Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Make no mistake: politics is dirty game. To play, and to play to win, you have to sell your soul to to the devil. You're on a 24/7 spin cycle. You disparage your opponents. You stretch the truth. And you lie. Every candidate is guilty of these tactics. And none in the history of the Republican Party have done it better or more blatantly and consistently than Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. They've taken the art of lying into a whole new stratosphere.
Romney and Gingrich are different in the sense that, while most politicians tell the truth most of the time and toss in a bit of truth-stretching, with a few lies here and there, these two lie all the time. Their entire candidacies are built on the re-writing of history. It's a waste of time for voters to listen to anything either of them have to say because it's likely every single thing they claim about themselves, and each other, is a lie.
The picture each candidate has painted of himself is utterly laughable. Romney, the 1%'er with the Swiss bank accounts and 13.8% effective tax rate, portrays himself as the economic steward most able to help the little guy. This despite a business career at Bain Capital, and myriad political positions, that exist solely to line the pockets of rich folk like him at the expense of said little guy. He's lied about his views on abortion, gay marriage, immigration, climate change, health care and practically everything else on which he's ever staked an opinion.
Gingrich, the consummate K Street Washington insider with the ethics-violations monkey on his big-spending earmark-lovin' serial-philanderin' back, has been running as the "anti-establishment" values candidate, leading a "rebellion" against the amoral "elites." But if we judge him by his political career, his academic accomplishments or his wealth, he's as elitist as they come. And while Newt whines about the "unfairness" of Romney's attacks, he's been responsible for more invective and extremist rhetoric than anyone in D.C. history, single-handedly changing the overall tenor of political discourse since he emerged in the late 1980's. Then there's the colossal hypocrisy of his personal life. Newt never met a mistress he didn't like...or married.
These two presidential hopefuls, as evidence by their many debate performances, lie so much it's virtually impossible to distinguish between their reality and fantasy. Neither can remember what commercials they've produced, what investments they have, what they've said in the past, what they currently believe or anything factual about each other. They'll literally say anything to become elected. Anything. And the debates themselves have become a spectacle that we watch just to see which one will catch the other in the biggest lie.
One thing's certain: one of these political Pinocchios will be running against President Obama later this year. So strap on your seatbelts, because the ride's gonna get a whole lot bumpier. The Mitt/Newt Traveling Lies Show is just the warm-up act...
Thursday, January 26, 2012
It seems like there's been a Republican debate every two days for the past several months (because there basically has been). And no matter how many I've watched so far (and I've dutifully watched them all), I'll be siting by the television yet again tonight watching. Just waiting....
The truth is, these debates have become so predictable that I could practically script them out in advance. To be sure, we'll see more of Rick Santorum's "I've-Done-Everything-Before-Everyone-Else" routine. We're certain to hear Rep. Ron Paul Sr. declare again that we should withdraw all of our troops from military bases around the world. We're sure to hear Mitt Romney bash Newt Gingrich again for being "disgraced out of Washington" over ethics violations. And we'll no doubt see Gingrich rip Romney apart again over his massive wealth and "job-killing" days at Bain Capital. And now that the audience is allowed to cheer again, we may also even see more of Newt's moderator-bashing bit he clearly enjoys so much (and is quite good at). None of this is new, and it's become quite boring to sit through it all. But I'm just waiting...
What I'm waiting for is that delicious moment all politicians dread. The moment in a debate where a candidate suffers from humiliating foot-in-mouth disease, in some cases blowing the campaign. We've seen plenty of them over the years: when George Bush Sr.looked at his watch as if he had somewhere more important to be, or when he didn't know the price of milk. Or Gerald Ford's incredible misstatement that "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe." Or when Michael Dukakis said he'd still oppose the death penalty even if his wife Kitty had been raped and murdered. Or Dan Quayle's embarrassing "You're no John Kennedy" moment with Sen. Lloyd Bentsen. And more recently, Gov. Rick Perry's "oops" debacle. So I sit waiting...
I wait for Gingrich to blow a gasket and literally become emotionally unhinged, maybe even telling Romney to "fuck off." I wait for Santorum to look into the camera and whine like a five-year-old to voters "Why aren't you supporting me over that serial cheater Gingrich?!" I wait for Paul to break out into "Oompa Loompa" for no apparent reason. And I wait for Romney to ask all the other candidates if he can pay them to quit the race.
