Romney in ’12?

If the pro-Romney faction of the McCain campaign is the one leaking (or making up?) the anti-Palin stories, which is quite possible, it may take down Palin, if she hasn’t taken herself out already (which I tend to think), it will be all for naught because Mitt Romney is not going to be president of the United States.

UNLESS.…and this is a huge unless.  Unless the economic situation turns depressionary and holds throughout Obama’s entire term and he totally f’s up.  Then Romney could run as Mr. Fix It.

Other than that scenario it’s Mitt Romney we’re talking about here.  Romney, however perfectly coiffed his full head of hair is, is cringe-inducing through the television.  This folks is the media age and the introverted, phony, East Coast Brahman Romeny can not pass the test.

Remember my mantra:  Reagan beat Mondale.  Clinton beat HW Bush and Dore.  W Bush beat Gore (the previously shackled introverted Gore btw) and Kerry.

He is just not comfortable in his skin around people.  And that makes others uncomfortable. If anyone needed a reminder as to exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about, uh….the following:

Of the current crew of Republicans, the charismatic, forward looking, optimistic, extraverted, able to talk freely about his personal life in a way that connects with people is Mike Huckabee.  Whatever else you (or I) think of his politics or his worldview.  He’s engaging and he can draw you in, make you feel like you are in conversation with him.  Mitt Romney—not so much.

We’ve had two introverted styles run against one another in ’88 (Bush Senior and Dukkakis).  We have not had two of the extroverted styles (arguably since Carter-Reagan, although Carter was still pretty stick in the mud).

What would be interesting is two of the more extraverted/media friendly candidates in a general election in ’12.  Then the election would actually be unpredictable.  Palin could have been that person in some fashion–she’s got the evangelical cred and background–but I think she has been far too damaged by her less than preparedness let’s say on the campaign trail.

Minus that scenario, say a Romney v. Obama in ’12 (minus the total meltdown scenario above), then Obama wins.

Obviously the who will run for the GOP in four years stuff is rank speculation of the highest order.  But it’s fun nonetheless.  But the forward looking charismatic emotional connector always beats the opposite.  Romney is in the latter column by a LONG SHOT.

Published in: on November 7, 2008 at 9:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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Policy Idea of the Day (Plus Analysis Obama Presser)

Courtesy Fester at Newshoggers calling for a Constitutional Amendment:

The inauguration of the President shall occur on December 15th.  The new term of Congresses shall begin on Dec. 10.  All electoral votes shall be counted and certified by Dec. 12.

Seems like an absolute no-brainer to me in the 21st century.

Biden said Obama will be tested, but rather the lame-duck president gets tested it seems to me in the too long interim.

Watching Obama’s presser today was a little odd frankly.  The stupid insignia was back out, and Obama was in (understandably) a little bit of weird head space if you watch the tape.  [Transcript here].  He was a tad nervous, but overall for his first go round was I thought pretty solid.

But with a president who has been a lame duck since late 2005/early 2006 (minus the surge) and has kinda piddled around while the economy worsens–and from Obama’s view is only interested in the financial capital side of what’s going on and is ignoring the recessionary side–I guess this is inevitable.   But it is a strange sorta thing, which we are constitutionally hemmed in with, that doesn’t make sense anymore in our day and time.  It’s sorta the creation of a shadow government no?  Again made more apparent this time around because we live at the fall of the breakup of the Reaganite coalition and not only a lame-duck but largely Hamlet-like absent president.

Obama however did get this line in:

With respect to the dog, this is a major issue. I think it’s generated more interest on our website than just about anything. We have — we have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypo-allergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypo-allergenic. On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog. But obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts, like me. So the — so, whether we’re going to be able to balance those two things, I think, is a pressing issue on the Obama household.

Not that’s something to hear a biracial dude come out and self-depractingly call himself (lovingly) a mutt.  Haven’t seen that before in the White House to be sure.

Published in: on November 7, 2008 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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follow up fourth republic & conservatism

I wanted to add a word onto last night’s post re: conservatism ‘cuz I don’t think I fleshed what I was trying to say.

