With Newt Gingrich’s poll numbers heading south, conservatives are once again faced with the possibility that Mitt Romney will be the inevitable Republican nominee. So it’s hardly surprising the issue of the former Massachusetts governor’s vulnerability on health care would be revived. Along those lines, Phillip Klein’s piece in today’s Washington Examiner and a blog post by Red State’s Erick Erickson illustrate the continued resistance to Romney by those who believe he cannot be trusted to either successfully oppose Democratic counter-arguments or even to fulfill pledges to repeal Obamacare.
Count me as being one of those who thought the emergence of Obamacare as the one issue that unified the Republican Party in the last two years would constitute an obstacle to his nomination that couldn’t be overcome. But the failure of conservatives to produce a viable candidate has let Romney off the hook. Many on the right, like Klein, think Romney will betray them on health care. But Erickson’s assertion that it is “insanity” for Republicans to nominate either Romney or Newt Gingrich (whom he rightly considers to have a record that is just as questionable on the issue as Romney’s) is itself a sign of a lack of realism about this issue–or the race–on the part of some on the right.
Eric Holder is a man who holds views that are both fairly radical and dangerous. Now under fire for his role in the so-called Fast and Furious gun-running operation, and given his overall (dismal) record, you might think Holder would sheepishly apologize for his incompetence or, at a minimum, remain silent. But you would be wrong.
Holder is instead reaching for the race card.
It’s the question that continues to pop up campaign cycle after campaign cycle – if Ron Paul maintains that he never wrote the racist and extremist content in his newsletters, then who did?
In 2008, Julian Sanchez and Dave Weigel reported that a source close to the Ron Paul campaign claimed that Lew Rockwell actually penned the offending articles, but Paul didn’t want to publicly acknowledge it because the two were still close friends.
As I pointed out in a previous post, many conservatives and Republicans are skeptical of global warming and the role humans play in it. (In a March 2011 Gallup survey, for example, 36 percent of Republicans said they believed pollution from human activities had contributed to increases in Earth’s temperature during the last century, while 62 percent of Republicans attributed the warming only to natural changes in the environment.)
They hold this view despite the fact that the science on global warming is near-unanimous: anthropogenic global warming is real. Groups like the National Academy of Sciences, which in the early 1990s issued a report saying that “there is no evidence yet” of dangerous climate change, have shifted their stance, arguing that human activity is having a substantial impact on increases in global temperatures. But what is less clear are the implications of global warming and what steps need to be taken to address it.
Last night, the North Korean government announced that its Dear Leader of the last 17 years died of “mental and physical exhaustion” on Saturday morning local time. Instead of looking at the death as an opportunity to remember Kim Jong-Il’s excesses, or wondering what his son’s will be, a more fitting eulogy would be for the millions who never lived to see the death of the man who kept their nation in the dark for his 17-year reign.
Because the Kim family has kept North Korea more isolated than any other country in the world, it is impossible for the outside world to know just how many have been murdered. Two years ago, the Wall Street Journal ran a story about a doctoral student who was using a collaborative online program and satellite photos to determine what was happening inside the reclusive Asian nation. He discovered what many North Korean refugees have spoken about at great length–mass graves belonging to North Koreans unlucky enough to be subjects of Kim Jong-Il during a period of famine between 1995 and 1998. Estimates of the death toll in just that three-year period are as high as two million souls.
Meeting recently in South Africa, representatives from 194 countries agreed to the Durban Platform, the latest effort to put the world on a path to cut greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are driving climate change.
One crucial question is whether the Durban conference was even addressing a real issue. For many conservatives, the answer is no. Global warming, it’s said, is a (flawed) theory, not a fact. The idea that human activity is in any way responsible for higher temperatures is false. Advocates of global warming are relying on doctored data. Indeed, global warming is a manufactured crisis being used by environmentalists to impose their left-wing agenda on America. Or so the argument goes.
I think Alana is right when she says the main beneficiary of Newt Gingrich’s free-fall in Iowa will be Mitt Romney. In fact, as I wrote earlier today, any outcome in the first caucus other than a Gingrich victory plays into Romney’s hands. Even if a dark horse candidate like Ron Paul takes the state or one of the second-tier conservatives sneaks into the winner’s circle, the net effect will be to destroy the former Speaker’s hopes for the nomination. That will leave Romney in effect the only mainstream candidate left standing and, though his path will not necessarily be easy, it would then be hard to imagine anyone else becoming the nominee.
But though the various polls of likely caucus-goers are showing Paul, Gingrich and Romney as the only potential winners, a word of caution is needed. Anyone who thinks this isn’t a volatile race whose outlines can change radically from week to week hasn’t been paying attention. It also needs to be pointed out that Tea Partiers and social conservatives who abandon a sinking Gingrich in the next two weeks have two other logical candidates they could turn to: Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. That’s why the betting here is that one of those two will wind up edging into the top three or better in Iowa by the time the caucus is finished.
“If we want the whole world to be rich,” P.J. O’Rourke famously wrote, “we need to start loving wealth. In the difference between poverty and plenty, the problem is the poverty and not the difference.”
This is starkly at odds with President Obama’s overwrought, aggressively divisive rhetoric on income inequality. Demonizing wealth earned honestly, as the president likes to do, puts the nation’s poor at great economic risk. Defending the free market system that enables the poor to rise is essential to moving beyond divisive economics and giving everyone the same opportunity. That is the crux of Jeb Bush’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today:
Republicans scored a victory on Saturday, when the Senate passed a payroll tax extension deal that included a provision that would force President Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline construction within 60 days. The choice puts Obama in a tricky political predicament, as labor unions and environmentalists are bitterly divided over the Keystone issue:
If Republicans get their way, President Barack Obama, right around Valentine’s Day, could have to weigh in for the second time in about three months on permitting the Keystone XL pipeline that divides his environmental and labor bases.…
For a White House sensitive to economic concerns, it’s not exactly an ideal scenario as it shifts into reelection mode. Hence the calculation last week from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to elevate the profile of the seemingly parochial energy issue, which months ago was mired among a laundry list of Republican grievances with the Obama administration.
The Wall Street Journal reports today the Obama administration is engaging in talks with America’s European allies and various Arab states about what would happen in the event of an embargo on the export of Iranian oil. Such a measure was made possible late last week when Congress passed the Defense Authorization Act. The bill included a measure that would ban any dealings with financial entities that dealt with Iran’s Central Bank; the institution by which Tehran is able to conduct its oil trades. The U.S.-led discussions seemingly are a precursor to a move to ramp up sanctions on the Iranians so as to force them to abandon their quest for nuclear weapons.
If the United States were to actually enforce a ban on the Iranian Central Bank, then cooperation between the Arab states, Europe and the U.S. would be necessary to limit the impact of a rise in oil prices that might inevitably result from this course of action. But the real question we should be asking today is not so much “when” the ban would be enacted but “if.” Since President Obama had opposed passage of the bank transaction ban and insisted upon and got the inclusion of waivers in the legislation that would ignore the law, it is far from clear that Iran is actually in any trouble. For three years, the ayatollahs have been acting as if they believed Obama wasn’t serious about stopping him. We may soon see whether or not they are right.
I wanted to add my thoughts to what Jonathan wrote in his tribute to Vaclav Havel.
Havel belongs in the rank of the great dissidents of the 20th century. Yet unlike others (e.g., Andrei Sakharov and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn), Havel became the political leader of his nation. Few people who have a hand in bringing down a monstrous regime then help to rebuild their society from the ashes. This gave Havel a rare, even unique, perspective.
