Friday, July 13, 2012
So it was almost unfair of me to drop Karl Rove, Grover Norquist and an Eminem reference on you at the end of our conversational trail last week and not give you the opportunity to respond. Feel free to opine now.... I say lyrically he peaked with The Eminem Show, his best work with a sample was with Aerosmith's "Dream On", and his best collaboration was with Nate Dogg (I know, an upset that it wasn't Dido or Elton John) on "'Till I Collapse" - which would be my ring entrance or batters box walk-up song, by the way...
I kicked it up another notch with follows by adding Erick Erickson of RedState and Reince Priebus form the RNC. We will see if there is anything good to mine there... Happily for me, RedState has an article on how terrible Condi Rice would be as a VP pick and what the different types of positive spin would be from GOPers. At least she is not another boring white guy, right?
Ding, ding. Welcome to round two.
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Monday, July 16, 2012
Hi, Matt --
Look, I had Eminem's "Without Me" close out a Finally Friday back in March, mostly so I could see Dr. Dre roll his eyes through the whole thing. And speaking of Dre, I suspect our readership is far less interested in our varied taste in rap music, but on the off-chance someone actually cares, I submit this -- you know, actual rap -- to them and to you, and say get back to me when you decide to get real.
And speaking of older posts, I am loathe to once again root around through the archives, but your prompt leaves me little choice. I wrote a post in February of 2005 about Governor and Mrs. Huckabee (again the horrifying third-person narrative is simply unforgivable). It was about the "covenant marriage" the Huckabees had just undertaken, a strange ritual that looks not unlike a mass wedding, because, well it is a mass wedding. I would like to point out that it was John Cole at the must-read Balloon Juice who linked that story to his blog, the first link back to my blog from anywhere. For as crummy as my piece on the Huckabees really is, the trackback is still a point of pride with me.
Here was the real point of that post, which I failed to communicate effectively: Mike Huckabee is real goddam weird. I don't mean he's kind of a little odd. All politicians with presidential ambitions are a little odd. Hell all politicians, period. But those who run for -- or consider running for -- the presidency are particularly out there. You have to be to willingly put yourself through that.
Huckabee is not odd. He and his family are weird, strange in the hideously freakish extreme.
Mike Huckabee's son, David, strung a dog up by the neck from a tree, slit its throat and stoned it until it died. At Boy Scout camp. My fellow Arkansans, always ready to reward the, ahem, underdog, later made David the homecoming king at the school I attended for two years, Arkansas State University.
Cry foul if you must -- it's Huckabee's creepy kid, not Huckabee himself. Fair enough.
When I ran the field operation for Jimmie Lou Fisher who ran for Arkansas Governor against Huckabee in 2002, our message was that Huckabee was an out-of-touch elitist.
Sound familiar? Huckabee was -- and still is, I believe -- an ordained Baptist minister. This is nothing to mock in and of itself, but one of the weaknesses we discovered in Huckabee was that he took freebies from friends, supporters, lobbyists and just about anyone with the inclination to give him and First Lady Janet, well, anything. The list of gifts was long and egregious. Guitars. Tickets. Jeans. I mean, who gives a man jeans? He took these freebies and gifts in the manner of a preacher (as I understand it; and again, I offer no judgment on preachers and their getting gifts). Yet Huckabee was the Governor of Arkansas The gift taking far exceeded the appearance of impropriety. Show up at the man's doorstep with something wrapped, and you had Mike in your pocket.
This proved to turn out to be what I still think was a career (if not ambition) killing problem when he was bought off by folks representing the religious right who believed a man named Wayne DuMond, a convicted rapist who had been mutilated in a most horrifying way, to be innocent. DuMond was released at Huckabee's order (Huckabee's illegal order), and later raped again, this time killing his victim. DuMond died of cancer a few years ago. I can relay the story in more gruesome detail later if you like, but it I believe I've given ample description to enough of the facts that we might call this Huckabee's Willie Horton moment.
And if that is not enough, you should know that when Janet left the Governor's Mansion, she went on to sell windows and siding. That's not code for anything. She was a sales rep for a windows and siding company.
Oh, and by "Governor's Mansion" I actually mean triple-wide trailer, which the Huckabees inhabited for much of their time during Mike's governorship. The Mansion itself underwent extensive remodeling, paid for by the taxpayers, of course. This was at Mike and Janet's behest. Say, where's a tea party freak when you need one?
