"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“What Are They Thinking?”: The Many (Possible) Motivations Of The GOP’s Many 2016 Candidates

The list of Republican presidential candidates seems to be getting longer by the day. On Wednesday, Rick Santorum entered the race, and on Thursday, former New York Governor George Pataki is expected to do the same. Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, now counts 18 likely contenders. And yet, only a few have much of a real chance of winning: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio lead the pack, followed by Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.

So why, if you’re Pataki, run at all?

“Pataki—I’m puzzled about this,” Sabato told the New Yorker last month. “I don’t even know what he’s been doing. Has he been on corporate boards?”

Indeed, Pataki hasn’t held office since 2006, and he declined to run for president in the past two cycles. But a number of other 2016 entrants are equally puzzling: Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO, who has never held public office; Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and Tea Party favorite; Mike Huckabee, the ex-Arkansas governor. Even Donald Trump is threatening to run.

Why run as a dead-in-the-water candidate? Maybe God tapped them to run (“I feel fingers,” said Carson). Maybe they want to influence the public policy debate. Maybe they want to return to the spotlight. Or maybe they genuinely believe they can win. After all, in 2012, five different candidates held the lead at some point, including pizza mogul Herman Cain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Mitt Romney won, as expected, but for a while there—especially after Santorum’s early wins in Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri—2012 looked like it could be anyone’s election.

But there are other motivations, too. As four-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader recently explained: “You can fatten your mailing list and your Rolodex for future opportunities. These can include lucrative jobs, retainers, paid speeches or book advances.” Other potential motivatations include selling books, booking speaking gigs, getting a coveted appointment, or just getting an old-fashioned ego boost.

Pataki, for instance, is on a few corporate boards, like the environmental consulting firm he formed called the Pataki-Cahill group, and serves as a counsel for the law firm Chadbourne in New York. He’s represented by the Greater Talent Network. In 1998, Pataki ran into trouble for collecting $17,000 per speech while in office, but it’s not clear that he’s given any recent paid speeches: Speakerpedia, which has multiple speech reports for all of the candidates below, has zero for Pataki.

After 2012, Santorum created a movie production company, EchoLight, which produces Christian films featuring the likes of Corbin Bernsen and Brian Dennehy. Last year, Santorum released Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America That Works, a campaign manifesto masquerading as a book. On top of that, he had $455,000 in 2012 campaign debts as of March. To pay the bills, he rented out his list of supporters for a total $37,000 this year, according to the Center for Public Integrity. He also gets paid up to $25,000 per speech, according to Speakerpedia.

Huckabee knows this tactic well. He’s rented his email list of supporters to a group that claimed to have found the cure to cancer in a verse of the Bible. His last bid for president in 2008 paid off well, earning him his own show on Fox News that he ended this year. Speakerpedia says he makes as much as $50,000 per speech.

Carly Fiorina, whose 2010 Senate bid failed, is a popular speaker as well; she’s represented by the Celebrity Speakers Bureau and reportedly can top $100,000 per speech. Her latest book, Rising to the Challenge, came out the same week in May that she announced her candidacy. Many believe Fiorina is vying to be the vice presidential pick (she’s a long shot for that, too), which she denies.

Ben Carson has no less than six books to hawk, the most recent of which, One Nation: What We Can All Do to Succeed, came out in 2014. And according to National Review, “the possible Republican candidate’s schedule includes paid speaking engagements running into the autumn of 2015 — many months after he’s expected to declare his official candidacy.” Those engagements may pay as much as $50,000 each.

As for Donald Trump—well, maybe he just wants a few million more Twitter followers to troll.


By: Rebecca Leber, The New Republican, May 28, 2015

May 31, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates, Rick Santorum | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Run Away As Fast As You Can!”: Ralph Nader Wants Liberals To Back Rand Paul. Don’t Do It.

This week, Ralph Nader returned to the political stage with a new book, Unstoppable, whose triumphant subtitle is The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. To kick off his publicity tour, he has argued that liberals should “definitely” impeach President Barack Obama, abandon the “international militarist” Hillary Clinton, and instead embrace Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) as a possible leader of his dream coalition.

To what end? In the book, Nader writes that by marrying the Left with the libertarian Right, we can cut off government support for corporations and have “honest government,” “fair taxation,” and “more opportunity.” Nader sees relatively low-hanging fruit in opposing “sovereignty-shredding global trade agreements, Wall Street bailouts, the overweening expansion of Federal Reserve power, and the serious intrusions of the USA PATRIOT Act against freedom and privacy.” He also articulates loftier, if not fully fleshed out, aspirations to “push for environmentalism,” “reform health care,” and “control more of the commons that we already own.”

Some liberal commentators, like Esquire‘s Charles Pierce and the American Prospect‘s Scott Lemieux, are dismissing Nader’s vision as fantastical, since the Right will never join his progressive crusade. But Nader’s vision should not be dismissed so quickly. He leads his book with concrete examples from the 1980s of when he put Left-Right coalitions together to stop an over-budget nuclear reactor project and to pass legislation to protect whistleblowers who uncover wasteful government fraud.

More recently, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), and then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) joined forces to pass legislation auditing the Federal Reserve. Nader is correct that there are opportunities to build ideologically diverse coalitions and that coalition building is the key to getting most anything you want out of politics.

However, coalition building requires compromise and, most critically, prioritizing one set of issues over another. The trade-offs inherent in Nader’s path into Rand Paul’s arms should make liberals run screaming.

The Nader strategy of a permanent coalition with the libertarian Right greatly limits what liberals can accomplish. Where there is a joint desire to restrain government (end the drug war) and limit spending (stop corporate welfare), a Nader-Paul alliance can form. But you can forget about anything that involves new government regulation, higher taxes, and more spending. That would preclude big-ticket liberal priorities like capping carbon emissions, expanding anti-poverty programs, guaranteeing universal preschool, and investing in infrastructure.

Nader effectively deprioritizes those goals, because his primary agenda is to “Dismantle the Corporate State.” But the hard truth is that if liberals want to make progress on their core agenda, the coalition to nurture is not with the Paulistas. It’s with the CEOs.

The little-talked-about secret of most major liberal accomplishments over the past 80 years is that they received some degree of corporate support, at least enough to disempower conservative opposition. This is true for much of FDR’s New Deal, LBJ’s anti-poverty legislation, and environmental regulation, as well as Obama’s stimulus, repeal of the Bush tax cuts, Wall Street regulation, and health-care reform.

As I observed in the New York Times following the Supreme Court’s upholding of ObamaCare, “When corporations are divided or mollified, reformers can breathe. The president can be heard. Business owners can be convinced that they will remain profitable. The dim prospect of perpetual gridlock can be trumped by the allure of regulatory certainty.”

Nader wants to scrap this long, if quiet, history of liberal success that has built the pillars of modern activist government in favor of prioritizing a civil libertarian agenda. His strategy makes sense if you think smashing the NSA is more important than saving the climate or feeding the hungry. I suspect most liberals would not make that trade.

There’s nothing wrong with forging temporary, limited partnerships with whoever is willing to play ball at that moment. You can work with libertarians against corporations on global trade today, and cooperate with corporations against libertarians on funding infrastructure tomorrow.

But Nader’s vision goes beyond ad-hoc coalitions. He wants to permanently side with government-hating libertarians over government-accepting corporations. That may have superficial appeal to liberals currently agitated over income inequality, but it’s not the strategy that helped liberals in the past century build the social safety net, reduce poverty, and avoid another a Great Depression.


By: Bill Scher, The Week, May 2, 2014

May 3, 2014 Posted by | Liberals, Libertarians, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: