By Ben Cohen: Finally, former Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum has called it a day and suspended his Presidential campaign. This comes as no surprise as a win against Mitt Romney has been unthinkable for several weeks now given the discrepancy in funding and support from within the party. If you break down the amount of money spent in relation to the votes and delegates won in the Republican Presidential primary, Rick Santorum is by far and away the most effective candidate – a very serious problem for Romney given he probably won’t be able to raise as much money as Obama will in the general.
The numbers are extremely interesting. As of last month, the Republican candidates spent the following (via the Huff Post):
Ad spending per vote: $12.70
Cost per delegate: $90,796
Ad spending per vote: $3.01
Cost per delegate: $28,944
Ad spending per vote: $4.78
Cost per delegate: $76,774
Ad spending per vote: $6.33
Cost per delegate: $129,275
Romney out spent Santorum 3:1 for each delegate, and 4:1 for each vote – a stunning ratio that underlines how weak a candidate he is.
Romney’s strategy has been simple – outspend everyone and pander to the far Right as much as possible. It hasn’t been easy as both Gingrich and Santorum surged at various points during the campaign, but the principle that money buys elections has remained true. While Gingrich and Paul still remain in the race, Romney is now an absolute sure bet for the nomination.
While I disagree with Santorum on virtually every policy issue imaginable, I did get the feeling that he was a genuine politician who believed what he was saying. And for this reason, I feel slightly sorry for him given his acquiescence to the most disingenuous candidate the American public has ever been subjected to. While Mitt Romney may not be a religious nut like Santorum, his beliefs are so malleable that it doesn’t really make a difference. Both candidates would be a very serious disaster in the White House – Santorum because of his religious beliefs and militant conservatism, and Romney because he would roll over for the extreme interests in the Republican Party.
In some ways, had Santorum won, it would have reaffirmed the spirit of democracy in America. Sure, he would have made a terrible candidate, but it would prove that money doesn’t have to make the major difference in winning campaigns. Sadly, it does, and it means the candidate most allied with the interests of big business almost always comes out on top. Romney won because corporate America believes he will be best for them. He has the most chance of beating Obama this year, and should he get in, he will do exactly as he is told. Candidates like Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are too risky for business – not because they don’t believe in the same nonsensical economic theories, but because they have shown independent thought and a willingness to actually be themselves. Corporations want a yes man, and Romney will say yes to pretty much anything.
Santorum fought tooth and nail to win the nomination, and too his credit, didn’t compromise on his core beliefs. While it is probably a good thing he is out of mainstream politics, ironically, it isn’t good for democracy.
In this weeks mailbag, we talk about the reasons behind the Republican Party’s extremism, the implosion of Newt Gingrich and who we’d rather be stuck on a desert island with – Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter!!
Why do you think the Republican Party has turned so extreme in recent years? I’m sure there are many reasons, but do you think there was a major event that lead to the crazies taking over everything? – Michael
Bob: It’s been a slow and steady dance towards the radical Cuckoo’s Nest, beginning around the time of Barry Goldwater’s trouncing in 1964. In 1980 or so, Reagan made a deal with the religious right that married the two entities, and then everything congealed when Bill Clinton was elected and wingnuts everywhere began to pass around conspiracy theories about how he and Hillary killed Vince Foster and, of course, there was Whitewater and the long list of conspiracies about his sexual affairs. From there, the extremism was amplified by the post-9/11 xenophobia and copious amounts of kneejerk patriotism. In the mix, too, was the rise of Fox News Channel and the expansion of right-wing talk radio, both of which turned the gurgling extremism of the party into an echo chamber of mutually reinforcing views. This became profitable for both business and the party, and so the Republicans cashed in on what David Frum called “a marketing segment” of disgruntled and marginalized white people who only became more disgruntled when Barack Obama won the presidency. The noise level (not the relatively small demographic numbers) of the tea party has since been wagging the Republican Party dog and, hence, we get a toxic mixture of opposite-day reactions to the Democrats, wafer-thin bumper sticker policy proposals and — let’s be real here — racism, all of which combine to form the extremism you see today.
