The world stage.

I read the news today, oh boy. Actually, I heard it — one of those long-drive-to-Lansing days. Mitt Romney described Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, said “culture” is the reason for the gulf between Israel’s and the Palestinians’ GDP, made a serious factual error (the GDP figures), and otherwise had one of those days where, if it had been had by Barack Obama, would have been accompanied by screeching, real hysterical screeching, on the right. Because it was the other way around, it was accompanied by a sober report on NPR in which the reporter explained, in reasonable tones, the “controversy” attached to calling Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

And that’s the way it was on the drive home.

As always, don’t just consider the source, consider the audience. Romney was speaking to a group of rich donors at the King David Hotel. It must have been successful; he is said to have left with more than a million bucks in his pocket.

Enough time passes between presidential elections that I forget stuff. Is this the way presidential candidates are supposed to behave “on foreign soil,” a phrase we hear a lot at times like this. Because that struck me, even considering the audience, as a rather obnoxious speech. But what do I know?

Back to the mind-numbing palliative of men’s gymnastics. Boy, are these guys not my type — short, musclebound, as hairless as a baby’s ass. I keep thinking of real-world applications for this level of physical mastery. Many years ago, I read a column in the American Spectator — perhaps the only good thing I ever read in that rag — about Rudolf Nureyev, after he died of AIDS. It was a snotty column, but there was an eyewitness account in there, about a rooftop party busted by the cops, and somehow Nureyev ended up on the other side of an air shaft or narrow alley, and the cops said, “Get back over here.” The dancer gave them an arrogant look and leapt back across the gap like a gazelle, which somehow reduced whatever had brought the cops there to the level of ashing your cigarette on the sidewalk. That’s when it would be good to be a gymnast. You never know when you might have to jump across an air shaft or turn a few handsprings.

As it is, most of us will only go to parties with people who will have a few and then reprise their role as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.”

Meanwhile, what the hell with this Jonah Lehrer guy? It’s not enough that he blew it. He had everything, and he blew it. I get really tired of these entitled little shits with their book contracts and their think pieces and all the rest of it. Don’t make stuff up. It’s not so hard.

OK, time to watch the end of these gymnastics, and try to pretend I don’t already know the U.S. team collapsed like a muscular little house of cards.

Posted at 12:39 am in Current events, Media |

39 responses to “The world stage.”

  1. Dexter said on July 31, 2012 at 1:03 am

    Romney will continue to gaff it up because he is just an opportunist and will say anything at any time. And “they” said Joe Biden was a numbskull speaker! It’s kind of funny that Cheney keeps popping off while W43 stays out of it totally.

    If Romney is elected or given the White House by SCOTUS (it’s said it’s going to be a mighty close race)

    the Palestinians will find themselves stomped on harder yet by thug settlers. And Mitt? Superior culture my ASS! The Israelis impose all sorts of restrictions on what the Palestinians can have brought in through the checkpoints. The blessed Israelis’ culture brings hardship and disease to the righteous Palestinians…oh brother…there I go again; this topic incenses me all to hell….

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  2. Deborah said on July 31, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Writing tips

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 31, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Don’t make stuff up.

    I think someone should offer Nancy a book contract on that premise alone.

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  4. Suzanne said on July 31, 2012 at 7:31 am

    The men’s gymnastics floor exercises have got to be the most awkward sporting event to watch. In between flips and leaps, they all look horribly uncomfortable while trying to look graceful.

    One of the former Olympians in gymnastics danced with a ballet company I saw a number of years ago (Bart Conner, I think, who is apparently married to Nadia Comenci. Go figure). I’ve never seen thighs that big, even my own. It was unreal.

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  5. alex said on July 31, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Speaking of Sally Bowles in “Cabaret,” what a difference two decades makes. (And loads of coking, smoking, pill-popping and boozing, I suppose.) The film debuted in 1968. I went to see La Liza in Chicago somewhere around 1988. Her voice was froggy and she was as big as a house and anything but agile. You’d think four decades had passed. I can only imagine what sort of a stage presence she must have now.

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  6. coozledad said on July 31, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Well now that Mitch Albom’s just making shit up, the horizons of his art of been radically expanded. I was just wondering what angle Mitch might approach the Fifty Shades of Grey market from. The The old perfesser provides, Via Roy:

    In one traditional form of pornography, from the Victorian “A Man With a Maid” to the more recent “Fifty Shades of Grey,” a young woman is initiated — sometimes uncomfortably — into the mysteries of adult sexuality. In the end she is, at some level at least, grateful for the new horizons that’ve opened up to her.
    Well, we still have that.


    Excerpts from The Dong and the Antelope by Mitch Albom.
    Good Housekeeping Press, 2012.

    Darleen awoke and ground some coffee while Reynolds, still hanging in the sling, gradually came to.

    He began softly crying as she added a log to the fire and surveyed the evidence of last night’s session.

    The rough trestle table was still littered with empty cans of Tequiza and the implements Darleen had used to get him primed before the coup de grace. Along with the “Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland Commemorative Graphite Reinforced Latex Ass Destroyer” Reynolds had ordered from Dungeonesque Survival Supply, there were still a few unopened bags of Chick Fil-A they’d picked up at the mall on the way to the cabin, and of course, the remnants of the croquet set…

    “Safe word… Damn! What a time to forget the safe word!” Glenn thought. “Dhimmi?” “Glock?” sweat poured from him and the straps dug into his wrists as he swung to look behind him, where Darleen approached with a can of WD-40 and a pair of croquet balls…

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  7. Julie Robinson said on July 31, 2012 at 8:51 am

    We took a four-day getaway so I’ve only seen glimpses of the Olympics and I’m hating NBC for its jingoism. They seem to expect Americans to win every medal and any small mistake is CATASTROPHIC. This may be why all those gymnasts look so unhappy–who could live with that kind of pressure, much less teenagers. Blech. And my husband is upset that he hasn’t seen any basketball.

    Let’s let Romney be Romney, and the election will be over.

    Nureyev was a god. I still feel privileged that I got to see him dance live. Baryshnikov, who I also saw live, was a pale imitation. An Americanized technician, while Nureyev was a true Russian artist.

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  8. Kim said on July 31, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Here I was all ready to post something righteous about making shit up when it’s supposed to be nonfiction, then relying on shit that actually happened to you and calling it fiction as the two worst shortcuts in writing. Then Cooz has to go all alternate universe and make me forget I was mad at a guy I’ve never met, then remember why I hate a guy I’ve never met.

    My gratitude to you, sir. You are a funny man.

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  9. Jeff Borden said on July 31, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I want Cooz to be the reporter who follows Mitt the Twit around badgering him about his tax returns, LOL. God, that would be something to see. Meanwhile, it looks like the stress of stage-managing Willard’s ham-handed efforts at looking worldly got to one of his press aides, who told a reporter to “kiss his ass” when the reporter sought time for Romney to answer for his gaffes while the stone monument to plutocracy visited a Polish church. I cannot believe this thoroughly unlikable stiff even has a shot at the White House, much less a good shot.

    And Lech Walesa endorses? Lord, but Willard truly is living in the past.

    If Americans vote with their wallets, we are screwed. Willard’s administration will be peopled by the same crowd of loons and losers who were part and parcel of the previously worst presidency of all time. War, tax cuts and attacks on women, minorities, gays and immigrants 24/7, folks.

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  10. Jolene said on July 31, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Reporters are complaining on Twitter this AM that Romney answered a total of three questions from the traveling press corps the whole time he was gone.

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  11. Joe K said on July 31, 2012 at 10:13 am

    The things you see flying never cease to amaze me. Today going from Auburn to Macomb Ill @ 16000ft just north of Layfette it was snowing! On the ground at Macomb 80, I love this job.
    Pilot Joe

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  12. Pam said on July 31, 2012 at 10:16 am

    We were so concerned about She-Who’s knowledge of foreign affairs. Why? because her credentials were “former beauty queen / contestant”? We should be asking Mitt where Russia is located.

