Newt the Debater

It is pretty amusing how so many Republicans (living in their bubble) seem to think Newt is the most electable because he will destroy Obama in the debates.  As Jonathan Bernstein points out, and Drum elaborates, this just isn’t so:

And here’s the part I think is right [Bernstein quote follows]:

What Monday demonstrated [] is that Newt’s reputation as a brilliant debater is actually a fraud. What Newt has done well isn’t debating the other candidates; what he’s done well is attacking the moderators, and it works especially well when there’s a partisan Republican audience ready to cheer any shots at the liberal media.That’s not going to happen in general election debates. More broadly, he’s quite good at using language designed to appeal especially well to Rush Limbaugh listeners: Chicago-style politics, Saul Alinsky, teleprompters, and more. Terrific, again, for provoking a big reaction from a partisan audience of intense, highly-informed conservatives. Utterly useless in general election debates.

Yep. Newt’s sneering, condescending tone is pitch perfect for the tea party crowd, but extremely off-putting for the less partisan folks who will determine November’s results. And without that, Newt’s got nothing. He doesn’t really do any better on substance than Romney or any of the others, and he certainly doesn’t have any native charm.

In fact, I read today that Newt said he will not participate in any future debates unless the audience can participate.  He clearly knows how his shtick works.  And this kind of demand just won’t fly in a general election debate given their long history of quiet audiences.

It’s small, but…

Article in the Post about the fact that Warren Buffett’s secretary– who famously pays a higher federal tax rate than he does– will be sitting with the First Lady at the SOTU tonight.   Anyway, I was just pleased to read this very accurate description of current Republican politics:

Republicans have vowed to oppose any new revenue — including new taxes on millionaires — at a time when the national deficit continues to soar and Congress is trying to identify $1.5 trillion in budget cuts agreed to last summer.

We often hear that Republicans are against raising taxes, but the real problem is that they are against any increase to government revenue.  If they were actually serious about either any kind of compromise or reducing our debt, that would simply not be the case.  Good to see a news article simply call it like it is (a low bar, I know, but sadly one not often met).

What you need to know about Campaign Finance

So, a friend today sent me this awesome infographic from the NYT that does an amazing job of explaining our current system of campaign finance.   Easily the best explanation of the way it works now that I’ve seen (click for a larger version):

And, the very same day I get this, Jeffrey Toobin has a terrific post that sums up the history and current state of campaign finance as succinctly as anything I’ve seen.  If you want to understand the role of money in the 2012 election, just take 5 minutes with both of these.  Seriously.

1% majors

Interesting piece in Economix last week about what the top 1% of Americans majored in.   Here’s the top portion of the table:

I do wonder how many of those PS majors (not bad) are up there because they went on to pursue law degrees.  Of course, most lawyers are not 1%, but the best earning lawyers clearly are.   I had forgotten about this piece, but was reminded by a recent Adam Davidson column that laments marketability of certain college degrees:

Until now, a B.A. in any subject was a near-guarantee of at least middle-class wages. But today, a quarter of college graduates make less than the typical worker without a bachelor’s degree. [emphasis mine] David Autor, a prominent labor economist at M.I.T., recently told me that a college degree alone is no longer a guarantor of a good job. While graduates from top universities are still likely to get a good job no matter what their major is, he said, graduates from less-exalted schools are going to be judged on what they know. To compete for jobs on a national level, they should be armed with the skills that emerging industries need, whether technical (computer science) or not.

Those without such specialized skills — like poetry, or even history, majors — are already competing with their neighbors for the same sorts of mediocre, poorer-paying local jobs like low-level management or big-box retail sales. And with the low-skilled labor market atomized into thousands of microeconomies, immobile workers are less able to demand better wages or conditions or to acquire valuable skills.

Well, I’m glad he didn’t single out political science along with English and history.

%d bloggers like this: