Logic Fail

You want to know why Republicans are possibly going to lose the White House this year, despite an environment in which the GOP nominee should be all but guaranteed victory?  Republican voters have become incapable of comprehending the larger picture, and have swallowed media narratives hook, line, and sinker.  The perfect distillation of this is evidenced on this thread on the blog Legal Insurrection.  Professor William Jacobson is a Gingrich supporter, so he has reason to take down Ann Coulter’s idiotic “Three Cheers for Romneycare” column.  Of course Jacobson un-ironically accuses Coulter of deflection, a curious charge for someone who himself has twisted logic in order to boost Gingrich.  But that’s neither here nor there.

What really struck me was this exchange in the comment section.

Here is a Santorum supporter speaking up:

I admit that Mitt is sub-standard. What I dont get is (aside from the several here with clearly anti-Mormon bigotry) why sub-standard Newt should be the overwhelming favorite.

When I caucus next Tuesday (Colorado) – unless the Paulbots are out in force – I will vote for Santorum… because both Romney and Gingrich have huge non-conservative faults. This site has seemingly become dedicated to taking down Romney for the sake of Gingrich. I’ve yet to hear a persuasive argument why I should overlook Gingrich’s equally glaring faults.

A very good question.  Here is the response he received:

Oh for God’s sake, Bain, I like Santorum too, but look at the numbers. He’s just NOT going to rise.
Period.
This is the weaning, and Santorum doesn’t cut it.
Love the guy, but move on.
Please.
It’s like picking players on a team: You WEAN.

Well that’s a really convincing argument.  Shockingly, bains ain’t buying it.

Let me see if I have this right…

You want me to not vote for a candidate that I like… in favor of a candidate that I don’t like, so that the candidate that you hate will fail (well aside from Ron Paul).

The only argument in favor of Romney is his electability. His supporters really have nothing else to fall back on.  Well, Gingrich supporters are really not much better.  Their only argument is that Gingrich is the only person that can take down Romney.  They seem willing to concede that Santorum is the superior candidate – he just can’t win.  Well, that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you deem that a candidate cannot win and refuse to vote for him, well guess what?  He can’t win.

It’s a strange game that GOP voters are playing.  They are basing their voting decisions not on who they deem to be the best candidate, but rather are voting for people who they think other people will be voting for.  So I actually have to take back a bit of my opening premise.  It’s not that Republican voters aren’t trying to look at the big picture, they’re just doing a terrible job of it.

39 Responses to Logic Fail

  • Since I am a Pennsylvanian and my vote doesn’t actually matter (our primary isn’t until April. I suppose it makes sense to someone, somewhere that New York and Pennsylvania – pivotal to the existence of our nation – should be cut out of the primary system) I am resolved to vote for Santorum.

    I will not be bullied and I certainly feel like the GOP Establishment has been acting like a playground bully in this Primary. Why can’t they get it: I may vote for Romney over Obama but I don’t like him. Forcing me to choose between Obama and Romney is irritating and, if the stakes weren’t so damn high, I would probably vote for every position on the ballot except that of the presidency.

  • The only argument in favor of Romney is his electability. His supporters really have nothing else to fall back on.

    Except that he has actually run private companies and a state government. The other three have done nothing of the kind.

  • I will not be bullied and I certainly feel like the GOP Establishment has been acting like a playground bully in this Primary.

    Just out of curiousity, which individual is bullying you? Has the Governor of South Carolina or some editor at Commentary been sending you threatening letters?

  • I don’t know G-Veg, you might be right about it being all over by the time it gets to PA (April 24), but this one might last a bit longer. It really depends on what happens on Super Tuesday.

    That said, I certainly share your annoyance. The fact that states like Pennsylvania, Texas and others basically have little say in the process is astoundingly absurd.

  • As a wag on Ace put it, and I tweaked a bit:

    “Romney 2012: Because He Appeals To Everyone Else But You.”

  • “Except that he has actually run private companies and a state government.”

    Badly Art, at least in regard to state government. Experience as an executive can be helpful or not to a president. Abraham Lincoln had zip executive experience and Jimmy Carter had been governor of Georgia. Ulysses S. Grant commanded the Union Armies successfully in the Civil War, as Dwight D. Eisenhower commanded the Allied armies in Western Europe, but one was a failure as president and one a success. Other things being equal, I think it is good for a president to have some executive experience, but I think its predictive value as to how someone will perform in the office is fairly low.

  • “Just out of curiosity, which individual is bullying you? Has the Governor of South Carolina or some editor at Commentary been sending you threatening letters?”

    Bullying comes in many forms.

    Pulling out all stops to support the establishment candidate and to marginalize all others qualifies in my book. Dole, McCain, and now Romney – all establishment candidates who’s “turn” it was to run for President.

    We’ll see if this round turns out differently.

  • If Romney gets the nomination (which seems likely at this point) I absolutely will not vote for him in the general election. Gingrich at least would be entertaining. Better to go down in flames with Gingrich or Santorum than “win” with Romney.

  • Obama has run the most powerful country in the world for 3 years. I suppose that makes him more “qualified” than Romney, who only ran a state for 4 years. Both did a crummy job in their respective positions, governing as big-government-health-care-mandating-religious-liberty-trampling-gun-grabbing-pro-abort liberals. But if the “executive experience” is all that matters, I suppose Obama wins on that account.

  • I think it is good for a president to have some executive experience, but I think its predictive value as to how someone will perform in the office is fairly low.

    Here are our recent non-executives: John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Barack Obama. With the sorting of time, I suspect their performance will be rated thus: easy heat, wretched, wretched with some qualifications, satisfactory, wretched. I would rather not go there if I can avoid it, most particularly with regard to the policy dilemmas and potential emergencies the country will likely face in the coming six years.

    Bullying comes in many forms.

    You mean you get to define it?

    Dole, McCain, and now Romney – all establishment candidates who’s “turn” it was to run for President.

    Mr. Dole’s principal competitors were a newspaper columnist and a magazine publisher. Mr. McCain’s were the Governor of Arkansas, the man you are condemning, and a crank obstetrician who has spent many years as an ineffectual member of Congress. Mr. Romney’s are that same OBGYN and two lapsed members of Congress one of whom is an ethical train wreck with a fondness for technological and management fads. I am agreeable about Messrs. Santorum and Huckabee but I cannot blame people for taking contrary views of their candidacies.

  • The fact that states like Pennsylvania, Texas and others basically have little say in the process is astoundingly absurd.

    The Republican National Committee could set aside two Saturdays in June for states to hold their caucuses and declare delegates selected at any other time and in any other manner to have no standing. Not holding my breath.

  • Also from PA, and also feel cheated out of the ‘weaning” process. I really like Santorum, but am perfectly happy to vote for a shoe, if that shoe is less leftist than Obama.
    I wish it were different, and honestly don’t know why we handle the primaries this way. Why not move more of the primaries up to Februrary so we can be a part of the decision making? It is infuriating that by the time I get to vote, the process has eliminated all but one, including in local elections I might add. Local GOP chooses local candidates through a “committee” leaving the voter with only one nominee. That makes me believe thatthe GOP is self destructive.

  • “Here are our recent non-executives”

    And here are our executives:

    Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush 43 from the same period. Carter I would rate as the worst President of the 20th century and third worst president overall. Reagan is a President worthy of Mount Rushmore if there were space. Clinton is probably the worst man who has sat in the Oval office. As President he was saved by the Republicans taking Congress in 94 and thus curbing the excesses in government demonstrated during his first two years. Bush 43 as a war president succeeded in so mishandling the war in Iraq, prior to the surge, that he set the stage for overwhelming Democrat victories in 2006 and 2008. His domestic compassionate conservatism was a disaster for the nation. He looks better now in comparison to Obama who is doing his best to wrest the title of worst president from James Buchanan, but that is small praise indeed.

  • “if that shoe is less leftist than Obama.”

    I agree with you on that Trish!

  • Leftist is leftist. You’re just negotiating how slowly you want to be strangled to death.

  • Maybe Trish is articulating my concerns better than I did.

