Category Archives: Election 2012

Meet Vermin Supreme

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Republicans look like fools.

I had a conversation over the weekend with a friend, a lifelong conservative republican, about the republican nomination process. I’m not really sure who he ideal candidate was, but he’s willing to get onboard with Team Romney. (Romney, of course, is not a lifelong conservative republican.) His problem with the process, however, was not that it was too long, or that the candidates were spending too much and needed to save for the general election against Obama, but rather, “That we look like fools.” This man has never voted for a democrat, moderate or otherwise, in his life.

Herman Cain. Seriously? Bachmann. She left the race today, but how did she make it so far? The average independent is not inspired by the republican field, much less the republican party right now.

What allows Gail Collins to have so much fun with her Quiz for all Seasons?

VI. Match the candidate with a high point from his book:

1) Mitt Romney

2) Herman Cain

3) Rick Perry

4) Ron Paul

5) Newt Gingrich

A) He’s “the kind of guy who goes jogging in the morning, packing a Ruger .380 with laser sights and loaded with hollow-point bullets and shoots a coyote that is threatening his daughter’s dog.”

B) Tells the reader how to become the C.E.O. of Self.

C) “Chicken-hawks are individuals who dodged the draft when their numbers came up but who later became champions of senseless and undeclared wars when they were influencing foreign policy. Former Vice President Cheney is the best example of this disgraceful behavior.”

D) His daughter and co-author tells about the time she averted a meltdown during a TV makeup session by begging her father to “Close your eyes and go to a happy place.”

E) “I love jokes and I love laughing.”

Granted, Gail Collins pokes fun at a lot of things, but now consider the assessment in this week’s Economist, arguably the most sober and thoughtful of all the English language weeklies:

Nowadays, a candidate must believe not just some but all of the following things: that abortion should be illegal in all cases; that gay marriage must be banned even in states that want it; that the 12m illegal immigrants, even those who have lived in America for decades, must all be sent home; that the 46m people who lack health insurance have only themselves to blame; that global warming is a conspiracy; that any form of gun control is unconstitutional; that any form of tax increase must be vetoed, even if the increase is only the cancelling of an expensive and market-distorting perk; that Israel can do no wrong and the “so-called Palestinians”, to use Mr Gingrich’s term, can do no right; that the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education and others whose names you do not have to remember should be abolished.

These fatwas explain the rum list of candidates: you either have to be an unelectable extremist who genuinely believes all this, or a dissembler prepared to tie yourself in ever more elaborate knots (the flexible Mr Romney). Several promisingly pragmatic governors, including Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, never even sought the nomination. Jon Huntsman, the closest thing to a moderate in the race (who supports gay marriage and action to combat climate change), is polling in low single figures.

As I wrote earlier today, I believe the nomination is Romney’s to lose. The question remains, however: how much was the average independent swing voter – who will decide this election, in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, et al. – dismayed by the circus that is this process? If this election is a referendum on Obama, republicans should have the upper hand… if they haven’t shown themselves to be “fools” in the run-up.

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Bachmann gone. Perry (soon) gone. What does that leave us?

Michelle Bachmann announced that she is leaving the race. Rick Perry announced that he is returning to Texas to assess his candidacy. Translation: he’s out. And then there were five.
Mitt Romney, the winner of the Iowa caucuses, is not the not-Romney, although he has every advantage right now: support, organization, money, and a win in Iowa.

Ron Paul is not the not-Romney because his beliefs in foreign policy frighten everyone except for his 19-year-old supporters and retired anarchists. It is almost impossible for him to get the nomination.

Rick Santorum is the second-place finisher in Iowa by only eight votes, the closest finish ever. He is the new not-Romney. But for how long?

Newt Gingrich did poorly in Iowa, and I suspect he will not do well in New Hampshire or South Carolina. His momentum is gone, and good.

Jon Huntsman, who of all the candidates would make the best president and the most formidable opponent against Obama, never campaigned in Iowa. He put all of his eggs in the New Hampshire basket, but has only a 10.8% support there according to the Real Clear Politics average as of this morning, compared to Romney’s 41%. If he loses there, his race is done.

