Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rep. Paul Ryan gets his 15 minutes of VP love

Sorry, Paul. Not this time. 
The National Review is reporting that Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Budget Committee chairman, is being vetted by the Romney campaign for the VP slot. The report ads that some top Republican officials are wary of "plucking him from the House, where he is the party's most influential voice on fiscal issues."

Of course, there would be another rather significant reason for not picking him, as Outside the Beltway observes:
Given Ryan’s popularity among the Republican base, it’s not surprising that the Romney campaign would let it leak that they are considering him. At the same time, though, Ryan’s association with a budget that isn’t necessarily popular among the independent voters that Romney will need to attract in swing states is an argument for not selecting him.

Hell, let's not dance around this thing. Paul Ryan's budget plan is so unpopular that, as Jonathan Bernstein at The Plum states, Republicans with the exception of Mitt Romney are running from it.

In describing a new ad in the Montana Senate race being run by the Republican candidate Denny Rehberg, Bernstein writes:
The big news here is that Rehberg is campaigning against the House Republican budget, specifically over its threat to Medicare. Rehberg is one of a relatively small group of House Republicans who opposed the Ryan budget. The big question in House races, of course, is what price all of those Members who voted with Ryan will pay, if any.
Of 16 Republican candidates most likely to become new Senators in 2013, only 2 touted the Ryan budget on their web pages. None of them went as far as Rehberg now has gone in specifically denouncing it, but clearly there’s no eagerness to climb about the Ryan train, either because they think it’s bad policy or, more likely, because it polls badly, even in red states such as Missouri, Arizona, and even Nebraska, where nominee Deb Fischer is silent about it.

Yes, turning Medicare into a voucher program still polls badly. What that means is that Romney is giving Ryan a little love by considering him because Ryan is popular with the base, but he's not getting the gig. It would be a far too distracting choice and Romney doesn't need the election to be a referendum on privatizing Medicare. It's not going to happen.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Glenn Beck has seen the finger of God, but which one?

By Richard K. Barry

Funny how Glenn Beck has disappeared from national consciousness having been banished from Fox for being too nuts even for them. Like a lot of people, I paid way too much attention to Beck back in the day. It was fun to do that in a weird sort of way. Many of us wondered how much of an impact he was having on the burgeoning Tea Party movement and whether or not his brand of craziness could significantly influence the direction of conservatism in America. And then he was gone.

Of course, he's not completely gone. He's still got a website somewhere in virtual land and I guess some people pay money to hear him rant. I have to assume that because I have totally lost track. And he still goes around the country talking to those who might care as he did recently at a "Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference."

In his prepared remarks he said that if America failed to do what Glenn thought best, God would "withdraw his protection" over the country. He also said that he had "seen the finger of God," presumably meaning that he had seen the work of God manifest in our daily lives (I guess). But I'd prefer to think that if there is a gentle God, a merciful God, the only one of His fingers Beck would likely see is the middle one raised at the end of an extended arm.

Something like this: "Hey Glenn, this is God. Go fuck yourself."

Here's the clip of Beck being Beck. I almost miss him.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)


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Friday, June 22, 2012

New poll shows continuing strength for Obama with Hispanics

By Richard K. Barry

Earlier in the day, I pointed out that the Hispanic population was growing in key battleground states. Now we get a poll telling us that President Obama continues to thrive with Hispanics in states likely to be competitive in the fall.
"New polling released June 22, 2012 by Latino Decisions and America’s Voice finds President Obama maintaining a wide lead over Republican Mitt Romney among Latino registered voters in five key battleground states." 
"The poll interviewed 400 Latinos each in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia – all states expected to be very competitive in 2012 where Latino voters could decide the outcome. In Florida, the poll found Obama leading Romney by a margin of 53% to 37%, a slight increase from a 50% to 40% lead Obama held over Romney in a January 2012 Latino Decisions/Univision News poll in Florida."

"In the five states combined Obama lead Romney 63% to 27%, however in southwestern battlegrounds of Arizona, Colorado and Nevada Obama performed even better. In Arizona Obama received 74% to 18% for Romney, in Colorado he was favored by 70% to 22% and in Nevada 69% to 20%. In Virginia, Obama lead 59% to 28% over Romney among Latino registered voters."

Not much to say about this other than the fact that Obama's strategy seems to be working.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Where the Hispanic vote is growing

By Richard K. Barry

Something we have known for a long time is that the Hispanic population is increasing dramatically in America. As for its impact on the presidential election, The Hill notes that increases have been particularly marked in battleground states:

Pennsylvania's Hispanic population grew 83 percent between 2000 and 2010; Iowa's increased by 83.7 percent; Virginia's increased by 92 percent; North Carolina's increased by 111 percent; Ohio's increased by 63 percent; New Hampshire's increased by 79 percent; and Iowa's grew by 84 percent, according to U.S. Census data.

No wonder Obama and Romney are making strong pitches to Hispanic voters, who could have a huge impact on the election, particularly in tight state races.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Romney, Bain, and outsourcing: A key issue for Obama

There are some who seem to think that the Obama campaign's recent shift from Romney's work at Bain Capital to his tenure as Massachusetts governor closes Romney's vulture capitalism as an issue, that the Obama campaign saw that it didn't have much traction as an issue and basically caved in to Democrats, such as Bill Clinton, uncomfortable with the line of attack the campaign was taking.

I don't buy it. Not. One. Bit.

The fact is, the campaign hasn't really started yet in earnest. It has for Romney, perhaps, but then he's been running hard since last year and is now coasting on the momentum he picked up during the GOP primaries. And while Obama has indeed been out campaigning, in that presidential way of making some speeches and doing presidential things, and while his campaign has certainly started to paint a picture of Romney in anticipation of when the campaign gets underway in earnest with the conventions later this summer, there's still a long way to go with many more twists and turns to come, including from the Obama campaign, which hasn't rolled everything out yet because there hasn't been any need to.

And the other fact is, Romney's work at Bain -- making a fortune off vulture capitalism, destroying jobs and ruining lives -- is absolutely positively fair game. And not just that, it's an issue that has, in my view, a great deal of traction particularly at this time of ongoing economic uncertainty and in light of Obama's ongoing efforts to keep moving the economy in the right direction, a Herculean task that he will highlight again and again the rest of the way.

