The Great Debate

You’ve no doubt heard last night’s big news already: Barack Obama clinches the Democratic nomination for president! It was just a tad bit quicker and cleaner than in 2008. Meanwhile, the other party also held primaries in Maryland, D.C., and Wisconsin—and Mitt Romney swept them, as expected, relegating Rick Santorum’s longshot hopes to the dustbin. So what, pray tell, will the political punditsphere find to chatter about while we wait for the fall? There’s always the old faithful vice-presidential speculation (see Daily Meme, below). There’s also—dare we dream?—a meaningful debate beginning to percolate. Romney, in his victory speech last night and in today’s address to the Newspaper Association of America, made his boldest stab yet at defining the central clash of the general election. It’s Obama’s “government-centered society,” which “leads to chronic high unemployment, crushing debt, and stagnant wages,” versus “free enterprise,” which “has done more to lift people out of poverty, to help build a strong middle class, to help educate our kids, and to make our lives better than all the programs of government combined.”

If Romney wants to make the election a black-and-white—and patently false—choice between government and free enterprise, Obama is primed to counter him, as he made abundantly clear in his own speech to the newspaper crowd yesterday. “I believe deeply that the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history,” Obama said. “But I also share a belief of our first Republican president, with Abraham Lincoln—a belief that through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves.” The president’s detailed takedown of Romney-style “trickle-down economics” and the “thinly veiled social Darwinism” of Romney pal Paul Ryan’s budget could hardly have been more thorough or damning. Unless the Republicans' presumptive nominee can conjure up a theme that goes beyond free-market fantasies and cartoon caricatures of an “anti-business” president, the great debate of 2012 is not shaping up as a fair fight.

So They Say

“He was like a chicken with his head chopped off. The chicken is dead. The only person that don’t know it is the chicken.”

James Carville on Rick Santorum after Tuesday’s losses


Daily Meme: Running With the Mittster

  • John Heileman: "Fear not, professional bloviators and amateur political obsessives. For if we will soon have ourselves a nominee, that nominee will soon need to secure himself a running mate. Yes, that’s right, glory be: The 2012 veepstakes are at hand!”
  • MSNBC thinks Paul Ryan's a front-runner for Romney’s Number 2.
  • Other pundits are warming up to the idea too, with Ryan and Romney acting so chummy and all.
  • Betting types have their money on Marco Rubio.
  • Foster Friess, Santorum’s super PAC champion, says his guy is a longshot.
  • Jokester John McCain suggests Sarah Palin.
  • Sarah Palin (apparently not jokingly) suggests Florida Congressman Allen West.
  • But what about Condoleeza Rice?
  • Or (get ready for it) Scott Walker?
  • Or “remarkably non-magnetic” Rob Portman
  •  Somehow, most of the potential nominees don't seem remotely interested.


What We're Writing

  • Jamelle Bouie argues that Romney is toast if the economy perks up.
  • Paul Waldman sees signs that Republicans are increasingly pessimistic about winning back the White House.


What We're Reading

  • Politico’s campaign ebook signifies nothing.
  • What will it take to convince Santorum that he’s lost?
  • The Wall Street Journal defends Paul Ryan against Obama’s “dishonest political abuse.”
  • How can Romney change the game?
  • Stop Twitter-stalking my daughter! A Nebraska Republican Senate debate turns weird.
  • What are the odds that Romney makes a Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. reference soon?
  • Why didn't Romney or Obama say anything useful about the media industry during their speeches? 
  • Republicans really could have used someone less boring this year.



Poll of the Day

Three in ten Latinos call themselves “liberal”—as opposed to 21 percent of the general population.

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