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Unexamined Premises

Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Great Communicator

August 30th, 2012 - 4:04 pm

All presidents have to endure the grip and grin of a White House photo-op with leaders from around the world. But couldn’t the Greatest Orator since Pericles of Athens go beyond the phoning-it-in boilerplate and at least fake sincerity? Apparently not. Let the mockery begin:


You know you’ve become a punch line when tiny, harmless Scandinavian countries like Denmark make fun of you. Wonder if the Nobel Peace Prize committee is having second thoughts. They punch above their weight, too.

So Todd Akin — against the urging of just about every Republican with an IQ higher than room temperature — has decided to stay in the race against the former sure loser, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. If Mitt Romney wants to show conservatives he has the right stuff, it’s time for the political equivalent of a Jack Woltz wake-up call.

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Akin, almost completely unknown outside the Show-Me State until a few days ago, has just thumbed his nose at Mitt, Paul Ryan, a group of former Missouri Republican senators, and most of the conservative punditocracy. If Romney — up against a Chicago machine that is equal parts Al Capone and Saul Alinsky — lets this insult go unanswered, it bodes poorly for him in the upcoming election.

Yes, yes — I know about party rules, and how helpless the national GOP is against a rogue like Akin; shades of Weepy John Boehner, whining that he’s only one half of one third of… zzzzzzzzz.  It’s as if the entire Republican Party has become the Circumlocution Office in Dickens’ Little Dorrit, dedicated to explaining why nothing can ever be done — about anything:

It is true that How not to do it was the great study and object of all public departments and professional politicians all round the Circumlocution Office. It is true that every new premier and every new government, coming in because they had upheld a certain thing as necessary to be done, were no sooner come in than they applied their utmost faculties to discovering How not to do it. It is true that from the moment when a general election was over, every returned man who had been raving on hustings because it hadn’t been done, and who had been asking the friends of the honourable gentleman in the opposite interest on pain of impeachment to tell him why it hadn’t been done, and who had been asserting that it must be done, and who had been pledging himself that it should be done, began to devise, How it was not to be done…. All this is true, but the Circumlocution Office went beyond it.

Well, this is not the time for How Not to Do It. Romney and Ryan are not stupid; they can see what a tough shot control of the Senate is going to be, even should this turn out to be an anti-Obama wave election. Thanks to the moral cowardice of Chief Justice John Roberts, which will live in infamy, repeal of Obamacare hinges on control of the Senate — and yet Akin now bids fair to join Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell as part of an unholy trio whose ineptitude cost the GOP victory in one of the most important philosophical battles of the modern era. At least he’s not a witch.

But if you’re apologizing, you’re already losing, and as Akin’s imaginary “lead” over McCaskill evaporates over the new few days, it’s going to become increasingly apparent that the War of 2012 may already have been lost at the Battle of Missouri. And for what?

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Akin Must Go

August 20th, 2012 - 12:50 pm

Listening to Rep. Todd Akin trying to defend himself on Hannity right now — and the bad news is that he’s claiming he going to stay in the race. It’s gruesome: the poor guy still thinks the furor is over his definition of “legitimate rape.” But that’s not it at all.

Akin’s sin is terminal stupidity. To take a very winnable seat in Missouri against a very weak opponent and turn it into not only a tossup but something damaging to the Romney-Ryan campaign as well is a rare feat, but Akin just managed it. To add insult to injury, it happens on the same day that Newsweek hands the Right a major media victory — and along comes the latest avatar of the Stupid Party to change the subject.

This not about “defending our own” — this is about winning. The Right spends far too much time battling the double standard; in this case, explaining why what Akin said isn’t so bad, etc. It’s a total waste of time. Every conservative should put pressure on Akin to step down immediately, remove this distraction and put a strong candidate in the race. Paging Sarah Steelman…

Try to find the Hannity podcast as soon as it’s posted, for a textbook example of how not to do media damage control.

UPDATE: Akin’s bowing to the inevitable – or is he?

Missouri Republican Todd Akin has begun moving toward ending his candidacy after his remarks on rape and abortion provoked a firestorm, a top Republican said.

“Akin is taking concrete steps to withdraw by tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.,” a senior Republican told BuzzFeed, adding that Akin could still change his mind.

But a Republican close to Akin said his position hasn’t changed: He’s still in the race.

