Red Rover,Red Rover…..Let RINO’s Come Over

I recently picked up a book titled:  Rule and Ruin:

Sarah Palin holding a T-shirt related to the G...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party.   You don’t need to read it, as the title pretty much tells the whole story, leading to the sharp right turn of the Republican party of late.   It’s a curious right turn, mixing fundamentalists with libertarians, who disagree on a number of things – e.g. both want less government, except fundamentalists want more when it comes to controlling our sex lives and a few other liberties that aren’t in God’s plan.   As long as most of them can agree on “NO” to additional government spending and “YES” to less government in general, they can hold together.

But that coalition leaves no room for the moderates in the Republican party, who at times must feel like they’ve been kicked out into the streets, become intellectually homeless.  So, I’m inviting them to Centerville, my imagined community of people who realize the nature of politics, short of dictatorships and the like,  is a matter of compromise.   Other qualifications are to cherish honest expression of opinions and the legitimate use of facts as well as the belief that presidential candidates must have a discernible degree of intellectual development to handle the vastly complicated issues they will constantly face.

In other words, not you Sarah Palin.  Even compared with the recent fun house road show called the Republican primaries, Sarah becoming a national political figure is the strangest political event in my life time, at least since Joe McCarthy.   I’m not denying she has ability, just saying she was a big fish in a small pond who thought God was opening the channel to an ocean of opportunity when it was actually Steve Schmidt, a McCain adviser who initiated her rise to fame and regrets it to this day.

It was only after her dazzling speech at the nominating convention that Schmidt realized how ignorant she was of the world outside of Alaska.  If she were honest with herself, and didn’t have the ego of Donald the Hairdo,  she would have known she was not ready for prime time.  One of her aids later made a point that when she was asked the fatal question by Katie Couric:  “What do you read?”  And she came up with nothing,  she actually did read magazines and newspapers, but they were all about Alaska.   The implication is she instinctively resisted revealing that limitation, and instead wound up looking dumb.  And blaming Couric ever since for the “ambush interview.”

Anyway, my main point about  Sarah is that she’s a useful litmus test for determining who on the right haven’t lost their senses through the rise of the far right.  Near the end of Rule and Ruin, the author lists several conservative thinkers such as David BrooksDavid Frum, Reihan Salam, Andrew Sullivan and Sam Tanenhaus (*1).   I Googled each along with ‘Sarah” and just as I suspected, their opinions are similar to my own.  (click their names and see for yourself).  I could add others to the list like former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel or conservative columnists Kathleen Parker and  Peggy Noonan.

All of the above – except maybe Noonan –  are probably thought to be RINOs – Republican in Name Only – by the Republican right.  That’s reason enough for me to welcome them to Centerville, even though some might reject the invitation, especially Noonan.  But that’s OK, she has come up with a couple of the best  Palin zingers.  One, when Palin was originally the VP candidate – she said:  “Sarah Palin doesn’t think, she just opens her mouth and words come out.”  And more recently when Sarah tried to compare herself to Ronald Reagan, Peggy essentially summed her up  as a “nincompoop”.

My point isn’t to trash Sarah, but I don’t mind if Peggy and other Republicans do.  Had it not been for Steve Schmidt’s mistake, Sarah would have no credentials to be a national figure and the (fading?) de facto queen of the Tea Party, but I’m sure she sees it all as a matter of her God and her grit and her subsequent money a well deserved blessing.

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(*1)  Ross Douththat was also listed in the book, but he was an  initialPalin backer who ….well, CLICK and see.   Sam Tanehaus is more subtle in his critcisms, but if you look hard, you’ll find them.

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Dear Mitt

I saw you on TV Tuesday evening, saying “A better America begins tonight.”

Mitt Romney, Mr. 1% - Cartoon

Mitt Romney, Mr. 1% – Cartoon (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Love the concept.  Love it.  A better America is just what we need.  Oh, you don’t mind me calling you Mitt, do you?   You have been trying to appear a regular guy and I just thought I’d return the chumminess.

Right now a better America to many is spelled: jobs, jobs, jobs.  That’s in your wheelhouse, according to you, and what would a former community organizer know about that, so this is your trump card over Obama.  Your work as governor and managing Bain Capital makes you a jobs maestro of sorts, right?

Still, the details have been left kind of sketchy so far and there were questions brought up by your primary opponents leaving me with a few doubts I’d like you to clear up.  First,  when governor, Massachusetts was the 47th job producing state out of 50.  I know it was a recession and you did reduce  unemployment by one per cent or so, but as some pin headed professor has argued in the Washington Post, that reduction was fueled by  “people…. leaving the work force in droves”.  Even if we cut you some slack, and say you ranked 37th?  Or  even 27rd out of 50?  Well, that’s not really much to brag about is it?   The Post termed the growth “unremarkable.”

