My Christmas Wish

It’s not every year I get what I want for Christmas, but this season is looking pretty good.  After watching the 33rd Republican debate this evening I’m extraordinarily optimistic that the GOP is going to tie itself into knots well into 2013 over who it’s nominee will be.  And, as an extra-special “I must have been a REALLY good boy” present, there’s a fair chance that at the end of the melee, the last one standing will be…Newt Gingrich.

Oh, please, please, please.  I promise I’ll walk him and feed him and you won’t have to do anything!

Newt Gingrich as a nominee would make Nixon/McGovern, Johnson/Goldwater, Bush/Dukakis and Reagan/Mondale all look like cliffhangers.  Watching him tonight twist and turn on the spit of the legal definition of “lobbying” was as much fun as watching Bill Clinton try to parse “is.”  And, that’s just the easy stuff.

But…I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up.  Santa told me I won’t get everything on my list. I’ll be happy with a long, drawn-out primary season.

Romney is toast in Iowa, especially after tonight’s debate where he failed – didn’t even try, really – to knock Gingrich off-stride.  That means he’s coming out of Iowa 3rd or maybe even 4th.  If he’s lucky, he’ll win New Hampshire – barely.  He’ll get kicked again in South Carolina but – unless he’s collapsed completely – he’s got a firewall in Florida.  That gets us through the end of January with a grand total of – wait for it – 115 delegates awarded.

It takes 1,144 delegates to get the nomination.

The earliest somebody could claim the nomination is mid-March but realistically it will be much later because all of the state contests in March award delegates proportionately (versus winner-take-all).  That means we could get to April or even May with nobody having a clear majority of delegates.  By the end of March, when 1,325 delegates will have been awarded, we could have one candidate with 600 or so (let’s say Romney), another at 400 (Gingrich) and some others splitting up the rest (Paul with a couple hundred, Perry with some).

After March, though, the contests include winner-take-all events so it could wrap up in April if somebody gets some momentum.  Or…it could go on until May or…the Holy Grail of American politics…take us to a brokered convention in August in Tampa.  Unlikely in the extreme, but possible.

Just what I’d love under my tree.

– Austin


PS – Correction: not all Republican primaries and caucuses are winner-take-all after April 1; they’re just prohibited in March.

20 thoughts on “My Christmas Wish

  1. Joe Loveland says:

    Yes, you must have been a very good boy. It’s been a very entertaining silly season so far. Take a look at this graph of presidential polls over the last 6-7 months. I’ve never seen such an unstable field of candidates.

    This may be the most jumbled nomination fight in the history of the nation.

    My biggest nearterm worry is that Rep. Bachmann might drop out after a poor Iowa showing. She is definitely a stocking stuffer — continually torching the frontrunner du jour to the delight of the Tea Party malcontents. So please, send your contributions NOW to:

  2. PM says:

    At the moment, my favorite Newtism is the idea that he will get a series of 3 hour Lincoln-Douglas debates with Obama and show that Obama is a radical, inept socialist…..

    This guy is manipulating all of the hot button knee jerking Tea Party visceral/id/reactions. Hence, the desperation among the establishment Republicans (Krauthammer, Will, everybody except Limbaugh really).

    Is this an example of reaping what you sow?

    Like watching a train wreck in very slow motion.

  3. I have a love of science fiction – which is NOT the same genre as fantasy! – but I’m fairly clear on the difference between science and science fiction. Mr. Gingrich it seems may not be.

    As for his infatuation with Isaac Asimov all I can say is that Mr. Asimov was a prodigious writer and thinker, but he got lots of things wrong. The iRobot series, for example, predicted giant computer “brains” as big as city blocks and a society in which people were assigned jobs for life and resources were so rationed that people were forced into communal men’s and women’s bathroom and lived in housing that made Stalinist-era construction look stylish. I too found the Foundation series – particularly the original three books – a wonderful series…when I was 15. On re-reading them in my 40s I was less impressed.

    If you want some excellent old-school sci-fi, I recommend Arthur C. Clarke or Robert Heinlein. For the new stuff, David Brin, Neal Stephenson, Vernor Vinge, Richard Morgan and Charles Stross are well worth looks.

    1. PM says:

      Have you read any of Gingrich’s stuff? basically all part of the alternate history genre, at least what i have seen (and I have not read any).

