By Colby Cosh - Monday, May 6, 2013 - 0 Comments
Some U.S. politicians are using money from Mark Zuckerberg for their own causes–including advocating for Keystone
The latest TV spot for South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is like any other American political ad. “When Lindsey Graham’s in Washington, what does he do?” a voice-over asks. “He stands up for South Carolina VALUES.” The Republican Graham is seen on a talk show tearing a strip off ObamaCare. He complains about wasteful ﬁscal-stimulus spending. And then he returns to the great theme, the ever-pursued white whale of American political advertising: energy independence. “The President says I’m for ‘all of the above’ when it comes to energy?” asks Graham. “Well, those are words comin’ out of his mouth; they don’t come from his heart. No Keystone pipeline, no drilling in the Gulf.”
The interesting part doesn’t come until the fine print reveals who authored and paid for the ad: something called “Americans for a Conservative Direction.” That’s what has Washington buzzing: Americans for a Conservative Direction is a subsidiary of FWD.us, a lobby group funded by Mark Zuckerberg, billionaire founder of Facebook. This unassuming minute-long commercial represents the arrival of a potentially devastating money vector in American politics.
No one would have expected it to land on the side of a moderate southern Republican, but that is the cunning of FWD.us: its initial effort consists of both a Republican front group and a parallel Democratic one, the Council for American Job Growth, which bought a similar spot for Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska). Zuckerberg’s idea, laid out explicitly in an April 10 Washington Post op-ed, is for FWD.us to focus on immigration reform, improved science and math education and public support for research.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, April 1, 2013 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
As Republicans launch a new effort to recruit more candidates among racial minorities, one is already emerging into the national spotlight: a brain surgeon who happens to be African American.
Dr. Benjamin Carson is retiring as the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, where he has drawn international acclaim as an expert in separating conjoined twins. He has dozens of honorary degrees, a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a life story that is the stuff movies are made of: Cuba Gooding, Jr. played Carson in a 2009 film version of his rise from an impoverished childhood in Detroit’s inner city, where he was raised by a single mother with only a third-grade education but the highest expectations for her sons. Today, his foundation funds thousands of scholarships and reading rooms in poor schools.
Earlier this year, Carson electrified Republicans with a rousing speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington that mixed his gospel of personal responsibility (“I came to understand that I had control of my own destiny”) with conservative policy. He advocated replacing Barack Obama’s universal health insurance with individual health savings accounts and swapping the progressive income-tax system for a Biblically inspired flat tax. (“When I pick up my Bible, you know what I see? I see the fairest individual in the universe, God, and he’s given us a system. It’s called a tithe.”)
As the Obamas sat nearby, he implicitly criticized their choice of careers—saying there were too many lawyers running Washington. “I’ve got news for you: five doctors were involved in signing the Declaration of Independence. We need doctors, scientists and engineers—we need all those people involved in government.” At the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of Republicans, he got a standing ovation for his speech.
Not all his views align with GOP dogma. For example, he opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he has influential boosters. The conservative Wall Street Journal enthused, “Ben Carson for president.” Fox News host Sean Hannity said he’d vote for him. Rush Limbaugh said he’d scare Democrats. Carson has allowed that he’d run “if the Lord grabbed me by the collar and made me do it,” but later said the chances are “small.”
Of course, a presidential run is a tough place to start—just ask the last black Republican presidential hopeful, Herman Cain. Conveniently, a U.S. Senate seat in Carson’s native Michigan will be up for grabs in the 2014 mid-term elections, and a Carson campaign would draw a flood of national media attention and cash. According to Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley: “Carson would help a party addicted to white suburban candidates intrigue young and urban voters, black and white, who grew up looking at his picture hanging on their classroom walls.”
