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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Just Like a Train-wreck

Uploaded: Feb 14, 2012
A check-in is due to the slow-motion train wreck by which the GOP Faithful have been eat, err vetting their candidates. It really has been a fascinating study in political cannibalism, as the various partisans savage each other with flame and spice that they usually reserve for the "socialists" across the aisle. It gets way too much coverage, methinks, as stern-looking pundits dissect every odd moment and outrageous charge, and re-handicap the sweeps, moment-by-moment. I haven't done any personal Electoral College arithmetic, but I will suggest that these Republican candidates and this process bode very well for the Democratic opposition.

First, each of the remaining contenders has huge negatives in the eyes of the Electorate. Mr. Romney is, in my view, an awkward patrician whose prepster mannerisms will not wear well with the great majority of voters. He's also slow afoot with positions that appear to be insincerely scripted, and which won't hold up under the more sober scrutiny applied outside the Party processes, by other-than True Believers. He has moved right to pander to The Base, but hasn't convinced them. And among the truly faithful evangelicals whose zeal will be important to mobilize the autumn vote, his religion alone (and right-or-wrong) disinclines fully 25% of them. Finally, he has disavowed interest in the world beyond these borders, and I am unconvinced that his business experience translates into either a vocational understanding of the economy, or adaptability to the political process. Business leaders enjoy positional authority that greatly exceeds what even the President gets to exercise. And you can make the world go away among primary voters, but I think the broader society knows better and will demand a more global view than his dismissive "I'll have experts."

Among the several alternatives, Mr. Gingrich appeals predominantly to the most apoplectic of the angry GOP base, but his positional and personal inconstancies, and his short fuse, ought to scare folks, and will. What does he have, really, behind the bluster? Senator Santorum may have temporarily transcended the Google-based jokesters, but his positions, devoutly avowed, are so retrograde as to repel most voters. He has had surface appeal as a Non-Romney, but in the less-friendly confines of the general election, he will send most voters screaming into the booth. Finally, Ron Paul is a hardy perennial whose appeal has reached most of those who will ever be interested. His is less a candidacy than a crusade to raise the profile of his issues. I believe he may be more a threat to the GOP as a potential Third Party candidate than he is to the Dems. At minimum, his influence will force a Party platform with Libertarian underpinnings far right of the Great Center.

Is there anyone else out there? Mitch Daniels gave a pallid performance in his State of the Union rebuttal, generating no buzz, and Sarah Palin is quite happy cashing-in on her celebrity. The Donald? Please.

Whoever it is, that last candidate standing will be badly bloodied, and the extreme positioning for the primary Faithful will make it difficult for the nominee to credibly move far enough toward the center of this philosophical bell curve to capture the flag. In addition, that candidate will be up against an incumbent who is the better campaigner. Mr. Obama has come out swinging – I have been personally amazed that he's won me back so quickly, but he has – I've ordered my 2012 bumper stickers. I doubt I'm alone in that – he will close a big part of the so-called enthusiasm gap.

That gap is also quite evident among pachyderms. The Republican participation numbers are way down this year from prior years. That suggests to me an electorate greatly disaffected with the whole money-soaked, lobby-addled mess that is Washington. That discontent worked well for the GOP in 2010, but I think they will be blamed this time for the continuing stalemate and their petty partisanship. They've squandered the shellacking they administered two years back.

Finally, many of the GOP's more extreme primary policy positions have had an easy time of it; the candidates have been preaching to their choir. Methinks those ideas will not hold-up under the scrutiny of the general campaign, and under cross-examination. It's one thing to call for "a military so mighty that no one will dare oppose us" when addressing a sympathetic crowd of Carolina yahoos – but what will happen when that simplistic boast is held-up to the realities of concurrent deficit reduction promises, and the fact that our greatest enemies are not deterred by "mightiness?"

In the final analysis, I do not think that the ideologues on the left (like me) or the right (several of you) will carry the day. Assuming that Europe doesn't tank in a cataclysmic way (still possible), I think that the steadier, better known, more moderate and yes – likeable -- candidate will appeal to the voting public. It will be a more limited expectation and sober plurality this time around, but I have a difficult time seeing how it will be anybody not named Obama in the White House next January.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Hey, I know the PERFECT Republican candidate: OBAMA!!!

He's more of a Republican than the Republicans themselves. Think about it:

Increased military presence in Afghanistan

Military action in Libya

Warrantless wiretaps continue

Guantanamo not shut down

Voted to allow indefinite detainment of U.S. citizens without trial
Killed an American citizen without a trial and without proven links to Al Qaida other than protesting on foreign soil

No leadership on climate change

Runaway pentagon spending

Bank bailouts, yet not a single banker charged in the financial meltdown

Refuses to prosecute CIA personnel accused of torture in violation of international law

Overruled the EPA to raise ozone levels to 0.075 ppm (higher than Bush) which should result in 12,000 additional U.S. deaths annually

Undermined the solvency of Social Security Trust Fund by passing payroll tax cuts

Heath care reform that grants yet another costly entitlement but does nothing to reduce health care costs and is opposed by 60% of Americans

Extended the Bush tax cuts for the richest 0.01% of Americans

Rejected his own bi-partisan budget committee recommendations to restore fiscal sanity and offered no feasible plan of his own.

$5 trillion of new debt. Make that $10 trillion if he gets a second term. By 2016, he will have created half of the $20 trillion total U.S. debt.

More than twice the number of immigrant deportations as Bush


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm

LOL -- good, then it's unanimous!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 17, 2012 at 9:42 am

Ha ha! I know, right?

