Tea party savior of last week Rick Perry is dropping out of the Republican primary race after being ignored in New Hampshire (and most other places). His departure won’t change much as the three individual people who would have voted for him in South Carolina will probably split their votes between the other tea party flavors left unlicked.
But his departure does demonstrate one thing that is incredibly important – the tea party begged him to jump into the race because they thought everyone else was woefully insufficient. That didn’t stop them for raising those same others up on a pedestal in succession, the pedestal from which they fell face first into the mud once people started paying attention to what they had to say. Think Yertle the Turtle and you get the idea. Spaalaaaat.
This is who the tea party picks – Michele Bachmann (out), Donald Trump (not ever in, but the tea party begged the tycoon buffoon to run), Herman Cain (out and hiding from several women, think The Eagles), and, well, you get it. Throw in Sarah Palin and you have some of the most unaccomplished “leaders” in America.
Which gets us to Mitt Romney. PGH will have more on him later, but the latest news from Mr. $374,000 is “not very much” for speaking fees (plus millions of dollars in other income taxed at only 15%) is that he’s a poster child for how the super-rich get to hide much of their income from US taxation by popping it off to a beach resort in the Cayman Islands.
Oh, and he actually pulled back his hand that he had outstretched to the person speaking to him when he found out the person was “undocumented.” Ooh, cooties.
More to come.
Jon Huntsman will officially announce on Monday that he is dropping out of the race for the 2012 Republican nomination for President and immediately beginning his run for the 2016 nomination. Word from those “in the know” of his campaign suggest that he will probably not phrase it quite like that tomorrow, instead opting for the usual boring “doing it for the good of the party” speech. But we all can read the writing on the bathroom wall, folks. Do you really think we aren’t paying attention? Jon Huntsman – 2016!!
In any case, Huntsman is pretty much in a bind. He surprised everyone by taking Show (as in Win, Place and Show) in the New Hampshire primary, falling a mere 2 light years short of Romney’s first place total and a couple of clicks behind the chief “Not-Romney-of-the-Week” Ron Paul (standing in for his son, Rand Paul). Notwithstanding this spectacular finish after spending only most of his life there the last few months, Huntsman faces the usual problem for thoughtful, honest candidates – no one wants to give him money to continue. So Huntsman is showing how smart he is by leaving while sane people think highly of him, thus leaving a positive memory for when he officially starts running for the 2016 nomination. Of course his unofficial 2016 candidacy starts today, but he does have to make a show of supporting his current party until it is safe to disappear (which should be less than a week). After that he’ll likely spend his time building his network.
So all of this means that Romney will win the South Carolina primary, something that he would have done anyway given that even South Carolina won’t vote for Perry, Santorum or Gingrich enough to jeopardize their “always vote for the nominee” pride day. And then Romney will win Florida. And then no one will care whether the other states even bother to vote since Romney will already be pivoting to try to make everything he has said to cater to the extremist tea party disappear from the collective memories of independents and other not crazy people.
From his speech, January 16, 2012: “This race has degenerated into an onslaught of negative and personal attacks not worthy of the American people.”
And of course, that is from Republicans since he’s talking about the Republican primary race.
Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night! *
* All About Eve (1950) starring Bette Davis
Oh, that’s not a shock? My bad.
So even though they are still counting the votes as I write this, Romney has been projected the winner of the New Hampshire Republican party primary, just a couple of light clicks after winning in Iowa (if you can call an 8 vote – not 8%, 8 vote – margin a win). Did someone say inevitable? Did someone say this months ago? Maybe a year ago?
Oh wait, there is a New Hampshire shocker to report – yep, Ron Paul will come in second! Yes, that Ron Paul.
The reason for Paul’s surge in New Hampshire (and Iowa) are obviously due to his insightful and visionary ideas for the future greatness of America. Oops, check that. Mistook him for someone else. No, Paul did well in Iowa and even better in New Hampshire because all the rest of the tea party nuts had already had their day on the artificial pedestal the tea party created for them. Palin, Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich, and Santorum all got their jet pack in the, umm, on their back and flew into the heavens…only to get the vapors and collapse back to Earth as soon as they spoke when people might actually be listening. So that left Paul. Who has been there all the time saying the same thing over and over (though not always taking the credit/blame for what he’s said in the past). Ron Paul was ignored then, and when this “last man not stuck up on a pole to be eaten alive by the crows” falls back to Earth he’ll go back to being ignored again. Of course, he will immediately be reincarnated as Rand Paul. Wonderful.
