Rape metaphors are always a bad idea

Updated

Cory Booker’s comment got folks talking about Bain Capital again, and President Obama responded in a populist manner that not only was an effective rebuttal of those critical of his anti-Mitt Romney ads, but kept the issue rolling. As such, I was interested to hear what Rep. Jim Clyburn had to say, given that he’s usually one to cut through the crap, never mind the bollocks, and get straight to the point.

Today, he cut a little too deep, and for the second straight day, folks are not only talking about Romney’s history at Bain Capital – they’re talking about the Obama campaign having to disassociate themselves from a fellow Democrat. The Congressman from South Carolina said this during an appearance on today’s “Jansing & Co.”:

“This is not an attack on free enterprise. I want say to you, I don’t take contributions from payday lenders. I refuse to do that. That’s free enterprise…There’s something about that enterprise that I have a problem with. And there’s something about raping companies and leaving them in debt and setting up Swiss bank accounts and corporate businesses in the Grand Caymans. I have a real serious problem with that.”

The Obama campaign was quick to douse that fire, while doing their best to keep people talking about it. Via Politico:

“We strongly disagree with Congressman Clyburn’s choice of words- they have no place in this conversation,” Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith said…

“But we do believe that Mitt Romney should come clean about his record as a corporate buyout specialist and how, contrary to his claims of creating jobs, his focus was on reaping quick profits for investors at the expense of workers and middle class families.”

Here’s the thing: the Obama campaign has a legitimate point to make here. It’s one that I believe helps them every day they talk about it – hence why folks like Newt Gingrich, who produced an entire film about the issue when he was still trying to beat Romney, are saying it won’t work. Of course Gingrich will say he doesn’t think it’ll work.

But that can change if Democrats use rhetoric so careless that they’ll encourage voters to care less.

Ed. Note: I’ve added a postscript about another comment by Rep. Clyburn that was reported today. You’ll want to read this.

Postscript: Nation writer Brentin Mock flagged us on Twitter to note that this wasn’t Rep. Clyburn’s only example of messing up the message. In his piece, Mock notes that Clyburn said some pretty curious things about the spate of GOP legislation to require voters show ID, per The Hill:

“Voter ID is not a problem. Everybody that goes to vote shows some form of ID,” Clyburn said. “The big problem has been the process … you go through to get there.”

I’ll have more about this in a future post, but it’s important to note Mock’s observation: this could be about Rep. Clyburn “throwing in the towel on the voter ID fight.” Even still, though, Mock writes:

Losing faith in the courts is one thing, though, but Clyburn very clearly said that voter ID laws aren’t even a problem – a statement that left even fellow voting rights activists puzzled. Liz Kennedy, counsel for Demos Democracy Program, told me she was “a little surprised” by Clyburn’s statement, but figured Clyburn probably meant to emphasize the “creaky systems” of voting – voter registration problems, and loose guidelines that allow for intimidation at the pools – that “lead to more people not being able to cast a vote.” 

Whatever he meant, that’s two statements by the Congressman today that seem regrettable, to be kind.

Rape metaphors are always a bad idea

Updated