification of Europe. We should take great pride in that.
    And if you think of our current situation, the United States remains the largest economy in the world. We have unmatched military capability. And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional.
    Now, the fact that I am very proud of my country and I think that we’ve got a whole lot to offer the world does not lessen my interest in recognizing the value and wonderful qualities of other countries, or recognizing that we’re not always going to be right, or that other people may have good ideas, or that in order for us to work collectively, all parties have to compromise and that includes us.
    And so I see no contradiction between believing that America has a continued extraordinary role in leading the world towards peace and prosperity and recognizing that that leadership is incumbent, depends on, our ability to create partnerships because we create partnerships because we can’t solve these problems alone…”

  35. Gulliver says:

    @ C. Clavin

    So… extrapolation proved too difficult for you. Even when the central concept is illustrated in a cartoon.

    Liberalism rots the brain.

  36. Scott O says:

    @john personna: This could be a useful election prediction tool, the Jan crabbiness index.

  37. C. Clavin says:

    No Gulliver…
    Taking a quote out of context in order to change the meaning of the qoute is tantamount to lying.
    If you have to lie in order to make your point…you don’t have a point.
    In other words…you don’t have a point.

  38. Gulliver says:

    @ C. Clavin

    The money quote from your proffered defense that my reference lacks proper “context”.

    Now, the fact that I am very proud of my country and I think that we’ve got a whole lot to offer the world does not lessen my interest in recognizing the value and wonderful qualities of other countries, or recognizing that we’re not always going to be right, or that other people may have good ideas, or that in order for us to work collectively, all parties have to compromise and that includes us.

    Yeah, that makes perfect sense in liberal-speak. Obama thinks were so uniquely exceptional that we should compromise with all parties(nations)involved. Hmmm, does that mean we should always compromise with, say, North Korea? How about Iran? Or maybe the Taliban?

    And this is your proof that he really does think America is exceptional? You might want to walk that one back a bit. Unlike Obama, most Americans don’t have an enormously insecure ego that longs to be “accepted” at the cost of our integrity, security, and dignity.

  39. mattb says:

    @Gulliver: Here’s a better question… What exactly do you mean when you talk about the American Exceptionalism that Obama doesn’t seem to believe in?

    Clearly you think that Liberals don’t understand it. Perhaps you could explain it to us…

    Note, I’m not writing this sarcastically. I’m really interested in your answer…

  40. James in LA says:

    Gulliver lies with the freedom of Mitt Romney.

  41. JKB says:

    Well, if we go by this write up by Walter Russell Mead on what Romney needed to do in Israel, then that visit and the whole trip were a resounding success. His analysis makes sense and a few Palestinians angry at the truth is hardly a price to pay. They were going to be angry anyway. Plus their reaction shores up the pro-Israel bona fides for the US electorate.

    Presidential candidates stressing their pro-Israel positions by supporting hard line Israeli leaders are more likely to be chasing non-Jewish than Jewish votes. In American politics, taking a strong pro-Israel stand is a way of communicating your commitment to American exceptionalism and to American global leadership. While there are plenty of individual exceptions, as a general rule of thumb voters who are skeptical about the value of the US Israel alliance or who have serious concerns about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians are voters who have qualms about the idea that America is an exceptional country with a mandate to change the world. Voters who identify strongly with Israel and want the US to support it tend to favor a strong US national defense and a forward leaning foreign policy.

    For many voters, the perception that President Obama is cool toward Israel strengthens their suspicion that he is somehow cool toward traditional American values and that he is skeptical of the US assuming some kind of transformational world role. Anti-Israel equals pro-Jeremiah Wright.

    By stressing the strength of his emotional and political commitment to Israel, Governor Romney hopes to strengthen his claim to be running as the red-blooded, truly American candidate against what the GOP devoutly hopes voters will see as the cosmopolitan, Europe loving, Israel-criticizing, Noam Chomsky-reading, French-thinking socialist now living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Now you can argue whether the pro-Israel vote is enough to put Romney over the top but between Romney and Obama, there is only one candidate who is strongly pro-Israel.

  42. michael reynolds says:

    Is Mr. Romney telling his own story? Or is he having it told for him by the media, by blogs and by late night comedians?

    So far Romney has this: I am not Obama. Which may well be enough.

    But as C. Clavin points way up-thread, Mr. Romney’s campaign seems to feel the need to broaden that story, and they have so far failed.

    I think it comes down to this in the voting booth:

    a) Obama’s not great but at least he’s trying and Romney doesn’t care about anyone but rich people.

    b) The economy is so bad that we have to give someone else a shot, even if it’s a long shot.

  43. Tsar Nicholas says:

    It’s the stupid, economy.

  44. JKB says:

    As to the other “gaffes” speaking the truth from a unique position of experience might make some unhappy but so what. The Brits have an all out effort going to stop people from negative comments on the games. And if there is a serious security breach, then Romney will be the man who spoke the truth to power and was proven right.

    As for Poland, a staffer got short with reporters hoping to draw the candidate into their spin on this trip. He should realize he needs to be more circumspect before the Obama PR machine but it hardly means much. You think the press is hostile now wait until their guy is looking like a real loser.

  45. MBunge says:

    @JKB: “there is only one candidate who is strongly pro-Israel.”

    What does “pro-Israel” mean, exactly? Doing and saying things that placate the most conservative elements of Israeli society with no regard for the actual consequences for the country as a whole? Is that what it means now?

    Mike

  46. john personna says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    It’s the [global] economy, stupid?

  47. MBunge says:

    @JKB: “And if there is a serious security breach, then Romney will be the man who spoke the truth to power and was proven right.”

    And if there isn’t, then Romney’s just an idiot? Right?

    Mike

  48. Herb says:

    How many of the folks answering “No” to Romney’s (legit) gaffes think that Obama’s (not so legit) “you didn’t build that” gaffe will hurt him?

    My guess: 99%.

  49. john personna says:

    @Scott O:

    You would think they’ be feeling more Win, what with everything being Obama’s fault.

  50. C. Clavin says:

    Gulliver…
    Your sense of the world, and how it works, is clearly grounded in cartoons like the Incredibles.
    Good for you, pumpkin.

  51. Drew says:

    @john personna:

    I’m never crabby. Just observant.

