Shortly after the Winter Olympics, back when Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea and was making moves into eastern Ukraine, he seemed to become the darling of some of the administration’s harshest foreign policy critics.
After the action in Crimea, former New York Mayor, Rudi Giuliani, seemed to admire how the Russian leader was so decisive, telling Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, “[H]e makes a decision and he executes it, quickly. And then everybody reacts. That’s what you call a leader,” Giuliani said.
In March, Sarah Palin, said this to Sean Hannity:
Well, yes, especially under the commander-in-chief that we have today because Obama’s — the perception of him and his potency across the world is one of such weakness. And you know, look, people are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates.
Rush Limbaugh weighed in too:
Well, did you hear that the White House put out a photo of Obama talking on the phone with Vlad, and Obama’s sleeves were rolled up? That was done to make it look like Obama was really working hard—I mean, really taking it seriously. His sleeves were rolled up while on the phone with Putin! Putin probably had his shirt off practicing Tai-Chi while he was talking to Obama.
Michigan Congressman, Mike Rogers, head of the House Intelligence Committee:
Putin is playing chess and I think we’re playing marbles.
You get the drift.
Regrettably for the man who would wrestle bears and drill for oil, it would appear that the luster is now off the big crush. Being connected to the downing of a civilian airliner has that effect. But now it’s getting even worse. Even Europe, deathly afraid of imposing serious sanctions against the Russians for fear of hurting their economies, is beginning to stir. The leaders of Britain, Germany and France had a telephone conference over the weekend and appear to be heading for more substantive actions against Putin.
The Dutch, who suffered more fatalities than any other nation in the downing of the Malaysian airliner, were described at first, as being in a deep state of shock and mourning. But now, after the Russian separatists who control the accident site continue to reportedly restrict access to international investigators; after the disturbingly callous and incompetent handling of the remains of the dead becomes more and more evident- they are described as furious.
Turns out, or so it seems, that Mr. Putin was not playing chess very well. That would require one to look several steps ahead. He doesn’t appear to be the “long-view,” strategic type, to say the least. In fact, I’d say he’s been revealed to be playing a game of one-dimensional checkers all along.
He also strikes me as the type who, when sensing he’s on the losing side, will never give in, and instead of losing graciously, is more likely to upend the entire checker board and stalk off, blaming it all on a sudden gust of wind. Very manly, indeed.
He’s supposed to make South Carolina his third straight victory and head to Florida with a full head of steam, at which point Mitt Romney would be the certain Republican nominee. About 99 out of 100 pundits told us it was all over after the New Hampshire primary. That chorus of prescience from the talking heads should have been our first clue.
Mitt Romney is fighting for his political life in South Carolina. The latest polls have Newt Gingrich just 2 points behind the prematurely anointed former Massachusetts Governor. Sarah Palin went on Fox today demanding that he release his tax returns and offer definitive proof about the 100,000 jobs he says he created when he was at Bain Capital.
Gingrich is unapologetically continuing the theme the party elders begged him to stop this week, unrelenting in his attacks on Romney’s investment banking days. He is joined by Texas Governor Rick Perry who lost a big GOP donor over the approach but didn’t seem to care much, saying, “If somebody wants to cut and run that’s their call.”
There will have been a full nine days of negative ads from Gingrich before South Carolinians finally take to the polls Saturday after next- a withering attack that may well have the same effect on Romney that Romney’s onslaught did to Newt in Iowa. Looks like the Super Pacs are going to make this a contest after all.
What is interesting about the path being taken by Gingrich, Perry and Palin in making these attacks on Romney is that it really does reflect a populist “main street” wing of the Republican Party. It must be horrifying to the “Wall Street” wing of the party.
And then there’s Ron Paul who will keep getting his 20% and finishing 2nd or 3rd in these contests, piling up delegates along the way.
Here’s the reality of the Romney march to the nomination. Yes, he made history becoming the first non-incumbent Republican candidate to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. But he won Iowa by 8 votes and couldn’t hit 40% in the state where he owns a home and is next door to his native Massachusetts. South Carolina is Newt’s New Hampshire. Next to his home state of Georgia and a blue-collar conservative bastion that may well be receptive to the surprising populist message of the new main street Republicans.
This race may just be starting.
It will have entertainment value. It will be a plus for the ION cable network few people have ever heard of. It’s a real plus for Newsmax, the conservative magazine and web site which is sponsoring the December 27th debate and is now getting lots and lots of media attention. It will, however, feature fewer candidates because at least so far, two of them are appalled at the prospect of Donald Trump moderating a presidential debate.
Here’s what’s odd about the whole thing. Donald Trump has indicated, somewhere down the road, he will be endorsing one of the candidates, making this debate a de facto audition before The Donald. And he’s also said that if he ends up not liking any of them he may run as an independent candidate himself, which would theoretically only hurt the Republican party in a general election. So what we have here in this Trump debate, basically, is a slightly longer version of the decision scenes at the end of Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice shows.
