They’re Coming To Take Me Away Ha Ha Ho Ho Hee Hee (The Trump/Nixon Tapes Part 5)

Trump Jackson Screwball[What follows is a transcript of President Donald Trump speaking into the Oval Office recording device originally used by President Richard Nixon. This series of recordings encompasses the president’s communication to his inner circle.]

To: The Trump Circle of Trust (TCT)

cc: Speaker Paul Ryan

I swear. You people are going to put me in the looney bin. Why is everyone talking like I’m crazy? Morning Joe? George Will? The Washington Post? CNBC? NPR? They’re all talking about how I’m losing it. Like I got a screw loose! Can you believe it? I mean, I expect that sort of thing from Keith Olberman, but Terry Gross? What did I ever do to her?

This is completely unfair. So I occasionally have trouble getting the words out. Or I confuse names. Or I repeat simple phrases over and over again. Or I talk about dead people as if they’re still alive. Or I forget how government works. Or I’m afraid of stairs. Or I compliment dictators and strongmen around the world.

Speaking of which, I heard Kim Jong-un’s dad has a hell of a golf swing. Maybe I should invite him out to Mar-a-Lago for 18 holes and we can work this whole nuclear thing out. Sheila? Get me Kim Jong-il on the phone. What? Dead? When? Does Kim-Jong-un know? He’s a smart cookie. I bet he does know. Any word on how his golf game is? If he’s anything like his old man, it’s tremendous.

Someone might have mentioned that Andrew Jackson died 16 years before the Civil War started. Or that the Civil War is one of the most researched questions historians have written about. Am I the only 70-year-old white man who hasn’t watched a thousand documentaries about the Civil War? To see my Twitter mentions, you’d think so. Don’t worry, though. I fixed it.

I genuinely believe Andrew Jackson saw the Civil War coming and was really mad about it. Look at a $20 bill. Doesn’t he seem angry? Someone ask Steve Mnuchin if we can put me on some money. I’m thinking we bring back the $20 gold coin and put my face on one side and me standing at the 14th hole at Trump National on the other. Just make sure it shows the plaque memorializing that “River of Blood” Civil War battle that the fake news people at the failing Golf Digest say never happened.

How about that health care bill, huh? Great job everybody. We twisted arms and prodded those squishy moderates then all of a sudden we got us an Obamacare replacement that does everything I promised it would do. It covers everybody. What was that, Shiela? 27 million? Really? Well, it protects people with pre-existing conditions. What? No? Are you sure? I’m pretty sure I saw Paul say it would protect pre-existing conditions. It will jack up their premiums? But I promised it would lower premiums. I said it would cost a tiny fraction of what Obamacare costs. I remember it clearly because that was a huge applause line. Ugh, am I going to have to read this bill? Shiela? Get someone in here to read this bill for me.

[tape pauses for 8 minutes]

Enough! Enough! Get out! Who knew health care could be so boring? Am I right? Shiela? Tell Paul, I’ll take his word for it. Man, I thought I was going to die listening to that. Good thing I’ve got great health insurance. Whew. I’ll tell ya, that was brutal. I did catch something about Medicaid in there. I assume we’re keeping my promise to not cut Medicaid, right? I really gave ole’ Huckabee the business on Twitter that time he copied me.

Wait, what was that, Shiela? You were mumbling something. Block grants to the states? What’s that? Oh. Well, that doesn’t sound too bad. I mean what’s $880 billion? It’s not like that’s serious money. It’s probably mostly fraud and waste, right? What? What’s a “special-needs kid?” Oh, come on. Really? What about vets? Them too? So who gets the $880 billion? Tax cuts for billionaires? And they voted for that? Wow. Unbelievable. I’m sure everyone else is okay with it, though. What? Well, yeah, I’ll sign it. I promised, didn’t I?

Man, I’m bushed. I hope I don’t say something to undercut our entire argument when I meet with the Australian prime minister tonight. You know how I get when I haven’t had my well-done steak with ketchup.