  52. Alanmt says:

    For some people, a single gaffe or unpleasant truth may be the deciding factor against Romney. The dog on the roof story changed some votes. The rich bully orcehstrating a hazing 50 years ago did it for me, fair or not. Of his latest trip, the only thing likely tohave that effect would be his Palestinian remarks, given the growing divide here about Israel’s hard right turn, but ironically, those remarks may also be the deciding factor in his favor amongst certain evangelicals previously lookwarm to his mormonness. Too a few voters for whom foreign policy matter or the otehr few who have strong family ties to British citizens, the London debacle – yes, Doug, debacle! – will make the difference.

    But to the vast majority of voters, the events of this trip will either be ignored, or be tossed into a developing soup of personal political opinion on Romney – a slightly acidic ingredient tending to makethte dish unpalatable, but which may be lost in the overall stew. A lot of such ingredients cost votes, a few are not enough to do so.

    I am quite intrigued by the fact that his blandness made him seem one of the more likeable guys in the crazy GOP primary process, but closer examination now without negative comparison makes him seem very unlikeable. His foreign policy jaunt makes him seem arrogant, tone-deaf, and unintuitive – a classic ugly American.

  53. wr says:

    @Gulliver: If you can’t actually make a political argument without having to quote a cartoon to back you up, odds are you don’t have much of an argument.

  54. Drew says:

    PS

    I have to admit that when I read comments here I chuckle at the notion that I’M crabby. This is one of the greatest collections of malcontents ever assembled.

    Life is short, people, lighten up.

  55. Dave E. says:

    More than half the country has little or no trust in mass media and so the hyper-criticism of Romney’s trip is heavily discounted right off the bat. In fact, it’s been so over the top that it will probably reinforce or add to media distrust more than it will hurt Romney.

  56. Doubter4444 says:

    Obama’s April 4, 2009 press conference in Strasbourg, France. Asked about “American exceptionalism,” Obama responded:
    I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.

    In other words, Obama states there is nothing truly exceptional about America, but we love our country as much as any one else loves their country. If the point escapes you – and it probably does because it requires extrapolation and as a liberal you are likely challenged in that ability – then watch the movie “The Incredibles” and listen for the line when the bad guy states ” I’ll make everyone a superhero… and then no one will be a superhero.”

    Meditate on it a bit, and maybe you’ll actually get it. Or, alas, it may be too complicated for you.

    Wait, wait….. I have “meditated” on it a bit…
    This line: Obama responded:
    I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.

    Is bad… how?
    Is it wrong to love your country more than the US, if you are a Brit, or Greek?
    Are you saying that we are morally, physically, and spritually better inherently because we are born here?
    Are you saying that every other country should bow to our inherent superiority?
    That we are the “best” nation evar!!… No acknowledgment that there have been many other, bigger, stronger, longer lasting empires in the past, all washed away…. but the USA will last forever?
    Because we are..what? Just better?
    By virtue of what exactly?
    Our democratic system?
    Capitalism?
    Blood?

    America is a great nation, and a ideal of hope in a stormy world. I love this country, but I don’t think we, as a people are better than Brits or Greeks or Israelis, or others.
    There are terrible govenments and terrible counrties out there, and they make us look good in comparision.
    But believing in some sort of true “American Exceptionalism” is a fetish, or should be.
    No snark here really – but it’s not a simple idea – that one can love one’s country and the believe it’s the best in the world, while understanding that others can feel similarly in other countries, and that trying to improve what we have (evolution of thought and understanding regarding governmental systems, obligations to citizens and the broader world, and the like) is fundamental to that improvement.
    America is exceptional. It’s a great nation. I think it’s the best one on earth.
    But I’ll understand the pride in their country that a Brit has, or a Korean or a Fijian.

    And I will not claim to special first class status just because I’m an American… or more importantly, I will not expect others to afford me special deference simply because I had the fortune of birth to be born here. And it seems to me that’s what’s being claimed – that we are better than others, by blood.
    And I disagree. Strongly.

    And maybe that’s the gap, and the real rend in talking across party lines these days… the love it or leave it mentality of the 60’s is back in full force in the GOP, caffeinated by the Tea Party.
    Maybe we really are split – with those who need to feel that they are better by blood and those who think we are blessed by circumstance and want to build on that good fortune, not rely on it.

  57. wr says:

    @Alanmt: Here’s the real problem for Romney — this trip was intended to make him look better. He spent a lot of time and money on it at a time when at least the latter is crucial and in short supply. And it hasn’t worked. He’s gotten no good press out of it. Even if most people aren’t paying attention so the gaffes won’t hurt him, the focus on th gaffes means the trip won’t help him.

    That’s another week out of the campaign without advancing his cause one inch. And Doug seems to think that’s not a problem for him. I guess if you can assume that the entire election is a referendum on Obama, that’s true. But for a lot of people, this will be a choice between two candidates. And Romney’s not making himself look any better… on the last day of July. Tick, tick, tick.

  58. C. Clavin says:

    @ JKB…
    That column is…well…nonsense.
    First, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barack told CNN yesterday that Obama has done more for Israeli defense than any other President before him.
    Second, the column is taking about petty politics. The issue that matters is if Romney is capable of being President. Stirring up anger amongst the Palestinians and establishing yourself as a biased participant at any potential negotiating table undermines that capability.
    I think this graph however does describe the un-informed and emotional voters…like you or Jan or Drew:
    “…For many voters, the perception that President Obama is cool toward Israel strengthens their suspicion that he is somehow cool toward traditional American values and that he is skeptical of the US assuming some kind of transformational world role. Anti-Israel equals pro-Jeremiah Wright…”
    I agree with Mead…Romney has the stupid vote locked up.

  59. Davebo says:

    Will The Negative Press From Romney’s Foreign Tour Matter In November?

    Not to Doug. But that doesn’t mean he’s a closeted Republican Damnit!

  60. sam says:

    @JKB:

    Now you can argue whether the pro-Israel vote is enough to put Romney over the top but between Romney and Obama, there is only one candidate who is strongly pro-Israel

    We know who you think that is, but evidently not everyone shares your opinion:

    Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak said the Obama White House has been the most supportive administration throughout the two countries’ diplomatic relations on matters of Israeli security, in an interview to air Monday on “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

    Barak -also a former prime minister of Israel – said that though historically administrations from both political parties have supported the Jewish state President Obama’s support, security-wise, is unparalleled.

    “I think that from my point of view as defense minister they are extremely good, extremely deep and profound. I can see long years, um, administrations of both sides of political aisle deeply supporting the state of Israeli and I believe that reflects a profound feeling among the American people,” said Barak. “But I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past.”[Source]

    But what is the strength of his views in the face of your profound grasp of American-Israeli relations?

  61. Gulliver says:

    @ mattb

    The idea of exceptionalism has at its core the concept of uniqueness in regards to quality or performance. It is the opposite of the notion of being ordinary, or common. But, beyond this idea of just being different, American exceptionalism is related not primarily to its actions, but rather its founding vision and ideas and the functional implementation of those ideas- specifically in how to engage the continual tension between inevitable government excercise of power over the individual and that individual’s rights and freedoms.

    Historically, America has handled this tension exceptionally well despite obvious failings and apart from the current rusht towards Federal overreach into individual freedom. American exceptionalism therefore embodies the reality that there has never been another country in the history of the world whose founding ideas have provided as much freedom, prosperity, and security for its citizens. These concepts empower the citizens to innovate, risk, and most importantly personally benefit from the exceptionalism of the United Sates.

    Recognition of American exceptionalism is recognition, without apology, that this country should not compromise the values that made it truly the greatest nation by promoting some foolish notion that there are other nations which are just as exceptional on the world stage. And we need a leader who is comfortable with that mantle and comfortable promoting the core American ideals and governing concepts that can make the people of any nation more free, more successful, and more secure if they are so inclined.

    Thanks for asking.

  62. PGlenn says:

    To those on here describing Romney’s comments on differences between Isreal and Palestine partly/largely being a result of cultural differences: How do you account for the wide disparities?

  63. rudderpedals says:

    This trip didn’t have to be a series of bad visits. At each unscripted opportunity Mr. Romney seemed unprepared. It won’t kill his chances but it’s going to affect GOTV at least at the margins.

  64. PGlenn says:

    Oops, I meant to ask in the preceding question (at 14:42): Those describing Romney’s comments as “bigoted,” etc. how do you account for the disparities between Isreal and Palestine without reference to cultural differences – i.e., what is your non-bigoted explanation?

  65. slimslowslider says:

    @john personna:

    Doug seems kinda crabby lately, as well.

  66. JKB says:

    @sam: But what is the strength of his views in the face of your profound grasp of American-Israeli relations?

    To bad he said that on CNN where no one will see it. He should have said that on Fox News.

    But if you read Mead’s post, you’d see the people Romney was playing to in Israel probably will never hear or will discount that statement. But they will known that Romney came out in strong support of Israel and that the Palestinians went crazy because he didn’t pander to them. You may not like, C.Clavin sure doesn’t like but the only question is will it turn into votes in November.

  67. Modulo Myself says:

    @PGlenn:

    The fact that the West Bank was basically a refugee camp occupied by the Israeli military until Oslo, and after that it remains a highly segregated security state. See also the blockade of the Gaza Strip. The sort of thing that leads one to conclude that the Palestinians lack power.

    I’m a big government liberal, but I get why people feel that the government, even when it means well, takes away power. But when you look at people in the GOP, most of whom feel that the a one point rise in a marginal rate is a harbinger of tyranny, and how all they have to offer is spleen towards those who suffer actual oppression, you have to discount every bit of crap they say about freedom and liberty.

  68. Gulliver says:

    @wr

    @Gulliver: If you can’t actually make a political argument without having to quote a cartoon to back you up, odds are you don’t have much of an argument.

    The question at hand, if didn’t notice, is about the philosophy that motivates Obama’s politics in relation to Jan’s statement that Obama does not think America is exceptional. Its a philosophical argument. Therefore it requires extrapolation of the underlying philosophy from which Obama governs. Politics are derived from ideas, not the other way around. Or at least, that’s the way it should be.

  69. de stijl says:

    @Davebo:

    I have a theory that there are as many anti-Republicans and anti-Democrats as there are true-blue believing pro-Republicans and pro-Democrats.

    In other words, lots of people look like they are Republicans or Democrats, but actually they opine and vote that way because they despise the other Party, rather than believing that their party’s platform and policies are better for the country.

  70. anjin-san says:

    but I don’t think we, as a people are better than Brits or Greeks or Israelis, or others.

    If one looks into himself and sees no greatness, well, you have to go outside of yourself to find it it. For such people the “USA! USA! USA! brand of conservative jingoism holds great appeal. Its a bit like a middle aged man who is an obsessive sports fan.

  71. C. Clavin says:

    @ PGlenn…
    Bottom line…Palestine is living under a military occupation.
    Bush43 (you remember him, right?) actually believes that Palestinians are particularly entreprenurial.
    Israeli policies disrupt labor and trade flows, industrial capacity, and basic commerce…basically undermining the productive capacity of the Palestinian economy.
    When asked about these things the Romney campaign refused to comment…well except for pretending they never said it.
    Mr. Etch-a-Sketch.

  72. C. Clavin says:

    “…Its a bit like a middle aged man who is an obsessive sports fan…”

    Or a fan of the Invincibles!!!!

  73. PGlenn says:

    @Modulo Myself: I give you credit for making a deft argument, but to do that, you have to make a passive argument.

    The West Bank was basically a refugee camp occupied by the Israeli military until Oslo, and after that it remains a highly segregated security state. See also the blockade of the Gaza Strip. The sort of thing that leads one to conclude that the Palestinians lack power.

    You identify one party, the Israeli military. Yet Israel is a democracy; therefore, its army would occupy territory by the consent of its people.

    Otherwise, who runs the Palestinian security state? Who blockaded the Gaza Strip? Why do the Palestinians lack power?

    Converted from a passive to an active argument, how does your explanation depart from a “it’s the Jews fault!” explanation? Or do the Palestinians share in responsibility for living under a security state, needing to be blockaded, lacking power?

  74. anjin-san says:

    Jan’s statement that Obama does not think America is exceptional

    That’s not what Jan said – she said Obama said “America is not exceptional”

    Do you know what quote marks mean? Or that there is a difference between what you think someone thinks and what they actually say?

