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Posts For: June 19, 2011

Gates Takes Parting Shot at Obama Admin

During an interview with Newsweek today, departing Defense Secretary Robert Gates questioned whether the Obama administration is willing or able to continue America’s leading role in the world, indicating that he may become a thorn in the side for President Obama’s 2012 bid.

“I’ve spent my entire adult life with the United States as a superpower, and one that had no compunction about spending what it took to sustain that position,” Gates told Newsweek. “It didn’t have to look over its shoulder because our economy was so strong. This is a different time.”

He added that the possibility that America may be forced to cede its superpower status helped drive his decision to step down to step down from his role as secretary of defense.

“To tell you the truth, that’s one of the many reasons it’s time for me to retire, because frankly I can’t imagine being part of a nation, part of a government … that’s being forced to dramatically scale back our engagement with the rest of the world,” said Gates.

Gates, a highly respected figure, has the potential to become a damaging critic of Obama from outside the administration. Obama has been seen as eager to relinquish America’s role in the world, and this gives Republican a prime opening to attack him on during the election. Of course, that also means that the GOP candidates would have to start giving a more robust defense of American power, something that we saw disappointingly little of during the last debate, as Jonathan wrote earlier.

During an interview with Newsweek today, departing Defense Secretary Robert Gates questioned whether the Obama administration is willing or able to continue America’s leading role in the world, indicating that he may become a thorn in the side for President Obama’s 2012 bid.

“I’ve spent my entire adult life with the United States as a superpower, and one that had no compunction about spending what it took to sustain that position,” Gates told Newsweek. “It didn’t have to look over its shoulder because our economy was so strong. This is a different time.”

He added that the possibility that America may be forced to cede its superpower status helped drive his decision to step down to step down from his role as secretary of defense.

“To tell you the truth, that’s one of the many reasons it’s time for me to retire, because frankly I can’t imagine being part of a nation, part of a government … that’s being forced to dramatically scale back our engagement with the rest of the world,” said Gates.

Gates, a highly respected figure, has the potential to become a damaging critic of Obama from outside the administration. Obama has been seen as eager to relinquish America’s role in the world, and this gives Republican a prime opening to attack him on during the election. Of course, that also means that the GOP candidates would have to start giving a more robust defense of American power, something that we saw disappointingly little of during the last debate, as Jonathan wrote earlier.

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Huntsman May Have an Iran Problem

Jon Huntsman’s relationship with China may not be his only problem going into the GOP nomination process. Politico reports today the Huntsman family business has also had some questionable financial dealings with Iran.

Back in 2009, the nuclear watchdog group United Against a Nuclear Iran reportedly discovered Huntsman Corp., the family business that helped fund Huntsman’s early political career, was selling polyurethane from its Tehran-based subsidiary. The watchdog was concerned the polyurethane could be used to build weapons and sent the following letter to the corporation:

“How can it be that Ambassador Huntsman could persuade the Chinese government to impose further economic sanctions on Iran when his namesake former company continues to do business in Iran?” read the letter from United Against a Nuclear Iran, a nonpartisan group founded by the late diplomat Richard Holbrooke and veteran Mideast envoy Dennis Ross.

The subsidiary closed shop under pressure in 2010, though Huntsman had already divested completely from the business back in 2005. But the multi-billion dollar corporation, which is still controlled by members of the Huntsman family and is swiftly expanding its reach in Asia, may become an issue for the presidential hopeful. Read More

Jon Huntsman’s relationship with China may not be his only problem going into the GOP nomination process. Politico reports today the Huntsman family business has also had some questionable financial dealings with Iran.

Back in 2009, the nuclear watchdog group United Against a Nuclear Iran reportedly discovered Huntsman Corp., the family business that helped fund Huntsman’s early political career, was selling polyurethane from its Tehran-based subsidiary. The watchdog was concerned the polyurethane could be used to build weapons and sent the following letter to the corporation:

“How can it be that Ambassador Huntsman could persuade the Chinese government to impose further economic sanctions on Iran when his namesake former company continues to do business in Iran?” read the letter from United Against a Nuclear Iran, a nonpartisan group founded by the late diplomat Richard Holbrooke and veteran Mideast envoy Dennis Ross.

