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Posts Tagged ‘Newt Gingrich’

In 1976, shortly after Jimmy Carter was elected president and the post-Watergate GOP lay in ruins, there was an episode of All in the Family in which Archie and Meathead argue over the election. Archie, of course, has the last word—and the final line of the show:

“Yeah—we’ll you’re gonna get Reagan in ’80!!!”

It was meant, of course, as a laugh line—pathetic and absurd. And—whether enhanced in the studio or not—it achieved the desired guffaws, chortles, et. al.

Well, we know how that one turned out.

I’m reminded of that episode today, as Newt Gingrich surges to the top of the GOP pack. Many of my fellow liberals in the media are crowing, rubbing their hands in glee, and all but doing a victory dance—a year early—over the prospect of corrupt, caddish Newtie going up against President Obama. Rachel Maddow—whom I love dearly—crows about it most every night. Pundit after pundit—Republicans included—dismiss Gingrich as unelectable.

Maybe they’re right. They probably are. Newt’s bubble may burst well before Iowa.

But please, Democrats, liberal and otherwise: Don’t spike the ball yet. Despite his titanic flaws, we might still get Gingrich in ’12.

I say this not only because I’m superstitious and constitutionally pessimistic—on Election Night 2008, I sat with my wife in a Barnes & Noble café until I’d learned from the barista that Obama had won Pennsylvania and Ohio, and only then raced home to watch the returns, and savor Keith Olbermann’s announcement of my candidate’s resounding victory.

I clung to this pessimism because I simply did not think this country would elect a black man named Barack Hussein Obama. This despite all the polls, despite the fact that some weeks before the election, a friend of mine who’d appeared on a show with GOP strategist Ed Rollins, had relayed to me that a disgusted Rollins had said off-camera, “It’s over.”

But even leaving aside my own neuroses, there are plenty of reasons to be very afraid. The President could be undone, Newt notwithstanding, by any number of factors, such as

  1. GOP economic sabotage continuing to work
  2. The Europe mess
  3. FOX news—and friends; yes, they were there in ’08, but the propaganda and disinformation juggernaut is larger, more virulent than ever. And remember, there was no Tea Party in 2008.
  4. The other mainstream media: They’re sloppy, lazy and terrified of being labeled “liberal.” Hence the false equivalencies, etc.
  5. Citizen’s United, which has given ALEC, Rove et. al., unlimited influence. Next time liberals bash Obama for going to a big-ticket fundraiser, keep this in mind. We’d love to get money out of politics—but for the moment, it’s very much here.
  6. Race: A recent study concluded that Obama lost 5 points because of racism. Do the math. And Newt Gingrich, an angry old white guy, is the perfect candidate to channel Caucasian hate and rage.
  7. Voter Suppression: One of the dire consequences of the 2010 elections has been the dominance of the Right Wing agenda on the state and local level. Using the ruse of near nonexistent voter fraud, there is a coordinated—and downright evil—attempt by Republicans to make it difficult for minorities, the elderly and young people to vote. Of course, this chiefly affects constituencies far more likely to vote for Barack Obama
  8. Liberal self-sabotage: I am not one of those people who says that one must never criticize the President. I disagree with many of the things he’s done. But at some point before the election, Cenk Ugyur, Bernie Sanders (my favorite Senator), Cornel West, Tavis Smiley and all those aggrieved lefty bloggers had better lighten up. Liberal disaffection and apathy may well have played a role in the 2010 debacle. That was disastrous. In 2012 it could be catastrophic. The GOP is doing enough to suppress Democratic turnout. Let’s not abet them. If Romney or Gingrich wins, you will beg for Obama on his worst day
  9. Maybe Newt isn’t so unelectable: Americans tend to have short memories, and believe in second (or third) chances. Perhaps even for someone who got kicked out of Congress, did shady deals, supports child labor, and dumped his cancer-stricken wife on her hospital bed. What Newt has going for him is the appearance of strength. Americans like that—more, perhaps, than the cringing, dissembling, waffling displays of Willard Mitt Romney.
  10. Wild cards, domestic or international

There are other hazards, of course. At bottom, I believe—much as I genuinely love Joe Biden—that the only way to ensure the President’s reelection is for him to run with Hillary Clinton. He’d take heat for having her bail him out. But I believe it would secure most every swing state.

