The Rick Perry Nightmare

Rick Perry has jumped into the lead in the GOP nomination battle. Walter Shapiro points out that Rick Perry is a liberal’s worst nightmare:

Perry is not only a presidential candidate, but also a cowboy-booted sociological experiment. It is almost as if Perry’s political persona was constructed by bundling together all the fears and phantoms in the left-wing anxiety closet. Since the hysteria of the 1950s Red Scare, no Republican figure has matched Perry in his God-given ability to give liberals the heebie-jeebies. Others can rival the governor’s disdain for academic achievement (Palin), his cross-on-the-sleeve religiosity (Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee), and his antipathy to Social Security and Medicare (Paul Ryan and Barry Goldwater). But never before has a top-tier presidential candidate embodied the whole lethal package—and more:

From there, Shapiro discussed five specific areas:

  1. Anti-Intellectualism
  2. The God Card
  3. The Living Constitution in which “Perry stands out for his creative cut-and-paste approach to the Constitution.”
  4. Pistol-Packing President
  5. Daring to Call It Treason such as “Perry’s claim that Ben Bernanke would be ‘almost treasonous‘ if he persisted in loosening monetary policy to ward off a double-dip recession.”

Shapiro also referred to other views of Perry, such as the “theory of Dave Mann, editor of the Texas Observer, that Perry’s only governing ideology is ‘crony capitalism.'”

This description of Perry should not only be considered nightmares for liberals. Perry should be nightmares for any thinking American.  There is hope that Americans will see how far Perry’s views are from mainstream American values since, as Greg Sargent discussed, his views are out there in black and white. I recently noted how Perry’s campaign is embarrassed by Perry’s writings which oppose Social Security. His latest embarrassment is Perry’s comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism in a 2008 book. With the number of extremist views present in his book, Rick Perry should even be a nightmare for any Republicans who realize that they have to appeal beyond the far right in order to win.

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Huckabee’s Hard Drive

Mother Jones responded to Mike Huckabee’s denial that a hard drive with his records as governor have been destroyed. Maybe Rose Mary Woods erased the hard drive.

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Small Signs of Republicans Rejecting The Extremes

The major problem with the Republican Party is that it has been taken over by far right extremists, but there are two hopeful signs today that some are rejecting the extremes.

The first is that Sarah Palin, the major example of both the extremism of the GOP and of its disdain for intelligence and reason, is declining in popularity among Republicans. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that Palin’s popularity has fallen to a new low:

For the first time in Post-ABC News polling, fewer than six in 10 Republicans and GOP-leaning independents see Palin in a favorable light, down from a stratospheric 88 percent in the days after the 2008 Republican National Convention and 70 percent as recently as October.

In one sense, the poll still finds Palin near the top of a list of eight potential contenders for the GOP nomination. The former vice presidential candidate scores a 58 percent favorable rating, close to the 61 percent for former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and 60 percent for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, and better than the 55 percent that onetime House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) received.

But Palin’s unfavorable numbers are significantly higher than they are for any of these possible competitors. Fully 37 percent of all Republicans and GOP-leaning independents now hold a negative view of her, a new high.

In another first, fewer than 50 percent of Republican-leaning independents — 47 percent — hold favorable views of Palin.

I would hope this is a sign of the rejection of Palin’s policy positions and of the authoritarian right, but much of the opposition to Palin is simply a rejection of her personal ignorance and incompetence.

Findings such as this, along with criticism of Palin by many conservatives, has increased doubt about Palin’s ability to win the Republican nomination in 2012. It is far too early to make any predictions regarding how such a primary contest will play out. An early win in Iowa, where social conservatives dominate the Republican Party, could suddenly make her the front runner and possibly give her a victory similar to John Kerry’s victory in the 2004 Democratic primary race. Palin could also conceivably win the nomination by being first or second in many states, picking up a larger block of candidates than anyone else in a divided race. While it is premature to write off her chances of winning the Republican nomination, Palin is no Ronald Reagan and her chances of ever winning in a national race is extremely remote.

Meanwhile Politico reports that some “Republican House members are pushing back against conservative deficit hawks who are pushing for endlessly deep spending cuts, saying the right wing of the party is creating unnecessary divisions for the GOP majority.” A good sign, but I’m still waiting for the day when more Republicans push back against the growing tendency of Republicans to support increased government interference in the private lives of individuals and for a day when more Republicans push back against the right wing’s rejection of knowledge, reason, and science.

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Quote of the Day

“I’m upset that friend of the show Mike Huckabee criticized Natalie Portman for having a child out of wedlock. Listen, I’m no fan of unwed mothers either, but this is Natalie Portman we’re talking about. That unborn child is Luke Skywalker.” –Stephen Colbert

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Quote of the Day

“Republican Presidential hopeful Mike Hucka-BS is attacking actress Natalie Portman for getting pregnant without being married. It could get a little awkward if he runs into Sarah and Bristol Palin at Fox News.” –Jay Leno

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Sarah Palin’s Alaska Hates Palin, While Tax Compromise Has Not Hurt Obama Among Democrats

Public Policy Polling found that in the first nine states they polled, all had an unfavorable view of Sarah Palin. In addition, they found that she  has serious problems among Republicans. The next state to be polled was Alaska, but even this didn’t help Palin:

It’s a well known fact that Sarah Palin is the most unpopular major political figure in the country…one thing that may be less well known is that one of the states where voters have the dimmest view of her is her own home state of Alaska.

We’ve polled Palin’s favorability in ten states over the last couple months. In Alaska just 33% of voters have a favorable opinion of her to 58% with a negative one. The only place where fewer voters see her positively than her own home state is dark blue Massachusetts…

Palin’s unpopularity in Alaska is an interesting sidebar but ultimately pretty irrelevant to a possible 2012 Presidential bid. What’s more relevant is that a majority of voters in every single state we have polled so far on the 2012 race has an unfavorable opinion of her. And her average favorability in the Bush/Obama states of Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia that are most likely essential to Republican chances of retaking the White House is 36/56. Democrats can only hope…

While far too early to predict the 2012 nominee, a CNN/Opinion Research poll also shows trouble for Palin:

In the battle for the GOP presidential nomination, the survey suggests Palin may have some work to do if she throws her hat in the ring. Only 49 percent of Republicans say that they are likely to support Sen. John McCain’s running mate in 2008 for the Republican nomination in 2012.

“That’s a huge 18-point drop since December of 2008, when two-thirds of GOPers said they were likely to support Palin. It also puts her well behind potential rivals Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, and a bit behind Newt Gingrich as well,” adds Holland.

The poll also shows how meaningless recent talk of a challenger to Obama from the left is. Regardless of the merits of the act, I had predicted that the tax compromise would  be a huge win politically for Obama. The CNN/Opinion Research poll shows not only that the tax compromise didn’t hurt Obama, but that the number of Democrats who support a candidate other than Obama is declining:

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday, 78 percent of Democrats questioned in the poll say they want to see Obama at the top of their party’s ticket in 2012, with only 19 percent saying they would prefer someone else as the Democratic presidential nominee. The 19 percent figure is the lowest figure since March, when the question was first asked.

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Problems for Romney and Palin While Obama Rebounds

The 2012 Republican primary race could be an interesting one as there are no clear front runners. All the major candidates have major negatives when going before the entire electorate, and some have significant problems even in the GOP. A new Public Policy Polling survey comes as no surprise in showing that Mitt Romney does the worst of the candidates they polled among conservatives. He comes in last at 14% behind Palin (22%) , Huckabee (21%) , and Gingrich (17%)  in their polling of who conservatives prefer.

While Palin leads in this survey, earlier this month Public Policy Polling showed Palin’s Republican problem. There are plenty of Republicans who like Palin but they survey identified this problem:  “It’s that a lot of the Republicans who don’t like her- in contrast to the Republicans who don’t like Huckabee, Gingrich, or Romney- aren’t willing to hold their nose and vote for her in the general election.”

Both of these polls show what we already suspected–conservatives don’t like Romney and Palin would have serious problems in a general election with even many Republicans defecting to Obama. It’s too early to say if this is part of a trend, but the Republicans might have an even more difficult time if Obama continues to improve in the polls. Politico, perhaps prematurely, reports on Obama Rebounding. This is based upon  a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll which shows that 55 percent of Americans believe the countrywould head in the right direction under policies proposed by Obama. This is up from 49 percent in January, but still below 63 percent which believed this in May, 2009. His approval and disapproval are tied at 48 percent, improved from a disapproval rating of 56 percent in September.

Obama continues to receive more support than members of Congress of either party. Republicans come out the worst, despite their recent victories.The survey found that 44 percent of Americans believe Republican  policies would lead the country in the right direction compared to 51 percent who believe their policies would move us in the wrong direction. Policies of Congressional Democrats were supported by 48 percent.

The next two years could work to Obama’s advantage. Polls show that most voters prefer Democratic policies, even if they did not realize they were the Democratic positions. If Obama manages to work out decent compromises with Republicans and provide effective government for two years, most voters will support him. If it turns into battles over policy, actually seeing a contrast between Obama’s positions and those of the Republicans should also gain him more support–provided he doesn’t make any other major blunders such as going back on his primary opposition to the individual mandate. On most issues, an outright battle between the GOP House and Obama could lead to independents and moderates turning out for Obama in 2012 in even greater numbers than in 2008.