Ben: I’d argue that the financialization of the economy that basically started under Nixon and really took off under Reagan is the primary reason why the Republican party is so extreme. The effects of financialization have been severe on much of the population as it has created serious poverty and extremes in wealth inequality. In order to keep half the population voting for them, the Republicans amplified wedge issues like abortion and gay rights to distract them from the massive amounts of wealth they were losing under their leadership. As the wealth divide has become more extreme, so have the measures to keep the Republican base motivated to vote. It’s a vicious cycle – the less money the government spends on things like education, the less informed the population are and the easier they are to manipulate. Idiots like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann serve as marketing tools rather than anything else. The brains behind the GOP are probably just as scathing about them as liberals behind closed doors, but without them, they lose their base.
Chez: This is something that’s been a pretty big topic of conversation at my site, I know at Bob’s, and really in general — especially since Jonathan Chait wrote a pretty all-encompassing piece about it a month or so ago. The fact is that when faced with the threat of political irrelevancy bordering on complete extinction, the Republican party doubled-down on the entitled, white Christian male rhetoric. The election of Barack Obama was the far-right’s worst nightmare — confirmation that they were losing the country bequeathed to them and them alone by the hallowed founding fathers to all those brown people they’d worked so hard to keep in their rightful place for so long. That made them lose their fucking minds. The fact is that America is becoming a more ethnically and socially integrated culture and there’s no going back; the Republican mindset as it stands right now is being demographically pushed out of existence and instead of accepting this reality and working to reach out to millions of potential new proponents of sane conservatism, the fringe rose up in the form of the Tea Party and exerted an incredible amount of force on the Republican establishment and dragged them to the right in the name of protecting the God-given rights of decent white folk — rights that their paranoia determined were being taken away. To answer your question — well, the answer’s kind of obvious really: the election of Obama is what drove the crazy bus completely over the edge of the cliff for the GOP.
This is a tough one guys. Who would you rather be stuck on a desert island with: Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter, and how long do you think you could last without murdering them? – Tim
Ann Coulter: Winner
Ben: Great question Tim! I’d say Coulter – she’s at least entertaining, and I have it on very good authority that her public persona is completely fraudulent. I’d probably kill myself first if I had to spend more than a day with Palin or Bachmann. I just couldn’t take their ignorance or completely unjustified self confidence.
Chez: Coulter. I get the impression she’s more of an opportunist than a true believer and I hear she’s actually a lot of fun when you get a couple of drinks in her. Plus, I can see her easily putting out — especially if I was the proverbial last man on earth. Can I trade all three for S.E. Cupp, though? And yes, I’m being kind of sexist. Go fuck yourself.
Bob: Hah! That’s a tough one. I think I’d have to go with Ann Coulter. Sarah Palin would be intolerable for so many reasons beginning with her word salad shrillness and white-trash pride. She’d also be deliberately antagonistic and it would be impossible to have a conversation without literally stroking out. Michele Bachmann would be like living in a padded room with a mental patient who spoke in tongues. Honestly, I don’t thnk Ann Coulter believes half of the awful things she says, so maybe that’s an opening for a reasonable coexistence on an island.
