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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Palin’

Well, the “lamestream media” are at it again. While channel-surfing today, I caught the “CNN Political Ticker” and wouldn’t you know it, the first item on the list was Sarah Palin‘s Narcissipalooza Bus Tour of the Northeast, where she will likely encounter hostile crowds but, more to the point, hordes of, well, lamestream media. You know, the ones Palin trashes—and whose attention she so ravenously seeks.

I have never seen this mystical charisma Palin is supposed to have. Aside from the fact that she’s a know-nothing hate-monger, she delivers her inane babble in a strident screech that assaults the senses. Of course, the real reason the lamestreamers cover her so reflexively and religiously is that Palin is a perpetual trainwreck, with every earth-shatteringly stupid run-on sentence, every manufactured slight and drama. She’s a “mean girl,” an amoral, petulant, vindictive, self-absorbed adolescent—and these days that’s media gold.

In any event, after the Palin item, CNN’s ticker went on to tell us something or other about Mitt Romney going to New Hampshire. Or maybe it was Iowa–he’s a pathological flip-flopper, after all. Someone who was still listening might set me straight. The point is, that Palin, who has not declared her candidacy for anything, got top billing, while the Mittster got sloppy seconds.

Now, Lawrence O’Donnell and other sharp political minds have pointed out that the odds that Sarah Palin actually will run for President are next to nil. Beyond her base—the extremist Ignoramiat—her approval numbers (especially post-“blood libel”) are in the outhouse. What’s more, holding high public office would mean she’d actually have to learn something and, worse still, do some work. Gone would be the professional celebrity, the reality show, the obscene speaking fees.

But, as Lawrence also reminded us, as long as Palin pretends to maybe possibly kinda sorta run for POTUS—or something—she’ll continue to command the notice she so desperately craves, as well as the big bucks. It had to be killing SarahPac to see Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and the actual GOP Presidential hopefuls—Newt, Mitt, T-Paw and Palin’s stunt-double, Michele Bachmann— hoover up all that press coverage in recent weeks. Not to mention President Obama, that anti-American pal of terrorists who—what was it again? Oh, right, he killed Osama bin Laden. It got so bad that Newsweek actually ran a story titled “Is Sarah Palin Over?”

Well, electorally, she was done long ago. But as a celebrity, not so much. And now, Sarah Palin is back, with not only the bus tour, but a self-produced “documentary” on—what else?—Sarah Palin. And right now, that’s driving the rest of the GOP hopefuls—and strategic geniuses like Karl Rove—as batshit as Bachmann.

I used to beg my journalistic colleagues to ignore Palin; and, yes, I was enjoying her absence. But even as my soul cringes at her return, the Democrat in me welcomes it with open arms, knowing that Mitt, T-Paw and whoever else are pulling out tufts of hair and grinding their teeth to nubs, as SarahPac’s greedy fame-whoring overshadows their efforts to capture press and public interest. The more Palin makes herself the face of the GOP, the better.

Along with Paul Ryan and that rogue’s gallery of Republican swing-state governors—Rick Scott, Scott Walker, John Kasich and Rick Snyder—Sarah Palin is one of Barack Obama’s greatest assets.

So, Sarah, reload, hit the road and babble on….

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Now that—remarkably, and yet perhaps inevitably—The Donald has inserted himself into the GOP debate reality series, I thought it might be a good time to reissue this post, from the spring. Little has changed re-Trump—he’s still a crass, racist, birther who isn’t fit to shine Barack Obama’s shoes (although he and Newt Gingrich might assign an 8-year-old orphan to that task). He’s a grasping, self-promoting D-list Barnum. But the Republican presidential field, it seems, has stooped to his level and kissed his….whatever. Now, to the post:

I imagine that if one were brave enough to lift up the strange, unidentifiable creature playing the role of Donald Trump’s hair, one would find a teeming mass of worms and maggots. Or at least that’s how I imagine it, a ghoulish manifestation of all the vile, rotten, hideousness swirling about in the void of the reality TV star’s skull.

