Romney in ’16? Republicans Have No Good Ideas

Mitt Romney - NopeRamesh Ponnuru is one of the best conservative writers around. He beats Josh Barro because (1) Ponnuru is an actual conservative and (2) he is, frankly, a better writer (but let’s give Barro a few years; he’s still young). That doesn’t mean I agree with him much. He is very conservative. But unlike most conservative writers, I believe that he is serious in thinking that conservative policy really is good for everyone and not just his class. As a result of this, I was not surprised when yesterday he wrote, Romney? Again? Please Stop.

His main argument for not bringing back Romney is that the Republican Party really needs a candidate who doesn’t so clearly despise the middle class. According to Ponnuru, especially given that the Democrats are likely to offer a candidate with a very long resume, the Republicans should offer a contrast. “That argues for a candidate who offers fresh ideas and a chance for the public to turn the page.” I agree: that would be a good thing to do. But who might that candidate be?

Today, another Reformish Republican, Reihan Salam was out with an article, Romney 2016! When Ryan Cooper put together his ratings of the conservative reformers, Reihan Salam scored almost as high as Ramesh Ponnuru. And his great idea as a reformer: Mitt Romney.

His argument is shockingly bad, but telling. First, he mentioned the preposterous contention made by Tagg Romney that his dad only ran in 2012 because there were no good candidates. Yeah right: it was altruism that caused Mitt Romney to run for president in 2012. Salam took this at face value and then argued that the Republican field is going to be bad in 2016 too. Hence: Mitt Romney needs to save his party again! (For an alternate theory, see Charlie Pierce, The Return Of The Speechwriter.)

As ridiculous as this notion is, there is something to it. I think it is that Salam knows that regardless of what happens, the Republican primary voters are not going to let anyone more reasonable than Romney get the nomination in 2016. And I think he’s right. That brings us back to Ponnuru’s idea of the Republicans running “a candidate who offers fresh ideas.” Even if the Republican Party had such a candidate (and they don’t), he would never get the nomination.

I think the Republican Party should go all in for 2016. It looks like the economy will hold and Hillary Clinton will get the Democratic nomination. If that’s the case, the Republican Party is sure to lose the general election that year. If I were part of the Republican establishment (and both Ronnuru and Salam are), I would recommend going with a firebrand like Ted Cruz. That way, the base could get their primary delusion out of their system. There wouldn’t be more rationalizations, “If we’d run a real conservative he’d have won!”

Salam made a shockingly bad comparison between Romney in 2016 and Reagan in 1980. If Ted Cruz lost badly in 2016, then that might open up 2020 for Romney. Maybe the appropriate comparison is between Romney in 2020 and Nixon in 1968. G Gordon Liddy is still kicking; maybe he could help Romney with that. Now he might offer some fresh ideas!

H/T: Ed Kilgore

Why Europe Is More Open to Bad Economic Policy

European Union FlagPaul Krugman has been writing quite a lot about Europe recently. Like a lot of us, he’s very unhappy about how Francois Hollande has rolled over for the German austerity cabal that forcing counterproductive austerity on the rest of the EU. But this morning, he wrote, Austerity and the Hapless Left. In it, he noted that Hollande is hardly unusual—the left has been quite unliberal when it has come to dealing with this Greater Depression. But here’s the key: in the United States, the left has been better than in Europe.

Krugman asked why it was that the left in America was being more reasonable. His best reason was, “American liberals have been toughened up by the craziness of our right, and in particular by the experience of the Bush years…” I think that is largely correct. Here in the United States, the right has so clearly gone off the deep end that no one takes them seriously. They are clearly immune to facts.

In Europe, the right sounds much more reasonable. In fact, what they sound like are America’s own Very Serious Centrists. And this goes along with what I’ve been saying for years: self-styled centrists are really just (often) social liberals and (always) economic conservatives. The problem in this country is that the extremism of Republicans allow these people to claim the middle ground.

Look at what the conservatives in Europe are doing: they are forcing countries to cut their spending but they are also requiring them to raise taxes. I know that we liberals generally have a good opinion of taxes because we know they are necessary to fund proper government functions. But raising taxes in a depressed economy is a bad idea. Regardless, this obsession with spending cuts and tax increases is what the supposed Serious Centrists Simpson-Bowles have been pushing in America, pretty much forever.

