Monthly Archives: January 2012

Romney Isn’t All The Different From Obama Says…George Soros

But he’s pretty sour on Gingrich.

Advantage: Newt

Well, look, either you’ll have an extremist conservative, be it Gingrich or Santorum, in which case I think it will make a big difference which of the two comes in. If it’s between Obama and Romney, there isn’t all that much difference except for the crowd that they bring with them. And that’s not very encouraging on either side because Obama’s administration is a bit exhausted — a lot of the talent has left — and the Republicans would have to, or a Republican candidate would have to, bring in probably an extremist vice-president.

The interview is actually from last week. Funny how this didn’t make a splash in the Mitten Conservative Media.

Added: Someone asked me in an email if I really thought Newt was “extreme” or “very conservative”. Honestly, I don’t. I wish he were more but he’s not. But here’s the thing, if Newt gets the nomination, he’s not going to be attacked as a RINO/conservative sellout. I think he’ll at least embrace it and run as a conservative. Mitt? He’s already denied being a conservative more than once.

Worst. Primary. Ever. (Well, at least since 2008)

Fun Facts About Mitt From The McCain Opposition Research Book- Fees For Veterans, Not Sex Offenders

I don’t think Buzzfeed’s scoop of the McCain research book on Romney got enough attention, so I’ll be pulling out some highlights every now and then to remind Republicans what they are buying with Mitt.

One of Team Romney’s biggest claims is he never raised taxes. It’s true he never raised income, sales or gas taxes but he raised an awful lot of fees. Over a quarter of a billion dollars worth in 2004 alone.

Of course he also vetoed at least one fee. It’s all about priorities.

Consider this from the McCain research book (pg. 56).

“Gov. MittRomney is vehemently opposed to raising taxes. Yet new fees proposed in his budget would hit a broad spectrumof people … The changes include … increasing user fees for long-term care at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home.”
(Jennifer Fenn, “Romney Budget Raises Fees, Which Democrats Say Are Taxes In Disguise,” Lowell Sun , 2/28/03)
And now compare it with this (pg. 58).

In 2003, Romney Vetoed Annual Registration Fee For Sexual Offenders And Up To $750,000 To Cut DownOn Backlog Of Sex Offenders Not Classified By State
Romney Vetoed New $75 Annual Fee For Sex Offender Registration – His Veto Was Overturned By TheHouse.
“Beacon Hill lawmakers overturned Gov. Mitt Romney’s veto of $23 million in additional state aid to citiesand towns … House lawmakers also overturned Romney’s veto of a new $75 annual fee for sex offenders whenthey renew their listing on the state’s sex offender registry. … Romney vetoed the fee, saying it would discouragesex offenders from renewing their registration.”
(Steve LeBlanc, “Legislature Restores State Aid To Local Communities, SexOffender Fee,” The Associated Press, 7/8/03)
 So Romney was worried about sex offenders not renewing their registration? Well, then he must have wanted to hunt down unregistered offenders, right? (pg. 58)
“Another section of the budget, also vetoed by Romney,would use up to $750,000 collected from the new [sex offender] fees to cut down on the current backlog of sexoffenders yet to be classified by the state. The House overturned that veto too.”
Oh.
The more you know about Mitt…the less there is to like.
Update: I changed the original headline, (Fun Facts About Mitt From The McCain Opposition Research Book- Choosing Sex Offenders Over Veterans) because it clearly wasn’t an either or choice for then Governor Romney. Still to govern is to chose and I think it’s fair to look at who he raised fees on and who he didn’t.

You Fight The Battle You Face, Not The One You Wish You Could Fight. My Case For Newt’s Ability To Beat Obama

As the GOP primary field formed over the last two years, I’ve been interested to various degrees in a number of candidates.

Way back I thought Mark Sanford would be an interesting choice. Alas, he thought screwing around on his wife with a chick from Argentina would be an interesting choice.  What followed were flirtations of varying intensity with Haley Barbour, Mike Pence, Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan, Tim Pawlenty, Chris Christie, and Rick Perry. There were probably some other as I’ve been rather promiscuous in search of “the one”.

In the end, I’ve settled on Newt Gingrich.

It’s been a long journey and the final choice I’ve come to represents a compromise on my ideal choice to fight the battle against Barack Obama.

