Well, that was a pretty good week, at least seen from the Democratic perspective.
Mitt Romney, frontrunner for the Republican nomination, announced he wasn't too worried about poor people. Maybe it would be fun to see Romney debate Joe Biden, just because nobody would know what to expect from either of them. Heh.
Later in the week, Romney squirmed under the spotlight when he was forced to accept the endorsement of Donald Trump, which Trump offered just to boost the ratings for the upcoming season of his reality show. To Mitt's credit, he did manage to look sheepishly embarrassed by the whole spectacle.
A previously-well-loved charity for women's health interjected itself into the political arena, and faced a backlash of enormous proportions for cutting off their funding to Planned Parenthood. This made Planned Parenthood look good all week, and today forced the other charity to reverse itself in a desperate bit of damage control. Good luck with that, as the damage may be deeper and longer-lasting than they think.
Barack Obama was in the news for reminding people, at a prayer breakfast with religious leaders, that Jesus said a whole lot of stuff about those poor people Mitt isn't concerned with. Afterward, some of these religious leaders said they were shocked that the president had the temerity to repeat what is (supposedly) one of the core messages of their faith, even quoting scripture to make his point. Jesus, after all, had precious little to say about the woes of high taxes for hedge fund managers, instead concentrating much more on how we treat the poor. But -- somehow, for some reason -- this became news.
To top it all off, the January unemployment figures came out today, and they told the continuing story of an economy that is getting steadily better. Knee-jerkism in the media (and the Republican Party) abounded with stories of "let me explain why things are actually getting worse," as usual. The Republicans -- from Romney on down -- are terrified of a recovering American economy, because they know full well this is going to help Democrats -- all the way up to Obama -- in the elections this fall. They have staked their entire campaign on: "Things are bad, let us lead again, and we'll make things better!" If things are already getting better, though, then this message is going to fall flat -- and they know it. Look for a massive restructuring of the Republican Party talking points in the coming weeks, to adjust to this new reality.
But I already wrote an article on economic optimism a few weeks ago, so I won't bother to repeat myself here. Instead, let's get on with the show.
Harry Reid got an impressive 96-3 vote this week on a Senate bill named the "We Got Our Hands Caught in the Cookie Jar" Act. No, wait, I think it was actually named the "Corrupt Bastards? Who, Us?" Act. Or something like that. A few weeks back, 60 Minutes did an exposé on how members of Congress are allowed to profit off of insider information they get in the performance of their duties, by buying and selling stocks on information not made public. Now, with red faces, Congress is acting to close this enormous conflict-of-interest loophole, and ban the practice. But even with that impressive vote total, Harry doesn't deserve any sort of award -- because idea of banning this sort of thing has actually been around for years. And we simply do not issue "It's About Freakin' Time" awards, here.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz does deserve an Honorable Mention this week, but we aren't going to tell you why until the end of the talking points. This is what is technically known as "foreshadowing," or (if you're more cynical) a "teaser" to get you to read all the way through the rest of the article.
The Most Impressive Democrat of the Week award this week goes to Cecile Richards, the daughter of the late, great Ann Richards. We're assuming Cecile's a Democrat, actually (a pretty safe guess, in our opinion).
Cecile Richards is the president of Planned Parenthood. She was unafraid, this week, to call a blatantly political move by a donor charity exactly what it was -- a blatantly political move. She did not mince words, and her organization came out of the fracas smelling like a rose. Donations poured in, Planned Parenthood got a lot of very good media exposure, and the Republican drive to target Planned Parenthood for extinction got a lot higher profile than it has been getting. Cecile Richards did an excellent job as spokeswoman for her organization this week, and deserves recognition for that fact alone.
Although she's not in public office and is not a politician, Cecile Richards is our Most Impressive Democrat of the Week this week. To mix two metaphors shamelessly, Cecile is following in her mother's footsteps, and those are some very big shoes to fill. Well done, Cecile, and more power to you and to your organization.
[Congratulate Planned Parenthood's president Cecil Richards via Planned Parenthood's contact page, to let them know you appreciate her efforts.]
This week, sadly, the choice for the Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week award was pretty easy.
Although the headline was a lot scarier than the actual facts, the facts are bad enough (if true). This week, former Michigan state representative Kenneth Daniels was arrested and charged with being linked to a drug smuggling ring in Detroit. Daniels was charged with, essentially, helping the drug kingpin to launder money to buy a Mercedes. Now, this isn't as bad as if he had been the kingpin himself, but it's still pretty bad.
Daniels only allegedly committed the crime he was charged with, so we'll gladly rescind his MDDOTW award if he is exonerated. But our guess is that he's going to have a tough time explaining why he (allegedly, of course) used cashier's checks to help a drug kingpin buy a luxury car. For now, though, Kenneth Daniels is our Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week.
[Kenneth Daniels is now a private citizen, having lost his race for the Michigan senate, so we do not have current contact information for him, sorry.]
Volume 196 (2/3/12)
Kind of a mishmash this week, mostly reactionary talking points from Republican gaffes. But then, hey, that's the kind of week it was.
As always, these talking points are offered up for Democrats to use both in nationally-televised interviews (should you be a prominent officeholder) and around the water cooler at work (for everyone else).