Okay. Now that we’re finished with repeal and replace can we move on to something else? I am so tired of pretending I care about health care. I need to get out of Washington for a few days. Maybe I’ll go visit Melania in New York. That’s the one place in the country where I know they love me. New York is my town. What’s that, Shiela? Mike Pence has another executive order for me to sign? I sure do sign a lot of these things for someone who used to really hate the idea of presidents signing executive orders.

What’s this one about? Religious Freedom? Is it the one where we let Christians discriminate against gay people or the one where we let churches fundraise for politicians? Both? Ask Mike if he can combine them into one, I don’t want to sign two of them. I’ve only got so much left in in the old tank today and I’m trying to make a tee time at Trump National. Oh, has Ivanka signed off on this? Well, at least no one can get mad about this one, right?

Shiela? Tell Steve Mnuchin that when he’s done with his weekly meeting with Ivanka that I need to see her. I want to give her a hug and tell her it’s going to be okay. Everybody puts fake quotes in their book nowadays. Nobody cares except a bunch of nerds that are going to find something to complain about no matter what you write. Shiela? Get the State Department on the phone. They’re not doing anything important. Maybe they can help goose her book sales a bit.

You know, I’m getting a little sick of the attitudes around here. Maybe some of you need a little refresher course in who is in charge. Shiela? What can I do to punish a bunch of federal employees that requires virtually no effort on my part?

Okay, I’m off the New York. Good job on the . . . uh . . . health care thing . . . and stuff. Just terrific. Really. I’m sure that’s going to be a huge, huge, part of my legacy.

 

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The Time For Nuance Is over

88160170_trump-promoWhen you ask a Trump supporter about Benghazi, they say “a disaster.” When you ask about Hillary they say “crooked.”  They aren’t worried about policy, nuanced analysis or details about what works and what doesn’t. They don’t respond to it.

They speak in code. They like short, pithy, branding-type language that cuts right to the quick. I’ve been called “snowflake” so often in the last three weeks that I thought I was the black guy in a Stanley Kubrick film about Vietnam.

You want to turn the discussion around? You have to talk like Trump. You have to put everything in terms of extremes. Hyperbole is your friend. There is no middle ground. Details are for small-picture guys.

Here’s an example. President Obama delayed action on a plan to land a SEAL team near an al Queda base in Yemen to capture intelligence useful for our counter-terrorism efforts. The Trump administration looked over the plans, declared they were good to go and sent in the team. But the lack of planning, intelligence, and support, meant the SEALs were dropped into a heavily fortified area with snipers and much more resistance than was anticipated. We lost a SEAL (Chief Petty Officer William Owens), an MV-22 transport ($75 million), and the lives of 20 civilians including an 8-year-old girl. Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security advisor, said he wants to speed up the decision-making process for raids like this. You know how you do that? By not worrying about civilian casualties.

The mission was compromised early on when a communications intercept showed that al Queda had been tipped off, probably by low-flying drones. But the Americans and UAE forces pushed on. Remember all those photos of President Obama in the situation room overseeing operations like this? President Trump hosted a dinner instead. Of course Team Trump wants to blame the Obama administation for planning this raid. But if you’ll recall, Trump believes Obama is a weak leader who has presided over the decimation of the military, so why would Trump not review the plans thoroughly and decide whether such a mission was even necessary?

Now you can argue about all the little things that went wrong, about whether it should have been undertaken, about the tweet from the leader of Yemen calling it “extrajudicial killings.” But none of that will cut any ice with someone in a red MAGA hat. Think about how Trump would have described the raid had it happened on Obama’s watch.

“Yemen was a disaster. Total failure. Al Queda is laughing at us. Lots of people are telling me it could have been avoided. Shame.” 

Just start with Yemen raid = “disaster” and go from there.

Yesterday, President Trump offered remarks at a breakfast held for his black friends for African-American History Month in which he, once again, brought up the MLK statue in the Oval Office.

