Commentary Magazine


Posts For: August 26, 2011

Rasmussen Poll: Obama Handling of Economy Drops to New Low

Ho, hum. Another poll –this time from Scott Rasmussen — finds President Obama’s handling on the economy has dropped to a new low.

The most recent Rasmussen Reports finds just 29 percent of voters believe the president is doing a good or an excellent job on the economy. More than half — 51 percent — give Obama poor marks on the economy, the most pessimistic assessment of his economic performance to date.

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Ho, hum. Another poll –this time from Scott Rasmussen — finds President Obama’s handling on the economy has dropped to a new low.

The most recent Rasmussen Reports finds just 29 percent of voters believe the president is doing a good or an excellent job on the economy. More than half — 51 percent — give Obama poor marks on the economy, the most pessimistic assessment of his economic performance to date.

Only 56 percent of Democrats still give the president good or excellent marks on the economy, while 79 percent of Republicans think he’’s doing a poor job. Among those not affiliated with either major party, only two in 10 (21 percent) offer good or excellent reviews while 55 percent give poor reviews.

As we get closer to the election, public confidence in Obama continues to drop. At some point, presumably, this has to stop. But my guess is we’re not at that point yet.

 

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Perry’s “Pro-Sharia” Curriculum Debunked

The back-and-forth within the anti-sharia community about whether or not Rick Perry is a “fifth columnist” candidate continued this week, with Center for Security Policy’s Dave Reaboi and Ace of Spades both coming to Perry’s defense.

At Counter Contempt, David Stein also analyzed the “controversial” Muslim history curriculum Perry helped coordinate in Texas, and skewered the idea that it’s a pro-Sharia program. You can comb over the whole plan here, but here are a few excerpts:

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The back-and-forth within the anti-sharia community about whether or not Rick Perry is a “fifth columnist” candidate continued this week, with Center for Security Policy’s Dave Reaboi and Ace of Spades both coming to Perry’s defense.

At Counter Contempt, David Stein also analyzed the “controversial” Muslim history curriculum Perry helped coordinate in Texas, and skewered the idea that it’s a pro-Sharia program. You can comb over the whole plan here, but here are a few excerpts:

1. Countries of Western Civilization have secular governments, which means great toleration of cultural and religious differences.

2. Countries of Islamic Civilization for the most part either have religiously dominated governments or demands to make them more religious, which mean less toleration of cultural and religious differences.

3. Muslims often lack respect for Western traditions and points of view. The Muslim relationship to the West is colored by the belief that Western beliefs [whether Christian or atheist] are defective and therefore inferior to Islam.

It’s hard to imagine how anyone could interpret that as “pro-Sharia.” But the real gem is the lesson on Israel, which sounds like it could have been lifted from a ZOA pamphlet:

Since the end of World War One Palestine had been under the control of Great Britain, who at first welcomed the hardworking Jewish settlers. They made the most of the harsh conditions, bringing economic success to an area that had for a very long time been poor. Arab natives also welcomed the newcomers. But as the number of Jewish settlers increased and their economic success contrasted sharply with the economic backwardness of the Palestinian Arabs, the Arab attitude began to change.

Immediately, all its Arab neighbors declared war on Israel. As a result of this war, the territory of Israel expanded somewhat, and many Arab citizens of Israel fled to a small corner of Israel called the Gaza Strip. The Arab states refused to admit these refugees, preferring them to stay there as a testimony to the evil of the Jewish state. They are still there. These Arabs began calling themselves Palestinians and demanding a state of their own.

Ace calls Stein’s post “the greatest rejoinder in the history of blogdom,” but predicts the lesson plan might actually open Perry up to charges of anti-Muslim bias from the left. I wouldn’t be surprised, but so far liberal bloggers have actually been pretty supportive of the curriculum. Salon’s Justin Elliott (whose original article on Perry sparked this whole debate) wrote that it “seems to be a sensible introduction to the Islamic world” — though it’s not clear whether he read the entire lesson plan or just a summary of it. Meanwhile, bloggers Pam Geller and Robert Spencer still seem to think Perry’s the candidate the Islamists have all been waiting for. Could we be heading to a point where Perry is accused of being both an Islamofascist sympathizer and an anti-Muslim bigot? And if so, can we just split the difference and call it a day?

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The Muslim Brotherhood Wants to Regulate Foreign Tourists

Egyptian journalist Mohamed abd al-Raouf told me the entire tourism industry in his country is likely to resist the Muslim Brotherhood because Islamism in anything but its weakest possible form will destroy business. The AKP hasn’t harmed tourism in Turkey, but it hasn’t placed a ban on alcohol, covered up women, or done much of anything, really, that makes vacationers think of the Saudis, the Iranian regime, or the Taliban. The Muslim Brotherhood, though, just announced it wants to regulate the behavior of foreign tourists who visit beach resorts like Taba and Sharm el-Sheikh.

“Beach tourism,” said Mohamed Saad al-Katatny from the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, “must take the values and norms of our society into account. We must place regulations on tourists wishing to visit Egypt, which we will announce in advance.”

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Egyptian journalist Mohamed abd al-Raouf told me the entire tourism industry in his country is likely to resist the Muslim Brotherhood because Islamism in anything but its weakest possible form will destroy business. The AKP hasn’t harmed tourism in Turkey, but it hasn’t placed a ban on alcohol, covered up women, or done much of anything, really, that makes vacationers think of the Saudis, the Iranian regime, or the Taliban. The Muslim Brotherhood, though, just announced it wants to regulate the behavior of foreign tourists who visit beach resorts like Taba and Sharm el-Sheikh.

“Beach tourism,” said Mohamed Saad al-Katatny from the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, “must take the values and norms of our society into account. We must place regulations on tourists wishing to visit Egypt, which we will announce in advance.”

He’s proposing a law that would ban the wearing of shorts and bikinis on Egypt’s beaches. Tourists should, of course, respect the local sensibilities in the places they visit. Conservative dress codes, though, are set aside on beaches all over the world, even in Muslim countries. That, however, is too much for al-Katatny. For him, the code must be enforced everywhere and by law.

Just like authoritarian nanny staters in the United States (only with a theocratic twist and a much heavier hand), the regulations will not stop at just one if the Brotherhood gets its way. The regulations will grow in number and severity if the Islamists are not checked by other Egyptians or by limitations placed on the state. The tourism industry there is enormous, though, and as my Egyptian colleague said, it will surely resist.

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Biden’s Answer For Economic Growth: Increase Stimulus

In the wake of the Commerce Department’s report downgrading our economic growth in the second quarter of this year to a measly 1.0 percent (which followed  a first quarter growth rate of 0.4 percent), Reuters reports, “Vice President Joe Biden said on Friday the U.S. economy needed more stimulus to get it moving, putting in a plug for government measures shortly before the White House unveils new proposals to boost job growth.”

And why not? After all, we haven’t tried that before.

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In the wake of the Commerce Department’s report downgrading our economic growth in the second quarter of this year to a measly 1.0 percent (which followed  a first quarter growth rate of 0.4 percent), Reuters reports, “Vice President Joe Biden said on Friday the U.S. economy needed more stimulus to get it moving, putting in a plug for government measures shortly before the White House unveils new proposals to boost job growth.”

And why not? After all, we haven’t tried that before.

Oh, I guess we have.

Who knows? Maybe it’ll work like a charm the second time around.

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No Obama Vindication in Libya

Apparently Barack Obama’s lead-from-behind Libya policy has been vindicated. Or so we’ve been hearing from the president’s overjoyed friends in the media. The latest is David Remnick, who writes in the New Yorker, “Part of Obama’s anti-doctrinal doctrine is that it insists on the recognition of differences in a way that Bush’s fixed ideas did not.”

In other words, our thoughtful president, unlike our cowboy president, grasps critical nuances of culture, region, and politics. This, in turn, allows him to tailor his policies to meet each unique challenge—like Libya—on its own terms. Bravo. Except this oft-told tale fails to explain why Obama has handled every wildly varying case of threatened democrats—whether in Honduras, Eastern Europe, Iran, Egypt, or Libya—in the exact same way: indifference followed by tepid, last-second support for freedom.

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Apparently Barack Obama’s lead-from-behind Libya policy has been vindicated. Or so we’ve been hearing from the president’s overjoyed friends in the media. The latest is David Remnick, who writes in the New Yorker, “Part of Obama’s anti-doctrinal doctrine is that it insists on the recognition of differences in a way that Bush’s fixed ideas did not.”

