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Why He Will

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When President Barack Obama announced the death of the country’s foremost enemy, terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden to America and the rest of the world, there were many interesting observations. Young people gathered in front of the White House gates to celebrate the fatal blow dealt to the nation’s nemesis. Political commentators spoke of a “defining moment” in Obama’s presidency. Predictably, the president’s approval ratings rose substantially, especially on the foreign policy front. In fact, political Washington was so much obsessed with talk of Obama having secured a lock on the Electoral College as a result of bin Laden’s death that Jon Stewart deadpanned and announced, “Yes, he sealed it. It’s over”.Barack Obama with Jon Favreau: Here till 2016

But what started in jest seems to develop into the reality of the day. Some of you reading this may be absolutely incredulous and accuse me of being presumptuous, naive or worst of all, a partisan ignoring the realities of the recent credit downgrade, runaway debt, controversial health care debates, high unemployment and partisan gridlock in the District. Like any good attorney with a case theory, I felt I should share mine with you. I believe that whilst election 2012 will be a fairly close affair, President Obama will get reelected on the basis of a number of factors. None of these factors are of the president’s making at all. On the contrary, the president will win due to external factors. The only question, in my eyes, will be the closeness and (thus) strength of the mandate conferred upon him by the American people. So, why do I see 2012 as another Obama year?

1.) Voter Turnout

Democratic voters outstrip Republicans in most states. Most voters frequently identify themselves as independent or Democrat. Additionally, and that’s something that is being forgotten all the time, the mid-term congressional elections had a dramatically lower turnout than the 2008 or 2004 elections. The 2012 election turnout, with the White House and control of both houses of Congress at stake, will be well above 65 percent, thus reducing the influence of the Tea Party movement as a real numerical factor in the presidential election.

2.) Split Republicans

Don’t believe the Republican self-motivation talk. The party is split, veering between compromise and satisfying the demands of a vociferous, radical right wing that makes Pat Buchanan look like a benign centrist in comparison. The recent debate on raising the debt ceiling is a perfect exposition of this: Speaker Boehner showing signs of compromise, Mitch McConnell’s convoluted (and obviously partisan) ploy to confer authority to President Obama, the quirky (but nonetheless unrealistic and economically irresponsible) “Cut, Cap & Balance” plan. The GOP is torn, split and a house divided. Even after Perry entering the race, there are those who are clamoring for a candidacy by Chris Christie or Paul Ryan.

3.) In a Mirror, Darkly

This election feels like a slightly darker version of the 1996 election. Just think of it: Republicans had a virulent dislike of Bill Clinton then, just as they do of Barack Obama today. Like Clinton then, Obama is a gifted speaker and highly effective communicator who knows how to use the bully pulpit of the presidency. Like Clinton in 1996, Obama faces an opposition Republican caucus that is in the process of overreaching and picking the wrong fights (1995/96: the budget impasse; 2011: the fight over the debt ceiling). Most importantly, like Clinton, Obama is beginning to write the narrative of his election. In a recent poll, the majority of respondents placed the fault for the current economic crisis in America flatly at the feet of Wall Street bankers and the Bush administration. The country does not believe the narrative of the president being a carbon copy of Jimmy Carter or an out of touch elitist far removed from the people.

4.) Lack of real opponents

Looking at the current field of presidential prospects requires the suspension of disbelief. Don’t get me wrong, there are some impressive candidates: Jon Huntsman comes to mind, as does Gary Johnson (the impressively consistent Libertarian former two-term governor of New Mexico). The problem is simple: Barring a radical shift in Republican party strategy, they just won’t win. Why? Because today’s activist, extremely ideological caucus attendees in Iowa are not concerned with rationalism or such a trivial thing as actually wanting to win an election. Like many opposition parties in their first years after a massive defeat (2008), the Republican activists are imposing a purity test on their candidates. Hence, the massive proliferation of special interest group pledges in this election cycle. Today’s GOP is comparable to the British Conservatives, 1997 to 2005.  That was before David Cameron became party leader and steered the party towards the centre. Republicans would rather lose than actually make compromises to win back the White House. Just ask Tim Pawlenty. It is that simple; and that big.

