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The election is not just about jobs, it’s about the vision thing

The election is not just about jobs, it’s about the vision thing

There is a new jobs report out, with the usual caveats that the work force is shrinking, but the nominal unemployment rate is down to 8.5%.  That’s the number which counts politically.

The rate would be 10.9% if the same number of people were in the workforce as when Obama took office

The media keeps telling us jobs is the main issue for the election.  Maybe.  But it’s a whole lot more, it’s a question of the vision thing.

Would you vote for Obama if the nominal unemployment rate were down to 8% by November 2012? Or 7.5%, or 7%.

Of course not, because it’s about jobs but it’s not all about jobs.  It’s about what type of country this will be.  Will we be a country of individual economic freedom or cogs in someone’s ideological wheel.

If a candidate cannot articulate that vision with passion based on history, the election will be a hostage to misleading statistics.

You know where I’m going with this, and you know I’m right.

Update:  How will the line “I don’t think he’s a bad guy, I just think he’s in way over his head” work if the nominal unemployment rate keeps dropping?  Once you take the vision thing out of the equation, as McCain did in 2008, we are at the mercy of whatever economic news is on the front pages in October 2012.

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Comments

Henry Hawkins | January 6, 2012 at 9:55 am

Personally, I trust about, oh, 0% of the stats coming from the Obama adminstration, about .5% of the stats coming from any other Dem administration, and about 2% of the stats coming from a Rep administration. Stats rigging has long become another reelection tool.

It is inconceivable, but even if the economy was roaring come November, I can think of about 20 other reasons to vote Obama out, primary among them: Obamacare, Supreme Court nominations, taxs, regulations.

The problem with Dems, particularly the current uber-liberals in the WH and Congress, is that even if they produce a roaring economy, they’ll milk every penny right back out of it via taxes and other wealth redistributive schemes, once again killing the golden goose. If they could manage to make money flow, it would only be to make it flow to Washington for redistribution.

Yes. It is so laughably easy to see this coming, and so easy to predict that the GOP won’t, and that the candidate they and the elites choose for us will walk right into the jaws of the institutional Left’s self-serving narrative beast. It will all be about the economy recovering “at last” from the long ravages of Bush, and how anyone in his right mind could think going back to the “Wall Street” Republicanism embodied by the Richie-Rich tool Romney makes sense. Romney is so compromised, clueless, impotent and reactive he’ll have no idea how to adapt to the new narrative, or how to destroy it and drive his own narrative and vision — no idea how to raise and confront the issues of lost liberty and the Hydra-headed Left’s insidious assaults of social transformation.

Drudge has: “MARKETS DROP AT OPEN DESPITE NEWS…”

It’s not despite. They actually know how to read the PR. This thing won’t be turning around until the size of the workforce goes up, at least back to where it was in 2008. When that starts to happen, the “unemployment rate” as measured by the BLS will actually first start to go up (due to folks returning to the workforce) and then it will go down.

and of course, all of this will be revised next month .. upward.

10.9%, eh? Seems low, especially when the U6 numbers is usually a good bit higher.

    Really? 10.9 seem high to me, considering U5 is at 10.0 (9.8 unadjusted). U6 wouldn’t be relevant to unemployment compared to the workforce at the time Obama took office, because it includes those employed part time as unemployed.

To the typical Obama voter, the nominal is all that matters. If they new the difference between “real” and “nominal” it would mean they actually knew a thing or two about economics and they probably wouldn’t be voting Democrat anyway.

I expect the number to keep dropping with a big drop right around September. I don’t put it past a Chicago style politician to put pressure on the Labor Dept, to “kick out of few outliers” and bring the participation rate down even more. Obama has already politicized every other part of his administration…

Not sure I agree that 8.5 is the number that “counts politically,” only because it seems when that number is mentioned, the mentioner very often makes the point about the declining pool of job-seekers keeping the number from being much larger. Since this has been going on for a couple years now, I don’t think there are very many people who don’t understand that there continues to be a huge problem with unemployment and underemployment despite the modest downward movement of the official number.

This isn’t that difficult a concept for people to grasp. Tt’s far less difficult than, say, the problems with Obamacare, which Americans overwhelmingly grasped, helping to produce the Dems’ shellacking in the midterm elections.

BurkeanBadger | January 6, 2012 at 11:02 am

You are certainly right about “the vision thing”. The media wants to boil down the substance of this election to a handful of simplistic “issues” without connecting the dots and obfuscating the voters’ ability to comprehend the broader picture. If it’s just about jobs, or even just about “the economy”, we are not merely at the mercy of what economic news is on the front page in October, but how successfully David Axelrod can spin it.

You are also correct that Romney has, hitherto, completely neglected the “vision thing”. He has run a maddeningly cautious, focus-group driven campaign centered around a handful of talking points. If he wins New Hampshire by a big margin, he will have a fairly clear path to the nomination (marked by one speed bump known as the Palmetto State). Nevertheless, he has to change his approach if he ever wants to win over that 50%+ who has little use for him right now.

I also agree that Newt Gingrich is better at articulating the “vision thing” than Romney ever will be. And if Gingrich had Romney’s background, he would be a very strong candidate.

Where I think you err is in concluding that if Newt Gingrich is the nominee, the “vision thing” will take center stage in the fall campaign. It won’t. Rather, the election will be all about Newt. His personal and professional past has given the media and the Obama machine (largely one in the same) an armory of ammunition which could easily control the headlines every day from the end of the GOP Convention to election day. And if they actually run out of legitimate stories, they will make stuff up. They will continue to push the notorious “served his dying wife with divorce papers” canard and any other even remotely plausible rumor.