Tomorrow afternoon is an important deadline: If he files papers to end his candidacy in Jefferson City tomorrow he can end his candidacy unilaterally; after that, he would have to file an application in court.

Possible Republican replacements, the Republican source said, include three former senators: John Ashcroft, Jim Talent, and Kit Bond.

MORE: Audio of Akin’s interview with Hannity found via Buzzfeed:

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The media has discovered that Paul Ryan has an affinity for the works of Ayn Rand. From the Daily Beast:

The chair of the House Budget Committee and this year’s Republican candidate for vice president first encountered Rand’s novels of heroic individualism and swashbuckling capitalism in adolescence. “I grew up reading Ayn Rand, and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are,” the congressman told a convention of Rand followers in 2005. Rand was “the reason I got involved in public service.” A passionate convert to her black-and-white, apocalyptic worldview, Ryan also became a missionary for her ideology. He required his congressional staff to read her novels as an introduction to real-world, free-market, and monetary theory. “We start with Atlas Shrugged,” he said in 2005. “Then we move on, and we require [Austrian economists Ludwig] von Mises and [Friedrich von] Hayek as well.”

So naturally they’re now shrieking with joy at discovering “hypocrisy” — to the Left, the most dreaded sin, although one to be found exclusively on the Right — since Ryan is a Catholic and Rand was an atheist and…

Let’s let that reliable font of Leftist received wisdom, the New York Times, have a go:

Mr. Ryan’s youthful, feverish embrace of Rand and his clumsy attempts to distance himself from her is more than the flip-flopping of an ambitious politician: it is a window into the ideological fissures at the heart of modern conservatism.

Rand’s atheism and social libertarianism have long placed her in an uneasy position in the pantheon of conservative heroes, but she has proved irresistible to those who came of age in the baby boom and after. They found her iconoclasm thrilling, and her admirers poured into Barry M. Goldwater’s doomed 1964 presidential campaign, the Libertarian Party and the Cato Institute. After her death, in 1982, it became even easier for her admirers to ignore the parts of her message they didn’t like and focus on her advocacy of unfettered capitalism and her celebration of the individual…

Yet when his embrace of Rand drew fire from Catholic leaders, Mr. Ryan reversed course with a speed that would make his running mate, Mitt Romney, proud. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he told National Review earlier this year. “Give me Thomas Aquinas.” He claimed that his austere budget was motivated by the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, which holds that issues should be handled at the most local level possible, rather than Rand’s anti-government views.

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Romney-Obama 2012

August 16th, 2012 - 3:18 am

May well end up like Baer-Carnera in 1934:

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Remember, Obama has never been in a fight that wasn’t fixed by Jake Lingle — aka David Axelrod –  and the rest of his handlers, or simply thrown by the other guy. Maybe this time, things will be different, if Romney can channel his inner Max Baer. Or Paul Ryan can do it for him.

Romney-Petraeus in 2012?

August 8th, 2012 - 7:04 pm

I see that my colleague Bridget Johnson is touting the possible front-runner status of Ohio senator Rob Portman as Romney’s vice-presidential choice. To which I say: if Mitt wants to see all the conservative air go out of his campaign balloon, the colorless Portman would be a perfect choice. Maybe win Ohio, lose the other swing states, and — given the Democrats’ lock on their electoral base of California, the Great Lakes region, New York, and New England — go down in a landslide.

Pretty much the same thing goes for nice-guy former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, another of the top tier candidates. That would be the fellow whose own presidential campaign went nowhere, and who was driven from the race early by the Swiss Miss, Michele Bachmann. (UPDATE: This Pawlenty rumor was being floated as of last night.)

At a time when the Axelrod Democrats’ scorched-earth tactics against Romney are already showing results (he’s a felon! A tax cheat!! A murderer!!!) in swing-state polls — when the Democrats are successfully defining a devout Mormon as a vampire capitalist who laughs as children starve to death — an energy deflating pick like Portman or Pawlenty would send the worst possible signal to the frustrated right, which would be faced with the choice of hustling for a ticket that does not represent its fundamental interests, or picking up its toys, wishing Mitt well, and heading home to await the inevitable.

As Mark Halperin just observed:

Given modern technology, the length and depth of preparation, and the ethos of the Obama campaign, Romney’s pick will be hit harder and faster than any selection ever.

