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Tomasky writes: "Republicans have questioned the patriotism of Democrats for nearly a hundred years. But now, at long last, Barack Obama is turning the tables on the GOP."

Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Bowling Green, Ohio, 07/18/12. (photo: Evan Vucci/AP)
Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Bowling Green, Ohio, 07/18/12. (photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

Mitt Romney, Un-American

By Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast

21 July 12


Republicans have questioned the patriotism of Democrats for nearly a hundred years. But now, at long last, Barack Obama is turning the tables on the GOP.

ohn Sununu opened the "American" door the other day, and now the Romney campaign is barging through it, plotting attacks on Barack Obama's "biography," which will inevitably include veiled accusations about his alleged alien cast, his lack of American-ness. So now that it's open, let's stroll through it ourselves. What's taking place in the room on the other side of that door? Republicans and conservatives are bouncing off the walls because they face a serious risk for the first time in a generation that their definitions of patriotism and Americanism are losing. And not just losing - losing to, of all people, Barack Hussein Obama!

The Republican credo that theirs is the party of patriotism goes back a long, long way, at least to the 1920s. The Democrats then as now represented society's so-called rabble - immigrants, wets, cosmopolites of that gin-soaked decade when the urban population for the first time overtook the rural. Over time, Democrats added blacks, new immigrants, liberated women, gays. The Democrats have been the party of the Other. Impugning their patriotism to the target audience is so easy it can hardly even be called work. In doing so, of course, Republicans tied the concept strongly to their, um, values: the all-conquering free market, mostly; a good war now and then; the occasional (actually, more or less constant, now that I think about it) campaign against subversives real and imagined (the vast majority). Thus have things ever been.

You will find, as you scan our modern electoral history, say since 1968, that the Republican candidate has laid some Americanism-related charge at the Democrat nearly every time, but that the reverse has never occurred. Richard Nixon sent Spiro Agnew out to accuse Hubert Humphrey of being soft on communism and compare him to Neville Chamberlain, even while Nixon was committing treason by submarining the Paris peace talks. Democrats can't, and don't, peddle this merchandise, because it's pointless: they know it won't stick to the party that has owned the issue for decades.



Then comes Obama. I don't have to rehearse for you all the things that were said in 2008. More salient is the fact that the Republicans are still saying them now, after the man has been president for three-and-a-half years and after he executed Osama bin Laden. Obama apologizes for America. If we give this man four more years, Romney has warned repeatedly, the America we've come to know and love will no longer exist. Health care, higher taxes at the top of the income ladder - these aren't just bad ideas. They're un-American and threaten the very body and blood of Uncle Sam. Romney said just two days ago in Pennsylvania: "The course we're on right now is foreign to us. It changes America."

That's the script. But then the patriotism party nominated a man who has for a quarter-century practiced a brand of capitalism that respects no known flag or borders. He ran a company that created some jobs but sent others overseas, he finagled himself a way to get paid a lot of money for doing (by his own admission) no work for a few years, and he appears to have retained a battery of lawyers to help ensure that he pays a far lower tax rate than the working people he's trying to whip into a state of fear about Obama. And there's only one reason people have Swiss bank accounts, and it's to avoid making their otherwise mandated contributions to the national treasury.

I originally had mixed feelings about Obama's "America the Beautiful" ad, the one that uses Romney's wobbly warbling of the song as backdrop for text that read: "He had millions in a Swiss bank account... Tax havens like Bermuda... And the Cayman Islands." It seemed, and maybe was, a little bit churlish to use Romney's singing, which wasn't what you'd call good but more or less followed the tune. But the ad succeeds marvelously at making Romney's career not just about rapacious pursuit of profit, but about patriotism. I don't ever recall a Democratic campaign implying that a Republican's behavior was unpatriotic. So consider my hat tipped, in a big way. It's as if Obama changed the directional flow of a mighty river.

Now Romney is going to scramble to reset things to normal. But we're supposed to own the label "America"! We decide what's patriotic! That's just how it's always been, that's why! I'm sure Romney is absolutely staggered at the idea that his life's work is being calumniated as, of all things, unpatriotic, and by - as I said earlier, of all people - Barack Obama. I luxuriate in the thought that right-wingers across the country are tearing their hair out over this as if in a nice hot bath. But that's what is happening, and it's resonating because it's true. He has done all of these things.

