My Boring Primary Season and other short notes

Primary season in New Hampshire has been dull this year. There’s no Democratic race, and Republican candidates conceded the state to Romney a long time ago. Plus, it’s been harder to find out where candidates are, and a lot of their speeches are at business-club meetings or other gatherings the rest of us aren’t invited to.

Ah, the old days. About a dozen candidates campaigned here all through the summer of 2007. It didn’t take effort to see them, it took effort to avoid them. One day I saw a crowd gathering in front of City Hall, and found myself at a Fred Thompson rally. My wife and I went to one of our usual restaurants and discovered that Barack Obama was answering questions behind the divider.

This time around, Republican candidates didn’t arrive in force until this week. I feel like they’re asking me to dance only because prettier girls turned them down.

Wednesday I stirred myself to go hear Newt Gingrich in Manchester, and he didn’t even answer audience questions. (John McCain spoiled me. The whole point of his NH campaign was to demonstrate his amazing ability to answer unscripted questions 12 hours a day.) Here’s what I learned: Newt doesn’t want Iran to get a nuclear weapon; in spite of George W. Bush’s 8-year failed experiment, he still believes in supply-side economics; and he talks a lot about Reagan but never mentions Bush.

Stop the presses.

I suppose I’d still like to see for myself whether Rick Santorum is as scary as he seems on TV. But it’s got to be today or tomorrow, and my heart isn’t in it.

Nate Silver is giving Mitt Romney a 98% chance of winning tomorrow. Sure. Why not?


David Waldman demolishes the “Mitt Romney, job creator” myth and coins the great phrase locust capitalism. Several of Romney’s business take-overs resemble what Tony Soprano used to call a “bust out“: You borrow a bunch of money in the company’s name, take it, then declare the company bankrupt and fire everybody. Mitt is a great businessman because he figured out how to do a bust out without breaking the law.

Looks like it’s not just liberals making this point.


Once again in December: Private sector employment up, public sector down. Where is this huge expansion of government the Republicans keep talking about?

The Obama jobs record in a nutshell: During the first six months of his administration, the continuing Bush downturn destroyed 3.1 million jobs. Since then, 1.2 million jobs have come back.

As I pointed out two months ago in Jobless Recoveries Are Normal Now, it’s hard to either credit or blame Obama’s economic policies for this, because although this recession is deeper than the last two (and was already on Inauguration Day) the shape is the same. That pattern is continuing.


A popular Republican talking point is that they represent “equality of opportunity” while Democrats want government to guarantee “equality of outcome”. More accurately: Both sides want equality of opportunity, but Democrats regard inequality of outcome as evidence of inequality of opportunity, while Republicans believe the poor deserve their fate.

Paul Krugman makes two points that can’t be repeated often enough:

  1. America has less equality of opportunity than “socialist” countries like Canada.
  2. Republicans are against any attempts to make opportunity more equal.

The Economist adds this comment on the politics of the opportunity/outcome argument:

The risk in Mr Romney’s position is that, to the extent that people recognise that the staggeringly rich keep getting wealthier while regular people aren’t getting anywhere, arguing that this represents “equality of opportunity” is saying that regular people don’t deserve to get ahead. The reason Mitt Romney is fabulously rich and you aren’t, on this telling, is that he deserves it and you don’t.

Try telling that to this couple.


Want to explain “socialism” to your conservative friends and family? Let Nurse Pam help.


I love Keith Olbermann — not the least for giving Rachel Maddow her big break — but do you get the impression he might be hard to deal with?


I keep waiting for somebody to draw the right lesson from the death of Kim Jong Il: Kim had nuclear weapons for the last 3-5 years of his life and never used them.

Every time the NeoCons beat the drum to attack another country (as they’ve doing with Iran for years now), the message is: “Their ruler is crazy. Deterrence won’t work with somebody like that.” We heard it about Saddam, and now we’re hearing it about Ahmadinejad.

This is great framing for the warmongers, because it tempts peaceniks to defend the sanity of somebody the American public doesn’t like. “Saddam/Ahmadinejad/the-next-villain is saner than you think” isn’t a winning political message.

Now we have a better response: “Is he crazier than Kim Jong Il?”


Rick Perlstein: To Rick Santorum, “freedom” means owing your soul to the company store.


My prediction of a Santorum victory in Iowa was off by eight votes. Or was it?


Montana’s Supreme Court just made a direct challenge to Citizen’s United. I’ll try to explain better after I read the decision.


When banks become hot investments, watch out. Good banking is boring banking.

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  • By Inventing the Narrative « The Weekly Sift on January 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    […] My Boring Primary Season and other short notes. Ah, for the halcyon days of 2007, when presidential candidates by the dozen vied for my attention all summer. Mitt as “locust capitalist”. Why “equality of opportunity” is a risky meme for conservatives. The real lesson of Kim Jong Il. Santorum’s Grampa was “free” to owe his soul to the company store. Montana’s Supreme Court rejects corporate personhood. And more. […]

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