This notion that birth control pills are now "free," as Romney claimed in his conference call to donors, needs to end. They are now simply covered by health insurance, which many of us pay for via hefty monthly premiums. We're actually getting something for our money. Imagine that!
I find that people who spew the platitude that "the candidates are the same" tend to be the ones who have the least to lose if the wrong candidate is elected. At risk of sounding melodramatic, these elections truly are a matter of life and death. If you end the Affordable Care Act and millions of Americans lose their health insurance, people will die as a result. A recent estimate puts the number at 26,000 deaths per year due to lack of insurance; that's more than a few September 11ths. Then there's the Global Gag Rule, which Romney would reinstate. It rarely gets mentioned, but this policy wreaks havoc on women in impoverished nations. Romney would also end contributions to the U.N. Population Fund, which combats the spread of HIV and prevents 22,000 deaths annually.
These are but a few examples. Turning Medicare into a voucher program, radicalizing the Supreme Court for a generation, and displaying an open hostility toward science probably won't help things either. Obama isn't perfect, but as far as I'm concerned, voting is a moral arithmetic problem with a clear answer.
I had a hard time sitting through that debate last week. Rising above the fray through aloof non-engagement does not work when you're being pelted with dung on live national television. It took me back to the frustrating days of not so long ago, when an overabundance of caution and unwillingness to use the bully pulpit proved disastrous. I thought the stronger rhetoric of the campaign season meant that somebody had finally learned that lesson, but apparently not.
It takes a lot of chutzpah to oppose anything that might help American workers get ahead -- unions, a robust safety net, minimum wage hikes -- and then blame those workers for not earning enough money to pay federal income taxes (never mind all the other taxes they do pay). You can't have it both ways! You can't upend people's lives through corporate takeovers and then call the downsized "irresponsible." You can't sow market chaos through deregulation and scoff at the small business owner who can't survive the downturn. The disconnect is astounding. But such is the power of ideology.
No, this one isn't about Romney's video fubars. But I think it makes an important point that is ignored by most media and many voters. Viewing the election as a contest between two people named Obama and Romney is a simplistic approach at best, no matter how delightful Mitt's personality tics and one-percenter utterances may be. A vote for "Romney" is a vote for sad sack Bush-Cheney neocons seeking a new lease on life, a vote for the Heritage Foundation, a vote for more Scalias, Alitos, and Thomases. Romney's "character" -- if it can be said he has one -- has little to do with any of this; people should be talking instead about the cast of characters he'd bring to the White House.
Same goes for Obama: his extended network includes Planned Parenthood, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, more Sotomayors and Kagans, and countless invisible players behind the scenes. I'm not saying every last one of them is perfect, but when you look at the groups as a whole, the difference is stark. Harder to fit on a bumper sticker maybe, but these are the candidates you're really voting for.
Interesting questions have been raised about whether Mitt "retrocatively retired" from Bain so he could keep his wife's health insurance coverage while she underwent treatment for MS. The Romney campaign won't respond, which gives us a license to speculate. Of course, Romney is one of the few people who could actually afford to pay for MS treatment out-of-pocket. But given his aggressive efforts at tax avoidance, one suspects that he doesn't like to part with money if he can help it. Unless he's buying a car elevator for a ridiculous beach house.
There is much fretting in Republican quarters about the lousiness of their presidential candidates. While it's true that Romney and Santorum both have weird if not downright repulsive personalities, it seems to me that Republican voters are getting more or less what they historically like: a Talibanesque theocrat, and Mr. 1% himself. Yes, yes, they both have their impurities, but really, either one would probably be more ideologically-consistent than Obama. Radical corporate-personhood types would be appointed to the Supreme Court, the social safety net would be slashed, the Global Gag rule reinstated. What Republicans want is a good ol' boy to make it all palatable to the masses. They're waiting for their cowboy to ride in on a horse and save the day with a Reaganesque smile and tip of the hat. But unless there's a brokered convention, they're stuck with major dweebs. (As some readers have pointed out, any Republican candidate is a major dweeb, but I'm referring specifically to backslapping/room-working skills.)
I assume most people have heard about Mitt Romney's dog-on-car incident, especially now that even Newt Gingrich is attacking him over it, but to recap briefly: back in the '80s, Mitt stowed the family pooch in a carrier on the roof of the family station wagon for the duration of a 12-hour drive to Ontario. After several hours, the dog, an Irish Setter named Seamus, developed gastric distress that made itself evident on the windows of the station wagon. Mitt stopped at a gas station to hose down the dog and the car, and continued on his merry way, Seamus still riding aloft.
As I drew Mitt's bus, I got to thinking about the Romney campaign logo. I find the symbolism of these things fascinating. The Romney logo divides the "R" into red, white and blue stripes. It sort of looks like three people standing in a row, or an abstractly-shaped waving flag. But what I see most is an R within an R within an R: the rich protecting the rich protecting the rich.
Tagg Romney recently tweeted this:
Above video via a Plum Line post about a conservative laid-off mill worker who says Romney (and Bain Capital) destroyed his life.