Entries Tagged as 'GOP primary'

Why is Pawlenty On Stage With These Crazy People?

May 5th, 2011 at 11:20 pm 91 Comments

Closing Thoughts:

Credit goes to the Fox News anchors who moderated the debate. They did their research and managed to ask tough questions that trapped some of the candidates. They managed to get Rick Santorum to come very close to endorse ending foreign aid to Pakistan, before following up by reminding him that Boehner supports aid to Pakistan to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. In his second answer, Santorum seemed genuinely unsure what his policy was.

Pawlenty’s toughest question was the grilling he got on Cap-and-Trade. Fox managed to bring out many speeches and radio ads where Pawlenty had shown his support in the past for a Cap-and-Trade policy. His answer to the question to amounted to “We’ve all made mistakes” and added that there is no such thing as a perfect candidate, challenging anyone who thought they were perfect to declare themselves.

Romney wishes he could give that sort of answer on Romneycare.

Gary Johnson was the candidate who was most out of his league. The Fox News team would not even take him seriously. They asked him what he would want his own reality TV show to be. Bret Baier also noted that Johnson has run nearly 30 miles, leading to the followup “What are you running from?” Johnson eventually managed to answer that he has actually climbed Mt. Everest.

Johnson’s answers on immigration and free trade also seemed to misjudge where the GOP Primary electorate is on those issues. His “guest worker” program will probably only be approved by the WSJ editorial board, and he underestimates how protectionist voters are.

Herman Cain was not someone I gave high marks to during the debate but he “won” the Frank Luntz focus group that came on immediately after the debate. Cain would consistently answer his question giving a bullet-point response, arguing that you need to “identify the problem” before solving “the problem.” For whatever reason, this seemed to appeal to the focus group.

Rick Santorum remains the social-issues candidate but also one who consistently seems to be out of his league on the substance of his answers. He announced that he would not repeal Medicare Party D and would want to continue reforming Medicare as Paul Ryan has done. Then he was pushed when it was pointed out that he wants to voucherize Medicare immediately, which is not what the Ryan budget does. To this point he had no answer.

Ron Paul did exactly what you would expect Ron Paul to do. Ron Paul went on the record that he believes that using heroin and practicing prostitution are forms of liberty. There will soon be a viral video of Ron Paul imitating a heroin addict which will be making the rounds on YouTube. No surprises here, we already know what he thinks.

—–

Tonight, FrumForum writers Tim Mark and Noah Kristula-Green will liveblog the first GOP Presidential debate being held in South Carolina. We invite the commentators to join in as well!

Tonight’s debate was announced back in December perhaps with the expectation that more candidates would have announced their intent to run by now. There are only five candidates debating tonight: Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Tim Pawlenty.

Of all these candidates, only Pawlenty has a chance to win a general election, what does Pawlenty gain by agreeing to appear on stage with these second tier candidates?

We can already predict what the other candidates are going to talk about: Ron Paul will argue that with Osama Bin Laden dead it’s time to pull out of Afghanistan. Gary Johnson will talk about ending the war on drugs by legalizing marijuana, Rick Santorum will assert the importance of social issues (maybe even attacking the Mitch Daniels’ “social truce”) and Herman Cain will make attention-generating statements to break out.

How will Pawlenty handle himself in this setting? Will he be able to appear a little bit presidential, or will he be overshadowed by the more exciting but less credible candidates?

Follow Noah on Twitter: @noahkgreen

Follow Tim on Twitter: @timkmak


Daniels’ School Reforms: Too Smart for Tea Party?

May 5th, 2011 at 2:04 pm 31 Comments

Mitch Daniels is regularly held up as one of the best examples of a “serious” and policy-minded conservative. Wednesday in Washington, he gave a speech at AEI laying out his very wonk-heavy plan for education policy in Indiana. What’s surprising was that Daniels made it clear in his speech that his goal wasn’t to destroy public education but to strengthen it.

The education reforms passed by the Indiana legislature are sweeping. The slides from Daniels’ presentation can be viewed here and it’s notable how most of the reforms will improve the quality of Indiana’s regular public schools, not just offer other options such as vouchers or charters. The reforms allow for merit-based assessments of teachers, more ways to hold schools accountable, and eliminate many of the restrictions from union contracts that have hampered how schools are run.

