Posts Tagged Rick Perry

Frank Rich on the National Circus: Mitt Can’t Wait Out His Tax Storm — Daily Intel

Frank Rich on the National Circus: Mitt Can’t Wait Out His Tax Storm

By Frank Rich

7/18/12 at 12:50 PM 

Mitt Romney’s taxes, tax avoidance, and tax returns have become one of the central issues of this campaign. A growing chorus of Republicans, among them Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and the editors of National Review, have called on Mitt to release more returns. Would that be smart politics? Or can he wait out this storm?

Is there any major Republican, from George Will to Bill Kristol to Haley Barbour, who has not called for Romney to release more returns? Surely Romney himself is asking for more than two years of returns from the veep prospects he’s vetting. What Mitt doesn’t seem to realize is that whatever embarrassments are in his tax returns, the bigger problem is that his secrecy keeps accentuating all the mysteries in his resume: the erased hard drives he left behind when leaving office as Massachusetts governor; what exactly he did as a longtime lay official in the Mormon church; and, of course, what exactly he did and didn’t do at Bain and, for that matter, when he was there and not there. If he keeps trying to wait out the tax storm, it will keep growing — hitting a new peak when he finally releases the one additional year of tax returns he has agreed to disclose, and another when his veep pick is asked to release his or her tax returns.

One man who has famously seen 23 years of Romney’s tax returns, John McCain, said it was “outrageous” that people would speculate that Mitt’s IRS filings had disqualified him from the VP slot. Palin was just the “better candidate,” McCain said. Do you believe him?

What I certainly believe is that McCain is so full of himself that he would defend his own politically disastrous choice of Palin even if that means insulting Romney by declaring him inferior to her. Between McCain, Ed Gillespie (who coined the phrase “retroactively retired” to spin Mitt’s Bain elusive employment timeline) and John Sununu (who slurred the president as un-American), a foot-in-mouth Obama surrogate like Cory Booker is starting to look relatively good. One Romney campaign flack, Gail Gitcho, was so incompetent at fielding questions on MSNBC one morning this week you’d think she was being interviewed by Mike Wallace in full prosecutorial mode rather than by the respectful Luke Russert. 

Mitt seems much more enthusiastic talking about his VP pick, or rather talking about how he’s going to make a VP pick sometime soon. Is all this VP hype an effective distraction technique? And is there any way the actual VP choice isn’t going to be a letdown after this hype?

None too effective as a distraction, given that everyone is still talking about Bain and Romney’s tax returns. A letdown is assured unless it’s, say, Condi Rice or Mike Huckabee or Kid Rock. The truth is that Romney isn’t really good about talking about anything, trivial or substantive. The five television interviews he gave last Friday to clarify his Bain record — instigated by his own campaign — were so tongue-tied, disingenuous and laced with corporate jargon (“entities” and whatnot) that they ended up doing more harm than good. Americans still don’t understand how he could have been CEO (among other titles) at Bain, collect a six-figure salary (at least), and not be responsible for anything. Mitt also prissily whined that Obama should “apologize” to him — even though Romney’s own campaign book is titled No Apology — and in a fawning interview conducted by Fox & Friends, he defended his tax disclosure record by comparing himself to, of all people, Teresa Heinz Kerry. His strategy on NBC — to duck questions about his offshore finances by hiding once more behind his “blind trust” — was easily demolished. Just 72 hours later, Jon Stewart ran the 1994 clip in which Romney, then running against Ted Kennedy, dismissed a blind trust as “an age-old ruse” that can easily be manipulated by its beneficiary.

This is our last Circus until early August. In the unlikely event Mitt names his pick before we return, care to take a shot at naming Romney’s VP choice, just for fun?

All the betting seems to be on Tim Pawlenty, and with good reason because he’s Romney’s idea of a diversity pick: He may be another boring white guy, but TPaw (has there ever been a guy less suited to this kind of nickname?) wasn’t born into wealth and comes from Minnesota, not Michigan, and thus enlivens the ticket with a slightly different variety of Midwestern accent. 

The Times ran a long story on Sunday on Obama’s former finance chairwoman Penny Pritzker and her reluctance to get into this campaign. Meanwhile, the Romney money machine keeps on chugging. Will big Democratic donors jump in to do battle with Sheldon Adelson, Harold Simmons, and Bob Perry, or will the fund-raising gap keep growing?