It's not that Romney has made a fortune. This isn't about punishing the rich or criticizing capitalism. It's about how Romney made a fortune, about criticizing a certain strain of capitalism that makes the rich richer at the expense of everyone else. And there's more about this in today's Post:

Mitt Romney's financial company, Bain Capital, invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.

During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

While economists debate whether the massive outsourcing of American jobs over the last generation was inevitable, Romney in recent months has lamented the toll it's taken on the U.S. economy. He has repeatedly pledged he would protect American employment by getting tough on China.

"They've been able to put American businesses out of business and kill American jobs," he told workers at a Toledo fence factory in February. "If I'm president of the United States, that's going to end."

He can say whatever he wants. But do you believe him?

The Obama campaign will certainly have to be careful how it pushes this issue, particularly given that Republicans will counter by stressing Romney's supposed business acumen and accusing Obama of trying to wage class warfare (and, of course, of being a socialist).

But the president has a strong record to run on -- stimulating the economy, saving the auto industry -- and should be able to make the case effectively out on the campaign trail. In key swing states like Ohio, where so many jobs have been lost because of people like Romney, that could make all the difference.

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Republicans still insisting on their own "facts"

By Richard K. Barry

How clueless are Republicans, you may ask? Well, according to Huffington Post, pretty clueless.

Go ahead. Look for yourself.
[A new poll] constructed by Dartmouth government professor Benjamin Valentino and conducted by YouGov from April 26 to May 2, found that fully 63 percent of Republican respondents believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded in 2003.

As we should all know by now, that was a key argument by President Bush for the invasion and it turned out to be untrue.

It does beg the question how you run a national political campaign when so many voters are willfully ignorant of the most basic facts.

Maybe you just repeatedly tell your base the lies to which they are most attached. You know, the Romney way.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Romney's campaign asks Florida Republican governor to curb his enthusiasm over economic gains

By Richard K. Barry

I love this one: Bloomberg is reporting that Florida Governor Rick Scott is being asked to curb his enthusiasm over improving job numbers in his state because it clashes with the presumptive GOP presidential "nominee's message that the nation is suffering under President Barack Obama."

It seems Scott has been asked to say that the "state's jobless rate could improve faster under a Romney presidency."

The larger issue is how Republican governors in presidential battleground states like Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia, in which economies are improving, can take credit for the good news while also faulting Obama in some way.

I grasp the preference of Romney's campaign that the governors temper their excitement, though that is what, in politics, they call a mixed message. I suspect these Republican governors are going to want to stay positive and uplifting, which works better as a messaging approach.

Mitt Romney does strike me as the kind of guy who wants everything both ways: all things bad are Obama's doing; all things good have nothing to do with him.

Nice trick.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)


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Behind the Ad: Obama highlights Romney's integrity issues

(Another installment in our "Behind the Ad" series.)

Where: Nine key states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia).

What's going on: The Obama Campaign is running two spots in key states. The first one criticizes Romney for his failure to cut taxes or create jobs. The strategy is to highlight promises Romney made and failed to keep.

As RealClearPolitics describes it:

"Mitt Romney did cut taxes -- on millionaires like himself," says the narrator in one ad, titled "Mosaic." "But he raised taxes and fees on everyone else." The spot cites fee hikes on health care, school bus rides, nursing homes and other services.

The Obama camp had been hitting Romney's private-equity career, but that approach came under fire, even from some prominent Democrats. Last month, the re-election team shifted its focus to Romney's record as governor. The strategy now is to highlight promises they say Romney didn't keep, suggesting that he won't deliver on presidential campaign pledges either.

The second ad, called "Come and Go," touches on Romney's time at Bain Capital and as governor of Massachusetts.

"As a corporate raider, he shipped jobs to China and Mexico. As governor, he did the same thing -- outsourcing state jobs to India," the narrator says. "Now he is making the same pitch." Both spots end with the tagline: "Romney economics: didn't work then; won't work now."

Part of the difficulty with following politics closely is that after hearing the same thing over and over you get numb. It's important to remember that over the next several months a lot of people are going to start paying attention to Mitt Romney for the first time. If the general theme of the Obama campaign is that Romney has said a lot of things over his career, made a lot of promises, but changes positions whenever he feels the need, they may get that from these ads.

If that's the point, I guess they do the job. As for myself, I'm already getting bored.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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The He-Man Woman Haters Club

The Romney campaign is apparently making its VP search estrogen-free:

But in leaking few details about their search, the Romney campaign also loses out on an opportunity to show they've at least made an effort to seek out various candidates whose mere consideration might be needed to placate certain corners of the party.

In particular, few women except for New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte – a freshman lawmaker from New England with only scant federal experience – are thought to be under consideration by Romney.

"I think unfortunately, Palin poisoned the well on that," said one informal Romney adviser, fretting that any woman selected as VP would draw inevitable comparisons to the former Alaska governor. "I would guess if I were inside the Romney mind that they're worried that any woman chosen will be subjected to a higher level of scrutiny."

So Sarah Palin was a disaster as a vice presidential candidate and she was a woman. Therefore, the logic goes, women make lousy candidates.

Oy. This is the kind of thinking that got us Sarah Palin in the first place; choosing a candidate for the office based on trying to win the election, not govern the country. This is why they're looking at Marco Rubio; the Republicans need to win a demographic base and they don't really care if the candidate has the experience and a clean enough background -- both are problematic in his case -- to actually take on the duties of the presidency should the need arise.

The problem with Sarah Palin was that she was woefully unqualified for the job. That had nothing to do with her gender. On the other hand, the people who chose her were all men. That would seem to indicate that they're the ones who should be subjected to a higher level of scrutiny, not the just the candidate.

(h/t to Melissa

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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"Husky and Starch": The best GOP ticket and Obama's worst nightmare

Husky & Starch

My co-blogger Michael Stickings and I were recently having a chat about who Mitt Romney's running mate should be. We went through the usual names, wondering if he would need a "game changer" or play it safe. After going 'round and 'round for a while, we came to the same conclusion: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would be Romney's best option for VP.

In a sense, it would be both a game changer and a safe call.