What the hell happened to Newt Gingrich? A few weeks ago he was storming ahead in the polls, getting millions of dollars from some weird rich dude, and making the other candidates look like idiots in the debates. Now he can’t get a look in anywhere. Did I miss something? – Galen
The ego has landed
Chez: Newt was never a serious contender for the nomination, no matter what thrilling possibility the conflict-addicted political press wanted you to entertain. Yeah, he was one of the many non-Romneys the far-right faithful had a brief flirtation with — twice even — but he didn’t stand a chance because everyone in a position of GOP authority knew he was 100% radioactive. Nothing proved that point more than his petty, vindictive and insanely quixotic campaign to destroy Mitt Romney just because Romney hit him with a couple of negative attacks. Newt’s a megalomaniac, and as such his entire push for the nomination was about stroking his own ego and listening to the sound of his own voice as he issued supposedly smart proclamations from on-high. What eventually wound up happening is that a coordinated campaign against him by the party elite, combined with the far-right base’s realization that he just wouldn’t be able to make it happen for them, combined with, quite frankly, a new news cycle and the press having moved on to the next big horseshit political story — in this case, the rise of Santorum — all led to Gingrich being left in the dust. Where he belonged in the first place.
Bob: The Republicans tossed him aside like Cain, Bachmann, Trump and Perry. The party is leaderless and so they’ve been desperate for a savior. Gingrich staggered across their spotlight twice and failed to close the deal both times. The biggest problem he needed to overcome was the dick factor — no, not his multiple relationships/marriages, but his dickish personality. He simple couldn’t help but to stumble into one dick move or another. And while the Republicans briefly entertained the idea of an “intellectual” as the nominee (Gingrich is a poseur and a hack — not a real intellectual), they ultimately were turned off by his insufferable ego and unlikeable personality. I don’t think anyone thought Gingrich was someone they could have a beer with — an important feature in a GOP nominee. More than anything else, when they re-examined his roster of liabilities, they only wanted to throw a beer in his round pumpkin face, rather than drinking to his success.
Ben: I think Gingrich was a victim of his own sociopathic tendencies. He got some momentum, then started talking about putting colonies on the moon. It was plain to see that the guy was more interested in himself than anything else, and the primary was a giant platform for him to exercise his monstrous ego. Most Republicans hate Gingrich, not because of his politics, but because he is a gigantic douchebag, so it was always going to be impossible for him to win the nomination. It’s amazing he got so far – a true testament to the shallowness of the Republican field this year.
If you’d like to air your views or ask us a question, please email us at email@example.com!
By Kim Barker: He may be in last place when it comes to delegates, but when it comes to filing expense reports with the FEC, Ron Paul beats
Ron Paul, Transparency Fanatic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
His campaign’s hyper-vigilance is notable, verging on fanatical.
Every bank fee, every 22 cents at a FedEx, every $1 toll on the Florida turnpike, every $5.09 pit stop at any Starbucks anywhere, every doughnut from Dunkin’ Donuts and Dough Nutz — it’s all right there, itemized in the Paul campaign’s copious expenditure reports. In 160 instances so far, the campaign has reported purchases costing a single dollar or less.
Last week, ProPublica examined the spending of the five presidential candidates and the major super PACs, identifying their 200 top payees. But as part of digging into the more than $306 million spent through February, it was impossible to avoid the other end of the spectrum: The small bucks, if you will.
The Paul campaign tracks every cent like no other, which Paul campaign officials say is deliberate.
“We take the trust our donors place in us very seriously and are deeply committed to transparency and accuracy in our reporting,” wrote Paul’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, in an email response to ProPublica.
Under Federal Election Commission rules, campaigns only have to disclose expenditures of more than $200 per election cycle to an individual or a vendor. And, for most campaigns, that’s mostly how it works. Sure, there’s the odd $1 rental car expense for Mitt Romney’s campaign, a few $5 bank fees for Newt Gingrich, and the inexplicable one-cent expense reported by Rick Santorum to the Stoney Creek Inn in Johnston, Iowa. But generally, they don’t sweat the small stuff.
By and large, neither does President Barack Obama’s campaign, which explains on its reports that it specifies travel reimbursements totaling over $500 to any individual and payments to vendors that exceed $200 for the election cycle, but otherwise doesn’t itemize.