By Emma Teitel - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 2:27 PM - 0 Comments
Republicans have become the fantasists and Democrats, by default, are now the true American realists
From the north side of the border, it can be difficult for a Canadian to parse exactly what Americans mean when they talk about left and right in politics, especially in this hyper-partisan presidential season. Whatever core ideologies U.S citizens attach to the different halves of the dichotomy, it’s a pretty good guess that they’re not the Canadian ones. We, after all, have a conservative government, but we also have universal health care and gay marriage. If we had to characterize the American notions of left and right, we’d probably refer to reflections of what each side traditionally says about the other, what Republicans say about Democrats and vice versa. What Republicans traditionally say is that Democrats are airy-fairy types, more concerned with idealism than reality, as in Barack Obama’s now worn-out words, “hope and change.” What the left says about the right is that they are concrete, unfeeling, and far too concerned with what was, not what should be. The left, you could say, are the stereotypical fantasists, the right, stereotypical realists. Except that the 2012 presidential election campaign has effectively turned that conception on its head. On the campaign trail and at the respective party conventions, the Republicans have been remarkably out of touch with reality. Democrats, by default, have become the true American realists.
Consider one of the main crises the Republicans have been citing throughout this campaign: voter fraud. They imply that fraud at the polling booth—ineligible voters casting ballots—is epidemic in the U.S., and that it consistently threatens to distort election results. Their solution has been to propose and pass a series of laws in Republican-controlled states stipulating that to vote you have to have a driver’s license or a passport. But in fact there is no crisis—nor has there ever been a crisis—around voter fraud in the United States. A widespread study by the U.S. Justice Department between 2002 and 2007 found that of the 300 million people who cast votes in that time period, only 86 were convicted of voter fraud; and the majority of those people weren’t even aware of their ineligibility to vote in the first place. So why the sudden urgency for voter ID laws? Because, as Rolling Stone magazine has pointed out, “the estimated 10 per cent of Americans whom the laws would render ineligible to vote belong to constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic—including 18 per cent of young voters and 25 per cent of African-Americans.”
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 Luiza Ch. Savage - Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 8:46 PM - 0 Comments
After a string of dull speeches laden with glib one-liners aimed at President Obama, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s lit up the Republican convention stage with a speech that was positive, more high-minded and showed a new side of the former Secretary of State. While her emphasis was on foreign policy, she also strayed into her views on domestic issues – sparking speculation that she’s considering a run for office, possibly governor of California or even president in 2016.
By Jaime Weinman - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 4:11 PM - 0 Comments
Both liberals and conservatives rail against the insularity of the one per cent
A short polemical book by a cable talk-show host doesn’t usually set off a worldwide conversation about the way society is organized, but Chris Hayes, the bespectacled policy wonk who hosts MSNBC’s Up With Chris Hayes, hopes to do just that with Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy. Lots of people claim to hate elites, usually as a partisan excuse to beat up on political opponents. But with this year’s U.S. election cycle, there’s a twist. This time, it’s more than just hot air; politicians and pundits alike are dead serious about the issue. Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has built a campaign on telling Americans that “nobody got rich on their own,” and some conservative commentators are taking on elites in ways that go beyond what Hayes calls “people who listen to NPR, drive Priuses and live in San Francisco.” Jonathan Rauch, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, says that both liberals and conservatives seem to be disturbed by “the rise of an insular elite,” people who “might as well be in a different country, and often live and think as if they were.”
This frustration with elites may be stronger than at any time since the ’60s when, Hayes says, “we had a whole national conversation about the crisis of authority.” Pundits are increasingly trying to grapple with the implications of living with, as Rauch puts it, “a class divide which perpetuates itself across generations.” Conservative hero Charles Murray recently published Coming Apart: The State of White America, where he argues that society is in trouble partly because the upper-class elite is “hollow at its core,” unwilling to connect with non-elites and set a good example. To Hayes, the meritocratic system has been just as bad for social mobility and equality as the old hereditary class systems.