Will Newt be able to successfully respond to all of this? I have my doubts. When Hannity interviewed him a while back, Newt mentioned Ronald Reagan’s famous line, “There you go again” in deflating the punch of Carter’s scurrilous attacks. But would Newt be able to do the same thing? Based on his personality, I doubt it. He clearly bristled and grew annoyed at the Romney/Paul barrage in Iowa. Imagine this times 50 and you have the environment of a campaign against Obama. I strongly doubt Newt would be able to dismiss it with the playfulness and good humor of Reagan.

I hope Romney is forced from his cocoon. I hope that Newt’s ability to articulate “the vision thing” rubs off a little on Romney; or at the very least, I hope Romney starts to appreciate the importance of trying to articulate it.

However, Romney remains the GOP’s strongest candidate. Maybe that’s unfortunate. But it’s true.

    “Rather, the election will be all about Newt.”

    Same with Romney. It will always be about the Republican — this is the irrefragable MSM paradigm. The question is: which candidate offers the best chance to warp the paradigm. That wouldn’t be Romney.

    “Will Newt be able to successfully respond to all of this? I have my doubts.”

    Again, all relative at this point. Compared to whom? Gingrich has regularly demonstrated a capacity to respond and in deeper, associative ways. This is worlds beyond Romney. Even Santorum has even shown a certain doggedness in the face of the MSM. Romney? He only fidgets and spastically smiles his way through stress. He’s literally retarded in his comprehension of the Left.

    “He clearly bristled and grew annoyed at the Romney/Paul barrage in Iowa. Imagine this times 50 and you have the environment of a campaign against Obama. I strongly doubt Newt would be able to dismiss it with the playfulness and good humor of Reagan.”

    Reagan also bristled, from time to time. Bristling can be good. And we need also apply this standard to Romney, no? Imagine Romney’s interview with Brett Baier “times 50.” Where is the “playfulness and good humor”? No one is Reagan — the point is which candidate is equipped to challenge and redefine the Leftist narratives.

    “However, Romney remains the GOP’s strongest candidate. Maybe that’s unfortunate. But it’s true.”

    What is unfortunate is that so many people believe this. It is a parallax view from the inside of the GOP and according to their outdated and self-satisfying establishment notions –without accounting for the Left. “Those reckon ill who leave me out…” That would be the Left. Gingrich is the candidate of this moment in history: an anti-Leftist, of sorts, by nature and experience driven to challenge them. That Romney is seen as “stronger” is just one more perversion in a sad sequence of them by the self-loathing and self-deluded GOP ruling class now leading us to an astounding and inconceivably perverse defeat in 2012.

      BurkeanBadger in reply to raven. | January 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      “Same with Romney. It will always be about the Republican —this is the irrefragable MSM paradigm.

      This is correct to the extent that the media and the Obama machine will try to make it about Romney or about whoever the nominee is. My point was simply they will have to work a lot harder and spend a lot more money to frame the election as a referendum on Romney. Very few people have any strong feelings about Romney. Will the media/Obama try to depict him as a rapacious, “Mr. 1%” who is both heartless and clueless and a slave only to his corporate masters? Yes. Will the succeed? Maybe. But it is going to take a lot of money and time to do so.

      With Newt, not much money or time is necessary. He has basically written the narrative that will be used against him. And, as I’ve said before, do not underestimate how much Newt is despised by the left. You might take that as a badge of honor and if this were merely a debate over ideas and policy, perhaps it would be. But this is an election. The ideal candidate will:

      1. Motivate his base,

      2. Appeal to independents, and

      3. Keep the opposition relatively blase.

      Romney can succeed at (2) and (3). Newt can only succeed at (1). A Newt nomination would guarantee that even the most apathetic, mildy left of center individual would be committed to vote for Obama from the get go. With Romney, Obama will have to work hard to get these types (and there are a lot) in his corner.

      “The question is: which candidate offers the best chance to warp the paradigm. That wouldn’t be Romney.”

      It wouldn’t be Newt either. This goes to what I was saying before. Unlike Reagan, I strongly doubt Newt can ever simply let an attack on him go with a good humored “there you go again”. He will respond to everything in detail and attack the attackers (and there will be 100’s of them from every media outlet, Soros funded think tank/interest group, union, Democratic politician, etc.) He might (just might) be quite impressive in his rebuttals. But it will consume the headlines and the tone of the fall campaign. The paradigm will remain: It will be all about Newt.

      “Again, all relative at this point. Compared to whom?”

      Compared to Romney. Romney hasn’t been subjected to a whole lot of attacks and criticism yet. But from what we’ve seen so far, he is able to respond in a more light-hearted manner than Newt and not take it too seriously. Will his demeanor be the same when the attacks come at him 50fold? We will see. That’s why it is crucial for him to face much more scrutiny now, before his nomination is sewn up.

      “Reagan also bristled, from time to time. Bristling can be
      good.”

      Yes he did and yes it can. But Reagan almost never let the media or the left get under his skin. Even when he was clearly annoyed or exasperated, he knew how to let things go, stay positive and keep his sense of humor.

      I don’t see any of this in Gingrich. As I’ve said before, his demeanor comes off much like many progressive politicians/intellectuals, including our pseuo-intellectual President: overly intense, aloof, lecturing, relatively humorless. When was the last time you saw Gingrich make a self-deprecating joke or two? He always seems to believe he’s the smartest guy in the room and has to let you know it. Even if it’s true, this is not an appealing trait as a candidate.

      “And we need also apply this standard to Romney, no? Imagine Romney’s interview with Brett Baier “times 50.” Where is the “playfulness and good humor”?

      Yes we do. The Baier interview, however, seems to have been an outlier with Romney. Of course, I cannot say for certain since, again, Romney has not been challenged and attacked to a significant degree. Everyone has a bad day, a bad interview, a moment when they’re just irritable. With Gingrich, however, this type of irritable, lecturing, annoyed-that-his-audience-cannot-keep-up-with-him demeanor seems to be the norm.

      “No one is Reagan — the point is which candidate is equipped to challenge and redefine the Leftist narratives.”

      You’re right, no one is Reagan, certainly neither Romney nor Gingrich. But I disagree; the point of this election is to defeat Obama, period. Challenging and redifining the leftist narratives is a much broader goal, of which this election is simply one small step. Some might see this election as akin to 1964: Lose this battle but establish a new narrative which will be successful in the much larger battle of ideas, rather than “settling” for a candidate who may win but offers next to nothing in the battle of ideas. But I do not. I want to win, period.

      “Gingrich is the candidate of this moment in history: an anti-Leftist, of sorts, by nature and experience driven to challenge them.”

      I’m sure he thinks so. But once again, I am less interested in the battle of ideas than in beating Obama. I am less interested in a major paradigm shift in the minds of the masses – away from welfare liberalism, which has dominated our political/economic landscape since the 1930’s (Reagan’s noble attempts to reverse it not withstanding) and towards a more classically liberal mindseth – than in defeating Obama. Period.

      Remember: Most voters are not political junkies or intellectuals. They do not reflect on competiting political narratives or even realize how much our politics/policy is influenced by welfare liberalism and economic statism. This is not a matter of indifference or stupidity but rather lack of time. Perhaps they should be more reflective and perhaps a Professor Gingrich would do wonders to make them so. But a presidential campaign is not the time or place to do this, at least not in any great detail. And, even if it was, I don’t believe Gingrich would succeed at doing so, because he will be consumed with discussing and arguing about attacks on himself.

      It ultimately comes down to likeability with many voters. Gingrich’s personality is not very likeable. I do not seem him being able or willing to change this. Romney may not be terribly likeable either. But his personality is: (A) Less intensely disliked, and (B) More malleable. Romney can potentially be made more likeable (only potentially). Gingrich cannot.

      “That Romney is seen as “stronger” is just one more perversion in a sad sequence of them by the self-loathing and self-deluded GOP ruling class now leading us to an astounding and inconceivably perverse defeat in 2012.”

      I’m not self-loathing and not a part of the ruling class. I’m just a humble Iowa lawyer who passionately wants to defeat Obama.

        “My point was simply they will have to work a lot harder and spend a lot more money to frame the election as a referendum on Romney. Very few people have any strong feelings about Romney. Will the media/Obama try to depict him as a rapacious, “Mr. 1%” who is both heartless and clueless and a slave only to his corporate masters? Yes. Will the succeed? Maybe. But it is going to take a lot of money and time to do so.”

        Don’t agree in any sense. How hard did Ted Kennedy work to accomplish this end in the 1994 Massachusetts senate race. He put together one black and white ad about Bain Capital. Romney essentially unraveled. He was running even in September and lost by 20 points. Gingrich has been taking and parrying blows from the Left for 30 years – he has sailed into the teeth of their worst storms and emerged with actual victories. Romney has never demonstrated any such intention or resilience, only complaisance and accommodation to their audience, and opportunistic shapeshifting for the Republican audience.

        “Very few people have any strong feelings about Romney.”

        How‘s that? I’ve never seen a leading Republican candidate with such intense and persistent opposition within his own party. It seems immovable – he can’t add to numbers after five years of trying. Romney paid $100 per vote in Iowa. Santorum paid 73 cents. This is not close to an accurate assertion.

        “With Newt, not much money or time is necessary. He has basically written the narrative that will be used against him. “

        This is a generic statement applicable to any republican, from the Left’s POV. You are simply internalizing and translating the Left’s POV. But it is useful to accept the premise that every Republican, by definition, has “written the narrative.” The issue then really becomes: “who can re-write his own narrative, or challenge the narrative, or not be enthralled to the Leftist narrative”? We can argue about this all day, but I will maintain all day, based on hard evidence, that the person least able to do this is Romney. He has never done it. His response to narratives is not to confront them but to change his own positions. This explains his impenetrable ceiling of popularity among conservatives, who widely understand this plasticity. To the larger audience, a candidate without measurable or consistent values (no matter of what type) is likely to prove a dubious alternative to a known-quantity incumbent.

        “And, as I’ve said before, do not underestimate how much Newt is despised by the left. “

        This is INDEED a badge of honor, prima facie. Reagan was despised too. In fact, given a choice I would ALWAYS choose the candidate most despised by the Left. This is their message to us. And this has huge advantages which are, of course, either missed, feared or derided by the GOP establishment.

        “You might take that as a badge of honor and if this were merely a debate over ideas and policy, perhaps it would be. But this is an election.”

        You’ve got that inverted. It’s much more of an advantage in an election than it is in a “debate over ideas.” It is anyway in the hands of a savvy candidate who knows how to exploit it. In an election one has the time, conditions and opportunity to play off the hatred and caricature. Reagan did it. Not comparing Gingrich to Reagan, only saying that he has a far more self-confidence and a more relaxed and extemporaneous nature than Romney. Romney is stiff and uncomfortable in this personal sense. I’m not saying for sure Gingrich can do this, but that he stands a better chance of Romney doing it – as I’ll explain in a moment.

        “The ideal candidate will: 1. Motivate his base..”

        We agree Romney cannot. Has any candidate ever won the presidency with a dispirited base? I’m open to examples.

        “2. Appeal to independents, and”

        The great canard, once again. We heard it ad nauseum with McCain. How did that work out? Contrariwise, I remember the wild alarum in 1980 that Reagan would alienate and lose independents. Independents are drawn to conviction and clarity – they simply need reassurance.

        “3. Keep the opposition relatively blase.”

        This is the old and notorious impulse toward timidity deeply embedded in the RINO character and worldview – the fear of not stirring up the opposition. It arises from insecurity and betrays a basic misunderstanding of politics and the American character. That is, the goal should never be to sedate the opposition, but rather to see the larger audience as broadly American, and to articulate the best solutions as one sees it for America within a coherent political philosophy, and absent any inflections of calculation. The goal should be not to either agitate or sedate – but simply to address the problems according to your worldview, and unapologetically. Reagan did this. Much of what he said made the establishment proctors of etiquette cringe, of course. RINOs like Romney eternally fail to get this. They spend their lives trying to avoid saying anything that might make anybody cringe, and to calculate the precise formulas for maximum gain with minimum risk, or rather for minimum gain within a fearful world of maximum risk. It is simply, organically, defeatist. Independents are not moved.

