Posts Tagged Richard Nixon
By TIMOTHY EGAN
House of Un-Representatives
Timothy Eganon American politics and life, as seen from the West.
Not long ago, the congressman from northeast Texas, Louie Gohmert, was talking about how the trans-Alaska oil pipeline improved the sex lives of certain wild animals — in his mind, the big tube was an industrial-strength aphrodisiac. “When the caribou want to go on a date,” he told a House hearing, “they invite each other to head over to the pipeline.”
Gohmert, consistently on the short list for the most off-plumb member of Congress, has said so many crazy things that this assertion passed with little comment. Last year, he blamed a breakdown of Judeo-Christian values for the gun slaughter at a cinema in Colorado. Last week, he claimed the Muslim Brotherhood had deep influence in the Obama administration, and that the attorney general — the nation’s highest law enforcer — sympathized with terrorists.
You may wonder how he gets away with this. You may also wonder how Gohmert can run virtually unopposed in recent elections. The answer explains why we have an insular, aggressively ignorant House of Representatives that is not at all representative of the public will, let alone the makeup of the country.
Much has been said about how the great gerrymander of the people’s House — part of a brilliant, $30 million Republican action plan at the state level — has now produced a clot of retrograde politicians who are comically out of step with a majority of Americans. It’s not just that they oppose things like immigration reform and simple gun background checks for violent felons, while huge majorities support them.
Alex Wong/Getty ImagesLouie Gohmert at a Tea Party rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012.
Or that, in the aggregate, Democrats got 1.4 million more votes for all House positions in 2012 but Republicans still won control with a cushion of 33 seats.
Or that they won despite having the lowest approval rating in modern polling, around 10 percent in some surveys. Richard Nixon during Watergate and B.P.’s initial handling of a catastrophic oil spill had higher approval ratings.
But just look at how different this Republican House is from the country they are supposed to represent. It’s almost like a parallel government, sitting in for some fantasy nation created in talk-radio land.
As a whole, Congress has never been more diverse, except the House majority. There are 41 black members of the House, but all of them are Democrats. There are 10 Asian-Americans, but all of them are Democrats. There are 34 Latinos, a record — and all but 7 are Democrats. There are 7 openly gay, lesbian or bisexual members, all of them Democrats.
Only 63 percent of the United States population is white. But in the House Republican majority, it’s 96 percent white. Women are 51 percent of the nation, but among the ruling members of the House, they make up just 8 percent. (It’s 30 percent on the Democratic side.)
It’s a stretch, by any means, to call the current House an example of representative democracy. Now let’s look at how the members govern:
To date, seven bills have been enacted. Let’s see, there was the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship act — “ensuring the stability of the helium market.” The Violence Against Women Act was renewed, but only after a majority of Republicans voted against it, a rare instance of letting the full House decide on something that the public favors. Just recently, they rushed through a change to help frequent air travelers — i.e., themselves — by fixing a small part of the blunt budget cuts that are the result of their inability to compromise. Meal assistance to the elderly, Head Start for kids and other programs will continue to fall under the knife of sequestration.
On the economy, the Republican majority has been consciously trying to derail a fragile recovery. Their first big salvo was the debt ceiling debacle, which resulted in the lowering of the credit rating for the United States. With sequestration — which President Obama foolishly agreed to, thinking Congress would never go this far — the government has put a wheel-lock on a car that keeps trying to get some traction.
Meanwhile, not a day passes without some member of this ruling majority saying something outrageous. Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, for example, has endorsed the far-side-of-the-moon conspiracy theory that the government is buying up all the bullets to keep gun owners from stocking their home arms depots. As for Gohmert, earlier this year he nominated Allen West, a man who isn’t even a member of Congress (he lost in November) to be Speaker of the House. Harvey, the invisible rabbit, was not available.
Gohmert, like others in the House crazy caucus, has benefited from a gerrymandered district. He can do anything short of denouncing Jesus and get re-elected.
The Beltway chorus of the moment blames President Obama for his inability to move his proposals through a dunderheaded Congress. They wonder how Republicans would be treating a silken-tongued charmer like Bill Clinton if he were still in the White House. We already know: not a single Republican voted for Clinton’s tax-raising budget, the one that led to our last federal surplus. Plus, they impeached him; his presidency was saved only in the Senate.
Obama may be doomed to be a reactive president in his second term, with even the most common-sense proposals swatted down because, well — if he’s for it, Republicans will have to be against it. What could be a signature achievement, immigration reform, faces quicksand in the House. But a gerrymander is good for only a decade or so. Eventually, demography and destiny will catch up with a Congress that refuses to do the people’s bidding.
- House of Un-Representatives (opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Louie Gohmert, CPAC Superstar (nationalreview.com)
- Louie Gohmert: Boehner Has Concerns about the Tea Party, So I Have Concerns about Him (nationalreview.com)
- Gohmert accuses Obama regime of impeding Boston investigation (israelmatzav.blogspot.com)
- Tea Party Congressman Louie Gohmert (unclewilliejoe.wordpress.com)
- Rep. Louie Gohmert says administration is full of Muslim Brotherhood members (dailykos.com)
- REP. LOUIE GOHMERT: FBI’s willful blindness enabled Boston terror attack (rare.us)
- Louie’s Latest: Gohmert says radical Muslims are training to ‘act like Hispanics’ to get into the U.S. (chron.com)
- Egan on the House (snohomishobserver.com)
- Louie Gohmert treated like rock star at CPAC, of course (salon.com)
It’s easy to see why Romney’s budget plan is secret, the author writes. | AP Photo
By ROGER C. ALTMAN | 11/2/12 10:37 AM EDT
Older voters will remember Richard Nixon’s secret (and phony) plan to end the Vietnam War in the 1968 campaign. Now, Mitt Romney is trying the same thing with his budget plan. He won’t disclose details, with his advisers arguing that doing so would hurt his campaign. Yes, it would. Because Romney’s budget goals are mathematically impossible to achieve. In reality, he would cause middle income Americans to pay higher taxes, budget deficits to skyrocket, or both. That’s a toxic combination, and voters shouldn’t buy this secret plan for a minute.
In the final presidential debate, Governor Romney claimed that his web site explains how he will balance the budget over eight to ten years despite income tax cuts for every American and huge increases in defense spending. Is it logical that deficits would be completely eliminated through tax cuts and more spending? Or, does this sound like a pig in a poke?
Start with taxes. Romney has campaigned for months on the central idea that, if elected, he would implement a 20 percent income tax cut for every American (reducing the first bracket from 10 percent to 8 percent, and so on). In addition, he would reduce the corporate tax rate by nearly 30 percent and repeal the estate tax, the alternative minimum tax and certain other taxes. It’s quite simple to calculate the amount of federal revenue which would be lost through all of these cuts, and non-partisan institutions have made the calculation. They would cost the federal budget $4.8 trillion over ten years. Let’s just call it $5 trillion.
Now, Romney insists that he would cut tax deductions to offset it. Four of the biggest tax deductions are those for mortgage interest, state and local tax payments, charitable contributions and employer-provided health care. Of course, he will not disclose how far he would have to cut these back to neutralize the budget impact of the $5 trillion tax cut. That’s because only drastic reductions in them would match that sum.
Further, Romney implies that only the wealthy use these deductions so most Americans shouldn’t worry about it. That’s false. The primary beneficiaries are middle income Americans. There are 24 million middle-class families, for example, who benefit from the mortgage interest deduction. And 37 million middle-class families who don’t have to pay taxes on health care coverage through their employer. And, it is these families who would lose under the Romney tax plan.
Let’s make this more specific. Assume Romney abolished every deduction used by families earning over $200,000 per year. Even then, his tax cut for this group is so big that it would more than offset this loss. Indeed, despite losing the deductions, these high earners would be ahead by $86 billion a year or nearly $1 trillion over ten years. By definition, either the middle class would pay this huge amount in additional taxes, or deficits would increase by that size. There is no third scenario.
Then, on spending, Romney starts by proposing a stunning $2 trillion increase in defense spending over ten years. This is remarkable because the Pentagon has not asked for this money, and it makes his balanced budget claims even less plausible. Even if Romney pays for his tax plan, it could only be done with a massive $8 trillion of domestic spending cuts over the next decade. But, Mr. Romney has only detailed cuts that add up to less than one-quarter of these savings, leaving $6 trillion of them to be figured out later.
This is not possible. If Romney eliminated every dollar of domestic discretionary spending over these years, he would not save as much as $6 trillion. In other words, eliminate all federal support for education, research, border security, national parks and the like, and you still don’t save this much. President Obama is already cutting this category of the budget to its lowest levels as a share of the economy in 50 years, making cuts this deep both unrealistic and unwise. Therefore, Romney’s budget equation doesn’t work. That could be why the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget concluded in March that his plan would produce gigantic budget deficits and a national debt that could reach almost 100 percent of GDP on his watch.
You can see why Romney’s budget plan is secret. It would both raise the tax burden on middle income Americans and cause record budget deficits. He is incorrect that revealing this would hurt his campaign. Actually, it would kill it. Are Americans really going to buy this snake oil? Not too likely.
- Exposing Mitt Romney’s secret federal budget – Politico (politico.com)
- Exposing Mitt’s secret federal budget (politico.com)
- Mitt Romney’s election campaign insults voters – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- The Fox News Lies About Mitt Romney Continue: Fair and Balanced?: Wayne Allen Root Spread the Romney Lies (bungalowbillscw.blogspot.com)
- Romney Avoids Taxes via Loophole Cutting Mormon Donations (bloomberg.com)
- The Choice: Romney Recession vs. Obama Boom (crooksandliars.com)
- Romney FEMA Statements Compared – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- INTERACTIVE: Make President Obama’s tax plan add up! (washingtonpost.com)
- Eugene Robinson: Romney would pass the buck on disasters – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- The Winners and Losers Under Romney’s Tax Plan – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
Do U.S. presidential debates matter?
By Nick Thompson, CNN
updated 6:10 AM EDT, Thu October 4, 2012
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will face off three times in person ahead of the 2012 U.S. presidential election on November 6.
Obama and Romney match wits
· Obama, Romney to debate domestic and foreign policy over three debates
· Telegenic John F. Kennedy outshined Richard Nixon in first debate in 1960
· Romney emerged victorius from primary season that included nearly 20 debates
· Then-candidate Obama easily handled Republican John McCain in 2008 debates
(CNN) – After months of talking about each other and their policies, the world finally got to see Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney go toe-to-toe on the same stage in the first of three televised debates ahead of the U.S. election.
Unlike other countries, such as the United Kingdom, where the prime minister must defend his policies under televised duress from the opposition nearly every week, face-to-face showdowns between the two men fighting for the White House only happen every four years.
And while debates rarely swing the outcome of an election, a gaffe — or a silver-tongued swipe at the opposition — under the bright lights can alter the perception of the two contenders, for better or worse.
What’s the history of U.S. presidential debates?
Presidential debates are a relatively recent phenomenon. The first televised debate was between Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat John F. Kennedy, on black-and-white TV in 1960.
Many people listening on the radio to that first of four Nixon-Kennedy debates thought Nixon had won – but on live TV, a tan and youthful-looking Kennedy trounced a sweaty, haggard Nixon (who’d recently suffered a staph infection) in the appearance department. While Nixon improved in later debates, Kennedy went on to win the election.
There were no debates again until Jimmy Carter took on Gerald Ford in 1976. Since then, the Republican and Democratic hopefuls have matched wits in a series of (usually three) debates every election year – and twice, in 1980 and 1992, an independent candidate has joined the duo onstage.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter refused to take part in the first debate with Ronald Reagan because John Anderson, an independent candidate, had been invited to take part. Carter’s boycott led to a dramatic decline in the anticipated viewershiip for that depate. The second was cancelled, and Anderson was wiped off the program for the third round several weeks later.
What are the debates about?
In recent election cycles, the three debates have consisted of a domestic policy debate, a foreign policy debate, and a general debate in a town hall format, where members of the audience also offer up questions. Vice presidential candidates also face off in a single debate in the run-up to the election.
Generally speaking, candidates are asked questions by a moderator, who in recent years has come from one of America’s major broadcast news networks. Candidates then have a set period of time for responses and rebuttals.
A coin-flip determines the order of answers at debates. Tonight Obama will answer first, but Romney will have the final word.
The dates and sites for the debates, which typically take place at universities across America, are chosen from a list of applicants by the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates.
Do debates even matter to the public?
While the debates offer Romney and Obama a chance to expand on their views and rebut each other’s plans directly, experts say that the vast majority of Americans have already decided who they’re voting for along party lines.
But although debates aren’t typically seen as deciding an election’s outcome, there have been a few exceptions over time.
Kennedy’s telegenic dominance of Nixon during the first televised debate helped swing momentum in the Democrat’s direction in 1960.
In a 1980 debate, facing a barrage of assertions and accusations from incumbent Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan coolly replied with a smile: “There you go again.” His famous retort momentarily took the wind out of Carter’s sails. After entering debate season behind in opinion polls, eventual winner Reagan left the podium with the advantage over Carter.
Sometimes it’s not the debate that hurts a candidate – it’s the post-game review. In 2000, cameras caught a visibly annoyed Al Gore sighing and shaking his head when George W. Bush spoke.
The clip was played over and over again and lampooned on television, to the point that “people began to project onto Gore a personality trait of just annoyance and irritation of people in general,” according to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. A clear favorite before the debates, Gore lost his lead during the debate season. He eventually lost the controversial election after the Supreme Court ruled in Bush’s favor.