It may be legal to take every tax break you can, to try to claim a $77,000 deduction for your horse. But it is not right. Being a good American means doing what's right in civic terms, not what you and your team of lawyers figure you can get away with. By this definition Romney is the un-American, and it would be a glorious thing indeed if he became the pivot on which we turned to a definition of patriotism that rendered behavior like his opprobrious. your social media marketing partner


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+65 # walthe310 2012-07-21 15:41
The presidential campaign of 2012 will be one of the dirtiest campaigns on record. Why? Because the Obama campaign dared to question Mitt on Bain and his unreleased tax returns. With that as an excuse, the Romney campaign is going to do what they have wanted to do all along. They will repeat every charge leveled against Barack Obama in the past and they will not hesitate to make up new charges. Recently I saw an article speculating that Barack Obama senior was not Barack's true father. Now the right is speculating that Barack's real father was a communist by the name of Frank Marshall Davis. It will take a real man to withstand all the slanderous attacks. I think that Barack is up to the challenge; I doubt that Mitt could.
+8 # NanFan 2012-07-22 13:33
Never mind "patriotism" as we once defined it! The real patriotism would be to arrest Mitt Romney. He is a felon through and through and CANNOT be president.

Arrest this man now! Someone in power, please, find the evidence, get it out in a way that is irrefutable, and get this "suit" off the streets of America, for he IS as un-American as they come.

+3 # ghostperson 2012-07-22 23:00
I realize this is wishful thinking but in my mind there is no way anthing the right can say that will gain traction except with the already converted. A man with an elevator for his cars in one of his multi-million dollar homes, who keeps assets offshore and who also refuses to show us the effects of the business experience he crows so much about is not a person who can be elected POTUS. The more he digs in, the less viable are his chances of being elected president. Primarily because he continues to insult our human dignity and intelligence. If we are not good enough to show yourself to, you are too self-important to be our chosen leader. You are either in it with us or you are the "other." If you don't believe in and follow the golden rule, you aren't in it with us. I don't understand people who vote for their own economic executioners.
Can hatred be so compelling that one will sacrifice his or her own family's well being for spite. Guess so. To me it is dumbfounding. The litter of carnage caused by the S & L, Milliken and Boeske, Enron, Tyco, the tech bubble, the subprime implosion, LIBOR is out there for all to see. Our ersatz regulators in bed with crooks. It must be a case of ignorance as classically defined, "refusal of knowledge." The low information voters are blinded by the fire in their bellies that produces smoke in their brains.
+41 # karlarove 2012-07-21 20:50
Mitt Romney is a bit out of touch. The America we've come to know and love no longer exists. It is a myth but Romney understands how people tend to vote emotionally, rather than logically. If he had acting experience like Ronald Regan, instead of business experience he would do much better with the public!
+68 # 2012-07-21 22:18
I sense almost sympathy in the above comments about a man unqualified to hold the office of President of the United States being an underdog. No, he cannot campaign as well as the President. Yes, he has not connected with America. These truths should underscore with disdain the fact that he is trying to buy the White House, not that the poor guy is inept and we should feel sorry for him. As I said, he is not qualified to be President and every American registered to vote needs to realize that government is not a business. They serve two totally different functions. To run government like a for-profit institution is to deny its rightful role in society. The government does not control the stock market; private enterprise does. The government did not cause the financial meltdown and subsequent Great Recession; the private sector did. Yet Governor Romney is running against the very government that his for-profit, free, private enterprise colleagues ran toward to get them out of the mess they created. Isn't that ironic. No, I say do not give Governor Romney any sympathy - not even a fair break. Run the ads and show the American people who he really is. The gloves are off.
+41 # unitedwestand 2012-07-22 00:55
What we need to remember is that the NeoCons/RW/Repu blicants/Corpor atists/Banskste rs don't care if their candidate is qualified, and we know Mittens isn't, they just want somebody who knows how to sign his name on legislation they want passed. Period, end of discussion!
+8 # AMLLLLL 2012-07-22 10:28
Yes, I believe that was Grover Norquist's statement, "...anyone who can push a pen..." I believe are the words he used.
0 # karlarove 2012-07-25 19:13
[quote name=""]I sense almost sympathy in the above comments about a man unqualified to hold the office of President of the United States being an underdog. The government did not cause the financial meltdown and subsequent Great Recession; the private sector did."
Not implying any sympathy for Romney in my comment. Just some sarcasm about acting being a useful skill if you want people to believe your lies. But I must dispute your comment about "The government does not control the stock market; private enterprise does." That is not true. In 1998, the Federal Reserve (Government), under Greenspan, gave Citigroup (Business) a waiver to go around the Glass Stegall Act (Government) and approved their purchase of Travelers Group. Sam Weill of Citigroup said "that over that time the legislation will change...we have had enough discussions to believe this will not be a problem". And then the Gramm-Leach-Bli ley Act was passed in November 1999. Once the Glass Stegall act was dismantled the Greedy Banksters went on their full court press, the laws holding them back were gone, all bought and paid for by the banking industry. A combination of paid for government with private enterprize is very enterprizing!
+1 # ghostperson 2012-07-22 22:43
But what role would he play? Pinnochio, the wooden puppet? The man's range is shockingly narrow. A "bit" out of touch? Try parallel universe...oh, sorry...forgot he is or will become a deity in the cosmos under the precepts of his cult. In mine, I am the center of the universe. My problem is I can't get any followers, wonder why?
+69 # Colleen Clark 2012-07-21 22:08
The "America the Beautiful" ad is brilliant. A short collection of facts (each still photo carefully footnoted). This evening I saw once during a baseball broadcast and twice (sic) during one long commercial break during the British Open golf broadcast.