The head of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, says he doesn’t have a dog in this fight. “It’s up to the candidates, I mean, I don’t make those decisions.”
Former Bush political advisor and unofficial spokesperson for the “establishment” wing of the GOP, Karl Rove, does have an opinion- a strong opinion expressed on Fox News’ morning show today:
So should a guy who’s going to endorse be the ‘impartial’ moderator of a debate? I think the Republican National chairman ought to step in and say we strongly discourage every candidate from appearing in a debate moderated by somebody who’s going to run for president…
This is no unimportant debate, by the way. Coming on December 27th, it’s the last debate before Iowa voters do their caucus thing on Tuesday, January 3rd.
Ron Paul’s people call the whole thing a circus:
“The selection of a reality television personality to host a presidential debate that voters nationwide will be watching is beneath the office of the Presidency and flies in the face of that office’s history and dignity.
Former Utah Governor, Jon Huntsman will not participate either. Nor is he partaking in the ritual of candidates flying to Manhattan for an audience with Trump. He tells Fox News:
I’m not going to kiss his ring, and I’m not going to kiss any other part of his anatomy.
And what is the value of a Trump endorsement anyway? Here’s a National Review Online article about a September poll from Fox News that finds that getting the nod from The Donald is akin to getting a kiss from Mafia don just before you go swimming with the fishes:
While 10 percent of Republicans are more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Trump, 18 percent are less likely to do so. (Seventy-one percent don’t care.) But if you poll all voters, 31 percent say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Trump while only 6 percent would be more likely.
You’d think GOP candidates would be staying far, far away from Trump. You’d think. But new Republican frontrunner, Newt Gingrich, heads to the Big Apple today for his Trump photo-op (previous visitors count Rick Perry, Michele Bachman, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney). And Newt is the first candidate to confirm participation in the Newsmax/Trump debate. As he puts it:
I would want to go just for the entertainment value.
It’s not like there are any important issues to discuss or contemplate. Let’s get back to some of the tried and true Donald Trump oldies but goodies like the President’s phony birth certificates and college grades, and how we should bomb Iran and steal Libya’s oil. After all, that’s what’s been lacking in the campaign so far: seriousness.
It’s been a pretty boring few weeks in the world of news and I’ve had to do a lot of surfing to find anything to be snarky about. Here are a few items that caught my eye as we make our way through the dog days of summer.
In no particular order (The headlines and links are one and the same):
Imagine being the genius who came up with the brilliant idea of getting Rupert Murdoch to shell out $580 million six years ago for Myspace. Newscorp is trying to dump it now and was reportedly hoping to get $100 million. Looks like it’s going to go for $20-30 million. But as business bombs go…that’s nothing. I still have my T-shirt from my CNN days celebrating the fantastic, dynamic merger of AOL and Time-Warner.
I remember a lot of back-slapping and parties with fancy hors’ dourves at the CNN Center. I think TW CEO, Jerry Levin, is the only guy who made money on that turkey; and it was from his golden parachute- not the underwater options the rest of us had to eat.
Just in: Mudoch sold My Space for $35 million today
You know, I think this speaks for itself.
The head coach of the North Korean women’s national soccer team blames his 2-0 loss to the U.S. on the fact members of his squad got hit by lightening just before making the trip.
Make up your mind, already! The toe-dipping into the presidential waters is starting to grow old with many. But she has been really good about breaking the unspoken rule of not stepping on everybody else’s announcement plans. First, there was the appearance in New Hampshire hours after Mitt Romney announced. Then there was last night’s gala premier of her movie in Iowa, the day after Michel Bachman’s announcement. Then she heads to Bachman and Tom Palenty’s backyard in Minnesota today to sit with her daughter, Bristol, for a tag-team book signing at the Mall of America.
One day after rocker, Tom Petty, had his lawyers issue a cease and desist letter to the Bachman campaign over use of his song “American Girl,” they played it again after one of her speeches Monday…albeit just 29 seconds of it before it stopped abruptly to make way for “Walking on Sunshine.” Oops.
And it’s not even July yet. Long, hot summer ahead.
I took a few days off and unplugged from the world a bit. As I read back in to our political and cultural discourse today, I see 7 out of 10 news stories are about Congressman Weiner’s sexting and Sarah Palin’s version of Paul Revere’s midnight ride.
I understand the spectator appeal of both stories; we’ll call it the car crash syndrome- not pleasant to look at but impossible to resist. But really, Washington Post- five different Weiner angles? “Weiner’s District Debates His Future,” “Wives Increasingly Skip Public Confessions,” “Weiner Takes Mortification 101,” “Anthony Weiner’s Apology-Fest,” “Breitbart Inserts Himself in Weiner Drama.” Daily Beast/Newsweek is similarly obsessed with 4 of its top 10 stories concentrating on some iteration of All Things Weiner.