Lind’s analysis is helpful I think insofar as it is describing periods when conservatism has become a ruling platform/party. I think it’s accurate in that regard. The struggle of the right from Reagan (at least) on has been how to be actually implement the idea of limited government while running the big government. Nixon and Bush II at least understood that this strategy long-term wasn’t workable and tried to create a third conservative way if you will. Their attempts and failures are covered cogently in Douthat and Salam’s Grand New Party.

The questions on the right are now of a more first principles order, since the Stock Market Crash and Global Recession has scrambled all else. Lind’s analysis again correctly notes that in terms of governing ideology the history tends to work by the federal-increase side pushing and driving the initial formation and the right (qua governing ideology) tends to then reassess in that new republic (paradigm) and eventually find a way to power and a way to halt (but not stop) the momentum.

Where Lind’s analysis is not helpful is in discussing conservatism as a personal political philosophy. That is why I like Poulos’ attack on conservatism as an ideology–i.e. the kind of conservatism that came to buttress the second half of the third republic and is now obsolete (think the descent into mania on the e-pages of The Corner recently).

Conservative philosophy is in my mind a kind of un-philosophy. It is the rejection in some ways of what passes for politics. The untying of the knot that is contracted in the heart of the body politic. That is why I find myself spending most of my time studying conservative thinkers, reading heterodox conservative bloggers, and the like. And yet not really ever being a big fan of conservative governing philosophy and more specifically the GOP.

That’s why I tend towards a reform or moderate conservatism as a governing platform but read the others and am more attuned generally to what they describe–until the moment some go off that knife’s edge and politicize it. Or rather ideologize it. Particularly in its current incarnation, like Schwenkler, it was the Iraq War that turned me off to Bush more than anything. It was the politicizing of the War on Terror that I found so disgusting.

In sum, I’m all mixed up. My general tendency is to enter a kind of loyal opposition and align myself more with the party out of power (since I distrust power and political vision generally in whatever direction it comes from). During the recent Bush run, I was seen to be more left, but now that Obama and crew are about to take power, I’m shifting back right. Which is natural for me. It will give me freedom to critique Obama where necessary (and yes I voted for him and yes I think my criticisms aside he will be far better than McCain would have been, particularly on the economy).

It will shift me back to my natural position as a socially liberal/moderate conservative on domestic policy. And in terms of personal philosophy and practice, liberal in relationships and more conservative in my own personal life (I’m pretty boring actually come to think of it). Now that that variant of conservative ideology has been de-fanged and The Corner has been reduced to conspiracy theory mongering about Obama’s birth certificate, I can in my own identity play more with the conservative label. It has a nice kind feel to it without all that baggage.

In the short-medium term, it doesn’t really matter because with the economic downturn, Keynesian econ. appears ready for a revival (stimulus spending, green infrastructure, etc.).

Moreover I’m never altogether comfortable in these discussions because my real focus politically is on foreign policy and there the discussions are between realists, liberal internationalists, neocons, who can cross what are typically considered left and right political parties (humanitarian hawks from the left, realists on the right). The left/right discussions on the level of philosophy generally have much more to do with domestic policy and governance. On the FP front, I’m basically a republican security thinker.

And I won’t even go into how I work out the politics-religion thing in my head. I’m confused enough, I don’t think I could ever communicate it clearly to all of you.

Update I:  I should have said Andy McCarthy and Stanley Kurtz (K-Lo too?) and not the whole of The Corner.  Geraghty at The Campaign Spot months earlier didn’t buy the conspiracy.

Published in: on November 7, 2008 at 11:24 am  Comments (1)  
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Obama and The Fourth American Republic

Michael Lind comes out and says what I hypothesized back in April–namely that Obama might be a harbinger of the fourth republic in America.


As I see it, to date there have been three American republics, each lasting 72 years (give or take a few years). The First Republic of the United States, assembled following the American Revolution, lasted from 1788 to 1860. The Second Republic, assembled following the Civil War and Reconstruction (that is, the Second American Revolution) lasted from 1860 to 1932. And the Third American Republic, assembled during the New Deal and the civil rights eras (the Third American Revolution), lasted from 1932 until 2004.