    My dissatisfaction is with the Primary process more generally.

    Primaries are damned expensive and, if your state is anywhere other than at the beginning of the line for the presidential candidate primaries, damned near pointless. From a non-partisan viewpoint, one can reasonably question whether the State has any interest at all in who parties put forth as candidates.

    The results are as you demonstrated – piss pore.

    Dole, McCain, and Romney – all likely to get swept aside like so much chaff by their Democrat opponents while our best and brightest don’t even get placed before the very rank-and-file that are likely to vote for them.

    Intellectual exercise:

    Supposing that Iowa and Pennsylvania were first. We’d probably be talking about Santorum as the likely candidate. Same pool of candidates, completely different result by simply shifting the order.

    If the Primary system is supposed to “wean out” the candidates, it should approach something like a replicable process. Moving around the states though gives you different results so I think it fair to ask whether strength in the primaries demonstrate anything remotely like electability.

  • Agreed, but with the current choices, I see little difference.
    Sadly, my opinion is that Rick can’t do it- I watched the Dems KILL, completely demolish his senate re-election chances, and that was just for PA Senate. They are already accusing him in a column today in Phila of “using his 3 year old daughter” for sympathy votes. Trust me, they would become even more evil with time, if he were to get the nomination.
    Until we slowly-one candidate at a time, change the culture in DC, we will never have a true conservative in the White House.

  • Funny, that Rick supposedly can’t perform better than a stiff like Dullard Flip Rino, since Rasmussen just released a national poll showing Santorum performing just as well as Dullard (and far better than Gingrich) against Obama:

    http://proecclesia.blogspot.com/2012/02/new-rasmussen-poll-shows-santorum.html

  • Trish,

    I don’t know how much more evil Democrats can be given that they openly support (even encourage) the murder of the unborn and the filth of homosexual sodomy.

  • I like the comment above about the self fulfilling prophecy the best– not voting for him because he can’t win and of course he can’t win if we don’t vote for him– or is that a catch 22 or
    more ridingbicycles down the Kaibab trail — DON’T LOOK AT THE EDGE! or we will all go over!

  • If we say “Oh, the person I’d REALLY like to vote for is conservative candidate X, but I think he could probably never get elected” and then at the same time say “I don’t like it, but I’d vote for moderate-to-liberal RINO stiff Y as long as he’s one tick to the right of the Democrat”, is it any wonder that every 4 years starts to look like the movie “Groundhog Day” with the same crappy scenario repeating itself over and over again?

    If we concede that we believe the conservatives we want can’t win, and admit right off the bat that we’ll support whoever gets the nomination as long as he’s marginally better than the Democrat alternative, aren’t we conditioning the GOP to give us just that? If that’s the signal we send to the party establishment, it’s no wonder that the establishment lines up in lockstep behind the squishiest, least objectionable candidate available (“least objectionable” in the sense that they stand for nothing and are thus, in theory but not in actual practice, less likely to draw enemy fire).

    Forget about complaining that the choice of candidates has already been winnowed down for us by the time our particular state’s primary rolls around – we’ve already narrowed the choices from the get-go just by buying into the assumptions and narrative of the party establishment. And then we tell them we’ll vote for their guy no matter what. We’ve been played for suckers time and again, and yet so many conservatives will line up on election day and pull the lever for yet another nominee who doesn’t represent their interests. Rinse. Repeat.

    See ya again in 4 years when we’re once more crying after a measly 3 primaries and 1 caucus that our choices have already been made for us, and act “shocked, shocked” that yet another RINO squish is being shoved down our throats.

  • Mr. Anderson,

    Your point is well made. What, then, do you suggest?

    One choice is, of course, to write in candidates but that never seems to do much more than give some journalist hack a follow-up story. Third-party candidates can move things but, at least this time around, it looks like that would be a Ron Paul vote and that isn’t something I’d broadcast after having done it.

    Are you suggesting then that we’d be better to vote for the positions on the ballot other than President, accepting that we are putting the President one vote closer to landslide?

    (I may actually be with you on that one. I’d have to think about it.)

  • Let me put this question out there: who would you have rather seen run / get the nomination? I know it’s easy to complain about the starting quarterback, but who’s the backup you’d rather see in the game?

  • Pinky: to whom is your question addressed? I’m sure most of us – including the author of this post (me) – have clearly stated our preference for Santorum.

  • Oh, yeah! Talk about unelectable!

    Ron Paul is polling but few points below drone-killer Obama (of OBL and Guvmint Motors notoriety), and Paul can’t pull 23 percent in a primary or caucus.

  • Paul – OK. I know that he’s popular on this site, but I didn’t think of him as “industry standard”. Do you think that he would get the nomination under a fairer primary system?

  • that yet another RINO squish is being shoved down our throats.

    ‘Another RINO squish’? I think it is a reasonable proposition that the succession of people who have won the Republican presidential nomination define the Republican type, not random combox denizens. You may not like what the dynamic of Republican politics serves you, but that is what it is. (And, much as you dislike it, the only people shoving things down your throat are Republican voters and campaign contributors).

    Dole, McCain, and Romney – all likely to get swept aside like so much chaff by their Democrat opponents while our best and brightest don’t even get placed before the very rank-and-file that are likely to vote for them.

    I am tired of repeating myself on the unreasonableness of this sort of handicapping, so won’t do that again. I might note that John McCain managed to garner 46% of the vote in a most challenging set of circumstances (the banking crisis, for one). Adlai Stevenson did not do this, Michael Dukakis managed it only with a much more agreeable milieux, and assessing Hubert Humphrey’s capacity to do this requires counterfactual speculation.

  • And here are our executives:

    Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush 43 from the same period. Carter I would rate as the worst President of the 20th century and third worst president overall. Reagan is a President worthy of Mount Rushmore if there were space. Clinton is probably the worst man who has sat in the Oval office. As President he was saved by the Republicans taking Congress in 94 and thus curbing the excesses in government demonstrated during his first two years. Bush 43 as a war president succeeded in so mishandling the war in Iraq, prior to the surge, that he set the stage for overwhelming Democrat victories in 2006 and 2008. His domestic compassionate conservatism was a disaster for the nation. He looks better now in comparison to Obama who is doing his best to wrest the title of worst president from James Buchanan, but that is small praise indeed.

    Why you neglect Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower, you do not say. All occupied the office during the era when general expectations of the services performed by the federal government were taking their current form. (And all were, on balance, accomplished in office above an beyond what we have seen since).

    The troublesome part of comparative assessment of our executives (aside from having very few data points) is that no two face the same challenges. Also, two assessors have the same notion of what ends it is desirable to achieve.

    I find your description of all of these people awfully florid. Mr. Carter followed bad monetary policy, taking advice from the wrong economists. Decisions he took during the period running from August 1978 to February 1979 vis-a-vis the political crisis in Iran turned out very badly, but it is conceivable that had we instigated a military coup in Iran in January of 1979 it might not have turned out better. One can certainly conceive of some alternatives to his response to the seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran, though it would have been difficult to prevent ABC News turning an attempt at extortion by the Iranian government into a concatenation of human interest stories.

    With regard to B. Clinton, please note that he was willing and able to cut deals with the political opposition. The current incumbent is not (and had never had to do so before).

    Contriving an expansion of Medicare while arranging simultaneously for an income tax cut (the formal the principal manifestation of ‘compassionate conservatism’, the latter having nothing to do with it) was poor policy and created problems and unnecessary problems. There is a difference between ‘problems’ and ‘catastrophe’. The rest of what went under the heading of ‘compassionate conservatism’ was small beer.

    As for the war in Iraq, the military you have has a skill set and an institutional culture. Yes, the war was mishandled for four years. I cannot help but note that the change in strategy which was so successful was adopted over the objections of much of the top brass.

    Please note, I’ve not claimed that executives are protected from poor policy choices. Nor is an executive protected from being a scuzzy human being. They are partially protected from failures of governance which arrive from not having governed. Gerald Ford was the most able of our non-executive leaders; his admiring press secretary freely admitted after he left office that the man was on a learning curve as an administrator and that this did cause problems. John Roche, late of the Fletcher School at Tufts and an admiring aide to Lyndon Johnson, had similar tales to tell.

