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September 3, 2012

Labored Shots from the Campaign: Coal Country, Charles Dickens Stand With Mitt

Romney said Murray is a “great boss, he runs a great operation here.” (via Columbus Dispatch)

Coal country stands with Mitt?

Perhaps you saw this story the NYT ran a story last month juxtaposing two diametric images taken the same day, reflecting Obama and Romney’s different approaches to energy. The Obama photo was taken in Iowa and the Romney image (a different view of the AP shot above) was taken in Beallsville, Ohio at the Century Mine owned by Murray Energy Corp.



It’s a brilliant visual juxtaposition, even if the binary plays more to Romney’s characterization of Obama’s energy policy as tilting at windmills when the Administration has far from turned its back on fossil fuels. What the NYT story doesn’t mention at all, however, is that Murray has been repeatedly fined by the EPA for pollution violations and that Mr. Murray has donated almost $1 million to the GOP since 2010.


More than that, though, as the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported, the turnout was so high because the mine made attendance mandatory. At the same time, because the mine was closed for the event, management refused to pay workers for the day. If coal country does stand with Mitt — and there certainly photos from the rally and the 1500 workers that attended that look enthusiastic — you have to ask, under what terms?

There’s another element that’s curious, though, if you really look at the photo op, a point that struck me after Regina Schrambling, who alerted me to the story, described the miners as “Dickensian. That’s a particularly interesting take when you consider that these men would show up at the photo-op smeared in soot on a day off.

(photo 1: Mary Altaffer/AP caption: Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event at the American Energy Corporation, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, in Beallsville, 2:
Damon Winter/The New York Times caption: President Obama visited a farm in Haverhill, Iowa, on Tuesday that is part of a cooperative of landowners who use wind power. photo 3: Eric Thayer for The New York Times caption: Mitt Romney visited a coal mine Tuesday in Beallsville, Ohio. Representative Paul D. Ryan campaigned in Iowa on Monday.. photo 4: Toledo Blade caption: Hundreds of coal miners and their families stand in line to hear GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney speak at his VICTORY rally at the Century Mine near Beallsville, Ohio, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012.)

  • matt

    in the top photo, the sign reads:

    a) the romney plan “arc”,
    b) the romney plan “rarec”,
    c) the romney plan “cares” (a bit jumbled), or
    d) the romney plan “farce”.

    you choose!

  • GeorgeMokray

    Don Quixote and King Canute for Obama. Mr Bounderby from Dickens’ _Hard Times_ for Rmoney.

    • Scarabus

      Any chance you’re an English or Humanities teacher, George? :-)

      ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

      I think your Dickens allusion is spot on. Been a long while since I read it but I remember three main themes from Hard Times: education, marriage/divorce (special pleading on Dickens’s part!), and Utilitarianism.

      I’ve long thought that In many ways (not least prudishness and homophobia) we’re reliving the later Victorian period. The resurgence of Spencer’s Social Darwinism is mentioned periodically, but I think the economic Utilitarianism Dickens attacked is equally important.

      Yes, the pie of personal wealth might be expanding, but in real terms the slices allotted to the 99% are shrinking.

  • Cactus

    The miners in the top photo are all the right height.

    Seriously, the top images make the case for clean energy.
    Just looking at the miners all in their somewhat dirty work clothes, with the
    grey background and even the dirty grey lighting, makes one feel oppressed. No
    sky, no sun, just gloom and Romney’s white shirt. He’s the only thing in the
    photo that isn’t grimey. Is that the world he wants us to believe he comes
    from? Or the one he will ‘lead’ us back into?

    Then we have the Obama new clean energy shot. Him alone
    standing tall with the clean white windmills and the blue sunny sky with all
    those white fluffy clouds. Now we can breathe!

  • black_dog_barking

    The first image captures much of how I see the Romney campaign. “The Romney Plan” is writ large and graphically sophisticated in the center background, the details much smaller and obscured by other background details (miners’ heads). The candidate’s gleaming clean white shirt stands out from the costumes of the chorus behind him, the extras, the little people. In case you weren’t aware, Mitt is better than the rest of us. See?

  • Scarabus

    Speaking of Dickens, I alluded to another of his novels in a blog post a couple of days ago.

  • glenn

    That’s a particularly interesting take when you consider that these men
    would show up at the photo-op smeared in soot on a day off.

    I hadn’t thought of that, although I knew the story behind it. Also they came in their work clothes – you’d think people who were coming of their own free will on their “day off” would be wearing their “day off” clothes, not their work gear and helmets.

    How incredibly exploitative. The optics of the photos are good, but with the story out, I think they are doubly damning for Romney. What a charlatan. What a fake.

    • Thomas Gokey

      Yes spotting the dirty faces was a good catch. There has got to be a story behind this. I hope a reporter follows up and finds out.

      My bet: not only where they forced to attend the meeting (without pay) but were given instructions to wear their work clothes and smear their faces, that this was a matter of having things look authentic for the staged photo-op.


    I was there! My nephew is one of the miners in the photo. They were brought up from work to stand with Mitt and did so gladly. Those who worked that shift got paid. Those who did not work that shift did not get paid. The dirt on their face and their clothes was not make up! When you pay five times as much for your electricity in a few years . . . as the cost of power to manufacture drives up the cost of everything you buy and ships jobs overseas, you might lay off the kool-aid. The coal industry made tremendous clean coal strides in recent years and continues to do so. We have vast resources of coal and it is the least expensive energy source. Given more time, and the emission problems will be almost nil. Obama wants more time but uses EPA to stop coal and pursue wind and solar. That should be left to the free market. It won’t be long before we have to call a bureaucrat to use the bathroom!

    • Michael Shaw

      Donald, we always appreciate when someone contributes to the thread who was part of a photo or who can contribute backstory. So, are you saying the news coverage about the mine being closed that day, and workers not being paid that day are false? Are you also saying that the workers in the photo have dirt on their faces because they worked in the mine that day, or are you saying the dirt is that hard to wash off that they are still dirty from the day before? Would be interested to know.

  • black_dog_barking

    Update, 19 Sept 2012: seems the coal workers were required to attend the Romney speech.

    Update: ooops! Reading downthread I see a response from an attendee. Never mind.

  • GeorgeMokray

    No teacher of anything in particular. More of an autodidactic polymath. Right now I’m reading about the commandant of Treblinka, the history of utopias with modern examples, the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska, and working through two different versions of the Tao Te Ching in Chinese and English and the haiku of Buson in Japanese and English. Love Chinese ideograms although I can’t really read without a dictionary.

    Bounderby came up from much more modest circumstances than Rmoney but they share the same level of overweening self-regard.

    Social Darwinism is the only kind of Darwinism that Repugs seem to believe.


    The men worked that morning and got dirty in the mine. They came out to stand with Romney at which time the mine was shut down. The men who worked that shift got paid. I’m always amazed how bias and victim complex twist stories . . . so let me twist a little the other way. . . union tactics and Chicago politics distorted the story in order to discredit Romney. Now there is something to chew on!!!!

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