Are Romney and Obama any good at debating?
As mentioned above, American politics don’t involve many head-to-head debates between Republicans and Democrats, but both candidates are seen as more than competent debaters.
Obama handled Republican John McCain in all three contests four years ago, says debate coach Todd Graham, staying on track in his arguments, showing poise, and refusing to take attacks on his policies personally.
Obama’s quick wit may have backfired on him during a 2008 Democratic primary debate. He responded to Hillary Clinton saying he was likeable with, “You’re likeable enough, Hillary.” The audience laughed, but many viewers saw the remark as a mean-spirited swipe.
Graham says despite Obama’s reputation as a great orator, his debate performances have not lived up to the standards of his speeches – and that at times the president can be awkward and long-winded in his debate answers.
Romney is currently the better-practiced of the two, having emerged victorious from a Republican primary season that featured nearly 20 debates. Graham says Romney is consistently solid, has great opening lines to questions, and has a firm grasp of the issues.
Romney’s biggest weakness, according to some experts, is that he often comes across as fake. Graham says Romney’s broad smile and “thank yous” following heated answers make it seems like “he’s practicing his speeches,” not debating his opponent.
Are debates about great politics or great theater?
Long stretches of presidential debates involve dry policy speeches, but it’s usually a single gaffe or clever one-liner that comes to define a debate in the annals of national memory.
Reagan was already the oldest president in history in 1984, and when asked during a debate about whether age would be an issue for him, the 73-year-old famously replied: “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” Even Democratic challenger Walter Mondale, then age 56, had to laugh.
Sometimes body language matters more than words in a debate. In 1992, President George H. W. Bush took a glance at his watch while an audience member was asking a question – a move that made Bush, whose re-election hopes were rapidly slipping away, seem uninterested in the concerns of the public.
John McCain sparked controversy when he referred to Obama as “that one” during the second 2008 presidential debate. At a dinner attended by both senators several days later, Obama joked that his first name was Swahili for “that one,” according to the New York Times.
Vice presidents and their counterparts have delivered just as many memorable lines as their bosses have over the years. Lloyd Bentsen’s sharp “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” reprimand of Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle in 1988 remains one of the all-time greats — along with Perot running mate James Stockdale’s “Who am I? Why am I here?” debate opener in 1992, which drew guffaws from the audience.
A bad enough gaffe can help derail your campaign long before the first primary votes are cast, as Republican Rick Perry showed in late 2011.
At a primary debate in Michigan, Perry became the first candidate in history to say “oops” during a debate after forgetting the name of the third government agency he’d pledged to cut.
When pressed for an answer, Perry said: “The third agency of government I would do away with, the Education … uhh the Commerce, and, let’s see. I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”
After the debate, Perry owned up to the gaffe as only a Texas governor could: “I’m sure glad I had my boots on because I sure stepped in it out there.”
- U.S. Presidential Debate–an Observation on about 15 Minutes (leiterreports.typepad.com)
- Factbox: Quotes from first U.S. presidential debate (news.yahoo.com)
- LIVE at 8:30 p.m.: U.S. Presidential Debate (livenews.thestar.com)
- Japan’s Nikkei snaps four-session losing streak in reaction to U.S. presidential debate – Reuters (al.com)
- U.S. Presidential Debate livestream: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney face off in Denver (news.nationalpost.com)
- Follow our live coverage of the first U.S. presidential debate (theglobeandmail.com)
- Recap: A play-by-play of the first U.S. presidential debate (theglobeandmail.com)
- Do U.S. presidential debates matter? (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- YouTube to live-stream U.S. presidential debates for first time (earththreats.com)
- How To Watch The U.S. Presidential Debates Online (readwriteweb.com)
August 24, 2012
Romney’s Energy Plan
Evan Vucci/Associated Press Mitt Romney on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012.
Ridiculing a campaign document is like shooting unusually large fish in a barrel, but Mitt Romney’s new energy “plan” is so fantastical and extreme that I feel compelled to fire away.
Let’s start first with the premise of the plan, which is also its promise: that energy independence is an achievable goal for America by 2020. Presidents have been talking about energy independence since Richard Nixon and haven’t come close. The simple truth, as President Obama has recognized, is that a country that holds less than 3 percent of the world’s reserves but consumes more than 20 percent of the world’s supply cannot drill its way to energy independence. More production will help, but true independence from foreign imports – not to mention fewer greenhouses gases and a safer climate, a subject Mr. Romney never touches upon – will depend on developing alternative fuels and more efficient vehicles.
Mr. Romney’s position paper says that independence can be achieved if we “partner closely with Canada and Mexico. “ But that wouldn’t do the job either, even if Mexico and Canada sent every single barrel they produce to the United States—highly unlikely since they might want to use some of it for themselves.
Mr. Romney further suggests that oil production in the United States would magically increase if the states were allowed “to oversee the development and production of all forms of energy on public lands within their borders.” An act of Congress would be required to transfer to the states hundreds of millions of acres now managed by the Interior Department and the Forest Service. But, setting that aside, Mr. Romney’s federalist plan echoes an election year perennial, the idea (dating all the way back to the Sagebrush Rebellion a generation ago, and fostered by the oil and gas and timber interests) that all will be well if we allow the states to reclaim public land originally ceded as a condition of statehood, or acquired by act of Congress .
At one campaign stop, Mr. Romney said he did not know the “purpose” of the public lands. The purposes, under established law, are various: recreation, preservation, resource development. States, as a rule, tend to be interested mainly in resource development. In the energy future envisioned by Mr. Romney, that is precisely what would prevail.
Finally, Mr. Romney would have us believe that domestic oil and gas production has fallen off a cliff during the Obama administration. That too is ridiculous. Domestic crude oil production is actually up slightly from 2004, to 5.6 million barrels a day. And despite a necessary slowdown in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill, the number of rigs in American oil fields has quadrupled over the last few years.
Mr. Romney has raised millions of dollars in Texas over the last few days, and it would be tempting to draw a connection between this bonanza and his energy policy were it not for one fact: Fossil fuels have been front and center in Mr. Romney’s energy policy since the beginning of this race.
- Romney’s Energy Plan (takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Mitt Romney’s plan for energy independence (news.yahoo.com)
- Energy Donors Fete Romney Days Before His Drilling Plan Released (bloomberg.com)
- Romney’s New Energy Plan Would Doom Humanity (alternet.org)
- Four Reasons Why Romney’s Energy Plan Won’t Work (alan.com)
- Romney to declare goal of North American energy independence by 2020 – @Reuters (reuters.com)
- Mitt Romney: “I have a vision for an America that is an energy superpower” (hotair.com)
- Romney To Unveil Energy Plan (huffingtonpost.com)
- Romney promises energy independence by 2020 (kansascity.com)
- Romney: North American energy independence by 2020 (riehlworldview.com)
Romney the Unknowable
By TIMOTHY EGAN
Timothy Eganon American politics and life, as seen from the West.
