Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mitt Romney and the 2012 Campaign

Gerard N. Magliocca

Stephen Skowronek's research on the presidency is a major influence on my work. My conclusion, which I've stated in prior posts, is that the 2008 election was a realignment and that Barack Obama is a "reconstructive" president in Skowronek's model, by which I mean that we are at the beginning of a new party system that will be dominated by Democrats.

Suppose, though, that I'm wrong. (Indeed, Skowronek himself does not think that Obama is a reconstructive president, or at least is unsure about that.) In that case, we are still in the Reagan/conservative era. With that assumption, Mitt Romney looks an awful lot what Skowronek calls a "disjunctive" or end-of-regime presidential candidate.

The traits of a disjunctive president are that he presents himself as a technocrat and comes from outside the typical political base for his party. Examples include (1) John Quincy Adams, an ex-Federalist who got elected as a Jeffersonian Democrat based on his problem-solving skills; (2) Franklin Pierce, an obscure candidate from New Hampshire who ran as a pragmatist in 1852; (3) Herbert Hoover, an engineer who wasn't a Republican until 1920; and (4) Jimmy Carter, an engineer who had never served in Washington. They were also all terrible failures.

Mitt Romney, of course, has never served in Washington and is running based on his business know-how. He also hails from Massachusetts, which is not where modern Republican leaders come from. Indeed, for the last few decades Massachusetts has been the symbol of liberalism run amok (Ted Kennedy, Michael Dukakis, John Kerry). If Romney wins (and that's a big if), he could be following the dismal pattern of disjunctive presidents.


How can you consider Obama to be a a "reconstructive" president? Are living in some alternate timeline in which Obama didn't adopt, continue and enhance almost every single Bush-eara policy?

We are still at war in Afghanistan, and only a few weeks out of Iraq.

In the meantime we've attacked yet another middle eastern country.

We're gearing up to attack Iran, and will probably wind up doing so shortly after the next election, no matter who wins.

Gitmo is still open for business, and the power of the government to hold people indefinitely without any due process is greater than it's ever been.

We are conducting targeted assassinations with drones, more frequently than we ever did under bush.

War spending is of course, up.

Entitlements have expanded, again. (just like they did under Bush)

Bankers continue to be bailed out at the expense of everyone else.

If anyone was a reconstructive president, it's BUSH, not Obama.

Bush invaded Afghanistan and then attacked (mostly unilaterally) Iraq while not finishing the job.

Obama did not attack Libya unilaterally & supported an ongoing rebellion from within, unlike Iraq, letting others lead the way in a real coalition.

Where is this "gearing up to attack Iran" in evidence?

Obama tried to close Gitmo. Congress blocked him. He tried to put some there on trial. Congress blocked him.

"Assassinations" are not killing enemy combatants pursuant, not to some open-ended executive power via Bush, but tied to the congressional passed (they can revoke it too btw) AUMF.

Bush supporting a single entitlement expansion of note (badly at that) is not akin to the PPACA. Meanwhile, Bush wanted to privatize Social Security.

Obama supports equal rights for gays. Bush supported an amendment against them.

Obama didn't appoint Roberts/Alito types to the courts.

Obama supported various financial regulations, not just a bailout.

Obama did not just continue Bush environmental, worker and so forth policies.

Obama said no to torture.

Obama fought to limit the wrongs of the defense law, including underlining the point in his signing statement that people held have due process protections.

Obama supported reducing military spending, though given the huge increases in the last decade, this looks smaller than it might seem.

One can go on, but kinda see a difference between the two presidents, putting aside that improving the Democratic position might involve accepting some conservative policies. Post-WWII executives, e.g., have consistently been strong on executive military power.

Joe, from my perspective those are some very small distinctions. What I see is War, War, War, Welfare for banks and insurance companies, "regulations" that leave all the same horrible incentives in place and change nothing, crony corporatism, the destruction of due process and the rule of law; I could go on.

Bush was a disaster for peace, liberty, and human rights, and Obama is just as bad.

I'll give Obama credit for ending torture though. I guess I should say "almost as bad".

I wonder if gays who have a President who support their rights or people who were denied life affirming health care before, e.g., accept them as "very small" distinctions or those who don't want SS privatized.

Again, he supported due process of law, even for KSM. Congress blocked him repeatedly in that department.

He does not have the power to put in place a revolution to change the economic system. FDR left the powers that be in place too & had many more votes in Congress. Obama still signed laws that regulated the system, including limits on credit cards, to name but one thing.

Bush's wars were more problematic and led to a lot more death and bloodshed. "Very small" since war isn't over under Obama.

Again Bushites like Cheney realize the differences aren't "very small." I do wish a few more do.

