#2012

Mitt v Newt: Triumph of the Negative Will

To re-state the theme of an earlier post written during the previous Newtening, the further Gingrich goes, the more the “massive external event” must be considered to have already undermined the position to which he ascends. He already represents crisis within the Republican Party.

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On the Sunday Question for Liberals

maybe we’re luckier than we deserve to be, or deserving because at least sufficiently aware to recognize the American conservative movement as catastrophe enough already.

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Newt: The Establishment Nightmare That Could Come True

Conservative activists have a different view of the risks and opportunities of 2012 than either establishment pooh-bahs or the pundits. What looks to some like a winnable-or-losable general election looks to ideologues like the best chance in decades to replay 1964 and repeal the Great Society and the New Deal.

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Dreaming of an O landslide

If this tantrum lasts through the election, and if 2012 is for the Republicans what 1984 was for the Democrats, then finally our polity stands a chance of functioning again. The Tea Party will be dead and buried.

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Gingrich v Obama would be great for the country – and for liberalism

After such debates, an Obama victory would signify more than just the re-election of a moderately popular president over an opponent who fails to inspire the base of his own party—as happened with both Bob Dole in 1996 and John Kerry in 2004. It would expose the moral and logical defects of the conservative ideology that has been mostly dominant in the U.S. since 1980, even under Democratic presidents. Then, perhaps, a true liberal revival could begin.

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O v YoYo

“We simply cannot return to this brand of you’re-on-your-own economics if we’re serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country,” Obama said, in what will probably be the most enduring line of the speech.

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What we’re talking about when we’re talking about Newt

The GOP nomination fight as a test case for eternally unlikely theories of fundamental political-historical change.

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Shrinking O

His concern with alienating conservatives is wholly unproductive: it is unlikely that he can be more hated by the Tea Party than he already is. Nonetheless, he continues to relentlessly pursue compromises with Republicans that will never happen. Indeed, so concerned is he with his own degree of belonging that he jeopardizes the sympathies of those who actually have felt a natural and authentic connection to him.

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Forecasting the failure of politics as we think we know it

The crisis that makes centrist political science untenable would correspond to, be the same as, the crisis that makes centrist politics untenable.

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Romney: Believe in White America

A dreary African American America brought to power through the African American president, versus a (ca. 99%) White America everywhere associated with Mitt Romney.

Posted in Politics, TV Tagged with: , ,

From the Featured Archives

Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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