A Populist CPAC, but where are the ideas?

Bookmark and Share Meeting Donald Rumsfeld today, the man who knows his knowns from his unknowns, he saw my media badge saying WhiteHouse12 and asked me “You’re from the White House?” I explained I was not, and we are a website covering the election, but I can’t be sure whether he was disappointed or not.

Being an election year, you would expect CPAC 2012 to be a populist fest of election themes, peppered with attacks on the Obama administration, and today’s line-up did not disappoint on that front. The worrying thing is that the slate of speakers, while inspiring the crowd, did not have ideas to inspire the folks with outside the conference hall. The speakers were long on broad principles but short on specifics.

CPAC 2012 Kicked off with a populist energy, but are speakers offering enough?

Marco Rubio got the crowd all whipped up, ready to be severely unwhipped by a windbag speech from Mitch McConnell. The House Senate Majority leader did the math well when he said that if you lose your job in the Obama economy it will take you 40 weeks to find a new one. However, his math failed him when he exceeded his 10 minute slot by some 20 minutes. Some disciplined editing down to 10 minutes would have given him a better speech. When he got a cheer at the end I couldn’t work out whether it was for his message or the fact that he had finished.

The schedule ran 30 minutes late for the rest of the day, and Michele Bachmann followed. Her speech was probably the most detailed of the day, focused on the series of foreign policy failures by the Obama administration. The former candidate launched a sustained attack on the policy failures, and blasted the president for not backing Mubarak, saying “Obama failed to stand by Mubarak and that helped fuel the revolution in Egypt … The president spurned the President of Egypt when he took his first foreign trip to Cairo. In an absolutely shocking move, he invited the Muslim Brotherhood to hear his speech when Mubarak’s policy was to keep the Brotherhood at arm’s length.”

Bachmann attacked the president for not standing by Israel, “Before Obama was elected, no one had ever heard of a United States president saying to the world that the United States is not a judeo-christian nation.  I am here to say we are.” She concluded “The president’s foreign policy does change the history of the world, which is why Barack Obama cannot have a second term as president.”

Rick Perry got the crowd going as well, focusing on the economy he said “Success on Wall Street shouldn’t come at the expense of Main Street.” With the crash on the way, Perry said “Folks on Wall Street who saw it coming, they made millions; folks who didn’t see it coming, they got bailed out.” His parting shot was intended to strike an ominous note, saying “I’m fearful of what the score’s gonna be if we let the president start the second half as a quarterback.”

More populist notes were struck by Herman Cain, who told CPAC “A lot of people thought that after the character assassination that was launched against me that Herman was going to shut up and sit down and go away… Ain’t going to happen.” On his 9-9-9 plan, Cain told conservatives to press candidates for federal office to embrace his flat-tax solution before they are elected. He also invited “Joe The Plumber” Samuel Wurzelbacher, who is running for Congress in Ohio’s 9th District, to take a bow.

None of the main speakers offered endorsement messages for the 2012 GOP nominees, preferring instead to talk more generically about the need to stop a second Obama term. A late addition to the speaker slate was Rand Paul who arguably matched, perhaps exceeded, the rapturous applause received by Cain. Paul asked if the President hated rich people and poor people with jobs, but then went on to state “The president doesn’t really hate all rich people, just those who don’t contribute to his campaign.” He then rallied “If you’re a crony, if you’re a buddy, just stop by the White House.”

Paul rightly reminded attendees of Ronald Regan’s “optimism,” a president who he said “turned a whole generation of Democrats into Republicans.” His parting shot was “Who will be that next Ronald Reagan?” This gets to the heart of what folks are feeling, which ran though this whole first day, feeling the need for inspiration, the need for a positive approach, the need for American exceptionalism.

What was lacking was any real depth to the conservative messages today, and it will take more than the invocation of the name of Ronald Reagan and repeating the wrongs of the incumbent to put a conservative into the White House. Reagan brought more than sunny optimism to the White House, he brought some strong and deep ideas on the economy and foreign policy as well. I didn’t hear the equivalent depth of ideas today.

Tomorrow will see Gingrich, Romney and Santorum take the stage, but will they bring any more than today’s speakers? I may not know the knowns or unknowns of what tomorrow holds, but I know I won’t be holding my breath.

