Democracy Soup

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Posts Tagged ‘Mitt Romney

Massachusetts Dems should learn from GOP on Senate succession policy

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When Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) died, the terms of succession fell to the governor who had to chose between three candidates supplies by the party of the senator.

When Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY) died, the terms of succession fell to the governor who had to chose between three candidates supplies by the party of the senator.

In Hawaii and Wyoming, both governors happened to be from the same party as the senator in question. Those two states are likely to have that scenario of Democratic in Hawaii and Republican in Wyoming. The law is a good safeguard in case the circumstances change.

When the Massachusetts legislature changed the rule for senator succession, the Dems were trying to avoid having Mitt Romney pick a Republican to replace John Kerry. The Dems didn’t go the route of Hawaii, Wyoming, Arizona, and a number of other states. After all, when John McCain ran for president in 2008, a similar law was in place.

The Massachusetts Dems got victimized when Scott Brown won a special election against Martha Coakley for Ted Kennedy’s seat. And they could suffer the same kind of bite, ironically for John Kerry’s Senate seat.

The play by McCain, Lindsay Graham, Kelly Ayotte, and Joe Lieberman (behind the curtain) against Susan Rice was made to open up Kerry’s Senate seat. And it worked, at least in opening up the seat.

In the 2004 scenario, Gov. Romney would have had to pick a Democratic replacement. In 2009, Gov. Deval Patrick, a fellow Democratic politician, would have had to pick a Democratic replacement.

The only way the law could have backfired on the Dems is if a Republican in the seat died or left the Senate, and the Dems couldn’t get back the seat right away.

Somehow, this feels a bit more democratic (small d). The voters voted in someone whose values reflect on the majority of those who voted for the senator. Giving the governor the all-knowing decision power has, on occasion, been abused. You might be thinking Rod Blagojevich (Illinois), and this is true. Would also offer up Frank Murkowski (Alaska), who upon going from the Senate to the governor’s chair, replaced himself with his daughter, Lisa. (Sarah Palin beat Frank Murkowski in the governor primary in the next election, so you can blame Frank Murkowski.)


Barack Obama has 4 more years, but we need to help to improve U.S. food supply

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Just before Noon Eastern, Barack Obama will have about 4 more years to do what he can for the U.S. food supply.

Obama has a lot of his mind, but no president has tried to do more for the problems with the food supply than Barack Obama. And his wife has done more than he has on the issue.

For a look at what may come in the second term of the Obama Administration, check out this column from our sister blog,

Way too soon to critique diversity in Obama second-term Cabinet

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President Barack Obama finally got a strong bipartisan consensus on a move that he has made. The situation wasn’t easy, and maybe some people in each party can live with the decision that Obama has made, but the extremes in both parties are not happy with Obama’s decision.

That’s right, Obama has bipartisan consensus … against Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense.

Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, is disliked by the right because he wasn’t conservative enough. He’s from Nebraska; how “liberal” could he be?

The choice of Hagel is disliked on the left for his remarks about gays. Barney Frank, who want to be John Kerry’s interim replacement, initially went against Hagel but changed his mind. Oh, and this annoying trait of Democratic centrist presidents choosing Republicans to run defense.

For the centrist Obama, Hagel is the choice that makes the most sense to him, but is one of those decisions that Obama makes that alienates his base but doesn’t give him any credit from the other side.

Obama took the token symbolism of picking a squishy centrist person from the other party for the cabinet and cranked it up. Obama kept Bush’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, added Ray LaHood for transportation, something Dems actually care about, and wanted (foolishly) to pick Judd Gregg for Commerce. How many points did Obama score with the GOP and the MSM? Zero.

Leon Panetta wasn’t a great defense secretary, but Panetta was the first Democratic defense secretary since 1997. Still waiting for the first Republican president to put a Democratic person in charge of defense.

Yes, Bill Clinton and Obama showed they could work with people on the other side of the glass. The moves haven’t been complimented by actions from the other side. Yes, critics could cite Norman Mineta, but if you don’t remember who Mineta is or what he did, then it wasn’t that memorable, was it?