We reasoned that Romney should make the announcement the usual time, about a week before the convention. By then the polls will have been so close for so long that conservatives everywhere will be salivating at the thought of beating Obama, so they won't make trouble about the fact that Christie is another Northeastern governor who isn't perfect from a radical right-wing perspective. The base will stay in line and swing voters, particularly white middle-aged guys, will love the choice.

In many ways, Christie is everything Romney is not. He comes across as genuine, a natural performer. He's combative as hell and would be able to do what Romney will never be able to do: act tough. Conservatives want that more than anything.

I'm no great fan of Christie myself, but I do think he would be a formidable running mate and would make things close. Would he overshadow Romney? Uh, yes. But that's a chance Mitt would have to take.

Christie would give the convention a boost and liven things up considerably. He may also loosen Romney up a bit. I can almost see them play-boxing on stage (Oooh, almost made myself sick there).

I don't have a great argument for thinking this ticket would work, but I do feel it somehow.

It's not my idea of a good time, though in the interests of objective political analysis, there it is -- "Husky and Starch." (I wonder if I can copyright that.)

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Bristol Palin proves that self-righteous, self-indulgent idiocy is hereditary

Sex? Er... what's that?
Take this for what it's worth:

Bristol Palin says being a young mother is "hard", and now she has vowed no more sex until she and her pipeline worker boyfriend are married.

Palin, 21, tells In Touch that she is determined to walk down the aisle with Giacinto "Gino" Paoletti before they think about having another child. "Gino and I are going to wait until marriage," she tells the magazine.

"I’m doing what's best for me. It's between me and God, and I know it's right."

Bristol, the oldest daughter of Sarah Palin and now the star of a new Lifetime reality show "Life's a Tripp", became a single mother at 18, giving birth to son Tripp in 2009.

Reached for comment, God -- or, if you prefer, "God" -- said, "Whoa, keep me out of it. I can't stand the hypocrisy of these moronic right-wing theocrats either," adding: "Now excuse me, I have to get going. Karl R--... uh... Beelzebub's got some nasty business planned in Park City, Utah this weekend, and I need to prepare."

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Why the FUCK didn't you, Madame Speaker?

By Carl
(ed. note: Please pardon the colorful language, but in context, it's appropriate and really about the only way to truly express my outrage)

"I could have arrested Karl Rove on any given day," Nancy Pelosi said to laughter, during a sit-down with reporters. "I'm not kidding. There's a prison here in the Capitol ... If we had spotted him in the Capitol, we could have arrested him."

You mean like so many on the left asked? Begged? Pleaded? Why not?

"It doesn't serve our country, and it undermines the true purpose of contempt of Congress."

Get the fuck out of here. No, seriously, GTFO! When are the Democrats going to get it through their thick skulls that the only way they're ever going to right the ship of state and get to a place where Republicans are willing to be flexible and negotiate is to smack the fucks on the snout with a 2x4?

If the Teabagger movement tells us anything, it's that Republicans are not only perfectly willing and capable, but seem to enjoy sinking into the gutter in order to stop this nation from doing, well, anything except a war that Republicans themselves declare (else why the argument over Libya?)

The Democrats are the human in the middle of a pack of rampaging junkyard dogs and you know how you beat down a pack of junkyard dogs? You don't try to soothe them or bribe them: you take the lead dog, and crack him across the nose to show him who is boss.

Arresting, even just arresting, Karl Rove would have gone a long way to making the GOP realize you're serious and to be taken seriously.

My God, woman, these are the thieves and crooks who stole elections, raped our nation, destroyed her good name and credit both domestically and internationally, Murdered thousands of our young men and women for wars that had no point and no end, and plundered the values of our homes! Fuck "contempt of Congress," they are traitorous, murderous slimy bastards who if we had a Bastille and guillotine would be lined up at La Barrière!!

Arresting Karl Rove would have been, as they say, a nice first step.

How much different would the first four years of the Obama administration have been if, say, you had on January 1, 2007, slammed your gavel down and said "I will entertain a bill from Congressman Kucinich authorizing an investigation into a bill of war crime charges against officials of this Administration"? Or criminal negligence for ignoring the urgent warnings surrounding 9-11? Or hell, any number of things including charges of voter caging in 2004 or rigged elections in 2000?

I can tell you this much: Karl Rove would have spent the last six years running and hiding and spending money on lawyers and not building a superPAC war chest (after persuading five SCOTUS justices to pervert the First Amendment) to try to get the HNIC out of the White House. The Republicans would have thought twice before raising the birther issue, or banning abortions, or passing "Stand Your Ground" laws.

They would have respected you. Yes, they would have worked overtime to get rid of you, to take Congress over anyway, but guess what? It happened, despite your gestures of conciliation. You know who else reconciled with a tyrant hell-bent on destroying nations?

"Peace in our time," my lily-white ass!

(cross-posted to Simply Left Behind)

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Bush-Cheney ignored CIA warnings about al Qaeda, failed to go after bin Laden prior to 9/11

Yet more evidence that the Bush Administration, for all its self-aggrandizing post-9/11 bluster, did little to nothing to root out America enemies before the attack:

Over 120 CIA documents concerning 9/11, Osama bin Laden and counterterrorism were published today for the first time, having been newly declassified and released to the National Security Archive. The documents were released after the NSA pored through the footnotes of the 9/11 Commission and sent Freedom of Information Act requests.

The material contains much new information about the hunt before and after 9/11 for bin Laden, the development of the drone campaign in AfPak, and al-Qaida's relationship with America's ally, Pakistan. Perhaps most damning are the documents showing that the CIA had bin Laden in its cross hairs a full year before 9/11 — but didn't get the funding from the Bush administration White House to take him out or even continue monitoring him. The CIA materials directly contradict the many claims of Bush officials that it was aggressively pursuing al-Qaida prior to 9/11, and that nobody could have predicted the attacks. "I don't think the Bush administration would want to see these released, because they paint a picture of the CIA knowing something would happen before 9/11, but they didn't get the institutional support they needed," says Barbara Elias-Sanborn, the NSA fellow who edited the materials.

So Bush-Cheney pushed the CIA around in the lead-up to the Iraq War, politicizing intelligence and fabricating a case for war, but basically ignored the CIA's efforts and warnings about a very real threat to the country's security before 9/11.

