He’s Not Winning, He’s Just Not Losing

Photo by Gage Skidmore, via Wikinews

Super Tuesday come and gone and Romney is doing what Romney apparently does, which is gather to delegates to himself in the least impressive way possible. It takes a special presidential candidate to outspend his main rival four to one in Ohio and yet win the state with only a 1% margin — correction, it takes a special candidate to outspend his main rival who is an unmitigated public bigot in Ohio and yet win with only a 1% margin — and it appears that Romney is that candidate.

Meanwhile Santorum, the unmitigated public bigot in question, won three states and led in Ohio for a substantial portion of the evening before dropping only a single percentage point behind Romney in the final tally. That’s more than enough for him to stay in the race, particularly because the next stretch of primary states are in the South and Midwest, i.e., not Romney’s best territory in that they’re full of evangelicals and/or blue-collar folks. Looking at the primary calendar, in fact, it’s not until April 24 that Romney gets a batch of states that look generally friendly to him — that’s the day a bunch of Northeast states vote — and even then Pennsylvania’s in there to mess up his math.

My predictions in this primary season have been atrocious, so no one should actually rely on my opinion, but it looks to me like Romney, despite all his cash and the fact that Santorum is objectively terrifying to people outside the Conservabubble, might not actually wrap this up until the whole damn primary season finishes up in June. Santorum is running strong enough to pick up some of the more conservative states, and, hey, who knows, maybe Gingrich will pick up another pity primary or two down there in the South. Or maybe Romney doesn’t wrap it up at all, and we have that fabled brokered convention that makes all the politinerds squee with delight. And then what? A brokered Romney/Santorum ticket? Man, I get the twitchy giggles just thinking about that one.

(Dear GOP: A Romney/Santorum ticket would be like handing Barack Obama the largest, most delicious fruit basket ever created. Delivered by a pony. A sparkly pony. With ribbons in its mane. Named “Buttercup.” Just so you know.)

Now, those of you with a sense of memory may point out that Obama didn’t wrap up his nomination until June 2008 (and that before then, there were 20 debates between the Democratic candidates, nearly as many as the Republican candidates had this electoral season), and that the partisan rancor between the Obama and Clinton camps was pretty impressive. Didn’t stop Obama from taking the White House. This is a fair point. It’s also a fair point to note that 2008 was a year with no incumbent in the White House — and the incumbent being reasonably popular and currently benefiting from a (slowly) growing economy — for whom an extended primary season is beneficial, since it keeps his eventual opponent busy beating up and spending money on someone else. And as Santorum is to the right of Romney, it will also make it harder for him to pivot to the center later, to pick up all those independents he’ll need to actually win.

It’s also fair to note that on the GOP side in 2008, McCain locked up the GOP nomination on March 4. This year’s primary calendar wouldn’t have made locking up the nomination entirely likely, but there’s no reason that by this time someone couldn’t have been a prohibitive favorite for the nod. Romney, who was supposed to be, still isn’t.

And, I don’t know. In a way that’s heartening, I suppose. If Romney has shown us anything this year, it’s that you can have nearly all the money in the world it’s possible to have thrown into your campaign and still be fundamentally unattractive to a large number of the people you need to convince to be the GOP nominee. Money isn’t everything in this campaign, although so far it’s been just barely enough to keep Romney in the winning column. I do wonder what’s going to happen when Romney finally gets to the general election and has an opponent that he can’t outspend four or five to one, with the hope of eaking out another low-single-digit victory.

Actually, I’m lying — I don’t really wonder. I in fact have a pretty good guess what’s going to happen to him. I don’t suspect he’s going to like it.

104 thoughts on “He’s Not Winning, He’s Just Not Losing

  1. Good analysis, although I’d argue that Wisconsin and Maryland on April 3rd both have the potential to be good for Romney.

  2. Personally, I’m starting to wonder if it actually will be Romney. The people who say it’s inevitable don’t seem to be the ones voting, and as terrifying as the notion is, if Santorum continues his momentum, he’s only four big states or so behind Romney’s delegate count.

  3. With regards to Wisconsin in particular, the entire state has political fatigue due to the recall battle and fights of the past year and I think conservatives are going to avoid any candidate with a hit of extremism because memories of Walker blowback are very strong and ongoing. I could be wrong, but that’s my impression.

  4. To me,a scarier thought than Vice President Santorum is Secretary of Health and Human Services Santorum.

  5. I wonder how many people believe that it may be good for the other party to get the blame for whatever happens in the next 4 years. So they’re rooting for the other guys to win the presidency, even if (in their opinion), it hurts the country.

  6. Working in a copy shop has shown me that bigotry is unfortunately alive and well around the country (and that some people believe a really wide variety of nonsense on both sides of the aisle).

    In a related point about belief in nonsense: last night Dennis Kucinich lost his primary to Marcy Kaptur. He’s a nice guy, but really, let’s have sanity reign for a bit.

  7. I think what the Republicans at least are missing is that the 2008 Democratic primary wasn’t about who was The One True Democrat ™. Clinton and Obama had nearly identical policy and party credentials. The 2008 argument was “who can win a general election?” In that argument, Obama grinding out primary wins on a retail basis proved (or at least suggested) that he would be better at winning the general than Clinton.

    The Republican 2012 argument isn’t over competence, but rather what being Republican means. Romney is a perfectly-acceptable Bush Republican (AKA, “Big Business” or “Country Club”). Usually, the social conservatives and libertarians suck it up and vote for those people, at least at the Presidential level. Apparently not so much this year.

  8. My prediction, for what it’s worth, is that Romney will win the nomination and then the election will be his to lose. Which he could do. But people, I.e. most independents, some Democrats and most republicans want to not elect Obama again. All they need is a sliver of confidence Romney will be better. Can he do that? I think so but who knows.

    Republicans will come out to vote because he’s not Obama. And if there’s one thing that unites them, it’s defeating Obama.

    There may have been a succession of not-Romney candidates but that’s because Romney is a moderate and republicans went into this thing thinking that obama was so weak they should try to nominate the most conservative around. But to things happened, 1) Obama doesn’t appear as weak now )though he really is) and 2) Republicans disagreed on what conservative means. To my mind fiscal conservatism is fundamentally incompatible with evangelistic social conservatism. And many are beginning to understand that. Plus Romney is a moderate socially and really can win, whereas santorum can not.

    I also predict santorum will not be the VP pick and that Republicans will put much energy and vitality into going to the polls with the idea of taking the senate

  9. Now, those of you with a sense of memory may point out that Obama didn’t wrap up his nomination until June 2008 (and that before then, there were 20 debates between the Democratic candidates, nearly as many as the Republican candidates had this electoral season), and that the partisan rancor between the Obama and Clinton camps was pretty impressive.

    It also helps to point out that most Democratic voters in 2008 were willing, even if in clothespin fashion, to switch from one candidate to the other once the primary became the general. I, for one, would have had no qualms about voting Clinton even thought I’ve been in Obama’s camp since the Illinois Republicans were talking about trying to coerce Ditka to run for the Senate in 2004.

    Santorum and Gingrich supporters seem to absolutely hate Romney. I doubt many of Romney’s supporters think too kindly of Santorum or Gingrich. This is a huge difference and makes whole thing is a completely different race with a completely different narrative than 2008.

  10. It could get better…they could put Newt on the ticket.

    I am sure a serial philanderer would go a long way to cement the independent female vote….

  11. Santorum really, really scares the socks of my shoes. The fact that he’s shaping up to be a viable presidential candidate scares me for the rest of the world.

    Say, if Romney supporters hate Santorum and Santorum supporters hate Romney that much, would that be finally what’s needed to splitter that two-party system into smaller, more coehsive groups? It appears USA’s main problem is that you guys only have blue and red, only two voices. And Either-Or is always shitty.

  12. As far as I can tell, it’s “anybody but a Mormon” that is on the minds of the fundamentalist GOP’rs. But, I don’t think there will be enough of them to get Santorum the nomination. I don’t believe enough of the so-called independents like his message, which is basically hard-line conservative religious fundamentalism, not much unlike Ayatollah Khamenei.

    For example, take this quiz (sorry, no link, I got it from a poster on a forum):

    Who said what?

    1. “We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth.”

    2. “We believe in democracy and we also believe in freedom, but we do not believe in liberal democracy.”

    3. “Although the literal meaning of socialism is equitable distribution of wealth, it is associated with other concepts which we hate. Over time, socialism has come to be associated with certain things in society that are unacceptable to us.”

    4. “The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness.”

    5. “This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war.”

    6. “This is a war between two willpowers: the willpower of the people and the willpower of their enemies.”

    7. “Go back and read what the sirens did once you arrived on that island.… They devour you. They destroy you. They consume you.”

    8. “The American people’s hatred for Iran is profound.” Oh wait, I got that one backward. Sorry. It should read:

    8. “The Iranian people’s hatred for America is profound.”

    Answers:

    Answer 1: Santorum
    Answer 2: Khamenei
    Answer 3: Khamenei
    Answer 4: Santorum
    Answer 5: Santorum
    Answer 6: Khamenei
    Answer 7: Santorum
    Answer 8: Khamenei

    In the end, I believe Romney will squeak by with the nomination, but then it will be Bush/Kerry all over again.

  13. This primary race is long enough that the Republicans and independents are starting to see the candidates the same way as Democrats see the candidates. The negative tone of the ads (which I get to avoid in Kentucky) is going to torpedo which ever candidate emerges from the primary. Barring some catastrophe, the independents should tend toward Obama in the general election. You’re also going to get some nontrivial portion of the Republicans unhappy no matter how the primary turns out, and I don’t think the Republicans are in ad mood to compromise even with other Republicans at the moment.

    Romney will get the nomination. It would take Gingrich and Paul getting out of the race and the establishment of the Republican party not interfering for Santorum to collect enough delegates for the nomination. That looks like a long shot at the moment.

    In the long run (2016 and later), this process should be good for the Republican Party. I don’t think the loudest members of the party have a good sense of where America is today, so some honest soul searching would do them good.

    Should the name of the pony be Buttercream?

  14. I find it interesting that in all the media hubub, all we hear is about how narrowly Romney has won the various states (or lost for that matter). Ultimately, what matters in the in end is the number of delegates each sends to the convention. In that respect, Romney currently has more than twice that of Santorum. Gingrich and Paul combined have less than Santorum and probably will stay there for the remainder. The only reason those two are still in is to disrupt the process and draw delegates away from the ultimate winner. I imagine the repos felt much the same way in 2008 as the demos do now: just sitting back eating popcorn while the show drags on.

    Here’s my personal summary of the candidates (from the POV of a white centrist liberal dude):
    Romney: elitist windbag
    Santorum: bat-shit crazy (too far? sorry), smug, and so far right on social issues, you can’t even see him from here
    Gingrich: pompous, self-aggrandizing, revisionist “historian”, borderline psychotic windbag
    Paul: way too far outside of the box to ever be a realistic contender (and honestly, “young people” who are supposedly his demographic just don’t give enough of a crap to vote anyway)

  15. This whole thing is entertaining and fun to watch, but I start quivering when I realize that Santorum actually has a chance at the presidency. Mitt actually tied Santorum here in Michigan and he only squeaked by him in Ohio. As an independent voter, I would really like a viable choice in November. Mitt is more electable than Santorum and definitely more moderate.

  16. good times. It looks to me that of all the republican candidates, none of them can beat Obama which is the ultimate source of nomination insanity flip flopping. Republicans arent voting for someone as they are in complete denial that all their choices are varying degrees of insane and cant possibly win the presidency against Obama.

  17. What really stands out to me is that Romney isn’t winning in deeply red areas (with the possible exception of Arizona). His clear wins have mostly come in blue states or states that are currently leaning heavily Democratic. Add to that, his wins in Michigan and Ohio have been based on doing well in the big cities, which again are far more likely to be voting for Obama in November.

    I agree that he will probably come away with the nomination. The question is what the effects will be, particularly on the down-ticket races. And that probably depends on when he finally locks it up. The sooner he does so, the more likely a third-party challenge from the right is; if it goes all the way to the convention, there’s no time for someone to get on the ballot. And yet, there’s that voice in the back of my mind pointing out that Heinlein warned us that 2012 is the year of Nehemiah Scudder.

  18. While I wouldn’t put the probability at more than about 10%, it would certainly be fascinating to see a splintering of the Republican party. Since the ’80s (or maybe even earlier), the Republicans have been an uneasy coalition between social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and libertarians. This primary season is ratcheting up the differences between these three factions, and it’s not clear that they’ll “fall in line” when it’s all over as they have in the past.

  19. I think about everyone on this site can agree that the republican nominees are a bit of a joke. Most would probably agree that Obama isn’t the greatest president ever, but is at least in the average category. I’m left trying to figure out why the office of the President of the United States can’t attract really talented individuals. If you could pick anyone, who would be best as president? Someone like Bill Gates that knows how to surround himself with people smarter than he is? Someone like Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski that knows how to game plan? Who would actually be great at running this country?

  20. Republicans will come out to vote because he’s not Obama. And if there’s one thing that unites them, it’s defeating Obama.

    Yeah, the turnout among Republicans in the primaries has really indicated how united Republicans are about selecting the right opponent to defeat Obama.

  21. You’ve mentioned in a couple posts that Santorum is a bigot, racist, etc. From what I know of the guy, I’m not a big fan and the thought of him winning the nomination, let alone the White House, scares me just as much as the next reasonably minded person. However, I’ve searched for references and direct public evidence of this particular part of Santorum’s personality and have been unsuccessful in finding anything more than a couple somewhat out-of-context quotes. At the very least, while they certainly paint him in a bad light, what I’ve been able to dig up is of quentionable use in establishing him as a definite bigot – particularly to those who might argue otherwise. Can you (or anyone else on here) point me to some material that helps firmly establish him as being as prejudiced, as so many claim he is? I’m especially interested in sources (or even just events or anecdotes – I can always Google for related articles, etc.) that might help explain this to others who are currently supporting him without knowing about his social tendencies.

  22. Kilroy:

    Who the hell wants to be President? Lots of stress and you live in a fishbowl, and at any one time half of the country thinks you’re the anti-christ. The only draws I can see are power and the money that you can get after you’ve moved on, and maybe generic-you’d have to be a megalomaniac anyway. The candidates should get a mandatory psych eval as part of filing the paperwork.

    Also “surrounds himself with smarter people” isn’t a real good metric; that was something that Candidate Bush was known for, and we know how much good /that/ did.

    Fantasy president is a good question, but I’ll let Scalzi decide first if this is too much of a derail.

  23. somedave: I think Santorum’s feeling on the gay issue is pretty clear. That is bigotry around these parts.

  24. @somedave, I’m pretty sure that Sen. Santorum’s comments about homosexuals and homosexuality are easily classified as “bigoted” so long as “bigotry” is not solely a racial concern.

  25. Mitt Romney has never courted popularity. He just wants to be President. Luckily for him, the apathy of the American voter still probably gives him a 30% shot.

