2012 Presidential Election
The race for the Republican presidential nomination has turned ugly over these past few weeks thanks primarily to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), whose campaigns have resorted to an “everything but the kitchen sink” smear campaign to destroy former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.). Both Gingrich and Santorum have attacked Romney’s success in the private sector by criticizing his work at Bain Capital and relentlessly demanding that he release his tax returns. Gingrich’s campaign upped the ante when it unleashed a robocall slamming Romney for vetoing additional funding for kosher kitchens in nursing homes as Governor of Massachusetts. Apparently fiscal restraint has now joined business success in this race’s growing list of taboos.
If libertarians don’t want the Republican establishment to choose this year’s GOP nominee, a brokered convention is the last thing they should want.
Writing at The Fiscal Times, Ed Morrissey takes on conservatives who are hoping for a brokered Republican convention this year, arguing that a brokered convention is not only unlikely but undesirable because it would pave the way for the GOP establishment to choose a nominee who is more to their liking. Morrissey writes:
But let’s say for the sake of argument that no one candidate has a majority of the delegates, and none manages to wangle (sic) a majority on the first ballot at the convention. How does this benefit conservatives, who have fought the “establishment” that has pushed Romney for the nomination? The nominating process will then fall into the hands of the Republican National Committee, comprised of state party chairs and other power brokers, where the Tea Party has little or no influence. The fantasy in this case will be that the assembled party bosses and delegates, many of whom are part of state-party establishments, will crown a completely new candidate.
Who would that candidate likely be? It’s not going to be Sarah Palin or Herman Cain, who are the antithesis of this kind of back room wheeling and dealing and who aren’t necessarily trusted by the people negotiating the question. Assuming that it’s not one of the candidates who couldn’t close the deal in the primaries, it might be Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, or another establishment figure that chose not to run and get vetted in the first place.
It’s pop quiz time. Which of the following sounds least like the description of a Washington, D.C. establishment candidate?
a) A former one-term state governor never elected to federal office who spent decades prior to running for public office as a businessman in the private sector;
b) A former Speaker of the House who spent just eight years working as a college professor before serving for twenty years in the House of Representatives, who as Speaker was reprimanded and fined for an ethics violation, and who after resigning from Congress spent nine years as a paid consultant for Freddie Mac;
c) A former congressman and senator who spent just four years practicing law before serving for three years in the House of Representatives and another twelve in the Senate, who in 2004 offered a pivotal endorsement to an establishment squish (and later a party switcher) over a more conservative primary opponent, and whose work since leaving office has primarily included media commentary and political consultancy.
If you chose option a, you’re either a Mitt Romney supporter or perhaps simply an honest person. If you chose option b or option c, you’re probably a supporter of either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum who refuses to face reality. Because RomneyCare and stuff. You may also be one of the unfortunate folks who in 2008 voted for either former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.), a big government social conservative, or Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had at the time spent 25 years in Congress following distinguished military service but no time working in the private sector. Because abortion. And maybe Mormonism, just a little.
Irony. It’s what’s for dinner.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) has been under fire since last week’s South Carolina GOP primary debate for calling President Obama a “food stamp president.” Progressive critics have accused Gingrich of pushing hatred and racism to turn voters against Obama. But as a CNNMoney article makes clear, more Americans have been added to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) under Obama than under his recent predecessors and Obama’s stimulus package made it easier to qualify for SNAP. Approximately 14% of Americans — 1 in 7 — were on food stamps last year. We spent $75 billion on food stamps in 2011, an increase of about $40 billion in just three years, and according to Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Robert Rector overall spending on our 70 welfare programs has increased by one-third under Obama. These are facts and they would still be equally true if President Obama were white.
During last night’s Florida GOP primary debate, former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) blasted former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) for signing RomneyCare’s individual mandate into law in 2006. Apparently Sen. Santorum forgot that he supported individual mandates when he was running for the U.S. Senate in 1994:
Santorum and Watkins both called for a “comprehensive restructuring” of health care. But they differed sharply on what elements should comprise a basic benefits package.
Watkins would include mental health services, long-term care, prescription drug coverage, dental services and preventive care such as immunizations. Santorum would not. Both reject abortion services.
Santorum and Watkins both oppose having businesses provide health care for their employees. Instead, they would require individuals to purchase insurance. Both oppose higher taxes on alcohol or tobacco to help pay for care.
Santorum and Watkins would require individuals to buy health insurance rather than forcing employers to pay for employee benefits. Both oppose abortion services and support limits on malpractice awards. Santorum says non-economic damages should not exceed $250,000, adjusted annually for inflation, and lawyers’ contingency fees should be capped at 25 percent.
