Tag: Rick Santorum

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.

Iowa

The first official vote of the 2012 race is today in Iowa. It looks like the result will be a near tie between Paul, Romney and … I can’t believe I’m typing this .. Santorum. Perry and Gingrich are likely to finish a ways back. Bachmann and Santorum are likely to be way back.

This thing has already dragged out over a year and I think I’ve made my opinions of the candidates clear. I haven’t blogged much on Rick Santorum but I should have. It was utterly predictable that after Palin, Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich and Paul he would be the next out of the clown car to surge in the polls (hold out, Mr. Huntsman, your turn is coming!). But, to be clear, this man is not a limited government conservative. He supported every big government program of George W. Bush. He supports an aggressive foreign policy. He was a world-class porker for Pennsylvania while simultaneously opposing the freedom of people to pork who they want and use birth control while porking. With Santorum, you don’t have to infer that he’s a religious radical. He has openly stated it.

Pretty soon, that will be remembered. And we’ll be back to Plan B, which is Mitt Romney.

For the record, I think Obama is going to win re-election this year no matter who the nominee is. There’s always a chance if some major scandal erupts or the economy tanks again, which is why we should find a sensible candidate. But Americans hate unelecting Presidents and the GOP still has a foul taste for too many voters. And the early returns on the economy are hopeful. However, I think it is likely that the GOP will make big gains in the Senate and retain control of the House. In the end, that’s the more important fight. George Will has a good column out expounding on this topic.

Although they have become prone to apocalyptic forebodings about the fragility of the nation’s institutions and traditions under the current President, conservatives should stride confidently into 2012. This is not because they are certain, or even likely, to defeat Barack Obama this year. Rather, it is because, if they emancipate themselves from their unconservative fixation on the presidency, they will see events unfolding in their favour. And when Congress is controlled by one party, as it might be a year from now, it can stymie an overreaching executive.

I’m not yet convinced that the GOP is sane or reliable enough to have the entire government in their hands. I can live with divided government … if the GOP can force some fiscal discipline.

Turkeys and Drumsticks 2011

For four years running, I have taken advantage of the Thanksgiving Holiday to give out my awards for Turkey of the Year and Golden Drumsticks. The latter are for those who exemplify the best traits in our public sphere. The former are for those who exemplify silliness and stupidity. I rarely give them out to someone who is evil; they are reserved for those who regularly makes me shake my head and wonder what they’re thinking. It’s a sort of “thank you” for making blogging easier.

We’ll start with the Turkeys of the Year. For reference, the past winners are:

2007: Alberto Gonzalez, Nancy Pelosi, Hugo Chavez

2008: Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin’s critics, Hillary Clinton, Congress, Joe Biden

2009: MIke Steele, Glen Beck, the State Department, Sarah Palin, Andrew Sullivan.

2010: Janet Napolitano and TSA, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, MSNBC, Lower Merion Schools, California Voters:

For this year, I’m going with:

Nancy Pelosi: This is her third award in five years. Nancy is the gift that keeps on giving, even after you’ve tried to return it to the store. To steal a joke from Bill James’ glorious Historical Baseball Abstract, Nancy is a complete five-tool silly person. She can run silly, hit silly, throw silly, field silly and silly for power. She is silly to all fields. She can silly behind the runner as well as anyone, and you talk about pressure … man, you never saw a politician who was sillier in the clutch. She is the Albert Pujols of idiocy. This is a woman who was cornered in an interview with Jon Stewart, claiming the Democrats didn’t pass a budget because Republicans would’ve filibustered it (memo to the former Speaker: budget bills can’t be filibustered. You might remember this because you passed Obamacare as a budget bill.) This is a woman who thinks unemployments benefits will reduce the deficit. There is not a month that goes by without Pelosi saying something that makes the Right Wing roar with laughter.

The Republican Presidential Field: You know it’s been that kind of year when the winner of every Republican debate is Barack Obama. You know it’s been that kind of year when the highlights of Mitt Romney clinching the nomination doesn’t include footage of Mitt Romney. About a year from now, we’re going to look at the list of people who, at one time, led the polls — Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich — and wonder how the Party of Reagan went so wrong. Newt’s Fannie Mae and healthcare mandate past will soon doom his candidacy. I suspect Santorum will be the next flavor of the month. This will last until people remember that he’s Rick Santorum.

And, really Donald Trump deserves his own entry. None of us were fooled that he would really run for President. And he showed himself thoroughly unfit. To me, the iconic image of Trump was his stoney face while being roasted during the White House Press Corps dinner. Presidents need to be able to laugh at themselves. Reagan could. Both Bushes could. Clinton could. Obama can. Even Nixon could laugh at himself. Taking yourself so seriously is a sign that you belong nowhere near power.

