Joe Speaks

Yesterday Vice President Joe Biden got carried away and maybe used an unfortunate turn of phrase, but, as usual Joe spoke honestly and told the truth.  And how do I know he told the truth?  Just look at Mitt Romney’s reaction.

So what did Joe actually say?  According to the Washington Post

Campaigning in southern Virginia on Tuesday, Vice President Biden told an audience that Mitt Romney’s approach to regulating the financial industry will “put y’all back in chains,” a remark that triggered a flurry of Republican criticism, including a sharp rebuke from the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

“Look at their budget and what they’re proposing,” Biden said. “Romney wants to let the – he said in the first hundred days, he is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street. They are going to put y’all back in chains.”

This set off a firestorm.  Joe walked back the remark a little, but basically stood by what he said.   Mitt Romney went a little nuts.  (and, according to the Daily Kos, a scripted nuts since Mitt used a teleprompter).  The New York Times put it this way

Standing in front of a stately town hall here in central Ohio, under a giant banner that read “Victory in Ohio,” Mr. Romney called Mr. Biden’s claim “another outrageous charge.”

“This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like,” he said.

In a personal dig that he wrote at the last minute Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Romney told the president to “take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America.”

The Times also reported that the White House stood by the Biden remarks.

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney is seen in a tele prompter reflection waiting to speak to supporters at the Chillicothe Victory rally in Chillicothe, Ohio August 14, 2012.    REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES)

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney is seen in a tele prompter reflection waiting to speak to supporters at the Chillicothe
Victory rally in Chillicothe, Ohio August 14, 2012.  Photograph by Shannon Stapleton.
 
So what are we to make of all this?  The campaign is going to get very ugly.  I think the Democrats are right to let Joe Biden be the attack dog and hopefully let President Obama be above the fray. But on a fundamental level, Joe Biden is right.  The impact of the Republican proposals is on the poor even more that on the middle class.  And the poor are still to a great extent people of color who understood what Joe was saying. 
 
 

So much for the selection of Paul Ryan as the veep nominee as the end of the petty bickering and the start of the campaign of “big ideas.” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul claims that “President Obama’s campaign keeps sinking lower.” What was the offense? Vice President Biden said the word “chains.”

In tone and bite, Biden is to the Obama campaign what John Sununu is to the Romney campaign. Only the vice president is polished and likeable. Biden was speaking at a Virginia rally that the Associated Press reports “included hundreds of black people,” and he warned the assembled that Romney wanted to do away with the post-2008 regulations on Wall Street. “Unchain Wall Street,” Biden said. “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.” Yeah, that was wince-worthy. It shall join all the others on the Biden blooper reel. But the high dudgeon of the Romney campaign is rather precious.

This is the campaign that seemed perfectly fine with Sununu saying he wished the president “would learn to be an American.”

This is the campaign that has been mute in the face of Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) hyperbolic assertion that Obama would “rather you be his slave.”

This is the campaign that is allowing Newt Gingrich to host “Newt University” at the Tampa convention this month. The former House speaker is fond of calling Obama a “food stamp president.”A wicked phrase that has more racial baggage than a klansman’s El Camino.

This is the campaign of the candidate who uttered the equally racially fraught “if they want more stuff from government … more free stuff” when talking to supporters in Montana about what he told the NAACP about his desire to repeal Obamacare.

Let’s all be honest.  This is a campaign about race.  There is a black man in the White House.  The Republican’s are fighting a last ditch battle to maintain a white majority in the United States electorate.  We see this in the allegations of voter fraud and the purging of voter rolls.  We see this in the audiences that surround Mitt and Paul Ryan.  Yes, this is an election about economic policy and jobs, but the subtext is always race.

 
 

After Health Care Reform Passage – Threats of Violence

Before the House even completed its work on passage of the Senate Bill and then the Reconciliation Bill, the ugliness had begun to escalate.

OK, so VP Biden kinda embarrassed the President with an F-bomb, but that was small potatoes compared with the racial remarks aimed at black Congressmen, the anti-gay shouts at Barney Frank, and a Congressman shouting “baby killer” at Bart Stupak (one of the most anti-abortion members of Congress) over the weekend. And it is certainly insignificant compared to what has happened since.

Bob Herbert titled his New York Times column “An Absence of Class.”  I think he was being too kind.  But what he says rings very true.

A group of lowlifes at a Tea Party rally in Columbus, Ohio, last week taunted and humiliated a man who was sitting on the ground with a sign that said he had Parkinson’s disease. The disgusting behavior was captured on a widely circulated videotape. One of the Tea Party protesters leaned over the man and sneered: “If you’re looking for a handout, you’re in the wrong end of town.”

