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An Ounce of Wisdom from Rick Perry

June 30, 2014 Politics-2015 No Comments

From the current issue of Texas Monthly:

Brian Sweany
0714_Perry_470x608Governor Perry, I’d like to start at the beginning of your administration. Take me back to December 2000, when you became governor. It was an unbelievably momentous time in Texas politics: George W. Bush had become president as a result of a US Supreme Court decision, and as lieutenant governor, you ascended to the top job. What were your expectations of being governor then?

Rick Perry
Actually, you cannot start there, because the preparatory period is substantially prior to that, I came to Austin in January 1985 as a 34-year -old legislator, and that began the gradual education of Rick Perry. Sixty-six percent of my time in the House I spent on the Appropriations Committee, and I think there is not a better school to learn how government works. You can really find out about all these different agencies of government, how they function, and who the people are, and that was a priceless education for me. I not only made friends that would pay dividends in the future, I went on to head the Texas Department of Agriculture. So I sent from the oversight of agencies into the management of an agency. And then, as the lieutenant governor, albeit for only two years, I worked on consequential issues, and it was excellent schooling on how the Senate functioned.

All of that was part of my preparation for becoming the governor: to understand how this place works and to be curious about it. I think if there’s one thing that I am, I’m curious about how these things work. I was well schooled, well prepared, well experienced to serve as the governor of Texas.

A good chunk of the non-puppy-raising activity what’s keeping me away from the blog has been Lege Watching in the off-season. Part of that being the interim hearings currently going on, part being a rewind of committees I didn’t watch as much when they were going on in 2013. And on that note, I have to confess that watching Appropriations hearings have been a pretty good learning experience.

Now, make what you will of a southern Governor who refers to himself in the third person and also obfuscates the fact that he served all of two terms on Appropriations as a Representative. But in the 100% of the time I’ve been doing this, Greg Wythe grants him his point.

Once again …

Once again, the workday is a bit too much fun-filled with research projects to dive too deeply into subjects that I wish I had the time to blog about. One point to interrupt that for, however, is to extend an open invite to any/all folks who might wish to partake of some political activity tonight. And on that note, my State Rep is kicking off his 2014 campaign season at our favorite Italian Restaurant: Barry’s Pizza. So consider this an invite to join us between 5 and 7pm for free food and drinks.

Aside from that, there’s a little serendipity in reading Steven Teles’ “Kludgeocracy in America” thesis while also reviewing the House Appropriations hearing on the state CPRIT agency’s botched grant process. Specifically, the agency’s expressed desire during the committee to go ahead and award grants approved during the moratorium period that they were under at the time:

Should outgoing Governor Perry opt for a more four-eyed Presidential run in 2016, I look forward to hearing how this is totally different from any failings of Obamacare.

On “Playing Well”

July 16, 2013 Politics-2013 No Comments

» Chron: Abbott dislikes business incentive program

Seriously, I didn’t go looking for a a reason to crack on Rice’s Mark Jones (again). But … well … this …

Rice University political scientist Mark P. Jones said Abbott is “on very safe ground” criticizing the incentives, as many Texas Republicans and Democrats view the incentive funds “as a type of corporate welfare.”

“It’s something that plays very well with Republican primary voters,” he said. “And the general electorate.”

Maybe it’s just a very different kind of few weeks that Mark Jones is being quoted on. I dunno. But is there any factual basis for the words said by him here? By way of laying down some fact on my own side (that being that GOP voters may like the argument in the abstract, but they are wildly indifferent to it in practice), here’s a bit of linkage:

Jan. 29, 2010 – Hutchison raps Perry on Enterprise Fund
This is a standard AP story following the GOP debate between Hutchison, Medina, and Perry. Perry was attacked for his support of TEF. Guess which candidate won without a runoff.

March 13, 2010 – Bill White Demands Audit of Texas Enterprise Fund
Hey, we tried. Didn’t seem to move the needle, did it?

So … at what point in any of these criticisms of Perry’s administration of the Enterprise Fund did his support plummet? I mean, I get that there’s a cognitive dissonance between conservative orthodoxy and what one-party statewide electeds want to carry around for spending money. Heck, I wouldn’t be shocked if there were polling out there to suggest that there’s a very real, albeit nuanced disagreement among self-identified Republicans and their belief in the principal behind what the TEF does. But there has, to date, been no actual demonstration that the issue “plays well” among any group of voters unless we want to attribute the entirety of Hutchison/Medina/Bill White voters as collectively anti-TEF.

Ironically, it’s not like the Trib would have to go far for a better way to tell the story about TEF. Here’s what they wrote after the 2012 election:

» TX Tribune: Tax Incentives Could Prove Divisive For GOP

Some conservative legislators, including Rep. Charles Perry of Lubbock and Rep. David Simpson of Longview, have criticized some of the tax incentive programs as unneeded “corporate welfare,” particularly at a time when schools and other programs are still feeling the brunt of billions in cuts enacted by the 2011 Texas Legislature.

It’s too soon to predict whether how far the anti-tax incentive sentiment will reach. To be sure, the governor will fight to keep his Texas Enterprise and Emerging Technology funds, which survived in 2011 despite deep cutbacks elsewhere and controversies about donors getting awards from the programs.

