Steve M.

How Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum Almost Joined Forces to Knock Mitt Romney Out of the GOP Primaries

Regular readers know that I think the Republican Party is doing just fine these days, thank you very much, given its current stranglehold on Congress, the Supreme Court, and the states. But when I read that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum seriously considered forming a unity ticket in order to defeat Mitt Romney in last year's GOP primaries, my first reaction was: wow, the results in that general election contest really would have justified a GOP "autopsy."

At least I hope so. The linked story, from Businessweek, says that Newt and Rick couldn't finalize the plan because they couldn't agree which one of them would top the ticket. I would have loved to see Gingrich on top, because of his endless self-regard and the sheer creativity of his carefully thought-out gaffes, which are remarkable for their ability to offend a broad range of Americans. (Poor schoolchildren should work as janitors?Women shouldn't be in combat "because they get infections"?) Before pollsters stopped polling this particular head-to-head, President Obama was leading Gingrich by 13.2 points, according to the Real Clear Politics poll aggregation.

But Obama's lead over Santorum, according to RCP, was only 7.8 points, and he was within shouting distance in a few surveys. My fear is that the mainstream press -- desperate as always to enable the GOP and perpetually in denial about the depths of its craziness -- would decide that, well, Santorum wasn't one of the crazies, like Cain or Trump, he was a serious, thoughtful guy who'd spent years in the Senate and had won his election victories in a swing state ... oh, and, yes, he does oppose not only gay marriage and abortion but alsocontraception, but really, isn't it Obama who's the radical here, with his embrace of Sandra Fluke and his insistence on forcing a contraceptive mandate down the throats of those nice Catholics?

I know, I know -- the latter didn't work for the GOP in the race we actually had (even though the mainstream media pushed the line that Obama was going too far on reproductive rights). But Santorum had that developmentally disabled daughter, whose condition he milked for all it was worth, to the delight of right-wingers, especially right-wing women (as The New York Times noted during the campaign). If he'd won the nomination under those conditions, even with Gingrich in tow as his running mate, wouldn't the members of the MSM have thoughtfully scratched their chins and said that he was clearly touching a cultural nerve, unlike that elitist Obama?

Oh, and neither Gingrich nor Santorum was an Ivy Leaguer, unlike that hoity-toity snob Obama. Who's the real American now?

I write all this and then I think: what am I talking about? It's Santorum. It's Gingrich. They're really, really unlikable. (Especially Gingrich.)

So, yeah, even though I think the press would have given Rick 'n' Newt much more credibility as candidates than they deserved, it would have been a blowout. And I hope everyone would have recognized that a party that would endorse this ticket had really serious problems.

Or perhaps it just would have been a cue for the Village to say, "None of this would have happened if Jeb Bush/Mitch Daniels/Chris Christie had run...."

Rachel Maddow Says Over-the-Top Right-Wingers Are "Trolling," But That's Not the Whole Story

A lot of folks -- Raw Story, Libby Spencer, Anne Laurie, Mediaite -- are linking to a segment from last night's Rachel Maddow Show in which Maddow dismisses a lot of provocative right-wing rhetoric as trolling. (Video of the segment is below.)

From Raw Story:

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Conservatives Whine: This Fiscal Debate Is So Unfair!

In my last post, I told you that Peggy Noonan thinks our current fiscal battle is so unfair to Republicans, who are constitutionally banned from making an appealing case to the public (or something like that). Now we find John Podhoretz also arguing that we should shed a tear for Republicans, who have the deck stacked against them, largely through circumstances they couldn't possibly have controlled:

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Stop Slut-Shaming the Women of the Petraeus Affair

Chuck Todd on Twitter this morning:

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Obama Leading Romney by 21 Points Among Moderates

Mitt Romney may be leading among independents, but CNN's John Avlon notes that he's not leading among moderates -- far from it. As Avlon explains, they're not the same thing anymore:

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Harold Ford Is a Tea-Bagger

I meant to point out yesterday that Harold Ford Jr. had an op-ed in the New York Daily News in which he tried to attack soon-to-be-opponent Kirsten Gillebrand using rhetoric shameless cribbed from Scott Brown:

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Did Liberals Push Brown Over the Top?

If a Research 2000 exit poll is accurate, there were actually enough voters in Massachusetts yesterday who were angry about the health care bill from the left to ... um, elect Scott Brown. Whose election ... um ... virtually guarantees that nothing whatsoever, left, center, or right, will now be done on health care at all.

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GOPers Have Concocted Yet Another Stupid Reason to Axe the Senate Health Care Bill

They can't think, they can't govern, but Republicans know how to win. So I've been waiting for the GOP to surprise us with a new direction in its health care bill-killing total war, and this, about which they're ginning up a hissyfit, is obviously the first salvo in the final phase of the war:

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Why Sarah Palin Will not Be a Candidate in 2012

Via Rumproast, Zandar, and The Hill, there's thisabout 2012, from The Fix at The Washington Post:

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Why the Incoherence of Palin and the Tea-Party Right Is a Logical Outcome of Movement Conservatism

"Crunchy" conservative columnist Rod Dreher has discovered to his dismay that many of his fellow righties simply aren't rational:

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The Ugly Politics of Mass Killings

FUNNY THING ABOUT RIGHT WINGERS

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John Harwood Draws Delusional Equivalence Between Fox and Other Cable Nets

Writing for The New York Times, John Harwood concludes that everyone in cable news is partisan just like Fox, based on an utterly idiotic misreading of statistics:

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Will GOP Bigs Inch Left Next Year to Contain Tea-Party Revolt?

