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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Guess who is going to carry Michigan in November.

Imagine Barack Obama facing off with this winsome, affable pastor and his disarming smile. Instead of that pinched faced Santorum. Or that flip flopping Romney. Or that smug, petulant Gingrich.  Imagine Obama debating this cherub of a man with his homespun rhetoric and consistently conservative and compassionate record.  Obama would have a run for his money. But Mike Huckabee didn’t run this year and this is the reason he gives:

In an interview with an Israeli TV station, Mike Huckabee lamented the current state of the Republican party, stating that the GOP’s ‘toxic atmosphere’ had discouraged him for running for president in 2012.

Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and a GOP presidential candidate in 2008, announced last May that he would not seek the Republican nomination this year, much to the disappointment of many in his party.

He discussed his decision during the interview on Sunday, explaining that “this was not the good year” for him to run again, despite his strong poll numbers.

“I think that there is just such a toxic atmosphere right now, specifically in the Republican party,” he said. “I would love to say that it’s going to be all about ideas and solutions, but unfortunately a lot of it is about just being able to say, ‘I’m more angry at the Obama administration than somebody else.’ That’s not what motivates me politically or governmentally. I believe it ought to be about solutions.”

Huckabee’s comments reflect the sentiment of many in the Republican party who feel that the contentious primary is doing more harm than good. On Monday, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, another prominent GOP figure who many hoped would pursue higher office, made a similar statement, telling CBS News that the brutal primary season was detracting from the party’s goals. “Any time we’re not talking about Obama’s policies and the results of those policies, we’re not talking about what’s the best thing for Republicans in the election,” he said.

The PBS American Experience gave us all a present on President’s Day––a documentary about America’s most gifted and tragically flawed President: William Jefferson Clinton. The American Prospect summarizes:

In this documentary’s no doubt oversimplified formulation, Clinton learned to live two lives. It was his salvation and his doom. It’s what made him the “comeback kid,” more times than anybody could count. It’s what gave him the sense of invincibility that allowed him to continue living one life in public and one in private—and led him into the arms of Monica Lewinsky, then back out of the resulting scandal into the embrace of the American public.

While it politely leaves the details to our sordid imaginations, the documentary doesn’t stint on Clinton’s character flaws, either political or personal. The extent of his womanizing is made clear by Paul Fray, who managed his failed first campaign for Congress, who recalls: “I mean, you got to understand that at one time, there was at least 25 women per day coming around trying to find him. Lord, it was bad—bad, bad, bad, bad.” The threat of exposure kept him from running for president in 1988. But four years later, he couldn’t help himself.

Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you.” Most Democrats hear that and it stirs their compassion. Most Republicans hear it and think: “See. Can’t fix that. Why try?” But the latest GOP presidential front runner hears that and says, “Hurrah for our side.” This from the New York Times.

That was Fox News’s headline about Rick Santorum’s speech at the Detroit Economic Club on Thursday. Santorum said, “I’m not about equality of result when it comes to income inequality. There is income inequality in America. There always has been and, hopefully, and I do say that, there always will be.”

Unbelievable. Maybe not, but stunning all the same.

Then again, Santorum is becoming increasingly unhinged in his public comments. Last week, he said that the president was arguing that Catholics would have to “hire women priests to comply with employment discrimination issues.”

Also last week, he suggested that liberals and the president were leading religious people into oppression and even beheadings. I kid you not. Santorum said: “They are taking faith and crushing it. Why? When you marginalize faith in America, when you remove the pillar of God-given rights, then what’s left is the French Revolution. What’s left is a government that gives you rights. What’s left are no unalienable rights. What’s left is a government that will tell you who you are, what you’ll do and when you’ll do it. What’s left in France became the guillotine.”

Yet for Santorum to champion income inequality in Detroit, of all places, is still incredibly tone-deaf.

Detroit has the highest poverty rate of any big city in America, according to data provided by Andrew A. Beveridge, a demographer at Queens College. Among the more than 70 cities with populations over 250,000, Detroit’s poverty rate topped the list at a whopping 37.6 percent, more than twice the national poverty rate. And according to the Census Bureau, median household income in Detroit from 2006-10 was just $28,357, which was only 55 percent of the overall U.S. median household income over that time.

This is a city that last year announced plans to close half its public schools and send layoff notices to every teacher in the system.

This is a city where the mayor’s pledge to demolish 10,000 abandoned structures was seen as only shaving the tip of the iceberg because, as The Wall Street Journal reported in 2010, “the city has roughly 90,000 abandoned or vacant homes and residential lots, according to Data Driven Detroit, a nonprofit that tracks demographic data for the city.”

This is not the place to praise income inequality.

 

Pundits couldn’t explain it. How could the Obama administration get this contraception thing so wrong? Particularly, in an election year? He was giving the Republicans all the ammunition they needed to label him as an anti-faith secularist. Right? Then he reverses himself with a Solomon-like compromise that slices this tar baby neatly in half. A miscalculation? Oh, ye of little faith. This thing is political genius. While Obama’s opponents gobbled down the bait, he comes out of this thing looking like the most moderate and non-doctrinaire of Democrats. In a political year, this is re-election gold! Obama the reasonable. Long may he reign!

It’s not that Mitt doesn’t care about the very poor. It’s that he doesn’t care about what he says. The man not only lacks a core, he changes his facts to fit his audience. Sure, it’s politics. But it’s sloppy politics. Either the “safety net” is working or it is a giant drain of a bureaucracy that needs overhauling. Paul Krugman puts context around Mitt’s poor people gaffe:

If you’re an American down on your luck, Mitt Romney has a message for you: He doesn’t feel your pain. Earlier this week, Mr. Romney told a startled CNN interviewer, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there

Faced with criticism, the candidate has claimed that he didn’t mean what he seemed to mean, and that his words were taken out of context. But he quite clearly did mean what he said. And the more context you give to his statement, the worse it gets.

First of all, just a few days ago, Mr. Romney was denying that the very programs he now says take care of the poor actually provide any significant help. On Jan. 22, he asserted that safety-net programs — yes, he specifically used that term — have “massive overhead,” and that because of the cost of a huge bureaucracy “very little of the money that’s actually needed by those that really need help, those that can’t care for themselves, actually reaches them.”

This claim, like much of what Mr. Romney says, was completely false: U.S. poverty programs have nothing like as much bureaucracy and overhead as, say, private health insurance companies. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has documented, between 90 percent and 99 percent of the dollars allocated to safety-net programs do, in fact, reach the beneficiaries. But the dishonesty of his initial claim aside, how could a candidate declare that safety-net programs do no good and declare only 10 days later that those programs take such good care of the poor that he feels no concern for their welfare?