Another threw money at the man, first one bill and then another, and said contemptuously, “I’ll pay for this guy. Here you go. Start a pot.”

In Washington on Saturday, opponents of the health care legislation spit on a black congressman and shouted racial slurs at two others, including John Lewis, one of the great heroes of the civil rights movement. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was taunted because he is gay.

At some point, we have to decide as a country that we just can’t have this: We can’t allow ourselves to remain silent as foaming-at-the-mouth protesters scream the vilest of epithets at members of Congress — epithets that The Times will not allow me to repeat here.

It is 2010, which means it is way past time for decent Americans to rise up against this kind of garbage, to fight it aggressively wherever it appears. And it is time for every American of good will to hold the Republican Party accountable for its role in tolerating, shielding and encouraging foul, mean-spirited and bigoted behavior in its ranks and among its strongest supporters.

The G.O.P. poisons the political atmosphere and then has the gall to complain about an absence of bipartisanship.

The toxic clouds that are the inevitable result of the fear and the bitter conflicts so relentlessly stoked by the Republican Party — think blacks against whites, gays versus straights, and a whole range of folks against immigrants — tend to obscure the tremendous damage that the party’s policies have inflicted on the country. If people are arguing over immigrants or abortion or whether gays should be allowed to marry, they’re not calling the G.O.P. to account for (to take just one example) the horribly destructive policy of cutting taxes while the nation was fighting two wars.

If you’re all fired up about Republican-inspired tales of Democrats planning to send grandma to some death chamber, you’ll never get to the G.O.P.’s war against the right of ordinary workers to organize and negotiate in their own best interests — a war that has diminished living standards for working people for decades.

Herbert wrote that on Tuesday.  Tonight I went to Politico.com.  The first headline was:  “Hoyer: Members are at Risk”.  Then there are these:  “Slaughter, Stupak receive death threats” and “Cut gas lines at Perriello’s brother’s home probed.” 

Will the Republican leadership speak out or will they be content with John Boehner’s statement as reported in the Washington Post.

House Republican Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said the violence is unacceptable.

“I know many Americans are angry over this health-care bill, and that Washington Democrats just aren’t listening,” Boehner said Wednesday on FoxNews Channel. “But, as I’ve said, violence and threats are unacceptable. That’s not the American way. We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change. Call your congressman, go out and register people to vote, go volunteer on a political campaign, make your voice heard — but let’s do it the right way.”

I hope that law enforcement can successfully do their jobs.  Republican leaders need to go further by condemning other Republican leaders like Michael Steele and Sarah Palin.  Again from the Post

“When people start talking in the rhetoric of putting people on ‘firing lines,’ . . . or they put a target on their faces, with cross hairs,” Hoyer said at a news conference, “that activity ought to be unacceptable in our democracy. . . . That’s wrong. ”

Hoyer appeared to be referring to Republican Party Chairman Michael S. Steele‘s comment in a recent interview that Pelosi is on a “firing line” and to a map posted Tuesday on Sarah Palin‘s Facebook page, which marked with a gunsight districts of House Democrats she plans to campaign against.

I’m not overly concerned about the law suits against the bill, but I am very worried that someone will succeed at doing real violence to a member of Congress or to the President himself.  I am also afraid the the violent speech and the actual violence will escalate as the polls show increasing approval of the bill and the Senate finally passes the reconciliation bill and it is signed by the President.

Beer, Politics and Race

I ‘m going with Eric Asimov  from the New York Times on this one.  Today in his blog “The Pour” he wrote

I’ll tell you what I would have done if I were President Obama. First of all, I wouldn’t give anybody a choice. I’d throw political symbolism out the door. Then, I’d import a keg of Guinness Stout directly from Dublin, because the kegs from Ireland are simply superior to anything out of a bottle or can. Then I’d import a Dublin publican to serve the Guinness because drawing a proper pint is an art that requires vast experience.

Then, I’d sit ’em down at a bar (because I’d bring in the actual pub – this is the White House, it can do anything). “Gates, you, over there. Crowley, you, here. Sit. Publican, draw us some pints!’’

And as that smooth, deep, dark stout begins to pour forth, and the publican perhaps tells a few stories in his rich Irish brogue, a feeling of calm brotherhood settles over the room. You cannot fight over the first Guinness. Add in 10 more pints and a rugby match and you’ve got a riot. But a pint of Guinness in a Dublin bar at the White House? Skip? Jim? I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

In the end, the two of them will be doing ads for Guinness.

