Sitting on the Corner, clutching a joint and a glass of booze

Why do I do it to myself? The other night, foolish but fortified by several shots of whisky, I set out to read the Corner.

For those of you who may not have heard of it, o lucky souls ye, the Corner is the blog attached to National Review Online, which means that it is the piss-filled kiddie pool of the internet. It’s where Kathryn Jean Lopez takes her ovaries out for a dip and some sun; where you can hear multiple Pulitzer Prize nominated author Jonah Goldberg pontificating upon the jobs figures while he floats around in an inflatable ring, like some unspeakable and undercooked donut hole; and where the finest brains of the right hang out behind the changing rooms and smoke doobies and congratulate each other on their bravery in saying what needs to be said in slightly different ways and swap the occasional blowjob.

Essentially, it’s where you go if you want to know what stupid people think about politics. It’s kind of like Balloon Juice, but without the jokes and the animal pictures.

I read the Corner because it’s important to know what the stupid people are thinking. And so I can point and laugh, but that’s in the way of a bonus. I suffer this for the same reason I receive fifty seven emails every day with titles like “Morning Briefing: Enemy Collaborators” or “American Soil Has Been Attacked”, not to mention at least one email every day from either Marcus or Michele (and often both).

I read them, so you don’t have to. And then promptly ignore most of them – these people are incontinent loons, after all.

Anyway, I set out to read the Corner the other night, foolish and fortified etc., and woke up nine hours later with a mouth like a nun’s nasty, the imprint of a portable keyboard on my face and seven messages from various lawyers asking me not to drunk dial the members of the RNC again. Sadly, my notes of the evening seem to consist of the words “A strong smell of excrement prevails throughout” followed by the word “fuck” typed over and over, so that was a bit of a waste. Smashing scotch though.

Slightly chastened, I ventured over there again last night and this morning to see what they were saying about Mitt’s little video catastrophe as it happened. I’m afraid this post is a little long, and doesn’t really have a point. You have been warned.

Let me take you back to yesterday afternoon. 2.50pm. Michael Walsh writes about how the Politico article about Stuart Stevens is almost too depressing to contemplate, and then notes that:

Meanwhile, it’s a good thing for Romney that absolutely nothing of any interest has been going on in the world this past week, and steady-as-he-goes Mitt can keep reminding the American public, when he bothers to emerge from the foxhole into which the media has driven him, that President Obama’s a nice guy, but by golly he’s in over his head, and gee whiz I saved the Olympics and, dadgummit, a CFO is just what this country needs right now. (Although even that’s not working any more.)

Has anyone — well, since John McCain — ever made a more dispassionate case for himself or his candidacy? Here the anti-Obama commercials practically write themselves, and we’ve all seen the photographs of an American citizen taken into custody by the Thought Police, and yet Romney’s not even a hologram of a candidate at this point.

I think Walsh is a bit disappointed. Is there anyone who likes Mitt? Anywhere? Walsh writes well, I think:

This should be the most winnable election since Reagan crushed Mondale, but it won’t be, and not for any of the reasons Karl Rove and his krack kadre of GOP kampaign konsultants (who, like baseball managers with losing records, continue to be re-hired) think. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom in Boston, this election is not going to be decided strictly on jobs, tax policy, 59-point plans, economic issues, or managerial competence (Romney’s sounding more like Mike Dukakis every day). Unfortunately, it’s clear that Romney thinks it is, and that he’ll have the upper hand in that argument.

It’s not. Instead, it’s about one thing and one thing only: What kind of “America” is this country going to be? The constitutional republic of sovereign states founded by patriots in the 18th century, or the 20th century’s European-imported “progressive” dream of a federal leviathan? A nation of self-reliant yeomen or a country of beggars, supplicants, and bums? The Enlightenment’s dream or the Frankfurt School’s Communist nightmare?

If the “strategists” would pull their heads away from Rove’s chalkboard for a moment, they might see the larger picture, turn the tables on President Hopenchange, and reveal what his “change” was really about all along — the fundamental transformation of the United States of America, with the results we now see all around us. Indeed, that should be the salient issue of the campaign. But Romney doesn’t appear to be the guy who can explain that.

Romney was a well-financed weak candidate in a field of weak candidates, an ’08 retread who successfully exploited his rivals’ vulnerabilities during the primaries, but has since done almost nothing to convince the broader electorate that he ought to be president. It’s as if, having won the nomination, he’s essentially vanished. He’s (so far) squandered the Ryan veep pick and retreated in the face of hostile, partisan media criticism over his Libya statement. Some pushback, properly applied, might have done wonders for his image as a leader, instead of a bloodless McKinsey & Co. efficiency expert, the kind of clipboard-wielding, grinning chap who fired you in an effort to make your company leaner and meaner, just before it went out of business.

Frankly, if you ignore the Ferawferaw School’s Transformationalist nightmare guff, he’s pretty much got Mitt’s problems down, although he immediately descends into full wingnuttery again:

Mitt Romney would make a very competent, Coolidge-like president, and one who would be blissfully absent from America’s airwaves for much of his term as he went about dismantling the odious rules of engagement that currently hamstring America both militarily and economically. He’s clearly a good man and a nice guy — but nice guys finish last.

Yeah. Calvin Coolidge was cool, man, and a hardass.

Then, an update. That video is out there.

UPDATE: The Left apparently thinks this hidden-camera video of Romney speaking candidly is going to hurt him, but more blunt talk like this would only help.

Apparently the answer is for Mitt to go on air and tell the nation they are self-entitled moochers who have been sucking on Mother Liberty’s tit for too long. By 6.09pm, at least, that seems to be the argument that Patrick Brennan is going for.

Even more damning, after the CBO released its report in July about the distribution of federal tax payments and household income, Harvard economics professor (and Romney adviser) Gregory Mankiw did a little back-of-the-envelope math to look at how transfers received by various quintiles compared to the amount people pay in taxes. Below is their net income either received in transfers or paid in taxes, expressed as a percentage of market income earned by each quintile:

Bottom quintile: -301 percent
Second quintile: -42 percent
Middle quintile: -5 percent
Fourth quintile: 10 percent
Highest quintile: 22 percent

That is, looked at as a whole, even the middle quintile of Americans receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes to the federal government. Romney’s comments may still strike many Americans as ill-advised or offensive, but they’re not entirely detached from reality. A disturbingly large share of Americans do rely on government entitlements, and their protectiveness toward them is of immense political importance.

You’re all fucking leeches, essentially, and by 8.42pm John O’Sullivan knows how Mitt should sell this.

If Romney responds to the Mother Jones story by backing off from his basic argument that far too many Americans are dependent upon the government and that this dependency skews their votes, he will weaken his campaign enormously. This audio revelation does not destroy his chance of winning in November, as over-excitable commentators have argued. There are inaccuracies in it, as Patrick Brennan points out, but the basic argument is reasonable. (If over-deterministic — many people receiving welfare and other forms of government aid dislike their situation and would much prefer to be self-reliant.) But Romney cannot make that and other arguments if he begins by withdrawing his remarks or, worse, by apologizing for them. An apology, moreover, would confirm the still-latent suspicion that he is unduly nervous and a flip-flopper.

I like that “many people receiving welfare and other forms of government aid dislike their situation and would much prefer to be self-reliant.” So caring and understanding about the leeches.

So Mr O’Sullivan lays out his 8 point plan for a Mitt press conference. It involves charts, and this magnificent incoherence:

3. Many people receiving benefits are getting back from the government some or all of what they paid in through hidden taxes. But government takes a heavy service charge from us when it circulates our money back and forth to us. [Picture of one of those GSA parties at this point.]

4. Those voters who pull the Democratic lever because of what the government gives them are not just being bribed, they’re being bribed with their own money. Don’t be a sucker — especially not a two-time sucker.

5. Most people receiving tax-funded benefits are the victims of excess government (point 4) or of the Obama economy and large-scale long-term unemployment. What they want is not a life on the dole but a chance to get a decent job to support their families. Excess government threatens that chance — and Obama believes in excess government.

and ends with this, presumably step 9:

Romney should then leave without taking questions, perhaps issuing a detailed statement of these points later.

A fine plan. Let me know how that works out for you.

9:06pm and Jonah is heard from. I’m only going to quote a little bit of Jonah because his writing can induce seizures and I’m not having any of you bloodsuckers falling off your chairs and trying to sue me.

No, I don’t think this video is good news for Romney. But if Romney showed a little more of the spirit he shows in this video, I’m not sure it wouldn’t help.

10:30 pm EST – Mitt gives a press conference during in which he babbles while looking like he spent the last six hours shouting at people, and then inserted a gerbil just before he went on air.

11.19pm – Daniel Foster is underwhelmed. However, when needed he can call on a great American hero for hope.

Romney doesn’t exactly do it as elegantly (which is why they pay me the big bucks) but he does gesture at some of this. I found the presser not horrible, which is about as much praise as I can muster right now.

I don’t think there is any way to spin the release of this video as a positive for Romney, but I do think — and I said as much on Twitter — that now that it has happened, Romney’s only play is to turn into the approaching torpedoes at flank speed, Marko Ramius style.

In other words, the more fully Romney owns these comments the less the press can report them as a “gaffe.” Romney is now in a position that he has to bring the fight to Obama on the entitlement state. He can’t coast on poor economic indicators. Which, I think, is to the good, since the polls are showing that that is not a guaranteed winner, anyway.

Do you think these men ever read 538 or Mr Wang, or ever play with an election map to see what Romney actually has to do in order to win? Or do they genuinely believe that the election would be a lock if Mitt could only sell the evil of the welfare state to poor welfare trash?