“Last month, we celebrated the life of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., whose incredible example is unique in American history. You read all about Dr. Martin Luther King a week ago when somebody said I took the statue out of my office, and it turned out that that was fake news. It was fake news. The statue is cherished. It’s one of the favorite things in the — and we have some good ones. We have Lincoln and we have Jefferson and we have Dr. Martin Luther King, and we have — but they said the statue, the bust of Dr. Martin Luther King was taken out of the office. And it was never even touched. So I think it was a disgrace, but that’s the way the press is. Very unfortunate.”

Rather than give any details that suggest he knows what he’s talking about in terms of the contributions African-Americans have made to this country and our culture, he aired his grievances with the press and name-dropped black history icons like he was in third grade.

Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice — Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. Big impact.

What? No mention of George Washington Carver? I’m willing to bet you could hold up a photo of Waka Flocka Flame and tell the president it was Frederick Douglass and he wouldn’t even blink. So Trump took the opportunity to speak at “our little breakfast” for black history month to talk about his favorite subject, himself. He talked about his black friends (Ben Carson and Omarosa). He talked about how well he did in the election and how many African-Americans voted for him. He used an event to celebrate the cultural contribution of blacks to say black communities are “terrible.”

Forget pointing out how Trump may not be aware that Frederick Douglass died 125 years ago. Forget pointing out how Trump has a grade-school knowledge of African-American culture. Forget pointing out how Trump equates blacks with inner city turmoil at every opportunity.

“Trump’s Black History Month breakfast was a disaster. He’s so embarrassing. Sad.” And repeat it until it’s as natural as breathing.

This morning, the president spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast. In previous years, Obama was raked over the coals for pointing out an historical fact about the Crusades as a means of demonstrating that even his own religion had a violent past that should be addressed. It was seen as an attack on Christians. He was accused of not taking the event seriously.

President Trump took the opportunity to talk about his favorite subject again, then asked the audience to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings on “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

I also want to thank my great friends the Roma. Where’s Roma, beautiful Roma Downey, the voice of an angel. She’s got the voice — every time I hear that voice; it’s so beautiful. That — everything is so beautiful about Roma, including her husband because he’s a special, special friend. Mark Burnett for the wonderful introduction.

So true, so true. I said to the agent, I’m sorry, the only thing wrong — I actually got on the phone and fired him myself because he said, you don’t want to do it, it’ll never work, it’ll never, ever work, you don’t want to do it. I said, listen. When I really fired him after it became the number one show, it became so successful and he wanted a commission and he didn’t want to this.

That’s when I really said — but we had tremendous success on The Apprentice. And when I ran for president, I had to leave the show. That’s when I knew for sure that I was doing it. And they hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take my place. And we know how that turned out.

The ratings went down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster and Mark will never, ever bet against Trump again. And I want to just pray for Arnold if we can, for those ratings, OK?

Are those the words of someone who takes the event seriously? He’s a narcissist. But calling him a narcissist doesn’t help your cause. It makes you sound like an suede elbow-patch-wearing elite intellectual. That isn’t the way to join in an argument with Trump supporters, much less win it.

“Trump is an embarrassment. Always talking about himself. No real ideas. No leadership. Can’t focus on the job.”

We have to simplify our rhetoric if we want it to stick. Use the words that moved the needle for Trump against Trump. “Trump is a disaster.” “He’s the worst president in our history.” “Trump isn’t a smart leader.” “Lots of people tell me Trump doesn’t believe America is great.” “Trump is unstable and dangerous and everybody says so.” “Trump doesn’t know anything.” “People are telling me Trump isn’t really in charge.” “Trump lets his aides run the country.” “Trump is a puppet president.” “Trump doesn’t read what he signs.” “Trump is afraid of Muslims.”

Keep your messages short, to the point, and as mean as you can make them. Avoid profanity, avoid attacking the supporters directly, and embrace the boring repetition they seem to favor over nuance. No talk about small hands, orange skin, or his dumb hair. Don’t rag on his looks. Attack his actions. Repeat his words. Show them who they put in charge.

