Category Archives: Republican Politics

What happens when Gingrich gets his mojo on? The CNN/Tea Party Debate.

They say that you can’t win a debate, but you sure can lose one. Tonight, despite walking in at the front of the pack, Perry sure did his best to prove that true. He’ll stay on top of the polls, for now, but he didn’t do himself any favors tonight. Like any front-runner, he took a beating for his record, and he managed, semi-successfully, to avoid saying anything too damning.

That said, he didn’t sound too articulate, either.

And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Now on to the rest of the pack. Left to right:

1. Huntsman: For a guy who started his campaign calling for civility, he sure has come a long ways. I wonder if it has anything to do with his lead consultant, one John Weaver.

2. Cain: Tonight was his best debate, yet, but I don’t think it will move him much. He still brings a breath of fresh air to the campaign, though, and I like that.

3. Bachmann: She’s an insurgent by nature, and she does best on the attack, which she did, taking on Perry on his 2007 executive order by-passing the Texas legislature to inoculate 12-year old girls against human papillomavirus. She’d make a better VP than a President.

4. Romney: After a sharp back and forth on Perry’s social security comments comparing it to a Ponzi scheme, Romney found a chance to lay out his seven point plan to rebuild the economy. He’ll stay in second place, but he took a few blows. He’s no Tea Party darling.

5. Perry: See above.

6. Paul: With Blitzer in control, Paul was noticeably less vocal than usual. And while he may understand motives for anti-Americanism abroad, he struck the wrong cord with his audience when Rick Santorum took him to task.

7. Gingrich: If a debate could be won, then the trophy would go to Gingrich. Deftly dodging Blitzer’s bait, he took Obama to task, focused on the economy, and slipped in critiques of czars and subsidies to GE. Kudos to Newt.

8. Santorum: Good showing tonight, even if I wish he’d go home. Strong at points, petulant at others.

I’ve been told that debates were not a good indication of who would be a good president. That may be, but they sure show a lot about who shouldn’t sit in that seat.

If nothing else, they are great political theater.

Advertisements

Reagan Debate Recap: Perry, Romney and six other candidates

Ah, presidential debates. They have little to do with demonstrating one’s fitness for the highest office in the land, and yet they are often weighed and measured with the highest of stakes.

Such it is for our generation, cultured to see winners and losers after a series of head to head play-offs, championships, and competitions between athletes. We’ve simply transferred those expectations over to the selection process for our chief executive.

Enough philosophizing, though, let’s look at last night. What were the substantive results on the race?

From my perspective (in an arm-chair far from the spin rooms), we are starting to see true colors. Further, with Rick Perry finally in the race and on the podium last night, the race feels full. We’re still missing Sarah Palin, but she’ll show up, if just with her bus as she “tours” America.

Yes, I do think there’s a good chance she’ll get in.

But back to the debate. Since your time is short, here’s the skinny on the “winners” and “losers.” Since his supporters will cry “foul” if he doesn’t get his due for winning the after debate polls, we’ll start with Ron Paul.

  • Ron “if I had a silver dime for every time the press ignores me” Paul: From moments of brilliance (attacking Perry with an ad for his support of Al Gore then going after him on HillaryCare in the debate) to sheer weirdness (gas for a “silver dime”), I both like what he says and shake my head. He’s kaleidoscopic.
  • Mitt “I have a 160-page plan to kick-start the economy” Romney: Coming into the debate as the strongest candidate but down in the polls due to Perry’s entrance to the race, he managed to come off articulate, graceful (especially when the rest of the candidates were piling it on to Perry), and wise (as when he took a Reagan-esc stance on Social Security). While not the clear winner, he remains on his pedestal as the man to beat (Obama in 2012).
  • Rick “We execute bad people” Perry: with expectations set high, Perry came out strong against Ponzi schemes–er, I mean Social Security–but weakened as the others pointed out his weaknesses. Fortunately, for him, it was not an “intellectual discussion,” a term he use dismissively twice, and he’s not Mormon, as Chris Matthews pointed out repeatedly. I couldn’t help but feel like he had all of George W.’s strength, but none of his charm or wit. A pretender.
  • Jon “I can beat Obama if we skip primaries” Huntsman: Trailing (everyone) Huntsman excelled at looking and sounding articulate, but also a bit petty. Huntsman repeatedly drew attention to Utah’s economic success under his term as Governor, but I couldn’t help but wonder why all the Utah State Legislators who served with him  and delivered those bills to his desk are now supporting Romney…
  • Newt “I’m running for Veep” Gingrich: To the press: don’t mess. Gingrich was articulate and reminded us all that he was a part of the Reagan revolution. I couldn’t shake the feeling that he’s shifting to VP candidacy land, though.
  • Herman “9%” Cain: He continues to come up with good one liners, but he’s not making ground.
  • Michelle “SNL” Bachmann. I know SNL was watching, just hoping she’d stay in long enough for them to cast her…in the meanwhile, she’s fading. Perry has stolen her based, Pawlenty was gone for her to fight with, and her performance was next to unremarkable.
  • Rick Santorum: Did you know his parents and grandparents were Italian immigrants? He won’t leave until they stop inviting him, but he’s on stage…for now.
Your take? Is this really already a two-horse race? Can Huntsman pull out a New Hampshire miracle and become relevant in 2012? Will Bachmann find a way to win more than just the Iowa straw poll? Should we care that Ron Paul gets ignored by the media while last place runner Huntsman is their darling?
Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