In Philip Bobbitt’s terminology, the shift from Republic I to Republic II was the shift from state-nation status to nation-state status.  The shift from Republic II to Republic III was the shift from the early nation-state to the full flowering of the nation-state.  Republic III to Republic IV is the move from the nation-state to the market state.

Lind again:

The first three American republics display a remarkably similar pattern. Their 72-year life span is divided into two 36-year periods (again, give or take a year — this is not astrology). During the first 36-year period of a republic, ambitious nation-builders in the tradition of Alexander Hamilton strengthen the powers of the federal government and promote economic modernization. During the second 36-year phase of a republic, there is a Jeffersonian backlash, in favor of small government, small business and an older way of life. During the backlash era, Jeffersonians manage to modify, but never undo, the structure created by the Hamiltonians in the previous era.

And on Bush a point I’ve made repeatedly, calling Bush the Right’s Carter (or perhaps LBJ, the president who presided over the end of the first half of the 3rd Republic):

The final president of a republic tends to be a failed, despised figure.

Buchanan, Hoover, Bush.  Ouch.

Lind also points out that each period is framed by the techno-economic base of the society but the actual contours and ideology of the period can not be determined in advance (in integral terms the LR sets the condition limits for the LL but does not determine its outcome).

So the precise outline of how this is going to go is up in the air, but it seems likely that we are headed for a (in Lind’s terms) Hamiltonian expansion of federal power.

Lind’s thesis (which he doesn’t mention in this article) also talks about the power racial relations during each period with each republic (in his mind) having a deal that sells out blacks.  During the first slavery.  During the second segregation/Jim Crow South.  During the third, multiculturalism with elite black pols mostly in urban areas (so-called “race hustlers” in right-wing terminology) with out-sized power and influence in these communities but basically in a devil’s bargain for the scraps from the white man’s table.

The Fourth Republic hopefully opens up a new potential and the end of the multiculturalist era.  You have many races/cultures in the 4th Republic interested in a common goal (a theme of Obama’s campaign).

I should add for those interested in the discussion around what the next conservatism will be, should look to its place in response to the coming growth of centralization and find a new way to operate (Poulos’ evolving critique of unified religio-politico-cultural ideology is central here) within this new environ.

I don’t like the term backlash as it makes conservatism sound only reactive.  I think a better way to describe it is as seeking to conserve the gains, conserve and honor the space that is created and comes to be.  (In Integral language, translation with progressivism/liberalism always seeking transformation).

Published in: on November 6, 2008 at 10:56 pm  Comments (10)  
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The Word on post-Obama US conservatism

Goes to James Poulos (a similar point I made in my post on Canadians cons as a roadmap for US cons):

10. To put specific meat on the theoretical bones: conservatives need to disambiguate “the movement.” A quest for a comprehensive ideology that seamlessly unites culture, politics, and policy has led to the betrayal of conservative principles and practices on each of these levels, and the failure of Republican governance to boot. Between religion, culture, and politics there is a complex interrelationship. Comprehending the contours of that relationship will be impossible without understanding more deeply and recommitting to federalism — and the actual practice of state and local politics — while simultaneously becoming better at coalition-building nationally.

(my italics).

Published in: on November 4, 2008 at 11:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Obama’s Acceptance Speech

The whole speech here.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.  To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you.  To those who seek peace and security – we support you.  And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

As the Abu Muq crowd said, enjoy railing against the Great Satan whose middle name is Hussein OBL, Ayatollahs, Assad & Crew.  It’ll be done, but it will increasingly undercut whatever standing they have left. The deal with Iran is there to be struck.

Ladies and Gentleman the first president of the 21st century.  In mindset, in understanding a generation, in sensing a century.

From the transcript that is provided there are two missing elements both references to Martin Luther King Jr.  I wondered if he added those on the fly or at the last minute.

He said that we must put our hand on the arc and bend it towards (greatness? something, I’m forgetting the last word).  Which references MLK “the long arc of history bends towards justice,”  But he didn’t use justice interestingly.

Then he said towards the end that he promised we as a nation will get there.