A look at the candidates will show why this is a problem:

ROMNEY: Good experience on paper, knows the primary process, but inspires McCain-style grumblings; almost contempt. And, he finished behind Huckabee last time. Even if he makes it to the general election, Obama has enough time to demolish him as a Massachusetts flip-flopper (think John Kerry, circa 2004) and as more of the same. Here is a Ted Kennedy campaign ad that provides the perfect script for the unraveling of candidate Romney, then and in 2012.

BACHMANN: Attractive, engaging, flamboyant; those are advantages not to be underestimated. Michele Bachmann would make a great vp pick (no, seriously). But in the unlikely event that she actually gets nominated to step into the shoes of Republican giants like Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and (yes) Bush, the Minnesota Republican is just not ready for prime time. She is the GOP version of Howard Dean, whose campaign collapsed due to its internal contradictions and overhyped media presence. Ditto for Bachmann. She is likely to fold after the South Carolina primary. If she gets nominated, Obama can run like a modern day version of LBJ against Goldwater. Electoral College and popular vote landslide virtually guaranteed for the president.

PERRY: The candidate with a larger-than-life persona in the race. Can rightly claim that Texas was responsible for half the jobs actually created during the recession. Rick Perry has an easy charm and exudes a Southern warmth that will sit very well with Republican caucus attendees and primary voters. The problem? Well, there are a few: His seeming endorsement of Texas secession, the fact that most of the jobs created by Texas are low-wage and his espousal of the Christian right in so many words are just three of the problems. And even though the media comparisons with a certain other governor of Texas are overhyped, Democrats and Independents will be wary of someone who speaks, swaggers and talks like George W. Bush.

CAIN: Quirky, the funniest candidate on the list, charismatic. Whether it’s his colorful bio as a pizza magnate, the fact that he produced his own album of gospel songs or his humble roots, Herman Cain is intriguing. Well, that is until you start hearing him speak, especially his rants against Islam make him a no-go candidate for the traditional Republican crowd (foreign policy and economic conservatives). He is also not turning heads positively with statements appearing to endorse three-page bills. Also, I just can’t see a path towards nomination for him. He has no executive experience and it is unclear whether he could go head-to-head in a debate against the president. Even the somewhat nutty Alan Keyes had some debate experience when he went up against a certain Senator Obama in 2004.

GINGRICH: A has-been, tainted by Tiffanygate, lack of presidential gravitas. Additionally, Herman Cain steals his presence in Georgia (which may have served as something of a base). Also, his speakership was wholly unremarkable; especially as he allowed President Clinton to win the narrative on the budget shutdown and effectively win re-election against Bob Dole in 1996. No way he can win the primary; and even if he does go on to secure the nomination due to a miraculous set of circumstances, President Obama can demolish him as yesterday’s man and the epitome of the Washington insider. Given his recent erratic behaviour, it seems as if Newt is only looking for a favourable speaking spot at the convention.

SANTORUM: Out of public life since his defeat. Patently running on the wrong issue. With the economy in turmoil, he has no plan for the economy. There are enough statements of his to scare the living daylights of any pro-choicer and memories in Pennsylvania of Senator Santorum are still fresh. No way he wins nomination or election.

HUNTSMAN: Intelligent, thoughtful, personable. Right mixture of conservative signature issues, executive experience, corporate CV and foreign policy gravitas. If the Republicans wanted to win,  and win big, they would nominate Jon Huntsman in a heartbeat. He could run a tough-on-the-issues campaign against the president, without the invective and vitriol that turns off independents. Would likely secure many newspaper endorsements, stand up to the likes of Grover Norquist and decisively advocate a return to common sense conservatism. His problem? Republicans don’t want to win, they want to be right.

JOHNSON: The second truly qualified candidate in the race. Executive experience, a very independent streak, principled fight against earmarks in his state (which he underlined by vetoing thousands of bills). Wants a retreat of the state in line with libertarian beliefs. Balanced the budget and got re-elected in a swing state. His problem? The media don’t care about any of that. In an ideal world, Gary Johnson would be a finalist for the nomination.