Ten days from now, some of the world’s best-paid magicians of image and narrative will unveil a reboot of a most unfathomable man, Willard Mitt Romney, a 2012 model with a shelf life of barely two months.
The Republican National Convention will mark the fourth time in 18 years, dating to a losing Senate race in 1994, that a Team Romney has tried to construct a Brand Romney. This problem of who he is, Romney acknowledged last year, has plagued him ever since he became a public figure.
In focus groups, he’s described as a tin man, a shell, an empty suit, vacuous, a multimillionaire in mom jeans. And that’s from supporters.
At the convention, you can expect to hear high praise for a virtuous, disciplined, loyal person of family and faith. You will surely hear the words “turnaround” and “no apology” — both titles of platitudinous and unread books by Romney — in defense of his business acumen and unshakable view of American exceptionalism.
But I doubt you will hear anything of the real Romney because he is afraid of his own past. His life — even with prep school privilege in Bloomfield Hills, the draft-avoiding refuges of mission work in Paris and business school at Harvard, a founding role at Bain Capital from a mentor who guaranteed he would never fail financially or professionally — is not without drama.
Yet that Romney story is laden with land mines of his making. Or rather, that of his party, which has turned so quickly against common-sense solutions to the nation’s problems that Romney’s real achievements, and prior principles, are now toxic to most Republicans.
Start with his family. His great-grandfather was a fugitive, tracked by federal marshals as he tried to plant polygamy throughout the Southwest for a radical new American faith. It’s a hell of a tale, Butch Cassidy with five wives. But Romney never mentions this arc for fear his Mormon religion will offend evangelical Christians who dominate the Republican Party.
He could talk about his father, or maybe not. George Romney, born in Mexico, was a principled politician who didn’t support Barry Goldwater’s nomination in 1964. He was nearly ousted from Richard Nixon’s cabinet for aggressive pursuit of racial integration in the suburbs. He opposed the Vietnam War. He not only paid a much higher rate of income tax than did his son, but he made public those taxes — 12 years of returns.
George Romney would be booed at this year’s convention.
What about Mitt the businessman? His years at Bain Capital, the private-equity firm, were supposed to be his chief selling point. The boys of Bain had numerous venture capital triumphs. But they also busted up a lot of lives with leveraged buyouts that inflicted heavy casualties.
Well before Democrats set out to make Bain a four-letter verb, Republicans during the primary recast Romney’s 15 active years in high finance as a plunder spree. “A bunch of rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company,” said Newt Gingrich. “Vulture capitalist,” cried Gov. Rick Perry.
More significant than Bain’s brand of “creative destruction” was how Romney himself got very rich. The bulk of his wealth came from capital gains, not salary or actual income. Those gains are taxed far less than many working people’s wages, and, with offshore accounts, the rates can go even lower. The story of American inequality is in the additional tax returns that Romney has vowed never to release.
With Bain and his colorful Mormon past off the table, that leaves Romney’s one-term as Massachusetts governor to highlight. He ruled as a moderate — oops, bad word. His greatest achievement, of course, was universal health care that became the template for Obamacare. He once called it, “the ultimate conservative idea.”
As he shed the ideas he embraced in the Bay State and tried to become “severely conservative,” Romney the unknowable became Romney the unlikable. His flip-flops were Olympic in caliber: on gun control, abortion, climate change, taxes, gays.
“Some are actually having children born to them,” he said of gay couples, in disgust, while groveling in the South, as reported in “The Real Romney,” the fair-minded biography by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman.
With Paul Ryan on the ticket, Romney becomes ever more hollow in comparison to the younger man of a cold-hearted-but-consistent philosophy.
A few weeks ago, Brian Williams of NBC News asked Romney if he was “unknowable to us.” Great question. Romney chuckled, that nervous stage laugh, and said voters will likely wait until the debates to discern his character. Fat chance. Better to chase fireflies with a thimble, for the true Romney is a phantom — lost long ago to reinventions and calculations.
- Romney the Unknowable (diane-whitedove1.newsvine.com)
- Romney the Unknowable (opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Romney to Reid: You’re a Liar. It Was Seven Years, Not A Decade. (mbcalyn.com)
- Mitt Romney reveals his tax rate, but not his returns (kansascity.com)
- Reid to Romney on taxes: Prove it (politico.com)
- Lies and distortions multiplied by Romney (syracuse.com)
- Reid still not convinced Romney paid his taxes (redalertpolitics.com)
- George Will: Mitt Romney Is ‘Losing’ Argument On Bain Capital, Personal Finances (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
- Bain Capital Crushed Pilots’ Effort To Create Union At Key Airlines (huffingtonpost.com)
- Mitt Romney: How did you get to be you?? (wethefeeble.org)
Maddow: Romney demanded opponents’ tax returns and lied about residency in 2002
By David Ferguson
Saturday, August 4, 2012 11:05 EDT
On Friday night’s edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow waded in to the escalating political battle between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and presumptive Republican nominee for president, former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA).
On Thursday, Romney did something which he rarely does, which is to take questions from reporters. In the entire six day overseas trip that he recently completed, he took three unscripted questions, in spite of the fact that the campaign was traveling with a full compliment of representatives of the media.
Yesterday’s questions revolved around Reid’s allegations that a source from Romney’s hedge fund, Bain Capital, has told him that the former governor paid no income taxes at all for ten years, a charge the Romney campaign has noisily and emphatically denied, but produced no proof. Even as reporters have hammered Romney to release the forms, he has doubled down and refused.
Thursday, Reid issued a statement calling Romney “the most secretive presidential candidate since Richard Nixon…Forget president, Mitt Romney couldn’t get confirmed as cabinet secretary. Every single nominee overseen by the Senate Finance Committee has to release more tax returns than Romney is willing to release.”
The dogged intensity of Reid’s hard offense against Romney has shocked many in Washington. Reid is normally a much more mild-mannered type and this honey-badger style attack is very out of character for him.
“Even for a person who’s usually hyper,” Maddow said, “that is a little unhinged: an unnamed single source making a phone call to his office with a wild accusation that the Senate Majority Leader puts on the record to reporters, even though he admits it’s just hearsay and he doesn’t know if it’s true? That’s outrageous. It’s weird.”
And yet, when everyone expected Reid to back off and excuse himself, he doubled down, forcing another angry denial from the Romney camp. However, said Maddow, Romney did this very thing in 2002 when he was running for Massachusetts governor, he would not release his tax returns.
He demanded, however, that the husband of his opponent in that election, Shannon O’Brien, release his tax returns in addition to Mrs. O’Brien’s records, which were already available to the public. “What is she hiding?” demanded longtime Romney aide and confidant Eric Fehrnstrom.