There's nothing "patriotic" about a very rich person who is running for president of the US keeping substantial amounts of money stashed abroad. If he were smarter Romney would have brought it home months ago and then touted how patriotic he was paying more tax than he otherwise would have to. That it either didn't occur to him or thought it wouldn't matter tells us all more about his character than he wants us to know. Clueless - not good quality in a would-be leader.
+43 # JCM 2012-07-21 22:33
This is really about the wealthiest, the entitled, the priesthood of our nation stealing the very fabric of our core ideals from us. By deceiving so many with hate and greed, to vote against their own self interest, they get to apply their great wealth to manufacture laws benefitting only themselves. Yes this is unpatriotic but soon, unless so many can raise themselves from this darkness, it will be considered american.
+1 # doneasley 2012-07-23 14:55
JCM, you're so right about the GOP getting people "to vote against their own self interest". That's really the heart of this election - people supporting a political ideology that will destroy the very fabric of our society. Seems that the hatred of Barack Obama is so virulent that people are willing to cut their noses off to spite their faces.

What are they thinking?
+23 # humanmancalvin 2012-07-22 03:51
It seems that President Obama is a new breed of Democrat. The man is a fighter, he will not lay down, play dead, and rollover when the "Swift Boat" type tactics come roaring up to the White House.
John Kerry, a good man but not a fighter, sat still for the outrageous lies spread about him and that instance of not punching back helped him to lose the election. Barak Obama on the other hand is throwing rights and combinations at Romney that obviously has the man reeling as his own party is publicly in agreement, for different reasoning, about him releasing more tax returns. Romney's financial statements have to be dripping with scandalous entries from offshore banking accounts, tax dodges and who knows what. I get the feeling that they are being scrubbed clean as I type this post, dirty trickery not uncommon to the Radical Right Insurgency.
+25 # Ralph Averill 2012-07-22 05:10
"It may be legal to take every tax break you can..."
It's easy for to steal legally when you own enough of the people who make the laws in the first place to make sure you act "legally". Millions of people who "worked hard and played by the rules" got shafted.
It's all about Congress in 2012!
+26 # Charles3000 2012-07-22 05:28
We all need to face the simple fact; Mitt is a poster child for the 1%.
+23 # Jyl 2012-07-22 05:44
I feel so badly, as I read this, humiliated for Americans, who have been looked upon by much of the rest of the world with envy and who are now belittled for doing nothing about their dire circumstances which are, really, turning America into a third world country. How odd that America goes running to remedy, all over the globe, when problems with leadership are rampant, yet who cannot identify the same dire conditions in their own backyard. Inequity must be overturned so that the country can begin to regain its self-respect, as well as that of other countries. It has turned into a land of nighmares, rather than dreams.
-22 # seeuingoa 2012-07-22 06:19
The only problem with Obama is
that he has not deserved a second term !