So you got your Arkansan rant. I hope you're happy.
And for the record, Huckabee won't be picked for Romney's VP because he is doing just fine at FOX News, where I am sure they pay him more money that you or I could imagine, and probably just enough for Janet and Mike to spend on themselves. Hey, Spencerian Red should follow him on Twitter, if you're not already.
Speaking of VPs, this tops the Spencerian Blue Twitter feed as I'm writing this, I shit you not:
Everything else is, almost exclusively, Bain stuff and off-shore investments (it also happens to be the one year anniversary of the President's meeting with Ruby Bridges).
You know, Spencerian Blue's newest follower, Peter Schorsch of SaintPetersblog had this headline today: Romney has decided on running mate, may announce who this week. If Peter is to be believed, this thread may be moot by the end of the week, who knows.
Whether it's this week or whether it's later, Romney's VP will be nothing like Joe Biden. Barack Obama needed Biden for the long experience, and, funny enough now, on the foreign policy side.
Romney needs something else. He needs to not look so square, so CEO-ish, so white-male-politician-ey. I think the thing VP search teams and the nominees for whom they work look primarily for balance. Of course, that's how Biden got the job. He's your old Uncle Joe. Nice white guy from Scranton -- represents Delaware, for God's sake. Lots of wonky politics and he occasionally says goofy stuff, whereas Obama speaks eloquently, brilliantly. He comes from a part of Chicago that is associated with some privilege. Anyway, I think the Obama/Biden balance speaks for itself.
Bush/Cheney, largely the same thing.
Clinton/Gore was a sort of tour de force in a lot of ways -- two white guys the same age from neighboring states -- but in a lot of ways, not. Gore was a Washington Man. His father was a long-serving Senator from Tennessee, too. Gore was supposed to be Clinton's entree into Washington. I think it was one of the jobs where he failed the boss.
Anyway, Romney needs balance, is the point I'm trying to make, and that's why I've always said he'll go with Marco Rubio. Marco is young, he's energetic, he's very eloquent -- but he's relaxed about it. He's got a quick wit (though I also hear he's got a damn short fuse). He's Hispanic, and he would almost undoubtedly lock up Florida for Romney.
Still, at this point, most folks think that's crazy. I don't know why. It has yet to be explained to me how a Portman or a T-Paw or Senator John Thune helps Romney. Lord, you can barely tell them apart. (Though to be fair, I thought early on that Thune might make a run for the presidency this time around, and would have been a formidable opponent to Obama).
I thought the Condi Rice thing was a transparent and blatant a pander as I've seen in a long time. Clumsy, too.
So back to you with this question: what do you make of the New York Times T-Paw trail balloon today? Further VP thoughts?
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Monday, July 16, 2012
That is exactly what I was hoping for with the Huckabee rant. Thank you for indulging me. I particularly enjoyed the bit about the Huckster receiving free jeans. Who the heck gives someone jeans?
I get your Rubio man-crush, really I do. He even made Jon Stewart like him as he was snake oil charisma-ing his way around questions on the Daily Show. In some respects I guess you could say he provides balance, but there are some gaping holes left unfilled by young Marco. Romney has only four years of government experience, all as Governor of a liberal state and marked by passage of Obamacare (what? They didn't call it that the first time around?) and raising a ton of fees NOT TAXES, BEN, FEES. No DC experience, no legislative background. Marco brings a short stint as US Senator and time in the Florida Legislature (which shouldn't count as real governance, in my opinion) but that is it.
The other gaping hole is any semblance of connection to the southern, evangelical wing of the GOP. They may like Marco but he is a former-Mormon-current-Catholic son of immigrants from Miami. Go into a bar in Dothan, Alabama and call someone any one of those things and see what happens... And I love that T-Paw is somehow the answer to this in some people's eyes. Other than the fact that he had a mullet when he was running for President in '08, how does he do anything for that critical element of the base? He doesn't. Really, what does he bring? Midwestern street cred? Come on. Unless the goal is to find someone who is quasi-legitimate and actually less interesting than Romney himself I see no plus side to Pawlenty.
