Saturday, January 28, 2012

Circus Weekend: Mr. Inevitable Returns!

Once again by popular demand in the center ring of the GOPer circus here in downtown Florida for only four more days: he goes up, he goes down, but he's back (maybe): MR. INEVITABLE!

Yes, circus fans, Mr. Inevitable is back!  A new and even fiercer fusillade of fire from da Establishment, which these days apparently includes not only Bob Dole but Drudge and talk radio (except for Rush) against high-flying Gingles climaxed on Thursday, but fear not!  The daring old man on the flying trapeze had his best act coming up: another GOPer debate!  On CNN with a loud audience!

But a funny thing happened on the way to the presidency by acclamation: Casino Newt fell off the high wire and down down down.  At least according to all the live bloggers, the dead bloggers and that guldurn media in general.  They all gave the fight to his Romneyness, who moreover won this time not by default, but by punching, landing blows, etc. etc.  as the metaphor quickly breaks down.

So promptly on Friday the latest round of polls showed Romney in the lead, by around 9 points.  So that's it, it's over!  Romney will win FLA and the nomination! Mr. Inevitable!  It's all over but the counting!

  But wait! Haven't we heard the Mr. Inevitable cry before?  The election isn't until Tuesday!  Sort of (lots of absentee and early voting in FLA, so...who knows?)  Anyway, there's time for more spills and chills and thrills and above all, comedy.

Here's what we do know: Romney got credit for besting Gingles by relentlessly attacking him.  That may have indeed destroyed Gingles in FLA, and deeply wounded his candidacy (though some suggest Gingles can survive and win more primaries in the South.)  But it did nothing for his Romneyness.

In fact, the more Romney talks, the more questions are raised, the more lies are lied and exposed, and the more his negatives go up.  What has particularly hurt him and may stick to him and haunt him the rest of the way is being the poster boy for rich guys who don't pay their fair share in taxes--which is going over really badly.
Here's the joke that is supposed to be true. Newt: Why do people dislke me so
instantly?  Dole: It saves them time. 

Gingles meanwhile feels even more aggrieved and is launching fresh aggressive attacks on Romney.  So this weekend here is what Romney faces: new charges on his involvement in a company convicted of Medicare fraud, from both Gingles on FLA TV--and the Democratic National Committee.

Meanwhile the economic news continues to be good and President Obama is solidifying the Democratic coalition.  He told Dem House members that they should work with Rs to pass needed laws but "Where they obstruct, where they’re unwilling to act, where they’re more interested in party than they are in country, more interested in the next election than the next generation, then we’ve got to call them out on it,” Obama said. “We’ve got to call them out on it. We’ve got to push them. We can’t wait. We can’t be held back.”

But back to the circus. Rick Sanctimonious reputedly had a good debate, but he's so far back in the polls and so close to broke that he's taking the weekend off and leaving FLA.  Ron St. Paul has hardly been in FLA at all except for debates, but he's made news when a Washington Post story quotes folks who were involved claiming that he indeed approved those racist newsletters--he even proofread them.

So here's how it looks now: Gingles' latest rise energized the Rabid Right, they got a taste of triumph but if Romney takes the nom now, they are going to be very aggrieved.  But it seems unlikely they could agree on a third party candidate (Trump?  Hermaniac Cain? Sarah?) so it seems more than possible to me that a lot of them will just stay home in November.

Update: Speaking of Queen Sarah, here's what she had to say Saturday about Mr. Inevitable getting the nom too soon: "Without this necessary vetting process, the unanswered question of Governor Romney’s conservative bona fides and the unanswered and false attacks on Newt Gingrich will hang in the air to demoralize many in the electorate. The Tea Party grassroots will certainly feel disenfranchised and disenchanted with the perceived orchestrated outcome from self-proclaimed movers and shakers trying to sew this all up."

But there's plenty of circus still ahead.  War on the Sunday shows,  FLA will arise groggy by TV ad onslaughts to vote Tuesday, and the pundits will dance, dance, dance!        

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Light Show

The latest solar storm did its worst on Wednesday, with apparently little effect other than creating some spectacular northern lights, as here in Norway, in a photo by scanpix.

