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Why Santorum’s failure resembles Huntsman’s

In a post earlier today, I took issue with Hugh Hewitt, holding that Mitt Romney did not lock up the nomination with his Sunshine State victory and contended that Rick Santorum had, in “the wake of his February hat trick, winning Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri all on the same day, . . . a read chance to capture the Republican nomination.

He did well on that day as well as in a number of primaries and caucuses over the succeeding seven weeks, galvanizing evangelicals and convincing voters looking for a “credible conservative candidate” that he is the man they’re looking for.  This cycle, we on the right have long longed for an alternative with records like those of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan or rhetoric like that of such leaders as U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla) and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, all putting forward policies or articulating ideas in accord with the Reaganite principles of small government and individual liberty.

Perhaps had Santorum focused on those unifying principles, instead of letting himself be diverted by media questions on social issues, important to many Republicans voters, but anathema to others, he might not find himself today struggling to win his home state.  If the Pennsylvanian, after his early February victories, A.B. Stoddard contends, had kept his focus, for example, on Romney’s supposed weakness on health care, he might have changed the dynamic of the race:

It was the pivotal moment in the race none of the Romney rivals who preceded him had achieved — and Santorum blew it. He veered off course, and out of this millennium, enthusiastically bemoaning birth-control pills, free prenatal testing and college education. He insulted Obama, calling him a snob, and President Kennedy. Santorum, a devout Catholic, said Kennedy’s insistence on a strong separation of church and state made him want to throw up.

Given the tendency of the legacy media to magnify such statements, Santorum appeared oblivious to the real concerns of American voters and more interested in discussions that many Americans, including large pluralities of Republicans, believe beyond the purview of politics.  He failed to establish himself as a conservative in the mold of Ronald Reagan or even Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, the latter, to be sure, a social conservative, but a disciplined candidate, able to keep his campaign focus on the fiscal issues of greatest concern to his constituents. (more…)

If Obama, as some of his supporters contend, were truly a pragmatist. . .

. . .  he would not have issued that blistering, dishonest attack on the Republican budget which the House passed March 29 with a very strong majority (as he defines such majorities*).  Instead, he would have called on the Democratic Senate to pass a similar fiscal blueprint and then bring representatives of both legislative chambers together and show his leadership qualities by bridging the differences.

But, instead when reporters question administration officials about the failure of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to hold a vote on his budget, the White House, Allapundit quips, “gets awfully fidgety“.  Note the failure of White Hose Press Secretary Jay Carney to even answer Bret Baier’s question about Reid’s failure:

All the president’s spokesman can offer is attacks and bromides.  To get to a balanced approach in a bicameral legislature, each chamber needs first to spell out its position.  The Republican House has done just that.  The Democratic Senate has not.

The Democrats,” John Hinderaker reminds us, “love to castigate the House Republican budget; fine. But why won’t they propose, and pass, their own?”

Instead of encouraging that the legislature chamber controlled by his party vote on the budget he proposes, he derides the Republican budget as “Social Darwinism.”  By contrast, a pragmatist, that is, “a person who takes a practical approach to problems and is concerned primarily with the success or failure of her actions“, being practical would, facing a divided legislature, attempt to work with each branch to reach a consensus, deriding neither one nor the other, requesting that each act in a timely manner.

As one woman who voted for him because she believed was “independent, moderate, and pragmatic“, lamented, offering advice to the president: (more…)

Was Mesa, AZ debate decisive in Republican presidential contest?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:03 pm - April 4, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

Early this morning, commenting on last night’s returns, Hugh Hewitt, “writing,” in his own words, “the same thing” he’s been saying “since late January: The race for the GOP nomination is still over. It has been over since Florida.”  Was, as Hugh claims, Mitt Romney’s victory in Florida was the decisive moment in the current contest for the Republican presidential nomination?