The time for nuance is over. You win no points for knowing what you’re talking about because this isn’t high school forensics. It’s the future of our country. They’re willing to believe whatever is told to them provided it is served up in bite-size morsels they can chant at brown people. It’s time to speak their language. “Trump is unstable — a weak leader who will get us all killed. Impeach now!”

Our President is Unbelievable

lovitz-flanaganDavid Muir conducted the first sit-down interview with President Trump since he moved into the Oval Office. It was unbelievable. That’s not hyperbole. It was literally unbelievable that a sitting president would be so obsessed with his own popularity.

Trump interview with ABC News

Trump hasn’t had a great first week in office. His administration has been leaking like a sieve, with the New York Times and the Washington Post both posting anonymous insider-sourced stories about the goings on in the West Wing. These accounts talk of a man who obsesses over poll numbers, TV ratings, and benchmarks. Someone who was unhappy with the media and surprised they didn’t treat him nicer since he was sworn in. And while most presidents do enjoy a honeymoon once in office, Trump almost assuredly squandered his over fights with the press corps about insignificant things like the size of the crowd at his inauguration.

All In All We’re Just Another Brick in the Wall.

Muir did his best to keep the president on topic and focused, which wasn’t easy because Trump tends to take off on flights of fancy. Trump signed an executive order calling for the construction of a southern border wall for the United States. Now, you may recall that during the campaign one of Trump’s favorite call-and-response bits was to get the crowd yelling about the wall. “Who’s going to pay for it?” “MEXICO!!!!” But the EO has asked Congress to appropriate $14 billion to begin planning and construction.

Trump assured Muir not only that Mexico would reimburse us for the wall, but that he never said Mexico would pay for it up front:

DAVID MUIR: What are you gonna say to some of your supporters who might say, “Wait a minute, I thought Mexico was going to pay for this right at the start.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I’d say very simply that they are going to pay for it. I never said they’re gonna pay from the start. I said Mexico will pay for the wall. 

Trump seems to think it’s *our* fault if we didn’t interpret “Mexico is going to pay for the wall” as “Mexico is going to reimburse us for the wall through a complex payment structure that we will decide on later.” Admittedly, it isn’t easy to get a crowd to chant that.

But there are a couple of things to unpack there. The EO Trump signed comes at an unfortunate time — the first day of talks between top officials in Mexico and the US ahead of a planned visit from President Enrique Peña Nieto to the White House.  Peña Nieto responded with a video message denying that Mexico will pay for the wall. “It is evident that we have differences with the new United States government on some issues, such as a wall that Mexico absolutely will not pay for,” Peña Nieto said. “At no time will we accept anything that goes against our dignity as a country and our dignity as Mexicans.”

Trump’s response was, “He has to say that” but they’re gonna pay for it. They just don’t know it, yet, saying the reimbursement will be part of a complicated “transaction” with Mexico, that will result in them paying “100 percent” for the wall and it will cost us “nothing.” Additionally, though the Mexican president claims the wall would be an affront to their dignity, Trump says it will be “good for Mexico.” Peña Nieto said he is considering canceling his US trip. To which Trump replied through a tweet that if Mexico didn’t want to pay for the wall he *should* cancel the trip.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan confirmed that Congress is willing to put up $14 billion for this project, saying, “We’re going to pay for the wall and front the money.” This is troubling since that’s nearly twice as much money as President Obama requested for the EPA in his last budget and was told by congress it was unaffordable. We can’t spend $8 billion to protect our environment, but we can front $14 billion on what is essentially a boondoggle? Unbelievable.

It’s a Major Award!

Muir brought up another executive order President Trump signed calling for a “major investigation” into voter fraud. Let me just say as an aside that normally presidents and government officials don’t use words like “major investigation.” These are left to pundits and media hacks. When the president says “major investigation” I’m left with questions such as what constitutes “major?” Is there a threshold in terms of manpower? Agencies involved? Scope? Or is this just our superlative and hyperbolic president trying to reassure us of his seriousness?

