At this point is becoming impossible to tell the difference between whomever is running Mitt Romney’s horrible campaign to become CEO of America and the PR team responsible behind BP after the Deepwater Horizon (this is not a hyperbole by the way). Between the horrible visit abroad where Romney managed to piss off the entire world and the candidate’s continued unwillingness to show how little taxes he paid, it is quite obvious that Romney is really using the right wing JV squad to run this still very winnable chance at the Presidency. Romney’s own record surely makes running even a slightly “honest” campaign virtually impossible, but does he really need to be diving into this sort of transparently stupid policy argument:
Making a play for middle-class voters, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sought Tuesday to elevate welfare reform as a campaign issue, accusing President Barack Obama of encouraging a “culture of dependency.”
Oh goody, Romney’s back on the race-whistle “play for angry white voters” bandwagon. What will be this year’s Willie Horton?
Campaigning near the president’s hometown of Chicago, Romney suggested Obama had dismantled the 1996 welfare reform overhaul signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Romney said that, if elected, he would make sure welfare recipients are required to work.
Wow. If I were the Obama campaign I would respond to this dumbassery with this sound but as it turns out this attempt at “regaining the narrative” has an even more hilarious response:
The Romney campaign pressed the welfare issue in a new ad criticizing Obama for his decision last month to change welfare requirements. The White House said Obama wanted to give states the flexibility they had been seeking to tailor the program to their needs.
But some conservatives fear the increased latitude could allow states to get around the work requirements, which were a key element of the welfare overhaul under Clinton.
Romney was among several Republican governors who signed a letter in 2005 asking for more “waiver authority.” Romney is a former Massachusetts governor.
So there you go, Romney tries to accuse Obama of giving money to undeserving poors and strapping young bucks who would spend that money on steaks and Cadillacs. While this might have been a winning strategy in the time of Reagan (when some jobs existed and wages were just starting their 30 year stagnation), the fact of the matter now is that so many people are on some form of government assistance that this sort of attempt at a wedge issue is not likely to go far. This fact is especially problematic as a GOP meme when it is being relayed by the man who sounds (and acts) like the person who fired your dad.
Furthermore the “great success” that Republicans claim in referencing the worst fucking thing about Bill Clinton, Welfare Reform, has been the creation of a permanent (and growing) underclass of people living at the mercy of the nastiest elements of a deregulated economy and corrupt state governments. PRWORA has clogged the courts by forcing needless conflicts about Child Support payments into constant legal battles, and has even resulted in the creation of modern day (and corrupt as hell) “debtors prisons“. But even those who manage to escape the legal bitch slap of PRWORA are at the behest of increasingly greedy state governments using the block granting supposedly for TANF to plug up other holes in state budgets. This means that even less of the already paltry assistance is going to help feed and support their families, forcing otherwise honest and decent people into some pretty desperate situations. Poverty is now so widespread, and people are so desperate, that the old “look at the lazy welfare people” bullshit of the past is just going going to backfire on Rmoney.
But no matter how Romney tries to spin this latest fail of a strategy, it is not a serious attempt at “hard campaigning” or even “dirty politics”. This is an example of poor analysis on the part of the candidate as it exposes him (yet again) as a clueless plutocrat who also happens to be a fucking hypocrite. This latest attempt also demonstrates that Fehrnstrom and company are so desperate that they are stealing campaign strategy from literally the worst possible sources of inspiration. I started hearing about this idiotic spin on the PRWORA regulations from the literal dregs of the right wing blogosphere weeks ago, and dismissed them as it seemed like a stretch of an idea even for those motley folks. When Brietbart, World Net Daily, and the Daily Caller are the organizations that are driving the messaging of your campaign, you have a serious deficit of good ideas.
In reality PRWORA has been an unmitigated disaster and has made the lives of people suffering from this prolonged depression even worse. A smart candidate from either side with an ounce of a soul would take advantage of this opening and campaign on increasing the size of the block grants (or just forcing states to use the money on TANF as it was fucking intended), raising the minimum wage (which would actually “incentives” work), or providing more aid in the form of food and medical care. The idiotic deficit worry worts of the country will always vote conservatively (and will donate to a Republican regardless of their other stances), so the fact that Romney has not ignored them out of hand is a real mystery at this point.
A brave Republican would find a way to craft a message that peels poor and struggling people away from the Democrats (who have done approximately jack shit for the poor since Johnson). Instead Romney predictably took the safe, yet horrible path in taking his cues from the sociopathic assholes working at Brietbart’s house of hate. By November, even if he wins Romney’s run will be remembered for somehow disgracing the already disgusting miasma of shit that is American politics.