By Emma Teitel - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 3:03 PM - 0 Comments
Remember Sarah Silverman’s Great Schlep? It was the year 2008 and the Jewish comedian implored her people—the American ones, anyway—to prove that Jews are in fact, the “scrappy, civil-rightsy” types they claim to be, by making the schlep to Florida (where old Jewish people are known to hibernate) and convincing their grandparents to vote for Barack Obama.
Apparently it worked. In 2008, Obama won Florida 51-48 per cent against Republican hopeful John McCain.
But things are different this time around. Obama is currently trailing competitor Mitt Romney by three per cent in the Sunshine State. And there’s a substantial amount of Republican politicking going in Florida Senior —Israel—a country with an American expat community roughly the size of Fort Lauderdale. The Republican Jewish Coalition has been very busy in the Holy Land, most likely trying to convince its brethren that the man who orchestrated the murder of Osama Bin Laden is soft on foreign policy, especially when it comes to Israel. No doubt Zionist casino magnate and Republican Daddy Warbucks, Sheldon Adelson feels this way: the eighth richest man in America has pledged to shell out $100 million to the Romney campaign.
Which means his grandchildren must have already made the Great Schlep and failed, because Silverman has ditched the schlep strategy in favour of another one: offering Mr. Adelson her body (though not all of it, she’s a “good girl”) in exchange for a $100-million donation to Obama instead of Romney…
So what’ll it be, Sheldon? Protect the Jewish state from neighbouring terrorists and a socialist president, or be the only major Republican donor to get scissored by a bikini-clad Jewess with big naturals?
It turns out not even billionaires can have it all.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, June 22, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Breaking news: Mixed ruling from U.S. Supreme Court supports Obama’s health care reform law
- The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled largely in support of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law. Watch for continuing coverage and analysis from Maclean’s Luiza Ch. Savage.
- There was much confusion during the initial reporting of the ruling, as Jaime Weinman explains. Follow his coverage here.
- In the following story from current edition, Maclean’s considered the swirl around the decision:
It’s a potential bombshell looming over the American presidential election.
Sometime later this month, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the fate of the signature domestic policy accomplishment of President Barack Obama’s administration: his health care reform law, which delivered the long-held Democratic dream of universal health insurance.
But the massive legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, came at a price. It swallowed so much political energy and sparked so much opposition that other Democratic ambitions—climate change legislation and immigration reform chief among them—were left to wither. And the Tea Party backlash it helped fuel cost the Democrats control of Congress in the 2010 midterm elections.
By John Parisella - Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 9:58 PM - 0 Comments
The Obama campaign seems to be taking a page out of the George W. Bush playbook
Last week’s debacle in Wisconsin had me thinking Barack Obama’s re-election hopes were in trouble. The Republican strategy of turning the presidential contest into a referendum on Obama can only work if the economy tanks and he fails to present a compelling view of the future. Granted, the Obama mystique has generally worn off after nearly four years of governing. The Obama of 2012 must take responsibility for his policies and decisions, he has a record to defend, and needs to contrast with what Mitt Romney brings to the debate.
Mitt Romney is on the attack, proposing few new policy initiatives while hammering Obama’s management of the economy. The attacks are ferocious, backed by the astronomical power of the Super PACs. The latest results show Romney is ahead on fundraising.
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, June 4, 2012 at 4:06 PM - 0 Comments
Book by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein
An analysis of the problems of the U.S. political system, this book is also something of a conversion narrative: the story of two centrist pundits who have decided that the centre no longer holds. Mann and Ornstein’s previous book, The Broken Branch, blamed Congressional dysfunction on the failure of both parties to work together.
In It’s Even Worse Than You Think, they come to a different conclusion: Congress can’t get anything done because the Republicans have shifted so far to the right as to become “the insurgent outlier in American politics.” These two centrist pundits now attack the media and political scholars for implying “that the two sides are equally implicated”; to be fair and balanced, they argue, commentators should admit that one side is worse than the other. The problem Mann and Ornstein identify is that the U.S. Congressional system isn’t set up to deal with two parties that are in complete ideological opposition: unlike the Parliamentary system, it requires compromise and cross-party co-operation to pass legislation. If a party doesn’t want to compromise, they have plenty of tools at their disposal to block any government action.
The authors detail many of the once-obscure tactics that Republicans have made common, including the increased use of filibusters and holds to block legislation or appointees that have majority support. They point to the 2011 crisis over the debt limit as an example of the trouble that can be caused by “restive House Republicans eager for a revolution.” Some might question the authors’ assumption that the Republicans are being purely cynical, “allowing electoral goals to dominate policy ones.” They don’t spend a lot of time considering the possibility that representatives may simply be doing what their constituents want. But the book remains a clear-eyed guide to the idea that “a Westminster-style parliamentary system provides a much cleaner form of democratic accountability than the American system.” So take heart, Canadians: no matter how bad we think our system is, it could be worse.
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 - Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 7:16 PM - 0 Comments
Mitt Romney’s win in his native Michigan was supposed to be a given just…
Mitt Romney’s win in his native Michigan was supposed to be a given just a few weeks ago. But yesterday’s close call reinforces the perception that Romney is not yet connecting with the party base. His observation that he’d gotten “just enough” support was accurate, but his closing speech did nothing to stir the base as we near Super Tuesday on March 6.
The tightly fought contest with Rick Santorum has been costly to the Romney camp. Financial resources were spent in what should have been an easy win in Michigan and Romney’s explanations regarding his opposition to the auto bailout failed to resonate with the state’s voters. Barack Obama, seizing on the opportunity that Romney gave him on the auto bailout, visited Michigan and actually made gains in voter approval, with Michigan appearing likely to remain Democratic in November. Continue…
By Richard Warnica - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 1:46 PM - 0 Comments
Mitt Romney, the frontrunner Republicans just can’t seem to get behind, will face voters…
Mitt Romney, the frontrunner Republicans just can’t seem to get behind, will face voters in a crucial Michigan primary Tuesday night. His main opponent, Rick Santorum—despite being stuck somewhere between punchline and contender—leads in some polls in the state, where Romney’s father was once governor.
On Tuesday, Romney, a one-time Massachusetts governor, acknowledged that he might be the problem. From the New York Times:
After a bruising week in which he drew unwanted attention to his wealth, by declaring that his wife owned two Cadillacs and that he was friends with Nascar team owners, Mr. Romney said he had made “some mistakes,” acknowledging that those off-the-cuff comments had damaged his campaign.
He said he was determined to correct course as he prepared for a dozen crucial contests on March 6, Super Tuesday.
“I’m trying to do better and work harder and make sure that we get our message across,” Mr. Romney said, emphasizing that he faulted himself, not his campaign staff, for the setbacks.
One of the most consistent attacks on Romney has been his sometimes slippery stance on some issues. Slate‘s Will Saletan recently explored Romney’s history on the hottest button of them all, abortion, in an exhaustive essay:
Romney began his political career as a pro-choicer. In the story he tells, he had an epiphany, a flash of insight, and committed himself thereafter to protecting life. But that isn’t what happened. The real story of Romney’s conversion—a series of tentative, equivocal, and confused shifts, accompanied by a constant rewriting of his past—paints a more accurate picture of who he is. Romney has complex views and a talent for framing them either way, depending on his audience. He values truth, so he makes sure there’s an element of it in everything he says. He can’t stand to break his promises, so he reinterprets them.
As for Santorum, he says he is made literally ill by the idea of a separation between church and state. So good luck with that, America.
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 - Monday, February 20, 2012 at 1:28 PM - 0 Comments
Normally, the primary season is a time to debate ideas, strengthen candidates, and look…
Normally, the primary season is a time to debate ideas, strengthen candidates, and look for opportunities to improve the party’s chances. In 2008, the Obama-Clinton race did just that for the Democrats. This year, though, the Republican race is doing the opposite. While there is time for improvement, Republicans have so far lost the momentum of 2010. The race has become focused on culture war issues, with which the best candidate, Mitt Romney, has struggled.