  26. As a rape survivor myself, Santorum’s claim that pregnancy as a result of rape is a “gift from God” puts him so far past “asshole” I don’t even have a word for it.

  27. @kilroy, @nat – Thanks. I know about his staunch opposition of homosexuality and gay marriage, and while that’s bad enough, I had somehow gotten the impression that he was more broadly prejudiced. While some more conservative folks probably wouldn’t find fault with his stance on homosexuality (present poster excluded), nearly everyone would probably agree they shouldn’t be supporting a racist, sexist, etc. (which obviously isn’t the way it should be, but alas). After having stumbled on a couple racially-charged quotes of his, I was wondering if there was anything more concrete I was missing besides the gay rights stance.

  28. Kevin: I don’t think anyone wants to see Santorum on porn. Few people even want to see him on a debate.

  29. I am not a psychologist, but I’m convinced Romney has Daddy issues. If I had that much money, there’s no way I would be working so hard for so little result…and getting all that criticism to boot. I’d grab the wife, run to some tropical paradise that still has Internet, and retire for the rest of life.

    But he has to prove that he can do what his dad did not….geez, man, why bother?

  30. Zimmy’s a Prophet not a Saint

    “All that foreign oil controlling American soil
    Look around you, it’s just bound to make you embarrassed
    Sheiks walking around like kings, wearing fancy jewels and nose rings
    Deciding America’s future from Amsterdam and to Paris
    And there’s slow, slow train coming up around the bend.”

    And

    “Money doesn’t talk, it swears”

  31. Let’s define a couple of terms here.

    A brokered convention is one where the leadership goes into the smoke-filled room and works out a deal for who will be the nominee, along with whatever concessions (including the Veep spot) have to be conceded to make it happen.

    A contested convention is one where no candidate has sewn up the nomination and where the delegates actually have to vote (often repeatedly) to come up with a nominee.

    NPR’s Mara Liasson was on the Brian Lehrer Show this morning, and she explained that. She also said that neither was likely, and of Santorum that “he won’t be the nominee.” She said that quite flatly, with a degree of certainty that’s VERY rare in a politics reporter of her calibre.

  32. @Carina,

    If one party fractured and the other party didn’t. The party remaining whole would win the presidency every time. That’s a powerful incentive to settle your differences.

    If both major parties split and there were at least three viable pieces, then the president would likely end up being chosen by the U.S. house of representatives under the rules described by the 12th amendment, in which each state gets one vote.

  33. Since Santorum has this “enforcing-laws-against-illegal-pornography” on his site, one could read it to mean he believes there is legal porn, no? Otherwise, if he were against all porn wouldn’t it say something like “enforcing-laws-against-pornography”??

    Hey Romney camp: Rick is in favor of porn!

  34. Seems to me the Romney strategy is pretty simple. All he does (or all his PAC does because we know he doesn’t actually direct the PAC) is simply point their sights on whoever is getting the current surge of Not-Romney voters. So, when Santorum is surging, he points at Rick, when Gingrich is surging, he points at Newt. Either way, it makes the Not-Romney camp flood to the one the sights are not aimed at currently. No, none of the votes turn to Romney, but what does he care? Divide an conquer, its all too easy for him.

    I also find it funny that the only states he wraps up neatly with a bow are the ones he’s going to lose in the general election without question. Hmm…

  35. 1) Very likely now that Romney wins, no brokered convention, etc. (InTrade has him at 89%.)

    2) I don’t think Romney/Santorum is likely, but I also don’t think it would be that much of a liability, under the assumption that Santorum actually agreed hide his Christianity enough to run for Veep, which I find highly improbable. (The guy is too principled to play at that level.) People don’t really seem to care about the Veep much, which seems practical to me. I mean: Dan Quayle. He got elected. And although Palin didn’t, she also didn’t seem to hurt McCain that much — his loss was his own fault.

    3) Performance in the primaries has little to do with performance in the general elections. In the primaries, particular in the less practical R party, being a centrist is a liability. (This was as true of Clinton as it is for Romney.) In the general, centrism is an asset. The (current) knocks on Romney are that he’s a flip-flopper, a Mormon, and a RINO. Most moderate voters won’t care about the latter two “problems”, and his flip-flopping is no worse than most candidates’. So voters tend to find him tolerable, at least, and maybe superior to Obama.

  36. From outside of America, all this is rather confusing. I’ll admit though, I do want something from the winner of your election. I want the winner to continue to make “hating others for being different” unfashionable. If he’s achieved nothing else, Obama has achieved that. We had eight long years of W Bush stoking the hate machine to shore up his vote and get his base out, and that has scarred the political consciousness of the entire globe. Hate was acceptable, it was fine and proper to hate and look down on others was his message. It is slowly turning the other way, and although it hasn’t stopped the politicos over here turning it out, the message from the US media footprint is that hate&fearmongering is a daft way to win votes. I fear for what will happen if that message is reversed so soon, especially since it is still hard to get the message out that that sort of politics has real and horrific consequences. I’d also like whoever wins to stop poking the Iranian hornet-hive and reel Israel in a bit, oil prices are quite high enough thank you very much.

    In other news, about this metaphor; “Dear GOP: A Romney/Santorum ticket would be like handing Barack Obama the largest, most delicious fruit basket ever created. Delivered by a pony. A sparkly pony. With ribbons in its mane. Named “Buttercup.””, Hasbro would probably like a word with you. And the Bronies will probably point out that fruit-baskets are Applejack’s domain.

  37. Kilroy:

    Kevin: I don’t think anyone wants to see Santorum on porn. Few people even want to see him on a debate.

    Howabout a photomosaic of Santorum’s face made up entirely of screencaptures from gay porn?

    I won’t link to it because I don’t know our host’s policy on such things, but if you search the “Rick Santorum” tag on queerty.com you’ll find it.

  38. The problem with #3 is there is now a lot of evidence out there from the primary that he is not a moderate. YouTube is a wonderful thing.

  39. I do wonder a bit that neither Frothy Mix or Mittens have ganged up on Ron Paul. I fear him as a VP candidate. I think the Paulians would come out to vote for either presidential candiate if they get their guy as VP.
    I do think that the fundiChristians (as opposed to Regular Christians TM ) will not come out in droves to vote for a Mormon. They will vote for Frothy, but seriously, he cant win even with Ron Paul for VP.

  40. The reason why no one has ganged up on Ron Paul is that Ron Paul is pretty much completely irrelevant. He fan base is vocal, but tiny, and he only has a handful of delegates. Why waste energy knocking down someone who has no chance of winning?

  41. “And although Palin didn’t, she also didn’t seem to hurt McCain that much — his loss was his own fault.”

    If by that you mean, because his team failed to properly vet his candidate for VP, then I might agree. The concept that Sarah Palin did not little harm to his campaign seems completely wrong to me. In the month or so after her nomination, McCain’s poll numbers shot up several points among white female voters. Then she started talking. And McCain’s numbers started going down. Exit polls conducted in 2008 indicated that many people were scared witless of Palin being in the white house in any capacity and came out specifically to vote against her. And as a far-right conservative, she damaged McCain’s standing with moderates and independents…voters he needed to win.

    From CNN in 2008: “GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin didn’t do well in exit polls. Sixty percent of those polled said the Alaska governor is not qualified to be president if necessary; 38 percent said she is. That compares with the two-thirds of those polled who said Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden is qualified to be president and the 31 percent who said he isn’t.

  42. My prediction, for what it’s worth, is that Romney will win the nomination and then the election will be his to lose. Which he could do. But people, I.e. most independents, some Democrats and most republicans want to not elect Obama again. All they need is a sliver of confidence Romney will be better. Can he do that? I think so but who knows.

    You do know that in most of the polling, Romney is behind and has higher unfavorables than Obama with both the general population and independents, moreso when you ignore relatively useless national polls and actually got to state-level polling that reflects the electoral votes.

    Republicans will come out to vote because he’s not Obama. And if there’s one thing that unites them, it’s defeating Obama.

    No argument there.

    There may have been a succession of not-Romney candidates but that’s because Romney is a moderate and republicans went into this thing thinking that obama was so weak they should try to nominate the most conservative around. But to things happened, 1) Obama doesn’t appear as weak now )though he really is)

    If we’re talking about things outside his control (Europe, maybe Israel), then yes. But at the moment he’s at the helm of an improving economy coming out of a recession that is still considered to be his predecessor’s fault.

    and 2) Republicans disagreed on what conservative means. To my mind fiscal conservatism is fundamentally incompatible with evangelistic social conservatism. And many are beginning to understand that. Plus Romney is a moderate socially and really can win, whereas santorum can not.

    If you can point out any position that Romney is a social moderate on, I’d love to hear it. His platform is basically the same as Santorum’s minus the explicit threat to force existing gay couples to divorce (though one could argue his continued support of DOMA–which he’s done since it was proposed in the 90s BTW–is an implicit threat).

    I also predict santorum will not be the VP pick and that Republicans will put much energy and vitality into going to the polls with the idea of taking the senate

    No argument here either, although Snowe’s retirement makes it a good bit harder.

  43. What’s wrong with slugging it out through the rest of the primaries. Isn’t that what primaries are for?

  44. BTW, I still think Romney will pick VA Gov McDonnell as VP. Swing state bordering another swing state (NC, although they’ve had a large influx of liberals and independents that is likely to minimize it), a longtime friend to both upstate economic conservatives and downstate social conservatives (see also: ultrasound rapes), and is already stepping down due to being term limited. Plus, they look like they’re related. However, McDonnell has some slightly shady stuff in his past regarding opposing all contraception as opposed to funding for it, which would play worse with independents (especially women) than it would have 2 months ago.

  45. I don’t think Romney’s small margins or outright losses say much about him. They say volumes about the number of supposedly intelligent voters who would actually vote for a knuckle-dragging bigoted troglodyte like Santorum. It doesn’t really matter what his views on any political subject are, socially he cannot be described as anything but a walking nonthinking disaster. Romney is certainly no prize, but Santorum?? Get real. Would republicans really want to have a Santorum/Palin ticket? Think, people!!

  46. You do know that in most of the polling, Romney is behind and has higher unfavorables than Obama with both the general population and independents

    November is a few political lifetimes away. Things will change.

    But at the moment he’s at the helm of an improving economy coming out of a recession that is still considered to be his predecessor’s fault.

    The economy is improving on paper. And probably is improving somewhat but not as good as the numbers show. You can not move people out of the work-force, count the rest, and call it good. People know by looking around them what’s really going on. And that’s the only measure that will matter come November. No amount of headlines about how good things are will affect the visceral knowledge that people possess.

    If you can point out any position that Romney is a social moderate on…

    Oh come on. There’s a reason why Social Conservatives distrust him. And they should. I just don’t give a shit. And it mostly doesn’t matter. Abortion is a settled issue, we’re not going back. Gay marriage and acceptance is going forward no matter what. Focusing on this stuff is just a fools game and no one really wants to hear about it. We have more pressing problems.

    In their gut most people understand that Obama has failed to be a leader and his policies have not helped the economy. I mean really, if he’s so good for the economy how come he can’t get a damn budget passed? People are also suspicious of his foreign policy positions and are worried he is making things worse internationally. And more dangerous.

    But Romney still has to give people a reason to switch horses. That’s his challenge. If he can convince people he won’t screw up as bad, he’s in. A low bar to be sure, but there’s still a question as to whether or not he’s up to it.

    I think he’ll do just fine.

    But the Senate leadership does have to go. I would even be fine with (less concerned about) a second Obama term if the Senate switched sides.

  47. “Republicans will come out to vote because he’s not Obama. And if there’s one thing that unites them, it’s defeating Obama”

    The same was said about Democrats coming out to defeat Bush in 2004.

    “November is a few political lifetimes away. Things will change.”

    “No amount of headlines about how good things are will affect the visceral knowledge that people possess.”

    I hope that, internally at least, you appreciate the amount of wishful thinking being employed in these two statements.

  48. November is a few political lifetimes away. Things will change.

    Oooookay. Not sure why that’s a defense of your statement, since it’s equally applicable to your POV.

    The economy is improving on paper. And probably is improving somewhat but not as good as the numbers show. You can not move people out of the work-force, count the rest, and call it good. People know by looking around them what’s really going on. And that’s the only measure that will matter come November. No amount of headlines about how good things are will affect the visceral knowledge that people possess.

    Actually, consumer confidence is also on the rise–it’s currently at the highest it’s been since before Obama was elected let alone sworn in–and the Dow is also as high as it’s been in the same time frame, which indicates investor confidence as well. But B+ on trying to change that argument, too.

  49. Oh come on. There’s a reason why Social Conservatives distrust him. And they should. I just don’t give a shit.

    It doesn’t matter what he thinks. There is no way that he will refuse to sign anything a GOP Congress gives him. He’s been staunchly anti-choice and anti-gay marriage since before he was Governor in Massachusetts, as evidenced by the fact that he kept trying to get the courts and legislature to overturn both, repeatedly.

    And it mostly doesn’t matter. Abortion is a settled issue, we’re not going back.

    You’re kidding me, right? More abortion restriction legislation was passed in 2011 than pretty much any year prior. There’s anywhere between 1 and 3 US Supreme Court justices up for retirement in the next presidential term, and as noted above, there’s a 100% chance that Romney would nominate someone who is anti-choice. A GOP Congress (or equivalent thereof including conservative Democrats) would easily approve, and Roe v Wade would no longer be sacrosanct.

    Gay marriage and acceptance is going forward no matter what.

    Tell that to gays from California, or Maine, or Iowa, or North Carolina, or Maryland. Sure, it’s going forward, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen any time soon. There’s no chance it will happen under a Romney term.

    Focusing on this stuff is just a fools game and no one really wants to hear about it. We have more pressing problems.

    And so a guy who just went on TV to say he doesn’t even want his tax plan to be scored by independent 3rd parties is that guy? I mean, the cat’s out of the bag on the fact that said plan overwhelmingly favors the top 10% and further taxes the bottom 10%, at least if you’re following this.

    In their gut most people understand that Obama has failed to be a leader and his policies have not helped the economy.

    Yeah, also not true. And certainly not relative to the GOP candidates or GOP Congressmembers.

    I mean really, if he’s so good for the economy how come he can’t get a damn budget passed?

    You do know that he’s not a member of the legislature right? Separation of powers and all that.

    People are also suspicious of his foreign policy positions and are worried he is making things worse internationally. And more dangerous.

    Any proof or numbers of this, or just editorials? It seems to me that he’s with the majority on international affairs.

    But the Senate leadership does have to go. I would even be fine with (less concerned about) a second Obama term if the Senate switched sides.

    You mean the same GOP Senate who’s spent less time on economic issues than social issues and keeping “In God We Trust” on currency?

  50. “In their gut most people understand that Obama has failed to be a leader and his policies have not helped the economy. I mean really, if he’s so good for the economy how come he can’t get a damn budget passed? ”

    Can you say: republicans?

  51. would that be finally what’s needed to splitter that two-party system into smaller, more coehsive groups?

    No, the trouble is constitutional. In the US, a large number of things depend on the presidency, which is a position elected ultimately by first-past-the-post votes, not appointed by a governing coalition. Third parties and independent candidates, when they are significant at all, tend to function as spoilers who can enable another, usually ideologically opposed, candidate to win by splitting the vote.

    That means that the best a third party can ever hope do in the national arena is kill one of the existing major parties and take its place in the two-party system. And that hasn’t happened in a long time.

    I’m kind of hoping the Republicans destroy themselves so thoroughly that the Democrats can safely split into a social-democratic party and a center-right party. But it’s probably more likely that the Republicans will eventually adapt to the times, maybe by becoming more of a small-l libertarian outfit.

  52. In their gut most people understand that Obama has failed to be a leader

    My gut, at the moment, is working on processing a very nice meal of Szechuan chicken. This is an equally useful statement as yours.

  53. I think it’s a bit silly to pick on Frank’s views. The odds are stacked in Obama’s favor, but that’s true of almost every incumbent. Running against the President is always a difficult proposition, which is part of the reason why the field is so weak on the GOP side this year.

    What Obama has done is give us 4 years without a major, or even a minor scandal, a return to some of the American rights that were trashed during Bush’s war on terror, and a rockstar Sec. of State which actually helped us internationally. Although it’s hard not to improve on Bush’s foreign policy where the cowboys were in charge and if you didn’t live in one of the 5-6 countries they cared about, you didn’t exist.

    So other than the domestic issues, which were good if you like more government assistance and less so otherwise, Obama has a pretty strong record. That also explains why only one sitting GOP governor wanted to try and take him on.

  54. Romney is about as close to “inevitable” as anyone could possibly be at this point. Nobody is close to him in delegates or money. I’m surprised John is doubting this.

    As far as the General goes, it all boils down to the economy, which is allegedly improving, but call me skeptical. Unless we see more improvement than we have so far, I think Obama’s on shaky ground.

    Me, I’m supporting Libertarian Gary Johnson.

  55. Frank wrote:

    In their gut most people understand that Obama has failed to be a leader and his policies have not helped the economy. I mean really, if he’s so good for the economy how come he can’t get a damn budget passed?

    Does anyone want to show Frank where the remedial civics classes are being held? I would counter that the absolute failure of the Congressional GOP to be responsible for their own actions is hardly an inspiring leadership quality. Hey, the Republican leadership think mindless obsctruction – then blaming the President – is going to be a winning strategy come November. Let’s see – the consistent polling that shows they’re about as well-liked as public lice in a whorehouse would strongly suggest otherwise.

  56. Somedave: many believe Santorum is anti-gay because of his efforts to support existing sodomy laws, his opposition to gay-marriage, his opposition to same-sex parenting, and his campaign promise to re-enact ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ for the military.

    This may be enough to reveal his intolerant prejudices against gays. However while I agree in heart, I’m not so sure in mind. In my opinion Santorum does a good job of riding the line. He seems to effectively mask his bigotry with a number of rational arguments to side-step an equal-rights debate on gay-marriage and morph it into a discussion of the moral, religious and societal rationale for marriage laws.

    His gaffs when saying “black people” are a little less cut and dry, but look suspicious. And he’s talked about how Obama’s marriage and family values should be an example to black people, which to me, along with his other comments, seems to allude to his belief that blacks generally don’t have good family values.

    The other problem with Santorum is that he tends to speak congratulatory about woman who stay in traditional homemaker roles. When you add this to his strong family-values stance and anti-abortion stances and it gives off a misogynistic vibe.

    This said, I don’t know if we are seeing active hostility or hatred from him, which I think is required to toss around the bigot label.

  57. MuleFace:

    “I’m surprised John is doubting this.”

    I’m not doubting it — if you look, my general assumption is he’ll get the nomination. I think he’s taking the long way around to get it, though, nor do I believe that Romney himself would have believed that he’d still be fighting for it at this late date. And aside from anything else, it’s still very much possible that he’ll get through the entire primary season without all the delegates he needs to lock down the nomination before the convention.

  58. What I find amusing is that Obama actually got more votes than Romney in Ohio last night – 547,588 to 456,205.

  59. To set the record straight:

    The federal government hasn’t passed a budget since 2009. That includes when Democrats controlled both chambers.

    The Republicans passed a budget in the House every year since they took control. As a reminder the way this usually works the House passes a budget then the Senate passes a budget, and then the two usually different bills goes to a reconciliation committee with members of both chambers until there’s one bill both chambers can pass. This has not happened with the two most recent budgets: the Senate flat refused to pass a budget.

    Last year 2011, the presidents budget was submitted for a vote to the Senate floor and it was defeated unanimously by a vote of 97-0. That was first and only vote on any budget in the senate since 2009

  60. The Republicans passed a budget in the House every year since they took control

    I’ve actually passed a budget each year since 2008. It has as much connection with reality as the Republican budgets. Thanks for playing, though.

  61. Frank:

    To set the record /really/ straight, what conservatives always seem to conveniently forget is that Republicans were spamming the “filibuster” button the whole time the Dems had the majority, so everything needed 60 votes to get through the Senate, which the Dems had for all of two months or so, after Franken’s election was certified and before Kennedy died.

    I feel morally certain that if you were of a mind to be honest then you’d have mentioned that little fact.

  62. For the record, you only need a simple majority to pass any budget-related bill in the senate. You can’t filibuster.

    In fact, it was this very rule that allowed Obama-care to sleaze through through the senate. It was stripped of a few superfluous items and declared a budget bill.

    No filibususter later, it passed.

  63. For the record, you only need a simple majority to pass any budget-related bill in the senate. You can’t filibuster.

    And it requires both Houses to pass a bill. Shockingly the Democrats have not been excited about passing the slash and burn that the GOP thinks is a budget.

  64. Per Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filibuster_in_the_United_States_Senate

    “Budget bills are governed under special rules called “reconciliation” which do not allow filibusters. Reconciliation once only applied to bills that would reduce the budget deficit, but since 1996 it has been used for all matters related to budget issues.”

    “Filibuster” is not a valid excuse for the democratic majority not passing budgets.

  65. I’d like to think Frank is wrong about how America feels about Obama vs. the Republicans, but I live in Northern California, and most of the people I know who don’t live here are people I know from the Internet or Science Fiction or are other libertarians, so I’m really not in a position to judge accurately. Obama’s certainly done a horrible job as President, but most of the things he’s done wrong have been variants on “acting like a Republican” or “chickening out when the Republicans attack him” or “not knowing how to fix the economic damage the Republicans did during the Bush years”, and electing a Republican doesn’t seem like a good way to fix any of those problems – but it’s not like that’s a useful campaign slogan.

    This whole pre-primary and primary campaign process has been the Republican party machine putting on a circus show to convince the right-wingers that they have to nominate Romney, because nobody else can beat Obama (except possibly Huntsman, but he was not only late to the game, he was too independent to play the machine’s games.) Donald Trump was the opening clown warmup act, Bachman and Perry were the monkey act who came in to remind everybody that they can’t elect a Crazy Person, Herman Cain came in dressed like a serious acrobat but then dropped his pants, dove into the net, and bounced out of the ring. Gingrich was supposed to be the dancing bear act, but hasn’t realized he was supposed to leave when the ringmaster showed up, and Romney hasn’t quite figured out how to shoo him away. (I’ve stretched this analogy way too far already – Ron Paul’s off running the well-attended side-show, and Santorum’s trying to keep the dancing girls from going on stage while yelling to the crowd about his elephant.)

    I think the Republican Party is way too corrupt to be trusted with power any time soon, and unless they lose the general election really badly they’re not going to try to clean up their act, and because the economy’s still in bad shape, that probably won’t happen. California’s Democrats are pretty incompetent, but they have a solid enough majority that I’m safe voting third party (which for me usually means Libertarian, but I’ll happily vote for the Greens or some of the independents or minor parties before the Democrats.) Even for local offices, park and water commissioners turn into school board members, who turn into city council members or county supervisors, who turn into state legislators, who get term-limited out and run for state senate, who then run for Congress, and I’m guessing that Rove and Norquist will need to be gone for a decade before it’s safe to elect another Republican to Congress.

  66. Xopher, that’s the nice thing about minor-party conventions – they still have smoke-filled rooms, but it isn’t that nasty tobacco stuff…

  67. I haven’t finished doing the numbers, but…

    It looks on first pass like yesterday was a tie if you take out “home state advantage” (Mass. and Vermont for Romney).

    The reason it’s not locked up for Romney is that he has a finite number of “home states”, and is continuing to be unable to lock it up and win decisively. That makes him look weak. “Romney is inevitable” is a form of assertive PR exercise by the Romney camp or by the Republican Establishment who wish an orderly transition into the general election go-beat-up-Obama part of things, and who consider the current mess distasteful.

    I’m not particularly happy with the current situation – Santorum as the kingmaker is disturbing for all the reasons listed above. Santorum winning would be horrible. Newt could still swing back up, possibly. I’m not convinced Newt could win a general election, but he’s not Santorum.

  68. Surfwax: …many believe Santorum is anti-gay because of his efforts to support existing sodomy laws, his opposition to gay-marriage, his opposition to same-sex parenting, and his campaign promise to re-enact ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ for the military…I don’t know if we are seeing active hostility or hatred from him, which I think is required to toss around the bigot label.

    This is…OK, so you don’t think re-criminalizing gay sex, opposing our civil right to equality under the law, trying to take our kids away from us, and wanting to kick us out of the military counts as hostility?

    So, just for a hypothetical, if I stant there saying “Surfwax should be arrested and imprisoned for any sex he may have, should be forbidden to marry anyone he might want to marry, should never be allowed to have children or adopt, and should be barred from military service,” you wouldn’t consider that in any way hostile to you unless I said it with a mean face?

    I frankly am irresistably inclined to doubt your sincerity, since you managed to type a whole post with few if any misspellings, and identify which button to click to post it. And even if you dictated that, you managed to put together several coherent sentences there. Therefore you cannot possibly really believe this jaw-droppingly ridiculous argument.

  69. David

    And it requires both Houses to pass a bill. Shockingly the Democrats have not been excited about passing the slash and burn that the GOP thinks is a budget.

    Again, they didn’t have to pass the House budget. Again, the way the process is supposed to work is that each chamber passes their own, and then the two bills are reconciled. There is no excuse for the Senate not even trying. If they had failed in the reconciliation process that’s different, but it didn’t. The Senate didn’t even try.

    Alternately they could have accepted the Presidents budget in 2011. But that budget failed unanimously. Think about that. The President submitted a budget that not a single member of his own party found acceptable.

    That’s a complete lack of leadership. It shows an unseriousness that even if the American people don’t know the details about this particular event, they pick up on it in their gut.

    Believe me, people want to elect someone else. They just need a decent excuse.

  70. @Frank- I think you’re under a misapprehension about the budget and reconciliation process. To trigger budget reconciliation, which is immune from filibuster, the Senate (and the House) must pass a concurrent budget resolution, which is not.

    After a budget resolution is adopted, the committees are empowered to “reconcile” the laws of the United States with the revenue assumptions made in the budget. After committee consideration, all of the various proposals are knit together into a single package, which then comes to the floor and is subject to the 51 vote threshold.

    And for the coming Fiscal Year, the Budget Control Act of 2011 (the debt ceiling package) already sets a budget number for FY 2013, so a separate budget resolution is less necessary than usual.

    The (OK, “a”) dirty secret of the Congressional budget process is that outside of the changes that can be wrought through reconciliation, the budget is essentially meaningless and superfluous. Each body will pass a “deeming” resolution that provides parameters for each appropriations subcommittee (which is all the budget really is in the first place) and they’ll go from there. All the budget resolution does is set those parameters early, so there’s (a little) less to fight about when it comes time to put the appropriations bills together.

    All of this is a very long winded way of saying you’re wrong about using the budget process as a demonstration of President Obama’s lack of leadership ability. And given Sen. McConnell’s admission that his primary goal was to block a second Obama term, any argument that doesn’t acknowledge the rampant obstructionism found in today’s Senate is disingenuous at best.

  71. @Frank-

    (My apologies to JS for serial posts.)

    Just read your 7:51 post a little more closely. Sounds like you’re conflating the common meaning of the word “reconciliation” with the “conference” process used to address differences between bills/ resolutions passed by the Senate and the House.

    For the Senate to get to the point where it has a vehicle to conference with the House, it needs something to cross the 60 vote threshold to get off the floor. Otherwise, no dice.

    And the President has extra-limited power in this area, as he does not get to veto or sign the concurrent resolution; it is only an agreement between the House and the Senate and does not bind anyone else to anything.

  72. There is no excuse for the Senate not even trying. If they had failed in the reconciliation process that’s different, but it didn’t. The Senate didn’t even try.

    As Nat Mund has pointed out, you don’t really understand how the budget process works, but I’d add the correction: the GOP Senators didn’t try, not “The Senate.”

  73. Good analysis, with the exception of how much emphasis you put on money. The Freakonomics guys did some experiments to determine the effect of money on a campaign, and it seems that doubling your spending only raises your votes by 1 percentage points.

    Apparently, the same kind of thing that makes people want to vote for you is the same kind of thing that makes people donate money for you to spend. Goodness, what a shocker.

    So maybe Romney would have lost by a percentage point if he hadn’t spent. Who knows.

    Anyway, I’m tired of hearing the “money spent” argument. Gingrich wore that out months ago kvetching and whining about how it’s not fair that Romney has money to spend while he doesn’t, because it’s obvious blatant hypocrisy and countering the values of the people you want support from has nothing to do with how people aren’t voting for you like you’d want.

    But yeah, Ohio and I aren’t on friendly speaking terms right now. Barely giving someone enough votes to defeat a total maniac reflects poorly on a people in my view.

    (Naturally, the last statement does not apply to people who intentionally did not vote in Republican primaries because they felt it would be wrong to do so)

  74. Nat

    For the Senate to get to the point where it has a vehicle to conference with the House, it needs something to cross the 60 vote threshold to get off the floor. Otherwise, no dice.

    OK. I’ll buy that I could be confused.

    But even if you are right (and I’ll admit that this sounds right) there was no budget that was even written for consideration. No physical document with which the leadership could take the temperature of the Senate to see if it was even likely to pass. Nothing.

    True, the budget document is non-binding it if agreed upon it sets up a framework for subsequent appropriations bills. Having failed to get the Senate to take action on their budget, the House proceeded to construct appropriations bills as if their budget had passed.

    With regards to the President, after he presents his budget to Congress you are correct that he has no further function in the matter and will not take another official constitutional role until it comes time to sign an appropriations bill. And yet, the Presidents leadership is critical to the process.

    We can see that in the health-care bill where he took a hands off approach and let the Democratic House have their way with it, shutting out the Republicans and coming up with something that was distasteful in a bi-partisan way. They could not muster a full compliment of Democrats to vote it out of the House initially. After some badgering and tinkering and arm twisting they got something that passed by the slimmest of margins with many Democrats joining Republicans in opposition.

