Nate Silver offers a theory as to why Newt Gingrich has been surging in the polls. Basically, it's because Anti-Romney Republicans got tired of realizing their alternative picks were coming off as dumb and Newt seems somewhat smarter. Which he probably is but I also think that as it comes time to actually vote for someone, they're going to realize he'd get clobbered by Obama and decide that as little as they like Mitt, they'd rather have him than Barack.
Michele Bachmann appeared with Jimmy Fallon the other night. The house band, The Roots, played her on with a song no one recognized but which has now been revealed as something called "Lyin' Ass Bitch."
That's funny but it's also kinda mean and childish. I think Michele Bachmann spreads untruths and champions a vision of America that would cause a lot of people to suffer…so she isn't exactly my favorite person. I would like to see her not only lose but lose big. Still, it's kind of an ambush to lay that insult on her without her knowing what it was at the time. It's also just nasty on a personal level. I would much prefer an atmosphere where folks discussed issues instead of hurling insults.
Newt Gingrich is out there today saying we need to roll back child labor laws so kids can work as janitors. He's also out there saying we need to "privatize" Social Security, which to me is another way of saying, "We need to give Wall Street a chance to get its hands on your retirement money." In the meantime, Herman Cain is saying more bad things about Muslims.
I don't think either of these guys is running for President. I think they're both running to be Mitt Romney's pacify-the-extreme-right running mate. The runner-up prize if you don't get that (or you do and the ticket loses) is Sarah Palin's career which includes a lot of celebrity and money. And hey, Fox News could still do with a solid Glenn Beck replacement.
Walter Zelman makes the conservative case for healthcare reform's individual mandate. This seems utterly logical to me and I'd be fascinated to hear a counter-argument to it…if there is one. I still think the opposition to "Obamacare" is primarily over who proposed it, not what's in it.
I think Keith Olbermann's right. Shutting down the "Occupy" protests — especially when you're pepper-spraying elderly women — is just going to reinforce an idea among the poor in this country that the rich have the system rigged in their favor. And that will not be without its consequences.
Matt Miller writes a brief for the Supreme Court on why they should bless the Affordable Health Care Act. I don't think most of his arguments speak to the way the High Court decides this kind of thing but it's a sound case for why we should have something of the sort. Thanks to Scott Marinoff for telling me about this.
I agree with Michael Tomasky that Newt Gingrich is never going to be the Republican nominee, at least at the top of the ticket. I actually think the position Gingrich has been running for all along is that of Running Mate. If the nominee is Romney, he's going to need to do what McCain did: Pick someone that the extreme right-wing of his party will love…but hopefully a better campaigner than Sarah Palin. (Actually, Palin turned out to be a pretty good campaigner for the career advancement of Sarah Palin…just not so good for McCain/Palin.)
But I disagree with Tomasky that the Anyone-But-Romney crowd is going to be a problem for Romney, if and when he gets the nomination. Right now, there's still time. Those folks have the luxury of trashing Mitt in the hope that they can cause someone more to their liking to be the nominee. It's like in the last election when McCain looked close to having the nomination sewn up. You had people like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter saying they couldn't support him; that he'd be worse than Obama and that they might sit this one out or even hold their noses and vote for a (gasp) black Democrat.
And then of course when McCain became the guy, they supported him. Enthusiastically.
My prediction, for what little it may be worth, is that if Romney does get the nomination and picks a better Palin (who I doubt would be Newt), all the folks who now oppose him will decide the following: That what they hate about Romney isn't nearly as much as what they hate about Obama. And they'll support their party's nominee as fervently as if they really wanted him.
Lloyd Grove writes an interesting profile of Bill Maher. All the pieces I've read about Maher kind of dance around saying what most people who've worked with or around him think of the guy. He's utterly fearless, he's well-informed, he does sharp and funny political commentary and the way he treats people (women, especially) off-camera makes them very uncomfortable.
Ari Melber on why Herman Cain really isn't running for president.
There's a tendency to presume that every candidate has a calculated scheme and a deliberate goal. I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that Cain doesn't really know or care what his chances are of being president. Up until the time he was hit with the sex-related charges, he struck me somehow as a guy who was just having fun with the campaign and who figured that he'd become more famous, sell more books, raise his fee for speeches, maybe get some interesting offers for more books or TV shows and maybe — just maybe — have a 100-to-1 shot at becoming president or at least vice-president. He probably still thinks that he'll come out of this whole campaign better than if he'd never run.
I always thought that was true of Sarah Palin, too; that she was more or less making it up as she went along. She probably thought she had a better shot at the presidency…but not necessarily a greater yearning for it.