Archive for Monday, May 16, 2011

GOP still seeking strong candidate

May 16, 2011


— Stand in the center of this famous old town and look to the north. There’s Mount Washington with its early-May mantle of white clinging to the ravines. Look to the east and there’s Mount Cranmore, the storied ski hill still with traces of snow. All about there is the feeling that the transition to the new season hasn’t quite arrived.

So it is with the political season that is beginning in this state, for six decades the site of the first presidential primary. The struggle for the Republican presidential nomination hasn’t really begun. Indeed the field, like so many of the old farms along the rural byways, seems almost empty right now.

In other years when the political field seemed incomplete, there was a giant on the sidelines, contemplating his options. One time it was California Gov. Pete Wilson, another it was Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson. Both Republicans were duds once real campaigning began in North Country towns like this and in the cities and suburbs to the south. Once it was New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo. In the end, a plane destined for Concord, N.H., to file campaign papers never took off, and so the Cuomo campaign didn’t take off either.

This time is different. There is no giant abroad in the land, weighing a campaign, consulting pollsters and fundraisers about his prospects. The main figure in that position isn’t a giant at all, but a diminutive man with an iron will and a gold-plated resume, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, whose prospects shot up when a truly large figure, the husky Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, stepped aside.

There’s another reason this time is different. It’s the utterly changed landscape since the slaying of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in a Pakistan mansion where he hid in plain sight. Now President Barack Obama seems like a giant killer, in part because he ordered the killing of a giant figure — perhaps the biggest so far of the 21st century.

Where once the president seemed weak, indecisive, even lacking in audacity — I wrote these things myself only some weeks ago — now he seems strong, decisive, audacious. Where once he seemed overwhelmed by the problems that came to his in-box, he now seems confident and efficient in dealing with them and perhaps even ready to begin some new initiatives of his own.

There has been no more dramatic a transformation of an American president in decades. Ones that come close include Gerald R. Ford’s pardon of Richard M. Nixon, which worked to his disadvantage in the polls but not in history; Nixon’s trips to China and Soviet Russia, which worked to his advantage both in the polls and in history; and Harry Truman’s firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, which now is regarded as having re-established one of the bedrock principles of American civic life.

The other major effect of the bin Laden killing is to diminish some of the peripheral figures on Republican lists, especially businessman and television figure Donald Trump, who was transformed from caricature to cartoon in a few hours’ time.

I have argued in this space that the eventual challenger to Obama will rise in stature and in prospects merely by possessing the Republican presidential nomination. I still believe that. But Joel Goldfield, the St. Louis University political scientist, maintains that major party candidates who win their nominations against a weak or depleted field may be inherently weaker in general elections than those who prevail over a stronger field.

The best example: John F. Kennedy was able to defeat Richard M. Nixon in 1960 in part because he defeated a formidable group of opponents, including Hubert H. Humphrey, Lyndon B. Johnson and Stuart Symington. The same was true of Ronald Reagan, whose 1980 campaign against Jimmy Carter was enhanced because he was able to defeat such rivals as Senate Minority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr., former director of central intelligence George H.W. Bush, former Treasury Secretary John Connally and former GOP vice presidential nominee Bob Dole.

“A strong field greatly helps the candidate who ultimately gets the nomination,” says Scott Reed, who managed Dole’s later campaign, when he won the 1996 GOP nomination only to be defeated by President Bill Clinton. “It makes him or her more substantive, more knowledgeable and more capable in the general-election fight. It really helps to be tested in the primary and caucus season. It’s a great warm-up for the general election — and it’s one of the few big advantages you can’t buy.”

True — as long as the fight isn’t vicious and long, in which case, as James A. Johnson, who managed Walter F. Mondale’s 1984 campaign, argues, “The strong field emphasizes everybody’s weakness, because a strong field is about differentiation.”

Still, the Republicans seem to be seeking the presence of someone else. This new figure — and his or her identity still seems unknown — would have plenty to run on, the bin Laden episode notwithstanding.

The public is frantic about gasoline prices, which are in the $4-per-gallon range. The success against al-Qaida hasn’t brought any sense of bipartisanship to Capitol Hill, nor any realistic prospect of attacking a deficit that seems incomprehensible and a set of entitlements that seem insupportable.

So while the president isn’t home free yet, the Republican search continues.

Republicans control 29 of the nation’s governors’ offices, but none besides Daniels is widely known. The situation is the same in the Senate, where Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida are perhaps the most appealing names, but Rubio has stepped aside and Dr. Paul’s father already is running. So for now — perhaps for a while — the GOP wait continues.

— David Shribman is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

Obama's "bounce" in the polls has all but disappeared, the unemployment rate is still 9.4%, the underemployment rate is 19.4% and the housing market continues to receive bad news on almost a daily basis. A good Republican candidate could knock Obama off the map, but one still has yet to be found.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago

If the policies Republicans support are implemented, the unemployment rate will rise.

And the housing market is trashed for the foreseeable future, thanks to the collapse of the bubble that was created by policies put in place by Republicans.

So if you merely want to be partisan, at least be honest about it, and don't pretend that electing Republicans will do anything but exacerbate all the problems we currently have (unless, of course, you're a millionaire or greater.)

cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

Bozo, the statistics I cited don't lie. Obama and his uber-liberal pals have had 2 1/3 years to do something about an economy devastated by government involvement in the first place, and our unemployment rate is still 1.4 percent higher than the 8% ceiling that Obama himself assured us would never be exceeded. No one in his or her right mind would want to entrust our economy any further to liberal Democrats and their ridiculous spending addictions. I fervently hope we can make it through the balance of Obama's term with at least the semblance of an economy intact, and that thereafter those who favor real job creation through free enterprise will be elected. If the voting populace is at all perceptive, they will be.

mloburgio 6 years, 11 months ago

cato you have such a short memory, we would not be in this mess if not for gw bush. you have to give credit where credits due cato. How George Bush Destroyed The U.S. Economy

...And The Congress That Let Him

September 27. 2007

Record Number Of Citizens Lose Their Homes To Foreclosure

This year a record 3 MILLION Americans have lost their homes, breeding the worst mortgage crisis in U.S. history that George Bush does not have the mental capacity to fix.

Said mortgage crisis has caused foreign banks with a culminated trillions in assets to pull out of American financial institutions, freeze assets abroad and adopt a, "We're not lending you anymore money until we see where this crisis is going" attitude. U.S. Dollar Declines Banking Industry Allowed To Gouge And Swindle Citizens Terrible Economic Ripple Effect Higher Cost Of Living Bad Credit Industries In Trouble Home Builders Going Under Furniture Stores In Financial Straits Farmers Unemployment Bush Administration Accused Of Rigging Big Tobacco Verdicts Enron ThBad Financial Ideas Senate agrees to raise U.S. credit limit Not to mention two unfunded wars Unfunded medicare d. And i can go on and on with more truth about bush. Bush quote, " i screwed everything up, but thanks for blaming the black guy"

cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

The subprime crisis was caused primarily by far too liberal lending policies pushed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and enabled by a number of congressional politicians on the take from those agencies. In fact, the Bush administration tried on multiple occasions to rein in those policies, which were shot down by members of both parties, mostly liberal Democrats.

Before posting sophomoric drivel such as you've just done, you might want to read up on who got the most money from Freddie and Fannie over a 20-year period predating the bubble. You'll find that Barack Obama, even thought he served in the Senate for only two years out of those, is third on the list.

The key congressional architects of the crisis were Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank, both of whom may still someday receive the punishment they deserve for what they did.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

The recent investigation into the causes of the meltdown has concluded that you are incorrect, and that Fannie and Freddie, while contributing to the problem, were not the major causes of it.

Even Republicans involved with the investigation think the above.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

The major causes as I recall were lack of adequate government regulation and oversight, combined with private sector fraud and greed.

There were a number of entities that operated much as banks do, but were not regulated as banks.

Credit rating agencies, paid by the issuers of securities, rated highly risky investments with high ratings.

Private mortgage brokers made loans that they knew the borrowers couldn't afford to pay back, bundled, securitized and sold the bundles on the secondary market (made possible by the fraudulent ratings mentioned above).

Is that enough substance?

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

I'm sorry - it was a while back.

But, I'll bet you could easily google something like "investigation into the financial crisis" and find the information.

I saw some congressional testimony personally about the credit rating agencies as well.

The fact that issuers of securities paid them is an obvious and problematic conflict of interest.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

But for Fannie and Freddie's involvement, the subprime crisis never would have happened. It was the gasoline that powered the car. Without Fannie and Freddie, no crisis. It's called "but for" causation. Perhaps you should read up on that.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

As I said, the recent investigation doesn't conclude that you are correct.

They are understood to be contributing factors, but the major causes are other things, like the ones I mentioned.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 11 months ago

No mention of people buying homes they could not afford. No mention of people using the equity in their homes as a personal piggy bank, using the equity on the false assumption that home values would continue to rise forever.
The reason for the housing crash was that both institutional lenders and homeowners were greedy.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

Yes - homeowner stupidity and greed were also factors.

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

Fan & Fred were not the cause of any crisis. They were late to the disaster and basically followed private--largely unregulated--lenders off the cliff in a misguided attempt to "catch up" and avoid loss of market share.

Over-investment in real estate was a global phenomena largely fueled by cheap and abundant credit, and intensified in the U.S. by a lack of regulation of private markets and a bipartisan desire to feed a cultural phenomena of obsessing over "homes" and a desperate middle class attempt to make up for stagnant incomes in a consumption-focused society.

Speaking of sophomoric drivel is psychological projection on your part. The quasi-governmental nature of Fred & Fan was a structure pushed by the right-wing who couldn't stand the idea of pure gov't agencies involved in private markets. The left would have gladly had pure gov't banks in lieu of these share-issuing, stock-trading, bonus-paying quasi-private enterprises. The only potential area of agreement between my reality-based world and your ideological fantasy is that mixing private and public characteristics in an organization inevitably will result in the worst characteristics of both reigning supreme.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

"Over-investment in real estate was a global phenomena (sic) largely fueled by cheap and abundant credit...."

Where did the credit come from, genius?

Thanks for making my case.

gudpoynt 6 years, 11 months ago


Two Internet forum posters suffered minor head injuries when colliding with reality on Monday.

Corey Williams 6 years, 11 months ago

It came from banks offering too much money to the wrong people. Case in point, I personally know someone in Lawrence who was approved for a $150,000 mortgage while their annual salary was around $25,000. Fortunately, she was smart enough to know that the amount was too much. How many other people, when offered the same deal, said, "I can't afford it." How many people realized that the minimal monthly payment requested to pay off their mortgage didn't include PMI and various taxes and fees? How many ads did you see where the byline promised that you could buy a $200,000 house for less than you were paying in rent? That's what caused it.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 11 months ago

The power of the incumbency has always been strong and should be again. I'd put he chances of a Republican beating Obama at no more than 10%.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 11 months ago

I don't know if our society can handle Phase II of a Republican style economic stimulus of gutting social programs and slashing taxes.

It seems like this is the foundation of their political ideology wrapped in moral platitudes.

Looking at the damage that Bush did I worry about the future.

Corey Williams 6 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, I guess that giving the speech at the 2004 democratic national convention did nothing for his notoriety. That and winning a seat vacated by a republican who had to leave because of the nasty divorce he went through.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 11 months ago

The problem with the Republicans is not a lack of Pizazz or personality as in the so called stiffness of Romney. The problem is that their political ideology is out of touch with reality, their rhetoric is not reasonable or rational and their political stars look more like cartoon characters than real people.

Everybody knows that all they want to do is get rid of taxes and social programs by demonizing social safety nets and praising tax cuts as the absolute way to fix everything.

When I see people on Fox news, oftentimes, young highly educated people, saying that tax cuts increase revenue then I know I am listening to people who are brainwashed.

Here is the skinny on tax cuts according to FactCheck.

somedude20 6 years, 11 months ago

No no, you guys have great candidates already! Gingrich, Palin,Trump, Paul (yes he is), Santorum (he is a good one) and Bachmann. With that cast of characters even Rupaul would stand of beating them. Caribou Barbie will bring you the change you want!!!!! Maybe Newt and Caribou could cheat on their partners with each other and form the perfect ticket

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago

I might be inclined to vote for him merely because it would shake things up. But if he successfully implemented his desired economic/social policies, as the ruling elite rush to fully consolidate their complete control and ownership of everything worth owning, I'm afraid that the at least 150 million people that would be thrown under the bus might not choose to stand peacefully by. It'd be either a total civil war, a mass extermination, or both.