In other words, our thoughtful president, unlike our cowboy president, grasps critical nuances of culture, region, and politics. This, in turn, allows him to tailor his policies to meet each unique challenge—like Libya—on its own terms. Bravo. Except this oft-told tale fails to explain why Obama has handled every wildly varying case of threatened democrats—whether in Honduras, Eastern Europe, Iran, Egypt, or Libya—in the exact same way: indifference followed by tepid, last-second support for freedom.

Considering the thousands of Libyan lives lost to the president’s lead-from-behind strategy, his supporters’ boasts are indecent. Forget that they are declaring Mission Accomplished so prematurely as to make George W. Bush look insecure. They are claiming victory while people are uncovering mass-graves full of Libyans who died unnecessarily these past months. The fact remains that the U.S. entered this fight both later and more halfheartedly than we should have done. Back when Obama announced our involvement in Libya, he said, “As president, I refuse to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.” Instead, he would wait just long enough to see them afterwards.

NATO and the Libyan rebels are taking down Qaddafi in spite of Obama’s reluctance, not because of it. Other parties haven’t been so lucky. Just ask Iran’s democrats. By the time the administration was shamed into taking the side of the Green Movement in the summer of 2009, Mahmoud Ahamadinejad had neutralized protestors with a couple rounds of shootings, rapes, and imprisonments. It’s worth noting that despite that absolute failure of American policy, Obama’s fans were praising his thoughtfulness and reticence back then too.

What happened in Libya is that this recent pattern of American anti-leadership and its trail of failure was finally cut short by our democratic allies.  Nicolas Sarkozy, who had once called Barack Obama’s Iran policy “utterly immature,” led France in an inspired, but necessarily limited, imitation of American leadership. The U.S. was dragged into this noble mission kicking and screaming.

What’s wrong with that? As Robert Kagan recently said of America, “When we begin to cut our capacities so that we are not playing the role that everybody expects us to play, that is when the decline starts. And I really worry that we are talking ourselves into a decline that needn’t occur and that we are committing a kind of pre-emptive superpower suicide for fear of dying.” If we’re lucky, Libya was a mere cry for help and not the sincere attempt to end it all. Let’s not forget, our enemies are watching.

So what, exactly, was Obama right about? Being the last of our allies to join the fight against Qaddafi? Being among the last to recognize Libya’s National Transitional Council? Dragging out the effort by unnecessary months? Letting other NATO powers literally run out of ammunition before we stepped up the fight? Leaving NATO partners in a state of grave doubt about American reliability?

If there’s some victory to be had in predicting that Europe will exhaust itself in a protracted effort to cover for an absentee America then absolutely, the triumph is all Obama’s. But I’m not so sure our enemies or our allies will see it that way.

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Inhofe Blasts Romney’s Comments

Sen. James Inhofe endorsed Rick Perry this week, and he’s not wasting any time going after the competition. In an interview with the Washington Times’ Ben Birnbaum, Inhofe took a swipe at Romney’s wishy-washy position on anthropogenic climate change:

 “I think people need to make up their minds,” said Mr. Inhofe. “You know, we’ve had a lot of time, 10 years we’ve been thinking about this. We ought to decide where we are and not try to play both sides.” …

Mr. Inhofe, who says he knows Mr. Romney personally and likes him “very much,” speculated that Mr. Romney was trying to “broaden himself to capture part of the other side.”

“I think it’s not a good political move,” Mr. Inhofe said. “It doesn’t show a lot of strength when you don’t have a firm opinion on an issue that’s been around for 10 years.”

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Sen. James Inhofe endorsed Rick Perry this week, and he’s not wasting any time going after the competition. In an interview with the Washington Times’ Ben Birnbaum, Inhofe took a swipe at Romney’s wishy-washy position on anthropogenic climate change:

 “I think people need to make up their minds,” said Mr. Inhofe. “You know, we’ve had a lot of time, 10 years we’ve been thinking about this. We ought to decide where we are and not try to play both sides.” …

Mr. Inhofe, who says he knows Mr. Romney personally and likes him “very much,” speculated that Mr. Romney was trying to “broaden himself to capture part of the other side.”

