Norman Lear on Mitt Romney: “What You Talkin’ Bout, Willard?”

As the 2012 race heats up, Variety’s Wilshire & Washington is going to feature more outside voices from the entertainment industry weighing in on the candidates and the issues. This is a commentary from Norman Lear, founder of People for the American Way, on Mitt Romney:

Mitt-Romney-Waving-to-crowd1-265x300 Comment

By Norman Lear

I don’t have to explain that line to Americans who grew up watching one of
 our production company’s sitcoms, “Diff’rent Strokes”, which ran for eight
seasons between 1978 and 1986 and for years after in syndication.  Any one 
who knows the show will recall this signature phrase repeated by the young
 Gary Coleman to his older brother when stupefied and maddened by something
 his brother just said, “What you talkin’ bout, Willis?”

I know some people think Willard Mitt Romney is the only responsible adult
i n that implausible field of presidential hopefuls, but often he will say
 something so surprising and disingenuous in this seemingly endless campaign, 
I find myself thinking, ‘What you talkin’ bout, Willard?

Absent a profanity, I don’t know a better reaction to Romney’s declaration 
that “corporations are people.”  Of course he’d be correct if the people
 he’s referring to are the billionaire Koch brothers. Or if they are the 
people who are setting up phony corporations for the purpose of supporting
 Willard Mitt Romney’s candidacy with million dollar gifts, and they could of 
course include the Kochs.

“What you talkin’ bout, Willard?” leaps to mind at the thought of the natty
 Harvard-educated Wall Street executive and former Massachusetts governor 
railing against “eastern elites” at the last Republican National Convention. And it aches to be shouted out when I am reminded that Willard Mitt Romney, 
seeking someone to head his legal team, chose a man whose reactionary views
 about the U.S. Constitution led to a bi-partisan Senate vote to keep him off 
the Supreme Court, Robert Bork.

Willard’s embrace of Bork, despite his angry rants since then, such as those
 calling for active government censorship of popular culture, is clearly 
meant to signal far-right activists that they can count on more Supreme
 Court Justices in the mold of Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito, who are all
 energetically working to make Romney’s assertion that “corporations are 
people” a legal reality.

What are you talkin’ bout, Willard?

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  1. Paul Johnson says:

    We clearly disagree on a number of issues Mr. Lear, likely due to different philosophies regarding the proper role of government.
    1. Corporations are people. An interesting line easy to criticize or ridicule in the abstract, but Mitt’s position is accurate, and what is reflected in th supreme court decision permitting corporate donations to political campaigns: a corporation is at it’s base a group of people with interests. If you have a 401k you know what I mean. All the corporations on your list of investments are made up of people like you as owners, customers and employees. They have interests as a group. Worthy of regulation sure, but Mitt’s actual words in Iowa were a response to the assertion taxes should be levied on corporations, not people. Of course someone pays those taxes, not the corporations.
    2. Bork. I won’t second guess Mitt’s choice of Bork to head his legal team. Obviously he’s a qualified jurist as a former fed judge and sc nominee, and, you recall I’m sure, his candidacy for the Scotus became a verb as it was scuttled through partisan rancor. I also personally like Scalia and think his view 90% of the time reflects the original intent of the constitution. It’s inappropriate in my view to be more expansionist in a reading of the constitution than how it’s written. Expansion is the role of the congress.

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