Thursday, January 06, 2011


Political Mayhem Thursday: Obama in 2012?

The Razor's Pundit of the Year (POTY) for 2010, Ashley Cruseturner, is at it again. In a recent post at the Insider Iowa blog, Ashley argues that President Obama is likely to win re-election. Here is how his piece begins:

Based primarily on the advantage of incumbency, President Obama remains a slight favorite to win a second term. Although the President endured a celebrated “shellacking” in the November midterms, the stinging repudiation has already receded from the front pages. Economic and political cycles ebb and flow. Over the course of 2010 the President appeared awkward, vulnerable, and in the midst of a steep decline in confidence. But politics is an extremely dynamic business. The humiliating defeat is not an inevitable precursor of 2012. No one with a sense of history would be surprised to find the President gaining altitude a year from now or his currently high-flying opposition suddenly in a stall.

Not only do I think Ashley is right, I hope that he is right. I voted for Obama in 2008, happily watched the inauguration, and have been alternately encouraged and disappointed since then. Still, I think that President Obama has governed essentially as a centrist (though his real beliefs may be to the left of that place), and has accomplished some important things, including the new health care law.

And who would be better? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

There is one possible candidate who has already taken himself out of the race:

The best presidents know how to inspire their ideological base while at the same time governing as a centrist. In this regard, Obama wasn't so different.

But the politics of the country have been rather acrimonious since the mid-2000s, and only getting worse. The constant allegations of RINOs and DINOs, even when what are essentially fair compromises are made (like the tax cuts/unemployment benefits things), are not helpful.

But it's ridiculous to think that this has been a year of staggering defeats for Obama. Did he get everything he wanted and make peace with Republicans and save kittens from trees? No, of course not, and if people expected that and are now disappointed, then they set themselves up for failure. Obama oversaw LOTS of historic legislation being passed, from the health care reform (which still remains popular with anyone not affiliated with the increasingly divorced-from-reality tea party), to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, to the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He lead the Democrats fairly well, even going against their wishes when he thought it prudent.

Did I agree with everything he did? Absolutely not, but I didn't expect to do that. Would I vote for him again in 2012, even against a strong primary challenger? Yes. And I've yet to see anyone propose a better Democratic candidate, or even a viable Republican candidate yet. Mitt Romney probably comes the closest, but I don't think he'll endear too many of the religious right with his Mormonism.

The talk of a primary challenge to Obama is laughable and reflects a problem I've had with liberals throughout the past two years, in that they have internalized the right's critique of Obama's vision as Messianic. Obama is just a guy, not a particularly leftist guy, who is trying to do what he thinks is right, and pushing for the things he thinks are right for the country right now... but they want the ultra-left Obama the right has invented. So do I, but I also want a flying car and a million-dollar-a-year job lecturing people on criminal and constitutional law. None of those are going to happen, ever.
I too am not too worried about anyone defeating Obama in 2012. This comes not only from his strength as a candidate, but also from the lack of a real challenger that will be able to both motivate the Republican base and reach to a large enough centrist base. The 2012 Obama team will certainly have to inspire the first-time/rare voters who came out in the 2008 wave to come out again, and this may be a challenge, but I think many will when faced with the real alternative. I also don't see any Republican challenger -- Romney's a blowhard, as he showed in too many debates in 2008, and would have trouble defending his MA universal health care plan to a party that wants to run against so-called "Obamacare." Gingrich and Huckabee are too far right. I don't think Palin will run -- either she will see (or her advisors help her see) that she's just not a viable candidate, and that she will have more power outside the system. The only person who worries me -- Tim Pawlenty -- won't ever get enough money going or draw enough Republican support to advance far.

So I truly think all that, and that he'll will comfortably, though probably not in a landslide, or even by as much as in 2008.