A possible site of the gathering between President Obama, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Sgt. James Crowley.

No, Gates and Crowley won’t be doing Guinness ads but I see a PBS special on racial profiling in their future.  Crowley is, as evidenced by his press conference after the event, is an articulate guy.

And what I really want to know if why no one offered to take Professor Gates’ and Sergeant Crowley’s jackets.  It is July in Washington.

By the way, I had a Harp – out of the bottle.

Morning After Reflections on the VP Debate

I’m had about five and a half hours of sleep and when I woke up, it came to me:  Sarah Palin is like one of those yappy, little dogs with lots of energy that look cute.  Ok, Palin is shrewed, but she, unlike that little dog, is really, really scary.  This is a woman who wants to have more power than Dick Cheney.  From the nonrelease of her tax returns to what appear to be abuses of power both as Mayor and Governor (think Troopergate and the Wasilla Librarian), she would be another Dick Cheney.  Even Kit Bond, a Republican, appeared a little startled last night when asked about her statement about wanting more power.  I hope that the Obama campaign takes that and does an ad contrasting her to Cheney – currently one of the most, if not the most unpopular figures in American politics. 

Dana Milbank has an interesting piece in the Washington Post  this morning.  After discussing her need to show that she could answer questions following her horribly funny Katie Couric interviews, Milbank writes,

On the other hand, it wasn’t exactly a confidence-builder. Palin, in her 90 minutes on the stage Thursday night, left the firm impression that she is indeed ready to lead the nation — with an unnerving mixture of platitudes and cute, folksy phrases that poured from her lips even when they bore no relation to the questions asked.

“Let’s commit ourselves just everyday American people, Joe Six-Pack, hockey moms across the nation,” she proposed when asked about the mortgage crisis.

“I want to go back to the energy plan,” she said when asked about the federal bailout plan.

“Let’s commit ourselves just everyday American people, Joe Six-Pack, hockey moms across the nation,” she proposed when asked about the mortgage crisis.

“I want to go back to the energy plan,” she said when asked about the federal bailout plan.

Biden grew frustrated. “If you notice, Gwen, the governor did not answer the question.”

Replied Sarah Six-Pack: “I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/02/AR2008100204250.html?hpid=topnews

Pretty scary.

In the New York Times, Adam Nagourney observies:

“This is going to help stop the bleeding,” said Todd Harris, a Republican consultant who worked for Mr. McCain in his first presidential campaign. “But this alone won’t change the trend line, particularly in some of the battleground states.”

Short of a complete bravura performance that would have been tough for even the most experienced national politician to turn in — or a devastating error by the mistake-prone Mr. Biden, who instead turned in an impressively sharp performance — there might have been little Ms. Palin could have done to help Mr. McCain. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/03/us/politics/03assess.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Of course, these are two Eastern papers who don’t understand drilling in Alaska.

So I run off to work with two polls.  The Newsvine unscientific poll on MSNBC has Biden winning the debate by 78.2% and InTrade odds are Obama to win the election at 65 to 33.8 for McCain.

The VP Debate – some initial thoughts

Exactly an hour into the debate, Joe Biden began an answer by saying, “Facts matter, Gwen.”

To him, maybe. To Sarah Palin, maybe not. The pattern, so far, has been one of Biden presenting facts and Palin countering with… saying stuff. Sometimes she throws in a fact, but mostly she seems to be offering a string of approximate policy positions, encomiums to the American spirit, disputed interpretations of Barack Obama’s record and anecdotes from Alaska.

She has a certain charm, but I wonder how viewers are reacting to the way she just declines to answer the question at hand and pivots to more solid ground. I had forgotten how effective Biden can be in these debates. So far, he hasn’t been patronizing or insulting. In terms of working-class street cred, Palin is in a league – or a universe – of her own. (Don’t ya think?) But Biden holds his own.

I confess, though, I don’t know what anybody is making of this. I don’t even know what I’m making of it. This is the strangest debate I’ve ever seen. It seems like an interplanetary exchange, with poor Gwen Ifill trying to keep the Enterprise from falling into the wormhole.

That was Gene Robinson in the Washington Post

Pat Buchanan has just dismissed Sarah Palin’s saying she wanted to expand the role of the Vice President.  I agree with Joe Biden that given the example of Dick Chaney – we need to be very frightened.  I’m with Rachel Maddow who thought that Palin was not very coherent and made a couple of mistakes.