Election 2012

Guess Who Doesn't Like Herman Cain?

As if to remind us of his utter contempt for women, Georgia businessman Herman Cain capped off a campaign appearance yesterday with a joke about Anita Hill, who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his 1991 confirmation hearing: A clip that first aired on “Special Report With Bret Baeir” shows Cain in the middle of a raucous crowd of supporters when someone makes a comment about Anita Hill. The substance of the comment was drowned out by applause in the room, but it had the candidate doubled over with laughter. “Is she going to endorse me?” Cain asked, smiling. […] With this in mind, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Cain has lost considerable support among Republican women -– according to the latest CBS News poll , he is down 13 points among GOP women, to 15 percent. This brings his overall numbers down to 18 percent support among all Republicans, placing him in the lead, but not by much. Flanking Cain are Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, who...

Not All Flip-Flops Are Created Equal

Mitt Romney isn’t the first candidate to flip his positions in the service of national ambitions, but there’s something dramatic about the speed and velocity of his transformation. As The Wall Street Journal details in this excellent piece, Romney ran for governor as a liberal –- he promised to defend the state’s abortion laws and provide domestic partnership benefits and then offered himself as a voice for moderation within the Republican Party. Once elected, he continued on that path, signing a state ban on assault weapons and closing a coal power plant under the rationale that private industry shouldn’t have carte blanche to release dangerous fumes into the air. This all changed in 2005, when Romney began to position himself for a run in the 2008 Republican presidential primary. By the end of the year, he had reversed himself on everything from abortion to climate change, even going as far as to demonize same-sex residents of Massachusetts to out-of-state audiences, in order to...

Primaries Not Doing the GOP Any Favors

Gallup has some interesting numbers out on the presidential race. With the usual caveat that this is only one set of polls, over the past two months he has moved from trailing a generic Republican by 8 points to being even. The figures among independents are what is really striking: What happened in the interim? Why, the Republican primary race, of course. Americans have gotten a look at what the GOP is offering, and it ain't pretty. Unlike a few months ago, when the pollster asks about supporting "the Republican Party's candidate for president," there are particular individuals who come to mind. There's that wide-eyed radical woman from Minnesota, that Texas Ted Baxter, that ignoramus pizza guy whom lots of women say made crude advances toward them, that robotic corporatist. There are no more fantasy candidates—all the candidates are real. I couldn't help think back to the Democratic primaries of four years ago. If you'll recall, it was certainly a brawl, with plenty of charges,...

Obama’s Secret Weapon

Will the electorate blame Congress—not the president—for the sour economy?

(Flickr/DRStarbuck)
Michael Tomasky’s piece deserves a few responses. He begins with some unnecessary swipes at political science: Politics is sometimes a science and other times an art. So here we sit, with the election exactly a year away, and the conventional wisdom in the political press is largely driven by the political-science theory of presidential elections and economic determinism: that is, that the results of presidential elections are pretty much strictly a function of economic conditions, and if those are bad (defined by various measures, chiefly the jobless and growth rates), the incumbent will lose. By that theory, Barack Obama is pretty well doomed. And yet I don’t know a soul who thinks he doesn’t stand a decent chance of winning next year. Let’s ignore the oxymoron “pretty much strictly” and assume Tomasky means “strictly.” First point: This is not what political scientists think about presidential elections. Since I’ve written a direct response to the very Economist article that...

Che Warren?

Just when you think the right can’t stoop any lower, they keep surprising you. Karl Rove is out with an ad linking Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren with … Che Guevara. Over footage of an out-of-control protest, including a Che T-shirt, an announcer intones that Warren sides with protesters who “attack police, do drugs, and trash public parks.” Warren is quoted—out of context, of course—as saying that she “created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do.” Poor Rove. He has gone from arguing that Warren is too much of a pointy-headed intellectual for Massachusetts to branding her as a dangerous radical. Thankfully, Warren has a whole year in which to introduce herself to voters personally. This theme is unlikely to work any better than the last one—but it will energize Warren’s own troops.