I think the true trial balloon was to see how vociferous the objection would be to 1) another white guy and 2) someone not from the South or Southwest.... In other words Pawlenty is the dummy stand in for Portman. And to change the subject from a bad week of offshore accounts and outsourcing. The problem is that nobody gave a crap. Not othe GOP side in the @SpencerianRed feed anyway. Not a single mention. Of course that could be because they have never heard of the New York Times (think the Pace Picante sauce commercial "New York City??????" ) or it could be because they still do not talk about Romeny AT ALL.
Monday the feed was all about Obama as a cronyist. Payoffs and layoffs... Actually a little catchy, but no meat to it, so no staying power. The other big theme was that Obama was a bully. All that false and mean advertising. Name calling. Talking about Willard's private sector career. How dare they! Barack, you negative campaigner you. Meanie. Just because your ads are better than ours (seriously put the Newt ad back to back with the "where's your hope now" ad and holy crap can you see how much better the Obama ad people are...) doesn't give you the right to talk to Mittens that way. What happened to hope and change? Negative ads aren't nice... Hold on, I have a Koch brother and Crossroads on the other line... I will have to get back to you.
Anyway, still no positive message at all from the Mitt side. No ideas, no platform. I'll keep you apprised on that one, but I wouldn't hold your breath... I added @RNC and @EricFehrn so far this week. I am hoping for something to pique my interest.
Keep an eye out for the first round of Tampa stories, as the GOP takeover of the Tampa Bay Times Forum begins this week - with Prince Reince himself here to oversee it...
My question kickback to you is a fun exercise: if you could create a perfect running mate to counterbalance for Mitt, what would they look like? Make up a bio - go wild.
I say this: white woman from the upper south, former US Rep and current or former governor, husband is tied in with the southern evangelical movement.
What say you?
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012
The Spencerian Blue feed is almost entirely focused on the Bain stuff and tax returns, though there has been some defense of the President's remarks around infrastructure and small business that I know has been feeding the Spencerian Red side for a day or so now.
I'll take the Matt Spence VP Mister Potato Head Challenge -- pieces and parts from all over the place put together to make one ideal candidate. But I don't think I need to make anything up.
As we talk about balance, I like where you're going with the"white woman from the upper south." I'm thinking more deep south. I don't want to come off as sexist, but I don't think Romney can go with a woman, not after Sarah Palin. I'm not saying all women are like Sarah Palin, I'm just saying that if he were to choose a woman -- say, Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina -- the inevitable (negative) comparisons would be made.
And I don't know about "former US Rep." either. I think you're a lot closer with "former governor." Ties to "the southern evangelical movement" would be important.
Ties to Washington and the levers of power would be more important. And if you can have those ties without, well, being tied up by it, all the better.
If you look at those criteria -- former governor of a deep southern state, Christian, high-level Washington insider experience -- you can actually come up with a name. It is a name that has not been mentioned by anyone that I can see. But when I say it out loud, I get the creeps.
You want a guy with stronger ties to a skeptical GOP? How about the former head of the GOP, like Barbour. You want to appear Reagan-esque? How about a guy who worked for Reagan, like Barbour. You want to appeal to Southern evangelicals? You could do worse than the former (still popular) governor of the most conservative state in the union. After all, 70% of GOP voters in Mississippi identify as evangelical Christians. Yes, more than 50% of the respondents to that same poll in Mississippi thought President Obama was a Muslim, but in this case, that'd be a positive for the Romney Campaign.
Yes, the idea of hiring a former lobbyist as your choice for VP sounds odd. But then again, so does hiring the guy who ran your VP search. Worked out just fine for Dick Cheney.
And yes, Barbour has made racist comments. Do you suppose those remarks would hurt a Romney/Barbour ticket with a base they desperately need to fire up? Or, depressingly, would they help?
Feel free to tear down Barbour in any way you see fit.
Thinking ahead just a bit to next week, have you read the Tom Junod piece in Esquire on Obama and what he calls the "Lethal Presidency"?
It is a must-read. What's been interesting to me is how little discussion there's been on not just foreign policy stuff -- we knew this would be a referendum election focused almost exclusively on the economy -- but how little discussion there's been on how we're basically in a new era of war and combat. Maybe we're just not ready, as a nation, to have these deep discussions of morality.
