Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Clear choices in the New Hampshire GOP primary

Okay, Republicans in New Hampshire. Today's your primary for the 2012 presidential election, and here are your choices:

1. Bad ideas that only work for the wealthy (Romney).
2. Bad ideas that don't work for anyone (Santorum).
3. Crazy ideas that don't make any sense (Paul).
4. Spite (Gingrich).
5. False moderate who makes you feel like you're rising above your party's partisanship (Huntsman).
6. Choice likely to be made by crazy drunk people (Perry).

Good luck!

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Health care and religion: what dogs Romney the most?

Much hay has been made over Governor Romney and how his history with supporting health care and his affiliation with a non-evangelical Christian faith will trouble him in his bid for the Republican nomination this year. With the Republican field shaking out the way it has been, just how much of a problem will these traits that Republicans find so offensive be?

As to health care, Romney has been doing all he can to distance himself from his celebrated Romneycare, which we enjoy here in Massachusetts. He's trying to suggest that health care can only work if it's treated as a states' rights issue, and not as a national plan. This is not logical, but "states' rights" rings the right bells with Republican partisans, so that might work. Once Romney has the nomination locked up, Republicans will stop trying to hang health care around his neck. That's when Barack Obama will start expressing public gratitude to Romney for the great health care plan he inspired.

Romney's religion is probably going to matter, but exactly how, who knows? In the North and much of the Midwest, voters largely don't care; and in the West, his Mormon roots would probably serve as a net positive. Evangelical voters in the South and the southern Midwest, however, do have a problem with it. However, that problem might be neutralized by the fact that Romney's two main rivals, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, are Catholics--another group that evangelical Christians aren't too high on. (Many evangelicals don't even consider Catholics to be actual Christians, which is the same take they have on Mormons.) Rick Perry is the only Protestant conservative with a notable following, but his numbers aren't notable to wind up putting him in office.

In the end, the religion problem is bigger in the primaries than it will be in the general. The Romney campaign (well, its surrogates, anyway,) is more likely to go extremely negative, aiming to depress Obama support everywhere. If it can depress enough Obama support in the South, then the dampened enthusiasm on the part of evangelical conservatives won't matter. A guy like Mitt Romney doesn't excite anyone, which is why, overall, negativity is they way his campaign is going to have to operate. He has no other way to overcome the diffidence that even Republicans feel about him. It's going to get ugly.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, January 06, 2012

Should Ron Paul have to disavow this ad?

Here's a video made by some group that seems to support Ron Paul:

I guess this is the issue. A group that supports Ron Paul's presidential bid made this incredibly offensive commercial attacking Jon Huntsman, basing its attacks on Huntsman's ability to speak fluent Mandarin, and his long-running relationship with China, which is one of the reasons President Obama appointed Huntsman ambassador to China. However, since the Paul campaign didn't make the ad, does the Ron Paul campaign have a responsibility to comment on it in one way or another?

It's a legitimate question. Until recently, our election laws banned such attack ads, not allowing shadowy groups with God-knows-how-much money to make them. More importantly, it used to be that if a presidential candidate had an affiliation with one of these groups, he or she had to say so. In the wake of the Citizens United decision, in which the Roberts Court decided that money is speech, that's no longer the case. The group who made this ad could very well be affiliated with the Paul campaign—or with the campaign of any other candidate, including Barack Obama. Or maybe I made that ad. There's no way to know, and no one has to come forward about it.

The ad was made by someone saying they're in favor of Ron Paul. Even that might be kind of dubious. That ad makes me hate Ron Paul even more, which makes me wonder if it couldn't have been done by someone trying to embarrass Paul. I know that a lot of xenophobes are drawn to Ron Paul, but this seems to be a bit beyond the pale, even for them. Maybe I just think too highly of people in general, so I wind up giving them the benefit of the doubt.

I think Ron Paul should say something and move right past this. It's not a great solution, but I can't think of anything better. The bigger issue is that we're likely to see more ads like this in 2012 and beyond, which will make this election one of the ugliest ever. Unlimited funds to make anonymous attacks on candidates—how in the hell could even the partisan, activist judges aligned with Justice Roberts fail to see the danger here?

Fasten your seatbelts. We're in for one nasty ride.

Labels: , , ,