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At EconoMonitor economist L. Randall Wray singles out a quote (he calls it shocking) from one of the people sitting around the dinner table at Romney's fundraiser. This anonymous (to us) diner is complaining about crony capitalism to what one might say is the king of crony capitalism. I am amazed at the degree of cognitive dissonance required to make such a comment in such a situation and, like Wray, surprised this is coming out of the mouth of a Goldwater Republican. If as Leon Festinger (who coined the term) says of dissonant behavior that we seek naturally to find consonance, are we witnessing an instance of cognitive dissonance so great that it signifies some sort of tipping point?

From Mother Jones:

Audience member: I think one of the aspects about hope and change that worked well for Obama four years ago was he promised to bring us more honest, transparent governance in Washington. I've been around politics—the first campaign I worked for was Barry Goldwater in 1964. I've gotta be the oldest Republican in [unintelligible]. But from what I've seen, particularly in the last seven months because of my own personal involvement in an issue, is the government in Washington right now is just permeated by cronyism, outright corruption. Our regulatory agencies that are supposed to protect the public are protecting the people that they're supposed to be regulating. And I think people are fed up with that. Doesn't matter if you're in the tea party of Occupy Wall Street, people see that the government is working for the powerful interests and the people who well-connected politically and not the common person. Which threatens that whole idea that we have this great opportunity—which we should have and have had, historically—in the US for anybody, from whatever background, to become successful. One way that that becomes compromised is when the government is no longer seen as being an honest agent. And where our tax dollars are not really being put to work for us but for the people who are plugged-in politically. You know, you had cases like Solyndra and [unintelligible] that I've talked about and gotten involved in. You have Eric Holder who is probably the most corrupt attorney general that we had ever in American history. And I think it's something that if spun the right way in simple terms can actually resonate with the American people. Obama did not keep his promises. Nancy Pelosi was supposed to give us an honest Congress and has given us just the opposite as speaker. And I think that's a campaign issue that can work well. I'm optimistic that you'll be elected president. And my recommendation would be clean house, immediately. The SEC, the CFEC are disaster areas.
Professor Wray reminds us that it was Goldwater, considered far right in the Republican Party at the time, who began the call for less government. Indeed Barry Goldwater's campaign was all about slashing government and he begins an ad with the admonition:
"Don't look now kid but somebody has his hand in your pocket. It is the hand of big government..."

So I find it worth noting that anyone at a $50,000-a-plate fund-raising dinner would think to bring up the matter of crony capitalism at all. The diner plunked down a lot of dough to dine in a mansion, be waited on by servants, and be in the company of a man, Mitt Romney, who games the system and brags about it. A person whose mighty wealth has been gained in part by tax dodges, off shore accounts and huge bonuses from corporate raiding. Romney even alludes to his own unsavory behavior in part of his answer to this fellow, but it is in the manner of being characterized that way by Democrats, not in the manner of actually being that way. One wonders how the diner sees his purchase of time with this candidate in light of his own comments about being plugged in politically. His remarks relate to government dollars being given to the politically connected, but does he understand that those in government giving out the tax dollars to their friends are the same people who spoke or sat at dinners like this?

My husband travels often to the midwest where he talks with rural Illinois Republicans. He says there is a kind of Republican kneejerk identification of Democrats with urban graft-takers and lazy lay-abouts. It is this lens through which the speaker may have been able to see the cronyism in Obama's administration and not perhaps in Bush's. He definitely directs his complaints at the Democrats and confines them to the last seven years. Nonetheless, he seems to have moved a distance from Goldwater and what he once must have thought was the proper role of government regulation. Prof. Wray says of the diner's remarks.

And now? Now, after all the shenanigans on Wall Street, aided and abetted by Cronies in Washington, this Goldwater conservative is having second thoughts. He’s shocked, shocked!, that unregulated capitalism has led to thievery...
Wray says in conclusion:
But here’s the thing. All this stinks so much that even Goldwater would be calling for more government.
Romney doesn't respond to the meat of his campaign donor's question. He doesn't touch the idea of crony capitalism or the need for Wall Street regulation. He fires a salvo at the SEC and CFEC unions and then says this (from the Mother Jones transcript):
Romney:...Those people I told you, the 5 to 6 or 7 percent that we have to bring onto our side, they all voted for Barack Obama four years ago. So, and by the way, when you say to them, "Do you think Barack Obama is a failure?" they overwhelmingly say no. They like him. But when you say, "Are you disappointed in his policies that haven't worked?" they say yes. And because they voted for him, they don't want to be told that they were wrong, that he's a bad guy, that he did bad things, that he's corrupt.
It's exactly what those Republicans in Illinois and probably our Goldwater Republican think about Romney. They don't want to see him as corrupt; they want to see him as a nice guy. The problem isn't just with the lens through which they see the Democrats but also with the lens through which they see themselves and theirs.

