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Mitt’s next big reveal

By John Brummett

This article was published October 3, 2012 at 5:00 a.m.

What we will see tonight in the big debate is the newest image of Mitt Romney on his campaign’s human Etch A Sketch.

Surely you remember when one of Romney’s aides called the candidate an Etch A Sketch. The aide explained that Mitt, in the way of the child’s toy, would present an image in the primary and then shake that one clear and redraw afresh for the general election.

What Romney was doing in his most recent incarnation wasn’t working. Simply blaming President Obama for George W. Bush’s collapsed economy and promising to re-impose George W.’s presidency of reduced taxes and lax regulation to make life wonderful again—that was no good.

Bill Clinton got hold of that image on the Etch A Sketch at the Democratic National Convention and stomped the entire device flat.

Romney has fallen behind by five to seven points in Ohio and by two to four points in Florida. As you know, those states will decide the presidency. The rest of us are just watching.

So tonight Obama will look across the stage at the University of Denver and see Mitt 3.

First there was primary Mitt. Then there was general-election Mitt. Now there is new general-election Mitt.

Actually, if we go back to when Romney first ran for president in 2008, this would be Mitt 5. If we go back to when Romney was governor of Massachusetts, this would be Mitt 7 or Mitt 8.

Or Mitt Ad nauseam. Maybe that’s it.

Once upon a time there was a version of Mitt running as a liberal for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. In a debate, the late Ted Kennedy assessed the abortion rhetoric coming from Romney and said that Mitt was neither pro-choice nor anti-choice, but “multiple choice.”

For most everything Romney now says, there is a video contradiction.

While it’s true that he can shake away his image on his Etch A Sketch, it’s also true that some wiseacre almost assuredly will have taken and saved a digital recording of the image shaken away.

On “60 Minutes” the other night, for example, Romney said, as if approvingly, that we essentially had universal health care in America already. That’s because, he said, some poor sap having a heart attack can get an ambulance sent for him and get attention at the emergency room.

Never mind the heartlessness and absurdity of telling a man that he need only confront death to get last-gasp defibrillation courtesy of the taxpayers and the already-insured.

More to the point: Somebody found a clip from 2007 in which Romney was lamenting the very thing he was now approving.

He said then: More and more people are either getting on Medicare or on Medicaid or receiving uninsured and uncompensated care at emergency rooms on the tabs of the rest us. “If that’s not socialized medicine, I don’t know what it is,” he said.

So is that no longer socialized medicine? Or does Mitt now like socialized medicine?

Who knows? Who can say?

Signals for tonight are that the newest Mitt will hit Obama freshly in this way: Shaking away his disparagement of half of Americans as moochers who are unreachable by his personal-responsibility policies, Romney will say that it actually is he, not Obama, who wants to cut taxes for the middle class and raise taxes on high incomes.

He will say, furthermore, that Obama already has raised taxes outrageously on the middle class by mandating that everyone buy health insurance.

That is to say Mitt is going to try on a populist mask nearly a month before Halloween.

So let’s look behind the shaken Etch A Sketch.

First, there’s an old image way back there of Mitt imposing the same . . . uh, tax, if you please. It was when he was governor of Massachusetts.

Second, Mitt’s assertion that he will cut taxes for the middle class is based on the fact that—in doubling-down on trickle-down—he wants to cut income tax rates across the board for everyone. And that, naturally, accrues to the greatest cash benefit of already-undertaxed multi-millionaires such as himself.

Third, Mitt claims he will put a fair tax burden back on higher-income persons by closing loopholes and eliminating tax exemptions and deductions and general favors in the tax code. But he refuses to provide the least specific—even one—about what he is talking about.

Is he going to try to take way your home mortgage interest deduction?

He says the campaign is no time to get laden with the devilish details, but only with the angelic policy.

His position is that a campaign shouldn’t get bogged down in divisive specifics that ought to be deferred to congressional sausage-making after the election. But a candidate hardly deserves credit now for brave policy to come, especially when he cowers from brave policy now.

Essentially, he is asking Americans to trust his over-worked Etch A Sketch.

Anyway, the way to build support for brave policy is to put it on the table in the campaign and, by then winning, assert a credible mandate for it. By Romney’s way, he’ll have no constituency at all for whatever specific he might propose, assuming he ever intends actually to propose one.

Fourth, and finally, Romney’s assertion that the individual health insurance mandate is a tax is contradicted directly and fully by his campaign’s assertion only months ago that it was not a tax. And it’s contradicted by Romney’s oops moment of boomeranged spontaneity only days ago from the stump.

Mitt alleged in that incident that the one thing Obama would do in a second term that he hadn’t done in the first is . . . drum roll, please—raise taxes.

Got it? Romney said days ago that Obama didn’t raise taxes in the first term, but, by golly, he would sure-enough raise them in the second. And now he says in a new commercial, and likely will say in the debate tonight, that Obama indeed raised taxes in the first term, and by record amounts.

Here’s the thing: Shaking the Etch A Sketch doesn’t change history or truth. It only changes the momentary re-invention.

Even if you agree with Dirty Harry that Obama is an empty chair, you have to admit that an empty chair is a more knowable and reliable image than a human eraser.

John Brummett’s column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Email him at jbrummett@arkansasonline.com. Read his blog at brummett.arkansasonline.com.

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TimberTopper says... October 3, 2012 at 6:29 a.m.

