Category Archives: Elections

A nice, readable primer on the upcoming British election

A penchant for awkwardness: Labour leader Ed Miliband having a spot of bother with a bacon butty.

A penchant for awkwardness: Labour leader Ed Miliband having a spot of bother with a bacon butty.

In case you’ve been vaguely aware that there’s to be an election in the United Kingdom but don’t know a thing about it and would like to, you might enjoy reading this piece from the WSJ over the weekend.

It’s a sort of dummy’s guide — I mean, Yank’s guide — that catches you up, and makes the acquisition of that information fun. You learn, for instance, that one of the main problems facing Labour is that their leader has an uncanny knack for being caught in photographs looking very awkward.

The bottom line? Neither the Tories nor Labour are likely to win a majority, thereby giving us yet another uneasy coalition government. But the fun in the piece isn’t the conclusion; it’s the trip itself. A sample:

A British election is looming on May 7, and you might be wondering how it will all work. In a word: sensibly.

Here in the U.K., things are far simpler than in the U.S. We select local representatives we know almost nothing about, in the vague hope that everybody else will select lots of other local representatives from the same party. Then one party either has enough representatives to form a government on its own, or it has to cook up some sort of power-sharing arrangement, without bothering to ask the electorate about it. See? Easy. Like cricket….

George Will on Graham’s ‘fun factor’

I enjoyed George Will’s column about Lindsey Graham’s presidential bid over the weekend.

Others had written in recent days stories that made Graham’s motive for running more and more clear — to have someone vocally rebutting Rand Paul’s quirky (for a Republican) views on foreign affairs.

But Will summed it up nicely:

He has the normal senatorial tendency to see a president in the mirror and an ebullient enjoyment of campaigning’s rhetorical calisthenics. Another reason for him to run resembles one of Dwight Eisenhower’s reasons. Graham detects a revival of the Republicans’ isolationist temptation that has waned since Eisenhower defeated Ohio’s Sen. Robert Taft for the 1952 nomination.

Graham insists he is not running to stop a colleague: “The Republican Party will stop Rand Paul.” But Graham relishes disputation and brims with confidence. “I’m a lawyer. He’s a doctor. I argue for a living.” If Paul is nominated and elected, Graham will support him and then pester President Paul to wield a big stick.

Graham believes that events abroad are buttressing the case for his own candidacy. He says national security is the foremost concern of Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. He sees the 17,000 members of the Iowa National Guard who were deployed overseas as the foundation of a Graham plurality among the 120,000 Iowans expected to participate in the caucuses.

He wants voters to ask each candidate: Are you ready to be commander in chief? Do you think America is merely “one nation among many”? Are you committed to putting radical Islam “back in the box” (whatever that means)? Do you understand that any Iranian nuclear capability “ will be shared with terrorists”? Do you realize that, if that had happened before 9/11, millions, not thousands, might have died?…

Will then went on to imply that Graham’s style of conservatism is “the no-country-left-unbombed style,” something of which Will, of course, would not approve. (When Will calls himself a conservative, there’s no “neo” in front of it.)

That admonition dutifully voiced, Will acknowledged that, at the least, a Graham candidacy should be fun:

“I’m somewhere between a policy geek and Shecky Greene,” the comedian. Campaigning, he says, “brings out the entertainer in you,” so his town hall meetings involve “15 minutes of standup, 15 minutes of how to save the world from doom, and then some questions.” He at least will enlarge the public stock of fun, which few, if any, of the other candidates will do.

Jeb Bush also seeking the Grownup Party nomination

In a headline today, The Washington Post posed the question, “Can Jeb Bush win the GOP nomination . . . by praising President Obama?

Here’s what they’re referring to:

Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush supports President Obama’s trade deal, praises his management of the National Security Agency and agrees that Congress should have moved faster to hold a vote on new attorney general Loretta Lynch.

And that’s all since last week.

It’s an unusual approach for Bush to take in seeking the nomination of a conservative party that mostly loathes the current president. The former Florida governor has gone out of his way at times to chime in on issues where he agrees with Obama — bolstering his attempt to be a softer-toned kind of Republican focused on winning a majority of the vote in a general election.

But the strategy also carries grave risks for a likely candidate who is already viewed with deep suspicion by conservatives, many of whom have little desire to find common ground with Democrats. Tea party leaders are already warning that Bush, the son and brother of former presidents, is alienating conservatives….

There’s a flaw in the headline. He’s not praising the president. What he’s doing is addressing issues according to their merits, not according to who favors or opposes them.

Which means he’s thinking and acting like a grownup, rather than like a choleric child.

Too many in both parties, and particularly in the Tea Party fringe of the GOP, demand that candidates speak and act childishly. And if they don’t get what they demand, they throw tantrums.

In the GOP, those people call themselves “conservatives.” They are anything but. In this situation, Bush is the conservative, the person speaking thoughtfully and carefully about issues, with respect for the political institutions we have inherited from our forebears, rather than engaging in a competition to see who can denounce the other side more vehemently.

If, because of the tantrum-throwers, Bush fails to get the Republican nomination, I might have to give him the nod from my Grownup Party. But he’ll have to get past Lindsey Graham first…

Graham is Rubin’s kind of conservative (mine, too)

The Washington Post‘s house conservative, Jennifer Rubin, knows that Lindsey Graham has next to no chance of winning the GOP presidential nomination, but she’s a fan of our senior senator, and thinks he has some things to teach the more likely candidates.

So it is that she has posted “Eight things to learn from Lindsey Graham.” Here are three of the items:

4. He is living proof that a conservative in a deep red state can win reelection while supporting immigration reform. He knows that an arduous path to citizenship or to legalization with penalties, payment of back taxes and other requirements is not “amnesty” and will be necessary unless we create a police state to round up 11 million to 12 million people….

7.  He knows that the NSA is not reading the content of your e-mails or listening to your phone calls without individualized suspicion and the 4th Amendment does not apply to the data on calls equivalent to that which appears on your phone bill. He can also speak to the necessity of the program.

8. He knows precisely the state in which President George W. Bush left Iraq, the recommendations at the time, the Obama-Clinton determination to remove all troops and the consequences on our ability to maintain stability and redirect then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki away from sectarian activities (suppression of the Sunni) and toward inclusive government.

NYT: ‘You Don’t Have to Tell a Clinton Twice’

Interesting piece in The New York Times, about the Clintons, and specifically about a certain pattern that has become familiar in their long political career: “what their admirers call grit and critics deem shamelessness can overshadow another essential element of the Clinton school: a willingness to put on the hair shirt of humility to regain power.”

When he tried to regain the governor’s office in Arkansas in 1982, Bill told voters, “My daddy never had to whip me twice for the same thing.” Hillary has never been as folksy, but this story goes into the ways she determinedly puts her mistakes behind her:

When she used a video message to enter the Democratic presidential race in early 2007, she sat alone on a couch, used some variation of “I” no fewer than 11 times and proclaimed an uninspired theme: “I’m in it to win it.” This time, she started with a film featuring miniature portraits of an array of voters, appeared on-screen only after 1 minute 18 seconds, and emphasized “your vote” and “your time.”

In 2008, she was at times criticized for being detached from voters, insulated in a bubble of staff and security and avoiding spontaneity. She began her 2016 campaign by riding 16 hours in a van from New York to Iowa, making unannounced stops at gas stations and fast-food restaurants, before arriving for what were billed as a series of low-key conversations with a handful of voters.

Her first campaign was characterized by a contentious relationship with the news media; she recently spoke at a banquet celebrating political journalism and brought on a new cadre of news-media-friendly aides who held olive-branch get-togethers for reporters days before Mrs. Clinton declared her candidacy….

And so forth.

Still… the recent contretemps about her email illustrates that there are some lessons she does have to get whipped for more than once, such as the need to be transparent.

And while it’s convenient to lump them together as “the Clintons,” I don’t know that she has quite the capacity that is second nature to her husband, the quality that makes him willing to do anything to get folks to love him.

As I said in a comment yesterday, Bill will go into a restaurant and shake hands with everybody in the place because he wants to, because it scratches an itch deep within him. Hillary will go in and shakes hands with everybody because someone has persuaded her that she has to….

Rubio not the only young man who wants to be president

Saw this yesterday at The Fix but didn’t actually watch it until now.

This young man is upset because he wanted to run for president, and Hillary Clinton beat him to it.

His platform is that if elected, he would “play” with “toys.” Chris Cillizza says the boy’s got his vote…

I’m not looking for a candidate who ‘cares about people like me’

Hillary on her van tour, posing with regular folks whom she is JUST LIKE. Not...

Hillary on her van tour, posing with regular folks whom she is JUST LIKE. Not…

Well, it’s gratifying to see that plenty of other people hated the Hillary Clinton campaign launch video as much as I did.

Some may even have hated it more.

From a Ruth Marcus column headlined, “Hillary Clinton’s insultingly vapid video:”

The more I watch Hillary Clinton’s announcement video, the less I like it. This may be putting it mildly.