Look at slide 5 titled “Contractual Handcuffs.”  In this slide, Daniels lists many of the arbitrary ways in which union contracts had determined how schools are run, with a mind-boggling set of restrictions ranging from what the temperature of a classroom had to be to whether the show choir Director could be fired in an emergency reduction in force to the usual union provisions which prioritize seniority over merit in granting tenure. These are the sorts of restrictions that Daniel’s reform efforts sought to remove.

Daniels reforms will make the state more friendly to charters and give more families access to vouchers, but while speaking to AEI, Daniels made clear that while members of the audience were probably most interested in the voucher program (it’s a cause for many conservatives with the D.C. voucher program a special focus for many living in the District) that vouchers are a last resort, not a first option for families:

Public schools will get first shot at every child. … If the public school delivers and succeeds, no one will seek to exercise this [voucher] choice. But neither will we incarcerate any family’s kid in a school that they don’t believe is working.

Daniels made clear that in addition to helping the small minority of students who will benefit from the expanded choice options, his main goal is to make sure that the public education system used by 90% of the students works better:

You cannot often enough affirm your commitment to the public schools. As I said, 90 percent of Indiana kids are in public schools today. I think even with the new [voucher/charter] option that’s available, it’ll always be close to that. I really believe that, I would be surprised if it’s not. Therefore there’s a huge responsibility, and we should all share a commitment, to make the public schools better all the time.

It’s language that would have been described in an earlier era as “compassionate conservatism”. Even his defense of the voucher program invoked language that would have given it the kiss of death on the Glenn Beck show saying that “From a social justice aspect, it [vouchers] is the right thing to do.”

Daniels used his speech to come to the defense of the Obama administration, giving enormous credit to Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the Race to the Top program. While he acknowledged that there has been a significant amount of spending at the Department of Education, he defended Race to the Top, and No Child Left Behind.

Daniels said he “believes in national standards” and joked that this is always hard to implement because “Republicans don’t like ‘national’ and Democrats don’t like ‘standards.’”

Yet this is not just a trivial joke. Other Republicans and conservatives, infused with Tea Party style libertarianism, are turning against many of the reforms and policies that Mitch Daniels endorsed in his speech.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas declined to have his state participate in Race to the Top, a program designed to reward states which made their teacher evaluations based on merit and which allowed for more charter schools.

Senator Jim DeMint and other Republicans at the end of April introduced legislation to allow states to opt out of the No Child Left Behind act. The reauthorization of this signature piece of legislation is also currently in doubt.

As Kevin Carey wrote in The New Republic these Tea Party efforts to roll back national education reforms play right into the hands of the teachers’ unions who would prefer not to be held accountable to any set of standards. The teachers’ union’s continued dominance in local politics means that they are allies of convenience with the Republicans on education policy federalism.

Daniels’ education reform is a great moment for Republicans to remember why they are conservatives and not libertarians. Remember that the Cato Institute graded Daniels’ tenure as governor as merely a “B” because, among other things: “He wants the government to be efficient but he doesn’t necessarily want it to be smaller.”

If conservatives really do admire Mitch Daniels, they would admire him for making government work efficiently and for all citizens, not dismantling it as many Tea Party activists would advocate.

Follow Noah on Twitter: @noahkgreen


Why is Carter Crushing on Huntsman?

May 5th, 2011 at 1:37 pm 8 Comments

President Carter’s reported affinity for Ambassador Jon Huntsman must have something to do with their shared passion for large families (Carter has 4 kids; Huntsman 7).  It certainly has nothing to do with shared politics.  Consider just the following three issues:

Economics: President Carter’s economic policies took money from the private sector and gave it to the government, a purportedly more efficient operator.  Not only did he stick it to “rich businessmen and their $50 martini lunches,” but he instituted a Social Security payroll tax on the middle class.  When energy became scarce, Carter responded by raising taxes on oil companies.  The result of these tax policies?  Double-digit inflation, high interest rates, double-digit unemployment, and 1.6 billion fewer barrels of oil – thereby leading to even higher gas prices and long lines at the gas station.

