Everybody is saying they are going to start later than last time, but the pace of “groundwork,” the sheer numbers involved, not to mention the amazing amount of press that came out in the last week reminds us that there are starts and then there are starts. Much of the news came out of announcements of retiring Senators this week. It has the left a little worried about the POTUS race in ’12. There is some wackiness in all this to be sure, and the usual “experts” are trying to tell us precisely what is going to happen, But if 2008 made anything apparent, it’s that nothing past the next couple of hours is apparent.
One pattern seems to have emerged most from all that we saw last week. That is that the left and its press allies want to make it seem that the GOP is turning very hard right, thus leaving the middle open for Obama to claim. It is fair to say that some amongst us are giving them a canvas upon which to paint such a picture, but as anyone that has ever been to the Grand Canyon knows – no picture can do it true justice. The press is only focusing on some limited aspects to the entire GOP race.
Some of it is a little lame. There is nothing radically right about opposing Obamacare. Some of it is silly. The stories swirling around CPAC are just getting out of hand. Both sides of the spectrum have their nut jobs and extremists. If there is a difference between the two it is that we have never handed over the reins to ours – unlike the last two years where they ruled the roost on the other side of the aisle. Some are a little troubling. That our factions would start to show in the response to the the State of the Union address presents the left with a real opportunity. Talk about telegraphing where to drive the wedge in! Michelle Bachmann just took herself off my list of serious people with this one, and I really like her. Crying shame.
The Republican caucuses in Iowa are typically dominated by religious conservatives….
That fact makes it both loathed by the left, and a place for mischief. A religious voter will always have some divided allegiances and will therefore always be prone to a somewhat more radical view of things than the citizenry at large. Iowa has always been hard right (think Pat Robertson), and it seems to relish that fact. It certainly presents a problem to Mitt Romney.
But what really got talk started was a Washington Post-ABC poll that showed Huckabee with a slight edge over Palin and Romney. This coupled with Huckabee’s impending book tour send all the tongues wagging – including David Brody and Allahpundit. That being the case, it seems like a good place to start looking at the possibles news.
We generated a little attention with our discussion of Huckabee last week. But the usual suspects were in there too. Chris Cillizza seems confused by Huckabee’s behavior. What’s not to be confused about? He is launching a book tour, like most good presidential possibles do, while saying he will not decide until summer. Think holding out the possibility of a run might boost those book sales a little? – Maybe the TV ratings? Just sayin’.
Some of the coverage is shameful. Time’s “Swampland” said in a piece analyzing Huck’s possibilities:
As for the “Jesus Primary,” it seems very plausible that social conservatives would be interested in an option other than the Mormon, once-upon-a-time “effectively pro-choice” Romney.
Banging the Mormon drum while writing about Huckabee. Hmmmm.
Last week, we wondered if she was played out. She had some polling issues, and Powerline was completely dismissive. She even got some “Christian” pushback. She is certainly not always helped by her friends. Nonetheless, Roger Simon says, and I agree, it’s too early to count her out. The media need her. She has finally decided to do something about actually running instead of just pursuing her media career.
Both she and Huckabee need to be perceived to be potential candidates at the moment. Such grants them both influence and attention. So appearances are going to continue to be mixed – decision time is not yet upon them. At the moment, I read the tea leaves to think Pslin will ultimately not run and Huckabee ultimately will. But I have been wrong before.
“Time” did a story on his campaign prep and plugged it in their own blog. The most interesting fact from the entire piece is that the word “Mormon” does not appear. That was, four short years ago, virtually unimaginable. Much has changed since last time around. But some things have not – like the fact that the Boston Globe abhors Romney and will dip to almost any level to hurt him. (Some do not think it will hurt him, and they have a point to a point, but the tone of the story is clearly designed to drive a wedge.) The Globe story is instructive in how things might play out this time.
“Mormon” shots are discredited, but they survive today in the form of identity politics and most apparently in the perceived divide between the populist and the elites. Mormonism is a “high demand” religion; it asks a lot of its adherents. Evangelicalism not so much – in fact some branches of Evangelicalism can barely be differentiated from a form of religious entertainment. This would roughly align with elitists and populists. Much like “Mormons lie” translated into “flip-flop,” we may see a similar sub-conscious association along these lines this time.
Not sure this is a problem, the nation knows it needs leadership in the aftermath of the debacle that is the Obama administration, but you can bet your bottom dollar the left is going to try its best. Not to mention the fact that the weekend’s New Hampshire straw poll shows Romney and the Tea Party as quite compatible.
Nonsense like this simply will never matter. It saddens me when people are that unserious about things that really matter.
Back to the Time piece for a minute, it is especially instructive that the Mormon shot was not taken when the take-away from the piece was this quote from an “aide:”
“Last time, Mitt’s campaign was like IBM. This time, if he runs, he wants to be like JetBlue,”
JetBlue was founded by a friend of Romney’s, and a Mormon, Dave Neeleman. In the last campaign, such a quote would have been an unforced error as the Mormon conspiracists would have been all over it. Treating us to notions that the Romney candidacy was really a front to promote Mormonism to the nation. What a difference four years makes.
From The Upper Midwest…
Tim Pawlenty is deadly serious about running, and has his eyes on the prize, but is still having some trouble getting traction. John Thune is well liked and set to make a decision in the next couple of months (just like everyone else) but still seems below the radar to me. You know, in this media saturated age this may be a smart approach. The less written, the less opportunity for problems.
Mitch Daniels, like Tim Pawlenty, is talking about education and receiving interest from some good places. Although – Politico compared him to Ross Perot – it’s a wonk factor thing – and Daniels would never go third party. He and Mike Pence are meeting and both are enjoying “draft” campaigns. Lots of people are talking about Pence. Look for one, but not both to get in.
Ruby Giuliani is keeping hope alive in all the right places, but I have my doubts. That first link says, “That plan didn’t work, and Giuliani’s national-focused candidacy became a textbook example of how not to run a presidential campaign.” ‘Nuff said.
I have said all along that Haley Barbour has some skeletons that would keep him from being a serious contender. I think this gives us a clue where they might rest.
Rick Perry? Nope – trial balloon, already fell.
Herman Cain may be “hopeful,” but he is not serious.
Brody is right - Obama has lost this one.
All I can say about this is that some fundamentalist that did not think his arguments were strong enough on their own decided to lump Mormonism in with other traditional Christian bug-a-boos to score points. Beck’s weird – leave it at that.
There are some things to like about this, even if I do not wholly endorse its view.