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Politics IS a Contact Sport

Newt hopes to land knock-out punch with attack ads, but is Mitt's mitt bigger and stronger?

So, Newt has launched an attack ad on Mitt, and no doubt the Democrats are watching with glee.  There are no doubt worries that attack ads damage the Republican Party, just as many worry that American politics is too divisive. Does all the “infighting” damage Republican chances?

Well, no.

Attack ads are part of politics. Politics is divisive. This is because folks disagree, and they rightly disagree on important points of principle and policy. Of course the candidates attack each other, and why not? The prize is big; these are passionate people who feel they deserve a run at the number 1 job on the planet. Otherwise, they might as well play paper and scissors for the right to run.

Cast your mind back to 2008, and the exchange of “shame” accusations by candidates Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.

You can see her attack here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pPV1yd7sQg&feature=share and Obama’s response here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkR9kw81Cx8&feature=share. You can also see the Obama attack ad, comparing Hilary Clinton to Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h3G-lMZxjo, which is quite a laugh given that Democrats are the Orwellian nightmare party!

Both parties share the tactics of attack, and it goes a long way back. Hilary’s barb that Obama was following Karl Rove’s playbook was foolishness; it doesn’t take a village to work out that attacking the candidate, or in soccer parlance playing the man rather than the ball, goes back a lot further than Rove.

In fact, the earliest example of attack ads was launched by Lyndon B Johnson in 1964, in his attack on Barry Goldwater. Known as the “Daisy Spot”, it showed an innocent girl picking daisies followed by a countdown to nuclear catastrophe, which shocked audiences at the time. The idea was that Goldwater’s aggressive stance on the Cold War would lead to nuclear destruction. [You can view the ad here: http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/johnson/media/daisyspot/]This will be the same Johnson who thought escalating Vietnam was a good idea.

Hilary and Obama attacked each other without pulling their punches. She lost, Obama won, and despite all the punches Hilary laid on Obama he won the White House. Like Hilary’s husband said in 2008, “This is a contact sport, politics. You can’t complain about being attacked. It’s like Yao Ming complaining about being fouled playing basketball.”

The narrative that the attack by candidates is damaging is simply a way of attacking the Republicans, while President Obama as incumbent and the official nominee come September can stand serenely above the action and appear, well, presidential. That is, until his Republican opponent is selected and can turn his attention to attacking Obama’s record 100%.

For this reason ending the attacks is important, we need to see the main bout start. The chief result of Newt’s attacks on Mitt is to bring Mitt onto the canvas ready to land his punches. Newt’s attack ads are the last attempts to land some body blows on Mitt, but Mitt’s mitt appears to be the bigger and stronger of the two. Once the attacks are done, the choice is made, the Republican nominee can step onto the canvas and win the prize fight that will take him to the White House.

Bill Clinton was right, this is a contact sport. He was wrong to compare it to basketball though. This is a fight, and it is a fight to the end. Unlike Johnson’s Daisy ad the countdown is not to nuclear destruction, but losing to Obama will see more destruction of the American economy and the nation.

There Will Only Be One American Running for President In 2012

 

A Populist Agenda?

There will only be one American for president in 2012, and I am not talking about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

The 2012 election is in effect a Referendum on American Capitalism. If the Republicans choose Mitt Romney, as they surely must, he will represent American Capitalism. President Barack Obama will represent Europeanized State Capitalism. Go ahead America, make your choice.

President Obama wants the decision about who is too wealthy and who is not to be made by government. He wants a universal healthcare system. He wants a government-sponsored state capitalism to engineer poverty reduction. His “populist” agenda is nothing of the sort, it merely appeals to the lowest common denominator and will lead to European-style dependency and an entitlement culture.

What he doesn’t seem to want to do is create wealth. Who will create the wealth? His program can in no way be financed by the current parlous state of the nation’s finances, after all you can only print so much money and make so many promises. Look at the current state of Europe, do you want an America where states will be forced to bail out other failing states; a new republic of economic basketcases?

In President Obama’s “State of the Campaign” address, he sought to deflect from the campaign that on his watch there are now more than 13 million people out of work and the government debt stands at a record high of $15.2 trillion, up from $10.6 trillion when he took office. State? A complete mess!

Yet, conservatives in America have joined the baying OWS crowd in calling for equality, but in so doing they are asking the government to control the economy. There is a cultural shift which lies behind the attack on “big business”, “Wall Street” and “Fat cats.” This shift is best described as “resentment,”a well known emotion in Europe.

Whoever you support for the GOP nomination, the attack by conservatives on Romney’s wealth is the most absurd aspect of the current debate. I always thought doing well was to be admired in America. There was a good piece by David Brooks in the New York Times recently, where he made the wise observation of Romney: He may have character flaws, but he does not have the character flaws normally associated with great wealth. His signature is focus and persistence.The wealth issue is a sideshow.

Indeed, it is a sideshow! Front row spectator, with a wide grin, is President Obama. Think on that my friends.

The practical outcome is that “big business” becomes state-owned business instead, as it is in China, Russia, and the Middle East. The free market if not reaching an end becomes state-controlled markets. Who will defend the world against this State Capitalism if America, the paragon of liberal Capitalism, does not?

President Obama, OWS, and conservative attacks on Mitt Romney are all part of weakening America’s ability to ensure free markets, but, hey, if that’s what you want America, it’s a free country…but not for much longer.

The issue at the heart of the 2012 election will be whether America wants to continue with American Capitalism, in spite of its flaws, or embrace the intellectually flawed and alien European style State Capitalism. Get it right folks, President Obama is not a Socialist, and Europe is not Socialist. Communism and Socialism have failed, and they have been replaced by coalitions of single issue groups and state power interests.

President Obama is a statist. Europe is statist. The economy is the tool of state power and control over our lives, not in the interest of the working classes, and certainly not the middle class, but in the interest of the elite statists who “know better”.

The Italian Marxist writer Antonio Gramschi stated: “The revolutionary forces have to take civil society before they take the state, and therefore have to build a coalition of oppositional groups united under a hegemonic banner which usurps the dominant or prevailing hegemony.” What he argued was that leftists don’t need a revolution, they need to get their hands on the levers of power, which they have done in Europe for a number of decades…and now in the White House.

The constant whining “civil society” approach of Leftists is the tactic they use, and it is being used to usurp American Capitalism. President Obama has been reading Gramschi’s playbook, and conservatives are falling for it.

 

Which Republican Presidential Candidate is Most Capable of Beating Obama in a Debate?

Bookmark and Share   While many have given the Republican presidential debates little credit for shedding any new light on the 2012 Republican presidential candidates, some candidates have found them to have been a make or break proposition for the success or failure of their campaigns.   And while more than a dozen of these G.O.P. presidential debates there is evidence that some candidates have indeed used them them to help their campaigns more than others.

But the debates that can usually make the biggest difference are the ones between the Republican and Democrat nominees.

Not only are their fewer such debates,each are watched by more people than are the primary debates.  And history has proven that the presidential debates most definitely do have a profound on election results.

Nixon was said to have won his debate against JFK in 1960 among those who listened to it on the radio.  But those he saw it televised, felt that Kennedy won.  In 1992, when President George H. W. Bush looked at his whatch during his debate against then Governor Clinton, many got the impression that Bush was bothered by it all and it helped add to the impression that he was out of touch with the economic problems of the people. 

Aside from Rick Perry’s now infamous brain freeze during a recent G.O.P. primary debate, one of the most significant debate faux pas in contemporary politics occurred during President Gerald Ford’s debate with then Governor Jimmy Carter.

When asked about Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, Ford said that there was no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.  He even went so far as to try to prove his point, a point which was utterly and undeniably false.  Days later Ford admitted that it was a mistake, but he wrote it off to incorrect phraseology.   No matter what excuse he had, it hurt Ford and may have been what sealed his fate in what was a relatively close election.

That is why White House 2012 is asking readers an important question………

Which Republican presidential candidate do you think  is most capable of beating President Obama in the presidential debates?

To answer the question, click here or visit the White House 2012 Polling Place at the top of the column to the right.

Results will posted on  Monday, December 5th.

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White House 2012: Which Republican Presidential Candidate Can You Least Support?

  Bookmark and Share    While the most popular question pertaining to the Republican presidential nomination undoubtedly asks which candidate do you support for President, this week, White House 2012 asks readers which candidate they can least support?

Last week, White House 2012 asked readers how well they thought Herman Cain handled the news about accusations of sexual harassment back in the 90’s.

In that poll 37% believed that Cain mishandled the story while an equal number of voters believed that how he handled the episode did not matter because the mainstream media was not going to give him a fair chance anyway.

