Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"Get Tough and Hit Back" Examples: 2012

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2012 "Get Tough and Hit Back"
"What do you do to a school yard bully? You punch them in the face. Do you think any of these people on talk radio, if they’re punched in the face by a Republican nominee, do you think they would push back? No, they’re cowards. They're bullies. Punch them in the face, and they back off. Bullies do that. Mitt Romney -- and we said it non-stop for two years -- he would never stand up to these bullies. And so they framed his campaign and he got his tail whipped."
-- TV pundit Joe Scarborough, December 10, 2012, on MSNBC's Morning Joe.

Comment: Scarborough is criticizing talk radio (and other) pundits who say things that amount to name-calling. So, in a sense, he's advocating civility. However, he's resorting to violent rhetoric and (it seems) saying that people should resist these pundits by retaliating in kind. He is also faulting GOP presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) for failing to police the speech of his supporters. This is a fair criticism, though it's a mistake -- of the "only my opponent" variety -- to think that only Romney was guilty of that failing (President Barack Obama also failed to police the rhetoric of his supporters, as well).

"Let me start tonight with this: Attack. A month now stands between here and election. Four weeks to sell the country on the difference between Obama and Romney on the big issues of our times. Time to attack. Time to remind voters who rode to the rescue -- who did ride to the rescue of the American auto industry, and who stood out there telling it to go bankrupt. Time to attack. Which candidate fought to get equal pay for equal work for women so that no girl in America will ever grow up thinking her time, her sweat is worth less than a boy's? Time to attack. Which candidate saw 40 million people uninsured dragging themselves to sit for hours in emergency rooms across the country -- he saw it, Obama did, and he refused to let it stay that way through yet another presidency. Mitt Romney saw the way things were and said he wants to keep things that way. If you don't have insurance, tough, go get a seat with the other victims and moochers. Well, this is where Romney's vulnerable, where Obama can come charging from his ground of strength. Now's the time. Romney -- be taken to task for his positions so far from the American mainstream."
-- Commentator and TV anchor Chris Matthews, October 9, 2012.

Comment: Romney and Republicans would no doubt take issue with the way Matthews describes -- perhaps, caricatures -- their positions. Matthews is telling Obama and Democrats to get tough and "attack" (and to do so with points that they've already made time and time again). Matthews also indulges in some "extremism" rhetoric by describing Romney's positions as "so far from the American mainstream".

"The debate on Wednesday night was like the Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960: optics versus substance. As an Obama supporter, I was aghast at Mr. Obama’s weak televised response to Mitt Romney’s attack. Then I tuned in to a second showing of the debate. But I listened to the sound and did not watch the video. What a difference. Mr. Obama was the clear victor on the issues. For the next debate, Mr. Obama should focus on directly challenging Mr. Romney and his obvious flip-flops on the issues and look directly at his challenger. And, above all, Mr. Obama should stop being presidential and go on the attack."
-- Ken Blalack, letter to the editor of The New York Times, sent October 4, 2012, published October 5, 2012. The letter refers to the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) at the University of Denver on October 3, 2012.

Comment: Blalack describes the situation as one in which Obama somehow hasn't been critical of Romney. But Obama has been very critical of Romney, particularly in his convention speech, which "attacked" Romney using many unfair tactics.

TRUMP: The one thing I have to tell the Republicans, they’ve got to get tougher. If they don’t get tough, they’re not going to win this election.
KILMEADE: Give me an example of tough, like, how do you get tough?
TRUMP: Well, I think there are a lot of ways of getting tough. I think they're pandering to Obama. I think they're being so nice to Obama it's unbelievable. And John McCain made that mistake, he absolutely made that mistake. And, you know, they're just afraid to attack this man, and he should be attacked, if you look at the job he's done and the lousy job he's done as president, he should be attacked. And they're afraid to attack him, and it's disgraceful, and I won't even get into specifics, but there are many specifics that maybe we'll talk about next Monday. … You've got to attack Obama, you've got to attack him strongly, you've got to talk about what a horrible job he's doing as president. They're afraid to attack him, they don't want to be called racist because any time you say anything bad about Obama, you get called a racist. Bill Clinton was called a racist … Look, they don't want to be called racist, they don't want to attack him, and if they don't attack him, guess what? They're not going to win the election.
-- Businessman and TV personality Donald Trump, September 10, 2012, speaking with Fox and Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade.

Comment: Kilmeade makes a sensible request for Trump to provide details for what "get tough" means (political rhetoric frequently just gets asserted without being explained and defended). Trump doesn't give much in the way of details (though I guess he promises them for "next Monday") beyond the call to point out what a "lousy job" Obama has done as president. But this is exactly what Romney did in his convention speech, using many unfair tactics. Was Romney's speech "nice" to Obama? Trump also claims that race and accusations of racism play a role in people not criticizing Obama (or not offering "tough" criticism, whatever that means).

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