Saturday, February 4, 2012

Charles blows hard

In an opinion piece in the New York Times, Charles Blow lines up Mitt Romney in his crosshairs and let's him have it, but good.

He begins by chastising Romney for his comments on firing people:
This is the same man who bragged last month that he liked to fire people at a time when nearly 13 million people are out of work and who accepted the endorsement this week of Donald Trump, who has made “You’re Fired!” his television catchphrase.
The interjection of Trump into the equation is rather pathetic; sure Trump is a buffoon, but politicians accept endorsements, it's part of the game. The rest, however, is something else. Whether one is a Romney supporter or not, this kind of historical revisionism should not be tolerated. Romney--as everyone with a clue knows--did not say he "likes to fire people," what he said was:
I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone doesn’t give me a good service that I need, I want to say I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.
That's hardly the same thing. Indeed, Politifact rates the claim Blow is making as "mostly false." Worse still, Blow actually links to a video of Romney's actual comments, apparently content that his readers will simply accept his (Blow's) blatant mis-characterization as correct (doesn't seem like Blow has much respect for his readers, does it).

It's certainly fair to criticize Romney for saying something that could be taken out of context, of course, but that's not what Blow is doing. He does the same thing later in the piece, with regard to Romney's equally less-than-bright statement about not being concerned about the very poor. We all--again, those of us with a clue--understand what Romney was trying to say.

I'm sure Blow understands, as well. But he nonetheless devotes paragraph after paragraph to "prove" that the very poor are, well, very poor. Well done, sir. I salute you.

Blow also takes issue with a statement about federal employees making more money than people in the private sector. He cites a Washington Post story from last November as evidence for Romney being wrong. First, I should note that the numbers in that WaPo story come from the BLS, and we already know how trustworthy they are. Regardless, the argument on this issue is simply not a cut and dried fact, in the way that Blow would have us believe. From the Atlantic (which can hardly be accused of being a right-wing source):
The big headline figures, sure to make the rounds in conservative media, are that government employees made 2% more in wages, and 16% more in overall compensation, than their private sector counterparts.
So, Romney is far more right here than is Blow. The wrench in the works, however, is that Federal employees do worse than private sector employees if they have positions requiring more education than a bachelors degree. But that still means that most Federal employees do better; there's no way around the math. Blow's cavalier dismissal of Romney's claim is unwarranted, because at the very least Blow knows the issue is not simple. At the very worst, Blow is being intentionally misleading.

Blow's conclusion:
Romney is not only cold and clumsy, he’s disastrously out of touch, and when talking about real people, out of sorts. If only he had a heart, and if only that heart was connected to his brain.
If Romney needs a heart, what do you suppose Blow needs?

Cheers, all.

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