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The Herman Cain Surge

Texas Governor Rick Perry’s fall from grace has finally manifested itself in the polls. According to the latest Washington Post /ABC News survey, Perry has seen a precipitous decline in support from Republicans nationwide. In September, Perry topped the GOP presidential field with 29 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney’s 23 percent. As of today , Romney is ahead of the pack with support from 21 percent of Republicans. Perry, on the other hand, has dropped to 14 percent support. Of the other candidates, Georgia businessman Herman Cain has benefited most from Perry’s disastrous performance over the last month. At 14 percent support, he is now tied with Perry for the second place spot. It’s unclear as to whether this will actually mean anything for the elections next year, but for now, Cain is a focal point for Republicans who don’t want Romney and aren’t happy with Perry, either. One thing worth noting from the poll is the extent to which Republican voters aren’t as concerned with...

Can Occupy Wall Street Become the Liberal Tea Party?

(Flickr/ David Shankbone ) When the Tea Party came into being in 2009, it had a number of things that allowed it to quickly grow and obtain legitimacy. Perhaps the most important was Fox News, which took about three seconds to turn itself into a round-the-clock promotion machine for the new movement. In short order, the Tea Party had funding and practical assistance from some elite Republican players, like Dick Armey 's FreedomWorks. Perhaps because of those things, it quickly gained the unequivocal support of virtually the entire Republican Party. The question now is, could the Occupy Wall Street protests become as influential? There are some obstacles in their way. The first is that the media are inclined to see any left-wing protest as absurd on its face and either ignore it or treat it as not a legitimate expression of Americans' concerns but as a bunch of stupid hippies chanting stupid hippie slogans and having stupid hippie drum circles. The coverage of the protests is...

Is Herman Cain No Longer the Right's New Black Friend?

One of the points I made repeatedly during the 2008 campaign was that Barack Obama had thought long and hard, over a period of many years, about how his race would factor into his political career. You may remember that when he was catching fire, conservatives gushed over him -- my favorite quote was from culture warrior William Bennett , who said that Obama "never brings race into it. He never plays the race card. Talk about the black community—he has taught the black community you don't have to act like Jesse Jackson; you don't have to act like Al Sharpton. You can talk about the issues." I wrote a column that January predicting that they'd get over it pretty darn quick, which didn't take a genius to figure out. I bring this up because Herman Cain seems to be demonstrating that he didn't think quite as carefully about what his race represents to those in his party. I'll let the folks at New York explain what happened when Cain got asked about Rick Perry 's interestingly named...

The al-Awlaki Assassination

Glenn Greenwald and Adam Serwer are both highly critical of the Obama administration's extrajudicial killing of alleged terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, while Ben Wittes rises to its defense. I think the former two have the more persuasive case. I do have one caveat, which is that I don't think the fact that al-Awlaki is an American citizen is the key problem. If an American citizen took up against the American military on a battlefield, nobody would suggest that such a person should be exempt from attack, and on the other side, a terrorist suspect apprehended on American soil is entitled to due process, even if he's not an American citizen. The real problem, as Adam notes, is the precedent this sets. It's simply very hard to square the ability of the president to order the assassination of individuals, outside a battlefield, based on secret evidence with our constitutional framework. As Amy Davidson wrote last year, if al-Awlaki was had a clear operational involvement with al-Qaeda, it's...

It's Gonna Be Romney

It’s no exaggeration to say that the last few days have been terrible for Texas Governor Rick Perry’s presidential aspirations. On Saturday, The Washington Post ran a story on a ranch Perry used to entertain guests in the early days of his political career. Its name? “Niggerhead.” And while Perry insists that the name is an offensive one “that has no place in the modern world,” he has done little to change the title in his decades of ownership. For anyone in public life, owning a “Niggerhead” ranch would be a huge problem for their political future. For Perry -- a white Southerner and governor of a state where vestiges of Jim Crow live on -- it’s potentially disastrous. As if to add kindling to the fire, the Associated Press has a story today that sheds light Perry’s dealings with mortgage companies as governor. According to the AP, Perry spent $35 million in taxpayer dollars to lure mortgage companies into expanding their business in the state, calling it a national model for...