To take this week’s poll click here.  Let us know which candidate you think is least deserving of the Republican presidential nomination.

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Mixed Reaction To How Cain Handled Accusations But His Support Remains Unchanged

Bookmark and Share   A two day poll taken by White House 2012 reveals that there is mixed reaction to the way that Herman Cain the story about unproven sexual harassment accusation against him from over a decade ago.  According to White House 2012 readers, 37% believe Cain and his campaign mishandled his response to the allegations, but an equal amount of people believe that no matter Herman Cain reacted to the Politico story that dug up these past accusations, the media would have not let the story die and would have pursued it relentlessly.  Only 26% of those polled believe Cain handled the revelations effectively.

But opinions of how he handled this mess aside, support for Herman Cain among Republicans remains largely unchanged by the entire ugly episode.

In a report by the Des Moines Register’s talented and reliable chief political writer, Jennifer Jacobs, respondents to a Des Moines Register poll support claim that the latest developments regarding the sexual harassment story did dissuade them from continuing to stand behind Cain.

In previous White House 2012 posts I have been quite critical of what I believe has been the total mishandling of this situation by both Cain and his campaign.  I have even gone on record as predicting that if Cain did not put this story rest and soon, he would be overcome by media accusations. Having known that Politico was pursuing this story for as many as ten days prior to its publication, Herman Cain missed the opportunity to come out ahead of it and control the story.  Instead he allowed the story to take control of his campaign as it became the storyline for for at least a week.   However; while I still maintain that Cain and his people did nothing but blunder their way through the recent revelation of baseless charges, it obviously has not derailed his campaign or slowed it down enough to cost him frontrunner status, at least at the moment.

Cain was lucky though.

Herman is undeniable likely guy.  He warm, wise, and witty.  He is confident but not cocky and most of all, voters do not view him as a politician.  All of this helped Cain get over the media frenzy that inundated his campaign with negative coverage.  But Cain won’t be so lucky next time.  Next time he better have the type of rapid response team that can manage an effective damage control operation.  And there will be a next time.  Cain has just better hope that it does not involve any credible accounts of sexual harassment.

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Where is America’s Fighting Spirit? Ending the Malaise Presidency

These days it seems Captain America has been overpowered by MalaiseMan. President Obama is MalaiseMan. He told a fundraiser on Tuesday, October 25 that America is in decline, which is the central theme of his presidency. People are buying it too, which is what the Occupy Wall Street movement and Tea Party is a symptom of; they are two sides of a coin that says America is in decline.

More MalaiseMan than Captain America

This takes us back to the evening of July 15, 1979. Gas prices had skyrocketed, there were severe shortages and the endless economic decline seemed much longer than the lineups at gas stations. Carter preached, “In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns.”

We have heard similar malaise from President Obama. In fact, where Carter spent hours and days at Camp David in what Reagan biographer Steven Hayward tagged “the most remarkable exercise in presidential navel-gazing in American history” and delivered his message in minutes, President Obama decided in minutes and is spending days and hours preaching malaise.

It is being believed on the streets. The Hill newspaper reports that over two-thirds of voters say the United States is declining, and the next generation will be worse off, with 83 percent of voters worried about the future of the nation. Their results conclude that Americans don’t view the country’s current economic and political troubles as temporary; they see this decline as stretching out for years.

President Obama’s policies tap into the malaise, which is why he has managed an economy of decline, failing on jobs, the deficit, healthcare, home foreclosures and rising gas prices.

However, there are signs of improvement. Economic growth in America picked up in the last quarter, showing signs of some recovery as the nation’s total output of goods and services grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent from July to September, almost double the 1.3 percent rate in the previous quarter.

This is because the economy has its own laws of gravity: what goes down will get back up again. The economy does this, not the government. We have become so risk averse we want the nanny state to kiss us better every time the economy hurts us. The President Obama re-election campaign is one of kissing everyone better, what is the Republican message?

Ronald Reagan defeated Carter by offering Americans a vision that was so optimistic it cancelled out Carter’s pessimism. The economy will improve, and a Republican needs to get the message across that America will return to full strength with a gleam of defiance in its eye, not a tear of pity. Which candidate can do this? Which candidate can bring on Captain America to defeat MalaiseMan?

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