Saturday, August 13, 2011

Reflections on the Election

As a firm believer in the pathology of the permanent campaign, I try to stay away from the subject of the election until the Iowa Caucus, but this year it appears I will not be able to keep the resolve, so here are my comments.

Personally, I wish Obama would drop out. He’s shot his bolt. It’s fallen short. Clearly ha has no plan for what to do next. This is not someone I want to give another term. I’d love to see him stop aside in favor of Robert Reich, a serious Keynesian, or Bria Schweitzer, the Montana governor who vetoed Tea Party legislation with a branding iron – now there is someone who knows how to fight. My ideal candidate, really, would be Bill Clinton. When you want to persuade people to adopt a controversial program, moral authority is everything. And Clinton, though he may be a draft-dodging womanizing sleaze, has tremendous moral authority on economic and budgetary issues. If anyone can convince people to give stimulus one more try, it should be the man who balanced the budget and presided over prosperity of a kind not seen in 30 years. Unfortunately, he is excluded by the 22nd Amendment. What a shame!

Given, though, that the Spend More Party is looking utterly discredited, I really would like to give the Spend Less Party a chance. If it works, great. If it doesn’t the only way to truly discredit austerity is to try it. (Whether austerity takes longer to discredit than expansion remains to be seen). Unfortunately, the Spend Less Party has responded to losing an election by losing its mind, which makes me very uncomfortable about giving them the reins of power. Certainly if Jon Huntsman won the nomination I would vote for him, but that looks about as likely as Brian Schweitzer or Robert Reich wining the Democratic nomination. If Mitt Romney can convince me that insanity is purely an electoral strategy and he will attempt sanity when elected, I might grudgingly consider him. The others are nuts. (Or at least doing their best to impersonate nuts).

I also want to put in a comment on Rick Perry. Current conventional wisdom is that he is the savior of the Republican Party, that he has the nomination already wrapped up, and that, given, the current state of the economy, Republicans are almost certain to prevail in 2012, so we might as well skip the formality of an election and just inaugurate him now. I think this is a bit of a rush to judgment. One of the statements I have seen is that Rick Perry's speeches to secessionists will play well with the Tea Party, the presumption being that since the Tea Party is the most mobilized faction in American politics right now, winning their vote is all that matters. My own guess is that Perry's flirtation with secessionists will be much used against him by opponents to portray his as a dangerous nut, even in th Republican primary, to say nothing of the general election. It shouldn't be necessary to point out that flirtation with secessionists is a liability in US politics, but apparently it is necessary, so I will point it out. Flirtation with secessionists is a liability in US politics. Presumably Perry's defense will be that he didn't mean it, he was just pandering. (Of course, he will put it more artfully than that). And I'm sure this is true. I do not for one minute believe that the Governor of Texas seriously contemplates secession from the Union. But you can tell a lot about a politician by who he panders to.



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