So is Romney the inevitable candidate? To answer that we need to know what will happen to Perry and Bachmann’s supporters. Also, as Gingrich fades, where will his supporters go? Romney has the support to win in New Hampshire, but watch South Carolina. Gingrich is dropping, and Bachmann and Perry both had 6 or 7% support in polls. With Romney at 21%, those number matter a lot. The only way Romney can lose the nomination at this point is if (A) Gingrich drops, and his supporters join all Bachmann and Perry supporters (much of the evangelical vote) behind Santorum; and (B) Santorum develops a support organization at record speed. The former is impossible if Romney is seen as the inevitable nominee. The latter is just plain difficult.
Besides, Iowa and NH? Not bad. Ron Fournier writes this morning in National Journal.

If Romney wins New Hampshire, he would be the first non-incumbent Republican to sweep Iowa and the Granite State since the modern caucuses were formed. There is a reason why that’s never been done: Republican coalitions in Iowa and New Hampshire are mirror images of one another and, taken together, reflect the broad GOP electorate. In other words, a candidate who can win older, more conservative GOP voters in Iowa as well as white-collar, independent-minded Republicans in New Hampshire should be able to win everywhere.

Therefore, it remains: Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee.

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Romney acts like an adult

Thomas Edsall, a professor of journalism at Columbia, in a critique of Romney’s campaign strategy, quotes the candidate:

Once we thought ‘entitlement’ meant that Americans were entitled to the privilege of trying to succeed in the greatest country in the world. Americans fought and died to earn and protect that entitlement. But today the new entitlement battle is over the size of the check you get from Washington.

But after reading Edsall’s summary, “The Anti-Entitlement Strategy,” I look upon Romney’s position more favorably. Why? First, I disagree with the very definition of the world entitlement. Second, ponder this little nugget of data from the recent Government Accountability Office’s fiscal 2011 financial statements, as noted by Bryan R. Lawrence, founder of Oakcliff Capital, writing in today’s WaPo:

In fiscal 2011, the cost of the promises grew from $30.9 trillion to $33.8 trillion. To put that in context, consider that the total value of companies traded on U.S. stock markets is $13.1 trillion, based on the Wilshire 5000 index, and the value of the equity in U.S. taxpayers’ homes, according to Freddie Mac, is $6.2 trillion. Said another way, there is not enough wealth in America to meet those promises.

Two points. First, I doubt that Romney would, if able, gut all of the entitlement programs. (He will not be able.) When asked during a debate which federal departments he would abolish, he gave a serious answer – that each department did some things worthwhile, and that we must not throw the baby out with the bath water. Thus, the valuable programs currently performed by a department must first be identified and then assumed by another department, agency or office, before the department could responsibly be abolished. I assume the same sobriety would apply to Romney’s position on entitlement spending.

Second, not all entitlement programs are transfers to “parasitic” “sloths.” He may have to trim down the rhetoric. Even so, he will be the adult in the room when debating Obama, who has responded to both the current depression and the forthcoming entitlement-fueled default by giving speeches and proposing to tax private jets.

Edsall again:

Romney’s adoption of an anti-entitlement strategy comes at a time when he appears to be looking up from the primaries toward Election Day, which suggests that his hard-line stance will be central to his campaign against Obama and not just a temporary maneuver.

Let’s hope that this is not only an election strategy, but a blueprint for governance.

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Obama is the fourth best president ever?

Not really. From Politico via Drudge:

The president’s claim didn’t air in the show’s Dec. 11 television broadcast but was included in the full interview video that CBS posted on its website that day.

The “60 Minutes Overtime” video shows Obama telling correspondent Steve Kroft:

“The issue here is not going be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln — just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we’ve got a lot more work to do.”

NewsBusters pounced on the comments with a story under the headline: “60 Minutes broadcast edits out laughable Obama claim as 4th best president.”

I’m not sure why 60 Minutes did not include it in their tv broadcast – I ignore the accusations of their left-wing bias – but the comment is just quite silly. Really. Steve Kroft, for Obama’s sake, should have followed up the comment with a request for clarification. Obama could have corrected himself, admitted a bit of embellishment, and moved on. Instead, Obama’s opponents have more evidence of his vanity.

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Ron Paul on Newt Gingrich’s “serial hypocrisy.”

H/T Drudge


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A serious look at Jon Huntsman?

