Posts Tagged ‘GOP Candidates’

The Conservative Savior-Trap

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Who?

It’s time for some blunt talk among conservatives.  The fact is that we’re losing the country, and in one election after another, we continue to seek out a conservative savior who will put things right.  The problems with this approach are extensive, inasmuch as we assume we can find one person who will so perfectly embody conservatism that we can stop worrying about the direction of the country.  It may be understandable, given the dire condition of our economy, the wreckage of our culture, and the endless parade of disappointments to which we conservatives have been witness, but I’ve begun to think it’s largely our own fault.  We want to go on about our lives and mostly leave the running of the country to some honorable man or woman who will do what is right without further involvement from us, but that’s simply not going to happen.   The truth is that we conservatives have become too obsessed with a savior and too impatient to build the kind of movement that would make one possible but ultimately unnecessary.  If you think I’m overstating the attachment among conservatives to this notion, I offer into evidence the GOP’s own 2012 savior trap.

Consider Michelle Bachmann’s entry into the 2011 primary scene.  Popular with some of the Tea Party wing, for a time, she did well, but then she made a few verbal missteps just as Rick Perry entered the scene.  In a matter of days, Bachmann plummeted in the polls, and Perry’s elevator began rising toward the top.  While she stuck around quite a long while, she never recovered from that point forward.  It didn’t take long, perhaps the span of a month or so, and Perry stumbled badly in a couple of debates, and his numbers tanked badly.  Sensing the end, and realizing Perry was not their savior after all, conservatives held a clearance sale and abandoned him, leaving him to spend the next couple of months in a sliding finale ending with his return to Texas and his endorsement of Newt Gingrich.  Rick Perry would not be the conservatives’ savior any more than Bachmann had been.

At about this time, both Chris Christie(who broke Ann Coulter’s heart) and Sarah Palin(who broke many more, mine included) announced in rapid succession that they would not join the fray.  Two more potential conservative saviors (although calling Christie a “conservative” is admittedly a stretch) went by the wayside as Perry’s meteoric rise was matched only by his apocalyptic fall from polling grace.  The Texan didn’t fulfill conservatives’ search for a savior, so the quest moved on to its next failure.

Enter Herman Cain.  Remember him and his “9-9-9?”  Who could possibly forget?  I enjoyed Cain’s plain-spoken rhetoric, and his ability to speak in sensible albeit general terms to a set of issues that were important to conservatives across the board.  Then something happened, and some allegations were brought forward by all the usual suspects, and before he could shout “9-9-9″ one more time, Herman Cain was gone, knocked out from a rapidly rising lead by the false hope that he could be the next conservative savior. He was not.

Then came the circumstance of Newt Gingrich’s double rise and double-dip.  He came forward and began to create momentum the first time as Herman Cain began to falter.  The two shared a stage at the Woodlands near Houston for a one-on-one debate, and the one thing it made plain was that Cain was out of his depth, nice man though he seemed to be.  Gingrich owned the stage in terms of thoughtful policy ideas, and his command of the issues outgunned Mr. Cain substantially. Suddenly, conservatives who had dismissed him earlier on in the season began to take note.  He was making the case, and he was making it well, and many people dreamed happily of Gingrich facing Obama in debates.  Gingrich came under hammering attacks in early December.

Then there was the first brief double love-affair with Rick Santorum, who seemed to attract social conservatives who felt put-off by some things in the former Speaker’s personal history, and the two dueled back and forth, but Gingrich managed to come back on top.  By the middle of January of 2012, with the South Carolina primary victory, Gingrich had debate performances that put him clearly atop the heap.  Then came the accusations about him, and one flat debate performance, and though he battled back and forth with Mitt Romney, Florida’s primary was won by the former Massachusetts Governor. Santorum also managed to capitalize on Gingrich’s fall,  but it was going to be a two-horse race, and neither of them would be Newt Gingrich. Conservatives dismounted and went on to find their next ride.

After Gingrich, Santorum made a valiant effort, trying all he could to upset the Romney apple-cart, but by then, too many conservatives had hopped from one horse to the next, and Santorum just wasn’t going to do. Conservatives were simply too deeply divided, and thus conquered, so that in the end, Santorum too went down when the money wouldn’t come and the Romney machine gathered steam.  The last conservative savior then faltered and went by the wayside, or so we thought.

At long last came Mitt Romney, and while some hoped for something dramatic at the convention, most had by now accepted the fate of the GOP: The Republican party would put Mitt Romney forward to face Barack Obama and pretend to themselves that he had been a conservative all along.  We all know how that came out, and there’s no point in re-hashing it, save to say that we conservatives permitted ourselves to go off in search of a savior who never arrived.  By the morning of November 7th, we all knew the miserable failure, but we weren’t finished quite yet.

Three months later, we have now the spectacle of Sean Hannity posing the question to Dr. Benjamin Carson about the possibility of his presidential ambitions.  As ever, and hot on the trail of anybody who might save us, somehow, a number of conservatives departed on the path toward seeking a Carson candidacy.  As I detailed earlier, there are any number of reasons to be a bit more cautious about how we will throw our political support around.  Dr. Carson may be a skilled physician, and he may run an excellent foundation, but that’s hardly a reason to consider him for the presidency, particularly in lieu of more thorough examination.

So it is that conservatives left 2012 behind, and with it, an understanding of the causes of their recent disappointments. Already, there is a slate of possible or potential candidates for 2016, but while conservatives run headlong into another round of the savior trap, Obama and his cronies are doing real damage to the country.  Conservatives seem fixated on the notion that they can somehow elevate one person to the presidency who will undo all of Obama’s damage, but I must insist that this is not the case.  Absent a conservative majority in the House and Senate, Obama’s will be done, come Hell or high water.  As one examines the array of Republicans already being batted around as potential presidential candidates in 2016, one can see the same scenario arising, and it ought to jog some conservative memories of 2011-12, and with them, some caution.

I’m not suggesting that conservatives should ignore 2016, but the truth is that we have a good deal of work to do before we get on to that campaign.  Besides, if conservatives are to find such a leader, it will likely come in the heat of the battle of the next two years, when we will begin to form a sense of who is able and willing to lead a conservative movement.  In 2010, one conservative voice lent to the national discourse in a significant way, a voice that had a strong influence over the outcome, helping conservatives send many new members to the House.  She stayed out of the nomination fight in 2012, but without her leadership in 2010, making the campaign stops, and pressing the issues with voters, I doubt we would have had the beltway-blasting success of taking back the House.

As conservatives begin again to seek out another savior, I wonder how many of them are paying attention to the lady who had been in front of them all along. Let us be clear about how important Sarah Palin’s influence had been in that election season, particularly before we go off in search of another would-be savior.  Whether she will seek the presidency at some point in the future is anybody’s guess, but I would keep an eye on Wasilla, if not for a candidacy, then at least for a bold leader who helped us to retake the House in 2010.  In 2012, voters agreed with her endorsements in nearly seventy percent of those races in which she offered one, suggesting that if somebody in the greater universe that is conservatism understands the electorate, it may well be Governor Palin. More importantly, however, she has exhibited the ability to lead on issues and rouse the base while making a strong stand in defense of the republic.

Whomever we may choose to carry our banner in 2016, I hope we are a good deal more persistent than we had been in 2011-2012, a season in which conservatives leaped from one horse to the next with little hesitation.  It’s more important than ever to identify a candidate who can lead, but leadership will be about more than great speeches or rousing debate performances.  A goodly portion of our attention must be aimed at identifying those who will step up to lead now, as we embark on four more years of the Obama agenda.  Who will rise to oppose him?  Who will push hard in the midterms of 2014?  Who will rally conservatives?  Who will be able to put a shattered party together again, if it can be put together again at all?  With whom will conservatives stand in unwavering support?  These questions may well be answered in the next two or three years if we have the discernment to recognize it.

It is time that conservatives re-think this entire savior mentality.  No fruit was borne by that tree in 2012, and I doubt the outcome will be different in 2016 if that is our sole focus.  We must build conservatism not by electing a President first, and then hoping wistfully to achieve success, but instead by building a movement that is positioned to elect a President.  Short-cutting our way to electoral victory cannot and will not work, as evidenced by the miserable results of 2012.  When one places the question in this context, it is true that it exposes the daunting enormity of the task before us, but at least it offers an honest view of the fight we have ahead if we are to salvage the republic.  Wild-eyed but temporary enthusiasm for one candidate or another will not rescue the country, but building a movement can.  At long last, we must stop seeking the one person who alone can save the country, recognizing instead that an able leader can only arise when by our own tireless efforts, we’ve laid the groundwork and made the country capable of salvation.

Ron Paul Doesn’t Like “Etch-a-Sketch:” Why Not?

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Will Paul Send Romney the Bill?

It’s hard to understand why a politician would run an ad that seeks to minimize the story that is doing the most political damage to one’s chief rival.  In my view, to hit Gingrich and Santorum while leaving Romney untouched hints at another motive.  Ron Paul’s camp is running an ad slamming the two non-Romneys for their focus on Romney Communications Direct Eric Fehrnstrom’s “Etch-a-Sketch” remark.  He apparently thinks it’s ridiculous to be focused on what he considers a sideshow, but I wonder if that’s his real objective.   After all, he’s been rather friendly with Mitt Romney, and at times it has seemed he was working on coordinating his attacks on the others with the former Massachusetts governor, who one would think would receive the most scrutiny from the Paul camp, since Romney is clearly the most liberal of the four.

Here’s the ad:

Not once in this ad are viewers informed about the nature of the controversy, although you do get a clip of Fehrnstrom’s remark,  but what viewers receive is a series of repeated iterations of Gingrich, Santorum, and media saying “Etch-a-Sketch,”  portrayed in such a way as to mock the subject.  Romney’s been playing damage control ever since his Communications Director’s remarks, and they’ve tried several approaches to change the subject.  I suppose if all else fails, you let Ron Paul’s campaign do your dirty-work, and try to downplay the meaning and impact of the “Etch-a-Sketch” remark.  Of course, this could be Paul’s way of trying to get a little attention, but whatever his motive, I think it’s dishonest to downplay the significance.  After all, if the Romney campaign will bear a resemblance to an etch-a-sketch if he secures the nomination, one would think this is information all of the other candidates would want voters to possess.  To me, this looks like an attempt to minimize the damage to Romney.  Is this part of a collusion between Paul and Romney?  Nobody’s certain but it’s odd that Paul’s campaign would posit a thesis that reduces the damage to an opponent.