So I wait...
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
If anyone still has a doubt as to the true intentions of Republicans in the House and Senate all they needed to do was watch President Obama's State of the Union Address Tuesday night. The strategy is quite clear: say no to everything Obama wants, hope for a worsening economy, and win the Oval Office in November.
How else do we explain how one side of the House Chamber cheered enthusiastically while the other sat stiff, straight-faced and motionless when Obama said "Businesses have created more than three million jobs;" "No bailouts, handouts, and no copouts; "Teachers matter;" "American consumers finally have a watchdog in Richard Cordray with one job: To look out for them;" and "An economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules." Can you guess which side of the room sat Republicans?
Someone in the GOP should remind House Speaker John Boehner that his freakishly orange mug is on camera the entire time the president speaks, which means his constant expressions of discomfort and discontent over job creation, education and fairness were on full display. Someone should suggest to Majority Leader Eric Cantor that smug smirks don't paint a picture of cooperation and compromise. And for Pete's Sake, regardless of how they ultimately vote, wouldn't it simply make more political sense to at least cheer and applaud along with Democrats the notion of hiring more teachers, creating jobs, reigning in Wall Street, and treating all people fairly? Apparently their venomous hatred of Obama, Democrats and everything both stand for simply won't allow them to even pretend to be good guys.
Obama's smart. He now 100% understands and accepts that his enemies across the aisle stand only for (1) lowering taxes for the rich; (2) ending entitlement programs for the poor and middle class; (3) reducing government regulation of their fatcat corporate pals' businesses; and (4) ending his political career. At this point all he can and will do is take his message to the people, continuing to draw clear distinctions between his agenda and that of Republicans: 'Vote for me and I'll use government to help you, or vote for them and have them kick you to the curb in your time of need.'
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
So now I've watched yet another in a seemingly never-ending series of Republican debates, and I'm convinced of two things: the GOP presidential race is in a total state of chaos, and, President Obama will be re-elected. One thing's for sure, when conservatives aggressively bash each other for being rich Wall Street capitalists, you know the party's in serious trouble.
The GOP's problems are multiple: three contests into the season (Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina) have not produced a clear front-runner. In fact, they've been won by three different candidates--Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Populist (and I say that with a tinge of facetiousness) Ron Paul Sr. has fared moderately well in each, and will continue to play spoiler, syphoning away key votes from the young and the restless Libertarians. Or, he will at some point attempt to barter delegates for influence. Or he will end up running as an independent and really screw things up for the party.
In what has got to be incredibly frustrating to Romney and his campaign, Mr. Inevitable is looking more and more like Mr. Improbable with each passing day. He can't seem to break out of his 25% range (with the exception of the very Mitt-friendly "Live Free or Die" state) and his increasing desperation has made him extremely negative, a quality that, unlike Newt, does not come naturally to him nor, unlike Newt, is one he's good at. At last week's debate he vowed to stay positive yet within the first minutes of Monday's debate he went for Gingrich's jugular, claiming he was "disgraced" out of Washington in the late 90's. Moderator Brian Williams dutifully called him on this clear flip-flop. "Here we are again," lamented Williams.
After a landslide victory in South Carolina, it would appear that Gingrich's momentum in the South will continue--the next big primary being Florida on January 31--while Santorum continues to split the evangelical vote. But the truth is, Gingrich has zero chance of winning the nomination. He's under-funded, has little organization on the ground in most states, and is the king of self-destruction. He's a cranky, bitter, baggage-laden old insider who's laughably portraying himself as the outsider most qualified to reign in Washington's excess and crony capitalism. The man who helped break the system wants voters to believe that only he can fix it. This is a campaign that has, for all intents and purposes, already imploded. Like a volcano, the visible eruption simply has yet to surface.
Santorum is simply too extreme to catch fire among moderates and independents. His campaign is running on fumes since his big Iowa surprise. But fumes won't propel him much further, especially as Newt remains the temporary favorite among hard-core conservatives. The former Pennsylvania Senator with the humiliating 18-point defeat in 2008 will soon be forced to join the Suspension Club and watch from the sidelines with Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann and Jon Huntsman Jr.
Which brings us back again to Mr. Improbable. It's hard to imagine a party nominating someone whom it seemingly despises. Someone so fake, so disingenuous, so elitist, so unable to connect with regular folk on any conceivable level. This guy's so stiff I could iron my shirts on him. He's flip-flopped so many times that Birkenstock should name a sandal after him. No one, especially Mitt himself, seems to have a clue what he truly believes in his core. And that's a disaster for a politician. Plus, he's a Mormon. Don't underestimate how big a problem this has already been for him. It just might be one big reason he can't break from 25%.
In their rapacious hunger for the nomination, Gingrich and Romney are ripping each other to shreds, putting each other on the defensive over wealth, scandal and electability. And they're creating the templates for Obama's eventual ads. To be sure, the Newt & Mitt Show is going to get even uglier by the minute. So ugly in fact that by the time someone is left standing in August, whoever the hell that is, he and the party will be so weak that Obama will have a cakewalk to re-election.
Is there a chance there will be no clear winner by August? Is there a possibility of a brokered convention? Will the party's leaders entice a Mitch Daniels, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or Paul Ryan to come to Tampa for a chance to grab the Oval Office keys? At this point, anything's possible.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary Saturday by a landslide. Exit polls showed that 60% of voters said that religion, and a candidate's faith, was the primary reason they voted for someone. And an overwhelming majority of those folks voted for Gingrich, the thrice married philanderer whose current wife Callista is an admitted cheater who slept with another woman's husband for six years. Then there's Rick Santorum, the bible-thumpin' pseudo-preacher with the seemingly rock-solid marriage, who came in a distant third. What's wrong with this picture?
Perhaps South Carolina's uber-religious believe that absolving Newt of his past indiscretions simultaneously absolves them of their own, maybe even giving them license to continue this salacious behavior. It's a little club of rich, white, God-fearing male philanderers with a self-serving philosophy towards faith and fidelity:
"We are Christians. We believe in Jesus. We believe that people should live a clean, wholesome, family-values life. We believe in the sanctity of marriage, and that this great institution should be between a man and a woman. We believe that those who don't share our views on God and religion are not people of faith. Now, we do accept the fact that some of us may chase some tail every now and then, and when we do, the Lord will be be quick to forgive and forget. No sense gettin' all crazy over a silly little affair...or two...or three. But we'll continue to lecture everyone else in the world about how they should behave."
The hypocrisy in Saturday's primary results is mind-numbing. Gingrich arrogantly preaches about the "sacrament of marriage" and rants on endlessly about President Obama being the most "radical" president in history, yet when it comes to his own bedroom and relationships he's been so radical he's practically re-written the marital laws single-handedly. True conservatives, especially evangelicals, should be running from him like he was Lucifer incarnate. Instead they lavish him with a landslide. They believe Newt and Callista make for a perfect First Couple; the perfect symbols of American marriage, and appropriate role models for our children (one wonders just what Callista's official "cause" would be if she were First Lady. Loyalty? Honor? Integrity? Fidelity?)
South Carolinians, and perhaps conservatives elsewhere as the primary season continues, appear oddly happy and eager to forgive Gingrich, the "69 year old grandfather," for his sins. I think that says an awful lot about religion, and its role in Republican politics, in America today.
Friday, January 20, 2012
I just finished watching the 482nd Republican presidential debate and am convinced that the candidate most deserving of the nomination is former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Let me point out that I didn't come to this conclusion without much internal struggle. Like most Americans, I've been torn these past several months between the intellectual superiority of Rep. Michelle Bachmann, the debating mastery of Gov. Rick Perry, the vision of Herman Cain, the conviction of Mitt Romney, the integrity of Newt Gingrich, the clarity and coherence of Rep. Ron Paul, the Svengali-like charisma of Jon Huntsman Jr., and the humility of Santorum.
But I've been aided in this process. One by one, many of these campaigns have imploded, leaving just Gingrich, Paul, Romney and Santorum standing before Saturday's critical South Carolina primary. But make no mistake: Santorum is the real deal. While he may come off as arrogant, insolent, temperamental, smug, self-aggrandizing, narrow-minded, intolerant and bigoted, it's not political expediency talking. He's not pretending. With Rick, what you see is exactly what you get.
Romney, the so-called "inevitable" nominee whose campaign just happens to be on its own brink of implosion, is a fairly loathsome chap. He twists and turns more than the Taconic Parkway, and it's impossible to believe anything that comes out of his mouth. He's the ultimate opportunist, shamelessly shifting his positions more often than I change my underwear. Just try to figure out what he really believes about abortion, health care, immigration, the Bush tax cuts, climate change, gun control, gay marriage and Don't Ask Don't Tell, for example. You'll get a migraine just from the conflicting research.
The Stormin' Mormon is 100% fake. From his comically dark dyed hair to his disingenuous answers to every question. And he's a colossal hypocrite. He rails on about making one's own way without government handouts, yet he's the proverbial rich kid who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. Ironic how it's always the silver-spooners who tell the rest of us how to be financially responsible and independent. No wonder he can't gain any more traction than a snowbound '77 Pinto. He's now officially the loser in Iowa and, according to new polls out Friday morning, he's trailing Gingrich in South Carolina. Sorry Mitt, winning New Hampshire, where you own a vacation home and which borders your home state of Massachusetts, doesn't make for "inevitability."
Gingrich, on the other hand, has tremendous momentum and has just picked up the all-important endorsement of Perry, who Thursday said, "Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?” Exactly. What's a few marital indiscretions among conservatives, right? Perry added: "I have no question that Newt Gingrich has the heart of a conservative reformer..." That is, of course, if what he's reforming is the sacred institution of marriage he so honorably defends. Apparently, Newt never met a mistress he didn't like...or married. When asked by debate moderator John King of CNN about the ABC interview that aired Thursday with his second wife Marianne, in which she claimed Newt asked her to be in an "open marriage," the feisty former House Speaker lashed out with a fury never before seen in a presidential debate.
"The destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office, and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that," Gingrich sanctimoniously scolded. "I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate."
King, looking like a post-neuter Poodle pup, said that it was ABC News which broke the story, not CNN.
"Don’t try to blame somebody else," Gingrich angrily barked, wagging his finger at King to the cheers of the highly-conservative-yet-apparently-infidelity-supporting crowd. "You and your staff chose to start this debate with it."
Booyah! I gotta say, I agree 100% with Newt. Can't a self-righteous, hypocritical blowhard propose a kinky extra-marital-sex relationship to his wife without the damn lamestream liberal media attacking him two days before a crucial election?
Gingrich is not one to shy away from a tough battle, especially where America's needs come before his. "Callista and I have a wonderful relationship. We knew we’d get beaten up, we knew we’d get lied about, we knew we’d get smeared, we knew there would be nasty attack ads. And we decided the country was worth the pain." Just like last year when he defended his adultery on the grounds of patriotism. I'm tellin' ya, there's nothing this modern day Thomas Paine won't do for his country.
Which brings us to Santorum. As his campaign manager Michael Biundo said, "If you’re supporting Rick Santorum, you’re never going to have to worry about opening the newspaper and being surprised at what you see." That's because he is genuinely despicable. No pretension. He sincerely believes his abhorrent rhetoric and backward positions. He'll be the perfect foil for the Euro-loving socialist President Obama. And for this we must respect and support Rick Santorum.
Sunday, January 08, 2012
The Republican candidates for president assembled Sunday morning for yet another debate, this time the second slugfest in ten hours. With the primary season set to kick off Tuesday in New Hampshire, the two debates in that state presented a last chance opportunity for the GOP hopefuls to change the direction of the race. In particular, it was do or die for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. who, with his 1% national polling, is seemingly on life support.
Huntsman literally had nothing to lose this weekend. This was his last shot at convincing New Hampshire voters that he, not Mitt Romney, is not only the most deserving candidate, but the one most able to beat President Obama. Did he nail it? Hardly. With the exception of one major point-scoring moment where he attacked Romney for criticizing him for serving as Ambassador to China in the Obama administration, Huntsman was his usual meek, measured self, never showing enough passion, emotion or charisma to be commanding. But that may not matter on Tuesday when voters go to the polls.
The truth is, Huntsman's the only real grown up in the room. He's not just smart and honest, but logical and rational...and possessing a stellar resume. When he spoke Chinese in Saturday night's debate to drive home a point to Romney about U.S. relations with the Asian superpower, I suspect the value of having a president so versed in the Chinese culture and language was not lost on many in the audience.
Look at the GOP pack. Romney's an outright liar, more consumed by political expedience than anything, changing his positions more than I change my drawers. What's most intriguing about his consistent 20-25% polling is the obvious fact that 75-80% of Republicans can't stand him. Rick Santorum is an evangelical hothead, whose idea of "small government" is one which amends the Constitution to ban gay marriage, gay sex, abortion, life support and contraception while denying the Separation of Church and State. Ron Paul is an angry old quasi-anarchist while Newt Gingrich is, well, just plain angry. And Rick Perry is less qualified to be president than I am. On the national stage, this picture ain't pretty.
What Huntsman has going for him is that Tuesday's primary is in the "Live Free or Die" state. The state where maverick voters typically march to the beat of their own drum and don't like being told how to think or who to vote for. Roughly 40% of the state's voters are undeclared, independents. And that could be the difference for Huntsman, who's been quietly inching up in the polls.
While I'm not going to make a prediction at this point, as it sure as hell seems like Romney's gonna coast on Tuesday, I will say I would not be surprised at all if there was a stunning upset and Huntsman either won or finished a very close second. And if that's the case, this election will be thrown wide open, and it could spell the beginning of the end for Romney as the contest heads to the very conservative South.
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
If Rick Santorum should win the Republican nomination for president next November much of the credit should go to those six powerful words he delivered in an emotional victory speech in Iowa early Wednesday morning after a long night of caucusing. I say victory speech because losing by just eight votes to the supposed front runner Mitt Romney is indeed a massive victory, and surely a very disappointing finish for the former Massachusetts governor. As Santorum boldly declared the second he took to the podium, "game on."
The hands former Pennsylvania Congressman and Senator was referring to belonged to his grandfather who toiled in the coal mines to provide for his family. He spoke of what it means to work hard for honest wage and live the American Dream. It's a narrative that should bode very well for him as voters struggle to make ends meet in a still recession-like economy. It's a message that the uber-wealthy Romney, with his elitist country club lifestyle, attitude and deferential positions towards corporate America, wishes he had. Take all that, throw in RomneyCare and a general unlikeability factor and last night's results spell t-r-o-u-b-l-e for him.
Romney, who simply can't seem to break out of the 20-25% vortex he's been frustratingly swirling in, will have not just Santorum gnawing at his tail non-stop now, but a very angry Newt Gingrich as well who, despite a relatively poor 13% showing, has vowed to kick some serious Mitt ass this next week leading up to January 12th's New Hampshire primary. They'll get their shot during Saturday's GOP debate in Manchester and another the following morning on NBC's "Meet the Press." The guy who thought he was gonna coast to the nomination now has two extremely ferocious pit bulls vying to destroy him. It's not gonna be pretty, but it's sure gonna make for some delicious viewing.
But it's time to get serious. While it may be fun right now to watch these rapacious conservazombies devour each other with bloodthirsty zeal, the long term picture is quite troubling. I believe Rick Santorum stands a very strong chance of winning the nomination. And as such, rational Americans should pray that he does not end up anywhere near the Oval Office. Under the right economic circumstances, it's not such a stretch to think he could go all the way to the White House.
To be perfectly blunt, Santorum is a very dangerous candidate. In his speech last night he likened government aid programs to fascism. His social positions are downright frightening. He's rabidly anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-immigration, anti-stem-cell research, favors school prayer and the teaching of creationism, and invokes God and religion more than Jesus himself. He supported Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to gut Medicare, thinks climate change is a hoax, and would blow up Iran if he could. And, despite his tear-jerking tales of grandpappy's blue-collar laboring, he's firmly anti-union. Let's also not forget how he took home his wife's dead 20 week old fetus from the hospital and made his kids hold, kiss, talk to and pose for family photos with it. Get the picture? Santorum and his neanderthal views would set America back 200 years.
Could he beat Obama? Well, like the president, he's relatively young (53) and a devoted family man with kids. He's got that attractive faux-everyman narrative in a bad economy, and he's got the support of true conservatives. He's the anti-Romney personified. Oh, and he's also white.