Referencing the last great words of The American Prophet:

Published in: on November 4, 2008 at 10:38 pm  Comments (1)  
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Ohio Goes Obama Ohiobama

The fight song in honor of my state putting Obama (essentially) to victory.

Published in: on November 4, 2008 at 7:31 pm  Comments (1)  
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Live Thread I

6:16 [PST] Kay Hagan already called for North Carolina in the Senate.  Now Norm Coleman/Al Franken for the 59th seat.  And maybe Chambliss doesn’t get 50% and the 60th comes in a month.

6:22  No Georgia.  The farthest out spread is out of it.  We’ll see with ND and Montana.  Florida is going to be a nail-biter as I always thought.  He’s stronger I think in NC, VA, Colorado, and Ohio. McCain’s ability to win this thing is essentially gone at this point.  Always was in my mind.  But Obama losing Florida will put a damper on the night.  [Screw my prediction to boot].  But I think the counties that are in are McCain counties and he hasn’t pulled ahead.  Some Dem counties come in it could widen

6:24 I keep watching Indiana.  Lake County looks just to be coming in.  Obama is down 40,000 only and most of the other counties are in.  Expect 80,000 maybe 100,000 votes to come out of Gary.  Swamp the total and pull Indiana blue.  40 years after RFK.

6:27.  It’s over.  Obama has won Ohio.  IT IS OVER.

7:13 Talking with Scott.

7:28 T.D. Jakes is talking about how he remembers segregation and his grandfather who was killed by white supremacy and now he is saying a black man get elected president and what he will give his son.  Very moving.

7:35 Virginia is going Obama.  NC is going to be oh so close.  But Fairfax County is coming in for Obama like I’ve never seen.  Indiana could be within hundreds of votes.  Obama may come up just shy.  But we’ll see.  1/4 of Wade Country (w/ Gary IN) still to come.  They have to call VA in about the next 5-10 minutes.

Published in: on November 4, 2008 at 6:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Turn Left Over the Cliff?

From Paul M. at Powerline:

An Obama administration would almost certainly be to the left of the Clinton administration. It might well be to the left of any U.S. administration ever.  (my emphasis)

Query:  Does this final sentence make any sense?

I know the all important question you are thinking to yourself:  Will Barack Obama be to the left of Grover Cleveland?  Inquiring minds seriously want to know. srlsy.  Is he to the left of James Madison or James K. Polk or to the left of William McKinley and William Howard Taft?

What the hell does this even mean?

The highest tax bracket during Eisenhower (THE REPUBLICAN) was something like 91%!!!!.  Obama wants to go back to like 36% on that bracket.  Is Obama to the left on that one?

Obama cites as a model for his foreign policy view George HW Bush for Chrissakes. He’s a return to the basic bipartisan liberal internationalist framework that has guided policy (minus the early year of George W. Bush’s presidency) since the end of WWII.  Is he to the left of Truman on foreign policy?  Again what does that mean?  Didn’t Nixon go to China?  When they were nuclear armed and run by a totalitarian crazy man (and it actually worked btw).  Is Obama to the left of Kissinger?  He wants to add troops (I think incorrectly) in Afghanistan and has said if they have high value targets in Pakistan he will kill them without approval from the Pakistani government—since is when is that the position of the super far left?

The only history comparison I think are New Deal on.  There was a general consensus from FDR through Carter, call it the welfare state based on Keynesian economics and the Republicans who were president during that time basically bought into that consensus and simply tried to minimize it (i.e. Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford). There were Republicans/conservatives within the Senate/House who advocated a more radical undoing of the Welfare State (most notably Sen. Robert Taft aka Mr. Ohio) but they were never very influential.

Then came the Reaganite consensus and the only Democrat Prez during that consensus model learned to live with that model and try to be centrist/left-center within the frame of that consensus.  His name you will recall was Bill Clinton.  Clinton was the left’s Eisenhower in this analogy.  [Similarly there were more anti-Reaganite elements from the Democratic Left in the House and Senate who similarly were in large part unsuccessful in undoing the Reaganite governing majority view].

