Did We Learn Nothing?
After years of disappointment and decline, we have chosen to re-elect the same policies that have left us stuck in the mud and economic malaise these past 4 years. Have voters totally stopped learning from their mistakes, or did they just really not like Mitt Romney? Either way, I am concerned at this outcome since it makes me wonder what our priorities really are in this country. We claim that the economy is our #1 concern, but then we don’t vote for the candidate we also think (by the polls) would be better at fixing the economy. Polls show that we voted based off racial identities and vague feelings of likability or “caring” instead of logic and platforms. We want to blame our politicians for the problems we’re facing, but then weren’t willing to vote for new ones. We voted for negativity instead of change or positivity, a total flip from 2008 election, but ended up with the same result. Regardless of the reasons, we have chosen to re-elect a divisive politician that has shown little ability to reunite our fractured political landscape or manage the problems we face as a nation. As such, anyone expecting big progress or big solutions in the next four years is likely to be disappointed. The political gridlock will continue, and regardless of “efforts” on both sides, the economic difficulties and pending crises in our entitlement programs will continue to be kicked down the road.
I hope that without the political pressure of re-election he was so focused on that the President will be more effective in his leadership. I also hope that the fact almost as many citizens in our country voted against him as for him will be a wake-up call. I hope we see a better four years ahead of us than the last four, but I certainly don’t expect it. Congratulations to President Obama on a hard fought and well played (and unfortunately nasty) campaign, now change the game in D.C. like you promised to 4 years ago and actually try to work with people on the other side of the aisle. Now all your actions will only affect the legacy you leave. Make it one worth leaving.
Keeping with the someecards theme today, I offer this as the polls close and the results start trickling in.
Why I’ll Be Voting for Romney
I’m rarely this bold with writing about my political preferences on an individual candidate, but considering there are only two (real) options at this point, I figured there’s no point in pretending to be objective. I’m not going to go into deep detail here, everyone reading this is well informed enough to make their own decisions and vote according to their own priorities, but I have been asked by some of my (less informed) liberal friends “How could you vote for Romney?” as if it were akin to beating a puppy. As such, I decided to make my last minute case for why I’ll be voting for Mitt Romney in hopes that you can at least understand, even if you disagree.
He has the experience we need: Okay, so a lot of people don’t like Romney. There are a variety of reasons, some valid, some silly, but I can understand why he’s not the most popular guy on the block. Regardless, his resume (love it or hate it) reads like the perfect applicant for the job position right now. We have a country that is in bad financial shape and getting worse, and a candidate that has experience at… turning around under-performing or near bankrupt businesses. Sure, they’re not exactly the same thing, but they’re a heck of a lot closer than some people would like to believe. He’s proven that he can balance budgets and spend within his means, a lesson our country desperately needs to learn right now. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be fun, but it needs to be done and Romney is the only candidate right now that has a resume showing he’s willing to get the job done.
He’s a leader: I can already hear the Obama fans starting to type angry replies. “You mean President Obama isn’t?!?!” Well, yes and no. I certainly don’t deny that it takes a great deal of strength and leadership capability to achieve the highest political office in the country. However, once he obtained that position he quit acting like a leader. Leaders don’t make excuses or blame their predecessors. Leaders don’t shift blame and focus away from their own short comings to put it on the people they work with. Leaders don’t base policy off the winds of political convenience. What leaders should do is develop a plan they intend to follow and keep their focus on their goals even when others doubt them. Leaders unite opposing views, they don’t deepen the divide. Leaders fix problems, they don’t push them off on future generations. Romney has shown, as a (moderate) Republican leading a solidly Democratic state, that he can be that kind of leader. Whether some of the President’s loyal followers are willing to realize it or not, we do not have a leader capable of uniting the opposing factions running our country right now, and until we have that kind of leadership, we will not break out of this unproductive political gridlock, and things are only going to get worse.
