The blogosphere works best when we all talk to each other, openly, civilly, and rationally, to build our understanding of an issue. This weekend's example: John Tsitrian and I have a blog conversation that helps us understand that, on the Affordable Care Act, Marion Michael Rounds is South Dakota's Willard Mitt Romney.

On Friday, Tsitrian deemed our frontrunning, big-money GOP U.S. Senate candidate the winner of the Republican candidates' debate held on SDPB Thursday night. Tsitrian felt none of the underdogs said anything really new to distinguish themselves and damage the Rounds campaign. Tsitrian questioned charge leveled on Rounds by Rep. Stace Nelson:

To the charge that Rounds was complicit in developing Obamacare because he had worked on a panel studying healthcare reform with then Democratic Senator Tom Daschle, Rounds claimed that he had "never worked with Daschle" on Obamacare. I'm not sure this can be verified, but that's probably irrelevant as there was no follow-up in the debate, which effectively neutralized the the charge [John Tsitrian, "Re: Last Night's GOP Senate Debate. It Was An Exercise In Redundancy, Rounds Wins By Default," The Constant Commoner, 2014.05.16].

Nelson launched this attack at 57:40 in the debate, with the Daschle collaboration claim at 58:10. Rounds categorically denied collaboration with Daschle on ObamaCare at 59:05. Nelson rebutted this claim at 1:02:55, urging viewers to Google Rapid City Journal, Mike Rounds, Tom Daschle, task force for documentation. Within two minutes, KELO-AM's Greg Belfrage Tweeted the result of said search, Kevin Woster's February 11, 2011, Rapid City Journal article that said what Nelson said: Rounds worked with Daschle on a task force whose primary purpose, in Daschle's words, was "to explore how states can move forward in providing health insurance under the Affordable Care Act."

I blogged this documentation and the press release Nelson wrapped around it yesterday morning. Tsitrian read that post. Yesterday afternoon, he reassessed Nelson's attack, saying Rounds's collaboration with Daschle to implement the Affordable Care Act is a "major" point "considering that the Rounds campaign says the candidate 'couldn't sleep' over the Affordable Care Act":

Now that Rounds has been exposed as being complicit in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act that he publicly deplores--to the point that in one of his videos he trots out his own dad as an audio-visual aid in order to emotionally empower his antagonism toward ACA--I trust that he has made the appropriate explanations and apologies to his family. (And please, Mr. Rounds, don't tell me to leave your family out of this. You're the one that brought them in.) Next step would be to explain to voters that he was for Obamacare before he was against it, then hope that his standing in the campaign might merit a bit of the respect that it just lost [John Tsitrian, "Will Mike Rounds Ever Get It Right When It Comes To The Affordable Care Act? You Can Run From Obamacare, Mr. Rounds, But You Can't Hide," The Constant Commoner, 2014.05.17].

Tsitrian says Mike Rounds lied Thursday night. He says the only honorable way out for Rounds is to admit he lied and admit he was for the ACA before he was against it.

Rounds now sounds like Mitt Romney, who was for the ACA's health insurance mandate before he needed to be against it to run for President against Barack Obama. RomneyCare is ObamaCare, a fact that hobbled Romney's credibility as a conservative. Jim DeMint, one of the national conservatives who said last year he was on the hunt for an alternative to Rounds, said that Romney's inability to consistently attack the ACA hurt Republicans in 2012. The RomneyCare–ObamaCare connection still dogs Romney's pal Scott Brown, who voted for RomneyCare in the Massachusetts legislature but now is campaigning against ObamaCare in his run for New Hampshire's Senate seat.

Nelson seems to grasp the Mike Rounds–Mitt Romney analogy. He's hammered on Rounds's support for the ACA from the beginning of his campaign. Thursday night he mentioned Rounds's personal airplane, a clear nod toward the "rich and out of touch" characterization that Romney admits hurt his campaign.

Of course, for Nelson to capitalize on the Rounds–Romney analogy, he's got to get that message out to every Republican primary voter. He has two weeks to do so. If he can afford another TV ad, he needs to hammer that point home. The bare storyboard:

  1. Unflattering photo of Mitt: "Remember this guy? He was for ObamaCare before he was against it. He lost in 2012."
  2. Photo of Rounds with Obama: "Now this guy says he's losing sleep over ObamaCare, even though he helped Barack Obama and Tom Daschle implement it."
  3. Montage of studly images of Stace Nelson: "Don't let another fake conservative hand victory to Democrats. Vote for a real conservative who's opposed ObamaCare from Day 1. Vote for Stace Nelson."

Short of TV ads, Nelson needs to win on the ground game. His people need to knock on 500 Republican doors an hour, 12 hours a day, every day from now until June 3, telling people exactly this message: Rounds was for ObamaCare before he was against it. Rounds is Romney, and Romney means ruin. If moderate Republican John Tsitrian can see the impact of that message, so can half the folks Team Nelson would contact. Out of 90,000 voters contacted, that Romney message alone could win 45,000 votes. And 45,000 votes could be a majority in the GOP primary vote.

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The Republicans' best chance of beating President Barack Obama this year was to hang the sluggish economy around his neck. But even that chance broke against them. The Bureau of Economic Analysis just released data on local area personal income for the first three years of the Obama Administration. In 2011, for the first time since 2007, personal income rose in all 366 big metros studied.

Quintiles of personal income growth in metropolitan statistical areas, 2011, BEA

Midland, TX, up 14.8%; Rochester, MN, up just 1.0%, but everybody up in 2011.

In the Rapid City area, personal income per capita rose 5.9% in 2011. In the Sioux Falls metro, income rose 6.3%. But no metro in the country (and remember, these cities are real America, making up more than 80% of the population) saw income go down. Nationally, income grew at 5.2% in 2011, compared to 3.9% in 2010. Inflation went from 1.9% in 2010 to 2.4% in 2011.

Income grew darn near everywhere last year. Income grew faster than inflation, which remained below historical averages despite dire warnings that hyperinflation was imminent. The economy isn't great. Plenty of people are still struggling to find work. But these new economic numbers suggest and underlying reality of growth that may have undermined Mitt Romney's campaign strategy.

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Judson Phillips, founder of the Tea Party Nation, thought he'd found a constitutional way to  overturn the popular vote and make Mitt Romney President. He just needed to get 17 states to sabotage the Electoral College:

Mitt Romney carried 24 states. We need to have conservative activists from all over the nation contact the electors, the Republican Party and the secretary of state in all of these states and tell them not to participate in the Electoral College when it meets on Dec. 17.

If we can get 17 of those states (just over one-third) to refuse to participate, the Electoral College will have no quorum. Then, as the Constitution directs, the election goes to the House of Representatives.

That is how we can still pull this election out and make Mitt Romney president in January [Judson Phillips, "How Obama Can be Stopped in the Electoral College," World Net Daily, 2012.11.20].

I was all ready to run through the South Dakota laws that our electors and officials would have to violate to heed Phillips's call. But Phillips was thwarted by the Constitution itself... and his faulty reading of the Twelfth Amendment. Wing Nut Daily posted this humiliating correction:

Since this column was posted it has been discovered that the premise presented about the Electoral College and the Constitution is in error. According to the 12th Amendment, a two-thirds quorum is required in the House of Representatives, not the Electoral College [editor's note, correction to Judson Phillips, "How Obama Can be Stopped in the Electoral College," World Net Daily, 2012.11.20].

The Twelfth Amendment reads in toto as follows:

The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;

The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;

The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

Phillips hates Barack Obama so much that he would advocate subverting your vote to replace our President with a man whom he admits was a "terrible candidate" and would not be "a great President."

But the real kicker here is that Tea Partiers claim to be protecting the Constitution. Pshaw—they can't even read the Constitution.

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And now, with his benedictory (emphasis third syllable; Larry, I defer to you on the full pun) address, Mitt Romney. The most irrelevant man in America held a press conference today to discuss why he and the SuperPACs delivered us to four more years of President Barack Hussein Obama. Romney's petty conclusion: Obama gave people "gifts":

With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift.... Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008 [Mitt Romney, quoted by Ashley Parker, "Romney Blames Loss on Obama’s 'Gifts' to Minorities and Young Voters," New York Times: The Caucus, 2012.11.14].

Romney admits that the Affordable Care Act provides the working-poor with real assistance:

You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge.... Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus [Romney, 2012.11.14] .

