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Conservatives at a Dead End?

1:02 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Election day has finally arrived and to true conservatives the final outcome will probably be nothing more than a mixed blessing at best. First and foremost Mitt Romney is hardly a rock ribbed conservative, not if you base your assessment of him on his political track record. He has migrated politically from a Northeastern liberal Republican to a faux “severe conservative” and then back to the center as the political winds have necessitated. Just look at his political maneuvering in the post primary run up to today. He may have disavowed the “Etch-a-Sketch” comments of Eric Fehnstrom but he has surely followed just that strategy, even to the point of largely agreeing with the foreign policies of Barack Obama as evidenced in the third presidential debate. In short there’s little reason to believe that Mitt Romney is anything but a shrewd political charlatan.

For conservatives whatever happens tonight there will still be several nagging questions to address. For one, what became of the “conservative counterrevolution of 2010″? In the wake of the widespread Republican by-election victories we were treated to all manner of editorials and op-eds, both written and on talk radio and Fox News about how America had seen through and rejected the “Socialism” of Barack Obama, returning to a more conservative political mindset. I however always believed that 2010 represented more of a protest vote than anything significant in the way of a fundamental shift in the political paradigm. Support for the notion that 2010 amounts to a protest vote rather than a fundamental shift in the American political landscape can be seen in the decline in popularity of the Tea Party Movement, the increased frustration on the part of the public with Republican Party obstruction in Congress and the increasing numbers of Republicans who have distanced themselves from Grover Norquist’s no tax pledge. Neither does Norquist’s idea that “all that we need is a Republican president with enough digits to sign what’s put before him” appear to resonate very well with the voting public. While more people identify as conservatives than identify as liberals, the net number of those who identify as conservatives is roughly around one third of the American public. If conservative thoughts had really taken hold you would see the numbers of people identifying as conservatives being north of 50% and the presidential race would look a lot different than it does today. Likewise the conservative attacks on Obama’s handling of the economy and posture as a world leader have failed to register with a majority of Americans. If they had Mitt Romney would be ahead by at least 6 to 10 percentage points rather than trailing within the statistical margin of error.

The myth that America is a “center right country” has been faithfully kept alive in the warrens of conservative media but as the polling numbers show on the day of the election, there’s no reason to believe that that idea has anymore validity today than in did in 2008 when Dick Morris claimed the same thing on the weekend before the election saying that: “Republicans were coming home and John McCain would win the election.” If there was anything in the way of a true conservative counterrevolution then where were the true conservative leaders during the Republican primary process? Out of the length and breadth of the conservative movement not a single viable candidate arose to challenge Barack Obama, instead Mitt Romney merely waited out the self destruction of one flawed conservative challenger after another till he was the last man standing. Quoting political commentator Steve Bogden: “Normally, you have a competitive primary. This year, it was an ongoing audition for whoever was going to be the anti-Romney. Almost everybody had their surge, but there were no credible challengers. Cain? Ging­rich? Santorum? Romney didn’t have to ‘win’ this year. He just waited for everyone else to lose.”

If Mitt Romney is lucky enough to win tonight it will be a squeaker and being the shrewd politician that he is he will continue to drift around the center no matter the tone of his rehtoric. He’ll have no other choice if he hopes to be reelected in 2016 and that bodes ill for conservatives who will be hoping that he pushes their agenda forward. I seriously doubt that Romney would ever subscribe to Grover Norquist’s notion that he should be a rubber stamp for a Tea Party Congress. I doubt that Romney sees Norquist and his anti-tax movement as anything more than a political sideshow to the big show of governing. If Barack Obama is lucky enough to win this evening I fully expect to see the usual crisis of confidence reemerge among conservatives when they beat each other up over the idea that “every time we nominate a candidate who moves to the center we lose.” The great irony of this debate is that if they did nominate a far right conservative, and why didn’t they, they would lose anyway. Like the Romney-Ryan economic plan the math just doesn’t add up for conservatives. For all of the bluff and bluster that one hears on Fox, Limbaugh, and across the entire spectrum of right-wing media about the American people being fundamentally conservative it just ain’t so. If it were true we wouldn’t be in essentially a dead heat and Romney would be way out in front. However in spite of four years of a visceral anti-Obama diatribe on the right, a lackluster economy and a threatening world scene there just aren’t enough conservative votes out there to make it happen.

