Newt Gingrich has written an article in NewsMax about what he calls “NOT Obama Democrats”. (I am not sure why the “not” is capitalized.):

The first big signal was the 41 percent of the vote Keith Judd won in the West Virginia Democratic primary. Here was a convicted felon sitting in a Texas federal prison with a 17 1/2-year sentence for extortion. When West Virginia Democrats prefer a convicted felon to the president, they are showing they are “NOT Obama Democrats.”

This week the depth of the NOT Obama Democrats was further revealed when John Wolfe got 41 percent of the vote in the Arkansas primary. Wolfe, an attorney whose platform includes repealing Obamacare, actually won 36 counties against Obama’s 39 counties.

The same day, “uncommitted” got 42 percent in Kentucky and actually carried a majority of the counties (66 counties to 54 Obama counties).

This 42 percent is the same percentage Eugene McCarthy got against President Lyndon Johnson in New Hampshire in 1968, and at that time it was considered an earthquake to have that many Democrats repudiate their own president.

Putting that History degree to use, eh? It might be worth mentioning that McCarthy was an actual guy, and therefore somewhat more capable of sustaining his support than “uncommitted”. Obama presumably intends to continue to argue for himself, and no other Democrat is going to argue for him or her self.

I mock Gingrich, but the truth is he’s on to something here; it is an interesting development. He writes: “If the campaign continues in this direction, we may discover that the NOT Obama Democrats will evolve into Romney Democrats by Election Day.”

Doubtful. Romney is unlikely to appeal to these rural voters much more than Obama does. Yes, yes, I know my fellow Liberals are thinking it’s all motivated by “racism!”, but the fact of the matter is that Romney seems like a rich corporate elitist to these voters.I don’t think they’ll like him any more than they do Obama.

Jennifer Rubin looked at these same facts and concluded: “The reason for this, as you might imagine, is that in burnishing his credentials with the left, Obama has hurt himself in the center, even within the Democratic Party.” Yes, of course, the legendary “center”! How could I forget? She next quotes Josh Kraushaar, who gets it even more wrong:

Moderate Democratic groups and officials, meanwhile, privately fret about the party’s leftward drift and the Obama campaign’s embrace of an aggressively populist message. They’re disappointed that the administration didn’t take the lead advancing the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction proposal, they wish the administration’s focus was on growth over fairness, and they are frustrated with the persistent congressional gridlock. Third Way, the centrist Democratic think tank, has been generating analyses underscoring the need for Democrats to appeal to middle-of-the-road voters, to no avail. . . .

Yeah, I’m sure the farmers and rural folks in West Virginia and Arkansas are really torqued off that he didn’t do the Simpson-Bowles plan. Rural people hate populism, isn’t that so?

But, to her credit, Rubin does also make one useful observation in that same post. That is that “Romney is the least conservative candidate the GOP had to choose from.”

Is this true? Well, it’s hard to say, what with the flip-flopping and all. But he is certainly not as bombastic and bellicose as Newt Gingrich. And he was Governor of Massachusetts, a very liberal state, which demonstrates he possesses some ability to compromise; something Gingrich would never do.

Was he more liberal than Ron Paul? Difficult question. Ron Paul is extremely liberal on some issues–drugs, for example–but in step with the most reactionary of conservatives on others. It is almost an “apples to oranges” comparison, but I think on the whole, it is fair to say Romney is at least more “mainstream” and “safer” than Paul, whose supporters are often of a more radical bent, whatever their political leanings.

Romney was more liberal than Bachmann, but more conservative than Huntsman. But Huntsman barely even counts, because everyone, including him, knew he didn’t have a chance. So, that leaves only one other candidate for Romney’s “liberal Republican” credentials to be compared with: Santorum. This should be easy enough to prove. We all know Santorum was the conservative wing’s alternative to Romney. Surely, this fact alone proves Romney to be the most liberal of the possible nominees?

As a Congressman, Santorum, economically speaking, could pass for a caricature Democrat. He was for all sorts of government spending programs. As conservatives and liberals alike will attest, he may have been very conservative socially, but his fiscal behavior was entirely that of a Big-Government man.