Stupid Answers to Stupid Questions

Appearing on Fox News Sunday yesterday, Herman Cain had this exchange with host Chris Wallace about Cain's "9-9-9" tax plan, which involves a 9 percent income tax, a 9 percent sales tax, and a 9 percent corporate tax: WALLACE: How do you guarantee -- I asked you this in the debate and I'm not sure I got a full answer, how do you guarantee that 9-9-9 down the line doesn't become 12-12-12? CAIN: In the legislation that I'm going to ask Congress to send me, I want a two-thirds vote required by the Senate in order for them to change it. That will impede cavalierly raising it. Secondly, the fact that the tax rate 9-9-9 is so visible, the American public is going to hold their feet to the fire and two-thirds majority in the Senate will be one of the ways to try to make sure that they don't raise it. I don't know who's being dumber here. Does Wallace think he's ferreted out some heretofore unknown loophole in Cain's plan? My gosh, it could be changed or reversed by a future Congress! Just...

Do Presidential Fundraising Numbers Matter Anymore?

Federal candidates are scrambling to rake in a few extra dollars because today is the last day to include the amounts in third-quarter fundraising numbers. Official tallies don't have to be reported until the middle of next month, but a handful of the campaigns have already leaked their numbers. Rick Perry will likely lead the pack. Rumors circulated earlier this week that he had hauled in around $20 million, though campaign aides quickly shot that down. Still, it wouldn't be any surprise if Perry had the most successful quarter given that he is the newest candidate in the field and had the most untapped territory. Mitt Romney, the only other GOP candidate who looks like he has a chance at the nomination, brought in around $11 million to $13 million according to early reports , a significant drop from his $18 million second quarter. But unlike his 2008 run, Romney has not yet relied on his own vast personal wealth, so if in the closing days of the primary things are looking close, he...

Encouraging Health Doings in Montana

Well lookey here (via Think Progress ): HELENA - Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Wednesday he will ask the U.S. government to let Montana set up its own universal health care program, taking his rhetorical fight over health care to another level. Like Republicans who object to the federal health care law, the Democratic governor also argues it doesn't do enough to control costs and says his state should have more flexibility than the law allows. But Schweitzer has completely different plans for the Medicare and Medicaid money the federal government gives the state to administer those programs. The popular second-term Democrat would like to create a state-run system that borrows from the program used in Saskatchewan. He said the Canadian province controls cost by negotiating drug prices and limiting non-emergency procedures such as MRIs. From the limited information here it sounds like what Schweitzer is proposing is halfway between a public option and a true single-payer system. He wants...

When Chris Christie Sits Around the Oval Office, He Sits Around the Oval Office

For some reason, until Jon Stewart said it the other night, nobody had mentioned that current GOP savior and soon to be ex-GOP savior Chris Christie is a dead ringer for another colorful New Jersey character, Sopranos capo Bobby Bacala . Bobby was, as you'll recall, big-boned. Michael Kinsley thinks Christie's girth will make it impossible for him to be elected president: Look, I'm sorry, but New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cannot be president: He is just too fat... Unfortunately, the symbolism of Christie's weight problem goes way past the issue of obesity itself. It is just a too- perfect symbol of our country at the moment, with appetites out of control and discipline near zilch. And it's not just symbolism. We don't yet know much about Chris Christie. He certainly makes all the right noises about fiscal discipline and seems to have done well so far as governor of New Jersey. Perhaps Christie is the one to help us get our national appetites under control. But it would help if he...

Chump Change We Can't Believe In

Tomorrow night is the third-quarter fundraising deadline and the speculation games have already begun. The New York Times looked at 2008 Obama supporters who are now fed up with Obama and unwilling to sacrifice even $3 because Obama didn’t deliver the change they believed in. This line of thinking will likely frame how the new data is perceived. But comparing Obama’s current fundraising capacity among small donors to his impressive haul in 2008 is the wrong way to analyze the data; in this fundraising cycle the most important numbers to predict Obama’s future success among small donors are those of his rivals, not his own. Incumbent President Obama cannot raise money in the same way that fresh-faced Senator Obama could, when he was in the same place that Rick Perry and Mitt Romney are in now: in a heavily-covered primary race against Hillary Clinton where his donations were dependent on the sustained thrill of that race. Obama's policy initiatives now, however popular, can’t compete...