Originally I wanted a bland conservative who was plausible to most voters as a reasonable option to be President. I wanted the election to be a referendum on Obama with the GOP offering a solid, if not spectacular alternative.  A Sanford/Pawlenty/Daniels type would have kept the focus where it belonged…on Obama.

Some will argue that Romney is in this mold. I don’t think so. His wealth and more importantly his lack of basic political skills makes him to easy for Democrats (Obama, pundits and “reporters’) to caricature. He simply hasn’t shown the ability to take a bunch and drive the narrative.

Failing that I figured we’d have a battle of ideas. If we can’t make it about Obama, then we damn well needed a big time personality to make the most pro-conservative case possible. I saw Christie and Perry as the best options for this kind of fight. Sadly, Christie didn’t run and Perry was simply incapable of carrying the fight to anyone, let alone Obama.

Again, some will say that Romney could do this. His lack of conservative accomplishments, his record of bashing long held conservative beliefs and his lousy political skills (he can’t sell capitalism to GOP primary voters!), make the idea of Romney The Ideological Warrior a joke.

That leaves us with the fight we have…going toe-to-toe with Obama in a long, hard, slog. It’s going to be hard to unseat a sitting President under the best of conditions and this election isn’t going to be that. What Newt brings to the table is what a heavyweight fighter always brings to the ring…a puncher’s chance. No, Newt isn’t going to win the election with a big line at a debate but over the course of a 6-8 month fight, Newt will land plenty of big blows on Obama on policy, record and rhetorical grounds. That  combination will generate something that was missing for the GOP last time… real excitement in the base. The question is will he be able to pick up enough swing voters along the way? I think (hope) there are enough that are fed up with the bill of goods Obama sold them last time that Newt can make Obama too unattractive to support again while seeming to be a reasonable option himself.

Gingrich will take a lot of shots in return but unlike Romney, he’s shown over and over again an ability to get back up and start swinging again. Yes, Newt’s been knocked out before and fought some losing fights but if he’s going to go down to Obama, he’s going to bloody him on the way out. He just might be able to knock Obama out before he falls himself.

I just don’t see on what grounds Romney has any policy or political advantage over Obama.

It’s not an ideal way to fight this battle but I think Newt’s way is the best chance we have.

Mitt Romney: The Keep Under Protective Glass At All Times Candidate

An argument pro-Romney people use to knock Newt Gingrich is that Newt’s favorable/unfavorable numbers are a disaster. Well, they are. Here’s the problem, Mitt’s are pretty much the same now. Romney is 31/49 favorable-unfavorable while Gingrich is 29/51.

It’s fair to note, as I’m sure Romney supporters will, that this is one poll and Romney’s drop is very recent (it’s also very steep, but that’s another story). Yes, we’ll have to wait to see more polling but simply saying Newt was dislike more 10 years ago doesn’t really matter going forward.

The problem for Romney is this is really the first time people have looked at him seriously as the front runner and they aren’t liking what they are seeing. Remember, this is a guy who lost to John McCain, not exactly the most beloved figure in the GOP. When Romney has done well this year it’s in a very limited set of circumstances…he has to have the most money, the field has to be divided and he has to be in an area where he has run and done well before (IA and NH). Once the money starts to equal out (in SC), the field shrinks and he’s out of his comfort zone, things start to go badly. Romney’s favorables stayed high as long as he was floating above things and 6 or 7 other people were fighting each other to be the not Romnney but not that there’s an actual campaign underway and he’s getting hit, the SS Romney is taking on water badly.

It’s going to be funny to see Romney supporters claim that it’s unfair that Newt and Santorum have damaged “the only electable” candidate out there. It’s as if they live in a world where Axelrod and Obama would play by the rules they tried to strangle the GOP with to save Mitt. It’s a delusion to think that Romney can survive the coming general election onslaught, he’s just not a very good politician except under very limited and controlled circumstances.

Romney is like a new car…it looks good in the showroom but it loses a lot of its value the second it leaves the lot.

If the GOP wants to have a shot at beating Obama, they need to nominate a candidate who can mix it up in the rough and tumble of rush hour traffic.