The irony of this situation is that the Republicans are providing liberal cover against these policies. If the Republicans were not so extreme, the United States would likely have worse (that is: more conservative) economic policy—what Europe now has. But I think it is important to remember that all these supposed centrists are anything but. They are pushing policies that would be horrible for the country. They are the conservatives in Europe who are keeping the people of that continent in pain. And America, bless her soul, has the craziness of our proto-fascists to thank (thus far) for our marginally better economic policies.

Hillary’s Spam About Ferguson

Hillary ClintonOh do we get spam around here! And much of it is of a very generic nature. For example, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such probing insight on this topic. This is a subject I am very interested in. Thank you so much for your insights on this most interesting topic. You are an excellent writer about this subject.” The only thing that is different is that most spam is in pidgin English. They might as well write, “This is automated spam. No human is looking at this page. But please allow us to put our spam links on your page!”

In the realm of politics, one expects better. That’s why Hillary Clinton’s comments about Ferguson were so disappointing. Charlie Pierce nailed the essence of it this morning, “What she said appears to have been written by nine consultants, eight people from marketing, seven lawyers, six ESL valedictorians, and Mark Penn.” (Penn is a pollster long associated with the Clintons.) It is an example of saying nothing really carefully. Here is my favorite part:

We saw our country’s true character in the community leaders who came out to protest peacefully and worked to restrain violence, the young people who insisted on having their voices heard, and in the many decent and respectful law enforcement officers who showed what quality law enforcement looks like, men and women who serve and protect their communities with courage and professionalism, who inspire trust rather than fear. We need more of that, because we can do better.

I think my spammers could do better:

I stand her today outraged at outrageous things. Just the same I am happy about the happy things. Motherhood should be respected. America is the greatest nation on earth. Let us strive to be better. Let us also strive not to be worse. Let us strive in the ways that each of us agree is the proper striving way. And let’s get rid of injustice; it has no place in the justice system. And by “injustice,” I mean whatever it is that we, in our hearts, take injustice to be. And finally: motherhood!

Clinton made this public statement at the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit. Nexenta is a data storage company in Silicon Valley. And Clinton was paid to be there. How much? I think she gets about $50,000 per speech. But it isn’t really about the speech. It is about Nexenta getting in good for the person most likely to be the next President of the United States.

On the positive side, this generic reaction—almost three weeks in the making—really shores her political reputation. It was spineless and presented for business interests she will be beholden to. That’s the very definition of a New Democrat. Get that woman a presidency. Or, as she might say, “Get that woman the job that we, in our hearts, can all agree is the right thing that we believe she should be doing. And motherhood! America!”

The Films of Preston Sturges

Preston SturgesOn this day in 1898, the great film writer and direct Preston Sturges was born. It is best to think of his as a writer, although his films were energetically shot and edited. But his scripts are really some of the best ever. He wrote exclusively comedies that are generally considered screwball. And they were very often that, but I think that is a bit tight a fit for what he did.

His first film as writer-director was The Great McGinty. It tells the story of Dan McGinty, a man who rises through the ranks of the state’s corrupt political system to be governor. Along the way, he marries his secretary because he needs to be married for appearances. The problem is that he falls in love with her, decides to be honest, and has his political life fall apart. It is one of my favorite films. Here is a great scene with the political boss (Akim Tamiroff) explaining to McGinty (Brian Donlevy) why he has to get married:

Sturges next film is equally silly but more conventional, Christmas in July. Then came one of his best, The Lady Eve. It stars Barbara Stanwyck as a con arts who falls in love with her mark played by Henry Fonda:

And then came what is widely considered Sturges masterpiece, Sullivan’s Travels. I’m not that fond of it, but I do love Veronica Lake. It tells the story of a famous comedy director who wants to travel the nation undercover and find out what life is like for the poor souls who aren’t famous movie directors. Eventually, he actually finds trouble and learns important lessons about life. The film is mostly interesting for a few references to it in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The Palm Beach Story is perhaps the perfect screwball comedy. It is silly in the extreme with a wonderfully preposterous ending. It is a whole lot of fun:

Sturges next did one of the most bizarre films ever, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek. Basically, it is all one big exercise in making a film about premarital sex without getting stopped by the censors. But it is well worth checking out. Betty Hutton in the lead is irresistible. And Akim Tamiroff and Brian Donlevy reprise their roles from The Great McGinty in it.

After that came another excellent film, Hail the Conquering Hero. Sturges made a couple of films after that but I won’t talk about them because (1) they are generally not considered all that good and (2) I haven’t seen them. I highly recommend getting, Preston Sturges—The Filmmaker Collection. It includes all his major films with the exception of Morgan’s Creek.

Happy birthday Preston Sturges!