Which leaves Jon Huntsman. Huntsman made a name for himself this weekend and not only raised his standing to a third place finish in New Hampshire but put himself into the position of “the next white guy in line” for 2016. Watch this space for more on Jon Huntsman after Romney officially wins the Republican nomination for 2012. Of course, the 2016 countdown clock for Huntsman can’t start until after the November 2012 election, you know, just in case.
So we’re on to South Carolina, where Romney has the support of SC Governor Nikki Haley. Then there is Florida, though by that time Perry and Santorum and maybe even Gingrich could have dropped out of the race and it will be an anointing rather than a primary. Which should make the other 46 states wonder why they are going through the expense of holding primaries in the first place.
Then the fun begins – the tea party gets to show us all whether they actually have the principles they keep telling us…cough…that they have, or will the tea party vote for the guy they have been actively despising and calling all sorts of mean and nasty names? And those are the Republicans doing this.
Team Romney goes into tonight’s Republican primary debate with a ridiculously insurmountable double digit lead in the polls. So Team Anti-Romney has one last chance to knock Romney from the thrown before Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.
Actually there are two chances since there is also a debate Sunday morning, but the timing is such that it’s really one debate split into two parts, presumably to capture both the asocial people with no Saturday night dates and those who don’t go to church on Sunday morning, so we can think of it as a last chance for the Anti-Romney forces to get noticed.
So watch tonight for whether anyone remembers Reagan’s 11th commandment (thou shalt not speak ill of fellow Republicans). Forget that Reagan and everyone else broke that commandment, and a few others, so many times that it became nothing but a meaningless platitude. In any case, more than likely it will be all hands on Romney. After all, the only way anyone stays in the race is to knock Romney down a peg or two or maybe three so that they have a chance for a comeback. You can betcha the Gingrich, Santorum, Perry, Paul and Huntsman camps have been digging sharpened bamboo-spiked tiger traps for Romney all week. I almost expect camouflage face paint (not so much for Paul, as he really wouldn’t carry that look off too well). So expect all the non-Romneys to go for the severe wounding (metaphorically speaking) in New Hampshire, then the (equally metaphorically speaking) kill in South Carolina.
The South Carolina whose Governor has backed Romney.
Anyway, it really doesn’t matter what they say tonight since no one is really listening and the words are political pomposity anyway. What matters is whether Romney comes out of the debates inspiring pundits to think “The Coronation of Napoleon” or “Le Mort de Marat.”
Depending on that result, the tea party will have to decide whether to prostrate themselves in utter hypocrisy to support the nominee, or actually stand for the principles they claim to have.
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.
Mark Blumenthal of the Huffington Post has an interesting article out today that compiles several of the recent Republican presidential polls. You can read all about the polls and Blumenthal’s insights here. There are two take home messages.
1) Romney has no chance of becoming president, and
2) The tea party believes that God is going to muck our stalls.
The first is the easiest. Clearly the Republican electorate at this point is largely made up of people who say they are fighting to reduce spending and the debt when in fact everything they have been doing has increased the debt. That’s really not their fault since it’s pretty clear there is a massive reality disconnect with the tea party. In any case, the tea party lobbyists founded and funded by the Koch brothers and other Washington lobbyists like Dick Armey have gotten their minions duly whipped up against poor Mitt. While the tea party has been writing off Jon Huntsman for violating Reagan’s 11th commandment (and the 12th commandment, which appears to be something like “Thou Shall not be Mormon”), the tea party has in itself been attacking Romney every which way, shape, and form. With all this “anyone but Romney” attitude in the tea party, he only had a chance if the tea party savior (or the week) didn’t get into the race. Now with Perry around, even if Perry flames out and leaves the party to Romney (the last man with money standing, and heir-apparent when that meant something to the Republican party), he is such damaged goods that all the Democrats would have to do is remind the tea party why they hated him so much. Case closed.
The God thing is an extension of the fact that, outside of the Koch tea party funding, the tea party is really just this decade’s version of the religious right. That’s “right” as in “not left,” not to be confused with “right” as in “not wrong.” In fact, virtually everything the tea party says it believes in is actually not really true…and not what they fight for at all. A large proportion of the tea party is still made up of bigots who think President Obama was born in Kenya or was somehow unnaturally born. A large proportion of the tea party still thinks the health care law had “death panels” and was a “government takeover,” neither of which are true. A large proportion of the tea party thinks that somehow the biggest capitalist economy on the planet suddenly became socialist on January 20, 2009. A large proportion of the tea party thinks that changing tea bags for TEA bags somehow transforms a faulty understanding of history into being overtaxed (the Boston Tea Party was in protest of tax breaks given to the largest corporation at the time, and we’re actually being taxed less now than at any time in the last several decades…oh, and Obama’s stimulus and budgets have given tax breaks to small businesses and the middle class). In short, the tea party claims to be fighting for what it is not, and claims as true things that are patently false.