“I think it’s not a good political move,” Mr. Inhofe said. “It doesn’t show a lot of strength when you don’t have a firm opinion on an issue that’s been around for 10 years.”

Inhofe’s specifically referring to Romney’s comments in New Hampshire yesterday, when the candidate refused to take a firm stance on the issue.

“Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that, but I think that it is,” Romney said. “I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.”

Climate change became an issue in the GOP race after Perry outed himself as a skeptic. Jon Huntsman’s campaign immediately went on the attack, branding Perry as “anti-science.” So Romney’s caution on the subject is somewhat understandable. At the same time, skepticism of man-made climate change is a widely-accepted idea in the Republican Party, and it has been for some time. The American public is also increasingly rejecting the idea global warming is a result of human activity. A Gallup poll released earlier today showed the number of Americans who believe humans are fully or partially responsible for global warming has fallen from 61 percent in 2008 to 50 percent this year – a significant 11-point decline in just two years.

Romney’s trying to play the more centrist candidate in contrast to Perry’s brash southern conservatism. But his reputation as a political opportunist and a flip-flopper is already a liability, and refusing to choose sides on an issue like this will only leave him open to more attacks.

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Answering Jonathan Alter’s Challenge

“Tell me again why Barack Obama has been such a bad president?” Jonathan Alter writes in his column.

Alter tells us he’s not talking here about Obama as a tactician and communicator, and he’s not interested in hearing ad hominem attacks or about people’s generalized “disappointment.” (Neither am I.) He wants to know on a substantive basis why Obama should be judged to have failed so far.

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“Tell me again why Barack Obama has been such a bad president?” Jonathan Alter writes in his column.

Alter tells us he’s not talking here about Obama as a tactician and communicator, and he’s not interested in hearing ad hominem attacks or about people’s generalized “disappointment.” (Neither am I.) He wants to know on a substantive basis why Obama should be judged to have failed so far.

In Alter’s words, “Your mission, Jim [or anyone else for that matter], should you decide to accept it, is to be specific and rational, not vague and visceral.”

Consider the mission accepted.

In one sense, the answer to the Alter challenge is obvious: Obama has failed by his own standards. It’s the Obama administration, not the RNC, that said if his stimulus package was passed unemployment would not exceed 8 percent. It’s Obama who joked there weren’t as many “shovel-ready” jobs as he thought.

It’s Obama who promised to cut the deficit in half. It’s Obama who said if we passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the health care cost curve would go down rather than up. It’s Obama who promised us recovery and prosperity, hope and change. What we’ve gotten instead is the opposite.

What makes Alter’s challenge particularly delicious is during the Bush years he spoke out about the importance of a “reality-based” presidency (as opposed to a “faith-based” one). “They [Republicans] could end up winning in November by distorting the argument,” Alter said in 2006. “But on credibility and the facts, they’ve lost.”

With Alter’s devotion to credibility and facts in mind, let’s take an empirical, reality-based look at economic life in America during the Age of Obama:

* Under Obama’s stewardship, we have lost 2.2 million jobs (and 900,000 full-time jobs in the last four months alone). He is now on track to have the worst jobs record of any president in the modern era.

* The unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent v. 7.8 percent the month Obama took office.

* July marked the 30th consecutive month in which the unemployment rate was above the 8 percent level, the highest since the Great Depression.

* Since May 2009 — roughly 14 weeks into the Obama administration — the unemployment rate has been above 10 percent during three months, above 9 percent during 22 months, and above 8 percent during two months.

* Chronic unemployment is worse than during the Great Depression.

* The youth employment rate is at the lowest level since records were first kept in 1948.

* The share of the eligible population holding a job has declined to the lowest level since the early 1980s.

* The housing crisis is worse than in the Great Depression. (Home values are worth roughly one-third less than they were five years ago.)

* The rate of economic growth under Obama has been only slightly higher than the 1930s, the decade of the Great Depression. From the first quarter of 2010 through the first quarter of 2011, we experienced five consecutive quarters of slowing growth. America’s GDP for the second quarter of this year was a sickly 1.0 percent; in the first quarter, it was 0.4 percent.

* Fiscal year 2011 will mark the third straight year with deficits in excess of $1 trillion. Prior to the Obama presidency, we had never experienced a deficit in excess of $1 trillion.

* During the Obama presidency, America has increased its debt by $4 trillion.

That is to say, Obama has achieved in two-and-a-half years what it took George W. Bush two full terms in office to achieve — and Obama, when he was running for president, slammed Bush’s record as being “unpatriotic.”

* America saw its credit rating downgraded for the first time in history under the Obama presidency.

* Consumer confidence has plunged to the lowest level since the Carter presidency.

*  The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Obama’s watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty.

* A record number of Americans now rely on the federal government’s food stamps program. More than 44.5 million Americans received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, a 12 percent increase from one year ago.

There is more that can be said, but you get the point.

What makes this record doubly horrifying is rapid growth is the norm after particularly deep recessions — but under Obama, our recovery has been historically weak. President Obama (and Alter) can blame his predecessor, the Tea Party, the Arab Spring, the Japanese tsunami, events in Europe, ATM machines and even athlete’s foot for his predicament. It doesn’t really matter, as even Obama conceded during the early months of his presidency, when he declared, “One nice thing about the situation I find myself in is that I will be held accountable.”

Indeed. Obama “owns” the economy, as both his senior aide David Plouffe and the chair of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, have said.

“If you lose a common ground of facts on which to move forward as a society, nobody can agree on anything, and you can’t pull together to solve problems,” Alter told Keith Olbermann during the Bush administration.

I agree. And it is on the common ground of facts that we can declare–in a calm, specific, reasonable, rational and empirical manner–Obama to be an utter failure.

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Still Time For a Late-Entry Candidate?

Politico reports on the time-crunch Sarah Palin will face if she decides to make a late entry into the presidential race. In short, there are a lot of legal hoops and tight deadlines a late-entry candidate would have to deal with. The most difficult obstacle seems to be the convoluted requirements to get on each state ballot:

But if she does want to run for president, she’ll have to get on the ballot. Palin has gestured vaguely at various self-imposed deadlines — the latest being late September — but there are some drop-dead dates that she cannot escape, starting with Oct. 31.

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Politico reports on the time-crunch Sarah Palin will face if she decides to make a late entry into the presidential race. In short, there are a lot of legal hoops and tight deadlines a late-entry candidate would have to deal with. The most difficult obstacle seems to be the convoluted requirements to get on each state ballot:

But if she does want to run for president, she’ll have to get on the ballot. Palin has gestured vaguely at various self-imposed deadlines — the latest being late September — but there are some drop-dead dates that she cannot escape, starting with Oct. 31.

That’s the day presidential candidates’ names have to be submitted for inclusion on the primary ballot in Florida. By the next day, candidates have to file for the South Carolina primary ballot — along with a $25,000 fee. And the deadlines for other states come fast and furious after that. It’s $1,000 by Nov. 18 in New Hampshire. On Dec. 5, thousands of signed petitions are due in Illinois.

When we talk about the difficulties late-entry candidates face, they usually revolve around infrastructure: will all of the competent staffers be snatched up by other campaigns? Will major donors have already made other commitments? But the complex and time-consuming requirements are also significant factors. A late campaign will need to be disciplined and coordinated enough to get through the process.

Experts told Politico there’s still time for a candidate to get in – but not much:

“It isn’t inconceivable that somebody could get into the race as late as the first or second week in October and manage to get it all done,” provided they knew what they were doing, said Matt Seyfang, a Democratic lawyer who’s handled ballot-access and delegate issues for five presidential campaigns, including Bill Clinton’s 1992 effort — which didn’t get started until October 1991. But any later than that, he said, would probably be impossible.

It’s true Clinton didn’t get into the race until Oct. 3, 1991. But there’s a key difference here. The primaries have been starting earlier and earlier each year. Back in 1992, the contests started with the Iowa caucuses in mid-February. Now, there’s a distinct possibility primaries could begin in early January – or even as soon as December 2011. A candidate starting in mid-to-late September would need to be incredibly well-organized, with a strong support base and high name-recognition. Palin has the latter two down, but does she have the former? So far, there’s not much indication she’s been building the necessary infrastructure for a campaign. And she’s running out of time.

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Rick Perry, David Brooks, and the Conservative Culture Clash

Jonah Goldberg has an excellent column today defending Rick Perry against the coastal cultural bias that resurfaces every election cycle. But Goldberg also grapples with the fact that he’s growing weary of fighting the silly battle. “Conservatism is starting to have an identity-politics problem all its own,” he writes, adding that conservatives should focus their defense of a candidate on his plans, not his personality.

But today’s David Brooks column presents an interesting challenge to Goldberg.

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Jonah Goldberg has an excellent column today defending Rick Perry against the coastal cultural bias that resurfaces every election cycle. But Goldberg also grapples with the fact that he’s growing weary of fighting the silly battle. “Conservatism is starting to have an identity-politics problem all its own,” he writes, adding that conservatives should focus their defense of a candidate on his plans, not his personality.

But today’s David Brooks column presents an interesting challenge to Goldberg.

Why might Perry win the nomination? Because, in Brooks’ opinion, “Perry’s campaign message is so simple it doesn’t take Einstein to keep repeating it from now until Election Day.” But Brooks moves beyond insinuations that Perry is unintelligent to casting the campaign in a way that moves the discussion away from Goldberg’s suggested path:

It used to be that there were many themes in the Republican hymnal. Now there is only one: Government is too big, and it needs to be brought under control. It used to be there were many threats on the horizon. Now there is only one: the interlocking oligarchy of politicians, academics, journalists, consultants and financiers who live along the Acela corridor want to rip America from its traditional moorings.

Perry is benefiting from these shifts. He does best among the most conservative voters. He has a simple and fashionable message: I will bring government under control. His persona is perfectly tuned to offend people along the Acela corridor and to rally those who oppose those people. He does very well with the alternative-reality right — those who don’t believe in global warming, evolution or that Obama was born in the U.S.

That last part is an assumption. And yes, Perry does well with conservative voters. But he also does well with moderate and liberal GOP voters. In fact, in the latest poll, Perry bests Romney among men and women, voters of every single age group, those who attend church regularly and those who never attend church. He polls better than Romney in the South, West, and Midwest and virtually ties Romney in the East.

Then Brooks offers Romney his opinion on how the debate is properly framed: “If voters think Nancy Pelosi is the biggest threat to their children’s prosperity, they will hire Perry. If they think competition from Chinese and Indian workers is the biggest threat, they will hire Romney.”

This is really a caricature of the campaign’s populism that doesn’t give Perry enough credit for the seriousness with which he approaches economic issues. Doesn’t tort reform, for example, keep gaining popularity on the right? Doesn’t Perry own the lion’s share of credit for that?

Goldberg and Brooks are at odds over whether the election should be about policy or personality. But Perry can take comfort in the fact that, if the latest polls are any indication, he beats out the other candidates on both.

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Japan’s Political Science Lesson for Zakaria

More evidence is emerging of Fareed Zakaria’s political science astuteness (see my earlier post here). Recall that Zakaria thought America’s political paralysis was to blame on its presidential system.

Two days ago, Japan’s credit rating (a parliamentary system), was downgraded by Moody’s. Zakaria’s enthusiasm for parliamentarianism over presidentialism rested, among other things, on the evidence that so many parliamentary democracies kept their triple A rating (OK, he included Switzerland in the list, not a parliamentary democracy, but that’s another story), as opposed to the U.S., whose rating was downgraded one notch by Standard & Poor’s in recent weeks.

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More evidence is emerging of Fareed Zakaria’s political science astuteness (see my earlier post here). Recall that Zakaria thought America’s political paralysis was to blame on its presidential system.

Two days ago, Japan’s credit rating (a parliamentary system), was downgraded by Moody’s. Zakaria’s enthusiasm for parliamentarianism over presidentialism rested, among other things, on the evidence that so many parliamentary democracies kept their triple A rating (OK, he included Switzerland in the list, not a parliamentary democracy, but that’s another story), as opposed to the U.S., whose rating was downgraded one notch by Standard & Poor’s in recent weeks.

Never mind that Japan’s downgrading started from AA2, lower than the U.S. current status after its downgrading.

Then, this morning, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto  Kan resigned. He is the fifth to resign in the last five years, though he lasted considerably longer than his predecessor, who held office for barely eight months.

Some system!

Zakaria gets an F in my “101 Introduction” to parliamentary systems. Especially because I suspect that, had the president been a Texan Republican instead of Barack Obama, he’d just blame the president, instead of the system.

 

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