Wednesday, October 31, 2012

That Sound You Hear Are Moderate Republicans Positioning Themselves

Finally, finally it's beginning to happen. The moderate Republicans who have essentially been stomped into the ground and silenced during the Tea Party avalanche are now beginning to step forward and begin the slow process of taking back their party. Despite the craptastic economy, Obama's basically poised to win this.

Frankly, the only people the Repubs have to blame are themselves. The Democrats suffered a similar isolation (and defeat) when the left wing of the party held sway until Bill Clinton wrenched it away them. And let's be clear that I fall squarely in the far-left spectrum of political beliefs and yet I concede that this is what had to happen for the Dems to win the White House; it didn't hurt that the economy was in the toilet, making Bush senior very vulnerable. As has been Obama. I've heard over and over again this was the Republican's race to lose. Yep, all they had to do was run a centrist campaign and they would have mopped the floor with Obama.

Why do I say that the moderate Repubs are finally wrenching their party back to where it was pre-Tea Party? Two reasons: one is that Chris Christie basically gave Obama his biggest endorsement of the entire campaign and probably did more for Obama's numbers than any single event (with the exception of Romney's 47% comments). Christie has his own agenda for sure--hello, 2016--but more than that, he has a history of collaborating with Dems to get the job done, and that hasn't changed despite the GOP's determined efforts to obstruct all agenda (regardless WHAT the agenda is) as long as it means collaborating with the Dems. Christie is one of the few Republicans who seems to remember that government is a collaborative experience. Anyway, I would imagine people like Mitch McConnell (who has hired a Tea Party hack to run his 2016 Senate campaign--might want to review that strategy, Mitch) are furious. I would also imagine that Christie is getting a lot of behind the scenes support from those Republicans who have been bullied over the last two years by the extreme wing of the party to vote their way or the highway.

Two? The only issue the Republicans have been talking about for the last two weeks have been the events in Libya. Johnson went so far as to say that abortion is a non-issue and that every constituent he talks to is demanding answers on Benghazi. Interesting that. Ninety-seven percent of the population say they have strong feelings on abortion, while roughly half of the people polled had no idea what had happened in Libya (and it's not hard to make a leap that they don't care either). Today Condi Rice has come out and said, wait a minute, buckaroos. When events are happening that fast on the ground, it's difficult to get the facts straight. Don't jump to conclusions. In other words, back off.

That both of them, eminent Republicans, essentially endorsed the Obama administration the WEEK before the election says to me that the moderate Republicans are making their moves. They've written off Romney as being the puppet of the extreme wing of the party, and they've also written off this election. They are positioning themselves for 2016, which, mark my words, will be a centrist campaign that will appeal to precisely those voters who probably wouldn't have voted for Obama given the state of the economy but did so because the GOP cut its extremist throat. There are clearly some people who have had enough, have seen the damage done to the GOP by their extremist platform that marginalizes women and minorities (who are key to any election these days), and are determined to wrench the party back to the center. Look for a Christie/Jeb Bush ticket in 2016.

Good luck.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thank Heavens to Murgatroyd, the Debates Are Over

Yes, Obama "won." I put that in quotes because common wisdom says that beyond having their children returned to them in body bags, Americans are pretty much divorced from what is happening in the rest of the world, and debates on foreign policy are, unfortunately, not that important to them. Unless there are body bags involved. This isolationist posture is extremely problematic because in this global economy financial crises in Europe will always impinge on America's economic health, and yet most Americans seem oblivious to this. I have yet to see any candidate say, yes, our economy is shit, however, it's much better currently than most economies, and, frankly, it's not going to get a whole hell of a lot better until Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal get their frigging acts together. No one says that. But from everything I've read, that seems to be the low down. If you have a third of your trading partners in the financial crapper, then who are you going to sell to? The trade deficit is held hostage by the financial meltdown overseas, and no matter how much wand waving Romney et al. can do, there is only so MUCH they can do. Except move money around, which is what they love to do anyway. Sigh.  Anyway, Americans tend to only care about Americans. What happens in those other countries, pfft!

Regarding Romney's performance? Sadly, I think this is the real Romney. And equally sadly this is the Romney that we rarely have seen in the entire year he's been on the campaign trail. Romney could have saved himself a whole lot of trouble by just using his two minutes to say, "Me, too!" Which is not a bad thing. His political career has been characterized by a general middle-of-the-road approach to most issues, and we probably would have seen a lot more of this Mitt had his party not been hijacked by extremists.

This does bring up the issue of integrity. And how he felt he had to sell his soul temporarily to the extreme wing of his party. And how Obama's constant hammering of him on his flip-flops actually does have some merit. I don't know if there is a real Romney. It's hard to tell at this point. I think this was the real Romney last night, but then again, he has shown that he is extremely vulnerable to machination of politics. Does this mean that he will constantly cave to the extreme wing of his party in order to get their cooperation as he has done this entire campaign? The man who has touted his ability to work with Democrats in his state, doesn't he realize that the people he might not be able to work with are from his OWN party. That he will, in essence, be in the same position that John Boehner has been in for the last two years? And what will he do in that situation, should he become president? Will he cave to them like he has done in the last two years of his campaign?

I'm truly curious.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Message

Clearly, I've been obsessed with politics lately, because it seems like there is so much to lose. That there is an ambition and determination by some folks to turn the clock back seventy years. That a number of people are comfortable with how life was in 1950 when women didn't have sex before marriage, when marriage was between a man and a woman, when woman didn't have many ambitions outside of the home, where gay people didn't exist, where black people were maids, and where Hispanics were basically domiciled in their banana republics never to be seen and certainly not heard.I imagine life was simpler in the 1950s. It was more of a lock step. And yet. Yet, people were challenging that in literature. Gore Vidal. Truman Capote. Norman Mailer. All men, sadly enough. It took some time before all that smoke screen was blown away from that fantasy to reveal that June Cleaver was pounding back a fifth of whiskey a day and Ward Clever was trying desperately not to go crazy as he did that nine-to-five dance.

So it's down to the message. And isn't that what writing is about? Crafting a message so that people will listen. I write fluffy little beach reads that probably don't have a ton of "message," but I tried to put in some context about working with illegals and what that means without getting all "soapboxy." I can tell you that I saw red when Mr. Romney began talking about "self-deporting." Like all these illegals would risk their effing LIVES to come to this country if they had a choice. I can't tell you the number of conversations I've had with Latinos who come here because, hello, they have no choice. They want to eat, and they want to have a roof over their heads. No one wants to be in exile. So, yes, I tried to craft my beach reads with something of an insight into what it means to be illegal in this country.

Fortunately, my parents, who immigrated in the 1950s, were white. They also had skills that were marketable (a doctor and a nurse, respectively), and the U.S. welcomed them with open arms, given that they had sponsors. However, they also didn't feel they had much choice. Britain was still rationing in 1954, a concept I'm sure that Americans have trouble with, but it was a salient point in my parents' decision to leave. In fact, out of the three boys in my father's family all THREE sons immigrated. In my mother's family, two out of her four siblings immigrated. People don't leave their families and their homes because, hello, they want to wear Rolex watches and drive Cadillacs. They leave because they don't have much choice.

So my wee little, barely known mysteries touch on these issues. In my experience the majority of the people I worked with were fleeing war-torn countries (thank you, Ollie North) and/or crushing poverty. By that stupid, stupid remark, Mr. Romney yet again reveals his profound ignorance on what motivates those who are NOT to the manner born.

Meg Whitman and HP and Campaign Nonsense

As I am sure it's no surprise, I did not support Meg Whitman for the California's governor race two years ago. Jerry Brown has proved to be a total delight. I would imagine that the Democratic legislature isn't too happy with him, as he seems to be running the state on a relatively no bullshit platform. He's not playing fast and loose with the numbers, hiding deficits here, and hoping that the next administration will have to deal with the financial meltdown. He is refreshing. I don't agree with him on everything, but I respect him, and that's saying a LOT in this political climate.