Romney pretends that Team Obama "made a big effort on small things," while Team Romney was all about big issues:

Our campaign, in contrast, was talking about big issues for the whole country — military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.... And by the way, as you’ll hear from Neil [Newhouse, campaign pollster], our strategy worked well with many people, but for those who were given a specific gift, if you will, our strategy did not work terribly well [Romney, 2012.11.14].

Romney isn't much smarter than Brad Ford; in defeat, he clings to his dismissal of millions of Americans as the selfish 47%, all takers, no givers. Now he just thinks he was off by a fatal 3.6%. Romney exposes his own venality, the rich man's conviction that everything is had for a price.

In this conference call, Mitt Romney, a man dedicated to talking about big things, now says his biggest plan is to put together a newsletter for his little insider clique. Perhaps. Oh, the statesmanship.

America, Happy Thanksgiving one week early. There's one big turkey who's off our table.

Update 22:20 MST: That was quick: Bobby Jindal makes his first pitch for the 2016 nomination by absolutely rejecting Romney's petty thesis:

I don’t think that represents where we are as a party and where we’re going as a party.... That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election: If we’re going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly: One, we are fighting for 100 percent of the votes, and secondly, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream. Period. No exceptions [Gov. Bobby Jindal, quoted by James Hohmann and Jonathan Martin, "Jindal Rejects Romney's 'Gifts' Theory," Politico.com, 2012.11.14].

Governor Jindal, you understand what your party needs to go to win next time. But you miss the point that Romney lost because he perfectly represents where the bulk of the Republican Party is: insulated by money and privilege and thus out of touch with the daily reality of most working Americans.

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I was ready to go to school today and recognize Mitt Romney's victory by playing for my students videos of Romney speaking French. How better to inspire students to learn  a language than to show their President's fluency therein?

Now I get the best of both worlds. I can play those Romney videos to promote academic achievement, and I can say "President Barack Obama" for four more years.

President Barack Obama won the election not by speaking French but by speaking the language of a changing America:

  • White folks voted for Romney over Obama 59% to 39%. But non-white folks make up 28% of the electorate, four times the proportion of forty years ago.
  • President Obama won 93% of the black vote, the best Democratic performance among that demographic since LBJ's 1964 victory.
  • President Obama won 69% of the Latino vote, a larger percentage than in his 2008 victory.
  • President Obama won the under-30 vote 59% to 37%. Romney won the 65-and-over vote 57% to 43%.
  • President Obama won the women's vote 55% to 44%. Romney won the men's vote 52% to 45% (showing more men are silly enough to go vote for the fringe radical anarcho-capitalist candidates like Dan Kaiser).

The Tea Party was a one-hit wonder. They will savage Romney as a "weak moderate" because they know moderation means sharing the pie with all those brown people coming to the table. Angry old white men, scared by an America that is looking less like them, will now scramble to cling to power like the last apartheid regime, trying to hold back the swelling ranks of minorities ascending to majority with tricks like voter disenfranchisement and SuperPAC spending sprees. The Tea Party will squabble over the scraps of a shrinking demographic until their core dies off, leaving them with about as much influence in Washington as South Dakota Democrats have in Pierre.

The crowning irony (you may read that as a euphemism for lie) of the Mitt Romney campaign was his promise of "real change." Romney's greatest electoral strength was among the old, the white, and the rich who most fear a changing America.

We have tested Sarah Palin's shrill "real America" hypothesis twice. We have rejected it twice. President Barack Obama won because he is the real America: a mix of races, willing to reach out to others and include everyone in the American dream.

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Mitt Romney's schizophrenic deceptions have cost him the endorsement of the Salt Lake Tribune, the newspaper that more than any other cannot afford to alienate Mormon subscribers.

Now watch President Barack Obama make the sale as he brilliantly and powerfully ridicules Romney's sketchy Etch-a-Sketchery with a single word: Romnesia.

Listen all the way to the President's conclusion. Watch that smile. Watch that body language. Listen to him build to the zinger, "Here's the good news: ObamaCare covers pre-existing conditions! We can fix you up! We've got a cure!" You see a man enjoying his job. You see a man smartly summing up his opponent's say-anything-to-get-elected malarkey in a quick, memorable negative-branding line.