Yet now, as Maddow points out, when Harry Reid is doing the exact same thing, all the Romney campaign can do is whine and complain about how unfair this tactic is and how nasty mean old Harry Reid is being. And while the campaign is making what Maddow calls “positive empirical claims” about Gov. Romney’s taxes, they still refuse to disclose the actual records.
In the 2002 gubernatorial campaign, it was alleged that Romney had gamed his taxes to qualify to run for governor. The Massachusetts Democratic Party said that Romney had lied about filing jointly as a resident of Massachusetts and Utah, a charge that the Romney campaign denied and denied and denied until the very last minute when they were forced to admit that yes, the charge had merit and that Romney had filed retroactively.
In that instance, as in this one, Romney and his top aide Eric Fehrnstrom said over and over, “You’re just going to have to take our word for it,” while refusing to disclose any proof.
So what are they hiding this time?
- Maddow: Romney demanded opponents’ tax returns and lied about residency in 2002 (rawstory.com)
- Rachel Maddow Slams Romney’s Long History Of Hypocrisy On Tax Returns (mediaite.com)
- Maddow: Romney demanded opponents’ tax returns and lied about residency in 2002 | The Raw Story (tribuneofthepeople.com)
- Lindsey Graham: Harry Reid Is ‘Lying’ About Romney Not Paying Taxes (huffingtonpost.com)
- Rachel Maddow Promises ‘Incredible Tape’ That Will ‘Change Direction’ Of Romney Tax Return Story (mediaite.com)
- Maddow nails it: Mitt Romney’s duplicity in demanding his opponents release their taxes (freakoutnation.com)
- Mitt Romney: ‘I Have Paid Taxes Every Year. A Lot Of Taxes.’ (fed-up-with-republicans.newsvine.com)
- Karl Rove Calls Out Harry Reid’s ‘Slime Ball Nature’; Says the Senate Majority Leader Should Be ‘Embarrassed and Ashamed’ (foxnewsinsider.com)
- Why Reid keeps attacking Romney (politico.com)
- Mitt Romney And Senator Harry Reid Spar Over Income Taxes (fox2now.com)
Romney vs. teachers unions: The inconvenient truth
Well, to echo Richard Nixon’s famous phrase, let me say this about that.
I’ve slammed teachers unions plenty. They make it too hard to fire bad teachers who blight the lives of countless kids. They defend a “lockstep” salary schedule even though districts need to be able to pay much more for recruits with math and science degrees who have lucrative options outside the classroom. They dominate school board races in big cities, putting themselves on both sides of the bargaining table. They embed rules in contracts and state law that make it extraordinarily difficult to change staffing, compensation, employment, curriculum or the length and schedule of the school day. Oh, and they send more delegates to the Democratic National Convention than most large states.
Have I made my point? Is my sense of the trouble with teachers unions sufficiently refined for you?
Good, because here’s the twist — there’s a deeper reality that people like Mitt Romney, me and the education-reform community need to grapple with.
That reality is this: The top performing school systems in the world have strong teachers unions at the heart of their education establishment. This fact is rarely discussed (or even noted) in reform circles. Yet anyone who’s intellectually honest and cares about improving our schools has to acknowledge it. The United States is an outlier in having such deeply adversarial, dysfunctional labor-management relations in schooling.
Why is this?
My hypothesis runs as follows: The chief educational strategy of top-performing nations such as Finland, Singapore and South Korea is to recruit talent from the top third of the academic cohort into the teaching profession and to train them in selective, prestigious institutions to succeed on the job. In the United States, by contrast, we recruit teachers mostly from the middle and (especially for poor schools) bottom third and train them mostly in open-enrollment institutions that by all accounts do shoddy work.
As a result, American reformers and superintendents have developed a fetish for evaluating teachers and dismissing poor performers, because there are, in fact, too many. Unions dig in to protect their members because . . . that’s what unions do.
When you talk to senior officials in Finland, Singapore and South Korea, it’s as if they’re on another planet. The question of how they deal with low-performing teachers is basically a non-issue, because they just don’t have many of them. Why would they when their whole system is set up to recruit, train and retain outstanding talent for the profession?
Whose approach sounds more effective to you?
It wasn’t always this way. Up through the 1970s, the quality of the teacher corps in the United States was, in effect, subsidized by discrimination. Women and minorities didn’t have as many opportunities outside the classroom. It’s wonderful for society that this has changed. But as other avenues for those who used to become teachers opened up dramatically, salaries for teachers have failed to keep pace. As union leaders have told me, this has proved a double whammy when it comes to getting great young people to choose teaching as a career.
This is a hard but essential conversation for the nation. How do we talk about upgrading the caliber of people who choose teaching as a career without disrespecting and demoralizing the current corps — a corps that includes hundreds of thousands of excellent teachers working their hearts out for our kids under trying conditions? Yet it’s these teachers who have told me with passion how mediocre too many of their colleagues are.
We’ll need to hire millions of new teachers in the next decade or two as the boomers retire. This is an enormous opportunity. If we adopted the strategic approach to talent that top-performing countries follow, does anyone doubt we’d make serious progress — and that our unions would end up with a different focus? (While I have much to learn about how teachers unions function in these high-performing countries, my early reporting suggests they are real partners in ensuring teacher quality and meaningful professional development. That’s where they spend their time and energy — not fighting to keep bad eggs on the payroll.)
All this helps explain why the answer to our education emergency is to think much bigger about teaching. What about starting salaries of $65,000 rising to $150,000 for teachers (and more for principals)? And federally funded “West Points” of teaching and principal training to model for the nation how it can be done? And new federal cash for poor districts now doomed by our 19th-century system of local school finance, so they can compete in regional labor markets for the talent that today gravitates to higher-paying suburbs? And shrinking today’s 15,000 unwieldy, archaic local school districts (where we’re also an international outlier) to, say, a more manageable 60 — one in each state plus 10 big urban districts, as former IBM CEOLouis Gerstner has suggested?
This is the beginning of what a bold agenda would sound like — not the fight over Washington, D.C.’s vouchers that Mitt Romney is picking, along with lip service about teaching without any policies or resources to raise the profession’s status.
To be sure, President Obama has fallen short in the boldness department as well. The question is whether anything can force the campaigns to move past symbols, blather and fingerpointing to ideas that might stand a chance of actually improving our schools.
- Mitt Romney: Class Size & Private Schools (educationclearinghouse.wordpress.com)
- Reality Check (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Romney’s Weasel Problem – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Mitt Romney offers little on education but bashing teachers unions and Obama (dailykos.com)
- Repost from an Education Blog: The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman – by the Grassroots Education Movement (dremiller.com)
- Mitt Romney slams Obama, teachers unions (kansascity.com)
- Romney backs vouchers, more school choice (washingtontimes.com)
- Mitt Romney tells teachers class size doesn’t matter. Did he think that was true for his own sons? (dailykos.com)
- Mitt Romney’s lessons from his political parents – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Eight More States Drop No Child Left Behind As Romney Fires Education Shot – International Business Times (ibtimes.com)
May 10, 2012
Richard Nixon’s Model Campaign
Associated PressRichard Nixon in February 1968.
