If he keeps this up, I half-expect to see one of these pop up again.
For what it’s worth, I think Cosh nailed it here.
Still, whatever. Big questions are at issue, and a little bit of demagoguery comes with the territory.
The man almost universally described as a weak front-runner is avoiding the press, raising money, and staying out of the spotlight—all of which provides no compelling storyline other than the recycled ones about Romney’s varied vulnerabilities and past flip-flops.
And that suits his strategists just fine. They want to keep him out of the rough and tumble of the daily news cycle and focused on just one issue: fixing the economy. They firmly believe that nothing else will matter in 2012—not Romney’s personality, not his Massachusetts health-care plan, not whether he is ill at ease with working-class voters.
“There’s an underappreciation for the degree to which there’s a crisis out there,” says Stuart Stevens, Romney’s media adviser. “Speaking to that crisis is ultimately what people really care about.” …
But his brain trust waves off the usual queries about tactics and controversies. They say that to engage in flap-of-the-day responses just takes them out of their game plan. They are so determined to steer clear of social issues that when The New York Times last week quoted rivals as assailing Romney for refusing to sign an anti-abortion pledge, his office refused to comment.
There are few deviations from this game plan. Beyond the occasional appearance with such safe hosts as Fox’s Sean Hannity and CNN’s Piers Morgan, Romney is granting no national interviews for now (the campaign turned down a request from The Daily Beast).
“There’s one big question: Who can put America back to work?” says Kevin Madden, an informal adviser who served as spokesman in Romney’s 2008 campaign. Toward that end, “What’s the best way to get the most disciplined message directly to the electorate?” …
Madden sees Romney as having learned from his 2008 loss, using the analogy of a golfer who shanks the ball by gripping the club too tightly. “He’s not holding on as tight this time. The campaign doesn’t get knocked off its kilter very easily.”
Difference being, mind you, that Romney has actually worked in the private sector.
But it’s a good solid way to run. I think it’s a message that could win.
Over time, I figured this out:
I hadn’t seen it put so directly before, and so I’m sharing it with you, dear readers.
Incidentally, a reminder: Canada is currently economically freer than the United States.
Contra The Atlantic, I don’t mind the Chinese threat ads.
That said, with my American hat on, I’m reminded of Britain looking at Germany, 1890-1910…
With my Canadian hat on, I say we should prepare ourselves for the contingency of having a neighbour that is no longer able to defend us and our interests. That means, yes, more spending on military assets and training personnel, and — this may surprise somewhat — participating in fewer missions overseas.
We need to prepare ourselves to be Switzerland.
It’s an unstable world, and we may not have anyone to look after us but ourselves, soon enough. We need to be ready for that contingency.
Ignore the rhetoric, look at the policies. Libertarians have gone from victory to victory since 1970.
It’s a predictable outcome when one considers the sort of political priorities America’s two parties have actually chosen to pursue, rather than the ones they loudly claim to care about. Though Nixon may have helped popularize a Republican-versus-Democrat narrative that persists to this day, the moral versus the hippies, once he was out of office, it was the rather distinct right-wing narrative of markets versus state — the very essence of Reaganism and the Tea Party — that emerged far more dominant. The Democrats, likewise, long torn between conflicting roles as the party of the traditionally-minded, unionized working-class and educated, urban, secular, white-collar progressives, eventually found more support amongst the latter, who were more passionate, faster-growing, and, of course, wealthier.
Though the parties battled at the ballot box, their two value systems actually complimented each other nicely. Republicans lowered taxes and deregulated big business, while Democrats encouraged permissiveness and non-discrimination. In different ways, both parties championed a philosophy of “anything goes,” allowing Americans, in Courtwright’s words, to happily embrace “the self-liberation of the counter-culture, but also the self-enriching possibilities of a liberated economy.” To put it another way, the vast majority of Americans soon became champions of that most maudlin of political identities — economically conservative, but socially liberal. The Republicans have never really had a plan to combat this natural dispositional preference, and even the most religious, cultural, and moral conservatives have been largely swept up by its attractive allure. Though the GOP considers itself far more right-wing than it did in Nixon’s day, his 20% sop to the so-cons has failed to evolve beyond tokenism.