Not to excuse the CIA entirely, of course, but this certainly adds to the view many of us have had for a long time now -- not least given that notorious "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US" brief of August 6, 2001, as well as Richard Clarke's January 2001 memo to Condi Rice about the al Qaeda threat, as well as George Tenet's briefing of Condi Rice on July 10, 2001 about an imminent threat -- that Bush & Co. had no interest in dealing with terrorism (and was largely isolationist) before 9/11 and only later used 9/11 as an excuse to go into Afghanistan (justifiably, perhaps, but certainly without focus and a clear long-term purpose) and then to launch the bloody misadventure in Iraq that directed America's resources against a supposed "enemy" that had nothing at all to do with 9/11.

Perhaps there's nothing all that new here, but it's compelling nonetheless, additional confirmation that Bush, Cheney, Rice, and their various minions and cronies were utterly negligent with respect to their national security responsibilities.

Make sure to read the whole piece.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Because who gives a shit about same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Via twitter: 

Frequent Romney critic GOProud endorses... Romney. (link)

-- Talking Points Memo (@TPM)

Just in case you were worried that not all Republicans were falling into jackbooted lockstep behind their not-so-beloved nominee.

Party and power before principles, right?

Integrity be damned.

(Seriously, how can anyone who supports marriage equality, not to mention LGBT rights generally, back Romney? I get that GOProud would prefer him on other issues, and that the organization isn't just about a single issue, but come on. Are they not concerned, say, about whom Mitt would appoint to the Supreme Court?)

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How important is Romney's business experience to voters?

Politico draws attention to a few numbers further down the page in the recent Bloomberg poll noted in the post below:

Asked to name the most important qualification on Romney's resume, a plurality of 41 percent cite his experience as governor of Massachusetts, while 34 percent say it's his business experience at the Boston-based firm Bain Capital LLC.

Likely voters are split over whether Romney's business experience made him better prepared to create jobs as president, with 49 percent saying it doesn't and 45 percent saying it does.

They are also divided on whether it's a good idea to elect a corporate chief executive officer as president, with 44 saying it is while 40 percent saying it is not.

As Politico says, according to this poll, it may be a good idea to elect a CEO as president, but that kind of experience doesn't help create jobs.

It is also interesting that more people cite Romney's political experience as relevant given the fact that he has almost ignored that in favour of his business experience so far.

Not exactly a clear picture of what the electorate makes of Willard Mitt Romney.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Ryan budget proves Republicans love the rich, love screwing the middle class, and love thoroughly screwing the poor

By Michael J.W. Stickings

As Think Progress is reporting, studies by the congressional Joint Economic Committee and the non-partisan Tax Policy Center find that Paul Ryan's budget plan, which is Republican orthodoxy, would dramatically cut tax rates on the wealthy while basically screwing everyone else, especially the poor, with its heavily regressive approach to taxation and severe spending cuts.

Two things: 

1) This is yet further confirmation that the Republican Party is the party of plutocracy; that the Republican Party's primary domestic policy goal is the reduction of tax rates on the rich (while shifting the tax burden onto everyone else while also cutting core entitlement programs and essential services); and that the Republican Party's dominant philosophical force, even as it otherwise embraces theocracy, is Ayn Rand. 

2) This is a huge opening for President Obama and the Democrats, who should be able to make a compelling case that their opponents are all about advancing the profiteering interests of the 1%at the expense of the 99% -- and more broadly at the expense of the good of the country as a whole. Republicans will dishonestly claim that this is class warfare and that they're really about job creation and rewarding success, but the numbers, and their intentions, are clear.

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Bloomberg poll has Obama up significantly over Romney

A new Bloomberg poll has Obama ahead of Romney by a margin of 53 to 40 percent among likely voters, this despite the fact that the public gives Obama low marks in dealing with the economy and the deficit.

It seems that voters may be concerned about Obama's performance but more worried that Romney would do worse. This is supported by Romney's favourable to unfavorable ratio, which sits at 39 to 49 percent in the wrong direction.

A majority of voters, 55 percent, view Romney as out of touch with average Americans. 36 percent view Obama that way.

One pollster involved with the survey said that, "those most enthusiastic about the election are more supportive of Romney, but Obama's voters are more locked into their candidate than Romney's." The Bloomberg report on the poll states added:

Romney inspires far less enthusiasm even from his supporters than does Obama, with 35 percent of Romney backers saying their support for him is "very strong," compared to 51 percent of Obama's backers who say so. 

A couple of things stand out: the first is that despite the fact that the economy will be the leading issue, and it likely won't be performing well by November, voters may prefer to stick with the devil they know.

On the question of enthusiasm, it will be key for Obama to motivate his base to actually come out and vote. My guess is that the right-wing noise machine will help with that as Obama supporters are likely to be angered by all the attacks paid for by big conservative money. Those attacks may be aimed at swing or "persuadable" voters, but they could also motivate those who are "locked in" to Obama to get to the polls.

Whatever the case, November will bring a highly polarized atmosphere and a likely competitive race, which may be enough to juice turnout, which helps Obama.

It's only one poll, but Obama's team has to be happy with its implications, even if the top line number looks like a bit of an outlier.

The poll was conducted June 15 to 18. 1002 adults were polled, and the margin of error is 3.1 percent.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Mysteries deepen

By Carl 

It looks as though it's possible some of the bones of John the Baptist may actually have been buried in a church in Bulgaria for centuries. 

John the Baptist is a pivotal figure in Christianity. He prophesied the coming of the Christ, baptized Christ (imagine trying to dunk Him under water...) and was beheaded by Herod for condemning Herod's marriage to his niece.

The legends surrounding John the Baptist are myriad, especially in the former Byzantine Empire. John is essentially the patron saint of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and it's said that his bones were gifted by Byzantium during the Crusades, possibly as incentive or reward for assistance during the Crusades.

John's head is rumoured to be now held in the Vatican, but it may have been the single most important relic the Knights Templar held, apart from the San Greal (Holy Grail).

If these are John's bones, they would be the first tangible physical proof to confirm contemporary accounts of the era of Christ's birth, including Josephus's narrative, which is widely cited as one of the few historical accounts of the existence of Jesus (along with Tacitus and Suetonius.) John is mentioned prominently by Josephus and the Biblical accounts of events in Jesus' life are confirmed by Jospehus.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why isn't Romney vetting Marco Rubio for VP?

More as a curiosity than anything, but I wonder if it's wise for the Romney campaign to neglect to place Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on their short list of potential vice presidential nominees?

ABC News is reporting that Rubio is not being vetted; he's not been asked to fill out any questionnaires or turn over financial documents, according to knowledgeable Republican sources.

As ABC points out, it has been widely assumed that Rubio would be near the top of any list. "Not only is he young, charismatic and wildly popular with conservatives, but he could also help Republicans win a key state (Florida) and make inroads with Hispanics."

I'm not saying Rubio is the clear choice or anything like that. I'm just wondering if the smart move was to put him on the list as a sign of respect to the Hispanic community, especially after Obama helped consolidate his own support with that community through his DREAM act announcement.

My guess is that Romney could have benefitted by such move, unless he was afraid to create expectations he couldn't meet. If that's the case, he's thinking small. It's always an honour to be considered and an honour for those who would promote you.

I guess it may still happen, but in the short-term it shows a bit of mismanagement on the part of Team Romney.

Update: Later in the day, Mitt Romney told reporters while campaigning in Michigan that Marco Rubio was in fact being vetted. What was that all about?

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Some things never change

Digby found a clip of FDR having fun at the expense of conservatives who opposed his programs in 1936:

For those of you who can't see clips on-line, President Roosevelt is having a great time mocking his critics who promised to repeal and replace Social Security and other programs with something better and it won't cost anything, just like what we're hearing from the GOP today about the health-care law.

Mr. Roosevelt died seven years before I was born, so I only know him from history books and film -- much the same way people under 40 know about JFK today -- but when you talk about transformational presidents, as in those who left the country fundamentally different after they left office, Mr. Roosevelt was pretty much the gold standard for modern America. A lot of the things we take for granted, from Social Security to electricity in the rural parts of the country, came from his administration and his attempts to rescue the nation and the world from economic collapse. Not all of it worked, and he overreached on some things. And a lot of what he did was blatantly political.

FDR was probably one of the most coldly calculating politicians to hold the office. He knew exactly how to frame his message and his programs to gain maximum support from the voters, and he had the added advantage of knowing how to drive his opponents crazy by taunting and tweaking them. It had the desired result; his opponents -- the rabid right wingers and isolationists -- came off as bloviating ninnies and crackpots, and Mr. Roosevelt got in a good laugh.

On a larger point, Mr. Roosevelt cemented the idea that the President of the United States could be the leader of his political party without compromising his duties as the president of all the people. Sure, presidents had done that before; some more effectively than others, but it was always behind the scenes and the fiction that the president was above all the petty politics was maintained. FDR broke down that barrier by making it seem as if what was good for him politically was good for the nation and vice versa. His opponents called it demagoguery, but they were strangely silent when Richard Nixon, a Republican, did it (and with criminal intent) or when Ronald Reagan, who once worshiped Mr. Roosevelt, did it as well.

Now we're hearing that Barack Obama is shamelessly using his office for political and partisan purposes by changing his administration's application of certain laws regarding the children of undocumented immigrants. Oh, the horror of a president doing something in an election year that has a political as well as a practical and humanitarian angle to it. The denials by the White House are cute -- "Oh no there's no political motive at all, mi fiel amigo" -- but you can tell by the delicious over-reaction from the right wing that this was a very deft move and that if they were presented with such an opportunity, they would do it in a heartbeat and crow about it on Fox News.

It also happens to be the right thing to do, which these days seems almost beside the point.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Politics continues to be political

By Richard K. Barry 

A new poll released on June 17, 2012 by Latino Decisions and America's Voice finds that Latino registered voters really like President Obama's recent announcement that he will "halt deportations and provide temporary work permits to some young undocumented immigrants":

Prior to June 15, 2012, many immigration reform advocates had stated that the record high levels of deportations of immigrants under the Obama administration was causing some Latinos to grow weary about the Obama re-election campaign. In a Latino Decisions/Univision News poll in early 2012, 53% of Latino voters said they were less enthusiastic about Obama in 2012 than they had been in 2009, while just 30% were more excited about the President. Overall, when asked what they thought about Obama’s deportation of 1.2 million immigrants, 41% of Latino voters said they were less enthusiastic about Obama, compared to 22% who were more enthusiastic, a net enthusiasm deficit of -19 points. The announcement on June 15 appears to have clearly erased Obama’s enthusiasm deficit among Latinos.

Repeat that last line: The announcement "appears to have clearly erased Obama's enthusiasm deficit among Latinos."

On Face the Nation over the weekend, Mitt Romney told Bob Schieffer that as for Obama's announcement, politics was "certainly a big part of the equation."

Isn't it interesting that Mitt Romney, a man who has changed so many of the political positions he once held to pander to a very conservative Republican Party, would sneer at anyone else for "being political."

That's politics. And, you're right, Mitt. Obama's announcement was political. Bazinga!

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Michael Bloomberg, narcissist extraordinaire

I give myself a huge thumbs up!
The Times (via NYmag) is reporting that Mayor Bloomberg isn't going to endorse anyone for president -- but that's really only because he only wants to endorse someone exactly like himself:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York has remained coy about whether he plans to endorse a presidential candidate this year, even as Mitt Romney and President Obama aggressively court the billionaire media mogul.

The most that the mayor and his aides have said is that Mr. Bloomberg, who did not endorse in 2008, is carefully weighing his options this time around.

But during casual conversations at charity event a few days ago, Mr. Bloomberg was far chattier — and candid — about the subject, according to three people who overheard him.

Mr. Bloomberg said that he believed Mr. Romney would probably be better at running the country than Mr. Obama, according to two guests.

But Mr. Bloomberg said he could not support Mr. Romney because he disagreed with him on so many social issues, these two people said. The mayor mentioned two such issues: abortion rights and gun control.

As a result, Mr. Bloomberg said, he intended to remain neutral, said one guest.

By better at running the country, by the way, the billionaire probably means more likely to slash his taxes and make him even richer. On that front, yes, Romney is very much his kind o' guy.

Look, I generally like Bloomberg. He's a massive narcissist, and I can't stand his holier-than-thou (and in many ways right-leaning) centrism, nor his business-oriented worldview, but he's a decent enough "Red Tory" with admirably progressive social views, and he's been admirably right, and courageously so, on high-profile local issues like Park51 (the "Ground Zero mosque") and, more broadly, religious freedom (and by that I mean genuine religious freedom, not the religious freedom espoused by right-wing theocrats, which is just the freedom to institutionalize bigotry).

