In Which I Select a Current GOP Presidential Candidate to Vote For

As most of you are no doubt aware, in 2012, I am about as likely to vote for a GOP candidate for president as I am likely to vomit a Volkwagen Beetle straight out of my esophagus. But if I had to vote for a GOP candidate for President, which current GOP candidate would I vote for? Well, I’ll tell you, in a list, from least likely to most likely.

9. Michelle Bachmann: Look, it’s not just the eyes. This woman is completely off the beam, blathers idiocies at an appallingly frequent rate and apparently knows about as much about anything outside the closed-loop of Tea Party talking points as the squirrels in my yard, busily gathering nuts for the winter, who I fear would bum-rush Bachmann if she came to my house and carry her away, Veruca Salt-style. Attractive, though, which does nothing to quell my longstanding concern that GOP voters think about potential female presidential candidates the way drunk fraternity brothers think about conquests, i.e., who cares if she’s zoned-out as long as she’s hot (see: Sarah Palin). In the end it’s the complete apparent didactic ignorance she spouts that puts her on the bottom of my list.

8. Rick Santorum: A querulous bigot, with whom I am dismayed to discover I share a birthday. Somewhat more apparently intelligent than Bachmann, but what does that say. If he and Bachmann were the last presidential candidates on Earth, I would vote to return the US to Britain. Fortunately the man has even less chance of being president than Bachmann — indeed, has even less chance of being president than all but one person on this list, I think — and his apparent confusion as to why he’s not doing better than he’s doing says something about his disconnect from reality.

7. Gary Johnson: Who? I mean, seriously: who? I know he’s still running, since his Web site says he is, and he even was at some of the debates, but, dude: You’re wasting your time. If all the other GOP candidates were hit by lightning at one of the debates you weren’t invited to, you still wouldn’t be the GOP presidential candidate; they’d drag Chris Christie kicking and screaming to the Republican National Convention long before they’d even acknowledge you were there. Yes, it sucks; you were by all indications a pretty decent governor. But you had your moment with the “shovel-ready” quip. Maybe you’ll make a good Secretary of the Interior or something.

6. Ron Paul: He’s certainly a man who sticks to his principles, which is admirable enough when you are one representative out of 435. But I doubt his principles scale, which is to say that if he had the same executive style as his legislative style, he’d veto everything that didn’t meet his “it’s not in the Constitution!” shtick, which would be just about everything, and thus would run the country into the ground in about six months flat. And I suppose that would be perfectly fine for a lot of the people who would vote for Ron Paul as president. But it wouldn’t be fine for me. I think he’s best where he is.

5. Herman Cain: He’s this cycle’s “straight talking no-nonsense CEO from BusinessLand” entry, and in that role he’s been facile enough that he appears to have convinced a large number of people that his 9-9-9 tax scheme will somehow benefit them rather than doing what it actually does, which is to give the rich an immense tax break while raising the taxes on a substantial number of working Joes and Janes, so good for him, I guess. On the other hand he’s clearly and woefully uninformed on anything that Herman Cain has decided Herman Cain doesn’t want to know about, and you know what? All those sexual harassment settlements don’t exactly inspire confidence, and that’s just about the most polite way I can put that. Andrew Sullivan is of the opinion Cain’s not in this to win this, and that he’s in it to sell his books and raise his speaking fees. I suspect he may be right.

4. Rick Perry: Aaaaaaaauuugh! Republican Governor of Texas! Run away! Run away! And he’s even more what Dubya is than Dubya was: That big smiley good ol’ boy thing, with an engine in the brainpan that doesn’t exactly run on premium fuel, as evidenced by that absolutely ridiculous “optional tax overhaul” plan he and his brain trust farted out a few weeks ago. Perry started strong in the field but faded once he opened his mouth, which actually makes me think better of potential GOP voters. Ironically, while lots of commentators pinpointed his brain freeze in the most recent debate as the end of his campaign, I had some sympathy for him when it happened, since I’ll be introducing people I’ve known for 30 years to other people and blank on their names. It happens. What he shouldn’t have said was that “oops” at the end. That’s what killed him.

3. Newt Gingrich: I’m just as amazed as anyone that Gingrich lands this high on my list, and it has more to do with this current GOP field being populated by the confounding crew that it is than anything else. Gingrich is a classic politinerd, which is to say he wonks out like no one’s business but then when he has to deal with actual live humans he’s like a giraffe talking to a fungo; it just doesn’t work. His compassion-blindness is what makes him great at the politics of character assassination, but it also means that politicians who understand people can box him into a corner and poke at him until he explodes. Hell, that was one of Bill Clinton’s favorite things to do. In a general election, Obama would rope-a-dope him all the merry day long. On the other hand, he does know how Washington works and it’s possible if handled properly (i.e., like a fragile ball of thin glass with EXPLODE on the inside) he might be able to govern. I’d actually love to meet and chat with Gingrich; I think as long as he and I never talked politics everything would be fine. But I think having him as president would be a very bad idea, only a slightly better idea than everyone else on the list below him.

2. Mitt Romney: Come now, Republicans: Do any of you really think Romney won’t be your eventual candidate? Really? Really? I think we all know this is how it’s going to go. Yes, Romney is the bland high school treasurer type, the one who carefully crafts his extracurriculars for maximum effect on his college applications, and who spends his time thinking about what to say that will make him popular with the other kids rather than, you know, being interesting in his own right. But at the end of the day you’ve got to beat Obama in a presidential election, which means you have to find some way to appeal to the independent voters — and not only that but the independent voters your Tea Party adventures of 2010 have scared the crap out of. And that’s Romney, the Safety Prom Date, the one you pick for the dance because you know he’ll show up in a limo, give you a nice dinner, dance with you and then not complain while you mostly hang out with your friends, and then on the way home will refrain from doing anything other than a couple overly polite kisses without tongue and a two-second breast-cupping, mostly for form’s sake. No, he’s not gay. He wants you to know he respects you. Just try not to think of football captain Rick Perry too much as he’s doing it, okay? Mmmmm… Rick Perry.

Anyway. If he gets elected, I suspect he’ll actually be somewhat moderate, for values of moderate that translate to “relative to the modern GOP,” which means “far to the right of anywhere Ronald Reagan ever was,” but whatever. I mean, he was governor of Massachusetts, for God’s sake. He knows something about meeting in the middle. For someone like me, he’s workable. But no, I’m not excited about him either.

1. Jon Huntsman: Smart fellow with an eclectic past (played in a rock band and was a missionary to Taiwan!) who went on to be an extraordinarily popular two-term governor of Utah, who played to traditional Republican strengths like cutting taxes while at the same time promoting a Federal increase of the minimum wage and signed on to the Western Climate Initiative. Worked for administrations both Republican and Democratic, and when he was Obama’s ambassador of China, got his name blocked on search engines for walking around in street protests, just to, as he said “see what’s going on.” Has this to say: “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” Supports civil unions for same-sex couples, which puts him on the same ground as Obama. And so on.

In other words, Huntsman seems to be what I would actually like to see in a GOP candidate — and, indeed in a Democratic candidate as well: A fellow who has particular core values and works toward them but doesn’t appear to be a doctrinaire whack-job subscribing to a scorched-earth policy when it comes to working with people of other political views. Huntsman has politics I’m not on board for, such as his stands on abortion, but this is the field I have to work with, and in this field, if I had to vote for someone, this is the guy who gets my vote — and if he became president, he would be someone I would have at least some optimism about.

So where is he in the polls? Pulling down somewhere between 4.5 and six percent, well behind Romney and Cain, the current front runners, and indeed trailing Bachmann, Gingrich and Ron Paul. At least he’s ahead of Johnson and Santorum. My support for him tells me I would probably make a terrible modern Republican. But then again, this is something I already knew.

204 thoughts on “In Which I Select a Current GOP Presidential Candidate to Vote For

  1. I agree. When i vote, i am as likely to vote for a Republican candidate[unless, they offer me employment with a huge salary] as i am as likely to become employed by state government in California. In other words, a snowballs’ chance in Hell.

  2. If you put a gun to my head right now and told me to cast my vote for the GOP candidate, first I would ask you why you are putting a gun to my head, and then I would pick Huntsman.

    I think a Huntsman/Johnson ticket would kick some major ass. (Yes, I’m an optimist.)

  3. I myself prefer Gary Johnson for numerous reasons, but Jon Huntsman would definitely be a sane, acceptable choice for the GOP (which is why he will never get the nomination). I couldn’t possibly pull the lever on that side for any other candidate.

  4. Maybe I missed the point of your Veruca Salt reference, John, but Veruca went down the “eggdicator” chute. It was Violet Beauregard that was carried off by the Oompa Loompas.

  5. I’m lifelong Republican and this list tracks mine pretty well. I like Gary Johnson and I’ll vote for him in the California primary if he’s still on the list, but I have never harbored a single doubt I’ll be voting for a Romney/Rubio ticket in a year.

  6. jabe19:

    In the most recent “Chocolate Factory” movie, Miss Salt was in fact carried off by squirrels and dropped down a “bad nut” chute. This also happens in the novel, if I recall correctly.

  7. Sorry. My bad. I just looked it up. I don’t identify with the Johnny Depp version. Gene Wilder is the only Willy Wonka for me.

  8. Ron Paul is also extremely selective about which parts of the Constitution he believes ought to be upheld. Some amendments are more originalist than others.

    But seriously: WTF, GOP: WTF?

  9. jabe19 –
    I agree that the Gene Wilder version is the only good movie, but I have a strong hunch that John was referring to the BOOK. You know, that thing with pages in it that doesn’t cost $10.50 to watch.
    (sarcasm, not intended to be mean)

  10. “most recent “Chocolate Factory” movie,”? That’s like the second Highlander Movie. You know that, right?

  11. On election night, 2008, the most exciting result to me (besides seeing the nation’s first non-white president elect and the man I voted for give a victory speech) was when Santorum lost his Senate seat. The guy is beyond hateful. I think he has some deep psycological issues with sex and women (and men) that should be worked out on a therapists couch, not a presidental campaign.

  12. Just curious, why is Gary Johnson so low on your list? Yes, he’s never going to win the nomination, but neither is Huntsman, and I don’t see why that’s a relevant factor. The only thing you say about him is that “by all indications a pretty decent governor.”

    On the issues, it’s hard to know where he is because his electoral hopelessness means he doesn’t get any cover. He seems to have the typical GOP “cut taxes and cut spending” without saying what exactly what will be cut (other than to “reform” governmental programs) – i.e., what the GOP has been saying for 30 years. The only other remarkable positions are libertarian/pro-civil liberties – legalize marijuana, let the PATRIOT act expire, support civil unions, pro-choice, give illegal immigrants a path to a green card and citizenship – but without the crazy “abolish the fed” crap that Ron Paul spouts (instead he talks about “auditing the fed,” which sounds like a bone for the base). OK, I’m starting to see why he polls below the margin of error in the GOP primary.

    Anyway, I’m not voting GOP either, but Gary Johnson looks a lot like John Huntsman who wants to end the stupid “War on Drugs.”

  13. C’mon! Willy Wonka would be a darn good Republican candidate. Big business experience in a field that Mean Old Liberals hate, made a pile of money by outsourcing his labor, no sympathy for post-birth children, no sexual harassment claims … what’s not to like?

  14. This is pretty much my exact ranking. If I had to vote Republican (a gun to my head wouldn’t do it, but someone’s finger on a ‘blow up the whole planet’ button would), I would vote Huntsman. Which I suppose means that he’s a Democrat of some stripe, and will never ever in a million billion years be the GOP nominee.

  15. I’m not particularly enamored with Ron Paul, but I think it’s interesting that what disqualifies him in your mind is his adherence to the Constitution.

    The Constitution isn’t just some philosophical document like the bible or something. It is, in fact, the law. I guess I think our Presidents ought to, you know, follow the law.

  16. Sean -
    That’s what is so frustrating for those of us who have been aware of Gary since he started his candidacy: The almost deliberate refusal of many pundits to even acknowledge him. “He polls low so he doesn’t deserve to be in the debates, so no one hears his positions, so he polls low, so….”
    David Wiegel of Slate even coined a term for it.
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2011/09/26/the_gary_johnson_rule_it_lives_.html

    (also, most people don’t know who Buddy Roemer is, either)

  17. Sorry, John. That’s obvously my fault. Last one, I swear.

    duskfire: Point taken. Couldn’t agree more. I have taught myself to think of movies based on books I love as completely unrelated works. That way I can still enjoy the movie version because I’m not comparing the two. It’s really the only way to not be disappointed. It’s been 29 years since I read “Charlie…” I had completely forgotten that aspect from the book (and I don’t acknowledge the ’05). Honestly I’m a fan of both Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, but you just don’t mess with movies I’ve seen 9,364(ish) times. A great many movies really could use a reboot (though they rarely seem to be the movies that get the treatment). This was absolutely not one of them.

    Back to the real point: they’re all fairly ridiculous. I used to vote Republican, when I was young and dumb enough to commit the sin of voting the way my parents voted. I haven’t strayed that way in a great many years now.

  18. I wonder if either major party has had such an awful lineup in recent memory? Ever? I mean, nearly all of them scare the crap out of me. Not only because of their ideology but because they almost all seem to be some horrible combination of stupid and ruthless and not serious about this at all. Except Romney, who is not stupid and appears to be pandering about as hard as it is humanly possible to pander, and Hunstman, who is also not stupid and appears to have too much self-respect to pander as much as he needs to.

    I honestly don’t know how bad a Romney Presidency would be. He could turn out to be fairly moderate, but his Congress could well be crazier than this one, and if that’s the case he’ll probably look a lot like Bush 45.

  19. Re: Romney

    As a Massachusetts resident, I feel obligated to point out for the record:

    1) I didn’t vote for him.
    2) He didn’t even bother to run for a second term.
    3) He takes flip-flopping to levels that are breath-taking even for a presidential candidate.
    4) Ditto emotional shallowness.
    5) Did I mention that I didn’t vote for him?

    It’s worth noting that he didn’t bother running for a second term because he would have been kicked to the curb with extreme enthusiasm. Taking cheap shots at the state you’re governor of in order to curry favor with the national Republican leadership is tacky, like publically mocking your prom date in order to impress the cool kids.

  20. I was also going to ask about Roemer. Didn’t know he was gay (doesn’t matter one whit actually) but that explains why he’s not invited to the debates: Santorum might shoot him.

  21. Love your sum up about Michelle. Unfortunately my last name is Palun and so many people ask me if I am related to Sarah Palin. It drives me bonkers all the time. The GOP does seem to favor looks over brains which irritates the living hell out of me. Do they think the voters are that dumb?

  22. Will C @ 11:47 am – The idea that any of these idiots might even have a remote shot at anything beyond the nomination is frankly terrifying.

  23. Bearpaw at 11:48 -
    yeah, I noticed that 3 years ago (Romney trashing the state he had been governor of). It was one of the things that disgusted me with him from the beginning.
    As far as his flip flopping, it’s breathtaking. He doesn’t seem to care (or know?) that people can and do show videos of him changing sides within days, on every. single. issue. that he’s been asked about

  24. Rob Port:

    “I think it’s interesting that what disqualifies him in your mind is his adherence to the Constitution.”

    Well, I said his “‘it’s not in the Constitution!’ shtick,” actually. Which I think is a bit different than “adherence to the Constitution,” for reasons that others have elucidated elsewhere in the thread. Naturally, your mileage may vary.

  25. If I made a list of these nine, Santorum would probably be #6,999,999,999. It still baffles me why the man thinks he would ever be elected to any public office again, let alone President. I agree that Romney is the likely nominee, the rest of the ones who are even close to him in the polls have plenty of time left to dig their holes even deeper.

  26. “So you’re telling me I could fire my whole staff and hire Grunka Lunkas at half the cost?”
    “That’s right. They think they have a good union but they don’t. They’re basically slaves.”

    (from Futurama, “Fry and the Slurm Factory”)

  27. I think Huntsman would be somewhat competitive in a general election. He doesn’t have the anti-science, apocalyptic evangelist, hate everyone who isn’t exactly like me outlook that is the loudest voice in the gop and that scares so many people away from the gop.

    But he’s never going to get the nomination, in part because he’s not in step with that voice.

  28. “who I am dismayed to discover I share a birthday with”?!

    Please: “with whom I am dismayed to discover I share a birthday”

  29. I just wanted to thank you for your characterization of Romney… made me laugh out loud.

    The top part of my list looks a little like yours, except that I would put Roemer (who??) between Huntsman and Romney.

    But I’ll be voting for Obama come election day, assuming he doesn’t utterly implode by that point (but really, the way the GOP debates are going, he might as well just sit back and let them destroy themselves)

  30. John, I didn’t know he existed until he went on The Colbert Report and actually made some sense

    Sad that we have to rely on Comedy Central to point out the GOP candidates that have a grip on their sanity

  31. It’ll be Romney. The Republican party is a top-down organization and Romney’s due; it’s his reward for spending the last decade toeing the Party line. Also, he and Huntsman are the only ones running who aren’t totally batshit insane [*], and Huntsman has no chance (he actually worked for Obama! Evil!!).

    * can’t say about Johnson; I don’t know enough.

  32. Perhaps Wonka could take Herman Cain’s slot in the Successful Businessman slot? They’re both wealthy, singing, eccentric, egomaniacal peddlers of comestibles.

  33. If I’m not mistaken, Buddy Roemer’s big issue is getting money out of elections, so it’s not all that shocking that so few people have heard of him…

  34. I’m sure you’re analysis seems oh so reasonable to you, but you must examine the fact that your previous analysis lead you support Obama. Over Clinton even.

    And you’ll do it again.

    So…..

  35. If you put a gun to my head right now and told me to cast my vote for the GOP candidate, I might say “go ahead and pull the trigger.” That said, I’m certain I’d vote for Jon Huntsman. I lived in Salt Lake City for a year when he was governor of Utah, and he impressed me by a couple of vetos of wackadoodle bills that came out of the Utah Legislature (which was controlled by the Tea Party years before they knew they were the Tea Party) and his views on climate change. The fact that he has actual foreign policy experience (and speaks fluent Mandarin) seem to be very strong pluses for a President in 2012, given China’s increasing importance to the US in economic and security affairs. He celebrates Diwali because one of his adopted daughters is from India. He is also filthy rich (from a plastics/chemicals business his father founded), which ordinarily would be a disqualifier for me, but in Huntsman it seems to come out more or less as it did with FDR: he doesn’t really care about outside influence and “big money” that much, and doesn’t have to pander to anyone. The Huntsman family also give to traditional philanthropic causes (cancer research, support for the homeless, i.e. not “right-wing welfare” organizations).

    He’s taken a few unpalatable positions as a result of being part of this GOP campaign, which has in essence been a race to the bottom of the Tea Party, but he’s also resisted a few chances to “go there,” notably in endorsing the theory of evolution and the scientific certainty behind climate change. He would have had an excellent shot at the Republican nomination in 1968 — it is sad that, 40 years later, he can’t get more than 5% support within the shit-for-brains GOP we currently have.

    Basically Huntsman is the one person on this list who I would find very acceptable as President. In a different election cycle, I might even vote for him against a bad Democratic Party candidate (having a hard time coming up with an example besides Joe Lieberman — who was, of course, our vice-presidential candidate just 11 years ago). All the rest of the GOP pack terrify the living shit out of me.

  36. Rick Perry is like a modern, more-successful version of Boss Hogg. He creeps me out even more than Bush did. How could the gods be so cruel as to take away Molly Ivins and Ann Richards and leave Texas with this doucheweasel?

  37. Also, I think if he lived in any other state, Huntsman would be a Democrat (Blue Dog-ish, but still.) He’s only an R because Utah won’t vote for anyone with a D after their name, no matter what their politics. Kinda hilarious, really. I don’t think most of the people who vote for him actually know about his real political views.

  38. Frank:

    “I’m sure you’re analysis seems oh so reasonable to you, but you must examine the fact that your previous analysis lead you support Obama.”

    Yes, and as we all know OBAMA IS THE WORST PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF EVER AND SHOULD BE SHOT FOR TREASON BECAUSE HE’S A SOCIALIST COMMIE AND EVERY THING HE’S EVER DONE IS WRONG. And he smells bad.

    Move along, Frank.

  39. Interesting post. Some people don’t seem to be able to approach a subject like this in this (“…if I HAD to…”) manner.

    I have to say I’m glad Huntsman comes in first. Maybe there’s something somewhere wrong with this guy but if I had to vote Republican, he’d be my choice as well. I don’t know how I’d rate him against Obama since I would need to know more about him.

    I also agree about Romney (at least as far as position). I expect him to be the candidate (or at least hope since I don’t see Huntsman getting the nomination). I think he is the candidate that can most likely take the White House away from Obama though I doubt he actually can. He’s also the Republican – other than probably Huntsman – I can maybe live with. Or at least tolerate. The others would give me reason to reconsider citizenship in the country of my mother’s birth: Canada. I don’t – or at least – hope I wouldn’t or that it would come to that. I am American by birth, upbringing and other stuff that I wouldn’t know how to describe but, seriously, some of these candidates would make me feel a need to get out while the getting’s good because nothing good will come of their being in the White House. Just their presence…bothers me. And that’s before we get into my essential queerness.

    Also agree about surprise about Gingrich being third in the list. I’m afraid I’d be doing it as well if I were to make this list. I really loathe this man. In so many ways and for so many reasons. And then I look at the others.

    With going into much more detail I’ll finish with how much I have to agree with Perry over Cain. I think Perry is a horrible person but I don’t get the feeling that whatever his feelings about illegal aliens may be he doesn’t just plain hate them (for being Latino or for being illegal). I don’t know what Cain’s position is on anything. My casual attention to his candidacy is that he flips and flops but with little or no criticism from the usual flip-flop critics. I doubt he actually stands for anything. But that smirk is disturbing. I smell evil.

    I’ll have to read this in detail. More for my own benefit since you seem to have done a very good job (practically a public service) of outlining these people. A thankless job for the most part I’d think but maybe not. At least as far as your readers go. You have a pretty appreciative fan base as far as I can see. And I’m going to have to digest the post before I get to comments. Noramally I’d have read it in detail before commenting but time suggests that if I’m going to put my two or three cents in now is the time to do it. And in spite of my approval of such an exercise it’s still a challenge to read much less think about without my head exploding.

    If no one else has said thanks for this, I will. I can read things for myself and form my own opinions but it doesn’t change the need for input from my fellow citizens. We’re all in this together.

  40. Here’s an interesting way to look at the race: social media statistics:

    Looking at facebook likes, there’s a neat look at popularity:

    Gary Johnson, 1,573
    Jon Huntsman, 22,564
    Rick Santorum, 31,876
    Rick Perry, 170,657
    Michele Bachmann, 272,698
    Herman Cain, 369,866
    Ron Paul, 580,190
    Mitt Romney, 1,173,305

    Mitt Romney has half as much again as the next person down, Ron Paul. This could mean that Romney has someone competant when it comes to social media strategy for the campaign, but they all seem to be saying the same things. When you look at Twitter, the order shifts a little:

    Gary Johnson, 15,256
    Rick Santorum, 37,620
    Jon Huntsman, 47,863
    Ron Paul, 76,149
    Rick Perry, 103,235
    Michele Bachmann, 111,772
    Mitt Romney, 160,709
    Herman Cain, 162,442

    Obviously, Johnson is completely out: Romney has a magnitude greater advantage on him, but Cain seems to have Romney beat. Still, I’m guessing that because Facebook is far more ubiquitous in our every day lives, I’d be willing to bet that more people would look at Romney than the other candidates, when it came down to it.

    I went to a political talk at the University where I work (Talk: http://www.norwich.edu/about/news/2011/101411-carvilleMatalin.html), and these two said the same thing: look at Romney’s poll numbers, and they’re pretty consistant (they also said the identical things about Romney & the guy your monther wanted you to go with to the prom, etc), whereas everyone else peaks and drops. Cain was just getting going when they did this talk, and they predicted that something would pitch him down. Ron Paul stays on message, but he can’t get anyone to vote for him outside of his state, despite a loud support group. Perry is just killing himself in debates and isn’t owning up to it. Bachman. As the pundits said, with Bachman, it’s a 15 person race: the 9 candidates, and the voices in her head.

    Personally, I’d be okay with Romney getting the nomination: He seems like he’d be the one who’d be the most reasonable with a chance to get the job, although I’d echo everything you said about Huntsman: I’d love to see him run, because he seems articulate, understands just what the problems are, and so forth. Still, I think that we’d see him out of the race at some point.

  41. When you lay it all out like this, the GOP field is even more OMGWTF batshit than it seems when I’m sitting around talking about it over drinks. When Gingrich is that high up on the list of reasonable candidates, something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.

  42. the Safety Prom Date, the one you pick for the dance because you know he’ll show up in a limo, give you a nice dinner, dance with you and then not complain while you mostly hang out with your friends, and then on the way home will refrain from doing anything other than a couple overly polite kisses without tongue and a two-second breast-cupping, mostly for form’s sake. No, he’s not gay. He wants you to know he respects you. Just try not to think of football captain Rick Perry too much as he’s doing it, okay?

    Brilliant! But, unfortunately, hit a little too close to home for me. That effin’ Rick Perry, it’s always about that S.O.B!

    I will now call my therapist.

  43. I agree with Frank, compared to Clinton, Obama is pretty bad.
    Compared to Bush he is the second coming of Jesus crossed with Albert Einstein

    I will make my own prediction
    Whichever candidate gets elected, they will be looking “pretty bad” in 2016
    Sucky time to be sitting in the big chair, for sure

  44. John, I share your pain on the birthday thing…As a over the hill, long-hared, hippy type pinko from the who came of age in the 70′s, I’ve been forced to share my birthday with the patron saint of all conservatives of the last 30 years – Ronald Reagan. For a progressive from Texas, it’s been a mind boggling experience.

    Then again, as a progressive from Texas, I’m used to being mind boggled…Just think both my governor and my congressman made your list and I would never vote for either one of them.

  45. Anyway. If he gets elected, I suspect he’ll actually be somewhat moderate, for values of moderate that translate to “relative to the modern GOP,” which means “far to the right of anywhere Ronald Reagan ever was,” but whatever. I mean, he was governor of Massachusetts, for God’s sake. He knows something about meeting in the middle. For someone like me, he’s workable.

    See, here’s the problem I have with the entire field. Although some of the individual candidates may be more moderate/less insane than others, if one of them (i.e. Romney) does get into the White House there’s no way that the congressional Republicans will let him anywhere near the middle.

  46. Whenever the comparisons between Perry and W. Bush come up, I always think, “Say what you will about George, he could stay on message.” Even if, you know, I disagreed totally with his message or thought he was a nice guy to eat Tex-Mex with but didn’t want to have as president.

    Herman Cain – welllll, let’s say 4 or 5 (who’s keeping track?) accusations of sexual harassment along with his “Princess Pelosi” comment suggest to me that he’s got some serious problems in the treat-women-like-human-beings category, at the very least. And I’m no economics whiz, but I did some basic math early on to 9-9-9 (sales tax, Mr. Cain, is a state mandate, just in case you missed it) and thought: Gee, that’s what I want to do, add 9% to the 6% I already pay on everything. Thanks, Dude.

    Santorum. Um … no.

    Newt. I figure one of the things someone needs to be elected president is “likability.” Newt’s about as likable as a pickled sea slug.

  47. I can’t disagree with your ordering or what you had to say about each candidate, really. It’s a shame the Republicans have let themselves go like this; one rather suspects that if Saint Reagan (peace be upon him) was a relative unknown he’d be about as ignored as Huntsman is. It’d be nice to have a rational opposition party.

    Much easier to say nice words about this imaginary version of St. Reagan (pbuh) anyway.

  48. Since the choice is going to be between Obama and whichever Republican can screw up the next four years the least, the obvious choice is to look at changing my citizenship and never having to worry about wondering which evil of the 10 lessers is going to win…

    My wife keeps holding out for Hillary to declare, which would be awesome on several levels of political intrigue and theatre, but then shes always been the optimistic one.

  49. John, if I may quote you…
    “His compassion-blindness is what makes him great at the politics of character assassination”
    “subscribing to a scorched-earth policy when it comes to working with people of other political views”
    I believe much of what you wrote here could be classified as “character assassination” and “scorched-earth policy when it comes to working with people of other political views”.
    Personally, I don’t agree with most of your opinions, but that’s fine.
    I just wonder why you seem to be using the same tactics you are criticizing the candidates for

  50. @unholyguy
    At least Obama, at that point, won’t need to worry about it except in how people remember him later fashion.

  51. Jim:

    No, that’s calling it like it is. One does not have to be tolerant of intolerance to be a tolerant person.

  52. Kevin:

    I’m not discussing politics or the issue of “tolerance”. Mearly pointing out that John seems to be guilty of the very thing he dislikes about the people he wrote about. Sneaky inconsistancy, that.

  53. Jim:

    “I believe much of what you wrote here could be classified as ‘character assassination’ and ‘scorched-earth policy when it comes to working with people of other political views’.”

    You can believe whatever you like, of course.

  54. @West of the Cascades @ 12:28pm “a bad Democratic Party candidate (having a hard time coming up with an example besides Joe Lieberman”

    What about John Kerry? I mean, I voted for him (I had to against W)…but I really didn’t want to.

  55. musictheorysean:

    Him and Gore – Gore was better than the alternative (oh Florida, another few hundred votes!), but he was an uninspiring candidate.

  56. “Just try not to think of football captain Rick Perry ”

    It might already have been said, but Rick Perry was a yell-leader, not a football player. But point well taken.

  57. John:

    Thank you. And you can believe “Whatever” you like as well…pun intended.
    While I don’t agree with your politics (insert cliche about “agree to disagree” here), I do find much of your blog to be quite entertaining.
    I really like your Thanksgiving Advent Calendar. I also like you let people speak their mind – as long as they are respectful. The Internet–and the World–needs more forums like this.
    Keep up the good work.

  58. this cycle is too depressing to think about. obama might actually be more right wing than some of these guys. thats pretty sad. I think I will probably send some money to Elizabeth Warren and Alan Grayson for their campaigns and try not to think about the presidential election too much. oh. and also. ooompa loompa

  59. Shayera:

    Buddy Roemer is not the out gay Republican candidate; that’s Fred Karger, who gets so little press as to make Roemer and Johnson seem like Kardashian sisters by comparison.

  60. Things that make me depressed – only one of those candidates actually lives in actual reality (you know where evolution is real and anthropogenic global warming is happening). I’m also in the if I had to vote for a Republican it would be Huntsman since he actually know know accepts science.

  61. It’s a treacherous thing when you learn the politics of a favored author differ so thoroughly from your own especially when you assumed otherwise from reading their works. One of the most profound statements that keeps coming back to me from “The Last Colony” is ‘Commodore’ Perry’s discussion with General Rybicki. Rybicki says “You don’t have the authority to do this, [t]o makes this decision for all these people.” Perry responds “I may not have the authority, [b]ut I have the right.” Perry’s attitude is a fundamental tenet of Libertarianism or what is now known as Classical Liberalism (which should never be confused with modern Liberalism/Progressivism). I’m left to wonder if John is simply acting the part of Perry and does not personally believe in the profound difference in rights and authority. Certainly there is much to be disdained in the Republican field and past behavior because for the most part these candidates believe in authority trumping rights for the so called greater good and have contributed significantly to our current straights. However, the are only behaving as Democrat Party lite. The modern Democrat party is much more thoroughly schooled in the tenet of Authority trumping individual rights; it is a hallmark of everything the Party and its members do and espouse. I haven’t read John’s blogs thoroughly so I don’t know if he’s equally critical of Democrat power players such as Obama, Reid and Pelosi. I hope so.

  62. @Jim, can you elaborate on how you feel John is guilty of “character assassination” and “scorched-earth policy when it comes to working with people of other political views?” Also, you say you don’t agree with most of John’s opinions. Are those just political opinions are more in general? May I suggest another writer? You might be happier with Orson Scott Card.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newt_Gingrich
    In spite of his daughter’s disagreement with earlier statements made by her mother I’m going to go with what mom says. As a defender of traditional marriage Gingrich strikes me as being free from the burden of conscience. And free to marry, divorce and re-marry at will free from the nuisance of actual commitment (a pretty iffy characteristic for someone who is offering to engage in public service in the highest office). And while I may not remember all the details he does strike me as someone who, in the 90s, pushed the envelope and laid a lot of groundwork for the outrageousness of the likes of Limbaugh and Coulter. Scorched-earth? These folks are not exactly a hot-bed of civility. And this is what we have to deal with. And nothing we say or do will every be acceptible to them or those who support them. Sound familiar? Pardon me if my tolerance for their nonsense comes up short by your standard. Don’t foreget: we make our own beds… Unfortunately we’re not the only ones stuck with sleeping in those beds.

    Life is short. Why read anything you don’t like? And if you’re not responding to something you disagree with without the intention of testing your own ideas with an eye to changing your mind, then what’s the point? Some of us are less interested in arguments and the noise they make and more interested in discussion and the benefits they produce.

    @ Frank
    Pretty bad? Can you tell us more? I’d very interested. No defensiveness. Just the details. You never know. I might agree with you. Or maybe not. I won’t know without more information.

  63. I’d probably put Ron Paul ahead of Howard Cain, because I think that his general legislative inertia will likely do less actual damage (this might not be the best time for inertia, but I think that Cain-type action would likely be worse) than Cain’s proposed changes, but I’m not going to quibble.

    This selection of candidates amazes me. It was like when the Democrats nominated Jerry Brown for Governor of California. I don’t have a problem with the guy, but is that *really* they best they can do? Newt Gingrich was a heavy-weight, but his time is long past. Romney and Huntsman know what they are doing, but the GOP hates both of them. Everyone else is just a head-scratcher. They are eventually going to go with Romney because (a) he’ll be the only remotely credible person left and (b) they are praying that he’ll lose and then they won’t have to worry about an icky, icky Mormon running again because he had his chance and he blew it.

  64. Farley @ 1:22 I’ve got to say I didn’t realize that Perry even shared the cheerleader thing with W. He really is W’s dumber younger brother.

  65. With respect to your comments on Gov. Perry, there are many perfectly wonderful engines that don’t require premium fuel – I suspect you didn’t consider this because of how much you’re enjoying your Mini Countryman (premium fuel required, so says Edmunds.com).*

    If you had a chance to talk with Gingrich,** would you discuss (or have you even tried to read) the alternate-history fiction he’s co-authored?

    *Several years apart in the mid- to late 1980s, I drove Herman Cain’s personal cars, once from Minneapolis to the NJ suburbs of Philadelphia (this is when he was a Burger King regional manager, when BK was owned by Pillsbury and the latter was still independent) and once in the other direction, as an Auto Driveaway driver. Met the wife, she seemed nice; had a backseat full of houseplants on one of the trips. For what it’s worth, both cars were small, undistinguished front-wheel-drive Oldsmobiles, an Omega sedan and a Cutlass Calais coupe. (Other than the coincidence of driving his cars twice, his name stuck in my mind because it was a rough homonym of my maternal grandfather Herman Cohen.)

    **I can never see the word “Gingrich” without thinking of John Lithgow’s dramatic reading of his campaign’s press release some months ago. Google “lithgow gingrich” to see the Colbert Report clip; “emerged… Gingrich” is around the 5-minute mark.

  66. Bill-in-DC

    I could go on but I wouldn’t want to hijack the thread. Perhaps another time if John ever gives us the opportunity (unlikely).

    But I doubt we would agree. My gut feeling is you would agree more with Greg than me.

    And in case you’re wondering, there are circumstances under which I would vote for Obama. The probability of those circumstances coming about are extremely low however.

    But you never know….

  67. I’ll get no traction with this, but I’ll say it anyway: Rick Perry and George W. Bush are not stupid. Stupid people cannot flight high performance airplanes and live to talk about it. Smart people can fly them and die, of course, but dumb people cannot fly them and live. They might be evil, greedy, ignorant, intellectually incurious, wrongheaded, or any of a dozen other real or perceived sins, but the charge of stupidity simply cannot be supported.

  68. Cassie:

    Much less than it would take for me to vote for the other potential candidates. And indeed if Ohio had an open primary, and Hunstman was still in the race at that point, I’d consider voting for him then. Ohio doesn’t have an open primary, however, and I’m not sure I’d want to change from “unaffiliated” for the primaries because then I would get all sorts of crap political mail I now avoid.

  69. JS:

    Does that mean you’re unable to vote in primaries at all unless a candidate’s running as an independent?

    Missouri has an open primary, but you have to tell the election worker which party’s ballot you want.

  70. John, I should have been clearer:

    What would it take for you to vote for Huntsman in the presidential race in 2012?

  71. The great tragedy of the Gary Johnson candidacy is that it was torpedoed by Ron Paul’s unfortunate decision to run again. Paul is such a rock star among libertarians that they’ve all followed after him like lemmings, in spite of the fact that Paul knows damn well he’s not going to get the nomination – in fact I sincerely doubt he wants it. For him, it’s all about pushing his issues – “educating the public.” Johnson is someone who actually applied his libertarian philosophy successfully in an executive political position and can credibly claim to be able to govern effectively. The best case scenario for those of us who prefer libertarians would have been for Paul to choose not to run & support Johnson. What a lost opportunity.

  72. Kevin Williams:

    No, occasionally there’s a ballot issue at the same time as a primary, and races where there’s no party affiliation. But for party-related ballots you have to be in the party. Unless they changed it from the last presidential election, which I don’t suspect they have.

    Cassie:

    A massive change in the makeup of the Republican Party to wrench it back to something approaching where it was politically and philosophically in the 60s and 70s, basically.

  73. As re: Herman Cain’s alleged sexual misconducts, this article says all I need to know. http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/16002149/investigator-herman-cain-innocent-of-sexual-advances?clienttype=printable In essence, the woman is lying and Herman Cain is not. But the presumption or acceptance of guilt in John’s overview sad.

    I have been so taken by the OMW trilogy that I think about brainpals every day in one for or another. I imagine an app for the iPhone/Android which to me are early forms of the brainpal. This app can determine deceit and honesty based upon a range of physiological cues. When in the near future we have the lie detector app, both Parties are going to change fundamentally.

  74. this cycle is too depressing to think about. obama might actually be more right wing than some of these guys. thats pretty sad.

    LOL WUT

    No, seriously what exactly are the things that Obama is more right-wing than any of the GOP candidates? The only two that come even remotely close are foreign conflict (where several of these guys switched from previously-stated positions, almost as if they were doing it precisely to oppose Obama) and immigration (because Obama’s DHS has deported more illegal immigrants, possibly due to stricter administration of the INS).

  75. ” I’m not sure how I feel about more comments here so far being about Willy Wonka related things than the current GOP field. ”

    certainly you see some similarities…..

  76. @Frank
    Regardless of how much I would or do or do not agree with Greg (beside the point is my own opinion) I’m, nevertheless, capable of listening to someone else’s views and either taking a pass or giving it a go.

    John? If he elaborates, would you consider this off-topic or whatever? There’s no chance as I see it that the Democratic candidate will be anyone but Obama. I see it as absolutely on-topic. Your permission please?

  77. Is it too late to emigrate to Luna? I’m thinking Tycho Under or Nova Leningrad possibly.

    Personally I think you have this thing nailed down pretty well. What little I know of Huntsman, he does have a good grounding in what we like to call “the Reality based world”. Unfortunately he doesn’t stand a chance, and the nod will most likely go to Mitt.

    As regards Herman Cain’s idiotic-beyond-belief tax scheme–9/9/9–I honestly can’t believe any person in their right mind who isn’t a millionaire would fall for this, but I know people who fall for any so called “flat tax” (Flat tax: a tax instigated to flatten the lower and middle classes while flattening the amount of money payed out by the upper class).

    My mother recieves approximately $12,000 per year. Nine percent of that would leave her $10,920. If she could manage to survive on $10 a day for food, she would be left with $7270. Paying 9% on her food, she would pay $328.50 (on food alone) leaving her $6941.50. Her income would be flattened a grand total of $5058.50, or 42.15%.

    At this point, I put the exercise to bed. It is obvious that this whole plan has one purpose and one purpose only: to help the rich get richer, turn the middle class into peasants and serfs, and reduce lower class/poverty level people to indentured servitude/slavery. Mind you some of the middle class harmed by a tax like this would have to take a long hard look at the whole indentured servitude/slavery option as a way to live too.

  78. Bill-in-DC:

    I do think that a long, drawn-out discussion of Obama’s perceived failures probably would be derailing in this thread, actually, as it’s about the GOP candidates. However, I would encourage you and Frank, if you have an interest in a discussion about it, to contact each other via e-mail. If you don’t have each others’ addresses, e-mail me and I’ll connect you two.

  79. Brian White @1:41: It’s a treacherous thing when you learn the politics of a favored author differ so thoroughly from your own especially when you assumed otherwise from reading their works.

    Yes. It is sad to learn that the artists who create fiction are capable of working with thoughts and attitudes outside of the ones they, themselves hold.

    Wait, no, did I say, “Sad?” I mean, “Good.” The worst “art” is that which is created by an “artist” who is incapable of empathy and understanding and, as such, creates for the purposes of propaganda. See: Rand, Ayn, and Jenkins, Jerry/LaHaye, Tim.

    You have two choices now that you have realized this: you can either discard Scalzi and his works as being unworthy of you now that you know that Scalzi holds opinions different than yours or you can attempt to take this as an opportunity to learn and grow in your understanding of the universe. I suppose the fact that you found it necessary to bitch and whine about it and indicated that the only was Scalzi can redeem himself in your eyes is if he plays the false-equivalence game with Democrats does not give me much hope for you. Still, you might want to take a moment to reflect on this.

  80. Brian White:

    “Certainly there is much to be disdained in the Republican field and past behavior because for the most part these candidates believe in authority trumping rights for the so called greater good and have contributed significantly to our current straights. However, the are only behaving as Democrat Party lite. The modern Democrat party is much more thoroughly schooled in the tenet of Authority trumping individual rights; it is a hallmark of everything the Party and its members do and espouse.”

    I have a different impression: that the current Republican party, unlike the Republican party of, say, 30-40 years ago, is all about authority and, indeed, authoritarianism – certainly far more so than Democrats, now or in the past several decades.

    I think this was argued very persuasively by John Dean in his “Conservatives Without Conscience.” I think the back-and-forth between Democrats and the old Republican party was (largely) valuable and healthy for the country, but the actions and positions of the current Republicans, to me, only detract from healthy debate; and often their actions actively harm people, by denying them the right to marry or interfering with their health care decisions.

    What do you think about Dean’s position that the current authoritarian streak among Republicans is not “Democrat Party lite” but rather a conscious conservative choice?

  81. Scalzi: “Ron Paul: He’s certainly a man who sticks to his principles, which is admirable enough when you are one representative out of 435. ”

    A few comments – first, when you’re one vote of 435 in the house, it’s easy sticking to your principles, because your vote only matters on Feb 29 with a blue moon with a double halo. Second, from what I’ve hear his principles seem to accommodate getting lots of pork for his district, enough to keep him in the House for a few decades. Third – I noticed that his son, who started off as Ron Paul II, (a) dumped his stated beliefs as soon as he had a shot at the Senate, and (b) once in the Senate, isn’t using the magic Senatorial blocking power to do much.

  82. Always nice to remember that Huntsman also worked to reform the liquor laws, _in Utah_, _as a practicing member of the LDS faith_. It doesn’t get more down-to-earth and pragmatic than this. He would really be a stellar presidential candidate.

  83. As re: Herman Cain’s alleged sexual misconducts, this article says all I need to know. http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/16002149/investigator-herman-cain-innocent-of-sexual-advances?clienttype=printable In essence, the woman is lying and Herman Cain is not. But the presumption or acceptance of guilt in John’s overview sad.

    So, instead of making an inference based on a certain amount of logic (namely, documents and settlements already extant, as well as corroborations from most involved sources), you’re taking at face value a single statement from one random PI about an unknown vocal analysis technology that claims it’s “better” than polygraphs–which are not known for being particularly useful–and then, like Cain saying “that’s that”?

    I assume you also believed Cain when:

    1) He claimed they didn’t know what Politico was talking about, then
    2) Said, whoops, yeah I know what they’re talking about but you can’t believe Politico because they never talked to us and is only anonymously sourced, then
    3) When #2 is proven false by Politico and confirmed by Cain’s own campaign manager, he claims that there was never any payout, then
    3) When #3 is refuted by all parties involved (NRA, accusers, Politico, lawyers) except for Cain, he suddenly remembers the payout but not what happened, then
    4) He or his campaign claims that, it’s all the fault of either Democrats who don’t want him to be the nominee (nevermind that every single Democrat in the media, blogs, and the street all have been hoping he would be the nominee), the Perry campaign, the Romney campaign, and back to the Democrats again, then
    5) When accusers come forward, makes attacks on other completely unrelated claims from said accusers (because heavens forfend someone make a stink when they’re disallowed telecommuting due to being injured in a serious accident), then
    6) Attack a reporter who last worked at Politico over a year ago because he had the same last name as an accuser (but in reality is not related to her at all), then
    7) Claims that sexual harassment is an overhyped media invention and that the fact that more people didn’t accuse him of harassment than did means he’s innocent, then
    8) In the same 24-hour period refers to the highest-ranking female member of Congress as a “princess”, and jokes about being crude on late-night talk shows, and immediately apologizes because it’s what people “want to hear,” not because, y’know, it’s in such bad taste that other Republicans (such as Dana Perino from the Bush WH) say that’s messed up.

    So…yeah.

  84. Scalzi: “Anyway. If he gets elected, I suspect he’ll actually be somewhat moderate, for values of moderate that translate to “relative to the modern GOP,” which means “far to the right of anywhere Ronald Reagan ever was,” but whatever. I mean, he was governor of Massachusetts, for God’s sake. He knows something about meeting in the middle. For someone like me, he’s workable.”

    Joe: “See, here’s the problem I have with the entire field. Although some of the individual candidates may be more moderate/less insane than others, if one of them (i.e. Romney) does get into the White House there’s no way that the congressional Republicans will let him anywhere near the middle.”

    Combine a President with no principles with a GOP Congress with only evil principles, and the end result is the same as if the President were himself evil (analogy – Joe Paterno, who probably didn’t intend to end his career as a protector of at least one pedophile).

  85. I would vote for Jon Huntsman. He’s the only one who appeared on “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.”

    But the Republicans wouldn’t do it. Too sane.

  86. Brian White @2:34: As re: Herman Cain’s alleged sexual misconducts, this article says all I need to know. http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/16002149/investigator-herman-cain-innocent-of-sexual-advances?clienttype=printable In essence, the woman is lying and Herman Cain is not. But the presumption or acceptance of guilt in John’s overview sad.

    Here’s all I need to see from the article:

    “Private investigator TJ Ward said presidential hopeful Herman Cain was not lying at a news conference on Tuesday in Phoenix…Cain has not taken a polygraph but Ward said he does have software that does something better. Ward said the $15,000 software can detect lies in people’s voices.”

    He’s a guy with computer software who used it to analyze a recorded television press conference given by a man who was making prepared statements. If that is all you need to say to beg off attacks against a man who has been accused of multiple acts of sexual misconduct towards women and about whom we have a paper trail, then your opinion holds very little water.

    At this point it’s really just the authoritarianism that you, yourself accused those who disagree with you of engaging in during your first post here. “Cain said he didn’t do it, and I believe him because of this one article here,” is not a strong defense, especially given the overwhelming evidence to support the basic accusation that Cain is, in fact, a sexual predator.

  87. “Stupid people cannot flight high performance airplanes and live to talk about it. Smart people can fly them and die, of course, but dumb people cannot fly them and live. ”

    1) Is there actual proof of this? An idiot, of course will probably crash it, but just a dull person?
    2) Considering the corruption in the TANG (and most NG units during that time), is it clear that Bush actually did much flying? After all, once you bring somebody in due to political influence, cooking the books isn’t that much farther.
    3) 22-year old Dubya hadn’t consumed the vast amounts of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine that the 40-year old Dubya had.

  88. I used to occasionally vote for Republicans, the most recent just a few years ago. (A state senator I was impressed with. I even donated to his campaign.) But holy shmoly, it’s like they’ve grabbed the Overton Window and jumped off a cliff with it. And too many Dems seem desperate to make the human wreckage bipartisan.

  89. TJ Ward, private investigator and maker of a software package that he claims can detect lying, lives in Alpharetta, GA. Jerry Ward, who donated $250 to the Herman Cain campaign, also lives in Alpharetta. It’s possible they are two different people, I suppose.

  90. Origuy @3:20: TJ Ward, private investigator and maker of a software package

    Wait. Is the software actually Ward’s product, too? Do you have proof? Because then the story becomes, “Guy with something to sell sees opportunity for free publicity.” Which is even dumber.

    Especially considering that, “My $15,000 software said a man who was lying was actually telling the truth, buy it!” becomes a very real possibility at some point.

  91. “I am about as likely to vote for a GOP candidate for president as I am likely to vomit a Volkwagen Beetle straight out of my esophagus.”

    The fact that you would show such party bias is disappointing. I’ve can’t think of anything remotely related to adult behavior (cue jokes now) coming out of Washington by members of either party. They don’t have a clue about… anything. When they try to address problems, they have to fall back on the “input” of lobbyists because a career politician has no useful experience, and we get to experience ever more interesting forms of regulatory capture.

    Full disclosure, Huntsman is the only candidate, regardless of party, that I think has anything remotely resembling a clue. I like his Asia credentials(that I think are more important than people realize), his approach to foreign policy in general, his track record in Utah, and the fact that he seems to be able to work with people possessing different political views without comprising his own.

    There is a wide world out there beyond the duopoly that is our political system. We won’t get better representatives until we stop blindly supporting political parties.

  92. Brian White: “In essence, the woman is lying and Herman Cain is not. But the presumption or acceptance of guilt in John’s overview sad.

    I’m trying to figure out if you were joking or not with that link.

  93. The problem with Mitt Romney is that he does “know something about meeting in the middle”, but lives in such mortal terror of the Tea Bag wing of the GOP that he won’t own, let alone defend, anything he did while Governor that is tainted by moderation. Or sanity. It’s legitimate to say “I’ve changed my mind on Issue X.” or “legislative math being what it was, I had to accept an outcome that wasn’t entirely to my liking”. Acting like you’ve got no mind at all, or your record was actually the work of some replicant? Not so much.

  94. @Geds, you infer much and it reflects you more than me. I’m not about to abandon John’s brilliant character development and storytelling because I disagree with his politics. But your binary response of my two presumable options is incorrect. I have the additional option of trying to point out that if [as I infer] John favors the Democrat party [because he clearly thoroughly disfavors the Republican Party] that he might consider that his (character’s?) fundamentally Libertarian tenet contradicts his (apparent) political affiliation. Your suggestion of my need to “grow” merely tells me the same of you. But as I said, John Perry’s profound statement about authority vs. right was so remarkable to me in that it helped me crystalize my own understanding as a student of Libertarianism before I had the words for it. If John arrived at this only as a matter of character development and does not agree with it himself, I admit I will be amazed. Understanding what I do about the Democrat party’s commitment to Authoritarianism and central control, I felt that his post might be a good time for me to state my “pause” at the apparent contradiction. There may have been other more appropriate posts, but I already explained that I’m new to Whatever.

    Anyway, I want John to know that despite any disagreement real or inferred how much this insight meant to me even if my own statements are not persuasive in turn.

  95. I’ve can’t think of anything remotely related to adult behavior (cue jokes now) coming out of Washington by members of either party. They don’t have a clue about… anything.

    I’m calling shenanigans on this. There’s one party that’s saying we should reduce income inequality and another that says the gap should be wider and wants to raise taxes on them. There’s one party that says the rich need to be taxed and another that lies about who’s actually rich and why they shouldn’t be taxed. There’s one party that says that it’s more likely that 400 people are greedy for money they can’t possibly need and another that says that can’t be right and that 150 million people are too lazy to make enough money to be even a little comfortable or afford necessities. There’s one party that supports the freedom to marry regardless of orientation and another that doesn’t. There’s one party that believes a woman has the right to control her own body and whether or not to conceive a child or carry it term, and another that claims that not only does she not have that right even if she’s been violated against her will but that she was likely responsible in the first place and she shouldn’t have sex anyways unless she expects to bear children. There’s one party that says more people should have access to vote and another who wants to restrict that right as much as possible. There’s one party who listens to the overwhelming majority of scientists when it comes to climate change and another that denies it even when their own references tell them they were wrong. There’s one party that spends time crafting economic bills before anything else, and another that spends days or even weeks in the middle of an economic crisis reaffirming God on the dollar bill or long-form birth certificates be presented before running for office. There’s one party that has stated that they want to compromise if it helps the country and another that has repeatedly claimed in public that they’d rather just spend time defeating the guy in the White House.

    Yes, neither party is perfect, but given the choice between an imperfect and ideologically diverse party with at least some good ideas and willingness to compromise versus a unified coalition of brats that refuse anything proposed by the other side even if they agreed to it when they held the reins, I’ll take the former any day of the week.

  96. Thomas M. Hermann:

    “The fact that you would show such party bias is disappointing.”

    It’s not my fault the GOP is a) currently offering up such a ridiculous field of presidential candidates, b) is currently comprised of people whose political and philosophical aims I find anathema. If it fielded better candidates and had a practical operating philosophy beyond “Our rich masters tell us to oppose anything Obama’s for” then I might change my mind.

    Bear in mind that in another age my personal politics might have been called something akin to “Rockefeller Republican,” which in this day in age makes me a screaming socialist, I suppose.

    Brian White:

    “It’s a treacherous thing when you learn the politics of a favored author differ so thoroughly from your own especially when you assumed otherwise from reading their works.”

    It’s a bad idea to attempt to winkle out my politics in the real world from my fiction. You wouldn’t be the first, mind you. That said, I would submit to you that the fundamental values you found espoused in my books do not precisely map to current axes of political alignment, and thus trying to cram them all onto one side of the contemporary political board is likely to provide error.

  97. If John arrived at this only as a matter of character development and does not agree with it himself, I admit I will be amazed.

    Welcome to the world of fiction and misinterpretation.

    Understanding what I do about the Democrat party’s commitment to Authoritarianism and central control, I felt that his post might be a good time for me to state my “pause” at the apparent contradiction.

    What, pray tell, is this “commitment to Authoritarianism and central control” that you claim to understand?

  98. Brian White @3:57: But your binary response of my two presumable options is incorrect. I have the additional option of trying to point out that if [as I infer] John favors the Democrat party [because he clearly thoroughly disfavors the Republican Party] that he might consider that his (character’s?) fundamentally Libertarian tenet contradicts his (apparent) political affiliation.

    You missed the trick, there. Go back to this part of your original comment:

    Perry’s attitude is a fundamental tenet of Libertarianism or what is now known as Classical Liberalism (which should never be confused with modern Liberalism/Progressivism). I’m left to wonder if John is simply acting the part of Perry and does not personally believe in the profound difference in rights and authority.

    This is a pretty clear rejection of the author due to the fact that it no longer seems to you that the author espouses a quality you picked up and identified as being his based on a character. The fact that you presumed that Scalzi’s political leanings were the same as a fictional character he created, then presumed to lecture him on how to properly think when you found out that was not true is a strong indication that you do, in fact, need to take this as an opportunity to learn about the world and grow from this experience.

    Also, this:

    Understanding what I do about the Democrat party’s commitment to Authoritarianism and central control, I felt that his post might be a good time for me to state my “pause” at the apparent contradiction.

    indicates that your “understanding” of the Democratic Party’s “commitment to Authoritarianism” comes from another party telling you that the Democrats espouse an Authoritarian mindset. Consider that during the eight years of the Bush Administration the Republicans managed to push through all kinds of legislation on a much narrower Senate majority than the 59 or 60 vote majority that Obama enjoyed during his first two years, since Ben Nelson and the so-called “Blue Dogs” regularly held Democratic votes hostage to what amounted to Republican demands and it was guaranteed that the Republicans would vote straight party to quash any bill advanced by Democrats, even if it contained language or ideas that the Republicans themselves had espoused earlier (see: “Obamacare” and the fact that it’s nearly identical to Mitt Romney’s health care program from Massachusetts). Moreover, note that there are many on the left and many who support the Democratic Party who want to see Obama get primaried. There are the Hillary supporters, of course. I, myself, would like to see Russ Feingold take a run. I’ll still vote for Obama, since that won’t happen and he’s a far cry better than refugees from the Island of Misfit Toys that are running on the Republican side.

  99. @Kristi I admit that I never read Dean’s book, but the title alone is fundamentally flawed. To accept Dean’s premise you have to agree that the Government is an effective or remotely economical way of helping anything or anyone. I do not. A Conservative wants less government. A Conservative whether religious or not generally prefers to provide charity directly rather than have the government do it as a proxy. A Conservative does not want the taxes paid to be spent on things they do not agree with. This is inherently, implicitly “Conscience”. I recognize that the claims by Republican candidates of smaller, less intrusive government never actually materialize, but I would never vote Democrat because by their own admission they generally promote increases in spending, taxation and central control of our lives. We have a chance to work through the Republican party but the Democrat party is lost.

  100. @JS

    There’s some interesting allergy spam at the end of the comments on that link you just posted.

  101. David: it’s an overt, deliberate slight. It’s the up-scale cousin to “Democraps”, which is at least more honest.

  102. @BrianWright

    “I recognize that the claims by Republican candidates of smaller, less intrusive government never actually materialize”

    So…you won’t work with the Democratic Party because they’re upfront about what they want but you’ll work with the Republican Party who isn’t and ends up producing the same thing as the Democratic Party? Uh…ok.

  103. Brian White @4:18: A Conservative wants less government. A Conservative whether religious or not generally prefers to provide charity directly rather than have the government do it as a proxy. A Conservative does not want the taxes paid to be spent on things they do not agree with.

    Oh, I get it. You’re a True Believer. I can’t believe I missed that the first time you commented.

    I’ve got news. I’m a liberal. I don’t want my tax money to be spent on things I don’t agree with, either. For the record, that includes the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. That includes the fact that we have low-level conflict going on all over the world in the form of “advisers” in places we have no business being. It also includes the many, many Army, Air Force, and Naval bases we have in Europe and Asia and various other places that we maintain just so that we can start some theoretical future war with [Insert Country Here] in the future. I am against the fact that my tax dollars support a military that has funding equal to the military funding of the rest of the world combined.

    I’m also against the fact that my tax dollars went to fund giant bailouts to banks and corporations, who then turned around and continued to foreclose on homes of people who had been laid off or lost their jobs because they got sick and couldn’t get health care. I’m against the fact that this happened in spite of the fact that the money could, instead, have been spent to get actual individuals who were actually underwater on their actual mortgages back to the surface or create a works program that would allow the huge number of people who are currently idle to get back to work and keep the economy chugging along.

    I do not advocate a “bigger government” for its own sake. I can’t think of any liberals who actually do advocate that. I advocate a government that is as big as it needs to be to meet the needs of the people. And I believe that we could do that through certain amounts of shrinkage, starting with the vast, bloated bureaucracy that is our nation’s military. I’m also pretty sure that making government “bigger” in some areas would allow us to make it smaller in others. For instance, if we had universal health coverage we’d be able to get rid of a large chunk of the VA Hospital system, since we’d be able to send our veterans to, y’know, hospitals. And we’d be able to shrink Medicare and Medicaid by quite a bit, since there would be no need for a separate system to handle our elderly or indigent populations.

    Adopting liberal policies is not the same as “making government bigger.” Sometimes it means “making this part of government bigger while shrinking that other part.” It’s an issue of efficiency, really. And in cases where efficiency isn’t the answer, sometimes it’s an issue of doing things to help people that business won’t because there’s no obvious profit in it.

  104. To accept Dean’s premise you have to agree that the Government is an effective or remotely economical way of helping anything or anyone. I do not.

    It sounds as if you support either anarchy or dictatorships, which depend on either mob rule or a single person in preference to government.

    A Conservative wants less government. A Conservative whether religious or not generally prefers to provide charity directly rather than have the government do it as a proxy.

    Not only is this not the definition of a conservative (which wants to conserve a previous way of life), but conservatives–at least in the US–may actually be less likely to promote the well-being of their fellow man and espouse individual ambition over common goals, even when cultural or societal factors make this very difficult (see also: being female and/or black and/or gay and/or non-Christian).

    A Conservative does not want the taxes paid to be spent on things they do not agree with.

    I don’t think anyone does. And most conservatives are perfectly happy with taxes being spent on religious institutions, regulating morality, and military spending exceeding all potential combatants combined.

    This is inherently, implicitly “Conscience”.

    None of the things you espoused in this post have anything remotely to do with having a conscience, which is a moral concept and not a political one.

    I recognize that the claims by Republican candidates of smaller, less intrusive government never actually materialize, but I would never vote Democrat because by their own admission they generally promote increases in spending, taxation and central control of our lives.

    Yeah, no. Not only have conservatives been responsible for some of the largest expansions in government and/or government spending in the modern US (Nixon and Medicare, Reagan and the military, W and Homeland Security), but they also did so willingly and with the support of their party.

  105. If someone put a gun to my head and said “Vote for a Republican, or else,” I’d say “pull the fucking trigger, you murdering fascist piece of shit.” The only way to force me to vote Republican these days would be to surgically replace my brain with a cabbage. They’re no longer the party of Lincoln; they’re not even the party of REAGAN, whom I hated with a consuming hatred (but then he killed my friends, so hey).

    Nic @ 11:59: The language English that same thing as Latin not is. English is a Germanic language, and prepositions going to the end is perfectly good English grammar. A bunch of stupid Latinate grammarians are the ones who tried to impose this rule (and the equally stupid one about not splitting infinitives, and probably the dumb rule about not using ‘they’ in the indefinite singular). Follow it if you want, but correcting others on it is silly.

    unholyguy @ 12:49: Hear, hear.

    Thomas @ 3:36: The fact that you would show such party bias is disappointing.

    ROFLMAO! Do your really think that the Republican Party as currently constituted (with all those Tea Potty crazies and so on) deserves ANY serious consideration by progressives, or even by moderates? The party that has blocked most of Obama’s routine appointments? The party that uses anti-gay rhetoric to drum up support when their base is unenthusiastic? The party whose idea of “compromise” amounts to “open up the door, and we’ll all come inside and eat your brains”?

    We won’t get better representatives until we stop blindly supporting political parties.

    Oh, I see now: you want progressives to just not vote, or cast their vote in a way that’s equivalent to not voting. I wonder if you say the same thing to Republican voters, or if this is just a tactic to reduce progressive influence.

    Also, what Jesse said.

  106. David: it’s an overt, deliberate slight. It’s the up-scale cousin to “Democraps”, which is at least more honest.

    Oh, I know what it is. I just want to see if Brian is honest enough to admit it.

  107. The “Democrat Party” is what the Rethuglicans call us.

    (Note: not all members of the GOP, even today, are Rethuglicans. They’re running things, but there are still true conservatives in the party. I think they should leave and form a party of actual conservatives…or join the Democratic Party, which IMO is pretty godsdamned conservative.)

  108. @ Brian White – a few people have alluded to this, but I’m just going to come out and say it: It’s the Democratic Party, not the “Democrat” party. The latter was something dreamed up by Republican operatives in the 90′s because the word ends in “rat”. It’s an insult, you see.

  109. Xopher @4:44: I think they should leave and form a party of actual conservatives…or join the Democratic Party, which IMO is pretty godsdamned conservative.

    What? Just because Obama is slightly to the right of Reagan and noticeably to the right of Nixon you think that makes the current Democrats conservative? That’s crazy talk right there.

  110. I actually feel a little bit bad for Huntsman, the guy’s trying to be a right of center moderate who could possibly get broader support, so of course the rest of the Republican field wonders out loud if he’s running in the right party.

    Clearly understanding science makes him a Democrat. >_<

  111. “It’s not my fault the GOP is a) currently offering up such a ridiculous field of presidential candidates, b) is currently comprised of people whose political and philosophical aims I find anathema. If it fielded better candidates and had a practical operating philosophy beyond “Our rich masters tell us to oppose anything Obama’s for” then I might change my mind.”

    a) I don’t think Romney(who I can’t stand) and Huntsman are any more ridiculous than Obama.

    b) And your problem is that you believe the “aims” of the party. They always advertise great intentions, but the results speak otherwise.

    Finally, you’re incorrect about the operating philosophy. The only operating philosophy, (R) or (D), is to get re-elected. They’ll tell you whatever you need to hear to get your support, then when legislative time comes, the law is written by the lobbyists. And how do you expect your legislative representative to fulling understand whether a law is written for your best interest if they (a) can’t even craft it without lobbyist recommendations, (b) admit that they don’t fully understand it, and (c) admit that they don’t always read it?

    Legislation is never executed in the best interest of the average citizen, it’s executed in the best interest of the people physically in D.C. Whydo you think there is such a housing and economic boom in that area during the great recession?

  112. Hard to keep up with all the posts.

    @Jesse, let’s say that I’d describe myself as a min-archist.

    But if you’re going to cling to definitions, then if conservative is not what I describe it to be, progressive does not mean progress and liberal does not mean liberty under the law.

    @Geds, I don’t disagree with much of what you posted at 4:37PM.

    Clearly each party has its sacred cows. I agree with Ron Paul and perhaps Gary Johnson in need to rebuild our military for mostly defensive purposes. Did Nixon ever claim to be Conservative? I believe he defeated Goldwater by attacking Conservatism. Yes Reagan built the military but the Democrat Congress made him pay for it with increased domestic spending.

    So here we are, a huge government we cannot afford with untouchable third rails proceeding from each side of the aisle and if I wanted to go tit for tat on the cause I could do it. But we have a field of Republicans that recognize at least in dialog the spending and growth problem and an Incumbent that does not. The arguments about how we got here are only effective if we recognize what needs to be done to reverse the damage. No one in the Democrat(ic) Party is saying anything that addresses the spending and encroachment.

    If Ron Paul is only in it as someone proposed to promote the ideals then I will promote them too until I am forced to vote against Obama in November 2012.

    @John Scalzi, thanks for your response.

  113. Okay, just for a second there, in one of the comments, I wackyparsed “Ron Paul” as “Ru Paul,” and I had a dream …

    Seriously, thanks, John. I admit I hadn’t heard of a couple of these guys. I’m glad to know that the Republican field doesn’t consist entirely of Romney and a handful of wackos, which is what I’m getting out of the mainstream media. My bad for not staying on top of it, but this early, since I won’t be voting GOP either, I tend to think they’ll have to settle it among themselves and I’ll pay more attention when we’re a lot less than 12 months out.

  114. John:

    It’s also a fraking lame one. You know, the last three letters of Democratic sounds an awful lot like “tick” which is obviously a vicious slur mean to demean liberals as blood-sucking parasites. *eyeroll* Back on Planet Earth, there are a lot of people for whom being called a ‘democrat’ is not only a compliment but a badge of honour.

    Here’s my counter-script : “Yes, I am a Democrat. That’s someone who supports democracy. Don’t you?” All it takes is a spine, people.

  115. Rick Perry is my first choice. He is a terrible debater and a good governor. He is mean and does not allow the state legislature to walk over him (no new taxes under his watch !). He travels Texas ceaselessly and shows up for everything.
    Then Herman Cain or Ron Paul. Paul reps the district just south of me and they are proud of him. He is little off the deep end on foreign affairs.
    I am afraid that Cain’s 9-9-9 plan will become 10-10-10, 12-12-12 and then 20-20-20 (just like most of the countries in Europe).

  116. Scalzi @ 2:33 PM: “No, occasionally there’s a ballot issue at the same time as a primary, and races where there’s no party affiliation. But for party-related ballots you have to be in the party. Unless they changed it from the last presidential election, which I don’t suspect they have.”

    Under Ohio Election law, you declare your political party affiliation by requesting the ballot of a political party in a partisan primary election. You could, if you wanted, ask for the Republican ballot at the next primary. In fact, if you recall in the 2008 primaries, Limbaugh rallied his Ohio listeners to request the Democratic Party ballot and vote for Clinton.

  117. I don’t think Romney(who I can’t stand) and Huntsman are any more ridiculous than Obama.

    And I’m sure you’ll mention why.

    And your problem is that you believe the “aims” of the party. They always advertise great intentions, but the results speak otherwise.

    I think that’s far less of a problem than not knowing the difference between the results derived from intent and the results that come from political reality and compromise.

    Finally, you’re incorrect about the operating philosophy. The only operating philosophy, (R) or (D), is to get re-elected. They’ll tell you whatever you need to hear to get your support, then when legislative time comes, the law is written by the lobbyists. And how do you expect your legislative representative to fulling understand whether a law is written for your best interest if they (a) can’t even craft it without lobbyist recommendations, (b) admit that they don’t fully understand it, and (c) admit that they don’t always read it?

    I’m assuming you get all of your views on the government from places like Reason, Fox News, or the like, and not from actual viewing and experience with the political process, because (a) is not nearly as widespread as you think, (b) is quite rare, and (c) is the reason that Congressional staff members exist (and many members of Congress actually pay attention to them).

    Legislation is never executed in the best interest of the average citizen, it’s executed in the best interest of the people physically in D.C. Whydo you think there is such a housing and economic boom in that area during the great recession?

    I’m assuming you don’t actually live in the DC area, or else you’d know that none of that is true. Sure it’s not Detroit, but DC is suffering from increased unemployment and vacant housing and decreased housing prices just like most of the US. The Federal government is not completely centralized in DC, either, as there are areas with high Federal or contractor presences all over the place (see also: Atlanta, Seattle, central NC, etc). It’s places that the employment and housing never hit hard like Nebraska or Wyoming, or were already at decreased prices (such as Arizona) that are doing relatively well.

  118. To my previous defense of Herman Cain and the indication of the lie detector software article, I’m not being naive nor patronizing when I ask what happened to innocent until proven guilty? I’m disturbed how easily that has been accepted. Bill Clinton was forgiven his trespasses including an alleged victim’s claim to being raped by him but by the same measure another alleged victim claims Cain groped her and it is assumed to be true.

    Considering the Mainstream Medias and the Democratic party’s history, I admit I am more impressed with software until Herman Cain is actually charged with a crime.

  119. Brian White @5:09: But we have a field of Republicans that recognize at least in dialog the spending and growth problem and an Incumbent that does not. The arguments about how we got here are only effective if we recognize what needs to be done to reverse the damage.

    What field of Republican candidates is that? All I see is a bunch of candidates toeing the line that the only solution to everything is to cut taxes and that anyone who thinks that going back to even the moderate 39.6% top marginal tax rate under Clinton is an act of unrestrained class warfare against the poor, defenseless upper-upper-middle and holy-crap-insanely-wealthy class.

    Meanwhile, wages have been stagnant or declining for a huge percentage of the population while we’ve got unemployment of just under 10% and a real unemployment of nearly twice that. Just think of all that tax money that’s not being collected from people who aren’t working because we have to protect the “job creators” who are mostly cutting jobs from the horror of having to pay an additional 4.6% on every dollar of taxable income over $379,150/year. And, of course, that ignores the fact that anyone who is making that kind of scratch is actually probably getting a large chunk of their money on various investments that fall under capital gains taxes, which are currently at 15%.

    Up against this we have crap like Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan, which would actually reduce income collected and screw over the poor while giving a giant tax break to everyone who falls between “moderately wealthy” and “obscenely wealthy.” He threw it out without actually having anyone who knows economics look at it and it’s been laughed out of the room faster than Steve Forbes’ plan in 1996 and 2000. Sadly, Cain’s plan actually made slightly more sense than Perry’s optional whatever it was plan. If that’s the definition of a field of candidates looking for effective ways to reverse the problem, I’d hate to see the candidates that aren’t actually being serious.

  120. Thomas M. Hermann:

    “a) I don’t think Romney(who I can’t stand) and Huntsman are any more ridiculous than Obama.”

    And? I hate to break it to you, Thomas, but your opinions on the matter are not my guiding star. I don’t even know you, or any aspect of your political philosophy outside two blog posts.

    “b) And your problem is that you believe the ‘aims’ of the party. They always advertise great intentions, but the results speak otherwise.”

    You’re making the incorrect assumption that what I see as the aims of the party are the ones they advertise. Actions are actually the important thing there.

  121. But if you’re going to cling to definitions, then if conservative is not what I describe it to be, progressive does not mean progress and liberal does not mean liberty under the law.

    Sure they do. Progressives want progress (better ability to vote, higher standards of living for everyone not a select few, less criminal persecution of minorities, more scientific research into disease and climate control) and liberals want more liberty (rights to marriage and all that entails, rights to become citizens, right to practice any religion without fear of retribution, rights of women over their bodies). These are all things conservatives and many so-called libertarians don’t care for or oppose.

    Did Nixon ever claim to be Conservative? I believe he defeated Goldwater by attacking Conservatism.

    First of all, Johnson (a Democrat) defeated Goldwater in 1964, where Goldwater was the Republican nominee. And Nixon’s GOP opponents in 1968 were either well to the left (Rockefeller) or slightly to the right (Reagan).

    Yes Reagan built the military but the Democrat Congress made him pay for it with increased domestic spending.

    The Republicans had a distinct majority for several years, and any domestic spending increases were both a small percentage of the military spending, and met with concurrent cuts soon after (i.e. mental health and welfare, which Reagan lied about repeatedly).

  122. Geds@3:29: I stand corrected. Ward is not the maker of the “Layered Voice Analysis” software. It is produced by Voice Analysis Technologies. The link in the previous comment was broken. It should be http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/39419_Official_CainTruth.com_Website_Attacks_Herman_Cains_Accusers

    Brian White@5:21: Two women who worked at the National Restaurant Association received settlements after complaining of sexual harassment. This is a civil, not a criminal complaint. Three others have come forward with remarkably similar stories. In a civil trial, the required level of proof is the preponderance of evidence. Cain has offered no evidence to the contrary. The woman who claims that he put his hand up her dress may have cause to file criminal charges, which would be a higher burden of proof. Note: I am not a lawyer.

  123. Brian White @5:21: To my previous defense of Herman Cain and the indication of the lie detector software article, I’m not being naive nor patronizing when I ask what happened to innocent until proven guilty?

    Oye, vey, really? I’m just going to leave this here for you. Feel free to read up on it. Basically, it offers a good outline of all that has happened with Bialek. Basically, there’s a large paper trail, including signed affidavits and documents indicating where Cain did, in fact, settle sexual harassment claims. The bit where he said that he had no idea what was going on and he’d never heard of such things, only to be forced to admit he did know what was going on when presented with evidence does not help his case.

    Also, too, you might want to check this piece in Language Log. Voice pattern software has a rate of lie detection that is roughly on par with pure guesswork.

  124. To my previous defense of Herman Cain and the indication of the lie detector software article, I’m not being naive nor patronizing when I ask what happened to innocent until proven guilty? I’m disturbed how easily that has been accepted.

    To which I point to the many issues with Cain’s story, which I enumerated above in great detail, all of which are corroborated by either Cain or his handlers, or 3rd parties.

    Bill Clinton was forgiven his trespasses including an alleged victim’s claim to being raped by him but by the same measure another alleged victim claims Cain groped her and it is assumed to be true.

    The same Bill Clinton who was impeached? The same Bill Clinton who’s involvement in 2008 may have lost his wife the primary? Does not compute.

    Considering the Mainstream Medias and the Democratic party’s history, I admit I am more impressed with software until Herman Cain is actually charged with a crime.

    Well, hey, knock yourself out. But it implies that you’d rather pay attention to what Cain says at any given moment and an unfounded and untested method of someone who is likely biased towards him; and that his actual actions and previous statements, legal documents from the period, unbiased 3rd parties such as the NRA, and follow-up behavior (his jokes about Princesses and Anita Hill being on his side in the last 24 hours, for example) are totally unconnected and meaningless.

  125. Guys, we appear to be drifting into a general political discussion rather than focusing on the subject of the entry. Let’s try to tighten things up, please.

  126. Just saw a headline on MSN that “Gingrich Surges to Second in GOP.”

    I BLAME YOU, JOHN. You have given him the Scalzi Boost.

  127. Back to the current campaign. Granting that Huntsman and Romney are not as reactionary as the other major candidates, but they are still running as Republicans. That means that when if they were to be elected, they would appoint primarily Republican office-holders and judges and be expected to support legislation supported by Republican Congressional leaders. Since most of the party is to the right of them, most of the nominees and legislation will likely be as well. Were Huntsman to switch parties before 2016 (which would not surprise me), he would be expected to favor Democrats.

  128. John Scalzi for Pres!

    No, wait, that would mean he had no time for writing….
    John Scalzi for Ambassador to the Conch Republic!

  129. I apologize that I do not have the time to respond tit for all the tats. I do not support the status quo of the Republican Party and since Obama is the Incumbent and present king of status quo and more taxing and borrowing, I feel that I am justified in doubting him most highly and declaring that what happened before 2009 is moot while he endures.

    My present dream candidate is Ron Paul; Gary Johnson will more than serve. I disagree with John’s posit that he “would run the country into the ground in about six months flat”. The Government is not the country. The Government is a parasite and every dollar taken from the private sector is one that raises the cost of living and prevents people from being able to climb out of poverty. The country will go on. When the country changed leadership from British to American rule, the country adapted and continued. The people and society will continue whatever happens and those dependent upon the status quo will adapt if they are weaned cold turkey or gradually. A smaller government will in contrast to John’s claim energize the country and restore the US to global respect. If only we could hope for that but so many I have debated are mired in the politics of both parties that they cannot imagine something that is not promoted by the Government.

  130. Well, Brian, thanks for the lack of faith in logic-based arguments and unwillingness to provide evidence to support your theses, and your weird suggestion that context (i.e. history doesn’t exist between 1783 and 2009) is pointless. I will point out that the excesses of the private sector is why the country is in the place it is in now. After all, there’s no logical way to argue that the government regulated the banks from having too much power, otherwise they wouldn’t have had the freedom to define the rates that they did. But continue to support that all the way to the…well, bank.

  131. Brian 5:09: No one in the Democrat(ic) Party is saying anything that addresses the spending and encroachment.

    Your parentheses make it clear that you ARE doing it on purpose, as a deliberate insult. Noted.

  132. The Government is not the country. The Government is a parasite and every dollar taken from the private sector is one that raises the cost of living and prevents people from being able to climb out of poverty

    My God, you’re right. First thing we do is cut the military entirely.

  133. I started in the Republican Party in ’63, left in the middle 80′s when the iron-bottomed Pro-Lifers took over. Huntsman, maybe. Gary Johnson, I’m conflicted about. I used to baby sit for him; he was a good kid, why should I vote to condemn him into such a mess as the next President will have? Of these choices, though, he’s the most tempting.

  134. Good rankings John. Looking at the larger picture of whom is likely to be elected in the House and Senate, I think the Republicans would do best with a Gingrich/Huntsman ticket. Possibly they could effectively govern. Don’t know. We had unified Democratic control of Legislature and Executive for Obama’s first two years and they did not effectively govern. I should like to see some effective unified government in DC from somebody. The gridlock of the past half century is choking us to death as a nation. Didn’t someone suggest that we just give ourselves, the US, back to Britain? That. Let’s do that. Then we could just elect members to Parliment and let the Parlimentary majority select the Prime Minister.

  135. We had unified Democratic control of Legislature and Executive for Obama’s first two years and they did not effectively govern.

    False. There was only a filibuster-proof majority for around 9 months–less if you count the spot vacated by between Kennedy–between Franken finally getting certified in July of 2009 and Brown being sworn in February 2010, and even that was stymied by very conservative Democrats like Ben Nelson and Lieberman (neither of whom is much liked by their Democratic constituencies) willing to join a unified Republican front that was filibustering everything. And unlike the original use of a filibuster, that meant Republicans weren’t even willing to allow a bill to be brought to the floor for discussion, let alone a vote.

  136. The proof of Gary Johnson’s marginalisation in my mind exists in the fact that he reached out to my religious demographic. Nobody – regardless of party – does that.

  137. Brian White @2:34 pm: There was a pretty decent novel on exactly that premise about 15 years ago called THE TRUTH MACHINE. Not written by our noble host, alas, but a good book for all that.

  138. For years, I’ve been able to point to a GOP candidate early in the primary process and say to myself, “I could vote for that guy.” Dick Lugar, say. Gary Johnson. Jon Huntsman.

    Not a one has ever gotten within a sniff of the nomination.

  139. I am glad that you said the same things that I thought to myself about Rick Perry’s brain fart. I disagree with Rick Perry on political issues. I would never vote for him due to our political differences. Nonetheless, I do not want his political career to crash and burn for doing things that I, myself, do.

  140. John, you and I will agree to disagree about Obama’s performance as president, but I have to agree with your assessment of the GOP candidates.

    One of the reasons that Huntsman ranked so high with me is that he appears to understand the concept of compromise (again, as you pointed out). That seems to me to be a quality severely lacking in just about everyone in Washington these days. Somehow, “compromise” appears to have become a negative term to both parties rather than a statement of what’s necessary to keep a divided government chugging along with something like effectiveness and efficiency.

    I hate to sound negative, but at this point I can’t help but thinking, “A pox on both their houses.”

    PS I really had to chuckle at your description of Perry. That’s so totally spot-on! And, as a mental health professional who spent many years working with the chronically seriously mentally ill – I’m right there with you re: Bachmann’s eyes….

  141. Mr. Scalzi:

    “And? I hate to break it to you, Thomas, but your opinions on the matter are not my guiding star. I don’t even know you, or any aspect of your political philosophy outside two blog posts.”

    Wooh! That’s a load off. Really, I’m not here discuss my political philosophy, I’m here to discuss this blog post and have strayed in my responses.

    “You’re making the incorrect assumption that what I see as the aims of the party are the ones they advertise. Actions are actually the important thing there.”

    Fair enough.

    My point is that the political discourse is generally framed in terms of “our team is righteous, you’re team is evil” and this post, despite your caveats, or rather because of them, fell into that category. We’re never going to get better candidates for government until we quit thinking in these terms.

    That is my critique, please pardon the interruption and continue on with the two minute hate.

  142. Mitt Romney = Jimmy Carter
    2012 GOP crop = 1976 Democratic crop
    Unfortunately for them, they’re not really running against Jerry Ford.

    Biggest tragedy: Pat Paulsen is dead.

  143. Thomas M. Hermann:

    “My point is that the political discourse is generally framed in terms of ‘our team is righteous, you’re team is evil’ and this post, despite your caveats, or rather because of them, fell into that category.”

    You’ve erred in the assumption that I have a team. I have been registered as an independent all my voting life, and rare is the election cycle where I haven’t voted for at least one Republican, although admittedly at this point I have a tendency to vote for them in a local capacity rather than a national one. That said, I have done that as well, and more than once (and for a conservative Republican at that). And while in the current political atmosphere my own politics are more often aligned with the Democrats than the Republicans, if you don’t think I can’t whack on the Democrats as well, surprise.

  144. 1. Take the current list of GOP candidates.
    2. Order them from least to most sane.
    3. Stick a bell curve on top of the list.

    Cain, Perry, and Gingrich are recognizable enough to get noticed in the polls (Cain not so much politically), and off-the-deep-end enough to still appeal to the current GOP core. Romney and Huntsman are too sane (relatively speaking, although Huntsman would be my choice), Bachmann and Paul are even too INsane, and—Johnson who? Even Obama by this time in 2007 had a larger following, and he seemingly came out of nowhere to unseat Hillary Clinton from her almost guaranteed nomination.

    It does look like my original prediction—that the Tea Party and the sane Republicans would be unable to decide on a candidate and split the party in two—may turn out to be wrong, but if this were Vegas I’d still give Obama the same point spread as last time, and wouldn’t bet on the GOP being able to find a ticket that could win them more than 200 electoral college votes.

  145. I agree with the your top choice of Huntsman and if I thought Obama would make a hash out of his second term, might vote for him if were on their ticket. (but I don’t)
    As it is, I imagine the democrats can only be glad that he won’t make the cut because I think he would sway more than a few independents and moderate democrats if Obama does something to annoy them (or they think he’s the cause of their annoyance) too close to the election. People are short sighted. Too many people vote their current annoyance rather than the larger picture.
    But even annoyance won’t overcome the caparison to a conservative Republican spouting about things people in the middle aren’t comfortable with.

  146. Good rankings and anaylsis. I’d raise Johnson up a few pegs, but that’s probably our underlying political differences/priorities at work.

  147. I didn’t see the recent GOP debate, but I read a long, detailed news article about it the next day. It talked about Perry’s gaff, Gingrich fielding questions about stuff, Herman Cain fielding questions about stuff, Romney’s comments, how attendees reacted, predictions for how the debate will affect the polls, ec., etc., etc… and then concluded with the one line noting: “Also participating in the debate were Michelle Bachman and Rick Santorum.”

    Which struck me as exactly the right emphasis/focus to put on these two when it comes to the presidential race (or, indeed, a race for a minor seat on a bake sale committee).

  148. I’m sorry, but am I the only person in the world who thinks Mitt Romney looks like a Muppet who met with the Blue Fairy and got turned into a real boy?

    Honestly, every time I see a picture of him, I keep looking for the strings, or the crew of three people working the hands, legs and mouth.

    (Context: I’m Australian. I don’t have a dog in this fight, and quite frankly, I’m glad of the fact. We have quite enough political yoyos over here in .au, what with our current leader of the federal Opposition spitting the dummy and holding his breath until he turns blue on a regular basis).

  149. As a fellow unaffiliated voter, albeit in NC, (and incidentally a member of the Green Party which, thanks to NC’s restrictive laws, still makes me “unaffiliated”) I can (thanks to open primaries here) vote in the Republican primary if I want. However, the presidential candidate is usually decided by the time NC primaries.

  150. Thomas Hermann: When you move to a new neighborhood, do you spend the entirety of the first block party criticizing your neighbors’ decor?

    Scalzi, I apologize on behalf of the Interwebs. I know you have a thick skin, but our new neighbor has been unconscionably rude, and I’m embarrassed.

  151. and this post, despite your caveats, or rather because of them, fell into that category

    Well, hell, I’m lost. Was it despite Scalzi’s caveats, or because of them? How did these caveats (whatever those are) turn a humorous post about the GOP candidates – one which praises Jon Hunstman, for that matter – into a “two minutes hate”? Sounds like somebody is playing PvP politics. You might want to have a word with that guy in the mirror about that.

  152. I must put in my word for John Huntsman. Bachmann is a homophobe, Perry has sent innocent men to die, and Romney is a badly burnt waffle. Cain, on the other hand, has a totally flawed tax proposal, which would ruin state economies across the land.

    Obama is just a weasel.

  153. I would strongly consider Johnson, and I’m disappointed he’s not getting much pub. Maybe in four or eight years. Of the rest, Romney or Huntsman are the only ones I would even consider. Perry, Santorum and Bachman scare and anger me. Paul is too idealistic to be effective. Cain is too dim. And I’m not sure what to make of Newt.

    I voted for Obama three years ago, but I’ve been disappointed in his leadership. I’m disgusted with both parties at this point as they just move more towards the fringes, abandoning the middle of rational, pragmatic thought.

  154. I also agree with your rankings, for the most part, especially your primary and secondary choices.

    I can’t abide Cain for the same reasons I objected to Sarah Palin. Mr. Cain seems to have no interest in knowing about anything that is not relevant to the immediate task. He seems to think that when he needs to make a decision, he can just get a briefing, digest it quickly, and pronounce his judgement.

    Before Ms. Palin’s one debate in 2008, i reviewed one of her debates when she ran for governor. She almost never answered the question that was asked. When the question was to name a state court decision with which she disagreed, she chose instead to name a policy of the then current governor that she disagreed with. The followup question was to name a state court case with which she agreed, and she named the same policy of the current governor that she had used for the previous question. She had memorized ONE talking point with a coherent supporting argument, and she was going to use it whether it fit the question or not. Her performance in the Vice-Presidential debate was similar. She had clearly practiced saying “Ahmadinejad,” without stumbling, and she had memorized two catchy lines: “There You Go Again” (borrowed from Reagan) and “Say It Ain’t So, Joe.” So she spent the debate finding ways to say “Ahmadinejad,” smoothly, and waiting for a chance to use her zingers, but mostly ignoring the questions. The moderator and Mr. Biden didn’t really give her much of an opening for the catch phrases, and her time was running out, so she was forced to string them together, awkwardly, near the end.

    Well, that was a little too much on Ms. Palin, who isn’t even in this race, but what I’m trying to get to is that Mr. Cain is doing the same thing. His answer to nearly every question is “Nine Nine Nine,” no matter how unrelated the question, and it gives me no confidence in his ability to handle a complex situation. He is better at making zingers that sound natural and off-the-cuff, so I’ll give him that.

  155. Buddy Roemer is my man without question. He is the only candidate talking about campaign finance reform, and that is the most important issue of our generation. All of the other issues would be fairly easy to solve if we could get the money out of politics. Institutional bribery and corruption are not an acceptable basis for a democratic government.

    If under some miracle Buddy Roemer is still in the race by the time the Kansas primary is held, I will switch party affiliation to vote for him. If not, I intend to nominate him via Americans Elect.

    I’ve been incredibly disappointed by Obama. Allowing Goldman Sacs to dictate his economic policies, while various health insurance companies are allowed to write the health care bill is every bit as bad as allowing oil companies to dictate foreign policy as George W. Bush did. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Obama’s campaign funding came from Goldman Sacs and big health insurance.

    It is going to be hard for me to reconcile voting for Obama again. This Republican field is so heinous that I may feel compelled to, but it will mark my saddest day as an American.

    Ron Paul despite his ridiculous views may be my second choice candidate. I agree with him on almost nothing, and yet I believe that he would be less under the sway of lobbyists and special interests than anyone else besides Buddy Roemer. A Ron Paul presidency would be one in which the justice department does its job, prosecuting cooperate crime with the same veracity as it prosecutes violent crime. 4 years of sending criminals to jail might be good for America, and the next president could rebuild whatever portion of government Paul would destroy.

  156. I almost puked in the car yesterday when this couple in NH was interviewed about Gingrich and they said he was the most honorable person running.

    Gah!

  157. I would vote for a GOP candidate for president, if she or he was the best for the job. Or Libertarian. Whatever. My father and his father were Wall STreet Conservative Republicans, because my paternal grandfather worked his way up from penniless immigrant to great wealth, by founding a New York Stock Exchange brokerage. Then came 1929. My father, on his deathbed, insisted that the GOP had betrayed their constituency.
    I like Hunstsman best of the current crop. Then, after all, Newt co-authored 2 Alternate History novels. Check with Admiral become President Robert Anson Heinlein on that.

  158. I agree that Romney is the likely nominee. I wonder what an Obama/Romney election will do for turnout. Many of the young progressives that were energized by the Obama campaign in 2008 are disappointed, and many Tea Party-type conservatives won’t be very excited to have Romney as their nominee. I think both campaigns will face an uphill battle to get people to go to the polls.

  159. I almost puked in the car yesterday when this couple in NH was interviewed about Gingrich and they said he was the most honorable person running.

    Much like Joe “Owes over 100K in back alimony and child support” Walsh gets honored as a staunch defender of family values because of his steadfast anti-choice, anti-equality voting record whenever the issues come up.

  160. Hard to take this list serious after your “puking a Volkswagen” comment. If you are that far removed from the conservative principles of these people, what makes you qualified to identify the best candidate?

  161. Only conservatives are qualified to have opinions on Republican candidates? Are you sure? Let me check my United States Constitution, which I happen to have right in front of me:

    (Checks Constitution)

    Huh, the United States Constitution is curiously silent on the idea of only conservatives being qualified to have opinion on Republican candidates. Guess I can have an opinion after all! Whew, that’s a relief.

    Tell you what, Antonio: I’ll give up having opinions on the Republican candidates for president when Rush Limbaugh gives up having an opinion on President Obama. You go ahead and break that news to him. Let me know how it goes.