        Thus I don’t agree as a rule that Newt won’t appeal to independents. Truth is, none of us really knows how this will play out on a national basis. I would argue that clarity and conviction of ideas, the willingness to challenge and contrast oneself with the Left, will rouse the independent spirit of those disgusted with Obama and the Left but not always clear exactly why. They need reasons, clarifications – not to be insulted with the idea that will automatically be drawn to the least abrasive or controversial or scandalously outspoken candidate. Why would they be roused to vote by someone who basically scumbles the distinctions rather that someone who sharpens them?

        “A Newt nomination would guarantee that even the most apathetic, mildy left of center individual would be committed to vote for Obama from the get go. “

        This is anxiety. It is the exact reiteration of the “concern” (i.e., fear) the GOP elite used on Reagan in 1980. If you believe, in the final analysis, that the emotional resolve to vote against Romney will be less intense by November based on the Left’s efforts than that against Gingrich, or that Gingrich doesn’t have a greater ability to counter the caricatures and campaign of hatred than Romney does, you’re mistaken. In any case, one must factor in the ability of each candidate to influence or at least deflect these forces.

        “With Romney, Obama will have to work hard to get these types (and there are a lot) in his corner.”

        On what basis? All Obama has to do is pluck out the photograph of Romney grinning with his Armani-garbed Wall Street cohort as money spills out of their pockets.

        “It wouldn’t be Newt either. “

        Yes of course it would be. Gingrich is demonstrably proactive and better at both narrative-busting and forming new narratives. His speeches are rich with attacks against the Left on fronts no candidate comes close to noticing or covering.

        “Unlike Reagan, I strongly doubt Newt can ever simply let an attack on him go with a good humored “there you go again”.”

        Based on what? He’s been attacked mercilessly in the past month and has not responded in this manner at all. His response to Romney so far has been a factually comparative ad – far milder than McCain’s 2008 attacks. This is a meme promulgated by those anxious to establish Gingrich as “crazy.” It’s simply not been the pattern.

        “He might (just might) be quite impressive in his rebuttals. But it will consume the headlines and the tone of the fall campaign. The paradigm will remain: It will be all about Newt.”

        Traveling in circles here. The paradigm will ALWAYS be about the republican. So what? Who can best counter it.
        “But from what we’ve seen so far, he is able to respond in a more light-hearted manner than Newt and not take it too seriously.”

        Say what? His responses have been pinched and weird ($10,000 debates, “that’s uncalled for”)

        “Will his demeanor be the same when the attacks come at him 50fold? We will see. “

        We’ve seen plenty. He doesn’t do well under pressure.

        “But Reagan almost never let the media or the left get under his skin. Even when he was clearly annoyed or exasperated, he knew how to let things go, stay positive and keep his sense of humor.”

        Not true. Seen the clip of Reagan telling a leftist heckler to “shut up!”? The point is, he responded appropriately for a self-confident man and a self-aware politician. Romney, I submit, is neither. As mentioned, his response are notoriously “off-key.” Never quite right to the moment. Also, repeat, Gingrich has been inundated with a negative barrage unlike anything I’ve seen in a primary but responded with nearly supernatural restraint.

        “His demeanor comes off much like many progressive politicians/intellectuals, including our pseuo-intellectual President: overly intense, aloof, lecturing, relatively humorless.”

        This is subjective. I would disagree on every count. Gingrich speaks like a well-written political pulp novel would read – entertaining and chockful of ideas. He doesn’t condescend – except occasionally to the media. And I’ve heard far more self-deprecation and humility and sense of humor from Gingrich (his reminiscences about mother and life as an Army brat, his past battles, his mistakes and personal flaws) from anybody in this race. In fact, I can’t remember ever hearing a single self-deprecating joke (or a joke at all) or an admission of mistake from Romney.

        “Yes we do. The Baier interview, however, seems to have been an outlier with Romney. “

        I’ve been following Romney for many years. It’s not an outlier. He doesn’t like being pressed on these issues. He resents it. His thin-skinned petulance is akin to Obama’s.

        “With Gingrich, however, this type of irritable, lecturing, annoyed-that-his-audience-cannot-keep-up-with-him demeanor seems to be the norm. “

        Give me one example of when Gingrich lectured irritably and impatiently before an audience he didn’t think could keep up?

        “But I disagree; the point of this election is to defeat Obama, period. Challenging and redifining the leftist narratives is a much broader goal, of which this election is simply one small step. “

        Massively, tragically wrong. The Republican candidate is not even really running against Obama. He’s running against the entire institutional Left. It is a fatally short-sighted misperception to believe otherwise. Obama is just the front man, the product of the Left’s work within the culture for 50 years. The premises underlying the Obama phenomenon must be deconstructed – this is how you get around the reflexive charge of racism and “politics of hate” and bypass the whole incivility hypocrisy (which poor McCain never understood), etc. Go back to Reagan’s campaign. He singled out Carter for sure, but spent an equal amount of time attacking the liberal project of big government. He knocked the pillars and presumptions out from under Carter. Running just against Obama is exactly the mistake a RINO will make – a RINO cannot confidently attack the premises of Leftism because he believes, as his own self-governing rubric, that he must find a way to work with them. And the more extensive and deeply-rooted and stronger the Left gets, the more resistant RINOs become about confronting them. Romney is the apotheosis of RINOism.

        “I want to win, period.”

        You don’t have the luxury anymore not to confront the narrative. None of us does. And, as I’ve indicated, it is exactly the successful strategy — aimed at crippling Obama (a weak specimen all around but not for his phalanx of cultural forces and support systems).

