Florida Picks The Guy Who Looks Like He Fired You.

Last night Mitt Romney won in the Republican Florida primary with 46 percent of the vote. Florida was the first “big” state to have a primary, and the Romney campaign is arguing that this victory shows their guy can win big.

Newt Gingrich came in second place with 33 percent of the vote. Rick Santorum came in third place with 13 percent and Ron Paul came in last with seven percent.

Rich LowryDavid Frum, Ed Morrissey and most of the participants of National Review Online’s Symposium think Romney will be the enviable nominee.

Republicans must now reconcile to the fact that Mitt Romney will, barring some act of God, be the Republican nominee against President Obama.

At NRO, Hugh Hewitt makes the case that will echo throughout the country:

Bottom line in many GOP minds tonight: The Republicans simply cannot win back the White House without Florida reverting red. It is hard to imagine either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum carrying the state in the fall should lightning strike down the road.

Romney supporters will continue to make the case of electability. And, why not? Experts will endlessly debate why Gingrich was not able to translate his South Carolina victory to Florida, but it seems obvious to me that he lacks the temperament to be president.

Temperament can seem like a red herring. Gingrich, the historian, would argument, and often does, that desperate times call for desperate measures. Lee turned to Grant. Britain turned to Winston Churchill in World War Two and Margaret Thatcher in the trying 70s. America turned to Reagan after the Carter years. The problem is that Gingrich isn’t Grant, Churchill, Thatcher, Reagan or any of the other historical parallels that a clever historian can pull out. But, temperament does matter in the case of Gingrich. Let’s turn to his strongest selling point: the debates. Gingrich’s shouting only appeals to a small segment of conservative voters. Does anyone honestly believe that soccer moms in Ohio are going to flock to Gingrich publicly berating a moderator this September?

I agreed that the media was out of line to air the story about his ex-wife 48 hours before the South Carolina primary, yet the case that Gingrich’s angry persona will go over well with Obama’s typically cool demeanor. I took a customer service class recently, and the instructor pointed out that one of the worst things you can do when talking to someone is to put yourself too deep into an angry person’s problems. It’s good to acknowledge a problem, show empathy and own it. Constantly apologising or becoming emotionally involved will only make you look weaker in the eyes of a person your speaking to.

In politics you must have a similar attitude. a candidate will only get so far by showing rage and shouting people down. How far would Reagan have gotten with his, “There you go again” line to Carter if he’d shouted?

Romney has many flaws, but I don’t see him scaring away independents. The big question, as the tile of this post indicates, will America pick the guy who looks like he fired you?

 

 

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She’s baaaaacccck

While on the subject of the GOP establishment…

With Romney and Gingrich getting all of the attention, I guess our dear old Sarah had to come out and start making some noise.

Last Friday Sarah Palin wrote a pathetic Facebook post about the establishment cannibalizing the Republican primaries.

Palin has become a joke. A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were talking about here. She was teasing me about how I was pro-Sarah four years ago. Which is true–I’m not going to lie about it. When I watched her speech at the Republican convention I thought I was seeing the future. I remember telling my wife, then girlfriend, and old roommate that Palin would be the first female president. This is even after McCain and Palin lost the general election.

I remember reading an article in National Review by Ross Douthat, who was a pretty big supporter of Palin then, about how she needed to take a step back after the campaign and revamp her image. Douthat thought that she should work with some charities, hit the books, and even show up on Oprah.

Palin has taken the opposite course in nearly every single aspect of her career. It’s a damned shame. She has become a petulant child that whines on cable TV about the long shadow of socialism. How could she have failed on every single level and squandered all of her political talent? Why would anyone take what she says seriously? Has she ever done anything for the Conservative movement?

All of the candidates in this election season: Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Paul, Perry, Cain, Bachman, Pawlenty…They all have their flaws, but at least they put themselves out there for something.

What does Palin ever put herself out there for? She sits in her Wasilla compound composing these missives about the state of Conservatism, but she never actually has accomplished anything for the movement.  She goes on book tours and bus tours in Iowa to hawk whatever junk that her people are pushing.