And what kind of blinders do you have to wear since neither Romney nor Ryan hide who they are? In the words of Prof. Wray;

[Romney's] a Wall Street poster child for the beast. You don’t hear him attacking Wall Street’s fraudsters. You don’t see him pushing proposals for regulating and re-supervising our nation’s banksters. No. You see him calling for more downsizing of government and regulation and supervision in order to keep the frauds running.
One wonders if this Goldwater Republican is conscious of any dissonance caused by the conflict existing between his views on regulation and the plainly stated policies of the Romney/Ryan team. Maybe because he stands to profit enormously himself from a Romney win, he can justify the contradictions or maybe he will seek yet more evidence to support his belief Obama would do worse. There must have been some unease felt with Romney's lack of an answer. I wonder how far in the future is our diner's epiphany that his own Party is up to its eyeballs in crime?

Originally posted to Marihilda on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:40 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think the questioner (14+ / 0-)

    and Mitt were on the same page.  The questioner framed his question by stating that agencies were to regulate for the common good and not for the regulated, but these people are so twisted, 'the common good' is now the enrichment of the 1% and the regulated are the other 99% to make sure they don't get in the way.

    No rational person could believe that increased scrutiny in many agencies, or the CFPB, are about helping the regulated.   They are just complaining because they think some other crony's pocket is being filled, not theirs.They are all in favor of crony capitalism when it is their pockets.

    •  "when it is their pockets" is the key. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Michael James

      I don't agree that they think the common good is the enrichment of the 1%.  He clearly states:

      Doesn't matter if you're in the tea party of Occupy Wall Street, people see that the government is working for the powerful interests and the people who well-connected politically and not the common person
      The first half of his statements sound like he's almost a progressive and nailing the very problems with present capture of our government by "powerful interests" who are NOT the common person".  But then comes the tired, worn-out, talking points of Solyndra, Holder, Pelosi and going off the deep end to paint them as criminals who failed to keep promises they never made.

      In his mind, he's a Goldwater guy who still thinks or imagines he ever was a common person.  But now, it's just that there are others who are well connected that got a piece of the action that he has not and that's all that matters.  For the GOP, everyone not like them or who gets something they did not are "the other".

      Perhaps is he had invested in Solyndra he might be singing a different tune?  Well, at least until Solyndra ran into problems, then he'd be blaming the government.

      "Wall Street expertise, an industry in which anything not explicitly illegal is fair game, and the illegal things are fair game too if you think you won't get caught." — Hunter

      by Back In Blue on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 06:20:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe he thought that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Back In Blue, JPax

        he had to couch things this way in order to be heard. When I first read this I thought--gee could a person at the table have made the video. It is a mind bending way to look at the comment and most probably not right but intriguing--yes.

        Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. Marx

        by Marihilda on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:54:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  a bit of both, I suspect. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Marihilda, grayday101

          There's concern and evidence of cognitive dissonance, but he doesn't see himself as part of the problem and is putting adjusting his words so as to show deference to Mitt and give him room to respond instead of stating it in a way that might sound accusatory to Mitt.

          I think something that a lot of posters on internet boards, including this one, forget is that people tend to see themselves as doing the right thing and tend to blame others for the problems.

          -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

          by JPax on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 12:50:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  One can maybe assume that diner/donor is... (20+ / 0-)

    ...not stunningly ignorant, except that ignorace which comes from being ideologically blinded and closed-minded.

    His assessment on Eric Holder is particularly galling, and disqualifies him from any status as an objective observer or teller of non-ideological truths.  This is especially true, given his admitted background and years in politics.

    (There was a previous diary on here which delineated the corrupt GOP AG's that this man MUST have known about and lived through, and conveniently ignored).