Steven J. Gulitti
11/6/12

An Ominous Comment For Conservatives?

4:36 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Back in February I penned a short article addressing whether or not the Republican Party needed to doctor up Mitt Romney’s image so as to make him palatable to the Party’s conservatives. I framed the piece this way: “Does the G.O.P. and the conservative elite need to doctor up Mitt Romney so as to make him seem conservative enough to be electable? It’s no secret that large numbers of conservatives don’t see Romney as a fellow traveler and that poses two great risks to the G.O.P., the prospect of a third party bid, a sure formula for defeat, or the other equally unattractive option, a conservative voters strike on election day.” Now in the wake of Romney’s primary victory in Illinois, his Communications Director Eric Fehrnstrom has suggested that Romney could easily jettison those conservative talking points that he’s adopted during the primaries once he enters the general election campaign. To wit: “During an interview on CNN, John Fugelsang asked Fehrnstrom if an extended primary against Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum would force the governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election? “I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign,” Fehrnstrom replied. “Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch,” he added. “You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”

A whole host of political commentators have made a point of suggesting that Romney had adopted the trappings of the Conservative Movement purely for political ends and that when you examine his political track record there was no way in which you could legitimately see him as a true conservative. Does the public muttering of Eric Fehrnstrom give conservatives cause for worry? I would say so due to the fact that where the conservatives are on the political map and where the vast majority of the independent voters are is two different places and if you want to get elected in 2012 you aren’t going to do that by being on the far right. Mitt Romney’s handlers are already engaged in damage control over Fehrnstrom’s comments but damage control is just what it probably is seeing as the primaries aren’t over and the average Republican primary voter is far more conservative than the electorate in general. But for my money you’d be fooling yourself if you believe that Eric Fehrnstrom is just making idle chatter.

S.J. Gulitti

3/21/12

Does the G.O.P. Need to Doctor Up Mitt Romney?; http://open.salon.com/blog/steven_j_gulitti/2012/02/04/does_the_gop_need_to_doctor_up_mitt_romney

Adviser: Romney will change positions ‘like an Etch A Sketch’ after primary; http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/21/adviser-romney-will-change-positions-like-an-etch-a-sketch-after-primary/

Did the Republicans Already Lose Michigan and Ohio?‏

7:28 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

If the Michigan primary revealed anything it’s not just how precarious Mitt Romney’s fortunes are in his own home state, it’s how precarious the Republican Party’s fortunes may be in both Michigan and Ohio. In Michigan “the most striking fact from the exit polls there was the fact that four in ten primary voters said they supported the Obama Administration’s 2009 intervention to rescue the big automakers.” If this is the case in Michigan one could logically extrapolate a similar situation in Ohio as that state is second only to Michigan when you consider how important the auto industry is to the state’s economy.

Both Romney and Santorum, in their pandering to the extremists within the G.O.P. have railed against the auto industry bailout, Romney doing so even after he supported bailing out his Wall Street pals. Thus there is little damage they can to to each other in their struggle for the G.O.P. nomination. However, at the same time they could be unwittingly aiding and abetting the cause of Barack Obama in these states come November. To wit: “Before the auto giants began revving back up last year, Michigan was hurting so badly that it seemed capable of voting Republican for President for the first time since 1988. Not so much anymore. And Ohio? Obama is already holding his ground there against both Romney and Santorum (and has a solid lead if you discount one seemingly anomalous Fox News survey).”

To make matters worse for the G.O.P. Chrysler’s sales were recently at record levels and it’s profitable for the first time in years, G.M. is once again the world’s largest car maker, and, rank and file auto workers are going to get a profit sharing bonus. So let me ask everyone, how’s that bashing the auto bailout working for conservatives? Not to well, why even their opposition to Clint Eastwood’s Super Bowl commercial blew up in their face and sent them scrambling into the damage control mode. Yup, it’s bad mojo to bet against the American worker and even worse mojo to root against your own country. Unfortunately for the Republican Party, its rhetoric on the auto bailout could be the gift that keeps on giving for Barack Obama and the Democrats.

S.J.G.

