Rick Santorum’s running–Why?

Rick Santorum made it official today–He is a candidate for the Republican nomination for President.  And–guess what–unlike apparently some of the other candidates–he’s “in it to win it!” Lots of luck.

Santorum showed up for his announcement party today without either a necktie or any real hope of being the Republican nominee.  Seriously, and I’m not being entirely petty, what is it with candidates wearing a dress shirt and jacket without a necktie?  Since Mitt Romney abandoned wearing a necktie, it seems like every candidate is showing up without one–as though that will make us think they’re regular guys?  I don’t think so.  There’s nothing about Santorum that says “regular guy”–more like regular geek.

Unfortunately for Santorum, he is a social conservative candidate in a year for fiscal conservatives.  Doubley unfortunately, the field is already loaded with social conservatives who didn’t lose by double-digits the last time they ran for office.  Tripley (if there is such a word) unfortunate, Mitch (we need a moratorium of social issues) Daniels decided not to run.

Santorum should have kept his Fox gig.  He’s got a large family to feed.  Can you say Iowa and out?


Sarah Palin’s Magical Mystery Tour

Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour. Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour. Roll up AND THAT’S AN INVITATION, roll up for the mystery tour. Roll up TO MAKE A RESERVATION, roll up for the mystery tour. The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away, Waiting to take you away.
If the press wants to understand Sarah Palin’s “One Nation” bus tour, they might just think back 44 years ago to when John, Paul, George and Ringo also rented a bus, painted a logo on the side and took off on a Magical Mystery Tour.    Here’s how they described it in their book, Anthology:
Ringo:  ”We just rented a coach and off we went.”
Paul:  ”We said to everyone: ‘Be on the coach on Monday morning.’  I told them all, ‘We’re going to make it up as we go along, but don’t worry–it’ll be all right.’”
George: “It was very flimsy, and we had no idea what we were doing.”
John:  ”It’s about a group of common or garden people on a coach tour around everywhere, really, and things happen to them.”
Ringo: “It was good.  We would get off the bus, ‘Let’s stop here’, and go and do this and that.”
George Martin:  ”It was a little bit pretentious–but it was also quite good fun.  Maybe it was a little boring, … but it was an attempt.”
George:  ”The press hated it.  With all the success we had, every time something came out . . . , they’d all try to slam it. . . . That what happens, that’s life.”
John:  ”Whatever image they have for themselves, they’re disappointed if we don’t fulfil it.  And we never do, so there’s always a lot of disappointment.”
Ringo:  ”It was a lot of fun. . . and it was to save us . . . going round the TV shows and saying “hello” once again. . . .”
Do you think maybe Sarah’s channeling her inner Beatle, in addition to having a lot of fun at the expense of the press.  After all, her current bus tour is both magical (to her fans) and a mystery (to the “lame-stream” media).

Forget Christie; Let’s Draft Tony Dungy

Once again Chris Christie has refused an invitation to run for President.  This time, he made a group of suitors wait for almost a month and travel all the way from Iowa to New Jersey, just to hear him say “NO”.  I have become tired of this cat-and-mouse game with Chris Christie.  Let’s draft someone who can bring real excitement to the campaign, someone who can increase voter registration and turnout, someone who can win the blue collar, lunch bucket, union member vote.  Let’s draft a real man’s man, an American legend, a proven winner.  Let’s draft—Tony Dungy.

Why Tony Dungy?  First of all, he’s a champion–He has not one, but two Super Bowl rings, one as a player with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1978 and one as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 2007.  He can play both offense and defense–He was a starting defensive back and the back-up quarterback for Pittsburgh.  He’s consistent–He made the playoffs for more consecutive years than any other coach in NFL history.

He’s from the Midwest-Rust Belt, which Republicans need to carry in order to defeat Obama.  He was born in Michigan.  He went to the University of Minnesota and later returned there as an assistant coach.  He played for and was an assistant coach for Pittsburgh.  He was the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, and he finished his career as head coach of Indianapolis.  He also has connections with the must win state of Florida–He served as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996 to 2001, taking them from the bottom to the top of their division and making the playoffs for this first time since 1982 and then four consecutive times.  Did I say–He’s a winner.

He’s written not just one, but five books.  He and his wife currently have a children’s book, You Can Be a Friend, which was published in January and made the N.Y.Times Best Seller list.  This is his second children’s book.  His first was You Can Do It, which made #1 on the N. Y. Times Best Seller list.  His memoir, Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life, was the first book about the NFL to make #1 on the N. Y. Times Best Seller list for non-fiction.    Dungy has also written Quiet Strength: Men’s Bible Study and Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance. If writing a best selling book is a  prerequisite to running for President, Dungy is clearly highly qualified.

More than all these, however, Dungy is the outsider’s outsider. He is a social conservative who epitomizes faith and family as the highest priorities of life.  Off the field, he has made a career of challenging men to live up to their responsibilities as husbands and fathers.  Tony Dungy 2012:  the Quiet Conservative.

If Jon Huntsman can say the right things, then why can’t Mitt Romney?

By now it’s not just Sarah Palin who knows how to answer the questions.  Even Jon Huntsman knows the right answers.  Are you in favor of ethanol subsidies? Huntsman:  ”The debt ceiling must be raised this summer to cover the government’s massive borrowing, and we must make reductions in government spending a condition for increasing the debt ceiling. This will provide responsible leaders the opportunity to reduce, reform, and in some cases end government programs—including some popular but unaffordable subsidies for agriculture and energy—in order to save the trillions, not billions, necessary to make possible a future as bright as our past.  ”  Do you support Paul Ryan’s budget?  Huntsman:  ”I would have voted for it, including the Medicare provisions.”  What about Ryan’s Medicare proposal?  Huntsman:  ”I admire Congressman Paul Ryan’s honest attempt to save Medicare. Those who disagree with his approach incur a moral responsibility to propose reforms that would ensure Medicare’s ability to meet its responsibilities to retirees without imposing an unaffordable tax burden on future generations of Americans.”


So, why doesn’t Mitt Romney know the answers to these questions.  Mitt on ethanol: “I support the subsidy of ethanol.  I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution for this country.” MItt on whether he supports the Ryan budget: That’s the kind of speculation that is getting the cart ahead of the horse.” Mitt on whether he supports Ryan’s Medicare proposal: “I’m going to have my own plan.”. . . “And I can assure you, before my first debate with the president, I will lay out what my plan is for reforming Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.”  And Mitt on Romneycare: “A lot of pundits around the nation are saying that I should just stand up and say this whole thing was a mistake, that it was just a bone-headed idea and I should just admit it.  There’s only one problem with that: It wouldn’t be honest. I, in fact, did what I believe was right for the people of my state.”

It’s clear that this time around, Mitt is trying awfully hard to avoid being accused on flip-flopping.  Instead he has a new two-prong strategy:  pander or punt.  Let’s see if he offers real answers in the roll-out of his campaign or if he simply continues to criticize Obama for a failure of leadership.  So far, however, Obama isn’t the only one who is failing to lead.

Does the “T” in TPaw stand for “Triangulation”?

In the roll-out of his Presidential campaign, Tim Pawlenty has tried to clearly differentiate himself from Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman on his left and Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin on his right.  He has been careful to avoid statements that would draw fire from the Tea Party, while preserving negotiating room for himself from orthodox Tea Party positions.  He has said that he is the one candidate who can unite all of the different elements in the Republican party.  It is becoming clear that he intends to do this by following a strategy of triangulation on critical issues.

Let’s take two issues as examples:  Ethanol and Medicare.  Romney is all for ethanol subsidies, but the Tea Party position is to abolish all subsidies, including ethanol.  Pawlenty was widely hailed by conservatives for opposing ethanol and “farm” subsidies.  In fact, upon close examination, he has proposed to “phase out” the subsidy for ethanol and all other energy sources.  This “phasing out” has no timeline.  In fact, if not renewed, the ethanol subsidy will expire next year.  He also lumps this subsidy in with subsidies for the gas and oil industry which are opposed by Democrats as well as subsidies for “green” industries supported by the Democrats.  And he announces his position in the state of Iowa.  It is indeed a clever position.

On Medicare, he would sign Paul Ryan’s proposal into law, given a choice between the Ryan proposal and doing nothing.  But at the same time he is presenting his own proposal (so that there is a choice of proposals), which will include seniors being able to choose the current pay-for-services program.  In other words, Pawlenty will not end Medicare as we know it, but provide options that reward good choices.  Gingrich, on the other hand, called Ryan’s proposal “right wing social engineering”, and Romney has refused to endorse the Ryan plan by side-stepping the issue.  Ryan himself has criticized Pawlenty’s approach, but Pawlenty is being congratulated both for supporting Ryan’s proposal and for taking on the issue of Medicare and entitlements–in the state of Florida.  Another clever position.

Whether a strategy of triangulation proves to be a winner is still to be determined.  Romney may have momentum and conservatives may want orthodoxy.  But, for now, it is winning Pawlenty kudus from conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity while garnering favorable commentary in the MSM.  This is truly a remarkable accomplishment.  I can’t wait to see the Pawlenty federal budget proposal.  Expect it to be somewhere between the 2011 Budget Compromise, which he opposed, and the Republican Study Group proposal, which would get us to a balanced budget.  Expect it to achieve the same numerical reduction as Ryan’s budget, but with different (more palatable and more ambiguous) priorities.  Expect it to get rave reviews.

