Open Thread: Voters Not Giving Up on Obama

Much to the disappointment of the horse-race-oriented media, eventheliberal NYTimes:

After month after month of disappointing job numbers, poll after poll showing dissatisfaction in his economic performance and hundreds of millions of dollars in negative advertisements, a large portion of wavering voters maintain a personal attachment to Mr. Obama, and a tentative willingness to give him more time to get it right, top strategists with both campaigns agree.

That is a testament, perhaps, to the power of that scene four years ago when Mr. Obama and his family crossed the threshold of the White House as its first African-American tenants, “an inspiring moment that so many have awaited so long” as former President George W. Bush — the man he was so hard on in 2008 — put it then….

Most challengers face the relatively clinical task of persuading voters to fire the incumbent. Mr. Romney faces the more fraught mission of persuading them to break up with the incumbent….

It is Mr. Romney’s job now to convince them that it is beyond repair; that the risks of staying in it are larger than the risks of starting anew with him, that he and Mr. Ryan represent a fresh start akin to a generational change.

But leading these voters — many of them women — to that conclusion takes finesse and delicacy, Republican strategists say. The sort of visceral attacks that conservative talk show hosts are calling for risk sending them into a defense posture on behalf of Mr. Obama and, more to the point, of their own decisions four years ago.

Rather, strategists say, it requires providing a path that gives them permission to make a break. They need to be told that it is O.K. to remain proud of their initial support for Mr. Obama, but that they can be equally at peace with a decision to change their minds now….

… [I]n what amounted to perhaps the most forceful and effective portion of his address, Mr. Romney sought to give Mr. Obama’s wavering 2008 voters a strong nudge from what he portrayed as a reverie, saying they have given the president time enough. “Americans have been patient; Americans have supported this president in good faith,” he said to a roar in the hall. “Today the time has come to turn the page.” …

And that goes to the other part of the equation here: Even if Mr. Romney’s campaign continues to make inroads on the firing part, it has to make up ground on the hiring part, with polls showing him as lagging Mr. Obama on several personal “likability” measures.

“They see this guy as wealthy, disconnected, not like me,” Margaret Spellings, Mr. Bush’s former education secretary, said of wavering Obama voters during an interview here on Thursday. She said those voters were looking for “the humanity side,” of Mr. Romney, which his campaign did so much to present during this convention.

Ms. Spellings suggested that Mr. Romney had so far failed to overcome Mr. Obama decisively among undecided voters only because “some of them haven’t been paying attention.” …

Shorter GOP strategists: Stupid frigging voters! We blew hundreds of millions offering the best simulacra of a ‘new & improved’ presidential-administration-to-be money could buy, and you’re channel-surfing or hitting the can! No fair That Black Man in Our White House should rudely insist on being competent AND charismatic at the same time!

At least they have the consolation of knowing that Willard “Mitt” Romney is going to take the brunt of the post-election abuse, since that guy can’t even sell raw greed and naked prejudice to an arena full of RNC delegates with any success.

My Money’s on the Hologram

The Wall Street Journal reports that Republicans are trying to gin up some excitement with a stunt:

Buried deep in the convention schedule released Monday is a vague reference to a mystery speaker scheduled for the event’s final evening. “To Be Announced” has a prime speaking slot late in the Thursday program.

…The only other speakers to follow “To Be Announced” will be Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Mr. Romney himself, suggesting that the unnamed guest may appear during the 10 p.m. hour when the networks all will be broadcasting the convention.

… The line-up features a long list of governors and senators, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio. Former presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are on the agenda, as are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Former Vice President Dick Cheney and former President George W. Bush have said they won’t be attending, but a video from Mr. Bush is on Wednesday’s program.

So who’s left? Stay tuned….

A survey follows asking for a vote on several possibilities: Zell Miller, Ted Nugent, David Petraeus, Nancy Reagan, Chesley Sullenberger, Sarah Palin.

National Review‘s Jim Geraghty really thinks it might be Palin:

The more you think about the idea, the more it makes sense — whatever controversy and intense reactions Sarah Palin may bring to whatever she does, if there is one thing we know she does exceptionally well, it is give convention speeches! This wouldn’t mean turning her into an official Romney surrogate or putting her in a Romney cabinet or anything like that — just giving one of the Republican figures most beloved by the grassroots — or at least a large and vocal segment of the grassroots — a chance to fire up the base and discuss why it is so important that everyone pull out all the stops for Romney.

If God existed, She wouldn’t love me enough to do this. Seriously — on the last night of prime time, you’re going to utterly destroy any good feeling you’ve engendered with swing voters by putting up a Sarah Palin speech?

I don’t see why there’d be secrecy about any of the other names of the Journal‘s list. I suppose the speaker could be Ron or Rand Paul (whose name might be withheld to keep the Paulbots from bouncing off the walls for the next couple of days). Maybe it’s a flipped Democrat. (Yeah, Artur Davis is speaking at the RNC, but he’s canceled out by Charlie Crist speaking for the Dems, so perhaps Repubs will put up someone like Joe Manchin or Jim Webb in order to win 2-1. Or, God help us, maybe it’s Lieberman again.) Could it be a masked SEAL going McCarthyite on Obama?

And then there’s this possibility, cited by Geraghty:

Nick Schultz came up with the only idea that could excite the crowd even more: “Hologram Reagan a la Tupac?”

(If you don’t understand the reference, the deceased rapper appeared to “perform” at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts festival through the use of a hologram. Details here.)

Now, that sounds utterly plausible, coming from these folks.

My money’s on the hologram.

(X-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.)

Romney Is The Undercard, Folks

Move over, Robot/Zombie ’12.  The real players at the RNC are the ones not running for office at all.

Nevada billionaire and Republican donor Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, are getting ready to create more political buzz. They have decided to attend this week’s Republican convention, CNN has learned.

They are expected to arrive in Tampa on Monday, one source with knowledge of their plans told CNN, and will undoubtedly draw a lot of attention.

The couple will take in much of the convention activity and are expected to listen to many of the speeches, especially ones by Mitt and Ann Romney.

Least they could do is look in on the candidate they paid tens of millions for.  And if you don’t know much about Sheldon Adelson’s wife Miriam, well you should meet her.

Another possible stop for them is the “Woman Up!” Pavilion here in Tampa named in honor of Miriam Adelson. The pavilion will be the scene for a series of events and policy discussions this week and is sponsored by the YG Network, a non-profit organization aimed at supporting conservative political positions and those politicians who support them. The Woman Up! effort was launched to emphasize issues key to women.

“Dr. Adelson is a passionate and successful woman who has balanced work and family life remarkably, and we are honored to welcome her to this effort,” Mary Anne Carter, executive director of the YG Network’s ‘Woman Up!” effort, said in a statement last week. “A renowned medical doctor, Miriam Adelson’s experiences in the Israeli Army, as a working mom, and a philanthropist equip her with a unique understanding of the challenges that women from all walks of life face.”

Uh-huh.  And it turns out the YG Network is exactly what you would expect, full of press releases about “liberal schemes” and imploring that the best thing for women in America is to cut taxes on people like the Adelsons, because this will free up money to go to deserving conservative women or something rather than those awful liberal ones, otherwise, well, everyone will have to suffer instead, you see.

Women from all walks of life have their own pavilions at the conventions, right?

Romney-Ryan and Social Security

My mother often calls me at work and immediately launches into some aspect of whatever she has been worrying about all day. I then have about three seconds to figure out what she’s talking about, while she’s had hours to ponder and reach one-liner conclusions.

She called me at one of the crisis points in the financial system crash, Lehman had just failed or something, and Bush was out there stammering, walking around in circles, looking terrified, and I said “hello?” and she said, no greeting or context, “thank God they didn’t let him put Social Security in the stock market.” My mother’s a Democrat and by 2008 she referred to Bush almost exclusively as “him.” My mother has both a pension and Social Security. She’s doing okay. Yet the very first thing that came to her mind with the onset of the financial crash was “Social Security isn’t in the stock market”. Someone or other didn’t let him gamble with Social Security.