3/1/12

Source: Why the GOP Has Auto-Bailout Blues; http://swampland.time.com/2012/03/01/why-the-gop-has-auto-bailout-blues/?xid=thepage_newsletter

The Plutocrats Versus the People‏

12:21 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Whenever I hear a professional politician in Washington talking as if he he really understands our lot in life I can only laugh at the disconnect. I mean how likely is it that a sitting U.S. senator, who’s probably at least a multi-millionaire or a congressman, who’s time is consumed with fund raising would even have the faintest idea of the trials and tribulations of us ordinary souls. Well this situation is even more dramatic when viewed through the lens of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge him his success or his money and I’m not exactly broke either, but when viewed against the lives that the vast majority of us lead, Romney’s comments reveal just how different he is from the average American. Romney’s presidential campaign has been plagued by a number of inopportune remarks about money and wealth that have cast him in the light of a privileged character. His public misstatements prove to what extent he is truly divorced from our reality: ”Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are”; ”I’ll tell you what, ten-thousand bucks? $10,000 bet?”; ”I should tell my story. I’m also unemployed.”;”There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip” and a comment which states that the $300,00.00 plus made on the speakers podium was “just a small part of my income” are all cases in point. Now I’ll give Romney a pass on the “I like firing people” and his comments on the poor, both of which were initially misunderstood by the media and thereafter grossly misrepresented. Jacob Heilbrunn writing in The National Interest said “Michael Kinsley famously defined defined a gaffe as something a politician inadvertently says that is true but also embarrassing. Mitt Romney’s remark yesterday about his not being concerned about the poor may fall into that category. It reinforces the perception that he is the 200 million dollar man–a politician who truly is out of touch with common folks.”
 
Now against this backdrop of Romney’s public pratfalls, there is another revelation that only serves to reinforce the image of his disconnected public persona, the fact that a relative few mega rich patrons are pouring millions into his campaign. An article recently written by Nicholas Confessore and Michael Luo, “G.O.P. Donors Showing Thirst to Oust Obama in November”, revealed “Close to 60 corporations and wealthy individuals gave checks of $100,000 or more to a “super PAC” supporting Mitt Romney in the months leading up to the Iowa caucuses…underwriting a $17 million blitz of advertising that has swamped his Republican rivals in the early primary states. The filings to the Federal Election Commission…showed his ability to win substantial backing from a small number of his party’s most influential and wealthy patrons, each contributing to the super PAC far more than the $2,500 check each could legally write to his campaign. All told, the group, Restore Our Future, raised about $18 million from just 200 donors in the second half of 2011.” A detailed look at who these few benefactors are can be seen in the aforementioned article and in “Who’s Financing the “Super PACs” cited below. A Washington Post article also shows how a relative few wealthy patrons are seeking to affect the 2012 political season: “There are probably fewer than 100 people who are fueling 90 percent of this outside money right now,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director at the Public Campaign Action Fund, an advocacy group favoring limits on political spending. “When you think about the amazing impact that this small number of people have on deciding the election, on the information that people will have on who to vote for, it’s mind-boggling.” Thus it goes without saying that if 100 to 200 people can determine the outcome of an election in a society of over 300 million that clearly would fit the definition of a plutocracy influencing politics to suit its own narrow interests.  
 
That’s not to say that Barack Obama doesn’t have his own well heeled patrons who could pony up large sums of money as well as the campaign progresses, but presently the influence of a wealthy few on funding the Republican primaries is undeniable. And even though Obama has been forced to encourage supporters to create and fund pro-Obama super Pacs as a means of self defense, the president in contrast to Mitt Romney, has relied far more on a grass-roots network of the people, individuals who donate smaller sums and “bundlers”, those who aggregate individual donations and then forward those contributions on to the Obama campaign. That’s a distinct contrast to the Romney fund raising machine which shows that the Republican elite is “relying far more heavily on independent groups empowered by court decisions that have made it easier for wealthy individuals and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to intervene directly in election contests.”

 
The contrast between the efforts of a few and the rest of the American electorate is seen within the G.O.P. as well and is evident in part in the continuing overall lack of enthusiasm for Governor Romney. The cyclical and recurring rise and fall of a parade of “not Romney’s” and the recent emergence of the cash strapped Rick Santorum as a serious contender buoyed by popular conservative support represents another side of the story in the contest of the people versus the plutocrats. Santorum’s recent sweep of Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota shows the extent to which there is a continuing revolt within the Republican Party between its own grass-roots, predominately the Tea Party, and the establishment G.O.P. elite. This intra-G.O.P. revolt clearly represents a rejection of the mega donor in the primary process and an assertion of individual will. Whether or not Santorum, or whom ever replaces him as the anti-Romney candidate, can outlast the well funded Romney remains to be seen, but if someone other than Mitt Romney emerges as the Republican nominee, it will represent a victory for the conservative grass-roots over the establishment plutocrats who have boldly and blatantly tried to sway the Republican primary and with it the 2012 presidential election in their favor. Likewise the same would hold true if Barack Obama can reassemble his 2008 coalition and defeat Mitt Romney if he becomes the president’s eventual opponent. In the end if Mitt Romney is to prevail and become our next president and he does so in a low turnout election and with a small margin of victory it could only be seen as a victory of the plutocrats over the people and that would be a further setback to popular democracy in America.
 