Image via Wikipedia

The biggest loser of the night, as one colleague pointed out to me? Ronald

 Reagan. He’d be a RINO next to these guys, especially Perry and Bachmann (who at points sounded like a psychic trying to channel his spirit). He compromised, raised taxes, grew government to fight the “evil empire,” and, most importantly, inspired Americans to save the economy without the government’s help. Maybe it’s time the candidates stopped trying to be the Gipper and started trying to be themselves.

Also, to beat Obama and get the economy back on track.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Rick Perry? Jim Carrey? Separated at Birth?

You gotta admit it. This pose…

looks remarkably a lot like this pose…


Tea Party bait in the NYT: “You are white, Republican, and racist. Oh, and theocratic, too.”

I’ll admit it: just the fact that the story is coming  from the New York Times gives me pause.

But there it is: “Crashing the Tea Party,” by David E. Campbell and Robert D. Putnam, a couple of professors who think they have profiled Tea Party members based on some wide ranging research.

The results are provocative and, if they are in any way correct, indicate that Tea Party members are less naïve about politics than previously thought, tend to hold a low regard for immigrants, and very religious, even wanting leaders who mix religion and politics ….which explains why Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry are getting good reviews from the Tea Party.

Oh, also they are more likely to be Republican.

Whatever the characteristics, Campbell and Putnam suggest that it has contributed to giving the Tea Party a lower  approval among the public than atheists and Muslims. Ouch.

...because blondes have more fun.

But wait! There’s more: the Tea Party is not necessarily a creature of the recession. Tea Party members tend to have already been (as well as being white) very conservative and active Republicans.

Many Americans have suffered in the last four years, but they are no more likely than anyone else to support the Tea Party. And while the public image of the Tea Party focuses on a desire to shrink government, concern over big government is hardly the only or even the most important predictor of Tea Party support among voters.

[…]

More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.

Hmm…so how about that ‘separation between church and state’ thing? The Tea Party does know that it was one of their darlings, Mr. Thomas Jefferson himself,  that was one of the first to actually phrase it that way, right?

I don’t know about you, Reader, but the last thing I think we need is a litmus test for an elected official the measures religiosity. I would rather an atheist that upholds the law and defends the practice of religion over a deeply religious nut job  person who discriminates in favor of his or her faith. Of course, if we could find a deeply religious person who upholds the law (and doesn’t err on the side of larger government), then I probably wouldn’t mind. But then, it has nothing to do with religiosity, and we’re back at my main point: religion is the wrong litmus test for a leader.

Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) led 30,000 Christians in prayer Saturday -- at an event that may boost his fortunes with the GOP's critical bloc of evangelical voters. Photo: Brandon Thibodeaux/Getty Images

And yet, Campbell and Putnam suggest that this very litmus test is the likely reason for Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry’s success in recent weeks with the Tea Party.

And what about the libertarians that are finding common cause with the Tea Party? I don’t see them reflected in the research discussion or results. In my experience, libertarians are just about growing on Republican trees these days, but they would be the last people to support increased religion in politics.

Which leads me to Campbell and Putnam’s method. The two professors (Campbell is an associate professor of political science at Notre Dame and Putnam is a professor of public policy at Harvard) interviewed 3,000 people in 2006 as part of continuing research into national political attitudes. They returned to the same people this year. They explain that

[a]s a result, we can look at what people told us, long before there was a Tea Party, to predict who would become a Tea Party supporter five years later. We can also account for multiple influences simultaneously — isolating the impact of one factor while holding others constant.

Perhaps. I’d like to take a closer look at the results to find out what kind of questions were asked, how the people were selected, and what the margins of error were.

In any case…

Even as a Republican, and a long time Republican at that, it would be disingenuous for me to dismiss these findings out of hand. While I don’t find them to be definitive, I do find the results descriptive.  Utah’s Tea Party may be distinct  in some respects due to some characteristics that are uniquely local, but in many respects the results seem to apply here.

On the other hand, could this just be Tea Party bait by New York Times liberals?

Religious litmus test or not, elections are not about rationality, but winning, and if it takes that to win, could we expect anyone but a deeply religious person to win the race for the Republican nomination?

Read the full article at “Crashing the Tea Party” in the New York Times.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Placebo Effect: Is Bachmann a placebo?

If a placebo can increase or decrease pain just be convincing the placebo taker that this is the effect, is it possible that our country could use one?  Or maybe that’s what Bachmann is–ineffective as a legislator, but she makes people feel like she can make a difference, and that’s why she wins polls

That, or she just drives in supporters and pays the  straw poll cost for them. Why ever it is–whether it’s because she’s  placebo or because she can truck in more voters than Ron Paul (if barely), check out the video below on the placebo effect. Absolutely fascinating.

Enhanced by Zemanta