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  13. Jeff Borden said on July 31, 2012 at 10:46 am


    Willard does seem to be living in Reagan era Murica, where the Soviets cast their menacing gaze in our direction, while Lech Walesa was rallying the people in Polksa. He obviously will be a disaster as president. . .another W. with better table manners. He might even be worse depending on who he would choose as running mate, cabinet, etc.

    And I do wish all the rightwing dicks would shut up about Jerusalem being the true capital of Israel. All it does is piss everyone off. And if there’s a part of the world where some cooler, saner thinking ought to prevail, it’s the Middle East.

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  14. DellaDash said on July 31, 2012 at 10:52 am

    I beg to differ about Barishnikov v Nureyev. Last week, was just asking a BFF I used to dance with if she was with me when I saw both gods perform a pas de deux together at an east LA park’s outdoor theater during a mid-seventies arts festival. Breathtaking!

    The pommel struck me as bizarre last night, while our guys on the floor event made me think of flag semophores. So stiff and triangular.

    Cooz – thoroughly enjoyed the link to your ‘STD safari’ yesterday.

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  15. Prospero said on July 31, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Actually, that’s Murcia, Jeff. Willard’s Palestinian disparagement makes me wonder if he heard about the pirate attack by the IDF on those people trying to bring food, meds and construction materials to Gaza. Some people reacted with outrage when Jimma Ed Carter compared Israeli treatment of the West Bank and Gaza citizens with DeKlerk apartheid, but RMoney’s comments about culture might be the way he felt about the low GDPs in the Bantustans. Would anyone be surprised? The statement was indescribably vile, not “racist” I suppose per se, since Jews and Arabs were all Semitic before the Jews became Europeanized thousands of years ago. Israel is currently violating the Geneva Conventions regarding occupied lands and about 25 UN resolutions. The destruction of entire Palestinnian towns on occupied Palestinian territory to replace them with high-rise luxury condos for “settlers” is a heinous crime against human rights that the USA should feel bound to interfere with. Remember, the great insult to Bibi by Obama’s statement on the ’67 borders was a response to the Israeli PM’s announcing openings of new “settlements while Biden was visiting Israel, after the State Department was told specifically that no such thing was planned. What benefit accrues to the US from its alliance with Israel? None I can think of.

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  16. Prospero said on July 31, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Whenever I hear a truly horrible National Anthem like that kid yesterday, I think of this wonderful moment from Maurice Cheeks. I detested Mo as a player because he was a Sixer, but this episode is wonderful:

    What a great guy.

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  17. Jeff Borden said on July 31, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Well, Prospero, you’ll get little argument from me. The other thing that Mitt the Twit did by comparing Palestine’s GDP to Israel’s GDP is completely forget about the effects of the Israeli occupation. Nothing moves in or out of the Palestinian areas without its approval. It’s hard to grow the economy when you’re occupied.

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  18. Prospero said on July 31, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Brilliant graphic: Gay marriage pie chart.

    Lotte Lenya or Sally Bowles.

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  19. Charlotte said on July 31, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    The only way to watch the Olympics is with the sound off, and the stereo on. We discovered last night that Iggy Pop goes well with gymnastics in a slightly insane sort of way.
    Nancy — did you SEE that 3-day x-country course? It was insane — the downhill section looked terrifying. I love the eventing — if I’d ever gone back to riding …

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  20. Prospero said on July 31, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Aly Raisman’s earrings:

    Funniest RMoney World Tour anecdote: People in Polish crowds waved Ron Paul signs at him.

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  21. Dan B said on July 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    As I’ve been watching the Olympics, I’ve been finding myself rooting for NBC’s narrative to be disrupted. There was a great example a couple of nights ago during a men’s swimming race. NBC was hyping it up as being about two swimmers, one American (determined to beat the other) and one Japanese (could beat Michael Phelps to be the first swimmer to win gold in the same event three times). They mentioned in passing that a South African was a real contender, but he wasn’t part of the story.

    What happened? The South African won, the American came in third, the Japanese swimmer didn’t even medal. And the announcers were left grasping- there was no way to fit the results into their narrative. And I felt really satisfied.

    There was some of that in the men’s gymnastics, last night. It was supposed to be all about the Americans trying to win gold again. Then they crumbled. So what does NBC do? Cut to swimming for awhile and hope we forget about their story. When they come back, they switch narratives to “Will Great Britain win its first team gymnastics medal in decades?” (they loved that “nobody alive has ever seen a British team gymnastics medal” line). They did, so NBC found their moment to cheer about.

    Meanwhile, they totally ignore the US team. Did they do well on other apparatus? Who knows; they didn’t tell us. They didn’t even show an awkward interview about what went wrong or how they feel about doing so badly. (They love to show tears during women’s gymnastics; apparently they have no place in men’s.)

    Then there was that last-minute drama with the Japanese team. Did that final error cost them a medal? It was a great bit of drama that NBC didn’t really figure out how to milk.

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  22. brian stouder said on July 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Well, speaking of “The World Stage”, there is a massive event occurring right now in India, revolving around an issue which regular readers of NN.c will immediately recognize as something we discussed weeks and weeks ago.

    The reason to click the link is to see the photographs of the people; they are (almost literally) arresting.

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  23. Dorothy said on July 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Three hundred million people without electricity there, Brian. I saw that earlier today.

    On a sad note, I was home at lunch time very quickly just to turn on the A/C and let the dogs out for a minute. One of the dogs went over to take a sniff instead of skedaddling back into the house right away. I went over and found a dead cat. Looks like it’s been there awhile – I’m guessing 10 days. We had a guest overnight on the 21st of July and I heard a very loud cat scream around 2 AM. I’m guessing the poor thing was attacked under our back porch. We have so many strays in our neighborhood, so I guess it’s one of those. I already checked with my neighbor Stacey and she said all of hers were accounted for last night at feeding time.

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  24. brian stouder said on July 31, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Dorothy – no fun!

    The only death we’ve had to deal with lately is a fairly large dead tree between our house and the neighbor’s.

    And indeed I must aver (after we thoroughly examined her) that the tree wasn’t merely dead, but really most sincerely dead (as the mayor of Munchkinland might say).

    So then we looked into having it chopped down, before it smashes into our house, or (worse!) – into our neighbor’s.

    And tree chopper-downers are busy busy busy little beavers these days, in Fort Wayne…but we got ‘er done last week…so there’s that.

    But you know what? Our 8 year old daughter doesn’t like that the tree is gone (dead or not), and wants another one.

    I said to her (as my mom used to say to me) – We’ll see.

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  25. Prospero said on July 31, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Mean joke by Conan O’Brien last night: 300,000,000 left without electricity in India. On a single block.

    Yeah, it’s terrible, but there is an essential truth involved. Resources are finite; population is limited only by resources. Every time Massey Energy tops another mountain in West Virginny for E-Z access to coal, a crick at the bottom of a holler is filled with spoil and the watershed for the entire East Coast is damaged. I worry more about the tipping poin for water than I do about petroleum. One is necessary to human life, the other not at all. Every time fracking fluid infiltrates anothe aquifer more of precious resource is gone forever. The USA is blessed with Saudi-like bounty of fresh water, but India is not. China is trashing its waterways. Africa will become a water battlefield someday. And GOPers want to let mammon run wild without regulation here, for ill-conceived, short-sighted and kneejerk reasons. One more reason to get out the sensible human vote in November 2012. At some point, if water is regulated, only rich people will have water. GOP Utopia. That vote suppression effort is just ennervating.

    Then there is the matter of the likely three Supreme Court vacancies during the next Presidential term:

    A superb, and somewhat scary, explication of how the ACA decision came about, from NYRB.

    “Tree-chopper-downers” sounds like a literal translation of a German word. As gasser-putter-inner is carburetor.

