Sunday, June 26, 2011

Peggy Noonan: Republican Hoper

In her Wall Street Journal column of June 25, 2011, Peggy Noonan again expresses hope for the Republican Party in the presidential race of 2012. She is still dying to find a good reason. 
In her April 14 column, entitled “Obama Is Likely to Lose,” Peggy cited polls showing the effect of the economy on Obama’s numbers. All the GOP has to do is nominate someone who is not “strange, extreme, or barely qualified.” She was sure Republicans would eventually come to this position, as they have always done so in the past. That week, the Republican frontrunner was Donald Trump.
In her May 13 column, Peggy chose to highlight three potential candidates, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, and Newt Gingrich. She pushed Christie, nudged Daniels, and relegated Newt to future cabinet status, where he will clearly be useful given all of his genius ideas. Christie and Daniels have since refused to run, and while Newt is still in, it is only for the cheap advertising to sell his books and DVDs.
On June 11, in her column entitled “Someone Had a Good Week,” Peggy reluctantly resigned herself to Romney’s eventual victory in the primaries. She predicted he would overcome his health care past by boring the electorate with detailed analysis, and assured us that his religion would not be a problem. Since that time, a Gallup Poll showed that 18% of Republicans and 27% of Democrats say they will never vote for a Mormon.
The following week, Peggy saw hope in own her sigh of relief after the New Hampshire debate. In her column “Republicans Return to Reality,” she said she was pleasantly surprised that the candidates did not embarrass her. She was especially relieved about Michele Bachmann, who did not come across as obviously “strange, extreme, and barely qualified.” And when T-Paw did not measure up, Mitt held on to his image as the middle-of-the-road frontrunner.
This week, Peggy is hopeful because a Gallup Poll shows that 50% of Republicans are strategic voters, i.e., they favor a candidate who has the best chance of beating Obama, while only 44% favor a candidate who matches their views on the issues. Why this poll gives Peggy comfort is a bit mystifying. Here is Gallup’s “Bottom Line.”
Americans' reluctance to support a Mormon for president has held close to the 20% level since Gallup first measured this in 1967, and long after historical biases against voting for blacks, Catholics, Jews, and women have dwindled.
Currently, 18% of Republicans say they would not vote for their party's nominee if that person happened to be Mormon. This may be less troubling for Romney in the GOP primaries, where the vote could be highly fractured anyway, than in the general election, where -- should he win the Republican nomination -- he would need nearly complete support from Republicans to be competitive with President Obama….
Does anyone seriously believe Romney will get “nearly complete support from Republicans” after adding in his record on health care, abortion, and gay marriage? While it is true that he has held the “correct” positions for a while now, can he convince almost all Republicans that he is true Red? Will the 44%, who prefer a candidate who is unlikely to beat Obama, vote for the candidate who is most likely to beat Obama, because he is most like Obama?
If we slice this poll another way, only 27% of the “strategic voters” think that Romney is the one most likely to beat Obama. Sixteen percent think that Sarah Palin has the best chance, 9% think Cain is the man, 6% favor Santorum, and 4% each for Newt and Bachmann. In other words, according to that poll, about 40% of the Republicans think that a “strange, extreme, or barely qualified” candidate is better strategically than Romney. 
I would like to remind Peggy of the town hall meetings which were infected by Tea Baggers in 2009. The “debates” were very close to physical fights. Were any of those people fighting for Romney Care? Under what scenario do these people become Romney supporters in the general election?
Michele Bachmann gave the Tea Party response to Obama’s State of the Union address, because she thinks the author of the Ryan Plan is too moderate. If Romney is the Republican nominee, I see a tea party candidate. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

He who forgets history is doomed to rewrite it.