Then, night and silence, a silence broken at 7.11am by Michael ‘Mitt crapped in my weeties” Walsh, who still hates Mitt, but hates everyone else more, particularly anyone named Carter:

Milk-Carton Mitt’s surprise turn upon the stage — did you know he was running for president? — came courtesy of the currently unemployed James Earl Carter IV, son of James Earl Carter III and grandson of the ineffable James Earl Carter, Jr., and a big fan of Barack Hussein Obama II, who found and relayed a surreptitiously recorded video in which Romney sounded remarkably like . . . a real conservative.

He ought to own it.

For sure, even Team Romney knows what’s coming next. The barrage of media criticism. The shrieks of “how dare you?” The tsk-tsking of ostensible friendlies. The constant press corps demands for clarification or, better yet, groveling abnegation. And more video’s on the way — be sure to read this story by David Corn for the full details. It’s going to get very, very ugly very, very quickly.

Walsh makes fun of David Brooks (see, he’s not all bad), and then there is this:

But let’s move on to some Brit or other:

When was the last time a president fighting for re-election was handed such a gift? Remind me, someone: how did the GOP end up with this idiot as their candidate?

Hey, buddy — he’s our idiot, so don’t get this Irish-American started on your idiots, the House of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha, the family of Germans who’ve been ruling your country since Queen Victoria snuggled up with Prince Albert and produced Edward VII and, thanks to a family squabble among Georgie, Willie, and Nicky, drove your country right into World War I — a disaster from which it’s never recovered.

Um. OK. Some unresolved issues there. Moving quietly on.

Well, as Jonah has famously said, the hell with them. This is Mitt’s time, this is his moment. As at the Battle of Gettysburg, neither side was really looking for this fight at this time and in this place, but here it is. And that means going all in.

Sure, Mitt might have phrased things more elegantly — and certainly would have had he known there was a rat in the audience. (Every candidate — hell, everybody — simply must assume henceforth that their every word and email, thanks to technology and the Bush administration’s overwrought defensive reaction to 9/11, is being monitored, taped and weaponized, if need be.)

But now he has a choice — to back away from the implication of his off-the-cuff remarks, and try to blame his sentiments on infelicity, or to embrace the stark dichotomy he laid out and go with it. This chance encounter should be the thing that forces Romney out of his crouch, away from his krack kadre of kampaign konsultants, and fleeing from his over-reliance on conventional wisdom and polls.

When Lee — on his way to Harrisburg or even Philadelphia — collided with Union troops while searching for shoes, he precipitated the biggest battle of the Civil War. It was not a battle he sought, but once started it was a battle he had to win. And he lost. Similarly, Meade — fresh to his command of the Army of the Potomac — was taken by surprise, but organized a skillful defense in the face of the Confederate onslaught and emerged victorious. For three days, the fate of the nation hung in the balance.

Will Romney rise to the occasion and fight? Or will he retreat? Only one path can lead to victory in November.

The fate of his candidacy will hinge on the answer.

Sadly for Mr Walsh, the answer is that Mitt is going to spend the next seven weeks looking like that gerbil has taken up residence in his colon.

Now the rest of the morning on the Corner is a bit of a washout, as they seem to want to talk about anything but Romney. I’d give honorable mentions to Victor Davis Hanson for asking if Obama has been Carterized (duh, yes, but not enough), and to Mark Krikorian for finding evidence of widespread voter fraud:

I saw up close how serious the problem of ballot integrity is just this weekend, when I was out door-knocking with voter-registration lists — at least one of the registered voters listed hadn’t lived at that address for decades.

I need a drink, kiddies, so I will leave you with these last two pieces of pure wingnut word on the Romney, glimmering amongst the dross like rancid fat. First, K-LO, Our Lady of the Tiny Innocent Souls (and I note that this is her post this morning in its entirety:

The only reason the Mother Jones leaks have traction is, of course, because of the “Mittbot” narrative. Ironically though, while we pretend not to know Romney, who does have a record as governor, we still seem to continue ignore the radicalism of Barack Obama and his administration, with now near-four years of a record in the White House.

and Peter Kirsanow with… this, which … I don’t even know what this is:

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, proclaiming Mitt Romney’s comments “shocking,” states (with a straight face), “It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the population.”

Americans who’ve lost their ambition and imagination and willingness to do the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge, American soldiers who just air-raid villages and kill civilians, typical white people, the unpatriotic who don’t pay their fair share, Americans who’ve gotten soft, midwesterners who cling to guns and religion, Catholics, the entire state of Arizona, and delusional businessmen who believe they built their own businesses — to name just a few — apparently add up to less than half the population.

Now, fuck off, you leeches.


2 Comments on “Sitting on the Corner, clutching a joint and a glass of booze”

  1. heydave says:

    Wow. I’m not sure what exactly those kids were all trying to say, but I think the lesson is not to mix one’s meds so casually.

  2. And I thought Palin was the gift that kept on giving… Thanks for the report.


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