It was fun watching SOPA and PIPA go down in flames in spectacular fashion from the angered raging of the entire friggin’ Internet. It was equally amusing watching Senator Orrin Hatch, a co-sponsor of PIPA, do contortions to try and distance himself from the bill faster than a cat from a tub of water. In the process, an amazing amount of doubletalk came from the Senators numerous paid staffers. You shouldn’t be too surprised when Sen. Hatch comes back with the same or a similar bill in the not too distant future.
Whenever an incumbent is running for office, they will almost invariably turn to talk about how the length of time they have spent in that office as a means of proving that they know how to work things. You’ll see that same claim made at the federal, state, and local levels. Just as certainly, challengers will point to the length of service as a bad thing, a sign that they have made a comfortable career of what should be public service. Both of these sides have been going at it for years, but it looks like the pro-seniority side is starting to lose out.
One of the few positive things of the Tea Party crowd (and the members they are electing) is a vehement opposition to political elitism, including the practices associated with seniority. Instead of accepting that you have to outlast your peers to get your desired committee assignments, they have pushed for significantly more technocratic ways of committee selection based on ability. Senators like Rand Paul and Mike Lee (the latter of whom I have significant disagreements with) have managed to wield significant influence in the “deliberative” body of Congress despite being the new kids on the block.
So now that the influence of seniority isn’t as solid of an indicator of influence in the body, does it still have value? Not likely. Now that good ideas and ability are the currency of influence, being in office for a significant period of time without a significant list of accomplishments is a huge negative. Guys like Bennett, who seemingly accomplish little of what the general electorate cares for, get replaced by the brash go-getters who make things happen in short order.
Former State Sen. Dan Liljenquist accomplished two major reforms, state employee pensions and Medicaid, in just three years in office. Doesn’t this seem like the kind of guy who’d get things done in Washington? And, more importantly, don’t those seem like the right things to get done?
Glenn Greenwald has spent a lot of time calling for more intellectual honesty from alleged progressives during this campaign season, and rightfully so. After putting all of their anti-war and pro-civil liberties fervor into a candidate that has proven to be the polar opposite, they’ve engaged in some serious contortions to try and justified their continued unqualified support of now-President Obama. While a few brave souls (including both Greenwald and Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow) will express their disgust at warrantless GPS tracking, indefinite detention, and escalating militarism, the vast majority of progressivedom instead choses to ignore, justify, or tepidly disapprove of these actions. Greenwald summarized the honest justification for continuing to support Obama over someone like Paul thusly:
Yes, I’m willing to continue to have Muslim children slaughtered by covert drones and cluster bombs, and America’s minorities imprisoned by the hundreds of thousands for no good reason, and the CIA able to run rampant with no checks or transparency, and privacy eroded further by the unchecked Surveillance State, and American citizens targeted by the President for assassination with no due process, and whistleblowers threatened with life imprisonment for “espionage,” and the Fed able to dole out trillions to bankers in secret, and a substantially higher risk of war with Iran (fought by the U.S. or by Israel with U.S. support) in exchange for less severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, the preservation of the Education and Energy Departments, more stringent environmental regulations, broader health care coverage, defense of reproductive rights for women, stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities, a President with no associations with racist views in a newsletter, and a more progressive Supreme Court.
On the surface, this seems to be an accurate portrayal of a “lesser of two evils” scenario, but I think that perhaps Glenn hasn’t accurately portrayed the reality of a Paul presidency. Yes, Paul would absolutely slash federal programs with aplomb, maybe even many of which you heartily approve. Ask yourself, however, if this really does mean the end of the programs. It is highly likely that many, if not all, states would continue entitlement programs as a replacement of the eliminated federal ones. With the elimination of those federal programs and many federal laws, the Supreme Court wouldn’t have as much sway in our political discourse, much of it, again, being left up to the states. If Greenwald’s argument is accurate, it’s not a simple “pick which half is most important to you” argument.
And even if it is, which half matters most in a President? While you can most assuredly tackle the issues with entitlements and abortion and civil rights, etc. at the state level, can you do anything about targeted assassination of American citizens? What about warrantless wiretapping? Or a war with Iran to replace the “winding down” (if you can call it that) of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan? Those are all issues which you either fix at the federal level or not at all. But social issues and entitlement spending? Even blood red Utah is likely to keep some of them around. If we were keeping score, Paul would fulfill a lot more of your requirements for the office of the presidency.
If you crunch the numbers and still believe that Obama is a better choice for you, that’s perfectly fine. All I’m asking is that you exercise some honesty and soul-searching, ditch the tribalism of unwavering support for a Democratic president no matter how neo-conservative he may be, and choose who actually best fits your views.
Today, John Huntsman recognized reality and, after lackluster showings, withdrew from the GOP primary. What was unexpected, however, is his endorsement of Romney, a man that just days prior he said wasn’t fit to be President. It’s also no secret that Romney and Huntsman don’t really care for each other. So what gives? Simply put, Huntsman is playing his cards once again for 2016. The endorsement isn’t so much of Romney as it is of the GOP political establishment and elite that are chomping at the bit for Mitt’s coronation to be over and done with. Huntsman is likely hoping that this act of fealty and deference will win him some support from party insiders next time around. Unfortunately, it’s also sorely disappointing. I can’t be the only one thinking it.
Just a few things about Iowa.
- It was hilarious to watch people say that Iowa only matters if the “right” person wins. Most of them were actively talking about Ron Paul as the “wrong” person. The logical contortions required to take this position, that the result dictates the relevancy of the result, are astounding at best.
- Speaking of Ron Paul, he didn’t exactly “lose”. He scored as many delegates as Romney and Santorum and got more supporters elected to party positions than the other folks. He has a lot of caucus state ground game, and that matters when the “real” delegates get selected.
- Rick Santorum is the new Mike Huckabee. He pandered to evangelicals, has no money or ground game outside of Iowa, and will likely fade out after a few more states. I give him no longer than Super Tuesday before he drops out after many dismal showings. The idea that a good showing in a single early state can create momentum is laughable at best. There’s 49 other states, dude, and you’ve done nothing in any of them.
- Romney is calling this a “win”, but let’s consider a few facts. He’s been more-or-less campaigning constantly since at least 2007, spent a crapton of money, and won by just 8 votes over a guy who can’t come up with a campaign message beyond “I hate gay sex and abortions”. To have such a dismal showing in a state where ground game matters should be considered an unmitigated disaster. Consider that Romney has been stuck at a 25%-ish ceiling for most of the race and is counting on a crowded field to split up the Not Romney vote. Bachmann has just dropped out and Perry isn’t far behind. If Gingrinch continues to tank and Santorum falters, that can put a quarter or more of the vote back on the table, or roughly the entirety of Romney’s support. This should be scaring the crap out his campaign and supporters, but they seem to take for granted that Mitt can just coast to victory.