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From the monthly archives: July 2011

I think it’s too soon to even think about 2016. I’m guessing 2012 is going to be tough just because of the economy, and there’s simply too much that is unknown to start talking about the electorate five years from now. But I will say this: Andrew Cuomo has so far maintained the kind of supercharged popularity in a big state that strongly resembles what you’ve seen with George W. Bush and Barack Obama (and Hillary Clinton, too). And this is after a tough budget session and after a gay marriage bill, which is a good thing to get ahead of the curve on. Worth taking notice of, at least. Now, five years is an awful long time, and it could be a flash in the pan. Maybe Carl Palladino and his baseball bat will make a shocking comeback in 2014! And who knows, maybe Biden or Hillary will make a run of it in 2016, though the Democrats are generally not too kind to that sort of old warhorse that the GOP is so fond of. But what Cuomo’s got is a big part of what to look for someone who actually becomes president these days, and it’s a good explanation for why the GOP field is so weak–so many of them are hated in their own states, and what electorate knows them better than that?

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David Frum goes all tongue-in-cheek:
Isn’t it conceivable that Obama’s real end-game in these budget talks is to destroy Republican presidential fundraising for 2012 by goading congressional Republicans in 2011 into appearing maximally reckless and irresponsible? If so, you have to say: the plan’s working brilliantly.
Were it only so. This isn’t too tough, though: it’s just what Obama does. He goes up against a superior force, be it the wife of a former president who is beloved by her party and has a 30-point lead in the polls, or a war hero with huge popularity and respect, to name two obvious examples. Then he takes hit after demoralizing hit. Everyone figures he’s about to go down, that he can’t take it, but he always does. He perseveres. And what’s more, after taking all that abuse, he barely even shows it. And after realizing that they can’t knock him down–that they have nothing left to throw at him–his opponents slowly but surely lose their damn minds every time. I honestly don’t know why this pattern repeats itself so often in his career. Perhaps it’s subtle bigotry, in that people assume in the back of their minds that he got ahead because of his race and his flash and articulateness and figure he’s not all that strong. But some of the people who felt this way and lost out were black, too, so it has to be more complicated than just that. This is not to say that he always makes the best decisions, by the way. Merely that he’s quite resilient, and that somehow he manages to get all his enemies to destroy themselves. I don’t get it, but I don’t have to–it’s basically a Law of Nature. Eric Cantor is only the most recent victim of the trend (though, arguably, the most deserving one to date).
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I was very amused to discover the latest poll of Gov. Lex Luthor’s Rick Scott’s job approval rating in Florida:

A new Sunshine State News poll in Florida confirms what other recent surveys have found: Gov. Rick Scott (R) is horribly unpopular.

Scott has a 58% disapproval rating among Florida voters while just 27% approve of the way he’s doing his job.

Yup, 27% is the consensus number for what percentage of the country are wingnuts (It’s also close to the percentage that are fundamentalist Christians, which I’m sure is no mere accident). This is a good news/bad news sort of situation for Democrats: the bad news is that Scott has probably hit his bottom and there’s likely nothing he can do to push his popularity down much further, which is to say that there’s nowhere he can go put up. The good news is: he’s Rick fucking Scott. He’s so politically self-destructive he’s George W. Bush times Scott Walker cubed. The only question I have is: is Charlie Crist going to try to take Scott out in the Republican primary, or is he going to run as a Democrat in the 2016 general election? Okay, I admit it, I just want an excuse to post this clip:

It remains hilarious to me. But, honestly, David Byrne really is kind of a dick.

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Finding out that Marcus Bachmann runs a “pray away the gay” homosexuality treatment center is pretty funny – considering how many closeted insane GOP people have been caught with their pants down over the last many years.

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Okay, so as best as I understand it, Mitch McConnell’s white flag of surrender wave debt plan goes like this: let the Democrats raise the debt ceiling at will, so long as Obama submits a bunch of spending cuts that won’t pass. Some people seem to think this is a genius strategy that will show that the Democrats are fiscal cowards. But what if Obama just submits a bunch of popular spending cuts and forces Republicans to continually vote to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits? Apparently he didn’t have the idea of making it himself that proposed the cuts, so that they could target stuff like foreign aid. Last time I checked, though, voting for those cuts was political suicide. So, Mitch McConnell’s evil plan is–to commit political suicide? Am I missing something? Speaking of self-defeating evilness:
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No sooner do I write about the debt deal than do I get a pretty convincing piece of evidence that Obama is trying to get the other side to cave and back a debt increase. About time.
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I was all set to write a long post about Obama and the debt ceiling, and then Matt Yglesias goes ahead and does it right before I do. Damn time zones! Read his post, he makes a lot of the points I wanted to. Also, Kevin Drum makes a similar argument, though somewhat more sympathetically. Here’s how I see it: that Obama has used the debt ceiling issue to push for a big debt deal is more or less an admission that he hasn’t been able to change Washington, and that it’s still the case that the only time the government does any work is when a crisis is imminent. There are a hundred things Obama could have done differently to avoid our current crisis, from insisting on a clean hike to exploring a “Constitutional option” based on the 14th Amendment, to stiffing defense contractors to bring pressure on their Republican allies. He’s not done any of them, in fact, he’s signaled that he’s the one obsessed with a deal. He’s avoided “kicking the can down the road” in the form of short-term hikes. He’s implored Republicans in joining him in doing “big things.” There are also a hundred signs here to show that Obama is truly desperate for a debt deal that you can find without looking hard. I have no doubt he thinks he’s doing the best thing for the country, and his economic advisers have no doubt channeled the deficit echo chamber in his direction. But I really have to question whether putting the sorts of negotiations that almost always fail up against a possible recession-causing deadline, when dealing with an opposition that denies any and all inconvenient facts and would probably benefit from a default, is the sort of sober-minded, careful leadership that we were told Obama would provide. Feels to me a lot more like the reckless gambling of John McCain to me, an attempt to get something done and change the narrative. I really don’t see an adequate appreciation of the stakes here. I can understand why the deficit hawk-heavy White House Economic Team wants such a deal, and I can see why they think it would be a good thing politically. But will one great moment of Awesome Bipartisanship shine through another eighteen months of lousy employment numbers and modest growth? In the end, what we’ll wind up with is a Republican-friendly package of cuts that Republicans will nonetheless demagogue, as they do, as well a left that sees Obama as a traitor for making a bad deal on cuts and might not turn out to vote because of it, meanwhile we have a public that doesn’t really seem to understand what exactly a deficit is and is more concerned with kitchen table issues. It wouldn’t surprise me if Tim Geithner is the driving force behind this strategy, as the man has a particularly daft sense of politics, and not just on the financial regs thing. I don’t get it. Rigging everything so that Failure Is Not An Option makes little sense considering that a negotiating failure is not nearly the worst outcome I can foresee here.
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