But let’s move on to Bain capital where you’ve said tens of thousands of jobs were created.   I’d feel more comfortable if you or Bain would provide a breakdown of that.  It seems clear you were very good at making money for Bain and its investors, including when you bought struggling companies and liquidated them and their jobs.  I’d like to see some hard numbers.   You could clear the matter up by offering an analysis and, frankly, if you had created so many jobs  (after subtracting the ones done away with and others exported abroad), wouldn’t it make sense to advertise those stats with big, bright colored charts?  Maybe even a full page ad in the NY Times?

This is no time to be modest.

So, if we are to count on you to turn on the job spout, I’d like to see more clear cut proof of your job creation prowess, and I imagine many other Americans would also.  After all “job creator” is your trump card, so you need to play it strong.  I don’t mean to be mean, but it’s not like you are particularly likeable – at least your public persona – like President Obama.  Maybe you’re really uncomfortable with public speaking like, let’s say, Ulysses S Grant, who preferred to ride around amidst cannon shot over making a speech (*1).   Maybe your forced contortions aimed at approximating a normal smile stem from that inner struggle.  Maybe you should join Toastmasters.  It helped me.

I hear many businessmen you’ve worked with like you – that’s good – and perhaps you’re a real hoot in private, but you’re a mannequin with a voice box in public.  Haven’t you noticed you never say anything that is funny but laugh anyway?  Sure your audiences laugh a little, but they’re just being polite.  When you laugh, they realize they’re supposed to.

I hate to be negative, but in addition to the public persona issue, you don’t impress me on foreign affairs.  I think it’s really complicated stuff, so when you say if you are elected Iran will not get a nuclear weapon, but if Obama is re-elected, they will.  Frankly that sounds simple minded.  What are you going to do so differently?  Pepper them with your folksy jokes in Farsi until they beg for mercy?

So, really, you’ve got to kick butt with this jobs creator angle, as it is your one strength.  In that regard, I have some bad news for you.  Sorry, but it’s unavoidable.  I’m sure you know of David Stockman, a budget director for Ronald Reagan.  You may know him personally, as he’s been in the company referbishing business for years, too.   Well, he asserts we have the same number of jobs in this country right now as we did in 2000.  Not one job more.

Now stop pointing your finger at Barack Obama. I know you are. You must know that George Bush had the worst job creation record of all presidents since 1939, this according to the Wall Street Journal.  And that was before all of the so-called crippling government regulations and market uncertainty your party loves to blame Obama for.

So, you want to free the job producers to go forth and multiply.  Well, they seemed plenty free during the Bush 43 years when so few jobs were multiplied while the economy was nearly destroyed through the unfettered greed of some of them?   Why so little job fecundity back then?

Hey, I wouldn’t blame Bush for all of it, really.  What gets ignored in the silly chatter is that we have been leaking jobs since the 1970’s via outsourcing in search of dirt cheap labor and technological advances that, while creating some new jobs, have done away with more old ones.  The reason we have thought we were doing well was, as David Stockman points out, we were riding high on economic bubbles like drug addicts at a party (I added the “drug” part) .

The bubbles have burst.  And the party is over.

Stockman insists that “the numbers for the U.S. don’t add up to anything but a painful, slow-growing future”… because our spendthrift ways have left us… “super saturated with debt.”  But there you are putting your party hat on and tooting your own horn while seemingly unaware of just how deep and broad our economic problems are.   If you want to win this election you had better make one hell of a case for your being just the guy we need to turn this economy around, and not as you sometimes did with Bain, making profits while destroying jobs.  Otherwise, I’ll stick with Obama.  At least he can be funny at times.

P. S. – If you think I’m a  glass-half-empty kind of guy, read this recent interview with Stockman.  His glass is barely moist.  Better yet, have one of your aids read it first so he or she can break the news gently.

Oh, by the way.  Just how huge of a mansion are you building that a car elevator is required?  Do you need an operator for that?  That would be one new job.

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(*1)  Trick Trivia Question:   What is Ulysses S Grant’s middle name?

Answer:  Ulysses.    His full name was Hiram Ulysses Grant, but he dropped the Hiram.  When a congressman nominated him for West Point, he needed to give a middle initial.  He guessed “S” because Grant’s mother’s maiden name was Simpson.  Apparently Grant never felt the need to correct it.