But I have several friends, whose opinions I trust, who are what I would call economic reductionists. For them, if unemployment is dropping or has dropped at least a few points, and the economy looks like it's improving, he'll win. If not, he'll lose. I don't buy this entirely, b/c it doesn't take into account all the other factors that contribute towards a national election (local elections are differently motivated)...but...I'm sometimes moved by the arguments...
I would vote for Bueller. That was the question, right?
People are really under-rating Sarah Palin's popular appeal. You elitists may not agree with her, but most Americans do. Together with the changes in demographics, that matters enough that she can beat Obama.
Barring the bizarre or unexpected, Obama will win. No one has ever won a Presidential election solely by being "Against" the incumbent party. None of the leading GOP candidates can explain what they are "for."

Sarah Palin is an incredible speaker and very dynamic, but there are a lot of Republicans of all stripes who do not like her and will not actively support her. I don't think she could get nominated. But if she does, she will be stuck in the Goldwater/McGovern category of a idealogue without general appeal.
Palin is an ideologue? What are her ideals, exactly?
Palin's ideals are more money and fame for her snowbilly family. She may have appeal to a certain segment of the population, but she tanks with her own party's establishment and moderates.
How about RRL? He can campaign from his train car, wearing his "special lawyer suit."
On behalf of my alter ego, Thanks, Mark, for the high honor. Definitely goes on the c.v.

Three Things:

1. I want to take a moment to enjoy IPLG's pitch-perfect analysis of Sarah Palin. It is spot on. Perhaps the most perceptive take on Palin I have read in print over the last eighteen months. Excellent.

2. This piece asserts that the President is a slight favorite for reelection but not a slam-dunk (as of right now).

3. In re his opponents, I tend to believe that the cycle is more important than the candidate. Incumbent presidents have big advantages and are either beatable or unbeatable. When presidents are beatable, they are usually beatable by almost any competent opponent (and, like IPLG, I think Sarah Palin pushes the edges of the envelope in that regard).

But, my point is, almost any Republican could have beaten Jimmy Carter in 1980, even Ronald Reagan--who was thought to be unelectable up until that point; in truth, RR probably could not have won any other presidential election in the second half of the c. 20 other than 1980.

Another example, no Republican was going to beat Bill Clinton in 1996. For that matter, no Republican was going to beat any Democrat in 2008.

I tend to watch the cycle at this point more than the contenders.
For a guy who is so busy as an associate at a large law firm, RRL sure spends a lot of time in his private train car counting money and drinking fancy wine.
"which still remains popular with anyone not affiliated with the increasingly divorced-from-reality tea party"

Really? I mean, really? so 60% of the country is affiliated with the tea party?

I'm not saying that if you took the people who have actually read the law you couldn't find 51% who liked it, but there is just no truth your assertion as all polls point to the fact that a majority of people do not like the law.

My isssue is this however: like most conservatives I don't think Obama has been governing from the middle. Repeal of DADT and enactment of universal health care are not centrist ideas in my opinion. However, I will say that recently it seems he has been more centrist, as obviously evidenced by the tax extention compromise.

I think his admin has been feeling some of the pains the clintons felt in the first 2 years of Bubba's Admin.. Thus, if the economy starts humming and he governs from the center with the Repubs like Clinton did, you will see him unbeatable in 2 years.

RRL already has my vote because he promised me that I'll be ambassador to Tahiti if he wins.
This is not a noble list of candidates to challenge an incumbent President. Money in politics is the challenge. The republicans have on their first day in power began to pay back their base / sponsors, the energy, heath care and financial industries. Regulations OUT, corporate welfare and risky behavior IN. The reason: to create jobs. Don't hold your breath waiting for these Corporations to become good citizens. Basic research out, education,financial reform and protection, environmental protection, food safety, infrastructure repairs, high speed rail,health care cost reduction, and a safety net for the less fortunate ALL OUT, continued recession, wealth shift upwards and sacrifice by the middle class IN. The Democrats now are restaffing in order to raise boatloads of money for 2012. Again we lose...unless we wake up. It's not the candidates, its the money behind the candidates.
Anon 12:08:

Are Republicans anti high speed rail? I just did not know that.