He’s not interested in expanding the government: This is the one that matters a lot to people regardless of their political affiliation (but I know it’s especially crucial to my libertarian friends). Romney has made it clear that his plan for getting the US economy and day-to-day government functioning back on track is shrinking the government. This is a clear distinction between himself and President Obama. This is not to imply that all Republicans are for small government, President Bush oversaw dramatic increases in government reach, intrusion, and overall size, but it is to explain that this Republican candidate disagrees both with his challenger and his predecessors over the role government should play in our lives. The simple math shows that the government has gotten larger, and most people believe that the government alone is not the answer to our economic problems and expanding it is a redistribution of resources to less productive measures at best. (Most economists flat out say that it’s a band-aid fix, and a dangerous one.) The President has shown that he thinks a government-centered approach to fixing the economy is the best path through his words as well as his actions. Romney’s intent to trim the government down will not please everyone, but history and economic theory suggests we’d be better off in the long run.
And finally, the one people like least:
“He’s not President Obama”: I hate it when people say things like this, so I can imagine what you all think as well, but let me explain what I mean by this. I don’t mean that it’s worth voting for Mitt Romney simply because he’s not Barack Obama, that would imply that Obama is somehow the political devil and anyone is better. I disagree with that view. I would suggest that Obama isn’t the best, or even one of the best, candidates on the ballot, but that’s beside the point. The point is that Romney is new to the job, and comes with a great resume. We know Barack Obama. We know his record. And honestly, it’s not good. His most significant achievement was the healthcare reform bill, a law which has already been shown won’t really fix the problems facing our healthcare system (at all) and was passed through less than kosher means with a whole lot of bureaucratic pork added on along the way. It’s a terrible piece of legislation with seemingly noble intent, and that’s what we’ll remember the first Obama term for. The economy is in a “recovery” that’s so slow many have wondered how we can pretend we’re not still really in a recession. Even though we emerged from that in technical terms, we haven’t shaken off the economic malaise our country has been in the past 5 years, and it’s no longer possible to pretend we can somehow blame everything on Bush. (If you chose to believe that, you’re in denial.) We’ve had four years of failed attempts to address the problems facing us. Four years of blaming others for his own short comings. Four years of slinging mud on national television at the very people he claims he is trying to foster bipartisanship with. Four years of broken promises. Four years of fiscal standoffs and deliberately polarizing budgets. Four years of the leader of the free world behaving like a celebrity instead of a leader. Four years of disappointment, not hope, or change, or progress. I don’t know if another four of the same thing would somehow destroy the US like some seem to believe, but I can promise you this: It isn’t going to put us on a better long-term path. I want an America where people work hard and reap the rewards of their work. A land of opportunity that sets a good example by not spending more than it can afford to or passing debt off to future generations because we don’t have the guts to fix the real problems facing us. The country I want will not come from a second Obama term.
I’ll close with this: If the United States were a business with the taxpayers as its shareholders (and in many ways, it is), CEO Obama would have been fired at least a year ago and a new candidate with the right credentials would have been sought. In 2008 the company was hemorrhaging money and taking a public relations beating. We thought this new leader could turn things around and deliver the prosperity and change he promised the shareholders. He tried some bold, expensive moves, which ultimately were not successful. He kept the company limping along, but now in deeper debt and with even more executives and administrators than before and no strong benefit for the shareholders. Now the projections for the future health of the company have gone from bad to worse and our CEO claims to be able to fix that despite having shown no sign of being capable of doing so in the last few years he has been working here. So the shareholders have to make a tough decision and find a leader with experience at turning around this company that is now facing even bigger problems. Of the applicants, one has emerged that looks like he can pull it off, and that is Mitt Romney. We don’t know that he’ll succeed, but we do know that there’s no point in continuing on a path we can see isn’t working for our company. It’s time to move on.
Now, go vote today, or you’ll lose the right to complain about the outcome after the dust settles.
Go vote today! To those of you that disagree with my last post, I offer you the above words of kindness, courtesy of someecards.
The Rise of Mitt (AKA The Fall of Newt)
First, I am fully aware the postings have been much less frequent lately, despite the action in politics being as active as ever. I’ll tell you what I tell my parents: I’m not dead, I’m just in med school. Sorry about that.
This week’s big news is the inevitable nominee, Mitt Romney, and his sweep of the primaries on Tuesday. Yes, I’m aware I’ve ranted against the use of the word inevitable when describing Mitt Romney in the past. That is back when there were still some scenarios where he wouldn’t be the nominee. Those variables did not play out favorably for anyone else though, so now the show is all Romney. So how exactly did this happen? I really think the whole thing boils down to two things: The Rise of Mitt, and the Fall of Newt.