    Aldus Shrugged : The Antidote to Ayn Rand. Buy ALDUS SHRUGGED on amazon, and ALL royalties will be donated directly to HELP ME TO HELP THE BIG O!!! And follow the fun: @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:06:06 AM PDT

  •  Let me suggest that conservatives are (34+ / 0-)

    people who have little or no sense of time as a linear sequence of events.  So, for example, Solyndra and TARP were Bush initiatives, and yet they are being laid at the feet of Obama and Holder. Some Democrats have argued that the Bush years have been forgotten as a matter of convenience. i don't think that's it.  I think conservatives exist in an ineffable present in which the Goldwater years and Reagan and Bush are all compressed. They exist in the present.  They repeat "history" not because they don't learn from it or remember it, but because it's all in the present and repetition is their constant mode. The do-over is not a response to a mistake, but a habit. People go to the same resort because that's what they've always done. They send their kids to the same schools because they've always done that.
    They want things to stay the same. Period.
    Obama and Holder are "corrupt" because they are not doing their bidding -- the bidding of the naturally wealthy elite. Shall we count some of the things Obama has done to irk them?
    1) He's had guaranteed education loans moved away from the banks.
    2) He's insisted that all non profits and charitable institutions file annual reports with the IRS, regardless of whether or how much income they had.
    3) He's manipulated the Swiss banks into surrendering info on private accounts.
    4) He's had the DOJ prosecute medical equipment fraudsters to the hilt.
    5) He's had Medicare billing fraud interdicted.
    6) The flood insurance subsidies, if they were approved by Congress have not been spent.
    7) Schools that participate in the feeding programs have had to change their menus and remove vending machines and junk food.
    8) Obama has been visiting fly-over country on a regular basis. The heartland can no longer complain about being ignored.
    9) Dictators in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt were removed without using American troops. There's no glory in that.

    So, that's just off the top of my head.

    Willard and his friends are crooks.  When crooks are distressed, that's good.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:06:14 AM PDT

    •  Little profit either. (9+ / 0-)
      Dictators in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt were removed without using American troops. There's no glory in that.
      Very little profit in it either, although cruise missile used in Libya cost about 1 million a piece.

      "Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left. We simply can't afford to double-down on trickle-down." Bill Clinton

      by irate on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:48:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Logical vs. Temporal priority (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, Amayi, Marihilda, ozsea1, DianeNYS, lapin

      You make an interesting observation regarding priority and thus causality. Following your lead, Republicans view events with a logical priority as a first category. Therefore things they do not like "logically" fit with the opposition. They then rationalize the temporal reality.

      This would be the opposite of accepting an historical timeline as the first category and then rationalizing the logic of the acts on that timeline.


      "There are two kinds of truth, small truth and great truth. You can recognize a small truth because its opposite is a falsehood. The opposite of a great truth is another truth." -- Niels Bohr

      by paxpi on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 01:37:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In anthropology they call it (7+ / 0-)

      non-lineal codification of reality. You put a seed yam into the ground and what grew from the planting was considered an entirely different and unconnected entity. Normally it is not considered a western conceptual system. The fact that it was possible at all blew me away when I studied anthropology especially since I was focusing on causality in Kant's Second analogy. Our western notions of causality expressed by Hume go out the window in such a system. Perhaps this should be the topic of a different diary? Do I need a yawning emoticon?

      Nonetheless the truthfulness of what you say still doesn't explain away the diner's desire for more regulation and that desire's not fitting into any conceivable Romney/Ryan policy. His question is not just a complaint about the Obama administration; it suggests a fix that in no way is on the horizon if Romney wins.

      As I understand it, cognitive dissonance is a kind of "lizard brain" response that occurs not just in adults but children and monkeys. The reason I seized on this is because I agree with Prof. Wray that no matter what the the diner thought was the truth of his specific complaints, something has changed in the diner's mind to make the fellow speak as he did. And what might happen after such a change is interesting.

      Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. Marx

      by Marihilda on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 02:34:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Non-linear sense of history... (4+ / 0-)

      Good point, given that Republicans are, in their minds, running against incumbent president Jimmy Carter for the ninth consecutive time.

    •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

      The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

      by a2nite on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 12:52:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  cognitive dissonance: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, Marihilda, ozsea1, Back In Blue

    "keep Tahoe blue" bumpersticker on big SUV

  •  Lawrence O'Donnell (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vahana, ozsea1, OleHippieChick

    went @peshit over that attendee's comments, particularly the "Eric Holder is the most corrupt AG ever" bit.

