By Luiza Ch. Savage - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
Republicans in the House of Representatives today held a hearing on legislation that would do just that in the event that Obama denies a permit for the proposed pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast..
Could they get away with it?
Maybe, reports the Washington Post in an interesting article.
Such a move would raise constitutional division-of-powers questions:
The Congressional Research Service has examined this question in two separate reports, and in a 2012 report, it suggests Congress has just as much a right to weigh in on international pipelines as the president.
That report notes, “Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution authorizes Congress to ‘regulate Commerce with foreign Nations.’ Whereas any independent presidential authority in matters affecting foreign commerce derives from the President’s more general foreign affairs authority, Congress’s power over foreign commerce is plainly enumerated by the Constitution, suggesting that its authority in this field is preeminent.”
Now, just to complicate matters, a 2013 CRS report notes that a 2010 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota found the president had the right to issue international pipeline permits because Congress had not challenged this authority over a period of several years.
Such a move would trigger lawsuits. And, of course, Obama can veto any legislation out of Congress. So is there enough support in Congress to override a presidential veto with a super-majority vote? Not yet. Notes the Post:
…on March 22 the Senate approved a non-binding resolution in favor of building the project by a vote of 62 to 37, with 17 Democrats voting in favor.
So in the end, can Congress grant a permit to the pipeline even if Obama rejects it? It appears proponents may be able to force the project through, if they can attract a few more Democrats to their side, but they would still have to fight in federal court to seal such a victory.
Full story is here.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, March 25, 2013 at 11:25 AM - 0 Comments
The GOP needs to rethink outreach in order to stop “secular socialism”
As the speakers revved up the crowd with jabs at Barack Obama, socialists and the “liberal media,” last week’s gathering of American conservatives at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) felt on the surface just like any other. The convention hall near Washington teemed with banners (“Stand with Rand!”), buttons (“Don’t tread on my gun rights”) and booths that ran the conservative gamut from the Ayn Rand Committee for Individual Rights to Christians United for Israel.
But what started out as a moment of indecisive post-election soul-searching by conservative activists from around the country was only days later overshadowed by a bold move by Republican party insiders in Washington bent on saving the party from itself. To some it looked like a coup.
No sooner had the speakers and activists packed up and left town after their weekend meeting, then the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, ventured into enemy territory, the National Press Club, to unveil a 100-page post-mortem report on the November election losses, and announce the party’s future strategy. The rank and file may have spent three days debating the way forward, but the party leadership had already made up its mind.
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 12:56 AM - 0 Comments
This was always going to be a close election. It’s hard to imagine a U.S. presidential election that wouldn’t be close. They used to have decisive victories — Johnson in 1964 and Nixon in 1972 both won with more than 60 per cent of the popular vote — but those days seem long gone now.
Barack Obama won despite 8 per cent unemployment by fielding a superb campaign operation, staging a vastly superior nominating convention and bouncing back after a dreadful first debate performance. More than that, his position on issues held more of the fractured American electorate than Romney’s did. Obamacare turned out to be more asset than handicap. Obama’s stewardship of the economy neutralized Romney’s business-guy advantage. Democrats held approximately as many House and Senate seats as before the election. Equal-marriage ballot initiatives seem at this hour to have carried in Maryland, Minnesota, Washington and Maine. Voters in Washington and Colorado supported the decriminalization of marijuana. Republicans tempted to congratulate themselves for winning the white vote should be told, gently, that on top of being a distasteful way to apportion legitimacy in a democracy, the analysis is radically unhelpful: the white share of the electorate has fallen 15 points since 1980. Jacques Parizeau is a poor role model for Republicans who actually want to win something.
But this election will be dead easy for conservative Republicans to rationalize. Continue…
By John Parisella - Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 2:47 PM - 0 Comments
Almost but not quite, argues John Parisella
A very difficult 10 days in the Romney campaign has brought forward criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. Nothing to fret about on the former, but when the harsh words come from the latter, it hurts big time. The attacks came from respected Republican columnists like the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan, who called the campaign “a rolling calamity,” and the New York Times’ David Brooks, who referred to Mitt Romney as Thurston Howell Romney, the prototype of a rich snob.
