Alter tempore – out’s in free.

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46 Responses

  1. This post makes a lot of sense.  Maybe by next March, when the primary season will have, probably, pointed to the likely nominee, we’ll all be in a better position to decide whether Obama will have to face an “A”-team or a “B”-team.Report

  2. Kolohe says:

    By all rights, Dewey should have won (in ’48) against an unpopular president and a major split in the incumbent party.   Truman’s victory was the result of how bad the Republican Congress (back in power for only two years) really was.  (and that Dewey had not got the knack of modern campaigning, being stuck in a more ‘front porch’ style of generations past)

    (I’ve said before that an interesting counterfactual is if FDR dies in his third term, vice second, and Henry Wallace is the incumbent going into ’48 (w/ a presumed victory in ’44 in the middle of the war))Report

  3. Kolohe says:

    I also really never quite got why Gore didn’t run again; he lost but he didn’t lose.Report

    • wardsmith in reply to Kolohe says:

      Note what happened when Rossi went against Gregoire in Washington after a similar “tied” election. At this point I don’t think Rossi could get elected dogcatcher.Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

        To be fair, for the last ten years, Dino Rossi has been the Republican bench in Washington.

        Also, without 9/11, I have no doubt Gore would’ve gotten the nomination in ’04.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

          I don’t get why 9/11 made a difference.  Kerry’s main message was ‘We’re going to fight all the wars, but fight them betterer and smarterer’.  Gore’s could have easily been the same, or similar to Obama’s (yes of Afghanistan, no on Iraq), and with the added subtext (and impetus) of ‘stolen election’ and/or ‘would you like a do-over’ depending on voting segment being courted.Report

  4. Rufus F. says:

    Given the economy and unemployment rate, this election is absolutely the Republicans’ to lose. Seriously. If they fish it up, they need to seriously rethink their party and their platform.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Well, it looks like the Economist is reading this one the same way I am.

      “Barack Obama is clearly beatable. No president since Franklin Roosevelt has been re-elected with unemployment as high as it is now; Mr Obama’s approval rating, which tends to translate accurately into vote-share, is down in the mid-40s. Swing states like Florida, Ohio and even Pennsylvania look well within the Republicans’ grasp.

      Yet recent polls show the president leading all his rivals: an average of two points ahead of Mitt Romney, eight points over Ron Paul and nine points over Newt Gingrich, according to No doubt some rather flawed personalities play a part in that; but so does the notion that something has gone badly wrong with the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Rather than answering the call for a credible right-of-centre, pro-business party to provide independents, including this newspaper, with a choice in November, it is saddling its candidate with a set of ideas that are cranky, extreme and backward-looking.”Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Rufus F. says:

        One conspiracy theory that I have heard of is that the Republican Machine is hoping for a brokered convention at this point. Ron Paul is crazy, the only person who likes Romney is Koz, and everybody else is toxic.

        The only hope is for a brokered convention where TAH-DAH! Chris Christie appears to save the day! Or Bobby Jindal! Or FREAKIN’ SOMEBODY WHO AIN’T ONE OF THESE HOLY CRAP AWFUL KNUCKLEHEADSReport

        • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird says:

          “Oh my God, is that Jeb Bush’s music?” [/JR]Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

            As God is my witness, I had forgotten about Jeb.

            For the life of me, I cannot envision a narrative where Jeb leaves the Republican convention in 2012 on the ticket.Report

            • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird says:

              My response is why not? The GOP convention is going to be full of people who, hmm, how can I put this delicately, have drunk the Kool-Aid on the modern GOP. These are the people who are such partisans they get elected to go to a national convention. If I had to take a wild guess, they probably think Obama is doomed whoever the nominee is, so why not get revenge on those pussy liberals and get another Bush in the White House?

              Again, I’m not saying that the party leadership would want Jeb on the ticket. But, yeah, let’s say it’s a brokered convention. From everything I’ve seen, Jeb’s got most of the current and possible field beat on charisma. I mean, it’s not like there’s a Reagan waiting in the wings to be nominated. And plus, he was the ‘smart’ Bush progeny. If Florida hasn’t remembered that Lawton Chiles doesn’t lose elections in Florida, he would’ve been the nominee in ’00.

              So, I can easily see a GOP convention nominating ole’ Jeb.Report

      • wardsmith in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Beating even weak incumbents is quite difficult. A third party could help, but historically the third party seems to favor the Democrats.

        Advantages for an incumbent president (and if I hadn’t been so busy doing Christmas with my family I should have put this in the OP where it belonged) :

        Continuous free publicity.
        Bully Pulpit
        Credit where credit isn’t due
        Ability to play crony capitalism – big time
        Playing the foreign policy angle (don’t’ change horses in the middle of a stream)
        Massive (and free) staff
        Speaking “events” that are pure campaign stumping
        Free travel in shiny big 747 with sleeping and office accommodations
        More that I can’t think of right now


      • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Rufus, I don’t see where that particularly applies to Romney. He seems far more

         a credible right-of-centre, pro-business party to provide independents, including this newspaper, with a choice in November,


        it is saddling its candidate with a set of ideas that are cranky, extreme and backward-looking.”

        As for The Economist’s dispassionate analysis of the GOP’s positions:

        Nowadays, a candidate must believe not just some but all of the following things: that abortion should be illegal in all cases


        that gay marriage must be banned even in states that want it;

        Bullshit.  There was little outcry when NY passed it through the proper democratic process; neither does DOMA do any more than prevent gay marriage being forced on states that don’t want it by those who do.

        that the 12m illegal immigrants, even those who have lived in America for decades, must all be sent home;

        Yes and no on this one.

        that the 46m people who lack health insurance have only themselves to blame;

        This is sounding more like liberal screed.  The young people being mandated to buy health insurance voluntarily don’t buy it; it’s not a question of blame. And when you read some of the newspaper sob stories, you find out that yes, they could have bought insurance, but spent their money elsewhere.

        And The Economist must not be aware of the billions and billions we spent on the poor with Medicaid, ChIPS, and the like, as well as our county facilities that resemble the NHS far more than they’d like.

        that global warming is a conspiracy;

        In any case, not worth ruining our economy for.

        that any form of gun control is unconstitutional;

        Pretty much true, but The Economist is getting awfully deep into liberal shibboleths as if they’re self-evident truth.

        that any form of tax increase must be vetoed,

        Formally, yes.  On the other hand, the other party vetoes any cuts in entitlement spending, so you’d think a rag called The Economist would do some of the math.

        even if the increase is only the cancelling of an expensive and market-distorting perk;

        Not at all—the last GOP proposal was full of eliminating those distortions and perks.

        that Israel can do no wrong and the “so-called Palestinians”, to use Mr Gingrich’s term, can do no right;

        Now we’re really getting into contentious phrasing that borders on caricature.  Regardless, Americans of all parties do side with Israel.

        that the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education and others whose names you do not have to remember should be abolished.

        Damn right about the waste that is the Dept. of Ed.  As for the EPA, the problem is beaureaucratic overreach.

        This Economist piece could have been written by the Obama White House.  Feh.


        • Katherine in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Given the ideological slant of the Economist, that says quite a lot about the Obama White House.  And the magazine does give credit to Romney for having the potential to be saner than his statements would indicate, albeit, to use their well-chosen words, “a few vertebrae short of a spine”.Report

        • Rufus F. in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Ward, if Obama actually does win this election- even though again there are plenty of reasons he shouldn’t- is there any chance whatsoever that the “party of personal responsibility” will see that loss as reflecting on any of their positions or actions? Or will it be like the “soul searching” that they did after Obama won the first time, which apparently led them to even greater confidence in those positions and actions?Report

          • wardsmith in reply to Rufus F. says:

            Rufus, I truly don’t believe the GOP sent their A-Team. Looking back to the last election, I would also opine that they didn’t put up great candidates, mainly because they could see the writing on the wall and the Chinese water torture of 7+ yrs of bad press against Bush and the GOP. I’m also not entirely convinced the Republicans did any soul searching whatsoever after the loss to Obama. Ever since BHO gave the keynote at the Dem National Convention in 04, he was the heir apparent. Putting Steele in charge of the RNC might not have been the wisest counter move. See this post below for other candidate possibilities. I’ve thought of another one since then, Colonel West.