After the GOP’s Congressional sweep in 2010, the possibility of a one-term presidency gained some traction. The economy was growing slowly and some of Obama’s signature policy items, like healthcare and financial reform, were polarizing to say the least. Even after Obama rebounded somewhat with the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, he came out of the debt ceiling debate bloodied and weakened. Mitt Romney, the unloved Republican frontrunner, was ahead in the polls. Even a ‘generic’ Republican opponent was ahead of Obama, illustrating the degree to which the president was vulnerable. By the end of 2011, Republicans had every reason to believe they could win in November.
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 - Friday, January 27, 2012 at 7:20 AM - 0 Comments
Somehow—miraculously—the philandering former congressman is at the front of the Republican pack
“I am a grandiose thinker,” Newt Gingrich proclaimed in one of his more modest utterances of the recent presidential debates. Indeed, there is little that isn’t grandiose about the former House Speaker: from his proposals for a lunar colony to mine minerals to his more earthy appetites, from the partisan victories to his fall from political grace, the moral indignation and the moral failures, and, now, his latest breathtaking political resurrection. Newton Leroy Gingrich, history professor and maker of history, lover of policy minutiae and women he’s not married to, has become the sudden front-runner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. With the Jan. 31 Florida primary on the horizon, Gingrich smashed Mitt Romney’s well-oiled political machine and beat him soundly in South Carolina—a state that has consistently predicted the party’s nominee for the last 32 years—grabbing a comfortable lead in polls of likely voters.
But national polls also show that more than half of Americans have an unfavourable opinion of Gingrich, and that Barack Obama could beat him handily if the election were held today. His sudden surge has many Republicans wondering how they got here.
The Republican primary voters—many of whom filled Tea Party rallies and showed scores of incumbent politicians of both parties the door in the November 2010 election—have sent a strong message that they are not finished with their desire to remake Washington. Romney, with his cool, managerial mien and moderate record as former governor of Massachusetts, does not seem to ﬁt their notion of someone ready to show up on Inauguration Day and start blowing up the place. Whereas Gingrich has done it before, proving both that he is capable of remaking Washington—and that the process is rather messy. “I have an enormous personal ambition. I want to shift the entire planet. And I’m doing it,” Gingrich told the Washington Post in 1985.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, January 16, 2012 at 9:10 AM - 0 Comments
How the moderate front-runner is leaving Republican organizers in a sweat
Bob Vander Plaats has seen this movie before—and he’d really like to change the ending. He’s the right-wing Christian leader in Iowa who helped launch Rick Santorum from the back of the Republican presidential pack to a stunning virtual tie with the far better-funded front-runner Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses—each getting 25 per cent of the vote. Vander Plaats, who heads a social conservative group called the Family Leader, endorsed Santorum two weeks before the vote, when the former Pennsylvania senator had a mere four per cent in the polls, and his network of conservative activists helped rewrite the first chapter of the campaign.
But when Romney emerged victorious from the next vote in New Hampshire on Jan. 10, Vander Plaats saw history repeating itself. Back in 2008, he’d been the Iowa campaign chair of Mike Huckabee, the once-obscure former pastor and governor of Arkansas. Huckabee shot to national prominence with his Iowa victory, carried, like Santorum, on a wave of support from Christian conservatives concerned with social issues such as abortion and gay marriage—only to be bested by John McCain in moderate New Hampshire. And most crucially, Vander Plaats’s candidate was defeated by McCain in South Carolina, where conservatives split their votes between Huckabee and a former-actor-turned-senator from Tennessee, Fred Thompson. McCain went on to win the nomination despite staunch opposition from conservatives critical of his views on everything from illegal immigration to climate change and torture.