Not that he stands a chance of getting elected.

wtfusa 6 years, 11 months ago

You know, free markets do exceptionally well when the Federal Reserve isn't picking the winners and losers. The problem lies with the fact that the Fed is allowed to print money out of nowhere and give it to banks and the massive corporations they own that then are allowed to buy up the competition and ruin it.

When you say that Paul has no chance of getting elected, you are buying into the crap that Fox News likes to feed to naive people. Plus, this republican field is so silly and completely fragmented, Paul is going to have an easy time if pull 30% of the vote in Iowa and New Hampshire.

tolawdjk 6 years, 11 months ago

I still can't believe Gingrich threw Ryan under the bus like he did. I don't think I have ever seen a launch and self torpedo happen any faster.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 11 months ago

The problem with the GOP is that their base is so extreme that any candidate that appeals to that base looks like a joke to the majority of Americans.

At the same time, GOP candidates that might have wide appeal would never win in a primary dominated by the extreme GOP base.

It will be interesting to witness the uncomfortable double speak flip-flopping as the GOP try to balance these two factors.

Kirk Larson 6 years, 11 months ago

Talk about a partisan rant. In February of 2009, $158 billion had been awarded of which $36 billion had been doled out. Also, a lot of projects that had been held up by the States because of lack of funding got started up in anticipation of receiving Federal funds. You need to get off the talking points and back on your meds...which will be more easily available to you when the Affordable Care Act kicks in. Blamestream Media...that's cute. Did you think that up all by your little self?

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

Well, we'll see.

I wonder how they'll defend the federal government using the ICC to prosecute folks growing marijuana for their own use in states that allow it, if they find the health care bill unconstitutional.

Those both rely on a broad interpretation of the ICC.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

The justification used by the federal government is the ICC - a broad (overly broad, some might say) interpretation of it.

I meant the SC - if they declare the health care bill over-reaching, to be consistent, they'd have to declare the marijuana prosecutions over-reaching as well.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

They use the argument that somebody growing marijuana for their own use has some sort of effect on interstate commerce.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

Yes - I agree.

But that's the justification the federal government uses for prosecuting folks who grow marijuana for their own use in states that allow it. This is actually happening.

If you look it up, you'll find a case, and I believe a SC decision - something like Rausch was the name.

The point is that both scenarios involve a very broad (and possibly too broad) interpretation of the ICC.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 11 months ago

Oh, you mean spin like winding down the war in Iraq, strengthening the war in Afghanistan, preventing complete financial and economic meltdown in the US and world, saving American industry and the jobs it creates, passing health care reform to cover all Americans and eliminating pre existing condition exemptions, AND killing Osama Bin Laden.

Yeah, he is going to have a tough time...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago

So is your point that Bush deserves neither credit nor blame for anything?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 11 months ago

I'd certainly say that all presidents deserve far less blame and far less credit for the bad and the good. I'd say that across the board. Yes.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

"But for" any number of things, the mess wouldn't have happened.

But for greed and stupidity,... But for credit rating agencies being paid by issuers of securities,... But for the ability to bundle, securitize, and sell sub-prime backed mortgage securities,... But for the lack of regulation of bank-like entities,...


wtfusa 6 years, 11 months ago

Ron Paul is the best candidate for America right now. We are fighting a racist drug war that literally fills our prisons and jails with non violent offenders. We are spending trillions overseas with foreign aid and pointless invasions of countries like Libya. There is no respect of private property, and we are subjected routinely to unconstitutional searches and gropings. Lastly our current generation of retirees is focused on destroying the futures and freedoms of our youth that do not need central planning to live their lives.

Look, if Ron Paul becomes President our country is not going to get rid of all social programs and business regulations. Congress will always prevent that, but we will make a major step towards common sense governance.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 11 months ago

Ron Paul also wants to:

-eliminate the Federal Reserve. -eliminate medicare, medicaid, and social security. -eliminate public education. -eliminate jobs training. -eliminate the Departments of Education, Energy, HUD, EPA, HHS, and really almost every one, except for maybe Defense.