What the Times was picking up on was the fact that Obama is regarded by a wide swath of establishment Democrats, from some big donors to members of his own cabinet, as an isolated cold fish who doesn’t suffer schmoozers gladly. There may well be a continued money gap, particularly when you factor in the Obama hatred and unlimited bank rolls of the billionaire sugar daddies feeding the GOP super-PACs. 

Politico ran a story yesterday saying the GOP was desperately trying to avoid a government shutdown in September, recognizing that it might kill their election chances. Will the GOP establishment be able to wrangle its Tea Party wing into that kind of compromise? And is avoiding a shutdown smart politics for them?

Avoiding a shutdown would be smart politics for the GOP. And it’s not inconceivable the Tea Party would go along in avoiding such a train wreck. Dick Armey, now a leader of the Tea Party organization FreedomWorks, was in the GOP leadership during the Gingrich shutdown circus of 1995–96,  and later publicly acknowledged that it was “a public-relations catastrophe” for his own party. Armey also has shrewdly observed that Republicans, not a Democratic president, will always be blamed for shutdowns because “it’s counter-intuitive that Democrats who love government would shut it down.” So he and others like him may try to dissuade the hotheads from igniting a Washington apocalypse in the weeks before the election.

Dick Cheney reemerged from the dank Wyoming cave system in which he spends the daylight hours to tell Republican Congressman not to cut defense spending. Is anyone, Republican or Democrat, happy to see Cheney back in Washington? 

I doubt it. No one cares about yesterday’s Darth Vader. Besides, there’s a new Hollywood blockbuster villain on the block to hiss. As has not been lost on Rush Limbaugh — who has already whipped himself into a tizzy about it — Batman’s vicious nemesis in this weekend’s much awaited Hollywood arrival,The Dark Knight Rises, goes by the name Bane.  

 Frank Rich on the National Circus: Mitt Can’t Wait Out His Tax Storm — Daily Intel.

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Cagle Post » Corporate Raider is Not a Good Model for Public Service

Corporate Raider is Not a Good Model for Public Service


You can’t run government like a business anymore than you can run business like a government. GOP presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, burned corporations to the ground then made millions selling off the charcoal. This private sector experience is being touted as his qualification to be president. This expertise of bankaneering—corporate raiding—is so sexy to Republicans they now parrot the line, “President Obama doesn’t understand the economy,” implying Romney does because he’s been in the trenches breathing the fumes of leveraged buyouts.

It’s like a fox claiming he has the insider knowledge to properly guard the hen house. “The farmer just doesn’t understand poultry.”


Taylor Jones /


As billionaire Julian Robertson who after giving $1.25 million Restore Our Future—a pro-Romney superPAC—told NPR last week, “I think Barack Obama is a smart man that the electorate put into power without any qualifications to run the biggest business in the world, which is the United States of America.”

The thing is the U.S. isn’t a business. Government isn’t a business just as an apple isn’t an orange. Running government like a business would be like running Yosemite National Park like a 7-Eleven—every inch is monetized to maximize profit–half off all 5-Hour Energy Shots on Half Dome! “A mountain of savings!” It’s a stunningly bad idea. It sounds clever in sound bites. They hope it sounds like Republicans are business friendly and quick with the flippant solutions: Government bad, business good—treat one like the other and both will be good! To me it sounds like the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) with a profit motive: another stunningly bad idea.

Vulture capitalism (to borrow a phrase from the leftist pinko Texas Governor Rick Perry) is hardly a good model for public service. Capitalizing on demolishing jobs doesn’t give you any insight into the common good, unless you take “common good” to mean just your wealthy friends.

This whole selling point of Romney having business experience therefore he’s the best to run the country implies that the economy collapsed because there wasn’t enough of a cozy relationship between government and business.

Yes, the world melted because Washington was too adversarial with Wall Street. It was Godzilla battling Mothra that trampled Main Street … instead of deregulated greed greased by conspiring politicians.

But Republicans, as you recall, came out firmly against empathy (when it comes to President Obama’s judicial appointments). But they feel empathy for corporations is what’s lacking in the Executive Office. They want a president who feels the pain of Big Business. Who understands that just like you and me corporations are people, my friends. And only the former CEO Romney can see eye-to-eye with a contrived paper-based legal entity.

It’s very telling that Republicans say government is a business and should be run like one. For them there’s no conflict—only interest. Government is just an extension of business. Like in 2007 when a reporter asked how many of Romney’s five sons were serving in the military. Romney’s answer: “One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I’d be a great president.” It’s just really all the same thing to Romney.