Cartoon me continues to be totally boss. Though I'm surprised that he doesn't talk about smoking more.
I like the outside shot of the rail car. But it sure doesn't look high speed to me. How exactly does it convey itself?

As for Palin, remember, many of the people she endorsed did not prevail in November, including Joe Miller, the Republican nominee in Alaska. She does not speak for "The Tea Party." No one does. Many of its other high profile leaders have no use for her either.
F_DADA: what poll numbers? Most of the polls I have seen* show it around 49/50 percent popular, with 47ish unpopular, but trending upwards in popularity.

* I think the last time I checked out a poll on this was October or so, but that's also peak Republican campaign rhetoric, so we'd expect that to be a low point.

Among tea party or libertarian affiliates, it's wildly unpopular and you have otherwise sensible-type people signing on for this disastrously funny "repeal" measure.

And you're right, among people that are aware of what the Act does it is very popular. But for people who believe the lies about it (you know, Death Panels and things like that, popularized by tea party affiliated folks and Fox News), it's unpopular.

Still, let's not let this get in the way of what is truly important about today, which is that people with giant law-crushes on the Constitution are actually having it read out loud to Congress today... but not the Constitution as it was written perfectly in 1776 by the Founding Fathers and Jesus... the dirty amended version that reflects its current, degraded state. Why, there won't be anything in there about black people counting for 3/5ths of a person. And someone might have to read stuff in the 14th Amendment about birthright citizenship or having to treat people equally under the law, which is a problem, because Antonin Scalia just told us that the Constitution says its OK to discriminate against women because the Constitution doesn't specifically forbid it.
Could someone get RRL an internet link on his train so he could substantively comment on the matter at hand?
Here ya go Lane:

And according to this particular poll you'd be wrong about it's popularity trending upwards.

Here's another:

So I'm not quite sure where you get your facts, but it seems you really have no basis to make the claims you do about what the country actually thinks about the health care law.
The number I was using came from Ezra Klein in October, but I'll do some searching tonight when I'm not on my phone.
This tells a more complete story. Some of the disapproval comes from people that think it's not liberal/leftist enough (like me). People generally support it but don't like the Republican-generated idea of an individual mandate. But support seems to be rising now since lows around the fall, during the height of campaign rhetoric.

Also, Rasmussen has been shown to be a biased/unreliable source with a known conservative bias. That's like me using a Research 2000 or Daily Kos poll. Not trustworthy.
For 2012:

RRL/Former Dallas ADA?
Pickles the Cat/Waco Farmer?
I'm an unelectable troll. Too physically unattractive and egg-heady. I'd drag a ticket down.

But I'd make an excellent strategist. A commie Karl Rove, if you will.
As mentioned before, politics is a dynamic enterprise, which makes predicting future candidates difficult, if not altogether pointless.

As things stand right now though, Jon Huntsman and John Thune are the ones who should give Democrats the most concern.
Anon 3:08:

I have a sufficiently quick internet connection on the train. I just don't find this topic all that interesting. I mean, the election is still 22 or so months away. We are still 10 months away from any real serious action. I can't even tell who the Republican nominee will be. Tell me who the nominee is, then I will tell you if the Republicans will win. Also, tell me what the economy looks like next summer and I'll tell you who I think will win. Otherwise, it is all wild speculation. Right now, most likely Obama wins against an unknown opponent.

Oh, and I would never make Former_Dallas_ADA my VP. He is far too opinionated and has a desire to be heard. I would however make him attorney general just so he could rub it in his old boss' face.

What about an RRL/Lane ticket. They will never know which direction we're coming from. We could hold wild debates on the White House lawn the devolve into physical challenges. Could be great comedy. We could rename President as the "High Colonic" and VP as "Grand Poobah". I'm in.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em.
If the physical challenges conform to the precedent of America's greatest game show Double Dare, I'm in.
The High Colonic declares it. All physical challenges shall be played according to "Double Dare Rules." Peasants, prepare the giant foam sandwich and tub of green goo!
I have to disagree with Waco Farmer on 2008.