State of the State of the Union

On Wednesday, the conventional pundit wisdom (cpw) changed a little on the State of the Union, as available evidence came in that non-pundits liked it.  (Even Andrew Sullivan reconsidered and recanted some.) 

For example, the results of a CBS News poll: 91% of viewers surveyed approved of the policies President Obama proposed and discussed.  The pool for the poll was 45% Dems, 25% Rs, the rest presumably that amorphous group discussed as if it were a real identity: Independents.  Since Dems were more likely to watch the Dem prez, this rating suggests the base is solid, but this was statistical verification of anecdotals on various sites that suggested that the speech had broad appeal, even to some conservatives.  The poll details are full of good news for Obama, with big jumps in approval for his approach to the economy, jobs, even his health care law.

A couple of other followups: it became part of the cpw today that Obama said nothing about health care.  It's true he didn't single it out, but he also never mentioned the Recovery Act by name--just its effects.  He also mentioned the first effects--being felt now-- of the health care law, much of which hasn't yet taken effect.  And he did so in a context that said he was resisting the calls for its repeal: "I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny your coverage, or charge women differently than men." 

But in my summary last night I left out one conspicuous and important set of statements: where President Obama explicitly described the accomplishments of his administration.  And these were some of the most effective passages.  They told Democrats that he was going to defend his record, and that he could effectively communicate that narrative.  They told people who had been under the spell of the FOX version of reality that a lot has been accomplished.

It's seemed to me that the obfuscations and outright lies told by GOPer pols and their media overlords provided an interesting opportunity for the Obama campaign, once the country is paying attention.  If Obama and his campaign could tell the story of his accomplishments, of the promises kept, then to much of America it would be a new story, an eye-opening one.  So I consider the State of the Union a preview, and a boost of confidence to Dems, because President Obama clearly can tell that story effectively.

And as it turns out, so can Joe Biden, who summarized it in tweetspeak: Osama bin Laden is dead, General Motors is alive.

But it turns out the evening wasn't complete. Before the speech, President Obama made the decision to send in a Navy Seal team to rescue two hostages from Somali pirates.  The opportunity was there, and the health of the Danish man was deteriorating.  The team was parachuted in, they engaged and killed the captors with no injuries, and the hostages were helicoptered out.

The mission was underway during the speech, although the rescue itself had apparently happened, because President Obama was seen congratulating Secretary of Defense Panetta. After the speech, when the mission was completed, President Obama (with Michelle at his side: see photo) phoned the father of the American woman who was rescued, to tell him his daughter was safe.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

One of the most moving moments at the Capitol was President Obama embracing Gabrielle Gifford before his speech.  As the L.A. Times story notes, it was both a welcome back to Giffords, and, for now at least, a farewell, as she leaves Congress to concentrate on her recovery from gunshot wounds.

It wasn't the only notable embrace.  The other was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who lifted her arms to embrace the President.  Could it be that she feels she might be attending her last State of the Union?  In any case, it was clearly a significant moment for her.

Here's video of Gifford's moment with President Obama.

Build to Last

The theme of President Obama's third State of the Union address could be characterized in various ways, but to me it was about building--not winning, but building the future.

 " Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded."

He invoked the period of building after World War II, when government managed the transition from a wartime economy and used both the wartime spirit and the experience of using public funds to create public good that would serve the people and private enterprise: the GI Bill, the housing and highway programs.

Later he invoked the Depression programs, when as Rachel Maddow has so eloquently said, America built its way out of economic collapse.  He even used an example right out of her promos: Hoover dam.  He talked about building infrastructure, about building cars, about rebuilding the middle class.

But his proposals demonstrated an appreciation for political realities.  Despite the equal appreciation of electoral politics, the proposals he specifically made were incremental and should be doable.  But he did not stake everything on possible if unlikely action by Congress this year.  In each area he named an action he will do by executive order, or by federal administration initiative working directly with states, private companies, other countries. 

President Obama began and ended his address with reference to the war in Iraq and the raid resulting in the death of Osama bin Laden.  Aside from the not exactly accidental reminders of his two most impressive achievements with the electorate, he used these as a metaphor for the country working together, regardless of differences, on the same mission.  He began:

"These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together. "

He ended: "No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team. This nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong."