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  26. Prospero said on July 31, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Just saw this:

    Harry Reid flings poo.

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  27. MarkH said on July 31, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Romney may indeed be his own worst enemy on this whole tax return thing, but here is a more concise response to the flailings of Harry Reid:

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  28. Prospero said on July 31, 2012 at 6:58 pm


    That article makes three points about the unlikelihood of Reid’s claim being true. Fine, but it certainly doesn’t cover every possible circumstance in which the claim could be true, none of it precludes the possibility it’s true, the piece is entirely petulant in tone, i.e. unprofessional, and it’s mostly what I thought when I first saw Reid’s statement. Who cares, it’s funny as hell, it’s conceivably true, and it’s nowhere near the outrageous outright lie perpetrated by the “you didn’t build that” ads, so RMoney can su Harry or go frack himself. And if that’s not an LDS ritual, it should be.

    And does the right like to bring up vetting on the Dem side so frequently because $Palin was the single greatest vetting failure in the history of American politics?

    Also, why is somebody on a CNN website defending Willard? Isn’t CNN part of the Kenyan Socialist Conspiracy?

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  29. baldheadeddork said on July 31, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    “Don’t make stuff up. It’s not so hard.” True, but your odds of getting hired at the New Yorker fall considerably if you have to depend on talent alone.

    Speaking of how-do-I-explain-this-on-my-resume, Denver Post sports reporter tweets about getting horny at the Olympics for the first time. As usual, the explanation only makes it worse.

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  30. Prospero said on July 31, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Bobby Knight’s coaching the Tunisian Olympic hoops team? Who knew?

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  31. beb said on July 31, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    The obvious question is whether Sen Reid was telling the truth about Romney not paying taxes for ten years, or is just making up stuff. Reid is not in the habit of telling lies, unlike, say, Gov. Romney who has lied so often and so outrageously that Steve Benen has run a weekly column on Romney’s gaffes for over half a year. Could Reid’s friend be mistaken about his claim that Romney hasn’t paid taxes for a ten year period? Of course. How does this friend know that Romney hasn’t paid taxes? Certainly he hasn’t make any freedom of information requests, because, as the columnist points out that kind of information is not subject to FOIA. However Romney could have boasted about it in a crowd of fellow super-rich, and Reid’s friend could have been in that group. Or, since Reid is a Mormon like Romney, maybe this was something said among Mormon higher-ups. There are a lot of criminals found out because they couldn’t resist about boasting about what they did. If you make millions of dollars and successfully shelter all of it, who wouldn’t want to boast about it? The easiest way for Romney to put an end to this kind of speculation is simple to declare that “I [Romney} have paid taxes every year of my adult life.” But Romney has an aversion to taking a stand, even on the truth.

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  32. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 31, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    I strongly suspect Reid (whom I think is as appalling as Mitch McConnell, though each in their own way) is trolling for public comment on the fact that in 2002 or 2003 Romney likely gave a double-tithe to the LDS Church to get a temple built in his area. The fact that Reid is himself a Mormon just makes that even more atrocious, if true . . . but hey, I guess unsupported accusations are the coin of the realm these days.

    Harry Reid shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. Now, do I know that’s true? Well, I’m not certain.

    Just to completely change the subject, I thought this hitherto unpublished F. Scott Fitzgerald short story from 1936 was simply marvelous, though as you’ll see, of course I think that. Anyhow, read for yourself: it’s quite short.

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  33. Rana said on July 31, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Pulling together Dan’s comment about NBC struggling to adapt their narrative with Dexter’s observations about the supposed closeness of the Romney-Obama race… I’ve been cynically suspecting for a while now that the reason that the race is as close as it is (at least the reported version of it) is that there’s a certain segment of the news media that has it in their collective heads that the story they want to tell is of a close competition decided on a hair’s difference at the very last minute. Exciting, no? Likely to keep people tuned in and the advertisers happy, right? The alternative story – Obama wins easily because Romney is such a poor candidate – lacks oomph, so why not keep reporting as if the race was tight, and if that means that the race does, indeed, become tight due to voters’ ignorance of Romney’s issues, so what?

