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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Jon Huntsman dropped out of high school to play keyboard in a rock band, most recently he dropped out of being Obama’s ambassador to China. So how is he repaying his old boss? He is considering running against him as a Republican presidential candidate. The Daily Beast points out that history is not on his side. But hey, we can always use another Mormon in the race for president. After all, their holy book is now a hit musical. More:

Running against the boss has been rare in presidential history, and it hasn’t ended well. Think George McClellan against Abraham Lincoln, or Henry Wallace against Harry Truman. Now Jon Huntsman is preparing to give it a try.

Huntsman, 51, is about to make a lightning-fast transformation from President Obama’s employee to his potential rival. His resignation as U.S. ambassador to China takes effect Saturday. On Monday he will plunge into meetings with the advisers who, without his input, have been laying groundwork for a race for the Republican nomination. His travel schedule starts this week with a commencement speech (and possibly a debate appearance) in South Carolina, followed two weeks later by a commencement speech in New Hampshire.

Haley Barbour is sitting this one out. Pegged to be a likely GOP candidate for 2012, Barbour says he has no fire in his belly for a run against the man he once said was bringing our country to wreck and ruin. But the New York Times thinks this may be endemic of the Republican Party this election cycle.

But the publicly stated reasons often mask other considerations as politicians consider whether to run for president. Here are five reasons why some of the Republican Party’s brightest stars might be opting for the sidelines this year.

1. Biden. If Mr. Obama wins re-election, there is almost zero chance that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. would run for the presidency in 2016, when he would turn 74 years old. That puts him in the same place where Vice President Dick Cheney was in 2008. That means that Republicans who can afford to wait until 2016 can assure themselves not only that they will not face an incumbent Democratic president, but also that they won’t face a sitting vice president.

2. The economy. Mr. Obama’s approval ratings have dipped below 50 percent, but he remains personally popular and by many calculations the economy appears to be improving — if slowly. Even Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and one of the handful of very likely candidates, said last September that Mr. Obama would be “difficult to beat” if the economy continued improving, which he predicted it would. (He later changed his tune and said Republicans should focus on the economy if they wanted to win.)

3. Money. Mr. Obama is expected in some quarters to raise $1 billion for his re-election campaign, and he has no serious primary opposition, which means he will be free to aim that firepower at his Republican adversaries. For a potential challenger, that raises the stakes for fund-raising at a time when more outside groups are competing for the same dollars, many of which, even on the Republican side, would go to congressional races.

4. The Tea Party. The emergence of the Tea Party movement as a force inside the Republican Party requires potential presidential candidates to pick sides in an intraparty philosophical struggle. The risks are clear for some Republicans who may have to alter or modify earlier positions to get through a contentious primary. Less clear are the benefits of having that support during a general election, especially if it means alienating independents in the process. Some of the most high-profile Tea Party candidates in 2010 did not fare so well in the general election.

5. The media glare. Candidates for president have always had to contend with scrutiny from the press. But the intense, Internet-driven political environment in 2011, when everyone has a camera phone and every offhand comment can be recorded, is enough to scare away even the most hearty of politicians. Mr. Barbour’s family apparently hated the idea of his running for president (though reports suggest that they had made peace with the idea, were he to have run). Candidates who have been on the fence about making a run often consider the consequences to their privacy if they do.

Oh well, there is always Ron Paul.

Yeah, me neither.

Glenn Beck has left the building.

It is a remarkable reversal of fortune for a man who one year ago was banking $32 million annually, teaching Americans how to fear-monger for fun and profit.

But with his ratings down nearly 50 percent and advertisers abandoning the show, Beck’s apocalyptic shtick has been getting rancid fast.

It’s almost hard to remember that not so long ago Glenn Beck was being taken seriously as a political figure by hyper-partisans on the far right. The proto-Tea Party rally on Capitol Hill in 2009 was directly inspired by Beck. This past summer, he filled one-third of the Washington Mall with his faithful for what turned out to be a religious revival with political overtones, on the anniversary of the Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. There were even, it is now surreal to say, calls for him to run for president on a ticket with Sarah Palin—a draft movement that they had to deny.

A low-lights reel of Beck’s worst moments on Fox would take hours to watch, but it would offer a useful seminar on the politics of incitement and near-mainstreaming of conspiracy theories in the Obama era. A talented broadcaster, Beck used his perch to echo old narratives straight out of the paranoid style in American politics—sinister plots to impose one-world government, the intentional subversion of the Constitution, the oppression of the faithful at the hands of a secular socialist elite hell-bent on replacing the American experiment with tyranny. “The Glenn Beck Show” is the closest the John Birch Society has ever come to having their own national program, reaching millions and poisoning political debate in the process.

Beck is leaving FOXNews. But we haven’t seen the end of him. That will require a stake through the heart or a silver bullet in the brain.

Stand back. Pastor Terry Jones has oil in his lamp and it’s burning, burning, burning. After recently incinerating the holy book of Islam, riots erupted in Afghanistan killing 12 people. This of course, made an impression on Brother Jones. In a statement, Mr. Jones demanded that the United States and United Nations take “immediate action” against Muslim nations in retaliation for the deaths. “The time has come to hold Islam accountable,” he said. After all the non-denominational minister was only upholding the American judicial process. You see, he had given the Koran on a fair trial.

“It is not that we burn the Koran with some type of vindictive motive,” Mr. Jones said. “We do not even burn it with great pleasure or any pleasure at all. We burn it because we feel a deep obligation to stay with the court system of America. The court system of America does not allow convicted criminals to go free. And that is why we feel obligated to do this.”

On the video, a pastor named Wayne Sapp is seen igniting a kerosene-drenched copy of the Koran with a plastic lighter. Members of the church watch the book burn for several minutes while several photographers snap pictures.

Finally, Mr. Jones says, “That actually burned quite well.”

Remember candidate Obama? His critics called him unAmerican because he was hawking a foreign policy of strict realism after 8 years of NeoCon change-the-world idealistic failure? We’ll it looks like President Obama has drank the Koolaid. We’re a shining beacon on the hill that’s armed to the teeth. The Op Ed page of the NYT elaborates.

He was always a realist onto whom idealism was thrust. He adheres, by instinct and experience, to the middle ground. Taking office in a nation drained by war, he found arguments aplenty to bolster his inclination for ending conflicts.

American exceptionalism — the notion of the United States as a transformative moral beacon to the world — made him uneasy. Atlanticism, the fruit of the war that took Lund’s life, had little emotional hold on a man not yet 30 when the Cold War ended. The disappearing jobs of the home front were his domain.

And yet, and yet, this cautious president, who has been subtly talking down American power — with reason — has involved the nation in a new conflict in Libya, one in which his own defense secretary holds that the United States has no “vital interest.” He has joined a long line of U.S. leaders in discovering the moral imperative indivisible from the American idea.