Tag: 2012 Republican Presidential Primary

Romney Takes Michigan

OK. Now can we stick a fork in the GOP nomination? Yes, yes … oh, all right. I’ll wait for Super Tuesday.

The Santorum surge over the last few weeks has been one of the more bizarre storylines of the entire election cycle. I flatter myself to think I saw it coming when I tweeted some time back that Santorum would be the VP nominee. But I didn’t see this coming. He gave Romney a run for his money with a hell of a lot less money. The punditariat think this is because the GOP is so extreme. I think it’s much simpler than that. Santorum believes the things he says. When he stands next to Mitt Romeny, it’s almost appealing … if you can stand the man at all. The one thing that always appeals to the American voter is sincerity.


I’m in a mad rush to go overseas so it will be light posting from me until Friday night. But the big news is that Romney has won Florida and is now running well ahead of the pack. I won’t declare it over with so many delegates not having voted. But it’s very close to over. We have simply not seen the emergence of a credible NotRomney.

The Leader of the Pack

It seems like overnight the Republican also-rans have figured out that attacking Mitt Romney might be more profitable than attacking each other. Huntsman opened with a great defense of being Obama’s ambassador to China. Rick Perry, Mr. Oops himself, had a great line about Romney’s fear of pink slip being a fear of running out of them. And Romney, bless him, handed them a great line all on his own:

Now to be clear, this is taken out of context. Romney was talking about health insurance and defending the private market over a socialized market. He was saying he likes being able to fire your health insurance company if they aren’t providing you with good insurance. But given his dubious attacks on his fellows, he’s opened himself up for this.

Romney’s Bain Capital days are the epicenter of this and I can understand why. The public has a huge distaste for people who make millions downsizing and blowing up companies. Maybe they shouldn’t: there’s plenty of evidence that downsizing, in the end, moves capital and people from inefficient dying businesses to more robust ones. But it’s a fact that people don’t like it. And if you think Perry and Huntsman are being unfair about it now, you just wait until Team Obama gets their teeth into this. Five years ago, this wouldn’t have been a liability. But with the perception that our economy has been crippled by rich guys who do nothing but play with money all day, Romney’s Bain Capital background is a big liability. And how he responds now will be a big indication of whether he can absorb the punches Obama is going to deliver later this year.

Unless the Republicans suddenly discover John Huntsman, the race has narrowed down to Paul, Santorum and Romney. I still think Romney is the most likely nominee since both Santorum and Paul have a lot of baggage. But don’t be surprised if this goes a long time and ends up with a brokered convention.

Perry Stumbles


To be fair … I do some amount of public speaking and have occasionally had a brain cramp. Just last week, an unexpectedly raucous response to a throwaway joke threw me off my stride. But experienced speakers — and Perry is one — have ways of recovering. You combine this with his prior debate performances and his drunken syrup speech, and the impression is of a candidate who is just winging it. (Not that he’s the only one who gives that impression). If the Bush years taught us anything, it’s that the ability to communicate ideas is one of the most critical aspects of a presidency.

The other thing I take from this is that Perry hasn’t really invested a lot of thought in which department he would keep and which he would cut. His plan to cut three is just something to say. The actual departments he would cut are irrelevant since it’s very unlikely to very happen. Frankly, it seemed last night that Romney and Huntsman were the only ones to be thinking about how to govern and what actual policies to implement rather than what sounds good in a 30-second sound bite.

On its own, this gaffe would be amusing but meaningless. When you consider it in the context of an inept campaign, it’s an apotheosis of everything that’s gone wrong for Team Perry.

Uncle Paul

Jon Stewart has a point:

Ron Paul finished second in the Iowa straw pole, but you wouldn’t know it from the media coverage. This is hardly an isolated incident. As Tim Carney notes:

If Paul had garnered 153 more votes on Saturday, winning the straw poll, you can be sure that every wrap-up story would have focused on the event’s irrelevance.

Why do the mainstream media and the Republican establishment persist in ignoring and dismissing Paul?

Part of it, I think, is that Paul is 2008’s news. While he was refreshing then, he’s just crankier now. Paul has always been appealing to certain political junkies, but his mainstream appeal is limited. Now that many of the GOP candidates have picked up some of his more populist points, he’s not as appealing to some (although clearly still appealing to many Iowans).