    So much easier to focus on personalities and the horse race, too, instead of doing the hard work of learning about the issues, the candidates’ stands and history on them, and asking difficult questions of people who don’t want to give truthful or full answers.

    There are reasons why I’ve given up on broadcast news…

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  34. nancy said on July 31, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Rana, I think you’re right. None of the polling I’ve seen lately — of the electoral college, anyway — backs up this nip ‘n’ tuck narrative I’m reading.

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  35. coozledad said on July 31, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Let me just repeat a little phrase I learned from my Republican family members and colleagues at the dawn of the absolute surveillance state: If Romney has nothing to hide, then he shouldn’t mind people looking through his taxes.

    It would be irresponsible not to speculate that he’s a wholly owned subsidiary of the PRC.

    EDIT: Scalia says that privacy isn’t enshrined in the constitution for women, but definitely for Mitt Romney’s taxes?
    Sometimes I wish Obama would pull a Henry the VIII on these goddamn frotteurs.

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  36. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Not close?

    But seriously, read the newly discovered F. Scott Fitzgerald story I linked above.

    I think Romney has a good shot at both Ohio & Florida, but beyond that, I wouldn’t bet a York Peppermint Patty on how either of them picks up 270. One of them will, but that’s as far as I’ll commit myself.

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  37. brian stouder said on July 31, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    So much easier to focus on personalities and the horse race, too, instead of doing the hard work of learning about the issues, the candidates’ stands and history on them, and asking difficult questions of people who don’t want to give truthful or full answers.

    The real press can ask all the questions they want, and the Romney campaign’s literal answer is – “Kiss my ass”. The guy tours the world and affects relationships between the United States and other countries and peoples, and they (his campaign) feels free to tell the traveling press – when they venture to try and ask the candidate a question or two – to “kiss my ass”? If I was one of the press outlets that sent people along on this magical mystery tour, I think I’d pull them back, and be done with it.

    Romney and his surrogates like to talk about war and nuclear threats and terrorism and all the rest – and I’d be willing to make a deal with his campaign.

    Let the press pool give them 4 or 5 substantive questions a day – hell, they could submit them in writing – and let the campaign answer them in writing. The candidate himself could then be assured that there is no split-second, off-the-cuff “gotcha” moment; and it wouldn’t break my heart if the candidate’s staffers and policy wonks took it upon themselves to construct their answers to the questions, as opposed to the candidate himself. After all, that would be how things would really happen, if the guy were elected.

    In short, I agree with Rana – Romney’s campaign is literally incredible; it looks faux and ersatz and unattended.

    There is a strangeness in his campaign that was cloaked for awhile by the overwhelming strangeness of his primary opponents’ campaigns.

    Here is a thought experiment: how is Romney going to get past the debates with the president? In my opinion, he simply can’t do it.

    “The Base”. I’m heartily sick and tired of hearing about “The Base” within the Republican party, which Romney constantly has to stroke (and stroke, and stroke, and stroke. In fact, I think he’s stroked “the Base” so much that he has, in fact, gone blind). If Romney can’t take his “The Base” for granted by now, then he’s already done.

    And not for nothing, and seriously – remember what the term “al Qaeda” means.

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  38. Rana said on July 31, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    brian, the debates will be interesting (even if Jill Stein doesn’t get to be part of them, though I’m hoping she will, just for the challenge to the narrative she’d bring). I wonder if there might be a moment when the story certain pundits and anchors want to tell comes into conflict with what people see with their own eyes, or whether there’ll be an effort to only ask questions with known answers so as to protect the narrative.

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  39. Scout said on August 1, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Jeff, I’m interested in why you think Harry Reid is as bad as McConnell. I wouldn’t have taken you for a both-sides-are-equally-bad kInd of guy. I know you lean right but I’ve always felt you were above the conventional centrist speak. But maybe you have real examples to back up your opinion.

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