There are no details about this investigation because an EO doesn’t cover things like the budget or a timeline. But with a $14 billion wall to pay for, one wonders if we can afford vanity projects like this. And make no mistake, this is all in service of Trump’s ego. He will not move on from the fact that he won the election, but lost the vote by nearly 3 million.

Trump held a meeting with congressional leaders in which he told them he would have won the popular vote but for three to five million illegal votes cast. The press corp asked Sean Spicer if the president really believes that, then why aren’t we investigating it.

Boom. “Major investigation.” Muir asked him about the meeting and Trump spun off into how he won the election, how he could have won the popular vote easily if that was his goal, but it wasn’t. He talked about how many states he went to. How he didn’t campaign in New York or California and how voter fraud in this country is rampant and pervasive. Muir pressed him for evidence of his claims and we got one of the more interesting exchanges:

DAVID MUIR: What you have presented so far has been debunked. It’s been called false.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, it hasn’t. Take a look at the Pew reports.

DAVID MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night. And he told me that they found no evidence of voter fraud.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Really? Then why did he write the report?

DAVID MUIR: He said no evidence of voter fraud.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Excuse me, then why did he write the report? According to Pew report, then he’s — then he’s groveling again. You know, I always talk about the reporters that grovel when they wanna write something that you wanna hear but not necessarily millions of people wanna hear or have to hear.

The Pew Report on the States, published in 2012, was headed up by David Becker. Becker (who is not a reporter, by the way) has repeatedly said the conclusions of the report were misconstrued and that they found no evidence of voter fraud. He has consistently said this. The problem is that Trump hasn’t read the report. He’s been told about it, most likely by Kris Kobach, secretary of state for Kansas who has a real hard-on for making it harder to vote. Kobach likes to wave that report around and say it says what it doesn’t say (generally by citing the anomalies in the data and extrapolating from them. Becker said they rechecked the anomalies and can account for most of them).

But if we look at what Trump believes is happening, he’s describing problems with voter registration and voter rolls, not actual voter fraud.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: In fact, I heard one of the other side, they were saying it’s not 3 to 5. It’s not 3 to 5. I said, “Well, Mr. Trump is talking about registration, tell–” He said, “You know we don’t wanna talk about registration.” They don’t wanna talk about registration.

You have people that are registered who are dead, who are illegals, who are in two states. You have people registered in two states. They’re registered in a New York and New Jersey. They vote twice. There are millions of votes, in my opinion.

The reason “they don’t want to talk about registration” is because registration isn’t voter fraud. It isn’t unusual for people to be registered in two states because when you move from one state to another, you don’t unregister from your old state. You just register with your new one. So your name may remain on the voter rolls in your old home for years before they get around to removing it. That’s not nefarious. The problem is that Trump has convinced himself that people regularly cross state lines to vote twice.

Interestingly enough, Trump’s daughter Tiffany, White House advisor and Nazi sympathizer Steve Bannon, and Treasury Secretary-Designate Steve Mnuchin are all registered to vote in two different states. Bannon, by the way, registered to vote at a Florida address belonging to someone else (Bannon never lived there).

But to Trump, the accuracy of his claims takes a back seat to the popularity of his claims as evidenced by this exchange:

DAVID MUIR: House Speaker Paul Ryan has said, “I have seen no evidence. I have made this very, very clear.” Senator Lindsey Graham saying, “It’s the most inappropriate thing for a president to say without proof. He seems obsessed with the idea that he could not have possibly lost the popular vote without cheating and fraud.” I wanna ask you about something bigger here. Does it matter more now …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: There’s nothing bigger. There’s nothing bigger.

DAVID MUIR: But it is important because …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Let me just tell you, you know what’s important, millions of people agree with me when I say that if you would’ve looked on one of the other networks and all of the people that were calling in they’re saying, “We agree with Mr. Trump. We agree.” They’re very smart people.