PAUL: Ron Paul is the crusty old relic of the race. A bit like the cranky uncle who tells you to be careful with your pennies, he is the father of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and a darling of the new Libertarian wing of the Republican Party. Unfortunately, he also supports ideas like banning abortion and abolishing the Fed. Not flying at all; Obama could denounce him as naive, inexperienced (he has no executive experience), a symbolic legislator (did any Paul legislation get passed?) and an ideologue. Would win big parts of the South, but would lose the Northeast, Midwest and the coastal West.

ROEMER: Former Louisiana governor and congressman, down-home Southern charm and a noble message (changing the nature of politics). His problem? No one knows him. Another ideal-world candidate who has been excluded from the debates by the major news networks.

5.) The president

Barack Obama should not be underestimated. He had a meteoric rise from state senator to United States senator to president within 4 years. He has a formidable organization, financially and in terms of personnel. He is expected to raise more than $1 billion for the campaign and carpet the swing states with ads. Enough time to define his opponents, while they still slug it out in the primaries. He is the man who killed Osama bin Laden. He passed a health care reform act that not even Clinton managed. He repealed Don’t ask, Don’t tell and he is ready to outfox his opponents with a grand jobs and deficit reduction plan. And more than that, he wants to win, whatever the price or cost. If that means throwing the raging base of his party overboard, he will do it. Unless it’s professor Obama on the campaign stage next year, the Republicans will consign themselves to the asterisk heap of history (unless they nominate Christie, Johnson or Huntsman, none of which is likely).

Mark my words: Election 2012 will be another Obama victory. He has it locked, sealed; it’s over.

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About verbavolant

  • pablo

    I must say that I find this article very amusing particularly in reference to Dr. Paul.

    The author says the idea of the abolishing the FED is not flying at all, then references a page over at the LA Times that says:
    “But Paul’s anti-Fed message has drawn broad support because of the central bank’s failure to restrain the flood of cheap money and excessive risk-taking in the years leading up to the financial crisis.

    It has stirred rallies on college campuses and supportive commentaries from Wall Street pundits. More than 300 representatives in Congress have embraced Paul’s ideas for reigning in the FED.” LOL

    Nice job :)

  • http://www.verbavolantconsulting.com verbavolant

    Glad to be of service! ;) The LA Times was to provide a different perspective from mine – as I say in my profile, I do have an opinion and am not afraid to voice it…doesn’t mean I lay claim to being infallible.

  • pablo

    Nor am I afraid to voice mine Verb. If you consider what most people in this country thought about the FED ten years ago to today, its a much different story. To grant a privately owned banking cartel to print money out of thin air and then to lend it out to the government at interest is going out of vogue very quickly, particularly considering the current economic climate, don’t you think Verb?

  • cindy

    Things are going to get a lot worse before the election…September speech will bring about new calls for Stimulus which will be a battle , but you will not get the funds to hide the failing economy!!!! Inflation rising, doubling down on regs, blaming everyone,but the driver of the bus, tax the rich…THEN WHAT?, No plan and no growth….Repubs do have a plan , but none of which would ever pass the senate…But please go ahead and think you have the re-election all wrapped up….instead we have to wait til the election to get some real solutions!

  • http://www.verbavolantconsulting.com verbavolant

    Cindy,

    Just to be very clear: When you refer to Democrats as “you”, I hope you’re not addressing me. I don’t, never have and never will consider myself a Democrat, simply because their congressional wing tends to be invariably extreme. I’m personally no fan of the tax-and-spend approach to government. Unfortunately, the same is true for the Republicans, who (as you will concede) seem to live in a reality of their own. And except for Huntsman and Johnson, I just don’t see anyone who can credibly make the case for a unifying and effective version of Republicanism. As I indicated in my article, if either of them won the nomination (and this appears remote, as of now), my assessment of Election 2012 would change. As you can see, I DO give Republicans their due and would even support them: But they have to nominate an effective candidate who will not be an establishment hack or an extremist á la Bachmann.

    I’m aware that my analysis is a forceful and certainly bold statement of the President’s re-election prospects, as I perceive them. Nothing less, nothing more.

  • Igor

    Yes, the Fed is a bizarre idea, but it seemed at the time that it could work well. The idea was to have an agency free of political influence (especially voter influence) to set the monetary level. It was clear that the money supply had to expand as population expanded else severe deflation would result. For decades it was felt that the primary thing was to control inflation at a moderate pace that would best benefit business.

