Michele Bachmann will drop out of the race for the Republican nomination for President. After winning the Iowa straw poll, thus vaulting her to the front of the pack for 15 minutes, Bachmann came in last in the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday.
Bachmann, of course, was the tea party darling once it became obvious that Sarah Palin wasn’t going to run (which was about 6 to 9 months before she officially said she wasn’t going to run).
After killing Bachmann by jumping to Rick Perry, the tea party ultimately killed Perry as well. And Trump. And Gingrich. And Cain. [Not necessarily in that order] And now they will kill Santorum. It’s clear, the tea party kills. [Needless to say, my use of the word “kill” is metaphorical, not literal. Jeesh.]
So with Romney eking out an 8 vote “win” over Rick Santorum, it’s on to New Hampshire where the dynamics are a bit different than Iowa. More on that later.
So Bye Bye Bachmann. Good thing you didn’t give up your day job (paycheck, she actually didn’t do much in her day job in 2011…or for that matter, during her entire Congressional career). So good luck with running for reelection – I’m sure Minnesotans will be happy to sign you up for another term.
[UPDATED: I wrote the article above before Bachmann went on TV to make an announcement. She has now made if official. As Politico reports: “Last night, the people in Iowa spoke with a very clear voice, and so I have decided to step aside.” Given that she only got 5% of the votes in Iowa it’s unclear that her departure will result in much help to other candidates, but most likely the few people who would have voted for her will lean towards Rick Santorum (Perry will be out shortly too, so he won’t get them).]
Unless you’re one of the losers. Which is pretty much everyone but Romney.
I’ll do a post shortly on how Romney played the field and the media to win Iowa, but first let’s make some guesses as to who is still around after Tuesday.
Michele Bachmann: Gone. It’s ironic that the all-so-(un)important Iowa straw poll in August was won by someone who is desperately trying to save face by not coming in last in the Iowa caucuses. Last. Jon Huntsman might even beat here, and he isn’t even competing in Iowa, having openly written them off to focus on the 2016 New Hampshire primary. Bachmann’s money will complete its evaporation as soon as the Iowa voting is done, and she has already had virtually all of her important staffers jump ship. Her goal right now is to figure out how to get out of the race with the right rhetoric to keep her in the running for re-election in her Congressional race (unlike Ron Paul, Bachmann decided to run for both President and Congresswoman of Minnesota at the same time…now there is a commitment for you).
Who else is out? Probably everyone but Romney in short shrift. But for now we’ll likely see Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman stay in until after they all lose in New Hampshire. Some will bow out after that due to lack of money and interest. The others will wait until they lose to Mitt in South Carolina.
Oh wait, I’m writing as if Romney will win Iowa.
More on that later.
Not long ago Michele Bachmann was riding high on her win in the Iowa straw polls. The straw poll, which actually hasn’t been a very good predictor of who wins the Iowa caucuses or the nomination, was for some reason seen as a watershed moment. Bachmann wins! Bachmann rises to the top of the field! Bachmann got less votes than she had paid for in tickets! Oh. Since then Bachmann’s fortunes have run down like an unsuspecting sucker at a curbside craps game. In fact, “since then” was immediate, as in when Rick Perry declared his candidacy the very same day as the Iowa straw poll. And since then her campaign manager has dumped her (and trashed her), her campaign is racking up debt, and now her New Hampshire campaign team has resigned en masse (or not, depending on who you ask). Other campaign staffers haven’t been paid in at least a month. So the tea party backing of Bachmann is back to back-stabbing and backward glances as Bachmann struggles desperately to keep her head above water.
Then there is Rick Perry himself. He flashed onto the scene and immediately was elevated by the tea party crowd as their newest savior (claiming that he was their first choice all along, well, after all the others who said no). Then Perry did something he regretted. He showed up at a Republican debate. Big mistake. Perry’s performance was at best uneven. And it was all downhill from there. Half the time he seemed to barely there in ensuing debates. And when he did say something it usually made him sound like he didn’t have the foggiest what he was saying. Not the kind of performances that inspire the passion of the zealots on whom his candidacy must rely. And so he sank from the top to somewhere in that middle where former top people go before they disappear into the ooze with the rest of the bottom feeders. His most recent performance woke up the zealots, but showed that he could counter his lack of knowledge and debating adroitness with arrogance and pettiness. Good one.
The latest to implode is Herman Cain. What’s surprising is not that he is imploding but that the tea party had chosen him to inflate beyond all proportion in the first place. Cain made a name for himself early in the debates by declaring that he is an anti-Muslim bigot. Since then he has stolen a ridiculous catch-phrase (9-9-9) from a video game and even more ridiculously suggested that it was a serious attempt to fix the tax system. Which he would do by raising taxes on the working poor and the middle class while virtually eliminating taxes on the very wealthiest. That is exactly in line with what the tea party has pushed with nearly all of its hostage-taking tactics, so there is no surprise they love it. [It’s also in line with how he made Pizza Hut profitable – by closing half of its stores and laying off thousands of workers.] Clearly a serious contender for the Presidency can’t have such a complete lack of awareness of his own silliness, but there it is every day. And now he’s devolved into Palinesque incoherency where, as one conservative commentator and former Republican congressman put it, Cain is just making stuff up as he goes along. Cain isn’t very able.
Which leaves who? Mitt Romney, of course, who other than this last debate came off as being one of the few adults in the room (not counting the journalist moderators). In the “adult” category you can add Jon Huntsman, but he seems way too reasonable for the tea party (not to mention his comedic timing is really really bad). There is Newt Gingrich, who sort of sounds like an adult because he uses bigger words than the others, but also has a tendency to sound petulant. There is Rick Santorum…oh, never mind. There’s those two or three guys who are running that no one knows because they can’t garner enough support to even qualify for the debates (which is pretty sad given that Herman Cain is there and so is Jon Huntsman, who can’t seem to get much more than his immediate family to notice him). And let’s not forget Ron Paul, who has a loyal following amongst the more libertarian folks who think the American government is some communist plot to steal all of our freedoms.
So we have the tea party running the Republican show these days and latching onto every incompetent nutjob they can find to be – in succession, – “The One.” And each and every “The One” sprints to the front of the pack only to be run over by the pack as they flame out and drop into the mud of their own creation. Then there are the also-rans that run also, but nowhere fast. And then there are the serious candidates. Right now the closest thing to a serious candidate the Republican party can muster is “the next guy in line,” Mitt Romney. And the tea party (rightly) hates him. Romney epitomizes everything the tea party says they hate about government – the slick establishment politician, the “say anything to get elected” candidate, the “compromiser,” and OMG, he’s not the “right kind” of Christian.
So will the tea party prove themselves to be hypocrites and vote for Romney knowing that Romney would actually not do any of the things the tea party wants him to do? Or would they “stick to their principles” and make sure Romney doesn’t get the Republican nomination. After all, Romney is “one of them establishment” politicians and “not one of us.”
With Giuliani declaring he won’t run for President in 2012, who has the best “Giuliani catchphrase” in tonight’s Republican debate?
In any case, I’m sure most remember the Giuli joke of 2008 in which someone notes “There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence — a noun, a verb, and 9/11.”
So who will get this year’s coveted Giuli award for most repeated meaningless phrase? Let’s take a look at tonight’s Republican debate in New Hampshire for a clue:
Michele Bachmann: “yada, yada, yada…I raised 23 foster children…yada, yada, yada”
Herman Cain: “yada, yada, yada…9-9-9…yada, yada, yada”
Ron Paul: “yada, yada, yada…audit the Fed…yada, yada, yada”
Mitt Romney: “yada, yada, yada…overly slick but generally informed discourse…yada, yada, yada”
Rick Perry: “yada, yada, yada…y’all…yada, yada, yada”
Newt Gingrich: “yada, yada, yada…yada, yada, yada…yada, yada, yada”
Rick Santorum: “yada, yada, yada…family values…yada, yada, yada”
Jon Huntsman: “yada, yada, yada…not quite as slick but still informed discourse…yada, yada, yada”
And the winner of tonight’s debate?
Does it matter?
It’s all over but those pesky primaries and caucuses. Or it seems that way. The Republican road to the nomination may actually be much shorter than expected. The winner?
Mitt Romney, of course.
This really isn’t much of a surprise given that Mitt is clearly “the next one in line” and the Republican party pretty much always nominates “the next one in line.”
But wasn’t this time supposed to be different? I mean, the tea party is running the show and the tea party hates Mitt Romney. With a passion. Much passion.