Seems for the Republicans, the old saying is true, the one about tell one lie and you have to tell another and another. It's to the point that they seem to be willing to lie about anything and anybody. And the bad part is, some Americans are either to dumb, too lazy , or too closed mind to search for the truth.

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Dontsufferfools says... October 3, 2012 at 8:08 a.m.

Pretty early in the morning to be running your blood pressure that high, razr. Hope you have good health care. And they say liberals are angry and unhappy. Must be the Hogs.

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RonalFos says... October 3, 2012 at 8:25 a.m.

Jeez Kenneth, you need make sure you stay on your meds between now and the election or you may not make it through it all!

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LevitiCuss says... October 3, 2012 at 8:40 a.m.

Multiple-Choice Romney! The Dems need to pound THAT! At this point it seems as if the Republicans would lie if the truth sounded better.

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Rightside says... October 3, 2012 at 9:01 a.m.

It would be better off for the nation if Obama would find the chair in the Oval Office instead playing around in Hollywood, Vegas picking up campaign checks. Maybe spend a little more time in the chair instead of on the golf course.
Obama is asking for four more years to perfect cronyism, four more years of high unemployment, high deficit, mismanaged foreign policies, drop in the wealth for the average American, Obama wants four more years to further ruin the U.S. economy and to further lie to us. In four more years we will be a food stamp nation with a national debt of 21 trillion growing by more than $4 billion per day, health insurance premiums has risen by $3,000 since Obama took office. With his record there is only one place for him to sit and that is the unemployment chair.
Yes we need a human eraser a man with accomplishments to take over and erase the failed policy's of the last four years. “When somebody doesn't do the job we have to let him go."

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Populist says... October 3, 2012 at 9:08 a.m.

If you rightwingers would stop watching Fox News, Glenn Beck, and listening to Rush, you would realize that we are going to be fine. Housing prices are going back up and the economy is expanding. We do not need to drastically change anything. We need to cut back on the wars and the military spending, and cut back on certain other programs while we expand education and spending in American on infrastructure. This President gets that hard work and education are the answers to all of our problem. We do not need more tax cuts for the superwealthy, and we do not need any more wars. The Republicans better get used to losing in states with educated citizens, or they need to change their message. The Republicans have become the cheerleaders for robber barons and polluters, and they can spend and spend on ads full of lies, but most people are not going to buy it.

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ArkansasObserver says... October 3, 2012 at 9:11 a.m.

Truth? Let's just talk about the truth for a minute:
Does any Obama backer really believe this is the most transparent administration ever? Even Obama's proudest achievement, Obamacare, was wrapped in such secrecy that nobody was allowed to read it until AFTER it passed... not even most lawmakers.
Does any Obama backer really believe that Ambassador Stevens' death was the result of a movie? Or that our government had no prior knowledge of the attack despite the Libyan government's assertion that it provided warnings, and despite there being multiple Facebook posts from the attackers themselves in advance of the 9/11 anniversary?
Does any Obama backer really believe that Obama still blamed the movie for Ambassador Steven's death in his UN speech a full 10 days after it was established that the real cause of the deaths of he and 3 others was a terrorist attack combined with an utter lack of security... despite Ambassador Stevens having requested that additional security?
Does any Obama backer really believe that the approval for Fast and Furious, where guns illegally furnished by the US Government were used to kill our own border agents and 14 high school kids at a birthday party did not come from Attorney General Holder? Have you read about the cover-up uncovered by Univision? Do you know that Holder is still withholding over 80,000 documents requested by the House Oversight Committee? Even if you manage to believe Holder had no knowledge, is there not such a thing as taking responsibility for your agency?
Does any Obama backer really not believe that Obama's ultimate goal is to create a socialist society in the U.S. that is similar to those in Europe and Venezuela? One which sees the U.S. power degraded to match that of France?

Wake up Brummett and know that the re-election of Barrack Obama will cause more harm to our beloved USA than Iran can inflict with a nuclear bomb. He has already told Putin that once he has the election wrapped up, he can do anything he desires with foreign policy... the likes of which we are witnessing in the middle-east today. He has already proven what he can do with executive orders that dreasically alter federal law, by removing the work requirement from most welfare programs, quadrupling the dependence on those programs.
Quote all the fake polls you like, but if my fellow countrymen still have the American spirit and the good sense I think they have, they will ignore the likes of people like you and will elect Romney in such a landslide that it will overwhelm the illegal efforts of democrats to allow the votes of illegal aliens while suppressing the absentee ballots of our military.
I pray, for the good of my country that it is so.

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ArkansasObserver says... October 3, 2012 at 9:17 a.m.

Just one more word... "Obamaphone". If you have not seen the video, google that word and watch for yourself where this country is headed.

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Bigpop says... October 3, 2012 at 9:51 a.m.

that the "razzer" brought up sicking the taliban on Brummett, in reference to journelists like him, is confirming why some of us have already refered to many of his ilk the new American taliban, do it our way or we'll eliminate you! And we want religious freedom to believe and worship our way, and you better too! And now they put distrust in the press or new acronym, MSM, this mistrust originated from sources of the most outrageous untruthful sources around!

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RZRBKINTXS says... October 3, 2012 at 11:02 a.m.

I think Brummet must get paid directly by the DNC. And these libs on here will never accept the facts that are right in front of their faces. They refuse to acknowledge that they made a collossal mistake in electing this man, but their pride and lack of reason simply won't let them admit it.

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