However, I think there’s more to it than that. I think the reason Paul is being ignored is because he is consistently embarrassing both the political and the media establishment and it’s driving them bonkers. Paul advocates views that many in the country support but none of the establishment wants to touch — legalization of marijuana, ending the wars and federalism, in particular (all the other candidates makes noise on states rights but end those noises when the states want to do something they don’t like, such as gay marriage). These views are all perfectly within the mainstream. Two-thirds of the country supports allowing gays to marry or form civil unions, the majority of even Republicans want the wars ended and we’re nearing a majority on marijuana. But the power base of both parties supports the war on drugs, the war on terror and wants gay marriage to go away. And since they want it, the media sees these as the “sensible” view. Paul’s popularity is constant frustrating reminder of just how out of touch they are and how the “sensible, mainstream” is neither sensible nor mainstream.

Paul is also afflicted by what I call the Curse of the Libertarian: you are always ignored but you are always right. And when you’re proven right, you get blamed anyway. Carney again:

In 2002, as President George W. Bush was pushing more subsidies for mortgages and home-buying under the motto of an “ownership society,” Ron Paul took to the House floor to issue a warning. Through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Reserve, “the government increases the likelihood of a painful crash in the housing market.”

Neither the mainstream media nor the GOP leadership wanted to hear this at the time. Housing was the engine of our growth, and Ron Paul was just being a crank again. So we pumped and pumped, until the inevitable crash.

Paul similarly foresaw our current debt crisis, warning that cutting taxes and increasing spending was the recipe for disaster. “Endless borrowing to finance endless demands cannot be sustained,” Paul said eight years before the S&P downgraded U.S. debt.

Back then Paul was also warning of the perils of two open-ended wars and lengthy occupations halfway around the world. Paul was nearly alone among Republicans in opposing George W. Bush’s Wilsonian vision of spreading American-style democracy at gunpoint. Today, our continued Afghanistan occupation is generally seen as pointless, and even many conservatives consider Iraq a mistake.

I liked Paul in 2008 although my support waned due to his association with Lew Rockwell’s racial bullshit. But I haven’t blogged about him this year because there’s not much to say. He’s still who he was four years ago: passionate, annoyingly correct, somewhat flaky and probably unelectable. But I still like him and am glad he is out there even if I’m hoping Gary Johnson will take on his role in the future.

But here’s the thing. He’s no longer the loopiest person in the GOP field. You can’t possibly say that when the field now includes one hack with a Google problem, one serial liar who support reprogramming gays and another candidate who, in his first week of campaigning, accused the Bush-appointed Chairman of the Fed of treason and joked about lynching him.

Whatever we think of Paul, he’s a contender. It’s time to start treating him like one.

Update: Glenn Greenwald nails it (you should read the whole thing):

There are many reasons why the media is eager to disappear Ron Paul despite his being a viable candidate by every objective metric. Unlike the charismatic Perry and telegenic Bachmann, Paul bores the media with his earnest focus on substantive discussions. There’s also the notion that he’s too heterodox for the purist GOP primary base, though that was what was repeatedly said about McCain when his candidacy was declared dead.

But what makes the media most eager to disappear Paul is that he destroys the easy, conventional narrative — for slothful media figures and for Democratic loyalists alike. Aside from the truly disappeared former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (more on him in a moment), Ron Paul is far and away the most anti-war, anti-Surveillance-State, anti-crony-capitalism, and anti-drug-war presidential candidate in either party. How can the conventional narrative of extremist/nationalistic/corporatist/racist/warmongering GOP v. the progressive/peaceful/anti-corporate/poor-and-minority-defending Democratic Party be reconciled with the fact that a candidate with those positions just virtually tied for first place among GOP base voters in Iowa? Not easily, and Paul is thus disappeared from existence. That the similarly anti-war, pro-civil-liberties, anti-drug-war Gary Johnson is not even allowed in media debates — despite being a twice-elected popular governor — highlights the same dynamic.

Exactly. Ron Paul challenges our media and politicians’ most sacred lie — that our problems can only be solved by absolutely loyalty to the platform of one of our two idiot parties.