The Post also weighs in mightily with the continued brou-ha-ha over Sarah Palin’s historical boo-boo she insists was not a mistake about Paul Revere
blowing whistles firing shots and ringing bells to warn the British not to take away our guns or something. We have “Don’t Know Much About History,” “Fight Brews on Paul Revere Wikipedia Page,” “Palin Once Again Disregards the Facts,” and “Sarah Palin Gallops Toward 2012.”
You know, in about two months this nation faces the very real possibility that it will default on its debts for the first time in its history. What’s that- a 1000-point stock market crash? We have a stalled recovery and a public frightened at the potential consequences of continuing job losses. Folks are paying up to $200 a month more to gas up their cars. The housing crisis continues unabated.
I understand the last question asked at Anthony Weiner’s news conference was, “were you fully erect?”
Beyond being disgusted, I thoroughly do not care. My 401K? Job security for my friends and family? Can I ever afford to buy a house again? Can I get my kid through four years of college? That’s the kind of stuff I care about. Call me Weinered out. Can we please get serious about things that actually matter?
We make too much of this Sarah Palin Bus Tour business. She’s just taking a little family vacation. Who hasn’t taken a summer to load the kids up in a garishly-painted bus with mom’s signature next to the preamble of the Constitution of the United States?
Regrettably for the Cravitz family of Columbus, Ohio, they also decided to take an RV tour across the country at the same time. Organizers of the Memorial Day Rolling Thunder event looked puzzled as Mrs. Cravitz emerged from their vehicle in her curlers asking about their placement in the parade of Harleys across Memorial Bridge.
The Cravitz family trip to the National Archives building was, frankly, a disappointment. Some important lady was in the Archives building at the same time, and the usually lengthy crowds snaked around five blocks instead of the usual two. With temperatures nearing 100 degrees, they pretty much gave up and decided to drive to Gettysburg National Battlefield Park instead.
While visiting the battlefield they ran into a colorfully painted bus in a parking lot and toured that and then it was off to New York City. There, they saw several buildings named Trump, drove down to Times Square, but for the life of them could not find a seat at La Famigilia Pizzeria, which was just as well because they sensed something odd about the place when they saw a man with orange hair and a woman with a beehive hairdo eating pizza with forks.
The Cravitz’s were last seen headed toward Boston but almost got in an accident when they had an uncomfortably close call with a colorfully-painted bus, followed by another bus with big red letters that spelled ‘CNN’ and 10 or 12 other vehicles that looked like vans with big metal poles on top of them.
“Hey, wasn’t that the bus we toured at Gettysburg?” asked Mrs. Cravitz. “Yeah, I think these people are following us.” responded Mr. Cravitz. “Why would anyone want to follow us on our family vacation to historic places along the East Coast?” queried Mrs. Cravitz. “It’s insane, I tell you.” said Mr. Cravitz. “Let’s get the heck out of here and go to a couple of places nobody goes to in the summertime….New Hampshire and Iowa!”
President Barack Obama this week, may have made himself newly electable for 2012. Meantime, Sarah Palin kills animals on her Discovery Channel show to stock up for the winter. Wait…you say..those two things don’t belong in the same article! You’re right. They don’t.
The Angry Middle
Spot-on article on President Obama’s newly-found, feisty voice from the dean of political reporting, David Broder, of the Washington Post. Broder contends that what the President did this week in finding a compromise with Republicans on tax-cuts and jobless benefit extensions was recapture the middle of American politics. And his standing improves with independents with every howl from the deeply unpopular, Pelosi-wing of the Democratic Party.
It’s also tough for Republicans to keep calling the President a socialist, when an actual socialist, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, opposes him so thoroughly and visibly on the Senate floor on all this. Broder confirms what I’ve always suspected of this President. He is a left-of-center pragmatist with a capital “P.”
Sarah Palin’s Refrigerator
My status as an elitist, East Coast urbanite was thoroughly confirmed last night as I accidently came across episode-4 of Sarah Palin’s Alaska on the Discovery Channel. Sarah joined her dad, Chuck and a friend named Steve Becker in hunting down a cute caribou. As they aim their rifles at the defenseless creature, I found myself screaming at my flat-screen, “Run, little guy, run!”
Sarah, as it turns out, is NOT a great shot with a hunting rifle. She missed the creature three times as the weapon jolted up against her shoulder and seemed to cause her to miss high, above the animal’s head. Anyway, somebody (not her) finally wounds and kills the caribou and then they begin gutting it. Sarah explains why it is they cut off the four legs first and pack them up in some container, then adds it was a really good thing they killed this sucker because now everyone will have enough meat to eat for the winter.
What????? It is reported that between speaking fees and book sales alone, Sarah Palin has made $12 million since July of 2009. I respectfully maintain that as a matter of sheer survival, cutting up this caribou they killed last night into dozens of tasty packages tossed into the Palin family freezer…was not entirely necessary.