Sunday, September 2, 2012

Assorted Thoughts on the Republican National Convention

It's been a dream of mine to attend one of the conventions for the major political parties.  Really, it would be nice to go to any parties' conventions.  I would love to hear all of the speakers talk and interact with people in the crowd.  While I still have a dream of what I want to do when I officially grow up and that would include being invited to one of these, my most likely job match is going to be selling life insurance, health insurance, etc. Yay for my liberal arts degree and a background in sales and customer service!

ANYWAYS, various journalists have filed their live blogs of the convention, as well as their thoughts on the convention itself.  While I am not a journalist, nor expect to be one, I am an arrogant ass who thinks you might want to read my thoughts on the convention.  I'll number them because I'm on the internet.

1. Mitt Romney did not receive much of a bounce because of the convention.  Nate Silver notes that while we'll have to wait a few days to get the full impact of the RNC on Romney's chances of winning the election, but the bounce appears to be a little "underwhelming" based on the information we have so far.  Silver also noted that Romney did not receive much of a boost with the nomination of Paul Ryan.  The combination of these two factors does not bode well for the Romney campaign. 

2. The RNC became a convention of repeating the same, primarily misguided, claims that they have before.  As one political jounralist noted: "there is a case to be made against President Obama; what we've seen so far at the RNC is an Obama that exists entirely in the imagination of the GOP."  If you want a full recap of all of the claims and where they might stand next to the truth, check out PolitiFact or Factcheck.  I'll link to a plurality of their articles in this post.

3.  Republicans came out in full force to support the we did build that mantra.  We covered we did build it, here at A More Perfect Union.  Both of our authors wrote a little piece on it.  If you want to read more on the subject, here is a good link

4. According to my Republican friends on Facebook, MSNBC cut all of the minority speakers at the RNC, except Nikki Haley.  To be honest with you, I don't have a televisions much less cable but it sounds plausible.  Much of the vitriol is pointed at MSNBC because of Hardball's host Chris Matthews has leveled attacks on Republicans for, essentially, racist remarks and statements. If MSNBC did this intentionally, it is surely despicable.  It very well may be intentional.

5.  What has been the most effective advertisement for Romney's campaign?  According to one of Romney's aides, it has been their welfare advertisement.  According to the advertisement, Obama is ending the work for welfare requirement.  But that's not quite it...  In fact, the Obama adminstration has repeatedly stated that the goal is to improve employment opportunities.  To quote PolitiFact, "by granting waivers to states, HHS is seeking to make welfare-to-work efforts more successful, not end them. The waivers would apply to individually evaluated pilot programs -- HHS is not proposing a blanket, national change to welfare law."  Rick Santorum repeated this claim at his speech at the RNC, in which, he argued that Obama is increasing our dependency on the government.   

6. Phil Archuletta spoke on Tuesday.  The theme of the day was "we built it."  As I've noted on my post about "we built that" and on our Facebook page, Archuletta got a $850,000 loan guarantee from the Department of Commerce to add on to his small business and complained openly that under President Obama that it has been harder for his business to secure government contracts.  Of course, Neal (A More Perfect Union's other author) is absolutely right.  He did, in fact, build his own business.  He had the idea for it and all of that.  He also can complain about his taxes and absolutely deserves his wealth.  But, this is what Bob McDonnell said,"We need a president who will say to a small businesswoman: Congratulations, we applaud your success, you did make that happen, you did build that! Big government didn’t build America: You built America! Small businesses don’t come out of Washington D.C. pre-made on flat bed trucks. That coffee shop in Henrico. That florist in Virginia Beach. That bakery in Radford. They were all built by entrepreneurial Americans with big dreams, not a big spending government with a wide open wallet full of other people’s money!"  You mean we should not give out loan guarantees or government contracts?  Or what RNC Chairman Reince Preibus (I always butcher his name) said,"Republicans believe American greatness comes from the American people — not from the federal government. But Barack Obama thinks the government is at the center of the economic universe."  Maybe or maybe not but Archuletta is a curious choice to speak if this is your larger point.  This was not well thought out by Republicans.  I'll point out that I respect small businessowners for starting things that haven't been done before and starting something on their own.  To claim that they did this without the help from the government or without help from others, is ridiculous. 