      One area where I am in agreement with Newt concerns zoos. He is a huge zoo fan.

      1. I haven’t been able to get into the alternative history subgenre. Maybe it’s because of a lot of it seems to be about refighting either World War II (Allies and Axis team up to fight aliens) or the Civil War (Southern scientists develop the atomic bomb) but it also seems like an admission of failure for sci-fi; we’re out of ideas so we’ll mine the past for what-if moments.

        – Austin

  4. PM says:

    And what the hell is happening to the MN Repub party? Why all of this chaos? Sutton resigns, there is huge (and disputed) debt, then Amy Koch and Michael Brodkorb?

    On some level, it appears to be a replay of what has happened nationally (remember Michael Steele?). Is this sort of thing happening in other states?

    Or is it a natural outgrowth of Republicans downplaying the importance of institutional thinking–well, of any institutions other than corporations and churches.

    Just speculating here, folks–feel free to add in your 2 cents worth.

    1. The irony of the GOP – the party that claims fiscal responsibility as one of its core values – so deeply in debt is delightful. Maybe they can ask Grover Norquist for advice on how to close the deficit without additional revenues.

      Or maybe they can somehow blame Dayton for it. After all, if Dayton had won the 2010 election more decisively maybe the GOP wouldn’t have felt it appropriate to engage in the reckless and irresponsible spending of $500,000 it didn’t have for a recount that even the candidate didn’t really want.

      Of course, I read in today’s paper that the party is implying it’s not really their debt anyway. Kinda of reminds me of how the GOP members of Congress were shocked – shocked! – to discover that in 8 years of the Bush presidency two unfunded wars, a massive tax cut and an unfunded entitlement expansion were adopted right under their noses.

      And, I also confess to a fair amount of that German word that means “enjoying the comeuppance of the high and mighty” over the specter of infidelity at the highest levels of the party that put “the sanctity of the family” on such a pedestal. Maybe one of them will explain to me why gay marriage is such a threat to my family and my marriage but Sen. Koch’s alleged behavior is not.

      Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people IMHO. Like what’s going on in the GOP presidential follies, I hope it runs well into 2012.

      – Austin

      1. PM says:

        Well, now that your kids are over 21, maybe they’ll be getting you some good beer for Christmas?

        (one can hope….)

  5. john sherman says:

    It looks like in Iowa at least you may get Ron Paul who is as crazy as Newt, but not nearly as instantly detestable. And there’s always the possibility of a Trump comeback; if you don’t believe it just ask him.

  6. Ron Paul…oh dear.

    I agree with Ron Paul on a couple of things in the same way that I agree with Ayn Rand on a couple of things. I agree, for example, that people should be free to do pretty much what they want with their lives as long as they don’t impinge on the rights of others. I agree with the notion that capitalism is the social/economic/political system that best aligns with our species’ natural tendency toward self-interest. I also agree with Mr. Paul in general that our elected officials have ducked tough decisions on spending, on entitlements and other important issues and that – as a result – those problems are now huge and threatening. I generally favor a foreign policy – and even more pointedly – a military policy that is limited rather than expansive. My favorite Ron Paul line in the debates is when he reminds us that the United States has military bases in 150 countries; I think that might be a bit of exaggeration but it’s not off by an order of magnitude. Wikipedia lists 40+ countries (but also says we’re “deployed” in 150 countries). It does make me wonder what the nine guys (or gals) are doing to protect democracy in Sweden. How bad do you have to fuck up to be one of the three enlisted personnel assigned to St. Helena in the south Atlantic?

    Unfortunately, beyond those generalities I disagree with almost every specific prescription that Mr. Paul supports in the same way that I find the writings and political theory of Ayn Rand juvenile and divorced of the real world. His worldview would make for a thought-provoking and – no doubt – popular undergraduate course in a political science department. As a philosophy of governance, it would be a disaster.

    – Austin

    1. PM says:

      Yeah, he really is just another crank–but at least he is a principled crank. After all, he has consistency on his side, whereas the Newter would do just about anything he was paid (well paid) to do. Ron Paul has been going on about the Fed and the Gold Standard for decades now, and it was all so much hokum back then as it is now.

      But he sincerely believes it. (why exactly is that seen as a positive?)

