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The Missing “Leveling Experience”: Dull Mitt Romney Needs A “Groping” Scandal

Republican front-runner Mitt Romney is so dull that  he could benefit from an eye-popping scandal because it would help tear  down his plastic image and make him look more normal, according to  national pollster John Zogby.

“This is the one instance  where a groping incident could help a candidate,” said Zogby, in a  reference to the scandal that torpedoed former GOP candidate Herman  Cain’s campaign.

He said it could be the missing “leveling  experience” for Romney that would make him look more human. Zogby  explained that many stiff, rich men have run for office and won, but  they typically had a humbling moment that made them more likeable. He  gave former President George W. Bush’s alcoholism as an example of that  leveling experience.

“His problem is an authenticity  problem,” said Zogby of Romney, who today released his New Hampshire  tracking poll that has Romney far in front. “He’s the kid who never  colored outside the lines,” said the pollster.

Zogby said  Romney needs to find a way to connect with an unethusiastic party that  wants to vote with its brain and heart. But, he warned, he shouldn’t try  to do that with a policy speech or new position. “Likability,” he said,  “is a lot more than an issue.”

He echoed charges from  competing campaigns and President   Obama’s advisor David Axelrod that Romney’s 25 percent finish in  the Iowa caucuses was an example of how he’s failed to expand his  personal base of voters from the amount he received in the 2008  caucuses.

Romney, Zogby said, spent “a lot of time, money  and energy to get where he was already.”


By: Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, January 5, 2012

January 6, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Year’s Resolutions: New Rules For The New Year

NEW YEAR’S resolutions are the original New Rules. Except that resolutions are usually self-oriented: I am going to lose weight this year. My New Year’s resolution, by the way, is to do the ones from ’75; I made a lot of good ones that year. I was 19, and thought I could polish them off by age 20. Alas, I’m a little behind.

Also, New Rules are bigger, broader and grander. I don’t tell you what I’m going to eat; I tell you how the world should work. Here’s what 2011 prompts me to decree for 2012:

New Rule Now that we have no money, and all our soldiers have come home from Iraq and they’ve all got experience building infrastructure, and no jobs … we must immediately solve all of our problems by declaring war on the United States.

New Rule If you were a Republican in 2011, and you liked Donald Trump, and then you liked Michele Bachmann, and then you liked Rick Perry, and then you liked Herman Cain, and then you liked Newt Gingrich … you can still hate Mitt Romney, but you can’t say it’s because he’s always changing his mind.

New Rule Starting next year, any politician caught in a scandal can’t go before the press, offer a lame excuse and then say, “Period. End of Story.” Here’s how you indicate a “period” and the end of a story: shut up.

New Rule The press must stop saying that each debate is “make or break” for Rick Perry and call them what they really are: “break.”

New Rule You can’t be against same-sex marriage and for Newt Gingrich. No man has ever loved another man as much as Newt Gingrich loves Newt Gingrich.

New Rule Internet headlines have to be more like newspaper headlines. That means they have to tell me something instead of just tricking me into clicking on them. If you write the headline, “She Wore That?” you have to go to your journalism school and give your degree back.

New Rule Let’s stop scheduling the presidential election in the same year as the Summer Olympics. I get so exhausted watching those robotic, emotionally stunted, artificial-looking creatures with no real lives striving to do the one thing they’re trained to do that I barely have energy left to watch the Olympics.

New Rule No more holiday-themed movies with a cast of thousands unless at least half of them get killed by a natural disaster. Fair’s fair — if I have to watch Katherine Heigl and Zac Efron as singles who can’t find love, I also get to see them swallowed up by the earth.

New Rule Jon Huntsman must get a sex change. The only way he’s going to get any press coverage is by turning into a white woman and disappearing.

New Rule Starting this year, every appliance doesn’t need a clock on it. My stove, my dishwasher, my microwave, my VCR — all have clocks on them. If I really cared that much about what time it was (or what year it was), would I still have a VCR?


