Visual source: Newseum
The core of his presidential candidacy under attack, Mitt Romney has yet to shape a playbook to defend a quarter-century in the business world that created great riches for him and great hardship, at times, for some American workers.
Who Won the War Over Cory Booker?
Democrats and Republicans both believe they got the upper hand in the kerfuffle over Cory Booker’s criticism of attacks on Bain Capital.
The president’s surrogates may have backpedaled on their criticism of private equity, however, Mr. Obama brilliantly drew the contrast between his public career and Mr. Romney’s private pursuit of profit—that’s where he wants voters’ attention.
And he certainly was not backing down from an attack the White House sees as critical to his electoral fate. In fact, the president left no doubt that Romney will not get away, as he did in the primaries, with casting his years at Bain Capital as time spent creating jobs. And, as a bonus, the answer provided voters with the clearest explanation yet from the incumbent of what he thinks a president is supposed to do.
Twice in his response, the president insisted that questioning Romney’s days at Bain is “not a distraction,” adding emphatically, “This is what the campaign is going to be about.” He was scornful of Romney’s contention that somehow Bain is out of bounds. Noting that Romney is promising to “fix” the economy, he said, “And if the main basis for him suggesting he could do a better job is his track record as the head of a private equity firm, then both the upsides and the downsides are worth examining.”
Of course, Obama is right, too. If Romney’s going to run on his Bain credentials, then his Bain record is fair game and not a distraction. The record of businessmen in the White House is decidedly mixed, of course. Mining executive Herbert Hoover and agribusinessman Jimmy Carter did well in the private sector … well, you get the point. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were, by some estimates, richer than Romney, although how you compare Monticello to the mansion in Belmont, Mass. is beyond me. Still, it’s worth asking about Bain and a business background in general and Obama is within his right to ask it. Ironically, the Cory Booker confession is a distraction from that real issue.
Finally, I can’t help but think somewhere in a parallel universe Sen. Marco Rubio is going on Fox to clarify his remarks.
Are we talking about Bain? Yes, we are.
But the Republicans were more inclined to blame the Dodd-Frank law itself — tiptoeing past the awkward fact that it hasn’t been in force. Corker predicted that “the American people are going to wake up” and realize “this big Dodd-Frank bill really doesn’t address real-time issues.” Nebraska Republican Mike Johanns added his concern that “regulations become more and more onerous.”
And Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey judged that “we’ve gone down the wrong road” with Dodd-Frank. The better course, he said, is a less intrusive plan that would “let the people in the marketplace make the decisions they will make.”
Sounds nice. But that’s what gave us 2008.
Hmmm. Who’s won that argument?
Father Doesn’t Know Best
Aren’t the contraception-crazed bishops the real pills here?
Polygamy, cloning humans and having an affair took the most morally offensive spots on the list. “Gay or lesbian relations” tied “having a baby outside of marriage,” with 54 percent approving. That’s in the middle of the list, above a 38 percent score for abortion and below a 59 percent score for “sex between an unmarried man and woman.”
The poll appeared on the same day as headlines about Catholic Church leaders fighting President Obama’s attempt to get insurance coverage for contraception for women who work or go to college at Catholic institutions. The church insists it’s an argument about religious freedom, not birth control. But, really, it’s about birth control, and women’s lower caste in the church. It’s about conservative bishops targeting Democratic candidates who support contraception and abortion rights as a matter of public policy. And it’s about a church that is obsessed with sex in ways it shouldn’t be, and not obsessed with sex in ways it should be.
Ross Douthat follows the NY Times conservative path, appearing to lay out the logic of an inclusive Obama policy on contraception and then concluding the opposite in the last paragraph. It’s a technique David Brooks has perfected. In any case, Douthat badly needs to read Maureen Dowd (in his own paper).