Quick Political Notes, 1/19/12

Some stuff:

* Bye, Rick Perry! It’s been fun. Now you’re just Texas’ problem again, which, of course, is just fine. I also thank you for putting the rest of the US off Texas governors for a while. I think we need a fallow period there. Something along the lines of 40 years should do just fine.

* And look! Newt’s coming back in the polls! The Newtmentum is strong: He’s now within polling error of Romney in South Carolina polls, mostly, it seems, because apparently everyone forgot that Romney was a capitalist and then suddenly remember and then there was Newt, eyes moist with glee, risen like the bemasked serial killer you stupidly turned your back on and yet stayed in the same room with. And Perry just endorsed Gingrich! It’s Nightmare on Bain Street!

Honestly, I thought Romney had packed this one away, but then, as with football, this is why you actually play the games. Just remember, Republicans: The longer you string this out, the happier Obama is. You’re making Obama smile right now. That big, toothy smile of his.

* Seriously, I think there may be a SuperPAC out there, funded by Democrats, whose entire point is to string out this particular GOP primary season as long as humanly possible. It’s paranoid conspiracy thinking, yes, but come on. Is there another rational explanation? That’s more fun to think about? I say no.

* Oh, and also? Romney didn’t actually win Iowa. But no one wants to say he lost it, either. Look, at this point, just have him and Rick Santorum flip a coin before tonight’s debate, and we’ll call it done.

* Incidentally, I’ve had some people ask why I link a lot to TalkingPointsMemo when I talk about politics. Well, aside from the fact it’s a well-run organization with good political information (yes, from a lefty point of view), there’s also the fact that Josh Marshall and I went to school together, so, you know. Go, Josh. At this point he doesn’t really need my support to be successful, mind you.

74 thoughts on “Quick Political Notes, 1/19/12

  1. I do have to agree – this has been the most entertaining primary of my (politically aware) life.

    And don’t forget – we have Marianne Gingrich’s interview to look forward to. Popcorn!

    Also, too, keep in mind that when the Romney releases this year’s tax returns, they will have been filed with this controversy in mind. Perish the thought that he might strategically pay more than the minimum his accountants can conjure, but, well, he’s demonstrated a certain… flexibility in the past, you know? People should ask to see last year’s.

  2. The santorum won Iowa, but the media keeps saying that Mitt won is so confusing. But completely in line with GOP ideas about how voting should take place. In secret, where you can rig the results.

  3. So they think Santorum squeezed past Romney, but they can’t be sure because they lost a whole bunch of votes?

    Makes you wonder why they bothered announcing if they can’t even be sure.

  4. People should ask to see last year’s.
    How about last 10 years?
    You want to be the president of the United States of America?
    Well we want to KNOW as much about you as possible, including if you are a lying POS who has been skimping on his taxes.

    /sigh

  5. To quote my mother: “Wow! These Republican candidates are a bunch of mean sons of bitches! They’re so hateful, calling each other down every which way but when it’s general election time, it’ll be all hearts and flowers. Sheesh, what nasty politics and how sad to have those be your only choices.”

  6. Regardless of who wins or loses in S.C., I imagine there’s a low-level panic in the GOP at the moment. This was supposed to be the time where Romney’s support within the party hardened into something that could be relied upon for the general election, but this shows just how soft his numbers are. Can’t bode well for the full campaign.

    By the way, I’m simply assuming that Romney’s got the nomination in hand, simply because I think the GOP higher-up would arrange for Gingrich to be squished by a freakish yak stampede rather than let him exploderate their entire political apparatus.

  7. How about last 10 years?
    You want to be the president of the United States of America?
    Well we want to KNOW as much about you as possible, including if you are a lying POS who has been skimping on his taxes.

    I would be shocked if either Obama or Gingrich didn’t push for this, especially considering the news that dropped yesterday that a large amount of Romney’s money is in offshore accounts as a tax dodge. It’s legal, yes, but dubiously so, and is not something that’s in reach for most Americans. Combined with the fact that he also claimed that $350,000 in speaking fees is “not very much” money–hey, Mitt, that’s 6 times the median American salary–and is making more than literally 99.99% of taxpayers while paying a lower tax rate, I’m looking forward to the ads this fall.

  8. Oh, and even the establishment GOP institutions are starting to freak out. This is from the National Review:

    “It is critical that Romney release his tax records now, that voters might ‘take a look and decide if we’ve got a flawed candidate. We know that should Romney become the nominee, he will be criticized over the sources of his wealth and will have to effectively respond. Republican primary voters deserve to see whether he can do so before they vote.”

  9. Ummm…last I checked only 12 of 2286 delegates have been selected so far in the Republican primary process. I hardly think that’s stringing things out unreasonably.

    I realize that’s more than the number of jobs that the current administration has created but it’s still a pretty small number. Hell, we have more czars than that.

  10. I realize that’s more than the number of jobs that the current administration has created but it’s still a pretty small number. Hell, we have more czars than that.</

    -10 on the trolling, dude.

    Unless you assume the first 6 months of 2009 is totally Obama's fault, which would be ridiculous considering he wasn't even President for a month of that and had literally just inherited the financial crisis, there have been over 2.5 million jobs created between July 2009 and January 2012.

  11. Ugh, missed the closing tag there. Anyway, here’s a chart with the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Notice the sharp drop in job losses April 2009 and the resulting switch to job creation by 2010? I’m sure that it’s totally a coincidence that the stimulus bill was passed just two months before that. Yep.

  12. Seriously, I think there may be a SuperPAC out there, funded by Democrats, whose entire point is to string out this particular GOP primary season as long as humanly possible. It’s paranoid conspiracy thinking, yes, but come on. Is there another rational explanation? That’s more fun to think about? I say no.

    You’re not the only one. The GOP establishment wants this wrapped up quick because they want to avoid what happened to the Democratic candidates in 2004, i.e., they spent all of the election year ripping each other apart and not enough time campaigning against Bush, while Bush spent the entire time sending hamfisted, but effective, snips at all of them.

  13. Do you ever take a look at DK Elections? (full disclosure: I am family of one of the writers, there.) I think (despite my disclosure, I think this in all good faith) they tend to have some really good analyses of elections and have been impressive historically with predictions and such like. I thought I’d throw it out there in case you are interested!

  14. This page appears to show the latest Iowa delegate allocation with Santorum ahead by 34 votes.

    http://www.thegreenpapers.com/P12/IA-R

    The difference appears to be exactly zero between winning by 8 and losing by 34 in terms of delegate allocation.

    So who cares besides journalists covering the horse race and the Santorum campaign, which will be able to use ‘we won Iowa’ as a talking point with prospective donors?

  15. Just remember, Republicans: The longer you string this out, the happier Obama is.

    The Democratic contest in ’08 was still not certain in what, May? With die-hards spinning out scenarios that resulted in a Clinton nomination through the convention? And the Republicans are barely over two weeks in, coming up on their third contest. This hasn’t exactly been a long slog.

    Don’t get me wrong: I agree with you that the extended and contentious Republican contest has done most of its participants no favors (Ron Paul, for all that I as a liberal don’t like him, is an exception). But that’s not a function of the extended campaign; it’s a function of the profoundly weak field the Republicans have put forward. Few of them seem remotely plausible – by November, the only plausible candidates just on the basis of their resumes were Romney and Perry, and then Perry opened his mouth – and none of them inspire enthusiasm among their voters. In 2008 Obama had to campaign in virtually every state, and both Democratic candidates were bringing out enormous, enthusiastic crowds late into the Spring. That extended campaign, bitter as it was, was good for the nominee and the party. The indications that an extended 2012 campaign for the Republican nomination would not be similarly helpful are illuminating.

  16. “It’s Nightmare on Bain Street!”
    Did Romney focus group the name of his equity firm to find the most sinister sounding name he could? Seriously, Bain Capital? Should have just called it Evil Corp.

  17. Did Romney focus group the name of his equity firm to find the most sinister sounding name he could? Seriously, Bain Capital? Should have just called it Evil Corp.

    There was a #banecapital trend on Twitter last week, based on a mashup of Romney and the character from the Batman comics (and upcoming movie).

  18. I am so glad that Perry is out of the race, especially after the ignorance he displayed about Turkey the other day. The idea of a guy that misinformed about international affairs in the Oval Office is really frightening. (I was also glad when Herman Cain dropped out, for the same reason.)

    I think a drawn-out primary season is good, because it gives more voters a chance to voice a meaningful option. I’m originally from Oregon, a state that votes late in the primary calendar, and it was really annoying to have a presumtive Democratic nominee before I got to have any say. One thing that was nice about the ’08 election, with its drawn-out nomination battle between Obama and Clinton, was that I actually got to help pick my party’s nominee.

    My money is still on Romney being the nominee.

  19. All that said, one sort-of-outsider thinks that Romney may take it in SC because members Tea Party Of No Compromise may be willing to do exactly that (compromise) in order to have a chance at beating the Kenyan Usurper Hawaiian Devil Baby; as one TP-er put it: “Electability is huge.”

    That was posted yesterday – do today’s polls negate this view?

  20. Curious, seeing the anti-Bain meme surface. If memory serves, one of Obama’s men is a Bain grad. Jeffrey Zients? Bain man. Oh, and Bain senior execs gave far more to Democratcs than Republicans, in terms of contributions. Attacking Mitt on Bain from the left ala Newt may work for some, but if this is Obama’s plan, it’s not a terribly good one. All Mitt need do is name Zeints and ask why Obama (or, really, Obama’s handlers) think Bain presents such a problem, when Obama himself is tapping an experienced Bain person for an important position?

    On the matter of the protracted struggle for a nominee, which is not all that protracted yet — it just seems that way due to news overcycle… I actually think the extended contest is a good one. Even if it seems to be hurting my man Mitt. It will toughen Mitt up for the general election. Or, if he’s not got the mettle to stand the heat in the kitchen, he will gradually fold up, and someone with more stomach for battle (and better appeal party appeal) will move forward to compete with Hope’n’Change 2012.

    I would still think Mitt the best candidate of all comers — in terms of actually understanding how money and the economy function in fact, as opposed to magical thinking theories that abound among social engineers — but if he doesn’t have what it takes to solidify himself with his own party, then he doesn’t have what it takes.

    My personal hunch is that Gingrich’s re-rise is a temporary bubble at best. The hare is making a nice run at the tortoise. But in two or three weeks Newt’s likely to have said and/or done some things that deflate his own balloon, as has always happened with the man forever and ever and ever. Mitt’s not exciting for the Newt faithful, but Mitt’s steady to the extent that Newt is pyrotechnical. Expect Newt to fall back again, and perhaps surge again, one or two more times, before this is all over. Newt wants this more than anything he’s ever wanted — even more than sex, which is saying something.

    His biggest problem is that he’s his own worst enemy. That, and he’s not nearly as popular with the rest of the country, as he is among Republican party faithful who daydream of seeing Newt in attack-dog mode against an unscripted Obama, Sounds great in a fantasy league setting. Probably would be a disaster in the real game. Newt would turn off or piss off too many people, even if he “won” the debates squarely.

  21. The nominating contest for the Democrats worked for them in 2008 because they had two strong candidates, Obama and Clinton, who were good at promoting the party well. For the Republicans this year, as long as Gingrich is in the race the negative campaigning will bring the whole party down.

    As far as a Democratic funded Super PAC who is meddling in the Republican Primary, I know of the Definitely not Coordinating with Stephen Colbert Super PAC which is owned by Jon Stewart. As far as I know, their only motivation is to satirize the Citizens United Ruling that started the Super PACs in the first place. Colbert is encouraging people to vote for Herman Cain because Colbert cannot get on the primary ballot. If you see Cain finish the primary with 5 – 8% of the votes, you will know that it worked. As a side effect, that 5 – 8% could push Gingrich to victory in South Carolina, which would extend his run at least until Florida.

  22. Brad, I think you’re missing the point of the Bain meme here in the primaries. First off, the Obama campaign isn’t really bringing it up (though they’re happy to echo it). Gingrich and Perry were the one beating that drum. Second, connections to Bain are going to be effective against the President if and only if Mitt Romney is not the Republican candidate. If he is, the best Romney can hope for on the Bain issue is a a wash. And that’s assuming it gets brought up by the Democratic side in the general election. If the Republicans bring it up, either from Romney himself or elsewhere in the party, it’s going to make Romney look foolish for wading into an issue he should know he can’t win on. But, nice try on equivalence and/or trying to paint the President as mishandling a campaign he’s not actually in.

  23. Do you remember, some years ago, there was a web meme about Jacqueline Mackey Paisley Passey bragging about what a high-quality woman she was? I always thought it would be great if Josh Marshall and her met, fell in love, and got married, but then he took her name. So he would be…

    Joshua Micah Marshall Mackey Paisley Passey.

  24. Brian at 12:35 pm:

    This made my day, thank you!
    the GOP higher-up would arrange for Gingrich to be squished by a freakish yak stampede rather than let him exploderate their entire political apparatus.

    Freakish yak stampede has just pushed ‘rabid badger attack’ out of metaphorical first place on my imaginary list. Uh-oh, now the badgers are *angry.*

  25. Curious, seeing the anti-Bain meme surface. If memory serves, one of Obama’s men is a Bain grad. Jeffrey Zients? Bain man. Oh, and Bain senior execs gave far more to Democratcs than Republicans, in terms of contributions. Attacking Mitt on Bain from the left ala Newt may work for some, but if this is Obama’s plan, it’s not a terribly good one. All Mitt need do is name Zeints and ask why Obama (or, really, Obama’s handlers) think Bain presents such a problem, when Obama himself is tapping an experienced Bain person for an important position?

    Ah, been reading the Washington “Moony” Times, have we? Too bad you didn’t read the correction where it’s pointed out that Bain & Company is a consulting firm sibling of the Bain Capital venture and private equity firm that Romney ran, and therefore not responsible for buyouts, mergers & acquisitions, and pretty much any other major financial transactions conducted by Bain Capital. You may have also missed that Zients only worked at B&C in a junior position for two years rather than Romney having run Bain Capital off and on for two decades. Romney is avoiding taking responsibility for the worst excesses of Bain Capital and is falsely claiming the benefits (for instance, most of the new new new 120,000 jobs he claims he created came after his tenure ended), and has only had one moderately successful government position, and at least 2 major political failures that were due at least in part to his work at Bain. Zeints, however, has several decades worth of non-Bain expertise in heading up advisory and consulting work, which when your job is to head up advising and consulting, is likely a plus, as opposed to corporate executive experience, which almost always ends in tears (see also: Silvio Berlusconi).

    On the matter of the protracted struggle for a nominee, which is not all that protracted yet — it just seems that way due to news overcycle… I actually think the extended contest is a good one. Even if it seems to be hurting my man Mitt. It will toughen Mitt up for the general election. Or, if he’s not got the mettle to stand the heat in the kitchen, he will gradually fold up, and someone with more stomach for battle (and better appeal party appeal) will move forward to compete with Hope’n’Change 2012.

    Nobody apart from Romney’s staff and fans actually seems to believe this, not even Republicans. Just for starters, even nominal supporters like the National Review and Chris Christie have been trying to get his problems out of the way. The presiding trend seems to be that, were there to be anyone else that wasn’t batshit crazy (Pawlenty, for instance) like the rest of the GOP field, they’d be beating Romney handily.

  26. Oh, and by the way, Brad, Romney’s problems aren’t just about Bain, but that even when they aren’t, Bain Capital is a problem. From the Wall Street Journal (a conservative paper owned by Rupert Murdoch):

    “Tax experts said some of the offshore holdings are likely intended to help Mr. Romney avoid paying an obscure but hefty tax of as much as 35% on some of those investments, held in a tax-deferred retirement account.

    As The Wall Street Journal reported in Thursday’s paper, many of Mr. Romney’s offshore investments are held through his individual retirement account, which has grown to between $20.7 million and $101.6 million. IRAs are tax-deferred accounts, in which earnings accrue tax-free until the money is withdrawn during retirement.

    Mr. Romney’s IRA has grown so large, it appears, due to investments in various vehicles managed by Bain Capital, the investment fund he helped found in 1984. His latest financial disclosure report, filed in August, shows that many of the IRAs assets are in Bain-affiliated entities located offshore, including one in the Cayman Islands that the report listed as having a value of between $5 million and $25 million.”

  27. Doc, while Obama himself may not be paying close attention at this point, his handlers and the DNC definitely are. They will lift every effective slogan, factoid, and meme from the anti-Romney Republicans as they can — so long as it’s not going to damage Obama in the process. And where Bain is concerned, I think this is a non-starter because merely having Bain on your resume clearly does not prevent you from being a top pick by the Obama White House, so why should being a Bain man be a net negative in a general election?

    Now, rank-and-file liberals and Democrats may not have any problem bashing Mitt on Bain, even if a Bain man has been picked by Obama for a job related directly to economics and spending. Obama’s seal of approval may be enough to convince them that he’s “their kind of” Bain person, while Romney is just a rich fat-cat bankster one-percenter who likes to fire people and hates the working poor.

    Really, I am not sure what Obama’s strategy is going to be — whether Mitt emerges to fight him, or someone else. I think Barrack’s probably going to have to run against his own record, and hope very much that enough people buy into an, “I am not a one-percenter even though all my best friends and supporters are one-percenters and banksters,” platform, that it actually works in November. That, and he has to hope there is still a strong enough anti-Republican hangover, from the Bush years, to keep enough moderates and indies on his side to score the win.

    Or maybe I am completely wrong, and a majority of voters really do support Obama and think he’s doing the best job possible, given the circumstances, so why take a chance on Romney (or Gingrich) when there’s no real reason to switch up at this stage? Nationally low Presidential performance polls and general dissatisfaction on issues of economics, and the Federal debt & deficit, would seem to indicate otherwise. But polls can be wrong too.

    If I seem oddly excited by this election, when a few weeks ago I was moribund, it’s probably because the more I look at the contest the more I see it as being a very close and not easily discerned fight And I did not expect Romney to be doing this well, either. Yet he is. Which I find heartening, even if it gives others heartburn.

  28. Jesse, I would accuse you of being a paid Gingrich staffer, but because Scalzi doesn’t want ad hominem around here, I won’t make that accusation. I will say that your skillfully composed takedowns on anything and everything I’ve been posting lately are masterful and stunningly difficult to grapple with because I lack the time to dig fastidiously on the issues to the extent that you appear to have done. I therefore concede the field. Jesse 117, Brad 3. Or maybe just 2? Probably, just zero.

    Meanwhile, the national election remains up for grabs, even if Jesse has buried myself and Romney under 20 feet of logical, parsed, smartly liberal concrete.

    And this makes my third post in this thread, and so I shall exit lest I continue onward like Don Quixote. I enjoy being the alter Alan Colmes political dunking machine man of Whatever. I honestly do. But it usually gets me into trouble if I don’t enforce an artificial limit on the number of responses.

  29. Now, rank-and-file liberals and Democrats may not have any problem bashing Mitt on Bain, even if a Bain man has been picked by Obama for a job related directly to economics and spending. Obama’s seal of approval may be enough to convince them that he’s “their kind of” Bain person, while Romney is just a rich fat-cat bankster one-percenter who likes to fire people and hates the working poor.

    See above as to where one actually is a rich fat-cat bankster 0.001-percenter who has compared income inequality to “envy” only to be discussed “in quiet rooms” (his words), the other is a management consultant.

    Really, I am not sure what Obama’s strategy is going to be — whether Mitt emerges to fight him, or someone else. I think Barrack’s probably going to have to run against his own record, and hope very much that enough people buy into an, “I am not a one-percenter even though all my best friends and supporters are one-percenters and banksters,” platform, that it actually works in November…Or maybe I am completely wrong, and a majority of voters really do support Obama and think he’s doing the best job possible, given the circumstances, so why take a chance on Romney (or Gingrich) when there’s no real reason to switch up at this stage?

    Well, first of all, Obama is still raising millions through individual small donors, so that mistruth can be thrown aside. And, of course, all of Mitt’s “friends and supporters” are banksters, so any attention he hopes to get from that line will, much like the childhood ryhme, be reflected back onto him. And Obama has at least lived like the 99% for a good part of his life. Romney was born into a (very) good life, lived among the elite the entire time, and made much much more money being the fat cat. hell, he’s practicially a cariacture of the vulture capitalist: he makes millions in investments, he’s a tax-doger via loopholes that only the rich have access to, what taxes he does pay are less than most Americans, he’s responsible for shuttered factories and lost American jobs, he’s helped with outsourcing, and he claims that his only active business is not much when it’s several times the salary of the average American.

    That, and he has to hope there is still a strong enough anti-Republican hangover, from the Bush years, to keep enough moderates and indies on his side to score the win…Nationally low Presidential performance polls and general dissatisfaction on issues of economics, and the Federal debt & deficit, would seem to indicate otherwise. But polls can be wrong too.

    Well, a majority of Americans still see Bush as responsible for the financial woes of the country, and Romney currently has worse favorable/unfavorable ratings than Obama. Not good news for Obama, but it’s worse for Romney, and non-primary low information voters (who are most of the general election audience) haven’t yet been exposed to most of this stuff.

  30. They will lift every effective slogan, factoid, and meme from the anti-Romney Republicans as they can — so long as it’s not going to damage Obama in the process. And where Bain is concerned, I think this is a non-starter because merely having Bain on your resume clearly does not prevent you from being a top pick by the Obama White House, so why should being a Bain man be a net negative in a general election?

    That’s exactly right.* And might actually be relevant right now if it were the Obama campaign hammering on the Bain issue. But they aren’t. So, there’s that. I realize that they’re not exactly ignoring it either. My guess is that the political calculus tells them that letting Newt or one of the Ricks try to run with the Bain issue is an overall plus for them.

    * Excepting, as Jesse noted, that there is plenty of daylight between working for a company on a low floor for a couple of years, and running things on the top floor for a couple decades. Bain can’t help Romney at all, and it can’t hurt Obama all that much.

  31. Brad R. Torgersen:

    “Jesse, I would accuse you of being a paid Gingrich staffer, but because Scalzi doesn’t want ad hominem around here, I won’t make that accusation.”

    I see what you did there.

  32. Jesse, I would accuse you of being a paid Gingrich staffer, but because Scalzi doesn’t want ad hominem around here, I won’t make that accusation.

    Subtle and mature? How classy!

    I will say that your skillfully composed takedowns on anything and everything I’ve been posting lately are masterful and stunningly difficult to grapple with because I lack the time to dig fastidiously on the issues to the extent that you appear to have done. I therefore concede the field. Jesse 117, Brad 3. Or maybe just 2? Probably, just zero.

    Had you left the first sentence out, I would have assumed you were bowing out at least somewhat graciously. Anyway, in all probability I’m not saying anything Obama’s team doesn’t already know, and undoubtedly they’ve got much worse than the inconveniently-to-you liberal bias of reality I post that they’re holding on to for October.

    Meanwhile, the national election remains up for grabs, even if Jesse has buried myself and Romney under 20 feet of logical, parsed, smartly liberal concrete.

    As anyone who’s worked in politics (and many who haven’t) can tell you, being “up for grabs” as a challenger to an incumbent president with 10 months of opposition research and every trend heading opposite your statements is not a particularly enviable position.

  33. Jesse:

    “Subtle and mature? How classy!”

    Knowing Brad as I do, I am assuming that he was meaning it as a joke for which we all have context, and I would, were I you, take it as such.

  34. . I will say that your skillfully composed takedowns on anything and everything I’ve been posting lately are masterful and stunningly difficult to grapple with because I lack the time to dig fastidiously on the issues to the extent that you appear to have done

    Shorter Brad: I don’t actually have any evidence for my positions.

  35. Knowing Brad as I do, I am assuming that he was meaning it as a joke for which we all have context, and I would, were I you, take it as such.

    Noted. Just had a bad vibe after the previous thread.

  36. Being a minor player for Obama after being a junior at Bain & Company for a couple of years is totes the samely political vulnerable as being a Presidential candidate after running Bain Capital. Because!

    Seriously, though, who was the Dem who thought it’d be a great idea for Obama to give his convention speech at *Bank of America Stadium*? Those is awesome optics, people.

    [face palm]

  37. I am beginning to wonder how long it is going to be before Chief Justice Roberts has something of a Saulian conversion on the subject of Citizens United and the whole thing of Super PACs suddenly gets revisited in the Supreme Court again – I suspect that it’s not working out as planned. John Stewart and Steven Colbert are really REALLY making it look daft at the moment. Colbert’s Herman Cain for President campaign in SC with his pictures on the advert were fantastic.

    Brad – your Bain dog don’t hunt as they say. A staffer who held a junior role isn’t going to present much of a spin problem, and, if they do, then they’d be history faster than you can say a very short word. Bain was Romney, between airing the dubious practices of Private Equity (frankly, that’s where there real problems come from) and his tax situation, he could be in serious trouble. Slips like “oh I didn’t make very much from speaking engagements” are just icing on the cake. The thing that amuses me the most is that Obama hasn’t even had to do anything yet – which does make me think that John is right about the conspiracy theory.

  38. Meh. I won’t dismiss the idea of a conspiracy, but it’d be overkill at this point. If your opponents are engaging in friendly fire, keep your head down and make popcorn. Also, the contrast between Obama being all presidential and shit makes him look better in comparison to the Repub clown-car act.

  39. I’m slightly tongue in cheek about the conspiracy. Although the GOP really are playing to lose this, at least from where I’m sitting. The candidate who could win (Romney) is being destroyed by candidates who can’t (Newt and Santorum) – meanwhile GOP Super PACs are spending a small fortune making ads for the DNC to use later regardless of who the winner of the primary is. Meanwhile, Obama has a fairly neutral approvals and a tonne of cash already in the bank – not to mention, while horrific the general economic data hasn’t been all bad.

    I suspect that most of the clever GOP types realized some time in 2008 that the mess they’d made of the economy over the previous… er… well, since 1980 really… had led to a nightmare that would last probably a solid 3-4 presidential terms, if we’re lucky, and that the worst thing to do would be to win in 2008 and probably in 2012 – because you’ll be able to paint the Dems as the problem, even if they turn it around.

    I wonder if they pick Romeny and he gets beaten, if the Republican Party will tilt even further to insane and render themselves unelectable for a generation much like the British Tories did?

  40. @Bearpaw: The whole point of the conspiracy would be to drag out the friendly fire as long as possible. If Obama were to openly chime on Romney’s time at Bain Capital, (almost) every Republican would defend Romney to the death. It’s best for Obama if Gingrich does the dirty work for him.

    @Jesse: “All Presidential and Shit” makes me think of the Obama Anger Translator Luther. Here on YouTube. [NSFW for foul language]

  41. Back when there were a zillion wingnuts still in the race and there was a Republican debate twice a week (what is with that? Is that normal and I just never noticed before?), I thought this was going to be the longest, most torturous presidential campaign year ever. I was all set to cancel my cable subscription and never look at a newspaper.

    It has turned out to be entertaining beyond my wildest dreams. As Willy Wonka said, “The suspense is terrible–I hope it continues.” It’s the most fascinating display of personality disorders writ large and publicly.

  42. Perry’s coming home to Texas, now? Not good. I was hoping he’d be away on the campaign trail till late summer.

    Newt’s SC poll numbers are up and edging past Mitt’s, so we may well see Iowa, NH, and SC go to Santorium, Mitt, and Newt, respectively, come the weekend? Good! This appears to be approaching a showdown between Mitt and Newt for the delegates to win the nomination. If we ever get to hold a primary here in Texas, I can vote for Newt. I do not understand why commentators here think Newt unelectable.

    A former Republican Speaker of the House who worked with a New Democrat President to reform welfare, balance four budget years in a row, and even create a budget surplus VS a current Democrat President who has been part of massive new national debt? Them moderates and independents who won’t even pay attention till September/October this fall, may well be swept away by such a contrast in favor of Newt.

    Now, if we could just get Obama, Mitt, and Romney to start paying attention to Ron Paul’s take on the U.S. affirmatively resigning our role as world superpower with a military presence all over the planet, we could save some real dollars with massive cuts to the Pentagon budget. Troops on bases in Germany from a war that ended in 1945? Absurd.

  43. Mitt still has the nom short of some unforeseen miracle. He has the cash, he has the organization and he is the ONLY candidate on every primary ballot.- its too late for either Noot or ol frothy to do that.

  44. I do not understand why commentators here think Newt unelectable.

    Oh, I can think of a few reasons:
    1) Baggage – yes he may have turned to the Church now, but campaigning to kick out a president for his morals while playing away from home on your own wife is something people still remember
    2) He didn’t exactly cover himself with glory on the shutting down government thing
    3) He was for Obamacare before he was against it, or was that while the insurance industry was paying him?
    4) He was for Fannie and Freddie before he was against them, or was that while they were paying him?
    5) Although he’s meant to be great in debates, I’ve not seen much evidence of that, while I have seen the current President in a 90 minute Q&A, without notes or teleprompter demolish the House Republicans and smile while doing so
    6) His fight with the other GOP candidates and his “Super PAC” will come back to haunt him, as will the other PAC ads like the one about his baggage
    7) He cannot seem to manage a week without saying something so mind obliteratingly daft that I keep thinking he’s been paid off to lose. To whit: kids as janitors, or… well.. there’s always this handy Tumblr if we forget (http://shitnewtsays.tumblr.com/)
    8) The GOP establishment hate him, which is going to make for an interestingly “joined up” campaign from the RNC throw the Tea Party to the campaign team
    9) .,, Is that enough?

  45. Troops on bases in Germany from a war that ended in 1945?

    Point of order – I think they were there for the unofficial war that didn’t end until the 1990s…

  46. A former Republican Speaker of the House who worked with a New Democrat President to reform welfare

    It’s worth noting here that (1) welfare reform was also part of Clinton’s strategy, and (2) despite it being passed with encouragement from Gingrich and other Republicans, the current congressional GOP have been doing their best to kill off TANF for several years now with AFAIK nary a peep from Newt. In fact, Newt keeps on going after Obama as the “food stamp president” without ever mentioning the fact that he’s been trying to stave off Newt’s old buddies from killing it.

    balance four budget years in a row, and even create a budget surplus

    And I’m sure the fact that Clinton raised taxes to bring in additional revenue during an economic boom had nothing to do with any of that, right?

    current Democrat President who has been part of massive new national debt?

    Which was inherited, along with one of the most drastic economic declines since the Great Depression, from the previous officeholder.