And people do not give Obama enough credit for all the jobs he's creating. They're mad that he's spent $17 billion on green energy programs that produced a measly 3,500 jobs, at a cost of around $5 million per job. But that ignores the thousands of jobs that have been created for bankruptcy attorneys! lol.

Obama 2012!! Woo hoo!!!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I'm not gonna chase that particular stat -- preferring to disbelieve the facially preposterous charge, because the Righties have so often cried wolf when it comes to Mr. Obama. If there's a credible citation to be had, I'm sure you'll provide it. Otherwise, I'm with Twain (as usual), about figures.

Many of the "Republican accomplishments" he's made are problematic for me, and certainly were not his initiatives -- the Bush tax cuts being prime among 'em.

As a devotee of Roger Fisher and his collaborative bargaining model, I see a lot of that approach in Mr Obama's dealings with Congress. (Fisher was/is at Harvard Law School). My problem is that I think he's been too patient, and settled for too little, instead of "demonstrating his BATNA" and making it more obvious who the One-Term-at-all-costs obstructionists are.

Thus, he's borne part of the blame for stalemate, inaccurately, in my view. Debt ceiling would have been a case where I think he should have invoked the 14th Amendment in the short run, let the Courts begin to sort it out, and settled it when it was not a front/center crisis that affected the US credit standing.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by GOP, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Newt is a creepy embarrassment, and he reminds me of Bill Clinton, in that I would not leave them alone with my teenager daughter...Romney is not particularly inspiring or exciting, but his business success,experience as Governor, and moral compass in being a faithful husband, and from all accounts, a kind and caring father to his children, is admirable...At the end of the day, I think the majority of Republican voters will agree with me in nominating Governor Romney...I would hope that the liberal media, Mr. Cushings, included, would not use veil attacks on his mormon religion, against him...It would be nice to finally have a christian President in the Whitehouse, whose actions and deeds are in line with their faith...Clinton, and JFK, played the christian card when it helped them, but their lack of morals, and adultery, was anything but christian.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 17, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Oh, my.

First, kindly recall that Mr. Obama is very much a Christian, or else present credible evidence that he's not. Please also contrast his treatment of his wife, M-in-L and daughters with Mr. Romney's along the lines of "being a faithful husband, and from all accounts, a kind and caring father to his children," which you and I may both agree are admirable qualities. Your deletion of the Incumbent from the ranks of christian Presidents could not have been an oversight, and cannot avoid being an undeserved personal affront to the President. If Christians can't disagree on policy, then why are there so many denominations?

Second, as above, I've always thought it crucial to pay more attention to what folks Do, over what they profess to Believe. The moral/ethical lapses of Presidents transcend sexual misconduct, although the prurient stuff gets more ink because it's titillating. Suffice it to say that I believe neither Party has a monopoly on transgressions in the nature of "what Jesus wouldn't do."

First, kindly back-up your charge of a 'veil attack' by me on Mr. Romney's religion. I reported a statistic that I found surprising when I first saw it -- and troubling to his chances for success. It's not my beliefs that are at-issue there. The so-called Evangelicals are an important GOP bloc -- a quarter of Them find Mr. Romney's religion so problematic that They will not support him. Call Them on it if you wish, but you are upbraiding a bystander to that kerfuffle.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Here's the stat on $17 billion for 3,500 jobs. It's from See B.S. News (a.k.a. CBS News).
Web Link

Here's the thing about me, I'm almost always right. I know, it's frustrating. I hear ya. My wife says the same thing. But what can I do?

There's so much to like about Obama. Have you seen the guy golf? Woah! What an ace. Well, he should be an ace, given that he's been golfing over 90 times these past three years. That's about three months of golf, given that the excursions generally take about five hours – much of the useful portion of the day.

I wonder how much Hillary would have golfed by now?
People say Obama is aloof, that he'd not up to the job because he doesn't spend time with lawmakers. He prefers to be at home with Michelle and the kids. Well who can blame him?

If Hillary were president, I wonder how much time she would have spent at home alone with Bill?

Bill loved the ladies and he had some faults, but you know what? He didn't whine like a baby because the other kids didn't play nice. He got stuff done, despite the fact that he was surrounded by a bunch of jackass Republicans.

We need someone like that who can lead this country. I'm sorry. I don't see that in Obama. Unfortunately, I don't see that in the Republican candidates either.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by underdog, a resident of another community,
on Feb 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm

There were some points in the GOP response, Obama does have some right leans in dealing with some of the GOP baggage he's been saddled with. Funny the right doesn't seem to appreciate it. No mention of Bin Laden or successful reforms, private sector job growth, reduction in federal jobs, stock market recovery, stabilizing the economy. Even if the golf exaggerations were true, he could never match the down time at the Lazy "W" asleep-at-the-wheel ranch George took for two terms. Energy policy isn't there, true, gitmo still a problem, but one war down another on the way. This prez hasn't had the luxury of a full term of his own party controlling Congress, or even one with at least a sense of bipartisanship, so you might make a case that it was a bit hard to get everything done. But that may change also given that the tea at the party has gone cold and developed a bitter after taste.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 18, 2012 at 10:17 am

How about this for a campaign slogan: Obama 2012: Change you can believe in. This time I mean it. Seriously."


 +  Like this comment
Posted by cardinal, a resident of Diablo,
on Feb 19, 2012 at 9:44 am


"This space for rent." -- I'm Mitt Romney and I approve this message.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by cardinal, a resident of Diablo,
on Feb 20, 2012 at 7:47 am

"Holier than Thou." -- Rick Santorum


 +  Like this comment
Posted by cardinal, a resident of Diablo,
on Feb 21, 2012 at 8:45 am

Can't get a rise out of anybody? Talk about an enthusiasm gap!

"It's Over, I know it, but I can't let go." -- Newt



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