So I was talking to my retired English professor friend at the YMCA, and he commented that MSNBC is the same as Fox News, just opposites politically. 
I replied, "Fox News lies. MSNBC does not. The liberals really believe what they say."
He said, “What about Rachel Maddow. She is the same as Hannity.
I said, “ Maddow believes what she says. Hannity lies.
He said, “Oh she does the same thing.”
I said, “ Give me one example.”
He said, “What, I’m being cross-examined?” 
I am a lawyer. I said, “I can give you an example of Hannity lying as he facilitated Palin’s lying, and very slickly at that. Almost as if it had been scripted.”
And I described this interview:
Palin: Todd's isn't a registered Republican..
Hannity: He's part of that group that wanted to secede from the Union. (doing quote sign to mock the suggestion.)
Palin: (Laughing) Oh, yeah. Supposedly. Right. But, um...
The Professor replied, “Just because he belonged to the AIP does not mean he believed in everything they said, nor does it mean that the AIP advocates the same thing now, that it advocated when it started.
Confident that he was wrong, since AIP stands for Alaska Independence Party, I picked up my iPad and demonstrably looked for the AIP Wikipedia article, and I found:
"Since its founding, the AIP has radically changed with respect to the issue of secession. At present, it does not support secession, though, at its founding, it did. "
I said, “I guess I was wrong. Maybe Hannity didn’t lie.”
Being proven wrong puts a knot in my stomach, and as the day wore on, I kept thinking about the phrasing of that quote. It just seemed odd that a reliable article would say a group had “radically changed.” And the sentence structure seemed odd. So I went to the AIP site, and I found its “Basic Questions” page. It began:
Q: What is the Alaskan Independence Party?
A: An Alaskan political party whose members advocate a range of solutions to the conflicts between federal and local authority; from advocacy for state's rights, through a return to territorial status, all the way to complete independence and nationhood status for Alaska.
It continued:
Q: If Alaska were independent, what would happen to my social security check, federal pension, or military retirement?
A: People receive these checks around the world, regardless of their place of residence. In most cases eligibility for such checks would not be affected by Alaskan independence.
In other words, you shouldn’t worry about not getting money from the Feds. The only difference is you won’t have to pay in.
Then this:
Q: Didn't we vote for statehood already?
A: The vote for statehood was invalid because the people were not presented with the range of options available to them. Further, the federal government has since breached the contract for statehood on numerous occasions in over a dozen serious and substantial instances.
Q: Would I lose my U.S. citizenship?
A: Depending on the form of independence, several forms of citizenship would be possible, including the retention of U.S. citizenship or dual citizenship. However, considering the moral, educational, and economic decay of the U.S., Alaskans' who hold themselves to a higher standard might very well decide to at least maintain an arm's length distance from a country in decline.
In other words, there has been no radical change; the AIP still advocates secession.
Then, I read in Wikipedia that the founder, Joe Vogler 
disappeared under suspicious circumstances in May 1993, just weeks before he was scheduled to give a speech to the United Nations on Alaskan independence, sponsored by the government of Iran. 
Bizarre as that image may be, it is the date of his death that is the point. Todd Palin joined the AIP in 1995. In other words, even if AIP has “radically changed,” how likely is it that it had done so within 2 years of its founder’s death? 
Besides, the Palin/Hannity lie wasn’t just that Todd Palin was not a secessionist. Palin/Hannity claimed that Todd’s chosen political party was never secessionist. And their underlying lie was that the Lamestream Media was lying about Todd and the AIP. 
Returning to the Wikipedia quote:
Since its founding, the AIP has radically changed with respect to the issue of secession. At present, it does not support secession, though, at its founding, it did.
It appears that a Palin advocate has altered the history of AIP on Wikipedia, just as they tried in the Paul Revere incident. The next question is, how much more history have the Palinistas rewritten?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Schoolmarm, Madam Back Mitt for Sheriff

It is official. The search for a new sheriff is over. Despite the stagecoach rumors, Christie and Daniels never even showed up. Huckabee is making too much money preachin’ in that big church at the edge of town, and let’s face it, he could never handle a six shooter. Michelle Bachmann don’t know how to saddle a horse. Gingrich shot himself in both feet, so his wife took his gun away. Pawlenty's too skinny. Some say Santorum rides side-saddle. Sarah Palin is in a wild west travelin show, doin’ ridin’ tricks, shootin in the air and ringin’ bells. Herman Cain? C’mon. He talks good, unless you really listen, but he has never even ridden a horse. Besides, he can’t command the respect of the deputies. He just don’t look right, if you catch my drift. We all like Ol' Ron Paul, but you can’t scare Obama and his men by ridin' that old nag and carryin' that big lance.
Now, word is that crazy rancher, Rick Perry, has been spotted on the rise outside town, sitting tall in the saddle, just watching. Can’t tell from here, but he might be headed this way. He looks good from a distance, but people say he and his drunken hands have been making trouble in other towns.
Some say we have to act before Perry gets here. So schoolmarm, Peggy Noonan, and local saloon madam, Ann Coulter, have joined forces and resigned themselves to the city slicker, Mitt Romney, as the best hope for bringing back law and order in 2012. 
Miss Noonan began her resignation speech by asserting that Romney just had his first good week. This may not be a good sign, as he's been running since 2005, but Miss Noonan’s excitement is unrestrained. “He had a reasonable announcement speech followed by a lot of national interviews.” And although Sarah Palin upstaged him by making a stop a few miles up the road just to suck attention from this announcement, this only served to display the contrast between “Crazytown [and] the man of sober mien.” 
Madam Coulter, on the other hand, loves Crazytown. But she doesn’t want her to run, because she knows Crazytown can’t outdraw Obama. How do you get a “fabulous” potential candidate not to run? Tell her, “You won’t be happy as president. Even Senator is much more fun. Stick with the wild west show. Trust me.” We all know Miss Palin is too proud to handle the truth. 
But there are rumblings on the right about Coulter’s endorsement of Romney. She has been doing interviews to hawk her new pamphlet, Demonic. (This one attacks the Left and touts the moral superiority of the Right.) When she visited right wing radio stations on her tour, historically favorable territory, she was attacked for supporting Romney in 2008. She responded by comparing their attacks against Romney to birtherism. At the 2011 CPAC, Coulter changed her tune, announcing, “I’ll put it in a nutshell. If we don’t run Christie, Romney will be the nominee, and we will lose.” (Coulter loves Christie’s theory for belt-tightening--make the fat cats fatter.) But she has since changed again, and even claims to be confident that Romney will win, because, as she puts it, anybody can beat Obama with this economy.
I don’t mean to imply that Coulter is head over heels for Romney, particularly given his Achilles heel of Romneycare. As she put it, “Romney isn’t a disaster.” But Coulter sometimes makes statements casting doubt on her commitment, as she recently distinguished the personal attacks inflicted by liberals on Palin from the substantive attacks conservatives make, by stating, “We don’t like Obama because of Obamacare.” Is this not a case of cognitive dissonance, or does she really believe Romney “tricked liberals into voting for him?”
The question is whether the real GOP will support Romney in the general election. There are the additional problems of Romney backing abortion rights, adoption by gay couples, and science showing man-made global warming. But, as Miss Noonan recognizes, the most important problem may be that he is a Mormon.
Miss Noonan is upset that Piers Morgan interrogated Romney on his religious beliefs. “It's not something we do in America. Because we still have a little class.” Noonan is dishonest in her suggestion that religion is not important to Republican voters. It is the most important thing to many. But she is correct in the sense that most American reporters probably think it is inappropriate to question the religion of a politician. But Morgan is British. Most Brits are agnostics. They believe in evolution. The mainstream media in Great Britain assume most intelligent people are nonbelievers. Thus, Tony Blair was roundly attacked by the British press for using his religious beliefs as guidance in governance, especially on Iraq. In preparation for this interview, Morgan undoubtedly learned a little more about the Mormon religion, and while an atheist will find all religious beliefs incredible, he will likely find the Mormon beliefs even more incredible. In other parts of the world, fundamental beliefs, especially when they are aberrant, are fair ground in an interview.
Miss Noonan says Catholics like her don’t have a problem with Mormons. She begs the evangelicals to take the same position, since “...[I]t is absurd and ignorant not to support a political figure only because” he is, in the words of Ann Coulter, a member of a “wacky religion.” Miss Coulter agrees. But Miss Noonan and Miss Coulter seem to ignore a couple thing about evangelicals. First, they are absurd and ignorant. Second, the Book of Mormon contradicts the Bible, and evangelicals don’t like that.
The most successful play on Broadway today is The Book of Mormon, which is described by its creators as “an atheist's love letter to religion." I assume it will be made into a movie. While not overly offensive to the Mormon elders so far, the creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, also make a cartoon called South Park, which had a slightly harsher episode portraying the beginning of the Mormon religion. The refrain through the episode was, “Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb,” as in, Mormonism was created by a con-man from New York in 1830, and his claim to divine inspiration can fairly be described as so ludicrous that it could fool only those who are, well, very dumb. This episode is probably the primary source of information on Mormonism for those under 30. If Romney becomes the Republican nominee, this South Park episode could go viral among evangelicals. Cats and dogs, living together.
But the schoolmarm and the saloon madam have, for the time being, agreed. We can have peace in town. All we have to do is get the church ladies and the cow hands together on Saturday night. And to do that, we just have to agree on the place, the food, the drink, and the entertainment. Should be no problem.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Peggy Noonan: Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton.

