After waiting all year, Wisconsin Democrats are now poised to challenge Scott Walker. They were forced to hold off until a year after he was first elected, but on Tuesday they officially began gathering signatures for a recall election against their unpopular Republican governor, who earned national attention and the ire of cheeseheads when he used the state's new Republican majority to strip public employees of their collective-bargaining rights.
For all of the punditry (from myself and others) about Mitt Romney’s unpopularity with GOP voters, it’s worth noting the extent to which Republicans are perfectly happy with the former Massachusetts governor. Here’s Gallup with its most recent look at the Republican presidential contest:
Mitt Romney is just as popular as Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich, his problem—in part—is that he has too many competitors, and Republican voters are indulging the extent to which they have a fair amount of choice. When the field begins to winnow in January, odds are very good that Romney will pick up a lot more support from Republican voters.
So far, the Republican Party has held 11 presidential debates, and between audience cheering for the death penalty, attacks on gay soldiers, or huge candidate gaffes, each debate has shown the GOP candidates in one unflattering light or the other. With 14 more debates to go, The New York Timesreports some Republican elites are worried about the effect they could have on public perception.
“This is the core of the Republican brand. You mess with it at your peril,” said Peter Feaver, a national security official under President George W. Bush. He compared the foreign policy flubs to reports about safety problems in Toyota vehicles.
If everything works out, the Buddy Roemer boomlet should be perfectly timed to sweep him to victory in the Iowa caucus and make him the Republican nominee for president. OK, I'm kidding (and in case you were wondering, Buddy Roemer is a former Louisiana governor and congressman who is running for president, but for some reason, he's considered "fringe" and ignored while a half-dozen equally clownish candidates are allowed to participate in the debates). But watching the Newt Gingrich surge—he's now leading the Republican field in some polls—you could almost believe that every candidate, including Roemer, will eventually get their day atop the field.
As part of his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Governor Rick Perry wants to “Uproot and Overhaul” Washington, D.C. with specific reforms to each branch of government. The proposals include a “fundamental reform of the judiciary” through judicial term limits, a “fundamental reform of the executive branch” through the elimination of three federal agencies (the Departments of Commerce, Education, and Energy), and a “fundamental reform of the legislative branch.” Here is Politico’s Mike Allen with details on the latter:
The big story of the day was the surprise evacuation of Zuccotti Park early this morning, prompted because the “health and safety conditions became intolerable,” according to Mayor Bloomberg. Although the situation seems dire, with journalists being arrested, protesters injured by aggressive police officers, and the vibrant camp being dismantled, nobody should interpret this as a sign that the Occupy movement is disintegrating.
The Supreme Court, as expected, has decided to take up the question of whether the Affordable Care Act violates the Constitution, and has allotted five and a half hours for oral argument. This is far longer than the typical 30 minutes lawyers get to argue before the Court, but it represents the magnitude of the case. Supreme Court opinions striking down acts of Congress are rare.
If you haven't seen it already, here's a remarkable video of Herman Cain struggling to answer a question about whether he disagreed with the actions President Obama took in supporting the Libyan uprising. From the first moment, it's something we almost never see in a presidential candidate. He looks like a student who forgot to study struggling through an oral exam. He asks for hints, he stares at the ceiling, he wrestles to come up with a coherent thing to say. But beyond Cain looking very, very foolish, there are actually some interesting things going on here. The point that will be getting all the attention is where Cain says, "I do not agree with the way he handled it, for the following reasons — No, that's a different one. (Pauses) I gotta go back, see.
The country's gradual movement toward marriage equality took a step further last week. Democrats in Iowa won a closely contested special election, which allowed the party to maintain their senate majority and essentially assured that no amendment to overturn same-sex marriage will be put to a vote until 2015 at the absolute earliest. That followed a New Jersey court's decision to hear a case that might replace the state's civil unions provision with full marriage rights.
The Prospect’s Jamelle Bouie blogged about the most important story that’s been hiding under Newt Gingrich’s surge (a news story fit for nothing but speculation for how it will end) and other election stories—“the European debt crisis has raised the odds of a U.S. recession to more than 50 percent by early 2012, according to a new report from the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank.”
Reutersprovides us with the most important political news of the day—the European debt crisis has raised the odds of a U.S. recession to more than 50 percent by early 2012, according to a new report from the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank:
While it is difficult to gauge the odds precisely, an analysis of leading U.S. economic indicators suggests a rising chance of a recession through the end of the year and into early next year, researchers at the regional Fed bank wrote on Monday. The risk of recession recedes after the second half of 2012, they found.
Steve Benen offers a provocative suggestion: maybe we shouldn't be thinking about Mitt Romney as the smart, informed one:
For all the jokes about the clowns that make up this year's Republican presidential field, the conventional wisdom is flawed. Romney, we're told, is the "serious" one, in large part because he speaks in complete sentences, and isn't bad at pretending to be credible. Ultimately, though, Romney's efforts don’t change the fact that he's faking it — and those who understand the issues beyond a surface-level understanding surely realize the GOP frontrunner just doesn't know what he's talking about.
One clear consensus emerged at the Republican presidential debate on the economy last week: government regulations are stifling our economic recovery. "I’ve said I’m going to repeal every single Obama-era regulation that costs business over a hundred million dollars. Repeal them all," Rick Santorum said, to no disagreements from the other candidates who all envisioned a robust recovery once regulations were wiped from the books.
The arguments for why Herman Cain won’t be the Republican presidential nominee, even if he’s popular, are straightforward. He has little history with the Republican Party establishment and shallow relationships with GOP activists on the state and local level. He lacks an on-the-ground campaign in the early primary states, and he’s devoted his time to states like Alabama—irrelevant to the nomination contest but a fine venue for selling books. Indeed, Cain’s upcoming visit to Iowa—the state he has to win or do well in to have a shot at the nomination—is his first since mid-October. Serious candidates tend to spent a lot more time in “make or break” states.