Posts Tagged ‘Rick Perry’

Everybody Hates Mitt

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

A few weeks ago, when Chris Christie dropped out of the Republican race for President and endorsed Mitt Romney, I was going to write a post called “Republicans Fall in Line,” talking up how the Republicans, true to form, were finally falling in line behind the front runner.  Two weeks later, it’s not clear that this is not what’s happening. Despite the fact that the Republican establishment increasingly thinks Romney is the best candidate to take on Obama, the Republican electorate hasn’t got the message. And if there is a main theme of this contest it’s this one: Republican voters don’t like Mitt Romney and they’re not yet ready to fall in line behind him.

This repeating pattern has to be frustrating for Romney: challengers keep emerging, then fading away, and then, just when Romney thinks he’s gaining some momentum, someone else steps up. For the past…well, really…four years, the media and the base were focused on Sarah Palin as the likely challenger to Romney, but it became increasingly evident that she was just taking advantage of the media’s fascination with her to increase her brand image and make more money. Michele Bachmann looked like she was going to grab the mantle of “real conservative” against Romney’s moderate conservatism when she won the Iowa Straw poll, but then Republicans took a closer look at her, realized she was crazy and moved on. Perry was the next to step up, but his inability to form a coherent sentence proved an impediment to the nomination. The last domino seemed to have fallen when Chris Christie officially announced that he wasn’t running and endorsed Romney a few days later.

The next round of polling brought yet another surprise: pizza magnate Herman Cain surged ahead of Romney. Cain is an interesting candidate. He has a very impressive resume: humble beginnings, Masters Degree in Mathematics, worked for the Navy as a ballistic missile analyst,  Vice President of Pillsbury, President of Godfather’s Pizza Chain, Chairman of National Restaurant Association, Kansas City Federal Reserve President(!). After a career as a business executive and running a lobbying organization, Cain joined up with liberal boogeymen the Koch brothers in 2005 and ran their Americans for Prosperity organization, which eventually provided significant funding and organization for the Tea Party Movement.

If you haven’t been around a TV lately, Cain has been hawking his “9-9-9″ tax plan which basically abolishes the current income, corporate, social security and Medicare tax structure and replaces it with a 9% income tax, a 9% corporate tax and a 9% national sales tax. Cain never misses an opportunity to promote the plan and has been such a shameless salesman for his plan that Republican challenger John Huntsman quipped that he thought it was the price of a pizza.  

The main problem with the 9-9-9 plan is what’s actually in it. Under the original plan proposed by Herman Cain, 84% of Americans would receive a tax increase. Cain announced recent changes in his plans under which people in areas of high poverty would receive exemptions from the tax increases he is proposing for the rest of America, but this still leaves most people in the beleaguered middle class getting hit with new tax increases. To top it off, Cain provides a new revenue source for the Federal Government, which actually isn’t such a bad idea, but which Republicans see as anathema, citing the history of the income tax itself, which started as a 7% levy on the top bracket in 1913 and five years later at the height of World War I turned into a 77% tax. 

As Cain has received more media scrutiny he has begun to stumble as well. In what can perhaps best be described as a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week, Cain stumbled in a number of interviews last weekend. On Meet the Press, he struggled to explain the basic questions about the net sales tax costs people would be paying under his plan, didn’t seem to understand the term neo-con, and disavowed as “a joke” a statement he had made just the day before about putting an electrified fence at the border. Soon after, this cringeworthy interaction between John Stossel and Cain emerged, where he gives such a convoluted explanation of his position on abortion that he leaves his co-panelist open mouthed on the set next to him. I still can’t tell what Cain’s position is, but I’m pretty sure he’s pro-choice, even if he doesn’t say so officially.

On ABC’s This Week, George Will gave an answer to the question that a lot of pundits who are paying close attention to the race have asked: is Cain actually running for President or is he just trying to sell more books? Will’s response was that

we’re having a kind of Andy Warhol primary where everybody is leader for 15 minutes and Cain’s turn today but it’s not clear that Cain has staying power. He’s not running for president, sort of strolling for president without an infrastructure. It’s pretty and cute and nice but whether or not it works we can be doubtful.

In fact, political pundits have noticed that Cain seems more interested in promoting his book than in winning the Republican nomination, noting that he hasn’t been to Iowa since August while the other candidates are blanketing the state.

With apologies to Hagen Dazs Black Walnut, it is clear that Herman Cain is just the latest guy in this field to benefit from not being Mitt Romney. The only question I have is who will the flavor of next month be, Rick Santorum?

Perhaps I shouldn’t be making any predictions (I was sure it would be Hillary vs. Giuliani in 2008), but I’m pretty positive Romney gets the nomination. Republicans almost always fall in line, but if last week’s debate was any indication, this could be an ugly process for Romney. The other candidates smell blood in the water and they hammered Romney last week. Meanwhile, Perry looks dead in the water, but his campaign is sitting on $15 million at last count and he could still win some primaries, especially throughout the South where he has natural advantages. Bachmann is trying to re-caputre her former spot as most likely challenger and  Santorum, who some say landed the best shots on Romney last week, feels like it’s his turn to be the not-Romney candidate. Meanwhile, Romney has nothing but nice things to say about Cain, because he feels confident in a two way race against him. 

I thought Romney turned in another good debate performance last week, but Perry did get under his skin enough for him to come up with what may be the line of the campaign so far “I can’t have illegals working on my property…I’m running for president for Pete’s sake!”  Even if Romney continues to turn in good debate performances, an extended campaign means that he will increasingly be pulled to extreme positions as the process continues, and more contentious debates give him more chances to stumble, making him a weaker general election candidate.

Obama’s gonna need a lot more than that to win re-election, but a Republican electorate so against voting for Romney that they put Herman Cain in first place is a good start.

Fear and Pandering in Las Vegas

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011


The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
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And the winner of the Republican Presidential Debate is….

Barack Obama.

Jon Stewart breaks it down.