No, Mr. President, that’s not important. Being popular on FOX doesn’t make you right. Not that “millions of people” called into FOX to say they agreed with you. This is a running theme with Trump. He puts more stock in anecdotal evidence than he does in hard data. If someone tells him a story that he likes (especially if a celebrity does it) then it is as good as gold. For example, at the meeting with the congressional leaders, Trump related a story told to him by his “friend” professional golfer Bernhard Langer.

According to the people there, Trump said Langer tried to vote in Florida and was told he wouldn’t be allowed to. He said that there were people in line in front and behind him “that looked like they shouldn’t be allowed to vote” but they were given ballots. They said Trump threw out the names of some South American countries where he speculated these people came from.

Now think about that for a second. That’s a racist story. In Trump’s mind, it was an outrage that brown people were allowed to vote and a white man wasn’t. But this is Florida, which has a large Hispanic citizenry. And Langer isn’t a citizen! He’s from Germany. And the story didn’t happen to him, but to a friend of his.

A senior White House staff member, who was not at the Monday reception but has heard Mr. Trump tell the story, said Mr. Langer saw Mr. Trump in Florida during the Thanksgiving break and told him the story of a friend of Mr. Langer’s who had been blocked from voting. …

The story, the aide added, had made a big impression on Mr. Trump.

So Trump bases his convictions on a second-hand account that he misunderstood and cites as evidence a second-hand account of a report he hasn’t read that doesn’t say what he thinks. But that doesn’t matter as much as his impression that “millions” of people agree with him. That’s nuts. Our president is nuts.

Edit: It turns out that even that story was wrong.

To sum up: The author of the Pew Report says there was no evidence of voter fraud. The Speaker of the House said there was no evidence of voter fraud. Trump’s own attorneys who were fighting the Jill Stein-led recount said “all available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud.”

But if you want to ignore all that, before you go spending money on a “major investigation,” shouldn’t you look at the results of the previous investigation of voter fraud? The Bush Administration did a five-year study and found “virtually no evidence” of voter fraud. Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School conducted one of the most comprehensive multi-year studies of voter fraud and found 31 instances of voter impersonation out of a billion ballots cast. That’s 1 in 32 million votes.

Iowa did their own two-year study in 2012 and found no evidence of significant voter fraud (27 instances, mostly related to misunderstandings about voting regulations). The Washington Post did a review of cases in the 2016 elections and found four out of 136 million (two of those were Trump voters trying to vote twice, even though Trump said in his interview that “none of ’em come to me. None of ’em come to me. They would all be for the other side. None of ’em come to me.”)

Dartmouth did a study of voting patterns in the 2016 elections looking for the fraud Trump says happened. “Our research focuses on non-citizen populations, deceased individuals, the timing of results, and voting technology, and we do not uncover any evidence consistent with Trump’s assertions about widespread voter fraud.

The National Association of Secretaries of State released a statement saying they were unaware of any evidence supporting Trump’s claims. Kris Kobach of Kansas did his own review of 84 million votes cast in 22 states looking for duplicate registrations. He found 14. Wisconsin prosecuted 20 felons who voted illegally in 2008.

What no one asks Trump and what would be harder to explain away is that why would Democrats organize five million illegal votes and not put them in states where Clinton needed to win the electoral college? And why didn’t they also vote for down-ballot Democrats to help take back the Senate or the House?

It doesn’t make sense. But for Trump, it doesn’t have to make sense. A professional golfer told him a story and “millions” of people agree with him. So let’s have a “major investigation.” Sean Spicer said the investigation will concentrate on “bigger states” and “Urban areas.” Trump wants to look for fraud in places where he lost. That’s not an ethical use of the president’s power.

The Standing O

From a personal standpoint, one of the most telling sections of the ABC interview was when Trump spoke about his speech at the CIA. Nothing illustrates the delusion behind his tired, old eyes quite like his insistence that he was not only warmly welcomed, but that he was given a huge standing ovation.