Occupy Wall Street: This is painful because I had hopes for them. I think the issue that motivates them — entrenched corporate power and wealth — is legitimate. I think it’s appalling that the banks paid so small a price for so big a catastrophe. But they’ve ruined whatever good will they had with criminal and anarchistic behavior, vague or far Left demands and mindless provocation.

Let me put it this way. A few weeks ago, the Left was crowing because OWS had higher favorability numbers among the public than the Tea Party. They’re not crowing any more because the latest poll shows them as far less popular. It took the Tea Party two years to tire the public; it took OWS about two weeks. And that was with media coverage in their favor.

Anthony Weiner: I still can’t make up my mind which is stupider: texting pictures of your dick to strangers? Or lying about it and making fools of your political allies? He’ll be back, probably with a commentary gig on MSNBC or something.

The Eurozone: If we get into a second Great Depression, it will be because of these guys. Everyone knows what needs to be done. No one can do it. But at least we know that drinking bottled water may prevent dehydration.

Dishonorable Mention: Rush Limbaugh, Andrew Sullivan, Bill Maher, Kim Kardashian, Charlie Sheen, Harold Koh, the NBA, the NCAA, Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Eric Holder and the ATF, the Supercommittee.

Now the Golden Drumsticks. Here are the past awards, the first round from WVR.

2007: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ron Paul, Barack Obama, David Petraeus, Juan Carlos, Burma’s monks

2008: US Military, Jeff Flake, Ron Paul, Republican Governors, Barack Obama

2009: The American Fighting Man, Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd, George W. Bush

2010: The Tea Party, Chris Christie, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the Next Wave of Republicans, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, The American Soldiers

For 2011:

Seal Team Six: The biggest story of 2011 may be their execution of Osama bin Laden, carried out with incredible skill and courage. And a big bite of this goes to Obama, who gave the order.

Mark Kelly: Gabby Giffords is not all the way back, yet. Her interview, inspiring as it was, shows some remaining cognitive and functional difficulties. But that she has come so far is a God-damned miracle. On the day she was shot, I was convinced we’d next see her in a coffin or a permanent vegetative state. A lot of the credit goes to her husband, who has been a class act and shown his wife a devotion that should make us all proud. Bonus points to the parents of little Christina Green, who refused to politicize the most tragic fatality of that awful day.

The Arab Spring: It may still all end in tears and Islamofascism. But let’s be hopeful: the protesters who shook or toppled regimes in Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are what OWS deludes themselves that they are: real people putting their lives in danger to oppose brutal powerful dictators.

The Technicians at Fukushima Daichii: They made mistakes early on, but they risked their lives and their health to try to deal with this disaster. And really, the entire nation of Japan deserves recognition for responding to one of the biggest natural disasters in history with resolve, hard work and dignity.

Honorable Mention: John Boehner, Paul Ryan, the students of Penn State, the Shuttle program, Peter Schiff, Reason magazine, Hillary Clinton.

Cleaning Up After Santorum

Whatever I might think about Rick Perry or Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann or Ron Paul or Herman Cain or whoever, I never forget this: at least they’re not Rick Santorum.

I can usually at least try to see the Culture Conservative point of view. A lot of the time, their arguments — on abortion, gays, drugs — make some sense to me even when I disagree with them. But whenever Rick Santorum opens his pie-hole, I’m just slack-jawed.

Santorum is running, as far as I can tell, on the anti-gay issue. He has this bizarre metaphor that a napkin isn’t a paper towel and so … actually I’m not sure what his point is. He is trying to argue that marriage has been the same throughout history and across cultures (i.e. a napkin is always a napkin) but this isn’t even close to true. For much of history, for parts of the world today, marriage has involved one man and several women and has been more about protecting property and status than love. In our own society, it has progressed from an institution where men provided support and protection for women in exchange for sex and progeny into something more like a partnership. Adultery was once a crime only a woman could commit and was punishable by death. Levirite marriage is mandated in the Bible. Divorce is forbidden in Santorum’s faith but not mine or that of most protestants. Some branches of Islam allow for temporary marriages for pleasure (nikah al-mutah). I could go on and on. A napkin clearly is not just a napkin and never has been.

(Actually, if you look closely, Santorum’s listeners are using paper towels as napkins. My favorite Texas BBQ places always used paper towels as napkins. I don’t know what that means but, great Scott, do I miss Texas BBQ.)

He concludes by defending his remarks comparing gay sex to bestiality, incest and child molestation. Because allowing consenting adults to engage in sex is naturally the same as allowing people to have sex with people (or things) that can’t consent. He clearly isn’t terribly familiar with what was actually written in the Lawrence decision.

And finally, he claims that he is the victim of a “gay jihad”. I think the inventor of Rick Santorum’s Google problem says it best:

Why are gay people so darn mean to Rick Santorum? All Rick wants to do is write anti-gay bigotry into the Constitution, ban same-sex marriage, make it illegal for gay people to have or adopt children, make sure gay people can’t make medical decisions for our partners during medical emergencies, make gay sex a felony again, prevent queer widow and widowers from accessing their deceased partners’ social security or pension benefits, reinstitute DADT, split up binational gay couples—and on and on—and, golly, it’s so unfair that gay people don’t want Rick Santorum president. (Also, jokes.) And so long as we refuse to accept second-class citizenship status—so long as we insist on squirming while Rick and his buddies pound those nails home—we’re persecuting him.

I agree with Dan Savage on politics about once a Neptune year and I actually think the Santorum Google response was an over-reaction. Rick Santorum did not invent anti-gay sentiment. But I think, for once, Savage is right. For Santorum to portray himself, for others to portray him as a victim is ridiculous. Santorum is a rich and powerful man surrounded by sycophants. Gays are not talking about breaking up his family or denying him sex. They’re hitting back because of anti-gay things he has said and endorsed. He’s not being bullied; he is a bully, picking on a minority and getting angry because his victim has pushed back.

(How exactly does a gay jihad work, incidentally? Do they stone you to death with throw pillows? Do they pillage antique shops and forcibly do women’s hair? Do their scimitars all match?)

The gay issue has been on my mind lately because I’m worried that the GOP is going down another rabbit hole. I may have said this before but can’t find it beyond the site reboot horizon. So forgive me if I’m retracing old steps.

Back in the 1970’s, the GOP stepped back from their previous support for civil rights to support the so-called “Southern Strategy”: an effort to woo segregationists from the Democrats. The idea was not to embrace segregation, per se, but to jump on racially sensitive issues like welfare to build a power base in the South.

While it managed to get a few politicians to defect (Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond), it never really helped their electoral prospects. In Presidential races, they won the whole country in 1972, lost the South in 1976 and 1980, won the whole country in 1984 and 1988, split the South in 1992 and 1996. It was only in the mid-90’s that the South turned and, by that point, no one gave a crap about segregation issues. The turn was over economic issues. And by 2008, Barack Obama was able to dominate the South in the primaries and compete in the general election, winning three states.

However, the Southern Strategy did have one palpable effect: both on its own and through liberal harping about it, the Southern Strategy alienated black voters to the point where the GOP is lucky to poll in single digits. This is despite a fair amount of conservatism among blacks, who are heavily pro-life and pro-school choice. P.J. O’Rourke said that Clinton’s popularity among blacks was because he allowed them to vote for a Republican without throwing up.

I’m afraid the GOP is going down the same path again with their stance on gay issues. The country is shifting rapidly on these issues, especially among young voters — much more rapidly than it did on racial issues. Huge majorities oppose DADT, including a majority of conservatives. Gay marriage is closing in on majority support and large majorities favor at least civil unions. And barring gay adoption or gay sex simply isn’t on the radar for any but the most ardent cultural conservatives. Yet the entire GOP field supports DADT and DOMA, most favor the Marriage Amendment and Santorum favors just about every anti-gay measure you can think of.

Some of this support is in name only — the FMA, for example, has zero change of happening. But their vocal support for these policies is going to come back to bite them and probably not too far in the future. As more gays come out of the closet, as more people have gay friends and relatives, as more gays get married and have kids and as the world fails to end despite this, people are going to remember where the GOP was on this. People with gay kids are going to remember that the Rick Santorum wanted to deny their in-laws and take away their grandkids. People whose lives were saved by gay soldiers will realize they would have died had DADT been in place.

We are going to pay for this crap. And we are going to pay and pay and pay (literally, given the spending habits of the Democrats).

(Irrelevant PS — OK, this is irrelevant. But how on Earth did tagaroo come up with “Knights of Malta” as a suggested tag for this post? Is there something about the Knights of Malta that wikipedia isn’t telling me? Did they get really lonely on those crusades or something? Honestly, computers baffle me sometimes.)

Debate Thoughts

I sort of watched tonight’s debate, joining in about half an hour in and catching up on my RSS feed while listening. Here are a few thoughts. First, the candidates:

  • Herman Cain seems to have peaked. He wasn’t nearly as persuasive as he was in the last debate and he had difficulty on the Muslim loyalty question. He really needed to stand out tonight and he didn’t.
  • Michelle Bachmann is a serious candidate — far more serious than Sarah Palin. She’s better on the issues, smarter and more confident in her knowledge. I don’t like her positions at all. But I think she could end up as a vice-presidential candidate. I was surprised by how well she carried herself.
  • Much as I like Ron Paul, he seems tired and not nearly as refreshing as he was in 2008. There are times when he’ll say something that makes me cheer and I hope he sticks around for a while. Think of him as the libertarian conscience of the GOP.
  • When it comes to Rick Santorum, I’m not objective. The guy just annoys the fuck out of me.
  • Tim Pawlenty seems like a nice guy and his candidacy reminds me a bit of Huckabee’s. But he seems to keep getting lost in the crowd. Every time he spoke, I was like, “Oh, yeah. T-Paw is there. Huh.”
  • Newt occasionally said something interesting to wistfully remind of his early days, when he seemed likely to transform our government. As as Presidential candidate, he’s toast.
  • Mitt Romney is clearly the front-runner even though his rivals don’t seem to realize it. He was poised and presidential. He made me cringe when he got into social issues. But I still think he will win the nomination if his organizational skills are anything. He and Pawlenty were the most sane and are therefore the most likely to win the nomination. Despite the rantings of the Left, the GOP does not nominate demagogues for President. McCain, Bush, Dole, Bush, Reagan, Ford, Nixon, Goldwater, Eisenhower … all of these guys were in the conservative mainstream.
  • The one guy who I most missed was Gary Johnson. Johnson really impressed me in the first debate and I think his voice would have been wonderful in this one. He’s a saner version of Ron Paul.

    As for the issues … well, there wasn’t a lot of time to get into substance and the moderator seemed uninterested. In that situation, the debate degenerated into talking points. The culture war issues distressed me, especially the support for the Federal Marriage Amendment — the GOP’s current attempt to replace the so-called Southern Strategy as their cultural albatross. They seemed to be all over the place on the economy. The only thing I heard clearly was that whatever Obama was doing was wrong. That’s not a policy. The only one who seemed to really have a grasp of the issues was Romney, but that probably has more to do with his polish as a candidate.

    Hopefully future debates will allow longer answers and get into substance. A better format with this big a field might be to have two four-way debates among the eight candidates. Toss an issue out and let them go at it for half an hour. Then we’ll see who knows his ass from his elbow.

    The Replacement Killers

    None of the supposed GOP “front runners” — if there is such a thing at E-18 months — participated in last night’s GOP debate. This is probably why it was actually interesting. Feel free post your thoughts. Not much is settled at this point — we don’t even know what the issues will be in 2012. But my brief impressions of the guys who are vying for fourth place:

    • Gary Johnson does not have a chance. It’s a pity because he’s smart, libertarian and could win moderates. But he’s a little too … invisible to win the GOP nomination, especially when he’s on the stage with firebrands like Paul, Cain and Santorum. I did like him quite a bit, though and have since his gubernatorial days. Plus, how cool would it be to have a President who has climbed Everest?
    • Ron Paul reminded me of why I like him so much. Four years older and he’s still energetic and passionate. His defense of drug legalization was one of the highlights of the night. I’m not sure he’d be a good candidate given his past associations with Lew Rockwell and his somewhat kooky fiscal ideas. But having a Goldwater-esque pyrrhic victory might be just what Dr. No ordered. I really hope he stays in the field for a long time to force the other candidates to be honest. His influence has only grown.
    • Tim Pawlenty made zero impression on me. He’s trying to straddle a lot of issues, Romney-style, including creationism and cap-and-trade. I just don’t see him gaining much traction with the rank-and-file GOP. He wouldn’t be bad President, I think. But his personal appeal isn’t strong.
    • Rick Santorum reminded me that he is still a steaming bag of santorum. His Culture War positions were old ten years ago and his style is grating and sanctimonious. I do think, however, that he has a shot at the vice-presidency if a more moderate Republican (Romney, T-Paw) takes the lead. Social conservatives tend to like him and I probably dislike and slag him a lot more than he deserves.
    • Herman Cain had the best night, despite the panel’s attempts to avoid talking to him. This is really the first time he’s been on a national stage and he was clear, cogent and passionate. I disagree with Cain on a number of issues and am unconvinced that he would make a good President. But, like Paul, I hope he sticks with his candidacy for a while. He will liven up future debates. And between the two of them, they’ll make Trump look like an idiot.

    Nothing is decided at this time. Pawlenty needed a good showing to make himself a legitimate candidate and I just didn’t see it. But I think Cain and Paul showed that they belong in the debates. Paul we knew about. But his was Herman Cain’s coming out party.

    Predicting an election 18 months out is a fool’s game. But looking over the current field — last night’s five plus Gingrich, Romney, Huckabee, Huntsman, Bolton, Palin, Bachmann (I’m assuming Trump will drop out at financial disclosure time), I’ll take a stab at prediction and preference. Right now, my preference is for Gary Johnson. My prediction is still that it will be Romney.

    Now if only they could have gotten “The Rent is Too Damn High” candidate out there. (Yes, he’s running for the GOP nomination. Seriously.) Wouldn’t it be awesome to see him go up against Trump?