That just won’t do for the Paul campaign. A similar thoroughness seems to extend to one of the super PACs supporting him, Endorse Liberty. Super PACs, like other outside spending groups, are supposed to file reports of independent expenditures2014TV ads or phone calls or direct mail on behalf of or against a candidate2014within a day or two, depending on the time in the election cycle. But Endorse Liberty files all expense within 48 hours, including the $71.92 spent at Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant on Feb. 13 and the 8 cents paid to Google for online advertising on Feb. 27.
Paul’s expenditures show what it’s like to run for president and life on the trail. It’s a journey through gas stations and fast-food joints in towns like Romeoville, Ill., Sugar Land, Texas, and Correctionville, Iowa. There’s a kind of poetry to the purchases, which range from the austere ($59.50 for meals at the Puritan Backroom), to the whimsical ($28.43 for a meal at The Peddler’s Daughter) to the downright depressing ($26.72 for catering from Little Caesars pizza in Colorado on New Year’s Day).
Like Paul himself, the campaign staffers often seem to value thrift. On Oct. 18, for instance, someone spent $1.09 for office equipment at the Dollar Tree in Baton Rouge. Eight days later, someone else spent $1 at a Salvation Army on Sheep Davis Road in New Hampshire for event supplies.
Staffers often ate cheap, spending $1.39 for a meal at the Circle K in El Dorado, Kan., on Sept. 27, $1.27 at the Kwik Star in Charles City, Iowa, on Dec. 9, and 99 cents at the Conoco in Moses Lake, Wash., on Feb. 20. Well, maybe they weren’t meals.
“We actually don’t have any food here,” said Chris Chase, the manager of that Conoco, who didn’t recall anyone from the Paul campaign and actually had never heard of the Paul campaign. “We’ve got some candies. Suckers are under $1. We’ve got some protein bars for 99 cents, some Planters peanuts for 59 cents.”
There were a few splurges: For example, the $26,690.01 listed for staying at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nev.
Though exhaustive, the Paul campaign’s record of purchases sometimes left us wanting to know even more. How is it possible to stop 119 times at the same Kum & Go gas station in Ankeny, Iowa? And what office supply was possibly downloaded for $1.07 on iTunes on Nov. 25?
We asked, but the campaign offered no response. Sadly, we may never know. (Update: Thanks to Twitter, we can report that the Kum & Go is less than a half-mile from Paul’s Iowa headquarters.) This story was orginally co-published on ProPublica and Yahoo! News.
Newt Gingrich is dramatically curtailing his campaign schedule, laying off about a third of his staff and dismissing his campaign manager as he focuses on a last-ditch effort to win the Republican presidential nomination at the party’s convention.
Gingrich’s strategy hinges on preventing front-runner Mitt Romney from winning the 1,144 delegates he needs for the nomination, Gingrich spokesman RC Hammond said Tuesday night. The former House speaker plans to spend much less time in primary states and instead personally call delegates to try to persuade them to back him at the Republican National Convention in August.
“We are not going to cede to Mitt Romney’s strategy to take the party down,” Hammond said. Ultimately, Gingrich would take the fight to the convention floor, Hammond said.
The new strategy doesn’t change Gingrich’s promise to support Romney if Romney collects the necessary delegates before the party convenes in Tampa, Fla., Hammond said.
In the meantime, Gingrich planned to shift the campaign’s focus to digital outreach – in particular Twitter, YouTube and other social media.
Gingrich’s campaign manager, Michael Krull, was asked to resign. Hammond and campaign communications director Joe DeSantis will remain with the campaign. Both have been working for Gingrich for more than a year, even as a group of consultants quit the campaign last summer.
Nobody knows what really happened during the tragic shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida last month. As the facts stand, it doesn’t look too good for the shooter, George Zimmerman. Martin was unarmed and was on the phone to his girlfriend at the time of the shooting, apparently telling her he was being followed. Zimmerman has a troubling criminal history that includes an arrest for assaulting a police officer, an accusation of domestic violence, and a restraining order filed against him by his ex girlfriend. Martin on the other hand, had no criminal record, was a good student and was regarded as gentle by everyone who knew him.
