If a speech falls in the forest . . . .

Former Massachusetts Gov. Willard Romney have a speech today under the auspices of the Detroit Economic Club. His venue was the 60+000-seat (expandable to 80,000) Ford Field.

It was supposed to be a major economic speech. I listened to the whole thing, and it was the patented Right-wing prescription for the economy – cut taxes, cut regulation, attack unions, etc. Nothing we haven’t heard hundreds of times before from dozens of candidates for public office, as well as from pundits.

It included stem-winding lines about the trees in Michigan being the right height and Willard’s wife owning two Cadillacs.

And, by the way, don’t hand us that “conservative” blather about tax and spending cuts. Romney’s plans would add an estimated $250 billion to the national deficit (the annual red ink) by 2021, and could, depending on lots of factors out of the control of any president, result in a $2+ trillion dollar change to the debt (the long-term red) in either a positive (Romney’s scenario) or negative (analysts’ scenario) direction. This is not “conservative;” this is crazy.

The event itself is being widely panned:

Business Insider. Huffington Post. The Hill. ABC. Slate. NPR.

NYT is polite.

The Washington Post notes there were people outside.

Detroit News editorial page editor defends Romney, but no matter what side of the political fence you’re on, you can recognize a planning screw-up. I’ve put on more than a few events in my time, and this was a true clunker. Politics is always part theater, and today was theater-of-the-absurd. No competent advance or planning team could have missed the fact that all those empty seats would be the focus of the visuals, or that 1,200 people applauding in a cavernous stadium would sound like dry leaves scuttling across the road in a high wind.

As Laura Ingraham tweeted:

“The pictures of an empty Ford Field are not helping Romney. Poor staging and tepid response from hometown crowd.” and “Query: Why move the event to a larger venue when it looks like Romney would not have been able to fill a smaller one?”

In the wake of this mess, the finger-pointing is full speed ahead.

Okay, no sense piling on any more.

So ignore the poor event planning and get to the poor policy he outlined. Ezra Klein does a politely savage takedown.

By the way, can’t miss the irony of this libertarian speech being delivered in a stadium that cost $430 million, of which 51 percent was picked up by taxpayers. The economic benefits of such projects with large shares of public funding are generally questionable.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, Glenn Greenwald put a piece up the other day on the kind of human flotsam Willard likes to hang with. Hey, when you lie down with dogs . . . .



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