 

PRESIDENT TRUMP: That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox, OK, I’ll mention you — we see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and — and they were all CIA. There was — somebody was asking Sean — “Well, were they Trump people that were put–” we don’t have Trump people. They were CIA people.

Not according to news reports. CBS said Trump and Pence brought 40 people with them to the meeting which took up the front two rows. But beyond that, “screaming?” Why does Trump say these CIA officers were “screaming” for him? He’s truly the hyperbolic president.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time. What you do is take — take out your tape — you probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it. People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. I hate to say this to you and you probably won’t put it on but turn on Fox and see how it was covered. And see how people respond to that speech.

Okay, couple of things.

1) What the hell are you talking about with the Peyton Manning SuperBowl ovation? How could a room with fewer than 400 people in it, give “the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal.” What? What does that even mean? Who said that?

2) If they never sat down during the speech, then they didn’t give you a standing ovation at the end.

3) Why does this matter so much to you? Why do you insist on repeating this obvious lie over and over? Is your ego so fragile that you have to waste your time and energy dying on *this* hill?

Our president is unbelievable and I mean that in the most literal sense of the word. It is impossible to believe him because he talks in hyperbole. He lies for no reason. He lies like breathing. He’s unbelievable.

 

 

 

I Don’t Think You Know What “Out of Context” Means

By now, anyone who cares has seen the hidden-camera video of Mitt Romney speaking to a group of supporters at a $50,000-a-plate dinner/fundraiser in which he says some unkind things about 47 percent of America.

Mother Jones’ David Corn posted the video clips in drips and drops before releasing the entire thing. Here is a transcript, if you’d rather read it.

Interesting aside: Man, does the right wing hate Mother Jones. I can’t tell you how many pundits tried to imply that there was something suspect about this video because Mother Jones was the one to publish it.

After lumping nearly half of America into a class of moochers and freeloaders, Romney spoke about the Mideast peace process. Specifically, he said that a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine would not work and he didn’t believe Palestinians (again, lumping them all together) wanted peace so much as they wanted the destruction of Israel. So as president, he’d “kick the ball down the field” and hope something happened to change everything.

The night the video was released, Romney ducked out of another fundraiser to hold a quick press conference in which he said his off-the-cuff remarks were “inelegantly stated” but were pretty much how he feels. The next day Anne Romney claimed the video was taken out of context.

Now hold on. The video just shows Romney speaking to a group of rich supporters for a little over an hour. How is it out of context, exactly? I don’t think that phrase means what you think it means.

Granted, the transcript includes a couple of minutes that aren’t on the video for some reason. In that missing segment, Romney talks more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

So, the only answer is show your strength. Again, American strength, American resolve, as the Palestinians someday reach the point where they want peace more than we’re trying to push peace on them—and then it’s worth having the discussion. Until then, it’s just wishful thinking.

I guess I don’t see how this helps all that much. It certainly doesn’t address Romney’s obvious disdain for the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income tax.

But this missing bit gave the Romney campaign the idea to send out an email titled: Today, The Obama Campaign Leveled False Attacks Against Mitt Romney Based On A Debunked And Selectively Edited Video.

Pardon me? How exactly was this video debunked? Maybe you’ve confused this video with that ACORN pimp video that James O’Keefe selectively edited. Or maybe you’re thinking about that Brietbart video that was selectively edited to show Shirley Sherrod bragging about not helping white farmers.

On Fox News, Romney attacked President Obama over a 1998 video showing the then-Illinois state representative talking about redistribution of wealth. Drudge ran a clip of the video, pulling a quote for his headline: “I actually believe in redistribution.”