We don’t want our government to be run like a corporation. With any follow-up questions the analogy fails. Corporations don’t ensure rights. Especially rights which annoy yield like free speech and due process. Slavery was profitable. As was child labor. Pollution is profitable.

If making rich people richer was the sole purpose of government (like it is of corporations) we’d no longer have a country: We’d have Lehman Brothers.

 Cagle Post » Corporate Raider is Not a Good Model for Public Service.

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Free Wood Post – Neurobiologists Prove Rats Are More Compassionate Than Republicans

Neurobiologists Prove Rats Are More Compassionate Than Republicans

February 21, 2012





In the December 2011 issue of Science, a study by University of Chicago neurobiologists proved that rats are empathetic creatures with a strong impulse to aid other troubled rats. This study has further strengthened the theory that even rats are more compassionate than Republicans.


The study of rat empathy consisted of a series of experiments in which one rat was free to roam while another was caged. If the free rat applied pressure on the cage it was able to free the captive rodent. Once it learned this result, it consistently freed his neighbor. After further testing it was concluded that, “They freed cagemates even when social contact was prevented. When liberating a cagemate was pitted against chocolate contained within a second restrainer, rats opened both restrainers and typically shared the chocolate. Thus, rats behave pro-socially in response to a conspecific’s distress, providing strong evidence for biological roots of empathically motivated helping behavior.”


The implications of this study have already begun to permeate the public consciousness as Americans look toward the 2012 elections. Would Mitt Romney free a caged Rick Santorum? Would a cage even hold Newt Gingrich if chocolate is involved? We may never know the answers to these questions; however we can use empirical evidence to determine the likely results.


Romney and Santorum share many conservative ideologies. They believe that the U.S Constitution should be amended to declare that marriage be defined as a union between a man and a woman. Thus, it could be concluded that both candidates are anti-love when that love does not meet their personal criteria. Further, Romney, Santorum and many Republicans are advocates of the death penalty. When asked whether it troubled him that one of the 234 death row inmates in Texas might be innocent former Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry replied, “No sir. I’ve never struggled with that at all.” Therefore, while these conservatives are anti-love they could also be considered pro-death.


Compassionate acts display three requisite steps: First- the recognition of distress. Second- the desire to help the creature in distress. Third- action to alleviate that distress. Romney may be unable to differentiate between living and non-living beings as he states, “corporations are people too”. Hence, he may not be able to recognize true distress from a disappointing earnings report. Texas Governor Perry does not have any desire to help those in distress stating, “Many homeless have chosen their lifestyle.” In fact, when those in distress succeed in freeing themselves, they are often condemned for their courage. In 2005 Santorum stated, “The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness?”  From this statement Santorum seems to indicate that he actually prefers certain people, primarily those who are not Caucasian males, to remain in distress.



Given that the Romney and Santorum are among those chosen by all Republicans to represent them in the 2012 election, it could be concluded that the majority of Republicans are less empathetic than rats. If however you need further proof, let’s look at David Crocker the Republican Mayor of South Fulton, Tennessee. Crocker imposed a $75 annual fee for anyone who would like to have the city’s fire department extinguish their burning home. Last December, firefighters watched as Vicky Bell’s trailer home and all of her possessions went up in flames. For want of $75 a Republican Mayor will watch a person’s home burn. Clearly the people in Fulton would be better off if a rat were in charge.


In conclusion, it must be conceded that rats appear to be significantly more empathetic than Republicans. When presented with this evidence, Republicans vilified rats as “Socialist” and “anti-American”. The concern still remains, in order to win in 2012, Republicans may need to “rat up”.


Free Wood Post.

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Borowitz Report – April Fools

Republicans Reveal that Entire Presidential Race was a Prank

April Fool’s Day Announcement Brings Practical Joke to an End

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – In an April Fool’s Day announcement that took the political world by storm, the Republican Party revealed today that its entire presidential race had been an elaborate prank.

“April Fool!” exclaimed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum at a press conference in Washington, where they were joined by fellow merrymakers Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain.

Moments after revealing that the GOP primary had been one long practical joke, Mr. Santorum explained the rationale behind staging such a complicated and expensive prank.

“A lot of Americans are suffering right now and need a good laugh,” he said.  “I think my colleagues and I can be justifiably proud of the entertainment we provided – even if it meant me wearing these ridiculous sweater vests.”