By: Bi  Maher, Author of “The New Rules”, New York Times Opinion, December 30, 2011

January 1, 2012 Posted by | Politics, Public, Republicans | , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOP Presidential Candidates Totally Cynical Or Totally Clueless?: Herman Cain Was No Accident

There are two crucial things you need to understand about the current state of American politics. First, given the still dire economic situation, 2012 should be a year of Republican triumph. Second, the G.O.P. may nonetheless snatch defeat from the jaws of victory — because Herman Cain was not an accident.

Think about what it takes to be a viable Republican candidate today. You have to denounce Big Government and high taxes without alienating the older voters who were the key to G.O.P. victories last year — and who, even as they declare their hatred of government, will balk at any hint of cuts to Social Security and Medicare (death panels!).

And you also have to denounce President Obama, who enacted a Republican-designed health reform and killed Osama bin Laden, as a radical socialist who is undermining American security.

So what kind of politician can meet these basic G.O.P. requirements? There are only two ways to make the cut: to be totally cynical or to be totally clueless.

Mitt Romney embodies the first option. He’s not a stupid man; he knows perfectly well, to take a not incidental example, that the Obama health reform is identical in all important respects to the reform he himself introduced in Massachusetts — but that doesn’t stop him from denouncing the Obama plan as a vast government takeover that is nothing like what he did. He presumably knows how to read a budget, which means that he must know that defense spending has continued to rise under the current administration, but this doesn’t stop him from pledging to reverse Mr. Obama’s “massive defense cuts.”

Mr. Romney’s strategy, in short, is to pretend that he shares the ignorance and misconceptions of the Republican base. He isn’t a stupid man — but he seems to play one on TV.

Unfortunately from his point of view, however, his acting skills leave something to be desired, and his insincerity shines through. So the base still hungers for someone who really, truly believes what every candidate for the party’s nomination must pretend to believe. Yet as I said, the only way to actually believe the modern G.O.P. catechism is to be completely clueless.

And that’s why the Republican primary has taken the form it has, in which a candidate nobody likes and nobody trusts has faced a series of clueless challengers, each of whom has briefly soared before imploding under the pressure of his or her own cluelessness. Think in particular of Rick Perry, a conservative true believer who seemingly had everything it took to clinch the nomination — until he opened his mouth.

So will Newt Gingrich suffer the same fate? Not necessarily.

Many observers seem surprised that Mr. Gingrich’s, well, colorful personal history isn’t causing him more problems, but they shouldn’t be. If hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, conservatives often seem inclined to accept that tribute, voting for candidates who publicly espouse conservative moral principles whatever their personal behavior. Did I mention that David Vitter is still in the Senate?

And Mr. Gingrich has some advantages none of the previous challengers had. He is by no means the deep thinker he imagines himself to be, but he’s a glib speaker, even when he has no idea what he’s talking about. And my sense is that he’s also very good at doublethink — that even when he knows what he’s saying isn’t true, he manages to believe it while he’s saying it. So he may not implode like his predecessors.

The larger point, however, is that whoever finally gets the Republican nomination will be a deeply flawed candidate. And these flaws won’t be an accident, the result of bad luck regarding who chose to make a run this time around; the fact that the party is committed to demonstrably false beliefs means that only fakers or the befuddled can get through the selection process.

Of course, given the terrible economic picture and the tendency of voters to blame whoever holds the White House for bad times, even a deeply flawed G.O.P. nominee might very well win the presidency. But then what?

The Washington Post quotes an unnamed Republican adviser who compared what happened to Mr. Cain, when he suddenly found himself leading in the polls, to the proverbial tale of the dog who had better not catch that car he’s chasing. “Something great and awful happened, the dog caught the car. And of course, dogs don’t know how to drive cars. So he had no idea what to do with it.”

The same metaphor, it seems to me, might apply to the G.O.P. pursuit of the White House next year. If the dog actually catches the car — the actual job of running the U.S. government — it will have no idea what to do, because the realities of government in the 21st century bear no resemblance to the mythology all ambitious Republican politicians must pretend to believe. And what will happen then?

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, December 4, 2011

December 5, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What’s His Name” Romney Still Waiting For The GOP Love

Moderator Wolf Blitzer opened Tuesday’s Republican debate by introducing himself and adding, for some reason, “Yes, that’s my real name.” A few moments later, the party’s most plausible nominee for president said the following: “I’m Mitt Romney, and yes, Wolf, that’s also my first name.”

But it’s not. Mitt is the candidate’s middle name. His first name is Willard.

And people wonder why this guy has an authenticity problem?

The debate, held at Washington’s historic DAR Constitution Hall, was focused on foreign policy. The subject matter seemed to offer Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the House, the opportunity to highlight his experience and perhaps begin consolidating his sudden front-runner status. But if he expected to dance rings around the others in the minefields of international politics, he was mistaken.

Gingrich made only one mistake, but potentially it was a big one: He declined to pander on immigration. Instead of parroting the draconian party line, he stated the obvious fact that we’re not going to expel millions of illegal immigrants who have been in this country for years and become pillars of their communities.

You will recall that Rick Perry was leading in the polls when he, too, stumbled by saying reasonable things about immigration. Perry called immigration hard-liners heartless, while Gingrich encouraged the audience to be “humane.”

Romney, as usual, took the right position to appeal to Republican voters. He said Gingrich was wrong because “amnesty is a magnet” that attracts more illegal immigrants.

Ron Paul had smart and important things to say about the Patriot Act, calling the law “unpatriotic because it undermines our liberty” and arguing that “you can still provide security without sacrificing our Bill of Rights.” Gingrich, by contrast, argued that the Patriot Act might need to be strengthened. Asked which side of this debate she favored, Michele Bachmann said she was “with the American people.” I thought Gingrich and Paul were citizens, but never mind.

Bachmann then pulled the pin on one of the more nonsensical rhetorical grenades that she regularly lobs at President Obama: that he “has essentially handed over our interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU.”

The record shows that Obama does not coddle terrorist suspects with the niceties of liberal jurisprudence. Instead, he blows them to pieces with missiles fired by Predator drones. It’s possible to disagree on whether the administration’s program of targeted assassination is wise or effective, but no one can claim it’s soft.

Rick Santorum argued that we should be profiling Muslims for extra scrutiny at airports and sparing travelers who are deemed to present lower risk. Herman Cain said he favors a policy of “targeted identification” of potential terrorists, a concept so subtle that it defied Cain’s further attempts at explanation.

Romney got it right again, pledging “to protect the life, liberty and property of American citizens and defend them from foes domestic and foreign” without being specific about how this would be accomplished.

Perry had an interesting night. He stood by his promise not to send “one penny, period,” of U.S. aid to Pakistan until officials of that nation demonstrate “that they have America’s best interests in mind.” Bachmann called this position “highly naive,” pointing out that Pakistan is “too nuclear to fail.”

But Perry was undeterred. He went on to show a breathtaking lack of understanding of what’s happening in that part of the world, at one point saying that “we’ve got Afghanistan and India working in concert right now to leverage Pakistan.” That one sentence succinctly captures Pakistani officials’ deepest fear — being sandwiched by two enemies — and why they continue to support Taliban-affiliated militant groups that attack U.S. and Afghan forces.

Go home, Governor. Please.

Jon Huntsman had his best performance of the many debates held thus far, laying out a vision of U.S. foreign policy that was informed, nuanced and reflective of the real world rather than the make-believe world in which the campaign is taking place. Maybe he’ll be the next candidate to see a meteoric rise and fall in his poll numbers. Pretty soon, though, we’re going to run out of meteors.

Which leaves Romney still waiting for his party to show the love. He knows the issues. He says all the right things. So why do Republicans keep getting infatuated with these fire-breathing suitors who always, in the end, break the GOP’s heart?

Maybe voters just wonder about a guy who’s willing to tailor everything to please his audience. Even his name.

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, November 24, 2011

November 26, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Consistently Inconsistent Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney, blessed with a series of self-destructing opponents, still needs to come up with a better way to address his history of flip-flops. His current argument boils down to asking voters, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying ears?” This is not going to fly.

Romney made the jaw-dropping claim to a New Hampshire editorial board that his problem wasn’t flip-flopping — it was being insufficiently robotic. “I’ve been as consistent as human beings can be,” the former Massachusetts governor insisted. “I cannot state every single issue in exactly the same words every single time, and so there are some folks who, obviously, for various political and campaign purposes will try and find some change and draw great attention to something which looks like a change which in fact is entirely consistent.”

Pressed during the CNBC debate Wednesday night, Romney repeated his consistency argument — this time topped off with an ode to his long-lasting marriage and an attack on President Obama.

“I think people understand that I’m a man of steadiness and constancy,” he said. “I don’t think you are going to find somebody who has more of those attributes than I do. I have been married to the same woman . . . for 42 years. I have been in the same church my entire life. I worked at one company, Bain, for 25 years. . . . I think it is outrageous the Obama campaign continues to push this idea, when you have in the Obama administration the most political presidency we have seen in modern history. . . . Let me tell you this, if I’m president of the United States, I will be true to my family, to my faith, and to our country, and I will never apologize for the United States of America.”

In court, this answer would be ruled non-responsive. Romney’s ability to stick to a marriage longer than, say, Newt Gingrich or to keep a job is not what’s at issue. The question, and it’s a legitimate one for anyone who has spent even a glancing amount of time examining Romney’s record, is whether he shifts ideological position with the political winds. Fidelity to one’s marriage or one’s religion says something about a candidate’s character, but it does not deal with the flip-flop question. Neither does a jab, justified or not, at the opposition.

“I will never apologize for the United States of America” does not respond to the question: Why did you change your positions on abortion, gun control, gay rights, climate change, immigration — even on Ronald Reagan?

If I were a Republican voter legitimately worried about Romney’s ideological shape-shifting, I would be insulted by this attempt to change the subject.

Perhaps, given the weakness of the opposing candidates, Romney can still skate by. After Wednesday’s gaffe, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is nearly finished. Voters don’t want to see Mr. Oops — or Mr. Giddy in New Hampshire — negotiating with a foreign leader.

Former Godfather’s Pizza chairman Herman Cain is one data point of corroboration away from imploding. Even if nothing more emerges to bolster the substance of the sexual harassment allegations against him — and two financial settlements plus an on-the-record allegation seems too much to disbelieve — his ham-handed handling of the story is nearly disqualifying on its own.

As to the notion that former House speaker Newt Gingrich could emerge as the anti-Romney — that’s hard to imagine. Gingrich’s attack-the-media-at-the-first-opportunity strategy is not going to get him very far even with Republican primary voters. He makes Romney look like the guy you want to hang out with.

But Romney’s failure to rise in the polls even as his opponents flail suggests that the flip-flop issue isn’t going away. There’s no magic solution to this problem. You can’t give a speech on flip-flopping. But flip-flop denialism isn’t going to work — especially when it is so easy to go to the videotape.

Indeed, Romney has even flip-flopped on whether he’s flip-flopped. In New Hampshire, Romney pointed to gay rights as “one of those areas where I’ve been entirely consistent,” opposed to workplace discrimination but also against same-sex marriage. Yet appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” four years ago, Romney acknowledged changing his view on whether federal law should prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; he once supported federal protection, then said it should be a state matter.

“If you’re looking for someone who’s never changed any positions on any policies, then I’m not your guy,” Romney said then.

Except, of course, when he is.


By: Ruth Marcus, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, November 10, 2011

November 12, 2011 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Republicans | , , , | Leave a comment

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