The Phony Campaign

2011-10-31 Update

[phony baloney]

Apologies: Power problems at Pun Salad World Headquarters delayed this week's phony update. Is there any reason that PSNH's three largest power outages of all time have all been in the last three years?

But grousing about lousy electrical utilities is not why we're here. There were a couple of phony surprises this week:

  1. Newt Gingrich is back, baby! At Intrade, he's rocking a 4.3% chance as the eventual GOP nominee. So our (arbitrary) rules say he's back in our tote board.

  2. Mitt Romney has (again) dropped to last place in our phony polling. This is why they invented the word "inexplicable".

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Rick Perry" phony 22,900,000 +10,000,000
"Barack Obama" phony 17,300,000 +9,350,000
"Herman Cain" phony 9,740,000 +5,460,000
"Newt Gingrich" phony 7,920,000 ---
"Mitt Romney" phony 4,080,000 -510,000

  • We'll mark Newt's re-entry into our poll with this CBS News story:

    Former House Speaker and White House hopeful Newt Gingrich said Wednesday he is not sure if the public feuding between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry is real or staged by their campaign consultants.

    Holy phony acrimony, Batman! But that got me thinking…

  • Topic for discussion: what lessons could political campaigns learn from professional wrestling? We've seen a couple of migrations from one world to the other: Jesse Ventura and Linda McMahon; who would be a good candidate for going the other way? Most importantly, are we ever going to see the political equivalent of the WWE Divas?

    There's an op-ed column just begging to be written. Over to you, George F. Will!

  • At the National Journal, Ron Fournier belabored the obvious:

    Herman Cain is Mitt Romney's worst nightmare, but not for the reasons you might think.

    Sure, the former pizza company CEO shares top-tier status with Romney in most national polls of GOP voters, and his fortunes are on the rise in early voting states. But nobody outside his small circle of advisers believes that Cain has a significant chance of winning the nomination.

    The most serious threat Cain poses to Romney is that his candidacy, however fragile and fleeting, underscores the power of a virtue that Romney seems to lack: Authenticity.

    That was the bugaboo for Romney four years ago when his policy shifts on abortion, guns, health care and several other issues both failed to endear him to conservatives and undercut inroads he could have made with moderates. Worse, Romney limped out of the 2008 race looking like a phony.

    If you're a phony aficionado, Fournier's article is worth reading in its entirety.

  • There are different paths to phoniness, however. Steve Chapman found that Herman Cain, Mr. Authentic himself, is pretty hard to pin down.

    For a while during last Tuesday's Republican debate, it wasn't clear if Herman Cain was running for president of the United States or the Fruit Vendors Association. Responding to a criticism of his "9-9-9" tax plan, Cain said, "This is an example of mixing apples and oranges. The state tax is an apple. We are replacing the current tax code with oranges."

    When more criticisms came, he again took refuge in the produce aisle. Cain was not taking a position on apples, but he was stoutly in favor of oranges, and he was adamant that they should never be placed in the same bag.

    What the exchanges revealed is that Cain lacks a flair for metaphor as well as a working grasp of his own platform. He emphatically denied the charge that his 9 percent business levy would function as a value-added tax. But the analysis commissioned by his own campaign, which he urged everyone to read, takes a somewhat different view.

    Chapman found similar confusion when looking at Cain's stands on a host of other issues. His observation:

    The danger of anyone becoming president without any political experience is not just that he doesn't know many things, but that he doesn't know what he doesn't know. Cain has an additional problem: He doesn't know what he thinks.

    Yeah, well, me neither, sometimes. On the other hand, I'm not running for high political office.

  • Out in Vegas, President Obama demonstrated that he's no math whiz:

    But last week, we had a separate vote on a part of the jobs bill that would put 400,000 teachers, firefighters and police officers back on the job, paid for by asking people who make more than $1 million to pay one-half of 1 percent in additional taxes. For somebody making $1.1 million a year, that's an extra $500. Five hundred bucks. And with that, we could have saved $400,000 [sic] jobs.

    We (again) have the rhetoric that he's merely advocating "asking people" to pay more taxes. That's dishonest, and insults the intelligence of his audience. (Of course, his audience were folks who had given money to the Obama campaign, so we're not talking about the sharpest knives in the drawer here.)

    But the math is almost as bad. One half of one percent of 1 million dollars is $5000. The "$500" comes from just the incremental tax on the amount over $1 million in the President's example of a "$1.1 million" income.

    At the NR Corner, Peter Kirsanow tried to make sense out of the numbers in a couple of posts (here and here). Sample: The IRS reported only 235,413 taxpayers making over $1 million last year. "Asking" for $500 from each of them gives just under $118 million. That's about one-fifth of a Solyndra loan guarantee. And it's less than $300 for each of those 400,000 jobs Obama claims "we could have saved."

    You can play with the numbers all you want, but what you can't get is any indication that Obama is doing anything other than thowing red class-warfare meat to the mob Democrat base. Does that work at the Bellagio? Will it work in the general election?

  • And finally, the Washington Times reported:

    The State Department has bought more than $70,000 worth of books authored by President Obama, sending out copies as Christmas gratuities and stocking "key libraries" around the world with "Dreams From My Father" more than a decade after its release.

    It was only a couple of weeks ago that Elspeth Reeve observed that Herman Cain's campaign purchasing his own books added to the "perception he isn't a for-real candidate." Obviously, Cain should wait until he's President, then have the State Department do that instead.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 2:45 PM EDT