"So Long Marianne" - Leonard Cohen and Friends
(This song just popped into my head for some reason.)
- As I alluded to in comments, this David Brooks piece was really too much. I was particularly taken by his notion of multi-generational grittiness, a kind of immigrant DNA that is evidently handed down to the right kind of people -- people like Mitt Romney, who is just a step removed from hearty pioneers and immigrant coal miners. (As someone who has spent a small chunk of his career trying to deal with sons who have driven their fathers' construction companies into the ground, I nearly spit my coffee out at this notion -- the name Paris Hilton also immediately jumped to mind.) The only thing that matters about Romney is that he has shown the work ethic and persistence of the salt of the earth working man types of which Brooks has heard tell.
His wealth is, according to Brooks, a sideshow. No one cares that he pays a 15% tax rate on his eight figure income or that he has up to $100 million in his freakin' IRA (really??!!), or that he is off-shoring some part of his considerable fortune in the Cayman Islands. No, this hard working white man, this starched-shirt striver, is just what the zeitgeist demands.
To which I say, keep telling yourself that story David.
Evidently, the people of South Carolina -- the most beautiful people in the world -- are not buying what Romney is selling. According to Nate, Gingrich has an 87% chance of winning there. We really can't be that lucky, can we?
We got an inch of snow last night and it's a little bit icy, so an excellent day to hang around and see what's going on in South Carolina.
Whats doing with you?
A little liveblogging update: MSNBC has already called it for Gingrich, CNN just showed exit polls with Gingrich up by 9%, and Fox News has also called it for Gingrich. This is surely good news for John McCain.
David Gergen just referred to Newt Gingrich as an "alpha male." Only in the odd world of Republican politics. In my world, he would have been the guy whose lunch money would have been up for grabs on a daily basis.
There have been some questions about whether there would be a gender gap in Gingrich's results given his dubious record in matters marital. My previous research on gender gaps in voting showed very little historical difference between southern white women and men. (And the South Carolina Republican primary is virtually all white.) This is not the case in the northeast or northwest where white men and women often diverge by a good 10-15% in their voting (by which I mean, for example [from memory] 67% of white women in Rhode Island voted for Obama, while only 50% of the white men there did]. There is a slight gender gap between black men and women, with men voting about 90% Democratic and women about 95%.
Gingrich's victory strikes me as a triumph of his ability to tap into the southern Republican Id-- a place where the "food stamps president" line is deemed a virtue. And once again this seems to stem from a fantasy that in a debate Gingrich will give Obama the ass-kicking that the fraudulent teleprompter addict deserves.
A couple of more things: First, on MSNBC they were discussing the exit polls that showed Gingrich beating Romney on the question of electability by ten points. This is a nightmare for Romney -- electability is his strongest argument in many respects. (It also indicates how delusional South Carolinian Republicans are -- at least in my estimation.) Second, they are noting, contra Brooks, how much the tax issue may have hurt Romney. I am guessing it did , even with this constituency.
Mitt is speaking and basically ignoring the result, making a perfunctory nod to Gingrich, and then launching into the identical anti-Obama speech that he gave when he won in New Hampshire. Strange. And it really is replete with lie upon lie. He is a contemptible sonofabitch. Oh wait, he has added a CODA attacking the idea of a candidate who has never run a business or a state. And now he is condeming the frontal assault on the free enterprise system by his Republican opponents. "We celebrate success in this party." "Those who pick up the weapons of the left today will find them turned against them tomorrow." You flatter us Mitt. He accuses Gingrich (not by name) of demonizing success and disparaging the free market. He cannot be too happy though. A week ago he looked to have this thing sewn up -- now he will need to spend more money and take more hits. I still think it will be him, but how long this thing will go on remains to be seen.
This is a huge loss for Romney. He got trounced and is bleeding from every orfice. If Gingrich can somehow take Florida, there is going to be panic all over the GOP establishment.
AND STILL MORE:
So a 14 point win for Gingrich and Romney stuck at 27% -- numbers that are really chilling for those in the Republican Party who understand just how toxic Gingrich would be in a general election. The question is whether Gingrich can get enough people to open their wallets for him. If he can, God help Mitt, who I suspect is going to be writing checks to make sure that Santorum stays in the race a bit longer. If Santorum drops out, this thing is wide open again.
Speaking of which, I remain baffled by the decision of the religous right groups attempting to rally around Santorum. Why would you take a chance on a fairly marginal campaign at this moment -- in the process exposing your weakness and inability to actually deliver your vote.
A couple of other things. This was the first race in which it appears that Romney's Mormonism seemed to hurt him. I'm not sure if this will prove an isolated event or will prove to be an issue in other southern states. If so, it's pretty fascinating. Basically, there's a group of evangelical voters who would prefer a thrice married, Catholic convert who is a serial adulterer to a solid family man who is also a Mormon.
One wrinkle in the Florida campaign is that there has been considerable early voting. This will almost certainly help Romney, although to what degree is difficult to say.
Romney had been making noises about skipping a debate next week in Florida. I am guessing that that isn't going to happen now.
And he is most certainly going to have to release his taxes soon. The issue is not going to go away and I think Gingrich will be more than willing to slap him around on this if he doesn't cough them up -- which will also mean that he can't wait until his 2011 taxes are filed. He will have to come up with an earlier and no doubt less carefully prepared return for public consumption.