Ron Paul is a radical ideologue whose religion is libertarianism. He is irrational, combative, refractory to reality, and angry, like most dogmatists.

thebigspoon 6 years, 11 months ago

And out of touch with reality.

There, fixed that for you.

Corey Williams 6 years, 11 months ago

Yes, because we don't need clean water and safe food. We don't need safe products for children or adults. We definitely don't need the gubmint to at least try to make sure that we get those things. Let the free market do it's magic. Corporations will recall all their bad beef without a request from the big bad gubmint. Same with peanut butter, eggs, tomatoes, baby cribs, faulty cars, etc.

wtfusa 6 years, 11 months ago

You are extremely naive if you think he will be able to 100% eliminate those entities. Public education isn't going to disappear simply because Ron Paul wants to eliminate it, kinda like how Obama wasn't able to create single-payer healthcare.

if anything, Paul wants to see that the proper level of government handles these regulations, that is the state governments. He has also proposed COMPROMISE!? on issues like social security, he does see the need for the government to keep it's promise to retirees, but he does not want to force young people to pay into a system that they will never get a damn dime out of in the future.

Do you even know what the Dept. of Energy was created for? It was suppose to reduce the US dependence on foreign oil. LOL WTF WHOOPS.

Ron Paul really transcends the left vs right divide in our nation's politics, and it is stunning that the republican party refuses to acknowledge how powerful Ron Paul would be in a General Election. In the eyes of anyone rational, Ron Paul makes Obama look like George Bush 2.0

Paul R Getto 6 years, 11 months ago

Beck/Palin in 2012: It's a no brainer.

I think they will get stuck with Mitt, just like they did with the Senator from Arizona. Obama can win, if he runs a good campaign.

wtfusa 6 years, 11 months ago

ummm, im pretty sure neither of those two are running. nor do i believe even if they were elected that they would have a full first term before quitting.

although i do share that same worry about Romney. He looks very positioned to buy the republican nomination.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

Jeb Bush is the favorite son. He will show up late in the game to avoid scrutiny while millions upon millions in corporate special interest money are blown which BTW increases our cost of living.

Suddenly Jeb Bush will just happen to come into big time election money.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 11 months ago

What the Republicans need to do is demonstrate some character. That's what McCain did today when he spoke out against the use of torture.

Some of them might be salvaged but most belong somewhere else.

If the party begins to splinter into separate groups they might have a chance to make a fresh start and dump some baggage.

beatrice 6 years, 11 months ago

What if they just didn't run a candidate? Imagine if they put all their effort into Congress. I have no idea if would be beneficial, but it might be the best move the GOP could do right now.

Kontum1972 6 years, 11 months ago

The Fantasy is accepting applications for dancers.

tolawdjk 6 years, 11 months ago

Right now, the best republican option in the one that keeps his or her mouth shut. Gingrich is dead on delivery. I've read and reread what he said on Sunday and I just can't help but wonder what he was thinking.

And then his damage control yesterday was beyond befuddling. To blame it on gotcha media, or not enough time to fully explain an answer...the question was asked, and the words came out of his mouth. I'm not quite sure how you justify all of that.

oldbaldguy 6 years, 11 months ago

We are screwed both parties are out to retain power. They cater to their base and not the rest of us. Both are firmly in the pockets of lobbyists. Obama promised change. Anybody seen it yet? Except for the National Healthcare act, there would probably be no difference with McCain in office.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 11 months ago

At this stage, Mitt Romney is clearly the only GOP candidate who would stand a chance in the general election.

However, Rom-bama-care is a big issue for him, as is his mormon religion.

Too bad the Governator was born in Austria and not the USA.

tolawdjk 6 years, 11 months ago

Would the Governator's ten year old child of infidelity have a room at the White House?

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 11 months ago

No, because the Governator is constitutionally barred from being president.

tolawdjk 6 years, 11 months ago

Apparently I wasn't clear enough.

The point I was attempting to hint at was that he would stand a chance, even if he wasn't Austrian.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 11 months ago

The best Republican candidate is DeMint because he is so honest and sincere. But he is immature as a candidate. I think he knows it.

For DeMint it starts with his religious conviction.

I do respect this man. He may be the best of the bunch.

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