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"Unsuccessful" Straw Man Building

By The Reverend Published: July 18, 2012

What does it mean to be a "success?" To Mitt Romney, success means becoming wealthy. The GOP presidential candidate, in a speech in Pennsylvania yesterday, explained that being a "success" in America means that you own and run a business venture and have become wealthy doing so. To Mitt, to be a "success", you must be an "innovator", an "entrepreneur", or a "business owner."

Romney explains.....

"President Obama attacks success and therefore under President Obama we have no success,” he said.


Obama should be...."celebrating success instead of attacking it and denigrating it"....success "makes America strong."

"That's the right course for this country," Romney continued. "His course is extraordinarily foreign."

.....
“Let me assure you that dividing America and attacking success and minimizing the achievement of entrepreneur
s and innovators of all kinds, that does not make a stronger America,” he said.


Obama has been accused of "dividing" the country. The context for that oft-repeated claim is found in Obama's policy to increase income tax rates on the top 1% of America's earners.....known in Romney's world as the "successful." Advocating for the same tax rates on the "successful".....those earning more than $250K annually....as those same successful folks paid during the roaring Clinton years....has over a decade later re-emerged as....an "attack on success" and an effort to "divide " the country.


I want readers to remember here.....Romney was responding yesterday to a deceptively edited piece lifted from Obama's talk in Virginia last Friday. In other words, a straw man that he, Romney, constructed by himself......probably the "hardest work" Mitt has done in a very long time. Obama's mentioning that no "successful" person has become successful without the collective work of government....roads, law enforcement, fire protection, etc.....services which the "successful" did not build themselves....reappeared as a Romney-built, Obama straw man who was "attacking success", while "insulting" and "denigrating" business owners and the hard work that they do.


What Romney described about Obama's words...simply did not happen.


But I'm not satisfied to let it go at that.


This entire concept that "success" in the U.S. equals making an income of $250K or better per year is offensive and totally ridiculous.


First....if success equals a quarter million income per year, then, the American people are miserably unsuccessful. Approximately 2% of Americans earn over $250K. What about the other 98% of us? Are we to be regarded, and regard ourselves, as unsuccessful?...and if so, what does that say about the American people, American workers? Are Americans, by a rate of 98%.....really a bunch of unsuccessful losers?
Is being a "successful" American only to be understood as being a rich American? Or is that concept only a political platform plank of the modern Republican Party whose narrow, and narrowing, focus has reduced all policies down to what will benefit the rich and powerful?


What about "successful" family providers like fathers and mothers...who are not rich? What about average run-of-the-mill employees who, each day, approach their jobs with integrity and character and pride? Unsuccessful Americans? What about millions of seniors who never became rich during their working years.....yet went about their quiet lives meeting their obligations, raising their families and pursuing happiness in their own ways? Not successful? Or are all those Americans the very backbone of our great nation? All 98% of us.


Second....how is pointing out that collective government has played a constructive and positive role in every American's life, including the lives of the "successful", "extraordinarily foreign?" Is it "foreign" to America to describe government's role in building the interstate highway system, water and sewer systems, our national education system, winning WW2, exploring space or "discovering" the internet? I thought Americans were supposed to be proud of those collective achievements.

Romney claims that any mention of these government accomplishments, and how they relate to to the overall "success" of the wealthy......how, without these collective achievements, the "successful" wouldn't be quite as successful, or not successful at all.....is, in fact, "changing the nature of America."


Finally....having built a straw man with his own two "successful" hands, quarter billionaire, born-halfway-down-the third-base-line, son-of-a-multi-millionaire Mitt argues with that straw man.....


"It's not like government just provides those to all of us and we say 'oh, thank you government for doing those things,'" Romney said. "We benefit from them and we appreciate the work that they do and the sacrifices that are done by people who work in government. But they did not build this business."


Of course, no one....not Obama...not Biden...not any Democrat has ever stated that rich business owners haven't built their own businesses. What Romney did yesterday was build a straw man. He did so deceptively and misleadingly......chopping and excising what Obama actually said in Virginia. After constructing this deceptive straw man, after calling that straw man a "denigrating"-to-business-owners, "foreign" straw man.....Romney proceeded to set fire to it.


In doing so, Mitt Romney reinforced the already-widely held notion that he, despite his "successful" riches, is a very small man, out of touch with average, authentic, quietly "successful" Americans. Mitt is proving that he will say anything in his quest to defeat Obama. Even if he's arguing with the straw men he constructs.
 

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