And as gravy, you see the President embrace ObamaCare, the policy his opponents think they can paint as his greatest liability, and use it as a proud rallying cry.

That's how you fight, Barack! And that's how you win.

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My inbox goes pinball machine with folks noting Republican former Senator Larry Pressler's endorsement of Barack Obama for President. Pressler riffs on Romney for his 47% comment:

The 47 percent included anyone who is getting a government benefit and there are lots of disabled veterans getting a government benefit as their only source of income. But that doesn't mean they are dependent. If they receive a wound in war, we have an obligation to them, in my opinion, and we should not put them in a 47 percent of people who don't want to work or something. I think veterans were very offended by being lumped into that [Larry Pressler, interview with Alex Seitz-Wald, "Ex-GOP Sen. Larry Pressler on supporting Obama: 'Veterans were very offended' by Romney,"Salon, October 8, 2012].

Doug Wiken questions the significance of the endorsement. Pressler endorsed Obama over McCain in 2008, but his home folks still picked McCain. I suspect the significance will lie mostly in drawing out South Dakota Republicans to criticize one of their own. Expect some Republican to contend that the fact that Pressler is living and teaching in Paris at the moment speaks to his traitorous conversion to Euro-socialism.

Republicans knocking Pressler may get more mileage out of pointing to one of Pressler's 2008 comments in endorsing Obama:

We can't be for all these foreign military adventures. We have to stop spending so much money. My God, the deficit is so high! [Larry Pressler, quoted by Alexander Burns, "Former GOP Senator, Vet Backs Obama," Politico, October 26, 2008]

But Pressler says that Obama still beats Romney on military and fiscal policy:

President Obama ended one war, is ending another and meeting our national security needs with support of our military leaders. He's laid out a clear plan that would reduce the deficit and prevent the mandatory military spending cuts that no one wants. But today's Republican Party, including Ryan who voted for the deal that would trigger the cuts, is willing to bring our country's defenses to the fiscal cliff -- just so a multimillionaire doesn't have to pay a single extra penny in taxes. And the real lack of leadership? Failing to own up to your role in racking up a record debt from two unpaid wars and two massive unpaid for tax cuts. Mitt Romney leads the party that fails this leadership test [Larry Pressler, "Republican Senator, Vietnam Veteran Endorses President Obama," Huffington Post, October 8, 2012].

Pressler says a Romney-Ryan administration would be "disastrous" for veterans. If you really support the troops, both in the field and when they get home, Pressler says you vote for President Obama.

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...because it doesn't work!

I'll be watching the first Presidential debate tonight and kibbitzing via Twitter.

Part of the debate will focus on health care, wherein the Republican who prototyped the Affordable Care Act will deny history and reality to separate himself from the Affordable Care Act.

Maybe Mitt Romney will try to distinguish himself from President Barack Obama by repeating his call to allow insurers to sell health policies across state lines. That's one of the few specific health care policies South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem can stammer when asked what she'd do about health care.

The Hill points to new research from Georgetown University that shows that Romney and Noem are both wrong. Given the opportunity, not even the insurance companies want to bother with interstate health insurance:

Although these proposals are often touted as an alternative to the ACA, our analysis in six states found that across state lines laws did not result in a single insurer entering the market or the sale of a single new insurance product. Further, there was no evidence that these initiatives actually bring down costs or increase consumer options. In fact, such proposals could put consumers at risk by limiting state officials’ ability to respond to the needs of their residents and eliminating important state-based protections.

The bottom line: There is no “easy button” to bring down insurance costs and provide consumers with more choices. Quick fix gimmicks such as the across state lines proposals have failed largely because they are unable to address the true barriers to insurance market competition (such as building a provider network) and don’t account for localized health insurance rules. At the same time, if enacted more broadly, these laws could undermine consumer protections by reducing the ability of state regulators to oversee insurers and respond meaningfully to consumer complaints [Sabrina Corlette, "The Impact of Laws to Allow Cross-State Sales of Health Insurance: Few Benefits, Potential Risks for Consumers," The Center on Health Insurance Reforms: CHIR Blog, Ocotber 3, 2012].

Selling insurance across state lines empirically fails. Mitt, Kristi, better strike that failed plan from your websites.

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