‘George Romney deserved a better son’

George Romney opposed Barry Goldwater's extreme rhetoric

This exchange between Mitt Romney’s father – then Michigan governor George Romney – and Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee at the time, is fascinating.

Actually, it’s especially fascinating given that Ron Paul is in the race against Romney-the-younger this time around, and Paul shares many of Goldwater’s more unfortunate views on the Civil Rights Act. He also has some of the same dubious associations.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think Ron Paul comes off as a heck of a lot less crazy than someone like Santorum, and leaps and bounds more honest than Romney, but the Ron Paul newsletters raise many of the same concerns about Paul’s past choices as George Romney raises about some of Goldwater’s associations.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney displays none of his father’s courage or frankness, none of his honesty whatsoever. The younger Romney comes across as a fake, through and through.

It’s too bad, really. Reading George Romney one does realize how badly this country needs two grown-up parties and not one grown-up party and one party throwing a perpetual temper tantrum.

At a time when the Republican ticket consisted of a man who opposed the Civil Rights Act, George Romney was saying things like: “The assassination of Martin Luther King is a great national tragedy. At a time when we need aggressive nonviolent leadership to peacefully achieve equal rights, equal opportunities and equal responsibilities for all, his leadership will be grievously missed.” George Romney even marched in civil rights marches.

Of course, these days we have Newt Gingrich saying that the first black president is the “food-stamp president” and that black people are all dependent on government largess. And we have Rick Santorum saying that women really ought to be governed by the laws of Christ rather than the laws of America when it comes to their own bodies.

Wouldn’t it be nice if George Romney’s son could speak out against this sort of nonsense the way his father spoke out against similar nonsense several decades ago?

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Ron Paul winning delegates despite losses

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Mistermix captions the above video:

[I]t turns out that Ron Paul has another reason to be smiling ever time he announces that he “lost” a straw poll. His supporters are being elected as delegates in bigger numbers than the straw poll totals indicate.

It works like this: Romney, Santorum and Gingrich supporters vote in the straw poll, then leave. Paul supporters vote in the poll and stay around for the county business meeting to be elected delegates. Because those delegates are completely loyal to Paul, not to the straw poll results, Paul, not Romney, Gingrich or Santorum, might actually be winning the caucuses. So, who the hell knows how many delegates any Republican has at this point.

Paul has a very organized campaign. His people know what they’re doing. They aren’t messing around. The media may not take Paul seriously, but Paul and his people are deadly serious, whether or not Paul actually thinks he can win.

If he takes enough delegates, it’s going to be a really interesting nomination this year. I have no doubt that Santorum or Gingrich will eventually come around and support Romney if push comes to shove. But Paul’s supporters are another bunch entirely.

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Wolf Blitzer Strikes Back

This is the moment that cost Gingrich the debate and the nomination. You just can’t be a one-trick pony in this day and age.

Ta-Nehisi Coates writes:

Newt Gingrich has repeatedly hidden behind a veil of Republican unity when it was to his advantage, while pulling out daggers when it wasn’t. I don’t begrudge him that. He’s running a campaign to be president of the United States. That’s his interest. In a debate setting, the interest of reporters (among others) is to make candidates defend their statements in detail.

Often those two interests collide. That’s a feature, not a bug. It was good to see Wolf Blitzer–even with the crowd turning on him–lean into that collision a bit last night. The ref isn’t there to make sure the crowd cheers for him, or to make sure the combatants “approve” of him.
Nobody really likes Wolf Blitzer anyways, right? So he had nothing to lose.

More seriously, Romney took advantage of this moment beautifully, dealing Newt the killing blow. Once Gingrich lost his footing it was just done. And this race is done. Romney is the nominee – or he will be soon enough.

More damning revelations about the Ron Paul newsletters probably won’t hurt Paul too badly at this point, but the congressman really doesn’t have a chance at winning at this point anyways. He’d be wise to go third party at this point, even though it guarantees Obama’s victory.

Obama is still better – in spite of his many civil liberties shortcomings – than Romney or Gingrich on innumerable issues of war and peace and torture. Paul going third party makes sense because sinking the real hawks in the Republican party makes sense, even if Obama is way to the left of Paul.

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In which I agree with Bill Kristol on Ron Paul

Is Weekly Standard chief Bill Kristol secretly rooting for Obama?

Neocon-in-chief and Weekly Standard top-dog Bill Kristol wants Ron Paul to run a third party ticket:

A lot of people when they criticize Ron Paul have to preface their criticism by saying, ‘you know, he’s good guy, he brings a lot to the debate,’” Bill Kristol said on C-SPAN. “I actually don’t buy that. I do not think he’s a particular good guy . . . I think it would be better for the Republican party, if he left the Republican party.” …

“[Buchanan] left the party in 1999 and a lot of people, and I was one of them, said, goodbye and good riddance, you’re not in the mainstream of the Republican party, go run as some Reform party candidate . . . he did in 2000 and he didn’t get many votes and actually George W. Bush I think was helped—and the Republican party was helped—to be free of Buchanan’s extreme isolationism, protectionism, anti-Israel views, and the like. Ron Paul is a little different from Pat Buchanan—but he’s no better, in my view. And I actually think we’d benefit in the long run—but even in the short run . . .”

The boss concluded: “I don’t think anyone should plead with him not to run or to stay in the party. I would be comfortable in a general election if Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum as the Republican in the Reagan tradition and debating both Barack Obama and Ron Paul.”

Ed Brayton chuckles:

You know who else would be comfortable with that? Barack Obama. If Ron Paul runs in the general election as an independent or on a third party ticket, his reelection is guaranteed. Obama’s campaign leaders would be doing back flips if that happens.

Maybe Kristol understands that Obama has actually done a much better job of tracking down terrorists like, I dunno, say Osama bin Laden, than his Republican counterparts. Maybe this is Kristol’s way of secretly rooting for a second Obama term. Those neocons were all socialists in the beginning, back before they got mugged by “reality.”

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Newt’s CNN Debate Win in South Carolina – Will It Be Enough?

Newt won his second South Carolina debate in a row.

Politico has Newt Gingrich seven points behind Romney among likely voters at 30%. After tonight’s debate, Gingrich may close that gap further. Romney floundered once again on the issue of his tax returns. He took a beating on both Romneycare and abortion. His confidence seems diminished.

Meanwhile Newt has this incredible way of segueing between attacks on Obama and attacks on Romney. Once again Newt is showing off his debating skills and his ability to sound reasonable while saying seriously crazy things all at the same time. His arrogance is galling but the crowd loves him.

I personally loved how Ron Paul took the issue of government healthcare and segued into military spending. He was the only one of the four who seemed to actually care that real people do actually depend on government benefits whether or not he believes in those programs.

Santorum did fine, but he didn’t rile up the crowd. He’s very good at sounding sincere. He has a certain maudlin folksiness to him that the GOP base enjoys. But they enjoy Newt more. Santorum rambles, Newt cuts right to the quick. Romney was on the defense almost all night, even in his pleas for Republican unity. Newt managed to call for unity while going on the offense.

This was a bad night for Romney and another win for Newt. Paul wasn’t at his best, but it doesn’t really matter. South Carolina is obviously not Paul territory. The real question is whether this and the last debate can propel Newt into fighting territory against Romney. The former Massachusetts governor has never looked so weak.

As Andrew Sullivan notes, “Every minute he speaks about this in this forum he loses votes.” Can Romney lose the electability race to Gingrich – a man who is on his third marriage, spent years lobbying for the housing industry just before the crash, and wracked up an absurd credit line at Tiffany’s?

It’s almost inconceivable.

But the Bain Capital record isn’t going anywhere. There’s something fishy about these tax returns and Romney’s inability to just release them to the public. Something is rotten.

The difference between Romney and Gingrich is that we’re all pretty sure we know the details of Gingrich’s dirty laundry by now. Even his ex-wife’s tell-all interview isn’t going to shine any new light on the former speaker.

Romney, on the other hand, remains something of a closed book. I bet that makes some voters nervous.

The devil you know can be a comfortable vote, and at this point I think a lot of conservatives are taking a second look at Gingrich whose warts they’ve basically come to terms with. His response to the accusations leveled at him by his ex-wife on ABC had the audience in a standing ovation, effectively turning a damning revelation into just another reason to go after the mainstream media.

One has to admire Gingrich’s tenacity at moments like these even if 90% of what he says is absolute garbage.

We know who Newt Gingrich is – but what lies beneath Romney’s slick exterior? Republicans can’t be certain. Will it give them pause this Saturday in South Carolina?

Update. Josh Marshall describes Gingrich’s performance and especially his broadside against debate moderator John King quite well:

It all started (and in a sense ended) with Newt’s ferocious broadside against John King for raising the “open marriage” story. The whole thing was a put-up job in reality. But for his intended audience, it was a masterstroke. And it was classic Newt. Take the mammoth offensive whether you have a leg to stand on or not and just go with it. It turned the whole thing into an outrage drama against the “mainstream media.” The cynicism of Newt’s tirade was on display post-debate when he complimented King for doing a great job moderating the debate. But again, doesn’t matter. He nailed it. That set the tone for the debate, virtually ensured that no one would touch the issue for the next two hours and instantly drew off all the Newt-tension hovering over the debate.

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What the booing of Ron Paul says about the Republican Party

The Republican Party isn't going to be home for non-interventionists any time soon.

I have a deep and abiding fondness for Ron Paul if only because he’s willing to stand before a crowd of conservatives and tell them that no, what the hawk-dominated conservative movement has been doing these many years is not actually a very conservative or Christian thing; Big Defense is still government and spending trillions of dollars on foreign wars of intervention and nation-building is still spending trillions of taxpayer dollars. I’m not a conservative and I don’t think I could vote for Paul, but to hear him make his case for non-interventionist foreign policy and an end to the war on drugs and so forth is to breathe a deep breath of fresh air in an otherwise stifling room of conservative boilerplate.

So when Ron Paul was booed for his unorthodox foreign policy views it came as little surprise. The conservative movement and the Republican Party are united in their love of a strong and aggressive military, a fully neoconservative and interventionist foreign policy, and a continuation of the war on drugs, police militarization, and so forth. There are a few dissenters closer to the mainstream of the party than Paul – Tom Coburn is one and even Rand Paul is more mainstream than his father – but by and large the GOP is exactly the place one might suspect to find a peacenik like Paul booed.

It’s unfortunate, of course, but it is what it is.

Mike Dwyer engages in some wishful thinking over at The League:

If I were to describe what I think young Republicans will look like in 10 years I would suggest they will be moderate on social policy, mainline conservative on fiscal policy and libertarian on civil liberties and foreign policy. They will be pro-life but also believe people have a right to smoke weed in their own home. They’ll pretty much ignore gay marriage. They will believe in a strong world economy but be isolationist about wars and having our troops in foreign lands.

I’m willing to concede that on social issues the GOP will become more moderate but not go so far as to say that they will be fully moderate. On gay rights issues the Republicans have already shifted left. Evangelicals are not happy about this, however, and it’s quite likely that a tension will still exist between modernist and traditionalist camps in the GOP in ten years. On civil liberties the Republicans will be just as bad as they are now; on drug policy I expect no better; and on foreign policy I expect a new crop of young hawks to take up the reins. There is absolutely no chance that they become isolationist, though I wouldn’t be surprised if a more protectionist domestic policy becomes more popular on the right.

Either way, the party has very little room for men like Ron Paul. His popularity is fierce and his followers are passionate – but his politics are of a time long since past when the Republican Party was home to advocates of a more sober foreign policy than the one the neoconservatives devised.

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Why I’m Rooting For Gingrich In South Carolina

Aspiring child janitors everywhere will not forgive Gingrich if he drops out after South Carolina.

Newt, this is not the former speaker we know and love. You don’t give up on politics, just on marriages!

Newt Gingrich came clean Tuesday afternoon, admitting that if he can’t win this state’s primary on Saturday, he probably can’t win the Republican nomination at all.

“If I don’t win the primary Saturday, we will probably nominate a moderate,” the former House speaker said, referring to Mitt Romney. “And the odds are fairly high he will lose to Obama.”

The question is whether Gingrich endorses Santorum if the frothy ex-Senator stays in the race after a South Carolina loss.

I suppose that depends on whether or not all this bad press actually puts a dent in Romney’s titanium exoskeleton. The fact that Perry, Santorum, and Gingrich all failed to get on Virginia’s GOP primary ballot may be a moot point if they all run out of money by March.

Obama must be sleeping like a damn baby these days. All these Super PACs are doing his job for him as the Republican field shreds itself to pieces. They’ll all line up like good soldiers behind Romney in the end (Ron Paul is a wild card on this point) but the damage will have been done.

Perhaps I just have a morbid fascination with Republican primaries, but I really do hope Gingrich or Santorum beats Romney so that this whole lovely mess gets dragged out even further.

(P.S. Totally unrelated random thought: why should we settle for just one president? We pay the president way too much. We could hire like 2,000 kids to do that job instead and teach them about hard work and responsibility all at the same time. Extend this logic to congress and you’ve not only saved money, you’ve dragged thousands of kids out of unemployment.)

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Two’s Almost As Bad As One: The Virginia Primary Will Be A Romney-Paul Showdown

Rick Perry won't be on the Virginia ballot thanks to activist appeals court judges.

Politico is reporting that a federal appeals court has requested Rick Perry’s request to be added to the Virginia primary ballot. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum also failed to file in Virginia, which required them to collect 10,000 signatures by December of 2011.

This leaves only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul on the Mach 6th ballot which is, to be perfectly blunt, both hilarious and wonderful at the same time.

It’s hilarious because three of the remaining five candidates are so disorganized and apparently under-staffed that they couldn’t get their act’s together enough to get on the Virginia ballot in time. What were they thinking? They were apparently spending too much time on Fox or prepping for various debates to do one of the simplest, most straight-forward possible things you can do in a campaign. If these guys can’t organize themselves enough to make it onto the Virginia ballot, can we really trust them to take that 3 AM phonecall from Vladmir Putin?

It’s wonderful because this will (probably) be our first glimpse at a one-on-one showdown between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. I have no doubt that Ron Paul is sticking this thing out, even if it does just boil down to him vs. Romney. Virginia may be a test of his success throughout the remainder of the campaign. It will be interesting to see how the vote shakes out. I think Romney takes Virginia, but I do hope that Paul gives him a good walloping while he’s at it.

Oh, and get ready for the activist judge rhetoric. Those dang activist judges are just trying to keep Rick Perry down! And, uh, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum down, too.

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