I understand her reluctant to run this time around. I wouldn’t want to put up with the media bashing she received. It’s digesting how Andrew Sullivan pushed those bizarro theories about her children. If the question is about media bias in the Palin family, then Sarah can count on me to stand by her.

But, I can’t stand the way the media gives her attention. And, when I say media, I mainly mean Fox news. It’s to the point where I don’t know if I can watch any election coverage if I see her.

Standing for something isn’t enough–you have to actually do something for people. Not just the segment of people who agree with you, but you need to actually prove that you can convince people and win a cause. Palin has failed to do this in any meaningful way.

 

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Newt Vs. The Machine

The knives have been out the past week. Tomorrow is the Florida primary and its looking like Willard Mitt Romney will win big. This is a major blow to the Gingrich campaign, which hoped South Carolina would be a major  shot in the arm. Now, we’re back where we were at the beginning of the month–It looks like Romney is going to ride his way to the nomination.

Most of the upcoming contests favor Romney:

– Nevada: The Nevada caucuses are on February 4th. Romney won the caucuses in 2008 with 51 percent of the vote. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal Romney is leading here by 4 percent. Nevada has the second highest number of Mormons than any other state, so this is perceived as Romney’s home turf.

– Maine: The Maine caucuses begin on the fourth and go to the 11th. There isn’t a lot going on in the news about Maine, but RealClear Politics has Romney winning. This is sort of perceived as Romney’s home turf.

– Colorado: There is a caucus on February 7th. PPP seems to be the only place polling here, but Romney is head in every poll.

Minnesota: Here is bright spot for Newt! Minnesota is also on the 7th. PPP also seems to be the only people will polling, and Gingrich is ahead by 18 percent.

Missouri: Also held on the 7th. Missouri is having a caucus, but the results are non-binding. RCP doesn’t seem to have any polling on this. O’Reilly had Santorum on discussing the caucus. It doesn’t seem like many of the other candidates are competing.

Michigan: The primary is on February 28th. Romney won big here in 2008; of course,  Romney was born here, so Michigan is another one of his home states! The polls here all seem to agree that Romney is going to win again. He’s ahead by as little as 5 percent and  is ahead by over 30 percent in other polls.

Arizona: Arizona will also be having its primary on the 28th. Arizona went to McCain in 2008, so that’s not a strong indicator of how it would go this year. RCP has Romney ahead here in nearly every other poll.

So, that’s the month of February. It’s looking incredibly difficult for Newt Gingrich to mount a serious opposition to Romney. And, Conservatives are continuing to wring their hangs at the thought Romney winning the nomination and facing Obama in the general election.

Mark Levin is fretting about Romney winning:

My great fear is, however, that he is the weakest candidate who can face Obama and will go into the general election with a fractured base, thanks to his own character flaws, which are now on display, and his tactics of personal destruction.  Moreover, while Romney can swamp his Republican opponents by 3 to 1 or more in every state with his spending advantage, Barack Obama will be raising more and spending more to beat him in the general election, meaning Romney’s financial advantage will be non-existent.

David Catron, at the American Spectator, seems to feel the same. Erin McPike had an article at RCP about whether the Tea Party is losing its position within the Republican party.

With all this, it’s looking like Newt is done. But, why? Well, if you listen to Sean Hannity and the rest, you’d believe that the GOP establishment has destroyed Newt.

The problem here is that Conservatives basically control the Republican party. Who exactly is the leader of the liberal wing of the Republican party? Almost six years ago now, I would have said that Lincoln Chaffee was the most liberal member of the Republican party and the “leader” of the liberal republicans. Of course, leader would imply that he led a block of like-minded individuals. In reality he was probably one of the loneliest people in Washington.  He was the Senator from Rhode Island and basically voted against everything the national Republican party did. He lost to Sheldon Whitehouse in a bad year for Republicans. In 2010, Mike Castle, a liberal Republican from Delaware, was defeated in the primaries by Christine O’Donnell.

I’m lost at how the “establishment” has somehow destroyed authentic Conservatives. If the establishment had any power, then Mike Castle would have won the Delaware primary. And, I’m damned well sure that Sharon Angle wouldn’t have been nominated to go against Mr. Cowboy poet Harry Reid.

Newt is losing because he’s alienated most people that he’s worked with. And, if anything, Newt is as closest thing you can get to an establishment as there is.

 

 

 

 

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Another debate

*yawn*

Another Thursday night, another Republican debate. This week had two Republican debates, one on Monday and another tonight–I haven’t watched either.

I’ve been taking a break this week. I wanted to finish reading Neal Stephenson’s The Confusion, and I’ve been watching some tv shows with my wife. Oh, and I had to fit the State Of the Union in on Tuesday.

The Republican race seems to be in a stalemate. I could quote a few different sources but suffice to say that everyone is even more upset about the candidates than they were last week.

A nice example of this came when I read that Bob Dole, the former Republican Senator from Kansas,failed presidential candidate, Viagra spokesmen and Romney supporter, spoke out against Newt Gingrich.

“If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices,” Dole said. “Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself.  He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway.”

Pretty hard words. Of course, later in the piece, Dole gives more of a clue as to why he didn’t like Gingrich:

“In my run for the presidency in 1996 the Democrats greeted me with a number of negative TV ads and in every one of them Newt was in the ad. He was very unpopular and I am not only certain that this did not help me, but that it also cost House seats that year.”

This looks a bit petty to me. To be fair, I don’t think Dole is necessary saying that Gingrich cost him the 96 election, but he comes off as sour grapes. The 96 election was the first presidential race that I remember following. I remember every Republican I knew shuddering at the thought that Dole would get the nomination; equally, no one seriously believed that Dole could topple Clinton. The Republican field of 96 was lackluster and weak. So, get over yourself Senator…Negative Newt ads did not sink your campaign.

There is also that weird comment in the kicker that confused me, until Yuval Levin shed some light on this:

It’s true that Newt Gingrich used to go around with an empty ice bucket in 1996. It was a symbol of his efforts to cut congressional perks and costs. For decades prior to 1995, every congressional office would receive a daily delivery of ice from a central freezer on the Capitol grounds. It was a holdover from the days before easy refrigeration, and it made for a nice demonstration of the sort of silly and costly perks that members of Congress received. When he became Speaker, Gingrich ended the practice and (in large part because that meant eliminating several staff positions) saved some $400,000 a year.

So, the battles rage on. Real Clear Politics has Romney up by an average of five percent.

I have a hard time seeing Newt hanging onto this momentum. Even if he wins Florida, I still don’t see any evidence of a national organization. The whole “internet campaign” is a great idea, but it’s not going to work against Obama.

We’ll have to see what happens over the weekend, but the race is just all over the place right now.

I end this post with posting Mitch Daniels response to President Obama’s State Of the Union. It can either cheer you up or make you want a stiff drink. Why couldn’t we have this guy?

 


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Review of Neal Stephenson: Quicksilver

(This is an Amazon review)

I purchased this book almost three years ago after reading some positive reviews. I’d never read Stephenson before, but I was drawn to the idea of a cyberpunk/historical fiction novel. I read Quicksilver while I was in college, in between my regular class work.

But, to my dismay, the reading experience was anything but easy. I ended up finishing the book, but the process was a long, hard slog. I quickly abandoned the idea of reading the two other novels of equal size.

So, about a month ago, I decided that it was time to dust off Quicksilver and give it another go.  The book is still difficult, but the book is a journey and Stephenson is an intriguing Sherpa.

Quicksilver is a story about ideas. Stephenson weaves a tale about the forces and individuals that shaped the modern world. He does this by inserting fictional characters into a historical epic; we see his characters interact with famous figures, such as Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz, William of Orange, et al. His fictional characters are involved in their on intrigues, but they’re largely in the story to tease out information from the real-life individuals.

There are three primary fictional characters that make the course of events of the book.