On the other hand, the conservative ranks will swell in the state Senate, and at a time when pundits nationally are questioning the strength of the Tea Party, activists in Texas — after getting anti-establishment insurgent Ted Cruz elected to the U.S. Senate — don’t seem to have gotten the memo.

Grassroots activists are planning to make a big stink about the huge payouts to private industry. JoAnn Fleming, a top Tea Party activist in Tyler, said conservative voters are fed up with politicians who tout free market capitalism until big corporate interests say it isn’t working so good for them.

So, yes … there are rifts. There are disagreements within the GOP. But there is no evidence that Abbott’s veiled semi/sorta-opposition to the rough principle that Enterprise Funds are guided by has a toe-hold within conservative thought. There’s just no evidence whatsoever that it plays well among GOP primary voters or among the General Electorate as a whole. I would like to think that it might. But there’s just a complete lack of information to base that on so far.

Super Aggreblogging

February 3, 2013 Politics-2013 No Comments

In looking around for a good football movie, I see that “Something for Joey” has yet to make it as a true DVD or streaming video on Amazon. That’s a disappointment … and also why I’ll be watching “We Are Marshall” as a warmup movie. Best Matthew McConaughey movie ever. Or, if you prefer … his only good one.

» A Former Trojan headed to the Super Bowl
It looks like the Ravens are the official rooting interest for me. Former Trinity High player, Ryan McBean, is up for a ring. He’s been injured since pre-season, so he won’t be on the field. We’re still waiting for the first active roster Trojan and the first starting Trojan to appear in a Super Bowl. No idea how I’ll rationalize the Jacoby Jones paradox.

» National Journal: Why Obama Is Giving Up on Right-Leaning Whites (Ron Brownstein)
Catchy headline and provocative thesis. But I can’t help but notice that the bulk of the Democratic constituency still identifies as “Moderate.” Maybe that flips in 2016, maybe it doesn’t. But the lay of the land today has only seen a 10-point swing from Moderate to Liberal within that mix … and that’s over a 20-yr glidepath. Naturally, this is bait for Ed Kilgore. And Hedrick Hertzberg’s take is worth a read, as well. But I think the biggest evidence that Brownstein’s point is a bit overblown comes from Obama himself.

» Washington Monthly: The Big NRA Flip-Flop On Background Checks
Speaking of Ed Kilgore … Nice to see him recall the same events of the 90s that I remember. Less nice is the cynical excuse offered by the NRA for their flip-flop on background checks. Just for old-time’s sake, though …

» PPP: Clinton could win Texas in 2016
OK, back to Brownstein. Anyone care to theorize how this could happen in light of Brownstein’s thesis? It can’t. While I put a worth on polling at this stage somewhere around a plugged nickel, it’s worth something for amusement value until we get closer to 2016. Or even closer to an actual Clinton candidacy for that matter.

» PPP: Perry looking highly vulnerable
We’re closer to 2014, however. But I still can’t help but reiterate my standard operating procedure of not accepting PPP polls when they’re an outlier. And since “outlier” in this case means “actually polling Texas”, I think this still qualifies. That said, Bill White leading Rick Perry is also worth something for amusement value. Let’s see some more polling before we get carried away, though.

» National Review: Purple Texas? (Betsy Woodruff)

And speaking of things recalled from years past, here’s Big Republicanism’s take on the recent effort to get more resources to swing Texas in future elections …

Texas’s success could be ultimately self-defeating. The state’s prosperity attracts people from liberal states. If they immigrate to Texas in significant enough numbers, they could affect elections there, especially in House races. But the jury is still out on whether Texas’s conservatism will rub off on newcomers.

This was precisely the argument I heard before I was even eligible to vote: that all the Yankees moving to Texas were voting GOP. At the time, the prototypical “Yankees” were from midwest auto-producing states and similar environs. But in the DFW area where I lived at the time, there were just a lot of white collar workers moving to a state that was still thriving at the time. So the meme was believable. With a few more years to digest how changes like these happen, I’m more skeptical of the past understanding as well as the current paranoia. But it’s certainly amusing to see the old trope come full circle.

» NY Times: Islamists’ Harsh Rule Awakened Ethnic Tensions in Timbuktu
There’s nothing particularly new or surprising about stories like this one. In a previous lifetime of tracking a lot of news stories about Pakistan’s Northwest Province, I’d price events like these at about a dime a dozen. But this recent iteration serves as a decent overview of the current non-AfPak version of Al Qaeda development. At this rate, I’m willing to bet that the next crew to hijack planes (or conduct whatever trendy terroristic activity is all the rage) will have movement origins in a country that few people can identify on a map. Ya know, kinda like Afghanistan in 2001.

» Slate: Amazon Profits Fall 45 Percent, Still the Most Amazing Company in the World (Matt Yglesias)
An interesting, provocative take that Amazon is to the internet what C-Span is for cable TV. I think I’d find it more realistic to believe that one company might do a better job of letting the market cost out any surprises further in advance of the other. But there’s no great way to measure the quality of analyst conference calls.

