Archive for category President 2012

Obama Campaign Flying on Auto-Pilot

There’s a saying among pilots: Plan your flight, and fly your plan.  If you’ve done your homework beforehand, your plan is the surest way out of trouble and to your destination.

Nevertheless, any good flight plan includes alternatives in the case of, say, unexpected headwinds.

For several months, it has been clear that the Democrats’ closing argument was going to be about abortion and birth control.  With the economy still in the tank, and foreign policy not a top-line issue for most voters, there was no place else for them to turn.  Now that foreign policy has turned obviously and embarrassingly sour, all the moreso.

The demographic reasons for this are obvious – abortion and “free” contraception are largely issues for younger, single women, and the “gender gap” is as much as “marriage gap” as anything.  The Democrats know that the best way to get a woman to start voting Republican is for her to get married (which also probably explains about 95% of “Julia”).

The Democrats knew this at the beginning of the year, when George Stephanopolous asked Mitt Romney repeatedly about states banning contraception in that debate, and when the HHS issued its mandate that employers buy contraception for their women employees.

They knew this because they were trying to replicate the success that Michael Bennet had here in Colorado in 2010, winning re-election to his Senate seat in a Republican year, and doing it by beating his Republican opponent Ken Buck up on abortion.  Guy Cecil – his campaign manager and now head of the DSCC – repeatedly said so.  Bennet himself said so at the DNC, and more recently when introducing Joe Biden up in Greeley.  The NY Times said so.  Rachel Maddow said so.  From the beginning of the year, they’ve made no secret of the fact by this point in the election cycle the cries of “contraception” and “abortion” would be so loud you couldn’t hear the math.

My wife used to be a registered Democrat, and so ends up getting almost all the Democrat mailers.  Four mailers, all about abortion and contraception.

And it’s not just the race for president where the Dems have adopted this carpet-bombing strategy.  The only ads I’ve seen attacking incumbent Republican Congressmen Scott Tipton and Mike Coffman have centered on abortion and contraception.

The problem is, it’s not working.

Yes, there’s still a gender gap, but with women only giving Obama a slight plurality, and men overwhelmingly supporting Romney, the numbers just don’t seem to be there for the Democrats at the Presidential level.  And if this is their primary attack in Senate races – so far, I’ve seen it used in Ohio, Virginia, Connecticut (with a woman Republican nominee), Montana, North Dakota, and of course, Missouri – there’s good reason to think the Dems are setting themselves up to lose the Senate, too.

To return to the flight metaphor, the Democrats are flying their plan, but they didn’t count on those headwinds, and they’re now running out of fuel without any alternate airports around.  They have no alternative strategy except to continue to amp up the volume, with cries of “Romnesia” by the President, and the possibility of a an October Surprise not in Iran or Libya, but by Gloria Allred.  I’d be surprised if that works, mostly because it’s already been factored into people’s votes.

The Democrats are flying their plan, but instead of remaining engaged, looking for alternatives, staying abreast of the weather reports, they’re flying it on auto-pilot.

Which as any pilot will tell you, is a great way to not reach your destination.

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June 1998 Video of Obama on Political Coalitions and the Working Poor

The Daily Caller has posted the unedited audio of then-State Senator Barack Obama at a Loyola College forum, where he discusses the importance of uniting the working poor with welfare recipients as a political coalition.

Turns out this wasn’t a one-off, or a cool idea that occurred to him in the middle of the forum, but something he had been thinking about for a while.  Here’s C-SPAN video of him at a Brookings Institute forum on the State of the Cities four months earlier, on June 14, 1998:

Why is this problematic?  Traditionally, the working poor haven’t identified with welfare recipients, but with the middle class, just as the middle class tends to identify with the rich.  They tend to see themselves as hopeful and upwardly-mobile.  By getting the working poor to see themselves as having more in common with recent welfare recipients, Obama is hoping to get them to believe that they need/want/are entitled to government help that they might not have sought otherwise, and to form a voting bloc in favor of expanded government redistribution.


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About That Battleground States Poll

The MSM is making much of this morning’s Quinnipiac/NY Times/CBS poll allegedly showing President Obama moving ahead in the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.  This poll should carry more weight, since it is a poll of likely voters, probably identified by whether or not they voted last time, and whether or not they voted in the primary.  But as is often the case with MSM polls, the internals belie the conclusions.

