Why 2012 Should Be a GOP Year Monday, Jan 9 2012 

“Why 2012 Should Be a GOP Year”

— Headline, George Will’s New Year’s column

The Oracle has looked into his crystal ball and foreseen the future. According to the Washington Post‘s pre-eminent conservative pundit, Republicans should “stride confidently” into the coming election year, with nothing but good news ahead – unless you include losing the presidency again to Barack Obama.

That’s what the man said: Republicans will win the House and Senate but because of a flawed nominating process will lose the White House. They can then spend the next four years blocking everything Obama wants to do in a happy state of partisan gridlock.

Flashback: I recall a bright young Post columnist once summing up a dismal political situation with the trenchant observation that “if you set your standards low enough a train wreck can be counted a success.”

That columnist, if my octogenarian memory serves, was George Will. But of course George, as he confessed in another recent column, has now reached the septuagenarian stage of life, so he can be forgiven a few lapses; such as recommending, in his  second column of the new year, that a Romney-Santorum ticket is just what Republicans need to capture the key state of Pennsylvania come November.

That would be Rick Santorum, the Great Right Hope of the moment, who lost his home state of Pennsylvania by 17 points when he ran for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Small wonder why Will is touting a Romney-Santorum ticket for the fall: He’s out to make his prediction of an Obama victory a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But I digress — a common failing among those who have lived through too many presidential elections to take the promise of “change” seriously. My original point was that if the GOP loses to Obama in November it won’t be because of its nominating process but the fact that Republicans took over the House in the mid-term elections.

Lucky Barack Obama. What would the odds against his re-election be this new year if he didn’t have an out-of-control Republican majority in the House to blame for his failure to deliver “change you can believe in.”

A little political history is in order, if Professor Gingrich won’t mind my muscling into his territory:

In 1948 Harry Truman was so unpopular that both the left and right wings of his party broke off to nominate their own candidates for president. Yet he won re-election not by running against his nominal opponent, Tom Dewey, but a Republican Congress whose time and energy had been spent trying to repeal the New Deal.

Flash forward half-a-century to find another unpopular Democratic president rescued by the mid-term election of a Republican House that undid itself by closing down the government because, as its Speaker confessed, he was asked to leave Air Force One from the rear rather than the front exit.

In that case, it was lucky Bill Clinton. What would the odds against his re-election have been in 1996 if he hadn’t had an out-of-control Newt Gingrich to blame for his failure to deliver the New Covenant he’d promised.

Obviously the idea that elephants never forget doesn’t apply to pachyderms of the political species. On the other hand their Democratic opponents have taken heed: A front-page New Year’s headline in the New York Times tells us OBAMA PLANS TO RUN AGAINST CONGRESS.


Steele might become a reasonably good writer if he would pay a little more attention to grammar, learn something about the propriety and disposition of words and, incidentally, get some information on the subject he intends to handle.

                                 — Jonathan Swift on Richard Steele

Thirteen years? Unlucky (or unlikely) number Thursday, Dec 8 2011 

So Herman Cain has dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination after a woman came forward with a lurid story of a 13-year sexual relationship with the one-time GOP frontrunner.

My cynical Louisiana-bred reaction? Big mistake to leave the race. In former Gov. Edwin Edwards’ famous formulation, there is no practical reason for any modern-day politician to quit running unless he’s found in bed with a live boy or a dead girl.

Consider David Vitter, still spouting platitudes on the U.S. Senate floor, despite being listed as a frequent guest at a wicked Washington call house. Or, for that matter, the private life of Cain’s successor as the Iowa frontrunner, Newt Gingrich.

No, what Herman Cain should have done on getting word of a pending sex scandal was punch in Edwin Edwards’ number to find out what Edwards advised Bill Clinton when a model named Gennifer Flowers claimed that she had a 12-year relationship with Clinton during his days as attorney general and governor of Arkansas.

As Edwards recalled the occasion, Clinton, then in the early stage of his run for the presidency, got news of the charge while on a fund-raising trip to New Orleans. Concerned about its impact, he asked his fellow Southern governor, Edwards, what he should do.

“I told him,” said Edwards, “that if that sort of claim were made against me I’d say, ‘12 weeks, maybe. Twelve months, maybe. But 12 years? Never.’”

Clinton, a simple Arkansas philanderer who lacked the flair of his Louisiana counterpart, said he didn’t think he could do that. Instead he and Hillary headed for “60 Minutes” and the first of what would be an eight-year series of “Stand by Your Man” reconciliations.

It worked, but I still prefer Edwards’ way. Mendacious perhaps, but it had the virtue of political wit, an element sadly lacking in the current race for the Republican nomination. For that reason alone, we’re going to miss Herman Cain’s presence in the field. He was the only candidate running who could at times be intentionally funny.

Sound Bite to Remember (Occupiers and Tea Party members take note)

“Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe.”

                               — Theodore Roosevelt (1913)

When is a lobbyist not a lobbyist? Sunday, Nov 20 2011 

“I wasn’t a lobbyist, I was a strategic adviser.”

— Newt Gingrich, explaining why he took $1.8 million in fees from Freddie Mac, a federal agency that operates on taxpayer/bailout money

Move past, if you will, the part of this story that involves a Republican presidential candidate’s having what reporters call “baggage” (though in this particular candidate’s case it’s sure to be either Gucci’s or Louis Vuitton’s).

That Newt Gingrich has always viewed political cachet as a route toward becoming Newt Getrich dates back to his first touch of power, assuming the House speakership in 1995 and immediately hooking onto a $4.5 million book deal he gave up only after being pressured by his embarrassed Republican colleagues.

No, Gingrich-being-Getrich shouldn’t be the focus of media attention here. That’s old news. The question to be raised – the thing to be condemned by good government moralists in the media – is why federal departments and agencies like Freddie Mac are allowed to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to lobby Congress for additional millions of taxpayer dollars.

Gingrich’s audacity (somebody has to pay those Tiffany bills, so why not Freddie Mac?) simply expresses the routine acceptance by members of Congress — Democrat and Republican alike — that influence-peddling not merely for but with taxpayer money is now the accepted norm in Washington.

There ought to be a law against it — and as a matter of fact, there is: Taxpayer-subsidized federal departments and agencies are strictly prohibited from using their funds for lobbying purposes. But then, this isn’t lobbying, is it? No, it’s “strategic advice,” given when the price is right by ex-Republican and ex-Democratic congressmen alike.

Who says there isn’t bipartisan agreement on some federal expenditures?

Sound Bite to Remember (circa 1955)

“Why is it that when I take it, it’s stealin’, but when a governor who’s a lawyer takes it, it’s called a fee?”

 Alabama Governor Big Jim Folsom, complaining about the inequity of it all

Soundbite to Remember Monday, May 23 2011 

“He’s off his meds and out of therapy.”

—Colin Powell aide Richard Armitage re Newt Gingrich, after Gingrich called for Powell’s firing as Secretary of State (2003)