Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Consultant rhetoric: the genius of the data-man

Mitt Romney spent a lot longer than Barack Obama learning how to behave like a trustworthy WASP. For an ambitious outsider, that was a good political investment. You may not want to drink beer with him, but you’d probably still prefer to let a good WASP dock your boat.

Romney is dangerous politically because he’s better at being a WASP than the two authentic WASPs Obama beat in 2008. Specifically, he can be believed when he’s telling whoppers and he can sound genuine when he’s on pilot.

The New York Times provided no asides or embellishments when it reported his pitch to The Faith and Freedom Forum of Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Really, we should be allowed to let down our guard when the secure Republican front-runner addresses an audience of Americans assembled under the sacred words “faith” and “freedom.” You’d expect a little extra care and respect for the truth. Don’t make be mistaken about this man.

Here’s Romney’s studiously boring and extravagantly dishonest take on Obamacare:

“Government at all levels – federal, state and local – today consumes about 35 percent of our total economy, that we think of ourselves as a free market nation,” Mr. Romney said. “Thirty-five percent is spent by government. And when Obamacare – if it’s allowed to stand, if it’s allowed to stand – I hope the Supreme Court does their job and strikes it down. And if they don’t I will.”

He added: “But with Obamacare, that would take government to almost half of the total economy.”

In truth, US government activities consume between 15% to 20% of total US income. Over half of the income governments receive in taxes and charges is immediately transferred back to individuals—many individuals, for instance, who were listening to Mr. Romney on Saturday morning. Furthermore, the provision of private health insurance for the uninsured would not measurably increase consumption of tax dollars by government. It would not “socialize” America.

Romney’s dishonesty isn’t fascinating for its magnitude or originality.

Demagogues and paid lobbyists with dead-end careers have been saying as much from day one. What is interesting is his conviction that he can get away with it — that, in fact, he can give it extra force by being specific, by being Mitt the data-man.

Raw information—data—will be readily available for analysis and exploitation, to enlighten and confuse the issues during the presidential election. Romney intends to use it voraciously. It will be left to others to keep him honest

1 comment: