The Middle-Earth election guide

The Wall Street Journal and John McCain started it by calling Tea Partiers “hobbits.”  Timothy Furnish develops the parallels:

The first leg on this journey is figuring out what the Ring represents in modern political discourse. Since the Tea Party is trying to cast it into the fire, it must be American government spending and debt (which includes deficits, of course). That would make Congressman Paul Ryan Frodo since he knows more about that burden than anyone; and thus Samwise Gamgee must be John Boehner because he helps Frodo and he cries a lot.

Merry and Pippin, the other two major hobbits, would thus have to be Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor — although the thought of McConnell’s mug on a 1-meter tall hobbit frame is a nightmare on the order of Tolkien’s visions of massive tidal waves and giant spiders.

Who advises the hobbits — as well as the other characters in this conservative’s Middle-Earth? Mainly Limbaugh the Grey, sent by the Valar to contest the will of the Dark Lord by inspiring all Men and Elves via three hours of daily radio programming and special advisory scrolls known as newsletters.

He’s assisted in this role by our world’s Elrond — Charles Krauthammer.

Both urge resistance to the Dark Lord….wait for it…George Soros. (Sorry, making Obama the “Dark Lord” would not only send a thrill up Chris Mathews’ “racism” antenna, it would give BHO far too much credit.) “Soron” hopes to seize the Ring of Debt for himself in order to transform the Middle-west and the rest of America into Mordor with a view — also known as Greece. Soron is, however, a bit distracted at present with this $50 million lawsuit brought by a Witch Queen.

Obama, then, is relegated to the role of Saruman — trying to be in charge, hoping to seize the Ring for himself, but really only doing the Dark Lord’s bidding: undermining capitalism, hosting Haradrim religious dinners at the White House, and playing golf on Sunday mornings.

via PJ Lifestyle » The Middle-Earth Guide to Campaign 2012—Updated.

Soros, Sauron, “Soron”!  That’s perfect.  See the rest of the post, in which Furnish gives roles to Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and on and on,  to the last dwarf.

Do you have any additions or corrections?  Those of you on the liberal side of things, can you construct something similar from the Democratic point of view?

Another consideration in a presidential candidate

In choosing which presidential candidate a person will support, the most usual preoccupation for people in both parties is “what does he–or she–believe”? That’s certainly important, since a leader’s beliefs will manifest themselves in their policies and decisions.  But there is something else to consider:  How well can this person govern?

Having an ideology and having the ability to preside over a government are two different dimensions that are not necessarily related to each other.  To run something–as a manager, an administrator, a CEO, a president–takes leadership; that is, the ability to get people to do what you want them to do.  This, in turn, takes people skills such as diplomacy, the ability to persuade, effective communication, the capacity to inspire.

A candidate with the right ideas, solid all the way down the line, who lacks these abilities will not make an effective president.  For one thing, ideology has little to do with much of what a president has to do.  And to the extent that the ideology is important, any good ideas that the president might have will never be implemented without good administrative qualities.

Again, I am by no means minimizing the importance of political ideology and personal convictions.  I’m just saying that those are not enough to make an effective president.  Reagan could govern; Bush II, for all of his good beliefs and personal qualities, not so much.  Clinton could govern, even with a divided Congress; Carter, with similar ideals, could not.  Obama’s main problem is not his ideology, as misguided as that may be, but his lack of leadership and administrative ability.

I’d like to know how a candidate works with staff.  His or her record of getting pet projects from ideas to realities.  Can this person twist arms, create consensus, win over critics?  Can this candidate work behind the scenes, break through people’s apathy, get things done?

I wish the media and political pundits of either party would report on that sort of thing.

Who do you think would be the best candidates with these criteria?

What makes a gaffe?

Mitt Romney said, “Corporations are people.”  Newt Gingrich castigated “right-wing social engineering.”  Michele Bachmann claimed that she shared the same spirit as someone else born in Waterloo, Iowa, John Wayne.  But it wasn’t the movie star with whom she shared a birthplace but serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

These politically-damaging statements were heralded as “gaffes.”  But what makes a gaffe, as opposed to a forgivable misstatement or an inconsequential mistake?  Journalist Paul Waldman, a liberal, by the way, explains:

What makes an incident or gaffe “major” is the interpretation that journalists — and these days, the blogosphere and Twitterverse as well — give it. Some mistakes are largely ignored, while others are portrayed as enormously consequential and haunt the candidate for weeks or months. The difference reveals far more about journalistic biases than it does about the candidates themselves. . . .

All of these misstatements had something in common: They reinforced what many people — including reporters — already thought about the candidate in question. That’s why the incidents became “news.”

In Gingrich’s case, reporters have long believed him to be undisciplined and erratic. Romney is supposed to be not only a creature of big business but inauthentic as well, awkwardly trying to ingratiate himself with voters. (Sometimes derided as “Romneybot,” he’d be the one to see no difference between corporations and human beings.) Pawlenty is thought by some to be unprepared for the hardball of a presidential campaign, while Bachmann is considered an intellectual or policy lightweight — a “flake,” as Chris Wallace so ungraciously saidto her on “Fox News Sunday.”The politicians’ so-called gaffes don’t tell us anything new. Instead, they allow reporters to explain how what they’ve thought all along about a candidate is true. . . .

John McCain was a grumpy old man, George W. Bush was dumb, John Kerry was a stiff patrician, Al Gore was dishonest and self-aggrandizing. Every politician is defined by what is allegedly his or her biggest character flaw.

If the candidate’s misstep doesn’t hew to the stereotype, chances are it’ll be soon forgotten. During a 2008 stop in Oregon, then-Sen. Barack Obama noted that he had visited “57 states” during his presidential campaign. Despite the efforts of some GOP partisans, the mainstream media quickly moved on; most journalists assumed Obama knew the right number and had simply misspoken. Today, if Bachmann says something that sounds like an awkward attempt to ingratiate herself with voters, reporters won’t speed-dial their editors. If Romney makes a factual error about the founding fathers, it will be greeted with a yawn. He’s supposed to be the insincere one without a handle on human interaction, and she’s supposed to be the dolt.

The result is profoundly unequal treatment of candidates. Get branded as dishonest, and reporters will pore over your statements to see if you’ve ever strayed from the truth; if they find that you have, they’ll assume it was an intentional deception and not a mistake. (Just ask Gore, who never actually claimed that he invented the Internet.) Get a reputation as a fool, and the same error will be presented as yet more evidence that you lack the intellect for whatever job you’re seeking.

There’s nothing partisan about it. Think about the 2008 election. When McCain was unable to recall how many houses he owned, the stories about it were as good a mark as any that the character judgment reporters were making about him had shifted. No longer the much-admired “maverick,” McCain had become just another rich, out-of-touch Republican. But his opponent got off no easier: When Obama was secretly recorded saying that white working-class voters in the Rust Belt, in the face of their economic struggles, “cling to guns or religion,” it allowed reporters to place him in the stereotype of Democrats as cultural elitists. Both episodes became major stories.

These gaffes rarely concern substantive policy issues — in fact, the less they are about policy, the more likely they are to stick. Mischaracterize your opponent’s tax plan and observers will barely bat an eye, but pad your résumé, and your fundamental character will be questioned.

And of course, “character” is the primary theme of all campaign coverage — not what candidates will do once they take office, but who they are deep within. The gaffe is supposed to reveal this inner character, to strip away the carefully crafted veneer and show the real person. And sometimes it can.

via How candidates’ gaffes confirm reporters’ biases – The Washington Post.

Can you think of other gaffes?  Does this analysis apply?  What gaffes will the media be looking for from Rick Perry?  Ron Paul?  Barack Obama?

Pawlenty is out!

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has dropped out of the presidential race!  That’s too bad, in my opinion.  Though he didn’t come across strongly, he seemed like someone who could credibly serve as president.   Who will benefit from his exit?

Pawlenty realizes he wasn’t what GOP voters were looking for – The Washington Post.

A different take on our economic woes

The wild fluctuations of the stock market last week seem to be a reaction to the national deficit and the downgrading of American bonds.  But, as financial analyst Liaquat Ahamed, points out, investors were dumping stocks and investing in government bonds, despite the downgrade and despite record low interest rates.

So, if financial markets aren’t worried about the full faith and credit of the United States, why is the stock market falling? An alternative view, most prominently expressed by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, is that the markets have concluded, given the struggling economy, that budget cuts are precisely the wrong medicine for what ails us. The Obama administration was backed into a corner by the S&P downgrade and must now focus on cutting the budget deficit to the exclusion of all other policy objectives. Such austerity — whether achieved through spending cuts or tax increases — at this moment in the business cycle would only exacerbate a slowdown. In this reading, the stock market is preparing itself for the coming double-dip.

If this is the market’s message, what should we do? Instead of instituting deeper budget cuts and other austerity measures, the government should pursue the opposite: It should take advantage of the fact that it can essentially borrow for free to finance badly needed infrastructure investments. After all, our airports, roads and bridges are in need of urgent repair, and the extra investment would provide job opportunities and inject money into the economy.

via What is the stock market telling us? – The Washington Post.

Expect that to be the Democrats’ position, that we should stop worrying about the deficit and spend even more money to create jobs and get the economy going.  Mr. Ahamed says, however, that this isn’t politically possible.  Mainly because ordinary Americans saw the government bailing out big banks and corporations, but doing nothing to bail them out.  He proposes a different kind of government activism aimed specifically at consumers and homeowners, which, I suspect, may also become Democratic proposals:

A large-scale government program to restructure residential mortgages and help households refinance underwater mortgages would reduce the debt overhang and support consumer demand. Most important, by channeling public money to help individual families, rather than Wall Street, this initiative could alter the political dynamics that currently doom any government efforts to jump-start the economy.

Can you answer this take on the economic problems and what government might do about them?

Rick Perry is running for president

Texas governor Rick Perry has announced that he running for president.  As the longest-serving governor of a big state, Perry comes with lots of executive experience, with a strong  record of economic growth and job creation.  He is an open evangelical Christian, going so far as to lead the prayer and preach from the Bible at a recent religious rally.  The Tea Party likes him, as do business interests and the Republican establishment.

Is he someone you could support?  (I’d like to hear from Texans about what kind of governor he is.)

It’s official, if familiar: Perry’s in.