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain agreed that the prank had gone well, but added, “I’m just amazed that the American people never figured out we were kidding.”

“I mean, I kept saying ‘9-9-9’ every four seconds, which was total and utter bullshit,” he said.  “And everything out of Michele’s mouth made her sound like a mental patient.”

“True that,” Rep. Bachmann agreed.

Texas Governor Rick Perry said he worried that “every time I screwed up at a debate people would figure out I was pulling their legs,” but added, “The American people seemed to accept the idea that a Governor of Texas could be a blithering idiot.”

When one reporter mentioned that Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) was not at the press conference, a sudden silence fell over the gathering.

“Did anyone ever tell Ron this was supposed to be a prank?” Mr. Romney asked.  “Holy cow, maybe he’s really serious.” Borowitz Report.

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Borowitz Report – Bigot Report

Potential Matchup Between Black Man and Mormon Poses Dilemma for Bigots

Nowhere to Turn, Disgruntled Haters Say



NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – With a fall presidential contest between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney seeming increasingly likely, America’s bigots are finding themselves in a quandary over which candidate to support, prominent bigots confirmed today.

Across the U.S., voters who describe themselves as bigots are complaining that a first-ever matchup between a Black man and a Mormon, while historic, is forcing them to ask a difficult question: which group do they hate more?

“I’ve always seen myself as pretty versatile, bigotry-wise,” said Herb Torlinson, a hardware salesman from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “But I guess this is going to be an election that really puts my different hates to the test.”

At the Clapboard Corner Café in Youngstown, Ohio, a group of bigots who gather for breakfast once a week to discuss their dislike of various racial and religious groups echoed Mr. Torlinson’s sentiments.

“I actually cried when Rick Perry dropped out of the race,” said David Colehurn, a disgruntled hater who works at a nearby Pep Boys. “He may be brain-damaged and all, but at least he’s White and Christian.”

Mr. Colehurn said that his bigotry towards both Black people and Mormons was making him entertain thoughts of voting for a third-party candidate, but that he was “turned off” by the possibility of a bid from Texas congressman Ron Paul: “I hate old people.”

In other political news, former Sen. Rick Santorum revealed that he made his first sweater vest himself when he tore off the sleeves of his straitjacket.

 Borowitz Report.

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If Mitt Romney Sees His Shadow, Is That Six More Weeks of Blunders? | Double Dip Politics

If Mitt Romney Sees His Shadow, Is That Six More Weeks of Blunders?


Much has been said about Mitt Romney over the past six years of nearly continuous campaigning for the office of President. In 2012, the conventional wisdom says it’s “Mitt’s time”, with many believing he will be the GOP nominee. There is a nagging problem with Romney that makes the most loyal of supporters question him. For an intelligent business man who has been in and out of politics since the early 1990s, Mitt Romney makes a lot of unforced errors when he is speaking. 

Let’s look at a few recent blunders by Romney while on the campaign trail.

·         The famous “Corporations are people, my friend” statement. While it is true, under the 14th Amendment, it’s still inappropriate to say when voters are upset at corporations.

·         Romney stated that he was unemployed while in Iowa. While he may technically be unemployed at the moment, most of the unemployed don’t bring home $15 million after taxes and charitable donations.

·         Following the New Hampshire Primary, Romney uttered the “I like being able to fire people who provide services” statement. While the statement, in context, say that he doesn’t want his employees to be unionized, it has become synonymous with his time at Bain Capital.

·         Romney made another blunder in saying that he doesn’t care about poor people. While he was saying that there are plans to help the poor, while there aren’t as many programs to help the middle class. It was a sound statement, just poorly executed.

·         Romney was unprepared for questions about his tax returns, and was uncertain how many years he would release to the public.

·         Romney referred to nearly $350,000 in speaking fees as “not very much” money.

·         Romney made a $10,000 wager with Rick Perry over Romney’s book.

Those blunders are in addition to the claims of Mitt Romney being an elitist, out-of-touch, and a flip-flopper. The list continues to grow, almost as often as Romney opens his mouth.

Read more…

 If Mitt Romney Sees His Shadow, Is That Six More Weeks of Blunders? | Double Dip Politics.

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Overmisunderestimating Rick Perry –

Campaign Stops - Strong Opinions on the 2012 Election

January 20, 2012, 1:45 PM

Overmisunderestimating Rick Perry


On Thursday night I happened to call a friend just before 10 p.m. and caught her a little tipsy — she had been out celebrating Rick Perry’s ignominious withdrawal from the presidential race.

