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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Excuse me, but if a Republican presidential candidate can’t turn being rich and paying a low tax rate into a positive, he isn’t much of a Republican. By contrast, Newt flipped a question about his moral laxity and adulterous behavior into an indictment on the ethical failings of the free press, thus winning over values voters. Come on, Mitt.

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A FOX News psychologist explains why Newt Gingrich’s multiple adulteries, desertions and marriage are really a good thing. Talk about your fair and balanced.

I want to be coldly analytical, not moralize, here. I want to tell you what Mr. Gingrich’s behavior could mean for the country, not for the future of his current marriage. So, here’s what one interested in making America stronger can reasonably conclude—psychologically—from Mr. Gingrich’s behavior during his three marriages:
1) Three women have met Mr. Gingrich and been so moved by his emotional energy and intellect that they decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with him.
2) Two of these women felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married.
3 ) One of them felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married for the second time, was not exactly her equal in the looks department and had a wife (Marianne) who wanted to make his life without her as painful as possible.
Conclusion: When three women want to sign on for life with a man who is now running for president, I worry more about whether we’ll be clamoring for a third Gingrich term, not whether we’ll want to let him go after one.
4) Two women—Mr. Gingrich’s first two wives—have sat down with him while he delivered to them incredibly painful truths: that he no longer loved them as he did before, that he had fallen in love with other women and that he needed to follow his heart, despite the great price he would pay financially and the risk he would be taking with his reputation.
Conclusion: I can only hope Mr. Gingrich will be as direct and unsparing with the Congress, the American people and our allies. If this nation must now move with conviction in the direction of its heart, Newt Gingrich is obviously no stranger to that journey.

No matter who the GOP presidential candidate turns out to be, the person that Barack Obama is running against is himself. It’s the guy who seduced enough of America to vote for him 3 1/2 years ago in hopes of…well… hope. It’s the guy who has sat in the oval office the past 3 1/2 years and been our Commander-In-Chief. It’s the guy who has achieved what he has achieved and who has failed to accomplish what he’s failed to accomplish. So that is the guy Obama is pitted against. Not the bogey Obama of GOP rhetoric. Not the Kenyan-born-America-hating-socialist of the Tea Party. The real Obama. That’s who he’s matched up with. So how does he stack up? Andrew Sullivan  takes a long look at the man’s accomplishments in this week’s Newsweek:

All these decisions deserve scrutiny. And in retrospect, they were far more successful than anyone has yet fully given Obama the credit for. The job collapse bottomed out at the beginning of 2010, as the stimulus took effect. Since then, the U.S. has added 2.4 million jobs. That’s not enough, but it’s far better than what Romney would have you believe, and more than the net jobs created under the entire Bush administration. In 2011 alone, 1.9 million private-sector jobs were created, while a net 280,000 government jobs were lost. Overall government employment has declined 2.6 percent over the past 3 years. (That compares with a drop of 2.2 percent during the early years of the Reagan administration.) To listen to current Republican rhetoric about Obama’s big-government socialist ways, you would imagine that the reverse was true. It isn’t.

The right claims the stimulus failed because it didn’t bring unemployment down to 8 percent in its first year, as predicted by Obama’s transition economic team. Instead, it peaked at 10.2 percent. But the 8 percent prediction was made before Obama took office and was wrong solely because it relied on statistics that guessed the economy was only shrinking by around 4 percent, not 9. Remove that statistical miscalculation (made by government and private-sector economists alike) and the stimulus did exactly what it was supposed to do. It put a bottom under the free fall. It is not an exaggeration to say it prevented a spiral downward that could have led to the Second Great Depression.

You’d think, listening to the Republican debates, that Obama has raised taxes. Again, this is not true. Not only did he agree not to sunset the Bush tax cuts for his entire first term, he has aggressively lowered taxes on most Americans. A third of the stimulus was tax cuts, affecting 95 percent of taxpayers; he has cut the payroll tax, and recently had to fight to keep it cut against Republican opposition. His spending record is also far better than his predecessor’s. Under Bush, new policies on taxes and spending cost the taxpayer a total of $5.07 trillion. Under Obama’s budgets both past and projected, he will have added $1.4 trillion in two terms. Under Bush and the GOP, nondefense discretionary spending grew by twice as much as under Obama. Again: imagine Bush had been a Democrat and Obama a Republican. You could easily make the case that Obama has been far more fiscally conservative than his predecessor—except, of course, that Obama has had to govern under the worst recession since the 1930s, and Bush, after the 2001 downturn, governed in a period of moderate growth. It takes work to increase the debt in times of growth, as Bush did. It takes much more work to constrain the debt in the deep recession Bush bequeathed Obama.

Jon Huntsman probably would make an excellent president. But he never had a chance. He was far too even-keeled, far too intellectually honest and possessed the one quality that the Republican base absolutely cannot tolerate: temperence. E.J. Dionne also observes:

My friend and colleague Harold Meyerson and I went to a well-attended Huntsman event in Peterborough, N.H. the night of the Iowa caucuses. Huntsman was good that night, but Harold was struck by two things: First, the crowd cheered the remarks that might be seen as critical of Republicans (for example, of the GOP in Congress) far more than they cheered anti-Obama comments that typically draw loud shots of approval from standard Republican audiences. Second, Harold had the definitive line on Huntsman: “The words are conservative,” he said, “but the music is liberal.” Huntsman seemed happiest talking about his belief in science and his refusal to sign anti-tax or other pledges. Conservatives heard the liberal music. And enough moderates and liberals heard the conservative positions not to rally to him.

 

A few days ago someone was complaining to me about something stupid candidate Rick Santorum had said about poverty. He said he had a two-part plan that would eliminate poverty for good: 1) Finish High School 2) Get Married. Now, such a policy would be impossible to implement, impossible to enforce and naive at best. Although, there is clearly a grain of truth to it. However, I explained to my friend, it was the perfect policy to lure Iowan values voters. Tax-free. And it did. Sure, there are other reasons that Santorum surged forward in Iowa, coming within 8 votes to victory. Santorum has been stalwartly opposing gay marriage. So much so, gay activists have given the word Santorum its own Wikipedia entry.  You don’t see that happening to Bachman or Perry. This guy puts a target on his back and takes it up the bum for the cause. So Perry has gone back to Texas to pray things over and Bachman is going to get another botox treatment. For the time being, Santorum is the reigning “true conservative.”