In contrast to Carter’s tax-happy ways, Huntsman, while governor of Utah, enacted a $225 million tax cut which included a flat tax on income.  As result of what The Deseret News called the largest tax cut in Utah’s history, Huntsman won the 2007 Taxpayer Advocate Award from the Utah Tax Payers Association.  Huntsman is also credited for improving government efficiency, bringing new talent to the state, and fostering business development, all of which led the American Legislative Exchange Council to call Utah the top state for expected economic recovery, and the Pew Center to say “Utah has been a clear leader in sound government based on smart planning and effective performance management that emphasizes long-term results.”

Health care: President Carter is one of the longest standing proponents of a national health care system.  In an interview with 60 Minutes, Carter accused liberal leader Ted Kennedy of not doing enough to quickly pass a national healthcare system.  Had it been up to Carter, the country wouldn’t have needed Obamacare; it would have had Cartercare by 1979.

Ambassador Huntsman prefers individual autonomy in health care decisions, not governmental mandates.  As Governor, Huntsman signed into law a health care system that allows Utahns to take defined contributions from their employers and buy coverage on their own.  This increased consumer choice and fostered free-market competition in the health care marketplace. The Heritage Foundation called it the “blueprint for consumer focused health care reform.”

Along with increased health care choice under Huntsman’s watch, Utah enjoyed reduced costs thanks to Huntsman’s reformation of the state’s medical malpractice system.  The governor’s effort limited the ability of plaintiffs’ attorneys – favorites of Carter and former Democratic candidate John Edwards – to sue hospitals for hundreds of millions of dollars based on dubious lawsuits.

Israel: President Carter published the book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid that compared Israel to oppressive South African.  Enough said.

In May 2009, Huntsman led a trade delegation trip to Israel in an effort to expand “strategic relations” between the two countries.  When he got back, Huntsman lauded Israel’s dynamic economy and said, “I was most touched by the people in Israel.  They feel a certain kinship with the United States.  There’s a great sense of friendship, a great sense of partnership.”  Huntsman, unlike Carter, appreciates that Israel must take certain measures to preserve the liberal democratic oasis that it has created in the Middle East.

The list goes on and on. They disagree on everything from foreign policy, to guns, to the role of government. Suffice it to say that while the two men might get along, President Carter and Ambassador Huntsman sit at far different places of the American political spectrum.


Daniels’ Favorite Non-Answer

May 4th, 2011 at 6:12 pm 4 Comments

When reporters ask Mitch Daniels if he will run in 2012, he has an answer that he likes to give:

A man said: when I consider my opportunities I marvel at my self-restraint.

He said that today at AEI and he’s also used it before in an interview with National Journal.

Daniels might want to re-think using that quote when he considers the source.

The quote originally came from Major-General Robert Clive, who is credited with securing English dominance of India in the mid-18th century.

When Robert Clive was accused of corruption after the successful Battle of Plassey and the conquest of Bengal, he defended his actions declaring:

Consider the situation in which the victory at Plassey had placed me. A great prince was dependent on my pleasure; an opulent city lay at my mercy; its richest bankers bid against each other for my smiles; I walked through vaults which were thrown open to me alone, piled on either hand with gold and jewels! Mr. Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my own moderation.

It’s unknown if Governor Daniels is aware of the source of the remark. In Daniels’ defense, having the conservative movement attempt to draft you to run for president, interrupting your own plans to retire from public life after governing Indiana, might feel similar to being offered the riches of Bengal. Though Daniels is probably more hesitant to accept them than Clive was.

Follow Noah on Twitter: @noahkgreen


Daniels Stays Mum About 2012 Plans

May 4th, 2011 at 4:35 pm 24 Comments

Governor Mitch Daniels spoke at AEI to discuss the successful passage of several education reforms bills in Indiana. When he spoke, even Daniels probably knew that the reason the room was packed to standing room only was because of the question on everyone’s mind: “Will he run for president?” To which the answer remains: We don’t know yet, but probably not.

AEI President Arthur Brooks’ introduction of Daniels played into this, describing him as someone who has “put his politics where his mouth is for the benefit of Indiana, and in the future perhaps for the benefit of our nation as well.”

Daniels opened with a very self-depreciating remark: “You are all here under false pretenses. I just came for a meal.” As Daniels told it, he was invited to Washington D.C. for a dinner later in the day (he is being presented an award at an Arab-American Institute dinner) so he needed a place for lunch:

“As Calvin Coolidge said, a man’s got to eat somewhere, so I came to AEI. We said ‘yes’, and 24 hours ago some pajama-clad blogger turned it into a major policy address.”