        “I’m sure he thinks so. But once again, I am less interested in the battle of ideas than in beating Obama. “

        Than you’re not interested in winning. It’s always about ideas. Never more than now. To extirpate an incumbent you need ideas most of all. We’re coming out of a failed epoch of the personality – we’ve seen the disillusion settling in over Obama. There is a great hunger for clear, constructive, concrete ideas and for a man who believes in them.

        “Romney can potentially be made more likeable (only potentially). Gingrich cannot. “

        I could just as easily invert this assertion. Romney has proved he does not gain or grow in popularity or likability despite laboring at it. Gingrich hasn’t run this kind of race before. He was certainly likable before millions of dollars of dishonest ads were dumped on his head. Romney, on the other hand, has failed to improve his likability despite millions of dollars and years of campaigning.

        “I’m not self-loathing and not a part of the ruling class.
        I’m just a humble Iowa lawyer who passionately wants to defeat Obama.”

        I didn’t suggest you were a part of the Ruling Class.

          BurkeanBadger in reply to raven. | January 7, 2012 at 1:19 am

          “Don’t agree in any sense. How hard did Ted Kennedy work to accomplish this end in the 1994 Massachusetts senate race. He put together one black and white ad about Bain Capital. Romney essentially unraveled. He was running even in September and lost by 20 points.”

          This analogy is of marginal importance at best. You are comparing a U.S. Senate race in one of the most liberal states in the nation against an icon of the most beloved political family in modern history with a Presidential election against a once idolized yet now at least somewhat deflated incumbent.

          The point is: It wouldn’t have been too hard for Kennedy to tear apart any opponent even in the GOP year of 1994. It will be hard (though I agree not impossible) for Obama to destroy the right GOP opponent. I’m not saying he won’t try (he will) or that he won’t succeed (he might), but it’s going to take a lot of time and money…against the best opponent.

          Among any and all possibilities, Romney is nowhere near the best. But he is the best of the field we have.

          “Gingrich has been taking and parrying blows from the Left for 30 years – he has sailed into the teeth of their worst storms and emerged with actual victories.”

          And suffered humiliating defeats. Do you need to be reminded of the government shutdown of 1995-6? Or the circumstances leading to Newt Gingrich leaving the Speakership?

          “Romney has never demonstrated any such intention or resilience, only complaisance and accommodation to their audience, and opportunistic shapeshifting for the Republican audience.”

          As for the first part, once again I am less concerned about drawing lines in the stand in some grand battle against “The Left” as I am about defeating Obama. As for the second part, the same can be said about Gingrich (do we really have to rehash the Pelosi couch video, the swipes on Ryan, etc.?). All politicians (other than a few purists like Ron Paul) do this.

          “How‘s that? I’ve never seen a leading Republican candidate with such intense and persistent opposition within his own party.”

          First, I was referencing “strong feelings”. It is clear that Romney is not the first choice of most Republicans. But, he is the second choice of many and acceptable to most, outside of the blogosphere (which, important as it is, cannot exactly be considered representative of the zeitgeist). I can dig up some polls if you want, but most Republicans who do not support Romney still don’t categorically oppose his nomination.

          Second, this goes beyond the Republican base or conservative activists. You seem to dismiss my concern about appeal to independents, but they matter more than the base. No, we cannot pander to them (which would backfire anyway), but we cannot simply assume that if our candidate fires up the base and delivers a powerful message that independents will come flocking to him.

          Romney can win over independents and moderates (“can” not “will”). Gingrich cannot. I’ve seen no polls to contradict this. Yes, polls fluctuate and independents are notoriously uninformed and mercurial. But there are a handful of political figures who are so intensely disliked by such a broad section of the population that it is well nigh impossible for them ever to bring moderates into their corner. Gingrich is one of them.

          “It seems immovable – he can’t add to numbers after five years of trying. Romney paid $100 per vote in Iowa. Santorum paid 73 cents. This is not close to an accurate assertion.”

          It’s already moving. Romney remains above 40 in New Hampshire and is now leading in South Carolina, possibly by a double digit margin (depending on the poll). People are coming around, slowly, but they are.

          “This is a generic statement applicable to any republican, from the Left’s POV.”

          No, it’s not. Currently, all the left can say about Romney is that he is a rich, rapacious capitalist who has put plenty of people out of work. Not a good narrative, but very general (they left pretty much says all Republicans are rich, heartless scoundrels) compared the voluminous narrative about Gingrich which is already all prepared and ready to roll out.

          “But it is useful to accept the premise that every Republican, by definition, has “written the narrative.””

          I don’t accept it. Explain to me why I should.

          “The issue then really becomes: “who can re-write his own narrative, or challenge the narrative, or not be enthralled to the Leftist narrative”? We can argue about this all day, but I will maintain all day, based on hard evidence, that the person least able to do this is Romney.”

          Once again, I don’t accept your assertion that Romney has written the left’s narrative of him already. Therefore, there is no need to refute your assertion here.

          “This is INDEED a badge of honor, prima facie.”

          I’d say it depends on why they despise you. The left is absurdly petty and irrational it its hatreds, both of the opposition and of their own. Many of them have always hated Hillary, even though were she president currently, she would likely be in a much stronger position than Obama.

          “Reagan was despised too.”

          Yep, but they despised him for all the ‘right’ reasons (‘right’ from the perspective of conservatives)

          “In fact, given a choice I would ALWAYS choose the candidate most despised by the Left.”

          Oh really? I haven’t seen any polls on this currently, but up until very recently the politician most despised by the left was George W. Bush. Are you thus suggesting that the GOP should nominate Bush (if the Constitution permitted)?

          “Not comparing Gingrich to Reagan, only saying that he has a far more self-confidence and a more relaxed and extemporaneous nature than Romney.”

          Self-confidence, yes. But it goes too far, into arrogance territory. Yes, Romney is rather stiff and uncomfortable (although he’s getting better), but this is still less dangerous than arrogance. As I said in my previous post, Gingrich always thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room and always wants to make sure “you” (be it the audience, another candidate, the debate moderator or people watching at home) know it. It is very off putting.

          As for relaxed, yes, briefly when he was riding high in the polls and before the Romney/Paul barrage. He no longer appears relaxed whatsoever.

          “We agree Romney cannot. Has any candidate ever won the presidency with a dispirited base? I’m open to examples.”

          This is a tricky question. Perhaps “motivate” was not the best term. “Excite” is better. I agree that no GOP candidate can win without the base turning out in decent numbers. But winning is possible without a terribly excited base. I think of George H.W. Bush in 1988.

          ““2. Appeal to independents, and”

          The great canard, once again. We heard it ad nauseum with McCain. How did that work out?”

          Poorly. But I think you will agree 2008 was very atypical: A weak incumbent battered by a poorly managed war, eight years of “big government conservatism” leading to a financial crisis and a Democratic nominee who was anointed as the golden one, the light bearer, the reincarnation of JFK, RFK, MLK, FDR, Lincoln and Jesus combined. I don’t think any Republican could have come close to winning under those circumstances.

          The canard here is that one can win over independents/ moderates by adopting viewpoints which mirror theirs. This is pandering and usually comes off (rightly) as superficial and insincere. I am not advocating this. I agree that the goal is to move the center to the right, not pander to the center from the right.

          That being said, a candidate’s personality and background still has to appeal to independents/moderates for him to have any hope of moving them in his direction. I don’t know if Romney will be able to; but he is much more likely to than Gingrich.

          “Independents are drawn to conviction and clarity – they simply need reassurance.”

          This is true, as far is it goes. But, by “reassurance”, I would add that they need to feel their candidate can relate to them, can empathize with them. Romney is far from perfect in this regard. But, as stiff and wooden as he is, as much as his rather elite background might detract from his ability to connect, Newt’s limitations here are far more severe. Obviously, he has a negative reputation (deserved or not) which is burned into the brain of many voters. Furthermore, as I said before, he comes off as a lecturing know-it-all, rather exhausted that we, his “students”, just can’t keep up.

          “The goal should be not to either agitate or sedate – but simply to address the problems according to your worldview, and unapologetically.”

          A worthwhile goal, indeed. It may lead to a great victory with the right candidate (like Reagan). But we do not have any candidate who can accomplish this successfully (Paul Ryan has, sadly, opted out). Therefore, I am embracing a more pragmatic goal. Winning. Period.

          “Thus I don’t agree as a rule that Newt won’t appeal to independents. Truth is, none of us really knows how this will play out on a national basis.”

          Granted, we cannot know for sure. But, I am basing my opinion on Newt’s high negatives with independents, on the past experience of the 1990’s (where Clinton won re-election in a large part on trashing Newt and the shutdown, and successfully portraying Newt as the face of the GOP), and on Newt’s personality currently, which may be very appealing to conservatives but is off putting to independents.

          “Why would they be roused to vote by someone who basically scumbles the distinctions rather that someone who sharpens them?”

          We won’t. But we (meaning most conservatives) will still vote for him, I think. And if he is able to appeal to enough independents and keep enough blase lefties home, he just might defeat the most incompetent, destructive president in my lifetime (Carter would be a close second). That’s really all I can hope for at this point.

          “This is anxiety. It is the exact reiteration of the “concern” (i.e., fear) the GOP elite used on Reagan in 1980.”

          As you have pointed out, Newt is no Reagan.

          “On what basis? All Obama has to do is pluck out the photograph of Romney grinning with his Armani-garbed Wall Street cohort as money spills out of their pockets.”

          Oh, that photograph is going to hurt…I have no doubt. But Romney does have a response: “Yes, I got rich. Yes, sometimes my company put people out of work. Yes, perhaps I’m a bit flippant about all of this (not that he’d literally say this). BUT, Bain also created jobs and helped the economy; helped the standard of living for some people” Will he successfully articulate it and will it be persuasive? No idea. But it’s a response.

          What is Newt’s response to his $1.6 million payoff from Freddie Mac? He was their “historian”? He was paid all that to tell them how awful they were? That he was merely a “consultant”, not a lobbyist? Completely unconvincing. Yet, I have not heard him provide anything more substantial

          “Gingrich is demonstrably proactive and better at both narrative-busting and forming new narratives. His speeches are rich with attacks against the Left on fronts no candidate comes close to noticing or covering.”

          Probably. But most of this is lost on the “average” (read: not strongly conservative or strongly liberal) voter. It certainly excites conservatives, but I fully concede that Gingrich is better at exciting the base than Romney. That’s simply not enough.

          “Traveling in circles here. The paradigm will ALWAYS be about the republican.”

          Yes, but as I have said, the left will have to work MUCH harder to maintain this paradigm with Romney than they will with Gingrich.

          “Say what? His responses have been pinched and weird ($10,000 debates, “that’s uncalled for”)”

          I think the “$10,000” comment is overblown. No one doubts that Romney is very rich. Was he rather glib with this comment? Perhaps. But, it’s less damaging than Newt’s incessant lecturing. I know many conservatives reveled in Newt’s dressing down of Scott Pelley (and I agree it was delightful). But many independent and moderate voters see such behavior as snotty and off-putting.

          “We’ve seen plenty. He doesn’t do well under pressure.”

          He’s been okay, not great. Once again, he needs to be challenged more. And, this is happening now and will continue. It will either sink him or make him much stronger. I’m betting on the latter. But, time will tell.

          “Seen the clip of Reagan telling a leftist heckler to “shut up!”? The point is, he responded appropriately for a self-confident man and a self-aware politician.”

          I love that clip! But it was Reagan at his most exasperated. That will happen occasionally, with any politician. By contrast, I submit Newt is virtually always exasperated

          “Also, repeat, Gingrich has been inundated with a negative barrage unlike anything I’ve seen in a primary but responded with nearly supernatural restraint.”

          For a time. But that is changing rapidly. But again, it is not that I expect him to come out screaming in a fit of rage (though I think that could happen), it’s his aloof, dismissive, professorial, vainglorious attitude which worries me. He will be consumed by the barrage of attacks from the Obama/MSM less because he will scream furiously about it but becuase he will lecture, ad nauseum, about how absurd the attacks are and how defective each and every attacker is, completely dominating the media attention. Meanwhile, the economy, foreign policy or even the more lofty notion of dueling political narratives will be completely forgotten.

          “This is subjective. I would disagree on every count. Gingrich speaks like a well-written political pulp novel would read – entertaining and chockful of ideas. He doesn’t condescend – except occasionally to the media.”

          Certainly you are entitled to your opinion. Just remember that how conservatives see him is vastly different from how independents and moderates see him. And if this is an election we want to win; thus, their subjective opinions are of more importance than yours or mine.

          “I can’t remember ever hearing a single self-deprecating joke (or a joke at all) or an admission of mistake from Romney.”

          Did you watch Romney on Letterman? Not terribly funny, but cheerfully self-deprecating and light-hearted.

          “He doesn’t like being pressed on these issues. He resents it. His thin-skinned petulance is akin to Obama’s.”

          He’s not used to it. He needs to be challenged more. As far as comparison to Obama, Gingrich’s impatient lecturing of anyone who challenges him reminds me of Obama almost exactly. Granted, Gingrich is more sophisticated (he was a real professor, unlike the pompous poseur, Obama). But the result is similar.

          “Give me one example of when Gingrich lectured irritably and impatiently before an audience he didn’t think could keep up?”

          Seriously? His “debates” with Herman Cain or Jon Huntsman for starters.

          “The Republican candidate is not even really running against Obama. He’s running against the entire institutional Left.”

          No. He is running against Obama. As I said before, grand historical narratives aren’t the primary focus here. In the long run this is, of course, a broader struggle between two very distinct ideologies which have been at loggerheads for generations. But, as Keynes said, in the long run we’re all dead. Perhaps I’m too base and vulgar, but, in a presidential election, I think broader debates about political philosophy are secondary to winning.

          “Obama is just the front man, the product of the Left’s work within the culture for 50 years. The premises underlying the Obama phenomenon must be deconstructed – this is how you get around the reflexive charge of racism and “politics of hate” and bypass the whole incivility hypocrisy (which poor McCain never understood), etc.”

          I agree completely. But the primary venue for countering all of this is not in a Presidential election. There are neither time nor resources to deconstruct the perniciousness of the New Left and all of the absurdities it has spawned (of which Obama is merely one passing phenomenon). Stay practical. Beating Obama is one small victory in a much larger clash of ideas. But it is still a victory. Let’s focus all of our energy in the presidential election on beating Obama and leave the broader struggle against the left for other venues.

          “You don’t have the luxury anymore not to confront the narrative. None of us does.”

          I am all for confronting the narrative. But using a presidential election is the primary venue to do it is not going to be successful. At least, not in the short term. Maybe a defeat by Obama is worth it to successfully articulate a vigorous and unyielding response to the leftist paradigm (though, as I have said, I doubt Gingrich would accomplish even though). Maybe I’m just short sighted. Maybe. But, gosh darn-it, sometimes I think you need to see the trees and not the forest. 🙂

          “Than you’re not interested in winning. It’s always about ideas.”

          It is always about ideas so far as no candidate can ever win merely expressing vacuous talking points. But, the other extreme is equally true: No candidate can ever win merely my pontificating a political philosophy. Romney is too much of the former, perhaps. But Gingrich exhibits far too much of the latter. And of the two, Romney is much more able to adapt. Again, there’s no guarantee he will, but it’s possible.

          “We’re coming out of a failed epoch of the personality – we’ve seen the disillusion settling in over Obama. There is a great hunger for clear, constructive, concrete ideas and for a man who believes in them.”

          I disagree. I think the public is exhausted by grand narratives and big ideas. Obama was all about both, at least superficially (I know his rhetoric was largely fatuous and self-aggrandizing, but it certainly suggested a broad new paradigm…even if it was substantially the same welfare liberalism peddled for the last 80 years). I think they are turned off by any “fundamental transformations” (left or right) for the time being. Rather, they are looking for a nuts and bolts guy who will work hard to revitalize the economy and spur job growth. Romney (as always, far from ideal) fits this bill far better than Gingrich or any other candidate.

          “Romney has proved he does not gain or grow in popularity or likability despite laboring at it.”

          I don’t agree with you’re asserting a positive here (“he’s proved”). I will agree with a negative: He has not proven that he can grow in popularity and likeability. But, there’s still time for that.

          Regardless, this is not about likeability in a vacuum. It is relative to the other candidates. Romney still has vastly more potential than Gingrich to be likeable by independents and moderates .

          “Gingrich hasn’t run this kind of race before.”

          Technically true in that he has never run for president before (unlike Romney). However, he was very much a national figure in the 1990’s. Indeed, he was the primary face of the GOP at the national level throughout his tenure as speaker. And, from the government shutdown on, he was wildly unpopular, intensely disliked by independents and , ultimately exasperated many in his own House caucus. The point here is twofold:

          1. That legacy remains.

          2. I see no indication his persona has changed to any significant degree. Beneath the “New Newt” lurks the old Newt. He just can’t help it.

          “He was certainly likable before millions of dollars of dishonest ads were dumped on his head.”

          Really? Were you supporting him last summer? Perhaps so, but few others were. Gingrich was the beneficiary of an ongoing cycle of ephemeral obsessions with the “not-Romney du jour” of Republican candidates. He followed Bachmann, Perry and Cain. He certainly seemed likeable for a brief time while the anti-Romney Republicans settled on him as the default alternative upon Cain’s collapse. But, as they moved past their initial exuberance and actually reflected on him, their passion diminished quickly. Romney and Paul’s deluge of attacks play a large role, of course. But, they were largely reinforcing doubts which already existed.

          “I didn’t suggest you were a part of the Ruling Class.”

          I know. But I did want to clarify. The most passionate of the anti-Romney contingent often imply that Romney supporters are all either part of the GOP establishment or the conservative chattering classes or their useful idiots. Not true. I have no connection to the Republican hierarchy and my relationship to the conservative scribbler set is limited to a longtime subscription to “National Review” and faithful reading of “Commentary” and “Weekly Standard”. Beyond that, I am just an ordinary guy who is as concerned about the assaults upon our liberty by this runaway administration as the most stringent Tea Party member.

Yes, the problem with the “jobs, jobs, jobs” argument is that Obama and the Democrat State-run media can easily manipulate the jobs data to reflect positive outcome. Conversely, when Bush the Republican was in office unemployment was steady at 5.6% until the Democrats took control in 2006 yet most Americans perception of the economy was negative and was due to Republicans (hence, the meme that when Obama took office he had to’save us from Bush’s worst Recession since the Great Depression’)

Further, and more dispiriting; if Americans only care about jobs-and what is in their wallets-then what they’re really saying is they don’t care about personal liberty, self-reliance, rule of law, freedom, liberty and the US Constitution.

‘Jobs, Jobs, Jobs’ is weak cheese for weak people.

They can massage the numbers all they want. That’s not going to change the facts of life.

1- People don’t have jobs who want jobs.
2- People with jobs are sick of not getting raises…and worrying about having a job next month.

The 48% who voted for McRino are not switching sides. Can’t say that for the 52% who voted for someone who turned out to be a big fat fraud by their own standards.

Granted 40% wouldn’t abandon the Democrats if the race were Satan vs Jesus, but 40% doesn’t win an election… no matter how much cheating is involved.

Right now I’d rather be looking at Richard Simmons in dolphin shorts than another four years of Obama.

That’s how serious the situation is.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | January 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm

My 79 year old mother who is as anti-Obama as I am said in a family conversation about politics around Christmas that the margin between Obama’s election and McCain’s defeat in 2008 was decided by people who don’t really know why they voted for Obama the first time, so why is it rational to believe they’ll vote for someone else this time? I thought that made sense.

I think the point she was making is that elections are decided by a relatively few people who are the least informed, non-ideologically driven among us. Her comment rang true as I recalled a Pew poll as recently as October in which nearly half the respondents could not name (unaided) a single Republican running for president. So what motivates the willfully ignorant? Probably not policy, which is a fancy way for saying the “vision thing”. Charisma? Probably more so than policy, but who really knows?

Good luck figuring out how to connect with people who choose to be uninformed.

If Obama’s central campaign theme is that he’s running, Truman-like, against an “obstructionist Congress intent on destroying the economy” in order to make him a one-term president… it’s not going to work very well if employment rates (at least in appearances) improve. All the Republicans in Congress have to do is emphasize that things have gotten a lot better since they took over and the nightmare of the Pelosi years was over- and that it can get even better once they have full control of the Senate.

(And even at a 7% unemployment rate- that’s still almost 2% higher than the average rate under Bush.)

But the “vision thing” will absolutely be the key thing: And what better model to follow than the Gipper? 22 Million jobs created under Reagan versus 2 Million net loss under Obama. A time in which people had stability in their lives, and real hope for America’s future versus the reckless Obama years in which millions of Americans are always fretting about next month’s paycheck, or whether they will ever work again.

AG, remember that the unemployment rate went up in the first several years under Reagan:

During the Reagan administration, the American economy went from a GDP growth of -0.3% in 1980 to 4.1% in 1988 (in constant 2005 dollars), which reduced the unemployment rate by 1.6%, from 7.1% in 1980 to 5.5% in 1988, but with peaks of around 10.8% in 1983.

And if you believe that the GOP can be trusted to do the right thing if they have all three levers, history proves you to be dangerously naive.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to jimbo3. | January 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    “And if you believe that the GOP can be trusted to do the right thing if they have all three levers, history proves you to be dangerously naive.”

    We had just that quite recently – both houses and the WH – and it didn’t turn out well at all. I’d love to see it again this cycle, but I do not want the same GOP establishment bunch who will undoubtedly botch it again. Romney is the choice of the GOP establishment that so botched it just a few years ago.

    My wish list extends past winning the WH, extending the house majority and taking the senate majority. My final wish is that the new president be an actual conservative, and that both Boehner and McConnell be replaced as majority leaders in their respective houses.

jimbo3,

The number of jobs created are the number of jobs created. The proof is in the pudding.

And you’re conveniently neglecting the fact that Reagan initially had to deal with sky-high inflation resulting from the Carter years.

Unemployment data..all about the spin and seasonal (cough) adjustments. You tell me..do the actual new claims numbers give you a better sense of reality than the seasonaly adjusted?

W/E 12/3 523,642
W/E 12/10 433,287
W/E 12/17 418,466
W/E 12/24 490,364
W/E 12/31 535,112

So much for that magic figure of 400,000. I dont even bother with the seasonal adjusted figures any longer. Ill settle for reality with explanation. Seems to me the seasonal adjusted figures are really misleading even with basic direction.

BurkeanBadger | January 7, 2012 at 1:19 am

Not much more I can add. I grew up in the Cambridge-Berkeley nexus of the hard Left. I know the Left. I’m not wrong about this stuff. The Left will devour Romney. Obama will eke out a scorched earth victory.

On one hand I’d say this might be for the better. There will be no going back. RINOism will be finished.

On the other hand, I feel we’re in for more surprises on the way to the convention, or at the convention.

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