Before tacking left for the general election, Mitt Romney has to reconcile with a right flank that has never much liked him. Peace talks kicked off May 2 when Romney met with dozens of right-wing journalists and bloggers – off the record – at a private club on Capitol Hill.
Well, technically off the record. Throw a presidential candidate in a room with that many reporters and word quickly gets out. By the end of the day, The Huffington Post had the story. One of several loose-lipped attendees reported that Romney had extended “sort of an olive branch to conservative media.” A much-needed olive branch, if the primary season is any indication. During the battle for the nomination, the right dedicated a staggering amount of airtime, bandwidth and column space to thwarting Romney’s presidential aspirations.
In the fall, Rush Limbaugh made the point plainly. “Romney is no conservative,” he told his audience. “You can argue with me all day long on that, but he isn’t.” Erick Erickson, the editor of Redstate.com, piled on with a post titled “Mitt Romney as the Nominee: Conservatism Dies and Barack Obama Wins.” And at Right Wing News, John Hawkins savaged Romney as “a pampered, prissy, fake, spiteful son of a governor being served the G.O.P. nomination on a silver platter because he kissed the right establishment behinds, benefitted from an enormous media double standard, and has more money than everyone else.” Little wonder the Romney camp decided outreach was in order.
The meeting was a start, but for Romney to win in November, he has to find a way to woo, but not wed, conservative media. And there’s no better example to follow than Richard Nixon in 1968. The only president ever to resign, Nixon usually serves as a cautionary tale, not a how-to guide. But like Romney, Nixon faced a skeptical right-wing media that lambasted him as a “political weathervane” and a “dedicated phony.” Tough words, but Nixon couldn’t simply write off the conservative broadcasters who said them. As his speechwriter Pat Buchanan explained, Nixon understood that to win in 1968 “he had to make his peace with the Goldwater wing of the party.”
Unlike the “Massachusetts moderate,” Mitt Romney, Nixon should have been a shoo-in for conservative affection. As a first-term congressman and aspiring “Red-hunter,” Nixon won over the right with his service on the House Un-American Activities Committee. There he broke the Alger Hiss spy case, siding with the frumpy former Communist Whittaker Chambers to expose Hiss, a State Department employee who was later convicted of perjury for lying about his involvement in a Soviet spy ring.
But maintaining ideological purity while navigating party politics proved an impossible task. In 1952 Nixon joined Dwight D. Eisenhower on the Republican ticket. The problem? Conservatives considered Ike at best a Democrat and at worst (according to the founder of the John Birch Society) “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.”
By the time he ran for president in 1960, the once-popular Nixon found right-wing media particularly hostile terrain. At National Review, William F. Buckley Jr. was persuaded Nixon would prove “an unreliable auxiliary of the right.” Clarence Manion, host of the “The Manion Forum” radio program, agreed. “Like you,” he wrote Buckley, “my first 1960 objective is to beat Nixon. He is an unpredictable, supremely self-interested trimmer and has never been anything else.”
The only president ever to resign, Nixon usually serves as a cautionary tale, not a how-to guide.
So solid was the resistance to a Nixon candidacy that in 1960, no conservative media outlet endorsed the vice-president either in the primaries or in the general election. Instead, they threw their energies into last-minute long-shot candidates and third-party alternatives. Manion began organizing a Draft Goldwater movement on behalf of “the courageous leader of conscientious American conservatism.” The editors of The Independent American went a step further with their (ultimately aborted) New Party Rally.
Nixon lost but didn’t learn. In 1962 he ran for governor of California, taking out the conservative Joe Shell in the primary and alienating the state’s substantial right-wing voting bloc. Conservatives stayed home, and he lost again. The morning after his humiliating defeat, a bleary-eyed Nixon famously growled at reporters, “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.” His retirement from politics didn’t stick, but the lesson about the conservatives and their media finally did. Having cast out the mainstream press, Nixon concentrated his attention on conservative alternatives.
Nixon began courting right-wing journalists and writers in August 1966, when he held his own off-the-record meeting with members of conservative media and organizations at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington. Like the Romney meeting, the secret rendezvous quickly went public. A front-page story in The Washington Post divulged all the details, including Nixon’s prediction that conservatism would be “politically respectable” by the next election. And while Nixon didn’t spell out his intentions for 1968, one attendee told the paper: “Lines of communication were opened that should be helpful later on.”
Having made his intentions known, Nixon dialed up the charm. In January 1967 he invited Buckley, Bill Rusher (publisher of National Review), and other members of the conservative media to his sprawling Fifth Avenue apartment. There he exhibited his virtuosic command of foreign and domestic policy. Rusher remained unmoved — Rusher would always remain unmoved when it came to Nixon — but Buckley? There was no surer way to Buckley’s heart than a vigorous display of intellect and insight. As Neal Freeman, Buckley’s personal aide, recalled: “I knew when we went down the elevator, early in the evening, that Bill Buckley was going to find some reason to support Richard Nixon.” True, Nixon was no conservative, but the heart wants what it wants. And a smart, experienced, electable Republican was exactly what Buckley wanted in a 1968 candidate. More than a year before the election, he was recommending Nixon as the “wisest Republican choice.”
Not everyone was so enamored. Rusher and a small contingent of fellow writers did everything in their power to forestall a Nixon endorsement at National Review. Devin Garrity, the owner of right-wing publishing house Devin-Adair, threw in for Reagan. Reagan himself had plans to swoop in and steal away the nomination, banking on Nixon’s unlikability to create an opportunity (a safe bet most of the time). Eyeing the 1968 race, Reagan dismissed Nixon as “the fellow who doesn’t get the girl.” After all, Reagan had already succeeded where Nixon failed. In 1966 he won the California governorship against Pat Brown, who had defeated Nixon four years earlier. But Reagan underestimated how much his own inexperience diminished his standing as a would-be suitor. Though he had many fans on the right, most agreed the former actor wasn’t ready for prime-time.
Eventually, conservative media lined up for Nixon. Once he clenched the nomination, endorsements sprouted up everywhere: the newsweekly Human Events, National Review, The Manchester Union-Leader. True, the editors of National Review admitted, Nixon was far from the ideal candidate. But they urged readers to keep the faith, “faith that when he gets the votes he needs, and no longer has to submit to that frightful wooing ritual mass democracy imposes on its leaders, he will speak with a clearer, firmer, less neutrally balanced voice.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement. And it got worse. They noted that Nixon was hardly “as passionate a believer in the ingenuity of the free marketplace as, for instance, Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan.” And as president, “there will undoubtedly be plenty to criticize in his administration of the nation’s affairs.” Yet with all the ways Nixon was likely to disappoint, the editors encouraged conservatives to cast their ballots for him. At the very least he could give America “the impulse it needs on the way back to sobriety.” Nixon couldn’t take the nation to the Promised Land, but he could at least help them survive the wilderness.