All of us saw Saturday night the blowout win that was delivered to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina. According to the final results, as reported by Google:
- Gingrich — 40.4% (243,153)
- Romney — 27.8% (167,279)
- Santorum — 17.0% (102,055)
- Paul — 13.0% (77,993)
This is definitely a smashing win for Gingrich, a huge setback for Romney, and a new period of turmoil for the GOP presidential nomination race. Never before have three different candidates won Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. The race, once believed to be wrapped up by mid-February, might continue into March or April, or even later. And so all the blogs are saying.
But when I look at the results of the South Carolina primary, all I can ask myself is, “Has the Republican Party jumped the shark?”
TVTropes Wiki, a website devoted to stories, defines “jumping the shark”* as:
the moment when an established show changes in a significant manner in an attempt to stay fresh. Ironically, that moment makes the viewers realize that the show has finally run out of ideas. It has reached its peak, it will never be the same again, and from now on it’s all downhill.
I have to wonder if this is the fate that is falling upon the Republican Party.
In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Nate Nelson, originally posted on January 17, 2011.
Given President Obama’s first instincts to centralize power in Washington and expand his own executive power, it might seem unlikely that he would issue a veto threat against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). But we might be able to persuade him if we speak in language that is well understood at the White House, which is the language of reelection. While the Obama campaign might think backing SOPA/PIPA will help the president’s reelection efforts by way of generous campaign contributions from Hollywood, the White House might want to consider that signing SOPA/PIPA into law could damage his chances of reelection in at least five important ways.
First off, I think the hashtag should have been #OhJesusChristItsAnotherDebate, but unfortunately that was too long for many tweets.
Second, my pessimism from last November and December has returned. During the summer of 2011, I was pretty sure that Obama had it. Even with the killing of bin Laden, after the support quickly evaporated, I figured his support was going to continue to fall. But then, after seeing the rise of Herman Cain and the ridiculous tomfoolery in the back half of the year, I figured Obama had it in the bag. Lately, I was thinking it’s a more 50/50 thing, but last night’s performance has me thinking again that Obama is going to steamroll this election in November.
Why? Because none of the candidates—aside from Paul, natch—had any real divergence or difference, nothing truly remarkable that sets them apart from either each other, Obama, or even George W. Bush. Cut taxes, increase defense spending, some paltry attempts at entitlement reform, and oh, civil liberties, who needs those? They may play well with the base, but they are utterly disastrous with the general electorate. I for one agree on the taxes thing, but you will have Obama and the left point out that taxes are the lowest they have been in years, and unless Republicans shoot back with the OECD taxation charts, I don’t think that will sell very well (though obviously, yes, if we’re going to remain competitive, cutting our business tax rates to ~20% and getting rid of capital gains and payroll taxes would be good—though we have to balance that by massively cutting spending.)
With Romney’s win Tuesday in New Hampshire, the first Republican non-incumbent to win both Iowa and the Granite State since 1976, some are saying that the primary battle is essentially over, while President Obama has “locked-in” on Romney as his opponent. I don’t need to be the one to tell you how bad this is for liberty, and how bad it is for just elections overall.
In effect, we’re going to have a choice between a Wall St. financied big business candidate who has no good record on civil liberties and created a massive government health insurance boondoggle against…the exact same thing.
Glenn Greenwald wrote an absolutely fantastic piece on New Year’s Eve about Ron Paul and how the Texas Representative is challenging progressives and liberals to take a harder look at Obama, which may not be what they want to do. In particular, Greenwald had this gem:
The thing I loathe most about election season is reflected in the central fallacy that drives progressive discussion the minute “Ron Paul” is mentioned. As soon as his candidacy is discussed, progressives will reflexively point to a slew of positions he holds that are anathema to liberalism and odious in their own right and then say: how can you support someone who holds this awful, destructive position? The premise here — the game that’s being played — is that if you can identify some heinous views that a certain candidate holds, then it means they are beyond the pale, that no Decent Person should even consider praising any part of their candidacy.
We frequently hear that Mitt Romney does the best against Barack Obama in a head-to-head matchup, making him the most electable candidate in a general election. However, the latest poll from CBS News shows Romney and Ron Paul doing better against Obama than their rivals in the race:
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, run neck-and-neck with President Obama in a general-election matchup, according to a new CBS News poll released late on Monday that shows the two front-runners in Tuesday’s New Hampshire GOP primary running stronger against the president than their fellow Republicans.
Romney posts a two-point lead over Obama, 47 percent to 45 percent, within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. He leads Obama, 45 percent to 39 percent, among independent voters.
Obama’s lead over Paul is just one point, 46 percent to 45 percent, as Paul leads among independents by 7 points.
The president posts more significant leads over the other GOP candidates, but against each he is below the critical 50-percent threshold: He leads former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 49 percent to 41 percent; former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, 48 percent to 41 percent; Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 49 percent to 42 percent; and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., 47 percent to 43 percent.