Friday, October 15, 2010

No Mississippi

I just find the title of this piece hilarious:

GOPers Begging Haley Barbour Not To Run For President

For the record, the image in my mind is of Rove on bended knee right in front of Barbour. It amuses me. But seriously, it's definitely true that, despite the conventional wisdom, Obama isn't really that poorly positioned for re-election in 2012. His approval ratings are better than Clinton's and Reagan's were at equivalent points in their presidencies, and both won re-election decisively. By 2012, our involvement in Iraq should be at an end, our involvement in Afghanistan should be winding down, and there will have been more time for the victories on health care, Wall Street reform, etc., to sink in. There will be a lot to run on, and while a lot of liberals seem to think that the trends in 2010 are going to remain permanently it's worth noting that midterm elections are usually made up of fickle electorates that tend to just be blowing off steam. FDR knew that, and after 1937 he rarely tried to do any big domestic policy for the final two years of his terms since he almost always dealt with more conservative Congresses during those times. And it's worth noting that the Republicans winning the House and the economy failing to recover could make Obama's position even stronger, especially if they trigger a government shutdown that makes things worse.

This is hardly a sure thing, though, and the thing that tips me over the edge into the likelihood of this happening is the weakness of the Republican opposition. It's entirely possible that the Republican field will include Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, John Bolton, Newt Gingrich, Mike Pence and Haley Barbour, which seems like such a feast of venality, intemperance, intolerance and ignorance that it should just scare the hell out of independents. But it's pretty much par for the Republicans' course at this point. (Incidentally, that Tommy Franks Republican presidential bid seems not to have panned out so far. Maybe this is the year!) What interests me is that Republican leaders are apparently trying to pressure some prospective candidates from running at all, which doesn't seem like something that usually happens in these things. Sure, there was Bush clearing out prospective opponents in 2000, but there wasn't much of that in 2008 or 2004. I don't recall hearing Democrats trying to pressure Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton out of running, since neither was going to get the nomination the feeling must have been to let these guys do their thing and keep their (very small) followings in the tent. Sure, some (most?) people have negative associations of them, but most of them either aren't going to vote Democrat anyway or don't care that they are allowed to share the stage with the real contenders. Had it looked like Kucinich might have actually been able to somehow win the nomination in 2008, I'm quite sure elites would have tried to push him out of the running. Clearly, Republican bigwigs believe that Barbour could actually get their nomination in 2012, and the thought of a Confederate-loving Deep South governor running against the first Black president must really scare them. And I don't think their fears are misplaced in either case, as Barbour is sort of like Sharpton with a huge donor base, massive institutional support, and a pretty substantial regional advantage in one of the GOP's best regions that is likely to be underrepresented again among presidential candidates this upcoming cycle. I'm guessing Huckabee skips because of his record on policy, and Gingrich's faux-traditionalist cosmo-Catholic act seems less powerful to me than Barbour's legitimately traditionalist Baptist profile. I don't see him beating Obama, but getting the nomination seems possible. If I were Barbour, I sure as hell would run in this environment, prostrate Karl Rove or no.

In any event, for all our sakes we better hope that unemployment starts going down soon--Gallup has underemployment (unemployed + part-timers looking for full time) dipping by half a percentage point in two weeks, which is a trend that could stand to continue for a while.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.