Indefinite detention,
tarsand pipeline

and you can add your favourite.....!
-42 # jimattrell 2012-07-22 07:23
You're doing a very good job talking about things that don't matter while Rome burns under massive spending and high unemployment under "empty suit" leadership. How about writing about those things that really do matter. That's what I want to hear about...
+13 # tabonsell 2012-07-22 16:05
You seem a bit confused if you don't know we live in a capitalist economy and capitalism requires capital to survive and that capital comes from spending. Spending is not a problem, it is the lifeblood of the system.

The problem is too many freeloaders who contribute nothing to sustaining that capitalism and those freeloaders go by the title of corporations. Did you know that just before and just after WWII individuals paid 53% of all income taxes in the United States while businesses paid 47%. now, individuals pay more than 90% of the income taxes and businesse less than 10%. And what have we gotten for making such a shift in taxation?; financial problems, massive debt, out-of-control deficits, jobs moving overseas, wages suppressed, poverty rising, the middle class disappearing, education deteriorating, our infrastructure crumbling. But the GOP always protects the freeloaders.

To reverse these trends we need more spending, not less, and the political right has damaged the ability of most Americans to spend for the betterment of the nation.

Obama has halted the massive increases in spending and put it on a level course, but massive cuts in spending would plunge us into depression. It always has, always will.

If Obama could make our problems go away by waving a magic wand, why didn't George Bush wave that wand or Ronald Reagan, who started our descend into crapola with his "voodoo" economics?
+10 # Floridatexan 2012-07-22 11:43
Someone recently characterized Romney as the "anti-capitalis t". This is fitting in the sense that he is not a builder of worth but of wealth...his personal fortune and the fortunes of those of like mind. He's not a builder but a destroyer...and the epitome of what's tearing our great country apart.
+4 # Texas Aggie 2012-07-22 20:10
There's a difference between a capitalist who gets rich by his productive accomplishments and a capitalist who gets rich off what are known as "rents" or because of ownership rather than production. It includes speculation, financial manipulation, and similar behavior. Romney is solidly in the latter camp where he made money even when he drove companies into the ground by charging them "management fees" and by using their assets as collateral for "loans."
+6 # JSRaleigh 2012-07-22 14:49
Mittens is a draft-dodging, chicken-hawk. Never served in the military. Didn't even try to get his daddy to find him a sinecure in the National Guard while he was Governor ... something that both the shrub and mr pototaoe-head managed to do.

Who wants a President who's dumber than both Bush & Quayle put together?
+4 # ceesa 2012-07-22 16:03
Does anyone else think Douglas C. Neidermeyer (Animal House) whenever a picture of Romney appears???
+1 # Charles3000 2012-07-23 05:39
I don't know Doug. Was he a "one time" front runner in the Repug race for being the canidate?
+1 # Texas Aggie 2012-07-22 20:07
For a bit more on the off shore "investment" story, check out the following about the whole business worldwide.
+1 # ghostperson 2012-07-22 22:38
'Bout time the Democrats grew a pair. Making nice to a bully invites more bullying. RSN piece entitled Pathos of Plutocrats says it all. They can dish it out but cannot take it because they see themselves as superior and above the rest of us. In their minds. Those pants still go on one leg at a time.
+1 # Art947 2012-07-22 22:43
Have any of our pet loving friends considered taking a tax deduction for their dogs and cats? Now that Mittens has taken a $77thousand deduction for his horse, what is to stop others from taking a deduction for their pets?

Remember the old adage as well, patriotism is the last refuge for scoundrels!

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