The theme of working together and the theme of fairness are intertwined.  Only a country where the fruits of effort are fairly shared can truly be one nation, working for the good of each and all.

 The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. (Applause.) What’s at stake aren’t Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. And we have to reclaim them.

Casting this characteristic theme with this new metaphor was more than a connection to his famous 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention--it expressed the same conviction.  If you simply listen to this State of the Union, you may well hear what I heard: the strong resemblance to what that 2004 speech sounded like, even in vocal delivery. 

But this time he is President, and his call for collaboration was accompanied by strong statements of where he stands and what he will and will not do. Noting the hard choices and tough fights that resulted in coming back this far from the realities and the further threats of the Great Recession:

And we’ve come too far to turn back now. As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place. 

He proposed measures to further encourage the expansion of American manufacturing, and trade. " I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products. And I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules."

He emphasized the need and the great advantages of  rebuilding American infrastructure, something the two parties used to agree on as obvious.  Not any more, but he isn't going to wait. "In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects. But you need to fund these projects. Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home."

He made specific proposals on education, job training, immigration reform and research and development. He made proposals on energy, both fossil fuel and green energy.  " But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy...  I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We’ve subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits. Create these jobs."

He asked for congressional action, but announced his own executive actions: expansion of green energy projects on public lands, and through the U.S. armed forces.

He proposed reforms to make refinancing mortgages easier.  "A small fee on the largest financial institutions will ensure that it won’t add to the deficit and will give those banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust.  Let’s never forget: Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that do the same. It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom. No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody."

He spoke about our broken politics in blunt language: "The greatest blow to our confidence in our economy last year didn’t come from events beyond our control. It came from a debate in Washington over whether the United States would pay its bills or not. Who benefited from that fiasco?"

He talked about government regulations, about getting rid of the dumb ones, but he defended the ones that worked, especially in regulating the financial industry, and now consumer protection. "So if you’re a big bank or financial institution, you are no longer allowed to make risky bets with your customers’ deposits. You’re required to write out a “living will” that details exactly how you’ll pay the bills if you fail – because the rest of us aren’t bailing you out ever again."

And he announced a new administrative initiative: "And tonight, I’m asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorney general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. (Applause.) This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans."

The part of his speech that seemed most topical (given Mitt Romney releasing his tax returns on Tues, and the bitter charges on the GOPer campaign trail) and will probably be the most discussed had to do with taxes.  President Obama first called on Congress to extend the middle class tax cut for the year, without drama and without strings attached.  He called for the end of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.  He proposed that the tax rate on an annual income above one million dollars be no lower than 30%.  (Mitt Romney paid less than 14% on his $21 million income, or less than half the rate that middle class Americans pay.)  And he made the case for these policies:

" We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get a tax break I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference -- like a senior on a fixed income, or a student trying to get through school, or a family trying to make ends meet. That’s not right. Americans know that’s not right. They know that this generation’s success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to the future of their country, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility. That’s how we’ll reduce our deficit. That’s an America built to last. (Applause.)

He talked about reforming the federal government, consolidating executive departments and functions, and also fixing Congress so that a majority in the Senate can actually pass something.  He decried the influence of money in Washington and politics.  He made modest proposals in both areas, but the White House announced that other actions will be proposed as well.

He spoke then in more detail about America's position in the world, and defended his administration's approach, both with detail and with this withering assertion: "From the coalitions we’ve built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we’ve led against hunger and disease; from the blows we’ve dealt to our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back. Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about."

In terms of response, one focus group noted by the LA Times was broadly positive about the speech and its proposals, across the political spectrum. But the full influence of this State of the Union won't be fully known until November.  Pundits pointed out that few of these speeches immediately move public opinion, though a surprising amount of legislation does emanate from them.  In a campaign year, the influence of this speech may well be in the soundbites that get amplified in campaign ads.

Pundits were generally unenthusiastic and mostly cynical about the speech.  Notably, Andrew Sullivan--author of "The Long Game" Newsweek article defending Obama--was bitterly disappointed.  Political pundits felt it was all too poll tested, but also made the contradictory observations that it was all a campaign speech and not geared to doable legislation, and that it was too conservative as a grand goal-setting visionary campaign speech, and too much of a laundry list of proposed legislation.