Zimmerman should of course be presumed innocent, but the national outcry over his release is certainly understandable given the context of the killing.
Throughout the history of the United States, countless African Americans have been illegally killed by law enforcement officers and people in positions of authority. In Miami alone, 7 African Americans have been shot and killed this year by police, with several being unarmed and posing no immediate threat to the public. Nobody will ever forget the killing of African immigrant Amadou Diallo, who was shot 41 times by NYPD officers in 1999, or the unarmed Oscar Grant shot at point blank range in Oakland in 2009 by BART officer Johannes Mehserle. The fact is, the killing of unarmed black men in America is a common occurrence, and the resentment felt by the African American community towards the police is not only understandable, but justified.
President Obama spoke eloquently about the killing of Trayvon, saying ‘If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon’. Obama continued; ‘I think [Trayvon's parents] are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”
Sadly, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have decided to play the pathetic ‘White male minority’ card used by Republicans to appeal to their base. Gingrich stated that Obama’s comments were “disgraceful” and that “Any young American of any ethnic background should be safe, period. We should all be horrified, no matter what the ethnic background. Is the president suggesting that, if it had been a white who’d been shot, that would be OK, because it wouldn’t look like him? That’s just nonsense.”
Santorum chimed in stating that Obama should “Not use these types of horrible and tragic individual cases to try to drive a wedge in America.”
Obama of course, was doing nothing of the sort. The President was simply articulating what the African American community often feels – that people who look just like them seem to get shot all the time. This isn’t prejudging a situation or implying that white people aren’t killed unjustifiably – Obama was only showing empathy to parents of a dead child killed in extremely suspicious circumstances.
Politicians like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum like to pretend the racism doesn’t exist in America, that the playing field is level and African Americans are poor or shot by the police because they deserve it. While study after study after study confirm that poverty and racism are structural and cyclical, rich white men often cannot, or do not want to understand that their society produces these phenomenon. Why? Because their society also produces people like them – rich and untouchable. Perhaps if Gingrich or Santorum were unable to hail taxis due to their skin color, or targeted by the police for no other reason than their ethnic background, they might show some understanding when it comes to unarmed black teenagers shot for no apparent reason.
Instead, both politicians have decided to cash in on another delicate moment in US racial history, coming down on the side of the powerful instead the victims. According to Gingrich and Santorum, expressing sympathy for minorities is akin to racism – a mind boggling leap of logic only possible in today’s Republican party.
Sadly, that is the story of GOP party politics; it is dominated by those who ignore reality and focus on a world that does not exist – one where there is no racism and no inequality. Republicans cannot address the real problems facing the average Americans because by enlarge, they are not average Americans.
And that is why when it comes to the killing of Trayvon Martin, Obama was right to express how troubled he was, and again, the leading Republicans were completely wrong.
By Daniel Victor: Every local broadcast station has a repository of documents about political advertising that you have a legal right to see but can do so only by going to the station and asking to see “the public file.”
These paper files contain detailed data on all political ads that run on the channel, such as when they aired, who bought the time and how much they paid. It’s a transparency gold mine, allowing the public to see how campaigns and outside groups are influencing elections.
Others have taken their case a step further. As reported by Bloomberg Government, Jerald Fritz, senior vice president of Allbritton Communications, said in an another FCC filing that online availability “would ultimately lead to a Soviet-style standardization of the way advertising should be sold as determined by the government.” (NPR’s On the Media did an excellent segment recently on broadcasters’ opposition to the proposal.)
We tend to like the idea of public data being online. Since TV stations won’t put it online themselves, we decided to do it ourselves 2014 and we want your help.
Working with students at the Medill journalism school at Northwestern University, we looked at five local stations in the Chicago market.
You can explore the results yourself: Here are detailed breakdowns of when the ads aired, during which programs, and how much each spot cost: Read the documents from the local affiliates of ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and CW.
