Friday, September 9, 2011

End of Week Political Musings

As I whiningly informed you last weekend, things have been busy for me lately, and the blogging has suffered as a result.  I decided at the least minute to live-blog the debate Wednesday night, which turned out to be a great deal of fun--I only wish I'd let people know earlier that we'd be doing it.  I desperately wanted to write about it, but the 0515 departure Thursday morning and the sleep needed to make it happen took precedence.  Last night, I was driving home while the President was speaking and so only am able to get a full understanding of what he said this morning.

So in an effort to rectify my laziness, sloth, and self-pity, I offer the following end of week summary.

The Republican Presidential debate Wednesday night was far more interesting than I thought it would be, and even at this early stage, it revved up my interest in the race.  Some random, spurious thoughts:

1.  Michele Bachman is done.  Finished. Finito.  Put a fork in her.  Governor Perry occupies the her ground, and he does so with more to offer.

2.  Newt Gingrich did a great job the other night of proving he'd make a phenomenal history professor.  Whoops--that's what he is.  He's smart, he's got a thousand ideas, he's an incredibly interesting man and I bet you he's a hoot at cocktail parties.  But President?  Meh.

3.  Herman Cain--very impressive.  I like the 9-9-9 plan in theory--would love to know what it means in practice--as in, how would CBO score it.  For simplicity's sake--a huge step forward.

4.  John Huntsman is a very, very interesting candidate FROM A STRATEGIC VIEW.  That is, he's staking out the anti-Perry anti-Romney position--and doing it wonderfully.  What does that mean?  Well, he was clearly a more successful governor than Romney--from the standpoint of jobs and healthcare reform.  And he did it while being more generally considered a conservative.  And....he governed as conservatively as Perry does, just not with the offputting (to some) Texas swagger.  So--if you want someone with private sector experience, international experience, successful government executive experience AND who is a conservative--well then, you're left with Huntsman. 

5.  Rick Santorum.  Not sure why he's in the race. 

6.  Ron Paul says something really, really interesting every time I hear him speak.  Usually, I find myself thinking "damn, he's right on that."  And then I realize it was sandwiched in and among ten really zany things, and I remember again why Libertarians simply can't govern.

7.  Rick Perry is either the most courageous politician of our time, whose performance the other night was the beginning of a new era of American politics and the future of  the "social contract", or we have witnessed the beginning of the end of his candidacy.  Let's face it folks--he's right.  Social Security is both a Ponzi Scheme and a "monstrous lie".  The question though, is whether one can say those things and still be elected President.  I believe the answer is no--though I am somewhat ashamed to admit it.  Would that we were a society selfless enough to realize that Social Security (and Medicare) are destroying the fiscal health of this country, and that to right this ship we will have to dramatically reform both.  But we are not that country.  Forget about what the Democrats will do with the footage of Perry's words on Social Security the other night--if he's still around for a two man race with Romney, we'll see them in Romney ads.  The plain truth of the matter is that Romney knows the system is as broken as Perry does--but he's smart enough to know that the way you do something about it is to get yourself elected President FIRST.  Also--while Perry toes a very popular Republican line on the science of climate change--he was woefully unprepared to speak to it the other night.  What started out as a great night for Perry sank fast at the halfway point.  Oh--one more thing.  If he bucked the field and taken the 10 spending for every 1 revenue dollars deal--THAT would have been the story the next day.  That none of them have done so continues to amaze me.

8.  Mitt Romney did what he had to do--he is a reasonable, smart guy with good ideas who came across as steady and electable.  He's not flashy, he's not over the top--but I ask you--which of those folks would you have manage your retirement funds for you....?

The President's Speech

The President felt it necessary to convene the Congress in special session to kick-off his Presidential campaign last night, and along the way, he asked for another $447B in spending to add to the $1T he's spent already in his pursuit of losing 1.7M jobs.  Wrapping his speech in the standard, annoying rhapsody of a Sunday preacher, Mr. Obama had the temerity to suggest that what is needed to jumpstart our economy is more of the same--more government spending of private money--that which has underlain his approach these past 32 feckless months.  Obviously trying to whip up his base for the coming Presidential election, the President assured us that all of the things he was suggesting be done were at one time supported by a number of Republicans.  True in some cases--but their support for such things occurred along the road to perdition...and to ignore the incompetence of the past 32 months by handing the President even more money saved by the people of China would be legislative malpractice. 

Additionally, the "Super Committee", which already had a ridiculously hard job (perhaps impossible), is handed the responsibility to deal with even MORE DEBT, as the President's policies rely on fairy magic to conclude that they are "paid for".

Barack Obama continues to become more beatable with each passing day.  I look forward to a rough and tumble Republican primary season, as that process will toughen up whomever it is that takes the office away from Mr. Obama.  November 2012 can't come quickly enough to suit me.


Sally said...

You know, I was curious about Huntsman as he was getting into the race. Thought he would be tough for Obama to beat and someone I might be able to get behind. But I find him so insufferably smarmy, both at that debate and in every interview I've seen of him. He's really big on pushing the line that he may be just too darn reasonable in today's GOP. He ought to accept the fact that he may be just too darn unlikeable.

BigFred said...

I want a President that scares the Russians and the Iranians. Being able to pronounce "nuclear" correctly is a nice to have, but not required.

Bryan said...

One thing both the Dem and GOP job plans ignore is that we are not experiencing a recession as much as a restructuring of our economy brought on by too much private debt and associated spending in excess of income. Ezra Klein had a nice summary of this situation in his blog of last month:

Until the economy deleverages its private debt and incomes get in line with expenditures, we will have slow growth, weak demand and resulting weak employment. Gov't efforts to cut taxes or spend only delay this reckoning. Therefor, it only makes sense to consider tax cuts because they are the right answer in the long term, not because they could create jobs today.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Bryan, I am loathe to grant Ezra "I've never done anything but go to school, but dammit, I'm an expert on everything" Klein props, so I'll save them for you.

I actually believe there is very little we can do in the short term to "prime the pump". Restructuring so that when we've de-leveraged, productivity and innovation falls in on a new paradigm--is clearly a right answer--if not the right answer.

Bryan said...

Good point about Klein, Bryan. Michael Spence made a better case for this same phenomenon in the last issue of Foreign Affairs.

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