Here’s Larry Kudlow, explaining why Tim Pawlenty’s tax-cutting proposal will be good for the economy:
Smaller government, lower tax rates, fewer economic regulations, and sound money were tried down through the 20th century by Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. These policies worked. Over the past decade, however, the historic postwar U.S.-growth baseline of 3.4 percent per year has been dismantled. Through 2010, actual growth is nearly 20 percent — or close to $3 trillion — below the historical norm. Pawlenty is saying we have to do our best to close that humungous [sic] output and jobs gap.
Students of history will remember that, for most of the last decade, George W. Bush was president. And for all of the last decade, the tax cuts signed by Bush–which dropped marginal tax rates to historic lows–have been the law. So, if the slowing of the US economy coincided with an enormous tax cut, that would seem to imply the exact opposite of what Kudlow believes he’s arguing. Am I missing something?
For someone who one day aspires to be president, Jon Huntsman is in a pretty enviable position, as almost every conceivable 2012 scenario ultimately works in his favor–even the scenarios in which he loses. This is how I see it:
1. He runs but fails to get the nomination. This is okay, because it positions him to be next-in-line to run in 2016 (or later, if Obama doesn’t get re-elected).
2. He runs, fails to get the nomination, but ends up as the eventual candidate’s VP. Huntsman would be a good counter-balance to someone like Bachmann or Cain. If he runs as VP but loses, that’s okay, because it positions him to be next-in-line in 2016. If he runs as VP and wins, that positions him to be next-in-line in 2020 (assuming the candidate at the top of the ticket ran for re-election–but now we’re getting ahead of ourselves).
3. He decides not to run. This probably won’t happen, but if he doesn’t run, it positions him to be…you can finish this sentence, right?
4. He runs, gets the nomination. A win for obvious reasons.
The old adage that Republicans nominate the next-in-line in presidential primaries is a little bit overstated, but there’s no denying that being seen as an early front-runner can help a candidate gain traction when they might not otherwise (there’s no way Romney would have gotten as far as he has this cycle, for instance, had he not been the runner-up last time around). Anyway, I can think of but one losing scenario for Huntsman:
1. He runs, does poorly in the primaries, and is passed on as VP. Let’s say Huntsman comes in sixth place in New Hampshire, one of his must-win states. This would make it a lot harder for primary voters to take him seriously in 2016. He has to at least make a respectable showing; otherwise, he’ll just be remembered as the moderate guy in Obama’s cabinet who entered the race late and never gained any traction.
Oddly enough, that last one might actually be the most likely: he’s currently pulling 1% or so in most polls.
Karl Rove is, without question, the most skilled sophist I have ever seen.
Two individuals have attracted my interest as of late.
After watching a Donald Trump interview all the way through, I’m starting to think that his political skills are underrated, whether or not he actually intends to run for President. Say what you want about him, but he comes across as confident, comfortable, and genuine (regardless of whether or not he’s being genuine). This isn’t something you can say of most elected officials. However, he also comes across as extremely arrogant, which might work if he mixed in some occasional humor and self-deprecation, but he doesn’t. Trump talks about policy with an almost annoyed confidence, as if he’s wasting his time explaining himself to you and only complete idiot would even consider disagreeing with him. That kind of thing doesn’t play too well on a national stage, and so while I could see him getting the nomination (it’d be a stretch, for sure), I don’t think he’d stand a chance against in the general. Ultimately, he’s just too negative.
That being said, if Donald Trump ever chooses to run for congress, I believe he would have an excellent chance.
One of the Trump interviews I watched was on Fox News, conducted by none other than Bill O’Reilly. My feelings on O’Reilly are pretty much in line with most liberals/moderates/thinking individuals. That being said, there are two occasions on which I’ve seen him adopt a tone of criticism toward the hard right. The first was in the aforementioned interview with Donald Trump; the second was in a segment he did debunking a few smears against Obama.
Now, what specifically surprises me about this is that, while O’Reilly occasionally adopts a moderate stance, he’s usually refrains from actively criticizing conservatives, and it’s even rarer that he actually defends Obama. This seems to me a significant trend, and I can think of two explanations for it. One would be that Fox News is beginning to fracture internally between the hard-right and the insane-right, and O’Reilly is choosing the more “moderate” side. The announcement that Glenn Beck’s show is ending, coupled with reports of internal frustration in the studio with Beck, make me wonder if there’s a little civil war going on. If there isn’t, perhaps O’Reilly perceives or anticipates one, and is acting in accordance to try and emerge as the more “reasoned” voice of the network.
That’s the optimistic scenario, as I’d like nothing more than to see O’Reilly become an integritous, trustworthy news anchor and commentator. The more cynical assessment is that O’Reilly’s actions are in complete accordance with Fox News’ role as the PR wing of the Republican Party. That is, the network perceives Trump, and birtherism and related memes, as posing a serious threat to the GOP’s national image, and are attempting to discredit =it. This seems be more likely, although it would baffle me as to why Fox would perceive birtherism as a threat, as opposed to any of the other countless bits of bullshit they’ve peddled over the years. Regardless, I’m curious whether this is indicative of any long-term change on O’Reilly’s part, or simply a fluke.
I can watch “Curb Your Enthusiasm” without wincing. I can watch both versions of “The Office” without wincing, I can’t watch Mitt Romney speak without wincing.
Lawrence O’Donnell made an interesting observation last night: out of the entire GOP presidential field, the only candidate without a major, potentially disqualifying flaw seems to be…Tim Pawlenty. This runs counter to conventional wisdom, which says that Pawlenty will never get anywhere because he’s too bland. But I think O’Donnell is onto something.
Every GOP candidate for President has at least one enormous downfall that would make either the primaries or the general very difficult. Mitt Romney has the health care bill he passed as Massachusetts Governor. Jon Huntsman has his background as a member of Obama’s administration. Newt Gingrich has his troubled marital history (as well as the pro-climate change commercial he did with Nancy Pelosi a few years back). Sarah Palin has…well, Sarah Palin. Haley Barbour doesn’t exactly have one singular Achilles Heel, but rather a few medium-sized problems (his lobbying on behalf of immigration reform, the race controversies he seems to wade into every week or so) that, when taken collectively, amount to a pretty intractable uphill climb.
But what does Pawlenty have? Well, he’s perceived as bland and uninteresting, and has relatively low name recognition. Okay. But this is an issue of demeanor, which is something that can be changed, as opposed to issues of track record, which cannot be changed. Pawlenty can take speech classes, hire image consultants, start saying controversial things, or any number of things to rehabilitate his “boring” image. Romney can’t un-pass Romneycare. Gingrich can’t go back in time and un-divorce his two cancer-stricken wives. Jon Huntsman can’t erase the last two years he spent as Obama’s Ambassador to China. And so on.
The possible exception to this is, oddly enough, Sarah Palin. She, like Pawlenty, has a problem of personality, not track record (although she’s done and said plenty of things that could come back to haunt her). She’s a polarizing figure, but I can’t think of one particular thing she’s done that she’ll have to constantly defend or explain.
But Palin’s personality problem is different than Pawlenty’s. The difficulty facing Palin isn’t that she has low approval ratings (although she does); it’s that she has low undecideds, meaning that most everyone knows and has made a decision about her. Pawlenty’s relatively low name recognition gives him a lot of room to grow (and in fact, as his name ID has risen, so have his approval ratings).
To be sure, I still only see Pawlenty winning as a sort of compromise candidate, a default choice rising from the ashes of everyone else after they either self-destruct or destroy each other. But he doesn’t have an albatross on his neck, and that’s undoubtedly an asset for a Republican this cycle.