That’s not going to happen. In my heart, I believe the President will be reelected anyway.

But in the meantime, don’t gloat over Gingrich.

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In the latest expression of voter dissatisfaction with the Republican Presidential field, Roman emperor Caligula has edged ahead of Mitt Romney for second place behind Herman Cain, according to a poll of Iowa GOP voters conducted by the Family News Service.

Caligula drew 24 percent, within two points of Cain, and two points ahead of Romney, in a sampling of 1,000 likely voters. Newt Gingrich followed with 10 percent, while Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann were tied at 7 percent. Incitatus, Caligula’s horse, polled at 2  percent, one up on Jon Huntsman.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.

Caligula’s sudden rise is somewhat surprising, given his licentiousness and Paganism– as Iowa is a state where GOP voters tend toward social conservatism. But according to Family News Service pollster Bland Blakely, “His tough stands on immigration and teachers unions, as well as his vow to repeal Obamacare  have earned him a close look.

“But above all, he’s executed a lot of people, which plays very well with the base.”

Caligula will meet with Donald Trump this coming Wednesday

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One of the most entertaining shows in American politics at the moment is the spectacle of conservative intellectuals like George Will and Charles Krauthammer, among others, desperately trying to lock Sarah Palin in the attic like the mad wife in Jane Eyre. When Republican and independent voters hit the pillow at night, these small-government sages want them fantasizing about the vast, sweeping forehead—and the considerable brain underneath—of Mitch Daniels, not SarahPac’s sophomoric smirk.

You could have called it. With the 2012 Presidential race looming, lamestream Republicans are trying with all their might to push Palin under the bus. With her approval ratings at an all-time low, they’re ganging up to finish her off. Even Roger Ailes has criticized her for that grotesquely narcissistic display of victimhood in the wake of the Tucson tragedy. You can just see them all huddling with Karl Rove, planning their lines of attack.

The reasoning is obvious: Palin is utterly unelectable. To thoughtful advocates of conservative political philosophy, she is beyond an embarrassment. And to everyone outside her aggrieved, white, fundamentalist, know-nothing base—in other words the current base of the Republican Party—she is at best a figure of fun, at worst a vicious, hate-mongering moron.  Indeed, from the moment a desperate John McCain chose Palin for the 2008 ticket, some grownups on the Right cringed. Remember when a live mike during an MSNBC commercial break caught Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy essentially saying the Palin pick had doomed the GOP?

And that was before they knew the monster McCain had loosed upon the world. Before they knew that Sarah Palin would suck the air out of all American politics to the right of Bill Clinton, and become the GOP rock star. The face of the party. And that she would become a media-enabled juggernaut, stopping at nothing to fuel her own celebrity and wealth.

Now they want desperately to put her back into the bottle.

Too late, guys. And you should know by now that the one thing NOT to do to Palin is attack her—otherwise you’ll wind up being called “impotent” and “limp” and you’ll have her in your face for a few more news cycles.

The real problem is that Palin does strike a chord with the hardcore right wing base. Today’s ABC-Washington Post poll tells the story: Nationally, Palin’s approval ratings are in a bus station toilet; among Republicans generally, she’s lost a great deal of ground; but among conservative zealots, the kind who vote in primaries, she’s stronger than ever:

“Palin has a 58 percent net favorable rating among Republicans, and a 37 percent net unfavorable rating. While that rating is still positive, it’s the worst she’s had with Republicans since she emerged on the national stage; her previous low was 63-31 percent…”

But don’t get too cocky, Mitt, Newt and T-Paw:

“Among strong Tea Party supporters, strongly favorable views of Huckabee and Palin are highest, at 45 and 42 percent, respectively; strongly favorable views of Gingrich and Romney drop off in this group to 35 and 31 percent, respectively…..” And among “Republicans who say they are “very” conservative. Palin and Huckabee (at 45 and 44 percent) again attract much higher strongly favorable ratings among strong conservatives than do Gingrich and Romney (30 and 28 percent).”