One dissident to this early pundit consensus (aside from the commentators on MSNBC)  was Sahil Kapur who wrote at TPM: "The prescriptions lay out a decidedly progressive vision of government."

Pundits admitted however that in contrast to the GOPer nominees, President Obama was more authoritative, eloquent, presidential and optimistic.  The speech arrived on a day that poll numbers show the truth of Lawrence O'Donnell's quip last night that Republicans are about to nominate a candidate who can't defeat President Obama--they just don't know his name yet: both the major GOPer contenders are slipping badly with the electorate, particularly independents.  But though conventional pundit wisdom says that the more optimistic candidate usually wins, GOPers are clearly betting on disaffection and anger (Mitch Daniels so-called rebuttal echoed the GOPer candidates in this.) 

The economic news continues to be good, especially rising consumer confidence.  But the recovery is fragile, and so is the world economy.  Europe is still lurching towards a possible crisis, and disarray in the Middle East--particularly Iran--could still send oil prices into the stratosphere.  Even so, though I recognize that my perceptions are not necessarily shared by the US electorate, I can't see how anyone could witness this speech after witnessing a GOPer debate, and conclude anything but that in bad times as well as getting better, the presidency can only be safely entrusted to Barack Obama.

Here is a video of highlights from the speech, and another of the specific proposals  Here's the official transcript.  And for the politically minded, here's something I noticed--several instances of President Obama directly refuting Mitt Romney statements without saying so.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Courage and Consequences

This is the Gabby Giffords video in which she announced that she's leaving Congress.  If you haven't seen all two and a half minutes of it, it's worth your time on so many levels.  Giffords will be at President Obama's State of the Union address tonight.

War and the American Electorate

Before the State of the Union and its focus on the economy, I wanted to say something about foreign policy issues, and particularly the issue of war and peace.  The GOPer debates are showing clearly that their candidates (except for Ron St. Paul) are clueless Cheny clones, pandering to a delusional and perhaps illusional base.  The candidates' generally warmongering attitudes could very well plunge the world into more wars, even nuclear wars, while bankrupting the country in the process.

That's the good news.

Because part of their cluelessness is totally misreading the majority of American voters, who are clearly sick of stupid wars and all their costs.  Barack Obama won the presidency largely on his promise to end the war in Iraq.  He ended the war in Iraq, and that's going to be a major reason he will win reelection.

The GOP candidates arguments are the same as the Cheneyites, except cruder, if that's possible.  But this time the counter-arguments are going to be made by the real President and the real Secretary of State, with solid foreign policy accomplishments, including one that has to be obvious even to the generally uninterested voter: they got rid of Osama bin Laden and crippled al Queda and its ability to harm this country or its citizens.  Less obvious--though just as ignored by the GOPer candidates whose only possible tactic is lying, which they do regularly--is the success so far of U.S. strategy on Iran.  It's still a dangerous situation, but efforts short of war now underway are effective.  A little demonstration of that, and it will bolster the public's clear opposition to engaging in another war.

The Obama administration hasn't been perfect.  They haven't succeeded in closing Guantanamo, and it remains a stain and a scandal and a moral tragedy. Many of the excesses of the Patriot Act and so-called anti-terrorism tactics that violate civil rights, human rights and any civilized conscience, still remain.  But it's interesting that a journalist has chronicled President Obama's relationship with the military hierarchy, a story of progress resulting in reasserting civilian control after eight years of abuse.  Other parts of the bureaucracy have changed slowly and unevenly to match actions with the goals and principles the Obama administration brought with them.  I have high hopes for real progress on all these matters in a second term.

In a way it is similar to another story--by Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker-- which purports to follow President Obama's learning curve on the limitations of presidential power.  As a student of history, I doubt he was entirely surprised by either the power of the generals or the lack of presidential power, although it's likely that the lessons are a lot more impressive in reality.  But at least in the abstract, I understood these as a teenager avidly following the Kennedy administration.

 Newsmagazines followed JFK's disenchantment with the generals after the Bay of Pigs, and his amazement at their Doctor Strangelove-like advice during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Between the two he learned to trust his own judgment and assert his control.

In end of the year interviews--I think even after the first year, and certainly the second--he stressed the limitations of presidential power.  It was a theme of two popular political books of the time, which I eagerly read, naturally, and still have: Presidental Power  by Richard E. Neustadt and Decision-Making in the White House by his own long-time advisor and presidential assistant, Theodore Sorensen.  (Since Sorensen also supported Obama and they met, I'd assume he knows of this book.)

 Yet it was after understanding these limitations (and successfully defying the generals in the Cuban Missile Crisis), that JFK engineered his two boldest initiatives: the successful effort to get the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty signed and ratified, and introducing the Civil Rights legislation that became the basis for the historic laws passed after his assassination.  Both changed America and American politics.

So there are two points here, I suppose: President Obama will be an even better President in the next four years, having learned what he learned in the first four.  That's not unusual, but in our times, it could be very important for the country and the world.

But the point I started with is this: Americans are for all intents and purposes anti-war.  If the economy offers some hope, President Obama will be re-elected simply on the strength of his record in ending the war in Iraq, winding down the war in Afghanistan, and his largely successful efforts to achieve justifiable American goals without the bluster and bullying and especially the whine of bullets.   GOPer candidates are on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the electorate on this.

The Circus Comes to Disneyworldland

Apparently "The Word" of the circus debate in Florida Monday was Romney's: "self-deportation."  Several live bloggers excused themselves saying they were self-deporting.  At Kos there were other tweeted glosses: solution to economic problems: self-employment.  Solution to the GOP debates: self-immolation.  Self-deportation is what Romney does with his money, to the Caymans.

Otherwise most of the bloggers and pundits scored a modest win for Romney, though Josh Marshall thought Gingles held his own and so the dynamic hasn't changed, and he will continue to lead in Florida polls.  But there's another circus act on Thursday!  If Romney stopped the bleeding, that's when he'll have to turn things around.  Otherwise, our circus critics graded the entertainment value as poor, perhaps because the audience was so sedate that the Economist guys in the UK thought there wasn't one.

But momentum is with Gingles, even though he continues to take credit for the Clinton administration's accomplishments, including the first balanced budget that Gingles directed House Republicans to oppose.   Fred Thompson (R-Law & Order) endorsed him, and more importantly, most importantly, his Vegas sugar daddy ponied up another five million bucks for Florida!  Casino Newt rides again!

Meanwhile, Romney's tax return shows he paid a 13.9% tax rate on income of $42 million, and in a factoid sure to please the Tevangelist base, he gave more in "charity" donations than he paid in taxes--most of it to the Mormon Church (he tithes, as Mormons are supposed to.) 

But the line of the night belongs to Lawrence O'Donnell: "Tonight the Republican Party is on its way to nominating a presidential candidate who cannot beat President Obama.  The only thing we do not yet know is that candidate's name."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Stormy Weather

There's rage on the sun, and it's resulting in the strongest solar storm heading this way since 2005. Scientists don't expect electrical problems on Earth as a result, though that's still a possibility.  But it could affect us in other ways.  Does this for example explain raging Casino Newt Gingrich?  Maybe.  But Andrew Sullivan writes what I've been trying to say:

"This now is the party of Palin and Gingrich, animated primarily by hatred of elites, angry at the new shape and color of America, befuddled by a suddenly more complicated world, and dedicated primarily to emotion rather than reason. That party is simply not one that can rally behind a Mitt Romney...This is Gingrich's party; and Ailes'; and Rove's. They made it; and it is only fitting it now be put on the table, for full inspection. Better sooner than later. Obama is a poultice. He brings poison to the surface. Where, with any luck, it dies."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A True Bright Star

Gabby Giffords with husband, space shuttle astronaut Mark Kelley

Gabrielle Giffords announced on Sunday that she is giving up her seat in Congress in order to concentrate on her recovery from the assassination attempt last year in Arizona.  It is a reminder that however miraculous her recovery so far, such violence has enduring consequences.  It is a measure of our political decadence that the enormity of this act, and the atmosphere supporting gun violence and violent politics, was not confronted even after this incident that killed a federal judge, a public servant, and a child born on 9-11, among others.