Other Worthwhile Reads:
» NY Times: The Hidden Prosperity of the Poor (Thomas Edsall)
» London Review of Books: Google Invades (Rebecca Solnit)
» Chicago Magazine: Can $86 Million Save a Neighborhood? (Elly Fishman)
» The New Yorker: How much military is enough? (Jill Lepore)
» NY Times: My Valuable, Cheap College Degree (Arthur Brooks)
» Washington Monthly: Too Easy
» Washington Post: A letter to Teach For America’s Wendy Kopp — and her response

Friendlier Environs (ctd)

If Evan’s laughing off the criticism of the Texas media’s ineptness in covering Perry, he’s not seeing the obviousness of the problem. Here’s this afternoon’s hard-hitting front pager on a candidate who crashed and burned after a rocket ride to front-runner status in the GOP Primary …

Perry Returns to Friendlier Environs

January 20, 2012 Politics-2012 1 Comment

» Politico: Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman prove media wrong

I’m sure you’ve heard the news by now. Perry’s fantasy of becoming the next President is over. One minor point to highlight in all of this now that he’s back in Texas is whether the state media will have learned anything from all of this. By Politico’s account, it might not …

In the end, Perry was undone not by any dirt that anyone had on him — the charges of crony capitalism, the unfortunately named hunting camp — but by his own unforced errors.

National reporters occasionally beat up on the Texas press for not getting the story of Perry’s weaknesses out there better.

Evan Smith, editor of the Texas Tribune, took note and laughed off the criticism.

“Interestingly, the press that irritated me most was the people on the left who used the Perry campaign as an opportunity to flog the Texas press corps as a whole for somehow not doing its job,” he said. “It’s as if we’ve all been asleep for 10 years and it took The Huffington Post to do our jobs. We watched with a mixture of amusement and irritation.”

Perry wasn’t the only one for whom those errors proved disastrous.

Ratcliffe was still finishing the details in his book contract for a book on Perry when he heard Perry’s fateful comment calling people who didn’t support granting in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants “heartless.”

“I shrieked,” Ratcliffe said. “My wife asked what he said, and I said, ‘It doesn’t really matter what he said. I think he just killed my book deal.’ I knew instantaneously how bad that was going to be in the Republican primary vote. It wasn’t just that he had a position they didn’t like. It was that he has insulted his own voters.”

Am I the only one who notices that Ratfliffe just proved the very point Evan was trying to dismiss? If news writers in the state had concerned themselves with covering a broke farmer from Haskell became a millionaire while being in public office for the past quarter century, maybe the criticism wouldn’t be valid. But the ring-kissing we’ve been treated to over that span of time are a far cry from what should be expected.

As a case in point for how the state’s media (or, if you prefer the Newtonian version: “elite” media), here’s the latest sloppy wet kiss to laugh off. Taken on back-to-back days, at that.

The very next day …

Wrapping Iowa

January 4, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

As close as it gets

Candidate   Votes    %
Romney     30,015  24.56%
Santorum   30,007  24.55%
Paul       26,219  21.45%
Gingrich   16,251  13.29%
Perry      12,604  10.31%
Bachmann    6,073   4.97%
Huntsman      745   0.61%
No pref.      135   0.11%
Other         117   0.10%
Cain           58   0.05%

The post-caucus speeches are listed in full here. I think the most intriguing of them all is the return of Bitter Newt:

Excessive adverbs aside, it remains to be seen whether Newt has enough money or leverage to help undermine Romney. But the game is already underway. So far, the contest is a Democrat’s dream: after seeing just about every GOP candidate short of Huntsman and Roemer get their 15 minutes of polling fame, the guy who’s presently assumed to be the nominee has a diehard core of vote that does not want him to be the party’s nominee.

Back to Texas, it looks like the fair-haired retiree we call a Governor may be looking for a way to pull the plug from his $20M failed campaign. It looks more like the heart wants to quit while the bankroll may be too rich to shut off the machine. Whichever way he goes, I can’t wait to see how the people who pitched the story of “Perry’s vaunted ground game” try and repair their reputations. To wit …

There are 1,774 Republican caucus precincts around the state, 900 of which are combined and held at the same location.

As of Friday, the Texas governor had signed up 1,500 precinct leaders in Iowa, a source inside the Perry campaign told CNN.

The source requested anonymity because staffers are not authorized to reveal the information.

The Perry camp also has 470 out-of-state volunteers descending on Iowa this weekend (including Perry’s own family, which flew in on Friday).

The source said that by caucus night, “we will easily have over 2,000 Perry volunteers” fanning out across the state knocking on doors and speaking for Perry at their voting sites.

2,000 volunteers fanned out across the state. 12,000 votes. That’s a laughable ROI. And still, it’s worth comparing this to the Texas spin that came out after Perry’s 2010 primary win against Hutchison:

Employing an Amway-style organizational model, during the primary season the Perry campaign recruited both paid contractors and volunteers to establish their own “home headquarters” from which they were tasked with locating 11 Perry voters by focusing on their family and friends, and then ensuring that those individuals voted (ideally early). Those recruited were in turn encouraged to form their own home headquarters by recruiting an additional 11 voters, and so on. As is often the case with these types of pyramid arrangements, the initial paid recruiters received funds for forming not only their first headquarters group but also for each additional headquarters group formed as part of their pyramid (i.e., their downline).