    As for Mr. Reagan, I am not much for the ‘civil religion’ business. Politicians should be appreciated, but not turned into icons. In Mr. Reagan’s case, when he was determined not to acknowledge something, he did not. If you put him on Mount Rushmore, you need to select an expression. I might suggest the look he had on his face when David Stockman was trying and failing to explain to him what the implications of his stated preferences were as regards public sector borrowing.

  • “I think it is a reasonable proposition that the succession of people who have won the Republican presidential nomination define the Republican type, not random combox denizens.”

    Since I am not a Republican and have absolute no desire to be one, Art, I really couldn’t say.

    All I know is that in November of even years I’m told I have to support candidates whose priorities quite often are not my own or risk being responsible for the whole world going to hell in a handbasket. And what I’m saying is that I’m not playing that game anymore, especially when the person being shoved down my throat … YES … shoved down my throat is the likes of frickin’ Dullard Flip Rino, the big-government, health-care-mandating, religious-liberty-trampling, Social-Security-demagoging, Mediscaring, gun-grabbing, Reagan/Bush-repudiating, pro-abortion liberal.

    If THAT, as you say, “defines the Republican type”, then I’m glad to know it once and for all so that I can say “To hell with ‘em” and gladly cast my vote elsewhere.

  • (It should be noted, however that even as an independent I was out there for many years as a conservative and a pro-life activist working to elect Republicans when “Mr. Electable” was a self-described “progressive independent” distancing himself from “Reagan/Bush” and doing his damndest to undercut conservatives and Republicans and running to Ted Kennedy’s left. See, even as an independent, I was a better “Republican” than Mitt Romney. But now that I know he’s truer to the “type”, I’ll gladly cede the ground so many conservatives gave their sweat and tears fighting for to the “new breed” – actually, I suppose they’re more like the old WASPy breed – of Republican.)

  • Since I am not a Republican and have absolute no desire to be one, Art, I really couldn’t say.

    That’s fine. It is odd for a non-Republican to be complaining about “RINOs”.

    All I know is that in November of even years I’m told I have to support candidates whose priorities quite often are not my own or risk being responsible for the whole world going to hell in a handbasket. And what I’m saying is that I’m not playing that game anymore, especially when the person being shoved down my throat … YES … shoved down my throat is the likes of frickin’ Dullard Flip Rino, the big-government, health-care-mandating, religious-liberty-trampling, Social-Security-demagoging, Mediscaring, gun-grabbing, Reagan/Bush-repudiating, pro-abortion liberal.

    Something Phyllis Schlafly said a while back comparing our political parties to multi-party systems: our voters are less likely to have a satisfying option, but more of the winners’ program will be enacted. It is a trade-off.

    Living here in New York, I have seen what it looks like to have party barons in the state legislature and amongst the $2,000 a plate dinner crowd put the screws to local county chairmen and in turn to seen what it looks like when county chairmen disregard their electorate. The former happened in a special election for Congress in 2009 and the latter happened last year in an election in that same district. That is not what you are experiencing.

  • “It is odd for a non-Republican to be complaining about “RINOs”.

    Except when it’s not. Happens all the time among conservatives, and I have a feeling you know that. The term, inartful as it is, is shorthand for more liberal Republicans or for Republicans with records one might associate with Democrats. Again, you know that, but you’d like to pretend that it means something it doesn’t by giving it a literal interpretation. What is odd that certain folks would suddenly become sticklers for who may appropriately invoke the term “RINO”.

    But, again, as someone who, notwithstanding my political independence, has tended to vote for Republicans, probably with more frequency than your chosen candidate ever has, I feel perfectly unconstrained in my using the term “RINO”. Thank you very much.

  • Well, I am a conservative and a Republican, and very proud to claim both titles. I will vote for Romney if he is the nominee over Obama since I believe that is the only realistic option to get Obama out, but I will do so without any illusions as to the Weathervane. His only virtue is that he is not-Obama and for me that is enough. I love this country and I despair as to the damage that Obama has done to it in four years.