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Michigan May Have Gone Red in 2010, But It Remains Solidly Pro-Obama

I’ve thought it to be somewhat ironic that, after saving the auto industry, Barack Obama saw his party get blown out in this year’s election. Of course, besides the bad economy, that might partially be because Michigan Democrats waged an awful campaign, concentrating on Willie Horton type ads and attacks on governor-elect Rick Snyder for outsourcing while at Gateway.

It has also been a big question as to how much the 2010 election can be taken as predictive of  the 2012 election–with history suggesting no meaningful predictive value. A Public Policy Polling survey from Michigan shows that Obama leads most Republicans by double digits. The only exception is Mitt Romney, son of former governor George Romney, who manages to stay within four points due to his ties to the state. My bet is that once Michigan voters realize Mitt Romney is no George Romney this gap will widen.

Compared to the Republican field Obama’s numbers look stratospheric. Only Romney is viewed favorably by a plurality of voters in the state, with 39% holding a favorable opinion to 37% with an unfavorable one. Beyond him the GOP field ranges from slightly unpopular (Mike Huckabee’s 37/40 favorability) to very unpopular (Newt Gingrich’s 28/50), to extremely unpopular (Sarah Palin’s 34/60). What might be most striking for the Republicans beyond Romney is their numbers with independents. Huckabee’s net favorability with them is -14 (29/43), Gingrich’s is -39 (20/59), and Palin’s is -40 (28/68)

In addition to leading the GOP candidates in a hypothetical race, Obama has an approval rating of 50% and is supported by a plurality of independents 47 percent to 44 percent.

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Palin, Beck and Huckabee Promote Prophesies of Armageddon

Yesterday I looked at reasons why Republicans are not likely to pick up Jewish voters, concluding by writing that Jewish voters are not going to support a fundamentalist Christian theocratic political party. Discussion of Biblical prophesies of Armageddon on Fox, including by two possible candidates for the 2012 nomination, add to the reasons why Republicans cannot be taken seriously. From Media Matters, via Steve Benen:

Yesterday, during a conversation with the conservative publication Newsmax, Sarah Palin engaged in the favorite conservative pastime of pushing for war with Middle Eastern countries and warned that allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons “is not just Israel’s problem or America’s problem, it is the world’s problem. It could lead to an Armageddon. It could lead to that World War III that could decimate so much of this planet.”

Clearly, Palin’s invocation of “Armageddon” did not bother Fox News — quite the opposite, in fact. They promoted her interview with Newsmax on Fox Nation, using her comment as the headline:

‘Palin Warns of Armageddon’

If you are unfamiliar with Iran and Israel’s role in the (always) impending Armageddon, Pastor John Hagee can help explain. Back in June, Glenn Beck hosted Hagee on his Fox News show and labeled him one of the “brave preachers” that “need to start standing up.” During that show, Beck plugged Hagee’s “excellent” new book, Can America Survive? 10 Prophetic Signs That We Are The Terminal Generation, saying that he “just started to read last night.”

Palin and Beck aren’t the only ones at Fox who are talking about Armageddon:

Fox News’ Mike Huckabee hosted Tim LaHaye — author of the Left Behind book series about the Rapture — on his Fox News program twice in July. In both appearances, Huckabee and LaHaye reportedly discussed Armageddon. During one of the appearances, Huckabee asked LaHaye, “Are we now living in the end times, from your perspective?” LaHaye responded, “Very definitely, governor.”

Of course, this is nothing new. For centuries, religious hucksters have trafficked in fearmongering about impending Armageddon. But when three of the most prominent conservative media figures in the country — two of whom are reportedly considering 2012 presidential runs — are lending credence to theories about the End of the World, it should be news.

While these conservatives are concerned about Biblical prophecies of Armageddon, they ignore very real scientific evidence of impending harm to our planet due to climate change. Glenn Beck is trying to convince the religious right to ignore the scientific consensus on global warming. He brought on a representative of  the “Cornwall Alliance — a corporate front designed to deceive evangelicals into doubting the science underpinning climate change.”

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Alaska Voters To Sarah Palin: We Like You, But Don’t Run For President

Alaska voters still like their former half-term governor, but definitely do not want her to run for president. A Public Policy Polling survey found:

If Sarah Palin runs for President in 2012 she can’t count on a whole lot of support back home. 62% of Alaska Republicans are opposed to her making a White House bid and she gets only 17% in a hypothetical 2012 primary in the state tying for her second with Mike Huckabee behind Mitt Romney.

Since resigning as governor, Palin seems to be trying to use the tea parties to form a grass roots movement to back her for the nomination. It is not working:

Among voters who say they support the goals of the Tea Party only 31% want Palin to run and even with ones who consider themselves to be active members of the Tea Party there are still only 42% who think she should make the leap.

These findings in Alaska are consistent with national polls showing that a minority of Republicans think Palin is qualified to be president. While I can’t imagine why, it is one thing for people to get excited by her and turn out to see her. It is an entirely different matter to back her for president.

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