The pick of Hagel, along with a few preliminary Cabinet selections, has led the MSM to create a false scandal and some outlets to invoke the “binders of women” on Obama. WTF?

The basis of this “scandal” is that four white men are the nominees for State, Defense, CIA, and Treasury. However, the current people in those positions and three white men and Hillary Clinton. So where’s the scandal?

Susan Rice could have been the State nominee but her name was pulled before a nomination thanks to bullying by McCain-Graham-Ayotte (MGA?). Michèle Flournoy is a very good contender for Defense, and the immediate thought if the Hagel nomination doesn’t go through the Senate. No woman has ever served as the head of Defense.

Lisa Jackson is leaving EPA and Hilda Solis just resigned as the head of Labor. Solis was the first Latina female in a Cabinet post. But the Obama Administration hasn’t announced replacements.

In terms of representation and competence within that, Obama’s numbers are off the charts. This isn’t to say Obama handled the Susan Rice situation well. But Rice is still the UN Ambassador, a rather important position.

If the end result is a significant loss of diversity, then feel free to criticize the president. One position change doesn’t amount to a scandal.

Election Day 2012: Obama, yes. Senate, probably. House, upset?

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If you accept that it will take longer to recover from Hurricane Sandy as opposed to a typical hurricane, then you could accept that the depressive recession of 2008 will take longer to recover from than a typical recession.

The question that has been asked is which party has done more to help that recovery. Every job bill in place was passed while the Dems were in control of the House. Most economists though the initial stimulus was undervalued thanks to tax cuts that didn’t help. One presidential candidate has a plan to reduce the deficit, one has a plan that will raise the deficit.

The race is about who will be president on January 20, 2013 and beyond. But the race is also about Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Harry Reid, and Mitch McConnell and how much power they will have in Washington.

Regardless of where you stand, get out and vote. True, some forces (i.e., GOP) have made voting more difficult to accomplish. Nothing scares a politician like voting.

Here is a breakdown of the White House as well as the two houses of Congress: House and Senate.

White House

You can’t blame the pundits and political media for being a little punch-drunk at this point in the campaign. “What if we have an Electoral College tie?” “What if Mitt Romney wins more of the popular vote because Hurricane Sandy brought down numbers in blue states?”

We won’t and it doesn’t matter.

Ever since Romney won the first debate, the tone of the coverage has turned to “Romney just might win.” If you are going uphill, you have to be well over 50% to overcome an incumbent. The best route for Romney is to have financial ties to companies that run voting booths.

Bellwether states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio — will decide this election. Right now, those states point in the direction of President Barack Obama. “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” may be what sinks the former Massachusetts governor.

Anybody who runs for president is desperate on some level. John McCain had moments of not being desperate, like when he told the woman that Obama isn’t a Muslim. Romney saw behavior such as that and has gone for the jugular every chance he has had. Romney’s deceiving ads in Ohio over Jeep production was the latest symptom of his desire to do what it takes to be president. The more desperation at the end, the more you know you won’t win (unless you cheat).


The GOP enjoys a 25-seat advantage in the House of Representatives. Most of those turnovers in 2010 went to teabaggers, er, Tea Party folk. The best way for the Dems to gain control back is to take back those teabagger seats.

One teabagger the Dems would love to beat that has a chance to lose is Joe Walsh (IL-8). Allegations of failure to pay child support and his over-the-top manner puts his seat in danger against Tammy Duckworth. The former soldier in Iraq who lost three limbs ran for Congress back in 2006 but lost a different seat. If you are looking for a symbolic seat, this is as good as any of them. A Duckworth win could prove interesting for the Dems; can’t see a scenario where Walsh wins and the Dems take back the House.

A seat that would be mostly about bragging rights would be Steve King (IA-5) vs. Christie Vilsack, wife of Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture. King’s views on just about anything (rape, science) infuriates the Dems. Getting rid of him would be a moral victory for Pelosi, et al.