The Rise of Mitt: Mitt Romney has been proclaimed the inevitable (or by those that don’t jump to conclusions, the probable) nominee since the beginning, largely since he’s been running for the spot since 2008, but that doesn’t mean that his nomination was a sure thing. At any number or times, he was trailing in the polls by double digits behind his challengers. The challenger he was trailing changed somewhat frequently, but the point remains: he was there, but he wasn’t in the lead for quite some time. So how does a “moderate” Republican in a relatively hostile political environment with mediocre polling and a lack of overall enthusiasm end up on top? It’s pretty simple, they power through and wait until the more enthusiastic candidates fade due for a number of issues and eventually they’re the only one left. Name recognition, image, and money were critical to this ability to power through the fog, and it ended up working beautifully. This only worked so well because there were so many challengers. Had it just been one major challenger by the time major primaries were rolling around, Romney may have actually been in danger. Luckily for the Mitt camp, he had at least two real challengers (more early on) that were also competing with each other for votes, and the most pragmatic voters probably ignored them. Others just got tired of the endless noise and debates and started ignoring the flavor of the month. Whatever their reasons, that group of voters likely stayed out of it or aligned with Romney as the “strongest” overall candidate. That left the others with only about half to two thirds of the GOP voter pie to fight over, and no one ever succeeded in solidifying that chunk of the pie and taking down Romney. Romney, ever the adaptive politician, was able to learn from the attacks levied at him and was the most effective at spin. I don’t care for spin, hollow words that redirect conversation to allow you to avoid answering questions or attacks and make you look good is often compensation for a lack of substance, but regardless of that, I had to respect how well things rolled off Romney. He has been the Teflon man of the GOP primary season, and that, plus the previously mentioned factors, allowed him to adapt, survive, and prevail.
The Fall of Newt: Whatever you may say about Gingrich, he’s also a survivor. He had the most political baggage of the group and the most negative initial perceptions. Yet he ended up as the front-runner in the race… more than once. Yes, I am aware that Rick Santorum also ended up as the front-runner towards the “end”. That doesn’t mean that I think Santorum was ever as likely a candidate as Gingrich. The reasons for that are a post unto themselves, but logically speaking, Gingrich was the phoenix of the Republican party and if he could rise from the ashes despite his image and run a socially conservative (without being so extreme as to render him unelectable overall… Santorum) campaign and bring some “big ideas” to the table, he was too strong to be ignored. In fact, after South Carolina and a disappointing run for Romney early on, it looked like Gingrich was the man to beat. So what happened? Also pretty simple: money and strategy were against him. Gingrich, according to the press, polls, and online ramblings from people like me, came across as the most competent, intelligent, and composed candidate during debates. He had some compelling ideas and was managing to turn some perceptions around. However, he didn’t ever have the organization or the money that the Romney campaign machine did, and when that machine set their target on Gingrich, it was only a matter of time before they drug him under the water and held him there until the bubbles stopped unless Gingrich found a way to hit back just as hard. Iowa was the test run for this, and the Romney machine accidentally ended up delivering that contest to Santorum by killing off Newt there. When he came back in South Carolina, they went for a full scorched earth campaign and crushed him in Florida to the point he could never recover. The Southern strategy gamble was one he didn’t have the established support network or funds to pull off, and with Santorum rising (thanks to the fall of Newt, in my opinion) and no more debates to “win”, Newt was in real trouble. As polls later showed, Newt’s supporters were more likely to bail for Romney than Santorum, and when they started bailing they didn’t come back. Without the funds to crush his opponents in negative ads or the organization to build momentum well ahead of primaries, Newt stuck it out hoping for the cracks in Romney’s facade to spread and give him enough staying power to make it to Tampa. When Santorum bailed though, Newt was already too injured to rise again and as Tuesday demonstrated, Romney profited in a big way. Whether it was ego, poor management, or the end of the debate season, Newt declined and the circus of a brokered convention has been avoided… for better or worse.