    While Obama stood by and exercised not leadership.

    The same thing happened in the Senate; bi-partisan opposition. They dithered so long that when Senator Brown was elected, they lost their super-majority and had to do the Reconciliation trick to get it passed.

    The same thing happened with the Stimulus bill. Again no leadership from the President and what we got was a trillion dollar spending spree that did us no good.

    The President offered change. He said he could fix broken Washington. He promised to be post-partisan.

    What people saw was his demonizing of his opposition at every turn. He has been less effective than either Reagan or Clinton in that regard. Both of these Presidents dealt with Congresses of opposite parties and both managed to make legislative progress.

    People may hate Congress, but they know its up to the President to herd the cats and get shit done.

    People understand that Congresses failure is the Presidents failure.

    He needs to repair that impression at a minimum.

  75. a return to some of the American rights that were trashed during Bush’s war on terror

    This hasn’t happened, much. Partly that is because of Republican intransigence: one thing Obama obviously did want to do was shut down the Guantanamo prison, but that’s been effectively obstructed. And Holder has spoken out in favor of trying some terrorism suspects as criminals in civilian courts.

    However, Obama’s administration is just as resistant to external oversight in their intelligence and “targeted killing” activities as Bush’s ever was, and this to me is probably the single greatest disappointment I have in Obama. He says they’re not waterboarding prisoners any more, and that they’ve got this careful decision process they go through to avoid trampling citizens’ rights, but you basically just have to trust him on that. Trust in the President is not how the system is supposed to work.

    Sadly, I suspect that in part this is because of a political calculation that there is very little electoral upside to a real commitment to restoring constitutional oversight to military and intelligence activities. Most Americans basically like the idea of unfettered whomping of alleged bad guys, and he were to ease up on it and anything bad whatsoever were to happen, he’d pay more for it than he does keeping the status quo.

    Most of the rest of what he’s done was essentially what he promised to do.

  76. and a rockstar Sec. of State which actually helped us internationally.

    It’s possible that Hillary Clinton is more effective at State than she would have been as President. She’s been doing an amazing job. Easily Obama’s best appointment decision.

  77. Frank-

    I think we’re getting a little far afield here from the whole “Romney, meh” theme that this thread started with, and my posts certainly contributed to that. I’d like to respond to a couple of points you’re making, and ask whether or not you think Gov. Romney is a better “leader.”

    Putting aside the budget issue since I’m not sure that I understand your argument as anything other than, “Yeah, but he should have done it better,” let’s look at a couple of the other points you bring up.

    First, on the stimulus, I think you are facutally and arguably inaccurate. Factually inaccurate in that President Obama did excercise leadership by bringing in Sen. Collins, Sen. Snowe, and Sen. Specter (all Republicans, at the time) into the White House to twist their arms on geting a stimulus package through. Since McConnell hadn’t yet ossified his position that the President shouldn’t be allowed to do anything that he wanted, Obama was able to twist their arms and get votes for the package, which wound up being less than a trillion dollars because of demands those Senators were able to extract.

    Arugably inaccurate in that most economists agree that the stimulus legisltion actually did do some good. Many (if not all) of those same economists argue that bigger would have been better.

    Where President Obama has fallen down on leadership is in taking credit for the stimulus and other policies. Of course, he’s stuck with the problem of arguing a “counter-factual,” that things would have been worse (potentially a LOT worse) if he and the Congress hadn’t acted. Republicans, and Gov. Romney in particular are now being hoisted on the same petard, being forced to argue that things would be getting better faster if their policy positions had been adopted. In either case, a tough sell.

    With health care, I actually agree with you that the President didn’t exercise effective leadership. He overlearned the Clinton Administration’s lesson about being secretive and insular about the process, and let Congress do its thing without direction. What was most concerning to me about that was when the Administration did inject itself in the process, it was in service of trading things away (notably, the pubic option in the Senate) without getting anything in return. I don’t know enough about health care policy to know whether a pubilc option was a good idea (although I tend to think it was) but I sure as hell know that it didn’t make sense to throw that away without securing votes for it; indirectly, it led to the several month stalemate, the Cornhusker kickback, and all the other effluvia of the health care debate endgame.

    But that’s just a tactical difference of opinion, not a strategic one. And the way your describing leadership is just that– tactical.

    What in Gov. Romney’s record or rhetoric leads you to believe that he has better tactical judgement about deploying leadership, and/ or is intrinsically a better “leader.”

  78. The same thing happened with the Stimulus bill. Again no leadership from the President and what we got was a trillion dollar spending spree that did us no good.

    So, before I misread this, you’re saying there has been no notable improvement in any economic metric from the stimulus? No rise in job creation, no fall in unemployment claims, nothing? Just want to make sure you’re making this claim deliberately rather than off the top of your head here.

  79. John, I think we can agree to disagree on whether or not Romney is underperforming. I’m not a fan & will be voting Libertarian, but think he’s exactly on course & was not likely to do better, considering certain natural disadvantages he had to overcome (his Mormon-ness, his perceived lack of conservative purity, the Romney-care baggage). His natural advantages (establishment support, money & organization) take time to come to fruition – ie: it’s basically a battle of attrition. The odds of him losing are pretty darned small. The biggest surprise is merely the identity of his primary rival (whodathunkit?)

  80. Matt McIrvin said: Partly that is because of Republican intransigence: one thing Obama obviously did want to do was shut down the Guantanamo prison, but that’s been effectively obstructed.

    ???

    Obama is the Commander in Chief. If he wants to shut down Guantanamo prison, he can. The fact that he doesn’t shut it down suggests that, on reflection, he doesn’t want to. I suspect that’s because he’s now the Commander in Chief rather than someone sniping at the Commander in Chief from the cheap seats. It changes things.

    That said, I give you credit for taking the line that *if only* the Tsar/Comrade Stalin/President Obama was able to shut down Guantanamo prison, he would; thereby putting a stop to the persecution done in his name. Most people simply take the line that it’s good to keep Guantanamo prison open now that Obama is President, because Guantanamo prison is only bad when a Republican is President.

  81. Xopher: Bigot is a tough label. I’ve explained my view that Santorum smells like one to me, but when considering Somedave’s question I’ve not seen enough direct evidence to ‘definitively’ label him a bigot based on what I’ve seen/recall. In my view, the bigot definition is too wide. Bigot can generally include anyone who is “intolerant of a group or ideas other than their own”. That’s most all sports fans.

    So I must narrow it down. My bigot meter goes off when I perceive someone to be dangerously evoking a feeling of hatred. I’ve not seen Santorum do that. That’s my point.

    And while you perceive Santorum’s actions to be hostile to a group, he appears to perceive it as support for religiously defined cultural definitions. He wants to keep a cultural value rather than see it redefined or co-opted.

    I’m not arguing for his ideas; because I don’t share them, but I’m saying the reasoning of his arguments frames the discussion away from bashing gays. I’ll caveat that I’ve not seen any more evidence other than what I’ve previously posted from memory of seeing him on television interviews, debates or on the web, so I may be lacking information here. And I’m open to learning on this point. Educate me.

  82. Nebuchadnezzar: One of the things the congress explicitly did was disallow funding for Guantanamo prisoners to be brought into and housed in the United States. The Obama administration could close Guantanamo, but the only option they would have would be to let everyone go. They did this both under the 2009 congress and the 2011 congress, so you could say it’s a Bipartisan bill.