The poll shows President Obama leading Governor Romney 50-44 in Ohio, 53-42 in Pennsylvania, and 51-45 in Florida.

Obama actually won these states 51-47, 54-44, and 51-48, respectively.  That in itself should raise some suspicion.  I don’t know of any other significant polls that show Obama running ahead of where he did in 2008.  Nationally, he won by 7 points, and Rasmussen’s daily likely-voter poll has shown only occasional movement from a 47-44 Romney advantage.  I suppose it’s possible that concentrated saturation-bombing could move polls in individual states, but I’ve seen such tactical strategies in the past, and they almost always come from losing campaigns.

The other odd number is how people claim to have voted in 2008.  These are, respectively, 53-38, 54-40, and 53-40, or +11, +4, and +10 vs. how those states actually went.  Even assuming people moved around, the numbers for Ohio and Florida are huge, and the number for Pennsylvania is still significant.  While people are more likely to remember themselves as having voted either for a winner, or for their current preference, even if they voted the other way, it’s hard to believe these are representative of the people likely to vote in this election.

Lord knows, I’ve been wrong about polls before.  Tomorrow morning at Denver’s First Thursday Breakfast, pollster Floyd Ciruli – a Democrat, but you’d never know his party affiliation from his commentaries – will be speaking.  I’ll ask him about these conjectures then, and report what he has to say.

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Obama Wins, 9% – 42%

The last jobs report was about as bad as it could have been without actually putting us back in recession.  A downward revision of April’s job creation, coupled with a May net of 69,000 wasn’t even enough to keep the unemployment rate flat.  The last 27 months of anemic growth have let the rate drift down only because massive numbers of Americans are giving up looking.

Almost everyone who was paying attention knows this was a bad report.  A Gallup poll had 9% of people calling it positive – probably people who think anything not negative is good, or people who found jobs – while 42% called it negative to some degree.  Ten percent had no opinion, and 40% called it “mixed,” which is pretty much the “no opinion” for people who don’t want to admit they weren’t paying attention.

Naturally, Postblogger Ezra Klein runs a piece headlined: “Most Americans didn’t think the last jobs report was bad news.”  It’s true that the number of people who think things are getting worse hasn’t gotten worse, and the additional 3% who think rate it “poor” is pretty much statistical noise.

But people can go a long time before realizing that changes are permanent.  In the mid-90s, I worked for a while in Johnston, Pennsylvania, and many people talked about how they were waiting “for the Mill to come back.”  The Mill had been closed for many years, and wasn’t coming back, that, or any other century.

The economy can tread water for a long time, not getting better or worse, slogging along an a Euro-stupor, or a sushi-style lost decade.  People won’t necessarily rate things as getting worse, even though they know they’re not getting any better.

But that doesn’t make losing 9-42 any less of a loss.


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Bully for Romney

So now, we’re suppose to believe that Mitt Romney was a bully?  Conveniently, the Washington Post chooses to report the blockbuster story of a 1965 highschooler named Mitt Romney giving a gay classmate a haircut as an act of teenage terror on the day after Barack Obama earns his bona fides by declaring his support for gay marriage.  And within a couple of days of the death of Vidal Sassoon.

Only it turns out that the “classmate” reporting the story wasn’t there at the time – he heard it 2nd, 3rd, 5th-hand from the ghost of the posthumously-converted 5th wife of Romney great-grand uncle, or something.

So it turns out that they also didn’t know – or even suspect – that the practice head for this budding stylist was gay.  Next, we’ll find out that it wasn’t a haircut, or even a trim, but that Romney loaned him his razor.  Doesn’t that really sound more like the Romney that we know?

Remember, too, this was in an upper-class Michigan suburb.  Do you really believe that Mitt was conducting involuntary inductions into the Baldies from The Wanderers?  Personally, I had him pegged for a Ducky Boys sort of guy, but you never can tell about some people.

Then, hours later, we hear that Obama’s autobiography contains an account of his shoving a classmate named “Coretta” and making fun of a college classmate named Tim, for apparently being too much like Mitt.  I’m obviously not the first to suggest that “Coretta” is not a real person, but a composite character.  (I’m sure we won’t have to wait too long for someone to do a Life of Coretta, showing her being picked on by Barack at various stages of life, from having her block tower knocked over in kindergarten to the last one, featuring him mercilessly taunting her by withholding his signature for a life-saving, but uncovered, medical procedure.)

Coming on the heels of the dueling dog controversies, you would think that Axelrod is seriously beginning to regret Obama’s choice of autobiographer.

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An Etch-a-Sketch, or a Clean Slate?

The Romney campaign came out today with its recommendations (called, a “Unity Slate”) for the CD-6 and CD-7 Assemblies.  Naturally, there’s been some grumbling that this represents yet another attempt by the establishment RINOs to dictate party policy or votes, or something, but in fact, it just represents commonsense politics and smart strategy on the part of the campaign.

First, it was the campaign, on the advice of the campaign’s higher-level volunteers, who selected these folks. It doesn’t have anything to do with the party apparatus per se.

Consider the alternative. It’s entirely reasonable for the Romney people to believe that the Ron Paul folks have a slate, but are circulating it among themselves. If the campaign didn’t promote a slate, it’s entirely possible, even likely, that they could have a plurality of the pledged delegates, and walk away with a minority, or even very few, of the delegates to national. Selecting a slate is a perfectly sensible way for the campaign to concentrate its delegates’ votes on a set of reliable delegates whom the party faithful can have confidence in when it comes time to vote in Tampa, and it’s also a way to highlight leaders in the party who can rally support to the candidate.

I’m neither part of the apparatus, nor a high-level volunteer, nor even a candidate for the national convention, and I was hoping the campaign would pick a slate for its delegates to focus on. Any campaign should.  My understanding that those with long service in the party would get the nod over relative newcomers like myself was the reason I didn’t run.

So I would assume that the campaign will also suggest slates for CD-1 and State Assembly this weekend.

Just because the balloting process is open and transparent doesn’t mean that campaigns shouldn’t have strategies, or that they should broadcast them to their opposition.

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The Kochs Respond

As President Obama’s campaign sees fit to attack private citizens for voicing their opinions, those private citizens have seen fit to respond.  Please read the whole thing.

Mr. Jim Messina
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

Dear Mr. Messina:

Because every American has the right to take part in the public discourse on matters that affect the future of our country, I feel compelled to respond directly about a fundraising letter you sent out on February 24 denouncing Koch. It is both surprising and disappointing that the President would allow his re-election team to send such an irresponsible and misleading letter to his supporters.

For example, it is false that our “business model is to make millions by jacking up prices at the pump.” Our business vision begins and ends with value creation — real, long-term value for customers and for society. We own no gasoline stations and the part of our business you allude to, oil and gas refining, actually lowers the price of gasoline by increasing supply. Either you simply misunderstand the way commodities markets work or you are misleading your supporters and the rest of the American people.

Contrary to your assertion that we have “committed $200 million to try to destroy President Obama,” we have stated publicly and repeatedly since last November that we have never made any such claim or pledge. It is hard to imagine that the campaign is unaware of our publicly stated position on that point. Similarly, Americans for Prosperity is not simply “funded by the Koch brothers,” as you state — rather it has tens of thousands of members and contributors from across the country and from all walks of life. Further, our opposition to this President’s policies is not based on partisan politics but on principles. Charles Koch and David Koch have been outspoken advocates of the free-market for over 50 years and they have consistently opposed policies that frustrate or subvert free markets, regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican was President.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Chronicles of Crony Capitalism

So far, the LightSquared story has mostly been written as one of the FCC favoring a politically-connected company at the expense of its competition, and that favoritism having resulted in nothing but waste.  See, for example, today’s Coffee and Markets podcast on the subject. Their related links (Documents: LightSquared shaping up as the FCC’s Solyndra and Documents show Obama’s FCC used regulatory muscle to destroy LightSquared’s competition) pretty much give the outline.  It’s a simple story, and one that fits in neatly with an overarching narrative, as they like to say, of political money buying regulatory help.

As usual, the story is more complicated than that.  And as usual, the full story makes things look even worse.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story discussing just how badly the FCC had tied itself up in knots over this.  First, they declared a looming bandwidth shortage, and then quickly auctioned off additional spectrum, spectrum that happened to lie near to that used for GPS.  This was done years ago, and Falcone and his people no doubt assumed that the FCC wouldn’t be selling spectrum that couldn’t be developed.  Having gotten the favor, they then were surprised when the FCC didn’t turn around and tell the GPS people that this was coming, and that they should shield their equipment – technically well within their capability.  Having failed to do that, they now have to argue that there’s no spectrum shortage, after all.

Even assuming that the FCC wasn’t out to clear the field for LightSquared, they failed badly in their regulatory duty here.  The FCC has complete control over this stuff.  They can decide how, where, and when spectrum gets exploited, and by whom.  Either there is or isn’t, was or wasn’t, a spectrum shortage that will imperil future growth.  Either the spectrum neighboring the GPS wavelengths is or isn’t usable.  Either the burden of preventing interference lies with LightSquared (or whoever buys this tainted real estate from them), or it lies with the GPS companies.

Either the FCC didn’t know how it was planning to resolve this issues, or didn’t care.  Or else, it knuckled under to a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign, in which case, what’s the point of claiming “independent” regulatory agencies are any good at all?  If the FCC was throwing around its weight to help LightSquared, all these regulatory conflicts become even worse, leading other investors to throw their money after an investment the FCC must have known was headed for an iceberg.

The other example comes from the Department of Transportation:

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a $54.6 million loan to Kansas City Southern Railway Company (KCSR) for the purchase of 30 new General Electric ES44AC locomotives. These diesel-electric locomotives, built in Erie, Pennsylvania, will help KCSR meet increasing economic demand, and are more energy-efficient and produce significantly less carbon emissions than the locomotives they are replacing.

That’s nice.  Railroads have had a very nice couple of years, and with the absence of KeystoneXL, are likely to have even more business, at least in the short term. Kansas Southern has a $7.8 billion market cap.  It’s already carrying $1.6 billion in debt.  Its quarterly depreciation expense is almost $50 million, or just about the size of the loan.  Its operating cash flow was $170 million last quarter, and it showed a net income of $300 million.  And it’s not as though GE is going to file for bankruptcy protection if it doesn’t get a $50 million order.

This from the same administration who reflexively defends a perfectly reasonable accounting change (see The Death of LIFO) by attacking oil companies, rather than by defending the change on its own merits.

The problem with both of these stories is that the finance is bound up inextricably with the politics.  Analysts work by examining the underlying economic return, and to the extent that there are regulatory issues, they ought at least to be predictable or bounded.  Companies getting regulatory benefits they can’t use, or subsidies they don’t need, don’t do anything to help create real wealth.

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Dan Santorum?

Those of us who suffered through 2010’s Colorado Republican gubernatorial campaign travesty should have learned some lessons.   So far, the national presidential nominating process is making me regret that Colorado is a trend-setter.

A similar dynamic – discontent with a front-runner, seen as hostile – or at best indifferent – to the Tea Party, and seen as hand-picked by an entitled establishment too timid to settle on actual conservatives to carry the party’s banner.  Both men, who seemed conservative enough in earlier incarnations, are had their bona fides questioned later.  In both cases, the criticism may be somewhat unfair, but it’s also led to a lack of enthusiasm for that candidate, and fueled talk of third-party runs, even before the nomination has been decided.

McInnis seemed to spurn Tea Party support, and then was victimized by a chiron during a national TV interview; likewise, Romney, while not going out of his way to the extent that Huntsman did, has also seemed to be relying on monetary advantages and strategic support of current and former office-holders in key states.

As a result, many Colorado Republicans decided to teach McInnis a lesson on the way to the nomination, only to find that the lesson they taught him left the party with a man who had no business being the nominee, and a party apparatus that was nevertheless honor-bound to support him – if only minimally – in the general election campaign.  (To be fair, many of us held Tancredo’s self-positioning for a 3rd-party run prior to the primary to be subverting rather than honoring his own party’s nominating process.)

Likewise, I believe that many, but by no means all, of those voting for Gingrich or Santorum are doing so in order to teach Romney or the party establishment a lesson, or to stretch out the process as long as practicable, perhaps even thinking it will lead to a brokered convention.  February was supposed to be Romney’s month, with a series of caucuses and primaries in states friendly to him.  Instead, he’s faltered, and Santorum has given conservatives reason to look to him as the last remaining credible”Not Romney.”  I’m not certain that they all actually want to see Santorum on the podium in Tampa accepting the party’s nomination in August.  But that’s where we could end up.

There are obvious significant differences between the campaigns.  Santorum is a two-term US Senator who knows something about fundraising and running a campaign; Dan Maes was not, and did not.  However badly he might do in the general election – and I think he would do very badly – nobody thinks he’s going to walk away with 11% of the vote.  However much Ron Paul may dream of a 3rd-party run, he’s nowhere near as attractive a candidate as Tancredo was to desperate Republicans in 2010.  It doesn’t look as though Romney’s put himself in a position to be torpedoed by members of his own party holding a grudge.  And of course, the gubernatorial nomination was a one-day primary; there was no opportunity to rethink the decision.

But even as more and more people assume that the Republican sold as the most electable will be the eventual nominee, much as people even on primary night assumed that McInnis would pull out a win, Obama’s re-elect numbers on Intrade keep rising.

The Republicans need this election to be a referendum on Obama; in both 2010 and so far in 2012, the nominating process has been a referendum on the front-runner.  Thus far, the Romney campaign has serially been able to create a series of successful one-on-one contests with other candidates.  He’s done so with the help of a national media that was McCain’s base until he became the nominee.  Some conservatives and libertarian-minded Republicans have been all too willing to chew up Mitt’s challengers from the right as not conservative, and now find themselves without a champion.  And the candidates themselves were better at making the case against each other or against Romney than they were at showing how they’d make the case against Obama.

At my own caucus, I closed the discussion by asking people to vote for whom they actually wanted to see as the nominee.  Not to vote as a protest against Romney, or to send a message, or as some cathartic gesture, but to vote for the man they actually wanted to see represent the party in the election.  I did this, reminding people of the consequences of playing games with their vote, which is how we ended up with Dan Maes as our nominee, and John Hickenlooper as governor.

None of which is to suggest that anyone abandon their candidate for the sake of an artificial “unity.”  If you want one of the three others still standing to be the party’s nominee, or believe that he better represents the party, there’s no sense in not supporting him.  But if you mainly believe that Romney needs sharpening or the establishment needs its nose bloodied, you’re playing a very dangerous game.

We’ve seen that movie before, and it ends badly.

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Sigh. Romney.

Michael Barone, that walking encyclopedia of American political history, has often made the comparison between the development of the Tea Party and the entry of the peaceniks into American political life:

Both movements represent a surge in political activity by hundreds of thousands, even millions, of previously uninvolved citizens.

Both movements focused on what are undeniably central, not peripheral, political issues: war and peace, the size and scope of government.

Both movements initially proclaimed themselves nonpartisan or bipartisan, but quickly channeled their efforts into one political party — the peace movement in the Democratic party, the tea-party movement in the Republican party.

But new movements prove troublesome for the political pros, and nowhere more than in the most problematic part of our political system, the presidential nominating process. (Is it just a coincidence that this is the one part of the system not mentioned at all in the Constitution?)

Peaceniks and tea partiers naturally want nominees who are true to their vision. They are ready to support newcomers and little-vetted challengers over veteran incumbents who have voted the wrong way on issues they care about.

But the things that make candidates attractive to movements can also make them unattractive to independent voters.

The Democrats struggled with this in the 1968, 1972, and 1976 cycles. The old-timers pushed through the accomplished Hubert Humphrey over the diffident Eugene McCarthy in 1968, but they lost to George McGovern in 1972. He was a more serious candidate than is generally remembered, but he did lose 49 states to Richard Nixon.

The anti-war movement didn’t get started in earnest until 1967, and Lyndon Johnson didn’t declare his intention not to run again until early 1968. The lateness of the primary calendar made it possible for Bobby Kennedy to declare late, and their paucity made it possible for the party elders to anoint Humphrey regardless of those votes. By 1972, the McGovernites had taken over the levers of power, opened up the primaries, and made most of them proportional. This insured a longer primary campaign, and did nothing to prevent a credentials fight over the Illinois delegation at the Convention. In the event, McGovern was nominated with fewer than 60% of the delegates, and defeated with less than 38% of the vote. The military defeatism and the electoral defeats helped usher the Scoop Jackson Democrats out of the party and, eventually, Ronald Reagan into the White House. The Democrats would elect the center-left but feckless Carter, and the decidedly un-peacenik DLC founder Bill Clinton, and it wouldn’t be until 2008 that they elected Obama in an encore of the first anti-war movement.

The Tea Party, while nascent in 2007, didn’t really gather steam until early 2009, almost four years ahead of the next Presidential election, and the Republicans in 2012 have likewise done away with early winner-take-all primaries. So it probably sits somewhere between anti-War 1968 and isolationist 1972. The Establishment is weakened, but  not dead yet. If nominating Romney would be more like 1968, giving Gingrich the nod would look a lot more like 1972.

Of course, as Mark Twain said, history doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme. Republicans not being Democrats, should Romney be the nominee, he likely won’t have to accept the nomination in the middle of police putting down riots from disgruntled Tea Party members. It’s unlikely that large cuts in spending will lead many Republicans into a socialist Exodus.

The similarities are alarming enough. Just as Humprhey’s defeat helped discredit the old liberalism, so a Romney defeat – or even a Romney presidency – could finish the job of discrediting vanilla conservatism that George W. Bush started, and open the door for a 1972-like candidacy by a Rand Paul-like figure. I don’t think I’m unduly cynical when I say that that very hope has led some in the libertarian wing of the party to campaign against Daniels, Perry, or Pawlenty as “not conservative,” or “not presidential,” while being willing to go along with a Romney nomination. (They’ll be disappointed. That so many in the Tea Party have cast their lot with Gingrich rather than the catastrophically irresponsible Ron Paul is actually a healthy sign that the word “conservative” will not be re-branded to mean “libertarian.”)

Republicans are looking for a conservative who is both ideologically grounded and a practical politician. While that may have been on offer earlier in the process, it’s not now, with the nomination fight now looking like that Star Trek episode where Kirk divides into two separate personalities, one nice but passive, the other more aggressive and less principled.

Romney’s problem is that even if you consider his public persona to be authentic, he seems rather timid for a man who built his career risking capital at the gaming tables of private equity. A early Marco Rubio endorser, he has Chris Christie’s support, but campaigns like Charlie Crist. His reaction to individual Social Security accounts as fiscally irresponsible confirms his image as narrowly technocratic. He campaigns as the safe, sane, sober, responsible alternative to both Gingrich and Obama, and it may well be that the American people want safe, sane, sober, and responsible after the drama of the last four years, even if it does represent a lost opportunity to do more.

Those who caricature Gingrich’s appeal as mere media-hatred, though, miss the point. Such an appeal, while superficial, isn’t just limited to Republicans; ask Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Showing backbone in clear, simple terms is not nothing, although it’s not enough.  And it seems to give way to an opportunism of its own at inconvenient moments.

I’m not sure that Gingrich would lead to a 1964-type down-ticket meltdown. At the beginning of 1972, Nixon’s Gallup approval ratings were well over 50%, and stayed there until the onset of Watergate. Obama has nowhere near that level of public support, and an impending Presidential defeat would let Senate and House Republicans campaign all the more effectively as a check on Obama’s power. In 1972, the Democrats picked up a net 2 seats in the Senate, and lost only 13 seats of a 255-seat pre-election caucus in the House. Johnson’s approvals touched 80% when his party went from 258 to 295 seats in the House, and from 64 to 66 seats in the Senate. Even a Gingrich candidacy wouldn’t result in that kind of wipeout, although it would probably cost us a shot at the Senate.

Sadly, that might be enough. Unlike the Democrats, we can’t afford to wander in the political wilderness for another couple of decades. If Obama were re-elected, and we failed to retake the Senate, Obamacare would be permanently enshrined into law, and the American citizen transformed into a subject. Obama is willing to use executive power up to and beyond the fullest extent permissible by law. Congress’s best means of asserting its part of the check-and-balance system is the power of the purse. But Senate Democrats have deprived Congress of that power, putting government spending on auto-pilot by not even bringing a budget up for a vote. So failing to take the Senate would put all the burden back on the House Republicans to find a credible way to threaten – and if need be, go through with – a government shutdown, without committing political suicide in the process.

If nominating Romney is enough to help us carry the Senate, even if it isn’t enough to get us back to the White House, it will put the party in a position of strength to challenge him, especially given the Senate partisan profile up for re-election in 2014.

This isn’t a matter of giving in to the Establishment.  If there were no other credible choices, if this were 2008, post-Colorado, and I were left with a meaningless vote, that would be one thing.  But there’s nothing the matter with concluding that while the party Establishment was too quick to line up behind Romney in the first place, I can make my own choice to support him now, for my own reasons, at a time when my vote – fortunately – still matters.  It’s called deciding, and that’s a very different thing from having something decided for you.

To this extent, Barone’s final paragraph is instructive: “Tea partiers will grouse if Romney is nominated. But maybe they need patience and perseverance. One lesson of history is that a movement can reshape a party. Another is that it takes time.”


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