Of Giffords, President Obama said: Gabby Giffords embodies the very best of what public service should be. She’s universally admired for qualities that transcend party or ideology – a dedication to fairness, a willingness to listen to different ideas, and a tireless commitment to the work of perfecting our union."  House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called Giffords "a true bright star."  It is a phrase worth contemplating--a bright star that points true.  

This gun violence, enabled by cowardly politicians and their at best deluded and at worst hate-filled constituents, silenced an exemplary voice in Congress, a voice that this Congress badly needs, and now that silence will continue.  But there will be one more opportunity to acknowledge some of this, as well as to honor Giffords, when her last act as a Member of Congress will be to witness President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday. 

Aye of Newt , the Casino Candidate

Gingles cleaned Romney's clock in the South Carolina GOPer primary.  He got more than 40% of the vote to Romney's 29%.  Sanctimonious got 17%, Ron St. Paul 13%.

The rejection of Romney was led by Tevangelicals who didn't vote for a Mormon--this was clear from exit polls.  They coalesced around Gingles' rage rather than Sanctimonious' sanctimony.

Pundit and political pols are split on whether SC was a fluke, a special case, or whether Romney is in trouble, with most moving towards the latter view.  Next up is Florida, and if Gingles wins that one (says Steve Schmidt, former McCain campaign manager), the GOPer establishment will go into full panic mode between then and Super Tuesday five weeks later.  Gingles negatives are so high that many believe--including many GOPers-- he will never be elected President. 

On the other hand, there's the rage, and others are coming around to the pov I expressed yesterday: Gingles could feed it and ride it to the nomination, and it would all be out there to see.

Roger Simon at Politico had an ascerbically funny characterization of Gingles.  "He is not the best-looking guy in Republican race or the best-funded or the most ideologically pure. But he has found his shtick, and he is shticking to it. Newt Gingrich is the angriest man in America." "Anger, umbrage and bitterness are so much a part of Gingrich’s public persona that he likes to attack the very concept of happiness.."

This has always been Gingles rhetoric stance--I remember it from the 90s.  And it has never been more in line with the raw anger and hatred of a rabid and racist GOPer core.  Gingles victory speech was his usual mixture of anger and contempt, and grandiosity--having won exactly one primary, he spoke as if his Inauguration were tomorrow.  He complimented his GOPer rivals, though he suggested anyone who had voted for them had voted in error or by accident.  He again insulted the intelligence of President Obama.   He takes his election as a given. “It will shock the country,” Newt says. “It will shock the world. And shock is what we need.” 

That's the Gingles Shock Doctrine.  He has to hope that Americans will forget they don't like or trust him (his disapproval rating is 60%), or that most sober and intelligent analysts rate his policy proposals as catastrophic or insane, and just go with a generalized rage that things aren't going well enough with that non-white man in the White House.  So what the hell, roll the dice.

Next comes Florida, where the campaign will engage with an even greater ferocity.  Romney won Iowa when he poured millions into ads attacking Gingles, and Gingles didn't and couldn't respond.  Then Gingles got $5 million from his Vegas casino sugar daddy, and won SC after going negative on Romney while Romney tried to stay positive.  Ain't nobody going to be positive in Florida, and a hurricane of  Super Pac paid negative ads will flood that state.  The Romney campaign has already said that it's going after Gingles even harder than in Iowa, and Gingles may well have the millions to exploit Romney's exposed weaknesses (the Bain stuff seems to have hurt him in SC.)  Romney has millions, and I saw a report that Gingles is getting millions from other billionaires as well as his Vegas daddy.

Two years after Citizens United, the coming ten days before the Florida primary will be the biggest and most graphic demonstration yet of what that Supreme Court decision has unleashed.  Right now Newt owes his SC victory to one man with a $22 billion fortune who can spend $5 million on a ego-inflating election in any and every state he wants, at least as much as to his debates and the luck this time of timing.  He's Casino Newt, a bought candidacy.  These are likely to be ten days that will shake democracy.  That's the Supreme's Shock Doctrine.