House races are more difficult to assess unless you are on the ground. Since most House races go to the incumbent, any upsets you hear along the way are almost certain to go in the Dems column. Even if the GOP keeps the House, look for the difference in margin. If a Democratic president wins another term in office, there should be some coattails in the House of Representatives.


The Democratic Party currently has/controls 53 seats (51 Dems, 2 Independents) while the Republicans have 47 seats. Tie goes to the vice president.

The Dems are almost certain to lose Nebraska and North Dakota but would gain a nominal win in Maine. Angus King is expected to go along with the Dems. That would put the Dems at 52.

The Dems have 5 seats that could see an upset vs. 3 for the GOP. So on paper, the Republicans are in good shape for a takeover.

Elizabeth Warren has to win in Massachusetts for the Dems to have a really good night. As offensive as Richard Mourdock was on “God intented to happen,” that statement alone wouldn’t guarantee a win for Joe Donnelly. If you hear the name Joe Donnelly multiple times, the Dems will have a good night.

Shelley Berkley is another name where hearing it is a good sign for the Dems. Dean Heller was appointed to fill out the term of John Ensign, who had a disgraceful streak thanks to his mistress/employee and financial scandals.

If Richard Carmona gets mentioned more than once, Harry Reid will still be Senate Majority Leader.

Scott Brown’s return to Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat for 6 more years would be an early sign for a successful GOP evening. Linda McMahon, George Allen, and Tommy Thompson would also bring joy to the GOP — all 3 of these seats are Dems or Dem-leaning. Tammy Baldwin would be the first openly gay U.S. senator if elected in Wisconsin.

The Badger state would be a sign of the times. If Thompson wins the seat, both U.S. Senate seats would have gone from Dem to GOP in just 2 years.

If you are looking for a reason to stay up all night, Hawaii could be the decider as the GOP thinks it has a shot with Linda Lingle going for Daniel Akaka’s retiring seat.

D stands for Democratic and defense: 15 Dems and an independent will probably defend their seats vs. 5 for the Republicans. Throw in the 5-3 advantage for tough seats to defend, and you can see why the Democratic Party was seriously sweating the 2012 race for control of the Senate.

Races that will likely go from Democratic to Republican

Nebraska — Ben Nelson (D)/Bob Kerrey (D) vs. Deb Fischer (R)
North Dakota — Kent Conrad (D)/Heidi Heitkamp (D) vs. Rick Berg (R)

Races that will likely go from Republican to Democratic

Maine — Olympia Snowe (R)/Charles E. Summers, Jr. (R) Cynthia Dill (D) Angus King (I)*
Massachusetts — Scott Brown (R)/Elizabeth Warren (D)
* King is likely winner and would probably side with Dems

Races the GOP would love to steal

Connecticut — Joe Lieberman (I)/Chris Murphy (D) vs. Linda McMahon (R)
Hawaii — Daniel Akaka (D)/Mazie Hirono (D) vs. Linda Lingle (R)
Ohio — Sherrod Brown (D)/Josh Mandel (R)
Virginia — Jim Webb (D)/Tim Kaine (D) vs. George Allen (R)
Wisconsin — Herb Kohl (D)/Tammy Baldwin (D) vs. Tommy Thompson (R)

Races the Dems would love to steal

Arizona — Jon Kyl (R)/Jeff Flake (R) vs. Richard Carmona (D)
Indiana — Richard Lugar (R)/Richard Mourdock (R) vs. Joe Donnelly (D)
Nevada — Dean Heller (R)/Shelley Berkley (D)

Races that you might hear a flutter of thought, but the incumbents are likely winners:

Florida — Bill Nelson (D)
Michigan — Debbie Stabenow (D)
Missouri — Claire McCaskill (D)
Montana — Jon Tester (D)
Pennsylvania — Bob Casey, Jr. (D)
Washington — Maria Cantwell (D)

Races that you will likely hear very little about on Election Night

California — Dianne Feinstein (D)
Delaware — Tom Carper (D)
Maryland — Ben Cardin (D)
Minnesota — Amy Klobuchar (D)
Mississippi — Roger Wicker (R)
New Jersey — Bob Menendez (D)
New Mexico — Martin Heinrich (D) replacing Jeff Bingaman (D)
New York — Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
Rhode Island — Sheldon Whitehouse (D)
Tennessee — Bob Corker (R)
Texas — Ted Cruz (R) replacing Kay Bailey Hutchison (R)
Utah — Orrin Hatch (R)
Vermont — Bernie Sanders (I)
West Virginia — Joe Manchin (D)
Wyoming — John Barrasso (R)

Mitt Romney won’t release medical records or tax returns; American voters deserve full disclosure

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If Mitt Romney is elected, he would be the fourth oldest person (Ronald Reagan, William Henry Harrison, James Buchanan) to be inaugurated. The issue of a 68-year-old becoming president was important in 2008 in part because of problems with cancer … and Sarah Palin.

Well, Romney is 65, and many find Paul Ryan more dangerous than Palin. Yes, Romney doesn’t drink, not even caffeine. In previous years, these concerns would be dealt with by releasing medical records. John McCain at 68 released his records somewhat and allowed only limited access. This was better than the standard for Palin, who got away with not releasing her medical records.

Medical records are magically not an issue in the 2012 race. No one seems to know why.

Heck, Romney didn’t want to release his tax returns beyond 2011 and 2012. His 2012 records had him underplaying his charitable contributions so his tax rate seemed somewhat more “normal” but still way under what average Americans pay. The fact that Romney hasn’t released any more (unlike other presidential nominees) does imply that he is hiding something.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to force Romney’s bluff. Reid could have looked extremely foolish, except for the fact that Romney never released those returns. The problem is that the MSM and most of the American public forgot that Romney never did release those records. The last media person I saw mention Romney’s tax returns was David Letterman, a late-night talk show host.

We had Donald Trump offer the sitting president of the United States, Barack Obama, to release his college records in exchange for a $5 million charitable contribution. We can’t get tax returns from the GOP nominee and Trump thinks something in college records, which no presidential candidate has had to release, is that valuable.

Trump said he’d be satisfied if Obama did this. No one believes this, not even Trump. While I couldn’t offer $5 million, we certainly could scrape up $10,000 — a typical Romney bet — to get Romney to release his tax returns.

George Romney released a dozen years of tax returns and he wasn’t even the party’s nominee. Like father, not like son.

The voters relied on a local journalist to uncover the DUI conviction of George W. Bush in 2000. Since the revelation came so late, the GOP felt like it was a last-minute trick. If the MSM had done their job, they would have found the DUI long before then.

You might think that DUI convictions, tax returns, medical files, and other personal information isn’t necessary to pick a presidential candidate. You might believe the information is important, but only if your opponent reveals that.

Unfortunately, there is no standard for what gets released and certainly no agreement on a penalty for not revealing information. The previous gentleman’s agreement philosophy has certainly been thrown out by the Republicans.

If Romney gets elected and we find out that he only paid 9% or 2% or really didn’t pay taxes in some or all of those years, we have ourselves to blame. If Paul Ryan has to take the oath of office because Romney had some medical condition and dies, well, we didn’t try hard enough to track this information down.

Past acts can’t guarantee what will happen in the future. But wanting to be president and vice president should lower your desire for privacy. In 2008, we had the candidate who was born in the United States release his long-form birth certificate. The guy who wasn’t born in the U.S. — he got a free pass.

If you want to be leader of the free world, you should let us know a few basic facts. The last thing we should want is a president or vice president who is more concerned about hiding something from the American people.

2012 debate III: Does Mitt Romney have a foreign policy?

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Watching Mitt Romney during the foreign policy debate reminded me of George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential debate with the mysterious pack on his back. The likelihood was that Bush was getting answers piped in so he could seem smarter in the debate with John Kerry.

Romney could have used some help, and not just because he thought Syria shared a border with Iran.

You had the feeling that Dan Quayle would have been more prepared than Romney for the foreign policy debate. Even Gov. Bush had a foreign policy philosophy in 2000. Of course, Bush threw that out the window in 2001; thousands of Americans and Iraqis would still be alive today if Bush had followed through.

Romney should have been wearing a shirt that said, “Me too.” Watching Romney describe his thought process about Syria, the informed viewer would have been sitting there saying, “Uh, that is what Obama is doing.”

Romney or President Barack Obama will have to deal with the whole world, not just the Middle East. You wouldn’t have known this from Bob Schieffer’s obsession with that area of the world.

Nothing about Canada, the U.S. largest trading partner and the source of that “North American energy independent” mantra. Nothing about Mexico: trade, guns, drugs, gangs. And where was the European Union in a foreign policy debate.

Schieffer didn’t help things by letting Romney and then Obama slip back into domestic policy. I like Schieffer overall; Jim Lehrer, too. But Martha Raddatz and Candy Crowley kicked far more butt in their performances.

This format cries for newspaper reporters, bloggers, and other respected journalists to open up the field to cover a wider variety of issues. Watching the folks at the Fox “News” Channel whine about questions in different areas during the town hall event shows that the debates don’t help people figure out who would make the better president.

Romney is taking advantage of this idea that if it works, will be used as political strategy for the next generation of politics. The Romney you see in the debates is remnant of George W. Bush, 2000. “Hey. I’m a reasonable guy. I’ll change once I’m elected. And the MSM won’t dare call me a liar or a flip-flopper.”

No matter who Indiana elects to the Senate, the missing piece on the GOP side will be the loss of Richard Lugar. By far on the Republican side of the aisle, Lugar showed the deepest knowledge of the world. Even if Lugar were still in the Senate, Romney likely wouldn’t heed his advice.

A lot was made four years ago that Obama didn’t know much about foreign policy. But even though Obama’s time in the U.S. Senate was quite brief, he learned to listen to people who knew what was going on.

Obama drilled this point home, contrasting his trips abroad as a candidate in 2008 vs. Romney’s impression of Chevy Chase in “National Lampoon’s European Vacation.”

Obama picked Joe Biden to be his vice president. Kerry might be the next Secretary of State if Obama is elected. Hillary Clinton has made most of the world forget Condoleezza Rice’s less-than-stellar efforts at the State Department.

The vast majority of those helping the governor on foreign policy are Bushies, masters of tragic foreign policy decisions. If Romney is elected, he will have a foreign policy. But we saw what happened the last time a presidential candidate tried to improv on foreign policy. Worst. Foreign policy. Ever.

Romney had a much worse third debate than Obama had a first debate. That was ignored by the MSM as they continue to pound the message that Romney is plausible. In a battle of strong vs. plausible, strong should easily win. Either the MSM mentality is plausible in a Republican is better than strong in a Democratic, or plausible in a white president is better than strong in a black president. Either conclusion is abhorrent.

The consensus is that Obama didn’t have a good first debate because he wasn’t as attacking as Romney was. Well, Romney had fewer attacks in the foreign policy debate, had a near Gerald Ford moment, and copied off Obama’s paper in the foreign policy test. The deliberate blindness is why fewer people trust the media for rational, objective analysis.

2012 debate II: Mitt Romney can’t keep up with his multiple personalities

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If you were following Twitter and Facebook during the debate, you saw the rise of “binders full of women.” In watching the second presidential debate live, the line sneaked past me. When I saw “binders full of women” on social media, I realized I had missed something that was there all along.

John McCain had drafted Sarah Palin in part to appeal to those women frustrated by Hillary Clinton’s loss in the primary. Whatever you might think about McCain, Palin, or the McCain campaign, they were trying to get women to vote for them.

Soccer moms, security moms: these were the focus of past elections. Often ignored in the focus on women were single women. Married with children? Politicians cared. Single women? Uh, never mind.

President Barack Obama’s campaign has focused on single women with its policies, but the campaign people must realize that they are capturing single women by default. Transvaginal probes. Backlash against Sandra Fluke. The Mitt Romney campaign and the GOP have been driving away single women for the last two years. So even if you might wonder why “binders full of women” became such a big deal, this wasn’t about one comment in a debate; this has been building.

We found out later that Romney fudged when he said that this was his idea. An organization approached the Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates with the idea of employing more women. Yes, it could get even worse.

The second debate spotlighted Romney telling Americans that he doesn’t believe in something and that isn’t his position. Then again, the accusations against Romney are his positions. This would be the sign of a particularly bad candidate, but there may be something more.

Three Faces of Eve, Sybil, depending on your generational perspective: Mitt Romney has many signs of multiple personalities. And the second debate proved conclusively that he is having trouble keeping them straight.

Romney says positions such as employers should have the right to deny women contraception through the insurance program (Blunt Amendment). In fact, Romney went out of his way to confirm that stand earlier this year. In the debate, when confronted with the reality of this stance, his reply was that of course he wasn’t in favor of that.

After the debate, the Romney campaign ran an ad from a former Obama supporter saying that she researched this and found out that Romney is in favor of contraception. To be fair, you can find that online. And you can also find that he doesn’t. The “doesn’t” speaks louder than the “does.”

The woman in the ad points out that Romney supports abortion exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Paul Ryan does not, and Romney said he would sign into law a provision that doesn’t allow for exceptions. Yes, we are dealing with multiple personalities at work.

“Moderate” Romney has shown up during the debates, and can’t believe he would be accused of doing what “Conservative” Romney has been doing behind “Moderate” Romney’s back. As soon as the TV lights go out, he’s back to being “Conservative” Romney.

This isn’t funny, not just because Romney might be president, but because he comes across as sincere when denying his own stances. This is really sad.

Speaking of women and debates, Candy Crowley and Martha Raddatz proved their gender strong in hosting debates. Crowley was the first women to host a presidential debate since Carole Simpson hosted the town hall debate in 1992.

You might remember that Katie Couric was supposed to host a Democratic primary debate in North Carolina in 2008. Hillary Clinton agreed to the debate, but Barack Obama said no to the April 27 date. To be fair, the objection from the Obama camp centered around doing a date before the Pennsylvania primary (April 22). The original April 19 date fell on the first night of Passover, so that idea was scrapped. And the original original date of December 2007 in Los Angeles fell through because no one wanted to cross the picket line when CBS journalists threatened to join the Hollywood writers strike.

Regular readers know of my strong dislike for Katie Couric’s attempts at real journalism. If Couric had done a debate, unfortunately for women, she would have set their gender back a decade.

The flaw with the current debate mode is that four people control what gets asked and what doesn’t in the presidential debate format: Jim Lehrer, Martha Raddatz, Candy Crowley, and Bob Schieffer. Having women in the mix offers some representation. You have an African-American man on stage as the incumbent president, and yet no journalists of color get to ask debate questions.

Having journalists correct obvious mistakes in a televised scenario would be an obviously good thing, especially when democracy is on the line. The situation is bad enough when obvious lies hit the transcript without so much as a bat of an eye. I remember covering politics with three GOP operatives hit the airwaves saying that George W. Bush wasn’t in charge on September 11, 2001, and none of them were corrected on the air.

We wish this nuance applied to minutia that comes down the pike, but when the lie is obvious, journalists have an obligation to speak up.

Candy Crowley did the right thing in the right moment. I wasn’t thrilled that she let Romney bully his way through the early part of the debate, and cut off President Obama in the middle of his answer. But at that moment, Crowley did what a journalist is supposed to do.

Not to take sides, but the GOP counts on journalists not doing their job more than Dems do. And Republicans freak out louder when journalists don’t act like a bullfighter as the charging lies — olé — pass by.

After not running on his record as governor of Massachusetts, Romney has decided to suddenly run on his record, but again only during the debates. Since Romney had not mentioned his record and Obama’s team didn’t say much about that, we don’t know much about what Romney did as Massachusetts governor.

The man has been running for governor for 5-6 years and we don’t know much about his stint as governor. The alternative press has done some digging, but the MSM is slow on this point. If Romney gets elected, he may set a new precedent for burying part of a candidate’s record: just don’t talk about it and see what happens.

The MSM has to react to a bell in order to chase the cheese. Remember how little effort they put into searching for George W. Bush’s DUI in 2000.