Strong words, perhaps. But they only begin to express the disgust and contempt Trump should provoke in any reasonable person. He was always a cartoonish lout, vulgarity personified, capitalism at its crassest. But in recent weeks, as he has waged a relentless smear campaign against President Barack Obama—a war of demagoguery, lies, hate and racism—this arrogantly ignorant buffoon has outdone himself. He may even have outdone Sarah Palin, an achievement more towering than any of the skyscrapers bearing his name—or, for that matter, his own deluded ego.

Trump has denigrated President Obama’s intellect, which is something like a bad karaoke singer trashing Sinatra. He has suggested that Obama only made it to Harvard and Columbia via affirmative action; he has maintained that Obama’s memoirs were ghostwritten—by Bill “Palling Around With Terrorists” Ayers, no less. And of course, Trump has jumped to the driver’s seat of the “birther” bandwagon, the wild, foil-hat conspiracy theory positing that the President of the United States is an illegal alien, and therefore illegitimate.

In short, Trump has played to the Republican base—a word that in this instance carries at least two meanings. For the hard-right core of the GOP—the Obama-era GOP—is base in the extreme, caked in philosophical fecal matter, rife with fear, paranoia, hate and, to be sure, racism.

Anyone who tells you that racism is not the driving force of birtherism—and at least an ingredient of some strains of the Tea Party movement—is lying, either to you, or to themselves. Millions of us sat in amazement when this country elected its first African-American president—until the West coast map turned blue, vaulting then-Sen. Obama over 270 electoral votes, I didn’t believe it possible, not in my lifetime. Even many of those who voted against him, I suspect, felt the nation growing up before our eyes.

But for all that “post-racialism” happy talk in late 2008, Obama’s ascendancy to the White House has unleashed a volcano of simmering race-hate, from the Confederacy and beyond. Elements of White America feel threatened, not just by African-Americans, but by Hispanic and Asian immigrants who are fast consigning Caucasians to the minority.

But the greatest affront to these angry white folks is Barack Obama. No president has received so many death threats; and those who would not kill him attack his birth. Surely the entire “birther” fiction would never have been invented were Obama white, and his “foreign” father Swiss. Nor, of course, would we have witnessed the revival of secessionism and talk of nullification.

I don’t know what Donald Trump’s racial views are. His statement to the effect that he’s always had a great relationship with “the blacks” may provide a hint. I suspect his vendetta against President Obama is motivated by some mix of greed and a lust for attention and notoriety. But regardless of his personal attitudes, Trump is causing enormous damage to this country; with his lies and rhetoric he has inflamed the worst elements of our society; through the vehicle of his celebrity he is causing the cancer of race hate to metastasize. A fringe fiction has entered public discourse, repeated and repeated, lent a whiff of legitimacy simply because—in our low-information, reality TV culture— the host of Celebrity Apprentice stamps it with his imprimatur. “Birther bills” are being fast-tracked through state legislatures. 75 percent of Iowa Republicans either believe President Obama was foreign-born—or aren’t sure.

Yes, Donald Trump is a charlatan, a clownish figure. But do not underestimate his impact. The world has dismissed ostensibly absurd demagogues before—and paid dearly for it.

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Elizabeth Taylor and Andrew Breitbart.

There. You never thought you’d live to see those two names in the same sentence, so as a public service….Seriously, my point, and I do have one, is that our culture, popular and political, has gone to some circle of hell Dante on his most Dantean day could not have imagined.

Okay, we know that. It’s a given. So, what does that have to do with Taylor and Breitbart? (I know, I’m cringing at the juxtaposition too, and so, somewhere, is Dame Elizabeth. Though one hopes she’d never even heard of Andrew Breitbart).

Well, anyway, I suppose my unlikely pairing is about substance vs. shit.

To be sure, Elizabeth Taylor (who hated the headline shorthand “Liz”) was tabloid fodder—she injected steroids into the whole celebrity gossip machine with her home-wrecking affair with Eddie Fisher and her tempestuous relationship with the brilliant and dissolute Richard Burton. Her battles with serious illness, her weight woes, all stoked what I call the Tod Browning—director of 1932’s cult classic Freaks—wing of our public discourse.

But behind the scandalous surface there was so much “there” there. Taylor was a fine actress—rent Cat On A Hot Tin Roof or Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? if you don’t believe me. She was an even finer human being—by all accounts witty, unpretentious and kind. And in the last quarter-century of her life, Taylor’s ferocious advocacy for AIDS research was beyond inspiring.