That Reaganite coalition/consensus (built around monetary economic policy) is now going to be electorally shattered on Tuesday night.  Obama will indeed be the first president of a new consensus/paradigm coalition.  Obama’s victory whatever size it is will be interpreted as an outsized victory perhaps relative to its hard numbers because all presidents who come at the end of a coalition/beginning of a new one are seen as transformational presidents.

The Obama coalition or whatever it will called will be to the left of the previous Reaganite one to be sure, but it’s not a wholesale return to the FDR model. Again look at the issue of taxes.  Or Obama’s support of the Supreme Court recent ruling on handguns.

Where Obama is trying to form a long term effect is not through the raising of the taxes on the really rich–acually just letting the Bush tax cuts expire and go back to the Clinton levels–but in his attempt to create a massive middle class tax cut.  But since when is tax cutting something from the left?  It’s now longer tax cuts but the boogey man of redistributionism.  The right apparently loves a tax cut until its for the middle class.

Obama is a University of Chicago Democrat on economics not a Keynesian, so in some (actually many) ways I see much more statism in the New Deal consensus than in Obama.  Yes Obama wants free trade deals to have environmental and labor standards in them which is to the left of Clinton, but is that the leftmost in history?  When the country used to be run by economic nationalists and mercantilists?  Clinton was really (see above) center or really I would say (particularly on trade) center-right, in which case being to the left of Clinton doesn’t tell you much.  It means Obama could be center, center-left, left-center, or really left on the issue.  I would say probably center-left.  Compared to the recent presidents that is the furthest left technically but on in the Powerline world is that the most left in the history of the United States.  And the inevitable slop to Marxist domination.

Undoubtedly Obama will be more progressive/to the left of previous administrations on climate change legislation.  And the evil leftism here is a cap set by the government and the free market determining the sale of carbon permits???  I can here the red troops shouting slogans to Che now.  Can’t you comrade?  God and The Market All Holy help us.

He won’t be to the left of Clinton SCOTUS nominations.  He will appoint equally liberal judges as did Clinton (the one area Clinton did manage real liberal progressive influence).  That issue is so polarized that everyone has come down completely on one side or the other on that one.

So really it seems to me the only policy Obama has that would be a real shift to the left is on health care.  He expressly did not push for a mandate/single payer system (a la Hillary and John Edwards) in the Democratic Primary because of his generally center-left tendencies.  Obviously it also has to do with learning how and why Bill Clinton was unable to pass health care legislation in his first term.  But even there if it could be proved he was secretly some much more left wing guy, he clearly is hardheaded about politics and something like his health care policy frame shows that he understands the necessity of working incrementally.  He’s a gradualist reformer not a radical.  The question for Obama will be whether he gets swept more by the Democratic Congress.  That will be a very interesting relationship and his ability to handle that one will go a long way to determining the success or failure of his administration (on domestic issues).

Oh and I guess education, he is to the left of Clinton.  But with everything else going on education is going to be far down the list of his changes.  Probably not until a 2nd term if he gets one frankly.

Published in: on November 2, 2008 at 6:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Open-Source Obama

Just saw Howard Finemann on Countdown and he discussed how Obama is bidding to change the structural way in which political campaigning/organizing is done and he listed the history from Andrew Jackson through FDR and then Reagan to today.

The thing Finemann discussed was that Obama volunteers go person to person and do not have to (as he said) route back through the central office.  Each has a great degree of autonomy.  Obama in other words is applying open-source methodolgy to US political campaiging.  The organization is adaptive in the specific meaning of biology and information systems theory:  the head office works very hard on creating what it calls the brand (image, message, stylistics, aesthetics) and then holds very tightly (almost maniacally) to that brand.  Experimenting occurs across the regional/local field offices as to how to best get that message out.  The entire system is nodally linked through the website and then each of the staff and volunteer groups can post on effective strategies which get immediate feedback (and cross-connections) throughout the entire network in real time as they say.

I think this is going to have a huge effect on the outcome on Tuesday.

A video of the Obama organization in the state of my birth (h/t E. Klein):

Published in: on October 31, 2008 at 7:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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