Not for the first time was I caught with my ambivalence in full flower: I, too, was chipper now that the longest-serving governor of Texas was down and out, but he’d only shown the white flag after months and months of embarrassing the state by reinforcing every negative stereotype that’s been used against us for, well, forever. The swagger, the anti-intellectualism, the boots, the bullying — the only good news is that they didn’t work for Perry as well as they did for his predecessor in the governor’s office. (That would be, in case you’ve forgotten, George W. Bush.)

But even stranger is my own sense of shame: I had been certain that Perry was going to be the next president of the United States. Invited to participate in the flurry of bloviation that followed his announcement last August, I looked into the camera and with a very straight face told the talk TV viewers of America to be very afraid. If they didn’t stop Perry, they’d soon be suffering Texans too: enduring our poor educational standards, our poor health care, our lack of  environmental protections, a shell game budget, and so on. I believed we’d see a President Perry and I wasn’t the only one.

Back in the early days of the Perry campaign, I had lunch with a friend who had worked on former Houston mayor Bill White’s race against him for governor. Talking about a Perry candidacy, we were like two teenage girls sitting around a campfire trying to scare each other to death. “He’ll do anything to win,” she intoned. “Anything.” “I know,” I said. “I know.” How did we get it so wrong about his national prospects?

Let me say in my defense that it wasn’t because I didn’t know who Perry was. Maybe he is a perfectly nice guy in private, but his record as governor showed him to be someone who didn’t really seem to believe in much of anything beyond getting himself elected and then re-elected in order to further the fortunes of his deeply conservative Republican backers. If that meant turning Texas into a backwater, so be it.

But that never seemed to matter here. As one politico explained it to me, “Perry gives the people of Texas just what they want in a government, which is nothing.” More to the point, Perry played expertly over the years to the 750,000 right-wing Republicans who vote in the primary, and kept his job. He sent far more qualified and forward-looking candidates packing in the process; I am still holding a grudge against our senior senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison, who turned tail and ran rather than go up against Perry in the Republican primary race for governor in 2006, when he won with only 39 percent of the vote. (He trounced her four years later, when he had truly become all powerful.)  As someone close to me who refuses to be identified said, “Perry’s been an idiot for a long time and he keeps getting re-elected.”

Because Perry ran the state like the king of a medieval fiefdom, Austin became something of an echo chamber for the oppressed. Forget the slackers who eat cupcakes and samosas from food trucks when they should be in class — I’m talking about the lobbyists, journalists and legislators who all bought into the juggernaut that was supposedly Rick Perry. It’s hard to fault them — they’ve had to play by his rules for more than 11 years, after all — but they are the ones who created and perpetuated the myths that made Perry look bulletproof.

In theory, he reinvented the rules of Texas politics (he didn’t have to debate and he shunned editorial boards!); he was eerily lucky (he beat Kinky Friedman for governor!) and he was, above all, vindictive in the tradition of the best Texas pols. (See: L.B.J. playbook, chapter entitled, “Reward your friends; punish your enemies.”)

That the national press seemed to take these notions as gospel only reinforced my fear. Remember Time magazine’s cover story on Perry last August?  A sample from “Lone Star Warrior”: “If Perry has a secret weapon, it is his appeal to the rainbow coalition that is now the Republican Party — from veterans to fiscal hawks, gun-rights advocates to religious conservatives, Constitution-waving libertarians to America-firsters.”

I also had history on my side. I remember very clearly, back in the late 1990s, telling friends on the East Coast that George W. Bush was going to be our next President. They made it clear that they thought I was nuts. The result: a friend here who went to high school with Bush woke up every morning for eight years thinking George? George is president?

So Perry was going to be Bush redux. He was supposed to stroll into the nomination and the presidency largely because everyone else was just going to stand aside for the big guy. No one imagined that Perry would turn out to be more like another former governor, John Connally, who spent a king’s ransom to win exactly one delegate in his race in 1980.

Then reality set in. It is almost impossible to describe the shock and horror of many Texans as we watched Perry go down in flames. Very few people remembered how badly Perry lost a debate in his first governor’s race — against a man who was no intellectual giant, I assure you. But this was like watching a purported Olympian stumble on “The Biggest Loser.”