Steven J. Gulitti
 
2/11/12
 
 
 
 
 
Washington Post: Tiny group of super-rich donors dominate primary; http://politics.salon.com/2012/01/17/tiny_group_of_super_rich_donors_dominate_primary/
 

The Unintended Consequences of Citizens United?

1:09 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Quoting Arianna Huffington:”Though the country is sorely in need of solutions, and the public hungry for real debate, that’s not what was served up in Iowa [or in New Hampshire] – either by the candidates or the vast pack of media covering their every word. What we got instead was a deluge of attack ads, largely financed by the super PACs allowed by the Citizens United decision. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 264 super PACs have been spawned for the 2012 race and they’ve already spent almost half of the $32 million they’ve raised. Perhaps this disconnect between what people are really concerned about and what the candidates are talking about is why only 17 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going” Campaign 2012: The Disconnect Widens; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/new-hampshire-2012_b_1196161.html

So this brings up the question of what may be one of the great unintended developments resulting from Citizens United: Has its effect spawned an avalanche of intraparty attacks within the conservative movement that may cripple if not badly hamper the prospects of many of the remaining 2012 contenders? We saw Gingrich upended in Iowa and the same thing is already happening to Santorum. Now when Citizens was decided there was much jubilation on the right and dismay on the left as it open the doors for folks like the Koch Brothers to spend as much as they wanted to influence elections. And yes, the same is true for labor unions, Hollywood stars and George Soros.
 
But look at what is happening within the G.O.P. thus far. The unlimited amounts of money flowing into the primary process is creating unlimited opportunities for the well financed candidates, particularly Romney, to bury their competition alive in negative attack ads thereby closing out alternative conservative positions and leaving the radicalized Republican base with several inconvenient choices. The far right may very well be faced with voting for a Republican moderate, staying home which may result in the reelection of Barack Obama or voting for a third party splinter candidate which would amount to a vote thrown away. Then there’s also that ineffective procedure of the write in vote which serves as nothing more than a symbolic protest as the voter can say he performed his civic duty without having to take any responsibility for who is actually elected as it probably would never be his guy.
 
Now since Mitt Romney is a moderate and progressive Republican who has the most to spend and has thus far effectively done so, the unintended consequences of Citizens has, to date, been to short circuit those Republicans to the right of Romney. So that begs the question, if Romney has most of the money to spend on attack ads and the more conservative contenders are woefully underfunded, will Citizens United work to the detriment of the radical right and ensure that we have an election between two progressives, one a Democrat, the other a Republican? Moreover what does it say about the much feared influence of the likes of the Koch Brothers and other wealthy conservatives if their money flows to moderate and progressive Republicans thereby starving the radically right-wing contenders of needed funding? Could it be that America’s wealthy elite knows that some degree of progressive measures are required and desirable in a modern democracy and that the agenda of the radical right is just to extreme to be workable? Is this an indication that these same conservatives were happy to have the support of the radical right as a brake on Barack Obama’s thrust to the left but now that his momentum has slowed, they’ve largely shunted the right-wing radicals to the political periphery? While this may not seem all that evident now, the far right will have a hard time competing if it can’t keep up with the money flowing into the Romney camp or the Obama reelection campaign either, for that matter.
 
While a Romney victory in November wouldn’t be exactly what the Democratic base wanted, the precluding of a Tea Party backed presidential victory by the election of Mitt Romney would surely be a consolation prize for the defeated Democrats. If that’s the case then Citizens United will have harmed the radical right far more than it harmed any other element within the American political system. I Think it goes without saying that few if any on the left or the right ever saw this as the likely outcome of the Citizens United decision.
 
 
Steven J. Gulitti
1/17/12