  75. C. Clavin says:

    Gulliver…
    Fine…but you can’t get to a man’s philosophy by taking a small snippet of his comments out of context, winding it through some pretzel logic, and equating it to a cartoon.
    If you want to understand something you need to approach it honestly.
    If you want to play team sports you are on the right path.
    .

  76. PGlenn says:

    @C. Clavin: So, are you suggesting that all of the disparities between Israel and Palestine are the Jews fault?

    I doubt that’s what you mean. So, if what you describe accounts for part of the disparities, what accounts for the other part?

  77. Dave E. says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Israeli policies disrupt labor and trade flows, industrial capacity, and basic commerce…basically undermining the productive capacity of the Palestinian economy.

    Yeah, how are those suicide bombers laborers supposed to get to work?

  78. mattb says:

    @Gulliver: Thanks for taking the time to respond. I agree with paragraphs one and two (and they mirror my understanding of exceptionalism).

    Paragraph three I wholly disagree with — both in terms that I have yet to see proof that Mr. Obama has specifically done what you are accusing him of, and further, that an acknowledgement of “British Exceptionalism” for example, as being akin to, but fundamentally different from “American Exceptionalism” some how diminishes our own exceptionalism.

    Is British exceptionalism the same as ours? No. But looking at the long history of the UK — for example — and their transition from indigenous folks and Roman Colonists, to a powerful Monarchy, to the modern British democratic state — it’s difficult for me not to see something exceptional there. Not to mention how the revolutions in British culture paved the way (and often became enshrined within) the fabric of American Exceptionalism.**

    It’s when you make that turn that I have a hard time seeing how American Exceptionalism doesn’t get swapped out for a more jingositic form of patriotism (being American means never having to apologize). Further, it seems to me to fall into the worst trap of more vulgar American Exceptionalist thought on the right — that we don’t have to continue to “earn” our moral superiority every day and with every action.

    It seems to me there is a lot of daylight between taking the position that America is defacto Exceptional and taking the position that the Founding of American and, generally speaking, our historical progression is Exceptional and it’s our job to maintain and grow it.

    The first leads to a sense that in the harsh light of modern day, our exceptionlism is constantly being lost. The second is the sense that against the harsh light of modern day, our status as exceptional must constantly be earned.

  79. mattb says:

    Ok… no idea why that ended up in the cue.. little help Mod’s?

  80. john personna says:

    @mattb:

    The problem is, when you start totalling up the exceptionalisms (Roman, Japanese, Mayan) it starts to look like many people get a turn in the sun.

    I think narrow(*) rightists want there to be only one. For them it is true exceptionalism.

    * – and poorly educated

  81. john personna says:

    @this:

    That strict exceptionalism is bound to fundamentalism is not coincidence.

    They arr mutually reinforcing.

  82. C. Clavin says:

    @ PGlenn…
    At one end of the spectrum there is your mock inference from what I typed that

    “…all of the disparities between Israel and Palestine are the Jews fault?”

    At the other end of the spectrum is Republican fetish that those who are rich owe that success solely to their own hard work and strong values, and those who are poor have themselves to blame.
    Ive never been to Palestine and, as far as I am aware, I don’t know any Palestinians. Certainly a military occupation would put a damper on all but the most determined enterprenuerial spirit. I’m guessing their plight lies far more in oppression than in culture…and that their culture is largley influenced by their occupation. I don’t know enough to judge to what degree. I suspect neither do you. The point is that we don’t know what Romney thinks because when asked he refused to answer the question. And the fact that he is now denying he ever said it speaks volumes.

  83. mattb says:

    @john personna:

    The problem is, when you start totalling up the exceptionalisms (Roman, Japanese, Mayan) it starts to look like many people get a turn in the sun.

    I appreciate that point. And I don’t want to argue that we are all necessarily special snowflakes.

    But whatever claim we have to being exceptional is based upon the past and acted out within today’s actions. The problem is that all of this talking about how “exceptional” we are kinda misses the point that the moment we stop acting in an “exceptional” fashion we are no longer earning the title.

    I cut my teeth at Kodak. And it’s a company that had an exceptional history (and all things considered a very long run for a tech company). And they were and continue to do exceptional things. But the amount of doing “exceptional” things (during my years) was far outweighed by the amount people were *talking* about how exceptional a company they were and how that past guaranteed some sort of exceptional future.

    I humbly submit the results of putting concerns about talk ahead of action.

  84. al-Ameda says:

    @Gulliver:
    Translation for Jan: “you must be as surprised as I am that not every blog on the Internet is replete with conservative talking points.”

  85. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @PGlenn: After much loud guffawing, I can only ask: You do realize that in the Gaza strip, they can’t even get concrete? What can you build without concrete? Evidently, not even a decent economy.

    @Dave E.:

    Yeah, how are those suicide bombers laborers supposed to get to work?

    Yeah, which are so much more effective than the Israeli helicopter gun ships….

    And just for the record, the tit for tat suicide bombings and missile strikes etc are good only for perpetuating them. Something certain segments of both societies want.

  86. C. Clavin says:

    @ Mattb and Gulliver…
    Exactly…Gullivers first two paragraphs made sense…and in fact were totally in line with what Obama actually said.
    Then paragraph three goes all jingoistic.

  87. @mattb:

    I would frame it differently. There are a few ways for nations to succeed and a great many more ways for them to fail. You are focusing on the ways we’ve succeeded, and crediting “American Exceptoinalists” in thinking along those lines. I don’t believe they are. It is, or has become, a sullen exceoptionalism. It is “my way is just as good as yours,” said as a pout, when you know things aren’t going as well as you’d like.

    Why can’t we have a Post Office that works? We’re exceptional, that’s why!

  88. Just to cite the contradiction on an axis “exceptoinalists” shoud understand, up above Gulliver talked about our founding freedoms. What does it mean, what does exceptoinalism mean, when Heritage only ranks the US as 10th on economic freedom?

    What does it mean when “freer” nations have a national health care?

    And we can’t because we’re exceptional?

  89. PGlenn says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: the Gaza blockade began in 2001 and was ramped-up in 2007. Seeing as the disparities between Israel and the Palestinian areas predated 2001, how do we explain that?

  90. Gulliver says:

    @ anjin-san

    Do you know what quote marks mean? Or that there is a difference between what you think someone thinks and what they actually say?

    Now, coming from a liberal, this is truly, truly rich. The party that constantly trumpets “conservastives are racist ” – because progressives know what we “really” mean when we say things about the way Obama governs – displays its trademark juvenile arrogance and thinks it is a position to lecture about the difference between statements and the thoughts that are behind them.

    Please see earlier post about liberals steadily turning themselves into caricatures. Take notes. Learn.

  91. dennis says:

    I have no illusions this will be picked up by average Americans. They are too focused on hating Obama. I even had a friend say, “We picked the wrong Black guy. We should’ve picked Allen West.” Of course, my response was, “Are you F#%$@ kidding me???”

  92. C. Clavin says:

    @ Gulliver…
    Republicans aren’t racist.
    Racists are Republicans.
    Also – todays Republicans are not Conservative. Obama is the only Conservative in this race.

  93. anjin-san says:

    @ Gulliver

    Take notes. Learn.

    Is this your way of telling us you are a 19 year old with an exaggerated sense of his own importance?

  94. C. Clavin says:

    Get a load of this…
    Harry Reid is claiming that a Bain investor told him Romney has paid no taxes for 10 years.
    Now that is hearsay…clearly and unquestionably.
    But think about it…

  95. Gulliver says:

    @ john Personna

    What does it mean, what does exceptoinalism mean, when Heritage only ranks the US as 10th on economic freedom?

    What does it mean when “freer” nations have a national health care?

    And we can’t because we’re exceptional?

    I’ll answer these in order:

    1) Heritage gives the US a lower economic freedom rating related to, ironically, all the things y’all are pushing – primarily excessive debt, and less investing freedom. The lower rating is because of your pet policies. So stop it.

    2) Freedom isn’t related to getting stuff for free. There is no correlation. If you don’t get that, there is no sense in stating anything further on the subject.

    3)

  96. C. Clavin says:

    This Reid thing is beautiful.
    If it’s not true Romney will have to release his taxes to prove it.
    If it is true Romney will be sunk…immediately.
    And if it manages to play out before the convention???
    Holy crap…
    Is Reid really this Machievellian?

  97. Dave E. says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: One of the ways that Palestinians have screwed their own economic interests was the use of suicide bombers to the point that Israel had to build a wall to seal off the West Bank.

    The tit for tat might end and their economic prospects improve if Palestinians would recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Until then, they will remain mired in their culture of death and the unsurprising poverty and corruption that goes with it.

  98. wr says:

    @Dave E.: “One of the ways that Palestinians have screwed their own economic interests was the use of suicide bombers to the point that Israel had to build a wall to seal off the West Bank. ”

    Yes, Israel simply had to build that wall. Next up, how Nicole Simpson forced OJ to kill her by her own bad behavior. Oh, and all those rapists behind bars? They couldn’t help it — those sluts asked for it by wearing short skirts. Because we all know that the party acting in punitive, malicious ways is neverresponsible for those actions; they were always forced into it. Bullies are the real victims.

    Why, those rascally Palestinians are so sneaky they even forced Israel to build the wall in such a way as to steal land and build new suburbs there! Man, they’re wiley!

  99. mattb says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Flag on the field…

    Racists are Republicans.

    Sorry, step way too far. I have know a number of (currently) racist democrats and liberals in my time. Also, judging from voting patterns in 2004 and 2008, one might think there were a few racist Democrats (at least in the South) that couldn’t pull the level for a Black Man at the top of the ticket.

  100. mattb says:

    @Gulliver:

    because progressives know what we “really” mean when we say things about the way Obama governs – displays its trademark juvenile arrogance and thinks it is a position to lecture about the difference between statements and the thoughts that are behind them.

    God, for the last time most progressives, liberals, whatever, rarely — if ever — say Republicans/Conservatives are racist for their policy objections.

    On the other hand, when they start posting racist stuff — pictures of watermellons at the White House, using terms like Thugz and Gangstas at the White House, suggesting that Obama is an Affirmative Action president, supporting conspiracy theories that he’s not American, talking about drinking 40ies with the President, talking about his “anti-colonial” world view, that he doesn’t have “an American” background, talking about how he hates white people, how he’s the “food stamp” president — that’s the shit we call racist.

    Stick with the policy stuff and you’re fine.

    Or… better yet, actually find evidence of a mainstream liberal or progressive voices reacting to policy critique with accusations of racism and then you might have a point.

  101. @Gulliver:

    You are arguing that we are exceptional, except we’re not? Now because of debt?

    Isn’t that what I’ve been calling you on? Sullen exceptionalism?

    Someone should “stop it” so we can be exceptional again? Except we always are?

    (I don’t know why you are talking to me about free stuff … oh wait. A comprehensive healthcare for all citizens is “free stuff” and bad for that reason? Even if it is cheaper and healthier than what we have? That’s exceptional thinking all right.)

  102. Dave E. says:

    @wr: Wow. What a steaming pile of false equivalence. What would you have the Israelis do, bow down to the murderers?

  103. Dave E. says:

    @mattb: Voter ID is one policy issue that has been met with a huge number of accusations of racism against Republicans. On the flip side, you have accusations from Republicans of Democrats trying to steal elections. I think both sides have genuine policy concerns that could be addressed if everyone would set aside the charges of ill intent and make a real effort to meet each other’s concerns..

  104. anjin-san says:

    Where does anyone get the idea that Republicans are racist?

    TALLAHASSEE — In a wide-ranging deposition that spanned two days in late May, former Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer denounced some party officials as liars and “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies” as he described turmoil in the months before his resignation.

    Greer said some GOP leaders were meeting to discuss ways they could suppress black votes

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/jim-greer-denounces-florida-republican-party-officials-as-liars-and/1242157

  105. anjin,

    Ah yes, Richard Greer the same many accused of misuse of party credit cards and other charges.

    A totally credible source.

    Swing. Miss.

  106. C. Clavin says:

    @ MattB….
    You are right…I was being lazy.
    Racists are most likely to be Republican.

  107. anjin-san says:

    @ Doug

    If a little corruption renders a politician useless as a source, it is going to get real quite in here, real quick. I’ve know a lot of politicians over the years, R & D, at the local, state, and national levels. The ones that I consider to be true straight shooters, I can count on one hand.