    Worked pretty good as long as the Fed was kept pretty free of politics, but it all went awry when Greenspan became political, and then when he became blatantly political as a Bush puppet by declaring that the Clinton surpluses were dangerous! That gave Bush the greenlight to go on his spending spree.

  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com Kevin

    Remember that as late as 2009, pundits were claiming that the Republican Party might be finished. Even with the gains made in 2010, the GOP is so weakened that it trips over its own message.

    President Obama has not been as promised, but he will face no significant primary challenge. The conventional wisdom is that any incumbent automatically runs his/her race a position of strength.

    I would argue that Obama would win if the race were held now, but there’s a lot of time remaining. Sour economic news will pull anyone’s approval rating down, and the issue may be who looks the most impotent in the face of it all.

    Time to hold one’s nose on the way to the polls again.

  • Arch Conservative

    This article is deranged wishful thinking.

    Come next November, when unemployment is still hovering around 9%, a rock with the word jobs painted on it could beat Obama.

    But don’t let my comments deter your adherence from that age old liberal strategy of repeating something enough times to make it come true verbolent.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    a rock with the word jobs painted on it —
    that it a good one, Archie.

    At least your’re exercising your imagination.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Arch, I’ll hazard a guess that if your family has a motto, the word caution doesn’t feature in it.

    If it did, I imagine that your track record of predicting elections, which isn’t stellar, would cause you to hesitate before making such a forecast.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Verb #5 –

    I agree with you that if Huntsman were to get the nomination, Obama would be in serious trouble – in fact, I remember reading a long time ago how Huntsman was the only one among the prospective Republican candidates that Obama was worried about. Why? Because Huntsman – unlike the rest of the field except for the even lesser-known Johnson and the daily flip-flopper Gingrich – is a true moderate who accepts scientific realities like climate change and evolution, and has a wealth of foreign policy experience most notably with China. In all honesty, the simple fact that I myself wouldn’t mind him overmuch means that he’d almost certainly draw the significant majority of the independents out there.

    Fortunately for Obama, the Republican base (not the party, but its base) is so radicalized that it is extremely unlikely that Huntsman would stand the least chance of getting nominated. One wonders if Obama was sneaky and calculating enough to deliberately allow the GOP to go merrily down the path where it’s gone since he took office…but no – it was already well down that path once the Muslim Kenyan terrorist-supporting scion of the Chicago thugocracy (at least in Republican eyes) took the nomination from Hillary.

  • Clavos

    the Muslim Kenyan terrorist-supporting scion of the Chicago thugocracy…

    Hmm. I like that.

    [Jots down note]

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Is Glenn beginning to see the light or is he speaking in his usual mode — tongue in cheek?

    I’m not certain.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    Roger, what are you talking about?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m trying to make sense of Glenn’s #11, that’s all. Perhaps it’s all transparent to you, but it’s not to me. Hence the query.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger’s apparently got this idea that whatever I say must either be based in ignorance or guilt or adherence to dogma or maybe even sheer spite.

    I don’t think it’s ever occurred to him that I might make such a statement because Huntsman (alone out of all the Republican candidates including Ron Paul who rejects evolution) accepts the scientific realities of climate change AND evolution, and supports merit pay for first-rate teachers and other improvements in education. Huntsman’s an intelligent and reasonable man and not hidebound to saying “yes sir, no sir, three-bags-full-sir” to the Republican base. If he were to win the nomination, I’d feel pretty good that there were a bunch of Republicans out there who also had the courage to reject the dittoheads and the anti-intellectuals of the Republican base.

    That said, I do NOT support him for president over Obama. Why? Here are Huntsman’s positions that I can’t agree with: he takes a hard line against abortion rights, and he flip-flopped on the individual mandate for health insurance (as did so many other Republicans once Obama began to support it).

    Huntsman’s a good man who would perform his duties as commander-in-chief well – and I must say I’d vote for him over some Democratic ideologues like, say, Kucinich (I really don’t trust ideologues – see Ron Paul). But I will not vote for anyone who would oppose the chance to allow all citizens of the richest nation on earth regular and timely access to quality health care.

    But there it is – I’m back to being the greatest threat to small-d democracy because I refused to support someone else over Obama.

    *sigh*

  • Arch Conservative

    Huntsman is a chump.