Rick Perry's Off-Base Even When He's On-Point

Media coverage of last night's debate has been consumed by Rick Perry's onstage mental block, and for good reason. As I wrote over on the homepage, his inability to recall the three executive-branch agencies he would eliminate was more than your typical gaffe, quite possibly the most embarrassing moment from a presidential debate in the television era (I might be a little young to make such a claim, but reporters who have followed debates since 1960 concur ). Perry's donors are e-mailing members of the media to say their funding stream will soon run dry, and the Des Moines Register spoke with one Iowa supporter who thinks the campaign is over. “Oh my God it was just horrible. Just horrible,” said Hamilton County GOP Chairman Mark Greenfield, who has endorsed Perry. “I felt very bad for him. It happens. But it shouldn’t happen when you run for president. It was very embarrassing for everyone.” Those 50 seconds of stumbling were mighty painful to watch, but it's worth noting how abysmal...

Health-Care Baloney from Mitt Romney

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, seated, smiles with, clockwise from top, Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Timothy Murphy, Senate President Robert Travaglini, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi as he signs into law at Faneuil Hall in Boston a landmark bill designed to guarantee virtually all state residents have health insurance, in this Wednesday, April 12, 2006, file photo. While Romney has received positive reviews of the sweeping health care initiative, it will be up to the state's next governor to sort through the details of the law. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
Let me do something weird and discuss a bit about the substance of last night's debate. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006, signing into law a landmark bill designed to guarantee virtually all state residents have health insurance There was some discussion of health care, and of course it was superficial and misleading. That was partly the fault of the candidates, and partly the fault of the moderators, who at one point gave the candidates 30 seconds each to solve America's health-care problems. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich both reasonably observed that this was kind of absurd. But here's something Romney said: I believe very deeply in the functioning of markets. The work I've done in health care, actually worked as a consultant to the health care industry, to hospitals and various health institutions. I had the occasion of actually acquiring and trying to build health care businesses. I know something about it, and I believe markets work. And what's...

God's Calling Again

Need some diversion, besides “oops”? Check this out: God calls Katha Pollitt and tries to talk her into running for president. With Perry and Cain self-destructing, each in his own special way, might she have a shot?

Tweets from Last Night's GOP Debate

In the spirit of Cain's 9-9-9 plan, we've rounded up the top nine Tweets from last night's GOP debate. Have suggestions for an addition? Tell @j_fuller on Twitter.

Oops

Republican presidential candidate Texas Governor Rick Perry points to his head as he speaks during a Republican Presidential Debate at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Michigan, Wednesday, November 9, 2011. At right is Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Meet Mitt Romney, your 2012 Republican nominee. From the get-go he was the field's front-runner, and the suspicion that he'll become the GOP nominee for president was only confirmed after last night's circus of a debate. When he entered the race, Texas Governor Rick Perry was considered the savior of the religious right—the only candidate with conservative social views who could still appeal to mainstream America. His campaign has floundered for the past several months, but his pockets full of campaign cash made it easy for pundits to believe he could rise to the top. That hope dissipated in the second hour of last night's CNBC debate. Perry was in the middle of a typical anti-regulation screed when he announced he would abolish three cabinet-level departments of the executive branch. "It’s three agencies of government, when I get there, that are gone: Commerce, Education and the—what’s the, third one there—let’s see," he said. Perry proceeded to have a complete mental block for the...

Time to Feel Bad for Rick Perry

One time about ten years ago, I was on a radio program talking about some political matter or other, and I started a point by saying, "There are three reasons why." I then said, "First..." and explained the first. Then I said, "Second..." and explained the second. Then I couldn't remember the third. Fortunately, for this interview I was in the studio, and I looked helplessly at the host and gave her a little shake of the head and an open mouth, the universal signal for, "I just had a brain fart, please help!" Being a smooth professional, she stepped in quickly and moved the conversation along. I learned my lesson: I've done a few hundred radio interviews in the time since and never once have I said a specific number of points I'm about to give. Which is why I have a little bit of sympathy for Rick Perry today: You have to wonder just what went through Perry's head after that "Oops" escaped his mouth. Maybe nothing in particular. Or maybe, "Given the fact that I've been having trouble...

'Tis So Sweet to Trust in the Market

The interesting thing about the Angry Joe Walsh video Gabriela posted is that it underscores the degree to which Walsh—and his fellow-travelers in the Republican Party—have a view of the market that’s more theological than anything else. Listen to how he describes calls for new regulation on the financial sector: “It’s not the private marketplace that created this mess. … All the marketplace does is respond to what the government does. The government sets the rules. Don’t blame the banks, and don’t blame the marketplace for the mess we’re in right now, I’m tired of hearing that crap.” Implicit in this tirade is the notion that the market can’t do anything wrong—if the economy is a mess, then it has to be the sole product of government failures, because there’s no way that the market could produce an outcome this bad. It’s capitalism as religion, where the market is holy, government is sin, and the latter can only serve to corrupt the purity of the former.

A Word of Caution about Yesterday's Results

At Politico , Ben Smith offers some useful meta-commentary on last night’s election results: There are two basic ways to (over)interpret the evening’s results. The more ambitious one is to claim a broad new mandate, a positive choice by voters of a different path. Greg Sargent, for instance, sees more evidence of public sympathy for “shared sacrifice” and taxes on the wealthy. The other way to read the results is as a fundamentally negative verdict. The referenda fell to “no” votes, after all, and Senator Peace was recalled. And so some Democrats seem to be pointing to an electorate that’s reacting against dramatic change, and toward a kind of center. I said this on Twitter last night, but I would caution against the urge to overinterpret (which would put me in the latter of Smith’s camps). Often, the outcome of races in off-year elections has more to do with the idiosyncrancies of the area than it does with any broad shifts in ideology or public opinion. Republican success in...

Throwing Caution to the Wind

On one hand, you should be careful not to overinterpret idiosyncratic election results. On the other, there’s no way you can ignore survey results like these from Public Policy Polling’s most recent poll of Ohio voters: Obama led Mitt Romney 50–41 on our poll. He was up 11 points on Herman Cain at 50–39, 13 on Newt Gingrich at 51–38, 14 on Ron Paul at 50–36, 14 on Michele Bachmann at 51–37 and a whooping 17 points on Rick Perry at 53–36. It used to be Sarah Palin’s numbers that we compared to Barry Goldwater, but Perry’s deficit would represent the largest Republican defeat in Ohio since 1964. President Obama benefits from a hugely unified Democratic base in the state. Obama gets 88 percent to 92 percent of the vote against the Republican candidates, despite the fact that his approval rating among Ohio Democrats is 73 percent. If Democrats maintain this level of unity through next year, it bodes very well for the president’s prospects in the state. With that said, it’s important to...

Sexual Assault Versus Harassment

So now there's a fifth allegation against Herman Cain—and we can see exactly why women have been loath to come forward and be dragged through the mud. I don't know what Cain did or did not in fact do to Sharon Bialek, or Karen Kraushaar, or to the other three women who've decided to protect their sanity and jobs by keeping their names private. I am sure that some dedicated reporters are doing their best to double-check the accusations—and since attorney Lin Wood is implicitly threatening the news media with the possibility of libel lawsuits, you can be sure that litigation-averse major media outlets will triple-check to see that every fact is sourced, checked, nailed down, and lawyered up before you see it in print or pixel. But all that aside, one misunderstanding of Sharon Bialek's allegations startled me. Let's review the allegation, as reported in The New York Times : In her statement to the press, Ms. Bialek said that she had been fired at the association after about a year...

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