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Thursday, July 19, 2012
Haley Barbour! You went there. Fantastic. He would be so much fun to follow through the process. Just stop and think for a second about a Haley vs. Uncle Joe VP debate. ... ... Too much fun to ever be allowed to happen. It would be like a Comedy Central roast of a celebrity where they are actively trying to offend people. In fact, I see a potential fistfight here. Somebody gets a little too loose lipped, the other guy gets riled up, and bam... UFC fight night at the VP debate. Please, oh please, Team Romney make this happen!
Speaking of trying to offend, it is hard to overstate how fired up everyone in my timeline is about the "you didn't build it" comment. I know that you think this is a slow-play trap for Romney, but I think that it truly was a mistake. Actually, I should call it a miscalculation. I don't think it was unintentional. After all, what evidence do we have that Obama has done a single unintentional thing in this presidency? He is the definition of calculating. But, back to the comment. The reason I think it was a miscalculation is because it has allowed the GOP to ride that self-made man story without having to use Willard as the poster boy for it. They can just demonize Obama. He gave them a little opening to promote rugged individualism without Mitt. This will not go away. Trust me. The vitriol is more widespread than the typical anti-Obama stuff. I think that this comment will be the frame through which the Romney Camp runs the rest of their campaign - at least for a while. Interesting to see if there truly is an Obama gambit here or not...
The other dominant narrative in my feed has been a silly inside baseball one. It is one of those beltway sandstorms that means absolutely nothing outside of DC - nor most places in DC as well. Those who have been through it before are at the Hawk and Dove or Tune Inn laughing, but the young ideologues at Tortilla Coast and the Irish Times take stuff like this very seriously. (How's that for some inside baseball references in a paragraph dismissive of inside baseball?). Almost as pathetically ironic as the topic, which is.... Wait for it....
Obama has held over 100 findraisers since his last Jobs Council meeting!!!!!
Ah, the horror! The same people holding this up as some sign of Obama's indifference to the issues of unemployment and job creation were surely the ones mocking the necessity and potential benefit of having a Jobs Council in the first place. A total waste of time to even write a couple paragraphs making fun of it.
Moving on to your comment on drone strikes and 21st century warfare, I think there is a sausage factory mentality at work here. The American people don't really want to think about what it takes to make the sausage or fight terrorism, they just want to know if it tastes good and we are safer. The question about whether or not eating sausage in the first place is healthy for you is a great one to explore and I hope our conversation goes there next week.
But for this week, I will wrap back around to the VP process. I think that a huge factor will be Mitt's comfort level and personal relationship with his choice. I don't believe for a second that he will want to hang out at the Country Skillet talking bass fishing with Haley. Portman can share a nice snifter of brandy and sit in high backed leather chairs and talk carried interest with Mitt... I still think he is the guy. If Haley happens it is only because the GOP establishment wrangles it and forces it down his throat. In a funny way, Obama's stumble and the economy's stagnation might give Mitt the confidence to ignore them, and weaken the campaign long term. As for T-Paw, come on, he's your Secretary of Agriculture, not your VP.
Your question to chew on until our next exchange comes courtesy of a beer billboard near our office. I think it perfectly encapsulates Mitt and the GOP's problem with him. It is an ad for Stella Artois. Do you know anyone who drinks Stella? I don't. But technically, it is beer - though it isn't sure it wants to be. The wording on the billboard makes me shake my head every time and wonder who exactly is the target for the ad. Sorta like Mitt. He's a Republican, but a fru-fru one who doesn't resonate with 95% of beer drinkers. Will the GOP rank and file drink the Stella in November... It is probably all about packaging and messaging... which brings us back to the slogan. Are you ready?
"It's not a glass, it's a chalice."
What? Have you ever met anyone who wants their beer in a chalice? Who approved that? I can't think of a single way that makes me more likely to drink Stella Artois. It is really hard to sell something people don't want, something people don't want to be associated with, something that people associate with snooty, pinky pointing elitism. That is the GOP challenge this November. Can they get us to belly up to the bar and say "Stella" out loud?
Curious to hear your thoughts on that one. Until then, back to the Red Echo Chamber for me.
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Welcome to Into the Echo Chamber, the weekly electronic conversation of the 2012 presidential campaign as viewed from two Twitter feeds. Matt Spence is monitoring the Twitterverse of the Romney Campaign, Republicans, and the "red" side of the aisle at @SpencerianRed. I am monitoring the tweets of the Obama Team, Democrats using @SpencerianBlue. Our email-based back-and-forths are posted here on Thursdays.