[One technical note, before we begin. Readers have been expressing some confusion as to the formatting of these talking points, so we'd like to clear the issue up. When quoting an actual person who said something worthy of being used as a talking point by others, the text is set in an indented "quote box." When the talking point is just me, suggesting something for other Democrats to say, the text is not presented in a quote box, but instead is just surrounded by quotation marks. As I said, there has been minor confusion over this issue, so we thought we'd define it to better the comprehension of our readers.]
The Golden Rule
The first two of these are excerpts from President Obama's remarks to the prayer breakfast this week (full text available at the White House website). This one is a little long, but is so inclusive that it's worth reading the whole thing.
And so when I talk about our financial institutions playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren't discriminating against those who are already sick, or making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren't taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it will make the economy stronger for everybody. But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God's command to "love thy neighbor as thyself." I know the version of that Golden Rule is found in every major religion and every set of beliefs -- from Hinduism to Islam to Judaism to the writings of Plato.
And when I talk about shared responsibility, it's because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it's hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone. And I think to myself, if I'm willing to give something up as somebody who's been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that's going to make economic sense.
But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus' teaching that "for unto whom much is given, much shall be required." It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who've been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.
For the love of God, Mitt...
It's hard to see this one as anything other than a shot across Mitt Romney's bow. Once again, Obama quotes from the Bible to remind everyone of one of the core messages in the New Testament: how you treat the poor matters.
John tells us that, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
This one is just disgusting, and should be denounced in the strongest possible language. [Revolutionary-era facts from Gary B. Nash's superb book "The Unknown American Revolution" (2005), pages 98-101.]
"House Republicans actually had a documentary filmmaker and his camera crew arrested this week for having the temerity to exercise their rights as Americans. Josh Fox, who created the Oscar-nominated film Gasland was led out of the House committee room in handcuffs, after attempting to film a public hearing on fracking. This is an abominable and anti-American act. In 1766, a revolutionary idea was forced on the statehouse in Boston, and as a result public galleries were built for the first time ever in a colonial government. The idea had spread to Philadelphia by 1772, and became a foundation of our new American government: The people were allowed to observe their public servants in the legislature at work. No more closed doors. No more secret meetings. The freedom of the press was written into the United States Constitution's First Amendment for the very reason that it would act as a check on the power of government. The Republicans ought to hang their head in shame for so blatantly ignoring this spirit of openness in government which predates our country's birth. In 1766, public oversight of government meetings was a revolutionary idea. It should not be one, in 2012."
Republicans talking about the poor? Say what?!?
OK, the rest of these are reactions to the continuing circus they call the "Republican primary process." The first one should be delivered with as stunned an expression on your face as you can manage.
"I noticed that the Republican candidates were beating each other up over how much they cared for poor people. Is anyone as flabbergasted at this turn of events as I am? Republicans? Talking about how they're going to help poor people? I'm sorry, did I just wake up in some sort of alternate universe or something? Maybe now Republicans will go from talking about the plight of the poor to actually doing something about it -- like reconsidering the policies they've been promoting which would make the lives of the poor insufferably worse. But maybe that's expecting too much of them, I don't know."
Fix the safety net? Are you kidding me, Mitt?
Mitt's convinced that everyone quoted him out of context. Because this "safety net" thing that he's heard about is obviously in fine shape, and gosh darn it, he'll do whatever he can to "fix" it, if need be. One might consider uttering this talking point while rolling your eyes in a sarcastic manner. Just a suggestion.
"Mitt Romney says he'll, quote, fix the safety net, unquote, if it needs it? Who is he trying to fool? I mean, are you kidding me, Mitt? When Republicans talk about 'reforming entitlements' that is the same as saying 'gut, defund, and destroy the safety net,' plain and simple. That is what the Republican party is all about, today: shredding the safety net and kicking the poor to the curb. If you go through the policy ideas of Mitt Romney -- or, really, any Republican -- you'll find that they all make the lives of the poor more miserable by far. Republicans aren't going to 'fix' the safety net if they get elected, they're going to try their hardest to eliminate it. Mitt Romney simply cannot be believed, there's no other way to put it."
Mitt: 60 percent tax hike for the poor.
The Democratic National Committee released an ad immediately following Mitt's "let them eat cake" remark. It's a pretty good ad, other than the choice of some very bizarre music as a soundtrack. Talk about the ad, and maybe the media will show it for free!
"Have you seen the new D.N.C. ad over Romney's remarks on the poor? It uses a Chris Matthews clip to point out the embarrassing fact that Romney's own policies, should he be elected, would raise taxes by 60 percent on those making less than $20,000. That's Mitt Romney's actual policy for poor people: hit them with a whopping big tax hike, while cutting taxes for millionaires by 15 percent. It's quite obvious who Mitt Romney cares about -- and it certainly isn't the poor."
Debbie Wasserman Schultz wins the spin
And finally, Debbie Wasserman Schultz once again shows other Democrats how to create a damn fine talking point. Her response to The Donald endorsing Mitt was priceless, and deserves to be repeated by everyone, whenever the subject arises. When asked about Trump and Romney, Debbie skewered both elegantly and hilariously:
They both like firing people. They both make millions doing it.
Chris Weigant blogs at:
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant
Become a fan of Chris on Huffington Post
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
All-time award winners leaderboard, by rank