By John Parisella - Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 9:47 AM - 0 Comments
Whatever doubts may be lingering about the willingness of establishment Republicans to coalesce behind…
Whatever doubts may be lingering about the willingness of establishment Republicans to coalesce behind Mitt Romney should be quashed by the overt pressures being exerted by prominent GOPers on Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry to tone down their attacks on Romney’s record at Bain Capital. Criticizing an opponent’s record is, of course, fair game in a primary campaign. As Romney said to Gingrich, who was whining about being the target of negative ads just recently, presidential politics is not for bean counters.
And yet establishment talking heads (many from the Bush camp, like Ari Fleischer and Mary Matlin) are out there complaining on CNN and MSNBC that Newt and Perry are doing Obama’s dirty work. Obama, the GOP narrative goes, is a “radical” and a “socialist”; Republicans, on the other hand, have to defend capitalism, even the Romney variety. Continue…
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 John Parisella - Monday, January 9, 2012 at 4:57 PM - 0 Comments
With a squeaker of a win in Iowa over a late-surging Rick Santorum, an…
With a squeaker of a win in Iowa over a late-surging Rick Santorum, an all-but-assured victory looming in the New Hampshire primary, and growing support in South Carolina, Mitt Romney will finally face the scrutiny that comes with being a presidential candidate. Romney can expect his political record as governor in Massachusetts and his professional career at Bain Capital to be inspected under a more critical light. We may finally learn the answer to the question so many Republicans have been asking: who is the real Mitt Romney?
The prevailing narrative from Romney’s Republican opponents is that he is too moderate for the conservative movement. He is portrayed as a blue-stater with a penchant for compromise, a man who would fraternize with the likes of the Ted Kennedy. As a result, despite polls showing his relative electability against Obama, Romney’s popularity is stuck at 25 per cent among GOP fervents. He is steady, but unloved. 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 - Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 10:23 AM - 0 Comments
On the eve of 2011, the GOP was reaping the benefits of the biggest…
On the eve of 2011, the GOP was reaping the benefits of the biggest turnaround in political fortunes in recent history when it recaptured the House of Representatives from the Democrats and reduced the Democratic majority in the Senate to three votes. There was hope total control of Congress was one election away. And why not dream of the trifecta and making Barack Obama a one-term president? This past year had opened with the expectation the GOP was back and that it would lead the political agenda throughout 2011.
Indeed, the year got off to a good start for the Republicans, who provoked showdowns on a potential government shutdown in the spring and on the debt ceiling in the summer, gaining significant concessions from the president in the process. Obama appeared weak and his poll numbers suffered. In so doing, the GOP had shifted the focus of political conversation toward government spending, the size of government, and the need to rein in the debt.
Meantime, the economic recovery continued to be anemic and the sovereign debt problems occurring within the Euro Zone underscored the need for drastic new directions in economic policy. Comparisons with Greece were often used by Republican politicians to force Obama to back down. As a result, with the exception of the killing of Bin Laden in April, Obama has been on the defensive all year. Until this December, that is. Continue…
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, December 19, 2011 at 11:30 AM - 0 Comments
Accused of being disengaged, Obama is now taking the battle to the Republicans
As they argue amongst themselves heading into the first primary votes next month, Republican presidential hopefuls can agree on this much: President Barack Obama has been “absent,” “missing,” “nowhere” and ineffectual on the most pressing issues of the day.
“He’s done nothing” on the debt, said Mitt Romney at a campaign stop last month. “He has completely disengaged from his job,” Michelle Bachmann told Fox News in November. Obama has shown “no leadership” on China, according to Jon Huntsman, and a “lack of leadership” on Syria, according to Rick Perry. On the economy, quipped Bachmann: “It’s been like, Where’s Waldo?”
It’s something of a U-turn from what Republicans argued in the prelude to the mid-term elections in 2010: that a power-hungry Obama was steamrolling America into an unrecognizable socialist state. That line helped sweep Tea Party candidates into Congress and gave Republicans control of the House of Representatives. But all of a sudden, they say, Obama is fiddling his thumbs—particularly in the face of America’s US$15-trillion debt.