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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cantor about SNL: "I thought it was very funny"

Cantor responding to the SNL skit here.



Best line of a fairly uneven skit:
"As Republicans we don't have to agree on everything. You like Rush, Eric here likes Sean, someone else might like Michael Savage. We're a big tent party".

It'll have to be national security: GOP may not win tax issue in 2012

A nugget.

Don't know if anybody has yet noticed in the Republican Party but President Obama was presented last week a major talking point for 2012.

He'll sign today one of the largest tax cuts in history.

In spite of the White House pointing this out to journalists, it is funny how little remarked-upon this is.

It's hard imagine we won't hear about this four years from now. And if that's not boxing a future Republican candidate in ahead of time, I don't know what is.

Caveat: Republicans can just argue they wanted bigger cuts, right? Sure, except for this hitch. If the economy's recovered, Obama can argue he struck the perfect balance.

Remember Bob Dole's nominating speech in 1996? The "We can do better" theme? How'd that turn out for President Dole? When things are going well, it's tough selling "Things could be even better".

It's like snagging Katherine Heigl for a girlfriend, and then getting an offer from Megan Fox. Tempting, yeah, but ultimately you stick with Katherine Heigl.

Make a 2012 candidate Obamicon!

New York Times writes about it here. Do it here.

Project Run Away: Romney's shift on gay rights

Marc Ambinder breaks down the complexities. If you're a fan of nuance, you'll like it. If you're Jim Cramer, we'll get to the BAM-BING-BOOM.

Essentially, Mitt Romney has always supported civil unions. Technically, he first supported "domestic partnership agreements" and opposed civil unions. But theoretically, domestic partnerships and civil unions are the same thing.

Once the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, Romney supported a civil union arrangement, but (according to aides) only to initiate the anti-gay marriage campaign. A long legislative and legal process ensued, and then Mitt got the hell out of there, so he could rid himself of its Presidential implications.

See, even the Jim Cramer Version's not easy.

Ambinder sums up the politics of LGBT issues and the GOP nicely:

In defense of Romney and others, though, the terrain on gay rights has been shifting so fast that most politicians in the middle have been caught out in the cold -- both moderate Republicans who find their "progressiveness" on gay issues is no longer so compelling to LGBT voters, and moderate Democrats who find themselves on the wrong side of a signal civil rights issue.

(To that end, Obama will be probably be the last Democratic presidential nominee to oppose same-sex marriage.)

Sarah Palin's black gold nightmare

The AP wonders if there will be political blood in Alaska, as the state prepares for an estimated $1.5 billion shortfall in June's fiscal year end.

It's a long way from Palin's early tenure.... the hugely popular governor got the state to give $1,200 to most Alaskans in a one-time fuel relief payout that totaled about $740 million. That payout was on top of a record $2,069 dividend from the state's oil royalty investment program, which distributes checks annually.

Maybe that's why the House GOP warned against one-time payouts - They're one time.

But Palin says Alaska's prepared:

The state has socked away $1 billion in an education fund for the next school year and education officials say another $1 billion is expected go into the fund this year for future use. More billions went into state savings as well, Palin said.

"We're more prepared than other states because of the prudence there.... We crossed that first hurdle."

NY Times picks up scientist's blacklist of Louisiana

Last Saturday we noted that if you don't think the National Scientific Society's boycott of Louisiana is heavy-handed blacklisting, then you're also likely to believe Germany's invasion of Poland was just welcome tourism.

Can you imagine an evangelical group backing out of a 2,300 member conference in New Orleans because they objected to Mardis Gras?

The narrow-minded Christianists, who can't broach dissent, are refusing to support Katrina-ravaged Louisiana!

Yet now that it's Bobby Jindal's state, it's quite all right to withdraw support.

Even Barbara Forrest's Louisiana Coalition of Science admits as much:

.... "the citizens of Louisiana, whose educational well-being the governor claims to be so concerned about, are now paying the price — literally — for his loyalty to his conservative Christian base."

This is a liberal "Heck of a job, Brownie" moment, and once again, Louisiana pays the price.

Cantor's America vs. Newt's

Bob Shrum notes the structural differences between America Now and America Then, and how it might doom a 1993 reprise.

"Cantor obviously hopes to repeat the 1993-94 'revolution' during which relentless Republican opposition to Clinton stalled progress and shattered Democratic congressional majorities in the mid-term election.

.... There wasn’t an economic crisis then; today there is, and it’s urgent. Yet the Republicans are coming across as bitter and obstructionist, determined to bring the President down no matter what the cost to the country. This is not the architecture of a successful electoral strategy; it is a spasm arising from ideological rigor mortis

If you want to keep reading, Shrum goes T.S. Eliot on us.

On another note: a reader writes in that Republicans are hoping to Iraq-War the Dems with the stimulus.

I have some people I know who are staffers for Cantor, and they say that's come up more than once. Iraq Vote = Stimulus Vote is a quiet underpinning to this - they are also talking a lot about the Healthcare vote in 1993, and how the GOP didn't go along with it, and the disaster was blamed on Clinton, which lead to their Congressional comeback. That won't happen now, but they do see the possibility of something good happening for it.

Risky Business, and we don't even get Rebecca De Mornay from it.

Larry Kudlow: Gregg should run for President in 2012

Writing for the Corner:

"Judd Gregg has more backbone than anyone in politics today. He did his best to cross over and help Pres. Obama. But as Gregg and I discussed in a recent CNBC interview, the senator has a long and outstanding record as a tax-cutter, budget-cutter, deficit-cutter, and debt-cutter.... how many major public figures would have simply drawn a line in the sand and said, No, I simply cannot cross that line?

.... He ought to think very seriously about a presidential run. I mean it. This is an act of courage. That’s what we need."

So here you go -- Judd Gregg On the Issues.

We're not going to go deep into his head, because a Presidential run seems very un-Gregg like. He's not an attention whore, and that's not to say you have to be an attention whore to run for President, but you at least have to be an attention slut; and if not the village bicycle, certainly the garden wheelbarrow.

Two Mormons on your Right shoulder

The American Spectator tries figuring out whether Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman would be a better trial case for Mormons who wish to ascend the Presidential summit:

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who has always been pro-life, might be a better test of evangelical willingness to support a Mormon presidential candidate than a formerly pro-choice, pro-gay rights governor of Massachusetts.

On the other hand, Huntsman might have even bigger problems among secularists. Romney's Massachusetts residence and Bain background gave him some distance from anti-Mormon stereotypes that will be difficult for a Utah governor to achieve.

David Frum says that if it matters, it shouldn't.

Maybe Mitt Romney’s adherence to the teachings of Joseph Smith proves him a sucker. But there’s no sign of the sucker about him when he reads a balance sheet! Why should we assume he’d be any more gullible when it came time to negotiate a treaty or face down a foreign threat or review an EPA regulation?

....If candidates like these [Romney and Huntsman] cannot be elected to national office because of their religious affiliation, then our Republican talent pool looks dangerously shallow. It’s important to know: how thick are the barriers against a Mormon president – and what might help to surmount them?

Keep reading -- it's the longest analysis of Mormonism and politics, since Huckabee's opposition researcher delivered the Monday morning briefing to his boss.

Crist ratings down... only 67% approve

Rasmussen has a new one out.

Do they need to run these polls anymore? Here's guessing they randomly sample about 20 voters and say "to hell with it, why call another 400? Let's beat traffic."

Hutchison: I'm a Reagan foot soldier, too!

If you're just starting to descend into the certain depths that will be the primary race between Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison, you don't have to go it alone -- Jean Hayworth has an excellent starter's course.

KBH spokesman, Todd Olsen:

“.... the Senator is a longtime Republican who was backing Ronald Reagan in 1984 when Perry was a Democrat trying to elect Walter Mondale.... Democrats rejected Perry. He switched parties. Now he’s having trouble winning elections as a Republican. KBH is a Republican by conviction and Perry is a Republican by convenience."

Please media, just don't ever say this is going to be a "Texas-sized brawl".

Instead, go with an orchestra of Ukulele's playing The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly as your cultural pitch-point.

Club for Growth features coterie of 2012 candidates

The Club for Growth's Annual Winter Economic Conference

When: March 5-7, 2009
Where: The Breakers in Palm Beach
Speakers include: Mark Sanford, Jim DeMint, Mitt Romney, Dick Armey, Rick Perry etc.,

For more info on how you can mingle with this jingle, click here.

For more info on Club for Growth, click here.

[Hat tip: NY for Mitt]

The Omnipresent, Won't Go Away, Energizer Bunny, Tale as Old as Time, Another Saw Movie Newt Gingrich Watch part 2

Part 1 was provided by the Washington Post.

By 12:30 p.m., close to 400 viewers were tuning in online. Newt Gingrich stopped by uninvited; he said he read about the get-together in blogs.

Part 2 is provided by NBC's affiliate in Naples:

For the crowd of zoo-goers in Naples Monday, a newt was the last creature they expected to see, especially a Newt Gingrich.

Pass along any you find. It's like a scavenger hunt!

Jindal's reponse to Obama is as a __ to a ___

Christian Science Monitor on the unfortunate reality (ea):

Despite the presence of a Republican response, Barack Obama has a big advantage.

More people pay attention to the president’s address. After all, he gets to speak in front of the entire Congress. He’ll have all of the orchestrated standing ovations.... The Republican response will be the equivalent of holing up in a closet with a webcam.

Rick Moran: CPAC 2009 shows party's irrelevance

Over at The Next Right, Rick Moran spits up what's on CPAC-tap:

The theme of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) should be “Cocooning our way to Irrelevancy” or perhaps “How to lose the next 5 elections in 10 easy steps.... It’s as if the debacles of 2006 and 2008 never happened. Does it matter that the very same people who helped get us clobbered the last two election cycles are running seminars and roundtables at the conference?"

And laments the GOP's counter-productive obsession with RINOS.

Some conservatives might not like the smell inside the “Big Tent” but turning up your nose at people who disagree with you on one or two issues is just plain nuts. “Litmus tests” and the like are all well and good unless you are a minority, getting smaller and less relevant, and don’t wish to find a way back in order to compete in the marketplace of ideas.

Maybe it's good Sarah Palin isn't going to this thing.

One person you can bet on seeing is the cross between a gazelle, an ostrich, and a starving dill pickle.

GOP insider: Crist for Senate "done deal"

If it were a criminal case, Crist for Senate would be nearing beyond reasonable doubt territory.

The Herald-Tribune on the quickly cascading evidence (ea):

One sign is Crist's frequent fundraising trips to Washington, D.C., where national leaders are touting him as an unbeatable candidate. Another indication was Crist's appearance this week in Fort Myers at a rally with President Barack Obama supporting the stimulus bill. And perhaps the biggest sign: Crist's own acknowledgment that he is considering a run.... A veteran Republican political consultant who requested anonymity called it a "done deal."

Of a dozen Republican consultants, political scientists, fundraisers and GOP leaders contacted, only one said Crist would not run. They all say Crist is acting more like a national figure than a governor.

.... On Friday, when the Manatee County Republican Party holds its annual Lincoln Day Dinner, neither Crist nor state party chairman Jim Greer, a key Crist ally, will attend. Both will be in Washington for a fundraiser -- Crist's fourth visit to Washington this year.

"His actions speak louder than his words," said Chris Ingram, a Republican political consultant.


Keep reading...

Reagan and Obama backer: I like Mitt Romney

From the halls of one of the more curious resumes, former constitutional lawyer to Ronald Reagan, active campaigner for Barack Obama, and supreme Arthur Laffer-hater*, Douglas Kmiec proposes a middle ground where post-partisan Obama and post-election GOP can meet: Mitt Romney.

This is the last "Romney for ___ " we're going to post, since he's been suggested for everything in Obama's administration except First Dog.

But it's always illuminating to see how markedly Romney has transformed himself.

Except this time, it's not Mitt moving; it's his party doing the heavy, image-altering lifting. The GOP realizes that, despite its objections, most Americans serve mammon, and getting God right isn't as important for next year's election cycle as nailing down permanent tax relief.

And that's where Mitt Romney comes swooping in -- not from Iowa, but from Wall Streetowa.

Kmiec:

.... while I am reluctant to recommend that the president give another Republican a chance at joining the Obama team, there is someone who seems ideally suited by personality and preparation: Mitt Romney. Romney's skill as a capable financial workout artist saved the 2002 Olympics from almost certain failure and successfully restructured innumerable private firms. In the GOP presidential primary, the ultrapartisanship of Mike Huckabee and John McCain derisively hung the "flip-flop" label on Romney or his intelligent open-mindedness, but in the light of day, that is better understood as a badge of honor.

*Says Kmiec, of Laffer's famous curve:

The Republicans need to break free of an economic theory that was drafted on economist Arthur B. Laffer's napkin. Supply-side theory may have sufficed at a different time, but giving the wealthy more reasons not to notice that 90 percent of the wealth is held by 1 percent of the nation takes no account of the present economic reality. Trickle-down tax relief, by definition, trickles, and when you've got a nation losing jobs monthly by the hundreds of thousands, trickling is not the answer.

Here's lookin' at you, Gov: Huntsman might lure major studio to Utah

Utah State Senate Bill 14 just moved through a key committee, and could wind up on the Senate floor by next week.

The bill would allow the state to pony up larger incentives for production companies to shoot in The Karl Malone State Carlos Boozer state.

State senator Lyle Hillyard speaks about the freest market of all, Hollywood (ea):

They’re talking about a major film studio locating in Utah.... It’s my understanding from the people working on the studio that my bill is really important for them to locate the studio here. So if my bill does not pass, then the incentives that the (film) companies feel they need would not be there — and they’d choose either New Mexico or Michigan — states that have twice the incentive that my bill has.”

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman also supports the bill (ea).

“By the way, our youth would like me to point out that Utah is rapidly becoming one of the hottest movie-making destinations between New York and Los Angeles. And if SB14, sponsored by Sen. Lyle Hillyard, is successful, the entire cast of ‘High School Musical’ may need to become permanent residents of our state.”

Will Mitt Romney and Al Gore band together?

If the incipient Leadership for the Prosperity Mandate has its way, both Romney and Gore will serve as managing directors of the Fund America Program.

According to the group's mission statement, the goal is to address the current economic crisis by providing a lasting and renewable stimulus package and economic recovery plan without a single dollar of direct government funding.

Other luminaries the group hopes to snag:

a. former CEO of Sun America Eli Broad

b. Cisco CEO John T. Chambers

c. GE CEO, Jeffrey Immelt

d. Founder of FINCA International, John Hatch

e. CFO of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Alexander Friedman

f. Famed economist Joseph Stiglitz

g. Former BAIN CEO, Tom Tierney

h. Vice-Chair of Berkshire Hathaway, Charles Munger

i. You already know him, Michael Milken

j. You already know him, Colin Powell

k. You're getting to know her real damn well, Meg Whitman

For more information on the group and its aims, click here.

Cantor: 176 Republicans and 7 Democrats believe we can do better

If they'd read what was in the bill, would more have voted with Cantor? No, that's because in DC, people don't read bills, they read polls.

Here's a smattering of smat in the bill, courtesy of CNS News:

a. $100 million for the Free School Lunch Program

b. $400 million for undefined NASA "exploration".

c. $2 billion for the manufacture of advanced batteries.

d. $1 billion for baggage-screening equipment for the Transportation Security Administration.

e. $1.2 billion for “summer employment for youth,” whom Congress defines as someone up to 24 years old.

f. $2.1 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start, the federal-state preschool partnerships (also known as DAY CARE)

g. $1.3 billion for Amtrak.

h. $140 million for volcano monitoring systems.

Keep reading...

Sanford proposes shutting down 3 regional campuses

On the chopping block? Three of the University of South Carolina's regional campuses. But before you pick up your academic pitchforks, consider this take:

Needless duplication of services in this relatively small state has plagued South Carolina's budget for years. ALL of the regional campuses of the University of South Carolina are no more than 2 hours from the main campus in Columbia. The ones that are being targeted for closing are even closer than that.

Why does this state need so many regional campuses when they are within relatively easy driving distance of the main campus?

The Omnipresent, Won't Go Away, Energizer Bunny, Tale as Old as Time, Another Saw Movie Newt Gingrich Watch, part 1

Since Sarah Palin officially declined to speak at CPAC, we were obliged to retire our "Minute-by-minute, Round the Clock, 24 hour, Comprehensive, exhaustive Sarah Palin CPAC Watch".

But by definition, our newest feature (titled above) is likely to run longer than the Simpsons and Bruce Jenner, combined.

We've noted that since Obama's election, Newt's been a science fiction movie -- i.e. in multiple places at one time. Whether it's to regain his stature within the party or to regain his stature within the party, or possibly, to regain his stature within the party, we're not sure.

But here's part 1, provided by the Washington Post, which reported on a recent meeting of technology minds in DC:

By 12:30 p.m., close to 400 viewers were tuning in online. Newt Gingrich stopped by uninvited; he said he read about the get-together in blogs.

Looking ahead to 2012? Obama signs stimulus in Colorado

Larry Sabato says it's no mistake that Barack Obama has chosen the John Elway State to sign the economic stimulus package:

“They’re making sure that all portions of the Obama coalition are carefully tended. Presidents lose re-election when they waste their term. You waste your term when you don’t use presidential travel wisely.”

In a non-2012 world, the Hill notes the odd nature of signing such a bill in the Mike Shanahan Josh McDaniels State.

.... the choice of Colorado as a backdrop for economic recovery legislation puzzled some because Colorado is not as badly off as manufacturing states where the economy is in free-fall. Nor is it considered to be among the hardest-hit by the foreclosure crisis.

All of this confirms Nate Silver's hypothesis that the Mountain West is the country's new battleground, and with demographic trends favoring Democrats, it might not be a battleground for long.

UPDATE!: Guess where Obama's unveiling his plan to reduce home foreclosures? Arizona.

[Hat tip: First Read]

DOUBLE UPDATE!!: US News: "Obama promoting agenda in key battleground states".

Washington Post: Sanford, Romney, and Cantor leading economic voices of GOP

Chris Cillizza dishes on the three GOP leaders who have emerged like butterflies from whatever butterflies emerge from since Barack Obama became POTUS: Mark Sanford, Eric Cantor, and Mitt Romney.

For his part, Romney's spokesman talks about his boss like 2012 is circled in giant, red ink.

"From having spent a career in the private sector, Governor Romney has some ideas on what it will take to get the economy moving again. He's going to continue to speak out on this and other subjects because he cares deeply about a strong and prosperous America."

(ea) Is George W. Bush going to continue to speak out on issues he cares deeply about? Also, note the "strong and prosperous America". You only talk about a strong and prosperous America if you're interested in representing her further. It would be one thing if Romney were a sitting governor or Senator -- then we might hear such talk. But he's not a this or that. He's just a Romney.

As for the remaining two men, Cillizza runs the key talking points. Sanford would rather drown koala bears who are about to have kittens (analogy, courtesy of dooce) than cut taxes; and Cantor is causing the Dems all sorts of mayhem, even though he's out-numbered 600-3.

Cillizza finishes by reminding us how physics and politics interact (ea).

All three men have national ambitions, whether in 2012 or beyond. And, it's not too early to see these attempts to emerge as the leading economic voice in the party as a precursor to that broader fight down the line.

In politics (as in life), every action tends to produce an equal and opposite reaction. When the president signs his economic stimulus bill today, watch for the pull in the other direction.

80% man: Civil union support doesn't hurt Huntsman

A new Deseret News/KSL-TV poll finds 80% of Utahns approve of the job Gov. Jon Huntsman is doing, with 67% saying his support of civil unions either makes no difference in their evaluation or makes them more likely to support him.

Further, Huntsman's disapproval rating rose from 7% one month ago, to 11% post-civil union announcement. Yes, that's within the margin of error.

And the intolerant Mormons? 47% of Utahns supported civil unions; 42% opposed them.

Let's not resort to cliches and say this turned out to be Much Ado About Nothing, because it clearly is something. The governor of the most religious, conservative state in the nation supports extending civil rights to gay couples, and finds more heads nodding approval than not.

Pollster Dan Jones:

"I don't think he took as hard of a hit as people had anticipated. When 2012 rolls around, he'll be on the short list."

As unfair as it might be, this may be step one in getting the Mormon stigma off his back. Strike that. Step 2. The Mitt Romney 2008 Controversy seems to have relieved many conservatives of the notion of imposing a religious litmus test on its nominee, if only because the idea of doctrinal parsing seems so divorced from making tax relief permanent or pursuing entitlement reform.

Who will benefit in 2012, Huntsman or Romney? It's not yet obvious. What is clear is that the Republican party is moving forward.

[Hat tip: Voice of Deseret]

UPDATE!: Utah TV station KSL reports on the same poll with the headline "Poll: Huntsman's endorsement of civil unions proves somewhat damaging".

Monday, February 16, 2009

Palin to Susteren: "Get beyond the ideal of abstinence... life happens"

It's a paragraph. It's Sarah Palin. It's Sarah Palin talking sex-ed. It's instant news.

Palin, who backed an abstinence-only sex education program when she ran for governor in 2006, told Van Susteren to expect abstinence from all teenagers was "not realistic."

"Get beyond the ideal of abstinence," the 44 year old, new grandmother said. "Hey, life happens."

"Not the most ideal situation, certainly you make the most of it," said the governor.



To watch the rest of the i/view with Sarah and Bristol, head over to Greta's site.

YARD SALE! Romney selling Utah and Boston mansions

The Salt Lake City Tribune reports the former Massachusetts governor has "more space" than he needs.

Are you sure? Check out the pic of his Utah digs, and just remember: he's got a very extensive family, and 9,514 square feet doesn't get you as far as 9,514 square feet in Citizen Kane's day.

Princeton Professor Julian Zelizer sees political calculation:

"If it's not financial, it's not inconceivable the memories of the McCain issue may be on his mind. He may be downsizing, so when he runs next time he doesn't have four to five homes for his opponent or President Obama to talk about."

It's quite unlikely this has anything to do with those Romney Nevada Senate rumors. Last year, Romney established legal residency in California, and for reasons detailed here, it's not in his best 2012-interest to run for Harry Reid's seat.

So you could take him at his "more space" word, or his Free and Strong America PAC.

[Hat tip: Voice of Utah]

A-Rod and Palin both coached by same pr firm

Tomorrow, Yankee star Alex Rodriguez will meet the media for the first time since he admitted using steroids, and when he does, he'll have the same communications firm that guided Sarah Palin through her run for VP at his side.

The group, Outside Eyes, describes itself, among other things, as an outlet that provides "media strategy, brand development, and crisis management to clients in many industries".

NJ. Com:

These are heavy-duty flacks, trained in dealing with political scandals and celebrity disasters. Two of its founding partners have experience in the Bush White House. Just a few months ago, Ben Porritt was a spokesman for the McCain campaign, handling Sarah Palin.

Porritt, who did not return phone calls Monday to discuss his latest client, was the one who answered questions on cable news network MSNBC to defend Palin when the vice presidential candidate insisted that the First Amendment should protect her from attacks from the news.

More on Ben Porritt.

TPM: Being Jewish, Black, or Gay only counts if you're liberal

Talking Point Memo's M.J. Rosenberg mocks Eric Cantor:

The GOP has decided that Eric Cantor is their fair haired boy. He's young, he has hair and he's Jewish.

This is the new GOP outreach. Find black, Jewish (and eventually gay) Republicans, move them up, and hope no one notices that they share none of the political views of their respective groups.

Ah, yes. The old Black Person who's not a Black Person trick. The old Yiddish words that aren't Yiddish words trick. The old Gay Person who's not a Gay Person trick.

Hutchison: The women love me

But not in an L-word kind of way.

The Statesman has Kay Bailey Hutchison talking up her support among women in the longhorn duel with Gov. Rick Perry:

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.... opened the congressional recess from Washington by reminding news organizations today she’s got backing if she runs for governor from past presidents of the Texas Federation of Republican Women.

Her campaign touted endorsements from 11 past presidents of the Texas federation and presidents of the National Federation of Republican Women.