I didn’t feel sorry for Perry — he was just a lazy candidate who didn’t do his homework, back pain or no back pain — but I did feel angry for Texas. He’d embarrassed the place he purported to love, throwing up his hands with “Oops!” and going loopy at a speech before some misguided New Hampshirites, after which he clutched a bottle of maple syrup he’d been given like a giggling, greedy second grader.

Even worse, he was a Texan who couldn’t recall that there was a Department of Energy. Seriously? In an effort to try to save her husband’s campaign, his wife, Anita, who had always seemed like a pretty normal person, was out there claiming that God had called Perry to run.

It was all for nothing, of course. By the time Perry withdrew, the former Tea Party heartthrob couldn’t even make the top of the news. That honor went to Newt Gingrich’s ex, with her allegations of the candidate’s plea for an open marriage. (Perry had just thrown his support to Gingrich hours before, further proof of his cluelessness.)

And so today Perry is all ours again. The pundits in Austin are predicting he’ll win a fourth term for governor, and things will go on as before. I’m keeping my opinions to myself.

Mimi Swartz is an executive editor at Texas Monthly.

 Overmisunderestimating Rick Perry –

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There They Go Again –

Campaign Stops - Strong Opinions on the 2012 Election


January 19, 2012, 11:24 PM

There They Go Again


A week ago, 150 evangelical leaders meeting at a ranch outside Houston backed Rick Santorum’s candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. Presumably, they hoped that their endorsement would pull Mitt Romney back from the front of the race. Saturday’s primary in South Carolina – with evangelicals expected to make up sixty percent of the electorate – provides what seems like a perfect testing ground for disrupting any claims about Romney’s inevitable nomination.

Newt Gingrich is apparently surging once again, taking votes from Romney. Coupled with Rick Perry’s exit, the evangelicals’ blessing of Santorum in Texas could propel him to a surprisingly good showing on Saturday or — who knows? — perhaps even a victory.

Speaking from Texas shortly after the endorsement, Gary Bauer, a prominent social conservative who ran for president in 2000, explained why the evangelicals had rallied behind Santorum: “They were all looking for the best Reagan conservative.”

Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office on Jan. 28, 1986. 

Dennis Cook/Associated PressRonald Reagan in the Oval Office on Jan. 28, 1986.

For nearly twenty-five years, Ronald Reagan has loomed over every Republican contest. During the debates this campaign season, he has been mentioned four times as often as the most recent Republican president, George W. Bush. At the final debate in South Carolina on Thursday, for example, Newt Gingrich said, “When I became speaker, we went back to the Ronald Reagan play book.” Mitt Romney, for his part, didn’t like to hear Gingrich speaking that way. “I looked at the Reagan diary,” he told Gingrich. “You’re mentioned once.”

This is typical. Across the Republican Party’s political spectrum, candidates continually claim the Reagan mantle, depicting themselves as his most steadfast acolyte and the natural heir to his political legacy. Rick Santorum did it, too, suggesting earlier on Thursday that he was the candidate most likely to fulfill Reagan’s political legacy. “We’re going to win or lose this election based on about 10 states,” he said. “I come from one of those states. I come from a background and a town where there were lots of Reagan Democrats.”

The religious right wing of the Republican Party has clung especially close to the memory of Reagan. In Reagan, religious conservatives remember a president who spiced his speeches with Bible verses, fought for their issues, and championed the nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage. But memory is an unreliable guide, and history in the service of politics often breeds soothing myths that camouflage inconvenient truths.

In reality, religious conservatives were often dissatisfied with Reagan’s presidency. The Christian right of today – and Republicans generally – must stop using a mythic Reagan as their measuring stick for candidates because it drives them away from viable contenders who fall short of an impossible standard that Reagan himself couldn’t have met.

Believing themselves the key constituency that had guaranteed Reagan’s historic win in 1980, Christian conservatives felt the president owed them for their enthusiastic backing. Reagan had courted the nascent political movement on the religious right with a spirited defense of their most cherished political issues, including promises to restore school prayer, to work against the Equal Rights Amendment, and to attack federal abortion rights, legalized just seven years before.

But once in office, the Reagan administration claimed that it first had to address the nation’s weak economy. The social agenda of Christian conservatives would have to wait. In the meantime, the White House planned to muffle their grumbling. “We want to keep the Moral Majority types so close to us they can’t move their arms,” one Reagan staffer explained to the journalist Lou Cannon.