Larry's observation of Bush as a reconstructive president fails to take into consideration the dominance of his VP Dick Cheney. Bush/Cheney had eight (8) years to be reconstructive, ending up with their destructive 2008 Great Recession. Did Larry, or anyone else, realistically think that Obama could instantly reconstruct the Bush/Cheney 2008 destructive Great Recession? Herbert Hoover inherited the Great Depression from Coolidge and Harding in 1929 and could not turn thing around during the remaining 3 years of his term. Obama was targeted on day one by the GOP with the goal of destructing his presidency , not with a goal of reconstructing after the mess left behind by Bush/Cheney. And as for wars, its the GOP presidential candidates, excepting Ron Paul, who seem to want to B-b-bomb Iran, especially Romney with the endorsement of revoltin' John Bolton.

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A reconstructive president is theoretically one who runs on a defined change of governance and is elected by a citizenry who desires that change. Such a president has a clear mandate. Barack Obama in no way fits that definition.

1) Barack Obama is the consummate political chameleon who ran as a post-ideological cipher offering a very Reagan-esque platform of a net spending cut and tax cuts for nearly everyone, while promising health insurance for everyone without taking away anyone's health insurance.

2) In 2008, the likely voters were favoring McCain over Obama until Lehman Bros. went bankrupt and the markets crashed. There is no evidence that the voters shifted left from their post-Reagan center-right position or in any way voted for Obama's actual governance.

No campaign on defined (as opposed to generic) change to the left, no voter desire for such change and thus no reconstructive president.

Indeed, when Obama did govern from the left, the reaction was massively negative. Nearly all of Obama's signature policies are unpopular, the voters began to self identify more conservative and then they fired the Dem House (and over 600 state legislators). This is hardly an electoral realignment to the left. Rather, Mr. Obama arguably destroyed the conservative Dem brand.

In a shameless self-promoting aside, I discuss in my book Never Allow A Crisis To Go To Waste how socialism evolved into an asymmetric form to gain election by a center-right American electorate which had very little use for the ideology.


"In a shameless self-promoting aside, ..."

has been consistent with our yodeler's MO over the years at this Blog, all of which automatically goes to waste. [Flush, flush]

Here's our yodeler's penultimate [still my favorite word!] paragraph's closer:

"Rather, Mr. Obama arguably destroyed the conservative Dem brand."


And here's an example of our yodeler's short-term memory loss perhaps attributable to second=hand DUI fumes:

"There is no evidence that the voters shifted left from their post-Reagan center-right position or in any way voted for Obama's actual governance."

in ignoring the voters' reactions to 8 years of Bush/Cheney that ended with the 2008 Bush/Cheney Great Recession. And of course our yodeler once again demonstrates his ignorance of socialism by attributing it to Obama.

BD: "Rather, Mr. Obama arguably destroyed the conservative Dem brand."

Shag: So?

Over the past two years, moderates place themselves center-right in polling. Without the remnants of the FDR coalition conservative Dems, there are not enough voters on the left to make up a majority on their own, nevertheless a realignment.

And of course our yodeler once again demonstrates his ignorance of socialism by attributing it to Obama.

When you want an education, read the book. Obama is not a particularly original man. His policies have all been done or theorized in the past.

Our yodeler's advice:

"When you want an education, read the book."

referring to his own work of Friction and its take on Obama as a socialist has to be taken with a truckload of grains of salt based upon his anti-Obama bashing at this Blog beginning with Obama's inauguration. Speaking of not being original, our yodeler continues to echo the same old crapola.

Blankshot was blaming Obama for the stock market tanking while Cheney/Bush was still president. Basically, he's an imbecile.

Blankshot, it's great to see that you're now pimping for Newt. Do you know who else wants Newt to be the GOP nominee? Obama.

Speaking of Newt, will Stephen Colbert's exploratory campaign and Jon Stewart's Super Pac non-coordinated efforts in South Carolina to express support for Colbert, who cannot get on the ballot, by voting for Herman Cain (who remains on the ballot although he dropped out), take votes away from Newt or Mitt?

By the Bybee [expletives deleted], if our yodeler is indeed pumping for Newt [H/T Bartbuster], consider that Newt's attacks on Mitt/Bain capitalism/free markets would make him more of a socialist than Obama. Maybe our yodeler will have to update his work of Friction.

"The Definitely Not Coordinating with Stephen Colbert super PAC" bit is comedy gold.

When you're trying to decide if you want to be "educated" by Baghdad "These poll numbers are great news for McCain!" Bart, keep in mind that in the last 2 elections he has hitched his wagon to Rudy 9/11, Caribou Barbie, and Newt 'Family Values' Gingrich.

And who could forget his sad Intrade history. Knowing everything must be great unless you actually have to make a prediction.

Ah my fan club...