Pawlenty — Engler 2012

It”s May and Tim Pawlenty has finally wrapped up the Republican nomination.  Now he turns to the task of selecting a Vice Presidential running mate.  One thing is for sure, none of his competitors for the nomination will be considered.  Bachmann might be a tempting choice, but she is also from Minnesota and therefore disqualified.  The media is pushing for him to choose Christie or Rubio, but both have publically and privately taken their names out of the picture.  At any rate, Pawlenty doesn’t want to upstaged by his running mate. In addition to Christie, several other governors seem willing and able–Haley Barbour, Scott Walker, and John Kasich–to list three.  But all have their own baggage.  Besides Rubio, a number of Senators come to mind–John Thune, Pat Toomey, Jim DeMint–but what does any Senator really bring to the ticket.

What Pawlenty needs in a running mate is someone who will not outshine Pawlenty; someone who is serious and will be taken seriously; someone who has executive experience; someone who is older and will , like Cheney, add gravitas to the ticket; and someone who will help in the Midwest battleground states.  The ideal candidate for Tim Pawlenty to choose as his running mate is —John Engler.  Engler was governor of Michigan for three terms from 1990 to 2002. He cut both personal and corporate income taxes and created hundreds of thousands of jobs.   He won re-election twice in landslides with over 60% of the vote in what was then a very blue state.  Since leaving office he has served as President of the National Association of Manufacturers and is currently President of the Business Roundtable.  He will be able to credibly reinforce Pawlenty economic, small government,  job creation message.  And if he can carry his home state of Michigan, which is considered in play, the election is pretty much over.  Even if he can’t carry Michigan, he is widely known throughout the Midwest and helps Pawlenty in Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as well as Minnesota.  Winning Ohio is essential and winning an any other Midwest state should give Pawlenty an electoral college majority.   At 63, Engler is old enough, but not too old.  More importantly, like Pawlenty, he is a Washington outsider–in contrast to Joe Biden who is the ultimate Washington insider.  This isn’t a flashy ticket–but it’s a winning ticket.  Pawlenty – Engler 2012.  Republicans could do a lot worse.

Did Newt really say that?

“I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”  Meet the Press, May15,2011.  Of course everyone knows that statement was made by Newt Gingrich on Meet the Press about Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal, but here are 10 other statements he’s made since becoming a Presidential candidate.

1.  If Democrats use his Medicare statement against Republicans:  “So let me say on the record, any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood.”  On the Record with Greta van Susteren, May 17, 2011

2.  Illegal Immigration:  “I’m looking seriously at the way the Selective Service Act used to work in the 1940s and World War II where a local Selective Service board who knew the local people made the decisions…because I think we are going to want to find some way to deal with the people who are here to distinguish between those who have no ties to the United States and therefore you can deport them at minimum human cost, and those who, in fact, may have earned the right to become legal, but not citizens.” Town Hall Meeting, Waterloo, Iowa, May 19, 2011

3.  On his Tiffany and Company bill for $250,000 to $500,000:  “Well, go, you go talk to Tiffany’s. All I’m telling you is we– we are very frugal. We, in fact, live within our budget. We owe nothing.”  Face the Nation, May 22, 2011.

4.  More on the Tiffany’s bill:  “People should be free to spend their own money the way they see fit.”  Manchester, New Hampshire, May 25, 2011.

5.  On unpaid taxes in 4 states:  “I’ve run four businesses over 12 years. We’ve paid millions of dollars in taxes. There were, I think, four or five places where largely stuff had been lost in the mail coming to us. We didn’t even know we had the liens.”   Meet the Press, May 15, 2011.

6.  On being a Washington Insider:  “I’m not a Washington figure, despite the years I’ve been here.” Reporters Breakfast, Washington Press Corps, May 23, 2011.

7.  On cheating on his first two wives:  “There’s no question that at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”  Christian Broadcasting Network, March 2011.

8.  On why he’s running for President:   “I just think my background is such that, in terms of substance, I think I can help lead the country,”  Des Moines Iowa, May 16, 2011

9.  His 2 biggest mistakes:  “My two biggest mistakes were being undisciplined and that I didn’t listen enough.  I am working very diligently to be part of a team and to be sure that the team leaders have a lot of input, along with me.”  Washington Times, May 10, 2011.

10.   Why he keeps getting in trouble:  “I’ve got to be more careful and make certain that it’s virtually impossible to misunderstand what I’m saying.”  Concord, New Hampshire, May 26, 2011.