Big thanks to Medill students David Tonyan, Julie O’Donoghue, Vesko Cholakov, Safiya Merchant and Gideon Resnick, who visited the stations Monday.
We intend to enlist more readers in checking their local stations as the election campaigns slog on. The general election is likely to usher in even greater spending, and such spot checks could keep an eye on how big spenders are influencing the election. If you’d like to join in, please fill out this form.
Campaigns and super PACs are required to report their spending on independent expenditures to the Federal Election Commission within a day or two, but they often just report how much they paid ad-buying firms, which can disguise how much actual ads cost and where they’re airing.
For our experiment, we asked our Chicago volunteers to check on spending by five super PACs that individually support Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama. There were no records of spending in Chicago by four of them, but Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney super PAC, advertised on all five stations. The super PAC paid the five stations about $800,000 in the past month.
Medill student O’Donoghue said getting the files from the ABC station took her about half an hour, most of which was spent wrestling with the copy machine.
Tonyan, another graduate student, said he spent 15 minutes at the CW affiliate, plus a 15-minute drive.
Both said the station employees who helped them were friendly and accommodating. We encountered the same when I visited five stations in New York, Missouri and Florida. Typically, a station employee will simply show you the room where the files are kept and let you dig in.
Such visits don’t seem to happen often. A log at the New York CBS affiliate showed only six registered visitors since October 2011.
Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, found that $70 million in advertising had been unreported from 2000-10 in Michigan. He got that number by personally examining public files, at one point driving 14 hours for a 15-minute visit to a station.
He told the FCC: “I can testify to you, unequivocally, that the threshold of effort necessary to report this important public interest story is too high for every news organization in Michigan, except mine.”
Which is why we’re asking for your help. You can help expose spending that might otherwise remain hidden in your television market. Sign up here.
Illinois Republicans delivered a decisive victory to Mitt Romney in the state’s presidential primary Tuesday, crushing Rick Santorum in what amounted to the first big-state head-to-head contest among the front-runners for the GOP nomination.
With 98 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, unofficial results showed the former Massachusetts governor with 47 percent of the vote to Santorum’s 35 percent. The other two candidates in the race, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, made only token campaign efforts in Illinois and were trailing badly.
Even more important for Romney, he swamped Santorum by winning 39 of the 54 elected delegates up for grabs in the state. Santorum had only five, though votes were still being counted in several Downstate congressional districts where he ran strongest. Read more at the Chicago Tribune…
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Daily Banter mailbag! In this weekly column, Bob Cesca, Ben Cohen and Chez Pazienza will answer mail sent in by readers. We’ll pick the most concise, interesting and funny queries we receive and do our best to answer them!
In this weeks mail bag, our readers ask why the main stream media goes easy on Republicans, who we think Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum would pick for VP candidate and which GOP politician ranks as the stupidest in the Presidential primaries:
Can you please give me your opinion as to why the republicans get a free ride on shows like Face The Nation, The Week, Meet the Press and Charlie Rose? Also, why are the media allowing Mitt to get away with so many lies? - Sammy Williams
Bob Cesca: There’s a well-documented systemic crisis within the traditional media: the press has been badgered into feeling self-conscious about any hint of a liberal bias.
Since the defeat of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election, there’s been a targeted and well-financed effort to attack the press for its alleged bias. Funded by conservative financiers like Richard Mellon Scaife and others, the goal of shifting the media focus to the right was relatively slow moving until Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes formed the Fox News Channel, which has become wildly successful. Several years later, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 added fuel to the conservative media fire and many news outlets feared being labeled “unpatriotic” on top of being labeled “liberal.” These two events, 9/11 and the formation of Fox News, have combined to create the lopsided climate we see on cable news and the Sunday shows.