Please take your comments about posts at my blog to my blog.

Gerard and Sandy are about the only ones who will allow comments. Don't make them reconsider.


Bart, go fuck yourself.


Gov. Perry must have been impressed by our yodeler's Blog support of Newt. The way things are going for northern Mitt in South Carolina, there's a sense of a Fort Sumter Redux.

That said, I realize we must await the ABC interview of Newt's first wife that Drudge claims may undo Newt's race to the top. Of course, Newt can say "that was then, but I'm older and wiser now with the experiences of #1 and #2 behind me, with #3." Of course, the eye of Newt is aging and besides, #3 is pretty enough, so there's no #4 in the offing - although Newt is skilled at offing.

The bigger question is, what impact will Perry's dropout/endorsement of Newt have upon the powwow tomorrow of Colbert raising Cain in South Carolina?

Is our yodeler finally a king-maker?

I want to watch Baghdad wave his pom poms for Mittens.

OOPS! Sorry. It's Newt's #2 blowing the whistle, not #1. Better yet, because #2's involvement began while #1 was in the hospital and #2 was around when Newt was sniffing with eventual #3, a Catholic trophy with a great French Horn embouchure, pretty enough to be a First (Third?) Lady. The thin air in Colorado made this an easy pick for our yodeler. But who can deny Bartbuster's prognostication that our yodeler may end up pom-pomming for Mittens

The only thing in doubt is which version of Mittens that he'll be pom-pomming for. Although I have confidence that Baghdad's pom-poms are just as flexible as Mittens.

Now that Perry has dropped out and endorses Gingrich, George Will can really, really demonstrate his disbain (excuse me, disdain) for Mitt Romney by now supporting Gingrich and not worry about "pillow talk" from his spouse who had been advising Perry on his presidential aspirations. Query whether Will's spouse advised Perry to endorse Gingrich despite (or because of? hint, hint) Newt's trophy marriages? Is it possible that our yodeler's blog made an impression on George Will? If so, our yodeler looks more and more like a king-maker. [Note: I'm awaiting CO polling on its female voters' views on Gingrich's serial marriages/family values. CO is open country but I question whether open marriage is popular there. I await our yodeler's echoes.]

Apparently Newt wanted to be a Mormon before he decided to become a Catholic.

Baghdad Bart stabs Mittens in the back...

Mitt Romney’s $20 Million IRA
Posted on January 20, 2012
In a story with the potential of sinking Mitt Romney’s “inevitable” nomination as the GOP nominee for president, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the putative frontrunner has managed to bury between $20 million and $101 million of his personal fortune in an untaxed IRA.

Now, you and I are limited to investing $5,000 per year in an IRA to save for our retirements. Thus, it would appear to be impossible for the middle aged Romney to stow millions in tax shelter.

How did Romney pull this off? Huff Post commentator, John Talbott, explains:

One method Mitt Romney may have employed is to have made his initial investments in a 401(k) plan on a pre-tax basis because 401(k) plans allowed up to $30,000 a year in annual contributions back in the 1980's without the payment of ordinary income taxes. But even with making $30,000 contributions each year, it is hard to see how a $20 to $100 million fortune could be amassed in such a short time.

This suggests, and the Wall Street Journal article hints at this, that Romney was not making cash contributions to his IRA but rather parking equity shares of his companies’ investment funds there, or quite possibly putting shares of private companies that his firm bought into his 401(k).

If this happened, we need to know at what valuation Romney made these contributions as it is very easy to claim a low stated value for shares of private companies or investment funds that have no publicly available market price. If Romney purposely understated the true value of the shares he contributed to his retirement plan he could be held criminally liable.

In short, Talbott suggests that Romney intentionally understated the value of stock from distressed companies his equity firm purchased, placed them in 401K plans and then rolled them into the IRA tax shelter, which may very well be an actual as well as a moral crime.

Is this why Romney refuses to release his tax returns for the past several years?


Our yodeler seems miffed that Mitt has such a large IRA that dwarfs his current king of the hill's, the Newter (Neuter?), $1.6 million paydays from Freddie Mac for historical (hysterical?) advice (not lobbying). Recall our yodeler's attacks on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the cause of the 2008 Bush/Cheney Great Recession? But Mitt can counter that, even with the Mormon background, he has had only one wife for many faithful years, remaining with her through her illness, whereas Newt was shopping for presidential arm candy with his current #3. Does wealth trump family values or vice versa? Maybe with our yodeler on his king maker streak, he can with his blog convince Donald Trump to support Newt.

Our yodeler's blog seems to have convinced the former head of the Texas Rangers (not MLB) to endorse Newt, strengthening our yodeler's role as a king maker. (Query: Wasn't the original Tea Party's goal to overthrow the King?)

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