 

 

No, Gingrich’s Debate Performances And Attacks On Liberal News Media Aren’t Just Cheap Theatrical Stunts

Ok, yes in a sense Newt’s debate performances have had an air of theater to them but they aren’t the cheap stunts his detractors make them out to be.

First of all, the criticism is silly on it’s face since to take it seriously you  have to be under the impression that theater plays no substantive role in politics. No one seriously believes that. Politics is about moving people’s opinions and perceptions. If you think pure appeals to logic are the way to do that, you haven’t actually met any actual human beings or actually followed poltics.

So why are Newt’s debate performance actually important as a matter of substance? It’s because his demeanor and attitude are a stand in for the kind of campaign he will run. No, there will not be 20 debates against Obama and no Obama won’t agree to Lincoln-Douglas style debates (dear God, who would want 3 hours of those guys?). But there will be a long, brutal and competitive battle over competing visions for the country. Newt’s debate performances show that in interviews, town-halls with voters, speeches and yes the one or two debates with Obama, Gingrich will be relentless in pushing his ideas and his vision. He will not be knocked off his message by whatever attacks Obama throws at him. He’s not going to derailed by reporters asking leading questions designed to trip him up or create a soundbite that can be played again and again to kill him.

Look at Newt’s debate performances last week. What got the crowd going in the Fox debate wasn’t Newt attacking Juan Williams, it’s was his full throated,, unapologetic defense of conservative social-budget policies. The idea that forcefully and skillfully attacking the basic assumptions of the liberal welfare state is some sort of cheap rhetorical trick is patently idiotic. If conservatives don’t want that paired with strong,, pro-growth policies like Newt has proposed, what exactly are we doing here again?

As for the smack-down of the Marianne Gingrich story, what Newt did was simply turn a huge potential liability into a political positive. I’m sorry, is that actually considered a bad thing now? Maybe I’m crazy but I actually want my candidate to at least be a competent politician. If you lay down and die to John King, why exactly would I believe you’ll stand up to the onslaught of a campaign run by David Axelrod and supported by almost every media outlet in the country?

Now compare Newt’s handling of a tough challenge to Mitt’s handling of questions about his tax returns. Remember his incoherent and stumbling answer  when asked if he’d release his tax returns. After much fumbling and hemming and hawing, it came down to, uh, maybe in April (which he’s now flipped on and will release tomorrow)? I’m supposed to think Mitt’s answers and political (not simply debate) skills are superior to Newt’s? I guess what I’m really supposed to think is that in a political campaign, political skills don’t matter.

And what about Mitt on Bain? Yes, Newt’s attacks were lame but Mitt couldn’t even rebuff them. Romney was unable to sway GOP primary voters who should support his basic premiss. Why in the world would anyone think Romney will melt under even harsher Obama attacks in front of more moderate general election voters?

Put aside policy ideas, character questions and record for a minute and think back to 2008. How many of us were disgusted with McCain for not forcefully going after Obama? Remember the pleasure he seemed to have taken from his part in electing the first African-American President? I can absolutely imagine Mitt thinking if he’s going to lose, he’ll lose like a gentlemen. The odds of Newt doing that are somewhere between. “zero and are you insane?”

So spare me all of this talk about Newt’s theatrics and debates that won’t happen. You can’t separate substance and presentation in a campaign, they work hand in glove. What we’ve seen out of Newt is a glimpse of what his campaign will be like against Obama. You may not think it will be effective but I think staying on message and aggressively defending yourself isn’t just an emotional catharsis, it’s how you motivate people to rally to your substance.

Of course this is all stuff Mitt is bad at so like so many other things, he and his supporters simply demand it not be part of our consideration, ridicule it and diminish its importance. I might be inclined to cut Romney slack on all of this if the substance of his proposals were so great. But considering Mitt is weaker on things like Social Security reform and taxes than Newt, why settle?

David Frum: It’s Time To Change Conservatism To Accommodate Romney’s Image Problems

Frum’s upset that people won’t redefine conservatism to make it easier for Mitt to deal with the “problem” of his wealth.

Solution: Romney needs to offer bigger tax cuts for the rich and steeper benefit cuts for the young. See Fred Barnes here, or AEI’s in-house economics blogger here, or CNBC’s Larry Kudlow here.