Obviously, I'd like him to endorse President Obama, though it's pretty clear his narcissism is getting in the way of any endorsement at all. What I don't understand, though, is what the president has done to make him think Romney would be better at running the country.

On issue after issue, including economic ones, Romney has been pandering to the right, to his party's base -- well to the mayor's right. I get that Bloomberg would prefer Romney's tax policy (which just amounts to cutting taxes on the rich, on people like... Romney and Bloomberg), and perhaps even that he would prefer Romney's hostility to regulation (even though Bloomberg is no enemy of regulation, at least when it comes to, say, sugary beverages), but Obama's fiscal policies have for the most part been solidly centrist. Bloomberg obviously prefers Obama to Romney on social issues like marriage equality, but does he not support Obama's efforts in foreign policy, particularly when compared to Romney's lack of experience and, when he does wade in, ignorant bullying? Even Obama's health-care reforms were centrist -- a market-oriented approach once promoted by Republicans (like, oh, by Mitt Romney himself).

So again, what has Obama done? How has he not run the country to Bloomberg's liking? Should he have let the auto industry go under? Should he have not ordered the mission to take out bin Laden? Should he not have pushed an economic stimulus package to pull the country back from the brink of disaster?

Or is this just Bloomberg being Bloomberg, musing idly but not really to be taken all that seriously, shamelessly self-promoting from atop the pedestal of his own imaginary superiority?

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Lanny Davis and Michael Steele: bipartisan scoundrels

Jon Chait wrote yesterday about a new venture involving "Democrat" Lanny Davis and Republican Michael Steele:

Howard Kurtz reports — or, at any rate, writes down — that Steele and Davis are pitching their firm dedicated to urging people to "tone down the negativity and personal attacks." 

A more specific sense of what they're after can be gleaned by comments such as this, from Davis: "I get more heat and more vitriol from my side than from conservative Republicans." In Democratic politics these days, he says, "you're not allowed to deviate from a purist, absolutist position. It disturbs me that people who are supposed to be tolerant of dissent are so venomous."

In other words, they want less negativity against them. The firm is a nice way for Steele and Davis to reframe criticism of themselves as mean-spirited opposition to bipartisanship. In reality, people like Steele and Davis get attacked not because they break from party dogma but because they are, respectively, a buffoon and a sleaze-merchant. (To be fair, Davis is a buffoon as well.)

Needless to say -- if you know anything about these two -- this is just plain ridiculous, just the sort of right-leaning, Republican-friendly "bipartisanship" that passes for centrism these days, and all the more ridiculous for being peddled by a couple of clowns.

But let me address what Davis said...

Actually, what the fuck was he talking about? The only reason he might get more criticism from the left than from the right is that the right doesn't give a shit about him while some on the left still bother to call him out for being a corrupt and morally bankrupt lobbyist. Otherwise, though, what party does he belong to -- and does he know anything about American politics these days?

The Democratic Party is the party of purity and absolutism, a party that allows for no deviation -- and purges its ranks of dissenters? Really? Is he that stupid?

What's he was describing is the Republican Party, not the Democratic Party. The latter, after all -- his party, supposedly -- is the party that can rarely get its act together given all the divisions within. It's the party of progressive activists and Wall Street insiders, the party of Blue Dogs and the CPC, the party of Dennis Kucinich and, well, Barack Obama. It's the former, the GOP, that is the party of extremist absolutism, the party of right-wing Bolsheviks purging its ranks of moderates and others, like Richard Lugar, deemed insufficiently conservative, the party of the Tea Party, the party that required a former Massachusetts moderate to suck up shamelessly to its right-wing base and even then threw up every obstacle it could to block him from winning its presidential nomination.

Let me ask again, is Lanny Davis really that stupid?

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By Carl 

It strikes me that this election cycle seems to be a good one to try to get a liberal message out in the ether, to effective re-frame the context of our arguments that have been so thoroughly deconstructed by people of evil intent.

The Dark Side, if you will.

After all, the past few years have seen a signal change in the electorate: it has gone from what seemed to be a unified body of sheeple into a fractured coalition of people looking for change, whether they be angry Teabaggers or calmer, more thoughtful Occupiers.

Both pictures are an inaccurate reflection of the American people, I ought to point out: we have neither been fully comfortable with a conservative agenda, nor has Occupy ushered in an new era of enlightenment.

But both sides have raised questions, good questions (yes, I just paid the Teabaggers a compliment, such as it was); questions about privacy, the role of government, the responsibilities of citizens to themselves and to other citizens.

Liberals need to frame answers. In particular, in light of the budget issues that are raised like bogeymen whenever conservatives feel the agenda is slipping away. The temptation has been to ignore them, ignore the fears they try to raise, and it's gotten us precious little progress in America. We're stalemated at best, and stalemates in society lead to backslides.

We have to rebut these criticisms our positions get and then take our case to a higher level. The question is, how? How do we ask taxpayers to let us pass tax hikes on the richest one percent to pay for services we deem vital, like healthcare, like education, like infrastructure repair, like science and the arts?

One thing that occured to me this morning was to appeal to something even more primal than greed.

Common sense. Particularly when it comes to families.

Here's the thing: people will be cheap when it comes to themselves. They believe they can either do without something or pay less than someone else (this is why stores put things on sale, even though they know they won't lose all that much money). People are really good at sussing out the price of something. They suck at sussing out the value of something.

Our job is to point out that, not only are they missing the bigger picture of value, but the price they're paying is high, as well.

Take education: a parent will think nothing of complaining about how high school taxes are, or the school budget is, but ask them to pay for educating their child and let them go out and actually price what a quality education costs, and suddenly they start to realize they had a bargain.

So here's my thought: pose these budget items as a legacy. Is it worth a couple hundred bucks a year to ensure your kid gets a better job and make more money? Is it worth a couple hundred bucks a year to make sure your kid can live a longer life with better health, keeping the environment clean so he or she can breathe clean air and have clean drinking water? Or have health insurance when you're too old to work and pay for his insurance? You'd leave him the money in your will, obviously, but this is an instance where you could put that money to work now and leave him a better and bigger legacy.