Obama cannot hide his contempt for far right politicians. They know he does not like them in a very personal way. The problem is partly experiential. Obama's upbringing wasn't provincial enough.  Bill Clinton, on the other hand, grew up among Southern racists, and understood them, even liked some of them. Peggy says this enabled Clinton to fake it, and therefore able to create personal relationships with the likes of Newt Gingrich, and get things done. 
It seems like only yesterday when Newt and Bill worked together, hand in hand, to prevent the government shutdown, end the Whitewater investigation, not to mention the attempted impeachment. 
But it isn’t just experience that distinguishes Obama from Clinton. Obama’s nature is the problem in the current debt-ceiling fight. He cannot get Republicans to compromise, because he can’t get warm and fuzzy with them and cajole them, because he is
...different, not a political practitioner, really, but something else, and not a warm-blooded animal, but a cool, chill character, a fish who sits deep in the tank and stares stilly, at other fish.
So how can Obama overcome his predaceous, cold-blooded, pre-reptilian essence? By giving in to the Republicans by slashing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. If you can’t con them, join them, she says.
Here is the problem, according to the Catholic scold. We cannot default, so the debt limit has to be raised. But we have to look responsible by reducing the deficit when we do it. There are two ways to reduce a deficit--cut spending and increase revenues. Therefore, we cannot raise the debt limit without making cuts of $2.4 trillion. Why? Where? Peggy never really says. But if Obama does what the Republicans want, a crisis will be averted. In fact, if Obama capitulates, he will go down in history as The Crisis Averter, who can claim to be a centrist, and work in good faith with the Republicans. 
What about reducing the deficit by raising taxes on the wealthy? Scarlette Noonan replies, “I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.” (Ok, she really said, “...fight that out later.”)
Maybe I'm a liberal, but I have to ask, why cut spending today, and talk about taxes tomorrow? Because, Peggy says, “the polls are all over the place.” Really? Some recent polls show public support for ending Medicare in order to keep the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy? Peggy Noonan has trouble getting through a column without some prevarication, but this is such an obvious whopper, one wonders if she has an editor. Of course, there is no citation to any such study. 
Let me be clear. All recent polls show overwhelming support for raising taxes on the wealthy rather than cutting the social safety net. So, Peggy really wants Obama to give in to the Republicans in Congress even though they are on the wrong side politically, so that he will be on the wrong side, too. 
Now I understand the metaphor. Obama the fish sat there staring, motionless. The warm-blooded, Republican fish stared back. Finally, the Republicans, being warm-blooded, couldn’t stand it anymore, and they started moving, slowly and individually at first, then schooling, faster and faster, up and around, then suddenly up, out of the water, with the Ryan Plan. They got netted in New York 26. This caused people to talk, and the more people talk about killing Medicare, the more people hate it. Cutting the safety net landed the GOP in the fish net.This could end the GOP as we know it. Someone needs to save it. 

If only a mammalian politician, like Bill Clinton, was President. He could trick the Republicans back into reality. He could save them by getting them to compromise. But since Obama is incapable of human emotion, and therefore, unable to really connect with Mike Pence, the only way to save the GOP is to give Mike Pence everything he wants.
If he doesn't, Peggy says, Obama will go down in history as the president who inherited a Republican-created mess, and “made things worse” by not continuing their policies. 
Really. That’s what she said.