The next generation of Republican leaders has cast aside Mitt Romney as they jockey for position as the eminences of the party. The man who just last month Republicans had hoped would become president is persona non grata—and if that wasn't already clear, last night his former running mate Paul Ryan left no doubt with his reference to Romney's "47 percent" fiasco. "Both parties tend to divide Americans into ‘our voters’ and ‘their voters,’” Ryan said at the Jack Kemp Foundation awards dinner in Washington. “Let’s be really clear: Republicans must steer very clear of that trap. We must speak to the aspirations and anxieties of every American.” Which pretty well summed up the Republican consensus: that their real problem in 2012 wasn't any trouble with their policies—it was Romney's patrician airs.
Ryan shared the stage last night with Marco Rubio, the young Florida senator also eyeing his party's presidential nomination in 2016. Rubio managed to mention the term "middle class" 35 times, though as Slate's Dave Weigel notes, "The speech's many mentions of the key phrase were mostly lead-ins to boilerplate, not to any policy proposals." When Rubio moved past the platitudes toward something akin to a policy idea he stuck to the same pro-1 percent ideas that were the gist of Romney's candidacy. "You can’t open or grow a business if your taxes are too high or too uncertain," Rubio said. "That is why I oppose the President’s plan to raise taxes. It isn’t about a pledge. It isn’t about protecting millionaires and billionaires."
The Republican rethink will amount to bupkis if it sticks solely to rhetoric. Sure, Mitt Romney's comments on "gifts" and the "47 percent" didn't help his campaign, but at the end of the day it was his decision to adopt the policies of the Ryan budget that sunk his campaign. If Republicans truly wanted to ditch their rich-guy image and appeal to the middle class they would be up in arms about the expiration of the payroll-tax holiday, one of the biggest boons for poor and middle-class Americans as the economy struggles out of the recession. Instead, Republicans have devoted all of their energies during negotiations to maintaining low tax rates for the highest income bracket.
So They Say
"I am proud to announce that Vince Vaughn and I are going to be the executive producers. That should make everybody's head spin. What the hell is Vince Vaughn doing with a crazy man? I know that's what my friends say: Glenn, what are you doing with the crazy man Vince Vaughn?"
—Glenn Beck, announcing that, yes, he and that guy from Wedding Crashers are in fact making a reality TV show
Daily Meme: Cliff Bards
- Although the fiscal cliff is in the slow-food movement of politics—decisions and developments take place over days and weeks instead of over the course of an hour—reporters and pundits can't help but report on it like the horse race they wish it were. Which means delicious updates about nothing, on the hour, every hour.
- Or, as Frank Rich puts it, "It’s a Road Runner cartoon, Beltway-edition. And it’s going to end with a whimper like the similarly apocalyptic, now long-forgotten Y2K scare of the turn of the millennium. Everyone knows the Republicans are going to fold—the Republicans know they are going to fold—and the only question to be resolved is when and on what terms."
- Jennifer Rubin agrees! On the first part at least: "We have reached the stage in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations when not much is happening except needling." But, unsurprisingly, she blames only the White House for the hold-up.
- The Washington Times is fed up with these Dems, a.k.a. "pathologically unserious people. Their goal is not to solve the current fiscal crisis. Their goal is to use the crisis to grow government and further their statist agenda."
- Alex Pareene wonders why we haven't just passed the Simpson-Bowles plan and called it a day. "If you stand in front of a mirror and say 'Simpson-Bowles' three times David Gergen and Gloria Borger appear out of nowhere and praise your wisdom and seriousness."
- A source has said that Obama is scheming behind the scenes for a drama-free solution, because things in D.C. are getting a bit too Real Housemembers of Capitol Hill for the White House. And everyone else.
- Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that the real fiscal negotiations are almost set to begin!
What We're Writing
- Steve Erickson admits that he was a teenage conservative.
- Amanda Marcotte suggests that instead of pressuring women to have more babies, we should be investing in the ones we already have.
What We're Writing
- Hendrick Hertzberg tests a new carbon tax/payroll tax idea.
- Science says that French political ads are nicer than ours.
- Despite the dismal results of the 2012 election, Sheldon Adelson is never gonna giveup spending all of his dough on the electoral process.
- Maybe first he should have a self-reckoning with his own ideology before he spends another cent on the GOP.
- Foreign Policy lists the international stories you may have missed while you were refreshing Election 2012 news this year.
- Evan McMorris-Santoro reports on how the voter-ID crusade didn't work out quite the way conservatives hoped it would.
- Jonathan Cohn asks, "can one very determined libertarian and one very distorted version of history keep millions of people from getting health insurance?"
- Kevin Roose wonders, why don't we have a secretary of business?
- If there's a possibility that someone might be running in 2016, the domain name hasmost certainly already been bought.
Poll of the Day
Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic 2016 nomination if she wants it. Besides Joe Biden, she is the lone luminary in the Democrats' shallow bench. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll indicates that, should she jump in, Clinton would be the favorite for the general election as well. Fifty-seven percent of those polled—all voters, not just Democrats—say they'd support Hillary if she runs in 2016. Her favorability numbers are even higher; 66 approving to just 28 percent who view her unfavorably.