Another revealing trend in the poll is Mike Huckabee‘s continued high rating: It explains his recent descent into wingnut birtherism—obviously Huck saw a recent survey showing that 51 percent of Republicans think President Obama is foreign-born. That underscores the can’t-live-with-’em-can’t-live-without-’em dilemma that drives the conservative intelligentsia nuts: They can expound on Adam Smith and Edmund Burke and Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman all they want—Republicans need their Yahoos, their Ignoramiat. You can’t win primaries without them. Since they’re your base, you can’t compete in general elections without them, either. And yet ultimately, elections are won in the center—which recoils at extremist wingnuttery.

Of course, the whole GOP has moved sharply to the right and arguably dragged the political center with it.  There are the radical plutocrats like the Koch Brothers, who bankroll stooges like Scott Walker, John Kasich and Rick Snyder; the Teabaggers and the Christian Theocrats, groups that overlap with the Yahoo-Ignoramiat Palinistas—those aggrieved white know-nothings who revel in their reactionary ignorance while wrapping themselves in Jesus, Old Glory and the Constitution—well, at least the Second Amendment.

And don’t underestimate the racial element. Ever since the GOP pursued its “Southern Strategy” Republicans have captured the white vote, usually by healthy margins.

% Votes White Republican Democrat Other
1976 89 52 48
1980 88 56 36 8
1984 86 66 34
1988 85 60 40
1992 87 41 39 21
1996 83 46 44 9
2000 81 55 42 3
2004 77 58 41 1
2008 74 55 43

These stats are heavily skewed by the South, of course. Consider that Barack Obama won just 9 percent of the White male vote in Mississippi against 91 percent for John McCain (of course the black vote was similarly imbalanced). But John Kerry didn’t exactly tear it up, losing 18-81 against George W. Bush in Ol’ Miss.

The problem that by pandering to whites, painting the Democrats as the party that takes hard-earned money out of your pocket and gives it to drug addled “welfare queens,” suggesting President Obama is an un-American “other,” Republicans made their own bed. Those aggrieved, poor and middle –class whites were ripe for a demagogue, and Palin has more than filled the bill. They love her. Attack her, you attack them.

And then you set up one of the central themes of her victimhood politics: The Washington elites—conservative ones in this case—versus the 5-college Real American ignoramus. Them versus Us. And now Rush Limbaugh has come to Palin’s defense, which makes it worse—attack her, you attack Rush. And that’s something you just don’t do.

Palin may well not run for president in 2012.  For one thing, it would certainly entail a huge pay cut. But she’s not going anywhere.  Even if she doesn’t enter the race, she’ll continue to be a huge, air-sucking distraction, with her inane, snarky Tweets and comments, her feuds, her breathtaking ignorance.  And she will overshadow everyone in a blandly uninspiring GOP field.

So conservatives: Own Sarah Palin. She’s all yours.

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The senator formerly known as Stuart Smalley

Newt Explore notwithstanding, the 2012 Presidential campaign hasn’t officially begun, but as of late last year, President Obama seemed, to some, extremely vulnerable. Since then, however, a slowly improving economy, the President’s exemplary speech after the Tucson massacre and his pragmatic spirit of compromise—maddening as it is to his Progressive base—have edged his approval numbers toward respectability, certainly competitive with other POTUSes midway through their first terms.

There have been rocky patches—many on both sides of the spectrum have questioned Obama’s handling of the remarkable events in the Middle East. But the President has received an unexpected boost—from Republicans. The weepy John Boehner & Co. have flailed in the early months of their post-“shellacking” control of the House, concentrating on culture war issues to assuage their far-right base—eviscerating women’s reproductive rights, de-funding Planned Parenthood and public broadcasting.

Now, overreaching Teabagger Governors in the Midwest have united progressives and repulsed moderates. In the abstract, folks may think public employees should pay more for their benefits. But despite the GOP’s zealous attempts to demonize them—blaming them for fiscal problems instead of tax breaks for the wealthy and tax-dodging corporations— nobody likes to see someone’s rights taken away. And people generally do like their cops, teachers and firefighters.

Like. It’s the word you check on Facebook. And, symbolically, at the ballot box. People want to like their Presidents—after all, you have to live with them for four or eight years. Look back over the past eight decades, since electronic media brought presidential candidates into our homes: Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, W. The multi-term presidents, or those elected in their own right after filling the term of a fallen chief executive, tend to be the ones who came across as more likable than their opponents.

The obvious exception is Richard Nixon. He won a second term—but one wonders if he’d have survived Watergate if he’d been warmer and fuzzier. And one could argue over LBJ’s likability—he was the most complex of men. But in a wave of post-assassination emotion, matched against the abrasive Barry Goldwater—viewed as an extremist in those days, maybe now, not so much—he won election in his own right in an epic landslide.

Which brings us to 2012. Most polls tell us that even if they disapprove of some of his policies, Americans like Barack Obama—apart from the ones who consider him the Antichrist and despite Fox News’ efforts to paint him as a damn furriner. And that visceral response, as much as anything, could well carry him to re-election. Especially when compared to the current crop of GOP contenders:

1)   Mitt Romney. Looks like central casting for the part of a President. But he’s also been described as looking like “the guy who laid you off.” Smarmy and a congenital flip-flopper. Plus, his Romneycare millstone may knock him off in the primaries.

2)   Mike Huckabee. He’s the front-runner as of today, and once seemed cuddly and likable.  But he has bought bigtime into the “Obama as The Other” racist birther meme, lying about the President’s origins and making a complete ass of himself. Plus, no one wants a president named Huckabee.

3)   Tim Pawlenty. He can make all the action hero campaign videos he wants. But he still comes off as the kind of guy people who give wedgies give wedgies to. Especially since, after once seeming reasonably moderate,  he’s had his head so far up the Teabaggers’ butts he’s looking through their eyeballs.

4)   Newt Gingrich. One of the most strident, dislikable politicians of our lifetime. Once considered the Right’s intellectual, he has gone way off the wingnut cliff with rants about Sharia Law and other Beckian nonsense. Plus there’s his embarrassing marital history.

5)   Mitch Daniels. He actually might be the real smart guy among the GOP. But he’s uncharismatic. And too short.

6)   Ron Paul: Get out your foil hats.

7)   Michelle Bachmann: Ditto

8)   Sarah Palin. Seriously? Besides, the Presidency doesn’t pay enough.

9)   Chris Christie. He’s the Right’s Playguy of the Month, and  getting a lot of mileage and publicity out of saying he’s not running. People like his tough-guy, my way or the highway and fuck you, vibe. But for that same reason, he’ll remind the rest of the country what they don’t like about Jersey. Plus—how can I put this delicately, without offending millions of Americans struggling with weight issues—I just don’t think our image conscious electorate will vote in someone who reminds us of Big Pussy from The Sopranos.

10) Jeb Bush. He’s vastly smarter and more thoughtful than his brother. He’d win Florida and peel off Hispanic votes. I have a friend, a Democrat, who worked in his administration and found him genuinely kind. But it’s just too soon. He’ll be Hillary’s problem.

If the GOP’s sabotage pays off, and their job-and-growth-killing policies send the fragile economy reeling backward, or if Obama fucks up some huge security crisis, maybe none of this will matter. I may eat my words—political fortunes change overnight.

But if the likability factor carries its usual weight, I’m betting on Barack.

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According to ABC News, Rep. Michele Bachmann (Batshit-Minnesota) is considering a presidential run in 2012. As a liberal, I offer her my full-throated endorsement. And, to my other friends on the center-left-left, it’s another reason to abandon the “primary Obama” madness. The best thing we’d have going for us in ’12 is an improving economy and lower unemployment; the second best thing is the circus that will be the race for the GOP nomination, with candidates ranging from smarmily unlikable (Romney), to dweebishly weasely (Pawlenty), to cartoonishly detestable (Gingrich).

All of whose air would be sucked away by Sarah Palin. And in the event that SarahPac doesn’t run, the lunatic Bachmann would prove a sheer delight.

Here’s the ABC report, followed by a reprise of my Michele Bachmann’s Top 5 Batshit Moments

This from ABC

“A source close to the three-term congresswoman said Bachmann will travel to Iowa this month for multiple meetings to seek advice from political forces there and party elders close to the caucus process before coming to a final decision regarding a potential presidential run. Bachmann, a native of Waterloo, Iowa, also is set to deliver a keynote speech at an Iowans for Tax Relief PAC fundraiser Jan. 21 in Des Moines, Iowa.

“Nothing is off the table,” Bachmann chief of staff Andy Parrish told ABC News when asked whether the Iowa trip signaled Bachmann’s intent to run for president. “The congresswoman is excited about her first trip to Iowa this year.”

MICHELE BACHMANN’S TOP 5 BATSHIT MOMENTS (From November 2010)

In yesterday’s post, Damocles buried the Minnesota meshugenah midway into a list of the 5 Scariest Things About the 2010 Midterms. I did not do her proper justice, and for that I am deeply sorry. Fortunately Video # 1. below—in which she rails to CNN’s Anderson Cooper about a totally false and comically absurd internet rumor that President Obama’s India trip will occupy 1/10th of the U.S. Naval Fleet and cost taxpayers $200 million a day—reminded me that Michele Bachmann is, hands down, the scariest person in Washington (almost as scary as the 52 percent of voters in Minnesota’s 6th District who re-elected her).

The India nonsense, of course, was repeated over and over again by our friends at FOX and all throughout the wingnut media. To Anderson’s credit, he dropped CNN’s mask of dispassionate objectivity and told Michele, essentially, that she makes shit up.

1.

If you dare, here are some of Bachmann’s other greatest hits. There was:

2. THE GREAT KENYAN CENSUS CONSPIRACY

“If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps. I’m not saying that that’s what the Administration is planning to do, but I am saying that private personal information that was given to the Census Bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up, in a violation of their constitutional rights, and put the Japanese in internment camps.”

3. WITCH HUNT (RELAX, CHRISTINE)

“I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?”

4. ELECTION NIGHT 2010: “HAVE YOU BEEN HYPNOTIZED?”

Basking in the glow of her victory, Sweet Mickey Glazed Eyes spooks Chris Matthews once again

5. ALL CULTURES ARE CREATED EQUAL—NOT!

A blast from the past—Michele campaigns in 2005

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Virginia was a bellwether in 2008—President Obama’s solid victory there, the first for a Democratic candidate since Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 tsunami overwhelmed Barry Goldwater—suggested a tectonic change in the electoral map.

Two years later, Eric Cantor‘s home state has seemingly reverted to Republican form: Conservative Bob McDonnell has supplanted Dem Tim Kaine in the Governor’s Mansion, right-wingnut Ken Cuccinelli is Attorney General and, after the 2010 Midterms, the Democratic delegation to the House has been slashed in half, with the defeat of progressive Tom Perriello, Glenn Nye and Rick Boucher.

So things should look pretty bleak for Obama in 2012, right? After all, he’s alienated independents, women and the middle class, and white working class voters always hated his guts. Right?

Wrong.

It’s just one poll, but according to Public Policy Polling, Virginia’s 13 electoral votes remain solidly still in Obama’s column—this at what pundits consider the nadir of his presidency:

Says PPP’s press release:

Obama leads all four current Republican frontrunners by healthy margins, and has a positive job approval rating in the Old Dominion. PPP’s final 2008 poll of the state which nailed the actual 53-46 result, reflected an electorate in which Democrats outnumbered Republicans by five points.  This electorate,at D +1, is more evenly split, but still gives the president a 50-45 job performance mark, better than PPP has measured him almost anywhere in 2010.

Obama posts his strongest leads against Sarah Palin (52-41) and Newt Gingrich (51-40),with smaller advantages over Mike Huckabee (49-44) and Mitt Romney (48-43).   A Palin candidacy would be most welcome to the president’s team, as he leads her 53-36 with independents, a far larger margin than he sports against Gingrich (49-41), Huckabee (45-43), or Romney (a 42-42 tie).

With a putrid 35-58 favorability rating, Palin, as nationally, is the best known but least
liked overall….

‘It’s clearly far too early to write Virginia off the list of swing states for 2012, with Obama looking about as good now as he did in 2008,’ said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling.”

Yes, it is early. But this period could well be the high point for Republicans—who will inevitably disappoint, once voters see that underneath all their rhetoric, there’s no “there” there.

Pundits have written off Barack Obama before—at their peril.

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