Clearly, Romney’s recent reference to the 47 per cent of the electorate “who don’t pay taxes and would never vote for me,” along with his mediocre performance around the attacks tied to the film “Innocence of Muslims,” made both the candidate and his campaign look dangerously incompetent. The “week from hell” ended with Romney divulging his 2010 tax returns, which only raised more questions and drew additional criticism from the right about the timing of the release.
All of this has given late night humorists a field-day of stand-up material. And though national polls still show a tight race, local ones indicate there’s a growing lead by Obama over Romney in swing states. With less than six weeks to go in the campaign, what we are witnessing is GOP grumblings threatening to blow an election Romney should have been able to win.
By Emma Teitel - Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 6:46 AM - 0 Comments
Until Bill Clinton spoke last night, the Democratic National Convention was like a bar mitzvah where all the speakers have dementia and sing identical praises of the bar mitzvah boy over and over again: Barack Obama is a gift to God who will push you “forward, not back!” and Mitt Romney is the guy on Mad Men who slaps your ass and fires you. Forward, back, forward, back …
It was nauseating.
Then came Clinton, who drew an applause bigger than any other speaker at both conventions combined, and gave a speech as rich in actual policy as it was rousing. (He is probably the first person in history to say the word “arithmetic” and get a standing ovation.)
His alluson to humble beginnings was, thank God, mostly a joke.
“Bob Strauss used to say that every politician wants every voter to believe he was born in a log cabin he built himself. But, as Strauss then admitted, it ain’t so.”
He laced rhetoric with actual experience.
“I had the same thing happen in 1994 and early ‘95. We could see that the policies were working, that the economy was growing. But most people didn’t feel it yet. Thankfully, by 1996 the economy was roaring, everybody felt it, and we were halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in the history of the United States. And if you will renew the president’s contract, you will feel it.”
He turned assumed foes into good friends.
“When I was a governor, I worked with President Reagan and his White House on the first round of welfare reform and with President George H.W. Bush on national education goals. I’m actually very grateful to — if you saw from the film what I do today, I have to be grateful, and you should be, too — that President George W. Bush supported PEPFAR. It saved the lives of millions of people in poor countries.”
But most of all he did what no one on either side of the political fence has been able to do to this election campaign: he injected it with some positivity. The reason his speech was so well received is because he rose above the divisive culture wars that have overshadowed the campaign. Why? Because he spoke to an entirely bi-partisan theme: co-operation.
“When times are tough and people are frustrated and angry and hurting and uncertain, the politics of constant conflict may be good. But what is good politics does not necessarily work in the real world. What works in the real world is co-operation.”
When he went after Romney and Ryan it wasn’t, for the most part, to accuse them of being heartless ideologues, but to admonish their party’s unwillingness to co-operate with the other side. His remedy for American success wasn’t a Democratic government, but a Democratic government that worked in conjunction with a Republican one. “Just ask the mayors,” he said.
It takes a special kind of speaker to be able to patiently explain policy decisions to a televisized audience and bring the one before him to its feet.
I would go the other way for Bill Clinton. And I’m sure after last night, Barack Obama would too.
By Jesse Brown - Friday, August 31, 2012 at 2:32 PM - 0 Comments
Pop quiz: which political party is promising the following?
“We will remove regulatory barriers that protect outdated technologies and business plans from innovation and competition”
“We will resist any effort to shift control away from the successful multi-stakeholder approach of Internet governance and toward governance by international organizations”
“We will ensure that personal data receives full constitutional protection from government overreach and that individuals retain the right to control the use of their data”
If you guessed the Pirate Party, you’re wrong. The above is part of the just-announced Republican party platform. While Obama may hang out on Reddit and Hilary Clinton may grandstand on the need for digital rights in countries other than America, the GOP is the party that has definitively pledged support for Internet freedom. We have no specific policies yet, but their platform does suggest a strong stance against the U.N. seizing control of Internet regulation, and Hollywood and telecom interference with the open Internet ( this covers Net Neutrality) as well as incursions into personal privacy. It all sounds great!
By Emma Teitel - Friday, August 24, 2012 at 12:14 PM - 0 Comments
Remember when Michele Bachmann said this….
“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’”
And a crazy rabbi said this…
“Yes, there is a direct connection between earthquakes and homosexuality. There was in Haiti, and it is here in New York, in Washington D.C…”
It seems the GOP has lost touch with its roots and gone logical, issuing warnings, devising contingency plans, and attributing the imminent hurricane to something called “science”.
So please allow me to evoke the almighty in its place:
Let’s just pray he does so before this unholy union takes the stage.
In other news, please join me next weekend where I will be blogging from the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Clear skies ahead.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, July 23, 2012 at 11:16 AM - 0 Comments
Mitt Romney is taking his presidential campaign abroad. On Thursday and Friday he’ll be in England, meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron, cabinet ministers and opposition party leaders.
Then on Friday, he attends the Olympic opening ceremonies – a chance for him to change the subject from the relentless hammering the Obama campaign has been dishing out on his career at Bain Capital. It’ll allow him to focus on his tenure as the head of the Salt Lake City Olympics, where he was brought in to rescue the financially-strapped and scandal-plagued games. The Olympics marked his transition from business to public service and cemented his reputation as a fix-it guy.
There is one catch, though – his wife, Ann Romney, has a horse competing in the dressage competition – a sport that is performed in white gloves, top hat, and tails serves as yet another reminder of the Romney’s uncommon wealth. As is the fact that they Romney’s declared $77,000 financial losses associated with the horse on their tax return.
(The Democratic National Committee made an ad making fun of Ann’s horse – which was eventually yanked in the face of criticism. Ann Romney has used equestrian therapies to help with her multiple sclerosis.)
After London, Romney will travel to Israel and Poland, where he will meet with political leaders, visit historical sites and give speeches, presumably critiquing Obama’s foreign policy (such as Obama’s decision to withdraw missile defense system from Poland) and giving more details on his own foreign policy views.
And, so far at least, no talk of the Brandenburg Gate.
By John Parisella - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 12:58 PM - 0 Comments
Romney seems determined to stay the course despite a devastatingly negative ad by the Obama campaign
Back in 2004, Democratic presidential contender John Kerry came off his party’s national convention with better than reasonable odds to make George W. Bush a one-term president.
A political ad called the Swift Boat veterans for Truth took direct issue with the Kerry narrative of the war hero “ready to serve” once again for the greater good. The ad had a devastating effect not so much for its content, but for how the Kerry campaign managed the fallout. The contents were ultimately shown to be incorrect, but the initial inaction or slowness to respond to the ad by the Kerry campaign resulted in a drop in support for the Democratic contender at a crucial moment in the campaign. He never fully recovered, despite solid debate performances in the weeks that followed.
The Bain controversy involving Mitt Romney’s record and his disclosures between 1999-2002 continue to dominate the news and are creating an unnecessary diversion to his candidacy. Even noted conservative commentators like George Will and Bill Kristol are urging Romney to release his tax records for the past 10-12 years to put the issue at rest.
Romney seems determined to stay the course despite a devastatingly negative ad by the Obama campaign released this past weekend. Did he not learn from the Kerry experience? Does he not know that having his opponent define him is usually catastrophic in an election campaign?
Most voters would prefer a contest dominated by the issues, the assessment of the record of the incumbent, the policy choices, and the character of the contenders, especially with high unemployment and a slow economic recovery. Negative advertising, while a fact of political campaigning, has had the effect of turning off voters and adding to increasing cynicism from voters.
Yet, this Bain issue is not the result of a negative ad. It is the result of the Romney campaign not anticipating that running on the Bain record contained some risks. Romney, aware of his controversial healthcare law that served as the forerunner of Obamacare, chose to run more on his business experience and downplay his government record. It soon became fair game when he used his Bain record to show the failures of the Obama record.
Now Romney is faced with trying to change the subject. But holding back on divulging tax returns, or having Swiss bank accounts, or having money in the Caymans with its tax havens, are bound to raise questions after the 2008 financial meltdown and the TARP bailouts that followed to salvage Wall Street. The media is following the story not because Romney is rich , but because the issue of transparency is raised.
Just like John Kerry, Romney is a qualified candidate. He may not be politically agile as a politician, but he did win the primaries and the nomination will be his officially at the Republican National Convention in late August.
It is too early to think the unthinkable that Romney may have to reconsider his candidacy. However, transparency, integrity , and a compelling counter-narrative to Obama remain the best ways to the White House against an incumbent who is vulnerable on the number one election issue—the economy.
Romney has the tools to turn this around. Or, has he unconsciously chosen to “self-Swift-boat”? Time will tell.
And on this note , I will be off for a few days with family and friends. Enjoy your summer.
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, March 19, 2012 at 2:45 AM - 0 Comments
The U.S.’s most prominent libertarian think tank may be leaning more Republican
When Charles Koch founded the Cato Institute, it seemed like a perfect match: the billionaire philanthropist and his brother David were leading supporters of small government in the U.S., and Cato quickly became the country’s most prominent libertarian think tank. But lately, the Kochs have decided that this particular free market organization needs a bit less freedom. The Kansas-based energy tycoons have filed a lawsuit against Cato and its president Ed Crane, seeking to gain a majority ownership stake in the institute. “We seek no ‘takeover,’ and this is not a hostile action,” said Charles in a press release. Not everyone is convinced.
Though the Kochs fell out with Crane years ago—“Crane had been insufﬁciently respectful of Charles’s management philosophy,” Jane Mayer wrote in The New Yorker—the current conflict isn’t personal, it’s ideological. In recent years, the Kochs have become more directly involved in electoral politics: their group Americans for Prosperity played a major role in the 2010 Republican sweep of the House of Representatives. But under Crane, Cato has sometimes been willing to take positions at odds with both political parties; it’s the only think tank reliably “informed by more than partisan convenience,” liberal journalist Ezra Klein once wrote.
That’s what the Koch brothers are seeking to change. Senior fellow Jerry Taylor told libertarian blogger Jonathan Adler they have already rid the board of some of its “strong, principled libertarians,” replacing them with friendlies with a more reliably conservative bent. One of the nominated board members is John Hinderaker, a lawyer who once called George W. Bush “a man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius.”
By John Parisella - Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 12:50 PM - 0 Comments
It may not have amounted to Mitt Romney’s best case scenario for Super Tuesday,…
It may not have amounted to Mitt Romney’s best case scenario for Super Tuesday, but winning a clear majority of delegates and a close race in the battleground state of Ohio, is near enough. Rick Santorum showed staying power with impressive victories in Tennessee and Oklahoma. Newt Gringrich tried to bask in the sunlight, but winning his home state is just a consolation prize. The race will last longer because there was no knockout blow, but at the end of the day, Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee.
So why are Santorum and Gingrich staying in the race? The primary rules this year work against declaring an early victor. There are very few “winner take all” states, with most opting for a proportional allocation of delegates. Romney will keep building his lead—but it’s going to happen more slowly than it would have in previous years. Another reason is the role of Super PACs, which allow rich benefactors to keep a doomed candidacy going. Finally, both Santorum and Gingrich see themselves as the only true conservatives; to them, Romney an impostor that needs to be checked and followed. This alone is enough to keep them in the race. Continue…
By John Parisella - Monday, March 5, 2012 at 5:57 PM - 0 Comments
With 10 states at stake on Super Tuesday, the race for the Republican nomination…
With 10 states at stake on Super Tuesday, the race for the Republican nomination will have taken a decided turn by the end of the evening. Romney has so far failed to close the deal due to serial insurgencies (Newt Gingrich in December and in the South Carolina primary, Rick Santorum in Iowa and with recent victories), but he should recapture his status as the inevitable nominee.