  47. Gary Willis@6:28
    1. Yes, a former Speaker of the House–who pushed his plan to cut Medicare spending into a government shutdown. A Speaker ousted by his party. A Speaker censured for ethics violations and fined $300K. A married Congressman who resigned shortly before his affair with a staffer became public–after having leading the charge for impeachment/ouster of the President for the same offense (you can argue if you want that it was REALLY over Clinton’s lying under oath, but that’s not going to be the story.).

    2. Welfare reform–Aside from hard-core red base supporters, hard to see how Gingrich will get much credit for this, or who is going to care enough to vote for him over that. And at the time, I remember Clinton getting a ton of props for the reform, not Gingrich. He may be able to push for some revisionist history here, but he won’t get away with it unchallenged–he won’t be spending his time in front of friendly audiences spring-loaded to give him a standing O, he’ll be working to convince skeptical moderates/independents also being heavily courted by the opposition as well.

    3. Balanced budget four budget years in a row–could you please identify the years? I think you’ll find tht at least two of them occurred AFTER Gingrich had left Congress. And once again, there was lots of kudos to Clinton for the accomplishment and not Gingrich. For better or worse, the President and not the Speaker gets the credit/blame. It’s ObamaCare, not BoehnerCare. Obama is being held accountble/responsible for the current federal budget and national economic performance, not Boehner/McConnell.

    Newt’s a legend in his own mind, which leads to his over-the-top self-aggrendizing statements. This kind of public posturing was cute when Muhammed Ali did it, or when there’s some game-winning end zone catch with 28 seconds left, but not impressive when you’re trying to convince the Board to hire you as the CEO. Most of us quit being impressed a long time ago by the boastful smart kid telling us how he identified the question on the SAT with no right answer but he understood the error in thinking so he picked the “right” wrong answer. Newt can present himself as the obnoxious smart guy with lots of unique ideas–but that doesn’t equate to steadiness or wisdom.

  48. Them moderates and independents who won’t even pay attention till September/October this fall, may well be swept away by such a contrast in favor of Newt.

    I think Marianne Gingrich may have some comments about that.

  49. Just curious how many of you have watched any of the debates. There is one tonight on CNN in about 15 mins which promises to be a doozy.

    There is a reason that Gingrich is surging in spite of all the millions Romney has spent on attack ads. He is BY FAR the best debater. Kind of a modern day Cicero.

    Trust me, it’s better than American Idol and the stakes are far higher. Check it out.

  50. Kind of a modern day Cicero.

    This is going to give me a warm and fluffy feeling all evening, thank you. Seriously, based on what I’ve seen of Obama Newt will be eaten alive – he only thinks he’s good at debates. Then he starts talking.

    And FYI – actually I have tried to watch several of them, but watching so many people spinning so much information about so little leaves me feeling uncomfortable.

  51. There is a reason that Gingrich is surging in spite of all the millions Romney has spent on attack ads. He is BY FAR the best debater.

    Wow, that’s such praise: he’s better than Rick “two out of three” Perry and Mitt “I lurrve firing people” Romney.

  52. I think Gingrich’s biggest electability problem is one that’s been noted by many others in the past: he can’t tell the difference between his good ideas and his bad ideas, and he loves them all equally. He also enjoys telling them to the world, without filter.

    I think he is unlikely to be the eventual nominee, as Romney clearly has the resources and organization to be in this for the long haul, and Newt will implode at some point.

    While I’m commenting here, I want to cop to the fact that my conspiracy theory regarding Perry originally discussed here:

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/01/04/iowa-thoughts-in-haiku/#comments

    was completely, totally, and in all other ways, wrong.

  53. Man, is anyone watching this debate? Romney is refusing to answer any straight questions, tried to have it both ways (and failed) in trying to point out how his health care reform in MA is substantially different from Obama’s, hasn’t managed to come clean on his tax returns (by somehow invoking his dad), and has somehow come off even more puzzled by what regular Americans have to deal with.

    New conspiracy theory, guys: For this debate, Romney has actually been replaced by a glamour cast by Newt Gingrich (obviously a man of his intellectual and oratory status is a wizard) that is attempting to create as many general election ads for Obama as he can while Newt attacks the press.

  54. About the speaking fees thing: Listening to him talk, what I think he meant there was that it’s not much money in the context of the rest of his income (which is almost certainly true) rather than how it’s being interpreted here.

    It’s still a dumb thing to say that is going to haunt him if he gets the nomination and the Dems have any sense.

  55. @Justin Jordan: If so, that’s worse. 350K not being a lot of money is a pretty boneheaded statement, but to rub in the fact that it’s because he’s already made oodles?

  56. @justin – I suspect you’re right, the 30% (or whatever) he had to pay on the $300k of speaking fees didn’t really shift the percentage on what he paid in tax. It was probably 100% true but still an astonishingly daft thing to say given the context he was being forced to answer a question in.

  57. I hope the contest continues well into the spring. The money these PACs are spending in primary states has got to be stimulating the economy. I’m for that.

    Besides, I’m in Washington state and I caucused for Hillary Clinton last time. Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul can last until Washington, I hope.

  58. @Harry Connolly: I hope the contest continues well into the spring. The money these PACs are spending in primary states has got to be stimulating the economy. I’m for that.

    And the ads are shovel-ready!