The subsidiary closed shop under pressure in 2010, though Huntsman had already divested completely from the business back in 2005. But the multi-billion dollar corporation, which is still controlled by members of the Huntsman family and is swiftly expanding its reach in Asia, may become an issue for the presidential hopeful.

Perhaps most disconcerting is Huntsman Corp.’s current view on sanctions. Huntsman’s brother Peter now runs the company, and he’s made his opposition to sanctions clear earlier this month, according to Politico.

“I don’t think that [trade] sanctions are a good diplomatic policy,” said Peter. “By not doing trade with Iran, are we hurting people that are reaching out for western business?”

In light of this, Huntsman should make his own view on Iranian sanctions clearer to the American public. And while his family business’s position on the issue is troubling, it also doesn’t necessarily tell us anything about how Huntsman would govern as president. After all, Vice President Cheney was closely aligned with USA Engage, an organization that was heavily opposed to sanctions, before the 2000 election. Of course Cheney went on to become a major Iran hawk after taking office.

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Tom Friedman’s Lemonade Stand

Tom Friedman’s New York Times columns on the Middle East conflict are always a maddening mixture of sense and cluelessness. Today’s contribution from the Pulitzer Prize winner is no exception.

Friedman starts by giving a frank and accurate evaluation of the Obama administration’s record in the Middle East. He’s right when he says, “They’ve alienated all sides and generated zero progress.”  But he heads quickly downhill from there as he sinks yet again into the quicksand of moral equivalence that renders his evaluation of the situation as useless as those of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

After making a specious comparison between Israel’s democratically elected government and the corrupt terrorist-infested coalition that speaks for the Palestinians, Friedman makes an astonishingly stupid suggestion. Instead of vetoing the Palestinian attempt to get United Nations recognition for a Palestinian state without the Palestinians having to recognize Israel’s legitimacy or give up the conflict, Friedman thinks the United States should support a different sort of UN dictat.

Friedman wants the Security Council to update Resolution 181 which was the original measure supporting the partition of the British Mandate for Palestine into Arab and Jewish states with an international condominium ruling Jerusalem. The new version would again recognize two states but say the 1967 borders would divide the two “with mutually agreed border adjustments and security arrangements for both sides.” According to Friedman, that would make everyone happy. The Palestinians would get their state, and the Israelis would presumably get security and the ability to hold onto parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank with large Jewish populations.

But the problem with this is the same one that sunk the original UN resolution: the Palestinians don’t want to make peace or recognize Israel.

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Tom Friedman’s New York Times columns on the Middle East conflict are always a maddening mixture of sense and cluelessness. Today’s contribution from the Pulitzer Prize winner is no exception.

Friedman starts by giving a frank and accurate evaluation of the Obama administration’s record in the Middle East. He’s right when he says, “They’ve alienated all sides and generated zero progress.”  But he heads quickly downhill from there as he sinks yet again into the quicksand of moral equivalence that renders his evaluation of the situation as useless as those of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

After making a specious comparison between Israel’s democratically elected government and the corrupt terrorist-infested coalition that speaks for the Palestinians, Friedman makes an astonishingly stupid suggestion. Instead of vetoing the Palestinian attempt to get United Nations recognition for a Palestinian state without the Palestinians having to recognize Israel’s legitimacy or give up the conflict, Friedman thinks the United States should support a different sort of UN dictat.

Friedman wants the Security Council to update Resolution 181 which was the original measure supporting the partition of the British Mandate for Palestine into Arab and Jewish states with an international condominium ruling Jerusalem. The new version would again recognize two states but say the 1967 borders would divide the two “with mutually agreed border adjustments and security arrangements for both sides.” According to Friedman, that would make everyone happy. The Palestinians would get their state, and the Israelis would presumably get security and the ability to hold onto parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank with large Jewish populations.

But the problem with this is the same one that sunk the original UN resolution: the Palestinians don’t want to make peace or recognize Israel.

Had the Arabs of Palestine wanted to live in peace alongside the Jews in 1947 when 181 was passed, they could have done so. Their problem with the resolution wasn’t the borders the UN drew up that gave the Jews far less territory and security than even the truncated ’67 lines. It was the idea of letting the Jews have any sovereignty over any part of the country. That’s the same reason why Palestinian leaders have rejected Israel’s offer of a state three times in the last 11 years. And it’s why the Palestinians have walked away from negotiations and ignored President Obama’s attempts to entice them back to the table with his calls for Israeli concessions that have tilted the diplomatic playing field in their direction.

Friedman–who writes this column in his usual graceless, smart-aleck prose style–describes both the Israelis and the Palestinians as lemons from which the Obama administration should concoct UN lemonade. But the real lemon here is Friedman’s refusal to face up to the reality of Palestinian political culture in which their national identity is based on rejection of Zionism’s legitimacy. Any proposed “solution” to the problem that doesn’t take this into account is as useless as a collection of Friedman’s tired columns on the subject.

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Karzai Isn’t Helping

Those Americans who have advocated against a drastic drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan have a difficult task persuading their fellow countrymen this war is still worth fighting. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai is making it even harder than it needs to be. Playing to some of his local constituencies, Karzai lashed out at NATO forces on the radio Saturday, calling them “occupiers” and denouncing them for causing civilian casualties and for serving their own interests in the country. He also made some confusing remarks about the coalition negotiating with the Taliban, a tactic he has supported.

U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry responded to Karzai today during a speech. His comments were remarkably frank for a diplomat but very much to the point:

When we hear ourselves being called occupiers and worse, and our generous aid programs dismissed as totally ineffective and the source of all corruption, our pride is offended and we begin to lose our inspiration to carry on.

Alls this makes one wonder if Karzai has a clue as to how tenuous support for continuing the fight in Afghanistan is in the United States. If the Afghan president’s goal was to undermine support for the U.S. role in the conflict, he couldn’t have said anything more likely to encourage anti-war activists and to discourage those who think the cause is still worthwhile.

Many Americans are under the misapprehension now that Osama bin Laden is dead the war in Afghanistan has no point. But we are not just fighting al-Qaeda. The Taliban, which hosted the terrorist group and which oppressed its own population during their reign of terror, is integral to the Islamist terror network at war with the West. Allowing them to prevail in Afghanistan would be a terrible defeat for both the United States and the Afghan people. That is why a precipitate U.S. withdrawal would be a disaster for both countries.

For all of his bluster, it is hard to believe that Karzai really thinks his government can survive in the long term without foreign assistance. But if he wants to try his luck without American help, statements such as his speech on Saturday are the best way to achieve that purpose. Any more such encouragement from our ally will further undermine support for continuing the war there.

Those Americans who have advocated against a drastic drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan have a difficult task persuading their fellow countrymen this war is still worth fighting. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai is making it even harder than it needs to be. Playing to some of his local constituencies, Karzai lashed out at NATO forces on the radio Saturday, calling them “occupiers” and denouncing them for causing civilian casualties and for serving their own interests in the country. He also made some confusing remarks about the coalition negotiating with the Taliban, a tactic he has supported.

U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry responded to Karzai today during a speech. His comments were remarkably frank for a diplomat but very much to the point:

When we hear ourselves being called occupiers and worse, and our generous aid programs dismissed as totally ineffective and the source of all corruption, our pride is offended and we begin to lose our inspiration to carry on.

Alls this makes one wonder if Karzai has a clue as to how tenuous support for continuing the fight in Afghanistan is in the United States. If the Afghan president’s goal was to undermine support for the U.S. role in the conflict, he couldn’t have said anything more likely to encourage anti-war activists and to discourage those who think the cause is still worthwhile.

Many Americans are under the misapprehension now that Osama bin Laden is dead the war in Afghanistan has no point. But we are not just fighting al-Qaeda. The Taliban, which hosted the terrorist group and which oppressed its own population during their reign of terror, is integral to the Islamist terror network at war with the West. Allowing them to prevail in Afghanistan would be a terrible defeat for both the United States and the Afghan people. That is why a precipitate U.S. withdrawal would be a disaster for both countries.

For all of his bluster, it is hard to believe that Karzai really thinks his government can survive in the long term without foreign assistance. But if he wants to try his luck without American help, statements such as his speech on Saturday are the best way to achieve that purpose. Any more such encouragement from our ally will further undermine support for continuing the war there.

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The Times’ Campaign for an All-Star Boycott

Most critics of the New York Times are well aware of the liberal bias on its news pages that is as pronounced as the leftward slant on its opinion pages. But the Grey Lady’s sports section is just as bad.