Coming off successes in Wyoming and Washington States caucuses this past weekend, where the process of delegate selection favoured the former governor of Massachusetts, Romney has regained momentum in Ohio and Tennessee in the closing hours. The threat to Romney in these two states is Santorum. But money and the ground game should nonetheless favour Romney; it also won’t hurt that establishment Republicans like Eric Cantor and Tom Coburn have come out in favour of Mitt. If Romney wins Ohio, he offsets his close call in Michigan and wins a battleground state. This will marginalize Santorum further. Continue…
By John Parisella - Monday, February 27, 2012 at 3:11 PM - 0 Comments
It seems unlikely that Ronald Reagan would feel comfortable in today’s Republican party. With…
It seems unlikely that Ronald Reagan would feel comfortable in today’s Republican party. With the GOP leadership candidates relentlessly attacking each other’s credentials and character, it’s worth recalling Reagan’s so-called 11th commandment—’Thou shalt not attack a fellow Republican.’ Try telling that to born-again Catholic Newt Gingrich, who thinks being nasty is good policy, or social conservative Rick Santorum, who finds a new way to alienate a portion of the traditional GOP electorate on a daily basis, or on again-off again frontrunner Mitt Romney, who seems more robotic by the day. This race has already been vicious beyond description, even with Democrats staying out of it.
When it comes to presenting their vision of conservatism, this year’s crop of candidates tends toward exclusivity. There is no effort at inclusion in any of the major speeches or through the many debates. Santorum has made social conservativism his lietmotiv, thereby alienating women and gays. Romney has veered so much to the right on immigration reform that he will have trouble appearing saleable to a Latino electorate that has an otherwise conservative predisposition. And Gingrich’s critiques of Obama are so over-the-top that few voters outside his band of followers take him seriously. Continue…
By John Parisella - Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 4:59 PM - 0 Comments
Rick Santorum’s triple victory on Tuesday says more about Mitt Romney than it does…
Rick Santorum’s triple victory on Tuesday says more about Mitt Romney than it does about Santorum. After two impressive wins in Florida and Nevada, the Romney path to victoryappeared to be clear, with Newt Gingrich having finally run out of comebacks, Ron Paul falling by the wayside, and Rick Santorum losing what little traction he had. And yet, Tuesday reminded us once again that Romney can’t close the deal. Santorum is simply the newest anti-Mitt.
Since he declared his candidacy last spring, the book on Romney has been that he can’t attract the more conservative elements of the Republican party, and can’t generate enthusiasm for his candidacy. For most of last year, he hovered around 25 per cent support and every month or so, one of his opponents would surge ahead to illustrate the general discomfort with Romney inside the GOP. His flip flops on gay rights, abortion rights, and gun control, along with the healthcare reform he implemented in Massachusetts, are presented as evidence that Romney is not a reliable conservative. Continue…
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 10:50 AM - 0 Comments
Shadow campaigns are outspending the candidates themselves
This year’s Republican presidential nomination race has not only been the most volatile in recent memory. It has also been the first to see the rise of parallel, shadow campaigns run by independent groups that have been outspending the candidates themselves. The airwaves in early primary states have been awash with foreboding ads warning of Newt Gingrich’s “serial hypocrisy” or Mitt Romney taking “blood money.” The candidates have been able to escape responsibility for the vitriol by noting that the ads weren’t run by the campaigns, but by independent “political action committees.” Known as super PACs, they have pumped an estimated $45 million into the Republican race so far—doubling what the candidates’ own campaign organizations spent in some states.
The political resurrection of Newt Gingrich and his victory in South Carolina were paid for in large part by a single billionaire, the 78-year-old casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who together with his wife contributed $10 million in January to a single super PAC, Winning Our Future, a group run by former top Gingrich staffers that has been running attack ads against Romney. In the wake of Romney’s victory in the Florida primary vote on Jan. 31, Adelson’s desire to continue bankrolling Winning Our Future and its attack ads against Romney may determine how long the primary campaign slogs on and how damaging it becomes to front-runner Romney.
Adelson’s role in this race is exactly the kind of deep-pocketed backroom influence U.S. lawmakers tried to end a decade ago when they passed a sweeping bipartisan law to limit money in politics. The law capped the amount of funding any individual could give to a candidate’s campaign at $2,500, and banned corporations and unions from donating to campaigns and political action committees. It also capped the amount of money a PAC could accept from an individual, and the amount it could spend promoting a single candidate, at $5,000 each. The campaign finance rules were aimed at preventing any one person, company or labour union from “buying” a candidate—but it also meant candidates had to spend a lot of time hustling for small contributions from large numbers of donors.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 10:40 AM - 0 Comments
The 76-year-old libertarian won’t win, but he’s got more fans than ever
Outside the large outdoor tent where a group of South Carolina Republicans had gathered for a town hall discussion about the presidential race, a few demonstrators shouted loudly and waved signs from the sidelines. In a scene that repeats itself around the Republican campaign trail, they turned out to be not from the Occupy movement, but supporters of Ron Paul, a fellow Republican running for president.
Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who was moderating the event, called out to them, “Come into the tent!” They didn’t budge, showing once again that bringing Paul’s movement into the Republican fold is easier said than done.
Paul, a 76-year-old Republican congressman from Texas, has long been regarded as the party’s cranky libertarian uncle. He inspires jokes about legalizing pot—and eye rolls with talk of moving the U.S. dollar to the gold standard. But in this crowded campaign, Paul has moved from the fringes to the main stage, repeatedly garnering enough votes and dollars to stay in the race while other candidates drop by the wayside. He has little chance of winning the nomination, but the soft-spoken gynecologist from Texas has stunned Republicans with his strong showing. Paul came in second in the New Hampshire primary, behind only Mitt Romney, with 23 per cent of the vote—triple what he drew when he ran for president four years ago. In Iowa, where the top two finishers, Romney and Rick Santorum, drew a quarter of the vote each, Paul came in third with one-fifth. Going into the South Carolina primary, polls had him around 15 per cent.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 7:28 PM - 0 Comments
There are a few interesting things going on in the Republican presidential campaign beyond the immediate battle for who will be emerge from South Carolina as the strongest “Not Romney.”
Two big conversations have emerged from this campaign season that go beyond the question of “Who can beat Obama in November?”
The first is the relationship between Republicans and free-market capitalism, high finance, and the growing inequality gap in the U.S. Most recently, this issue has exploded in the form of Newt Gingrich’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s record while he ran Bain Capital, a private equity firm. Gingrich, quickly joined by Rick Perry, attacked Romney for buying up failing enterprises, saddled them with large debt used in part to pay Bain large management fees, and then downsized them or let them fail, resulting in large job losses. This is the theme of the film “When Mitt Romney Came to Town,” that Gingrich’s supporters are promoting around South Carolina.
By John Parisella - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 5:39 PM - 0 Comments
Mitt Romney ended the New Hampshire primary with a decisive—albeit expected—victory and has a…
Mitt Romney ended the New Hampshire primary with a decisive—albeit expected—victory and has a strong chance to win the January 21 primary in South Carolina as well. His purportedly strongest opponents in South Carolina—Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry—have little or no momentum and are unlikely to cause an upset at this stage. After just one week of primaries, only one first-tier candidate remains and that is Romney.
Last night, Mitt Romney spoke like he was already the nominee. He spoke early, was on message and delivered a blistering attack against President Obama. The highly scripted candidate knows it’s over for the nomination, and he wanted to convey the aura of a prospective president.
Mark this one as a victory for establishment Republicans over the Republican base. It shows that the GOP remains an electoral force and that it will ultimately choose a candidate that can appeal beyond the party’s base when it comes to a presidential contest. That lesson was learned back in 1964, when the GOP went outside the mainstream to pick Barry Goldwater and lost in a landslide.