7.  Continuing the Romney campaign's attack on the supposed war on women waged by the Obama administration, Rae Lynne Chornenky stated that 850,000 women have lost their jobs under President Obama.  Well, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics, that number is down to just over 400,000.  Unemployment for women started accelerating a full year after men's employment started tumbling.  It has taken a bit longer for the recovery for women to happen.  Some analysts have said that Obama's policies have actually hurt male-dominated professions such as oil drilling, coal mining, etc.  The healthcare policy might "disproportionally help women."

8.  Mediscare. Prepare yourselves for a long campaign focusing people on being scared about the solvency of Medicare.  As was related to me by a branch manager of an insurance company that sells Medicare Advantage and life insurance, "Medicare is a great product...but everyone in this room, except me will be able to get it.  It's going to be bankrupt."  People who depend on Medicare are understandably nervous about its solvency.  Both sides have attacked the other.  By the way, Neal posted a great link to an article about "the other side", the other day.  But the key attack by Republicans is that Obama funneled $716 billion out of Medicare for Obamacare.   FactCheck explains this way better than I ever could. 

9.  Obamacare is not a government takeover of health care. 

10. Republicans also claimed that the Keystone Pipeline, if built would lower gas prices.  Since President Obama has delayed this action, we should expect to see the prices at the pump even higher.  This is probably not true.  As, gas prices are a result of many world events.  Additionally, as FactCheck notes, there's nothing stopping Canada sending more oil over right now.  We already have pipelines in place to send more oil.  According to the U.S. State Department, we have excess pipeline of over 1 million more barrels per day.  This surplus is expected to continue until 2020.

11. I actually enjoyed Chris Christie's speech.  Sure, it was full of opinion, platitudes, and generalities.  But this is what I expect from convention speakers.  I would have liked it more if he didn't provide any false claims in his speech.

12.  Is Christie considered a favorite for 2016 if Romney doesn't win?  According to Intrade and Nate Silver, if Romney doesn't win,  the favorite for the presidential race in 2016 is Paul Ryan vs. Hillary. I'll explain in a later post why I think this is unlikely on both sides.  I don't think Christie is a favorite, either.

13. So good to see Rick Santorum not quite fall into oblivion, yet.  This is probably the last year of relevance for the former Pennsylvania Senator but at least he got to rail against the nation of dependency one last time.  Even if what he says isn't completely true, good to see him enjoy his last days of relevance.  It also reminds me of the Republican primary debates.  If we remember, this was a very expensive battle among Republicans to try and stop Romney from being the Republican nominee for President.  Well, that's how I remember it.  Each of the various candidates, except Huntsman and Pawlenty enjoyed their time in the sun where they might be the favorites. 

14. Speaking of the Republican debates, Newt Gingrich was at the RNC. Yay, Newt Gingrich.  I would make the same comments about his relevance but all of those comments were used up when his Ethics committee investigation took place.  Who knows, maybe in another 10+ years he'll re-emerge as a Republican candidate for President.

15. All of the potential vice-president nominees from my vice-presidential rankings showed up and spoke.  Jeb Bush dropped some knowledge on us all, when he said that illegal immigration has been net-zero.  Slight digression: I downloaded the app Zite for my HP Touchpad, which is an online magazine application that chooses articles for me and I've been reading these articles with vigor.  The problems: I have a hard time re-finding the articles to cite later and it is on my Touchpad as opposed to my laptop where I do my typing.  Oh well. #firstworldproblems.  Michele Bachmann said that if we continue with Obama's policies, we'll be looking at an unemployment rate of over 9%.  But PolitiFact found that the report she was using does not include the policies that Obama is advocating for, bur rather if laws remain unchanged. Rob Portman said that Obama has never worked in a business.  Obama has some experience, not a lot.  Nikki Haley, who I thought was Native American but obviously made a mistake when I read that she was Indian, stated that President Obama and his Labor Relations Board sued Boeing.  Wow, this campaign is going to go overboard with the idea of indirect vs. direct influence.  You have Romney at Bain and Obama with the Labor Relations Board. Interesting. Marco Rubio spoke.  Among other things, he criticized Obamacare for being a government intervention into healthcare, raising taxes and cutting Medicare.  My favorite line from Rubio is "As we prepare to make this choice, we should remember what made us special. For most of history almost everyone was poor. Power and wealth belonged to only a few. Your rights were whatever your rulers allowed you to have. Your future was determined by your past.  If your parents were poor, so would you be. If you were born without opportunities, so were your children."  He then describes that because of our values, we rose out of these circumstances.  But is this what you want to bring up?  Isn't wealth already held by the few?  The middle class is probably shrinking but you know, whatever. Rubio is preparing for a run in 2016.  I like Rubio's speech but it reads as a speech for someone preparing for something bigger. More to come on that front.  Did I hallucinate that Pawlenty was there giving a speech?  Can't find a transcript.