That’s all for now. Congratulations to the Mitt camp for proving that running a campaign like a business is a winning strategy. I’m still not thrilled by him as a candidate (as my previous posts no doubt illustrate), but I’ll certainly be paying attention to how the Romney/Obama dynamic plays out for the next few months before the heavy hitting of the election season starts.
Newt’s Bankrupt and Romney’s Going to Profit
I’ve been quiet lately, and not because there isn’t a lot going on: The Supreme Court is hearing arguments about the healthcare law (“Obamacare” to some), the story of the shooting in Florida continues to evolve and grow as a movement, and the Republican Primary is still grinding on, albeit with a couple new bumps in the road. Since I don’t want to talk about the healthcare law and I can’t do the Martin case justice right now, I’ll stick to my comfort zone and hash out the latest Republican Nomination craziness.
So, what has happened?
Newt’s “Southern Revival” has become a Southern Foreclosure. The Gingrich campaign is underwater on its mortgage. It’s not that it hasn’t had its ups and downs, and it’s not even that it hasn’t been worse off before, but now that it is crunch time they simply didn’t deliver when they needed to in the southern states. With Santorum taking Louisiana and no potentially Gingrich friendly states until May, there’s good reason for even his most ardent supporters to be cynical. I think there is one main reason behind Newt’s decline, and I’d be surprised if his campaign staff didn’t agree: No full debates since February and no new ones on the calendar. Newt’s strength is in his verbal performance, and when he can’t show that off and doesn’t have the money to beat back negative ads or campaign as effectively as the others, his campaign loses steam. Now that they’re laying off a third of their campaign staff and losing his campaign manager to “refocus” the campaign, it is difficult to impossible to see a scenario where Newt will have the funds, let alone the momentum or delegates, to make another splash before Tampa.
Santorum shouldn’t want Gingrich out after all. Santorum has said for weeks that if Newt Gingrich dropped out of the race he could beat Mitt Romney in the primaries. Gingrich said similar things about Santorum back when momentum was on his side. What is proving really interesting is that likely neither are correct, but Santorum is almost certainly wrong. Yes, Santorum has won a fair number of states and he did win Louisiana recently, but he has gone from leading Romney nationally to trailing him by 10 points. I know, these things seem to change every week in this election cycle and this may be a fluke, but I don’t think it is. In addition to slipping poll numbers, recent polls show that more Gingrich supporters back Romney as their second choice than Rick Santorum. If Gingrich was out of the race and the numbers were run again, Romney’s lead over Santorum actually expands to 15 points. Apparently, despite what Rick has been saying lately, he and Gingrich don’t have the same base of support and his numbers against Romney actually look worse in a more head-to-head situation. What does that mean for Santorum? There’s trouble on the horizon, and any Tampa strategy against Romney is looking less and less feasible as time goes on.
Romney, despite his best efforts, is gaining momentum. The man who brought you the trees are the right height, the $10,000 off the cuff bet, and some less than believable southern pandering about grits continues to be the Teflon warrior. I don’t doubt the man’s intelligence, but he has a knack for saying things that the media loves to replay non-stop and would give most campaign managers a heart attack. That said, his numbers are improving nationally, his financial situation is rebounding, and it looks like he can actually wrap up the nomination before Tampa if things go well. So why all the “good” news for Romney? Personally, I think the voters are tired. We all liked the idea of being involved and many of us liked the idea of the 2012 primaries lasting long enough for our states to make a difference, but after three full months of this mess and its unpredictability, people are getting weary of trying to stay informed about each week’s gaffes, polls, and primaries and are looking for something stable. That something is Romney, and the chaos that threatened to take him down may actually propel him to the nomination. And now that polls show that Gingrich supporters are more likely to support Romney than Santorum, bad news for Newt is good news for Mitt, and it looks like there’s going to be quite a bit of bad news for Newt in the next month. Romney may not have it wrapped up yet, but Santorum is slipping (not surprising given his own unpredictable and polarizing nature) and Gingrich never bounced back, so it’s his to lose right now.