Is it worth a few hundred bucks for him to have a good infrastructure? You'd buy him a bike because it's fun, but what if you took that money and put it towards a better rail system or safer streets? You'd give him a body guard if he needed one, but why not pay that money towards your police and ambulance services? You'd put out a fire at his house, so why not pony up the money to hire a professional who'll answer the call?

Aren't these things -- your child's mind, his income, his safety -- worth just about anything?

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)


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The assault on American constitutional democracy: Right-wing judicial activism, a partisan Supreme Court, and the end of Obamacare

With the Supreme Court set to rule on the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") later this month, and with signs pointing to the Court striking it down at least in part -- specifically the individual mandate, one of the questions being whether the mandate can be severed from the rest of the legislation, and if so what that means for the legislation as currently written -- we need to think seriously about what it all means.

First, the brutal reality: Tens of millions of Americans would effectively be denied health insurance.

Second, the immediate political reality: Health care would become a major campaign issue, with the president likely using the decision to strike down all or part of the legislation to challenge Romney on his views on health care generally, chastising him for promoting reform in Massachusetts and then opposing almost identical legislation federally, that is, for being for it as governor and then against it when running for president. I suspect that Obama would win this battle overwhelmingly, rallying his supporters, and even many of his more skeptical progressive supporters, behind him, with the contrast so blatantly apparent. And, remember, opposition to the Affordable Care Act comes not just from the right but from the left, which still thinks Obama could and should have done more and is opposed to it largely because it doesn't go far enough, specifically because it doesn't establish a single-payer system. This skews poll numbers, suggesting that health-care reform itself is unpopular. It isn't. It's massively popular. And Obama would be able to make a strong case for it on the campaign trail.

Third, the broader political reality as it relates to the Supreme Court and the direction of the American legal system generally. On this, I'll turn it over to Kevin Drum:

If the court does overturn the mandate, it's going to be hard to know how to react. It's been more than 75 years since the Supreme Court overturned a piece of legislation as big as ACA, and I can't think of any example of the court overturning landmark legislation this big based on a principle as flimsy and manufactured as activity vs. inactivity. When the court overturned the NRA in 1935, it was a shock -- but it was also a unanimous decision and, despite FDR's pique, not really a surprising ruling given existing precedent. Overturning ACA would be a whole different kind of game changer. It would mean that the Supreme Court had officially entered an era where they were frankly willing to overturn liberal legislation just because they don't like it. Pile that on top of Bush v. Gore and Citizens United and you have a Supreme Court that's pretty explicitly chosen up sides in American electoral politics. This would be, in no uncertain terms, no longer business as usual.

In this sense, a Supreme Court ruling against the legislation, as "laughable" as that might have seemed when the bill was passed, would be an assault on the very foundations of American constitutionalism.

It's what conservatives have been aiming for -- the politicization of the American judicial system, with conservatives ruling in partisan ways on what and what isn't constitutional -- and it may be about to destroy democracy as you know it.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Ann Romney: proletarian

It's good to see Ann Romney overplaying her hand. Yes, she has more personality than hubby Mitt. Who doesn't? But this little crack that she and Mitt wouldn't take as many overseas vacations as Barack and Michelle Obama should Romney become president is too precious.

For one thing, Barack Obama hasn't taken any foreign vacations, so Ann seems to be as good with the facts as her husband.

For another, yes, Ann, try to suggest that you and Mitt are just folks and that the only down time you need is time spent with your family. Look, you're filthy rich. I don't really care. But if you insist on making cute remarks that imply otherwise, you're going to screw up. You're going to start talking about how you "don't take overseas vacations because you own so many wonderful vacation properties in America," and things like that.

Just like Mitt, who doesn't understand why talking about his friendships with NASCAR team owners doesn't make him a good ol' boy, you'll start tripping over your own tongue too. It's inevitable.

I can't wait.

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Dear Professor Unger: You're not helping

By Richard K. Barry 

Some of my best friends are academics. Had my life taken a different twist or two, I might have ended up at some ivy-walled institution discussing Plato's Republic with undergraduates while trying to publish enough to secure tenure. I'm sure it would have been lovely. I have nothing against the life of the mind.

Still, I sometimes wish university teachers would have the discipline to temper their whole-cloth comments about electoral politics. Normative theory is important. Providing a picture of how society ought to work is an essential function. But suggesting that we ought to give up on President Obama because he is not moving the country in an appreciably more progressive direction is ridiculous. Suggesting that progressives ought to wish for the defeat of Obama and the election of Mitt Romney so that "the voice of democratic prophecy can speak once again in American life" is absurd, yet this is what Harvard Professor Roberto Unger is saying.

What does that even mean? Clearly he doesn't mean Romney would do that, so he must mean something else.

Look, I know Obama is not on the left. Many have been saying, and I agree, that the GOP and much of the country has moved so far to the right that Obama's brand of centrism is the only thing providing a degree of sanity in American politics. At the moment, I'm afraid this is the best we're going to do. To adapt a phrase, "we've been right-wing so long that center looks left to me."

Unger provides a list of positions Obama has taken to prove he is no progressive, to prove he has "failed to advance the progressive cause in America." In essence, the critique can be boiled down to Unger's claim that Obama has "delivered the politics of democracy to the rule money." I don't disagree, yet somehow Obama's greatest challenge to reelection is the charge from the right that he is a socialist. Think about that.

Much as I hate being an apologist for Obama, he had a choice: either prop up the very institutions which created the economic turmoil or let it all come crashing down.

I know some academics think the road to the promised land requires an economic melt-down first, as if there is some logical path leading from deep depression to economic justice for all. It didn't exactly work for Nazi Germany. Or maybe Unger thinks that if Obama is defeated, a real social justice movement will assert itself in opposition to President Romney. Don't hold your breath.

In truth, I have no idea what Unger means and fear he doesn't either.

What I know is that elections have consequences and that if Mitt Romney wins the presidency, more people will be living in misery and there will be far less educational and economic opportunity, one of Unger's primary concerns.