Much as I respect Hugh, I believe otherwise. In the wake of his February hat trick, winning Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri all on the same day, Rick Santorum had a read chance to capture the Republican nomination.  Polls showed him ahead in such upcoming contests as Michigan and Washington State.  Romney’s margin in Arizona was slipping down into the margin of error.  He surged ahead in the Gallup tracking poll.

With his relentless campaign, facilitated by his campaign’s deep pockets, Romney fought back, whittling Santorum’s lead, stanching his rival’s surge.  Even as polls started moving his way (a bit), he still lagged behind.

Was the decisivie perhaps the Mesa debate just six days before the Arizona and Michigan primaries where the former Massachusetts governor outperformed his rival from the Keystone State?  Or did it come later when Romney won the Michigan primary by 3 points (even as Democrats voted in the Republican primary to help his opponent)?  Or was it the Ohio primary which he won narrowly?

Or perhaps that moment came just two weeks ago when Romney won Illinois so decisively?  Or was it his own hat trick last night?

Nate Silver, the New York Times‘s number cruncher, acknowledging his interest “in the question of what historians will see as the turning point when they look back on the 2012 Republican race“, offers that, in his view, “the consensus of evidence seems to point toward one of these dates in particular: Michigan (and Arizona) on Feb. 28″:

Another relatively useful metric is the date on which a candidate secured a lead in national polls that he never relinquished. This method provides a fairly intuitive answer when applied to past elections — for instance, it would suggest that John Kerry won the Democratic nomination in 2004 after Iowa, after which he never really looked back, or that Michael Dukakis won the 1988 Democratic nomination shortly after Super Tuesday.

Michigan — actually, a few days before Michigan — again emerges as the key turning point by this measure. Mr. Romney has led his rivals in the Gallup national tracking poll every day since Feb. 25. (more…)

Social Darwinism for political purposes only

Earlier today, Glenn linked a great post by the Cato Institute’s Daniel Mitchell which dovetails nicely with (& improves upon) my post on the failure of the president to meet his “moral responsibility” to present a fiscally responsible budget.

Obama said that Paul Ryan’s plan (whichallows spending to grow by an average of 3.1 percent per year over the next decade) is a form of “social Darwinism.”

But the proposal from the House Budget Committee Chairman only reduces the burden of federal spending to 20.25 percent of GDP by the year 2023.

Yet when Bill Clinton left office in 2001, following several years of spending restraint, the federal government was consuming 18.2 percent of economic output.

Read the whole thing!

Remember how Democrats railed against the immediate past president for his spendthrift ways, with one prominent politician telling us that under George W. Bush’s watch, we were “living beyond our means“.  Were it not for TARP [Troubled Asset Relief Program] (which Obama supported) just before W left office, federal expenditures during his tenure never exceeded 21% of GDP.

So, federal expenditures lower than 21% of GDP mean living beyond our means, but at 20.25% mean “social Darwinism”?

Seems one Democrat is more interested in criticizing Republicans than in offering consistent arguments.

FROM THE COMMENTS:  Sonicfrog contends that we’re all

. . . missing the real significance of the “Social Darwinism” comment. Think about the term and how it’s been used over the last century and more. It has been justification for all sorts of atrocities and prejudices, from racism to eugenics to Nazism to state sterilization of the mentally challenged and infirm. I generally scoff at the notion that people use “code words”, which is usually an accusation tossed at Conservatives by Liberals to try and portray Conservatives as racists. Well, in this case, although he apparently isn’t that familiar with the aspects of Marbury v Madison, I think it’s hard pressed not to conclude that this was the “Unifier-In-Chief’s” veiled and half clever way of accusing Conservatives of wanting to off cleans society of the poor and minorities.

Which is the stronger majority?

On Monday, the president said this about the Supreme Court review of Obamacare, “Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”  Emphasis added.

On March 21, 2010, the U.S. House  passed the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” by a vote of 219-212, with 34 Democrats joining 178 Republicans in opposition.  No Republicans vote for the bill.  (That’s a 7-vote margin.)