The first and arguably most important character in the story is Daniel Waterhouse. The story is told in book one: Quicksilver; it begins in Boston in 1713,with an old Daniel Waterhouse getting a message to come back to England to help settle the great Calculus dispute between Newton and Leibniz. The story quickly shifts to a series of flash backs starting at about 1661. We follow the career of Waterhouse as he goes to Cambridge and becomes involved in the Royal Society of London. Waterhouse works with early natural philosophers, John Wilkins and Robert Hooke, as they partake in all sorts of bizarre scientific experiments.

The second book, The King of the Vagabonds, sets a different tone to the story. While Stephenson earlier focused on kings and natural philosophers, the hero of this book is a vagabond called half-cocked Jack. Jack is roaming around Europe, half mad, and looking for adventures. He eventually winds up at the Siege of Vienna. Jack encounters the third important fictional character, Eliza. She was sold into slavery and became a Turkish harem. Jack rescues Eliza, and the two travel around Europe learning about finance and trade, while Eliza pursues her goal of ending slavery.

If you’ve read this far into the review don’t think that I’ve given much of anything away. Stephenson loads this 916-page book with all sorts of twists and turns in the story.

Of course, in regards to the story, a potential reader should be warned that Stephenson is fairly lax in terms of conventional storytelling. If you’re looking for a novel that carries the story from point A to point B to point C, then you’re going to be disappointed. There are important twists and turns, but they can almost seem forgotten in the sheer magnitude of the larger book.

While Stephenson is less concerned about the conventional story, he makes up for this by focusing on a series of important themes. Quicksilver, and I would say the Baroque Cycle, is concerned with major thematic issues and ideas rather than a conventional plot. Stephenson is trying to paint a picture of this time period, so he peppers the story with historical figures here and there, but they can easily be forgotten compared to the larger issues.

The most important issues of this book are the debates between contrasting forces, such as: Reformation vs. Counter-Reformation; Feudalism vs. Nation States; the birth of science vs. religion; the birth of modern finance and commerce vs. religion. All of the characters in this story represent certain sides of these arguments. Various realms and countries represent certain sides of these arguments. France, headed by Louis XIV, is represented as being the center of all things premodern; on the other hand, England develops a complex role as the birth of modernism, while struggling internally with competing forces of reaction.

If there are major flaws to Quicksilver it’s that Stephenson can get too wrapped up in all of this. I say this as someone who enjoyed the book, but it can be extremely difficult to see the forest through the trees in this. As others have noted, Stephenson seems to use 50 words where 10 would do. Stephenson’s writing sometimes stands in the way of some otherwise exciting action sequences.

It equally can get tiresome to always have different characters launch into complex philosophical debates whenever they first start speaking. Some of the dialogue in this is just cumbersome. I wouldn’t expect Isaac Newton to greet someone with, “What up dawg?”, but you can imagine him acting human, sometimes. Stephenson also has fun dropping various old English words throughout the book, while also throwing in some F-bombs and other euphemisms that wouldn’t have been used at the time. This isn’t necessarily a negative on the book, but it does show that Stephenson could have worked in a little more humane dialogue.

In general, I enjoyed the book but wish it had been a tad bit shorter. I think Stephenson could have shaved off a 100 pages to this book and largely kept the spirit intact.

Overall, as stated, I didn’t find this to be an easy read but it was rewarding. If you’re interested in history, politics, culture, science, religion, or just a good dose of toilet humor, then you should check this book out. It may get frustrating from time to do, but keep on going! It’s worth it.

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Newt On The Rise…

Fox News and MSNCB called the South Carolina primary for Newt Gingrich about a half hour ago. ABC is confirming the results.

Jonah Goldberg muses that South Carolina punted on this one. Hugh Hewitt is bummed.

Rick Santorum is going to come in third, and Ron Paul will place fourth.

Mitt Romney is speaking right now, and he’s sticking to his usual attack on Obama. Romney is continuing to try to aim at Obama and stay above the other contenders for the nomination.

The chatter on Fox News is that Newt won because of his performance in the two debates this week. Charles Krauthammer believes that Gingrich sees himself defeating Obama in a debate format.