Reality hasn’t taken a kicking like this since Robin Williams did Mrs. Doubtfire (Reality…What a Concept!).
Meanwhile, the tea party continues to claim they are trying to reduce the debt, while actually fighting to increase the debt. The tea party continues to claim they want lower taxes, while actually meaning they want lower taxes on the richest 1% and the most profitable corporations – and have been fighting to increase the tax burden on the poor and middle class.
Oh, and key Republican/Koch tea party candidates believe that God created the East Coast Earthquake and Hurricane because the government is too big (but apparently God did not create the drought that has left Texas a near dust bowl because that would mean He is angry at Rick Perry, right). The tea party seems to believe if they deny reality enough God will just fix every mess us humans make of His planet because apparently God has nothing better to do than follow us around with a really big shovel cleaning up our manure. Frankly, that seems rather an unlikely scenario, i.e., that a Creator would put up with the kind of crap the tea party has been dumping. But for some reason the tea party feels they can lie and punish those most in need while creating false idols of the richest 1% and God will just sit back like a fearful cuckold.
Someone is in for a mighty big surprise when they knock on the pearly gates.
Jon Huntsman Breaks Reagan’s 11th Commandment – But Then, So are All the Other Republican Candidates
For the first time since he declared his candidacy, Jon Huntsman is making the news. Huntsman has decided that being the only sane candidate in the Republican field isn’t enough (since he barely registers in polls of Republican voters). So he has shifted his campaign into being “assertively sane.” And to do this he has taken to critiquing his fellow Republicans. For example, after Gov. Perry joined with fellow tea party extremist Michele Bachmann in declaring that the science of climate change is a hoax, Huntsman countered by tweeting:
”To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”
OMG…did he really say that?
Okay, that was a bit melodramatic. But clearly Huntsman is staking out the “I’m the sane one” vote. Unfortunately for Huntsman there may not be any sane voters in the Republican primaries.
But Huntsman has taken this a step further. He appeared on ABC’s “This Week” program this morning and, in reference to a question about Gov. Perry’s denial of science statements (both the denial of climate change and the denial of evolution), Huntsman replied he thinks the worsening trend of the Republican party being “the anti-science party” is a “huge problem.” In fact, he added:
“I can’t remember a time in our history where we actually were willing to shun science and become a – a party that – that was antithetical to science.”
Huntsman’s critique of Rick Perry didn’t stop there. He also worked in a subtle jibe about Perry’s threats to have Texas secede from the United States. Notwithstanding the inherent hypocrisy of threatening secession from the US, then running for President of the US, Perry went on to threaten Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (a Bush appointee) with the potential for “treason.” Such rhetoric is common in politics, especially with the tea party crowd, but Perry even suggested the possibility of bodily harm to Bernanke just because Perry disagrees – “we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.” Huntsman, of course, thought that Perry was being rather cowboyish and “not Presidential” in his suggestions that mob rule would be an acceptable method of discussing economic policy.
Huntsman went on to say that he “wouldn’t necessarily trust” any of his opponents to handle the economy. Ouch.
In fact, Huntsman added: “I have to say that there was zero leadership on display in terms of my opponents . . . “
Needless to say, Huntsman is getting a bit of flack from those Republicans who hypocritically wave the Reagan idolatry flag while pushing the party so far right that the Gipper himself would be dumped off his own pedestal. But Huntsman is not alone in critiquing his colleagues (in fact, the whole “don’t critique your colleagues” is a myth anyway since they all do it all the time). The hubbub the last week has been about how all the Bush people (Karl Rove and the rest of the Bush legacy team) have been trash-talking Rick Perry. It’s hard to know whether this is due to some childish rivalry between the two Texas Governors or if it is because the Bush team knows a lot more about Perry than the rest of us. The latter seems probable given that Rove created Perry (I saw an article some where about “Rove creating a monster”).
Frankly, I encourage all that trash talking. It’s helps bring the candidates out of the talking points they have rehearsed so as to sound unrehearsed when they give them. And it allows us voters to see the real candidates. So far for Rick Perry we have seen that he is a major hypocrite, tends toward arrogant and violent methods to achieve his goals, but is quite adept at seducing his crowd of followers. For Jon Huntsman we find that he is perhaps too cerebral for the Republican party (especially the tea party wing, who may not like him anyway because of that Mormon thing), isn’t flashy enough to get noticed, and at least lately seemingly understanding that he needs to set himself up as the rational alternative to the nutties on the tea party side of the party and the squishiness of the Romney (and ex-Pawlenty) side of the party.
This could get interesting.