And it’s not just a matter of RINOs — as Courtwright repeatedly observes, even the most supposedly stalwart darlings of the American right, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, were socially liberal enough creatures to make their attempts at counter-revolution predictably half-assed. Reagan, after all, was a divorced Hollywood actor who rarely attended church, knocked up his second wife before they got married, and was, by most accounts, a pretty aloof, crappy father. The younger Bush was likewise a recovering alcoholic and drug user with a penchant for rude jokes, anti-authority mischief, and derelict buddies. Both leaders, though heartily endorsed by the most humorless of Evangelicals, were affable and tolerant guys who disliked judging others and tended to believe the world’s evils were caused by honest misunderstandings, rather than the sinful claws of Satan. These were not the sorts of men to herald the dawn of a new great awakening.
Presidents 40 and 43 were not terribly unrepresentative of their supporters, of course. One of Courtwright’s most revealing anecdotes describes the two very different crowds of people passing the caskets of two of the 20th century’s most consequential presidents. As Kennedy lay in state, his gawking supporters all looked sharp in their suits, ties, and fedoras. Reagan’s people, half a century later, didn’t even feel the need to change out of their sweat pants and baseball caps. Conservatives have lost their ability to see what makes the latter sort of behavior problematic, because they too have uncritically come to embrace the material joys and non-judgmental independence of the liberated, me-first lifestyle borne by a free-market society. The result is a political culture in which issues like gay marriage or abortion are icebergs with nothing beneath the tip. Culture war battles are all over symptoms, not causes, because in most cases the root causes — permissiveness, secularism, and capitalism — are far more popular, even to the most upright church-goer, than any more authoritarian, less individualistic alternative.
I want to make a distinction from the review, tho’ — or perhaps it’s just a shift in emphasis. While social conservatives have lost, fiscal conservatives have gone from victory to victory. Indeed, the Tea Party only continues this trend — retrenchment of the welfare state, given current demographic trends, is a necessity.
Compare that to 1972, when President Richard Nixon was looking at a guaranteed national income, universal health care, and goodness knows what other expansions of the Leviathan.
I suppose it’s still Ronald Reagan’s country. For good and for ill.
And for all that libertarians complain about being politically homeless, if you compare America in 1972 to America in 2011, they’re the ones who have made real gains.
Saw this article on the Facebook page of a law classmate, whom I think I upset with my reaction to it.
My sense: until there’s a more general semi-consensus (70-30, which is easily observeable among friends and colleagues) on what constitutes proper behaviour, there’s no way to win.
My advice re the workplace dilemma, however, to all female friends and acquaintances is: be the bitch. Far better to be respected than liked, if you want to get ahead.
And here’s where I come at it from: I’m sympathetic to actual cases of bad behaviour and abuse; I’m very unsympathetic to victimology, and demands that one spend time agonizing over it.
If/when (well, when) there is a social norm that is bad — fine, ditch it, and let’s have a new broadly “acceptable behaviour” to replace it. But until such time as people can vocalize what that new behaviour pattern ought to be, I’ll regard it the same way as I do the Quebec separatist movement: navel-gazing that is meant to shake down other people for money and sympathy.
I’ll get outraged over the old State Department policy of firing married women; I’ll regard agonizing among individual (extraordinarily privileged) women over what they think of male behaviour as thinly disguised pleas for sympathy and other emotional and financial resources.
Romney might actually have hit on the right message for 2012.
Those who believe in such an ascendant role for government would restructure the fundamental character of the nation. They simply do not believe in America as it was shaped by the Founders. They do not believe that the principles and values that made America a great nation still apply. They don’t really believe in free enterprise, free markets, and free trade. They favor government management over consumer choice. They delight when they can replace personal responsibility with government requirements. Like the monarch the revolutionaries rejected, they have no limit on the amount they would tax the people and their enterprises, believing that government can better spend the resources of business and the product of labor. They brush aside the founding principle of federalism, asserting instead that there are no bounds to federal power. Rather than admire the heritage of peaceful assembly and petition, they ridicule and demean assemblies of ordinary citizens who protest their grand healthcare plans, takeovers and bailouts. In these and many other ways, they do not believe in America as it has been understood since its beginning.
