Guess what? The race for the Republican nomination has been shaken up again. Many of us saw Herman Cain’s downfall coming, it was only a matter of time. But still the fact that he lasted this far into the race is concerning given his lack of experience and complete lack of knowledge on some of the most basic issues, including foreign policy.
It looks as though Newt Gingrich has been able to capitalize on Cain’s misfortune and, as noted earlier, seems like to receive an endorsement. Gingrich leads in six of the last nine national polls, hold a single-digit lead in Iowa, and double-digit leads in Florida and South Carolina. Mitt Romney still leads in New Hampshire, but Gingrich and Ron Paul are gaining steam.
As every last soul has surely heard by now, Osama bin Laden is dead. Finally located and taken out by American special forces, the death of bin Laden marks a significant moment for America. The occasion was marked by numerous celebrations and expressions of profound relief and satisfaction, coupled with a harsh brushing of the wounds left by 9/11. Whether it helps Obama’s political fortunes is yet to be seen, but it surely has raised Americans’ spirits.
But one question still remains in the minds of many - were the sacrifices we have made up to this point worth it? Over the past nine years Americans have had their privacy invaded, their values called into question, and their coffers tapped to fund two wars expensive in both treasure and blood. We’ve certainly engaged in some ugly practices in our anger over what bin Laden did to us on that fall day in 2001. Your average citizen may never know the true extent of the things done in the name of fighting terrorism.
It’s clear to me then that we have paid an immense price for this victory, one that is hard to justify in retrospect. It’s hard to look at the way our lives have profoundly changed and not say that, despite the fact that his life ended at the point of an American rifle, Osama bin Laden will go down as a victor. His actions have altered the American landscape permanently and have led us to do things that we ought be ashamed of.
The current Grand Old Party is in despair and acknowledging some need for change. Since the end of the Reagan Administration it has slowly become the “Grumpy Old-White-Man’s Party” with little appeal to individuals outside of its traditional coalition, and even within that coalition there is little enthusiasm. So, most acknowledge there are problems; But what are they? How can they be fixed? These are the questions party insiders and loyalists are already attempting to answer.
What are the Problems?
While the mistakes made by George Bush’s Republican Party are so numerous one could probably never compile a completely conclusive book on the matter, most can be traced to fundamental root causes that desperately need to be identified and purged- below are a few of the broad policy mistakes committed by the Party.
The Federal Reserve announced a third-round of quantitative easing (QE3), during which the central bank will purchase $600 billion bonds in hopes that the debt monetization will stimulate the economy and thus bring down the unemployment rate by one-percentage point.
The move has already been met with derision by GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI), who called the Fed’s actions “insidious” during a speech in Florida on Saturday. Before the Federal Reserve announced its decision last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that many economists expressed doubt that another round of quantitative easing would do anything to stimulate the economy. And if they do manage to do anything, it could be as, Neil Cavuto explains, “substituting bubbles”:
The risk with forcibly keeping interest rates low is you create another bubble, which is odd because we’re in the fix we’re in because we burst out of a real bad financial bubble.
My fear is that we’re substituting bubbles.
We’re encouraging the very reckless hedging and leveraging that brought on the last financial meltdown.
I’m not saying that happens again. But you don’t have to be Nostradamus to see where this kind of stuff goes. It’s inflationary, for one thing, and likely prompts a continued run-up in commodity prices that had stalled for a while.
After the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a Montana campaign finance law prohibiting corporations from participating in elections, many are wondering what the future of the Citizens United case law and the First Amendment may be. George Will probably said it best while recently discussing the concept of “super PACs”:
This kind of pretense or charade is what you get when you get into the business of regulating political speech in a country with the First Amendment. If we would just deregulate political speech — let anyone give anything they want to anyone, call it freedom,” what a concept, and we wouldn’t have all these pretenses.
It still boggles my mind that anyone would oppose the rights of individuals, either acting alone or as a group formed out of some common interest, to express their opinion on an issue or against a certain politician. Of course, there are populists that are always going to oppose anything corporations do and aren’t going to be willing to listen to reason. But the sad fact is that there is now talk of undoing the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United through a constitutional amendment.
