Friday, February 08, 2008

So Long, Mittens!

So Mitt Romney dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination yesterday. His farewell to the campaign was ... well, let's take a look:

Governor Romney’s Address to the Conservative Political Action Committee –
February 7, 2008

I want to begin by saying thank you. It’s great to be with you again. And I look forward to joining with you many more times in the future.

I can't tell if the double entendre there is intentional. Normally I'd say he just misspoke, but see what he does next:

Last year, CPAC gave me the sendoff I needed. I was in single digits in the polls and I was facing household Republican names. As of today, more than 4 million people have given me their vote for president, less than Senator McCain’s 4.7 million, but quite a statement nonetheless. 11 states have given me their nod, compared to his 13. Of course, because size does matter, he’s doing quite a bit better with his number of delegates.

Keep those mildly risque one liners coming hard and fast, Mitt!

To all of you, thank you for caring enough about the future of America to
show up, stand up and speak up for conservative principles.

As I said to you last year, conservative principles are needed now more than ever. We face a new generation of challenges, challenges which threaten our prosperity, our security and our future. I am convinced that unless America changes course, we will become the France of the 21st century—still a great nation, but no longer the leader of the world, no longer the superpower. And to me, that is unthinkable.

Clever use of the "France sucks!" meme, Governor. Although I do have two questions here:

1) You're saying we need to "change course" by adhering to the conservative principles that, for better or worse, are held by the very people currently running the country. Can I get a "WTF" here?

2) Whether or not you're right that "unless America changes course" we're destined to become just like France, since you've expressed that thought, it is "thinkable" that this could happen. Proofreading is your friend. Your speechwriter, alas, is not.

Simon Peres (sic), in a visit to Boston, was asked what he thought about the war in Iraq. “First,” he said, “I must put something in context. America is unique in the history of the world. In the history of the world, whenever there has
been conflict, the nation that wins takes land from the nation that loses. One nation in history, and this during the last century, laid down hundreds of thousands of lives and took no land. No land from Germany, no land from Japan, no land from Korea. America is unique in the sacrifice it has made for liberty, for itself and for freedom loving people around the world.” The best ally peace has ever known, and will ever know, is a strong America!

The Native Americans, Mexicans, and Spanish would like to have a word with you about what happened in the previous century, Governor. And, while it's technically true that we "took no land" from Germany or Japan, we do still have tens of thousands of troops on military bases in those countries. While I'm picking nits, I'll point out too that the Korean War (1) isn't really "over," (2) involved us fighting for our ally, South Korea - so taking their land would have been an unusual exercise in colonialism, and (3) we have tens of thousands of troops there, too.

And that is why we must rise to the occasion, as we have always done before, to confront the challenges ahead. Perhaps the most fundamental of these is the attack on the American culture.

Yes, we face threats from global warming, the possibility of having reached "peak oil," challenges to our economic hegemony from China, the prospect of a global recession, continuing military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and (as your party unceasingly reminds us) from terrorists like Osama bin Laden - but the "most fundamental" challenge facing the country is an "attack" on "the" American culture. Way to keep your eye on the ball, guy.

Over the years, my business has taken me to many countries. I have been
struck by the enormous differences in the wealth and well-being of people of
different nations. I have read a number of scholarly explanations for the
disparities. I found the most convincing was that written by David Landes, a
professor emeritus from Harvard University. I presume he’s a liberal–I guess
that’s redundant.

Heh, nice one. "Liberal Harvard professors" are almost as good a gag as "France sucks!" Although - wait, you're convinced of something by a liberal professor? Rush ain't gonna be happy about that, dude.

His work traces the coming and going of great civilizations throughout history. After hundreds of pages of analysis, he concludes with this:If we learn anything from the history of economic development, it is that culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference.

Wait, what makes all the difference again?

What is it about American culture that has led us to become the most powerful nation in the history of the world? We believe in hard work and education. We love opportunity: almost all of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants who came here for opportunity—opportunity is in our DNA. Americans love God, and those who don’t have faith, typically believe in something greater than themselves—a “Purpose Driven Life.” And we sacrifice everything we have, even our lives, for our families, our freedoms and our country. The values and beliefs of the free American people are the source of our nation’s strength and they always will be!

So, to recap: American culture makes us awesome; American culture consists of hard work, education, opportunity, and God. Also our willingness to sacrifice for our families, freedoms, and country. I'm having a hard time seeing anything on that list that doesn't apply equally well to ... anywhere else on Earth, actually. I guess it's true that most other places don't have the same freedoms or opportunities that Americans have, but that doesn't mean the people living there aren't willing to sacrifice themselves for what freedoms and opportunities they do have.

And while I do appreciate the shout out to Americans who "don't have faith" I'm not sure that Rick Warren is the "something greater than themselves" that they belive in. Just an FYI!

The threat to our culture comes from within. The 1960’s welfare programs created
a culture of poverty.

Hold up, man. Is the "culture of poverty" related to "the American culture"? If not, are you saying poverty is un-American? Because if you are, I'm probably down with that. Poverty sucks.

Some think we won that battle when we reformed welfare, but the liberals haven’t given up. At every turn, they try to substitute government largesse for individual responsibility. They fight to strip work requirements from welfare, to put more people on Medicaid, and to remove more and more people from having to pay any income tax whatsoever.

Ah. So, no. You're saying that attempts to alleviate poverty are un-American. I'm not so much down with that, I'm afraid. Allow me to point out that it was Bill Clinton who signed welfare reform into law; I'm pretty sure you're not claiming him as a conservative, so technically "we" didn't reform welfare. Allow me further to snicker at your outrage over the alleged liberal conspiracy to keep "more and more people from having to pay any income tax whatsoever" after your man W. and your fellow Republicans in Congress enacted dramatic tax cuts whose permanence you're collectively fighting for. How is it OK - laudable, even, mark of a True Conservative - to reduce taxes on rich and middle-class people and then be offended at reducing taxes on poor people?

Mitt? Little help?

Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking and opportunity. Dependency is a culture-killing drug—we have got to fight it like the poison it is!

I can see how dependency is "death" to initiative. But how does dependency reduce risk-taking and opportunity? Aren't the people who are dependent on government support precisely the people with nothing to lose for whom taking risks and gambling on the opportunities they have makes the most sense? For the sake of argument, let's say you're right that dependency on government handouts is bad - doesn't it follow that we should stop giving handouts to business, since we're killing their initiative, risk-taking, and opportunity?

The attack on faith and religion is no less relentless.

Didn't you just say that people without faith were OK, because they believed in something greater than themselves? And if that's true, is an attack on faith really that big a deal? If faith is under attack, how come a big majority of Americans are Christians, including an overwhelming majority of our Congressmen and Senators. Three of the sitting Justices on the Supreme Court are conservative Catholics. The President is an evangelical Baptist. What on Earth are you talking about?

And tolerance for pornography—even celebration of it—and sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare programs have led to today’s grim realities: 68% of African American children are born out-of-wedlock, 45% of Hispanic children, and 25% of White children. How much harder it is for these children to succeed in school—and in life. A nation built on the principles of the founding fathers cannot long stand when its children are raised without fathers in the home.

So.... tolerating/celebrating porn = kids born "out of wedlock"? I ... don't think that's how it works, dude. While we're talking about the twisted incentives of government programs, let's take a moment to consider the "abstinence-only" sex ed programs the current Administration pushes, as well as their reluctance or outright refusal to subsidize birth control or abortion. Say what you will about abortion, it leads to fewer "out-of-wedlock" children being born. Let's also consider how single mothers tend to be younger, less well-educated, and poorer than the population at large, and wonder about how the very poverty-alleviation problems Romney derides could help their children (who after all didn't ask to be born into a poor single-parent household) acquire the education and opportunities that are crucial to "the" American culture he's so proud of.