Daniels even tried to win over the crowd with a joke: “I saw all the flags at half-staff, and then it hit me, Hubert Schlafly, the inventor of the teleprompter died last week and I know President Obama must be grief stricken.”

Teleprompter jokes are usually the domain of Republican political leaders who want to throw their hat into the 2012 arena. The last major address at AEI from a Republican whose name had been thrown around as a potential 2012 candidate was Chris Christie, whose speech about his reform agenda for New Jersey was a broader critique on the Obama administration and the direction of the country.

In contrast, Daniels’ own speech was much more focused on the policy nuances of the education reform bills that had recently passed the Indiana legislature and were making their way to his desk to sign. The policy presentation was impressive (and will be the subject of a future FrumForum post) but it wasn’t an address that discussed national concerns the way that Christie’s did, and the speech was not a 2012 stump speech.

After being asked about his education agenda for the first few questions, a reporter from NPR managed to turn the discussion to 2012, asking “Could you explain why it’s not too late for someone to get in [the 2012 race] at this point, for someone who is not a celebrity or a billionaire?”

Daniels’ first response? “A man said: when I consider my opportunities I marvel at my self-restraint.” Not the same as saying “No I’m not running for president” but hardly an enthusiastic endorsement.

Daniels said that it was a “blessing” that it was still not late in the GOP presidential primary calendar.

He conceded that some people perhaps don’t benefit from a late start to the election, people such as “political professional or [someone] running a bed and breakfast in New Hampshire. It’s a darn good thing we’ll have a nomination campaign measured in months and not in years.”

Daniels can be commended for his sense of humor, but his answer did suggest that he remains largely coy about running for president. He knows every wonk in D.C. wants him to do it because he is the most policy-smart candidate the GOP has. He’s also certainly smart enough to know he faces a significant uphill challenge in a conservative primary.

Follow Noah on Twitter: @noahkgreen


For GOP: Pawlenty vs. Romney is the Main Event

David Frum May 1st, 2011 at 10:00 pm 35 Comments

Bill Kristol posts that he now believes that Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee and Michelle Bachmann will indeed all declare.

The National Journal simultaneously reports that a Newt Gingrich declaration is imminent.

Haley Barbour is definitely out. Marco Rubio is definitely out.

Mitt Romney is clearly in. Tim Pawlenty is clearly in. Trump incredibly also seems inbound.

Chris Christie, Sarah Palin, and Paul Ryan remain wild cards.

Here’s one way to analyze what happens next. I sort the Republican candidates into three piles:


CANDIDATES WHO COULD WIN THE NOMINATION

Christie
Pawlenty
Ryan
Romney

(Bachmann is too obviously crazy. Daniels will be vetoed by social conservatives. Gingrich won’t be able to get past the Nineteenth Amendment. Huckabee will be vetoed by money conservatives. Palin is too much of an all-purpose personal mess. Trump is a flash in the pan.)


CANDIDATES WHO COULD WIN THE ELECTION

Daniels
Huckabee
Pawlenty
Romney

(To be precise: a list of candidates not so fatally vulnerable that they would throw away an election that a challenger might otherwise possibly win. That excludes Ryan whose plan is anathema to all but hardcore conservatives. That excludes Christie, whose style will horrify Americans outside the Amtrak corridor. Ditto obviously Bachmann, Gingrich and Palin. Huckabee is telegenic enough that I’m going to venture that he can get past his ideological vulnerabilities. Daniels is smart enough that he can get past his image vulnerabilities. Assuming in both cases that the economy remains soft enough that anyone can win at all.)


CANDIDATES WHO COULD ACTUALLY DO THE JOB OF PRESIDENT

Christie
Daniels
Huckabee
Pawlenty
Romney

(Basically: the governors, except Palin.)


There are only two names that appear on all three lists: Pawlenty and Romney. My guess is that the race boils down to a battle between the two of them.

Romney’s disadvantage in such a fight is Romneycare plus a general odor of insincerity.

Pawlenty’s disadvantage? The fact that he’d make an outstanding candidate for premier of a Canadian province.


The GOP’s Gay President?

May 1st, 2011 at 12:00 am 26 Comments

What do you do if you’re running for president, but have no name recognition and no experience in elected office? Like Republican Fred Karger, who is in just that situation, you’ll probably be making a lot of trips to New Hampshire and Iowa.

“I have a five state strategy, which is really just a two state strategy,” said Karger in an extensive interview with FrumForum. Since April 2010, when he announced that he was running for president – making him the first openly gay candidate for president from a major party – he has been to Iowa seven times, and New Hampshire thirteen times.

Most prominently known in California as a gay activist who fought to reveal the role of the Mormon church during the Proposition 8 referendum, Karger feels that that the Republican Party has drifted too far to the right. In 2008, Karger openly supported Hillary Clinton, donating thousands of dollars to her campaign (he supported some of her policies, but “just economically”, he says).

“It was a very difficult decision” at the time, Karger tells FrumForum. “I never really actively supported a Democrat at that level. But the Republican Party has moved so far to the right, even someone like John McCain, who I had always admired, seemed to compromise his positions.” Despite his flirtations with the Democratic Party, he says, he’s back to reform the GOP for the better – “to bring younger people in, and open up the party to all.”

Karger is an amicable enough fellow, and recognizes his weaknesses: his campaign slogan is ‘Fred, who?’ But being such an unknown figure means that he’s been spending a lot of time battling for people to take him seriously, often going to extreme efforts to garner even the tiniest amounts of attention.

Just a month ago, in order to win a straw poll at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire – student population: around 1900 – Karger spent a week shaking hands, handing out Frisbees, and manning a table. After a week of working the crowds, he managed to come in first, with 79 of 322 ballots cast, just five ahead Mitt Romney. But what is the effect of a full week’s hard work? Nearly nil.

It must be frustrating not to be noticed, and Karger is facing exclusion everywhere he looks. CPAC wouldn’t respond to his request for a speaking slot, and told him that they didn’t have room for his booth in the convention hall. The debates have largely shut him out. His campaign’s most successful achievement has been to get an invite to the South Carolina GOP debates in May. That is, if he can get 1% or more in five national polls by then – he has only one: on Friday, a FOX poll had him at 1% in the first national poll he was listed in.

But Karger is not a man to give up. Having cut his teeth as a political operative and worked under President Reagan (whose inner circle during the early California gubernatorial years was “quite gay”, he says), Karger wants “to bring that optimism that President Reagan had, and the ability to get along with people, I think that is something that I can do and bring to this campaign.” So despite the odds, Karger is at least a man who looks on the bright side.

However, Karger’s situation is not a result merely a result of exclusion. As a gay rights activist and former political consultant, he’s got a keen mind for organization and research, but faces genuine challenges on the ideas front. In fact, he’s downright unimpressive on the policy side.

He’s got an rousing enough idea: to restore the American entrepreneurial spirit. But what’s lacking is how to get there. Consider what he told FrumForum about fixing the economy:

“I want to empower people, I want to encourage people who are unemployed to take some of their own initiative. And that’s what’s lacking” he said. “People are just waiting at home for that phone to ring, or for some magic job to appear – well, let’s get out, start creating your own dog-watching service, or… make a candle, that is the entrepreneurial spirit of America. Go out, and buy a candle-making kit for $19.95, make five candles and sell them… those are the kinds of things I want to talk about.”

There’s a real argument behind the notion that the American spirit is wounded, but encouraging people to make candles or walk dogs isn’t a particularly faith-inspiring jobs plan. Doubtlessly, the candle market is down in this distressed economy. In any case, the American spirit jobs plan is, well, a bit too abstract to hope for success.

When asked about the Paul Ryan budget proposal, Karger couldn’t say whether he would vote for or against the Republican plan for reforming entitlements, telling FrumForum he “can’t say right now… I haven’t looked that closely at it. I’m just going to have to take a wait and see attitude right now.” It is simply not excusable for a serious presidential candidate to not have looked closely at the Paul Ryan budget plan.

To add to this problem, Karger’s campaign website doesn’t even have a platform, only a few bullet points on gay rights issues he’s hoping to address. There’s substantially more about his resume, however impressive, than what he would want to do with the power he is seeking.

Karger provides a refreshing reminder that the attitudes of younger voter are changing, especially towards gay rights. And perhaps there is a small niche in the electorate for a gay Republican presidential candidate. But if that candidate is to be Fred Karger, he still has a long way to go in order to prove that he’s worthy of being seen as a serious contender.