Does anybody else notice the obvious logical problem in this line of reasoning?

Personally, I don’t care if Mitt is rich. I actually think it’s great that somone has been so sucessful. That doesn’t mean that in this economy against this opponent it’s not going to be an issue for Romney to deal. You’d think a skilled politician who is supposedly so “electable” would have a ready line to handle this but Mitt clearly doesn’t.

Of course Romney himself acknowledges this is a weakness of his.

When Romney came in and spoke to The Wall Street Journal recently, he said that “someone with my background can’t make an argument for cutting taxes on wealthy individuals.” That was sort of why he–his argument for a more modest tax proposal here. What he didn’t say is whether he actually believes that cutting taxes on our most productive people would help grow the economy. And I think that’s where Gingrich thinks he has Romney. Does he actually believe this stuff?

And Romney is not adverse to sounding a lot like Obama when it comes to attacking Gingrich for having the audacity to promote traditional GOP/conservative tax policies.

Romney was quick to distinguish himself from Gingrich and endorse the Obama way of thinking, “His [Gingrich’s] plan in capital gains, to remove capital gains for people — at the very highest level of income is different than mine. I’d– I’d– eliminate capital gains, interest, and dividends for people in middle income.”

In other words, according to Romney and Obama’s way of thinking, taxes aren’t paid merely to fund the constitutional functions of government or even for non-conservative social reasons (like discouraging smoking by raising cigarette taxes or encouraging homeownership through the mortgage interest deduction).  To Romney and Obama, taxes are also to be paid so that the government can collect and redistribute money from those “at the very highest level of income.”

Romney supporters like Frum seem to think we should be willing toss decades of conservative positions overboard in order have Romney as the nominee. They really seemed surprised that actual conservatives aren’t willing to make that exchange.

The burden is on Mitt to frame his story within traditional conservative policies, not for us to give up our positions to accommodate him. He’s not worth it.

The Dumbest Anti-Newt Attack Out There

The idea that Obama is licking his chops at running against Newt but is somehow quaking in his boots at the idea of facing Romney is simply silly.

Here’s an example of the theory.

Getting ecstatic emails from my Dem operative friends re Newt.

And they’d have sent the same emails if Mitt had delivered the knockout blow last night.

Does anyone actually believe that the candidate who is basing his entire campaign on classwarfare, greedy Wall St. financiers and protecting the middle class from the rich is really, really sad he might not get the chance to run against a guy who is rich and a Wall St. financier with 4 huge homes?

I’m not saying that Obama is scared of Gingrich, he likely doesn’t care very much either way. He has a campaign plan, he knows what his own weaknesses are and will execute his plan to against whomever the Republicans nominate.  Anything else is just spin.

The Latest (And Saddest) Cry Of Romney Backers: But, But Newt Trails Obama In The Polls!

I’m seeing a lot of this from Mitt fans (or Newt haters) on Twitter and conservative blogs.

Well, just consider a this from January 25th 2004.

A Kerry-Bush match-up would have Kerry up by 49 percent to Bush’s 46 percent.

In January of 2008, Hillary Clinton led McCain by 4 points and Obama trailed him by 1. 

By March McCain led Obama by 6 and Hillary! by 8. Clearly Democrats were doomed! Doomed!

These are just some anecdotes and Republicans shouldn’t simply ignore Newt’s unfavorable numbers but we also shouldn’t be much credit in polling this early. You can’t ignore the fact that both Romney and Gingrich have been engaged in a bitter primary battle for months while Obama is essentially running unopposed at this point. Once a nominee is picked and they can start to focus on Obama and his abysmal record.

Speaking of Obama, he’s not exactly a juggernaut of favoribility and his job approval numbers are pretty bad as well.

I originally support Newt as a protest candidate, I honestly never expected him to gain any traction. I’m perfectly willing to admit is many faults. If I thought Mitt were actually a better candidate (not more conservative, just better) I’d probably support him. There’s simply no evidence to support the idea that Mitt is “electable” except that a lot of people keep saying he is. I doubt Team Obama or general election voters will any more impressed with that rationale for Mitt than GOP primary voters have been.

Krauthammer: Hey No Fair Attacking Mitt! How Much Of The Establishment Conservative Media Protects Mitt

Charles Krauthammer’s Washington Post column is the latest entry in a genre common to a lot of big time conservative media types this primary: Attack those attacking Romney and ignore the same behavior by Romney.

Krauthammer goes after Gingrich and Perry for their attacks on Romney’s time at Bain Capital as playing right into Obama’s hands.

Then came the twist. Then came the most remarkable political surprise since the 2010 midterm: The struggling Democratic class-war narrative is suddenly given life and legitimacy by . . . Republicans! Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry make the case that private equity as practiced by Romney’s Bain Capital is nothing more than vulture capitalism looting companies and sucking them dry while casually destroying the lives of workers.

Suddenly Romney’s wealth, practices and taxes take center stage. And why not? If leading Republicans are denouncing rapacious capitalism that enriches the 1 percent while impoverishing everyone else, should this not be the paramount issue in a campaign occurring at a time of economic distress?

Now, economic inequality is an important issue, but the idea that it is the cause of America’s current economic troubles is absurd. Yet, in a stroke, the Republicans have succeeded in turning a Democratic talking point — a last-ditch attempt to salvage reelection by distracting from their record — into a central focus of the nation’s political discourse.

How quickly has the zeitgeist changed? Wednesday, the Republican House reconvened to reject Obama’s planned $1.2 trillion debt-ceiling increase. (Lacking Senate concurrence, the debt ceiling will be raised nonetheless.) Barely noticed. All eyes are on South Carolina and Romney’s taxes.

Let me say I’m not a fan of Gingrich’s attacks on Romney and Bain but I don’t think it’s out of bounds for competing candidates to simply allow Romney’s gloss on his record be the only word on the matter. As it is so much of Romney’s actual record is supposedly out of bounds because “it was Massachusetts!”. Romney and his supporters (in and out of the conservative media) already ask us to take a lot about his supposed conservatism on faith. Now we aren’t supposed to kick the tires on issues that will certainly come up in a general election campaign? What exactly is so special about Mitt Romney that he gets all these breaks no one else is offered?

The underlying point Krauthammer seems to be making is, hey Romney is going to be the nominee so let’s not make trouble for him. I’m sorry if it’s inconvenient for both he and Romney but apparently other people aren’t ready to attend Mitt’s coronation. They seem to think one way of making sure these issues don’t comeback to bite Romney and the GOP in the fall is to NOT nominate Mitt. That wild notion doesn’t seem to be a consideration for Krauthammer.

That brings me to the second part of this media two-step. The next phase is to ignore the fact that Romney engages in exactly the kinds of attacks they have rule out of bounds when made against Mitt.

If it’s illegitimate to attack Mitt on a core GOP belief such as “capitalism” surely it’s illegitimate to attack from the left on entitlement reform. Clearly Obama and the Democrats are going to run against the Republican nominee by saying they want to throw old people into the streets and force them to eat out of dumpsters. It seems they would love some clips of a prominent Republican accusing the nominee of wanting to do just that and Mitt would have delivered them to Obama and the Democrats.

I don’t think the major problem is that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme,” Romney said. “I think the problem is keeping it from becoming a Perry scheme.”

Our nominee has to be someone who isn’t committed to abolishing Social Security, but who is committed to saving SocialSecurity.” – Mitt Romney… Governor Perry Believes Social Security Should Not Exist

“This is going to be a really big deal,” said Lanhee Chan, Romney’s policy director. “To make the argument that Social Security effectively has to be eliminated is a complete non starter.”

“You’ve got millions of Americans who depend on Social Security,” Chan added. “He’s going to have a really tough time explaining why he wants to kill Social Security.”

These attacks were made while Perry was still riding high and was just as likely to be the nominee as Mitt. Where was the outrage? Where was the simple acknowledgement from Krauthammer that as someone once said, “politics ain’t beanbag”? No, Romney is always the victim who must be protected from his own past and from the same kind of attacks he is free to launch against others.

If Krauthammer or anyone wants to support Romney (Hi National Review!), have at it. Make your case as to why he’s the best choice and let the chips fall where they may. But don’t hide behind supposed impartial “analysis” as a way to shape the rules and debate to favor your guy.

