Monday, June 25, 2012

Deconstructing Romney Surrogate Mark Halperin on NOW; Lady Alex MIA

IN A WEIRD JOINT APPEARANCE by Game Change co-authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann on NOW, Mark Halperin plied his exceedingly sharp propaganda skills on behalf of his candidate, Mitt Romney, while erstwhile partner John Heilemann, who retains some remnants of a conscience and scruples, pushed back at every turn. (One wonders whether their strange partnership is still in vogue, considering they don't agree on much, or if a divorce is in the works?)

Lady Alex, for her part, was strangely muted, and totally ceded the journalism territory — you know, little things like the facts and the truth — to Halperin, who in the rogue's psychology, admitted in a previous appearance to being a sophist, amid nervous snickers, conceding this truth about himself, as a joke naturally, to blunt it. Alex is much too smart not to know this dude is a Romney plant — don't take my word; it's kind of like finding distant planets by studying the effect of their orbits on celestial bodies in their vicinity.

Just listen to what Halperin says with a professional political observer's ear, then gauge the effect of his words in planting doubt in the audience for the purpose of peeling off some of those votes Romney needs. Free advertising/propaganda/damage control; all of that. Also, more importantly, shifting the terms of the debate on MSNBC forums toward Romney-friendly territory. For that he makes certain unchallenged statements as if they're facts with Alex's silent acquiescence.

And if that's not enough, I've given readers of this blog chapter-and-verse of Halperin's pro-Romney propaganda. So it shouldn't have come as a surprise. Where was Lady Alex, the sharp journalist and political observer, today? Then Alex oddly qualified this editorial snippet from the New York Times editorial of June 23, on billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson:
“One man cannot spend enough to ensure the election of an unpopular candidate, as Mr. Gingrich’s collapse showed, but he can buy enough ads to help push a candidate over the top in a close race like this year’s … For such a man, at a time when there are no legal or moral limits to the purchase of influence, spending tens of millions is a pittance to elect Republicans who promise to keep his billions intact.”
Alex should know, considering the source, that Chris Matthews never qualifies a quote from the New York Times for his audience. He has too much respect for us. We know the Times is not only the world's greatest newspaper but hardly an ideological outlier as Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal, whose sole claim to respectability now is its name. Why then did Alex qualify the editorial as if it were some obscure blog entry, with this: "A strongly worded statement from the Times, not surprising, given their position on Super Pacs."

Excuse me, but this implies that there is an alternate "position" on Super Pacs that is equally as valid. This is like qualifying an editorial in Nature affirming Evolution to the member of the Flat Earth Intelligent Design Society sitting beside you (Mark Halperin), hence conferring equal weight to their argument. The repulsive smugness of the man regarding Koch Brothers money — "they have enough money that they don't have to choose, they can spend it anywhere" — literally buying the White House and Congress for the Republicans left this viewer aghast. Where's the moral outrage?

Adding injury to insult, Halperin comfortably pontificates on campaign finance reform. There's plenty here to "unpack" as Alex would say, in reverse order, as it were:
"Campaign finance reform is like immigration reform; it takes two things to even have a chance to do: A really strong president with sway over the country and popular, and bipartisan partners. John McCain once upon a time was a bipartisan partner on immigration. He's not now. And on campaign finance reform, he still could be; and yet, there's no McCain-Obama talks, as far as I know, to say "let's try to move some legislation, to try to address this issue." I'd like to think that after the election, whether there’s scandals or not that it could be revisited legislatively. But it's difficult to do again, without a powerful president with partners on the other side."
This is rich. And, I might add, this Romney surrogate is un-fucking-believable. I have to admire his cunning, devious skill. Using his time with the quiescent Alex, Mark Halperin starts building a case for Romney, hitting on certain key Romney campaign "themes" as he put it, and against President Obama, with a subtle building block approach. We see Halperin suggest Romney would be "a really strong president" without any supporting evidence, except they're selling a tabula rasa 'I'm rubber-you're glue' projection of 'weakness' on President Obama. Similarly, not that Romney 'the blank slate' has, yet somehow President Obama has no "sway" over the country, nor is he "popular" because, you see, he got "nothing" done, and his lead in the polls rarely cracked 50%.

One could variously call this Halperin trial baloon, or plant, the 'Jimmy Carter weak president argument.' It's a slight variation on the economic/jobs argument because Americans are beginning to perceive the economy as improving and as Bain Capital, Romney's fake 'job creator' private sector pretext, is about to blow up in his face. Again. And again.