The complaints piled up. Evangelicals pointed out that Reagan had appointed too few of them to positions in government, despite his campaign promise that evangelicals in his administration would mirror their proportional representation in the American population – about forty percent at the time. In light of that snub, Reagan’s selection of Sandra Day O’Connor — who had made several pro-choice votes during her time in the Arizona state legislature — as his first nominee to the Supreme Court stung sharply.

During the campaign, Reagan had won the National Right to Life Committee’s endorsement by pledging that he’d only nominate committed pro-life jurists to the nation’s highest court. Reagan’s tepid and ineffectual support for key school prayer and anti-abortion legislation in Congress during his first administration frustrated and angered religious conservatives who watched various bills die while the president did little.

As the 1984 election approached, Jerry Falwell, the leader of the Moral Majority, confessed he was “a little anxious that we haven’t had some aggressive support” on issues important to the religious right. Sixty-eight percent of pro-life activists judged Reagan’s first four years as “fair to poor” on the abortion issue.

Many Christian conservatives began to publicly question supporting the president’s reelection bid. “If we balance the budget and we still keep murdering a million and a half babies every year, there’s no way we can say we’re better off than we were four years ago,” Moral Majority’s Cal Thomas commented. “Do not take us for granted,” the fundamentalist pastor Bob Jones wrote the president. “We are not going to vote for you in desperation in 1984.”

Still, these chiding messages were meant to prod the Reagan White House into an aggressive defense of their issues rather than to represent a legitimate political threat. Conservative Christians generously contributed to Reagan’s landslide win in 1984. While disheartened by what they saw as the slim accomplishments of the first four years, many Christian conservatives, rather than hold Reagan personally responsible, blamed moderates in the White House, like James Baker, then chief of staff, for blocking their agenda.

Others contended that Reagan would turn to their priorities in his second term, once he was free to pursue their causes after he’d secured re-election. “With the burden of campaigning behind him for good,” a writer for Christianity Today, the nation’s leading evangelical publication, wrote on the eve of the election, “the president may move vigorously toward his unfulfilled 1980 promises.”

Once returned to office, however, Reagan continued to disappoint conservative Christians by his failure to advance their political objectives. Their anger and frustration with the president soon gave way to grief and disillusionment. Shortly after Reagan left the White House,  the influential evangelical intellectual Carl Henry blasted Reagan for having “given little more than lip service” to the concerns of conservative Christians. Looking back on the Reagan presidency and George Bush’s election in 1988, the editors of Christianity Today worried in a headline, “Were Christians Courted for Their Votes or Beliefs?”

The political disappointments and painful realizations that marked the religious right’s rocky relationship with Reagan’s presidency have been replaced by the more powerful seductions of selective memory and wishful fantasy. But like any myth of history, there are small truths within it that alter the memory.

Reagan failed to achieve the religious right’s grandiose objectives, but he delivered on other issues religious conservatives cared about, like cutting taxes and increasing military spending. His full-throated espousal of traditional morals and Christian principles along with symbolic gestures like naming 1983 the “Year of the Bible” looked like crass politics to many observers, but linger as forceful evidence for many conservative Christians of Reagan’s unique example.

If Republicans want to appeal to an American electorate that increasingly has little direct connection to Ronald Reagan, they need to let go of romantic memories that produce only unrealistic expectations. Part of Reagan’s appeal came from his insistence on his own limitations, so Republicans would be wise to stop looking for a savior among a field of mortals.

In reflecting honestly on their own fractious history with Reagan, religious conservatives and other Republicans alike might better evaluate the candidates that stand before them rather than hopelessly praying for the second coming of a president who never really was.

Neil J. Young is the author of the forthcoming book, “We Gather Together: The Rise of the Religious Right and the Challenge of Ecumenical Politics.” He teaches at Princeton.

 There They Go Again –

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Borowitz Report – Romney Under Pressure to Prove He Was Manufactured in US


Romney Under Pressure to Prove He Was Manufactured in US

Rivals Demand He Produce Label


MYRTLE BEACH, SC (The Borowitz Report) – Controversy swirled at the Republican debate in South Carolina last night as Mitt Romney’s rivals pressured the GOP frontrunner to prove that he was manufactured in the United States.

The other candidates for the Republican nomination repeatedly pounded the former Massachusetts governor on the issue throughout the night, demanding that he produce a label proving that he was made in the U.S.A.

The attacks came amid rumors that Mr. Romney was assembled in a plant overseas, possibly in France, where a microchip was installed enabling him to speak French.

“At a time when we are losing an increasing number of manufacturing jobs to other countries, can we really afford to have a President who wasn’t made here?” asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Former Senator Rick Santorum joined in the attacks, saying that if it is proven that Mr. Romney was assembled overseas he might be liable for tariffs and customs duties.

Texas Governor Rick Perry abstained from the attacks, but only because he seemed unclear as to who Mr. Romney was.

The former Massachusetts governor did little to tame the controversy, flailing his arms wildly at one point as smoke billowed from his head.

Attendez!” Mr. Romney barked stiffly, drawing hoots from the debate audience.

Perhaps in an attempt to deflect attention away from the controversy, the Romney campaign announced today that the candidate had received the endorsement of the IBM supercomputer known as Watson.

 Borowitz Report.

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Where are the serious Republican candidates? – The Washington Post

Fred Hiatt

Fred Hiatt

Editorial Page Editor

Where are the serious Republican candidates?

By Fred Hiatt, Published: January 15


Why is the Republican presidential field so weak?

Six months ago, that might have seemed an unfair question, or at least premature. The roster of candidates often starts out looking like the “seven dwarfs,” only to have some rise in stature while others fall away.1845

That hasn’t happened this time. Mitt Romney looks no less presidential today than he did at the start. But none of the others has come close to making himself plausible.

Ron Paulsecond-place finisher in New Hampshire, remains what he always was: a movement leader, an advocate for both attractive and highly unattractive tenets of libertarianism — a fringe candidate.

Rick Santorum, launching from the unlikely platform of a losing Senate race, has come across as a sincere but sour, less inclusive, smaller-bore version of Mike Huckabee.Rick Perry, owner of the most promising resume, opened by calling the Federal Reserve chairman a traitor and went downhill from there. Newt Gingrich has demonstrated a disqualifying ego, which takes some doing in this business. Jon Huntsman has demonstrated that he can speak Chinese.

And already we are doubting our memories: Were Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann really serious candidates?

One of these people might have surprised in the Oval Office. Science has yet to discover how to predict which Kansas City haberdasher will exceed low expectations and which Georgia peanut farmer will fulfill them. It’s also true that the fantasy candidates who didn’t declare — Paul Ryan, Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, David Petraeus — would, under the scrutiny of press and rivals, have turned out to be human, too.

Still, on all available evidence it was and remains a weak field. So, again: Why?

It could be the luck of the draw. Every first-grade teacher will tell you that some years are better than others.

It could be that more serious presidential candidates, sizing up the incumbent in 2009, when serious campaigns had to begin, decided, not illogically, that President Obama was likely to win. Let someone else be the John Kerry of the Republican Party. Come back in 2016.

It could be that the process has devolved, for some, from daunting to repellent: the number of millionaires whose egos must be stroked on the way to raising $1 billion, the smears from unaccountable political action committees, the dwindling media interest in substance, the Twitter-paced cycle that makes the Clinton war room look like something from the vacuum-tube era — it may be a quadrennial bar to many people of quality.

It could be that serious people looked at the decisions that will have to be made in the next four years and concluded that the job would not be much fun. Taking charge in an era of rising health-care costs and an aging population doesn’t seem, at first blush, a road to popularity.

But in another year, that challenge might have motivated top-flight people. After all, the country’s travails offer an opportunity for fundamental reform that a true leader would jump at — to reshape the tax code, say, to encourage things we like (working and saving) and discourage things we don’t (burning oil, gas and coal). Such big things could be done, for political and substantive reasons, only in a bipartisan fashion.

For their own reasons, Obama and the Democrats haven’t seized that opportunity. But why have visionary Republicans shied away?

The nearly forgotten candidacy of Tim Pawlenty offers a clue. Once upon a time a conservative governor from a swing region with a record of working across the aisle might have gained traction.

But in a party that has come to loathe compromise, Pawlenty didn’t have the gumption to run on his record, and he couldn’t sell himself as less nice and more ideologically pure than he really was. When he couldn’t bring himself to be mean to Romney in an early New Hampshire debate, he was finished.

The Republican ideology of no new taxes, ever, is a straitjacket. But even more dispositive is the conviction that reaching across the aisle is weak and treasonous.

Until that conviction fades, politicians who want to get things done, and would know how to strike deals in the nation’s interest, may stay on the sidelines.

 Where are the serious Republican candidates? – The Washington Post.

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