Romney may be tempted to pick one of the colorless, competent white guys to project an above-the-fray, ready-to-govern-on-Day-One image, but there’s just one tiny little problem with that notion: he actually has to win in November before he and his veep can start governing in January. In other words, the GOP may already be preparing to fight the last war and avoiding a polarizing choice like Sarah Palin in the hopes that Obama and the media won’t eat them alive.

Big mistake.

Which brings us to the third man said to be in the running, Paul Ryan. I’m a big fan of Ryan, as you can read here and here, and indeed would have preferred to have seen him at the top of the ticket over Romney, whose weaknesses have been all too predictable, and have been exploited by the Democrats exactly as I feared. As I wrote about Ryan over at NRO:

The first is that he speaks in the cadences of a younger America; he’s like a Quentin Tarantino character come to life, minus the profanity. Obama’s manufactured persona extends down to his mannered way of speaking, with the dropped “g’s” and the use of the word “folks,” but Ryan’s hip, rapid-fire staccato is the real thing.

Second — the deal clincher — is that Ryan is not afraid of Obama. Born in 1970, Ryan’s not dragging around any sixties baggage or angst or animus; he came of age during the Reagan administration and radiates some of the Gipper’s Sunny Jim optimism. Plus, he’s already shown he can take a punch from the president, who clearly fears him

I understand that Marco Rubio and Chris Christie each have special baggage (Rubio might to be open to some reverse-birtherism, while Christie is a little too cozy with some Islamists for comfort), but — given the reality that Halperin articulated above, what difference does it make? If Axelrod, whose unsavory background and associations are far worse than anything on the Republican side, can turn Mitt into Satan, a little baggage is not going to make a hell of a lot of difference — especially when Obama’s own considerable baggage remains tantalizingly unexamined. Either of them would be better than Portman — who’s far more useful in the Senate than he would be as veep — or Pawlenty.

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As we close in on Election Day, everyone’s naturally fixated on the Obama-Romney race. But if I were the Democrats, I’d be radiating the calm confidence of  (in Mark Twain’s famous phrase) “a Christian holding four aces.” Because as much as Obama hates Romney and loves the golfing and partying aspect of being president, the truth is that many Democrats won’t be sorry to see him go. Obama’s ineptitude and his manifest hostility toward the country he nominally leads are embarrassing to many donks, and the increasing likelihood that he will turn out to be a one-term wonder like the first (and so far, only) black mayor of New York, David Dinkins, is causing them to start looking beyond 2012.

The way we were, 1990: 2,245 homicides

You remember Dinkins — he defeated Rudy Giuliani in their first head-to-head match-up in 1989, then lost in 1993 after the Crown Heights riot and other disasters finally brought the citizens to their senses and, holding their noses, they called the cops and elected a law-and-order Republican in place of a liberal Democrat.

I recall asking my editor at Time whom she was voting for in the mayoral election of 1989 and she said Dinkins because, in her words, “it’s time for a black mayor.” A lot of Americans probably felt the same way about Obama in 2008, but it seems clear from the polls that considerably fewer do today; the point was made in Obama’s handy victory over the listless John McCain and there’s no need to repeat it this time. Obama must win or lose on the merits of his stewardship, not his race.

In any case, that was then and this is now. Dinkins had the appalling record murder rate for Giuliani to hang around his neck; Obama has the appalling economy. The only question is whether the Romney campaign is smart enough to realize that it’s going to be on defense for the next not-quite 100 days unless it gets its act together and starts using the Left’s own tactics against it, this time for keeps. Obama’s unfitness for office must be the sole issue of this campaign, and Mitt can start making the case by ceasing to pretend that the president is “a nice guy who’s just in over his head.”

But even should Romney win, the Democrats can still afford to smile, knowing that Obama’s “advances” — such as Obamacare — are going to be very hard or impossible to roll back. They know from history that American counter-revolutions never really restore the status quo ante, and that “progressive” ideas are nearly impossible to root out, especially with the media blocking for them. And they know their unfireable, beetling minions in the judiciary and the regulatory agencies aren’t going anywhere soon, no matter who wins.

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Word Is Out — Romney Doesn’t Pay Taxes

August 2nd, 2012 - 12:57 pm

According to Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, anyway. Verdict first, trial later — it’s the American Way!

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Where’s John “Senate comity” McCain when we need him?

By the way — as Dan Riehl asks,  how did Harry Reid become a multi-millionaire? Guess a lifetime in “public service” really pays off. As the old Tammany pols knew so very well:

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And to think we’re in for three more months of this…