  108. anjin-san says:

    Swing. Miss.

    That does not sound any less lame then when you trotted it out the other day.

  109. rudderpedals says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “…Greer (isn’t) credible…”.

    That’s the hope. He was extremely well connected and knows where the bodies are buried.

  110. wr says:

    @Dave E.: “What would you have the Israelis do, bow down to the murderers? ”

    Yes, because all Palestinians are murderers intent on their destruction. They’re not even human, and so don’t deserve the dignity of human life. Maybe the noble Israelis should just kill them all.

    Or maybe the world isn’t neatly divided into good guys and bad guys the way you want it to be. Not that I want to make your little head explode by introducing the notion of moral complexity into it. Go back and live in your Star Wars world where your team is purely heroic and the other guys are completely evil.

  111. Dave E. says:

    @wr:

    Yes, because all Palestinians are murderers intent on their destruction. They’re not even human, and so don’t deserve the dignity of human life. Maybe the noble Israelis should just kill them all.

    Your words, not mine. You apparently can’t even answer my question.

  112. bk says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Ah yes, Richard Greer the same many accused of misuse of party credit cards and other charges.

    A totally credible source.

    Swing. Miss.

    Right. Because, as you know, there is no downside to lying in a deposition. Under oath.

  113. bk says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Is Reid really this Machievellian?

    Yep.

  114. Me Me Me says:

    We now now that:
    1) Romney can’t speak without a script;
    2) Romney lacks the basic competence to assemble a basically competent staff;
    3) Romney doesn’t inspire warmth and confidence in quiet rooms;
    4) Romney is willing to tie himself to positions that are inimical to America’s foreign policy interests in return for cash.

    Why should any of that matter?

  115. An Interested Party says:

    …so feed them once in a while and you’ll find that they’re kinda cute when they get really pissed off at you at start throwing tantrums.

    An interesting comment because, as John Personna noted, it is people like Jan and Drew who seem angry and are throwing the tantrums…

    You think the press is hostile now wait until their guy is looking like a real loser.

    The Conservative Victimhood Tour continues…

  116. mattb says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Racists are most likely to be Republican.

    Clearly we’ve met very different people or have a different definition of racism.

    At best I’d say that explicit racism is more protected with conservative media.

    However, (and I hang out, work and live in very liberal settings) implicit racism is very much alive and well (and often equally excused) in progressive quarters.

    And, frankly, I’m beginning to think that the hidden enemy is far more dangerous than the one you can see.

  117. mattb says:

    @Gulliver: In hopes of a more productive conversation, perhaps you could also unpack the following comment:

    The question at hand, if didn’t notice, is about the philosophy that motivates Obama’s politics in relation to Jan’s statement that Obama does not think America is exceptional.

    What exactly do you mean by Obama’s Philosophy. Can you point to some hard examples of how he comes from or subscribes to a philosophy that is at odds with American Exceptionalism?

  118. mattb says:

    @Dave E.:

    Voter ID is one policy issue that has been met with a huge number of accusations of racism against Republicans.

    Fair… And admittedly, I have a hard time not seeing a racial component to this — though it’s ultimately about winning the Whitehouse (it’s just people of color have gotten in the way).

    I also think that strong arguments can be made for the racist component of this (or rather the fact that it specifically targets groups which happen to traditionally vote democratic and are also minorities). First it’s the number of swing states that are enacting this legislation. Second it’s the choice, in a number of cases to run this for the first time during a (close) Presidential election.

    And, of course, there are explicit claims from ex-Republicans about the racial component:

    Ex-Chair: GOP Seeks Voter Suppression

    Jim Greer, the former chairman of the Florida Republican Party, testified in a lawsuit filed against his former party that voter ID and Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) voter roll purge are attempts to suppress the black vote. Describing a 2009 meeting he attended with the party’s general counsel, two consultants and ex-Gov. Charlie Crist’s chief of staff, Greer said, “I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting.” Greer is facing criminal fraud charges involving his tenure as party chair. He sued over a severance agreement that allegedly has not been fulfilled by the Florida GOP.

    http://www.drudge.com/news/159371/ex-chair-gop-seeks-voter-suppression

    Admittedly the credibility of this individual is compromised by legal action. But he hasn’t been the first Republican or ex-Republican to raise this claim.

  119. mattb says:

    @Dave E.: One other point on election reform and Republican fears of tampering. I would be far more open to the Republican position if these same states had enacted sweeping reforms to absentee balloting, which has a far higher proven rate of fraud than actual in-person voting.

    I would feel better if these laws went into effect next year (2013) in order to given them three years to be tweaked in Statewide elections before they went national.

    Finally, I would feel the most better if the DMV wasn’t the primary means for gaining the appropriate free ids. But this ties into the previous point…

  120. jan says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I think your eyesight may have problems, as I’ve only posted one word today, saying “no” in reponse to the question of this thread —> “Will the negative press from Romney’s foreign tour matter in November.”

    You talked about some kind of ‘exceptionalism comment,’ which I think can be attributed to your friend, anjin. He’s the one who brought it up, not me.

    Now you can apologize for calling me a liar.

    anjin-san says:

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 12:31

    @ Jan

    No, Obama did not say “America is not exceptional.”

    FTFY

  121. mattb says:

    @C. Clavin: One other point… speaking as someone who identifies as a left-leaning independent and explicitly not-racist, I have to also cop to having been/being one of the “I’m not a racist but end up saying/believing a lot of implicitly racist things.”

    It took some very cool, honest, and patient people to point out a lot of my blind spots. And once you start to understand what was implicit in what you were saying (or how you had acted in the past)… man, you realize that there’s a LOT more racism out there than you ever knew (unless of course you were/are a person of color… and then you have a very different perspective).

  122. mattb says:

    @jan:

    You talked about some kind of ‘exceptionalism comment,’ which I think can be attributed to your friend, anjin. He’s the one who brought it up, not me.

    You are right in that you didn’t bring the exceptional comment up IN THIS THREAD. However, you did explicitly use that as part of an argument in the past:

    @Jan on Saturday, July 14, 2012 at 11:39:
    I now understand Obama’s original comments about this country “not being exceptional.” It was less a statement of fact than a voiced intention of his goals, to bring people down to where they indeed were weak, divisive, demoralized, unemployed and beholding to him for even more government food stamps in order to put bread on their tables.

