The Phony Campaign

2012-02-12 Update

[phony baloney]

Things have been volatile at Intrade; the traders there have crowned a new "Not Mitt", with Rick Santorum surging up to a 13.5% chance of grabbing the GOP nomination, compared to Romney at 78.7%. Newt has faded to 3.2%, and although Ron Paul spiked to over 5% earlier in the week, as I type he's down to a more realistic 2.1%.

So our updated Phony Poll says:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Barack Obama" phony 164,000,000 +5,000,000
"Rick Santorum" phony 9,480,000 -
"Mitt Romney" phony 5,970,000 +170,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 1,200,000 -70,000

  • President Barack Obama continues to hold a big lead, and he shows every sign of wanting to run up the score. Harvard genius econ prof Greg Mankiw summed up this week's big kerfuffle:
    Consider these two policies:

    A. An employer is required to provide its employees health insurance that covers birth control.

    B. An employer is required to provide its employees health insurance. The health insurance company is required to cover birth control.

    [Amazon Img]

    Professor Mankiw notes that these policies are effectively the same thing. And yet, the White House thought it was a big deal that, whereas it previously was demanding A, it will henceforth only demand B. He says "the whole thing leaves me scratching my head."

    Pun Salad is happy to elucidate for Professor Mankiw. Herman Cain might have been a flawed candidate, but had by far the best book title this campaign season, and it ably describes a prime underlying assumption of Obama's decision-making: they think (a) you're stupid, and so (b) they can get away with it.

  • I would be derelict in my phony duties if I didn't share:

    That is a remix of a song originally by Jay Z. Being a geezer, Pun Salad automatically thinks the only possible ending to the words "a song by Jay" is "and the Americans".

  • If your preferences run to text over video, Pete Suderman's comprehensive Reason article about Mitt Romney is now online, and it's very much worth your attention. Bottom line:
    In this, his second primary campaign, the problem that consultant Romney has chosen to solve is not the Medicare crisis, the federal debt burden, or sluggish economic growth. Instead, it is how to appeal to a Republican Party torn between Tea Party activists and Beltway moderates. Romney's insistence on having it both ways at every opportunity reveals not just his own incoherence but a party with irreconcilable goals: a leaner federal government that cuts no major programs, a balanced budget with a beefed-up defense budget, entitlements that are reformed and reduced but never cut or changed. What does Mitt Romney believe? Like [his policy document] says, he believes in America--and anything America wants him to believe.
    The strongest argument for Romney continues to be weak: "he might be better than Obama, and has a chance to win."

  • Although Rick Santorum is our newbie entry in the standings, it's tough to find any good phony clippings for him. For example, here's Warner Todd Huston reporting from CPAC 2012 on the various candidate speeches. On Santorum:
    One might be tempted to feel that Santorum missed his opportunity to really rile up the base with a rip-roaring speech. He just didn't give us that. Instead we got a steady, competent speech. One might also hasten to note that Rick was being Rick. Nothing phony about him for sure.
    This sort of thing can be frustrating for phony hunters.

  • Liberals (on the other hand) don't have any problem detecting a lack of Santorum authenticity. Writing in the dreadful Daily Beast, the dreadful Michelle Goldberg decries Santorum's "phony marriage attack on Obama". Santorum has claimed that regs now prohibit anyone who receives funds from your Federal Government to "teach marriage" or tell young women "that it's better to get married than not to get married."

    Santorum, says Goldberg, "was either mistaken or he was lying". With respect to the example Santorum used, a foundation run by Bill Bennett's wife, Elayne:

    On Tuesday, Elayne Bennett was finally forced to correct the record. In fact, Bennett's foundation is currently getting federal funds through the government's Healthy Marriage grant program to teach about, well, healthy marriage. "Marriage and the benefits of marriage continued to be an integral part of the curriculum," she said in a statement to Students in the program, she wrote, are taught "Conflict Resolution skills, Communication skills, Abuse Prevention skills, Budgeting and Financial skills." (The capitalizations are hers.)
    Santorum, as he's admitted, is not a libertarian, so he doesn't have any problem with the the Federal Government having something called a "Healthy Marriage grant program." (Neither, by the way, does the Heritage Foundation, which bemoaned Obama's effort to eliminate the program — but of course, replace it with something more progressive.)

Last Modified 2014-12-01 2:38 PM EDT