This use of monetary incentives to motivate individuals to establish home headquarters was not, however, without controversy, with several instances of convicted felons receiving payments from the Perry campaign for their organizational efforts. This caused the campaign to end the recruitment incentive phase (while still maintaining voter turnout incentives) a few weeks before the March primary.

The establishment of this vast home headquarters network was crucial to Perry’s success in the Republican primary, which, in spite of a record turnout, only involved the participation of 1.5 million Texans (11 percent of the state’s registered voters and 8 percent of its voting age population). In the event Perry runs for president, we should expect a more polished version of this identification and mobilization model to be used in early presidential caucuses (e.g., Iowa, Nevada) and primaries (e.g., New Hampshire, South Carolina).

That mainstream media gobbles up this spin is key among the reasons that political reporting is a joke today. Whether it continues after Perry’s failed Presidential experiment heads home will be worth watching for. A somewhat more critical view of state government and it’s officials just might be in order rather than boosterism such as this.

Bachmann may be announcing her departure today. We’ll see what we see out of Team Perry when we see it. For now, the muddled race goes to New Hampshire, where Jon Huntsman might have an opportunity to make things even less settled.

And in a perfect world, this guy, Buddy Roemer would be seeing his poll numbers rise right about now:

The campaign sent out their daily update today with a subject line of “Roemermentum.” I don’t think it’s that they don’t get the irony of the ____mentum meme. I think they’re just having fun at this point. Nice to see.

The End of Rick Perry

November 10, 2011 Politics-2012 No Comments

In a nutshell …

If there’s one thing that Republican candidates have to do in order to be successful, it’s just know the script. You don’t even have to believe it (see “Romney, Mitt”). You just have to say the lines. When you can’t even remember the talking points, however, you’re done. Maybe the Texas rightwing blogosphere will try to intellectualize it like they do Perry’s “superior” understanding of federalism, budgeting, and education. It’ll be a fun exercise in contortion to see how far they’re willing to follow the guy.

Clear Cache: No Monetary Easing Needed

October 31, 2011 Etc ... No Comments

Pardon the irregularity of this, but a little bit of cache clearing is in order for me to get a handle on my browser tabs …

» Joel Kotkin: Overpopulation Isn’t The Problem: It’s Too Few Babies

» Commonweal: American Oracle: The Uses & Abuses Of Reinhold Niebuhr

» NY Times: What’s Luck Got to Do With It?

» The game I think all of us were hoping to see Case Keenum have last Thursday night. Even Case seems impressed. S’ok … save it for UT in the bowl game, dude.

Now We Know Why Perry Doesn’t Like Debates

September 24, 2011 Politics-2012 1 Comment

I’m guessing this is the last time that Byron York shills for Rick Perry.

You’d have thought that right-wingers would have learned their lesson about trying to intellectualize people like this after the Sarah Palin debacle. But given their insistence on trying to prop up her “death panel” claim, that lesson doesn’t seem to have ever taken root.

Perry v Obama: PPP’s (Latest) Texas Poll

September 20, 2011 Politics-2012 No Comments

The latest PPP Presidential polling hits Texas. I guess one of the benefits of Perry now being an official candidate is that we might see some more polls hit the state. It should be interesting to see the right-wing bloggers contort themselves to comprehend Perry’s amazing ability to underperform in the state. Overall, the new poll isn’t as newsworthy as the last one they did, but here’s the main thing I think should be taken away from it …

For more detail, I’ll refer you to Ron Brownstein.

Here’s a side-by-side of June’s poll with today’s …

Obama vs      6/11      9/11
Perry ...... 47-45 ... 44-51
Palin ...... 46-44 ... -----
Bachmann ... 44-47 ... 45-43
Cain ....... 43-43 ... -----
Pawlenty ... 43-44 ... -----
Romney ..... 42-50 ... 41-47
Paul ....... 40-45 ... 42-43
Gingrich     ----- ... 46-45
2008 Vote .. 41-52 ... 42-50

In June, my reaction was that I felt the poll was timed poorly to coincide with the end of the legislative session and that the result was that the electorate was particularly low-tide for Perry. That he’s now up 7 points with some time separating him from the craziness of session doesn’t surprise me much. I think there’s room for a little bit of improvement since the economy and off-season piling on of Obama might raise the ceiling for Perry to something closer to Bush’s 60% showing in the state.

Of more concern to me is that, in reality, Texas is not uncompetitive based on the numbers in the state. To the extent that it’s deemed uncompetitive, it’s because of the size of the state and the need to campaign aggressively in at least six to eight of the 20 media markets. Of those, the markets for DFW, Houston and San Antonio markets ain’t cheap. So the cost of moving the needle by a percentage point is substantially higher than it might be for a state with only a handful of media markets. But if Team Plouffe ever decides to replicate their Florida surge model to Texas, I’m on record as suggesting there’s a different way to stitch together a successful majority here than has been tried before.