All of that said, the basis for the conservative gripe is entirely unfounded. While many journalists happen to be personally liberal, they’re all employed by mega-corporations — General Electric, News Corp, Disney, etc — none of which have much interest in perpetuating liberal policies. Meanwhile, few of these journalists, unlike Fox News Channel, have a political agenda beyond reporting the news in the most compelling way possible. If there’s any bias, it’s for sensationalism and drama, irrespective of politics. However, by insisting that the news has a liberal slant, many journalists — especially on television — have caved to this right-wing hectoring rather than standing their ground on journalistic principles.
Stephen Colbert famously said, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.” If the news happens to have a liberal slant, then it should be reported accordingly. Instead, journalists who are held captive by the conservative echo-chamber are fabricating an artificial balance. And so the American discourse is hurt by inaccurate reporting — or, almost as bad, the insufferable “politics as sports” horserace coverage we see so often on cable.
Chez Pazienza: I don’t think the Republicans get a free ride any more than anyone else who’s a big name in the Beltway. While there are definitely times when the hosts of these shows do their jobs and hold the feet of the country’s leaders in government to the fire, more often than not you get the political version of a PG-13 horror movie — violent, but not too violent. The reason for this, of course, is two-fold: 1) When that little red light goes dark above the lens of the camera, the ostensible inquisitor and accused both revert to being just a couple of friendly folks who travel in the same circles in DC; they’re not actual adversaries and each one knows it. 2) The shows want continued access — simple as that. The hosts know that these days, with more and more media outlets catering specifically to certain segments of the voting public, their influence is diminished greatly. Political leaders don’t need the shows anymore the way they used to; they can now go directly to whichever news organization targets whichever audience they need to reach out to, and that audience generally takes the word of that news outlet as gospel and seeks only to have its biases confirmed in the first place. As to your question, that does actually favor Republicans these days because Fox News is the largest propaganda machine masquerading as a news operation in the country. If a Republican politician feels like he or she is getting roughed up on the old school Sunday morning network shows, that person will just run like a scared kid to Fox, who will invariably blow smoke up his or her ass in no time flat.
As for Romney — the press is just too spineless to call a lie a lie. It believes that this is somehow a surrender of its supposed objectivity, which is unabashed nonsense.
Ben Cohen: Hey Sammy, I think the press avoids asking Republicans tough questions due to the perpetually moving goal post of the political center. Republicans have done a fantastic job of shifting the debate so far to the Right that in order to appear objective, the media continues to take both sides seriously. The reality is that one side believes in a functioning government, science, and diplomacy. The other believes in a fantasy society from 1950′s propaganda movies, Adam and Eve, and blowing up any country that publicly disagrees with them. The reality is that main stream media journalists only rise to the top by sucking up to power, not challenging it. If they called out the entire GOP for its complete disregard for reality, they wouldn’t get interviews, host talk shows or be relevant in the national dialogue. It’s a weird bubble they’ve created with their own language and their own incestuous culture. I’ve just moved to DC and find it all very strange. Not something I’d like to be a part of, so I guess I won’t be landing any Sarah Palin interviews in the near future.
If Mitt Romney wins, who do you think he’ll choose as a running mate and why? The same for Rick Santorum?
- Bill Petrich
Chez Pazienza: Who the hell knows? Trying to predict the outcome of that horserace eventually tends to prove pundits to be the know-nothing doofs they generally always were. I mean, who could’ve fathomed that McCain would completely lose his mind and pick an inexperienced dolt like Sarah Palin? Conventional wisdom holds that Romney will have to choose someone far to the right of him who can help him out in the South and with evangelicals (and really, the entire GOP base, which doesn’t like or trust Romney at all). Conversely, Santorum would probably be well to choose someone more centrist than he is who’s less of a firebrand, but Santorum is a batshit crazy religious demagogue who’s 100% certain in his convictions, so don’t look for him to do the sensible thing — ever.