Which brings us to John McCain. Said Halperin, not-so-disingenuously: "John McCain once upon a time was a bipartisan partner on immigration." Yes, and then he ran and lost, badly, against President Obama, faced a Teabagger primary challenge, and ran to the right, after the Republican Party, as fast as he could. Right to where Mitt Romney is holed up. So now, according to Mark Halperin's LIES (fantasies are only granted to those who believe them), President Obama is to blame for McCain's recalcitrance, even though he never stopped trying to reach out to his foe, and all we, the voters, have to do is reward the Republican Party for its documented obstructionism from day one, its Tea Party extremism, and its deliberate refusal to work with this president on legislation that previously had bipartisan support and Republican sponsorship, until Republicans decided on tanking the economy for partisan electoral gain, not to mention the Party's historic abuse of the filibuster.

That is a whole lotta gall on Mark Halperin's part.

Second, Halperin suggests that a President Romney, candidate of the plutocrats, the one percent, would suddenly, out of the goodness of his heart form partnerships with John McCain and Democrats to legislate away Citizens United, passing campaign finance reform to end the Republican Party's gargantuan money advantage which, coincidentally, was responsible for their total takeover of government, in one fell swoop. Yeah, right.

Third, the pig Halperin, no doubt emboldened by Alex's meekness, pushes the envelope to piously bemoan the hope for bipartisan cooperation: "I'd like to think that after the election, whether there’s scandals or not, that it could be revisited legislatively. But it's difficult to do again, without a powerful president with partners on the other side." Please consider the italicized text (mine) because it so clearly and succinctly points to Halperin's duplicity. Under the guise of making an innocent nonpartisan objective statement, this worm injects out of the blue the qualifying words "whether there's scandals or not." Now, what in the world is Halperin referring to?

Gee, the only thing that comes to mind is the partisan, manufactured Issa witch hunt against Attorney General Eric Holder. Hmm ... I think the pig's use of the plural is a Rovian technique to keep voters thinking there's more scandals where that came from, assuming that where there's smoke there's fire. (Sorry, folks, I tried really hard not to go the pig at the trough route, but I can't help it, the dude's a pig, and I've always believed in calling a spade a spade and a liar a liar.)

Finally, adopting the Rovian technique of planting the seeds of a lie as fact, and through repetition, Halperin once again (as we shall see from the previous segments) seeds the suggestion that campaign finance reform is "difficult to do again, without a powerful president with partners on the other side." Keep in mind, he isn't yet suggesting Romney is that "powerful president" for it would strain the voters' credulity. (The selling of the "powerful" Romney comes later.)

Rather, he is planting the seeds with a compliant Alex (to change the terms and parameters of the debate) with her (largely, I believe) livid audience (he only needs to convince a few), that President Obama is weak (as opposed to "powerful") and is responsible (rather than the Republican Party, which we are asked to reward for their treasonous obstructionism) for the absence of "partners on the other side." Again, we are asked to consider Romney as the "powerful" one because those pesky "scandals" would likely sap the President's 'power.'

The thing that infuriates about this kind of  propaganda is that there is a simple and democratic solution. Armed with the truth, the people will have all the information they need to throw the Republican bums out and give President Obama a Democratic House and Senate with simple majorities (and reform of the filibuster in the next Congress) to move legislation. By suggesting President Obama is "weak" and ineffective Halperin implies Romney is the only alternative — by default.

Regarding the Super Pac money, Halperin is cheshire cat cocky in his conviction that a Republican House majority, and possibly the Senate too, can be bought. And perversely cocky that he can wander into the MSNBC lion's den and put one over on foolish liberals. Even floating with a straight face the ridiculous suggestion that Mitt Romney, or any Republican, would want anything to do with campaign finance reform. At this point John Heilemann decided he couldn't sit silent any longer in the face of Halperin's bullshit, and declared, "Will there be so much revulsion on the part of the public that people say to their congressmen, 'we demand action' — because if that’s not there it's never going to change."

Doubling back to the initial segment, on the Supreme Court Arizona 'papers please' ruling, Mark Halperin tipped his pro-Romney hand by attempting to minimize the importance of immigration policy in this election. A Democrat's automatic reply might well be, "you wish." According to Halperin, frantically trying to frame the issue in Romney's favor, the decision's political impact is "a wash" because (I love the way this dude weaves bullshit out of whole cloth) "the shelf-life on this is relatively short" [?] and given that the "immigration system is broken it’s one of the many issues where I don’t think we’ll get a real debate between these candidates." Excuse me!? Can anyone say 'non-sequitur'? Or, as Lawrence prefers, "gibberish?"