Yes, we should always keep in mind the long-run as described by brilliant thinkers like Unger. But let's not forget the world in which we have to live. Please.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Obama's leadership, Romney's dithering: The policy and politics of the DREAM Act

Maybe he's just waiting to see which way the wind blows, or maybe he's just not sure how to respond to President Obama's decisive move on immigration, one that effectively backs him into a corner from which there is no easy escape, but, whatever the case, Romney is dithering in a way that makes it look like he knows he's screwed:

Mitt Romney refuses to say whether he'd repeal the Obama administration's decision to stop deporting certain undocumented immigrants.

In an interview with Bob Schieffer aired Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee five different times declined to answer whether he would conduct the same policy President Barack Obama on Friday announced his Department of Homeland Security will now pursue.

Instead of answering the question posed, Romney called for a permanent solution.

"With regards to these kids who were brought in by their parents through no fault of their own, there needs to be a long-term solution so they know what their status is," Romney said. "This is something Congress has been working on, and I thought we were about to see some proposals brought forward by Sen. Marco Rubio and by Democrat senators, but the president jumped in and said I'm going to take this action, he called it a stop-gap measure. I don't know why he feels stop-gap measures are the right way to go."

After Schieffer asked, directly, four additional times if Romney would repeal the policy without receiving an answer, Romney called the move political.

"I think the timing is pretty clear, if he really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or with illegal immigration in America, than this is something he would have taken up in his first three and a half years, not in his last few months," he said.

No... political? A politician doing something political? Huh.

This is what politicians often say when they really have nothing of substance to say, when they want to criticize something but can't actually find anything of substance to criticize -- that is to say, they go after the process and scream politics, as if that somehow means the something in question loses all its validity simply by virtue of being... political.

Is President Obama's executive action to allow undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, and are in school, are high school graduates, or are military veterans to stay in the country legally, halting deportations of such people, political? Yes, but only in the sense that everything the president does, anything any politician does, is political. And, by the way, it's also the right thing to do.

Should President Obama have done this earlier? Maybe, but it's not like he hasn't been doing anything else the past three and a half years, and, what's more, this isn't new. Democrats introduced the DREAM Act, which is essentially that this is, was first introduced in the House in April 2001. After various attempts to get it moving, it was introduced in the Senate in October 2007, with two Republican co-sponsors (two Republicans no longer there, Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar), and then re-introduced in March 2009, again with Republican co-sponsors (this time Lugar and Mel Martinez). It was passed in the House in December 2010 but failed in the Senate, where Republicans predictably filibustered it. And with Republicans taking the House, wielding the filibuster in the Senate, and continuing to pursue obstructionist opposition to anything and everything President Obama and the Democrats wanted to do, working to deny the president success at every turn, what else was he to do? The only alternative to Republican-instigated legislative paralysis was executive action.

And while it may seem political to do it now, it was always going to be political -- because it's political -- and Republicans were always going to criticize it on either political or ideological terms, or both. The problem for Romney is that he can't credibly criticize it on ideological terms because he's not that sort of right-wing ideologue. He may have played one back during the primaries, when he was trying to fend off Gingrich and Santorum, but it wasn't exactly his finest performance, at least in the sense that it wasn't terribly believable. He was clearly pandering for right-wing votes. He needs those votes still, but coming out against the DREAM Act wouldn't exactly win him support among independents or business-minded conservatives (who have always been soft on undocumented immigration) -- and certainly not among Latinos. (The CBO has also concluded that the DREAM Act would be good for the budget as well.)

Indeed, as our friend Mustang Bobby wrote the other day:

So, the president is basically implementing the DREAM Act that Republicans supported once upon a time... when it wasn't sponsored by a black Democrat in the White House. That just so happens to be a big deal for a crucial voting bloc. This provokes the nutsery into acting like a bunch of sugared-up ten-year-olds throwing a tantrum, making them look like the rude and whiny brats that they are.

Win-win for Obama. 

Which is to say, it's good policy and good politics. And Romney knows that. Which is precisely why he's dithering.


Even Republican wunderkind (and possible Romney running mate) Marco Rubio, the son of (Cuban) immigrants, thinks it's a good idea, saying it's "welcome news." Sure, he criticized it for being just a short-term solution, as Romney did, but that's hardly much of a criticism at this point.

And just to drive the point home, even Krazy Bill Kristol, who rarely passes up an opportunity to go after the president and concede anything to the Democrats (such a shameless partisan hack is he), is on board: "I think it's a sensible policy... I think it's the right thing to do, actually."

Again, is it any wonder Romney is dithering so embarrassingly (and so tellingly), showing anything but conviction, fortitude, and leadership when faced with a challenging issue on which President Obama has shown such strength and determination?


For my views on the DREAM Act itself, see my post from December 2010. It included this:

It isn't just that the legislation is broadly popular, or that the military supports it, it's that Latinos (or Hispanics, as the two terms are generally used interchangeably), perhaps the key emerging demographic in the U.S., see it as essential. As [National Council of La Raza president Janet] Murguía notes, this vote is "defining," meaning that it will be remembered. And what will be remembered is that Democrats supported the legislation and Republicans opposed it.

Of course, we already knew where the two parties stood on the issue of undocumented immigration, but this bill (and especially the divided vote in the House and a likely non-vote in the Senate as a result of Republican opposition) essentially crystallizes the issue in clear and media-friendly terms:

Democrats want to give undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, Republicans do not.
Democrats want to give the children of undocumented immigrants a chance to make it in America, Republicans do not.

Consider the alternatives: While Democrats want to act humanely and to recognize the valuable contributions undocumented immigrants have made and will make, as Americans, to American society, Republicans prefer persecution, imprisonment, and deportation.

While Democrats want America to be a free and open society that welcomes newcomers and understands why so many people risk their lives to make it to America, Republicans want America to be a fortress largely closed off to the outside world except for the free trade of goods to allow the rich to get richer and internally to be a police state that targets the Other, building walls to keep people out and apart, protecting privilege as it effectively disenfranchises the vast majority of Americans, documented or otherwise.

Yes, the two sides are clearly defined and, with this vote, and with the DREAM Act generally, the choice is clear.

Even if the Democrats ultimately lose in Congress, they stand to gain immensely at the polls down the road -- and that, one hopes, will finally lead not just to a path to citizenship for young people but for the acceptance, inclusion, and full participation in American society of those who came to America to make a better life for themselves and their families, and who only want to share in the hopes and dreams of what is supposedly a great nation.

The choice remains clear today. And Republicans are struggling with being, once again, on the wrong side of history.

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