  • http://gay-headlines.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    My theory is that the GOP intentionally threw the 2008 election, knowing that there was no way to fix the damage that they themselves did to the economy.

    Also they’re counting on the short attention span of the American voter, knowing that they might not remember that the GOP made this mess; only that Obama didn’t fix it fast enough for them, so he gets the blame instead of remembering the fact that he INHERITED this mess before he took office.

    Unemployment? There’s a really good reason why “big business” isn’t hiring anyone right now. They’re waiting til another republican gets in the white house so thay can make him look like a national hero, he’ll overturn all of the Wall Street restrictions, and they can go hog wild!

    Want to see proof? Everyone’s having heart attacks right now about the stock market tanking over and over again… but conveniently no one remembers that when Obama took office it was in the mid 8000’s and where is it now 11,500-12,000? That’s a lot of money put into invested pension funds that wasn’t there in ’08

  • Baronius

    I’m tired of 2012 analysis that blames the Republicans for failing to support Huntsman. He hasn’t run a good campaign. He’s from a small state and had limited name recognition from his time there. He’s been in China for the past few years – great experience, but not a place you can easily launch a campaign from. He hasn’t taken advantage of the conservative media outlets that I’ve noticed. He didn’t mount a challenge in Ames. He didn’t distinguish himself during the debates (he was in at least one of them). There’s an argument to be made for a candidate with his experience, but he doesn’t seem to be making it.

    I’m also unimpressed with the listing of candidates in order to denounce the whole field. You could do that with any presidential year. Clinton, Brown, Tsongas, Kerrey, and Wilder were the Dems’ candidates in 1992. Bush, McCain, Forbes, Keyes, and Buchanan were the R candidates in 2000. You take any year in 20/20 hindsight and once you get past the first name or two, the bench looks weak.

  • Baronius

    I might as well finish my critique of this article. There were 5 reasons given that President Obama will be reelected: voter turnout, split Republicans, this isn’t 1996, lack of real opponents, and the president himself. I’ve discussed the problems with the lack of opponents theory; let’s look at the others.

    The first two have been true for all of my lifetime. There are a lot more Democrats than Republicans, and the GOP is fractured. You’d think they could never win a race if you look at the statistics. But a lot of independents and a bunch of Democrats vote Republican, or don’t vote at all.

    You’re right that this isn’t 1996. Gas cost $1.30 per gallon. There was a 5.4% unemployment rate. I can’t find the number of foreclosures in 1996, but you can see where I’m going with this. Your final point was the President himself. I recall Democratic House members warning Obama in 2010 that health care reform really hurt the party’s candidates in 1994. Obama said this will be different: now you have me. Well, now they do.

  • http://www.verbavolantconsulting.com verbavolant

    Baronius,

    Whilst I have no problem with criticism of an article authored by me whatsoever, I thought I’d inject myself in the debate to point out a couple of things.

    You alluded to my comparison to 1996. In fact, I wrote that this feels like a darker version of the 1996 election: darker because, as you correctly said, the economy is under threat and the vitriol by Republicans against the President (I shall leave aside the reasons) is stronger than against Bill Clinton. Again, you’re right, gas cost $1.30 per gallon – but those times are not coming back, and the public needs to understand that. One unnecessary war (and a necessary one) and the lack of revenue adjustments to finance it took care of that.

    Additionally, once again, I would underline the fact that I was not using the article to indict the Republican Party per se. In fact, you may see that there are quite a few of the candidates that I DO respect, for various reasons. The problem, however is – and my view is due to my preference for pragmatic and visionary Republicanism – that real Republicans have been supplanted by a series of extremists who (as I said) make Pat Buchanan look like a mellow change. I’m not denouncing the field at all. I’m denouncing the fact that someone with a limited understanding of the world (and no legislative accomplishments) as Michele Bachmann can run the table, while someone like Gary Johnson gets ignored.

    Call that naive, but it’s not partisan to point out the weaknesses of a major party – it’s just objective.

  • Arch Conservative

    Here are a couple of reasons Obama will not be reelected.

    1. Unemployment will still be hovering around 9% com November 2012.

    2. Rick Perry is polling poorly in the NH primary while Romney is polling very well. Romney is also holding his own w/ Perry in polls in other states. The NH primary has traditionally given the winner a great amount of momentum going forward in the race to be the nominee. (John Mccain won in 2008) If Romney wins the GOP nomination he will draw many, many moderates away from Obama and unlike 2008 when conservatives didn’t hold their nose and vote for McCain they will do so this time w/ Romney as they have Barry Sotero in action.

    C. The Obamacare abomination is likely to hit the Supreme Court before November’s election and likely to be ruled unconstitutional. Is there any better fodder for the GOP going into the general other than the unemployment rate?

    4. Despite all the kool aid Obamabots assertions that approval ratings are meaning less they are not and Obama’s are sinking lower every day. The only possible way he could turn them around is if the economic and unemployment situation turned around significantly and most economists as well as most citizens believe “it aint happening by next November.” His current poll numbers are a reflection of what more and more Americans are coming to believe every day. That being that Obama has no leadership skills to speak of and that no good will come to this nation with him at the helm. it’s not just conservatives like myself that hate the man with the passion and intensity of one million burning super novas that believe this but also many independents for their own reasons and even leftist whackadoos for their own reasons as we’ve sent he chatter about a primary challenge from the left to “the one we have been waiting for.”

    Those still supporting Obama overestimate him and underestimate not only the GOP but the growing discontent among the American people. The tired line that has been trotted out by Obamabots and the mainstream media that the GOP field is weak and cannot possible beat Obama is pure unadulterated mythology. it is part of the psyche of the left to believe that if something is repeated often enough it will must be true or enough people will start believing it so that it will be held as true even if it isn’t. Sometimes that works, “sometimes it don’t.” The relection of Barry Sotero seems to be shaping up to be the latter.

  • Baronius

    Verb – I agree with most of your first paragraph, or at least I think we’re both describing the same things differently. As to your second paragraph, do you really think that this year’s (or this generation’s) extremists are more extreme than the last one’s? I’ve been hearing this all my life. As the left moves further and further, the right has more things to complain about, but they’re not more extreme. Last generation, the right was saying no to $1T government, no to civil unions, no to abortion. Now, they’re saying no to $4T government, no to gay marriage, no to taxpayer-funded abortion. Where’s the greater extremism?

    One thing we can agree on is that a candidate’s experience matters. Sometimes an experienced candidate doesn’t catch on, as is the case with Johnson. I can accept that. What I don’t accept is when an inexperienced candidate does catch on. I want to see at least 8 years in the upper echelons of government. I’ll accept time running an Olympics as a substitute, but not raising foster children.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Where’s the greater extremism?

    Your problem, Baronius, is that you’re only comparing to last year – and it’s hard to see great contrasts in such processes over only one year. It’s more effective to look at decades and generations, for then you will see just how far to the right the Republicans have gone.

    How about during the most recent GOP debate where the candidates were asked they’d accept a budget proposal that included 90% spending cuts with only 10% revenue increases – and what was the response of every single candidate? NO. That’s a far cry from Reagan (who raised revenue 12 times in his presidency) and Bush Sr. (“Read my lips!”). These men knew that there was a time that dogma should be superseded by reality. Bush Sr. even slashed defense spending. The current crop doesn’t dare admit any such possibility for fear of being labeled ‘socialist’.

    Other examples? Can we imagine a time in American history B.O. (before Obama) where a political party would cheer the fact that we didn’t get awarded the Olympic games?

    But even telling is the obstructionist Republicans which led to a greater level of obstruction in Congress than any we’ve seen since the Civil War.

    The attacks on unions, on collective-bargaining rights, in the past two years are beyond what we’ve seen in many, many years. In Wisconsin, teachers were being vilified by the Republicans for their pension plans (which btw were funded almost solely by deductions in the teachers’ salaries). And then there’s Texas, where Gov. Perry (who held a “prayer rally” for rain) slashed education spending by nearly $5B in a state where 25% of the teachers already have to moonlight at other jobs to make ends meet…but he still awarded hundreds of millions in tax breaks to corporations!

    You claim the left has only moved further and further left is equally fallacious. Before Clinton, most Democrats understood the reasons for and supported a progressive tax system where the rich would actually pay at least as great a percentage in taxes as the rest of us. But now we have a lower tax burden than we’ve had in the past half-century, and fully one-third of the stimulus package was tax cuts.

    The biggest deregulator of the last half-century was not a Republican – it was Clinton…whose trade deregulation campaign enabled tens of thousands of our factories to move overseas. The oh-so-conservative Cato Institute decried how Reagan was not supporting free trade, but Clinton gave them exactly what they wanted! And don’t get me started on the repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act signed by Clinton (but passed with veto-proof Republican and blue-dog Democrat majorities) that in large measure enabled the Great Recession.

    In all honesty, the further we get from Clinton’s presidency, the worse it looks – and almost entirely due to his pandering to the Right.

    So, NO, Baronius, the Left has not moved a great deal further to the left. If compared to what the Left has been since the Civil Rights Act, the Left has moved further right, and the Right keeps moving the goal posts ever further away.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    Baronius, it is pretty astonishing to claim that the Left is moving further and further — further left, you mean?! Examples please.

    Do you agree that in both rhetoric and practice, the GOP has been moving rapidly rightward since the late 1970s?

  • Arch Conservative

    “Baronius, it is pretty astonishing to claim that the Left is moving further and further — further left, you mean?! Examples please.”

    Have you been asleep in cave outside Kabul for the last decade handy?

    You want examples? open your friggin eyes and ears……….

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Archie, there is no Left to speak of right now. There is the Democratic Party, and they’re just as much a part of the establishment as the Republicans are. You do know that they both are ripping the people off.

    The passage of Healthcare by Obama — far from any radical piece of legislation, not even a single payer plan and far from socialistic — was only a gesture; and it’s constitutional validity remains subject to question.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    Activists and journalists on the left have been as critical of the administration and Congress as you have, Arch — for different reasons of course.

    The president has not been governing as a leftist, but as a compromising centrist. Perhaps you drink too much of your own side’s kool-aid to be able to recognize this.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    Not sure where to post this, but: there is something very big happening in Libya at the moment. Regime change or chaos or both.

  • Baronius

    ”Baronius, it is pretty astonishing to claim that the Left is moving further and further — further left, you mean?! Examples please.

    Do you agree that in both rhetoric and practice, the GOP has been moving rapidly rightward since the late 1970s?”

    Handy, I thought I could bang out an answer to that comment in about 3 sentences, but the more I think about it, the more difficult it becomes.

    You once made a comment to the effect that the Democrats always opposed gay marriage with a wink – they were always ok with it, but knew they couldn’t say anything until society came around. That creates a challenge to discerning how each party or political movement may be drifting. The only thing I can do is to ignore it entirely, and take each faction at its word. Whatever a group is advocating for, that’s what they’re after. A bad assumption, but the only one that doesn’t require telepathy.

    There’s one other variable I can’t quantify. I believe that on the right of center, there’s been a shift in the social-mod fiscal-con crowd. They’ve gone from being passively socially moderate/liberal (as in, “we’re Episcopalians and we don’t talk about that kind of thing”) to being actively socially moderate/liberal (as in, “Hello, my name is Dave Nalle”).

    So, all that out of the way. Let’s look at the social issues that were being debated in the 1970’s versus today. Abortion was (seemingly) rare, and definitely controversial. Sodomy was illegal in some states. Affirmative action was really just beginning. Today, the abortion fight is ongoing, but mostly in terms of distance protestors have to be away from a clinic, or parental notification. Civil unions are everywhere, and gay marriage is advancing. The debate over quotas has given way to debates over bilingual education and enforcement of immigration laws.

    Next, what’s changed in the battle over the size of government? Welfare as we knew it has been scrapped (although unemployment benefits and food stamps are on their way to becoming a substitute). And tax policy – definitely a win on the right. On the matter of tax rates, the debate has shifted in the direction of the right. But the left hasn’t changed its tune even slightly.

    But the scope of government has been steadily expanding via regulation. In public education, the only real debate is about means to escape it (such as charter schools and homeschooling); for the most part, the right has quit. With some other programs, it’s been members of the right who’ve promoted them, so I can’t really say that the right opposes the DHS or Medicare part D.

    There’s one other place the right has scored – they created an articulate argument for a restrained judiciary. I don’t think that’s paid off much, but it’s a front that didn’t exist before. There was just a sense that individual decisions were overreaching.

    Final score, the right has drifted leftward on the role of government and the left has drifted leftward on social issues.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    The voices we are most likely to hear — Congressional Republicans and GOP presidential candidates — are complaining in the loudest possible terms about “big government conservatives.” But Nixon was a ‘big government conservative’ 40 years ago and Eisenhower was also, 55 years ago. So this is not a new struggle.

    With gay marriage, and gay acceptance in general, the public has been ahead of the politicians. I don’t think of tolerance and open-mindedness as exclusively leftist attributes.

    Public attitudes toward abortion are more ambivalent and conservative than they were 10 or 20 years ago. In more states every year, it gets harder to find an abortion provider. I don’t see how this qualifies as leftward movement, and the change in attitude in this case seems to be the public following politicians’ rhetoric.

    The most conservative politicians have been successfully setting the agenda on spending and taxes, certainly for the last 7 months, but even before that. Democrats would consider it a triumph to restore some of the Clinton-era tax rates and avoid deep entitlement cuts. That doesn’t sound like shrill leftist extremism to me.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    You pretty much ignored the examples I gave in comment #24, but here’s some more. Do you hear anything coming from the Left these days when it comes to gun control? No, because the Right has largely WON that particular battle. Do you hear much about election reform? No, because the Right WON that battle thanks to Citizens United. The guy who came in second in the Iowa straw poll is one that advocates allowing businesses to have a right to discriminate on any basis whatsoever.

    Add those ‘victories’ to the ones I described in #24 – the marginalization of the unions (credit goes to Reagan) and the deregulation of our commerce system (credit goes to the conservatives’ best friend Bill Clinton), both of which were high on the list of priorities of the Right…and we can see now how all that worked out with our travesty of a middle class and our loss of literally tens of thousands of factories that went overseas.

    You spoke of education – well, which side is it that wants to inject creationism in our science classes? Many Republicans don’t…but many Republicans DO (as compared to close to ZERO Lefties who support such a ridiculous policy)…and all but one (the way-behind Huntsman) of the Republicans’ candidates this time reject evolution and climate change. Oh – my bad – the OTHER way-behind candidate Gingrich also thinks climate change is real. As for your front-runners…you get the picture.

    Since LBJ’s Great Society, the Left has had two great victories, and that’s about it. One is the continuing success of civil rights for LGBT’s – that one won’t stop. The other is what you call ‘Obamacare’…and it will provide access to health care for tens of millions of Americans who can’t get it now. But no matter how beneficial it will be to America, it has been utterly rejected by the Republicans – many of whom were clamoring for an almost identical program not so long before.

    But since it wasn’t them that actually made it happen, the Right must reject the Affordable Care Act as creeping socialism and pretend that all their support for such a program in the past was some kind of fantasy cooked up by the Left. This is also known as politics.

  • Baronius

    Handy, with regard to big government and the social agenda, I think you’ve set up the framework wrong. Patton didn’t say that he fought the Germans in Africa, then things changed, and he fought them in France. He’d say he fought them in Africa, and won, and then fought them in France. The location of the battle tells you who’s been winning.

    Conservatives are saying that we should give gay couples all the rights of married couples, but call it “civil unions”. By their own reasoning, a lifestyle that God disapproves of should receive full legal protection, and He won’t mind, as long as He doesn’t hear us call it “marriage”.

    Likewise, they’re saying that government should subsidize corn growers, and subsidize people not growing corn, but should never subsidize the conversion of corn into ethanol. Medicare – it’s a promise that we made, and we have to honor it. Environmentalism – we favor every regulation on the books, but don’t want to add any more. School prayer – j/k, we never supported that.

    To me, it looks like the right has retreated on any number of issues. But, if you’ll permit me to psychoanalyze both of us, I think it’s natural to notice the places your side has retreated, but not think about the places your side has advanced, since after all you were on the right side of history. With that in mind, I have to recognize that what you said about abortion is right. It’s more complicated than either of us have put it, but the right has made gains on it. But I think you’re taking for granted all the other wins of the left in social matters.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @31 and 33

    A model for all future conversations to come, including this poster.

  • http://www.verbavolantconsulting.com verbavolant

    @34

    Agreed!