Political Gum Hockey

Political Commentary and Humor

The Rise of Ron Paul – Can He Take Iowa?

As the tea party has lurched from one incomprehensible candidate to another and found itself settling (most recently) on Newt Gingrich in the final days before the January 3rd Iowa voting, one question remains unanswered.

Can Ron Paul finally be taken seriously enough to win the Iowa caucuses?

Notwithstanding the claims by some of the pundits that Paul’s position on Iran* could cause him to lose in Iowa, Paul has actually been gaining ground in the polls.  And Paul would seem to be the natural fit for the tea party crowd (He was “tea party” before the tea party was cool, or even invented by the billionaire Koch brothers).  Okay, maybe not “this” tea party, the whole being against unilateral attacks on countries we don’t like thing is anathema to the tea party, but close enough.  After all, the tea party simply adapts reality to whatever it wants to rationalize that day (call it “The Matrix, Part IV”).

But I digress.

The bottom line is that Ron Paul is actually making a concerted effort to do well in Iowa.  And why not, at 76 it’s really his last shot at the Presidency and his branding is good for this particular year.  Stranger things have happened.  For example, after the tea party cycled through Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain they jumped from these unconventional candidates to the dyed-in-the-wool Washington insider Newt Gingrich.  And could be in a position to vote for “the next guy in line” Mitt Romney, who has been running for President full time for over five years.  So much for unconventional.

But there is still hope.  No, I don’t mean Rick Santorum, whose severe anti-gay attitudes are too extreme even for the tea party (who prefer to wrap their bigotry in anti-Muslim garb these days).  I mean Ron Paul.  After all, he is the only one left in the ABM (Anyone But Mitt) rankings.  And his anti-government views fit in with the tea party desire to remove all impediments to rampant robber baronism, fair opportunity for the lowly 99% of us, and those protections for human health and the environment that just cut into corporate profits and the ability to fund pork projects.

So Ron Paul has decided to go after frontrunner of the week Newt Gingrich.  Besides being more than a little testy at the recent debates, Paul has issued a scathing reminder that Newt Gingrich tends to talk out of both sides of his mouth. Check out Paul’s new campaign ad:

Serial Hypocrisy

The word “serial,” by the way, isn’t a coincidence.  The political marketing guru’s know that it will instantly trigger visions of Gingrich’s serial affairs, marriages, un-marriages, and his hypocrisy of trying to impeach Bill Clinton for having an affair while Newt himself was carrying on his latest affair.

But that is just icing to the cake of the main message – Gingrich is a Washington player who puts his own financial well-being ahead of all else.

So with the Iowa caucuses coming up in just over two weeks, with the Christmas and New Year’s holidays squeezed in between, and with Gingrich’s sudden surge starting to un-surge, Paul is looking to do well and maybe even win in Iowa.

And that would be really really interesting.  If nothing else, a vote for Ron Paul in Iowa is a vote for Mitt Romney in New Hampshire.  Which is why Romney is snickering a bit these days.

*P.S. BTW, this is Paul’s explanation of his position on Iran and what the US should, or should not, do regarding the potential for Iran to get nuclear weapons.

December 17, 2011 Posted by | 2012, Iowa caucuses, Republican, Ron Paul | , , , , | 2 Comments

With Giuliani declaring he won’t run for President in 2012, who has the best “Giuliani catchphrase” in tonight’s Republican debate?

In breaking news that no one cares about, Rudy Giuliani has announced that he will not run for President in 2012.  Yes, it is a shock.  Who knew that he was even considering it?  Wow.

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?

October 11, 2011 Posted by | 2012, 9/11, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Republican, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Has the Republican party already picked its nominee?

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.

September 29, 2011 Posted by | 2012, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Republicans Come Together to Debate Obama, Talk About Their Kids, Ignore Each Other

Five children and 23 foster children trumps merely 7 kids.  That seemed to be the theme last night at the first real Republican debate.

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.

June 14, 2011 Posted by | 2012, debate, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Republican, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, Tea Party, Tim Pawlenty | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

PGH Quick Take – Previewing the New Hampshire Republican Debate

Tonight is the first (real) Republican debate for the 2012 candidates for the GOP nomination. [There was a previous debate, but given that no one with a chance showed up it doesn’t really count]  In any case, tonight New Hampshire will host the first of what could be many Republican debates.  And all the big names are there:

– Mitt Romney: Barring a Gingrich-esque meltdown, Romney will win the New Hampshire primary in early 2012.  His job tonight is to look and sound like the adult in the room, which really shouldn’t be too much trouble given the rest of the field.

– Tim Pawlenty: Probably the second most adult person in the room, though no one seems to be noticing.  Perhaps because he’s trying too hard to be the conservative alternative to Romney, thus eliminating any chance he’ll have of getting moderates.  Which is ironic.