    The administration appears to see fighting this (digging up the money elsewhere and doing it anyway) as a political loser, so they haven’t. And I cannot blame them for that; it is basically a loser. Then again, there’s minimal daylight between Obama and the GOP candidates (except for Ron Paul) on a lot of civil-liberties issues. Yes, I want you to picture Mitt Santorum with drone strike capabilities. Go ahead. I dare you.

  83. M. Ellis, given there hasn’t been an actual federal budget for years, it would seem that digging up the money elsewhere in the pools of cash available to the executive branch and doing it anyway wouldn’t be that hard. But fair enough: *if only* the Tsar/Comrade Stalin/President Obama could close Guantanamo prison, he would. We can sleep the sleep of the just knowing that he is good and it is only the obstructionism of his enemies that keeps him from doing good.

    One bright side to Mitt Santorum(?) winning the Presidency is that Guantanamo prison would once again become a front page issue of fierce moral urgency, rather than an embarrassing reminder of an undelivered promise that is quietly ignored.

  84. Surfwax, the response to “but he’s not doing it in a hostile way” is “I don’t care. The boot on my face is enough”. While Santorum explicitly denies us basic human rights, he’s hostile. It doesn’t matter in practice whether he thinks we should be shunned or killed, because he’s not the sort to do the actual killing. What matters is that he is deliberately and actively reinforcing the hostility. You can call it “supporting group values” if you like, but the USA has a long history of eventually deciding that human rights trump that.

    To me, a bigot is someone who isn’t swayed by the evidence. Santorum counts. He claims to honestly believe that his god makes people gay and loves gay people, yet will do nothing to suggest that he even accepts gay people, let alone loves them. That’s beyond bigotry, that’s outright insanity. “my god reserves the exclusive right to judge you, so I say you are immoral”. Wait, what?

  85. The reason the nomination field is so muddled is that none of the candidates are very conservative.
    Name Socially Economically Fiscally
    Romney No Yes No
    Santorum Yes No No
    Gingrich No Maybe No*
    Paul No Yes Yes**
    Obama No Yes No
    * – Gingrich’s policies would all add to the deficit, but he was speaker of the house when we last balanced the budget.
    ** – Paul’s plan to reduce the revenue of the government are specific and drastic, while his plans to reduce government spending are vague and limited.

    These candidates aren’t historically out of line with previous elections, but the criteria to be a conservative has narrowed so far that these people who would all have been considered socially conservative in the 80’s are now considered liberal.

    Requirements to be Socially conservative.
    1) Dislike other races.
    2) Oppose abortion in all cases.
    3) Execute as many people as possible
    4) Oppose birth control
    5) Support media monopolies.
    6) Oppose the teaching of history and Science.
    7) Oppose the separation of church and state
    8) Hate people of other faith
    9) Hate people of other sexual preference
    10) Appoint Judges in line with these views

    Requirements to be Economically conservative
    1) Reward Campaign cash with government subsidies.
    2) Legalize Fraud.
    3) Lower taxes in all cases
    4) Encourage conglomeration
    5) Lots of tax exemptions and loop holes for people you like
    6) Defer to the biggest business you can find in all cases
    7) Encourage the study of phony economics
    8) Oppose campaign finance Reform
    9) Oppose business accountability
    10) Appoint Judges in line with these views

    Conservatives have walled themselves in a corner. Their punditry and scam artists have riled up a base looking for pure insanity from a candidate, and when they don’t find it they become disenfranchised. Romney will be the Nominee, but one who can’t deliver votes.

  86. I’ve said before that ‘social conservative’ is just political code for “narrow-minded bigot.”

  87. Troy, your analysis is awesome! I mean, why assume that people who disagree with you are just, well, reasonably intelligent people who have different views than your own — when instead you can assume they’re EVIL!

    You rock dude.

  88. My bigot meter goes off when I perceive someone to be dangerously evoking a feeling of hatred.

    So, as long as it’s not a dangerous level of hatred (“I’m fine with those people, I just wouldn’t want my sister to marry one”) or it’s some other manifestation of prejudice that isn’t hatred (“we need to rule over our little brown brothers, in order to civilize them and give them the moral and intellectual guidance they need”), it is not, in your eyes, bigotry. Okeydoke.

  89. Xopher, Moz, Mythango,
    I’m not seeing your evidence supporting the root question which was asked early in this thread, and which I’ve picked up because I think is interesting, which is essentially: “Does being opposed to gay marriage make you a de facto bigot?”

    If it does, then Santorum is most certainly a bigot, and has many bigoted supporters. And the US has more bigots than I’ve thought we had.

    I’ve been reading much of the Kirk Cameron tread (currently 604 posts long) with it’s various sarcasm, snark and mockery, but I’ve not seen that question directly resolved for me. Although seems to be the unquestioned assumption by most that, yes, any view against gay marriage is out-right bigotry, I had thought the debate for a conservative position on this subject was more nuanced than that, and not so cut and dry.

    Conservatism can broadly be defined as “keeping things the same” and I think there can be some value in that philosophy. So the question on my mind is: Can you be conservatively against gay marriage laws and NOT be a bigot? Can you hold the view that re-defining marriage is unwise from a historical, religious and family values or moral perspective without having the purposeful intent to marginalize gays?

    I acknowledge a single definition of marriage restricts gays from what they want, to be married, but I don’t think marriage was originally created to specifically to deny anyone equal rights. And we have other laws which disproportionally affect a certain groups without specifically being rooted bigotry. Immigration laws can affect certain ethnicities or counties-of-origin disproportionally and yet derive it’s purpose from a non-bigoted rational. I presume marriage was not invented to marginalize gays, thus keeping the it’s historical definition does not appear de facto bigotry.

    My understanding is Santorum has been opposed to replacing a restrictive definition of family or marriage with an open-ended definition of “anyone who loves each other” marriage or family. He feels the open-ended definition is rooted in a logic which would also include polygamist marriage or incest marriage and therefore is a poor rational for changing the definition of marriage. To him, changing the definition of marriage co-opts the word. It changes the word from a culturally and religiously derived meaning into something that includes non-traditional unions.

    I personally support gay marriage and I voted against Prop 8. But I want to understand the argument of the other side. And I find some wiggle room. I agree the “it’s natural or unnatural” semantics arguments within the debate is not useful, however on the flip side I’ll make a point about equal rights and “natural”. You could argue that pedophiles or predators “naturally” occur in a population. And as a society we legally limit their actions for obvious reasons. We do not accept their definition of a relationship regardless if mutually reciprocated. We don’t accept their definition of love and we restrict their pursuit of legitimizing it on their terms. I’m not comparing gays to pedophiles (I’m not) (no. I’m really not) I’m using that point to postulate that the “natural state” of a person is not always a valid argument for obtaining equal rights in every circumstance. So saying “equal rights for me” does not get an automatic pass. It has to be rooted in more. [runs for cover]

    Mos: “to me a bigot is someone who’s not swayed by the evidence”. I think that’s too broad a definition of bigot. Your definition includes people who think Coke tastes better than Pepsi. A preference is not evidence. And evidence in the context of what? The definition of marriage?

    Mythango, I’d agree with you that if Santorum is calling gays “unnatural” or “immoral” as a group (like our friend Kirk Cameron) then he looks bigotted, however I’ve not seen Santorum do that. It seems he skirts the bigot label by not going that far. So I don’t know if you can broad brush him.

    To be clear: I hate defending Santorum. I’ve previously stated here, I think he’s probably a bigot, or at least guilty of emboldening other bigots, however I’m just not sure we can prove he’s one from his actions and words. I think he rides the line. And that’s my primary point. And the question for me is still: Can you be conservatively against gay marriage as a law and NOT be a bigot?

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