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Rick Perry And His Rivals Serve Up Scare Tactics And Drivel

Rick Perry should have backed off. Instead, he doubled down, and in a way that was doubly illuminating — about Perry himself and the degraded state of modern politics.

The issue, amazingly enough, is President Obama’s birthplace — months after the release of his long-form birth certificate should have laid the matter to rest.

In an interview with Parade magazine, the Texas governor declared Obama’s place of birth a “distractive” issue even as he happily latched on to the opportunity to distract.

“Well, I don’t have a definitive answer [about whether Obama was born in the United States], because he’s never seen my birth certificate,” he said. It was classic Perry, combining logical incoherence and a smarmy cheap shot.

A smarter candidate would have stopped there. Perry, in an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, kept going, despite Harwood’s repeated invitations to walk back his silliness.

“Look, I haven’t seen his,” Perry said. “I haven’t seen his grades. My grades ended up on the front page of the newspaper, so let’s, you know, if we’re going to show stuff, let’s show stuff. “

Is this a presidential campaign or a middle-school playground? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours? By the way, if I had Perry’s grades, I wouldn’t be mentioning them. Certainly not if I were running against a former president of the Harvard Law Review.

But then Perry, as is his style, let on what this was really about. “But look, that’s all a distraction. I mean, I get it. I’m really not worried about the president’s birth certificate. It’s fun to poke at him a little bit and say, ‘Hey, how about, let’s see your grades and your birth certificate.’ ”

The matter of the president’s birthplace, Perry added, is “a good issue to keep alive.”

You might think this was the candidate cannily trying to have it both ways: a nod to the birther crazies with a simultaneous wink at those who know this is a ridiculous distraction. Except that Perry managed to step on his real message of the day: his unaffordable and unfair proposal to “simplify” the tax code — by grafting a flat-tax alternative onto the existing system.

Perry’s acknowledgment of his interest in benefiting from birther mania was reminiscent of his artless dodge, during the last debate, about whether he thought the 14th Amendment should be changed to abolish birthright citizenship. “You get to ask the questions,” he told moderator Anderson Cooper. “I get to answer like I want to.”

Note to candidate: It’s better not to narrate your own stage directions. Just because your debate coaches tell you to answer the question you want to answer, not the one that’s been asked, doesn’t mean you should announce that’s what you’re up to.

Now we have Perry, who has a decent if fading shot at the Republican presidential nomination, openly practicing politics as poke-fest. The point isn’t to debate whose solutions are best for America — it’s to get under the other guy’s skin.

Thus Perry needling Mitt Romney on immigration: “You hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you’re strong on immigration is, on its face, the height of hypocrisy.”

As it happens, Perry is righter — that is, more correct — than Romney on immigration, at least when it comes to the question of the DREAM Act and the ability of the children of illegal immigrants to obtain in-state tuition rates.

But Perry’s jab at Romney was below the belt. The former Massachusetts governor employed a landscaping firm that, the Boston Globe discovered, had hired illegal immigrants. Romney told it to stop. When it turned out that the company hadn’t, he fired the firm.

The matter of Obama’s birth certificate should be a closed case. It is astonishing that a sitting governor, no less a serious candidate for president, would stoop to playing this game.

Then again, 2012 is shaping up to be an astonishing campaign. Witness Herman Cain’s bizarre, substance-less new ad in which the candidate is endorsed by, yes, the candidate’s campaign manager. Who is actually smoking (literally) during the ad.

“I really believe that Herman Cain will put United back in the United States of America,” says the aide, Mark Block.

The country is facing serious problems. This will be a fateful election. Voters deserve better than scare tactics and drivel.

By: Ruth Marcus, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, October 25, 2011

October 29, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Teaparty | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Even Without Donald Trump, Plenty Of Clowns In The 2012 GOP Field

Farewell Donald Trump. For a brief moment last month, his birther buffoonery powered him to the front of the Republican pack. What a difference a birth certificate, a death announcement, and serious treatment by the press make. Now The Donald has announced that as with his previous presidential flirtations he is not making this race. Suddenly he looks like one of the celebrity has-beens who gets fired on his television show—or worse, like a celebrity has-been who doesn’t actually get onto the show at all.

Trump peaked in mid-April when a survey from the Democratic group Public Policy Polling set him as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, with 26 percent of the vote. Then reality intruded. The press went from treating him like a celebrity making silly noises about running to treating him like a genuine would-be candidate, checking out who he contributed to and fact-checking his weird claims. Then Obama’s long form birth certificate put an end to birtherism while Osama bin Laden’s violent end reminded us that there are monsters in the real world and that the presidency is for serious people, not reality TV blowhards.

Public Policy Polling’s survey last week had Trump at 8 percent, in a fifth place tie with Ron Paul.

But with Trump-mentum ended, where can we hope to find entertainment value in the GOP primary field? The answer is, where can’t you? Donald Trump, entertainer-turned-pol was never going to be the second coming of Ronald Reagan. But neither will the other maybes and might-want-tos.

Take Newt Gingrich, whose announcement video last week said we should “look reality in the face, [and] tell the truth.” The truth and the reality are that Gingrich is an abrasive bomb thrower who resigned his speakership after his colleagues, and most voters, had enough of him, not the profile swing voters usually latch onto. His disapproval rating when he left office was 70 percent and was still as high as 38 percent as recently as last summer. And Gingrich, a self-styled historian, is fighting history. Only once has a former speaker of the house made the transition to the White House. That, NBC’s Chuck Todd notes, was James Polk in 1844. And not since James Garfield in 1880 has a politician achieved the White House having only served in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Newt is not alone with this problem, of course. Sitting Rep. Michele Bachmann seems happy to conflate her fanatical Tea Party following with actual broad-based support. But again her lack of experience in winning even a statewide office in Minnesota makes one wonder whether she’s drinking tea or Kool-Aid. For sheer “what is he thinking” chutzpah, however, it’s hard to beat Rick Santorum, whose last act in American politics ended when the voters of his home state of Pennsylvania fired him from the U.S. Senate. I can think of one modern politician who won the White House after losing his last previous election, and Richard Nixon is not a figure whose mantel many GOPers lay claim to these days.

Sure Newt, Bachmann, and Santorum are members of the GOP presidential B Team, but is the A Team much more impressive? You could have made an argument for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, before he announced this weekend that he would not run. The best that can be said of Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, is that he is inoffensive (read: bland), while the worst that can be said of 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is that she’s . . . Sarah Palin.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels commented last week that “the chances [of his beating Obama] would actually be quite good.” Apparently channeling some Trump-ian bombast, he added that, “The quality and the number of people who have said they’d like to be associated is really quite awesome to me.” Also awesome is the idea of someone running as a gimlet-eyed spending hawk whose previous job before governor was as George W. Bush’s budget chief. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes, “By themselves, in fact, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will account for almost half of the $20 trillion in debt that, under current policies, the nation will owe by 2019.”

Then there’s Mitt Romney, who Thursday made his highest profile attempt to explain why the healthcare law he passed while governor of Massachusetts, with an individual mandate, is good, but the national-level version of it, signed by Barack Obama, is bad. Romney’s dilemma: He can’t embrace the individual mandate because conservatives don’t like it any more at the state level than they do at the federal one. But he also can’t repudiate it lest he feed the political chameleon image that led the Democratic National Committee to tout “Mitt Romney, Version 5.0.”

The most damning illustration of the state of the GOP field may have come in a Politico report noting that virtually the only issue the contenders agree on is that “Sharia law is a continuing threat to the United States.”

One can’t help but look forward to the GOP nominee explaining that urgent threat in a general election debate while standing next to the president who got bin Laden.

By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, May 16, 2011

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Birthers, Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Exploratory Presidential Committees, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Independents, Journalists, Media, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Politics, President Obama, Press, Pundits, Racism, Republicans, Right Wing, Swing Voters, Tea Party, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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