On the Art of Saying Nothing At All

As a followup of sorts to my post on the over-celebretization of political discourse, here’s Dan Drezner on Rick Perry’s recent VFW speech ….

Now, to be fair to Perry, this San Antonio News-Express news story suggests that he had some constraints on what kind of speech he could deliver. So, really, I’m not sure that anything of consequence can be divined from this…. er…. assemblage of cliches that maybe, just maybe, passes the Turing Test.

Still, what Perry said is such pure, unadulterated boilerplate that, as a foreign policy commentator, one must step back and gape in wonder. Reading it, the absence of anything interesting kept nagging me as hauntingly familiar.

And then I realized — Rick Perry had just delivered the Wolf Blitzer of foreign policy speeches!! It’s familiar, yet utterly devoid of interesting content!!

I believe this seals the deal that I think that the music of kids today stinks to high heaven. And their reality-show politics, too.

Chasing Obama 2012: GOP Down To Three?

August 21, 2011 Politics-2012 No Comments

All quiet on the Obama front. There was that bus tour (which seems all the rage these days!), some plummeting poll numbers, and then the Auguest tradition of a Presidential vacation. The President’s weekly address seems to capture a bit of the transition that Obama is making toward a campaign mode for 2012:

On to the candidates knipping at his heels …

The Candidates That Matter

Rick Perry … Right off the bat, there’s the whole “treason” comment by Perry. Not surprisingly, the WSJ makes an extended effort to intellectualize what more normal people would just call being an “idiot“. Expect a lot of this kind of rationalization between now and whenever Perry’s run ends….. The Washington Post served up a puff piece that would normally set off cries of “bias” if the party labels were different. Somehow, it’s just different when it happens to Republicans, I guess….. The early GOP polls are encouraging for the well-coifed Guv. In New Hampshire, Perry starts off in second place, trailing Romney 36-18. A Georgia poll has him ahead of the two Georgia candidates. Another has in leading in Louisiana and in second place in Missouri. In Florida, Perry trails Romney. The Hill’s Michael O’Brien sums up the remainder of Perry’s first full week on the trail. Ross Ramsey puts some Texas context on that first week….. Gene Simmons predicts Perry will be the next President. Guess we can just pack things up now, folks….. A rather serendipitous online newspaper moment occurs when a Bank of America exec offers to help Perry, company backtracks with an officious, even-handed sounding quote, and the related news story sidebar betrays the entire effort. Screencap in the extended post.

Mitt Romney … The question this election isn’t how many homes a candidate has. It’s how many are being almost tripled in size. The Wall Street Journal’s Allysia Finley dings Romney. Funny how they’d diss a candidate with actual private-sector experience in favor of a lifetime politician like Perry. This, of course, dismisses Perry’s experience as a government-funded farmer.

Michele Bachmann … Ryan Lizza does a deep writeup of Bachmann. And unlike Matt Taibbi, he seems to have a) actually left his sofa to do some real reporting, and b) not repeatedly plagiarized a 2006 blog post in order to put his name atop someone else’s work. That’s the good news for Team Bachmann. The better news is that there were no new corn dog photos of the candidate or her husband take this week. Outside of that, the Perry announcement had the net effect of squelching much of Bachmann’s remaining week.

The Candidates That Don’t

Jon Huntsman … call him crazy.

Ron Paul … call him anything. But just call him. Please.

Rick Santorum … In case you’re wondering, the GOP can’t be just about cutting taxes.

Herman Cain … Hey, remember Herman Cain? Yeah, that’s right … no link this time. He’d have to do something to make news in order to have a link to something suggesting that he actually made news.

Newt Gingrich … What’s sometimes referred to as a “campaign” headed to Hawaii for some politicking. Are we sure that this isn’t another cruise vacation?

Thaddeus McCottertwo links with headlines that tell you everything you will ever need to know about the Thaddeus McCotter for President campaign.

Buddy Roemer … Color me impressed. Buddy Roemer may very well have peaked this election cycle. There was a National Press Club speech, which contained a fair amount of red meat for clean government junkies (me, raising hand very quietly). And … um … that was about it. Hope springs eternal that Roemer will be able to afford a small (probably single cable market) ad buy in New Hampshire. I’m sure that’s got the campaign accountant working overtime. Still, no idea when Ryan Lizza will get off to Bossier City for a lengthy New Yorker expose on Roemer. Maybe next week.

Gary JohnsonHe still hasn’t quite “made news” yet in this campaign. But out of nothing more than sympathy, here’s two items … Contra Santorum, GaJo (as I’ll refer to him) suggests that social issues are not the way to go for the GOP. No word back if he’s actually been following GOP politics for the last 30 years. And if you only need one headline to tell you everything about the GaJo campaign, this is the one.

The Non-Candidates That Like Seeing Their Name In Print

Chris Christie … Maybe, maybe not thinking about it.

Paul Ryan … It’s not that Ryan is really thinking about the idea. It’s that the Weekly Standard has subscriptions to sell among GOP voters.

The CandidateCelebrity Formerly Known as the Former Governor of Alaska … Easily, the most narcissistic moment of American political history. Maybe of all time.

Screen capture of story involving Bank of America exec offering BoA “help” for Perry, along with BoA job cuts link.

Chasing Obama 2012: Hair vs Straw

August 15, 2011 Politics-2012 No Comments

A festive time had by most on the GOP side this past weekend. There was a debate, there was a meaningless straw poll, there was a candidate dropping out because of a so-so (not bad, mind you … just so-so) showing in said straw poll. On with the show.

In It:

Rick PerryIt’s official. And there’s a 2:15 web video (or, if you prefer, a 2:40 web video) to prove it. Wait and see how the first couple of weeks go and we’ll have a better sense of where Perry falls into the GOP mix. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to assume that Perry has a path to the nomination. It’s November that’s a bigger hurdle for him, though.

Michele Bachmann … Quite an eventful end of the week for Bachmann, as she wins the Ames Straw Poll (as expected), and then has issues with lightbulbs. As if the Newsweek cover wasn’t weird enough. Or … as if Marcus Bachmann frenching grandma wasn’t weird enough. Or … if you thought seeing Michele impale herself with a footlong corndog wasn’t weird enough. Or … if you thought anything involving Marcus Bachmann and a footlong corndog wasn’t weird enough. She’s shaping up as this year’s very strange variation of Huckabee … the candidate who can’t possibly win the nomination, but can maybe hang on with a solid showing long after Iowa. Wait and see how the far right vote goes between her and Perry. Here’s her star turn on Meet the Press, if you’re really hard-pressed for political entertainment.

Mitt Romney … There were only two real notworthy moments before the straw poll: one, the debate. Two, Romney’s declaration that “corporations are people, too.” A minor, but typical, campaign verbal slip. But funny since it goes smackdab against conservative legal orthodoxy. Romney’s been doubling down on the statement and if someone really wants to force the point with him, it’s worth a question about how this view will impact his hypothetical choices for the judiciary. As for the straw poll, Romney sat it out as part of the whole “sitting out Iowa” strategy. By the way, that strategy seems a lot riskier with Perry’s entry. Then again, maybe skipping any event where there are footlong corndogs and cameras aplenty is a good thing. Whatever, it’s effectively a Romney vs Perry game at this point.

Rick Santorum … A fourth-place finish in the straw poll for a nobody ex-Senator is apparently just the shot-in-the-arm his campaign needs. This is somehow totally different than the third-place finish for a nobody ex-Governor, who dropped out of the race. Conventional wisdom is conventionally confusing.

Herman Cain … Hey, remember Herman Cain?

Ron Paulsecond place at the straw poll. Who knew stoners and gold bugs knew how to get to Ames?

John Huntsman … The Salt Lake Trib has an overview of Team Huntsman (or, if you prefer … Team Huntsman 2.0). Meanwhile, Sullivan pans his debate appearance.

Newt Gingrich … I, for one, am shocked – shocked, I tell you – that the GOP engages in “talking points” and that their media outlets ask “gotchya questions.” On the other hand, I am utterly confounded over the existence of an “email machine” (0:14) as well as the fact that such a machine can be on fire.

Thaddeus McCotter … Hey, a ninth-place showing in Michigan (results here) isn’t all that bad! Unless you’re the guy behind him, that is.

Buddy Roemer … New Orleans media still loves to cover the guy.

Gary Johnsonthis space reserved for whenever Gary Johnson is a relevant candidate for President.

Out of It

Tim Pawlenty … Easily the weakest Presidential campaign in recent years. When the “conventional wisdom” industrial complex buries your own campaign, I’m not sure how you ever recover from that. Say what you want about the odds of a Bill Richardson or Chris Dodd candidacy in 2008, for instance. But they at least hung in there until some real votes were cast.

Even Slower News Weeks

Bob McDonnellangling for 2016 or the Veep spot.

Rudy Giulianistill mulling.

The CandidateCelebrity Formerly Known as the Former Governor of Alaska … The bus tour hit Iowa despite The Palin not being a candidate. Sullivan calls bull on the routine. It’ll be interesting to see how long she can milk the attention span of a political press corp with other things to do now that the GOP race is basically set.

Chasing Obama 2012: The Uneventful Response

August 7, 2011 Politics-2012 No Comments

A slightly different format for this week’s campaign roundup (after a week off last week, no less). The way I see the aggregation of news for the campaign cycle really doesn’t match with a candidate-by-candidate snapshot. Instead, it really comes down to this: Obama still ramping up anything resembling a visible “campaign”; Rick Perry still trying to play coy for attention that will surely subside after he’s been an actual announced candidate for any period of time, and a very telling situation with a mystery donor to a Romney Super PAC.

The latter item might have been a minor deal if it weren’t for what is likely to follow – a lot of shell companies donating money in a way that begins to totally undo the transparency of campaign finance laws. All brought to you by the John Roberts Supreme Court, ladies and gentlemen. Given the issues with the Pakistani military trying to do a laughable job of influencing American politics, the Romney donor now lays bare a template for any other entity to follow.

