Friday, January 20, 2012

Grading the Contendahs: 2012 GOP Pres Candidates (Part 457)

And then there were four - Gingrich, Romney, Paul and Santorum.  To be honest, I'm pretty shocked to not see Perry in that list.  On paper, Perry was really scary - served in the Air Force (not sure if in Vietnam or not), two time governor of Texas, seemed to be a true believer - but that was before he was exposed as an idiot at the debates.  Anyway, without further ado, here are my thoughts on the last four remaining candidates:

Mitt Romney: As I've said, Romney's frontrunner status has defined the race - there has been a constant search for the anti-Romney leading to very strange frontrunners during the race.  But what I didn't know is how much of a glass jaw Romney has.  In a Republican primary, being a bruising capitalist for a company like Bain should be a net positive, and yet, Romney is still getting stung by the attacks.  Yesterday, he said that he doesn't want to release his tax returns because the Obama campaign would have a field day (um, not the way to go, Mittens).  And I still haven't heard about the attack ad to kill all attack ads being used against Romney.  If anyone connected with the Gingrich or Santorum campaigns reads this, feel free to use this commercial:

Fade to black - show a grainy picture of Obama, with the caption "We all know that Obamacare is a socialist/marxist/Kenyan scam.  But did you know that Obamacare is based on Mitt Romney's health care plan for Massachusetts."  Then show a grainy picture of Mittens looking pissed. "You know what the difference between Mitt Romney's plan and Obama's plan?  Mitt Romney's plan pays for abortions."  Then cut to a picture of an aborted fetus, and finish with the line, "We need someone in Washington we can trust on our issues.  Someone like _____."  End commercial.

That would end Romney's candidacy in record time, IMHO.  That said, Romney has money, he has connections, and he has institutional support.  Against Obama, he has a decent shot.  But he is really vulnerable right now.  If anything, the last few weeks shows that if you catch Romney unprepared, he stumbles.  And weirdly, you can catch him unprepared a lot.  If he doesn't sew up South Carolina, then he will have a fight for the nomination that he may not be prepared for.  I'd put his odds of winning at 1:1.

Newt Gingrich: Its amazing to say that a guy with a 59% unfavorability rating has a shot at the nomination, but Gingrich's place makes sense.  He can legitimately associate himself with the 1994 conservative revolution, the Clinton boom of the late 1990's, and at the same time, separate himself from the Bush Administration's blunders.  And with the possible exception of Tom Delay, Newt Gingrich can lay claim to the title of the leader of the modern conservative movement. 

Those are the pros.  The cons, of course, are his volatile personal life, his lobbying history, his ethical violations, and the fact that the overwhelming majority of the American people do not like him.  But here's the thing, unlike Romney, most of Gingrich's blemishes are public and well-known.  The ABC News interview with his second ex-wife was shocking, but not surprising.  Everyone knows Gingrich is an asshole - he divorced his first wife after cancer surgery*.  The best hits on him on the GOP side are those that connect him to the Bush Administration and Fannie Mae.  The other good hit, the electability argument, isn't that much of a hit anymore either, because Romney ain't looking so good right now.  In boxing terms, Gingrich is a puncher/brawler against a guy with a glass chin (Romney).  Yeah, Romney should outbox him, but Gingrich has a puncher's chance.  Odds of winning: 5:1

Rick Santorum: On the plus side for the frothy one, the Evangelical community has picked him as their appointed candidate. On the minus side, they waited until now to do so.  Santorum might be able to gain some more steam coming out of South Carolina and into Florida.  But, if I wanted to hit Santorum in the GOP primary, I'd hit him for his connection to the Bush Administration and earmarks.  Plus, he doesn't really light up a crowd.  Still a longshot, but if Romney keeps looking weak, and if Gingrich goes, well, Gingrich, then he's got a shot.  10:1.

Ron Paul: A non-factor, but a significant non-factor.  Paul has his 15% of the vote, and he's going to keep churning out his 15% all the way to the convention.  His foreign policy views limit his appeal to the GOP, and the newsletters he used to publish (and which included a lot of racist stuff) limits his appeal to independents and Democrats.  On the other hand, he is setting up his son nicely for a run for President in the future.  100:1.

*Truth be told, Gingrich's first wife was kinda creepy - she was his high school math teacher, and they started dating when Gingrich was either 16 or 18.  Either way, its pretty creepy on her part.  So, he may be a sociopath, but he was a sociopath who was arguably molested as a teenager by someone in a position of authority over him.  At the same time, he divorced his first wife after she had cancer, and his second wife after she got MS, which kinda says all you need to know about Gingrich.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Quick Thoughts on Iowa, Obama, and the Chargers

During the holidays, I've been a bit lax completely lazy about posting.  So, without further ado, here are a few of my thoughts with regard to recent events:


Had to do that in caps because Iowa was what news junkies were gunning for.  Anyway, yesterday's results: Romney, Santorum, Paul, and then everyone else.  Not to pat myself on the back, but I did predict that Santorum would be designated the official anti-Romney.  The question remains, though, whether Santorum will have the money or the resources to run a campaign in New Hampshire or South Carolina.  My guess, and what I'd tell Santorum is to skip New Hampshire, and go for South Carolina with gusto.

But, it appears that the race's other Rick, Rick Perry, isn't dropping out, but will campaign on in South Carolina.  This is not a bad idea for two reasons: 1) With Bachmann out, Perry just has to contend with Santorum for the anti-Romney label; and 2) what the hell else is Perry going to do with the campaign literature and funds he has on hand?  Yeah, he could get killed, but why not give it the ole' college try.

Romney remains the ever-unpopular establishment choice.  After all, the vast majority of Iowans voted against Romney.  That said, being the Establishment candidate has its perks, such as being able to compete for the long haul.  But in the General Election, being an unpopular front-runner is a bad thing because independents tend to be swung by the general enthusiasm of one side or the other.  Paul, on the other hand, remains popular among his 10-20%.  My bet is that Rand Paul will probably be a Presidential player in the future because of his father.

Obama Throwing Elbows

After three years of trying to work with the GOP, Obama's current strategy seems to be "fuck those guys." Case in point, today he used his recess appointment power to appoint a guy to the Consumer Protection Agency and three guys to the NLRB, all of which were held up by filibustering GOP Senators.  Now, Obama has the right to do this, and all recent Presidents have done so lots of times.  The Constitution allows the President to appoint people to positions when Congress is not in session.  Had he used the recess appointment power yesterday, there would be no issue.  But today, Congress had a pro forma session - a guy showed up, called the Congress into order and then adjourned - specifically to prevent Obama from using his recess appointment powers.  Now, its not entirely clear if Congress can legally do this, and by choosing to make recess appointments today, as opposed to yesterday, Obama is purposefully picking a fight with Congressional Republicans on this issue.* That's an interesting change, and a change that is long overdue.

Chargers Retain Norv Turner and A.J. Smith

San Diego's long nightmare continues - on Tuesday, Dean Spanos decided not to fire Norv Turner and A.J. Smith, the head coach and general manager of the San Diego Chargers.  Ugh.  What's interesting about this is the dynamic in the days leading up to the rehiring - the rumor was that Smith would stay, and Turner would be fired.  The players, who can't stand Smith, all immediately stood up for Turner and pushed for him to stay.  Turner, in the meantime, more or less openly attacked Smith, and Smith told Spanos that he could deliver Jon Gruden, an exceptional head coach, if Spanos didn't fire him. By keeping both, Spanos insures that this will be an interesting off-season for the Chargers.