    Obama said knock you out.

    by samlang on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 01:54:29 PM PDT

  •  It's my understanding that Bush the Shrub (9+ / 0-)

    Appointed 'regulators' from the industries being regulated, and that Republican obstructionist in Congress have been quite successfully blocking Obama appointments that could weed out these bad seeds.  Is this pretty much the case?

    We're ALL better off when we're ALL better off!

    by susanWAstate on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 02:14:33 PM PDT

  •  It's particularly shocking when you remember he's (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, ozsea1, OleHippieChick, peptabysmal

    asking that question of a man who wears his corruption on his campaign sleeve.

    Romney's tax cut plan, even if he were to cut all the deductions from the code that favor his class, would still increase his wealth by nearly $2 million.  Couple that with his enthusiasm for repealing Dodd-Frank, which would enormously benefit his old firm Bain, and you see a candidate who's all but announcing he will legislate his own personal self-interest into law.  

    You can't stand up for Main Street when you're genuflecting to Wall Street

    by caul on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 02:16:09 PM PDT

  •  Tipping point: Cognitive dissonance sucking in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1, starduster

    their sombreros to deep, permanent asshat territory.

    Do they actually not hear what they are saying  
    or is this the effect of some new
    rich-people piercing procedure that involves
     inserting metal plates to separate the
     'holding forth with abstract opinions'  
    and  the 'thinking about the real consequences'
    parts of their brains?

    I fear their heads have been sucked in
    and they can't pull them out.

    "I'll press your flesh, you dimwitted sumbitch! " -Pappy O'Daniel

    by jakewaters on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 02:27:53 PM PDT

  •  If you say Democrat to a rural Illinois Republican (7+ / 0-)

    it is all about Chicago to them.  They all go around saying that the best thing would be to divide Chicago off into a separate state.  They have it in their little heads that all the downstate tax money flows north to Chicago.  They don't seem to  grasp that many of the population centers downstate vote for Democrats and Chicago is the great economic engine of Illinois.

    •  Same thing in NY. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      NYC sends more money to Albany then it get back and upstate politicians (dems included) never fail to blame NYC for all that ails the state.

      "Wall Street expertise, an industry in which anything not explicitly illegal is fair game, and the illegal things are fair game too if you think you won't get caught." — Hunter

      by Back In Blue on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 06:44:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Imaginary Cities Are All Unemployed & Lazy Ethnics (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bluezen, catwho

        ....and Jews and homosexuals.

        Essentially the cities are like the Warsaw Ghetto ( the propaganda version).

        There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

        by bernardpliers on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 01:24:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i read somewhere (jeff sharlett's excellent book, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the family -- ?) that part of the rw's strategy in remaking america into the image they want is to "bleed the cities" -- & for preciseley the reasons you state: they are havens of liberalism gone amok & where seething masses of minorities leech the govt for all they can -- at least as far as conservatives are concerned.

          that's why so many cities have been deserted by the white tax base & their infrastructures left to crumble & a disproportionate number of  the people who live in them are poor, homeless, & suffer from illnesses both physical & mental & without enuf resources to remedy the situation.

          it's ironic to me that the ones who crow the loudest about america being the greatest country in the world, cheer the decline of the most recognizable symbols of our country: cities.

        •  Same in PA n/t (0+ / 0-)

          Holy underpants, Fatman! It's-it's the Mitt of Might!

          by grayday101 on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 09:11:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Each Iowa Hog Farmers Pays For 1000 Welfare Queens (0+ / 0-)

          .... in their imaginary world, and then everything else goes in foreign aid to the Muslims.

          There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

          by bernardpliers on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 10:35:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  That is an intriguing perspective (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annan, Marihilda, grayday101, elginblt

    Thanks for bringing it forward for more discussion.

    Putting aside the historical antecedents of Goldwater Republicans, etc., what surprised me most is the speaker's apparently positive view of what Tea Partiers and OWS have in common--their opinion that the system is broken, and his agreement.   So he wouldn't be among those arrogant Republicans who figuratively spat on OWS from their Wall Street balconies.

    But there he is in the same room with Romney who both personifies and speaks the language of that arrogance.

    I don't think the issue is cognitive dissonance as much as it is sheer naivete.   Some of the nonpolitical Republican leaders in my community are such nice guys and do social good that I wonder how they could bear to call themselves Republicans.  And I've heard them speak with the same naivete as the speaker in the video--they want to see things fixed and improved. But they continue to support the wrong people. Somehow, the political Republicans know how to beguile them.  