» NY Times: Obama Team Turns Its Focus to Tough Re-election Fight

The Obama camp gears up into campaign mode (complete with bus tour).

“Right now, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and all of these Republicans are just a blank slate,” said David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s senior strategist and his 2008 campaign manager. “I can assure you this will be made a choice for the American people. And, I tell you, right now the American people in overwhelming numbers don’t want to go back to the same policies that got us into this mess.”

Mr. Obama’s advisers say the plan now is to get the president out of Washington more often and into communities where he can try to show people, on a more intimate level, how the changes he has made have helped their local economies. Advisers describe a campaign shaping up more as individual state campaigns than a national campaign, attentive to the issues and demographics in each place.

» Chron: Perry offers praise, prayer but little on politics

I’m sure that much more will be made of this than is worthwhile. As far as the crowd estimation game, the numbers seems to be around 30,000, which was more than the lowball-spin of “only 8,000 registered online” and less than a sellout. But on par with a day of high school playoff football games held at a comparable stadium. If there’s any impact that the event will have on Perry’s re-election, it will be negligible-at-best after his boots have been put down in Iowa for a good solid week. We’ll see what kind of candidate he is on a national stage when he actually hits the stage.

» Chron: 13 Texans looking to unseat Obama in 2012

Only one and a half of them are credible candidates for the GOP nomination. The rest just make for an entertaining read.

» Wash. Post: Mystery firm gives $1M to Romney, then folds
» Wash. Post: Mystery pro-Romney donor revealed

I’m sure this would have been equally under-the-radar if such a contribution were made to the Obama campaign or one of it’s Super PACs.

Chasing Obama 2012: Juggernaut?

July 17, 2011 Politics-2012 No Comments

Q2 numbers are all fully disclosed now and Team Obama has $37M in the bank after raising $46M for the campaign account. The DNC adds a $39M haul. The Washington Post offers up an overview of the fundraising effort. Never fear, Congressman Darrell Issa is on the case “an array of potentially illegal fundraising behavior.” I guess it beats looking for ways to balance the budget. Meanwhile, techPresident spots a job opening that I wish I had the skillset for.

Now, about those candidates chasing Obama …

More or Less “In It”

Mitt Romney … He’s back from London and finally has an opinion on the debt ceiling debate. Not surprisingly, it’s an answer that’s very similar to all the other GOP hopefuls. Romney was also met with a replay of the 1994 Senate campaign attack ads against him, including an un-aired ad. On the plus side, Romney is leading Huntsman in Utah. Iowa’s not looking so hot for him, though … so no straw poll* in the works for Team Mitt. That makes it Florida Straw Poll or bust.

Michele “Choot-Spa” Bachmann … a week after the Des Moines Register showed a statistical dead heat in the state between Bachmann and Romney, the Iowa Republican and Magellan Strategies show Bachmann in the lead. In big-issue stuff, it seems Bachmann was asked to resign from a church she used to attend. Good timing since people are now wondering about the church’s views on Catholicism.

Tim Pawlenty … TPaw vs Lady Gaga. TPaw vs Michele Bachman. TPaw vs CoCo. I’m not sure if that’s going uphill or downhill. Pawltenty also picked up the endorsement of Ohio AG Mike DeWine and started the week off on Meet the Press. Walter Shapiro has a good overview of the Pawlenty campaign in TNR. It may be a bit early to draw too many conclusions about Pawlenty’s fate, but Shapiro specializes in the early primary analysis and there’s typically a lot of useful insight that he captures at this phase of the campaign. As for the campaign news, reassurance is the word of the week and big bucks for Iowa TV are the budget item of the week.

Herman Cain … Speaking of 1994-era skeletons in the closet. John Stossel gets a live serenade out of the man. Cain also takes a hard line on the big issue of the day: a mosque being planned for Murfreesboro, TN. Sayeth the pizza magnate …

“It is an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion …. And I don’t agree with what’s happening, because this isn’t an innocent mosque.”

Jon Huntsman … The WSJ offers up a small bit of hagiography and JonHuntsman.com goes from anti- to pro-.

Ron Paul … Aside from announcing that he will not run for re-election to Congress, the Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey gets a placement in the NY Times for a farewell piece. Meanwhile, IA and NH get a new anti-debt ceiling ad on their TV sets.

Rick Santorum … Q2 numbers are finally released and for Santorum, it comes to just over half a mill. Look for an RV-pool of Santorum, Johnson, and Roemer (and McCotter?) any day now. USA Today, on the other hand, offers free ad space. Santorum also picks up an edorsement from a failed IA congressional candidate.

Thaddeus McCotter … “The thought of Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) being president is a bit scary.” – McCotter’s hometown paper. With a rep like that, I guess I suddenly see the wisdom of trying to hit payday with a bigger campaign while nobody knows you.

Buddy Roemer … Turns out that the big rally in Bossier City wasn’t the announcement after all. It was just a pre-announcement, announcing that at some random point in the future, an announcement will be made in New Hampshire. Bigger question: will more than 200 people show up for the New Hampshire gig? Roemer does get a video segment with Slate’s David Weigel, which has to be the pinnacle of attention for Buddy this century.

Newt Gingrich … The bad news is that half of his $1M campaign debt is on private planes. The good news? … at least it’s not Tiffany’s.

Gary JohnsonThis space still reserved for when Gary Johnson makes news.

Addicted to Publicity “Thinkin’ About It”

Rick Perry … When he’s not on the phone with IA and NH power brokers, Perry pairs up with SC Gov. Nikki Haley to pen a Washington Post op-ed against raising the debt ceiling. The Texas Tribune lands an investigative eye on Perry’s security detail costs, while McClatchy looks at his spending record as Governor. Can you imagine if the home-state media had been as curious about all of this during the 2010 campaign?

Even Slower News Weeks

Rudy GiulianiStill dreamin’.

The Candidate Formerly Known as the Former Governor of Alaska … Newsweek still loves her. Can you imagine if they fawned over a Democratic candidate for President? … complete with modeling shoot and centerfold? Do you think for a minute someone might scream “liberal bias”? Yeah, funny how that works. Or, in this case, doesn’t work ;-)

* – on a techie sidenote, I notice that the Ames Straw Poll tickets have QR codes on the ticket. Seems like a good idea to see more of that for event tickets.

Perry v Obama: PPP’s Texas Poll

June 30, 2011 Politics-2012 3 Comments

PPP Polls Texas and makes a splash with one very interesting datapoint.

Obama vs
Perry ...... 47-45
Palin ...... 46-44
Bachmann ... 44-47 
Cain ....... 43-43
Pawlenty ... 43-44
Romney ..... 42-50
Paul ....... 40-45

2008 Vote .. 41-52

Needless to say, rightwing bloggers are in a tizzy over this and there’s not much better spectator sport than that during this time of year. Helps that the Astros are awful, too, I suppose.

If there were to be a more reasoned caveat to interject here, I think it would be that the poll is conducted at a time of the year when Rick Perry is not quite at “Peak Perry” in his own backyard. The special session has just wound down and the very important priorities of Rick Perry have been dealt with. Who knew that Texans would have a visceral reaction to the prioritization of killing feral hogs from a helicopter over adequately funding public education?

Needless to say, I’d peg this poll as the most opportune timing that you’ll see for Obama in the state, short of Perry DMing crotch shots of himself to porn stars. The job approval numbers are the most telling:

Obama Job Approval ... 42-55
Perry Job Approval ... 43-52

In the most relevant previous poll, the Texas Lyceum poll, Perry had a 54-44 net approval, while Obama had a 51-48 net approval in the midst of his OBL bounce. In that poll, the only 2012 General Election question was whether respondents would vote for Obama vs “the Republican candidate.” And that clocked in at 35 Obama/44 GOP, with 17% undecided.

PPP pushes respondents into more of a binary choice, with significantly fewer undecideds. That suggests to me that there’s a level of squishiness in the support of all candidates. One aspect of the poll that you simply will not see a single rightwing blogger address, however, is the fact that the Lyceum poll even demonstrated the native weakness of Rick Perry in the GOP Presidential Primary, losing to Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Ron Paul. He barely edged out Herm Cain in that poll. Those aren’t exactly numbers that scream out “Favorite Son.”

Remember, Rick Perry has not run statewide in Presidential years and he has also demonstrated significant weakness compared to other statewide Republicans in years when he has run. 2012 is a very different environment for Rick Perry, even in Texas. I’d expect the Texas numbers to improve for him as we get further removed from the legislative sessions, but I also think it’s a far cry to expect Perry to carry the state with 60%, ala George Bush.

The 2008 McCain/Obama numbers still strike me as a close expectation of what to see in 2012. If Team Obama actually does drop some paid field resources into the state, I think he can improve on those numbers. And if he doesn’t, I think there’s a point or two south that the numbers can get for him. Whether or not he should, I believe, isn’t a function of whether the needle can move closer to a victory for Obama in Texas … it’s whether the campaign believes it can devote the resources to being competitive in a state with 20 media markets at the expense of other competitive states that can be put in play with far less funds.

Kuff has a bit more on the PPP showing.

Chasing Obama 2012: The Perry Micro-Entry

June 20, 2011 Politics-2012 3 Comments

If it’s another weekend, then it’s another illness wiping out my free time. Such is the luck of keeping the 2012 Presidential Campaign post series going. The past weekend was bad enough that I’m not even going to try and make up for lost time. But there are two items that I think are worth sharing since they involve the wannabe cowboy from that mansion in Austin:

» TNR: Rick Perry: Why He’s Not the Man to Save the GOP (Ed Kilgore) … it’s not quite in line with my take on why I think a Presidential run would be problematic for Perry, but it’s an interesting read. While I do think some of the standard Perry oppo hits will play less favorably outside of Texas, post-2010, than they did in the last election, I’m not even sure that that scratches the surface for reasons why Perry’s style of campaigning will be much more difficult in a national election than it will in an election where you can avoid your opponent for as long as possible.

» Nate Silver tweets Rick Perry as a third place favorite at the starting gate of the GOP primary season. I honestly would have expected him to be neck & neck with Romney.

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