Most of you have an immediate response to the question posed in the title of this post, but please indulge me for a moment.
In this seriously flawed Republican presidential primary field is a candidate who is a Roman Catholic. He is a man who clearly lives his faith. He has no skeletons in his closet (that we know of, naturally). He is the father of seven children, and has demonstrated a devotion to the pro-life cause in a manner that is second to none. He is unapologetically conservative, and is willing to take stands that go against the grain.
In other words, we have a candidate who it would seem should be drawing a large chunk of the conservative and Catholic vote. Yet he regularly polls somewhere in the 1-2 percent range. Considering the number of Catholics in the country and within the Republican party, this suggests he can’t even win the support of even a fraction of the most conservative Catholics. Heck, even the conservative and Catholic author of this post has not really fully supported Senator Santorum. I oscillate between the two Ricks, but have generally leaned towards Governor Perry. So what gives? Continue reading
Rachel Masden has a column up lamenting how Rick Perry’s gaffe in last week’s debate demonstrates our obsessiveness with image over subtance:
As in real life, politicians, voters and the media all get caught up with entertaining but petty nonsense. Case in point: Rick Perry stuck his cowboy boot in his mouth during a recent debate performance, unable to recall one of the three agencies of government he’d euthanize if he were to become president. Turns out it was the Department of Energy — which for a Texas governor to forget about would be a bit like the prime minister of Great Britain forgetting about Buckingham Palace. OK, funny — but really, so what?
For at least 24 hours, the mishap represented arguably the single most globally widespread American news item. I even saw it broadcast and translated on French television in Paris. This is the media and political culture of today — all about stagecraft, showmanship and ratings.
As a political strategist, let me tell you a little secret: Debates are easy to fake. All you need to succeed is a good policy-prep team, a competent spin doctor to distill that policy material down to snappy bite-sized talking points, and the memory and delivery capabilities of a C-list Hollywood actor. Perry just didn’t remember his lines. That’s all.
But what about the other guys who lucked out and did remember all their lines this time? Isn’t it the job of media moderators to recognize boilerplate spin and slice through it on the fly? There’s one reliable way to do this, but it’s rarely seen: In response to a candidate’s prepared take, a media moderator need ask only one question: “What precise action in your background or experience illustrates this principle?” In other words, when a candidate says that he would do something, what has he previously done in his career to demonstrate that value through tangible action? Do you know who any of these candidates really is beyond what he or she claims to be? If not, then thank the style-over-substance media.
The column is timely because I’ve been having some second thoughts about the primary process. Continue reading
Just so we’re clear, if this guy wins the Republican nomination, I walk:
Mitt Romney was firm and direct with the abortion rights advocates sitting in his office nine years ago, assuring the group that if elected Massachusetts governor, he would protect the state’s abortion laws.
Then, as the meeting drew to a close, the businessman offered an intriguing suggestion — that he would rise to national prominence in the Republican Party as a victor in a liberal state and could use his influence to soften the GOP’s hard-line opposition to abortion.
He would be a “good voice in the party” for their cause, and his moderation on the issue would be “widely written about,” he said, according to detailed notes taken by an officer of the group, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.
“You need someone like me in Washington,” several participants recalled Romney saying that day in September 2002, an apparent reference to his future ambitions.
Romney made similar assurances to activists for gay rights and the environment, according to people familiar with the discussions, both as a candidate for governor and then in the early days of his term.
People can change their minds on an issue, and if Mitt Romney has had a genuine change of heart on abortion, then that’s great. But how can anyone possibly trust this man? He’s a chameleon who changes his tune to suit his audience.
On the other hand, though Rick Santorum is not my first choice at the moment, he’s the only candidate who puts social issues first on his website. He’s by far the most passionate defender of the unborn we have in this race, if not the country.
Mitt Romney is far from being one of my favorite presidential hopefuls, but I agree with Jim Geraghty that this Newsweek cover, portraying Romney as a dancing lunatic, is fairly appalling. Geraghty says that the article itself is very fair, but that doesn’t matter. Roughly 99% of the people who see this cover will never read the article. For better or worse – and almost certainly worse – our politics are dominated by optics. The story is secondary to the substantive issues.
One of my grad school professors, Mark Rozell (now at George Mason) liked to talk about an evening news report done on Ronald Reagan’s economic policies during the 1984 campaign. I don’t recall which network it was, but the report just decimated Reagan on the economy. It was a voice-over piece, and most of the images were of Reagan in various settings, mostly in places like Yellowstone or other grand settings. After the network aired the report, the head of the news division was contacted by a member of Reagan’s staff, and was thanked for the report. Why was this network being thanked for a hit piece? The images. The text of the story didn’t matter. What would stick in viewer’s minds were the images, and these were images of the president in majestic settings, showing off the trappings of power. Many viewers would tune out the content of the story and instead focus on images that were greatly favorable to Reagan.
It’s human nature to focus on imagery, and so I don’t necessarily fault those who ignore the broader context of such stories. That being said, I’m sure Newsweek didn’t choose this particular photo by accident.
At my own blog I’ve already shared my annoyance with the Birthers. For those of you not up to speed, “birthers” are those that doubt, to one degree or another, that President Obama was actually born in Hawaii, and who suggest, therefore, that he is constitutionally ineligible for the presidency. To me it’s a silly conspiracy theory that doesn’t crack even a “1” on the credibly believable scale (and I am referring to the conspiracy being believable, not Obama’s family history).
Then there is what one might term the birther subplot. There are those who don’t really doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii, but who nonetheless insist that he release his long-form birth certificate. Donald Trump has harped on this issue quite a lot as he embarks
on a futile attempt to draw more attention to himself on a bid for the Republican nomination for the presidency. Long story short, Trump and others sense that Obama is hiding something. The most common rumor is that the long-form certificate would (for some reason) indicate that he was a Muslim. Commenter “The Man From K Street” offers a couple of other plausible theories on the blog “Est Quod Est”:
First (and to my mind the likeliest) — it will reveal what most people already have figured out: Barack Obama Sr. and Stanley Ann Dunham were never actually married, let alone licitly (even a presumptive wedding would have been invalid as bigamous).
Second — there has been some speculation that BO Sr. might not have been the actual father. One alternative candidate in particular has been discussed in various parts of the net, but even if we saw the long form, this will probably stay graffiti on the bathroom wall of history forever.
Possibly. And then there’s the conspiracy of the non-conspiracy, and Don alluded to it in the comments of my post. Essentially Obama is dragging this thing out because he knows that the birth certificate contains nothing all that embarrassing, but by playing the story out it allows some of his opponents to look like complete loons. Frankly, this would be my bet, and that gets to the heart of my annoyance with people like Trump. Even if there is something on the birth certificate that is potentially slightly embarrassing, why should we care? Nothing is going to have any bearing on his qualifications to be president. The only theory that would be even partially troubling if true is that his religion is listed as “Muslim.” Sure, it would create some tension because hard core Islamists view apostasy as punishable by death. Well, yes, but my guess is those very same people who would seek to kill Obama because of his apostasy want him dead anyway. And again, that really shouldn’t matter in the slightest when evaluating his worthiness to be re-elected.
At the risk of going back on my New Year’s resolution not to discuss the 2012 presidential race until Labor Day, I am going to have to side with Mitt Romney on this (something I might not be saying too often after Labor Day):
Mitt Romney forcefully said Tuesday night that he believes President Barack Obama was born in America and that “the citizenship test has been passed.”
“I think the citizenship test has been passed. I believe the president was born in the United States. There are real reasons to get this guy out of office,” Romney told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow the day after he formally announced that he’s exploring a run for the White House. “The man needs to be taken out of office but his citizenship isn’t the reason why.”
As Ed Morrissey adds:
The 2012 election should hinge on real issues and deep questions about Barack Obama’s ability to handle the office. The freak show is a distraction that damages the serious nature of Obama’s opposition — and don’t think the media isn’t eating it up, either.
Update: As if to bolster my point, I would think that Obama being a demagogic manchild incapable of serious governance is enough reason to oppose him that we don’t need to manufacture stuff.
[4 updates at the bottom of this post as of 8:08am CST]
If ObamaCare somehow passes through Congress and signed by President Obama, what can Americans look forward to?
Well the Republican Party’s very own potential presidential candidate Mitt Romney did just that as governor of Massachusetts, passing universal health coverage for the entire state.
The results are mixed at best, and scary at worst.
Here are some highlights from the op-ed titled Romneycare model a dud in the Boston Herald by Michael Graham where Massachusetts is “already glowing in the radioactive haze of Romneycare, aka “ObamaCare: The Beta Version.” [emphases mine]:
Shouldn’t Obama have been bragging yesterday about bringing the benefits of Bay State reform to all of America?
As we prepare to wander into this coming nuclear winter of hyper-partisan politics – one in which we’re almost certain to see widespread political fatalities among congressional Democrats – I have to ask: If bringing Massachusetts-style “universal coverage” to America is worth this terrible price, why doesn’t Obama at least mention us once in awhile?
Maybe he thinks of us as the Manhattan Project of medical insurance reform. Too top secret to discuss. More likely, it has something to do with the nightmare results of this government-run debacle. Here are a few “highlights” of the current status of the Obamacare experiment in Massachusetts:
It’s exploding the budget: Our “universal” health insurance scheme is already $47 million over budget [imagine it in trillions for American tax-payers] for 2010. Romneycare will cost taxpayers more than $900 million next year alone.