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January 20, 2012

Krauthammer: Hey No Fair Attacking Mitt! How Much Of The Establishment Conservative Media Protects Romney

Charles Krauthammer's Washington Post column is the latest entry in a genre common to a lot of big time conservative media types this primary: Attack those attacking Romney and ignore the same behavior by Romney.

Krauthammer goes after Gingrich and Perry for their attacks on Romney's time at Bain Capital as playing right into Obama's hands.

Then came the twist. Then came the most remarkable political surprise since the 2010 midterm: The struggling Democratic class-war narrative is suddenly given life and legitimacy by . . . Republicans! Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry make the case that private equity as practiced by Romney’s Bain Capital is nothing more than vulture capitalism looting companies and sucking them dry while casually destroying the lives of workers.


Suddenly Romney’s wealth, practices and taxes take center stage. And why not? If leading Republicans are denouncing rapacious capitalism that enriches the 1 percent while impoverishing everyone else, should this not be the paramount issue in a campaign occurring at a time of economic distress?

Now, economic inequality is an important issue, but the idea that it is the cause of America’s current economic troubles is absurd. Yet, in a stroke, the Republicans have succeeded in turning a Democratic talking point — a last-ditch attempt to salvage reelection by distracting from their record — into a central focus of the nation’s political discourse.

How quickly has the zeitgeist changed? Wednesday, the Republican House reconvened to reject Obama’s planned $1.2 trillion debt-ceiling increase. (Lacking Senate concurrence, the debt ceiling will be raised nonetheless.) Barely noticed. All eyes are on South Carolina and Romney’s taxes.

Let me say I'm not a fan of Gingrich's attacks on Romney and Bain but I don't think it's out of bounds for competing candidates to simply allow Romney's gloss on his record be the only word on the matter. As it is so much of Romney's actual record is supposedly out of bounds because "it was Massachusetts!". Romney and his supporters (in and out of the conservative media) already ask us to take a lot about his supposed conservatism on faith. Now we aren't supposed to kick the tires on issues that will certainly come up in a general election campaign? What exactly is so special about Mitt Romney that he gets all these breaks no one else is offered?

The underlying point Krauthammer seems to be making is, hey Romney is going to be the nominee so let's not make trouble for him. I'm sorry if it's inconvenient for both he and Romney but apparently other people aren't ready to attend Mitt's coronation. They seem to think one way of making sure these issues don't comeback to bite Romney and the GOP in the fall is to NOT nominate Mitt. That wild notion doesn't seem to be a consideration for Krauthammer.

That brings me to the second part of this media two-step. The next phase is to ignore the fact that Romney engages in exactly the kinds of attacks they have rule out of bounds when made against Mitt.

If it's illegitimate to attack Mitt on a core GOP belief such as "capitalism" surely it's illegitimate to attack from the left on entitlement reform. Clearly Obama and the Democrats are going to run against the Republican nominee by saying they want to throw old people into the streets and force them to eat out of dumpsters. It seems they would love some clips of a prominent Republican accusing the nominee of wanting to do just that and Mitt would have delivered them to Obama and the Democrats.

Quotes like this.

"I don’t think the major problem is that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme," Romney said. "I think the problem is keeping it from becoming a Perry scheme."

Or this.

“Our nominee has to be someone who isn’t committed to abolishing Social Security, but who is committed to saving SocialSecurity.” – Mitt Romney... Governor Perry Believes Social Security Should Not Exist

Or finally, this.

"This is going to be a really big deal," said Lanhee Chan, Romney's policy director. "To make the argument that Social Security effectively has to be eliminated is a complete non starter."

"You've got millions of Americans who depend on Social Security," Chan added. "He's going to have a really tough time explaining why he wants to kill Social Security."

These attacks were made while Perry was still riding high and was just as likely to be the nominee as Mitt. Where was the outrage? Where was the simple acknowledgement from Krauthammer in today's column that as someone once said, "politics ain't beanbag"? No, Romney is always the victim who must be protected from his own past and from the same kind of attacks he is free to launch against others.

If Krauthammer or anyone wants to support Romney (Hi National Review!), have at it. Make your case as to why he's the best choice and let the chips fall where they may. But don't hide behind supposed impartial "analysis" as a way to shape the rules and debate to favor your guy.

*I originally posted this at my little blog since I'm trying to keep my anti-Romney stuff to a minimum here but this is just something that has irked me for months. So since I actually wanted people to see it, I'm posting it here as well.

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posted by DrewM. at 10:24 AM

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