So Taylor was a celeb with chops. She possessed innate glamour, but also talent and character. A rare trifecta—and the symbol of a bygone age. Today’s pop culture has become Snookified. To be famous is to be famous for being famous. Do something crude, tasteless, and outrageous enough and you’re golden; one viral YouTube clip makes you a household name.

Which brings us to Breitbart. Leave ideology aside. Though I’m a fairly knee-jerk liberal, I’ve heard men and women far more intelligent than I (no great leap) make conservative arguments that give me pause. I’m sure William F. Buckley could turn me into a plateful of Gerber’s strained peas (no great leap). So, too, might Andrew Sullivan (with whom I agree on many points) or David Frum or David Brooks.

But Breitbart—why are ostensibly respectable outlets like CNN and HuffPo providing him with a forum for his inane bile? Like his sideshow soul mate Ann Coulter, he spews out lies and hate and utter nonsense purely for effect and attention; consider his recent assertion that the ideal presidential ticket is Allen West-Michele Bachmann or his declaration that the presidency itself—you know, the office once held by Abe Lincoln—is “beneath” Sarah Palin.

More to the point, what’s beneath her, in Breitbart’s skewed view, is the office presently held by Barack Obama—an office Palin could never in her wildest dreams attain, now that we’ve safely survived the fleeting scare of her vice-presidential candidacy. To say she’s on a higher plane than the White House—more specifically Obama—is roughly comparable to my saying, screw Newton, I’m too good for science.

Aside from his ridiculous pronouncements on 2012, Breitbart infamously perpetrated the whole Shirley Sherrod scam. Remember that one (she does—she’s suing him)? He is a hate-monger, a petty demagogue—and an insect. But with the power of the internet, insects can inflict tectonic damage. For otherwise trusted media to  amplify and legitimize his voice  is wildly irresponsible.

I suppose that as a liberal Democrat, I should embrace the Andrew Breitbarts, the Ann Coulters, the Bachmanns—even the Palins.  Anoint them the real faces of the GOP. After all, the more wing-nutty Republicans appear (calculatedly or not) the better for my party. We see this in the Midwest, where the extremism of Govs. Walker, Kasich and Snyder is reinvigorating the Democratic base—and with it, the campaigns of  previously vulnerable legislators like Sherrod Brown and Debbie Stabenow.

But despite the obvious tactical advantage of making the GOP look like a bunch of yahoos, the patriot in me recoils at the mainstreaming of Andrew Breitbart.

We can’t—and, if we believe at all in our Constitution, shouldn’t—silence him. But do we have to encourage him?

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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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Late last year, when Bristol Palin announced her intention to buy a foreclosed house in Arizona, my wife immediately turned to me and said, “that’s where her #@!&% mother’s gonna base her campaign.”

Arizona’s in the Lower 48, it’s warmer than Alaska, it begins with an A and it harbors an extreme Right Wing—and since Bristol and all the other Palins serve only to make  SarahPac richer and famouser,  my wife’s conclusion was an inescapable. Or at least it was until the Tucson massacre several weeks later left six dead and Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords gravely wounded.

Even though Jared Lee Loughner’s monstrous act seems to have had no direct connection to political rhetoric, the carnage cast a cold light on Sarah Palin, who infamously drew up a map targeting Democratic lawmakers—including Gabby Giffords—placing them in the crosshairs of a gun. Appearing on MSNBC, Giffords, who barely won reelection after a bruising campaign against a virulent Teabagger, had voiced concern about possible “consequences” of Palin’s map.

Virtually no responsible commentator directly blamed Palin for what happened that January day. But her petty, insensitive and titanically self-absorbed response—the notorious “blood libel” video and interviews that followed—eviscerated sympathy for the former half-Governor. On both sides of the aisle.

The real Palin—cold, calculating and forever the aggrieved victim—peered out through those icy eyes of hers. The cuddly Mama Malaprop of Tina Fey’s satire gave way to the hate-monger we saw inciting crowds during the 2008 campaign. It may well have ruined her political career, if not her celebrity.