Ron Paul… You know what, I just don’t know anymore. I get mail and emails from all the campaigns, and Ron Paul’s comes across as the most angry and self-deluded. Despite the delegate math, the inability to win a single state’s primary or caucus (remember the Paul’s campaign strategy to win the caucus states?), and no momentum of any sort in the polls to indicate things will change, Ron Paul’s campaign continues to proclaim that victory is within their grasp and they’d be doing better if things weren’t stacked against them, and so on. That would be a lot more believable if they hadn’t been saying the same thing in these emails for months and that victory was actually even within their field of vision much less grasp, but it’s a campaign line they haven’t tired of. Apparently his supporters haven’t either, since money bomb after money bomb raises millions to pour back into the campaign. I don’t understand this, to be honest. I like a lot of things about Paul but also have big reservations, which I’ve discussed previously. But at this point in the game, who in their right mind thinks he can somehow pull off a convention strategy and overthrow not just Romney, but the other two as well? It just doesn’t add up. Polls show that Paul’s supporters are very loyal, but he’s barely a blip on the radar as a second choice candidate from the others. If any one of them drops out, it strengthens one of the others, not Paul. It’s not the media, or the establishment, or whoever that is “against” Paul or somehow keeping him down, it’s reality. The reality is that despite all the excitement, the seemingly endless supply of grassroots money and vocal support, and the unique ideas, the overwhelming majority of people are not willing to vote for him in the primaries. Potential national election match up polls are pointless when no one will vote to make you a national candidate. If Paul supporters are still donating millions to make a statement or express dissatisfaction, that I can at least respect. Otherwise, I can dig a pit in my back yard if they’re looking for a place to dump money.
Well, that’s all for now. For things coming up, I think that Romney will sweep the upcoming April 3rd primaries and strengthen his delegate count further, Santorum will continue to fight to get a stronger foothold in the Romney-friendly April contests, Gingrich will likely conserve what resources he has left and stay visible but low-key until May when the calendar looks friendlier, and Ron Paul will continue on.
It’s Not That Simple: MS and AL Don’t Clarify Things.
Well, the results are (mostly) in, and Santorum will win both Mississippi and Alabama. I’m a little surprised he pulled it off since his numbers had been slipping, but there are some important take away points from tonight.
1. Tonight changes nothing from the perspective of the race. Think about it. How are we in a different place than we were last night? Mitt Romney still isn’t pulling the “conservative” crowd over to his side, but still has a substantial delegate lead. Rick Santorum is still riding his momentum with the conservative base and winning states, but he didn’t expand his lead over Gingrich tonight in any significant way due to the narrow margin of his victories. Gingrich is still behind and not catching up any. He is treading water in third place, no better or worse than he was before. Ron Paul still exists. At the end of the day, nothing actually changed.
2. There’s no reason to expect Gingrich to drop out after not winning MS and AL, particularly since he almost pulled it off. He’ll point out that he beat Mitt Romney in both states and came very close to catching Santorum as well. He’ll point to the dissatisfaction of the conservative voter with Romney and the strength of his showing. As mentioned in point 1, since little has changed, there’s no new reason for Gingrich to drop, and arguably less since he will pick up almost as many delegates as Santorum tonight. I know Santorum’s supporters will be ruffled by this, but let’s face it- people wanted Santorum out after he fell flat in South Carolina and not listening to them when his campaign was on life support turned out to be a good decision. Santorum might be able to beat Romney without Gingrich in the race, but the flip side of that applies too. Other than the marginal delegate lead over Gingrich (substantially less than Romney’s lead over him) there’s just no reason for him to say Gingrich should drop. It’s not that Newt is spoiling it for him, it’s that they’re spoiling it for each other. Either of them could feel much more justified in asking Paul to drop and try to support them in taking down Romney, but they know they wouldn’t gain any significant support by doing that so they’re leaving that issue alone since Paul’s supporters are much more candidate-loyal.
3. At the end of the night, no one is happy. Sure, Santorum gets to claim “victory”, but it’s not significant enough to help him chip away at Romney’s lead or expand the lead over Gingrich. He’ll essentially tread water despite the victories. The delegate math is still bad for him and he knows it. Romney gets to claim that he performed better than expected, but his pandering in the South didn’t deliver him any wins and only provided more material for media jokes about the odd things he says in states when he’s working a little too hard to “fit in”. He’s still in the best delegate position, but every big delegate take where he doesn’t expand his lead is one step closer to a brokered convention. Gingrich gets to point out that his campaign came from behind to snag almost as many delegates as the winner, but in reality it is clear his Southern strategy is not working. He needed wins tonight for visual momentum if nothing else and he didn’t get it. The delegate math is also ugly for him and despite picking up the 2nd place in both contests tonight, it’s also not going to change the balance for him significantly.
