Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Chutzpah Doctrine

If you want to know what sort of news items drive me crazy, here's one:

A few weeks ago, Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney declared that the Obama administration was engaging in a "war on women" (in response to earlier Democratic claims that Republican fighting against birth control funding within health coverage was just that). He justified this claim with the statistic that 92% of the job losses since Obama took office were felt by female workers.

This extremely misleading figure reflects the fact that the majority of the recession's job losses happened under Bush's watch and dramatically impacted male-dominated industries like construction. By the time Obama took over, that wave of layoffs had passed and a second wave had begun to affect government positions, including office jobs and schools - both of which are more likely to have women in them than men. These cutbacks were then greatly exacerbated by austerity measures that Republicans like Romney insisted were needed (paradoxically along with tax breaks for the wealthy) under the guise of reducing the deficit. In other words, Romney's party pushed vehemently to cut the very jobs that he was now blaming Obama for losing!

Which, as Paul Krugman pointed out in a column about this, is an amazing example of chutzpah. That Jewish term is often described as being when a man kills his mother and father and then throws himself on the mercy of the courts on the grounds of being an orphan! Romney, and the Republican party in the U.S. in general, are currently masters of chutzpah, it seems. And yet few people seem to be calling them on it!

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