I have often thought that Santorum would have been quite happy as a Democrat in the 1930s, ’40s or ’50s. He would have had massive government spending programs going, and social issues being more or less unacknowledged. He is, in other words, a Conservative Democrat from the pre-sexual revolution era.

So, Mitt Romney is more liberal on social issues than Santorum–not a difficult task–but more conservative on economic issues. Romney is far more likely to cut spending than Santorum was. So, which guy is more liberal? Well, that’s hard to say, isn’t it?

And we come round to where we started: what is the deal with all these Democrats not voting for the President from their own party? I suspect a lot of them are like Santorum; they want government spending programs, but don’t like Democratic policies on social issues.

It was suggested in the forum by a person named Santorum

That the people would vote for ‘im if on the Bible he would run.

Another sought to bring rich people’s cash, and having which,

This man called Gingrich had once thought he’d all but won.

And at this time the call for “revolution” went up all

Among supporters of Ron Paul who were so sure they had struck gold.

And all the time was omnipresent the suspicion that Mitt Romney

Only could keep folks from needing their misery and poverty consoled.

I switched back and forth last night between the Republican debate and the track meet that people tried to pass off as a football game. My impressions based on what I saw of the debate were:

  • Ron Paul is a lunatic, but some of his ideas are better than anything the rest of them offer.
  • Huntsman is trolling.
  • Rick Perry’s just zis guy, you know?
  • An analysis of Newt Gingrich may be found here.
  • Rick Santorum has by far the most appeal to the rank-and-file.
  • Mitt Romney doesn’t like hypothetical questions.

None of them seem particularly charismatic, although Paul, Perry and Santorum all seem reasonably amiable.

And lastly, not that it matters, but I got a kick out of Gingrich, Romney and Santorum all screwing up their chance to seem like “regular guys” by getting the date of the college football championship wrong. I don’t blame them, though, because I don’t particularly want a President who spends his leisure time on that. (Also, the game should be played on Saturday. Why on earth do they play it on a work night?)

I loved Paul’s answer about the economics books, though.

UPDATE: Forgot to add one other thing: at one point, Rick Perry said:

“We’re going to see Iran, in my opinion, move back in [to Iraq] at literally the speed of light.” [My italics.]

This sort of thing irritates me. “Literally” means it is actually true, no exaggerations. Perry meant to say “figuratively” which means “not literally”. Now, some people will say that I am just being a “word Nazi” or something. (I prefer “authoritarian linguaphile”.) But look, it’s a perfectly fine figure of speech, but it is not literal!

It is true that Perry is far from the first person to do this. Using the word “literally” to mean exactly the opposite has gone on for quite some time. But it seems to me like a silly practice, since we already have a word that means the opposite of “literally”, to let it have two different and opposite meanings. It’s more of what I was talking about here. Am I wrong about this?

Foolishly, I watched the Republican debate last night. There was little of interest said, but perhaps the most useless question was about Newt Gingrich’s statement that the Palestinians are an “invented people”.

First of all, this statement has almost no relevance to anything. The group that calls themselves “Palestinians” will continue doing what they have been doing, regardless of what Gingrich says. Gingrich said that the Palestinians “are in fact Arabs”. Well, that doesn’t alter anything meaningful. In that case, the people formerly known as Palestinians will just say it’s part of Arabia and that “Arabia’s for the Arabs”. (Where have I heard that before?)

But what is an “invented people”? Perhaps an even better question is: what is a non-invented people? For instance, you could argue that Americans are an “invented people”, coming as they do from all different parts of the world. One might even wonder if the American identity was invented so the colonists with an interest in opposing the British Empire could have a label to unite under. But that would be very cynical, so I will not pursue it.

I am hard-pressed to think of a people that was not, to some extent, “invented” for the purpose of presenting a united front in pursuit of something. That does not mean that all such groups are equal, of course, because some groups have been united in the pursuit of noble goals, and others in the pursuit of ignoble ones, but whether “a people” is invented and what it was invented for are completely different questions.

President Reagan, who is much admired by all the participants in the Republican debate, including Gingrich, once said:

“In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.” 

Just so. People will unite when faced with an external threat, or, if not a threat, then a common problem. Arabs who may have very little common may easily be united by their shared desire to take what land Israel currently possesses. This does not, of course, make them “right” or “legitimate” or in any way give them some sort of moral advantage. But they are going to do it anyway, so to actually solve the problem requires a bit more serious thought than Gingrich seems to have applied.

I’m pretty sure you will come to the same conclusion regardless of your opinion on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It does not matter whether they are an invented people or not. No matter what your answer to this is, it changes nothing about the actual situation. Newt Gingrich’s statement is almost meaningless, except that it reveals he doesn’t much like the Palestinians, which everyone already knew, because that is a standard Republican position.

Which begs the question: why is everyone talking about it?

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I’ve been sick these last few days, but I think I’m recovering. Posting should be back to normal soon enough.

In the meantime, don’t you all think it’s sort of odd that one guy is forced to exit the Presidential race for committing adultery, only to be replaced by another guy who committed adultery? I’m not defending Cain at all–I don’t like him or Gingrich–but it doesn’t make sense to me.

Maybe it’s like Thingy said in the comments here, and Cain’s family just made him quit. Although if he cared about his family so little that he cheated, then it’s hard to imagine he would listen about not running for office.

Heh. I was just idly thinking today about how much I hate the cliché of titling a book or article “Why [subject here] matter[s]”, when the news comes out that Newt Gingrich is releasing a book titled A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters.

Based on the book’s description, it sounds like he’s making the old argument that “American Exceptionalism” derives from the American hostility to government. Maybe so. But, as I wrote in response to similar remarks by Jonah Goldberg:

 “Americans are more instinctively hostile to government than most. Yet, this is not always the case. After all, didn’t most people readily believe the government’s worst-case claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?”

My point is that the people who speak of “American Exceptionalism” and “small government” do not always behave accordingly–specifically, when Republicans are in power, they are willing to tolerate–even embrace–expansions of government power.

See here for the original post on this subject.

It’s difficult, of course, to define “radical” exactly. Are we talking about someone who is radical in his religious beliefs, his personal conduct, or merely his governing philosophy? Can a President be “radical” if he embraces a fringe view of economic policy, even if he is more or less “mainstream” on foreign policy?

Furthermore, a President’s own ideas are not always implemented; a radical man may implement mainstream policies because it is all he can get. Politics is the art of compromise, and so it is difficult to say with assurance which Presidents believed what radical ideas in their heart while never implementing them, and which Presidents were mainstream men, forced by circumstance to take radical action.

In assessing this, therefore, I based it off of Gingrich’s implicit assumption that “Socialism” is radical, and that the most Socialist President was the most radical. Furthermore, I assessed it based purely on the basis of the  policies implemented or attempted by Presidents, not anything they said or wrote about their policies.

With all this in mind, I conclude that the most radical President ever is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The policies he implemented were at first Socialistic (The New Deal) and, by World War II, had about them hints of Fascism. The expansion of government under Roosevelt was unprecedented, and his proposed “Second Bill of Rights” implied that government was obligated to provide things such as jobs, health care etc. for the people. Meanwhile, Social Security and the general expansion of the Welfare State, were ideas that owed much to Otto von Bismarck. (It was these policies of Bismarck’s that helped make “European Socialism” a commonplace phrase.)

As for his Fascist tendencies, FDR implemented the internment of German, Italian and Japanese Americans, an idea we commonly would associate with Fascism. In addition, when World War II broke out, almost all healthy young men were drafted to serve in the military. The draft is an idea wholly alien to the free-market approach to economics, and it is, at its core, a request to sacrifice the individual for the sake of the “greater good”. Socialism, in a word.

A President whose policies were a mixture of Socialistic class-warfare and Fascistic actual warfare; is that radical enough for you?

He goes on to say that Obama runs a “secular, socialist machine.”

The obvious question is: who held the title of “Most radical President” before him? So, whatever you think of Obama aside; who, in your opinion, is the most radical President ever?

I have my answer, but I’m going to wait awhile to see what other people think before I post it.