, Newburyport, MA

October 11, 2012

Judge a cover by its book

As I See It Jack Garvey
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Forget right vs. left and conservative vs. liberal, the real divide in Election 2012 is superficial vs. in-depth.

Mitt Romney proved he understands this by preparing “zingers” to win last week’s debate.

Clever nonsense such as “trickle-down government” colored his aggressive delivery against an incumbent who seems to have forgotten that television does not favor calm and substance.

No matter that cost estimates made Romney’s claims for his never-specified health and economic plans sound like an ad campaign for Foxwoods Casino.

Ditto the gross but relishing “only backs losers” regarding federal green energy investments, 23 of 26 of which are successful.

Much like the auto industry Romney said we should let go bankrupt in 2008 — but now takes credit for saving.

As his campaign openly states, they won’t let “fact-checkers” spoil their recipe.

With the coded banner of “liberal media” to dismiss any source that offers context, superficiality wins.

Asked to name a cooperative Republican senator, Elizabeth Warren recalled numerous congressional committee appearances to testify for reform of Wall Street and quickly named Richard Lugar.

Moderator David Gregory interjected that Lugar lost Indiana’s primary and wouldn’t be a U.S. senator in January. Warren froze. Scott Brown’s supporters laughed derisively.

That superficial exchange became a highlight of the week’s press coverage.

Past the surface? Like many other moderate Republicans in primaries for both houses of Congress, Lugar lost to a tea party extremist whose foremost campaign pledge was to never compromise with Democrats.

Or, for that matter, with whatever few moderate Republicans have survived the tea party’s extremist purge since 2009.

Hence, Warren was ridiculed for an inability to find compromise in a party that refuses to compromise.

Worse, she is attacked for having represented two large corporations in lawsuits filed by victims of asbestos poisoning.

Beneath that surface?

1) Her role was to insure that settlements were made free of time- and money-wasting technicalities, which is why …

2) Lawyers defending the victims praised her, and why …

3) Victims now defend Warren against Brown’s superficial claims.

4) If Brown’s election gives the Republicans a majority in the Senate, those same companies will likely be free of the very regulations that made legal remedies possible.

Yes, let’s talk about having it both ways:

On the day after Romney won gold for his Olympic Etch-a-Sketch routine in Denver, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the national unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent, the lowest since the worst of the devastation wrought by eight years of a de-regulatory, Republican White House.

Predictably, Tea-publicans cried “conspiracy,” accusing the federal agency of cooking the books to favor the president.

Did they forget that BLS was the same agency that has provided the numbers they have often trumpeted against Obama? No way. They just don’t want the rest of us to remember.

Just as Scott Brown doesn’t want us to notice how he takes credit for supporting bills that he initially opposes until they are watered down — and initiating bills already introduced.

Or the chronological finesse of his references to “this three-and-a-half-year recession.”

Or his party affiliation, always insisting that he is “independent” and “bipartisan.”

Make that “in-state” insisting, as his appeals to wealthy out-of-state donors emphasize that his re-election could deliver a Republican-controlled Senate.

If so, say hello to the climate-change-denying Oklahoma senator as the next chair of the energy committee — and Wall Street servants as chairs of anything regarding finance, labor and occupational safety.

Among votes cast — with many Republicans reversing previous votes only to obstruct Obama — Brown has adhered to the Tea-publican Party line by voting:

1) Against extending middle class and payroll tax cuts.

2) Against extending student loan interest rates.

3) Against the Campaign Disclosure Act.

4) Against the Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act.

5) Against Transportation Infrastructure Appropriations.

6) Against the Economic Development Revitalization Act.

7) Against the American Jobs Act.

Instead of this record of spite, Brown wants us to vote based on a funhouse mirror he holds up to his opponent.

Superficial? As Brown has disgracefully urged: “Just look at her!”

In depth? Just look at Brown’s record, a record that keeps contradicting its own glossy cover.


Jack Garvey can be reached at