Bob Cesca: I don’t think Santorum will get the nomination, but if he does, he’ll choose a Cheney type vice presidential running mate. Maybe Newt Gingrich or someone similar who has decades of experience in Washington. If it’s Romney, he’ll have to choose a swing-state conservative. I’ve been thinking lately that his running-mate could end up being Santorum or, perhaps, a favorite like Mitch Daniels or Chris Christie. Then again, he might want to lean heavily towards a southern conservative like Nikki Haley or even Rick Perry.
Ben Cohen: My guess is that Romney will pick someone like Jeb Bush – a credentialed conservative who will be able to attract the base Romney seems incapable of reaching. As for Santorum, he’ll need to go in the opposite direction and find someone who appeals to all the demographics he has absolutely zero chance of attracting in a general election. I’ll go out on a limb and say he picks Condoleeza Rice – a black, pro choice woman. It would be absolutely hilarious to watch the two of them appear in press conferences together. They’d absolutely hate each others guts, but realize that the only way to power was by working together. I’d actually pay money to watch that.
Can you rank the stupidity of the Republican candidates for President (including the original ones)? Who is top and why?
- Leland Whitehouse
Bob Cesca:Well, Rick Perry and Herman Cain weren’t very bright but they’re not around any more. So choosing from the current field, here’s my list from dumbest (#1) to smartest.
1. Rick Santorum (A savvy politician who can memorize, but he doesn’t appear to be intellectually curious.)
2. Ron Paul (Not nearly as smart as everyone thinks. His reliance upon the mythology of Ayn Rand reveals an immature worldview.)
3. Newt Gingrich (Pretends to be smarter than he really is, but he can write and think critically underneath the bullshit conservative memes and dog whistles.)
4. Mitt Romney (He’s stiff and herky-jerky. While his flip-flops are troubling and symptomatic of pandering to the far-right, his former centrist views reveal an intellectual curiosity not found in the rest of the field)
Chez Pazienza: None of them are stupid. All, however, are various degrees of nuts.
Ben Cohen: Hermain Cain tops my list because he was so completely hopeless when asked about anything vaguely serious. Just watch this:
Michele Bachmann comes in a close second (anyone remember this quote?: “Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas”), and Rick Perry, the man whose environmental policy consisted of praying for rain, just trailing behind. The other candidate are not stupid if you ask me – a little crazy maybe, but crafty politicians with considerable ambition.
1. Hermain Cain
2. Michele Bachmann
3. Rick Perry
4. Rick Santorum
5. New Gingrich
6. Ron Paul
7. Mitt Romney
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By Ben Cohen: Watching Mitt Romney attempt to ‘connect’ with voters is akin to watching your Grandfather parallel parking. No matter how hard they try, it never quite works and everyone is left feeling a little embarrassed at the end of it. ‘Never mind Grandpa’ I used to say as my Grandfather drove off to look for a spot at least two cars long. ‘The space was too small anyway’. After Mitt Romney finishes a rally, supporters no doubt offer similar condolences – ‘Well, he’s a great business man!’ Or ‘Isn’t his wife just lovely!’ Because Romney, no matter the circumstance, manages to come off as an out of touch, absurdly rich douchcebag.
Finding unbelievably stupid things Mitt Romney has said wasn’t difficult as it seems to happen literally time Romney appears on television.
Here are the top 10 quotes from Romney on money – a topic his team should advise him to avoid like the plague:
1. “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.”
2. “I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.”
3. “I know what it’s like to worry about whether or not you are going to get fired. … There are times when I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.”
4. “Rick [Perry], I’ll tell you what: 10,000 bucks? $10,000 bet?” (It takes 50% of Americans 5 months to earn $10,000)
5. “Ann [Romney's wife] drives a couple of Cadillacs.”
6. “Corporations are people, my friend.”
7. “I’m not concerned about the very poor. … We have a safety net there.”
8. “I’m also unemployed,” (Romney’s net worth is estimated to be over $200 million)
9. “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.”
10. “I get speaker’s fees from time to time, but not very much,” (Romney’s fees are $374,000)