Romney = McCain = Kerry?

Romney = McCain = Kerry? October 12, 2011

I have been saying for months that Mitt Romney is the most electable Republican in the general election and that if the Republicans choose to nominate one of the wingnuts instead, they’ll be handing the 2012 election to Obama — despite the fact that, under normal circumstances, Obama would be all but unelectable next year. My argument has been that a Perry, Cain or Bachmann candidacy would send independent voters fleeing from the Republicans. But this post at Townhall.com seems to make a lot of sense to me:

There’s only one problem: He’ll lose the general election.

He’ll lose the general election for a very simple reason: Nobody in the conservative base is excited about him. While the so-called GOP opinion leaders wax on about how super-electable he is, they fail to recognize that it is precisely that logic that gave us the unelectable John McCain. Turnout wins elections these days, not appeals to the independent voter.

That is how George W. Bush won the 2004 election, by turning out the base strongly. And the parallels are there not only with McCain but with John Kerry as well. Was anyone really excited about John Kerry in 2004 on the Democratic side? Not really. He was just the next guy in line. Same with McCain among Republicans in 2008 (though Romney would have had the same problem). I hate to give Ben Shapiro credit for anything because he’s mostly an imbecile. And the rest of that column is faux martyr nonsense about how the media hates conservatives and tries to destroy them. But he may have a point here.

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  • D. C. Sessions

    The “base vs. moderates” turnout observation isn’t exactly new. I’ve been repeating it for ten plus years, and it wasn’t my idea in the first place.

    The need to get the base worked up and turned out has been the key to winning elections for thirty years. The Republicans understand this, the Democrats used to understand it — but they forgot. Now they try to court the mythical independent center by hippie-punching, and we saw how that worked last November.

  • d cwilson

    One of the main reasons why the GOP keeps casting about for a new messiah is due to the lack of enthusiasm for Romney. Fundamentalists are afraid of his magic underwear and the teabaggers think he’s a two-faced weasel. It is an interesting contradiction. Romney is both the most electable candidate and the most unpopular one in the republican fold. A lot of conservatives are worried that he would lose the general election due to the lack of enthusiasm.

    The question is, are any of the other GOP candidates likely to fair any better? Bachmann is done. Perry is sinking fast. Cain is likely to implode next. Gingrich and Santorum are jokes. And Huntsman is the Romney clone who worked for the evilkenyanatheistmuslim.

    I don’t want the democrats to feel cocky. Obama remains a deeply compromised incumbant, but given how the GOP fold resembles a clown car, Obama’s chances for a second term are better than he probably deserves.

  • He’s probably right about voter turnout, though, and it’s happening on the left too. Most people seem to think that Obama’s strategy is to appeal to center and center-right voters, since he has the progressive voters in his pocket anyway – it’s not like they’re going to vote for Tea Party candidates instead. However, the danger for him isn’t that the liberal voters will vote for Republicans, the danger is that they won’t bother voting at all. The only thing that could save him is if the Republican voters are equally “meh” about their candidate.

  • @d cwilson: the problem for the GOP as I see it is that all candidates have trouble with the delicate balancing act of being extreme enough for the Tea Party voters to win the primaries, and moderate enough for the centrists to win the federal election. And all of them are doomed to fail, because the only choices are being too moderate, too extreme, or flip-flopping between the two.

  • Nemo

    Is it too much to hope that you’re both right?

    Romney nominated -> low base turnout -> Reps lose

    Someone else nominated -> independent rejection -> Reps lose

  • dingojack

    2012 Presidential Elections

    Winner of the election (party)

    Republican Party: 49.4048%

    Democratic Party: 48.0159%

    Other: 2.5794%

    Winner of Presidential Race (individual %chance)

    Obama 46.1%

    Romney 35.0%

    Perry 5.0%

    Cain 4.8%

    Paul 2.4%

    Republican Presidential Nominee

    Romney 69.7%

    Perry 10.1%

    Cain 9.3%

    Paul 3.3%

    The markets could be completely wrong? Surely that’s Libertarian heresy!

    🙂 Dingo

    Source: the usual.

  • lofgren

    Agree with D.C. Sessions. There is no such thing as an “independent voter” who is on the fence between Romney and Obama. That person doesn’t exist. Anybody who gives a shit already knows who they would vote for. The only wild cards are people who will make up their minds a couple days before the election based on totally irrational and inconsequential differences between the two. It’s like having a schizophrenic judge a debate. You might get lucky and say something that resonates with him, or he might judge that you lose because your hair is parted on the right and that’s a secret sign that you’re in league with the genetically engineered offspring of Otto Von Bismark and Walt Disney who is trying to take over the world with a handheld bowel disruptor.

    The democratic approach to this problem has been to try to talk as much like a schizophrenic themselves. But the schizophrenics aren’t fooled because they don’t care what you say or do anyway, and the rest of the audience just wants to cross the street to get away from you. The Republicans, meanwhile, just ignore the debate entirely and send sly messages to whoever already agrees with them in the audience to beat the crap out of the schizos later in the parking lot.

    Independent voters might have been valuable in the days when you had to ride around the country on a train and make a speech in every town with more than a thousand people to get your message out there. Nowadays the only people who haven’t heard your message are people who don’t give a crap for messages anyway.

  • Abby Normal

    Nemo, I think there’s one more element you may be overlooking:

    Obama runs -> low base turnout/independent rejection -> anybody’s game

    Perhaps I’m projecting my own despondency, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the next election sees the lowest voter turnout since 1924.

  • jameshanley

    Slight quibble, but campaigns have to pay attention to both the base and the center. Turning out your base may not be enough if you lose the center, and vice versa. If the center mostly doesn’t vote–which is often the case–then the key is the base.

    Obama won with the largest popular vote margin since 1984 because he captured both the base and the middle. The biggest question his campaign managers need to figure out is whether the base is going to turn out next year. Given the state of the economy, they should. But given his own loss of popularity and the lack of centrist-charisma of any of the leading GOP candidates, it seems very possible they won’t.

    And of course a Perry or Bachmann candidacy would itself drive up base turnout for the Democrats, despite lack of enthusiasm for Obama.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    if the Republicans choose to nominate one of the wingnuts instead, they’ll be handing the 2012 election to Obama — despite the fact that, under normal circumstances, Obama would be all but unelectable next year.

    I think you’re depending too much on national polls rather than analyzing the state by state odds of each. From this perspective I think Obama maintains a distinct advantage in spite of unemployment rates, mostly having to do with demographic trends. Obama loses if his base doesn’t turn out, he can win even if the conservative base turns out. The 2008 and 2010 numbers coupled to trending demographics appear to validate this prediction.

    Ed writes:

    I hate to give Ben Shapiro credit for anything because he’s mostly an imbecile. And the rest of that column is faux martyr nonsense about how the media hates conservatives and tries to destroy them. But he may have a point here [base turnout more critical than capturing non-leaning independents].

    You don’t have to give him any credit, this is common knowledge amongst those who track these kinds of horse races. That’s mostly driven by most independents having strong loyalties to a party which they don’t care to admit.

  • Tim DeLaney

    I watched the “debate” (really a round table discussion) on the Bloomberg channel last night, looking (in vain) for some signs of sanity.

    I’d guess the participants were told to stay on the topic of the economy, which they pretty much did. One note of levity: Cain got zinged for his 9-9-9 plan by somebody (Romney?) who said it sounded like the price of a pizza.

    So, for two hours they all mouthed fiscal sound bites, each trying to sound more presidential than the last. In passing, Perry was indeed last in that derby. At one point he opined that we could become energy independent by (as near as I could tell) burning all our fossil fuel reserves as quickly as possible.

    They had a jolly old debate over who was the best Fed Chairman (and who was the worst) in modern times. I’d compare it to a fifth grade science class debating quantum physics.

    But the reason I put fingers to the keyboard this morning is to note that the entire Republican spectrum seems completely oblivious to the twin problems of climate change and solving the related energy problem. They seem far more concerned with the sexual morality of consenting adults than with the fate of the planet. Now, granted, Obama hasn’t exactly exhibited stunning leadership on these two issues, but at least he seems to be aware of them.

    The problem is the horizon effect (a term borrowed from chess programming). If a politician can push the tough problems over the future horizon by concentrating on immediate problems, S/he, the hope is that the tough problems will somehow not exist. After all, if it doesn’t help one get elected, it’s not worth discussing.

    OK, enough of my effort to save the planet. I think I’ll have another cup of coffee.

  • Tim DeLaney

    My wife informs me it was Huntsman, not Romney, who zinged Cain.

  • If I were Hillary Clinton, I’d switch to the republican party. Actually, I’d have done it last year. In fact, I’m surprised and pleased that she hasn’t because it means she’s less power-mad than I thought.

  • cptdoom

    Obama won with the largest popular vote margin since 1984 because he captured both the base and the middle. The biggest question his campaign managers need to figure out is whether the base is going to turn out next year. Given the state of the economy, they should. But given his own loss of popularity and the lack of centrist-charisma of any of the leading GOP candidates, it seems very possible they won’t.

    And of course a Perry or Bachmann candidacy would itself drive up base turnout for the Democrats, despite lack of enthusiasm for Obama.

    Exactly, the best thing for Obama would be for one of the true wingnuts to be nominated, because that would drive independents to Obama and the base to the polls. If Romney ends up the nominee, Obama’s next best scenario is a third-party, Teabagger movement behind Bachmann or Perry and splitting the conservative votes.

    Even if the GOP does end up rallying around Romney, Obama has a ready-made strategy, which is to call Romney on the flip-flopping. Hell, all he has to do is run tape of Romney running in Massachusetts and make the very real claim there’s not much daylight between the two, which would tip people in his direction.

    The real question for the GOP is how aligned the party is with evangelical Christianity and whether they can support a Mormon. For too long now the GOP has equated conservatism with partriotism with morality – but only of the strict Christian kind. Unfortunately for Romney, strict Christianity in all its forms rejects Mormonism and it is interesting to watch various members of the GOP try to walk back from that.

  • lofgren

    Obama won with the largest popular vote margin since 1984 because he captured both the base and the middle.

    Those people aren’t “the middle.” They’re just the people who vote for the most charismatic candidate.

    The very few of them who vote this year will go to Obama without any thought. He’s more charismatic than any of the Republican candidates on their best day.

    He’ll also pick up the people who voted for McCain in 2008 because the only thing they are impressed by is power. These are the people who say that “experience” is the most important thing to them. That’s just code that means they’ll vote for whoever has the more impressive title. They went for McCain in 2008 just because he’d been in the public eye longer.

    Again, there’s no “middle.” You don’t have to court any of these people. Trying to convince them you are a centrist is a waste of air because they just don’t care either way.

  • eric

    Lofgren @7: Agree with D.C. Sessions. There is no such thing as an “independent voter” who is on the fence between Romney and Obama. That person doesn’t exist. Anybody who gives a shit already knows who they would vote for. The only wild cards are people who will make up their minds a couple days before the election based on totally irrational and inconsequential differences between the two.

    I somewhat disagree. I agree that there is so much info on both Romney and Obama already out there that any rational voter should already have an opinion. But with 13 months to go before the election, I can envision plenty of ‘rational and consequential’ decisions either candidate might make that would (or should) change voters’ minds. For example, Romney could make the same mistake McCain did and choose a VP candidate completely inappropriate for the job. This should, rationally, lower his support. Or Obama could respond to the recent Iranian assassination plot in some highly inappropriate way. Which should rationally lower his support.

    Yes, we should all have an opinion by now. But it should be open to future revision based on the actions of the candidates. I know who I will vote for…assuming nothing significant changes in the next 13 months. Do you count that as sitting on the fence? If so, then frankly I think fence-sitting is the rational thing to do.

  • I disagree with this analysis. To a large extent McCain lost because of his VP candidate. If McCain had say Huckabee he likely could have won.

  • MyPetSlug

    I think you’re leaving out another huge part of the equation. Turning out the base is *not* just enthusiasm for your candidate, it’s also how hated your opponent is, which Republicans do a remarkable job of attaining. By good, I mean insanely over the top. It’s not just that Obama’s policy are not working, it’s that he is intentionally seeking to destroy the country. Romney doesn’t even have to do this dirty work, Rush, Fox, and the religious right will do it for him. They have been working on this for the last 4 years and I suspect regardless of who the candidate is (or what religion), many in the base will be focused solely on throwing out the antichrist before he allows homosexuals to put Christians in prison after taking away their guns.

    The other option Romney has is to pick a VP who really does resonate with the base, similar to Palin. Ideally, Romney should select someone he can keep on a tight leash and doesn’t go off message as much as Palin did (not to mention someone who can answer such gotchas as “what do you read?”). But, the point is, if he picks say a Santorum (although not Santorum cause he’s boring as hell), who has a lot of cred with the religious right, a lot of true believes can feel comfortable voting for Romney and they praying for god to put their preferred candidate in his place, also like what happened with Palin.

    I don’t think base turn out will be the problem for Romney. I still think Obama will win because I think many of us forget, despite how disappointing President Obama is, how good at campaigning he is, once he turns the campaign machine up to 11.

  • gshelley

    If this was 2008, then that would be true, but now, the rightwing paranoia and hatred over Obama has got to such extreme levels that they will go out and vote for anyone over Obama. That doesn’t include whatever moderate Republicans are left, but they are the ones most likely to approve of Romney anyway.

  • lofgren

    But with 13 months to go before the election, I can envision plenty of ‘rational and consequential’ decisions either candidate might make that would (or should) change voters’ minds.

    OK, that’s my bad. I expressed myself poorly.

    What I mean to say is that trying to appeal to the mythical moderate is a waste of effort. Yes, either candidate might fuck up so astronomically that they somehow manage to lose the support they already have. But I think this conversation is about those “independent” undecided voters that the election supposedly always swings on. These are the people the media is absolutely obsessed with, interviewing them right up until literally the close of polls. The narrative is that it is these “moderates” who, with their discerning and refined understanding of the complexities of each candidate’s policies, will determine our next president rather than the obviously biased rabid fundies or clueless hippies that each candidate already has in his pocket.

    Obviously there is the the slim chance the each candidate might do something wildly out of character in the next 13 months that makes it worth changing your position. But be honest, eric, how often has that happened to you? I don’t think that even Palin changed the course of that election. Yes, polls showed that she turned off a few senior citizens who might have turned out for Mccain. But I doubt she had as much affect as it appears. The only people the turned off were people who were only grudgingly voting for McCain in the first place, and those are people who typically find themselves too busy to vote on Tuesday anyway.

  • raven

    If this was 2008, then that would be true, but now, the rightwing paranoia and hatred over Obama has got to such extreme levels that they will go out and vote for anyone over Obama.

    It might work the other way as well.

    Polls show the Tea Party is one of the most hated groups in the country.

    It’s possible a lot of normal people will summon what is left of their self preservation drives and vote for anyone but the Tea Party.

  • raven

    FWIW, Romney is the most likely of the GOP to not wreck the country like Bush did. After all, he was governor of Massachusetts and that state is still there and doing OK.

    He is reputed to be intelligent enough to make large amounts of money at Bain capital.

    What is ominous is his style. He is detail oriented and conscientious without seeming to have any idea of the Big Picture. Carter was the same way, smart but no overall strategy.

    Right now we really need someone who understands economics and what needs to be done to fix the US economy. Doesn’t look like we are going to get it.

    The Federal Reserve is projecting the recovery of the US economy by 2018. Why 2018? Because severe economic shocks take a decade to recover according to history. In other words, they don’t have the slightest idea how and when it will recover and are just guessing based on the Great Depression.

    One of my brightest colleagues put it well the other day. “I don’t see a recovery in my/your lifetime.”

  • jameshanley

    lofgren: I agree that those swing voters aren’t making up their minds rationally. They are driven by the personal characteristics of the candidate (including charisma) and by the current state of political/economic affairs. But they are centrist in that they don’t have a strong ideological position the way base voters do, and because they are, as a general rule, less likely to vote for the candidate who they perceive as being too extremist. That’s really what I meant by most of the GOP candidates not having “centrist charisma.” Bachmann may be charismatic in the eyes of the conservative base, but it doesn’t appeal that well to the non-ideological voters.

    But if I gave the impression that I thought there were a vast number of rational, calmly deliberating, voters with well considered moderate views, that’s my bad.

    Raven: now, the rightwing paranoia and hatred over Obama has got to such extreme levels that they will go out and vote for anyone over Obama.

    That’s a tempting thought, but I’m not quite persuaded. These people are so ideological that that they see everyone to the right of John Birch as equivalently socialist. If they see their choice as socialist Muslim Obama vs. socialist Mormon Romney, their paranoia and hatred may lead them to stay home instead of going out to vote. Maybe. Perhaps.

  • jameshanley

    MyPetSlug,

    Turning out the base is *not* just enthusiasm for your candidate, it’s also how hated your opponent is,

    And, third, it’s also about how well organized your get out the vote campaign is. W. “should not” have won re-election in ’04, because the outcome was determined by a state that had done very bad economically during his first term, Ohio. But his campaign team (esp. Karl Rove) recognized that and organized what may have been the most sophisticated get out the vote campaign in history.

  • Dennis N

    FWIW, Romney is the most likely of the GOP to not wreck the country like Bush did. After all, he was governor of Massachusetts and that state is still there and doing OK.

    Well, he follows however the wind is blowing. Despite electing Romney and Scott Brown, Mass of voters are not idiots, and he just following the political climate. National voters on the other hand, may just be idiots.

  • eric

    Lofgren: What I mean to say is that trying to appeal to the mythical moderate is a waste of effort.

    To misquote Twain – tales of my mythological status have been greatly exaggerated.

    Now, whether effort spent trying to gain moderate votes is a waste of time or not is a different matter. But we do exist.

    But be honest, eric, how often has that happened to you? I don’t think that even Palin changed the course of that election.

    Last election in fact. Because of Palin. So I very much diasgee with your second statement too.

    To be honest I was leaning Democrat anyway, but Palin sealed the deal. One thing you have to remember is that strength of opinion matters too. Would I have preferred Obama anyway? Yes, probably. If voting had taken 15 minutes, Palin wouldn’t have mattered. But the line around my area was long. Palin was the difference between “hour long wait, screw this” and “I’m gonna vote if it takes all day.” So it ‘changed’ my vote in that respect.

  • jameshanley

    I actually am a swing voter who was planning to vote for McCain, albeit without anything remotely resembling enthusiasm. His choice of Palin changed my vote. Of course the remainder of his campaign was such a shambles, and the changes in his policy positions became so heinous, that I might have shifted my vote away from him anyway. But Palin was the single factor that definitively changed my vote.

    But Eric and I are just two data points, and the fact that we’re here on this particular blog suggests we’re probably not very representative of the general population of swing voters.

  • While the so-called GOP opinion leaders wax on about how super-electable he is, they fail to recognize that it is precisely that logic that gave us the unelectable John McCain. Turnout wins elections these days, not appeals to the independent voter.

    This is completely wrong. Turnout among self-described conservatives wasn’t any different in 2008 than in previous elections. What was different was how people voted: All demographics, including independents and conservatives, went for Obama at a greater rate than they did for Kerry.

    It may be true that McCain failed to elicit enough excitement among conservatives to get them to volunteer for his campaign or donate money. But there’s no evidence whatsoever that they stayed home on election day, and we can safely say that those who defected to Obama weren’t doing so because McCain wasn’t right-wing enough.

  • lofgren

    james, I do believe that Palin was symptom of a problem that McCain already had. Maybe it would have been different moment when it became clear to you that he was the lesser of the two choices, but I find it hard to believe that something else wouldn’t have made it apparent as the pressure on him mounted. (In fact his many errors in judgement and his propensity for reaction rather than deliberation were both pretty well known – they were just considered strengths amongst some voters who valued decisiveness and passion over the actual quality of those decisions or the subjects of that passion.)

    eric, it sounds like Palin made the difference between not voting or voting against Palin to you. That’s quite a bit different from feeling like either Romney or Obama might suddenly sway you into their camp through the tactics that are normally aimed at “centrists,” i.e. saying “bipartisan” and “compromise” every other word.

    What I am trying to object to is the notion that anybody who is asked today who they would vote for and claims to be undecided is somebody whose vote is actually worth pursuing. Calling these people centrists or moderates as is frequently done is inaccurate – they’re just uninformed or apathetic, and though we can predict their behavior in some ways (the same we can classify the behaviors of schizophrenics, as in my metaphor, because schizophrenics tend to come in some predictable flavors), it’s impossible to determine what the candidate needs to do in order to gain their votes. Sure, you can say that they’ll vote for the less extreme candidate, but a lot of them voted for Bush in ’98. Their votes will fall where they may. Since they are neither honest nor rational there is no point in targeting them.

    And I will say that I wholeheartedly agree that neither of you are very representative. But at the same time I admit that I find it surprising that you both seem to feel that Palin swayed you. Palin, to me, was the predictable result of a guy who was obviously nothing but desperate to win, exactly the kind of person I don’t want in the White House.

  • eric

    Lofgren: eric, it sounds like Palin made the difference between not voting or voting against Palin to you.

    Now you’re just splitting hairs. P and VP are a ticket. McCain’s choice of VP made my view about the ticket different. For instance, it was not just about Palin’s ability to serve, it was also about what McCain’s choice says about him.

    That’s quite a bit different from feeling like either Romney or Obama might suddenly sway you into their camp through the tactics that are normally aimed at “centrists,”

    I agree, that’s a different issue. I said that in @26. I was specifically disputing your two claims that (1) moderates are mythical (intended figuratively to mean most identified fence-sitters don’t actually sit on the fence – and I took it that way) and (2) selection of Palin didn’t change (hardly) anyone’s opinion in the 2008 election.

    Now I agree with James Hanley that the two of us might not be good representatives of the ‘fence-sitting moderate’ community. But your reply hasn’t really changed my opinion that those two claims of yours are wrong.

  • jameshanley

    lofgren,

    Maybe it would have been different moment when it became clear to you that he was the lesser of the two choices, but I find it hard to believe that something else wouldn’t have made it apparent as the pressure on him mounted

    You underestimate the depths of my 2008 doubts about Obama’s fitness for the job. The other doubts about McCain that might, perhaps probably, have prompted me to reject him had to do with his increasing adoption of Bush’s policies. His other problems would not have caused me to vote for someone so obviously unprepared for the position as Obama. Hell, the only reason I actually voted for Obama in the end instead of staying home was so that in the future I could honestly say I had cast my vote for the first black presidential candidate. (I would have voted libertarian if they’d nominated one of their normal whackjobs instead of the grossly offensive Bob Barr.)

    Palin, to me, was the predictable result of a guy who was obviously nothing but desperate to win, exactly the kind of person I don’t want in the White House.

    I don’t think she was so predictable as the running mate of someone who desperately wanted to win. Somebody who actually helped the campaign in some way would have been what I predicted from someone who wanted so badly to win. It’s not really that hard a calculation–only two presidents in recent history have badly botched it.

    it’s impossible to determine what the candidate needs to do in order to gain their votes.

    Difficult, not necessarily impossible. Leastways, that’s what I hear from campaign professionals.

    Since they are neither honest nor rational there is no point in targeting them

    Neither their honesty nor their rationality is where their value lies–their value is in their vote, which is just as valuable as either yours or mine.

    a lot of them voted for Bush in ’98.

    ’98? (*grin*) OK, I know what you mean. But I’d remind you that Bush intentionally ran as a compassionate conservative, precisely so he would not appear as an extremist. As we both agree that these folks aren’t paying very close attention, I think you have to agree that perception is more electorally meaningful than reality.

  • Whether moderates can be swayed or have any brains at all is one thing, but the notion that they don’t matter is empirically wrong. In both 2004 and 2008, moderates made up 45% of the electorate. In 2004, they went for Kerry by +9%. In 2008, they went for Obama by +21%. That is far and away the largest difference between the two elections, and is by itself enough to explain the difference in outcome.

    If you can figure out how to sway moderates in your direction, you’d be foolish not to. If nearly half the electorate can swing by 12% in one direction or the other between elections, these are the people who determine who wins.

  • slc1

    Re James Hanley @ #31

    As I noted in a response to Prof. Hanley’s fellow Michigander, Mr. Michael Heath on an earlier thread, the reason that then Governor Palin was chosen was because the McCain brain trust concluded that a woman on the ticket might attract some Clinton voters who were bent out of shape because their candidate lost out to then Senator Obama.

    As for Mr. Obama’s lack of experience, I agree with the good professor. However, I would point out that Abraham Lincoln had even less experience then did Mr. Obama when he was elected in 1860. I believe that Napoleon once said in commenting on military experience, that, in military affairs, there is no substitute for a fine mind. Or as someone else noted, Napoleon’s mules went through 20 campaigns with him and at the end were still mules.

    Just to expand upon this a little, I would note that Lincoln was most notable in 1860 for his total lack of military experience, in contrast to his opponent, Jefferson Davis, who was a graduate of West Point, an officer in the US army with a distinguished record in the Mexican War and a former Secretary of War. As General Fuller’s put it, Lincoln turned out to be a great war leader while Davis turned out to be a dried up old stick, more suited to the seminary then the presidential mansion in Richmond.

  • Trebuchet

    A danger to the GOP that I haven’t seen mentioned is the possibility of one or more of the wingnuts making a third-party run if Romney is nominated. After all, at least three of them think they’ve been personally anointed by God to run for president. Wouldn’t it be going against the big guy’s will to stop and endorse Romney? Bachmann, in particular, would probably siphon off enough teaparty votes to ensure Obama’s reelection.

    Slightly off topic, regarding Romney’s “Mormon problem”: It’s a problem for me. Mormons in government scare me. Non-theists pretty much have no choice but to vote for avowed Christians or Jews but they’re not all the same.

  • eric

    Trebuchet: I haven’t seen mentioned is the possibility of one or more of the wingnuts making a third-party run if Romney is nominated.

    Pawlenty and Santorum are both political operatives who probably wouldn’t do that; instead, they will use their support numbers to angle for some other job, or for greater national GOP funding in their next election campaign. Bachmann’s really the only threat in terms of breaking party cohesion. All IMO, of course.

    Slightly off topic, regarding Romney’s “Mormon problem”: It’s a problem for me. Mormons in government scare me.

    I really object to such stereotyping. Its fine to say someone scares you because you think that person will act on their religious beliefs. To my mind, Bachmann fits that mold and is scarily religious. But to reject a whole group of millions of people because of it…well, that’s the same attitude keeping atheists out of office, isn’t it? Do unto others, treb.

    On an indvidual level, Romney’s Mormonism doesn’t scare me. I’m sure his commitment to it is as deep as his commitment to any other position he takes.

  • jameshanley

    SLC,

    Absent a Civil War, there’s no certainty Lincoln would be a remotely memorable president. Absent the North’s material advantages, there’s every likelihood he would be remembered as the president who lost the Civil War. Lincoln’s best quality, as far as I can tell, was a good eye for the quality of men.

    But even with that faint praise of Lincoln, Obama is no Lincoln.

  • ouabache

    But this post at Townhall.com seems to make a lot of sense to me

    Well, those are words I thought that I would never see.

  • slc1

    Re James Hanley @ #36

    Absent the North’s material advantages, there’s every likelihood he would be remembered as the president who lost the Civil War.

    Of course, Lincoln was also greatly assisted by the incompetence of his opponent Jefferson Davis who has to be one of the worst military strategists in history and Robert E. Lee who, as General Fuller put it, much to the ire of Lee acolytes such as Douglas Southhall Freeman, was in many respects, was one of the most incapable commanding generals in history.

    Actually, IMHO, many of the North’s problems were the result of the loss of the first Battle of Bull Run, a battle which it would have undoubtedly won had the 74 year old general commanding Union troops in the Martinsburg area had done his job and fixed Johnston’s army in place. It was the reinforcement of Beauregard’s army by Johnston which won the battle for the Confederates, not General Jackson’s stonewall defense. As a result of the loss of that battle, the Union general McDowell was shunted aside and replaced by McClellan, a man totally incapable of commanding troops in battle. McDowell’s battle plan at First Bull Run was perfectly sound (it could have been devised by Napoleon) and would have resulted in a decisive Union victory, absent the reinforcements.

    Had McDowell won the battle, he would not have been superseded by McClellan and most of the Union problems which resulted from the latter’s incompetence would not have occurred. Given McDowell’s excellent battle plan at First Bull Run, it would not be presumptuous to opine that he would have demonstrated far more competence in command the Army of the Potomac then did McClellan, Burnside, or Hooker. IMHO, in the event, the North would have won the Civil War a year earlier then it actually did.

    I would suggest that Prof. Hanley consult, “Lincoln and his Generals,” by Prof. T. Harry Williams and, “The Military Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” by Brigadier General Colin Ballard for an assessment of Lincoln’s military capabilities, particular his grasp of military strategy which was superior to that of any of the generals on either side of the conflict.

  • Trebuchet

    @35, Eric:

    I really object to such stereotyping. Its fine to say someone scares you because you think that person will act on their religious beliefs. To my mind, Bachmann fits that mold and is scarily religious. But to reject a whole group of millions of people because of it…well, that’s the same attitude keeping atheists out of office, isn’t it? Do unto others, treb.

    On an indvidual level, Romney’s Mormonism doesn’t scare me. I’m sure his commitment to it is as deep as his commitment to any other position he takes.

    Would it help if I said the same about other fundies? I guess I’ve just been around more Mormons. I actually do feel a bit guilty about this. The Mormons I’ve met are uniformly (too uniformly!) nice, personable folks. But they believe some batshit insane stuff and their church makes me really nervous. They always give me the feeling that they’re thinking “I’m going to heaven and you’re not”. Of course most of the other Republican candidates think the same thing!

  • Francisco Bacopa

    While I voted for Wes Clarke in the primary, I was passionate for Kerry in 2004. How could the lines not have been more clear.

    As for Obama assassinating an American citizen, I merely have to refer to my (expired) passport. It has a list of actions which constitute revocation of citizenship.

    So, whoever that dude was, I bet he did some of that shit.

    Obama needs to play that he’s tough on terrorism. He needs present himself as having so much double tap and drone missile power that we can call off most of the TSA’s weirdness. Obama should give a surprise speech at OWS and endorse rep Grayson’s sponsorship of the amendment to overturn the corporate “free speech” decision.

    We are the 99% Get with the program and we’ll give you even more pop vote than you has last time, especially since making these moves will assure a wingnut is nominated.

    I play online Diplomacy. I’ve soloed twice and drawn twice. Every time I soloed I built up my craziest opponent into a coalition leader and took huge risks. Obama should go to Wall Street.

  • “I play online Diplomacy. I’ve soloed twice and drawn twice.”

    Is there a Reptilican version of that called, “Fuckedtocracy”?

  • Is it just me or are there no sidebars on this blog? The only way I can navigate here is to go from one post to the one immediately before or after it OR go back to the well every time I want to look at something else. If that’s a feature, it’s pretty fucked up.

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