Following up on my last post: yes, obviously I agree to a great extent with Frank Rich, whose column today on the NY-23 congressional race describes the modern GOP as a "cult" in which moderates are pitilessly purged. But I don't really agree with this:

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Peggy Noonan Recalls When Bush Wrapped Himself in His Own Failure

It's hard to have a simple response to Peggy Noonan's opening paragraphs this week:

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White House Muddying the Waters on Gay Rights

John Harwood went on CNBC yesterday and, in the context of a discussion of the gay-rights march, said that "the White House views this opposition as really part of the 'internet left fringe.'" We've since heard from a White House spokesman that that's not really the administration's attitude toward gay-rights activists or lefty bloggers, and Harwood has said that the quote is accurate but was a reference to lefty bloggers rather than gay activists.

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Are the Tea-Partiers Really Poised to Turn on the GOP?

Digby aimai and Steve Benen are saying, "Pass the popcorn," but I'm pessimistic about the apparent sabotage of the GOP by its own zealots:

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Peggy Noonan Loves Her Some Moon-Men

Peggy Noonan phones it in this week -- today's column [Ed note: Friday's column] is a lazy collection of odds and sods. She leads with another ode to "steely-eyed rocket men" -- yes, she uses the phrase again, as she did six years ago in a praise-hymn to George W. Bush -- but this time she's talking about literal rocket men: the astronauts of the moon-landing era. Her point is that Americans today are too damn self-involved, not like those guys:

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Peggy Noonan Is Wrong on So Many Levels

It was inevitable that one of the key talking points of the ongoing "Bush legacy project" would be that, thanks to George W. Bush, we were "safe" after 9/11 -- but if I were Peggy Noonan and I wanted to write about a "safe" America in December 2008, I think I might have hesitated before beginning my discussion this way:

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About That Zogby Number That Was Freaking People Out

Here's an election memory, and correct me if I'm wrong: In 1988, on the Saturday before Election Day, my not-yet-wife and I stopped for a drink in the Village -- I think it was at the Lion's Head. Someone had left a copy of the New York Post on the bar, and inside was a story about a new poll showing that Michael Dukakis was gaining ground, and was in a statistical tie with George Bush.

Yes, I'm such a nerd that I still remember that.

I remember the pollster, too.

Zogby.

Swift Boater Jerome Corsi Goes After Obama

Today's New York Times devotes a front-page story to the fact-challenged new book by bigot Jerome Corsi, author of the Swift Boat liars' 2004 book, Unfit for Command. Corsi hopes to bring down another Democratic presidential candidate, but he doesn't have the mojo to pull that off this time around, for several reasons:

* The book cover. It makes Obama look good -- thoughtful and serious. It's almost an antidote to McCain's celebrity ads. And I know the title is meant to be an "abomination" pun, but spread out over two lines, it simply doesn't work. And the evil-lefty-cultist subtitle is too damn small:

(Click on through to the flip side to see the cover and the rest of the article)

Is Karl Rove Trying to Sell McCain as a Bad Boy?

Yesterday, Politico's Ben Smith noted that John McCain was getting bad press, from The Washington Post and The New York Times in particular, in reaction to his recent attack-dog posture. Smith concluded:

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Is the Honeymoon Over? Is the Media Losing Their Love of McCain?

I'm probably being naive, but this post by The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder gives me hope that the press might actually be rethinking its love for John McCain.

Ambinder tells us that

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NPR Has a Good Laugh Over Torture

We can sneer at Rush Limbaugh and his Club G'itmo, but this morning on The Takeaway, public radio's insipid new morning pseudo-news show, a significant amount of airtime was devoted to a segment called "The Songs That Torture Us" -- a response to the well-known list of songs blasted at detainees in U.S. military prisons, which Mother Jones recently published as a sidebar to some serious articles on torture. This means that for many minutes this morning, all us good liberals in the public radio audience were regaled by a discussion of torture that reduced the issue to "Which would be a more effective song to torture you -- 'Billy, Don't Be a Hero" or 'You Light Up My Life'?"

(Listen here.)

Judging from the e-mails to the show, it appears that more listeners happily played along than objected to the segment.

Bush fears opening day boos

So Bush isn't going to throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals' home opener, for the second year in a row? That's what The Washington Post says, although the Post tiptoes around the glaringly obvious reason. (Go to any of the links here if you want to see what happened to Cheney last year when he went in Bush's place.)

I wonder if Chris Matthews will have anything to say about this, given how eager he was to gush in the days when Bush actively sought out photo ops of this kind:

Going back to 9/11, Matthews found himself blown away not by Bush's political or military response but by his ability to throw a baseball. He compared the man to--I kid you not--Ernest Hemingway. "There are some things you can't fake," he explained breathlessly. "Either you can throw a strike from sixty feet or you can't. Either you can rise to the occasion on the mound at Yankee Stadium with 56,000 people watching or you can't. On Tuesday night, George W. Bush hit the strike zone in the House that Ruth Built…. This is about knowing what to do at the moment you have to do it--and then doing it. It's about that 'grace under pressure' that Hemingway gave as his very definition of courage."

Oh, gag me. But we can't ignore this kind of nonsense, because far too many idiots think there's some correlation betweeen jockishness and being an effective political leader.

I think they're still selling souvenir photos of Bush on the mound at Yankee Stadium at the southwest entrance to Central Park, a few blocks from where I'm sitting now. (Selling them to the red-state tourists, that is -- no one who lives here ever wanted the damn things.)

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