    Same thing in that video.  Romney didn't begin to address the key concerns of the speaker--and before the dinner even started, the speaker should have had no reason to expect that Romney would.  

    And my Republican friends are like this too.  Frankly, they just tend to be shallow thinkers when it comes to politics, economics, et al.  

    I come away supposing that the speaker hopes his donation will allow Romney to "hear" his concern and perhaps tuck it away for future consideration.  Naivete.

  •  Well he does have a point, if off on a few details (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, Marihilda

    Obama never cleaned house.  He kept far too many Bush policies in effect and gave vast amounts of deference to corporations, even to the point of ceding command of the Coast Guard to British Petroleum.  The status quo continues, although Obama is a lot nicer in public than Cheney.

    He does bring up the very salient point on how Romney can win -- by attacking Obama with the truth.  Which is the one thing Romney can never, ever do.

    What a tragedy, for Romney to be so close to being king of the world, yet knowing he'll never pull it through.  lol

    Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
    Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

    by The Dead Man on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 04:55:09 PM PDT

  •  Holder! Pelosi! Barney Frank! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, catwho, elginblt

    The list of names they blame for things is hilarious. The conservative movement in 2012 is nothing more than a word salad of buzzwords.

    Also I hear that line constantly, "Obama hasn't kept his promises!". Which isn't even grounded in reality. On nearly every issue, Obama has either passed legislation, an executive order, or pushed for one or the other on nearly everything he campaigned on. On issues where it seemed like he reversed course (DADT) it's only ever to set the stage for a more durable solution. There have been a few exceptions, but they are exceptions.

    In fact I can't think of a single politician in my life who has hewn more closely to his campaign promises than Barack Obama. It's almost boring how predictable he is.

  •  Denial (0+ / 0-)

    The Goldwater Republican in this skit denies all facts that conflict with his internal mythology that Romney represents what the Goldwater Republican thinks should be done to fix the country.  The Goldwater Republican hears the words he/she wants to hear (I didn't listen to the clip), synthesizes a truth consistent with his/her ideology, and ignores the rest.

    It borders on psychosis.

  •  interesting thing about goldwater (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is that near the end he started swing quite a bit in the other direction.  he went so far as to endorse jerry brown's bid for the presidency and came out in favor of gay rights in the early 90s.

    hope springs eternal and DAMN is she getting tired!

    by alguien on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 12:33:31 AM PDT

  •  I can confirm that many rural IL Cons do (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Hold that view, its particularly bad in my area of far north Illinois. We have a very large impoverished minority population, and they basically take the blame for everything. Our suburbs have a very rural feel to them (though that is changing) and they feel they are being "robbed" to pay for "laziness". I have even occasionally heard this coming from the mouths of UAW workers.

    Now, the funny thing is... many people in these rural communities are on some form of government aid themselves.

    "The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian... America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance." The Real Ron Paul

    by 815Sox on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 05:38:04 AM PDT

  •  Appeals to emotion & cognitive dissonance. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marihilda, elginblt

    There's an interesting piece in the New Yorker on Campaigns, Inc., the original political PR firm which began way back in 1933. (The Lie Factory) which contains this telling quote from a Nixon aide:

    “Voters are basically lazy, basically uninterested in making an effort to understand what we’re talking about,” the Nixon adviser William Gavin wrote in a memo. “Reason requires a higher degree of discipline, of concentration; impression is easier,” he wrote in another memo. “Reason pushes the viewer back, it assaults him, it demands that he agree or disagree; impression can envelop him, invite him in, without making an intellectual demand. . . . When we argue with him we demand that he make the effort of replying. We seek to engage his intellect, and for most people this is the most difficult work of all. The emotions are more easily roused, closer to the surface, more malleable.”
    And the most powerful emotions to appeal to are the negative ones: fear and anger. And emotion is always conflicted and contradictory so it is no surprise that angry and fearful people, like Romney's audience, are case studies in cognitive dissonance. All of us are irrational when we get angry or afraid - it's only when you're fairly calm that you can actually listen to other people and try to understand their situation and point of view.

    The article,btw, is well worth reading in its entirety and describes how Campaigns Inc. defeated earlier attempts at universal health insurance, using the same arguments employed by current repubs against Obama's program.

    If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

    by Valatius on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 05:41:53 AM PDT

  •  This hypocracy is standard procedure in public (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    so it isn't too surprising that they may say things like it in private as well. I don't know how many of them believe it but they routinely call the kettle black while sitting in the pot.

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