Thursday, January 5, 2012

Let's (Not) Get on with It

Michael Hirsh writing in the National Journal make some points that I'd like to comment on. His basic premise is that the GOP presidential nomination race is over. It will be Obama vs Mitt Romney in the November general election. I think he's right about this. But along the way, he has a few other pertinent observations:
  • All the media frothing and flummoxing between now and whenever Romney secures the nomination is just a waste of time. Nobody still standing is going to win the Republican nomination over him. 
  • The coming election will be one of the most vicious in our history and probably really close too. (Right on both counts. Super PAC funding of TV campaigns--allowed under the horrendous Supreme Court decision--which candidates can disavow as not coming from their camps, won't exhibit the slightest restraint. It's going to be nasty, but all US elections are nasty.)
  • The nomination is already beyond Gingrich, but he will fulminate anyway. Yep, that's what Gingrich does.
  • Let's get it straight about Rick Santorum. He's a frigging bum "whose views on sexual morality are close to medieval and whose neocon foreign policy (e.g., bomb Iran) won’t fly after a decade of disastrous wars—and who, on top of that, was once considered one of America’s dumbest senators by his peers on Capitol Hill—has very, very little chance of getting close to the nomination. He doesn’t have the money, the infrastructure, or the appeal beyond the hard right. The pundits will talk about his history as a blue-state senator, but the fact is that when Pennsylvania voters learned how truly right-wing Santorum was, he lost by 18 points in 2006 (he hasn’t held office for five years)—which, as Molly Ball of The Atlantic points out, 'was the biggest loss ever by an incumbent Pennsylvania Republican senator.'” 
  • Neither Romney nor Obama will have a very enthusiastic base going into the election. Let's forget about Romney, a whore salivating after the nomination who will say anything to get it, and focus on Obama (who at one time I was actually enthusiastic for). "Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, in a powerful broadside this week, observed that progressives are flirting with Paul for the simple reason that Obama "has done heinous things with the power he has been vested," including waging covert wars with both Islamist extremists and with Iran. Greenwald accused progressives of not conducting an honest debate with themselves in which they admit the real trade-offs of this Democratic administration: We'll accept unchecked executive power in which Muslim children are killed as collateral damage in drone strikes and bankers are secretly bailed out, as long as we can have fewer cuts to entitlements and a more progressive Supreme Court. Said Greenwald: 'It is the classic lesser-of-two-evils rationale, the key being that it explicitly recognizes that both sides are 'evil': meaning it is not a Good versus Evil contest but a More Evil versus Less Evil contest.'"
  • This last is what the general election will be about. Not about conservatism vs liberalism.
  • Nothing will change as a result of this election. Nothing. The US government is bought and paid for no matter which party is in the White House. "In truth, Obama and Romney are far closer in mindset and philosophy than anyone is willing to acknowledge just now. Obama, despite his image, has sought to placate business and left Wall Street largely intact, and he is taking a far tougher line on foreign policy--one that reflects a traditional GOP "realpolitik" view and a dramatic ratcheting up of covert war-- than is generally acknowledged, even when it comes to China. Romney, increasingly desperate to win over his base against the onslaught of "Not-Romneys," has allowed his rhetoric to grow more inflamed on the trail, including commitments to a balanced-budget amendment and partially voucherizing Medicare as well as eliminating Obamacare. But based on his history, if he gets the nomination he is unlikely to follow through fully on these overheated pre-primary pledges and do many things dramatically differently, either on the economy or foreign policy. The problems of slow growth, chronic deficits and an overextended military will inevitably lend themselves to similar solutions from either an Obama or a Romney administration." That's the end of the quote. Allow me to observe, however, that these "similar solutions" will not solve any of the problems.
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