– Newt Gingrich: He should make the debate interesting.  I actually hope he manages to un-implode his campaign long enough to contribute his flowery rhetoric (which is often contradictory, but always pretty).

– Michele Bachmann: Though technically she hasn’t announced that she is running (ssshhhh, it’s a secret), she should be good for some entertainment.  Likely she will say something that will make the lead sound bite on tomorrow’s news.  In fact, she’ll probably plan on it. [PGH will explain shortly why Bachmann may very well win the Iowa straw poll in August]

– Rick Santorum: Likely he will work hard to violate the Reagan 11th commandment just to get attention.

– Ron Paul: See “Rand Paul,” only older. Paul has a following and usually says something interesting, if not viable.

– Herman Cain: The former Godfather’s pizza magnate “won” the earlier non-debate, which is both a credit to him and a discredit to the other participants.  It will be interesting to see if debate moderator John King will ask Cain to elaborate on his recent anti-Muslim bigotry.  That should be fun.

Not participating in person but likely on the mind of several of the participants (especially Mitt Romney) is Jon Huntsman.  Huntsman hasn’t formally announced his candidacy yet but unlike Bachmann, who just wants to be seen and heard, Huntsman has chosen not to play his hand until he has to.   Huntsman could give Romney a run for his money in the adult department.  Ironically, both Romney and Huntsman face the same hurdles to get the Republican nomination – they are both Mormon, both have perfect hair, both are positively associated with the Obama administration, and both appeal to the same type of campaign funders.  They could conceivably cancel each other out.

So with the tea party actively working against their most likely nominees, the Republican party has to a choice to make.  Do they go more mainstream, or shift so far out to the right wing that they ensure that Obama wins in a landslide next year?

PGH will do a postmortem after the debate.

June 13, 2011 Posted by | 2012, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Republican, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ron Paul declares he is running for President on Friday the 13th

In probably the worst timing in the history of announcing a presidential candidacy – Friday the 13th – Ron Paul made it official this morning that he thinks “the time is right.”  The man often known as Dr. No for his opposition to governance is running for the highest position of governance in the land – President of the US of A.  So can Dr. No win?

No.

However, he has proven that he marches to the beat of a different drummer by pooh-poohing the new trend in announcing a candidacy via Twitter tweet and instead going straight to the people by announcing on Good Morning America.  Yes, shocking.  Who knew that GMA was even still on the air?  In any case, Dr. Paul the Elder is likely making his last run at the Presidency in 2012.  After he is effectively a no-show in the primaries he’ll step aside unbeknownst to most of America and in 2016 or beyond we’ll start seeing his son, Rand Paul, run similar candidacies.

To be honest, it’s probably not fair to Dr. Paul to say he will be a no-show in the primaries.  His brand of libertarianism might actually garner significant votes in Iowa, the first state to sort of cast ballots in the Republican primary season (sort of in the sense that Iowa is a caucus state, whereas technically the first public voting primary is New Hamsphire, from whence, like Romney, Paul made his announcement).  And Paul is, as the Washington Post put it, the godfather of the tea party movement.   His views have epitomized much of what the tea party claims to stand for, i.e., getting rid of the IRS, the Department of Education, etc.  He polls high with people who identify themselves as tea party folks.  So with the tea party folks pumped up Paul should be a shoo-in, right?

Well, maybe not.  Paul has fundamental conflicts with the tea party. For one, Paul is an profligate proponent of  pork.  When the Republican party made a fake show of a pork moratorium last year, Paul was adamantly in opposition.  He likes his pork.  Also, unlike many in the tea party/conservative wing of the Republican party, Paul is violently anti-war (pun intended).

So what can we expect from a Ron Paul candidacy?  To begin with, expect a lot of fundraising via the internet to go his way, thus draining the supply of small donors from other desirous candidates.  Paul made a name for himself on these small donors last time, and with him getting a large part of that demographic it leaves the rest of the field to rely on big corporate donors and “Citizens” United like the big corporations and wealthy folks that feed organizations like Karl Rove’s (“we don’t have to disclose our donors”) money machine.  Not sure how that fact will play to the masses.  In addition, Paul will definitely up the entertainment value of the Republican debates, as his straight-talking Texas twang tends to say what he really thinks.  The contrast with the traditional doublespeak of most polished politicians can be stark.  It also can mean things get said that reveal more about what the tea party calls conservative ideals than perhaps is wise.  Not to mention a shock to real conservative ideals.

In any case, Ron Paul is in the race, along with Romney, Pawlenty, Gingrich, a couple of people no one ever heard of, and a few politicians to be named later.  He won’t even come close to being nominated by the Republican party, but at least he’ll make the early debates more interesting while the GOP tries to decide if it wants a traditional suit with perfect hair or a “maverick” teetotaler.

May 13, 2011 Posted by | 2012, Republican, Ron Paul, Tea Party | , , , , | 7 Comments