  7. PM says:

    Is this really the most important election of our lives? i understand the campaign rhetoric, and i also understand that we will not really be able to judge until 10 or so years into the future, but stilll…

    Sample some of the rhetoric from all of the candidates, and then think about the meaning of the word “conservative” and ask who is the real conservative in this race–at leas that is what E. J. Dionne does here:

    “At a moment when the nation wonders whether politicians can agree on anything, here is something that unites the Republican presidential candidates — and all of them with President Obama: Everyone agrees that the 2012 election will be a turning point involving one of the most momentous choices in U.S. history.

    True, candidates (and columnists) regularly cast an impending election as the most important ever. Campaigning last week in Pella, Iowa, Republican Rick Santorum acknowledged as much. But he insisted that this time, the choice really was that fundamental. “The debate,” he said, “is about who we are.”

    Speaking not far away, in Mount Pleasant, Newt Gingrich went even further, and was more specific. “This is the most important election since 1860,” he said, “because there’s such a dramatic difference between the best food-stamp president in history and the best paycheck candidate.” Thus did Gingrich combine historic sweep with a cheap and inaccurate attack. Nonetheless, it says a great deal that Gingrich chose to reach all the way back to the election that helped spark the Civil War.

    Mitt Romney was on the same page in a speech in Bedford, N.H. “This is an election not to replace a president but to save a vision of America,” he declared. “It’s a choice between two destinies.” Sounding just like Santorum, he urged voters to ask: “Who are we as Americans, and what kind of America do we want for our children?”

    Obama could not agree more. “This is not just another political debate,” the president said in his theme-setting speech in Osawatomie, Kan., earlier this month. “This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.”

    On this one, Santorum, Gingrich, Romney and Obama all have it right. For the first time since Barry Goldwater made the effort in 1964, the Republican Party is taking a run at overturning the consensus that has governed U.S. political life since the Progressive era.

    Obama is defending a tradition that sees government as an essential actor in the nation’s economy, a guarantor of fair rules of competition, a countervailing force against excessive private power, a check on the inequalities that capitalism can produce, and an instrument that can open opportunity for those born without great advantages.

    Today’s Republicans cast the federal government as an oppressive force, a drag on the economy and an enemy of private initiative. Texas Gov. Rick Perry continues to promise, as he did last week during a campaign stop in Davenport, Iowa, to be a president who would make “Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as he can make it.” That far-reaching word “inconsequential” implies a lot more than trims in budgets or taxes.

    The GOP is engaged in a wholesale effort to redefine the government help that Americans take for granted as an effort to create a radically new, statist society. Consider Romney’s claim in his Bedford speech: “President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes. In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing — the government.”

    Obama believes no such thing. If he did, why are so many continuing to make bundles on Wall Street? As my colleagues Greg Sargent and Paul Krugman have been insisting, Romney is saying things about the president that are flatly, grossly and shamefully untrue. But Romney’s sleight of hand is revealing: Republicans are increasingly inclined to argue that any redistribution (and Social Security, Medicare, student loans, veterans benefits and food stamps are all redistributive) is but a step down the road to some radically egalitarian dystopia.

    Obama will thus be the conservative in 2012, in the truest sense of that word. He is the candidate defending the modestly redistributive and regulatory government the country has relied on since the New Deal, and that neither Ronald Reagan nor George W. Bush dismantled. The rhetoric of the 2012 Republicans suggests they want to go far beyond where Reagan or Bush ever went. And here’s the irony: By raising the stakes of 2012 so high, Republicans will be playing into Obama’s hands. The GOP might well win a referendum on the state of the economy. But if this is instead a larger-scale referendum on whether government should be “inconsequential,” Republicans will find the consequences to be very disappointing.”

  8. PM says:

    Wait a minute everyone–The Newt is newly resurgent!!!

    Rasmussen has Newt within 3 points of Romney nationally, among republicans!

    “But the story in the new numbers, taken Tuesday night, is Gingrich’s jump 11 points from 16% two weeks ago. Romney’s support is essentially unchanged from 29% at that time, while Santorum is down six points from 21%. Paul’s and Perry’s support is also unchanged. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman earned four percent (4%) of the vote at the start of the month but dropped out of the race this week. This suggests that many voters are still looking for an alternative to Romney and currently see Gingrich as that candidate.”

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