Anyway, my comment here will be brief. Meg Whitman said in a shareholders meeting a couple of weeks ago that it will take years for Hewlett Packard (the firm of which she is now the CEO) to come back to financial solvency. Of course, this was NOT her stance during the campaign when she claimed she would turn the finances of the State of California around in mere minutes after her election. Now maybe I'm dumb, however, I think that the issues surrounding state financing are even more complex than the issues surrounding a company like HP. And if it's going to take HP years to regroup, why would I think that Meg Whitman could wave her magic wand and that everything in the State of California would be magically fixed under her tenure? Wouldn't THAT have taken years as well? Stop lying.

This brings to mind Mr. Romney's statement in the debate last night was that within four years under his administration we will be completely energy independent, a figure that NO ONE has supported regardless of how much we drill and how fast. In fact, it has been deemed impossible given our rate of consumption. Stop lying.

Debates and the Role of the Moderator

I'm not going to comment on President Obama's debate performance last night other than to congratulate him on a job well done. Personally, I think that Mr. Romney's weaknesses were highlighted (and, yes, the women/binders thing will haunt him), and that President Obama did a good job of highlighting those weaknesses, much as Mr. Romney did in the last debate in highlighting Mr. Obama's weaknesses. They are both coming into this election with some real soft spots that only need a little poking to go viral. At this point we all know that Obama's weakness is the economy, and we also know that Romney's weakness is that he has no concept of how the majority of Americans live.

Mr. Romney seems to be in a time warp, largely I think out of naivete rather than malice--as opposed to someone like Rush Limbaugh. I think that fact that he believes that he was elected and THEN (in his words, which have been debunked by the organization that provided him with those now-infamous binders) he went searching for women to fill various positions is damning enough. That this wasn't on his radar. That he didn't ALREADY have women working in his campaign and shaping his policies. If you think about these comments and not even question the veracity of his statements, it was only in the aftermath of his win that he thought, "Gee, maybe I need some women in my government." Now it turns out that the number of women appointees actually fell during his administration.

Anyway, the point of this post is to comment on the conservative backlash against Candy Crowley for having the temerity to call the candidates on their lies. Let's just call them lies because that's what they are. Given that the GOP has, for the last fifteen years made the "lie" an acceptable form of discourse, I, for one, am glad to see that someone, ANYONE, has started to say, Ahem, no.

This isn't restricted to just Republicans. If anyone is running for office and lies about something, I think they should be nailed on it. This is not party-specific. People are cynical and dispirited and hate Congress for a reason. They don't want to be lied to. They might want jobs and security and gas at $1.86 a gallon, but they also don't want to be lied to. STOP LYING. Everyone.  Conservatives have dominated the discussion for the last fifteen years because they have no compunction about lying.  Or omission, they are good at that too. Remember poor Fox News and how absolutely horrified they were that Bin Laden has been killed under Obama's watch? They couldn't even bring themselves to mention Obama's and Bin Laden's name in the same breath because that would actually would/could/might imply that Obama had something to do with it?

There are many, many issues that I think one can nail the Dems on. The problem is that the GOP are so intent on manipulating the message that they have forgotten their message. Or maybe they don't have one. I don't know. There was a time, and it wasn't that long ago, when the Republicans had a philosophy that wasn't based on lies. We have to go back a ways, like possibly pre Ollie North, and, oh, possibly pre-Watergate, where the issues weren't that we were, oh, lying or doing something illegal, the bad part was that we got caught. This is what makes people cynical and angry. Stop lying. Stop justifying reprehensible behavior. Stop being racists. The country isn't white anymore, and your tactics of subtle and not-so-subtle race-baiting are going to marginalize you further and further until you are totally irrelevant. Except for, perhaps, rich white guys.