            As I said back when, on paper the only candidate who could have beaten Obama was Cain, and they got rid of him easily enough. West would have given BHO a run for his money and likewise would have split the all-important black vote.Report

            • Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

              Yes, because African-American’s are well-known for their embrace of torturers.Report

            • Rufus F. in reply to wardsmith says:

              Ward: So, then the answer is “no”- their problem is “bad press” and not their positions? I do agree with you incidentally that they’ve not sent their A team this time, or at least I hope that’s not their A team. So maybe they’re willing to throw an election that’s as important as this one. I don’t think they should, to be honest. But, yes, maybe the cards really are stacked against them.

              Here’s what I see going on, and you’re free to disagree with this- to me, the US Republicans are suffering the same problem we have with the Liberals here in Canada (and why the Conservatives keep beating them)- it’s not that we love Stephen Harper or the Conservatives; but it’s really hard to vote for a party that has so totally and blatantly run out of ideas. The Liberals were in power for too long and they have nothing new to say and no awareness whatsoever of the limitations of their old positions. At some point, they need to do some real soul searching, and so do the Republicans. But setting it up in your discourse so that, if you do win, it’s because your ideas are superior and the voters validated them, and if you lose, it’s because the media lied about your positions, which are totally superior by the way, makes it very unlikely that any soul searching will happen.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Rufus F. says:

                Well, Stephen Harper keeps winning because his predecessors in the Conservative’s cobbled together the various center-right and right-wing parties into one solid coalition while he’s competing against two center-left parties in a FPTP system (yes, I’m aware not every Liberal voter would vote for a NDP/Liberal hybrid and vice versa).Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                That’s an advantage too for sure, but I think the reason the NDP and Conservatives are doing fairly well and the Liberals keep sinking is more structural within the Liberal Party. But, yeah, the Conservatives did a really good thing for themselves by restructuring their party not so long ago (hint hint for the GOP!)Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Rufus F. says:

                Romney is Cameron.  hinthintReport

              • wardsmith in reply to Rufus F. says:

                Rufus, I don’t have the time nor inclination to go back through the tens of thousands of articles during the Bush administration wherein he was called every name in the book, his every position denigrated and the overall slant in “reporting” that occurred. Either you were aware of it or you were in a separate bubble (such as Victoria, BC). Was the press biased? Well there have been numerous books written on the subject and at least one or two high profile cases (Journolist ring any bells?)

                I’m not highly in favor of either political party, although I’ve come to the conclusion that the GOP is the lesser of two evils today. However, their operations involve a bare knuckles brawl for raw power. They’ve gotten progressively better at this game and don’t even mind disasters if it furthers their cause.

                Let’s say the GOP puts forward their best team this election cycle. They pick up a few seats in the house, more in the Senate and even the presidency. However, they are unable to fix the soaring economic issues even while repealing Obamacare. Next election cycle, they lose the gains they just made and possibly waste a promising president on a single term. Let’s look at the obverse now. They give a mediocre effort with placeholder candidate for President, still pick up a few seats in both houses of Congress and after 4 more abysmal years thoroughly flounce the Democrats with a new almost unassailable majority (kind of like the Democrats had in 08 that was /supposed/ to last another 40 years if you recall the press at the time).

                The collateral damage from this battle? Millions of Americans and perhaps 100’s of millions more around the world. But the politicians will do quite well for /themselves/ in any case.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to wardsmith says:

                Was the press biased?

                Ward, you’ve missed my point entirely. I’m not arguing that the press isn’t biased. If you and Tom would like to argue with someone who thinks the press isn’t biased, I’m sure there are a few around here. I have no interest in that argument.

                My point instead is that the Republican Party and its loyalists blame every last one of their failures and defeats on media bias. They don’t take any personal responsibility. And it’s not conceivable to me that they could lose an election in which they have some significant advantages going in and understand that loss as reflecting in any way on any of their positions, many of which haven’t changed in decades. They cannot imagine that the voters could be moving away from some of the positions they have made party platforms and so the blame will rest entirely on media bias. In four more years, there will be another presidential election and they’ll take all the same positions, only louder. Again, I’m not saying that the media isn’t biased. Sure it is. But I’m saying that Republicans like to use that bias as an excuse to avoid taking any personal responsibility for electoral defeats.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to Rufus F. says:

