Thursday, August 25, 2011
A long way to go
As a self admitted political junkie, I enjoyed a discussion between MSNBC's guest host Ron Reagan, Politico’s Jonathan Martin and the number one political analyzer, Charlie Cook. Mr. Cook said a placebo could beat president Obama right now, but he wasn't so sure about the current candidates. The polls are all over the place because according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll,” Americans don’t approve of the president’s economic performance, but they continue to blame President Bush and congressional Republicans for getting the country into the mess: While Republicans have pushed to cast the sputtering economy as Obama’s fault, Americans place their blame elsewhere. Fifty-one percent say that George W. Bush is most to blame for the down economy, while 31 percent say it’s Obama.”….. Yet, president Obama is at 38% in his job approval. The American people are frustrated and don't want excuses or finger pointing for answers.
It's still 15 months before the presidential election, so the polls are not an indicator of who will get the Republican nomination. Charlie Cook said Rick Perry's double-digit lead over his closest opponent Mitt Romney may be due to his being the flavor of the month. The nation will have to see how he does in the next debate. Unless some states take some bold actions to move up in the primaries, the natural order will be Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Super Tuesday. It's good money to say if Mitt Romney wins a right wing evangelical base state like Iowa; it's all over because he's a sure bet to win in New Hampshire. Romney would get the momentum and most of the big money, even though he'll probably lose in South Carolina. If Romney and Perry are neck and neck after South Carolina; it will come down to how Perry does in the suburbs of Ohio and Pennsylvania. I just don't think the Republican Party is ready for a Mormon, so the nod would probably go to Rick Perry, unless he self destructs.
Bad Boy: The Life and Politics of Lee Atwater, Bill Clinton's book “The Agenda" and “Game Change" are excellent books covering political elections. Lee Atwater's book was about the dirty tricks he used and passed onto his protégé Karl Rowe. The Agenda was about how the Clinton campaign coined a phrase “it’s economy stupid" and never strayed from the message and how they set up a war room to fight off the negative ads. James was the perfect attack dog by making his opponents play defense. “Game Change” dug into the campaigns of Barrack Obama and John McCain. It went into detail explaining how the Obama team used and expanded Howard Dean's way of using the Internet for campaign contributions. They credit the groundwork of Chuck Schumer and Howard for recruiting southern conservative democrats. The conservative democrats (blue dogs) got them the majority but it put Nancy Pelosi in the same predicament as John Boehner is today. It makes it very difficult to govern. The Tea Party got the GOP their majority in the house but now speaker Boehner had his hands full because it's like herding cats.
President Obama quickly found out that campaign promises are difficult to keep and a majority is not necessarily a good thing. The president promised to close Guantanamo Bay in his very first year, but it remains open. The daily presidential briefs go a long way in changing a president's perspective. He promised not to hire people with ties to Wall Street or lobbyist but quickly found out that you can't throw a rock in Washington, DC without hitting a lobbyist. In choosing his cabinet, he found out that the senates" advice and consent" was a powerful tool keeping him from nominating someone who could not be confirmed. A lone senator can hold up a confirmation indefinitely. He now knows how difficult it is to try to govern with a polarized Congress. His speech and suggestions on the path forward will be dead on arrival at the doorsteps of the GOP controlled, House of Representatives. The president will be alright because 53% still trust him on foreign policy but unless the economy improves, and unemployment comes down to about 8.5%, that placebo candidate may beat him. The election is still 15 months away, and everyone knows a lot can happen between now and then.
The republican candidates will soon have to break Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment" thou shall not talk ill of a fellow republican" if they expect to catch the two-front runners. Mitt Romney was concentrating on president Obama, but he can no longer ignore Rick Perry. Except for Jon Huntsman (1%) and on some day, Mitt Romney, these republican candidates represent the extreme right wing of the Republican Party. I don't think that they can go back to the middle where the country is. They don't believe in evolution or climate change and except for Jon Huntsman (today) they won't accept $10.00 in spending cuts for $1.00 in tax revenues. Those are extreme positions. That is why I think Brian Williams of NBC and John Harris of Politico, as moderators of the next GOP debate on September 7, 2011 should give each candidate a chance to stick with their answer or modify it. I would also like the moderators to revisit a question asked by a Fox moderator at the last debate. Since we have a polarized Congress, he should ask each candidate if they have an economic plan that could pass both houses. It's always good to ask a candidate about their cabinet but not one will answer for a good reason. The candidate does not know if their nominee would accept if asked, or if they would pass a confirmation hearing. That's why all appointments go through a campaign vetting process during the transformation phase.
The campaign is interesting for people like me but for most it's safe to continue your daily life without paying much attention to the process because today's gaffes will be forgotten, and the topics will be much different. As it gets closer to November of next year, the pundits will be talking about voter turnout, polls, different economic numbers (maybe), world events, and state by state importance.