Sure, the party has very vocal factions and can sometimes appear very divided. As we have seen in this campaign, Newt Gingrich has an unrivaled capacity for confrontational politics, while Ron Paul has a similar affinity for fringe politics politics. But while a different candidate kept emerging to challenge the inevitability of Romney’s nomination, the former Massachusetts governor kept accumulating endorsements, strengthening his organization, and raking in money. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 1:50 PM - 0 Comments
In Iowa, the sideshow carneys had a bad night. This continues a robust losing streak for candidates who seemed to believe that a mavericky attitude could substitute for book larnin’ and legislative experience in their quest for the presidency. Herman Cain and Sarah Palin didn’t even make it this far; Michele Bachmann is now toast; Rick Perry will not be in it much longer.
The survivors are a former moderate Massachussetts governor; a former two-term Senator and two-term Representative who actually did some legislating while he was in the legislative branch; a 20-year Representative and former House Speaker who’s written or co-written 23 books, some memorable; and Ron Paul, who’s an eccentric or worse but who got his MD at Duke University and who captures votes in chronically under-served corners of American conservatism, like foreign-policy isolationism.
I make no great claims for Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Paul. It’s a very conservative field, well to the right of the party’s 1996, 2000 and 2008 nominees. But my point is, they’re not blithering idiots, and yet in recent months they spent a lot of time trailing candidates who were. The Iowa caucus-goers, pursuing a rickety and outmoded process in the dead of winter in the middle of nowhere, have served up to Republican strategists a handy reminder that voters care about competence, can spot its absence, and punish its lack. Continue…
By John Parisella - Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 4:48 PM - 13 Comments
Obama benefitted from Clinton, but Romney is no Obama
One general conclusion that can be drawn from the 2008 Democratic primaries is that Hilary Clinton made Barack Obama a stronger candidate going into the presidential election. Just prior to the primaries in 2008, Clinton had a double-digit lead over Obama, just like the one Newt Gingrich now has over Mitt Romney in some key states. But by the end of January of 2008, Obama had split the early primaries and was leading Hillary in delegate count. The rest, of course, is history.
Is it possible that scenario could repeat itself in this year’s Republican race, with Romney getting a second wind thanks to a long, drawn out struggle with a formidable rival? Romney’s people are starting to spin it that way, as Romney is suddenly becoming more aggressive and more accessible; the hope remains that Gingrich will implode over the course of a protracted race. (The Republicans have changed their rules about winning delegates since 2008 and it is likely that the GOP race will be a drawn out contest similar to the one the Democrats had in 2008. In fact, some are still holding out hope a new candidate will emerge later.) Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 9:31 AM - 0 Comments
From George Clooney and Elisabetta Canalis to Lauro Garza and the GOP–a tour of this year’s splitsville
He ran B.C. during the triumphant Olympic Games, but a year later was nothing but the butt of jokes. The premier stepped down amid controversy over his support of a 12 per cent harmonized sales tax, which divided the province. When he was announced as one of the recipients of the Order of British Columbia, resentment ran so high that an online petition opposing it was launched.
MICHEL DORAIS AND THE TORIES
The bilingual Dorais toiled at various government jobs starting in 1976, and nothing could make him stop loving public service—until the Harper government came along. The former deputy minister told the Ottawa Citizen that Conservatives “lack respect for civil servants,” but the final straw came when the Tories appointed a unilingual auditor general. “For all my professional life I worked at ensuring bilingualism would take hold in the Canadian public service,” he lamented as he resigned.
By John Parisella - Monday, December 5, 2011 at 7:04 PM - 6 Comments
First, there was Donald Trump. Then came Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain. Later, there…
First, there was Donald Trump. Then came Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain. Later, there was Rick Perry, and now Newt Gingrich. Through it all, support for Mitt Romney has been steady and he continues to do well in a matchup against President Obama. But the picture could soon be changing as we near caucus and primary season. Late challenges can be hazardous to a consistent frontrunner if he fails to develop traction, as seems to be the case with Romney.