Trump’s Next Reality Hit

April 29th, 2011 at 5:42 pm 68 Comments

Last week, I took a look at what happens when one well-off family allowed a camera crew to insinuate itself into their daily lives, back in May-December 1971 (for PBS’s 1973 landmark An American Family). Today, it seems as though the Presidency itself, or at least the campaign for it, has been reduced to all the pre-programmed unreality of a modern reality show.  Even before Trump, two of the leading list (Sarah Palin on her recent TLC show and Mike Huckabee’s weekend interview show on FoxNews) had a reality TV background.

Indeed, each of the leading challengers to President Obama might just as well have been “cast” for contestant slots on a reality show, like Donald Trump’s hit two-hour Celebrity Apprentice. There’s a JR Ewing or Gordon Gekko-style delicious villain (Newt Gingrich).  There’s a handsome, bland, Dudley Do-Right hero (Mitt Romney).  Then there’s the Type-A jock who knows how to read (Tim Pawlenty).  And of course, what would a reality show be without a couple of self-involved, Snooki or Omarosa-type divas, whose prickly and demanding personalities might make some viewers think of a word that rhymes with “itches” (Palin and Bachmann).  We even have an aw-shucks, slightly nerdy, religious guy-next-door to round things out (Huckabee).

All things considered, the question isn’t why would a media opportunist like Trump exploit this to create his own even higher-rated “spinoff” of his hit NBC reality series.  The question is why wouldn’t he?

Indeed, Celebrity Apprentice is one of if not often the highest-rated shows on NBC’s troubled prime-time schedule, which has been mired in fourth place for several years (all the more humiliating after a 20-year period of total dominance from the late 1980s through roughly Bush’s first term.)  And this isn’t the first tabloidey, high-profile controversy generator that the Peacock network has found itself involved in of late. (Remember Conan vs. Jay?) And few shows are more of an iconic shorthand for the era of outsourcing, downsizing, job loss, and economic meltdown than a program known most for telling teary-eyed victims “Ya FIRED!”, as others get off on the drama, and still others count their blessings that it’s on TV, not their real life.

Even I am not cynical enough to think that NBC-Universal or Comcast was directly “behind” Trump’s birther escapades. But the secret to Donald Trump’s considerable staying power and success is that he has always been an inveterate showman.  Like Charlie Sheen, Trump provided the network and its flagship show with a tsunami wave of publicity that money alone couldn’t buy (especially at today’s ad rates!)   Interestingly, much of the most negative publicity has come from within the network’s own wheelhouse, as liberal cable channel MSNBC’s relentless coverage of Trump and birtherism provided countless hours of subject matter for Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, and especially Lawrence O’Donnell.  For what it’s worth, I think that O’Donnell and Matthews really are and were as disgusted as they seemed to be on TV at birtherism in general and Trump’s high profile semi-legitimization of it.  But they also “spelled the show’s name right”, as they say in Hollywood.

“Mark my words,” O’Donnell recently dared, “when NBC announces its prime-time schedule on May 16th,” he thinks Celebrity Apprentice will still be on it, that Trump will return to his small-screen box and give up any illusions of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and all this silliness might well be over.  He’s half right.  Trump might very well go back to his hit show and leave the politics to the professional politicians.  But with the racialist overtones of birtherism, the decision to renew the next season of Apprentice could have implications far beyond the usual pass/fail of an otherwise successful series.  On the one hand, Apprentice’s ratings to date clearly merit a strong campaign for the show’s renewal.  On the other, both NBC (Keith Olbermann) and arch-rival Fox (Glenn Beck) have recently proven themselves quite willing to sack their leading lights once they become too embarrassing, too much of a liability.

Now that Trump himself is disingenuously trying to back away from the birther issue while simultaneously taking credit for “forcing” Obama to submit to his will, the question still remains of why this very intelligent, able businessman would choose to pull off such a high-wire stunt as this?   Did he think that it would just be a vehicle he could ride for more publicity, like his show?  And more importantly, bottom-line businessman that he is, did Trump just coldly decide that with Obama’s 95% share of African-Americans (and overwhelming support among Latinos), that “those people won’t vote for me anyway”, so he might as well tap into the most incendiary rage against that foreign-sounding “worst President in history”?  Racism by cost/benefit analysis, as it were?