  • I’m not sure what the best solution is, Pinky. Some suggest – and I think with merit – that a consolidated schedule would hurt underfunded candidates even more. On the other hand, it’s clear that what we have now isn’t working.

  • Except when it’s not. Happens all the time among conservatives

    It still does not make any sense.

    The term, inartful as it is, is shorthand for more liberal Republicans or for Republicans with records one might associate with Democrats.

    You are referring to a political tendency that dissipated almost completely fifteen years ago. The National Journal a few years back published a rank-ordering of all members of the House of Representatives. Democratic and Republican Representatives were sorted into two neat piles, with a small interstitial zone in between with fewer than ten members. The Republican in the House coded the most liberal was a man from Connecticut named Christopher Shays who occupied a place almost precisely at the midpoint.

    Since I have seen the term used repeatedly to describe the Republican presidential nominee, I tend to think it is a nonsense term. It is also a decidedly idiosyncratic use of political terminology, and one that does not communicate well at all, to use the term ‘liberal’ to describe Messrs. McCain, Bush-fils, Dole, or Bush-pere. They have all suffered from inertia and lack of imagination in the pursuit of domestic initiatives. That is regrettable, but our institutional set-up being what it is, you cannot accomplish much anyway.

  • Some suggest – and I think with merit – that a consolidated schedule would hurt underfunded candidates even more.

    What if it breaks the back of the candidate-centered contest entirely? You might restore an element of deliberation and peer review to the process, with delegations largely composed of uncommitted local elected officials, wheelhorses, and grandees. Consider that in 1968 the place and show candidates entered between them one primary. The runner-up in 1964 entered no primaries and his candidacy lasted a matter of weeks.

  • Has a head-and-shoulders better candidate ever lost the nomination in the modern era? You could make an argument that none of the strongest Dems even ran in 1992. Some Republicans would say that the strongest candidate lost the nomination in 1976, and some Democrats would say the same thing for their party in 2008. But I don’t think you can make a Keanu Reeves winning an Oscar kind of argument that the system picks the worst candidates. That is to say, if only Keanu, Stallone, and Ashton Kutcher made movies last year, the Academy can’t be blamed for their choice.

  • OK. I’ll bite Pinky. What in tarnation is an “head-and-shoulder better candidate?”

    I’m hearing some folks say here that it is all about electability. Sure, we’d like a candidate who is actually a fiscal conservative. Sure, we’d like a bloke who is actually a social conservative. But, we’ll settle for a candidate who is one or the other, or even neither in a pinch, if she or he has a better chance at winning.

    I’m hearing others say (and I’m one of them) that it is all about consistency. We will only vote for someone who seems wishy-washy about our conservative ideals if left with no alternative. Then, we’ll begrudgingly vote for them.

    I’m hearing other voices (I’m in this camp too, I think) that it is all about our individual hot-button issues. We will vote for someone that hits the right notes on our issues even if they aren’t conservative in other ways.

    The problem with two and three, of course, is that it really is betraying the good because it isn’t perfect which doesn’t make a lot of sense. The first one seems to be more problematic though in that it assumes that we have any idea what “electable” is. It seems to me that we aren’t all that good at prognosticating. I, for example, didn’t see the Obama train coming until about two months before the 2008 convention. I was absolutely sure that Clinton would take the nomination. Palin blinded me to McCain’s can’t win attitude until about September so I didn’t see that coming either.

    I am honestly looking for an alternative approach here. I’m not arguing for the sake of arguing, I really do want a way out of this intellectual morass.

    Do I vote for Romney in November, a guy that doesn’t seem to care a wiff about the social cares that I care deeply about, who seems out of touch with my working class roots, whose business experience is limited to big finance and whose executive experience is limited to running Utah, whose electability mantle rests entirely on establishment decree?

    Do I “throw away” my vote by writing in Santorum because his social conservative creds are spotless and his family life admirable?

    What do you suggest?

  • write in Santorum– maybe others will too… wouldn’t that give the commentators something new to say– “won by a write in landslide”! He is the best choice.

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