 

Romney and Santorum: Dead Heat in Michigan Polls

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Close in Michigan

This shouldn’t have been close.  In 2008, Mitt Romney won in Michigan by nearly double-digits.  The very idea that the son of a Michigan governor should happen to find himself in this position demonstrates how thoroughly many conservatives have tired of establishment candidates.  What should have been a walk-over won’t be, and instead we’re likely to see a terribly close contest that may come down to the wire.  If Romney loses in Michigan, he might as well go home, because if he can’t win here, and convincingly, I don’t know how you can argue he will ever beat Barack Obama.  There’s also an Arizona primary on Tuesday, and at the time of this writing, that contest is not nearly so tight, with polls indicating a big Romney lead.

After getting the endorsement of another Republican governor, with Jan Brewer endorsing him over the weekend, but she seems to have more pull with Arizonans than Nikki Haley demonstrated with South Carolinians.  There is also a healthy Mormon segment of the vote in Arizona, so taken together, Romney probably will maintain that edge.  Let us also remember he has the endorsement of US Senator and former Presidential candidate John McCain, who was able to stave off J.D. Hayworth in a primary challenge in 2010.  I expect that he will win there comfortably, but if it closes up significantly, it will hint at the continued weakness of Mitt Romney.

Romney needs to win Michigan on Tuesday, but conservatives need Rick Santorum to win.  There is certainly reason to believe Santorum could pull it off, not merely because of the closeness in the polls, but also because he’s doing particularly well among evangelical Christians in the state.  Naturally, Romney has a significant cash advantage, as he has had throughout this primary season, but as has been seen in some states, that advantage doesn’t necessarily equate to victory if the grass-roots activists in a state begin to push for somebody else.  If Romney can pull off an unexpectedly large victory in Michigan Tuesday, he’ll certainly retake the initiative, but if it’s very close, or worse, he loses entirely, it may be a show-stopped.  Tuesday’s  returns will offer us a good deal of insight into the rest of the primary season.  If it’s close, it’s not over by a long-shot in the run-up to Super Tuesday, and if it’s a blow-out, it may well signal a consolidation in favor of the victor.

Barack Obama IS NOT Incompetent

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

It's No Accident

I have listened to Republicans discussing Barack Obama’s various policy failures, and I have noticed a trend.  Among Republican moderates, there is a tendency to say that Barack Obama is clueless, and that “he just doesn’t get it.”  This willingness to permit him to claim “good intentions” is a farce.  Genuine conservatives examine the policies of Barack Obama, and will subsequently conclude the ugly truth, and it isn’t that Obama is incompetent. Instead, they see in his action a clear and unambiguous malevolence that should not be hidden behind a facade of mere incapacity for the job.  Barack Obama’s policies are designed to damage and diminish the United States, and pretending he’s merely a bumbling dolt doesn’t address the gravity of our national situation.  I understand well why the RINO set does this, but it’s time for somebody to speak up in candid opposition.  Among the remaining candidates, only two show any willingness to do so, and from my point of view, this disqualifies any who won’t.

Mitt Romney says “Obama is in over his head.”  That’s pure nonsense.  Barack Obama hasn’t issued executive orders and regulations of the sort we have seen from his administration because he’s “in over his head.”  The ban on drilling had nothing to do with his intelligence or capacity to govern, just as the Keystone XL pipeline decision was not born of simple incompetence.  These were carefully calculated decisions that are intended to reduce the amount of oil available to the market, with at least two goals, both designed to weaken our country and burden its people, thus wrecking their lives.

Barack Obama wasn’t acting out of incompetence when he imposed a healthcare system and attending regulations that will force Catholics to buy insurance that will include contraception coverage to which  they are opposed as a matter of conscience.  He wasn’t acting out of a lack of knowledge when he was handing out cash from the public trough to purveyors of the “Green jobs” scam typified by Solyndra.  These were things undertaken not as a matter of his inability to “get it,” or because he was “in over his head,” but because he intended to punish people of faith and reward his slimy friends, respectively.

The President didn’t mistakenly negotiate a deal that provided for dramatic cuts of our national defense.  He knew this would be the ultimate outcome, and he tasked his party in both Houses of Congress to help him make sure this would indeed happen.  He wasn’t acting out of a naive indifference to our strategic defense capabilities when he agreed to provide the Russians with our missile defense secrets, and he wasn’t incapable of seeing the danger involved in fomenting the so-called “Arab Spring” that now stands on the verge of becoming and Islamic winter.  He wasn’t unaware of the Green Revolution in Iran that stood in opposition to Ahmedinejad, but he did nothing to even offer those people a bit of hope until almost three years after it was all over.  He wasn’t acting from a state of professional ignorance when he pulled our troops out of Iraq, because he had been told what would eventuate as a result.  None of these things were done because Obama had been incompetent, but because he is too competent in damaging our country.

His willingness to give away a number of oil-rich Alaskan islands to the Russians isn’t a matter of incompetence either, and as former Senate candidate Joe Miller made clear, there’s nothing we’re getting out of this deal except a kick in the behind.  It wasn’t mere lack of experience that leads him to disarm the United States of its strategic nuclear weapons.  It’s not a matter of being in over his head that makes him respond to the demands of Soros while ignoring the will of the American people in his legislative agenda.  It’s not his “good intentions” that are at work in any of this, because in point of fact, it cannot be demonstrated that he has any intentions but the malevolent.

Gingrich and Santorum both managed to point this out in varying ways in the debate on CNN on Wednesday night, but the problem is that Romney is still playing patty-cakes with Obama, and offers Obama the cover of “good intentions,” and “incompetence.”  Barack Obama is not incompetent.  The policies he’s pursued have but one over-arching goal, and it’s perfectly honest to anybody who rejects blinders in the matter: He is damaging and diminishing the United States by every method available, from defense to debt; from energy to liberty; in law and regulation.  This man who occupies the office of the President is methodically deconstructing the United States, its historical prosperity and vitality, and leaving in its place shrinking, dying industries and rotting cities, along with a people nearly unable to fend for themselves.

This isn’t accidental.  This isn’t because he’s hapless.  Republicans should stop pretending that Obama is anything but a malevolent creature if they want my support.  I cannot accept the useless oratory of Mitt Romney who will not speak of that which is obvious in the nation all around us.  That sort of timid, tepid, morally rudderless and non-judgmental rhetoric does nothing to fix the problem because it hides from the eyes of the American people how awful Barack Obama’s willfully, purposefully chosen courses of action have been.   I have no more patience for candidates who will not state the obvious:  Barack Obama is openly harming the country, and he’s not incompetent at all.  Instead, he’s damnably good at it, and any candidate who cannot say this will not get my support.  It’s time for them to find the courage to speak the truth about our President, and all the awful implications of his actions.

Many Notice the Paul-Romney Tag-Team

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Santorum Sandwich

It’s not surprising to me that while the Washington Post inadvertently proves my point about the Santorum double team carried out by Paul and Romney in Wednesday night’s debate, they fail to understand that Santorum represents one leg of the conservative stool, as the media celebrates Paul and Romney attacking a leg on which Santorum is not really resting.  First of all, let us be clear that Ron Paul is not conservative.  He’s libertarian.  Second, let us be likewise clear that Romney is a liberal masquerading as a moderate.  For Paul to attack Santorum from the right is no surprise, at least on economic and liberty grounds, but for Romney to join in is a bit like being attacked by Barack Obama for being too liberal.  There’s something annoying about an attack from Romney on earmarks, as he’s lobbied for them in his own gubernatorial career.  It’s an inconsistent attack demonstrating Romney’s desperation that shows how willing he is to recalibrate himself to situational demands.

More, the double-team(and this gives that term new meaning) clearly demonstrates that Santorum was the victim of a set-up Wednesday night.  The questions were scripted, the audience was stacked, and Paul and Romney carried out their hit.  The thing many people are missing, including the Washington Post, is that in truth, Santorum actually managed to bear up well.

One of t he things people claim is that they want politicians to tell them the truth.  I think that’s a bunch of aimless happy talk, because when they do, they are frequently crucified for it. Whether you like it or not, or agree with it or not, what Santorum said on Wednesday night about politics being a “team sport” is true: You simply can’t get legislation through if you’re a perfect purist.  Witness Ron Paul.  His legislative agenda witnesses few actual successes, but it’s easy to be uncompromising in this context if all one is really doing is making a political statement with no actual intention of implementing one’s ideas.

Of course, some compromises aren’t really that at all, but are instead complete surrenders. Knowing the difference between real compromise and surrender is important to succeed in a legislative branch that consists of 536 voting members(when the Vice President presides over the Senate.)   When Santorum admitted that while serving as Senate Republican Conference Chair, he had to push bills he didn’t necessarily like, that’s true, I’m certain.  The problem is, most Americans don’t know that position exists, or what its holder does, if they’re familiar with the term at all.

This is a year when such nuances may not matter to voters.  Instead, many seem caught up in the huff-and-puff of the media memes of the day, as they come and go. Details don’t matter, and I think this is what Romney’s banking on. As I concluded some time ago, this whole primary season seems to be a scripted affair, as one after another of the alternatives to Romney have been pushed hard, obtained front-runner status briefly, and been ditched with a clearly coordinated effort to keep Romney out front.  Go back to the beginning, and look at the charts.

Bachmann went up, won the straw poll, and was chopped up by Perry’s entrance as she was portrayed as a wide-eyed loon with simple picture selection in the media. Combined with a few gaffes on her part, she was quickly eclipsed.  Perry rose, and became front-runner, and stayed there until an “oops” moment in a debate that added to his previous weak debate performances, and soon he too was on his way down.  Then we had the rise of Herman Cain, and right on cue, as he had attained the top of the polls, here came the stories claiming he was guilty of this, that, and the other. Down he went, and then along came Gingrich.

In Iowa, Paul, Santorum and Romney all hammered on Gingrich, and this sent him downward, but the problem is that Newt wouldn’t stay down, so they hammered on him a bit more, Drudge going nuclear, and Rick Santorum wound up the beneficiary.  Today, Santorum should realize what has been done as they are now doing to him what they did to Gingrich, and Cain, and Perry, and Bachmann, and anybody else who rises to challenge Romney.  The most disappointing part to me is how willing conservative voters have been to be driven along in this way.

It’s bad enough that it’s been plain for some time how this is being managed, but when I see Santorum and Gingrich getting sucked into this, I think they’re both missing the point.  They’re both being picked off, one at a time, but rather than put their heads together to cut off the head of the snake, they spent too much time going after one another.  Finally, I think the two of them are beginning to realize it, and if Santorum didn’t see this last night, he never will. If he’s smart, he will try to form a strategic alliance with Gingrich much as Paul has done with Romney.  This is what Gingrich began to do before he was ambushed in late January, when he brought along Cain and Perry in support of his candidacy.

If Romney and Paul can get together for their own nefarious reasons, it might be time for Gingrich and Santorum to consider the same. I think it’s fair to suggest that a strategic alliance aiming at the elimination of Romney is a good idea, but the only way they’re going to do that is to begin exposing Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts.  Romney likes to talk about his time in the private sector, and his management of the Olympics, but he avoids talking about his record as governor, except to tell us he managed to balance his state’s budget four years in a row.  What he doesn’t advertise is the fact that it is required under law.  Santorum made that point in Wednesday night’s debate, but I think the significance is lost on some people.

Will Romney ever face the sort of examination the others have undergone?  It’s looking unlikely, as the media is saving all its best dirt for the general election.  Bank on it. I Paul and Romney succeed in making this a two man show, Romney will win the nomination, and Paul will be able to exact some sort of promise for his role.  I think it’s fair to say that if Gingrich and Santorum don’t wake up to this reality, they’re in big trouble. While most clear-thinking Americans have noted the apparent Paul-Romney tag-team, the two people who most need to notice it and work against it have not: Gingrich and Santorum must start to think about how to coordinate a bit. Knock out Romney, and it’s a new ball-game.

Wednesday’s Arizona Debate and Why Mitt Romney Lost

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

CNN Debate: The Last Round-up?

The whole debate was set up as a “get-Rick” affair.  Gingrich shined and seemed to return to pre-Florida form, and Romney seemed to fall back to the same place despite an audience reportedly stacked in his favor[again.]  Santorum was honest about his failings in most respects, and one might even say he was a bit pragmatic.  Romney pressed an idiotic argument about earmarks after admitting that while he headed up the Olympics, or serving as Governor, he actually sought them out.  It’s an impossibly self-contradictory argument to suggest earmarks are bad while going to the federal government to ask for them, but Romney did worse than that.

When John King asked interrupted Romney to repeat the actual focus of the question, Romney said he would answer as he damned well pleased, though in other words. The question that had been asked was what misconception the candidate would most like to correct.  Romney began giving his generic, flowery stump speech, and he received a few boos from the audience in response.  The problem is this:  Romney could have taken the opportunity to say “Many people think I’m not conservative enough, but that’s not true because…” but he didn’t.  Why?  Simply, it would admit a negative about him everybody in the room knew all too well: He’s not conservative.

The other problem he had in this debate was the frequency with which he was a yes-man.  On a number of issues, he pointed to one or more of his opponents, and said effectively: “What he said.”  He would use his time to more or less restate the positions of his opponents with whom he agreed, but he offered very little new or in any way unique in his expressions of general agreement.  I kept wondering:  “Well, if you agree with these guys, why do we need you?”  In this sense, Romney did nothing to differentiate himself from the other two, which is the problem many expect in the general if he gets the nomination.  He’s simply too willing to agree, and he has nothing to offer that places his own signature on any issue.

In contrast, Santorum was hammered at every opportunity, by Romney and Paul.  Gingrich, who served in Congress, knew full well the truth of Santorum’s argument about what it sometimes takes to get a thing done in Congress, and there are some political realities with which one must contend.  You often will not get the things you want, and you may have to swallow some bitter pills to see your priorities enacted.  This is why legislative processes are often compared to the making of sausage:  It isn’t pretty to watch.  Nevertheless, Santorum took the brunt a few times, despite the fact that it was undeserved.

Ron Paul needs to go home.  After what I learned earlier in the evening about his betrayals, and how he’s clearly helping Mitt Romney, it’s time for Paul to go home.  He won’t, but he should.  He played Romney’s attack dog on Santorum throughout the debate, and it was so obvious that I waited for him to break out a Romney campaign pin.  It was shameful.  I’m surprised Santorum held his cool so well as he did.

Romney lost the debate, whether the voters watching from home noticed or not, and it was sickening to see him rely on Paul for the Santorum double-team.  His unwillingness to engage with his own answers, or offer anything unique to them should give you a sense of what sort of miserable President he would make, and when he had an opportunity to correct misconceptions about him, rather than exploiting it, he gave a stump speech.  You think this guy can beat Obama?

Ron Paul Won’t Touch Romney in Debate – Now We Know Why

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Like Father Like Son?

It’s all coming down to this:  Ron Paul is staying in this race in order to assist Romney, because he wants his son to be on the Presidential ticket with Mitt Romney.  As he travels around stumping on the basis of his limited government position, all he’s really angling for his to get his son on the ticket with the most liberal candidate in this race.   I wonder if the people who are supporting Ron Paul know this, because if not, they’re in for a big surprise.  I’ve never seen such a thing.  Talk about opposites:  Ron Paul wants Mitt Romney because he’s considering his son for the VP slot, but the problem is that the only way he can do that is to defeat Rick Santorum, and in tonight’s debate on CNN, the elder Paul had every chance to criticize Romney, but he didn’t, and instead spent his time hammering Santorum.  This is not a coincidence, as the article linked about makes plain.

I like many of the things Ron Paul stands for in the domestic arena, but the problem is that I now know he’s a shill candidate, and it’s been increasingly clear for some time.  This is a sell-out of the first order because irrespective of whether the younger Paul is on the ticket, the problem remains:  Romney can’t win, but even if he did, Rand Paul will be nearly powerless to effect policy changes, and virtually none of Ron Paul’s positions will be adopted.  If Ron Paul’s supporters are willing to stand for that, frankly, I don’t know what to make of them any longer.  Romney’s presidency would be the antithesis of everything Ron Paul has advocated.

At the conclusion of the debate on CNN, Anderson Cooper came on as the stage emptied of the candidates, and I watched with interest as Mitt Romney got up and directly went to shake Ron Paul’s hand and exchange a few words with him.  He should have kissed his backside instead, as Paul never failed to attack Rick Santorum throughout.

Now that I better understand Ron Paul’s actual agenda, it’s easier to walk away from him. He may be willing to settle for a campaign that ends with getting his Senator son on the Mitt Romney ticket, but I certainly am not.  This is why people become so frustrated with politics:  Politicians sell them out while soliciting their donations, and broker behind-the-scenes deals for the sake of personal expedience.  Unreal.

Governor Palin on Hannity: “A Boiled Egg is Hard to Beat” – Video

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Sarah Palin: Steal Sharpening Steal

Governor Palin appeared on Hannity on FoxNews on Tuesday evening, explaining why she thinks this process of vetting is far from over.  Hannity asked her a number of pointed questions, on a variety of topic revolving around the primary season, including whether the process should end soon, since it seems they’re damaging one another more than the President.  She answered with a play on words:

“A boiled egg is hard to beat.”

Asked about the possibility of a brokered convention, she made it perfectly clear as to whether she thought she would have any role in it when Hannity asked about her willingness to step forward:

 

“The establishment will never come to me, I know that for a fact.”

They discussed the attacks coming at Rick Santorum, and went on to explain that people should stand with Santorum on the question of good and evil in this world.  More, she stressed the very topic she’s discussed before, and I have explained at length in these pages about the direct link between our economy and the availability of energy resources, and how the lack of the latter throttles the former.  You can watch the video here:

 

Re-Run Romney

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Plateau: This High But No Higher

It seems as though everybody but Mitt Romney and maybe Karl Rove have noticed that Romney is now simply an obstruction to this process.  Here’s the dynamic, and it’s the thing you must understand about this nomination race:  It’s Mitt Romney versus a coalition of people who think he’s awful.  The majority of the party has been leaping from front-runner to front-runner to avoid Mitt Romney, and there’s good reason for it:  He’s not a conservative.  Conservatives  know what the GOP insiders seem not to have noticed:  We won’t defeat Barack Obama in 2012 with a warmed over 2008 re-run who will be unable to contrast himself with Barack Obama in any credible way.  Let me put it another way:  I know there is an element in the Republican party who thinks this guy can win, but the truth is that he can’t, and I can give you several very conclusive, take-it-to-the-bank reasons he will never be the President of the United States.

He has a history of governing as a liberal.  You need only examine his record in Massachusetts to understand that Mitt Romney is not going to motivate voters in battleground states.  Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin will go for Obama in a big way because Mitt doesn’t do anything to get out the critical vote of the conservative base in those states, and without them, he’s toast.  He can’t win because he’s rightly seen as a squish, and a malleable Massachusetts liberal, and when people look at him, they think: “John Kerry.”  He’s a wealthy white liberal from a liberal state, and that’s an appeal that simply won’t fly with mainstream conservatives.  Sure, he’ll pull in the desperate anti-Obama vote, but he won’t pull hard enough at the margins, and when those about the middle compare him with Obama, and having voted for Obama once, they aren’t apt to change their loyalties at this late date for somebody they will see as Obama, but without the personality.

He will not do well in the South.  He may pull a large number of votes from those who detest Barack Obama, but he will not energize the conservative Christian base of the so-called “Bible Belt” to ensure victory.  If he can’t win in the South, he may well not win anywhere save Utah, where his religious affiliation will play an undeniable role with the overwhelming power of the Mormon Church in that state.  Basically, you can replay McCain in 2008, and strip away some of the states in the South that will under-perform for Romney in a way that will make McCain’s loss look like a near victory.  There is a certain element of distrust among some Christians about his Mormon religion, but that’s really secondary to their concerns about his long record of flip-flopping on issues of cultural import.  Most Christians in the South will go vote for him out of  a sense of patriotic duty, but the margins by which they will remain home is likely to promise not only a Romney loss, but a potential to lose the House as well if too many stay home.

Mitt Romney has no color or personality.  He’s flat in his delivery, and plastic in his verbiage.  He avoids “red meat” that is the stuff of firing up one’s base, and it is this critical problem that makes it inevitable that the base that already doubts his ability will tend to say to themselves come November 6th: “Why bother?”  He’s going to be dependent upon others on the down-ballot to get people to the polls, because his dispassionate manner sells like ice-cubes in Anchorage in January.  It’s also not likely that he will be able to gather much steam from his VP selection.  He may well make the cynical play by trying get Marco Rubio to join his ticket, but honestly, I don’t see that coming out well, in the long run, for Marco Rubio.

Romney is too cautious.  It’s part of the reason he comes across as bland, but one doesn’t need to take giant risks to stoke one’s electorate at least a little.  If this guy couldn’t bus in people to support him at events, as he has done a few times already, he’d be talking to mostly empty rooms.  He has the star power of a candle in a thick fog, and he has no imagination, at least none I can discern, and listening to one of his presentations is like going to the annually required equal opportunity briefing most companies hold in some form.  You’ve heard it all before.  You heard it last year.  And the year before.  And four years ago. And before that.  He’s like a bad television re-run that goes on an on, over and over, like the ten thousandth airing of Star Trek, the Next Generation.  You don’t hate it.  It’s better than everything else on at the moment, since you’re stuck here, but you know all the lines, and you know already how the story comes out.

Mitt Romney is a re-run, and to the extent that he is, he’s old hat, and there’s no chance whatsoever that the American people are going to replace a cultural icon, Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, with this boring, straight-laced, risk-averse man.  I think it was Tammy Bruce who I first heard put this in context, and at the time, it was part of the reason she saw Sarah Palin as the answer to the riddle on how to defeat a cultural icon.  You need another cultural icon, but unless you liken Romney to Gordon Gecko, which is exactly what the Democrats will do, there’s not one chance in a billion that Romney will ever attain that status.  Without that, and with no personality, he’s doomed, and with him, perhaps our entire nation, as Barack Obama’s wrecking crew only accelerates after a re-election.

Embrace it, and understand that what Gingrich has said on the subject is true:  Mitt Romney should consider getting out, particularly if he cannot win in Michigan.  It’s close, of course, but in truth, it should be a Romney blow-out, and that’s the one thing that it will not be.  Now, it turns out that one of his co-chairs in that state is caught in a scandal involving an  FBI probe.  This won’t help after one of his supporters in Arizona has been caught in an unrelated scandal, and with all this piling up, it’s not looking so inevitable for the Mittster just now.  Mitt won’t win in November, which is why we should make every effort to avoid nominating him.  He’s not up to the task, and frankly, we don’t need another re-run to know how this will come out.

“Re-Run Romney.”  He’s no better the second time around.

Mitt Romney and the “Conservatism Quotient”

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Why Not Me?

The talking points over the last few days in the media have included the theme carried forward by Governor Palin at CPAC that some of our GOP candidates may not be as conservative as we’d like.  This is undeniably true, and the particular focus of that criticism heretofore has been Mitt Romney.  People in the media seem aghast at the notion that most mainstream conservatives might question his record as a conservative, but their incredulity may simply be another expression of their basic disconnect from the American people in general.  It’s clear that most of the media is comprised of people who don’t understand why Catholics, and indeed Christians generally, would be so upset by the Obama administration’s attacks on First Amendment protections, but they demonstrate a similar lack of understanding of the questions conservatives are asking about Romney’s supposed conservative credentials.

Let us first stipulate that capitalism and conservatism are two different things, and that corporatism is yet another.  The problem for the mostly leftist media is that they mistake these all as interchangeable, despite the fact that they are distinct. Whether this is journalistic slothfulness, or simply reflects their ideology, what it demonstrates is why they are surprised that so many who are center-right look at Romney’s record and question the veracity of his claim to conservatism. As I have written, and as others including Governor Palin have mentioned, what Romney seems to lack is a conservative instinct, or put another way, he demonstrated a statist reflex while Governor of Massachusetts.  Rather than looking for conservative solutions, most of the programs he introduced merely threw tax-payer funds at problems through the creation of new agencies, bureaus, and commissions, or extending the authorities and responsibilities of those already in existence.  When a politician does this, and reliably so, as was the case in his term as governor, actual conservatives notice and frequently rise in opposition.

Conservatives have gotten wise to the Trojan Horse tendency of liberal Republicans who frequently campaign as conservatives during primaries, but also govern as big government liberals.  Of course, many have noted that Gingrich and Santorum seem to share in at least some of this criticism, and to varying degrees, that could be true, except that Romney’s health-care reform program, widely referred to as “Romneycare” outpaces by leaps and bounds the most unconservative acts of the other two in any reasonable comparison.  This is ultimately the reason the Republicans lost Congress in 2006:  Too many looked at the spending programs of the Bush administration and the GOP-led Congress and concluded they could no longer support what was at the time thought to be egregious spending.  George Bush may have claimed to be a “compassionate conservative,” but his “compassion” was destroying conservatism. All of these adjectives stacked in front of “conservatism” now raise suspicions, but this is why I believe Sarah Palin has begun to say “constitutional conservative” because rather than being vague, it specifies that the conservatism under discussion pays respect to our Constitution.

It’s not that actual conservatives don’t have “compassion,” but that they don’t believe government is the proper conduit for it. What Romney’s record reveals is merely another liberal who simply applies state authority to problem-solving.  There is something fundamentally wrong with the notion that government exists to solve all problems, and it is in this venue that Mitt Romney has shown his tendency toward big government.  Romneycare was merely the most brutally statist of his programs, but it was not nearly the only one, with the absolute buffoonery of the program widely known as “Welfare Wheels” serving as another.   More, in terms of regulation, Romney was only too happy to go along with the latest enviro-fad on the question of carbon, and to use the executive power of his state to push through implementation of ideas that are both anti-growth and anti-human.  If liberals in the press have some confusion about this, it’s no surprise, because they will generally favor such programs and regulations.

Romney’s reflex has been to reach for the power of government as a way to confront most issues.  While the media points to his business experience as evidence of his alleged conservatism, what conservatives know instinctively is that business acumen does not translate into conservatism, or even capitalism, but all too often, corporatism.  Conservatives understand that people who are concerned with the welfare of corporations may be capitalists, but all too frequently, they slide across the line and become crony capitalists.  This is why actual conservatives may not really care very much about Romney’s business experiences, but instead focus on how he governed as a more accurate indicator of what a prospective Romney presidency would be.   On this basis, conservatives don’t like what they see, and it’s here that Romney loses them.

The other problem is that consistent conservatives tend not to be flip-flopping, vacillating, “evolving” thinkers in the sense that they’re open to throwing out all principles in favor of some expediency.   Romney has demonstrated this tendency repeatedly, changing his view on abortion, on global warming, and on gun control, along with a whole host of issues that strongly suggest he doesn’t really have core beliefs, but instead mere transient positions that are exchanged like suits, one each for every audience.  Romney doesn’t seem to hold hard and fast to anything, and this troubles conservatives who wonder: “If we elect him on the basis of his alleged conservatism today, will he tomorrow revert to his big government, corporatist tendencies and stick us with the bill for our trouble?” It’s a perfectly valid question, and Romney’s campaign has as much as admitted that he has changed his positions on some things for exactly this sort of response to political expediencies.

To conservatives, this is as much a problem as anything, apart from the concretes of his positions, because what it means to average Republican voters is that Romney will not be pinned down on anything, and that he will therefore be unreliable.  It’s not as though we haven’t seen this before, after all.  In a recent Fox News interview, Romney said of Palin’s remarks “I’m not quite sure what she’d be referring to, ” but I think it’s pretty clear, and I also think Governor Romney knows it: He touts a record as a conservative, but on so many issues, he has been every bit as liberal as Ted Kennedy.   His campaign has effectively conceded he has changed positions to win office, although it was posited in terms of his shifts to the left as temporary shifts.  This worries conservatives, because what it implies is that he may well do the same with respect to us. Once he secures the nomination, will he suddenly morph from “Conservative” to “Moderate” to “Liberal?”

Many conservative Republicans and Tea Party voters remain skeptical, and the reason the media won’t understand it is simple:  Just as they don’t understand why the contraception controversy is an infringement on the free exercise of religion, since they are generally insincere in their faith, neither can they understand why political positions shouldn’t be fungible depending upon the office one seeks.  It’s ultimately the same thing: For them, values, principles and positions should be as flexible as a weather vane.  The problem is that conservatives don’t believe this is so, and they tend to recoil from any who do.

Brokered Convention Talk and Sarah Palin Create a Stir

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

So It Began

Eric Bolling’s hand was stretching across to Governor Palin to thank her for the interview at its conclusion, when my phone rang.  I answered, and the first words I heard were: “How do we have a brokered convention?” I explained it in broad terms to my friend, who was ready now to go to war with the GOP, Democrats, or anybody who might stand in his way. I heard the call-waiting beep, and I excused myself, and fielded the next call. “Did you see that?  How do we make sure that if there is a brokered convention, she’s picked, and not somebody else like Jeb?” I asked only: “Who’s speaking?”  My hearing is failing as I get older, and sometimes I can’t differentiate particular voices over the phone. Nevertheless, once I knew to whom I was speaking, we discussed the matter at hand. Everybody who called wanted to know how a brokered convention could be forced, or how it would work, and if it could really work at all.

This went on from the moment of the conclusion of the Bolling-Palin interview until late into the night.  Friends, associates, activists, and many others called me, and all of them wanted to know how to go about making sure of two things, and precisely two things:  How can we make sure there is a brokered convention, and how can we make certain that Sarah Palin is the choice?

I will tell you now what I told them in simplified terms, as I’m sure over the next twenty-four hours, we’ll see people with more facts on the specifics: It still all comes down to delegates, but not merely numbers of them, but instead also who will be those delegates.  To accomplish the reality of a brokered convention isn’t all that difficult in terms of the mechanics.  Simply put, you just need to deny 1144 delegates to any of the candidates, and the best way for that to happen is to spread them around.  If Santorum wins one, and then Romney wins one, and Gingrich wins one, and maybe eventually Ron Paul wins one, and this cycles around long enough to deny any that magic number of delegates, what you will have is a brokered convention.  That’s a fact.

The infinitely more difficult part is seeing to the outcome of a brokered convention.  If any of them are too strong, they will be in a position to wheel and deal for the support of another candidate’s delegates, but more than this, the GOP establishment will have a strong hand with at-large delegates and also because the number of at-large delegates will swell this year due to the early states holding their contests earlier than the rules permit.  Those states  automatically have yielded half of their delegates to the party, to be made at-large delegates.

There is also the question of who the delegates will be.  Having a bunch of Santorum delegates who would lean toward Mitt Romney in Santorum’s absence would be bad.  Of course, this is where we get into the weeds of process, because delegates are selected differently in the various states.  I would therefore refer you to those within your state who can explain it to you in the context in which your state’s rules apply.   The point is that a brokered convention becomes difficult in several ways, including the manner in which a nominee is eventually selected.

The real messy part is the inevitable floor fight, that is one of the reasons the parties try to avoid this spectacle before television cameras at all costs.  Here’s an article from the Washington Post that discusses some of the possibilities.  I point all of this out not to dampen anybody’s spirits, but instead to make sure you understand what the pursuit of this will entail.  For those of you motivated enough to carry it out, there will be pitfalls, and dangers, and no shortage of potential heartbreaks.  Is it possible? Yes. Will it be a snap?  Not a chance.

Of course, all of those who phoned me on Wednesday evening don’t seem to be the sort who will be easily deterred.  They have a goal in mind, and have had this one in mind for some time as one possible way to see their preferred candidate lead the party into the general election.  I can’t fault them, as I have harbored that same hope ever since Governor Palin made her announcement of October 5th.  Of course, in all of this, we should recognize we are a long way from a brokered convention, and while I would like to see it, as would many others, there’s no certainty that we will get one, or that even having gotten one, it will have the outcome we envision.  There hasn’t been a brokered convention in the GOP since 1948, and Dewey was the result.  It came close to happening in 1976, when Ronald Reagan almost upset Gerald Ford.  What you must know is that such an avenue is tricky at best, and dangerous at its worst, because much of it will come down to the delegates, and the character they possess.  If they’re interested in currying favor with party bosses, it could be trouble, but if they’re ordinary Americans interested in victory as the path to restoring the country, it just might work out.

Sarah Palin Talks “Conservative Quotient” on Fox and Friends

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Governor Palin appeared on Fox and Friends on Wednesday morning to discuss a variety of issues, including the Republican nominating process.  In this segment, she discussed the question of whether Mitt Romney was “conservative enough” for the party, and also explained why she thinks it is important for the candidates in the race to contrast themselves against Barack Obama. It’s an interesting segment, during which she also explains what she means by “the establishment.”

Video courtesy of FoxNews:

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Pining For Palin: What Most Conservatives Noticed

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Still the One

My bride wasn’t home when Sarah Palin spoke at CPAC, so she wasn’t able to view the event live.  When she arrived home, we relaxed in front of the television, and I played the event on the DVR. After watching the event, I asked my wife for her impression.  It matched most of the comments here on my little blog site, and it was comprised of a single question:  “Why in the hell isn’t she our candidate?”  Here we had the person many consider to be the most eminently qualified to lead us out of our national quagmire, and she isn’t a candidate in this race.  Here was the most thoroughly engaging and compelling speech of this entire campaign season, and it was delivered by a non-candidate who some in the GOP establishment tell us is “unelectable.”  By what standard?  For my part, I have lost all patience for this faulty argument.  After attending her speech in Indianola, Iowa last September, and having viewed this speech from afar, if Governor Palin isn’t electable, I have no idea which Republicans can fulfill that definition.

I have read a few criticisms of the speech Palin delivered on Saturday and they all seem focused on superficial nitpicking.  The most frequent of these has been that it was filled with “red meat,” but what of it?  I believe in a balanced diet, and red meat is an important component of any conservative menu.  To criticize this is to suggest what too many Republicans of a more moderate leaning have accepted for far too long: We must never openly and harshly criticize our adversaries lest we be seen as being every bit as unrefined and undisciplined as they.  I reject this too.  The willingness to explicitly and unrepentantly castigate our opponents does not speak to a lack of “refinement” as if the idea of a political campaign is purely to demonstrate one’s social graces, but it is instead to incite a little energetic and vigorous candor into an issue to which the electorate will respond.  If this is the worst of the criticisms, then let those who propose them be damned, because I see no merit in such an argument. In point of fact, I would contend that electability rides on the shoulders of the candidate’s willingness to speak in such language to those whose votes they would solicit.

Still, the reality is that Governor Palin is not now a candidate, and more is the shame of the loss implied for conservatives. When announcing her decision in October last year, she cited her need to observe her values of God, family, and country, in that precise order.  With this as her final answer, despite our desires to the contrary, there is nothing to do but accept it.  This leaves us where we’ve been, and with nothing to do but forge ahead with the remaining candidates.  On the other hand, what this will remind many conservatives is what we had missed.  At some point, as a movement that is a subset of a party, we will need to address this problem we seem to have, where for whatever reason, our best and our most able candidates, dynamic and appealing, get left on the sidelines in the most important contests of our time.

Buck up conservatives, because while it’s apparent that we’re going to be forced to settle, we still have time to decide among those remaining, in order to work out who in this bunch is the best prospect to lead our nation philosophically, and also to win.  It’s my firm conclusion that the former begets the latter.  I don’t believe candidates with alleged “electability” creates a winning philosophy, or George W. Bush wouldn’t have left office with approval in the high twenties.   I believe a candidate with firm and principled beliefs is best suited to election, and is therefore by definition most electable.  The problem in our current race is that the best-suited will not necessarily rise like cream to the top.  Money doesn’t make great candidates either, because as we all know, whomever the Republican nominee, no matter who among those remaining is selected, despite any financial advantage at present, there will be no such advantage when we arrive in the general campaign season, with Obama’s purported war-chest to exceed one billion dollars.

I think we should begin to consider which among these has made the most of the least.  After all, if we follow Governor Palin’s example, we should take note of the fact that she clearly knows how to win while having nothing like the funds of an opponent, as she demonstrated in her political career in Alaska.  Perhaps this is something we ought to consider when looking more closely at the rest because it is fairly certain that none of them will have the sort of cash on hand that will be at the disposal of the Obama campaign.  As this race goes on, we might want to reference Sarah Palin’s successes, because while she may not be running, I think there is much to be learned from her both in terms of selecting our eventual nominee, but also in combating Obama this Fall.

I think almost every conservative who viewed Saturday’s CPAC keynote will have noticed that she stands head and shoulders above our actual candidates, but as I said, that wistful, wishful thinking.  The fact that Governor Palin is not in this race doesn’t preclude victory in November, but it surely will make it a good deal more difficult, as so many viewers concluded on Saturday.  There are those who think if this drags on into summer, and we wind up with a brokered convention, it will spell doom, but I think it also presents a possible opportunity, not merely for an outcome aimed at stopping the establishment, but one more moment of pause to reconsider who all of our alternatives might include.

It’s Wednesday, Romney Lost Tuesday, Santorum Is “Target”

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Plenty to Smile About

You can bet in the Romney war-room, they’re furious.  They have spent the entire period since South Carolina pounding Gingrich with millions of dollars in negative advertising, and while they did this, Rick Santorum crept quietly past Team Mitt, and delivered him a stunning blow in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri.  While it is true that these contests won’t award any delegates, it’s pretty clear that Tuesday’s Santorum Romp put the lie to this whole “inevitable Mitt” business.  I don’t think the establishment is very happy, as I think I saw a quick shot of Rove beating his head on his whiteboard as FoxNews cut to a commercial break. Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part, but one thing is sure: A certain very thin blond is at this very moment clacking out a hit-piece as long as her arm, aimed at Rick Santorum.  I congratulate Senator Santorum, but I also urge him to duck, because the fire he will now draw from the Romney camp will be withering.

The problem Romney faces is the same thing that’s beset him since day one on this campaign: He is in no way a conservative. He’s not even really a free-marketeer.  He can’t honestly claim to be a cultural conservative, given his flips and flops on cultural issues, but his biggest flop of all, and the one that damns him with conservative voters is Romneycare.  I have some advice for Mitt Romney, because we conservatives are forgiving sorts:  Go run for re-election in Massachusetts and lead the repeal of Romneycare, and we’ll begin to believe you when you say you’re a conservative.  Then we will know you had been serious.  Check back with us in 2020.  This is lkely to be the only sort of rehabilitation conservatives will accept.

Gingrich is another matter, because I expect that between Newt and Rick, you could at least expect an honest if somewhat scrappy debate, but Romney’s reliance on Alinskyite tactics means he’s merely a pollutant in this race.  Romney really adds nothing but negatives, from one end to the other, and there’s no doubt but that we should be looking to see more of the same from Mitt Romney.  He will go negative with piles of cash in an all-out assault on Rick Santorum as we sprint toward Super Tuesday that will now be less super as Texas will no longer be in play on that date.

Santorum should continue to focus on his own ideas, but also where Romney is concerned, he should focus all his attention on the things Romney did as governor.  That’s a virtual wrecking yard of bad ideas, liberal policies, and a non-stop litany of warmed-over statism.  If I were Santorum, I would also continue to drive home the point that money plus moderate Republican does not equal victory over Obama in November, and no amount of negative advertising by Romney can possibly change that fact.  Conservatives might well be able to get enthusiastic about Rick Santorum, or even Newt Gingrich, but Mitt Romney will not mobilize the base, and this is the fact of which Santorum should relentlessly remind voters.