With Herman Cain dropping out (‘suspending’ is a misnomer) and expected to endorse a former rival (Newt?), it is now clear that Mitt Romney will face another big challenge for the nomination. Unlike Trump, Cain, Perry, and Bachman, who were weak contenders, Gingrich is a force. He is experienced, occasionally ruthless, and appears much stronger on policy matters than Romney.
Gingrich is currently leading in Iowa and second in New Hampshire, where he could close the gap with a victory in Iowa. He is also leading in both South Carolina and Florida. Should these poll results translate into actual votes for Gingrich in the early stages of the primary, Romney will have difficulty recovering. Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Friday, November 25, 2011 at 7:00 AM - 96 Comments
How did the campaign for the Republican 2012 presidential nomination turn into such a joke?
“We are protecting Herman Cain,” announced a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service on Nov. 18. The Godfather’s Pizza magnate became the first Republican candidate for U.S. president to request Secret Service protection in this election cycle, and a campaign spokesman told the Washington Post that Cain needed protection from reporters, who have been “trying to follow him with a lot of heavy equipment and cameras.” Cain later denied this, saying only that he needed the protection “because of the popularity of my campaign.” By the time he said that, though, his popularity was declining, with polls showing that his support was going to another candidate—Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker who resigned in disgrace in 1998 and spent most of the next few years reviewing spy novels on Amazon.com. It was a familiar step in a bizarre campaign season: reporters stop focusing on one transparently unelectable candidate, and move on to what historian Rick Perlstein calls “the next shiny object,” an equally unelectable candidate.
The Republican campaign season, from Donald Trump’s birtherism to Rick Perry’s inability to remember which government agency he wanted to cut, has been one of the wildest in recent memory. It drove apostate conservative David Frum to lament the effect the conservative movement was having on the presidential race: in a widely discussed article, he called the parade of Tea Party candidates “a series of humiliating fizzles and explosions that never achieved liftoff.” With Republican voters fired up to beat Barack Obama but also disillusioned with politics in general, any candidate who claims to be a political outsider can get a serious look. Doug Gross, an Iowa Republican operative and former gubernatorial candidate, told Maclean’s that candidates like Cain or Trump “are products of the voters’ concerns about the failure of the current system to produce leaders who can solve problems.”
By John Parisella - Monday, November 21, 2011 at 5:12 PM - 3 Comments
Even the Republicans don’t like their candidates
Once again, a new anybody-but-Mitt-Romney candidate has surged in the Republican polls. This time, it is former Speaker Newt Gingrich. After surviving onslaughts from Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain, you would think Mitt Romney might start seeing some daylight and begin to build the support he’ll need to capture the nomination. He is the candidate with the best match-up numbers against Obama, so you would expect the Republican base to begin to see the advantages of Romney as the nominee. Instead, it is becoming evident that while Romney’s support may be steady, his candidacy is not catching fire. He remains the unloved frontrunner.
As with the others before him, Gingrich will now enter the phase of close scrutiny. Can he survive and emerge as the permanent anybody-but-Romney candidate? Or will he fail, as the others did before him, to maintain his momentum? Continue…
By John Parisella - Monday, October 10, 2011 at 3:44 PM - 2 Comments
At the Values Voter Summit this weekend, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was confronted…
At the Values Voter Summit this weekend, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was confronted with one of the many tests he will have to pass on his way to the GOP nomination and perhaps the presidency in November 2012. A supporter of Texas Governor Rick Perry, Pastor Robert Jeffress, referred to Romney as a moral man, but not a true Christian because of his Mormon faith. He went on to characterize Mormonism as a cult and not a genuine Christian religion.
Perry, to his credit, did not endorse the incendiary statements of his supporter, but the battlelines were drawn for the primary battles to come in Iowa and South Carolina, where social conservatives will play a major role in determining who will be President Obama’s opponent next year.