You might think Sarah Palin would steer clear of AZ for awhile. But of course, that would violate all her “don’t retreat, reload” nonsense. And sure enough, Politico’s Ben Smith today cited a source who claims that Palin will, indeed, make Arizona her political base. And that if her bid for the GOP nomination fails—or she bails, or opts not to run—she might instead enter the race for retiring Republican Jon Kyl’s U.S. Senate seat.

Before her attempted assassination, Gabby Giffords, too, was reportedly considering a Senate run. Now she is slowly but steadily recovering from her wound—still wearing a helmet until her skull heals, she is by all accounts intellectually sharp, and is recovering her power of speech.

Gabby has a grueling road ahead of her, and it’s still not clear if she’ll return to her former vigor and eloquence. But some Democrats cling to a long-shot hope that the Congresswoman will recover sufficiently not just to mount a re-election campaign—but to go for that Senate seat. Again, it’s probably a pie-in-the-sky fantasy. I thought the most Gabby would manage was a dramatic appearance to nominate President Obama at the 2012 convention.

But if we suspend our disbelief just a bit, we could imagine Sarah Palin running for the office of U.S. senator from Arizona—against Gabrielle Giffords. Indeed, I can picture Palin up there in Alaska, or wherever she’s promoting herself, indulging in just such a fantasy­—a revenge fantasy, in which she turns her attack machine on the woman who had the gall to get herself shot and steal her spotlight—an actual victim.

Palin vs. Giffords? Unlikely, sure. But Sarah Palin is just tasteless and grotesquely narcissistic enough to do it.

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Apparently  New Jersey’s abrasive Gov. Chris Christie is the GOP’s new Great White Hope—in a Quinnipiac Poll released this week he edged out President Obama on a political hotness thermometer, 57 to 56.5. How hot is Christie? So hot that he elevates Ann Coulter’s body temperature above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. So hot, that he has actually nudged Sarah Palin out of the spotlight—which steams her no end, as her recent, characteristically snipey remarks about his political “courage” attest.

(Of course the two Republican rock stars have a bit of a feud going; he wisely declined to have her campaign for him in N.J., rolled his eyes when Jimmy Fallon asked him about her presidential prospects, and chided her after the “blood libel” fiasco).

Anyway, Christie’s hot, and no wonder. Matched against other GOP headliners ranging from the inane (Palin), the insane (Bachmann, Newt), the weasley (Mitt, T-Paw) and the wonky (Daniels), Christie comes off intelligent and dynamic. He’s also a loutish, bullying, goon who hates public unions and schoolteachers—which makes Right Wingers all tingly inside.

Still, despite his heat, despite Coultergeist’s pleading endorsement, Christie says emphatically that he’s not running for President in 2012. And that’s a smart move—because even though he boasted that he could beat President Obama,  it’s a good bet he wouldn’t even win his own state.

A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released today reveals that 46 percent of New Jersey voters view Christie favorably, as opposed to 44 percent who see him unfavorably. Drill down a bit, and you find that when asked to grade Christie on an A-F scale (fitting, considering his assault on teachers), 60 percent gave him a C or below, while 38 graded him B or better.

And President Obama? 57 percent of Jersey voters view him favorably, as opposed to 36 percent who see him unfavorably, a 21-point advantage. That’s in sync with a January poll by (admittedly left-leaning) PPP, which indicated that Obama would trounce Christie in a head-to-head matchup, 55-38.

Polls change with the wind, of course. Christie’s numbers were somewhat better (49-39) before his budget address two weeks ago. But remember, he’s being rated as a relatively new governor, not presidential timber.

I suspect Christie’s momentary “hotness” is a consequence of Palin fatigue and the weakness of the GOP field. As with Palin, his popularity is personality-driven—he actually has one, compared with most of the other POTUS wannabes. But his swaggering Jersey thug act will wear very thin, very fast—in Jersey, it already has.

(BTW, if you’re scoring, only one President has ever lost the state of his own birth and residence—James Knox Polk of Tennessee. The good news for Christie? One previous New Jersey governor, Woodrow Wilson (who won his native Va.), lost the Garden State and won the White House. So there is an historical precedent)

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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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