    Since that date, a number of people have asked you to back up that statement… repeatedly… across multiple threads. Now, one can argue many of those callings out were off topic.

    This one — however — is clearly on topic, since it came up in the context of the claim that Obama doesn’t believe this country to be exceptional.

    So, while it’s true you didn’t mention it on this thread, pretending that you have no idea where anyone could possibly get the idea that you held that position seem to be a bit of fibbing.

  123. Dave E. says:

    @mattb:

    First it’s the number of swing states that are enacting this legislation. Second it’s the choice, in a number of cases to run this for the first time during a (close) Presidential election.

    Neither of those are proof of racism. As far as Mr. Greer, call me when he has some backup to his allegations.

    I have a number of criticisms of Republican efforts, particularly because I remember just how hard it was to maintain a valid photo ID back in my late teens and early twenties when I was moving around a lot. I’m also sick of Democrats who scream racism at very reasonable efforts to verify residency at the polls(see Ohio’s rules).

  124. Dave E. says:

    @mattb:

    … man, you realize that there’s a LOT more racism out there than you ever knew (unless of course you were/are a person of color… and then you have a very different perspective).

    True. I’ve met plenty of persons of color who knew full well that racists come in all colors. The only clueless one’s they or I ever met were politically correct white people.

  125. anjin-san says:

    I’ve met plenty of persons of color who knew full well that racists come in all colors. The only clueless one’s they or I ever met were politically correct white people.

    So you can speak for the “persons of color” you have met? Are you a mind reader?

    Run along skippy. On second thought, stick around. You and Jan will have lots to talk about.

  126. Dave E. says:

    @anjin-san:

    So you can speak for the “persons of color” you have met? Are you a mind reader?

    Hahaha…What, skippy, you’ve never heard a man of color rip on some other race for no reason other than his own prejudice? You need to get out more, boy.

  127. mattb says:

    @Dave E.:

    Neither of those are proof of racism.

    Not necessarily. But the fact that the majority of people that this legislation threaten to disenfranchise happen to be *black* (and members of other minority groups) is something you seem reluctant to concede.

    And what should we call legislation — created out (at best) a moral panic with very little evidence to support it — that threatens to disenfranchise large groups of minority voters. It may not be racist in intent, but I have a hard time seeing how its not, at the very least, potentially racist in execution.

    @Dave E.:

    The only clueless one’s they or I ever met were politically correct white people.

    Ahh… so you’re saying that the explicit racists that they encountered were all from the right then. (ok… low blow… and not one I believe in).

    Glad we can at least agree on Rush Limbaugh. (That I do believe)

    More seriously, and no offense, I’ve known a LOT of clueless conservative racists (especially those of the “there’s no way that Rush Limbaugh can be a racist… he has a black producer for god sakes!” or “our blacks are better than their blacks” or “what’s wrong with saying the N-word… for god’s sake rappers do it all the time” variety). Most of those folks are very nice people, and would never think of themselves as racists… but just as clueless as the Liberals I was mentioning earlier.

  128. anjin-san says:

    @ Dave E.

    I think I can safely say I have spent more time in the home of black families than most white folks, probably quite a bit more. And since my wife is asian, I think I have that covered too.

    boy

    Internet tough guys are invariably pussies in real life. Put that together with how stupid you sound, and its a bad combination – one that explains the large chip that is obviously resting on your shoulder. No wonder “skippy” touched a nerve.

  129. anjin-san says:

    @ Jan

    Busted

  130. Dave E. says:

    @anjin-san: Blah, blah, blah. You are the one who is being insulting and trying to come off as the tough guy. If you truly have the multi-racial experience you claim then you know that racism crosses all racial boundaries. Why are you so defensive about that?

  131. Dave E. says:

    @mattb: You disappoint me, matt. I thought we could find some common ground on the Voter ID issue, but if you are going to stick with the racism thing anyway then it seems pretty pointless to continue.

  132. anjin-san says:

    you know that racism crosses all racial boundaries.

    Yes I do, and I never said otherwise. What is laughable here is your this statement – let me break it down for you:

    I’ve met plenty of persons of color who knew full well that racists come in all colors. The only clueless one’s they or I ever met were politically correct white people.

    So you somehow KNOW that the ONLY clueless racists that some colored folks were “politically correct white people.” You have profound insight into their entire life experience.

    Words mean things. In this case, I think they mean we don’t have to take you seriously.

  133. No one ever convinced me that without US subsidies Israel would be able to fend off invasions from Arab nations while keeping a relatively high standard of living.

  134. Dave E. says:

    @anjin-san: Okay, here’s my mistake:

    The only clueless one’s they or I ever met were politically correct white people.

    It should have been written as:

    “The only clueless ones that didn’t realize that, that they or I ever met, were politically correct white people.”

    And it’s true. I’ve met some pretty mean racists of all colors over the years. The only people I’ve met who seriously deny that people of color can be racist, though, have universally been liberal white people.

  135. wr says:

    @Dave E.: I’m sorry for putting your strong implication into words. What you think is really kind of ugly when you have to look at it in type, isn’t it?

  136. David M says:

    @Dave E.: One thing that might clear up the current voter ID situation. Do you support the voter ID laws the GOP are passing right now, as they are written?

  137. wr says:

    @jan: Apparently in Jan-world, she is only responsible for the things she says today. Everything she’s said before that is now inoperable, and it is rude to bring it up.

    And she’s got a point. After all, it’s not like she means anything she says. She’s just repeating whatever right wing calumny is popular at the moment. Imagine the pain if she actually had to remember them after typing them out.

  138. Dave E. says:

    @wr: You should be sorry for trying to put words in my mouth. Care to answer my question?

  139. de stijl says:

    From TPM:

    Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R) said that the voter ID law passed by the legislature would help deliver the state for Mitt Romney in November.

    “Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done,” Turzai said at this weekend’s Republican State Committee meeting , according to PoliticsPA.com.

    A spokesman for Turzai confirmed the accuracy of the quote for TPM but argued that people were reading too much into it.

    “The fact is that while Pennsylvania Democrats don’t like it to be talked about, there is election fraud,” Turzai spokesman Stephen Miskin told TPM. “Protecting the integrity of an individual vote is the purpose of any election reform.

    Also from TPM:

    The state signed a stipulation agreement with lawyers for the plaintiffs which acknowledges there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.”

    Additionally, the agreement states Pennsylvania “will not offer any evidence in this action that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania and elsewhere” or even argue “that in person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absense of the Photo ID law.”

    Emphasis is mine.

  140. Dave E. says:

    @David M: Which ones, David? The ones that focus on simple proof of residency, for example a rental agreement or utility bill, don’t seem too harsh to me. Picture ID seems a little more difficult.

  141. de stijl says:

    From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

    More than 758,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania do not have photo identification cards from the state Transportation Department, putting their voting rights at risk in the November election, according to data released Tuesday by state election officials.

    The figures – representing 9.2 percent of the state’s 8.2 million voters – are significantly higher than prior estimates by the Corbett administration. Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele has repeatedly said that 99 percent of Pennsylvania’s voters already had the photo ID they will need at the polls in November.

    The new numbers, based on a comparison of voter registration rolls with PennDot ID databases, shows the potential problem is much bigger, particularly in Philadelphia, where 186,830 registered voters – 18 percent of the city’s total registration – do not have PennDot ID.

  142. Scott O says:

    @Dave E.: Hey look, we may have found some actual vote fraud. But it was done by absentee ballot so ID laws wouldn’t have prevented it.

    http://www.azcentral.com/community/pinal/articles/2012/07/25/20120725pinal-supervisor-hopeful-enright-quits.html

  143. Dave E. says:

    @Scott O: You have some kind of point?

  144. Scott O says:

    @Dave E.: Yes. Can you guess what it is?

  145. Dave E. says:

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

  146. C. Clavin says:

    It’s nice to see Jan double down on her lie…and get busted.
    Will she own up to it?

  147. C. Clavin says:

    @ C. Clavin from 15:22…
    Now Romney has reversed himself again…claiming culture is the only reason for the disparity between Israel and Palestine.
    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/312830/culture-does-matter-mitt-romney

    “…But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture?”

    He fails to acknowledge any other factors…like a decades long military occupation for instance. He talks about freedom…but fails to concieve of the fact that Palestinians are not actually free…and suffer under restrictions to moavement and trade.
    So not only is he dishonest by omission about the reality of the Israel/Palestine comparison…he has reversed himself twice.
    I fail to see how an intellectually rigorous examination of this man would allow anyone to support him for President.
    Doug? James?

  148. C. Clavin says:

    A much more in depth review of Romney’s Culture obsession…in two parts.
    (This should really appeal to Doug’s “Both Sides Do It” fetish.)
    http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/07/mitt-romneys-theory-of-everything.html
    http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/07/romneys-historical-misunderstanding-continued.html

    “…Romney is obsessed with a theory of world history he does not appear to grasp. And this seems to confirm a general pattern of Romney picking out very good books and completely misunderstanding them…”

  149. jukeboxgrad says:

    It’s nice to see Jan double down on her lie…and get busted.
    Will she own up to it?

    A key part of the wingnut ethic is to never own up to anything. This is why Mitt’s book is called “No Apology.”

  150. Me Me Me says:

    When is Mitt going to inform Irish Americans that the culture of their homeland is inferior to that of Britain?

  151. mattb says:

    @Dave E.:

    You disappoint me, matt. I thought we could find some common ground on the Voter ID issue, but if you are going to stick with the racism thing anyway then it seems pretty pointless to continue.

    Ahh… see, we agree on something…

    I was about to say the same thing about your inability to acknowledge all of the myriad issues with the implementation of the Voter ID policies, the lack of evidence of actual in-person voter fraud (versus the far more provable and not addressed by most Republicans issue of Absentee Voter Fraud), and the evidence that (whether intentional or not) this will overwhelmingly affect minorities as the reason that continuing this conversation is pointless.

  152. mattb says:

    @Dave E.:

    I’m also sick of Democrats who scream racism at very reasonable efforts to verify residency at the polls(see Ohio’s rules).

    Let me acknowledge that Ohio has one of the better systems for poll identification:

    Ohio’s valid ids:
    – Current and valid photo identification, defined as a document that shows the individual’s name and current address, includes a photograph, includes an expiration date that has not passed, and was issued by the U.S. government or the state of Ohio
    – Current utility bill
    – Current bank statement
    – Current government check, paycheck or other government document

    It’s still problematic in my mind, and has huge gaps — especially for younger voters who don’t have a driver’s license and individuals who are not the head of household (is sharing the last name of a utility bill enough to prove residency?).

    Beyond the issue of explicit or implicit racism, I have a hard time seeing how anyone can continue to argue for disenfranchising voters in the face of minimal actual evidence of voter fraud.

    And again, you continue not to address the glaring issue of absentee ballot fraud (which is far more prevalent). Of course, absentee ballots tend to favor Republicans, so it’s understandable why they might turn a blind eye towards that issue.

  153. mattb says:

    @mattb:
    Need to correct myself on the Ohio thing. The site I initially checked had a less inclusive listing of valid id than the site for the Secretary of State. Here’s what’s valid in Ohio:

    – A current and valid photo identification card issued by the State of Ohio or the United States government; or
    – A military identification (“military ID”); or
    – An original or copy of a current utility bill; or
    – An original or copy of a current bank statement; or
    – An original or copy of a current government check; or
    – An original or copy of a current paycheck; or
    – An original or copy of a current other government document, other than a voter registration acknowledgement notification mailed by the board of elections, that shows the voter’s name and current address.

    As I said, it’s far better than the “photo id” states. But limiting it to just a ultility bill is really problematic for people who are not the heads of the household and lack the other forms of ID.

  154. anjin-san says:

    @ Jan

    Now you can apologize for calling me a liar.

    Actually, since you doubled down on your lie, I am going to call you a bald faced, completely full of it liar. The kind who lies, and then whines about being called on it.

    Everyone is on to you hon.

  155. Scott O says:

    Another example of possible vote fraud. Also done by absentee ballot. Hmm, two recent cases of alleged fraudulent voting by a Republican. I’m starting to see a pattern here.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/02/2926694/sister-of-absentee-voter-denies.html