Fewer than ten months later, on January 19, 2011, the chamber, under new leadership, in large part because of opposition to said Act, acted to repeal the legislation by vote of 245-189, with three Democrats joined the sizable Republican majority.  (That’s a 56-vote margin.)

Would you agree with me that a 56-vote margin is a stronger majority than a 7-vote margin in a legislative body which hadn’t grown any larger between the two votes?

FROM THE COMMENTS: JP offers, “Also for great true ‘Strong Majorities’ see 0bama’s budgets. He got total agreement with no votes at all from BOTH parties. That’s a strong majority.”

UPDATE:  Seems I wasn’t the only one to make this observation.

Mitt sweeps up a hat trick, saying that Americans may have given up on this president, but not on themselve

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 4:05 am - April 4, 2012.
Filed under: Post 9-11 America

Last night, in winning last night’s big prize, Amy Walter of ABC OTUS News reported

[Mitt] Romney didn’t simply get more votes than Santorum did in the “must-win” state of Wisconsin, he won over the kinds of voters who have been skeptical of his candidacy for much of this primary season: very conservative Republicans, middle income earners, strong Tea Party supporters and non-college graduates.

His victory in the Badger State coupled with wins in the District of Columbia and Maryland allowed the former Massachusetts governor to pull a hat-trick last night. And he might had higher percentages in Wisconsin if not for Democratic shenanigans there, as Michael Barone observed, in sifting through the exit polls:

According to the exit poll, 30% of Republican primary voters identified themselves as Independents and 11% as Democrats. Among self-identified Democrats, Rick Santorum beat Mitt Romney 37%-19%. That amounted to a Santorum popular vote majority of 2% of the total vote. You might want to keep that in mind in interpreting the statewide percentage. Among self-identifed Republicans, Romney won 51%-37%. That’s pretty conclusive about what Republicans want. (more…)

Watcher of Weasels Nominations — Early April Edition

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:38 am - April 4, 2012.
Filed under: Blogging,Conservative Ideas

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions (more…)

Before casting stones, Obama has “moral responsibility” to present a budget that allows us to live within our means

Yesterday, there were two big political stories, three if you count the reverberations from the president’s casting aspersions on judicial review, four, if you count the revelation (from the previous day) that once again the Obama campaign has disabled “AVS protections” from its donations pages such that Illegal Contributor could not only make a donation, but also (as of this posting) set up a contributions page on the Democrat’s own web-site.

Those big stories were Mitt Romney’s sweep of the day’s primaries, winning the District of Columbia, Maryland and Wisconsin and possibly all of the delegates at stake yesterday and the president’s luncheon speech to the AP.  From the incumbent’s opening “joke” through the question-and-answer session, the address lacked class.  The long and short of it was that he misrepresented the solutions Republicans were offering and failed to put forward a credible plan of his own, delivering bromides instead:

And yet, for much of the last century, we have been having the same argument with folks who keep peddling some version of trickle-down economics.  They keep telling us that if we’d convert more of our investments in education and research and health care into tax cuts — especially for the wealthy — our economy will grow stronger.  They keep telling us that if we’d just strip away more regulations, and let businesses pollute more and treat workers and consumers with impunity, that somehow we’d all be better off.  We’re told that when the wealthy become even wealthier, and corporations are allowed to maximize their profits by whatever means necessary, it’s good for America, and that their success will automatically translate into more jobs and prosperity for everybody else.  That’s the theory.

Now, the problem for advocates of this theory is that we’ve tried their approach — on a massive scale.  The results of their experiment are there for all to see.  At the beginning of the last decade, the wealthiest Americans received a huge tax cut in 2001 and another huge tax cut in 2003.

Well, we did see economic growth and job creation from 2003 until the recession hit a year after the election of a Democratic Congress in 2006.  He otherwise presents a cartoon version of Republican economics — which sounds more like a college activist’s impassioned critique of Reaganomics than an elected leader’s considered response to his rivals.

House Republicans have put forward a budget which slows the growth in federal spending; it passed the House.  The president offered a plan which couldn’t ever garner a single Democratic vote. (more…)