                OK Rufus, your point is more nuanced than I first suspected. My old avatar here (that I ditched because I thought it was overly confrontive) said something like “blogs are weapons in the war of ideas”. In the same way, the press is the battlefield where the war of ideas is fought. Unless and until there is some critical analysis, much of what passes for “reporting” just amounts to one-sided cheerleading. The bias in the press is certainly present (which you agree) and certainly pervasive (you may or may not agree) and has a profound influence on the electorate. More than the press, Saturday Night Live had Bush saying things that people to this day believe were said by the REAL GWB. Same for things (not) said by Palin.Hell, even Chevy Chase said, “We were working hard to make sure we got Ford out of office”. Kids below 30 get most of their “facts” from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

                So in the war for ideas, the Republicans have the WSJ, but their website is behind a paywall (which is why I rarely to never quote from there). My son’s friend is a new media expert and got a job with the GOP to help them with their online image. The DNC got wind of her (because she was good) and offered her a job. She didn’t take it, but got sick enough of the political gamesmanship that she went back to straight business media consulting. If all the smart people vote Republican they will lose in landslide after landslide. The fact is, smart people are the minority in this world, Lake Woebegone notwithstanding.

                Now were the Republicans stupid (as a people) for nominating a war hero who was against torture, to run as president? Something tells me if McCain were president and wanted to close Gitmo, it would be closed right now. During the campaign the GOP has to pay the media that hates them for ads to run on their networks so their biased “reporters” can pick those ads apart during op-ed moments, and give continuous free coverage to their incumbent choice. There’s a good reason folks listen to talk radio. They don’t get to hear the other side AT ALL on the mainstream media.Report

              • Christopher Carr in reply to wardsmith says:

                McCain’s tale of digging his own grave and then burying himself in it is tragic. Seriously, how did he lose that one?Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to wardsmith says:

                There’s a good reason folks listen to talk radio. They don’t get to hear the other side AT ALL on the mainstream media.

                This discussion is fun, but it really isn’t going anywhere. I’m still not arguing with you about media bias. I haven’t watched cable news in over a decade and am more than willing to accept your account of what it’s like. I’ve always had the impression that it was biased towards viewers in the lower IQ range, so it’s totally conceivable to me that Republican platforms do not get reported.

                What I’m trying to ask you, and failing apparently, is if you could imagine a middle-of-the-road, moderate voter (say either of my parents) informing him or herself about the real positions of the Republican candidate for President- say by listening to those talk radio shows, reading the candidate’s books, and visiting the party websites- and still deciding to reject those positions? Because, from the way this conversation is going, I’m getting the impression that you think that, if people only knew what the Republicans really believe, they’d surely agree with them.

                Actually, what it reminds me of are some of the conversations here with liberals about the health care reform a while back. They kept saying that “the Republicans have lied so much about Obama” that Americans “have no idea what the reforms are really about” and that alone was supposed to explain why people opposed Obamacare. It was like they couldn’t conceive that Americans might actually understand the reforms very well and still reject them for serious reasons.

                In fact, to be really cynical here, I’m going to predict that, if Obama loses this election, the Democrats will attribute that loss entirely to “Republican lies” and, if the Republicans lose, they will attribute the loss entirely to “media lies”, which makes the whole concept of “spending some time in the wilderness’ and learning from it fairly moot.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to wardsmith says:

                Rufus, sorry again for beating the dead horse. I’d say given your hypothetical that if your parents were truly interested in the positions of the candidates (and not just the party platform palaver) they’d go to their various websites, read what was there and inform themselves. That would put your parents, statistically in the 1/10th of 1% range of educated voters. Unfortunately the great unwashed masses won’t give a rat’s rear end about any of this and will cast their vote paid for with blood, sweat and tears by generations of American patriots with nary a thought other than the candidate looks handsome, has a nice voice or has the requisite letter after his name on the party line ballot they’re voting. Unfortunately for good or ill (mostly ill) this is the current state of Democracy.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

                My question, Ward, is has that ever not been true, at least since universal suffrage?Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to wardsmith says:

                WSmith, all I can think of is GWashington, six-foot-three, had his uniforms tailored, and an awesome figure on his white horse, which he rode masterfully.  Yes, people certainly do respond viscerally to leaders, but that’s part of the job.