In 1968, members of right-wing media fell in line, if not in love, hoping to make a go of pragmatic politics. Just as his failed campaigns taught Nixon to move right, Goldwater’s catastrophic 1964 loss persuaded conservatives they would have to move left. “No sense running Mona Lisa in a beauty contest,” Buckley said in 1967 before clarifying: “I’d be for the most right, viable candidate who could win.”
Associated PressRichard Nixon at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Fla. on Aug. 8, 1968.
But in making Nixon “their president,” right-wing media swung too far in the other direction. Tom Huston, a conservative White House aide, begged National Review to come down hard on “the disastrous series of liberal appointments” following the inauguration. But the resulting editorial shrugged off Huston’s concerns, calling the appointments “mostly of non-ideological types.” The editors instead counseled conservatives to wait for a major foreign crisis to test the president’s mettle. “Then we shall see what stuff Nixon is made of,” they held, “then and not before.”
It would be one thing if they were Republican partisans, but these messengers of the right were keepers of a different faith. Their calls for patience, both during Nixon’s campaign and his presidency, cost conservative media their readers, their reputations and ultimately their leadership role in the movement. In its inaugural issue in November 1955, National Review had declared itself a “vigorous and incorruptible journal of conservative opinion.” Could it still make that claim when backing Nixon, a president who supported a guaranteed annual income, extensive environmental regulations and détente?
It turned out there was, briefly, a limit to how far they would follow “their president.” After he announced his plans to open relations with Communist China, the leaders of right-wing periodicals and publishing houses broke with Nixon. Rusher and Tom Winter of Human Events even spearheaded the search for another leading man, recruiting Ohio Congressman John Ashbrook to challenge Nixon in the 1972 primaries.
But just as they were reclaiming their oppositional voices, conservative media relinquished them again. When the Ashbrook candidacy failed to take off, National Review endorsed the Nixon-Agnew ticket. The editors chided their readers: “Now is not the time to be churlish.” Their advice went unheeded. The magazine had traded ideological purity for a seat at the table, and readers began to slip away. By 1973, National Review’s circulation lagged 20 percent behind its pre-Nixon heights. As Rusher explained in a memo to the editors: since National Review had failed to provide real opposition to the Nixon administration, “the conservative troops increasingly march off to tunes drummed out by latecomers.”
With this year’s nomination battle winding down, conservative media are making the same pivot toward Romney. As the nominee, he is their only chance to beat President Obama. And they are his only chance to keep the base on board while he Etch A Sketches his way to the center during the general election. Aware that full-throated conservatism won’t win over those crucial swing voters come November, some members of the right-wing media are willing to provide cover for Romney. National Review, which half-heartedly came out in support of Romney last December, has now thrown itself fully behind him. As the magazine’s editor Rich Lowry declared to Howard Kurtz at The Daily Beast: “If I have to manufacture enthusiasm, I’ll happily do so.”
Not everyone shares Lowry’s conviction. Erick Erickson claims that many on the right still “think Romney is not really a whole lot better than Obama.” He criticizes the Romney campaign for not reaching out to evangelicals, a group already hesitant to fully back a Mormon candidate. “Romney just expects their vote,” Erickson argued in a recent post. “He may get it, but not their passion or energy.” How much to stir up that passion and energy is a critical question facing conservative media. If Romney’s moderate turn toward the general election is actually a permanent return to his technocratic, nonideological roots, how far will conservative media follow him down that path?
Yet the partner most at risk in this relationship isn’t the media; it’s Mitt Romney. There’s an important difference between 1968 and 2012, one Romney must heed if he wants to successfully navigate the general election. In 1968, conservative media lost their identity as they compromised in favor of pragmatic politics. But today’s conservative media are far more powerful than their predecessors, and politicians far more likely to play second-fiddle to them.
The danger in 2012 is not that pragmatism will blunt conservative media. Rather, if these media insist on ideological purity, they could cost Romney both conservatives and moderates. His history of flip-flopping ensures he’ll never persuade conservatives that he shares their core values. And any attempt to prove he’s “severely conservative” will drive away independents wary of extremes.
Nothing highlights this danger more than the coming debate over same-sex marriage. When Obama declared his support for marriage equality on Wednesday, he forced Romney into a precarious position. If he fails to take a strong enough stand in opposition, Romney risks losing evangelicals’ already-soft support. If he fails to distance himself enough from same-sex marriage’s more provocative opponents, he risks losing swing voters with little appetite for cultural crusades.
Here Nixon is again a valuable guide. Richard Nixon never claimed to be a movement conservative, just someone who would attend to the right’s political desires. Like Nixon, Romney is a pragmatist who changes his views to match the political mood. From the perspective of the right, what Romney must now demonstrate is his belief that the current mood is fundamentally conservative, and that he will do what he must to keep the right on board. True, it’s not particularly inspiring. It’s practical and calculating, just like Nixon — who, remember, won a close election in 1968, won re-election in a historic landslide and built a coalition that sustained the Republican Party for 40 years.
- Gingrich Out Of Campaign But, Like Nixon, Not Giving Up On Power (thepracticalvegetarian.wordpress.com)
- “Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.” Richard Nixon Good night, my friends. Sweet dreams. (waselife.wordpress.com)
- “Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.” Richard Nixon Good night, my friends. Sweet dreams. (wincharles.wordpress.com)
- Was Richard M. Nixon a Closet Marxist: Forward Together (littlegreenfootballs.com)
- The Bush-Nixon Connection (economicpolicyjournal.com)
- Sen. Marco Rubio Has A Richard Nixon Slush Fund Problem (dekerivers.wordpress.com)
- POLL OF THE DAY: Here’s The One Thing Holding Romney Back In The Polls (businessinsider.com)
- Obama, Romney talk little about health care laws (mysanantonio.com)
- Richard Nixon’s love letters to wife to go on display (telegraph.co.uk)
- Recording reveals Richard Nixon’s anger over NFL blackouts (profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)
Gingrich dropping out? Good riddance.
By Jonathan Bernstein
Frankly, Newt Gingrich never had a chance, no matter how many “profounds” and “fundamentals” he threw at us. He exits as he began: As a presidential candidate, he was always Sarah Palin without the enthusiastic supporters but with a marital record that made John Edwards look good.
If we’re lucky — and we won’t be, alas — this would mark the end of Gingrich as a national political figure. The record is not a good one:
●Several years as a back-bench bomb-thrower in the House;
●Two terms as speaker, in which he was responsible for the longest government shutdown on record as well as the disgusting decision to impeach a president to produce partisan talking points;
●Chased from office by a party conference that initially (and mistakenly) credited him with the shocking 1994 election sweep but soon enough plotted against him and eventually grew fed up enough to dump him;
●And then, after threatening it for 16 years, the coda: a self-aggrandizing and futile run for the presidency. Many observers suspected it was always more about promoting his various ways of cashing in on his political career than a real attempt to win office, although others pointed to his Churchill-obsessed megalomania in positing that he really thought he was going to win.
●Woodrow Wilson, who as president attempted to delegitimize Congress and play up a mystical (and mythical) ability of the man in the White House to channel the deepest wishes of the American people;
●Richard Nixon, who turned partisan viciousness into an art form and attempted to delegitimize the executive-branch bureaucracy and the press;
●And Newt Gingrich, who was even more viciously partisan than Nixon and who attempted to delegitimize so many institutions that it would take something much longer than a blog post to list them all.
Newt’s entire mode of action was to destroy whatever was in his path in order to “save” it, whether it was the House of Representatives, the presidency or the Republican Party. It’s the spirit of Newt Gingrich that has left us with coarser, uglier and more extreme language in our daily politics; it’s the spirit of Newt Gingrich that leads to things such as Senate Republicans filibustering against nominees they don’t even actually oppose.
He was never, as some learned to their embarrassment over the last few months (and as new Republican members of the House learned to their surprise in 1995), much of a conservative. He was a radical, always eagerly embracing whatever struck his fancy at the moment or whatever he believed he needed to believe in order to achieve his goals, which were usually about destroying someone — Jim Wright, Bob Michel, Bill Clinton, Mitt Romney. If that meant aligning himself with movement conservatives, fine; if it meant sitting on a couch and talking climate change with Nancy Pelosi, or bashing Paul Ryan’s budget, or attacking Romney’s business, that was fine too.
With any luck, conservatives will have learned their lesson and they’ll finally exile him to wherever disgraced politicians go. More likely, they’ll eagerly welcome him and his beloved extreme words back into the fold once he retrains his aim on Barack Obama. It’s too bad.
By the way, the best things I’ve read about Gingrich are John M. Barry’s “The Ambition and the Power,” for how Gingrich manipulated the media to take on then-House Speaker Jim Wright, and “Tell Newt to Shut Up!” by David Maraniss and Michael Weisskopf, about his disastrous first year as speaker. I recommend them both.
- Gingrich Tells Romney He Will Quit Race – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Gingrich faces uncertain future after failed run (midwestdemocracy.com)
- Newt Gingrich Maybe Kinda Considering Dropping Out (motherjones.com)
- Newt Gingrich: what went wrong? (politico.com)
- BREAKING: Newt Gingrich To Drop Out Next Week (thinkprogress.org)
- Newt Gingrich to suspend campaign, according to Washington Post (jacksonville.com)
- Newt Gingrich to End Bid for Presidency (towleroad.com)
- Newt Gingrich: ‘Not dropping out of race following Tuesday primaries’ (bazaardaily.com)
- Gingrich expected to end campaign May 1 (bizjournals.com)
- Gingrich Faces Uncertain Future After Failed Run – CBS Local (washington.cbslocal.com)
Making Sense, by Michael Reagan
Who should we tar and feather for the scandalous spending spree at that General Services Administration “conference” in Nevada two years ago?
Whose fault is it that a bunch of GSA bureaucrats wasted money on $44 breakfasts, a clown and a $75,000 bicycle-building exercise?
Rick McKee / Augusta Chronicle (click to view more cartoons by McKee)
Not the GSA’s bosses. Not the Obama administration. I pin the blame on Watergate and Congress.
This week Congressional hearings all over Washington have been grilling past and current GSA officials about a $850,000 conference that blew thousands of dollars on things like a mind-reader and “yearbooks” and commemorative coins for the 300 participants.
Everyone from the president to Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California has expressed outrage at the GSA, which manages the federal government’s property and purchases goods and services for other agencies.
But the source of this scandal isn’t the GSA or its inattentive bosses. They were behaving badly, but they were only doing what they were supposed to — spend every dime Congress gave their agency to spend.
The deeper problem is the way budget money has been allocated and spent by the federal government since the Watergate era. And it’s a problem only Congress can fix.
You’ve probably never heard of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Don’t feel bad. Apparently, neither have the members of the 112th Congress.
The Impoundment Control Act was passed by Congress to punish Richard Nixon for Watergate. It effectively took away the long-standing power of the president to impound federal dollars even though they had been allocated by Congress.
Presidents since Jefferson had used their power to impound money, put it in a fund and spend it in a future fiscal year. Forty-three governors today have the same power to impound money their state legislatures allocate.
For about 170 years the president’s impoundment power was an effective way to keep federal budgets balanced or to prevent Congress from spending money on dumb or unnecessary projects.
Then came Watergate and the Impoundment Control Act. Since then Congress has given itself a blank check to spend money the government didn’t have. Did it matter? Are you kidding?
In 1974, the federal budget deficit was $6.1 billion. One year after the Impoundment Control Act was made law, the deficit was $53 billion. By the time my father Ronald Reagan became president, it was $79 billion.
There’s only one way to prevent future GSA scandals and end our massive budget deficits. Cut back the total amount of money the federal government spends.
Paul Ryan is right. When government agencies have enough money to spend on $850,000 junkets, we’re putting too much money in their checkbooks.
So don’t put the biggest blame on the GSA bureaucrats. Put it on Congress. It’s Congress’ job to slash the budget money the GSA and other bloated, over-funded and unnecessary federal agencies get in the first place.
Instead of holding hearings to see who can express the most outrage at the GSA’s waste, Congress’ spendthrifts should go back and read the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Then they should repeal it.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Revolution” (St. Martin’s Press, 2011). He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his website at http://www.reagan.com, or e-mail comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com.
- Congress: Republican led House wants to amend the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 – the Senate comes back 1/9 (ynative77.wordpress.com)
- Chuck Colson, Watergate figure and Christian ministry founder, reportedly near death (abcnews.go.com)
- CBO – Unauthorized Appropriations and Expiring Authorizations (bespacific.com)
- Sons of Watergate [George Emsden] (ecademy.com)
- Bernstein: John Paul II a pillar of 20th century (timesleader.com)
- Weekly Basket: Tempest in a Teapot (gloucestercitynews.net)
- Watergate figure Chuck Colson reportedly near death (religion.blogs.cnn.com)
- Nixon’s Clean Water Act Impoundment Power Play (ecocentricblog.org)
- Watergate by Thomas Mallon (nochargebookbunch.com)
- Watergate figure Charles Colson in grave condition (kansascity.com)