The 2012 GOP Presidential Field: Garbage In, Garbage Out

So Drudge says Newt Gingrich’s 2nd wife talked to ABC News for two hours and dumped all over him.

At best, any momentum he had will be broken as voters desperate to beat Obama will think Gingrich is too risky. At worst, well, given the stage of the campaign we’re at, the best and worst case scenarios are basically the same. Either way, Mitt Romney will be the beneficiary.

How did we get here? Look at the awful choices we had.

Tim Pawlenty:

A nice enough guy who simply wasn’t big league material. From his strange effort to attack Obama to his strange unwillingness to attack Romney (then apologize for not attacking him and then attacking Romney again from a safe distance) he was never able to get going.

Basically he’s a guy whose abilities maxed out as Governor of a mid-sized state. There’s no shame in that but he was never going to make it to the White House.

Herman Cain:

An inexperienced idiot with character problems.

Michele Bachmann:

She could be reasonable at times but more often than not, she was either bragging about leading a bunch of losing fights, making ridiculous claims about vaccinations  or cheap shotting other candidates to protect Mitt Romney.

Jon Huntsman:

A reasonably conservative guy who decided to run as a liberal, while insulting conservatives. An off-putting personality and a lack of basic political instincts is not a winning recipe.

Rick Perry:

He’ll be remember for his “oops” brain cramp but the reality is he never acted as a serious candidate. He seemed to think his record (which most people didn’t really know) and ideological compatibility with the base would get him through. Turns out voters actually expected him to be able demonstrate a passing familiarity with some issues a President will face and build a coherent argument for his policy proposals. In five months, Perry couldn’t do either. He simply didn’t do the homework necessary to be seen by conservatives as plausible candidate/President. Perry supporters will blame voters for not focusing on Perry’s strengths but it’s his job to demonstrate them.

Rick Santorum:

An economic liberal who seems to care more about social issues than anything.

Just look at the debate earlier this week. When asked what he’d do about unemployment he talked about how people who get married do better economically.

First, I doubt that people worried about the economy want to be told, “get married”. They are probably looking more for something about taxes, spending cuts and pro-growth government policies.

Second, even if marriage were the key to prosperity, I don’t want a government big enough to do anything about that. It’s simply not government’s business how people organize their life. Santorum doesn’t seem to agree with that.

Newt Gingrich:

To my mind the best of a bad lot. He has plenty of deviations from the conservative path but he actually has a long track record of accomplishing conservative goals. His ability to defend and advance conservative positions in an effective way is head and shoulders above anyone else in the field.

Always below the surface was Newt’s fatal flaw: his personality. He failed to respond to Mitt’s negative attacks when it could have mattered in Iowa and by the time he did get around to it he sounded whiny (oh all the ads against me!) and then attacks on a front (Bain) he doesn’t actually believe in.

As he was finally coming back after this week’s debate, his old arrogance was coming back as well. Now, his ex-wife will put in the final bullet. Even if she has nothing new, it will stir up old fears and lead voters back to the supposedly safe harbor of Mr. Electability….

Mitt Romney:

You know why Romney spends so much time attacking other candidates instead of promoting his conservative achievements? He doesn’t have any to speak of.

The supposed case for Romney’s “electability” is the fact that he won one election. He won that election by running as a “moderate” whose policies were “progressive”. And now his biggest supporters tell us we can’t hold anything he did or said to get elected or while Governor against him because “it was Massachusetts”.

As for Romney’s signature achievement while Governor, it just happens to be almost the same thing as the number one thing conservatives hold against Obama, yet he still defends it.

Romney is only electable if you accept the restrictions his supporters place on you….you can’t hold anything he did or said before 2007 against him and have to give him total credit for everything he said since then no matter how much it conflicts with anything else (unless a recent comment actually hurts him and then you have to ignore that too). We also have to ignore the fact that Mitt’s previous career and wealth might not be looked on as favorably by general election voters as it is by conservatives.

For a guy who is supposedly so clearly “Electable” he sure comes with a lot of caveats.

I could go on about Mitt’s many flaws (just skim around this blog and you’ll see I have) but what’s the point? He’s going to be the nominee and he’s going to lost to Obama.

I’m not sure any of those who declined to run would have been better in the long run but clearly this primary season it’s been garbage in, garbage out.

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