As I mentioned here, we’re going to do our best here locally to inform people on the Romney-Ryan Plan for Medicare and Medicaid, which they’ve been lying about apparently, so I’ll have to update my presentation from last week, but my personal larger concern regarding Romney-Ryan is Social Security. I think Republicans and our friends on Wall Street have been after Social Security for a long, long time, because it’s one of the few big pots of money left that they haven’t been able to gamble with while pulling out a percentage for themselves. They want that money, and they are not going to give up until they get a piece of it.

Here’s a short intro piece on Paul Ryan’s record and Social Security:

Ryan’s Social Security privatization proposal, the Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005, which he sponsored along with then-Sen. John Sununu (whose father has been a prominent Romney surrogate), would have allowed workers to funnel an average of 6.4 percent of their 12.4 percent payroll-tax contribution to a private account. Lower-income workers would be able to divert more of their wages, as the plan allows 10 percent of income up to $10,000 and 5 percent of income up to the payroll tax cap to be diverted. By default, the private account would be invested in a portfolio set by the Social Security Administration of 65 percent stocks and 35 percent bonds. Workers could choose an 80/20 stock-bond portfolio, or a 50-50 portfolio, but would not be able to pick individual stocks or bonds. At retirement, all participants in the plan would be required to buy an annuity.

The Social Security Administration concluded that the Ryan-Sununu plan would require huge increases in general budget revenue to make up the shortfall left in payroll tax revenue. Specifically, revenue would have to increase by 1.5 percent of GDP every year, an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found, or about $225 billion at current GDP. That’s a big honking tax hike. What’s more, under the plan, investments in the stock and bond markets would skyrocket such that by 2050, every single stock or bond in the United States would be owned by a Social Security account. This would mean that the portfolio managers at the Social Security Administration would more or less control the entire means of production in the United States.

Funnily enough, Ryan also proposed a resolution in 1999 that passed the House (with only Ron Paul voting against) expressing the sense of the body that Social Security should be maintained without any changes to benefits for current retirees or increases taxes.

We know almost nothing about Mitt Romney. He has successfully stonewalled, dodged or ignored every demand for specifics. He has been on both sides of nearly every issue. He and his wife have made it clear that they believe we know all we are entitled to know about the man who wants to be President.

But we don’t have to beg and plead with Paul Ryan for ordinary disclosures. Paul Ryan has a long record.

There’s about 80 days left until the election, and we’ve already wasted a week talking about Ryan’s dreamy blue eyes and exercise regime. People need to know that Paul Ryan has left a long paper trail of really radical proposals to destroy public programs that Americans love and rely on, including Social Security.

Late Night Open Thread: Cory Booker & John Cole Share A Secret Addiction

… If you can believe NYMag:

With Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s political ambition comes a lot of carefully managed image-grooming… His embrace of the overshare generation continues today in the debut issue of Dujour magazine, via “Page Six,” in which he reveals his simple vice: “I had an ex-girlfriend who ruined me in terms of my macho, ex-football-player self — she turned me on to mani-pedis,” Booker said, deploying the shorthand himself. “Being a public figure, people talk smack about you, so I found this 24-hour mani-pedi place and go in the middle of the night. It’s this guilty pleasure I have. Look, manis are good, but pedis — there’s something … transformative.”

Our most estimable bloghost, back in April:

I’ll never understand why taking care of your feet is somehow effeminate… All you guys who think this is somehow wimpy or uncool are just tools. There’s a reason so many women flock to get manicures and pedicures- it feels good. Really good. I’ll take a good pedicure over a massage any day of the week.

Maybe you guys will get the chance to bond at the Charlotte convention, John.

Open Thread: Alternate RNC Entertainment Options

Meet Joe Redner, “Tampa’s Strip-Club King“:

… More than sunshine, cigars or the rollercoasters at Busch Gardens, Tampa is known for its naked ladies.