In the last several years, the “Sports of the Times” has had two egregious examples of politicized coverage. One was the campaign for changes at the private golf club that hosts the Masters tournament. The other was its disgraceful coverage of the rape accusations lodged against the Duke lacrosse team. Long after the rest of the media acknowledged the story was a hoax, the Times continued piling on the falsehoods. After the dust settled and there was no longer even a shadow of doubt about the innocence of the young men the Times reporters and columnists had done their best to besmirch, there were no apologies. Being the Times and imbued with a sense of high liberal moral purpose means you never have to say you’re sorry.

So it was hardly surprising to see the Times lead its sports section yesterday with a highly politicized piece by author Jonathan Mahler (whom we hear will be a regular contributor to the section) seeking to incite protests against the Major League Baseball All-Star Game next month.  Mahler’s problem with the Summer Classic is it is being held at the home ballpark of the Arizona Diamondbacks. We’re told that’s a bad thing because Arizona passed a law calling for local law enforcement agencies to ask people (already being questioned about possible misbehavior) about their immigration status. The law may be unnecessary, but it is neither racial profiling nor a modern equivalent of Jim Crow. Even those of us who believe illegal immigration is not a lethal threat to the nation believe the laws concerning entry into the country should be enforced. But the law, which has yet to be enforced due to court challenges, offends the sensibilities of some Hispanics. That is enough for some to justify a boycott of the entire state until it cries uncle the way it did 20 years ago over its resistance to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

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Most critics of the New York Times are well aware of the liberal bias on its news pages that is as pronounced as the leftward slant on its opinion pages. But the Grey Lady’s sports section is just as bad.

In the last several years, the “Sports of the Times” has had two egregious examples of politicized coverage. One was the campaign for changes at the private golf club that hosts the Masters tournament. The other was its disgraceful coverage of the rape accusations lodged against the Duke lacrosse team. Long after the rest of the media acknowledged the story was a hoax, the Times continued piling on the falsehoods. After the dust settled and there was no longer even a shadow of doubt about the innocence of the young men the Times reporters and columnists had done their best to besmirch, there were no apologies. Being the Times and imbued with a sense of high liberal moral purpose means you never have to say you’re sorry.

So it was hardly surprising to see the Times lead its sports section yesterday with a highly politicized piece by author Jonathan Mahler (whom we hear will be a regular contributor to the section) seeking to incite protests against the Major League Baseball All-Star Game next month.  Mahler’s problem with the Summer Classic is it is being held at the home ballpark of the Arizona Diamondbacks. We’re told that’s a bad thing because Arizona passed a law calling for local law enforcement agencies to ask people (already being questioned about possible misbehavior) about their immigration status. The law may be unnecessary, but it is neither racial profiling nor a modern equivalent of Jim Crow. Even those of us who believe illegal immigration is not a lethal threat to the nation believe the laws concerning entry into the country should be enforced. But the law, which has yet to be enforced due to court challenges, offends the sensibilities of some Hispanics. That is enough for some to justify a boycott of the entire state until it cries uncle the way it did 20 years ago over its resistance to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The Hispanic contribution to our national pastime has been enormous. It is even more important these days since so many Americans seem to have abandoned it for basketball and football. Yet Mahler considers baseball insufficiently politically correct on Hispanic issues especially when compared to the National Basketball Association and the National Football League. As Mahler notes, Hispanic players had a tough time for many years but the sometimes unhappy history of their experience (which was never as bad as the discrimination suffered by African-Americans) would not justify the sport intervening in the Arizona case as Mahler suggests.

The author is determined to build a case against MLB, but at times blames it for things that are the faults of others. Recent scandals about the recruitment of players in Latin America were actually the fault of local Hispanics, not greedy gringos, who exploited and lied about prospects.

The problem with his piece, as well as his whole argument, is it is premised on an assumption based on a political point of view he merely assumes but does not prove. Some Hispanic players may disagree with the Arizona law, but does that mean all of baseball must agree or be guilty of racism, as Mahler seems to imply. Most Americans support enforcement of laws against illegal immigration, including the Arizona statute. If baseball were to take sides on one side of that battle, what would Mahler have players do who disagree with a boycott of Arizona?