Many candidates have had their moment in the spotlight and found inadequate: Bachman, Perry, Cain. Politicos and activists are waiting for Gingrich to implode and be the next former not-Romney frontrunner. But Jon Huntsman has not yet had his moment, and he should. He has both the qualifications and demeanor to be president, is likable to the political center, and has conservative credentials that display both his reasonableness and his consistency, something Romney lacks. Will he get that look? Let us hope so.

George Will discusses Huntsman’s conservative credentials.

Jon Huntsman inexplicably chose to debut as the Republican for people who rather dislike Republicans, but his program is the most conservative. He endorses Paul Ryan’s budget and entitlement reforms. (Gingrich denounced Ryan’s Medicare reform as “right-wing social engineering.”) Huntsman would privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Gingrich’s benefactor). Huntsman would end double taxation on investment by eliminating taxes on capital gains and dividends. (Romney would eliminate them only for people earning less than $200,000, who currently pay just 9.3 percent of them.) Huntsman’s thorough opposition to corporate welfare includes farm subsidies. (Romney has justified them as national security measures — food security, somehow threatened. Gingrich says opponents of ethanol subsidies are “big-city” people hostile to farmers.) Huntsman considers No Child Left Behind, the semi-nationalization of primary and secondary education, “an unmitigated disaster.” (Romney and Gingrich support it. Gingrich has endorsed a national curriculum.) Between Ron Paul’s isolationism and the faintly variant bellicosities of the other six candidates stands Huntsman’s conservative foreign policy, skeptically nuanced about America’s need or ability to control many distant developments.

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Herman Cain on BLR

So Herman Cain, a man with few if any qualifications for the presidency, will suspend his campaign. I would like to see several other candidates join him by exiting gracefully, but I shouldn’t be too demanding. For now, I will enjoy this small bit of good news.

“I’m going to dance, make love, and fix snacks for the highlander marathon. That’s right!

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Please drop out.

The Washington Post is now reporting that Herman Cain will reassess his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, with a decision made by late in the week. Battered by sexual harassment allegations, and now a new allegation of a 13-year-long extra-marital affair, the businessman has reason to doubt his chances. Intrade lists his chances at 1%.

If Herman Cain is truly a businessman who, as his deputy campaign manager explains, “looks at the entire landscape before making decisions,” then he will exit the race. He will come to the same conclusion if truly wants to “make this nation stronger.” If his goal is to promote the issues and solutions to strengthen the nation, he can do so as a radio host and spokesman for conservative causes.

More important, Republicans should encourage him to leave the race. Cain has few qualifications for office, other than corporate executive experience. That experience is not to be mocked, but neither is a lack of experience in Washington something to be desired. Republicans argued (correctly) that Obama had no executive experience prior to running for the presidency. Has that lack of experience helped him enact his legislation? Honest democrats have admitted that it hasn’t.

In what other line of work is not having any direct experience a plus? Surgery? Carpentry? Investment banking?

Republicans would be wise to look for a candidate who has relevant experience, whether in Washington or in state governance. Private sector experience, foreign policy exposure, and honorable military service should be welcome additions to a candidates resume, but not the sole substance of it. Generalship perhaps is an exception, but relevant political experience should be foremost in the litmus test for the GOP presidential nomination.

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Time for Rick Perry to Leave the Race

After a disastrous debate performance, Rick Perry decided to go on Letterman and laugh it off.

Perry can be given a bit of slack for drawing a blank on stage. Public speakers of all varieties frequently lose their trains of thought, and in such a high profile debate there is a lot on the line. He felt the pressure, and his mind drew a blank. Oops.

Unfortunately for Perry, an “oops” moment such as that is not tolerable, especially since it was yet another dismal debate performance. His ability to laugh it off, then and last night on Letterman, shows a softer but less serious side of the Texas governor. But America needs a leader who is mature and serious, and who shows up on the debate stage prepared.

Intrade, a prediction market, now lists his chance of winning the Republican nomination at 4.3%. The chart below shows Perry’s chances for the last year.

Perry enjoyed a fast rise as the then latest not-Romney, and earned himself an equally fast demise due to his lack of preparation and un-presidential tone.

What is left for Perry? He won’t win the nomination, and I doubt his fundraising will continue for much longer. What he can do is continue to attack Mitt Romney as a RINO. Nothing will come of it but a weakened opponent for President Obama in 2012. Is that what Perry wants?

It is time for Rick Perry to drop out of the race. The voters deserve better than oopses and top ten lists.

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