Mitt Romney would have been a formidable opponent against Barack Obama and could have beaten him. I'm not saying that he WOULD have, but he COULD have. Waco Farmer said no one could have beaten Obama.

Romney could have made a legitimate claim to success both in business and in being an executive of a political body at a time when the United States were sinking into financial crisis. No one else in the Republican field could have done so (and McCain, famously among other gaffes, admitted that economics weren't his strong suit). Also, Romney would never have picked a running mate who was a drag on the ticket nationally in the way that the former half-term governor of Alaska was. And finally, Mitt Romney looks presidential. Then-Senator Obama completely outclassed Senator McCain in the debates; I doubt that would have been the case had Mitt Romney been his opponent.

I do think the President will be re-elected. But I think he'll be re-elected because of the Republican House of Representatives and the disfunction they will show.
In addition you should turn the white house into a version of another great show: Fun House.
On the tangent-debate about Health Care (which if the Repubs nominate Romney will not be so tangential), I'm going to throw down and say polls and public opinion on this are irrelevant: the changes made are an advancement of rights in the same way Brown v Board of Ed and the advancements of the 1960s were, and the repeal of DADT were. The changes are also an advancement of economic progress, given that less sick people means more people at work, and that more people who can get health care independently mean more people can be entrepreneurs. Until the pre-existing exclusion is overturned in 2014, I'm stuck with group health plans, and privileged to be well educated enough to be stuck with something, rather than left with nothing.

I'll be curious if Romney advances. I can't put my finger on it, but he doesn't scare me much. We'll see I guess. Another big question is whether the Republican establishment have the power still to nominate who they want, or whether the Tea Partiers will break things up.

As RRL says, all interesting to speculate, but too early to tell much. I'm resistant (as I said before) to the economic reductionist argument, but it certainly has a LOT of sway...we'll see.
From Ezra Klein today. Apparently, the individual mandate is pretty unpopular, mostly because I don't think people know much about it. They probably buy the lie that we'd jail people for failing to buy health insurance.

I think it's an also-ran in what I'd like to see; I like it less than single-payer, but I like it more than most other options, even if it is primarily market-based and a conservative idea. Credit where credit's due, that idea is not terrible.

Fez is, on the other hand, apt demonstration of my "increasingly divorced from reality" remark. Obama has been governing from dead center, if not slightly right of center. See, e.g., how miffed liberals are with the guy. He blames Obama for the nebulous "stimulus" package which is as much a product of the Bush Administration and Congress as the Obama Administration, then ignores the fact that GM did pretty well this past fiscal year, and tops it all off with crediting super-moderate Republican Scott Brown's win over a candidate that did not mount a campaign with a rejection of the health care plan that Mitt Romney gave Massachusetts a few years ago.

Yes, that's right, Massholes like it when it's in their state, but not when you want to give it to Connecticut. Screw them Yalies.
Hey! Yalies need insurance, too!
C. Montgomery Burns thinks differently.
So Ezra Klein (aka Keith Olbermann's shill) and his Ted Turner CNN poll is now more credible than Rasmussen? And I'd say Obama's "shellacking" in November showed he did not govern from "the middle." The left is really angry at reality, not Obama. Truth is that Obama advanced as far to the left as political reality in America allowed. That's why he broke so many campaign promises. And given Bernanke's appraisal of the job market for the next 5 years, 2012 should be a barn-burner, regardless of who his opponent is.

The only thing Obamacare is sure to ultimately deliver is single payer via bankrupting private health care. My future firm says I should be prepared for skyrocketing premiums, and suggested I stay on my private policy until it expires...but I guess you've got to be pretty big time to get on Obama's "waiver" list.

What I find most amazing about Slick Willy is how he is considered such a dominant political force when he utterly disgraced the office (not to mention the legal profession) and he never even won 50% of the popular vote (sorry Algore aka Oprah's Noah). I guess you'd have to be a political genius to accomplish that...John Edwards sure didn't.

Other Kendall
WOW. I reallly need a haircut.
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