In a new video from the Cato Institute, John Samples and Caleb Brown discussed Citizens United and the First Amendment and what we can expect in the future as the push to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling heats up:
Last year, we often poked fun at Donald Trump, who was at the time seeking attention and ratings for his TV show as he supposedly pondered a run for president. Trump managed to get a lot of media in-part due to waving the banner for Birthers and playing up economic populism by promising to start a trade war with China.
Trump ended up being the butt of jokes after the White House put a copy of Barack Obama’s birth certificate on display and after a debate he was going to moderate ended up being ignored by several Republican candidates.
But now Trump is getting attention from Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, and this is leaving some with a headache due. George Will, who writes at the Washington Post, made his feelings about engaging Trump known over the weekend on This Week, questioning Romney’s association with him:
This morning on “This Week,” ABC News’ George Will called Donald Trump a ”bloviating ignoramus,” questioning why presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is associating with the real estate mogul, who once again falsely questioned President Obama’s birthplace this week.
“I do not understand the cost benefit here,” Will said on the “This Week” roundtable. “The costs are clear. The benefit — what voter is gonna vote for him (Romney) because he is seen with Donald Trump? The cost of appearing with this bloviating ignoramus is obvious it seems to me.
George Will, easily the best conservative writer out there, penned a great colum at the Washington Post explaining why Republicans need to whining about proposed reductions in defense spending and withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan:
The U.S. defense budget is about 43 percent of the world’s total military spending — more than the combined defense spending of the next 17 nations, many of which are U.S. allies. Are Republicans really going to warn voters that America will be imperiled if the defense budget is cut 8 percent from projections over the next decade? In 2017, defense spending would still be more than that of the next 10 countries combined.
Do Republicans think it is premature to withdraw as many as 7,000 troops from Europe two decades after the Soviet Union’s death? About 73,000 will remain, most of them in prosperous, pacific, largely unarmed and utterly unthreatened Germany. Why do so many remain?
As you know, Herman Cain suspended his campaign on Saturday, effectively ending his bid for the Republican nomination and the strange ordeal that he put his family through. Many are wondering what is next for Cain, whether he’ll go on to form a PAC and/or endorse another candidate in the race. Both seem likely, and we already know which way Cain is leaning (and it’s not a surprise):
A top Cain adviser tells us the former candidate plans to endorse in the next few weeks – certainly this month, in order to affect the Iowa caucuses – and is most likely to go Gingrich. They have a personal relationship that goes back to Gingrich’s days as Speaker, a much longer relationship than Cain has with any of the others. And they disagree on few issues. Cain can offer some Iowa organization and his power as a surrogate in the African-American community (including churches), a weakness for the GOP.
Despite his potential to be a “kingmaker,” some conservatives are taking issue with Cain. Over at the National Review, Rich Lowery very pointedly says that Cain should give back money he received from donors. Some of you may say that this isn’t a big deal, but it has been noted that since Cain hasn’t formally ended his campaign, merely suspended it, he would still qualify for federal matching funds, which he may be able to transfer to whatever PAC he creates with leftover campaign dollars.
While there may be an excuse for his perceived gaffe last week in Ohio, Mitt Romney has made another notable shift on an issue. This time Romney is reversing course on global warming, in hopes to appeal to conservatives:
Speaking at a closed-door fundraiser on Thursday in Pittsburgh, Romney’s position on the causes of global warming continued the rightward shift that has been underway for several months “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us,” he told donors at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center.
As recently as his 2010 book, No Apology, Romney wrote, “I believe that climate change is occurring.… I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor. I am uncertain how much of the warming, however, is attributable to man and how much is attributable to factors out of our control.”
In June of this year, Reuters reported that Romney said that the United States should “reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors.”
To be sure, I actually agree with Romney’s more recent comments on the issue, but as the AP notes, Romney isn’t really helping himself with these reversals. And if/when he gets into the general election, Democrats aren’t going to give him a pass.