Liveblogging World War II: January 24, 1943
The Theorists of the Moocher Class: Veronique de Rugy and Paul Ryan

The Curse of Richard Nixon: Republican Primary Electorate Edition

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Paul Krugman:

Seneca, Selma, and Stonewall: "What many people may not realize is how recent those changes are. Gay rights may be relatively obvious — it’s just 8 years since opposition to gay marriage arguably played a significant role in Bush’s victory. But the big changes on the racial front are also more recent than widely imagined…. Republicans pine for the glory days of Ronald Reagan — but that was a different country, a county with a lot more raw racism, a country in which only a minority of Americans found interracial marriage acceptable. And yes, that had a lot to do with GOP political strength. And I don’t think the right has a clue how to operate in the better nation we’ve become.

I suspect that some 6% disapprove of interracial marriage but won't tell the Gallup interviewer because they want to save their face--that 20% of Americans today disapprove of interracial marriage. That means that 40% of Republicans disapprove of interracial marriage, and thus that perhaps 60% of Republican primary voters really do not think as the rest of us Americans do.

That poses a huge problem for the Republican Party today. And we can see that problem reflected in--among other things--the tragedy of Mitt Romney.

Take a look at what Mitt Romney put in his official Massachusetts portrait, on the desk to his left:

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Michael Daly: The Symbol Mitt Romney Demanded on His Official Gubernatorial Portrait: Proof that Mitt Romney suffers from double Romnesia comes with an easy-to-miss detail that he insisted on in his official portrait from his one term as governor of Massachusetts…. [A] leather-bound document on the desk along with the framed picture of Ann Romney. The cover is embossed with a gold symbol…. This winged staff entwined with two serpents is the caduceus, and it was the only thing Romney explicitly asked to have included other than his wife. That’s because the caduceus is associated with medicine, and Romney wanted it somewhere in the portrait to represent the landmark Massachusetts health-care bill he signed into law in 2006. “He wanted to the symbol there because to him, that was his great achievement as governor,” recalls the 66-year-old artist, Richard Whitney….

Romney and Whitney paid a Sunday visit to the governor’s office, now occupied by Deval Patrick. They chanced to see a leather folder used to hold legislation being signed into law. Whitney proposed including such a folder in the painting with a gold caduceus added to the front as if it were a ceremonial copy of the historic health-care bill. Romney agreed. “Mitt said as long as he can recognize that symbol if we put it on the cover of the bill; if he can recognize that symbol, he will know it’s in the portrait,” Whitney recalls. The remaining question was how to incorporate the folder into the painting. Romney picked up the real one to try various possibilities. “We pretended that was his health-care bill, and he played around with that, whether he held it or put it on a table,” Whitney says….

Romney was smiling as brightly as the caduceus when the painting was officially unveiled at the statehouse in July 2009. He got a rousing welcome from former colleagues of both major parties…. That same month Romney wrote an op-ed piece for USA Today urging the new president to follow his bipartisan example in passing federal health-care reform. President Obama was seeking to do just that, using Romney’s historic bill as a blueprint, even eliciting the help of such former Romney health-care advisers as MIT professor Jonathan Gruber. “They’re the same f--king bill,” Gruber was later quoted saying.

The Machiavellian money guys who manipulate the Republican right then sought to portray Obama’s health-care bill as a socialistic, big-government invasion of a every true, hardworking American’s individual rights…. Romney’s landmark health-care bill was indeed so close to Obamacare as to make him suspect among conservatives. Had Romney’s body in the portrait not been as immobile as his hair, he no doubt would have scooted over to cover that folder with the golden caduceus.He did seek the political equivalent, developing Romnesia about what had been his proudest achievement. The man who had been so determined to remember his wife in his portrait now disavowed the bill that he had been equally insistent on including….

All of which was confusing to the artist whose preparations for the portrait included cutting out a Photoshopped picture of a caduceus, then taping it to the front of a folder to serve as a model for the immortalized bill. “I don’t understand it,” Whitney says. “He was the first person in the country to do something about health care, long before Obama or anybody else. That’s a great achievement.”

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