If The Donald does decide to run (or if NBC makes the first move in canceling Trump, which would ironically “free him up” to run next year), the other big question is what they will do with their Sunday-night timeslot after football plays itself out.  Will they try to find another media-friendly ruling classer (Gates?  Soros?  Buffett?  Some spare Rockefeller or Kennedy lying around?) to take over Trump’s hiring and “You’re FIRED”-ing duties?

Or, might they bait-and-switch, and make a reality show about Trump’s already reality-show-like campaign for the Presidency?  There’s actually some precedent for that.  In 1988, Robert Altman made a brilliant mockumentary called Tanner ’88 (starring Michael Murphy), about a hopeful Democratic politician trying to capture the nomination to go against the first George Bush.  (Twenty years earlier, droopy-dog comedian Pat Paulsen “ran for President” on the stage of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.)

And, as offensive as I find a lot of Trump’s comments to be, I can’t help but thinking that THAT would be a reality show I would watch.


Reality Will Trump the Hype

April 26th, 2011 at 8:44 am 25 Comments

Don’t believe it!

Periodically the media abandons common sense, and goes out on a limb believing what it wants to believe, abandoning usual skepticism and Judgment.

Donald Trump possibly running for President of the United States is 2012 is a case in point.

Thanks largely to appearances on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, the idea of Trump challenging for the presidency has taken root, especially as opinion polls show him to be a leading contender among all Republicans — and closing in on Barack Obama’s numbers.

Again, don’t believe it.

Trump, being Trump and something of a blowhard, may actually challenge for the Republican nomination. And his blunt, in-your-face message, devoid of political correctness, may resonate among those who yearn for America to stop pandering to the rest of the world, and to start advancing its own itinerary.

America, and its constitution, are a beacon of inspiration to the world, whether the world realizes it or not. Just look at refugees and the oppressed – all aspire to reach America, seen (often erroneously) as a paradise, or sanctuary, of prosperity and freedom.

“Yearning” is a far cry from wanting Trump as president.

Remember, this is a guy with a huge ego; vanity as big as all outdoors, who has his own reality shows and feeds on controversy.

Likely he started his blustering to be president as a gimmick, and then when O’Reilly and others began taking him seriously, at face value, he began to think maybe it was more than a ploy or attention-getting stunt.

He now talks of running as an independent if he doesn’t get the Republican nomination—which he hasn’t a snowball’s chance of getting.

Running as an independent, like Ross Perot in 1992, will simply guarantee that Obama is re-elected. And Trump doesn’t want that.

One who is under no illusions about Donald Trump is Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, and the most insightful political commentator in America.

Here’s Krauthammer on Trump: “He’s not a candidate, he’s a spectacle. He’s also not a conservative. With a wink and a smile, Muhammad Ali showed that self-promoting obnoxiousness could be charming. Trump shows that it can be merely vulgar. A provocateur and a clown, the Republicans’ Al Sharpton. The Lions have a better chance of winning the Super Bowl.”

There you have it. With no base inside the Republican party, Trump hasn’t a hope of winning the nomination, but he might be tempted to run as an independent and screw up the system as Perot once did.

As far as opinion polls go, at the moment Trump looks more powerful than he is. (A Newsweek poll shows him three points behind Obama).

What Trump’s antics can do, the longer he continues the charade, is put himself in a position where he can influence who the Republican presidential candidate might be. His dismissal of Mitt Romney on grounds that he, Trump, is richer than Romney is just silly. But there’s a distinct silly quality about all of Trump’s posturing and pronouncements.

Anyway, his main vehicle for publicity is an uncritical media which love a show and relishes controversy. Donald Trump is ever-willing to provide both.

But don’t take his possible candidacy seriously—even if he does. It’s just a side-show. Like a dancing bear or a one-armed juggler.


Barbour’s Withdrawal Boosts Romney

David Frum April 25th, 2011 at 4:32 pm 22 Comments

Who benefits from Barbour’s withdrawal? Short answer: Romney. Barbour would have been effective competition for support of Romney donors. As is, Barbour – the ultimate party regular – will gravitate to the party regulars’ consensus choice. And despite my own personal regard for Mitch Daniels (and appreciation of Jonathan Martin’s reporting), that choice is Romney.

2012 is shaping up as an all-out battle between big donors and local activists, with the big donors coalesced around Romney and the local activists increasingly desperately shopping for somebody – anybody – else.