Once again, Halperin is trying to frame the immigration debate in Romney's favor with wishful thinking (believe me, there will be a vigorous immigration debate in this presidential election, and Mitt Romney will be skewered) because he knows full well every instance Romney is forced to speak to the topic he will lose Latino votes. Then he distracts Alex (pivots quickly) by mentioning his tweets (which, for some reason got her all excited), speaking of the "clever things," the "rhetoric" and "themes" Mitt Romney "wants to go to whenever he can" because the provision that was upheld "is a huge hot-button issue in the Hispanic community." This was an important point for Halperin to stress because he repeated the word "rhetoric" three times over Alex's excited verbal tweets. Why? According to oft-cited Rovian propaganda technique, face your perceived weakness (in this instance, lack of specificity, broad "themes") head-on, then pivot to the attack.

Which is exactly what Halperin did. In a weird repetitive mantra, which was totally deliberate and another Rovian propaganda technique, Halperin pivoted to Romney's critique of the President, saying "Obama is weak, Obama is partisan, Obama breaks his promises, Obama doesn't respect states' rights." What is this, some kind of rap!? A poetry slam!? "Journalists" don't speak like this. They'll mention the name once, then add the adjectives accordingly. The technique of name repetition in propaganda is to associate the name with the negative connotation in the voters' mind. Secondly, it should be noted that these adjectives are canards, lies. And they went unchallenged.

Halperin stated the obvious, "engaging in specifics doesn't help (Romney) and I think he's going to try to get away with this." John Heilemann, to his credit, pushed back hard: "No, Romney can't dance around this. ... I take a dimmer view of whether the politics of this are a wash for Romney, if that's his paramount problem with the Hispanic community. Nothing he said today or nothing that I could think of that he could say addressing the specific issues here, which is what the Hispanic community wants to hear from him, is going to help him solve that problem. And so to me, every time immigration is in the news, every time he's forced to say things that are primarily defensive, and not things that are about solving the problem, helping his vote show with Hispanic voters is a bad day for Mitt Romney."

Kudos to John Heilemann for this takedown, mortal lock slam of his pal Mark Halperin. (Is that Game Change sequel still in the works?)

But the wily Halperin wasn't done yet. In the next segment he took a different tack to rehabilitate his candidate remarking, with Alex's vigorous gone-off-the-rails assent, that "business" is another "constituency" in the Republican Party that wants "strong immigration reform" — an overstatement, at best. What "business" wants is cheap labor. Period. Here it comes:
"You need a strong president who has the trust of the other party to get immigration reform at any time, particularly now, because things are so polarized, and again, what both candidates have to do not just on immigration but on a range of issues, but immigration, one of the toughest, along with tax reform is to convince the country: 'I can get elected, regardless of  the makeup of Congress; when I get elected I can do this' — that is where Gov. Romney I think has at least a small advantage because the President had four years and hasn’t been able to do it. There’s reason to be skeptical that Gov. Romney could do it and he hasn’t put forward a specific set of ideas as the President, but he does not have the record the President does of not getting it done."
Okay, let's unpack and deconstruct this pro-Romney gib-prop (gibberish propaganda), shall we. There's that Romney 'the blank slate' pattern rearing its head, again. "You need a strong president who has the trust of the other party to get immigration reform at any time, particularly now, because things are so polarized." Naturally, the Halperin inference is that President Obama (not "strong") lacks "the trust of the other party." Again, he is asking us to reward Republican partisan obstructionism and has the audacity to lay the blame at the President's feet. Secondly, he makes the Romney electability argument on pure faith. (Remember the previous suggestion that Romney intends to skate toward the election absent specifics?) Finally, Halperin tips his partisan hand and LIES outrageously: Romney has a "small advantage because the President had four years and he hasn't been able to do it."

Excuse me, but the President has only been in office less than three and one-half years. Furthermore, his legislative and foreign policy record is strong, despite total, partisan Republican non-cooperation. And to suggest he hasn't "been able to do it" regarding the Dream Act is false and misleading because it passed both the House and Senate, failing only to override a Republican filibuster, Romney promised to veto it, and President Obama accomplished the same objective administratively by changing Homeland Security immigration policy. So there's two LIES. Here's the third: Romney "hasn’t put forward a specific set of ideas as the President, but he does not have the record the President does of not getting it done."

Can anyone say Romney-Halperin gibberish? Mitt Romney has no immigration "record" period. He does, however, have a "record" of anti-immigrant statements and half-baked policies: "Self-deportation," a promise to veto the Dream Act, the recently gutted AZ law which Romney praised as a "model" for the rest of the country. Nice try, Halperin. Now go get your check from the Romney campaign.

And before I forget, here's Lady Alex's reply to Halperin's gib-prop, above. "Indeed." INDEED!? WTF is wrong with you Alex!? SERIOUSLY.

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