But the writing is on the wall…the view is clear in the crystal ball…we can all read the tea leaves. [And other spectacularly numbing pundit phrases.] There really isn’t anyone else that even comes close to being a credible candidate for the Republican nomination. For those who haven’t been paying attention – or are in deep denial of reality – this weekend will make this fact abundantly clear. That’s because this weekend, tomorrow in fact, the covers close on the quarterly cash hauls and the candidates have to tell the world how much money they raked in to fund the campaign. And by all reports the results are not going to be pretty. Let’s see what those tea leaves are going to tell us.
Mitt Romney: Probably in the vicinity of $10-15 million. Not bad. Not as much as last quarter. But hey, this was summer and people are too busy barbecuing cows in Texas and burning their backs in Hawaii (Hi Newt!!).
Rick Perry: Probably less than $10 million. Maybe much less. Maybe more. Bottom line is that he pretty much looked like he thought he could wing it at the last three (or was it four?) Republican debates, as if he thought he was up there with a bunch of junior high school kids. Rick, Rick, Rick…see that guy with the funny middle (and first) name? This is the second time around for this guy. It’s now or never for Mitt. And you looked silly up there. Which is why all everyone can talk about is how fast you imploded. Admit it. Even the Red Sox looked better than you this past month. And that is not a compliment.
Chris Christie: Wait, he’s not even running. You got it. The field of candidates is so inspiring that once again – for the 4th or 5th (or 10th) time – the tea party held Republican caucus is desperately looking for its savior of the week. When the guy who isn’t running is looking better than the guys (and woman) who are running, then Houston, we have a problem. Hence the reason why…
Michele Bachmann: Ever been to Disneyland? They have a ride there that straps you into a seat, suddenly shoots you straight up to the top of a huge pedestal, then just as suddenly drops you like bad pun. Bachmann’s fantasy league run for the presidency ended when the tea party got their last savior in Rick Perry. Imagine winning the Ames straw poll and the very same day going from the top of the heap to just a heap.
Jon Huntsman: Not sure how much money he’ll bring in but he’s already laying off people (so much for “job creation”). Huntsman is going to bet the farm (and at least a half million of his own lettuce) on making a showing in New Hampshire. You know, that place in the northeast US that Huntsman’s political dopplelganger Mitt Romney owns. Huntsman’s goal at this point is to seem credible enough to become “the next one in line” for 2016.
Herman Cain: Cain won the recent Florida straw poll. Yep. Bye Rick.
Newt Gingrich: Yes, he is still running. I think. Oh wait, apparently he plans release a new “Contract with America.” Nothing better to say “new ideas” than to roll out a copy of an almost 20 year old political gimmick. Good one Newt. [How was Hawaii?]
Ron Paul: He won some straw poll. I think.
Rick Santorum: Almost forgot him. ‘Nuf said.
There are some other folks you’ve probably never heard of or seen in a debate because, gee, we already have to give 30 seconds to each person for a response to such mundane questions as “How would you deal with nuclear insecurity in Pakistan?”
So, getting back to the whole “It’s all over but the primaries” thing. It’s become crystal clear that as Rick Perry flames out like half of his state over the last 9 months, Mitt Romney will be the last man (or woman) standing. Kind of awe-inspiring to see a man rise to the top purely because he was less dense then all the others as they sank into oblivion. It’s a shame really, that all those states running the political roller derby for first dibs at casting ballots will have no one to vote for but Mitt. And all that careful planning to dump the “all or none” delegate counts that allowed the Republican party to anoint a nominee after only getting input from three of the least representative states in the Union will go for naught.
Of course. I could be wrong.
Next up. Why the tea party despises Mitt Romney. For good reason.
Howard Dean Thinks GW Bush’s people will “Take Perry Out” – Are you kidding me? And what does this have to do with Michele Bachmann?
Former DNC Chair and Vermont Governor Howard Dean has been quoted in a recent article in The Hill as saying:
“The Bush people don’t fool around, as you know,” Dean said Tuesday night on MSNBC. “You can say a lot of things about Bush’s presidency and his failures as president, but one thing nobody should say [anything] bad about [is] his political team. They know what they’re doing, and they are ruthless, and they are going to take Perry out.”
First off, I disagree vociferously with Dean’s terminology. We really need to get away from this violence-tainted rhetoric.
Secondly, I’m not sure how much “Bush’s people” really care about the current election, though I suppose they will if they are supporting a particular candidate. Rove (who is also quoted in the article) is one of those fake pundit types on Fox who know they must say something flamboyant to keep getting paid, so I usually ignore him. But for some reason Rove and other “Bush people” have been breaking Reagan’s 11th commandment (i.e., Thou shalt not saying anything bad about fellow Republicans) and criticizing Perry, supposedly in an illustration of “a longstanding rift between the camps of the two Texas politicians.”
In any case, regarding this portion of Dean’s comments at the end of the article:
“He is now in competition with Bachmann and not with Romney. That’s a losing strategy for Perry, because they are going to split the right with the far-right vote, and I think this is great news for Mitt Romney.”
I’m not sure I agree with him on this. Ultimately Perry is in competition with Romney. On this we can agree. But Bachmann is a temporary distraction. It is in Perry’s best interests to push Bachmann off into the “unelectable” category as early in the process as possible. Once she is marginalized he can gather up the tea party vote while still having a chance of capturing some of the establishment vote (though his recent comments suggest he may end up losing the Independent vote). Then he can focus on Romney alone (this presumes none of the other candidates is a late bloomer). The tea party hates Mitt Romney. They will quickly jump to the savior of the week (currently Perry) once it is clear that Bachmann is an also-ran (which is becoming clear already as her Palinesque standoffness contrasts sharply with Perry’s ability to gladhand). That means Perry.
And Perry knows this.
Technically, the straw poll was won by Michele Bachmann with 29% of the vote, with perennial candidate Ron Paul nipping at her high heels with 28% and Tim Pawlenty ensuring that he will not be taken as a serious candidate based on his 14% of the straw poll vote. Ex-Pennsylvania something-or-other Rick Santorum got 10% and anti-Islam bigot Herman Cain came in with 9%. Anyone else on the ballot really doesn’t matter. Of course, only Romney and Perry matter anyway, but neither was there.
But in the end it was President Obama that won the poll. Given that Iowa decided to cast all of their votes toward tea party people known for 1) factual inaccuracy, 2) bigotry, 3) extreme right wing social hypocrisy, and 4) more than a wee bit of early onset (figurative) insanity, things are looking up for Obama to get reelected.
Of course, the real Iowa caucuses aren’t for six months so there is a chance that things could change dramatically by then. And then there is the New Hampshire primary, where people tend to be more Independent and less extreme. Following that and another skewed right state of South Carolina (where walking the Appalachian trail and “we had sex” rumors have become the talk of the town). And then the real states get to vote. So perhaps the GOP will decide they want to win the election before then, but clearly they aren’t there yet.
Until the GOP decides whether they want to be the party of responsible adults (no signs of that yet) or the party of “I am not a witch” and Koch-funded “the poor should pay for tax breaks for the rich to hide more of their money from taxation,” the country has a choice between President Obama or the nut house.
The jury is still out on which choice we will make.
For those of you living in a hole somewhere without media access (yes, both of you), last night was the Republican debate in Iowa, just two days ahead of the all not-important Iowa Straw Poll. And the debate winner is…
Yes, I know Rick Perry wasn’t even in Iowa yesterday. But the Perry campaign showed that he is fully willing to stick a finger in the collective eyes of his fellow Republicans by pre-announcing his announcement for his candidacy for President. So while Bachmann and Pawlenty played “whose the bigger Obama basher in Minnesota,” interspersed with “you’re an inconsequential Congresswoman vs. you’re a inconsequential meanie,” everyone watching was really sizing up the field against Perry.
And to stick the other finger in the other collective eyes of his fellow Republicans, Perry’s official announcement will take place on Saturday – the very day that Iowans go to their straw polling places to prevaricate over their preferred potential president’s proposed possibilities. Perry’s purpose, presumably, is to provoke a private uprising of people who will write his name into the straw poll ballot. Wouldn’t that be a hoot – a guy who is in South Carolina announcing his candidacy, then hopping a plane to New Hampshire to press some palms, actually makes a strong showing in the Iowa straw poll that he isn’t even in. Thus kicking the presumed winner Michele Bachmann in her private tea party parts. And possibly stealing some second place points from Mitt Romney, who has cleverly made a public show of not campaigning in Iowa while privately trying to get all his supporters to show up at the polls.
Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee, who surprised everyone by winning the 2008 Iowa caucuses, thinks Rick Perry made a “tactical blunder” and showed “bad form” by pre-announcing on the day of the debate his intent to announce on the day of the straw poll. Apparently the Huck believes Iowans will remember being upstaged on their big days. PGH disagrees, and would argue that while people in general have short-attention spans, the tea party-type people who dominate the Iowa straw pollers have shown a tendency to hop from one “savior” to another (remember Palin, er, Trump, er, Bachmann, er, Cain, er, Perry, er,?).
In any case, I’ll have more on the debate last night…and preview Saturday’s straw poll…and try to answer the question that Perry-watching pundits are pondering – is he the new front runner, or his he the Fred Thompson of 2012?
Much ado is being made over the revelation that tea party favorite and Republican candidate for president Michele Bachmann gets frequent and severe enough migraine headaches as to adversely affect her job performance as a US Congresswoman from Minnesota (though given her total absence of legislative activity, it’s unclear to me how they decided her job performance was being affected). The argument is whether she is “fit for office.” Political pundit Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post has an interesting piece today examining that aspect, so I won’t belabor it here. Bottom line, if her headaches are keeping her from doing her job as a Congresswoman from a mid-population state, she most certainly can’t be trusted to act as leader of the free world.
But isn’t this really a moot point? Bachmann is strongly supported by the tea party, which is known for backing such stellar non-candidates as Donald Trump, sees no problem supporting Herman Cain’s anti-Muslim bigotry, is a safe haven for birthers, bigots, and bashers, thinks Sarah Palin could run the USA despite her quitting her pretty easy Governor’s job, and in Palin’s apparent absence immediately rushed to Bachmann despite her nearly constant barrage of falsehoods, anti-gay bigotry, and seemingly bizarre statements. Of course, the tea party is chomping at the bit for someone new (anyone new) and in the event that Rick Perry (or whomever else is named “savior-of-the-week”) gets in the race will drop Bachmann like the stock market crash that will follow the tea party-induced default of the US and world economies. In short, the tea party has proven itself to be irresponsible and hypocritical at every turn, besting it’s irresponsibility only by its sheer lack of critical thinking and lack of adult behavior.
So if Bachmann ever gets near the White House, look out for China. They may just decide to wipe out the debt we owe them and start over.
Okay, they did talk about other stuff too, but it did seem odd that how many children you have would be used as a qualifier for the nomination of Republican party candidate for president. But unlike the bizarre “Coke vs Pepsi” questions of moderator John King, this one seemed to set the tone for the debate.
In short, the debate (insert air quotes around that word) was about trying to say the right things to get the tea party vote. It was an exercise in attacking the sitting President without even seeming to be aware of the differing opinions of the seven Republicans standing on stage. And the result was as expected – Romney came off looking presidential, Santorum and Paul came off looking irrelevant, Cain came off looking like a backtracking anti-Muslim bigot, and Pawlenty came of looking like a guy who couldn’t figure out how to change his recent attacks against fellow Republicans into somehow being all about Obama.
Which left Michele Bachmann. As already noted in the last two posts, PGH thinks that Bachmann will win the August straw poll in Iowa, and barring any major faux pas, will likely take either #1 or #2 in the caucuses in early 2012. Last night she demonstrated that she knows how to play the media better than Palin while coming off smarter and less incoherent. I know that isn’t a high bar and Bachmann has straddled it before in the past, but last night she managed to be extreme without sounding too crazy. Perfect for the tea party crowd, which is probably licking its chops right now.
In any case Bachmann “pre-announced” her “official announcement” that she was running for president. No shocker there, but the fact that she chose the debate to do it shows her ability to manipulate the media with the best of them. And as PGH accurately predicted yesterday, she also rattled off quite a few sound bites that were red meat to her base – the most extreme tea partiers. Ever happy to toss out meaningless platitudes like “job killing EPA” (which distracts from the fact that EPA was started by a Republican president to help clean up the mess industry had made of our air [visible] and water [on fire]), she went straight to the far right end of the tea party spectrum. And they love it.
Bottom line – Bachmann showed she can do well in the debates, which means she could siphon off the tea party votes from less extremist candidates, which means the potentially electable folks will have to shift even more to the right and say things that the Obama team will easily prove are false. This puts people like Romney, and likely Huntsman, in a position where they will be turning off the very people they need to get elected by pandering to the extremists in the primaries.
This could be an interesting election, from a pundit point of view.