I understand what Clinton & Co. were trying to do: Make the moment less about Hillary, more about the voters. Downplay the sense of Clinton as inevitable juggernaut and entitled successor to the dynastic throne….

What’s wrong with that?

For one, the video was relentlessly, insultingly vapid — a Verizon commercial without the substance. “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” Clinton said in what passed for a meaty message. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”

Seriously, this makes Ronald Reagan’s gauzy “It’s Morning Again in America” commercial look like a Brookings Institution seminar on economic policy….

Ouch. And Richard Cohen wrote:

The icky commercial she used to announce her candidacy was hardly a position paper. It looked like one of those Vaseline-lensed dog-food commercials, so lacking substance that I wondered if I had summoned the wrong video from the Internet. I am writing now about 15 hours after seeing the thing, and for the life of me all I can remember is a bunch of happy people and Clinton saying something about being on the side of the middle class. I think it is no mere coincidence that the Clinton campaign now has the services of Wendy Clark, a senior marketing specialist from Coca-Cola. Maybe Clinton will “teach the world to sing.”

And that was in a column that overall was fairly favorable…

So I’m not the only grouch in America.

So why did she do it? Chriz Cillizza writes for The Fix:

One of the major failures of her 2008 presidential campaign was that people didn’t believe that Clinton cared or understood much about them.  Look at the 2008 Iowa caucus entrance poll. Among people who said the most important trait in a candidate was someone who “cares about people like me”, Clinton placed a distant third behind John Edwards, who dominated among that group, and Barack Obama.

If 2008 was about “Me” for Clinton, 2016 is supposed to be about “Us.”…

Yeah. You know, John Edwards was the perfect candidate for voters looking for a candidate who “cares about people like me.” John Edwards was exactly what people who vote that way deserve.

I’m not looking for an empathizer-in-chief. That was the role her husband played too often back in the touchy-feely, post-Cold War 90s (bite the lip; give the thumbs-up), and it drove me nuts. He was a smart guy on policy; why did he have to be so smarmy?

I want somebody who will direct U.S. policy — starting with foreign policy — with intelligence, insight and effectiveness, to the advantage of the United States and all it stands for. Talk to me about that, please. Don’t feel my pain — I expect the president to be too busy for that.

And I’m not even going to get into the most offensive part of that phrase, the “like me” part — as though one is saying that people who are NOT “like me” can all take a flying leap. Identity Politics taken to its ugly extreme.

But the worst thing about this in terms of what it says about the candidate is that it is false. That Cillizza piece was headlined “The tremendously difficult task of selling Hillary Clinton as a regular person,” and after the above-quoted part, it continued:

Here’s the problem: Hillary Clinton hasn’t been “us” for, well, almost her entire adult life. She was featured in Life magazine in 1969 after making history as the first student to give a commencement address at Wellesley College. By 30, she was married to the Arkansas attorney general and by her mid 30s she was firmly ensconced as the first lady of the Natural State.  Then, starting in 1991, Clinton was (and is) an ever-present figure on the national and international stage — first as the most powerful First Lady in modern memory, then as a Senator, then as a presidential candidate and, finally, as the nation’s top diplomat.

There is no one in political life with a resume as deep, unique and varied as Clinton. No one.  But, the fact that she has been “Hillary Clinton” for the better part of, well, forever makes it extremely difficult to re-package her as just like the rest of us. The truth is that Hillary hasn’t been a regular person in a very, very long time. She has been famous for decades on end — instantly recognizable since back in the days when cell phones looked like this….

So admit who you are, the long-time policy wonk. You know, the one who took all those other wonks into a room and came out with Hillarycare. And then convince us that — that incident to the contrary (even Bill couldn’t sell it) — you’re good at it. That’s what I want from a candidate.

Hillary Clinton (yawn) and Marco Rubio (yawn) join the fray

Just in case y’all had anything to say about these nonevents.

Above is her announcement video, below is his (which he released in advance of his announcement). Thoughts?

This morning, I was reading commentary on the Clinton announcement from yesterday, and the word was that she had learned that it wasn’t all about Hillary, that it was about us regular folks out here, which is why her video doesn’t show her until near the end — you know, when she says, Oh, yeah, all you little people? Well I’m getting ready to run for president… Or something to that effect.

My reaction to that is… no, it’s about you, Hillary. So don’t waste my time with touchy-feely stuff that reminds me of the recent gag video that contains Everything You Hate About Advertising in One Fake Video That’s Almost Too Real. You’re the one running. You’re the one who needs to explain yourself. Don’t try to distract me, especially not with faux populism.