  59. Romney had a bad week, and the polls are starting to indicate that it will end with a loss in South Carolina. The thing that I’ve always thought about Romney is that he’s kinda a loser. Every time he is faced with a serious challenge he seem to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. He is like the Alex Rodriguez of politicians. He’s got all the advantages in the world, but is apt to choke when the playoff arrive. I’m betting he bats below 200 from this point foward, and I’m hoping he does so that I have a chance for my vote to matter in the Republican Caucus on March 10 (a long shot I know).

    Stephen Colbert, on the other hand, had a great week. Never has a crusade to inform the public on a byzantine campaing finance issue been more funny than when Jon Stewart held up a cardboard cutout of a tv for Stephen Colbert to talk through and tell him what to do with the Super PAC. (http://gothamist.com/2012/01/18/videos_jon_stewart_stephen_colbert.php)

    No matter if the nomination goes to Romney, Santorum, or Newt, President Obama seems to be sitting pretty, which is something of a shame, because the more comfortable he is, the less likely he will feel the need to actually do something to improve the life of the average American. I guess the advantage is that an Obama reelection is likely to sweep some of the crazies out of the House of Representatives.

  60. Good observations, Daveon. No quarrels. If we have a primary in Texas this spring (courts messing around with their timing), I will vote for Newt on grounds that he could actually do the job of being President with more skill that his Republican competitors. Any thoughts on why we didn’t close up shop in Germany and bring our troops home when the cold war was won in the early nineties? Why are we trying to be a world empire anyway now, when we can no longer afford to pay for being a world empire? Don’t answer that–I think it is off topic for this thread. Oh, for the record. I voted for Obama fours years ago, and may again come November (especially if he boots Biden and promotes Hillary Clinton to the VP slot).

  61. Any thoughts on why we didn’t close up shop in Germany and bring our troops home when the cold war was won in the early nineties?

    Oh, I’ve a few of those. Mostly logistical. Closing bases and pulling troops out of places isn’t always a free option – I suspect, although I have nothing to back this up with – that it was cheaper to keep them in place than to try and bring them home.

    Plus, the US military is also something of a welfare program in and of itself. You’d probably not be amazed at the number of people I’ve worked with (and my wife for that matter) for whom the military had been their ticket to an education and a middle class career.

  62. Host nations foot most of the bills for troops overseas with regards to infrastructure costs and the like.

    That said, while bringing them home does sound good, there’s simply no infrastructure here to accommodate them in the short term. Force reduction and realignment will occur (such as US Troops being based in Australia), will lower levels overseas, but the political climate of the world would have to drastically change for all the US troops to come home. That or America crawls back into it’s WW1 isolationist hole, which was such a good idea the first time around…

    Andrew

  63. @TomG

    “If so, that’s worse. 350K not being a lot of money is a pretty boneheaded statement, but to rub in the fact that it’s because he’s already made oodles?”

    @Daveon says:

    ” I suspect you’re right, the 30% (or whatever) he had to pay on the $300k of speaking fees didn’t really shift the percentage on what he paid in tax. It was probably 100% true but still an astonishingly daft thing to say given the context he was being forced to answer a question in.”

    I agree with both of these. I think he is being misintpreted, but what he actually said isn’t any sort of improvement. Romney is an intelligent man, but he doesn’t seem to be good at answering question off script or thinking on his feet. Which is not what I’d be looking for in a president.

  64. At the end of the day, it is my greatest hope from all this that Texas residents (like myself) will not elect Perry again as governor next time around. He’s really made an arse of himself.

  65. Lunamoth, I have that same hope. One of my (very conservative) coworkers was watching a news story the other week in the breakroom, and said in disgust that he was just “Embarrassing himself.” I actually hoped he’d stay in long enough to blow a big enough hole in his credibility that he wouldn’t run again.

    (I can’t vote against him again myself, I’m gearing up for a move. But Texas is the state of my birth and I mourn for what it used to be, i.e., a little nuts politically but not like this. We did give the world Ann Richards and Molly Ivins, after all.)

  66. “I also thank you for putting the rest of the US off Texas governors for a while.”
    I’m part of ‘the rest of the US’, and all I can say is that Bush (1995–2000) has already (over-)accomplished that for him. Perry only reset my hiatus-on-Texas-Governors clock to BIGNUM.

  67. He is like the Alex Rodriguez of politicians
    Hey! That’s 2009 World Champion Alex Rodriguez you’re talking about

    True, that was part of the analogy in my head. I was, after all, referring to the 70th Governor of Massachusetts (2003 to 2007). He isn’t incapable of winning, just more likely to choke. And this last week he has been showing every sign of choking, culminating in a humiliating strikeout tonight. The results are showing that he didn’t win a single congressional district (or delegate) from South Carolina.

    Maybe he will get on base in Florida, but not if he keeps acting like a… James Bond Villian? French Aristocrat? Personification of stereotypes everyone believes about Wall Street criminal? Even Republicans have a limit for how much cartoonish villiany they can tolerate.

  68. He isn’t incapable of winning, just more likely to choke

    Except Rodriguez didn’t choke, and it was on the biggest stage. His numbers in the most important playoffs are outstanding, so the choke rep is pretty much wrong. #wayofftopic #whyyesImaYankeesfan

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