But, when you look at what Obama actually said, it becomes clear what “out of context” really means:

Let me just close by saying, as we think about the policy research surrounding the issues that I just named, policy research for the working poor, broadly defined, I think that what we’re going to have to do is somehow resuscitate the notion that government action can be effective at all. There has been a systematic — I don’t think it’s too strong to call it a propaganda campaign against the possibility of government action and its efficacy. And I think some of it has been deserved. Chicago Housing Authority has not been a model of good policymaking. And neither necessarily have been the Chicago Public Schools.

What that means, then, is, is that as we try to resuscitate this notion that we’re all in this thing together, leave nobody behind, we do have to be innovative in thinking, what are the delivery systems that are actually effective and meet people where they live? And my suggestion, I guess, would be that the trick — and this is one of the few areas where I think there are technical issues that have to be dealt with, as opposed to just political issues — I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody’s got a shot.

So, you tell me, who was taken out of context?

Interesting aside: If Romney wants to start pulling 18-year-old video to attack Obama, there is plenty of old tape of Romney espousing all kinds of positions. At one time Romney was pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, said his opponents should release their tax returns and claimed to be to the left of Ted Kennedy.

I’ll give you another example. The very first ad produced by the Romney campaign (back when he was determined to win this election based on the lousy economy) shows President Obama in New Hampshire in 2008 saying “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” But the actual quote from the speech is much different:

 “Sen. McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.

So you tell me, who was taken out of context?

Incidentally, the Romney campaign stands by that ad, saying it was a case of “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” Since Obama used the economy to bash McCain, Romney is going to use it to bash Obama. That’s all well and good (and fair, I’d say). But the ad lacked that context. The ad just shows Obama saying the economy was going to lose him the election and that wasn’t what he was saying.

There are certain phrases you really only hear in political years. Does anyone other than a politician ever say “I misspoke?” Does anyone other than a political pundit ever bring up “false equivalency?”

I really detest that last one. Bringing it up just makes you sound like a wonk and when there’s so much anti-intellectualism on the right, using big words makes them shut down. It’s a shortcut to having everything else you say dismissed. The right doesn’t want to hear someone point out their false equivalency any more than they want to hear talk about quotes pulled out of context. They like to say those techniques are just SOP for political campaigns.

But they aren’t. They just aren’t.

On the Romney side we have: 1) If we keep talking about the economy we’ll lose. 2) You didn’t build that. 3)We tried our plan and it worked.  4) The private sector is doing fine. 5) I believe in redistribution.

On the Obama side we have: 1) I like being able to fire people (wait, that was during the primary and it was Republicans who attacked Romney over that) 2) I’m not concerned about the very poor. (Romney was attacked by pundits, but the quote doesn’t appear in any ads.) 3) Corporations are people, my friend (While Obama has used this line on the stump, no ad has used this quote).

Interesting aside: when I tried to Google “Obama ad misquotes Romney” Google suggested that what I meant to search was “Romney ad misquotes Obama.” When I tried the phrase “Obama ad takes Romney quote out of context” it suggested I try “Romney ad takes Obama quote out of context.”

So this isn’t a case of “a pox on both their houses.” There have been thousands of words written about the Romney camp’s use of out-of-context quotes. They built an entire night of their convention around “you didn’t build that.” As far as I can find, this technique is one-sided.

So when Romney claims that a video showing him denigrate the peace process and describe 47 percent of the American people as freeloaders who won’t take personal responsibility for their lives, claims of being taken out of context are just stupid and pathetic. Especially when Romney has demonstrated a real zeal for taking Obama’s quotes and twisting them like taffy.

I’m a political junkie. A presidential election year is like my SuperBowl. So my tolerance for backbiting, negative ads and a lack of substantive debate on important issues is quite high. But there is something really disgusting about the Romney campaign this year. It’s like facts don’t matter to them.

Take this whole “redistribution” brouhaha. Romney is for redistribution. He told Fox News that he isn’t, but if you look on his site, his tax plan is progressive. He says he believes in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. That’s redistribution, my friend. As Ezra Klein in the Washington Post puts it “It’s one thing to wildly misrepresent your opponent’s views, but to wildly misrepresent your own?”