And the man in the thick of this spectacle is Joe Redner, who almost single-handedly made Tampa’s adult entertainment world famous. He’s a wiry 72-year-old with a bemused smile and skeptical brown eyes who owns what is arguably the most notorious of Tampa’s all-nude clubs: Mons Venus.

The club — located less than 6 miles from where the Republicans will gather to nominate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate — isn’t much to look at. The blue-and-purple building sits on a busy stretch of road next to a Taco Bell and near where the NFL champion Buccaneers play home games. There’s a sign outside that says “Home of the Most Beautiful Women in the World,” and another: “Live NUDE Shows.”

“I don’t expect the RNC to be as busy as Super Bowl,” Redner said, with a dismissive wave of his hand. “I don’t think those people are coming to party.” …
He’s still involved in community issues. He goes to county commission meetings and recently, stopped in to an ACLU meeting about the RNC. He’s worried that protests will get out of hand and that police will use too much force on demonstrators — especially since he’s letting some Occupy Tampa members camp and protest 24/7 on a private lot he owns west of downtown. Redner’s been in the news for that, lately, as well; residents of the area are fed up with the campers and are worried the RNC will draw thousands of people to the neighborhood.

Redner doesn’t talk much about the actual Republicans coming to town; he considers himself a very liberal progressive. He doesn’t like the Republicans’ politics, but is hopeful that will bring money into the community. His club’s business is down by 50 percent since its heyday in the late 90s, he said. Tampa is in a recession. …

Other strip club owners in Tampa are more optimistic than Lange about seeing more customers; 2001 Odyssey’s Kleinhans said he’s put in a VIP area for the RNC, complete with a private entrance around the side of the club, so anyone who wants to sneak in unannounced can do so.

Redner refuses to do that for his customers.

“I can’t play to that part of human nature,” sniffs Redner. “If you gotta hide from what you’re doing, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

Folks have been wondering what Redner will do during the RNC. Will he protest and get arrested, like he did when President George W. Bush and his brother, Jeb, held a Tampa rally in 2008? Will he offer some outrageous promotion at The Mons? Tip reporters off if a famous politician comes into the club?

Nope. None of that.

He’s going to be in Vegas, for a gentlemen’s club expo. He’s the keynote speaker.


Bonus extra for those conventioneers (and media snoops) who prefer a less passive, more open-ended introduction to Tampa’s entertainment options: Via commentor Dr. BDH, let me introduce you to GaYBOR, “the center of Tampa Bay’s GLBTA community!”

Every word is true

Words mean something. Such a pleasure to read:

“I think they know their plan is not very popular,” the president said. “You can tell that because they’re being pretty dishonest about my plan.”
“Here’s what you need to know,” the president continued. “I have made reforms that have saved millions of seniors with Medicare hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs.” Obama was referencing the fact that Obamacare closed the donut hole, which Romney and Ryan would reinstate. “I have proposed reforms that will save Medicare money by getting rid of wasteful spending in the system. Reforms that will not touch your Medicare benefits, not by a dime.”

As for Romney and Ryan? “They have a very different plan,” the president said. “They want to turn Medicare into a voucher program.” That would end the guarantee of Medicare, Obama said, citing the CBO study showing that the Ryan plan would cost seniors an extra $6,400 per year.

“My plan has already extended Medicare by a decade. Their plan ends Medicare as we know it. My plan reduces the cost of Medicare by cracking down fraud, and waste, and subsidies to insurance companies. Their plan makes seniors pay more so they can give another tax cut to millionaires and billionaires. That’s the difference between our plans on Medicare, that’s an example of the choice in this election, and that is why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States of America.”

I regret only that the President has not adopted the Balloon Juice term for vouchers, which is “coupons”, but give him a week. If they keep lying, and they will, because Republicans have been repeating this Medicare lie completely unrebutted by media since 2010, we may yet get to coupons.

h/t Daily Kos