  162. Have, and write, all the opinions you want. It’s your right. But I won’t be using them to determine who
    I’ll vote for – I’m more likely to puke up the moon before I vote for a socialist running on the democratic ticket…

  163. Antonio, if there’s a socialist running on the democratic ticket, let me know. That would be exciting news. The only even half-socialist we have is Bernie Sanders, and (1) he’s a Democratic Socialist, not a socialist, and (2) he’s an Independent, not in the Democratic Party.

  164. I’ll start off by admitting I’m a Libertarian, and live in California which is going to vote Democrat whatever I do, so I’m free to vote Third Party instead of having to hold my nose and vote Democrat to keep the Evil Republicans from winning, and between the LP, Greens, Peace&Freedom, and random crazy people, there’s almost always somebody on the ballot I like better than the two major parties. The Republican Party got taken over by a bunch of sociopathic neocons in the late 90s (Rove, Norquist, and the right-wing news machine), who believe that Winning is more important than any specific value, polarization and relentless attack are the path to Winning, and that everybody involved with the party had better Stay On Message Or Else.

    John Huntsman isn’t part of that machine – he’s an older style of Republican, somewhat left of Barry Goldwater, too conservative for me, but the kind of politician you could have an honest discussion with, who thinks the fact that global warming might be true is more important than whether it’s the Party Line, and the fact that evolution is obviously true is more important than its appeal to the older religious conservative demographic or its anti-evolution’s reinforcement of the anti-global-warming position that the party’s corporate sponsors really care about. He’s a solid dude, and while I don’t think it’s safe to vote for any Republican, even for dog catcher, until they’ve purged the Rove/Norquist machine, he’d be an honorable opponent.

    I like Ron Paul, and worked on his 1988 campaign, and even though he has a hopelessly anti-libertarian view of immigration, hasn’t really paid attention to economics since the early 80s, and is starting to get a tendency to tell people to get off his lawn, I’d be happy to see him as the Republican candidate. That doesn’t mean I was willing to re-register as a Republican to vote for him in the primary, and his views are too anti-establishment for either of the Establishment parties to allow him to win, even if the Republicans hadn’t been taken over by sociopaths.

    Mitt Romney reminds me of Nathan Petrelli from the first season of Heroes, when he was a sleazy politician and we didn’t know he could fly. At some point next spring, he’s going to step in, tell the lower-end candidates that he’s The Adult In The Room and it’s time to stop playing games and win an election. He doesn’t have any principles, so the machine’s fine with him, and the Republicans have the Tea Party around to keep the crazy right-wingers busy attacking Democrats.

    The candidate you left out is Zombie Richard Nixon. I’d happily have taken him back instead of Bush 43, and he’d be a better candidate than half the Republicans running even though he’s been dead for the last 17 years. He’s too mean to let a little thing like that stop him, he resigned early enough in his term that he can still serve another 4 years, and it shouldn’t be hard to find another dog named Checkers to distract people from little technicalities like his metabolic state.

  165. and even though he has a hopelessly anti-libertarian view of immigration, hasn’t really paid attention to economics since the early 80s, and is starting to get a tendency to tell people to get off his lawn

    “But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

    Ron Paul has an extremely selective view of the Constitution and he’s more than happy to gut the judiciary so it can’t overturn laws he likes. He takes ‘unpopular’ stands that get him points with the White Guy On The Internet crowd because he’s well aware that the chance of those stands actually becoming law – and thus having consequences he’d have to explain – are near zero. The fact that he’s more principled and honest than a lot of Republicans (or, for that matter, Democrats) doesn’t mean much.

  166. if Occuppy Wall Street started a canpaign finance reform ammendment movement today, how long would it tale to get passed/implemented? Could it happen in time to affect the 2012 elections?

  167. Realistically, no. Remember that an amendment has to pass both houses of Congress by a 2/3 vote and then has to pass in 3/4 of the state legislatures.

    There are other paths to get an amendment passed, but have never been used, and must pass 3/4 of state legislatures (or state conventions) in any case.

  168. The only two candidates from either party that are not completely bought and paid for by corporate interests are Ron Paul and Gary Johnson; If neither of these two wins the Republican nomination, we can all rest assured that the Corporatist/Crony Capitalist system that we know and hate will continue its hold over our lives. Obama versus Romney? At least membership in OWS will swell even more!

  169. I’m a liberal conservative (it’s an actual thing) and usually vote Republican, but tend to vote AGAINST incumbents, anti-science types, or anyone who’s either a one-issue person or just batshit insane. For those reasons, and for a small hope that the idealism his rhetoric seemed to engender would inspire the country to get back on track, I voted against McCain/Palin (mostly against Palin) and for Obama. This was in Texas, though, so my vote did not count for much. I’ve not been pleased at all for the reality of Obama, however, and I wish I could have seen a McCain presidency.
    This time, I’m voting Republican, and I wish the Tea Partiers were not so powerful, since I’m actually a big fan of Jon Huntsman. I’ll probably end up voting for Romney or Gingrich, though. Sad. I think Huntsman is actually what we all need.

  170. I actually like Ron Paul’s “plan to restore America” for its massive cutting of government agencies that don’t need to be there (like the TSA), getting out of all wars, and his decision to take a salary of $38k, which is about what I make as a teacher. Obviously, his ideals are a little… idealist, but there’s a 0% chance that he’ll get to enact much of them because the President has little to no power.

    John Huntsman surprised me. I had no idea who he was, but I actually heard sense coming out of my TV during the GOP debates and did a double take. Of course, he’s suffering from the same media blackout as Ron Paul!

  171. > I’m disgusted with both parties at this point as they just move more towards the fringes,
    > abandoning the middle of rational, pragmatic thought.

    Incidentally, the fact that anyone in this country believes that this is actually true is a constant source of wonder for me, and indicates to me that many, many people aren’t paying any attention to politics.

    The fact is, the Republicans are moving towards the rightward fringes, and successfully painting the Democrats as moving to the leftward fringes (the press helps a lot: ‘Obama: Socialist or Communist?’) The fact is, the Democrats are quickly chasing the Republicans rightward. Whether it is on tax policy (we’re now no longer even talking about letting the Bush tax cuts expire), on Wall Street (where Obama has managed, albeit inconsistently, to actually be further right than the Republicans, health care (Obama’s plan is significantly further right than Nixon’s original plan (NOT the Nixon-Kennedy plan, but Nixon’s original plan) was, ‘entitelment’ programs (Obama now has stated outright that he wants to fix Social Security’s problems IN THIRTY YEARS with cuts to benefits RIGHT NOW, when they could be easily fixed with one tax increase), and so on.

    If it looks to anyone like the Democrats are retreating to the left, it’s because you are sprinting hard to the right to keep up with the Republicans, and the Democrats are only jogging.

  172. I think Republicans may inherit the wind in the 2012 election, especially in the Presidential race. The current Republican party is not the same party it was in, say, 1960. But even though Goldwater was crushed in 1964 (and so were most other Republican candidates), he changed the party fundamentally and, most importantly, brought Reagan into the active political world. Everyone now seems to point to Reagan’s win in 1980 as the rebirth of the party. In fact, it was their swan song. Bringing the religous Right into the party required abandoning long held truely Conservative principles like keeping your nose out of other people’s affairs–Jefferson’s “That government which governs the least, governs the best.”. In fact, they have quit being principled at all, just knee jerk moralists, of the Levitican persuasion.

    That was bad enough, though it did help the party elect three presidents since 1980. But this past year they have been trying to cope with the Teaa Partiers in their ranks. who nominally call themselves Republicans for electoral purposes. But they have an agenda of their own and are unpredictable because of their willful ignorance.

    All of these things put the party in danger of self-destruction or at least splintering. There are hardly any moderate Republicans now. Once upon a time, there were even liberal Republicans. All gone now. My father has been a conservative Republican since the late 1940s and has never voted for a Democrat for President, but in a recent conversation he shocked me by telling me he thinks the Republicans have been hijacked by the religous Right and abandoned their principles. George W was a terrible president. His father was only okay, but only in comparison to his son and to Reagan, whom he thinks sold out the party. I asked him about Goldwater because even though I disagreed with him I respected him because I thought he was a principled Conservative, not a Levitican. Dad said, “Yes he was. But he was also a nut,” NIxon was ultimately a thief, and Eisenhower was not really a Republican. The last Republcan Presidential candidate he approved of was Thomas Dewey.

    Because of the mutation of the Republicans into what they are now, our country is now governed based on a team sports model, like the Cowboys against the Redskins, two sides diametrically (and arbitrarily) opposed to each other, based upon opinions of how things should be, opinions not only unproved but also unprovable. All they are interested in is stomping the other team into non-existence. Meanwhile the country is falling apart. If you ran a corporation like this, it would fold in a few months. What happened to pragmatism? And because of all the money going into Washington and how the members of Congress can and do enrich themselves because they are essentially exempt from the laws most of us must obey (like insider trading), I am beginning to agree with my father that everyone in office in Washing ton should be considered compromised, corrupt, and outright bought.

    I personally would like to thow all the incumbents out (including the Supreme Court), outlaw lobbying, impose term limits, and throw out the fiction of corporations as “persons”. Candidates for office could use only what the McCain-Feingold Act or some variation of it allows. And when a member of Congress leaves office, he or she should stand trial to defend their record in office., and never be allowed back into Washington for anything other than seeing the sights. And no revolving doors; they are permanently barred from working for corporations as consultants..

    Though I have consistently voted for Democrats, I am not happy with Obama. He too seems to have abandoned his principles and not undone the evils of his predecessor. He has played to the Right even when he had a solid majority in Congress. Once it was clear the Republicans were intransigent, he should simply have said, “Okay, be that way. I tried to make this a civilized process but you have been unreasonable and decitful. But the fact is we have the votes and we will pass our agenda despite your united opposiition. Once we have done that, you will probably never be able to undo it, even if you win the mid-term elections in a landslide.”

    Nonetheless, if Obama goes into a full court press, spends all of the coming year in campaign mode (which he is very, very good at) and rails against the Republicans in Congress, they may end up blown away. The unholy miscegenation of the religous Right and the Tea Party would undercut any chance of any moderate Republican running for any office. This descruction of the Republican Party may be the best thing for it and the country, because it will finally be safe to be a principled moderate or liberal Republican.

  173. Sad to see Buddy Roemer isn’t on here as he is my prefered (pseudo) Republican choice despite having a chance to be nominated (let alone elected) equivalent to my sitting down with Satan for a charity snowcone sale.

    He puts my single biggest issue on the table which is the massive institutional bribery and corruption. Beyond that his policies are generally not my preffered cup of tea but I can take 4 (or 8) years of sub-standard (but not Bachman/Cain/Perry crazy) legislation if it actually reforms the system so that it actually is something resembling a real democracy again rather than a developing world plutocracy. As a diehard liberal I’d not only vote for him but devote all my free time campaigning and working for his campaign if he were a candidate but the fact he isn’t even mentioned by the media shows precisely how much possibility a legitimate campaign finance/lobbying/bribery position has of getting anywhere in this country. Sad to say but I don’t see a way out for us until complete economic collapse (which admittedly seems very close) but I hold some small hope that the OWS movement might actually be the beginning of a movement powerful enough to push some real reforms and break the political apathy and ignorance our country suffers from.

  174. @delynn: The President appoints rather a lot of the federal government, from Supreme Court justices down to district judges, issues executive orders, sets policy and staffs agencies. To say it doesn’t matter who we elect because POTUS has no power is flat-out mistaken.

  175. Yeah, I’m *really* late to this party (sorry).
    Mr. Scalzi, I hope I don’t incur your wrath by putting several replies in a single post; the thread is not moving too fast to keep up with, now, so I hope you’ll let me get away with it just this once.

    DGL 11 Nov at 12:17 pm: That would be “arrant” pedantry. (Ow! But Mo-o-o-om! He started it!)

    A Mediated Life 11 Nov at 12:20 pm: “Doucheweasel”! What a marvelous word! And yes, I also miss Ann Richards and Molly Ivins terribly. I’d especially have loved to see what Molly would have said about the aforementioned doucheweasel. Gonna have to check up on what Jim Hightower’s been sayin’ about the Rickwad.

    Geds 11 Nov at 4:37 pm: And this post is why I always read the entire comment thread before I throw in my 2 cents. Somebody usually has already said what I’d say, and done it better. Bravo (brava?).

    Steve Tidwell 17 Nov at 3:22 am: You said it well, too, from a different point of view. Bravo.

    And nobody said “straw man” once! I’m so impressed! Unless, of course, it was in the post that got deleted. But I digress.

    About the Republican Party candidates, I’m firmly in the go-ahead-and-shoot-me camp. There’s not a one of them I could tolerate being in the same room with, let alone as POTUS. The only one who stands a chance, by virtue of not being batshit crazy, is Romney, and he’s a Mormon “cultist”. And allow me to go on the record, as a native Texan of sufficient age to have spent the Reagan administration in the Navy, saying that the two Texans figuring so prominently in the race right now are *aliens from the planet Zolbort*, not real people who should be considered even half-seriously for the highest office in the land. Also, they’re both batshit crazy. And one of them’s a doucheweasel (thanks again, Mediated Life).

  176. Continuing in the “not related to politics comment” theme, I’m just going to drop in here and say it’s “wack job”, not “whack job”; its derived from “wacky”.

    Mr. Scalzi, for an SF author, you’re an exceptional political commentator. Maybe it’s your deft eye for fantasy that helps you spot it so accurately in the current media shitstorm.

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