The state of the race

I gotta admit, I don’t actually follow the polling all the closely, so I was pretty surprised to see the pervasiveness of Romney’s problems (via Nate Silver):

Romney  still has huge advantages in money and organization, but still, this does give one pause.   Actually, I think we may be about to see a terrific real-world experiment on just how effective negative ads can be (or not). I should imagine the Romney SuperPAC will go in with guns blazing in Michigan and Ohio.  We already know how Gingrich stands up (or fails to) against such an onslaught.  Presumably, it’s Santorum’s turn.

Where the money goes

Love this chart from Ezra:

In short, as Ezra says, the US Government is primarily an insurer with a large army.   Not that our political debate reflects this fact at all.

Catholicism for all

I like the conclusion to Jon Cohn’s post on the Catholic Bishops continued opposition to the Obama birth control compromise:

That is one big reason why the Obama Administration, acting on the recommendation of the Institute of Medicine, has decided to include birth control on the list of preventative treatments that insurers must cover without cost-sharing in the nation’s new universal health care scheme. The Bishops’ position, which the Republicans have now adopted as their own, is that religious leaders have the right to override that decision, even though it will affect employees who have no moral or religious qualms about birth control. Writing in NewsweekAndrew Sullivan captured the Bishops’ thinking perfectly: “Catholic doctrine should, according to the bishops’ spokesman, also apply to non-Catholics.”

Again, I have no idea how this plays politically – although, like Ed Kilgore and Greg Sargent, I think the Bishops may be isolating themselves by taking up a position that, according to the polls, even most Catholics oppose. But the principle seems pretty clear to me.

The Bishops want a veto over public policy. And the Republicans want to give it to them.

Meanwhile, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson thinks (or at least pretends to) that this is an epic blunder:

Fourth, with a single miscalculation, Obama has managed to unite economic and social conservatives in outrage against government activism and energize religious conservatives in a way Mitt Romney could never manage. Culture-war debates in America are evenly divided. But the objects of culture-war aggression do not easily forget.

If Obama is playing a political chess game, he has just sacrificed his queen, a rook and all his bishops. It would have to be a deep game indeed.

I think Gerson should stick to writing speeches.

Photo of the day

During this week’s Slate Political Gabfest, David Plotz mentioned this movie poster that struck him as hilarious.  I have to agree.  The movie is now in my Netflix queue.

A Mike Nichols film, no less.

(George) Romney for President

Nice piece on George Romney in the Post yesterday that, more than anything, was a dramatic illustration of just how far to the right the Republican party has moved (and no the Democratic party has not moved left by anything near the equivalent amount).   I was listening to something last week (can’t remember, a podcast, NPR?) and it was mentioned that, of course, George Romney simply would not be a Republican today.  Here’s a little bit about a man who was running for the Republican nomination in 1964:

George Romney inhabited a different world. His executive career took place within a single company, American Motors Corp. There, his success rested on the pursuit of more fuel-efficient cars to compete with the gas-guzzling “dinosaurs” (in Romney’s words) of AMC’s larger competitors. Like Bain, AMC was emblematic of its time. Rooted in the industrial Midwest, its corporate philosophy recognized the connections among workers, managers, shareholders and communities. Romney the elder dismissed the “rugged individualism” touted by conservatives as “nothing but a political banner to cover up greed.” [emphasis mine]  Entrepreneurship was vital, but prosperity was not an individual product; it was generated within a community, through bargaining and compromises…

But the elder Romney also saw government as a powerful tool for generating broad-based prosperity. Elected governor in 1962 after helping lead a commission that updated Michigan’s Constitution to reduce gridlock, he broke with conservative Republicans and worked across party lines to establish a minimum wage, introduce the income tax, grant collective bargaining rights to public employees, significantly increase state education spending and develop more generous programs for the poor and the unemployed.

Ah, George, where are you now?  Of course, politicians like George Romney are still out there– we call them moderate or “business-friendly” Democrats.  And, as for today’s Republican party:

The biggest reason that the bipartisan political world of George Romney has vanished is the long-term movement of the Republican Party to the right.

The legacies are everywhere. When a prominent GOP senator describes President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package as the worst economic legislation since the creation of the income tax; when every Republican candidate, including Mitt Romney, scorns a budget deal with a 10-1 ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases; when the Republican House leader channelsAyn Rand in declaring that America’s “job creators are on strike”; when Romney dismisses concerns about growing inequality and the behavior of Wall Street as “envy”; the distance between contemporary Republican ideals and the vision of George Romney becomes plain.

Then again, it is entirely possible that, like George Romney, I am just an envious socialist who wants to punish rich people.

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