The development of a child is enhanced by having a mother and father. Such a family is the ideal for the future of the child and for the strength of a nation. I wonder how it is that unelected judges, like some in my state of Massachusetts, are so unaware of this reality, so oblivious to the millennia of recorded history. It is time for the people of America to fortify marriage through constitutional amendment, so that liberal judges cannot continue to attack it!

Setting aside the unsupported assertion that having a mother and father is "the ideal" - it's not the "liberal judges" who attack it. Assuming that there's an attack on marriage at all, it's coming from either legislatures - elected by the people - that draft laws about marriage, or individual plaintiffs who think those laws are wrong/bad/dumb. The judges, liberal or otherwise, aren't leading the charge to make marriage illegal or whatever it is Romney thinks they're up to.

Europe is facing a demographic disaster. That is the inevitable product of weakened faith in the Creator, failed families, disrespect for the sanctity of
human life and eroded morality. Some reason that culture is merely an accessory
to America’s vitality; we know that it is the source of our strength. And we are
not dissuaded by the snickers and knowing glances when we stand up for family
values, and morality, and culture. We will always be honored to stand on
principle and to stand for principle.

To the extent that Europe is facing a "demographic disaster" because the good Christian people aren't having enough babies and the scary Muslims are breeding like rabbits - well, the Muslims have faith in the Creator, love their families, respect the sanctity of human life, and by their lights are extremely moral. What's the problem?

I don't think anyone really objects to the notion that our shared identity as Americans is a source of strength. What those of us providing the snickers and knowing glances object to is your definition of that identity, which seems cramped and exclusionary. I'd also like to point out that, while principles are fine things to have, they only get you so far. Abstract moral rules are a good guide to proper behavior, but in life as it's lived we have to accept the fact that it's not always clear how they apply.

The attack on our culture is not our sole challenge. We face economic competition unlike anything we have ever known before. China and Asia are emerging from centuries of poverty. Their people are plentiful, innovative, and ambitious.

Both China and Asia.

And there are so. damn. many. of them!

If we do not change course, Asia or China will pass us by as the economic superpower, just as we passed England and France during the last century. The prosperity and security of our children and grandchildren depend on us.

Asia or China. I'm anticipating an economic throwdown sometime in the 2040s between China and Asia for economic supremacy. I note, again, that according to Romney we need to "change course" to keep our economic edge on those inscrutable Chinese. Yet his party has been in charge of the government's economic toolbox for nearly eight years. If they think a change in course is needed, they can do it right now.

Our prosperity and security also depend on finally acting to become energy secure. Oil producing states like Russia and Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iran are siphoning over $400 billion per year from our economy—that’s almost what we spend annually for defense. It is past time for us to invest in energy technology, nuclear power, clean coal, liquid coal, renewable sources and energy efficiency. America must never be held hostage by the likes of Putin, Chavez, and Ahmendinejad.
"Siphoning" is an interesting way to put it. You'd almost think we weren't paying them for goods and services they willingly provide. You'd also almost think that the dirty libs weren't encouraging the development of alternative energy sources for the last 20 or 30 years precisely because they could see this coming after the energy crisis of the '70s. So, when Romney has a good point, he's taking it from the good old liberal agenda. I won't tell Ann Coulter if you don't!

And our economy is also burdened by the inexorable ramping of government
spending. Don’t focus on the pork alone—even though it is indeed irritating and
shameful. Look at the entitlements. `They make up 60% of federal spending today.
By the end of the next President’s second term, they will total 70%. Any conservative plan for the future has to include entitlement reform that solves
the problem, not just acknowledges it.

I agree, Mitt. We should raise taxes a bit to pay for what we spend. Problem solved!

Most politicians don’t seem to understand the connection between our ability to compete and our national wealth, and the wealth of our families. They act as if money just happens–that it’s just there. But every dollar represents a good or
service produced in the private sector. Depress the private sector and you
depress the well-being of Americans.

I have to admit I don't really understand what he's talking about here. We're all better off when the economy is doing well? I think?

That’s exactly what happens with high taxes, over-regulation, tort windfalls, mandates, and overfed, over-spending government. Did you see that today,
government workers make more money than people who work in the private sector.
Can you imagine what happens to an economy where the best opportunities are for

It's totally true, too. I work for the government and I wipe my ass with hundred-dollar bills. I call up Bill Gates all the time just to brag about how much more money I make than he does.

Just because it's been all over the news for at least a year, I'll call your attention to the fact that the subprime mortgage mess and the sale of these high-risk mortgages to third parties was aided and abetted by a lack of adequate regulations. I'll also point out that, by the standards of other first-world countries, we have incredibly low taxes.

It’s high time to lower taxes, including corporate taxes, to take a weed-whacker to government regulations, to reform entitlements, and to stand up to the increasingly voracious appetite of the unions in our government!

As I said, our taxes are already wicked low. Government regulations exist in almost every case because, in the absence of regulations, someone did something that caused a lot of harm, and we can see in the subprime-mortgage market an excellent example of how regulations come to be needed. As a member of a government union, I can assert that at least my own union is not so much "voracious" as "content with what it has." It's hard to stand up to someone who isn't asking you to do anything you're not already doing.

And finally, let’s consider the greatest challenge facing America—and facing the entire civilized world: the threat of violent, radical Jihad.

Whoa. Wait, dude. You just said the "most fundamental challenge" was the attack on "the" American culture. I'd think "most fundamental" would also be "greatest" in this context.

In one wing of the world of Islam, there is a conviction that all governments should be destroyed and replaced by a religious caliphate. These Jihadists will battle any form of democracy—to them, democracy is blasphemous for it says that citizens, not God shape the law.

From Mike Huckabee, Republican:

"[Some of my opponents] do not want to change the Constitution, but I
believe it's a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change
the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the
Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's
standards," Huckabee said.
Just sayin'.
They find the idea of human equality to be offensive. They hate everything we believe about freedom just as we hate everything they believe about radical Jihad.

Pretty broad statement. I'm pretty sure I don't know everything "they" believe about "radical Jihad," and I'm not even sure I know everything "we" believe about freedom. I'm almost certain that the things I personally believe about freedom are different from what, say, John Yoo or George W. Bush believe.

To battle this threat, we have sent the most courageous and brave soldiers in the world. But their numbers have been depleted by the Clinton years when troops were reduced by 500,000, when 80 ships were retired from the Navy, and when our human intelligence was slashed by 25%. We were told that we were getting a peace dividend. We got the dividend, but we didn’t get the peace.
I thought we were the best ally peace has ever known!

While we're on the subject, Republican Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld advocated making the military even smaller. And, during the Clinton years, we did get the peace. We would be at peace right now if we hadn't invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. Choosing to go to war with (according to Romney here) an inadequate military doesn't seem like the kind of thing that can be properly laid at Clinton's feet. To the extent that the Surge has been successful at reducing violence in Iraq, it appears that the size or quality of our military isn't the problem so much as the use to which it's been put. And, if the size of the military is insufficient, the President (a Republican, by the way) has various tools at his disposal to increase its size. That he's chosen not to do this over the past seven years is something Romney might want to bring up with him.

That's if you even accept the premise that fighting "radical Jihad" is properly a military issue. Diplomacy with other threatened governments, law enforcement, and the targeted use of Special Forces troops all seem like they might be more effective at combating enemies who aren't states than invading states that aren't attacking us.

In the face of evil in radical Jihad and given the inevitable military ambitions of China, we must act to rebuild our military might. Raise military spending to 4% of our GDP, purchase the most modern armament, re-shape our fighting forces for the asymmetric demands we now face, and give the veterans the care they
China's military spending is a very small fraction of ours. We almost spend more than the rest of the world combined. The problem is not the size or quality of our military, and having a bigger, badder military is not going to do anything to address the rise of "radical Jihad." Giving the veterans the care they deserve is a great idea, which I strongly encourage Governor Romney to raise with the man who can get it done - Republican President George W. Bush. We don't need to change Administrations to fix that problem.