As for Marco Rubio…

At least he spends the time explaining himself and his concept of the country. But then, he’s got more ‘splainin’ to do. I’m sorry, explaining. The Ricky Ricardo thing is probably uncool in this case. My point being that he’s less well known.

In any case, I got more meaning, more relevance from his than from hers. What did y’all think?

Tige Watts drops out of Columbia city council race

Well, I was surprised, and sorry, to see this:

Tige Watts Ends Campaign for Columbia City Council, Endorses Howard Duvall in Election for At-Large Seat
COLUMBIA – Neighborhood leader Tige Watts announced today he will not file to run for Columbia City Council and will instead support Howard Duvall, who recently declared his candidacy for the At-Large seat that will be on the ballot Nov. 3.Watts mug
  “Since I kicked off my campaign 8 weeks ago I have found it very difficult, sometimes impossible, for me to balance all the demands of my professional, personal, civic and family obligations. This has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make because our city truly needs new leadership in the seat that’s up for election this year,” Watts said. “So, when I learned of Howard’s interest to run for this seat and serve the citizens of Columbia, it made this decision much easier for me because we share so many values and positions on the important issues facing our Capital City.”
  Watts is a small business owner and the President of Neighborhoods USA, the Richland County Neighborhood Council, and his neighborhood Brandon Acres/Cedar Terrace. He is also the chairman of the city’s Citizen Advisory Committee over Community Development and a past president of the Columbia Council of Neighborhoods.
  “I can’t thank everyone who has supported my campaign enough. Your words of encouragement, your financial contributions and your shared desire to make our city better have fueled me and this campaign. I am sorry I’m letting you down by not being on the ballot this Fall,” Watts said. “However, I encourage all of my supporters to join the effort to elect Howard Duvall this November. He is a man with great integrity, unmatched experience and the passion to create the change Columbia needs at this time.”
  Duvall said he was honored by Watts’ decision to support his candidacy for the At-Large Seat. “This is a double bonus for my campaign. Not only do I have Tige’s personal endorsement but I look forward to working with him professionally as we go forward in this campaign,” Duvall said.
 ###

I say “surprised” because I thought he was really committed to this. So surprised that I checked around to see whether others had reported it before posting, i the hope that this release was a hoax. And I say “sorry” because I thought he made a good candidate, and I thought he and Cameron Runyan offered voters a clear set of choices.

And… well… while I’ve always gotten along fine with Howard and respected his dedication to municipal government, I was pretty disturbed by his successful effort to set up the strong-mayor vote for a loss, by having an unnecessary extra election weeks after the mayoral one. I thought that was wrong, and even kinda shifty. The claim that voters needed those extra days to make up their about something we’d been discussing for years and years was absurd. He and the other defenders of the status quo seemed to make a hard-eyed political calculation that separating it from Steve Benjamin’s re-elected decreased the chances of passage, and they were right.

So I don’t see this as an ideal substitution. At least not at this point. Maybe Howard can win me over; we’ll have to see how his campaign progresses.

President Obama: Mandatory Voting Would Be “Transformative”

What can you say, the guy really loves mandates.

“It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything,” he said, adding it was the first time he had shared the idea publicly.

They know what’s good for you, and they are extremely eager to use agents of the state, armed with guns, to force you to do what’s right.

So…first of all, before you get really revved up for the idea of mandatory voting, just think about the Ferguson Police Department writing tickets to people for not voting. And if you don’t pay, well look, prole, we may have to start issuing some arrest warrants. Got that image in your mind? Because that’s what we’re talking about, here.

Also, having more voter turnout does not automaticallly equate to better governance. Forcing idiots, who know nothing about politics becuase they don’t care is not a good idea. I mean, really. There are some really bird-brained people out there who’s major success in life is remembering to breathe.

If you have to be required to vote, under penalty of law, then I don’t really want you voting. Just do us all a favor and stay home. But hey, our super smart president knows what’s best.

Lindsey Graham: Testing the Waters

I came across this piece in the Washington Examiner chronicling Sen. Graham’s recent trip to Iowa where he was testing the Presidential waters:

There is widespread speculation that Graham is running for president to make a point — and indeed, he is making them. Graham sees a world flirting with disaster. If the president accepts a bad deal with Iran over nuclear proliferation, “we’re on the road to Armageddon,” Graham said. If lawmakers do not reform entitlements programs to cut spending, “we will blow America up ourselves,” he says.

But Graham doesn’t think steering the debate and winning need be mutually exclusive. Quaint as it might sound — and to political cynics, perhaps it will — he thinks the right credentials and message at the right time could win votes.

“Stand by,” Graham’s wingman and best friend Sen. John McCain told the Washington Examiner.“A lot of people are going to be surprised.”

By all accounts, Graham is smart and strategic, and he is not blindly ambitious. If he weren’t a politician, one South Carolina Republican operative mused, Graham might be an operative himself. He doesn’t embark on fools’ errands, and to date, he has not run a race he did not win.

If Sen. Graham starts to get traction, he’ll surprise a lot of people, and I’ll be one of them. I just have a hard time seeing him winning a GOP Primary against the current field of candidates. He’d make an interesting Secretary of Defense, though.

Would a Haley endorsement be helpful in 2016?

Forgot to pass this on yesterday…

The Washington Post writes that Nikki Haley, while committing to no one, seems likely to support Jeb Bush in 2016:

Back in 2010, when the governor of South Carolina was merely “Nikki Who?,” running behind in a four-person Republican primary with her top supporter mired in scandal, Jeb Bush gave her some advice.

“Everything had blown up and I was trying to figure out what to do,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in an interview Saturday with reporters from The Washington Post. “I just asked what he thought I should do, and he said, ‘You know, consultants are going to tell you to stay on the phone and raise money. But what I’ll tell you is go out and touch every hand you can.'”

Haley followed Bush’s counsel, and the rest is history. Later that year, after she was elected, she called Bush, a former Florida governor, for advice on setting up an administration. Then when she tackled education reform, she called again. “Can you save me a couple of steps?” Haley recalled asking Bush. “He said, ‘If you do anything, make sure your kids can read.'”

Now it’s Bush who will be seeking Haley’s help. As he weighs a run for president in 2016, South Carolina is poised to again be the first primary in the South, and Haley figures to be one of the state’s prized endorsers.

In the interview, Haley said she has no plans yet to back any candidate. “I think what I’ll do is watch,” she said. But Haley was particularly complimentary of the governors in the emerging field, including Bush….

Our governor backed the Establishment candidate last time around, and it didn’t turn out so well — which MAY have had something to do with her support.

While I was worried that something weird was in the air, when I had to get up in front of a bunch of people in Key West and predict what was going to happen in the 2012 SC primary, I said SC would do what it always does, and back Mitt Romney (the closest thing we had to a Bush in that contest).

Well, I missed it, which may be why I haven’t been invited back to speak to that particular group since then.

South Carolina did something I had not seen it do in the past six election cycles, that is to say, the ones I had been in position to observe closely: It went with a red-meat-throwing insurgent rather than the Establishment guy.

Before that happened, I had noticed that an unusually large number of leading GOP figures had been lining up behind Newt Gingrich. When I asked one of them, after the vote, how that happened, he gave me a number of reasons for it. And one of them was that a number of top Republicans didn’t want to see the governor be “queen of the May,” reflecting in glory from having her guy win.

All of that said, I think the ground has shifted since then. More Republicans than ever seem reconciled to having Nikki Haley as their leader, and most profess to like the situation. And some of her greatest detractors — think Bobby Harrell — are gone from the scene.

So I’m thinking the Haley endorsement might be a good thing to have this time…

Perry’s happy with the judiciary, not the executive, taking action where the legislative branch should

Had to raise an eyebrow when I saw this:

I mean, Perry’s happy with the courts acting on something that the Congress won’t act on? True, this may fall short of judicial activism since it’s the court saying the President can’t do something, rather than doing something itself that it shouldn’t.

But still. If the Congress would just pass a sensible comprehensive immigration reform package — something Obama has essentially begged it to do — we wouldn’t be in this situation.

The really sad part is, now nobody’s doing anything about the problem. And that’s not good at all.

Kasich to put his boots on the ground in South Carolina

Got this today:

February 18, 2015

KASICH HEADED TO SOUTH CAROLINA AND WEST VIRGINIA TO TOUT NEED FOR FEDERAL BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT

COLUMBUS – Ohio Governor John R. Kasich will visit South Carolina and West Virginia on February 18-19 after being invited by state lawmakers to help strategize on how to pass a resolution calling for an Article V Convention to write a federal balanced budget amendment.Kasich,John

Kasich’s visits to South Carolina and West Virginia follow trips to seven western states over the past few months, including Arizona, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho.  Many of those states are now moving forward with legislative consideration of a resolution, with Wyoming and South Dakota having already won passage in their respective House of Representatives.

“Getting our nation’s fiscal house in order is one of the single biggest issues facing our country,” said Kasich.  “The threat that an $18 trillion debt poses to our children is becoming clearer to legislators in state capitols across America and it’s encouraging that more and more of them want to take action.  Fortunately, our U.S. Constitution provides a solution and that is why a growing number of states are considering resolutions calling for a federal balanced budget amendment.  If we succeed, we’ll finally be able to hold the federal government to the same standards as virtually all states, businesses and families and this fiscal stability will provide real benefits to future generations in my state and others across the country.”

EVENT SCHEDULE: (Note: all event details are subject to change; updates will be provided as necessary)

Wednesday, February 18: Columbia, South Carolina

Who: Governor John R. Kasich

What: Kasich to deliver remarks at South Carolina House Republican Caucus Reception

Where: Hilton – 924 Senate Street, Columbia, SC

When: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 – 5:30 PM …..

And so forth. He also has a press availability the next morning at the State House.

If you’d like all that translated into plain English, here’s what it’s about:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich will address nearly 200 Republican activists, local politicians and potential donors in Columbia, S.C., on Wednesday, in an early foray into a key 2016 primary state.

In his first major political trip to the Palmetto State, Mr. Kasich, a potential 2016 Republican candidate, will be hosted by the South Carolina House Republican Caucus.

South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, as well as more than 100 local activists, conservative donors, state politicos, and Republican members of the state House are expected to attend.

The February stop in South Carolina gives Mr. Kasich a chance for some face time with donors and power brokers in the key primary state, which traditionally votes after the nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The Ohio Republican has sounded increasingly interested in mounting a presidential bid in recent months, touting his political strengthen in his home state — a perennial swing state in general elections….

So now you know.

Lindsey Graham leads presidential poll — in SC

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Have you seen this? I had missed it until just now:

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham leads 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls among potential GOP voters in his home state, according to a NBC News/Marist poll released Sunday.

But the Seneca Republican is struggling to find the same backing in other early primary states. And nearly six out of 10 S.C. registered voters said Graham ought to sit out the 2016 presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dominated Vice President Joe Biden, who is visiting Columbia and Charleston this week, by a large margin among S.C. Democratic voters, the poll found.

Graham, who has said he will decide by May on a presidential bid, received 17 percent of support. He’s just ahead of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (15 percent) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (12 percent)….

Yeah, that’s easy to dismiss, but hey, I think Lindsey’s doing pretty well to lead here, given how many Tea Partiers there are here who can’t stand him.

This way of carving up the GOP is too simplistic

Chris Cillizza and/or Aaron Blake of The Fix (the piece is double-bylined, but keeps saying “I”) tell about a “prominent Republican consultant” who says that Ted Cruz is the most underrated potential presidential candidate in the GOP field, and has as good a chance as Jeb Bush.

Of course, he’s challenged on this, and he explains:

Think of the Republican primary field as a series of lanes. In this race, there are four of them: Establishment, Tea Party, Social Conservative and Libertarian. The four lanes are not of equal size:  Establishment is the biggest followed by Tea Party, Social Conservative and then Libertarian. (I could be convinced that Libertarian is slightly larger than Social Conservative, but it’s close.)

Obviously the fight for the top spot in the Establishment lane is very crowded, with Bush and possibly Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leading at the moment. Ditto the Social Conservative lane with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson and Rick Santorum all pushing hard there. The Libertarian lane is all Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s but, as I noted above, it’s still not that big.

Which leaves the Tea Party lane, which is both relatively large and entirely Cruz’s. While Paul looked as though he might try to fight Cruz for supremacy in that lane at one time, it’s clear from his recent moves that the Kentucky senator is trying to become a player in a bunch of lanes, including Social Conservative and Establishment.

So, Cruz is, without question, the dominant figure in the Tea Party lane….

You’ll note that these four “lanes” closely tracks the four “camps” our own Bud set out a couple of days ago, minus the disapproving value judgments. Except that Bud didn’t give libertarians their own camp, and instead threw in his own favorite punching bag, the “warmongers.”

The thing is, all such models oversimplify.

The unnamed consultant gives libertarians their own category, but describes it as the smallest. I think that’s totally wrong — I definitely think the category’s bigger than the Social Conservatives (which was huge in the early ’90s, and still pretty big into the ’00s, not as much now).

What he ignores is that a huge number of the Establishment group is also libertarian, and most Tea Partiers are VERY libertarian — it might be their chief characteristic, the myth of the hardy self-sufficient individual who doesn’t need Big Government or Big Business or anything larger than himself. Don’t Tread On Me.

In fact, to a great extent, the Tea Party is a subset of the libertarian group, which currently dominates in the GOP.

As for the groups overlapping — remember what I said the other day: Mark Sanford is (sort of) an Establishment type of libertarian the Club for Growth type, while Nikki Haley is a Tea Party, Sarah Palin type of libertarian.

So I think that guy got it wrong…

Tige Watts announces he’ll announce Monday

I think I mentioned this before, but here’s an actual release about it:

For immediate release:
Feb. 12, 2015
Tige Watts to Announce City Council Candidacy Monday
COLUMBIA – Tige Watts, a neighborhood leader in Columbia and Richland County, will announce his candidacy for an at-large seat on Columbia City Council on Monday, Feb. 16.Watts,Tige croppedl
The announcement will begin at 12 noon in front of City Hall, located at the corner of Main and Laurel streets in downtown Columbia.
“As a neighborhood president, I help people every day with their problems. Some are simple, others can be more complex,” said Watts, the president of the Richland County Neighborhood Council and the Brandon Acres/ Cedar Terrace Neighborhood. “I’m ready to take my experience, dedication, and record of service to the next level by working for all citizens of Columbia and make our city one we’re proud to pass along to future generations.”
A small business owner, Watts is also the president of Neighborhoods, USA and a past president of the Columbia Council of Neighborhoods. He is also the chairman of the city’s Citizen Advisory Committee over Community Development, which makes spending recommendations over federal entitlement funds.
Watts has served on the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council, the chamber of commerce’s board of advisors, and numerous special committees and task forces. He is also a graduate of Leadership Columbia and Richland 101.
Watts will run for the at-large seat on City Council currently held by Cameron Runyan. The municipal election will be held on Nov. 3.
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What happened to Mike Huckabee when I wasn’t looking?

Huckabee in 2007.

Huckabee in 2007.

When I interviewed Mike Huckabee in 2007, I was fairly impressed. He stood out among self-styled conservatives of the day by speaking of the obligation to govern when in office, rather than merely rip and tear at the very idea of government:

    Mike Huckabee, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, made reference to this principle when he met with our editorial board Thursday:
One of the tough jobs of governing is, you actually have to do it.” That may sound so obvious that it’s foolish, like “One thing about water is, it’s wet.” But it can come as a cold shock.
Think of the congressional class of 1994. Newt Gingrich’s bomb-throwers were full of radical notions when they gained power. But once they had it, and used it, however briefly, to shut down the government, they quickly realized that was not what they were elected to do.
Or some of them realized it. More about that in a moment. Back to Mr. Huckabee.
Mr. Huckabee is a conservative — the old-fashioned kind that believes in traditional values, and wants strong, effective institutions in our society to support and promote those values.
Many newfangled “conservatives” seem just as likely to want to tear down as build up.
If Mr. Huckabee was ever that way, being the governor of Arkansas made him less so. “As a governor, I’ve seen a different level of human life, maybe, than the folks who live in the protected bubble of Washington see,” he said. And as a governor who believed he must govern, he was appalled when he saw government fail to do its job. He points to the aftermath of Katrina: “It was one of the more, to me, disgusting moments of American history…. It made my blood boil….

Of course, I was comparing him to Mark Sanford. Among other things, the Club for Growth — which has always adored Mark Sanford — hated Huckabee. And he wore that as a badge of honor.

He said he was “a conservative that’s not mad at anybody over it.” (Here’s video in which he said that.) And his demeanor, and the way he spoke about issues bore that out.

So it is that I was surprised at this statement from him, which Jennifer Rubin, the duty conservative blogger at the WashPost, passed on:

On the other side of the religious debate, Mike Huckabee opined: “Everything he does is against what Christians stand for, and he’s against the Jews in Israel. The one group of people that can know they have his undying, unfailing support would be the Muslim community. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the radical Muslim community or the more moderate Muslim community.” Yikes. Not helpful and only designed to provoke Christians and Jews….

Now, the president deserves criticism for what he said, and I plan to get into that in a separate post when I get my head above water for an hour or so. But this was really over the top, and off the mark.

I was sort of vaguely aware, in the background somewhere, that Huckabee had changed somewhat. I don’t know what caused that. Maybe it happened while he had that TV show, which I never saw because I have a TV for watching movies and “West Wing” and “Better Call Saul,” and not much else (and don’t tell me what happened in last night’s episode, because I haven’t seen it!).

But this really brought it home. What happened to not being mad at anybody about it?

Prediction: The president AFTER Obama will also be the most polarizing ever

So I saw this Tweet over the weekend:

… and I really didn’t need to follow the link.

Of course it’s not entirely his fault. Just as it wasn’t entirely George W. Bush’s fault that he was the most polarizing president before Obama was.

Basically, we’re on a downward trajectory in terms of unreasoning partisan polarization that first started showing up in the early ’80s (a spate of unusually negative ads across the country in the ’82 campaign, the rise of Lee Atwater), and really blossomed with the election of Bill Clinton 10 years later — the first sign, for me, was the “Don’t Blame Me; I voted Republican” bumper stickers that showed up after Election Day 1992 and before Clinton even took office.

From the start, from before the start, Republicans abandoned the “loyal opposition” stance and treated Clinton as illegitimate.

Things got worse all through the Clinton years. They got nastier through the Bush years (and were nasty, again, from the start, with a brief hiatus right after 9/11). And as Obama took office, they just kept getting nastier.

Which to meet argues that it’s something about the rest of the country and our dysfunctional politics, and the president is just an incidental target of the vitriol.

If present trends continue — which they will, barring some horrific event that pulls us back together as a country, or some other cause for a drastic change in our political attitudes — then the next president, regardless of who it is, will be the “most polarizing in history.”

I hope I’m wrong about that, but I doubt it.

Tige Watts: Coming up through the neighborhoods

Tige Watts at the Five Points Starbucks, Friday, Jan. 30, 2015.

Tige Watts at the Five Points Starbucks, Friday, Jan. 30, 2015.

To begin with, Tige Watts isn’t just running against Cameron Runyan because of the incumbent’s solitary stance in November against providing same-sex couples with marriage-related benefits.

The 42-year-old Watts says that actually, his interest in running for council has been “bubbling up for awhile.”

As he sees it, he started on this path 13 years ago when he bought a home — in the neighborhood across Garner’s Ferry from the V.A. hospital — and started getting involved with his neighborhood.

And boy, did he get involved. He not even rose to leadership in his own neighborhood, but became president of the Columbia Council of Neighborhoods. When he entered that office, there were 81 neighborhood associations on the council. He resolved to grow it to 100, and reached the 104 mark before he left office.

He says his name was first mentioned for city council in 2010, but that was a bad time for him. He was about to become president of Neighborhoods USA, the national group of such associations. He is now serving his second term in that position, after a brief hiatus required by the organization’s rules.

Through his involvement in such groups, he says, he’s learned a lot about how local government should function, and how it can function.

“I see what people go through every day,” he said. The things that matter are basic — ensuring that “homes are safe, trash is picked up, water lines are running.” It’s “what really impacts people on a daily basis.”

He sees running for council as a “natural progression… City council is the next stop.”

He foresees his campaign focusing mainly on three things: Public safety, financial stewardship and the younger generation.

On public safety, he says it’s “easy to pick on” flashpoints such as Five Points, but he sees the challenge more holistically. He likes what Chief Holbrook has been doing in his brief time in office, and sees him as a welcome addition after the turmoil in police leadership the last few years.

Mr. Watts is a believer in the “broken windows” school of community policing, and believes that ultimately, “Prosperity is the best deterrent.”

On financial stewardship, “I worry about some of the commitments we’ve taken on.” He was very much against the city exposing itself so far on the Bull Street development, but now that Columbia is committed, “We’ve got to make that a success.”

He worries that Columbia relies far too much on government for jobs.

As for youth, he is concerned that too many are at risk, and we may be “losing a generation” to crime, gangs, and a lack of good job opportunities. As with so many things, he says this is something he has seen up close “in our neighborhoods.”

In our conversation at the Five Points Starbucks Friday, he sounded communitarian themes so often that I began to wonder who might have coached him for this interview. (Not that he couldn’t have coached himself — he is, after all, a political consultant, one who does “everything but raise money.”) He talked about the need to get people back out on their front porches, and get to know their neighbors. “Neighbors watch out for each other.”

Mr. Watts showed little interest in talking about Mr. Runyan’s vote on the benefits issue. When I noted that some people believed that was why he was running, he responded, “The only thing I’ll say is… If he can discriminate against one type of person, he can discriminate against others.”

And he changed the subject. The biggest thing he seems to take issue with the incumbent over is Bull Street. “I don’t thing that was a good risk” for the city. But again he stressed, “Now that it’s done… we’ve got to make sure it is a success.” He says he’s “dying to see the letters of intent” from prospective business tenants that the developer is said to have.

He plans to launch his campaign two weeks from today, on Feb. 16.