Mahler’s attempt to analogize the disagreement over the Arizona law with the breaking of baseball’s color line also doesn’t hold up. As he himself notes, this is the 100th anniversary of the first Hispanics to play in the big leagues. Nor is there any comparison between Jackie Robinson and the late Roberto Clemente, who was a great player and died tragically but does not deserve the same place in both baseball and American history Robinson deserves.

Americans can disagree about what should be done about illegal immigration, but the best place to hash that out is in the halls of legislatures, the courts and most of all the ballot boxes. Despite the desire of the Times to incite division and anger, baseball should stand clear of that fight.

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The Hypocrisy of Politicians

If George W. Bush were still in office, you could imagine calls for his impeachment for rejecting the advice of the Pentagon general counsel and the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, both of whom told him our intervention in Libya met the definition of “hostilities” under the War Powers Act.

Instead Obama, the former law professor, accepted the advice of his own White House counsel and the State Department legal adviser who offered a sophistic argument that the war in Libya is not really a war and therefore does not have to be approved by Congress within 60 days–as mandated under the War Powers Act.

The hypocrisy of Democrats who once damned Bush for his supposed misuse of presidential powers–in spite of the fact Bush won Congressional approval for his wars–while now defending Obama’s flagrant power grab is stunning. But no more disturbing than the hypocrisy of Republicans like Speaker John Boehner who in the past called the War Powers Act unconstitutional and voted to repeal it–but are now blasting Obama  for refusing to abide by its terms.

It is enough to make you think “principled politician” is an oxymoron.

If George W. Bush were still in office, you could imagine calls for his impeachment for rejecting the advice of the Pentagon general counsel and the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, both of whom told him our intervention in Libya met the definition of “hostilities” under the War Powers Act.

Instead Obama, the former law professor, accepted the advice of his own White House counsel and the State Department legal adviser who offered a sophistic argument that the war in Libya is not really a war and therefore does not have to be approved by Congress within 60 days–as mandated under the War Powers Act.

The hypocrisy of Democrats who once damned Bush for his supposed misuse of presidential powers–in spite of the fact Bush won Congressional approval for his wars–while now defending Obama’s flagrant power grab is stunning. But no more disturbing than the hypocrisy of Republicans like Speaker John Boehner who in the past called the War Powers Act unconstitutional and voted to repeal it–but are now blasting Obama  for refusing to abide by its terms.

It is enough to make you think “principled politician” is an oxymoron.

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Have GOP Isolationists an Answer for McCain?

Senator John McCain’s influence on Republican activists may be minimal these days, but his comments on ABC’s “This Week” program today still put the GOP presidential field on notice they won’t be able to get away with appeasing isolationist elements in the party with impunity. In a pre-recorded interview with Christiane Amanpour, McCain took a shot at those presidential candidates as well as members of Congress who are opposing the U.S. intervention in Libya and calling for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

While some Republicans, such as the surging Michele Bachmann, have denounced the Libyan intervention and claimed it was unrelated to U.S. security, McCain says they aren’t thinking clearly about the use of American power. McCain pointed out the need to stop the Qaddafi regime from committing mass murder in Libya was very real:

If we had not intervened, Qaddafi was at the gates of Benghazi. He said he was going to go house to house to kill everybody. That’s a city of 700,000 people. What would be saying now if we had allowed for that to happen?

McCain is right. I wonder what, if anything, the anti-interventionists have to say in reply. But the main point here isn’t so much about Libya, it’s about the Republican vision of America’s role in the world. As McCain pointed out, the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan was unafraid to stand up freedom anywhere in the world.

While Bachmann’s objections to Libya are probably more a matter of knee jerk opposition to anything proposed by President Obama, the paleoconservative “Pat Buchanan wing” of the GOP seems to be making common cause with liberal-leaning “realists” like Jon Huntsman in order to create the impression Republicans have gone back to the sort of isolationism that characterized the GOP in the pre-World War Two era.

Though such sentiments earn Republicans applause from liberal newspapers and pundits, this actually gives an opening to a candidate like Tim Pawlenty. Were Pawlenty to start hammering Bachmann and Mitt Romney, who waffled on Afghanistan in last Monday’s debate, he might discover a more compelling rationale for a candidacy that is otherwise faltering. War weariness about Afghanistan may be spreading, but the idea an anti-war candidate can win the GOP grass roots is a proposition difficult to accept.

Even more to the point, McCain’s comments point up the difficulty for any Republican to publicly espouse an anti-war stance, since it will expose them to stiff opposition from a party core that is still intensely patriotic and deeply committed to the idea that bugging out of wars against Islamist terrorists is not something Republicans do.

Senator John McCain’s influence on Republican activists may be minimal these days, but his comments on ABC’s “This Week” program today still put the GOP presidential field on notice they won’t be able to get away with appeasing isolationist elements in the party with impunity. In a pre-recorded interview with Christiane Amanpour, McCain took a shot at those presidential candidates as well as members of Congress who are opposing the U.S. intervention in Libya and calling for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

While some Republicans, such as the surging Michele Bachmann, have denounced the Libyan intervention and claimed it was unrelated to U.S. security, McCain says they aren’t thinking clearly about the use of American power. McCain pointed out the need to stop the Qaddafi regime from committing mass murder in Libya was very real:

If we had not intervened, Qaddafi was at the gates of Benghazi. He said he was going to go house to house to kill everybody. That’s a city of 700,000 people. What would be saying now if we had allowed for that to happen?

McCain is right. I wonder what, if anything, the anti-interventionists have to say in reply. But the main point here isn’t so much about Libya, it’s about the Republican vision of America’s role in the world. As McCain pointed out, the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan was unafraid to stand up freedom anywhere in the world.

While Bachmann’s objections to Libya are probably more a matter of knee jerk opposition to anything proposed by President Obama, the paleoconservative “Pat Buchanan wing” of the GOP seems to be making common cause with liberal-leaning “realists” like Jon Huntsman in order to create the impression Republicans have gone back to the sort of isolationism that characterized the GOP in the pre-World War Two era.

Though such sentiments earn Republicans applause from liberal newspapers and pundits, this actually gives an opening to a candidate like Tim Pawlenty. Were Pawlenty to start hammering Bachmann and Mitt Romney, who waffled on Afghanistan in last Monday’s debate, he might discover a more compelling rationale for a candidacy that is otherwise faltering. War weariness about Afghanistan may be spreading, but the idea an anti-war candidate can win the GOP grass roots is a proposition difficult to accept.

Even more to the point, McCain’s comments point up the difficulty for any Republican to publicly espouse an anti-war stance, since it will expose them to stiff opposition from a party core that is still intensely patriotic and deeply committed to the idea that bugging out of wars against Islamist terrorists is not something Republicans do.

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Why Straw Polls Are Not News

Those hungry for news about the 2012 Republican nomination race may be interested in the outcome of the straw poll held this past week at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. But they shouldn’t be. Straw polls are merely the measure of how much candidates want to spend to get people to show up to vote for them. They tell us nothing about the actual appeal of the contenders to real voters or even real GOP activists.

The evidence for this was in the identity of the first and second place winners at the RLC poll: Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman. Paul has a dedicated cadre of libertarians who are willing to pay to attend events and vote in large numbers even if their extremist views as well as those of their candidate are not representative of most Republicans. Huntsman’s second place finish astonished some observers, since it is well known that while the former Utah governor has a lot of support on the editorial boards of the Washington Post and the New York Times, he has virtually no support among grass roots Republicans who usually attend events like the RLC. But it’s really not surprising. As Jonathan Martin reported in Politico, Huntsman paid people to show up and vote for him, something he won’t be able to get away with once the voting starts for real.

Those hungry for news about the 2012 Republican nomination race may be interested in the outcome of the straw poll held this past week at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. But they shouldn’t be. Straw polls are merely the measure of how much candidates want to spend to get people to show up to vote for them. They tell us nothing about the actual appeal of the contenders to real voters or even real GOP activists.

The evidence for this was in the identity of the first and second place winners at the RLC poll: Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman. Paul has a dedicated cadre of libertarians who are willing to pay to attend events and vote in large numbers even if their extremist views as well as those of their candidate are not representative of most Republicans. Huntsman’s second place finish astonished some observers, since it is well known that while the former Utah governor has a lot of support on the editorial boards of the Washington Post and the New York Times, he has virtually no support among grass roots Republicans who usually attend events like the RLC. But it’s really not surprising. As Jonathan Martin reported in Politico, Huntsman paid people to show up and vote for him, something he won’t be able to get away with once the voting starts for real.

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