                Politics aside, it was no mystery to me that we elected a tall, handsome, slim black fellow over the little cranky old white dude. [In fact, it took a pale pudgy doughball to make Richard Nixon look presidential…]Report

              • wardsmith in reply to wardsmith says:

                @Jesse, we shouldn’t pick on the gentler sex here at the League of Gentlemen. 😉

                @Tom, GW cut a fine figure, but he had more to his resume including defeating the world power that was Britain, and he was perhaps the wealthiest American, which didn’t hurt.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to wardsmith says:

                Ol’ George Washington might have cut a dashing figure on horseback but it took a Prussian (von Steuben) to teach him to muster men and fight.   All his battles to that point featured so many Brave Sir Robins running away as soon as the first volleys commenced.

                For all his posturing and uniform-wearing, Washington was a horribly inept general until he’d been schooled at Valley Forge.   He’d learned nothing with Braddock.   He’d even signed a document of surrender, in which he’d stipulated to war crimes.

                The only people who respond viscerally to leaders are mobs.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to wardsmith says:

                As for Crankypants “Grrrr” McCain, every time I see that bozo waxin’ hot ‘n righteous about WAAAAR, it fills me with mirth.   I wouldn’t trust that man with anything sharper than a rubber ball.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to wardsmith says:

                All true, Blaise.  GWash is credited primarily for holding the Continental Army together, not for battlefield success.  Indeed, his other role in the Founding was chairing the framing of the Constitution, his prestige being the magnet that brought it and held it together.

                Sort of my point.  See also FDR.  The first requirement for a leader is to be able to get people to follow, and that requires a certain visceral je ne sais quoi, something that Dole, Mondale, Humphrey and Stevenson—good men all—sorely lacked.

                If people won’t follow, you’re not a leader.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to wardsmith says:

                George Washington was a well-mannered ninny possessed by singular ambition.   He understood the Constitutional Convention was setting up the presidency for him but had almost nothing to say while it was in session.   An open mouth gathers no feet, ’tis said, and Washington’s mouth stayed closed, all the better to enhance his prestige.

                Augustus Caesar made a great show of renouncing titles when offered to him, too, as we read on the wall of the Res Gestae, the finest bit of political propaganda in the ancient world and probably in recorded history.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to wardsmith says:

                All true, Blaise.  And Washington was a greater man than all those who felt superior to him.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to wardsmith says:

                Hero worship is for the craven.   There are no great men.   There are only great accomplishments and those never happen in isolation.Report

              • Kim in reply to Rufus F. says:

                McCain’s the new Longstreet, and your facts are wrong.Report

        • Rufus F. in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Tom, it’s an editorial. That’s how they’re written. Accusing an editorial of having an editorial slant is beside the point. Furthermore, the Economist has been criticizing Obama throughout his first term for having lousy economic policies and being feckless in general, so when they say they’d like to see a credible, right-of-centre pro-business party step up and oppose him, it’s not coming from nowhere. Finally, the editorial’s argument is simply that the Republicans should be doing better with independent voters than they are and that this reflects on the positions they’re taking and some of the things they’re saying. You can dismiss the Economist (!) as a far left rag all you like, but as far as I can tell, your response to that argument is simply that the Republicans are not really taking the positions the editors say they are. So why aren’t the polls currently showing them high above the president who is currently presiding over a crappy economy with high unemployment?Report

      • wardsmith in reply to Rufus F. says:

        No president since Franklin Roosevelt has been re-elected with unemployment as high as it is now

        And yet FDR was re-elected not once but 3 more times!Report

  5. Wardsmith says:

    I’m not so sure this race will be any cake walk. Lets not forget that billion obama is reedy to spend. I don’t see anyone raising anything closeReport

  6. Christopher Carr says:

    Who would be on your A-Team?Report

    • wardsmith in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      Excellent question Mr. Carr! I’m not enough of a wonk to know all the Republicans out there but believe that anything with Gov. Christie in it would become eminently entertaining immediately. For the conservatives, there’s Paul Ryan. The GOP has a largely deserved reputation as the party of old white men, because that’s who ends up getting nominated. But there are some young republicans like Rubio who could change the face of the party. I’d like to think on this some more and see if I can give your question justice. I’d also be very interested in anyone else’s take. We know Johnson is popular with several front-pagers here, and I see Huntsman using this election cycle as his training-wheels candidacy so he can run for real in the 2016 free-for-all election.Report