4. Santorum and Gingrich should be watched. As mentioned above, there’s no more reason for Newt to drop now than before, so Rick isn’t going to get that lucky. What is odd are the comments Newt made at an event about teaming up against Romney in the ad war and the compliments he sent Santorum’s way tonight at his concession speech, all the while blasting Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Even if it is forged out of desperation, some sort of arrangement between Gingrich and Santorum could be in the works.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Everyone seems a little annoyed (no matter which side you’re on) tonight, and I think that’s the atmosphere we’re going to be running with all the way to Tampa.
The Newt Gingrich/Rick Perry Illusion
Many of you have probably seen the tweets, facebook posts, and blurbs claiming that Gingrich’s campaign has talks in the works about the possibility of a Gingrich-Perry ticket. This has excited some and caused groans from others. My personal opinion? Talks about the “possibility” probably are in the works, and that’s as far as they’ll ever get. Gingrich and his campaign staff are not dumb. Floating speculation that you’re considering a formerly popular Southern Christian conservative as your running mate just before a couple of Southern Christian states go to the polls is a smart political move. Gingrich knows he needs to win those states. He knows that even if he does win those states it is going to be an uphill battle, but he’s taking it one step at a time and the Alabama and Mississippi primaries are the next step. In order to draw voters away from Santorum, who occasionally treats the podium like a pulpit and has attracted the voters that like that, Perry is great ammunition. They both appeal to conservative Christians who apparently aren’t really listening to what the candidates say. Better yet, saying (or even better, having a random source leak) that you’re “considering” someone as a running mate means nothing. I can say I’m considering eating at Chili’s tonight to bring out some of my Chili’s-loving friends and then decide I’d rather eat at Olive Garden. They might be annoyed for a little bit, but they’re already out so they’re probably not going to bother going back home. It wouldn’t surprise me if Gingrich is playing that exact game. I don’t know if Rick Perry would actually consider a VP nod from Gingrich if things played out that way, but I don’t think he’d actually get the nod anyway. Gingrich’s political past shows he does know how the game is played, even if he seems to go off course from time to time, and I think he’ll pick someone more likely to draw in the precious independent and centrist voters needed to win the election if it comes down to that. For now, Perry’s name is probably just part of the political game, nothing more.
Kansas REALLY Likes Rick Santorum
I expected Santorum to win Kansas, and I assumed internal polls must be showing him with an insurmountable advantage for Newt Gingrich to cancel his trip there when he so badly needs a strong showing in conservative states. What I didn’t expect was for him to beat Mitt Romney by 30%. Rick Santorum’s campaign will now have more legitimate ammunition to throw at Mitt Romney that conservatives don’t want him as their candidate, and I think you’re going to see an all out ad war between those two campaigns and their Super PACs when the winner-take-all states become more common. I hope those seatbelts are still fastened, GOP voters.
He’s Right: Husker Red: End the Culture War to Save Conservatism
This is the best written analysis of what is really going on in the contraception/birth control debacle that I’ve read so far. The GOP has allowed themselves to be painted into a very unpopular corner on this, and those of us sitting at home seeing this mess unfold have been asking ourselves “What the hell are they thinking? Why don’t they call this what it is, a further intrusion of government power through mandates, instead of making noise, calling women sluts, and playing it as a purely religious issue?”. The first three months of 2012 should be a cautionary tale to the GOP of what NOT to do in the future if they want to have a real political party, capable of being anything but a source of frustration for its own members and political cartoons for its opponents, but I don’t think they’re getting the hint.
Very few people have taken the time to read the testimony of Ms. Sandra Fluke as delivered before Congress. After Rush Limbaugh made a rather solid fool of himself by calling Ms. Fluke a “slut,” most attention rightfully went his way.
I’d ask, however, that you take the time to read Fluke’s…