Beyond Astroturf

There's a well-traveled saying, generally attributed to social theorist Eric Hoffer, that goes like this: Every great movement starts out as a cause, turns into a business, and eventually devolves into a racket. Well it looks like some folks are finding new and innovative ways to make the Tea Party a part of their business. Consider the story of Gibson Guitars, which was recently raided by the feds as part of an investigation into the illegal importation of endangered woods, and then made itself into a Tea Party hero. John Boehner invited the company's CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, to sit with him at President Obama 's jobs speech, and Juszkiewicz has made his case all over Fox News, in The Wall Street Journal , and on conservative radio programs. Tea Partiers are even planning a rally next month in support of the company, portraying it as an innocent victim of a tyrannical Obama administration. Over at Grist, Glenn Hurowitz is in the midst of a multi-part series on how Gibson managed to...

Rick Perry Might Have Dropped, But Romney Didn't Gain

After a meandering debate performance in which Rick Perry dared to show an ounce of humanity, media outlets have been quick to proclaim that he's lost his chances of gaining the GOP nomination. That narrative was backed up by the polls released over the past week, which have shown Perry dropping from his front-runner status. But just looking at the topline numbers doesn't tell the full story. As Nate Silver points out, Perry's fall in the polls hasn't been matched by increased support for Mitt Romney. Instead, Perry's early backers have switched their allegiance to the fringe conservative candidates who appear to have little shot at gaining the nomination, folks like Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. While the slumping numbers are bad for Perry at the moment, it doesn't mean all that much for the eventual nomination. He need only maintain his status as the right-wing challenger to Romney, and hope the far right of the party will turn out in greater numbers than moderate Republicans. As...

Democrats Still Wondering Which GOP Candidate Will Destroy Civilization

The latest sign of trouble for the White House comes from a Gallup poll out today, showing that Democrats are not particularly psyched up about 2012. Cue gnashing of teeth: "Gallup's initial -- and early -- reading on Republicans' and Democrats' enthusiasm for 2012 indicates the emotional climate surrounding that election could be quite different from the climate in 2008," they say sagely. You think? But this isn't really cause for alarm. Because there is no Republican nominee right now, Democrats don't yet know whom to hate. Elections like 2008, in which Democrats feel genuinely enthusiastic about voting for their candidate, only come around every couple of decades or so. But you can always hate the other guy. Republicans, on the other hand, know whom they hate (oh boy, do they ever), which is why they are all kinds of excited about voting in 2012. Needless to say, this will change. At the moment, if you're a Democrat, the Republican candidates may appear to offer different degrees...

Conservative Journalism, Raising the Bar

I'm a longtime critic of the idea that "objectivity" is the true and only path to journalistic truth, and I believe that here at the Prospect, we prove it every day. It's perfectly possible to have a point of view and still produce journalism that is accurate and fair. The temptation to seize on the things that will make your opponents look bad is always there, but if you're mindful of it, you can retain your integrity. Not everybody is so capable, however. Check out what happened when a reporter at the conservative website The Daily Caller got a hold of what he thought was gold, from a court filing by the Environmental Protection Agency. It's a story too good to be true for the anti-Obama and anti-regulation crowd: The hated Environmental Protection Agency is looking to spend $21 billion per year to hire an additional 230,000 people to enforce greenhouse gas regulations. One problem: It's not true Patient zero for this story is The Daily Caller , which on Monday wrote that the EPA is...

Mitt Romney's Health Care Non-Problem

Jonathan Bernstein explains why dealing with "Obamneycare" or whatever you might want to call it isn't such a big deal for Mitt Romney after all: the GOP electorate doesn't actually care about health care reform the same way it cares about, say, abortion or taxes on rich people. Or, as I'm now putting it, Republican voters strongly oppose Obamacare, but they don’t care very much about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They strongly oppose the health care plan that Barack Obama and Nancy Peloci and Harry Reid crammed through Congress against the will of the American people, and they think it’s an unconstitutional power grab that amounts to a government takeover that’s going to bankrupt the nation by cutting Medicare and death panels and all. But they don’t know or care anything about the exchanges, or the cost-cutting efforts, or most of the rest of it. And that being the case, the similarities between the Massachusetts plan and ACA are pretty much irrelevant — what matters is whether the...

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