Monday, August 06, 2012

If This Is Ross Douthat's Best... His Best Isn't Good Enough

At least when David Brooks serves the right-wing echo chamber, he attempts to put a creative spin on things - to translate the memo into his own words. If Ross Douthat's stenography is anything to go by, he's well on his way to being every bit as insightful and relevant as Richard Cohen. You have to wonder if he's even thinking about what he says.
Mitt Romney isn’t just wrong on specific policies or too right-wing in general. He’s part Scrooge, part Gordon Gekko; an un-American, Asia-loving outsourcer; a tax avoider and possibly a white-collar felon.
Douthat doesn't believe it's necessary to offer evidence for any of his claims, and it's obviously no coincidence that he's lapping up and repeating every anti-Obama line served up by his party, no matter how outlandish. The tactic of taking a statement by an irrelevant person peripherally associated with the campaign and pretending that the person's isolated statement is an official stance of the campaign? "It's in there." And seriously, Obama's the one claiming Romney is anti-American? Would Douthat have us believe that Romney's pushing back against his party's innuendo that Obama's a corrupt, terrorist-loving, anti-American socialist, who has never held a "real job" and whose only love of capitalism is for the crony variety? Does Douthat care that Romney pushes that dogma, and routlinely dispatches his lapdogs to advance those slanders?
Remember when Mitt Romney released his birth certificate to the media? Douthat doesn't recognize that as a nod to his party's "birthers"? Where can I find a clear and unambiguous statement by Mitt Romney that he disavows birtherism and believes that the President was born in the United States? Not a staffer telling us what Romney believes - Romney actually stating what he believes.

It's one thing to criticize politicians for dirty tactics. It's quite another to play the part of a dim-witted pot calling the kettle black. He pretends that Romney's complacent? Romney's been on board with the dirtiest attacks against Obama from day one. When your candidate sets the tone, sure, complain that the campaign has taken a nasty turn, but when the best campaign tactics your candidate can muster range from the distortion to the outright lie, and his minions routinely make absurd attacks on the President, one thing you cannot claim is that he's "complacent".

Douthat also regurgitates a string of Republican talking points about the President's policies.
Since the campaign kicked off, the president’s domestic policy rhetoric has become much more stridently left-wing than it was during the debt-ceiling debate. He’s dropped all but a pro forma acknowledgment of the tough choices looming in our future, and doubled down on the comforting progressive fantasy that we can close the deficit and keep the existing safety net by soaking America’s millionaires and billionaires.
Douthat knows that's a load of nonsense, which is why he doesn't substantiate his rhetoric with any actual quotes of Obama or positions the President has taken - not even a link. Worse, he knows that if he were to actually share the quotes, not only would people find his polemicism to be absurd, a lot of the people who reflexively nod along with that brand of right-wing prattle would find themselves agreeing with the President. Let's not forget, the Tea Party Movement emerged from an angry backlash against the Wall Street bailout. Let's also not forget that the tax increases Obama proposes are tiny and take us back not to an era of "soaking the rich", but to an era of rapid economic growth during which the rich (as usual) did better than every other economic class. The horror.

I know it's easier - and more profitable - for columnists like Douthat to echo the party line, ignore the facts, support their party's candidate. But when it's done that badly, it's just plain embarrassing.

Update: Predictable as ever, here's Richard Cohen. Douthat wants to be the other side of that coin?

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