Kim Jong Il’s death is a kind of victory—for him. He died of natural causes, in power, with nuclear technology at his disposal, leaving weeping newscasters to sing his praises. He was never toppled, imprisoned or killed. Kim presided over a totalitarian universe so comprehensive it managed to claim a perverse integrity. Free people outside North Korea have excised the country and its suffering millions from their daily consciences, even as they rally in support of Arab freedom or give toward the relief of African starvation. North Korea is a hell on earth that the earth would just as soon ignore.
Kim consigned generations to life and death inside a network of barbarous prisons. An entire nation, tortured and malnourished, in an age that’s elsewhere seen the formation of an obese poor class, the supposed defeat of 20th-century evils, and the rise of one-worldist peace dreams. Millions will continue to starve inside these death camps long after Kim’s own peaceful passing. Rogue nuclear powers manage to survive. In the May issue of COMMENTARY, Linda Chavez wrote the short story, “Afterbirth,” which takes readers inside the North Korean monstrosity that will survive the North Korean monster. Here is “Afterbirth”:
If there’s such as a thing as a backhanded endorsement, the Des Moines Register gave a major one to Mitt Romney this weekend. After glossing over some of the justifiable concerns that conservatives have about Romney, the paper piled on the praise for Romneycare and gushed over the candidate’s willingness to compromise with Democrats:
While other Republican candidates are content to bash the president’s health reform law without offering meaningful reforms of their own, Romney has defended the principal goal of the Massachusetts health care legislation, which was to ensure that all residents there had access to health care. …
This ability to see the merits of tough issues from something other than a knee-jerk, ideological perspective suggests that Mitt Romney would be willing to bridge the political divide in Washington. Americans are desperate for the Republicans and Democrats to work together. His record of ignoring partisan labels to pass important legislation when he was governor of Massachusetts suggests he is capable of making that happen.
As much as Newt Gingrich’s supporters wanted to believe his rise in the polls was more solid than Rick Perry’s or Herman Cain’s, it looks like his reign on top is coming to an end. Jonathan writes that Gingrich has plummeted to 14 percent in today’s Public Policy Polling Iowa survey, down from 22 percent last week and 27 the week before.
While we may just be witnessing the beginning of Gingrich’s collapse, his trajectory has seemed to follow the same pattern as the previous not-Romney frontrunners, who maintained their leads for a little more than a month before crashing spectacularly. But there are reasons why Gingrich’s fall may not be as dramatic as the other ones, according to the National Journal:
My view that Newt Gingrich’s performance in last Thursday’s debate would send him back to the pack was very much in the minority the day after the candidates clashed in Sioux City, Iowa. But a pair of new polls published this weekend shows the former Speaker’s large lead in the Hawkeye state is evaporating. For much of November and December, opinion surveys showed Republican voters were ignoring Gingrich’s troubling past and lack of electability. However, after getting pounded on his Freddie Mac fees and another week of heightened scrutiny about his inconsistent record, Gallup’s Daily Tracking Poll in Iowa showed Gingrich’s lead over Mitt Romney to have declined to four points (28 to 24 percent) from 15 points only two weeks ago (37 to 22 percent). Even more shocking, a Public Policy Poll now shows Gingrich dropping to third in Iowa with only 14 percent of the vote, while Ron Paul leads with 23 percent and Romney is listed as a close second with 20 percent.
The discrepancy between Paul’s showing in the two polls illustrates both the volatility and the difficulty of predicting this race. It is hard to square the fact that Gallup shows the extremist libertarian at only 10 percent while PPP has him in the lead. Nevertheless, both surveys agree on one thing. Gingrich’s surge is not only over; it may be about to be reversed. He is now rapidly losing ground in Iowa, and with no other debates scheduled before the Jan. 3 caucus and his campaign lacking organizational strength on the ground, it isn’t likely he’ll be able to recover. So no matter how well Paul does, the popping of Gingrich’s bubble is good news for Romney. Any outcome other than a Gingrich win in Iowa will set him up for a very good January.