Perhaps that is why they have been so quick to apologize for America. I had to nod my head when I read what Sylvester Stallone had said: “I think America apologizes too much.” He’s right, of course. No nation has done more to promote world peace and liberty than America. …
Over the past several years, I have spoken with thousands of people across the country. Without question, the economy has been their greatest concern. The many without work are worried about finding a job and those who have a job are worried about losing it. Some have lost their homes. Most are worried about a future of lower pay and higher costs of living. And for the first time in history, the majority of Americans believe their children’s future will not be as prosperous as their own. President Obama calculated that these fears would be translated into willingness to embrace a government-led economy. He was wrong.
Everywhere I have traveled, people have told me that they want less government, not more. They believe in small business, in entrepreneurs, in consumer choice — they believe in free enterprise. …
Most liberals in America are smart enough not to openly call for replacing free enterprise with socialism — the politics of that are still not good. So instead, when they are in power, they take action that is consistent with socialism but call it by a more palatable name. …
Government can promote opportunity or it can crush it. Laws and regulations that govern business practices are essential for markets to function efficiently, fostering economic opportunity. Conversely, if they become outmoded and needlessly burdensome, they can cripple commerce and industry, reducing the opportunity for citizens. Similarly, safety, environmental and labor regulations can facilitate economic activity. But if they are crafted with bias and political agendas, they can stifle small business and entrepreneurs. …
The pursuit of achievement, of discovery, of greatness, is what has made America the powerhouse of the world. And it has made us happy as well. Smother this spirit with the weight of government and America ceases to be America. That is what Washington is doing, and we must not allow it. Washington believes in itself. The American people believe in America.
That’s the critique I want in 2012.
It’s rather post-apocalyptic — but then, that’s the mood some of us are in.
I like Romney’s message; I like his presentation; I like his advertising.
I’m tempted to get a Romney: Believe in America t-shirt.
[Get those shirts selling, Mitt!]
Update, two days later: Here are the shirts.
Julia Gillard has sunk below Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister for the first time and is now the most unpopular modern prime minister since Paul Keating at his worst.
Voter satisfaction with Ms Gillard has sunk to a record low, along with her support as Prime Minister against the Opposition Leader.
According to the latest Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian, satisfaction with the Prime Minister last weekend was down two percentage points to 28 per cent, her lowest since becoming leader a year ago and a fall of 22 percentage points since she announced the carbon tax.
Dissatisfaction with Ms Gillard has leapt to a high of 62 per cent, up seven points in the past two weeks.
On the question of who would make the better prime minister, she slipped below Mr Abbott for the first time, after falling two points to 39 per cent as Mr Abbott’s support rose two points to 41 per cent.
McParland looks at the possibility, and ponders what has changed since the last time it’s happened — 1962. (PM Diefenbaker, Premier Robarts, Mayor Phillips.)
The Forum Research survey found Hudak’s Tories at 41 per cent compared with 26 per cent for Premier Dalton McGuinty’s governing Liberals, 22 per cent for NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, and 8 per cent for Green Leader Mike Schreiner. …
The interactive voice response telephone poll — conducted last Tuesday and Wednesday and considered accurate to within 1.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20 — found that Hudak’s platform, released last month, is gaining traction.
Entitled Changebook, the 34-page Tory manifesto touts removing the provincial 8 per cent portion of the 13 per cent harmonized sales tax from hydro bills, ending mandatory time-of-use electricity pricing, tightening welfare eligibility rules, and forcing prisoners to work in chain gangs.
The survey found all four of those pledges are popular with voters.
The initial version of the post had a line about Benzie, the Toronto Star’s Queen’s Park beat reporter, being known for writing columns that were Tory press releases — to which my response was, that arguing the Star was Tory-biased comes to this: “in the spectrum of pounding the law, pounding the facts, or pounding the table, this one’s at the table stage, I think.” But that there’s plenty of time left to win a campaign. (In an implicit admission that the critique was just, the line was removed.) My added spoon of sugar was a serious one — the Liberal campaign team is the best one they’ve got, nation-wide.
Ontario’s provincial election is going to be a fascinating one because Hudak is going in with the wind at his back, and with a platform that is more populist than right-wing. (Alas!)
But he’s up against a canny premier who has learned how to win, who has a top-flight campaign team.
Until a few weeks back, my money was still on Premier Dad winning a third term.
I’m now betting on Hudak — I think he’s threaded the needle nicely, and is ready to take power.
But McGuinty is a survivor, and has three whole months left to fight before E-day. (October 6th.)