Soon, the face of liberalism in America will have a new name. Whether it is Barack or Hillary, the result would be the same if they were to win the Presidency.
Arguably true. There's not a lot of difference, policywise.

The opponents of American culture would push the throttle, devising new
justifications for judges to depart from the constitution. Economic neophytes
would layer heavier and heavier burdens on employers and families, slowing our
economy and opening the way for foreign competition to further erode our lead.
Judges can't, by definition, depart from the Constitution. You may not like the way a particular judge reads or interprets the Constitution, but they're not "departing" from it. And I don't think you want to get into an argument about who's the bigger economic neophyte while you're conceding the Republican nomination to a man who publicly admits he has little knowledge of, or interest in, the economy.

Even though we face an uphill fight, I know that many in this room are fully behind my campaign.” You are with me all the way to the convention. Fight on,
just like Ronald Reagan did in 1976. But there is an important difference from 1976: today… we are a nation at war. And Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat.
I don't recall either of them saying that. Eventually remove (most of) the troops from Iraq, yes; but the goal was to have an independent, democratic Iraq. The withdrawal going to have to happen sooner or later. It's also the strategy most Americans prefer; I'll be charitable and assume you didn't mean to tell the majority of Americans that they favor "retreat and defeat."

And the consequence of that would be devastating. It would mean attacks on America, launched from safe havens that make Afghanistan under the Taliban look
like child’s play. About this, I have no doubt.
You should share your secret information sources with the Administration, so they can take out these safe havens. Unless you're just speculating wildly to freak people out.

I disagree with Senator McCain on a number of issues, as you know. But I agree with him on doing whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq, on finding and executing Osama bin Laden, and on eliminating Al Qaeda and terror.
Really? "Whatever it takes"? What if it takes a draft, or rationing oil and gasoline? What if it costs so much money that taxes need to be raised? What if it takes negotiating with other interested parties, like the Iranian government? I can't imagine anyone seriously disagrees with the goals of capturing bin Laden and destroying Al Qaeda; the question is how you think any candidate from your party will be able to do it when seven years of Republican leadership haven't been able to.

If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.
Don't hurt yourself patting youself on the back there, buddy. Setting aside the baseless slander of Clinton and Obama (and, practically speaking: is that even logically possible? To whom would they "surrender"?), how is your presence or absence from the race at this point even a consideration? McCain was already in the driver's seat; presumably he'd be making the same case for his policy vis-a-vis the Clinton or Obama policies regardless of whether you stay or go.

This is not an easy decision for me. I hate to lose. My family, my friends and our supporters… many of you right here in this room… have given a great deal to get me where I have a shot at becoming President. If this were only about me, I would go on. But I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, I feel I must now stand aside, for our party and for our country.
If only America loved you back, Governor.

I will continue to stand for conservative principles; I will fight alongside you for all the things we believe in. And one of those things is that we cannot allow the next President of the United States to retreat in the face evil extremism!!
I like how the transcript uses the double exclamation points. If only they'd included an appropriate lolcat.

It is the common task of each generation—and the burden of liberty—to preserve this country, expand its freedoms ...
Pardon me while I pause for laughter at the recent Republican "expansion" of our freedoms.

... and renew its spirit so that its noble past is prologue to its glorious future.
To this task… accepting this burden… we are all dedicated, and I firmly believe, by the providence of the Almighty, that we will succeed beyond our fondest hope. America must remain, as it has always been, the hope of the earth.

Thank you, and God bless America.

"It has always been, the hope of the earth"? Really? I love my country, but ... wow. Maybe if we didn't have such a grandiose notion of our nation's role in the world, we wouldn't find ourselves embroiled in the kinds of messes the next President is going to have to deal with.

Smell you later, Mittens. Don't call us; we'll call you.


Sator Arepo said...

You. Are. Awesome. More cogent comments later.

Murderface said...

More Content, Please!