Is Santorum perfect?  Nobody is.  The fact remains, however, that he is substantially more conservative than Mitt Romney, which isn’t saying much by itself, but the fact is that now Santorum can expect to be hit on the matter of earmarks, as Romney scrambles to position himself to the right of Santorum on that issue.  Rather than fall for that nonsense, I hope Santorum will instead focus on Romneycare, and what Romney inflicted on the people of Massachusetts, particularly on the matter of the lack of conscience opt-outs for religious institutions.  He should focus on this, and hang onto it like a dog with a bone, and not be diverted from it as the media will attempt to do.

The guns will be blazing before the sun fully rises today, Wednesday, but Rick Santorum shouldn’t permit that to change his messaging, and he should focus on the facts: Romney can’t beat Obama.  Romney is a liberal.  The fact that Santorum is significantly more conservative than Romney should be the remainder of his case, and he should speak to the concrete things he would do in a Santorum administration to chase down the repeal of Obamacare, lock, stock, and barrel, and otherwise reverse the course of the nation.  I wish Santorum well, because I think he’s overcome a big hump in the false argument about his electability, and this is something Romney simply hasn’t yet proven. That said, the negative ads will be forthcoming soon, and Santorum should be prepared to bear up graciously under it while responding through his campaign, rather than personally.

Governor Palin Talks to Greta about True Conservatives

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Governor Sarah Palin spoke on Monday night with Greta Van Susteren on the FoxNews Channel. The conversation focused on the GOP primary race, and the manner by which the various campaigns have been approaching the contest.  She discussed how to a certain degree how the candidates are damaging one another, but not laying a glove on Barack Obama.  She points out that at the end of the race, this must be the focus.  She also addressed the lack of enthusiasm:

Like many conservatives, she likes Ron Paul’s approach to budget-slashing, but she remains cautious about his foreign policy agenda.  At the same time, she had nice things to say about all of the candidates, but she was clearly warmer toward some than others. She also mentioned Gingrich’s clear superiority in debates, and also repeated the notion that Obama wants to face Romney in November.

Are Conservatives Satisfied With the Field?

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Is There A Better Choice?

I’ve written enough about this subject to paper the bottom of an industrial size aviary, but I’m intrigued by the question, and I wonder how the readers at this site feel about the question.  It’s clear that there is significant dissatisfaction among Republicans in general, conservatives in particular, and no small measure of discomfort among Tea Party folk.  Today, I read a blog post by a friend who assesses the situation, and simply concluded that we’re in trouble if we don’t come up with another solution to the problem.  He rightly points out that Romney surely cannot win, but that there’s not a great deal more hope for any of the others. My friend isn’t long on words, but he’s generally spot-on, and you might wish to take a look at his article here.  His contention is simple: Get another candidate or prepare to inaugurate Barack Obama for a second term in January, 2013.

I certainly don’t like to seem pessimistic, but I think given all we’ve discussed here over the last week, we’d be foolish to ignore the matter and pretend it isn’t a problem. There are those who would broom this entire field, and there are those who would sweep all but one away, but in fact, it’s my contention that there’s such significant dissatisfaction that the GOP will have a hard time rousing the base this fall, if the nominee comes from among this group. While I find Newt Gingrich most able of these, that isn’t to say the electorate will agree, but I maintain that Mitt Romney simply cannot get it done because his strategy relies far too heavily on a cash advantage he will not have over Barack Obama, and he spends a good deal of his time avoiding his relevant history and record when he was Governor of Massachusetts.

Whatever you may think of this field, I’d like to survey your opinion.  Feel free to leave comments in this thread in further explanation of  your responses,  and if you would support another candidate if they were to enter soon, who would that candidate be?  (Please place in the comments section below.)  Here’s the question:

Is the Republican Base Shrugging?

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Conservatives Shrugging?

It’s hard not to notice that despite his win in the Nevada Caucuses on Saturday, aggregate statewide turn-out seems to have been substantially down.  This follows a decreased turn-out in Florida, causing many to wonder if the current crop of candidates simply is not exciting the Republicans’ conservative base.  It seems there’s an increasingly fatalistic segment of the conservative base looking at the nomination process and giving up in disgust.  This isn’t going to help the Republicans, whomever their eventual nominee, and i think I understand it perfectly well, but more, I’ve seen its expression in the turnout but also in social media like Twitter and Facebook.  Conservatives are thoroughly discouraged, and if that’s what the party wanted it, they may yet get more come November.

On Sunday evening, as I checked in on Twitter, I notice Byron York had tweeted the following:

By itself, this may not seem stunning, but the truth of the matter is disturbing to me.  The fact that with nearly 90% of the vote in, that votes for Romney in 2008 were greater by more than six thousand votes is significant.  It hints at the direction in which the electorate sees things goings, and of course, I retweeted his message before responding:

I wasn’t trying to stir things up, but within a matter of moments, I was retweeted a number of times as some of those who follow me spread what I had tweeted in a seemingly approving fashion.  There’s something afoot, and it’s a sense of dissatisfaction with the entirety of the field, but also the presumptively “inevitable” nominee in particular. Even in exit polls, roughly two in five Republican voters would like to have other choices, and that is by itself perhaps the greatest harbinger of electoral doom for Republicans in 2012.

To see voter turn-out in this GOP nomination process so thoroughly depressed speaks volumes about the perceived quality of the field.  As I suggested as early as last summer, Mitt Romney isn’t the front-runner because he exhibits virtues cherished among conservatives or Tea Party folk, but only because nobody else seems to be able to vanquish him.  I then called him the front-runner-by-default, and even at this late date, that is still largely true.

This should be a relatively easy argument to have within the country, but the problem is that Romney can’t make it because he exhibits some of the same basic ideological flaws as the current President, multiplied by his completely uninspiring personality.  The Republicans need to nominate somebody who can make the case against Obama while also making the case for conservatism with a straight face, and Romney simply isn’t that guy.  If this continues, Romney will not be able to win or even challenge for the presidency in November, and Obama’s increasingly dictatorial administration will go on unfettered.

Are there none who can step up to carry the conservative mantle?  Rick Santorum is a nice fellow, but I don’t think he will pull this out, and Newt Gingrich has a good command of the issues, but as if the demonizing of Gingrich in the 90s by Democrats hadn’t been enough, Romney has so thoroughly hammered him that even if you could debunk all of it, how would Gingrich spread the news against such a tide of negative ads?

We’re looking at a potential GOP doomsday scenario, as Coulter described last year before she hopped from the Chris Christie fan-club over to the Romney tour-bus:  Romney will get the nomination and lose to Obama in a land-slide, and except for the fact that Coulter is now a Romney sycophant, I don’t see anything that offers to change her original and then perfectly reasonable formulation.

Let’s do the math: If like Romney in Florida, you must outspend your opponent by a margin of five to one in order to defeat him, but unlike in Florida, your opponent is going to have some one billion dollars at his disposal, you’re going to need to spend five billion, and there is absolutely no chance Romney will have available even a small fraction of that amount.  As I said Sunday, Romney’s cash advantage against his Republican rivals does not translate into general election victory against Obama.  It simply cannot, and the pathetically low turn-out in Florida and Nevada is all the evidence you should need to know that he will not turn out the base, and that his tactics to win the nomination will have virtually no application once he’s secured it.

Why Mitt Is Desperate to Force Newt Out

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Reason to Worry

First, he called Adelson to convince him to stop adding financial support of Gingrich via his SuperPAC.  When that didn’t work, he piled on some more of his own money, and those who fund the SuperPacs advocating on his behalf or at least slamming his competitors.  When that didn’t work, some shills in the press dropped the conspicuous rumor that Newt’s “…hold a press conference after the Nevada Caucus on Saturday, raising new speculation about his future in the race,” implying he would get out Saturday evening.  This was solely to try to undermine the vote in Nevada in Romney’s favor by creating the impression among Caucus-goers that Gingrich would be out of the race by night-fall anyway.  You might wonder why Romney who is the putative front-runner, and his army of establishment hacks, would go through all this trouble if he’s got this “all sewn up,” as the “inevitable” meme pretends.  The answer is as simple as this:  It isn’t over, and Mitt knows it, because he can read a calendar.

One of the things weighing in Mitt’s favor is the postponement of the Texas primary.  Texas is a state likely to favor Gingrich, but its primary that should have happened on Super Tuesday has been postponed to April 3rd, and may yet be kicked further back on the schedule over judicial tinkering with the redistricting. Texans are starting to speculate that perhaps this is intentional, and is being used to reduce the importance and relevance of Texas in selecting the nominee.  There is good reason for that speculation, but I think it won’t matter unless the Texas Republican party gets smart and makes it a winner-take-all affair, which sine it is after April 1st, by national party rules it could be.

Romney doesn’t want this primary dragging on and on through the convention, because at the rate he’s spending money, he’ll soon look at the general campaign with emptied coffers and no ability to do in any measure to Barack Obama what he’s been trying to do to Gingrich, with some success.  As it is, he will be at a huge financial disadvantage come the onset of the general campaign.  This is why for Mitt’s sake, he must push this to a speedy conclusion, and it’s the reason why since Iowa, he’s been relentlessly hammering Gingrich.

As Governor Palin recently pointed out, we all love a rough-n-tumble debate, and a strongly contested primary, but I think Mitt’s reliance on these under-handed tactics and back-room deal-making will eventually take a political toll.  Even as he rides high on the expected wide margin victory in Nevada, people around the country are beginning to take notice of the fact that he is outspending all opponents by a phenomenal amount but when it’s closer to par, he can lose, and lose big.

Voters in the GOP must ask themselves now, because it will be much too late in the fall, whether we want to rely upon a candidate who can only seem to win where he either has a distinct home-field advantage, such as in New Hampshire and Nevada, or a gigantic financial advantage such as in Iowa and Florida.  He’s not likely to have many of those advantages, particularly in money, when it comes to the general election, so we must begin to ask of Mitt Romney: How will you outspend Barack Obama’s expected $1billion war-chest?

He can’t.  If this is so, my friends, we have a problem beyond his lack of conservatism.  If at the end of the day all he has is money, but no good arguments to elect him other than he’s not Barack Obama, we’ll lose, and lose big.  The Democrats know this, and this is why they want Romney so badly they can taste it.  It’s time to rethink this a bit and realize that if money is everything in 2012, then the GOP is going to get beaten badly. Only a candidate who can take the fight to Obama with a small relative budget is capable of beating him, and right now, by any guess available, that candidate is still Newt Gingrich.

Florida Poll – Election Eve

Monday, January 30th, 2012

I have two questions for you in this evening’s poll.

Please answer them both.

No double voting!

I will be comparing this data with South Carolina data, and I will report to you any shifts in the support of the candidates.

Thank you for participating!

Sarah Palin: “Annoy a Liberal, Vote Newt!”

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Sarah Palin with Judge Pirro

In an appearance on Judge Jeanine Pirro’s Saturday show on FNC, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin explained her rationale for who would be the candidate best able to handle Obama in the debates, who would be most likely to prevail over Obama, and how she draws those distinctions.  It was a telling interview, inasmuch as she did not endorse Newt Gingrich, but instead suggested that she wants to see the honest vetting of these candidates go on, and she made it plain that she didn’t think Mitt Romney had been entirely honest with some of his attacks.

This interview began only a few minutes after Herman Cain announced he was endorsing Newt Gingrich at an event in Florida. Here’s the video:

Sarah Palin pointed out that Romney’s negative ads were not merely normal rough-and-tumble campaigning in Florida and reflected the politics of personal destruction.  Palin pointed out that Romney drew first blood with negative attack ads in Iowa, but that Gingrich had tried to run a positive campaign. She mentioned how the tone of the campaign worsened when those in the DC establishment.  She described Gingrich as an “agent of change.”  The former Alaska governor spoke of her dislike of pundits, on Fox and elsewhere, who are “gleefully proclaiming” Romney as the “inevitable nominee.” Among other things, she also defended Gingrich, and describe him as the best candidate to “clobber Obama in the debates.” She said “Rage against the machine? Vote Newt! Annoy a liberal? Vote Newt!”  In addition, Palin went to some lengths to explain that she would like to hear more about how Romney’s Massachusetts Healthcare plan was the model for Obamacare.

Again, while Governor Palin clearly isn’t endorsing a candidate as yet, she seems to be very supportive of Gingrich at this time.  She also seems of the mind that there’s still some honest vetting to do, and while she was clearly disappointed with the dishonest smear tactics that had been used against Gingrich, she did stress that issues are issues, and we ought to welcome that fight.  Lastly, I don’t know if it was just Pirro rushing to make the hard break, but near the end of the segment, Pirro talked over Palin several times, and the segment ended with an abrupt cut-off just as Palin was explaining her view of the establishment.  I don’t know that this means anything, but then again, we’ve learned a good deal about media outlets recently.

Endorsement or not, Palin’s message was pretty clear: In Florida, vote Newt! Rage against the machine? Vote Newt!  Annoy a liberal?  Vote Newt!  (I must admit the last one particularly appeals to me.)

 

Thursday Night Debate

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Another Night, Another Debate

I was suspicious about this debate when I heard Tammy Bruce play audio on Thursday of Romney telling his supporters who couldn’t get tickets to shove their way in, so I wasn’t surprised to hear rumors as the debate wore on that the audience was stacked with Romney supporters.  The scuttlebutt is that 900 additional Romney supporters were brought in by the Florida Republican party, but I’m looking for confirmation.  It seems that the Florida GOP did control 900 of the 1200 seats, so if they wanted to rig it for Romney, they certainly could have, but as of yet, I have been unable to confirm that it was disproportionately given to Romney supporters, but the fact that the Florida party controlled them means it could have been.

If I had to pick a “winner,” I would say Rick Santorum, but that’s provisional, because I think while he definitely made some excellent points, and put Romney in the position of making an ass of himself, I also suspect most people didn’t catch one thing he said that would actually damn him in my book, and theirs if they thought about it.  If I had to say who was most honest in this debate, I would say Ron Paul, followed by Gingrich and Santorum in a tie for second, with Romney getting the evening’s Pinochio award.

You might ask why I would give Mitt Romney such a distinction, but it has to do with what he said about his vote in 1992.  In the primary that year, he voted for Paul Tsongas, in the Democrat primary, so I’m a bit confused about what he said during this debate.  The other significant issue was his use of the whole Gingrich “ghetto” business in relation to language.  What Newt had been discussing was that he didn’t want to see people locked into ghettos defined by language barriers because they had not learned English.  It had nothing whatever to do with the Spanish language, or those who speak it, as Romney and his ad attempted to imply.   These two lies were the worst among lesser ones, but definitely noteworthy.

Ron Paul was steady, and CNN did not let him answer the Israel/Palestine question. Had he answered it, he might have gotten a black eye, and that wouldn’t have served CNN’s purposes.  As usual, he was right about fiscal matters, and monetary issues also.  The problem is that he only touched on his defense and foreign policy stances, and this made him seem much more acceptable than usual. That was the point.

Rick Santorum had a pretty good debate, and his exchange with Romney surely put the former Massachusetts governor in a defensive position, so much so that he said “there’s no reason to be angry.” Frankly, there’s every reason to be angry about the way in which Romney conducted himself during that series, because he lied repeatedly.  More than this, however, the manner in which he said this to Santorum was more condescending than usual, and that’s quite a bit. Santorum was  spot-on to point out that Romney, particularly would have difficulty contrasting himself with Obama, and that to nominate Romney is to give up the issue of Obamacare.

Unfortunately, there are two areas in which I think Santorum failed. Let me put the last first, and that was in his answer to the final question.  When he spent time attacking Gingrich and Romney as a part of his answer, it came across as desperate, and a little non-responsive, because while what he was saying was largely true of the other two, the question was about why he could beat Obama.  Instead, he squandered part of his time telling us why the other two could not.

The other issue I had with Santorum, and the one I think damns him in my view, was the discussion of taxes, when he effectively endorsed a “progressive” income tax, albeit with slightly lower rates.  I don’t think many people noticed this, but what it implies is that he would do little or nothing to rethink the entire question of taxes.  I think that’s a shame, because what it came across as being was an appeal to class envy, or at least pandering in that vein.

Santorum did well in answering other questions, but this one would hurt him if most people noticed, which I doubt.  Had a not said that, and if he had focused on his own virtues and electability with that last question, I’d be prepared to call him the winner unreservedly.  As it is, I’ll call him the winner, but I’m putting an asterisk next to his name.

Gingrich was flat. I don’t think he bombed, but I don’t think he shined.  I also noticed that the way the questions were structured, it was clear CNN wanted to set up certain responses, and they got them.  The problem is that in the FoxNews debate of Monday last week, it wasn’t a bunch of leftists asking the questions.  In this debate, a leftist asked every question, except those from the audience, but clearly those had been screened and selected for the same reason.  Let me explain.

This debate was rigged.  Romney’s one “shining moment” was supposed to be his moment equal to last Thursday’s “Newt moment,” but it looked contrived and rehearsed, which I am now certain it had been. He’ll get away with it, of course, because there will be no proof, but it was served to him on a golden platter, and of course he hit it well.  The driving idea behind the management of this debate was to keep Gingrich off balance, and to push Santorum and Paul up a little, hopefully scavenging some support from Gingrich.  At the same time, Romney was supposed to find some separation, and in a world wherein most of the audience won’t have noticed his two biggest lies, he will have prevailed.

Factually, of course, Gingrich is right about the immigration question, and I’m surprised when he didn’t capitalize when Romney made the best point in favor of what Gingrich had said: This isn’t about eleven million grandparents.  That’s true, but if grandparents are the thing on which Romney hangs his criticism of Gingrich on this issue, didn’t he actually demonstrate why Newt’s proposal is not altogether unreasonable?  In other words, it’s a small segment of a greater issue, so tormenting Gingrich on behalf of the point seems preposterous.  More, Gingrich is right:  Grandparents will not “self-deport.”  Their families here legally will care for them and shield them from the law, along with their churches, as Gingrich made plain.  It’s true.  In this sense, Gingrich was being honest where Romney was being disingenuous at best.

Romney did make one criticism that is true, about candidates promising things to voters in various regions to get their support.  That’s true, but the problem is of course that Romney has done it too, so the value of his truthfulness on the one point is negated by the fact that he is guilty also.

All in all, I think it was one of the poorer debates, in large part because it was managed in order to obtain one predictable outcome: Newt Gingrich was not to be allowed to prevail.

Mission accomplished…

The GOP Establishment’s Willingness to Lose

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

How They see Us

Watching the post-South Carolina reaction of the GOP establishment and all of its various and sundry shills in media, I’ve come to the inescapable conclusion that there is a disease greater than Obama’s radical leftism that makes us vulnerable to him.  The Republican establishment is committed to destroying Gingrich because he’s not one of them, but I also think because they may not want to win.  If you listen to what they say, and compare it to what they do, it’s clear to me that staving off a candidate who Tea Party folk would prefer is more important to them than the possibility of losing the election. You shouldn’t be shocked that the establishment would prefer to lose to Obama, because in truth, they’re more interested in keeping their gravy train running than fixing the country, and there are at least three reasons this is true.

Culturally, the elite is more amenable to the ideas for which Obama stands.  Obama is a big government statist, and so are most of the people in the GOP establishment.  Their first response to any issue, much like Obama’s, is to imagine a government solution that will involve kickbacks and patronage jobs to their well-connected friends.  These people are all friends, left or right, and they tend to prefer the company of their establishment opposites to the “barbarians” and “riffraff” who constitute the base of their respective parties.  These are the people who descend from on high to participate with you in more humble fare when it suits their political ends. Otherwise, you’re the residents of flyover country, and your job is to shut up and do what you’re told.  They will not be hurt in the least by Obama-care, or any of the other plots and programs and government schemes concocted in Washington DC.  New health-care plan with death panels?  Not for them.  New regulations that make it impossible to start a small business?  Not with their friends.  An economic crisis that would make Herbert Hoover shudder?  It might make a small dent in their accounts, but the difference will generally be negligible.  The simple point is that Barack Obama offers no real threat to them, and besides, they’d prefer to drink cocktails with him than oppose him.  To this jet-set, you and I are unimportant, and our individual goals in life are so pedestrian.  They view us as they view the gardeners and mechanics and all the others they hire:  Important, but interchangeable cogs in support of their lifestyles.  Understand that I’m not talking about “class envy” here, because I surely do not begrudge them their relative wealth.  It’s their attitude that strikes me as fundamentally bankrupt, and it’s encapsulated in the sentiment: “I’ve got mine,” as they ignore the fact that you would like a similar opportunity to pursue your own.

The party insiders wants a safe nominee, who will neither cause them the loss of the House, nor even risk it.  They need to maintain control of at least one house of Congress in order to have the bargaining power necessary to shove provisions into legislation that will allow them to personally profit from the resulting market blow-back, and from insider information.  It’s what they do, and if the control of Congress is at least split, they will maintain that bargaining position. A “safe” candidate like Romney probably wouldn’t risk costing them the House, but such a candidacy might well not gain the Senate, or much of anything at all.  That’s fine with the establishment, so long as there are no losses.  The point is that Congress frequently functions as an extortionist’s protection racket, or plays favorites, and those who control the leadership are able to work out their own deals.  Worst of all, Gingrich is a guy who knows where some of the bodies are buried, and he’s exposed a few of them before.  Whether Gingrich would use that knowledge for reform is another question, but the establishment doesn’t wish to take any chances.

The party elite would just as soon lose because they hope the Tea Party will go away, and they see the re-election of Obama as a political repudiation of the Tea Party.  This is because the Tea Party has come awfully close to discovering how deeply the establishment’s profiteering runs, and the legislation the Tea Party-inclined Americans would like to see would upset too many profitable apple-carts.  More, the Tea Party is not under their control, and what they dislike even more than the party followers of their opponents is the somewhat less predictable nature of the Tea Party.  Tea Party folks don’t necessarily toe the party line, and it was mainly a number of their forerunners who in 2006 sat out the elections giving the House back to Democrats because of Republican over-spending.  These are Americans who don’t care so much about party, but instead are concerned with the general direction of the country, and the implications of gigantic deficits and debt.  These are the people whose wrath will be known in November 2012, and it is their energy that propelled Gingrich to victory in South Carolina.  One thing the party insiders hate is a segment of the electorate that can so easily overturn their plans, which is why when the Tea Party has come under attack from the left, they have generally sat by in silence,  saying little or nothing in defense of the Tea Party.  They are hopeful that the left will make some hay and beat down the Tea Party, because it’s a threat to the GOP establishment every bit as much as the left.  Re-electing Obama increases the chances that Tea Party will fizzle and go away.

These are the three most important reasons that the GOP establishment does not want a candidate with real Tea Party connections, and may be willing to lose in order to stave one off.  I’m not suggesting to you that Gingrich is necessarily a strong Tea Party candidate, but the fact that he is in search of a constituency while the Tea Party seeks a candidate may have made for a marriage of convenience, as South Carolina demonstrated.  What you ought to know and recognize is that the GOP’s elite are not very happy with the state of things, with Gingrich as the apparent front-runner at the moment, but they’re not done just yet, and if they can’t swing a candidate they want, many of them would just as soon lose as permit anything to bring their gravy train to a screeching halt.  It’s not merely direct and thorough reformers who they fear, but anybody who is not under establishment control.  The question for you may not be Romney vs. a purported non-Romney, but instead establishment vs. non-establishment, although for the moment, it seems the two are the same.

Gingrich Up By 6 in South Carolina

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Surging in S. Carolina

Clemson University is reporting the results of a poll that shows Gingrich up by six points over Romney in South Carolina.  This tends to confirm suspicions that Gingrich may have stabilized despite attacks with a solidifying lead because Romney admitted earlier on Friday that Gingrich would win some primaries.  Clemson’s Palmetto Poll evaluated the impact the revelations about Gingrich might have on the election outcome, but they still draw the same conclusions as in December, although it has closed:

“We expect a reaction by the electorate to the personal revelations about Gingrich to be registered on Saturday, however, we do not think it will be substantial enough to erase the lead Gingrich has over Romney,” said Clemson University political scientist Dave Woodard.

“Our head-to-head matchup of the candidates has consistently shown Mitt Romney competitive. The margin for Romney has evaporated this week, and we believe that Gingrich — who led our December poll with 38 percent to Romney’s 21 percent — will win the South Carolina primary,” he said.

In the newest poll, Gingrich had slipped to 32%, and Romney had climbed to 26%, meaning the race is tighter than a month ago, but considering the full-court press of negative advertising Romney had done throughout December, and has continued in New Hampshire and South Carolina, it’s not really surprising that this race has tightened, but the effect of the re-aired story of Gingrich’s second wife’s allegations surely had some effect.  The Clemson poll showed respondents to this poll had the following priorities in choosing their candidates.

“After choosing a candidate, respondents gave a wide variety of answers as to what they liked most about the person they selected, but the two most popular appeared to be: “he has honesty and integrity” and “his overall political ideology” — meaning conservative principles.

“Much has been made of the ‘electability’ issue of the candidates, but in our poll the response: ‘He has the best chance of beating President Barack Obama,’” was the fourth choice of voters, after “‘He has better ideas for strengthening the economy,’” said Clemson political scientist Bruce Ransom.”

Saturday should be an interesting match-up, and Gingrich’s performance in Thursday night’s debate almost certainly helped him, while Romney’s performance was rather flat, and his meandering explanation of why he hasn’t released his tax returns is sure to take a toll on his support in the Palmetto state.

CNN Debate In South Carolina: Newt Owned It From Outset

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Making a Monkey of Media

Usually, these debates start slow and wind up to a crescendo.  That’s the way the media likes it, because they want to keep the audience tuned in.  There were really just a few key moments in Thursday night’s debate, and the biggest of these was the opening question to Newt Gingrich on the subject of his second wife’s accusations on ABC News.  His response knocked moderator John King for a loop, and rocked the auditorium, receiving not one, but two standing ovations in rapid succession.  The other candidates really had no choice after that but to follow suit and make statements that more or less followed the former Speaker.  He seized the initiative, and from that point on, it would be hard for anybody to wrest it from him without some fatal error on his part, but no such egregious error on Gingrich’s part ever materialized.

Here’s Gingrich answering that opening attack:

Another key moment in the debate was when Santorum pointed out the flaws of Romneycare, and the notion of a health-care mandate, and how that issue would be something used by Obama to negate Romney’s or Gingrich’s arguments about Obamacare in a general campaign.  Romney was ineffective at deflecting this criticism, but it was naturally strongest against him because he had actually implemented the program.  Gingrich, by contrast, did a much better job of countering Santorum’s criticism with respect to his own record, and pointed out that he helped shepherd Medical Savings Accounts legislation through the House that Santorum was sponsoring.  That had a blunting effect on Santorum’s criticism, but I also must note that Santorum came off a little angry or annoyed Thursday night.  I’m not sure of the cause, or if it was just a bit of the anxiety of “the man on the bubble,” because while he started with a strong positive statement about the fact he had indeed won Iowa, he lost that positive note somewhere along the way, and seemed to get stuck in a bit of a tantrum.

Watch Rick Santorum take Romney to task here:

The last big moment came when it was announced to the audience that Gingrich’s tax return had been released as this debate commenced.  This prompted the question that led Mitt Romney into a pitfall that really made him look poorly.  He was asked, as were the others, when they would release their tax returns, and Paul said he wouldn’t, Newt said “about an hour ago,” and Mitt hem-hawed, as Santorum said he would do so once he had been home to prepare his taxes, something he says he does on his own.  The question returned to Mitt Romney, however, when CNN’s John King asked him about the story I have reported to you, being that George Romney, Mitt’s father, released his tax returns in November 1967, twelve years worth, in preparation for his own run for the nomination.  King asked if Romney would follow his Dad’s example, and he continued to vacillate and in the process, was booed by a segment of the audience.   This moment was Romney’s downfall, and it should be clear that this remains a huge obstacle for him in this primary season. He’d be best to dispense with it quickly, before it does him more damage.  If we have a repeat of this in Florida, it may well cost him the nomination.

Here’s video of John King asking Mitt about his father’s precedent:

Ron Paul actually had a few good one-line retorts, particularly to Santorum, which may have accounted for Santorum being off his game a bit.  At the same time, it should be noticed that there was little mention of foreign policy in this debate, and it tended to focus on economic issues, and practical issues that effect voters directly, apart from the shoddy opening attack CNN engineered for Gingrich, but from which he seemed to have come off the better from the exchange.  There was one other odd moment, and I had to replay it several times to realize what had happened.  Romney was answering a question, but wanted to shift back to an earlier question, and had a momentary lapse in remembering what that other question had been.  He searched for it, and then looked almost pleadingly at Newt, who shrugged and made a joke, which bought Romney a moment, and then he finally remembered his place and went on to attack Newt in answering it. For a moment, and if not for Gingrich buying Romney a second or two, it threatened to be a Perry-style “ooops” moment, but Romney recovered and it probably won’t hurt him.

Mitt Romney’s almost “Ooops” moment:

All in all, it was a good debate, but the biggest fireworks were at the beginning.  That set the stage for Newt to merely confirm his superiority in this sort of arena, and all Newt needed to do thereafter was avoid any huge pitfalls and over-confidence.  He did so, and even though I think the opening question was set up to try to evoke the “angry Newt” we saw after Iowa, he maintained his composure and actually thrived in the moment.

South Carolina will be tight, but I think Newt may have clinched it with this debate performance, particularly that opening, because it permitted him to clear the air right at the beginning, to remain composed, and to return to form throughout the remainder of the evening. While it wasn’t the runaway victory he had on Monday night, I think it’s because he peaked early and effectively, and from there, the rest of it was fairly routine, boiler-plate content, and the rest of the participants really couldn’t catch him.  I think had Rick Santorum come across as a little less angry as he did at several points, he might have done substantially better.  It was clear that while he would take shots at Gingrich and Paul, it was obvious to me that he was angry with Romney, undoubtedly due to Romney’s negative ads in South Carolina.  Romney has a good deal of money to spend, and this is taking a toll on Santorum.  You can read it in his eyes: He’s tired, and he’s running on empty. He’s usually a little better composed, but he seemed anxious or annoyed or both, and this may have been magnified by what looked like plain old fatigue.  At present, he appears to be the man on the bubble, and he seems to know it.