I think Gingrich is crazy if that’s going to do it. But, evidently, South Carolinians don’t.

Maybe It’s time for Romney to reconsider his participation in future debates.

Anyway, It’s onto Florida now!

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Exit Perry, Enter Marianne And Other Political Wackiness

Today was a fairly dramatic day in the presidential race.

For me, it began reading an interesting tidbit from Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt newsletter about Governor Rick Perry potentally quitting the race.

No, I thought…Not possible. Why would he drop out now? I would have understood Iowa, but he’s two days ahead of the first primary in the South. Surly if he’s looking to build momentum he’ll try his chances on Saturday.

Geraghty was on the same page:

I understand the logic of anti-Mitt folks calling on Rick Perry to drop out. I just can’t believe that the governor of Texas is being told to drop out days before the first primary in the South, the contest that would seem to be the most-friendly territory among the early states. (I also can’t believe Perry’s total in the past five polls in South Carolina: 6 percent, 6 percent, 5 percent, 5 percent, and 6 percent. If I were a pollster, I’d be calling back the respondents and asking, “Are you sure? Really? You’re a self-described very-conservative evangelical who describes reducing the government as your top priority and you’re not backing Perry? Are you absolutely certain?”

It looks like he was!

 

I suppose he could only take enough embarrassment. I had high hopes for Perry. I’ll always remember when he announced his candidacy; I was in Paris on my honeymoon, and my wife and I had stopped at an internet cafe to check our email. I hadn’t checked mine in nearly two weeks, and I saw a New York Times alert that he had jumped into the race. It was the first piece of American news I’d considered in weeks.

I’d been steadily following the hype about him entering. I read Kevin Williamson’s National Review story in April about Perry’s success as a job creator.  He seemed a helluva lot better than Romney. But, in the end, he’s a bit like Greg Oden–just not ready for the big time.

In the end, It’s hard to feel sorry for anyone running for president. But, it just doesn’t seem fair to stigmatize the guy for a few lousy debate performances.

But, it’s over. Perry suspended his campaign and endorsed Gingrich. Brian Bolduc, at National Review, posted the text of the speech here.

Finally, I’ll leave the subject with Ross Douthat’s parting thoughts 

The other big drama today was the media focusing on New Gingrich’s love life. Gingrich’s ex-wife Marianne, his second ex-wife, did an interview with ABC news where she says some nasty things about Newt.

Marianne claims that Gingrich asked her to be in an open marriage, so Newt could still carry on with Callista, his current wife. As the lede of the story says, Marianne Gingrich believes that Newt lacks the moral character to be president.

All of this is pretty awful stuff. It’s truly watching a train wreak. But, the question everyone is asking: Should this be getting played now? Two days before the primary? I’ll leave my readers to decide that.

I don’t think it’s fair. This isn’t exactly “news” is it? Gingrich and Marianne split up over a decade ago. If Newt was trying to keep this hidden, then I could understand how it may be brought up. But, in this situation, the story seems like a smear and will probably end up helping Gingrich in the end.

This leads into my next topic…

There was another debate today. CNN hosted their South Carolina debate, which I hope is the last before the primary on Saturday. I honestly didn’t watch the whole thing. My wife and I spent the first hour of the watching an episode from season one of Downton Abbey, which in my view is a lot better use of ones time.

Anyway, I watched most of the last hour of the debate and generally was impressed with all the candidates.

Gingrich was his usual self. He beat up on John King a few times and generally said some snarky things that the audience loved. Romney played it fairly safe. I see in the clips that he took a beating over his tax returns; he apparently still know if he’s going to release his tax returns before the primary. But, despite that, I don’t think Romney did anything that is going to paralyze him.

Santorum seems to be steadily fading away. Gingrich has sucked the air out of the room, and I fear that Santorum will just be limping along again. And, finally, Paul was Paul. He always does a good job, but he never wins the right people over. So, is that doing a good job?

On a lighter note, Ron Paul supporters put up a hot air balloon in South Carolina, but they inadvernatly slowed down traffic on a busy interstate. Ooops!

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