16. Finally, moving onto Paul Ryan.  Here's a complete report from FactCheck.

17. Biggest issues with Ryan's speech: funneling money away from Medicare and his criticism of President Obama for not doing anything to pass bipartisan reforms.  First things first, Paul Ryan also supports the reduction of Medicare spending.  Second, Ryan opposed the military cuts and new tax revenue in the report and voted against it so it would not see immediate action in Congress. 

18. Ryan has been less than forthright and honest about stimulus money in the past.  He's stated that he did not request stimulus funds for his district.  Then when confronted about it, he said it was for the betterment of his district.  He also claimed in his speech that the stimulus plan failed to help taxpayers and cut everyday Americans out of the deal. 

19. The plant closing is one of fact checkers favorites.  The Janesville plant closed before Obama took office.

20. Ryan blames Obama for the downgrade in credit rating.  Yet, Standard & Poor's blamed both Democrats and Republicans for the downgrade.  Saying, "The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. …
Republicans and Democrats have only been able to agree to relatively modest savings on discretionary spending while delegating to the Select Committee [of Congress] decisions on more comprehensive measures. It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options."  So, we need to cut discretionary spending AND increase revenues to get the credit rating back. 

21. Spoiler alert of a blog post upcoming: Paul Ryan will not be the Republican nominee in 2016, if Romney loses in 2012.

22. Moving onto Governor Romney.  Here's FactCheck's report on him.  For those who have read this post, thus far, congratulations! You now get to read me not repeat FactCheck's claims but use my own thoughts here on out. But please, read FactCheck's report.  If you learn nothing else from this post, learn that FactCheck and PolitiFact provide a great service and deserve a wider audience.  Done pitching my advertisement for FactCheck and PolitiFact.

23. Mitt Romney and other speakers tried to play a political game at this convention.  This game, as I see it, was to lessen the gap in various demographics that he's trailing but particularly minority and women's votes.  The speeches were geared to focusing on how women positively impacted their lives and how Romney and his administration put women in top levels of government.  The RNC had diverse speakers come out, like Artur Davis, Ted Cruz, Nikki Haley, Marco Rubio, etc.  Ok. I'll say it again.  Because, I don't know if I actually typed it out or not.  The Romney campaign has a nice offensive strategy.  The strategy is to poke holes in those who are around the center or who are undecideds.  If he can lessen the percentages of the women who vote for Obama, minorities voting for Obama, elderly voting for Obama, etc. he stands a chance of winning.  This is why you see him attacking Obama for the job numbers for women, why he and the rest of the convention is overplaying the positive influences of women in their lives, why he spoke to the NAACP, why he's running with this "we built it" mantra, focusing on Obama's immigration stances, etc.  But more than that, he is focusing on something that is a universal problem among all demographics and people.  The job market is tough, the economy is tough, people are losing their jobs, by continuing this line of attack that anytime a Democrat brings up a gaffe of a Republican or focuses on social issues that they are trying to distract you from the economic issues, is bloody genius.  By making these small inroads into demographics that usually vote Democrat, Romney is trying to lessen the gap that he might lose by in critical districts around the nation.  If he lessens the gaps in these districts and has a high turnout from his base than he stands a chance in winning.  This is my opinion.  People who are smarter than I disagree with me.  It could also be that the Republican party as the party of white old men are dying out.  The numbers just aren't there, anymore, so they're trying to recruit new members.  A prominent Republican said essentially that in an article.

24. Romney didn't go down the same line of attack that Ryan did.  Which is why I think this dynamic is really interesting.  Ryan's nomination as vice-president is clearly trying to get the base excited and maybe make a play at the Northern strategy (if I haven't explained it, I will in a later post). Romney's goal is to try and get the undecideds, independents,  and those in the middle to vote for him without alienating the base. 

25. Will Romney be able to win?  There's still a lot of time left before the election.  The jobs numbers comes out this Friday with the Democratic convention just getting over.  This could be the week that Obama seals the deal, if the numbers are good enough.  It could also hurt Obama potentially with a lower than expected total and attention placed on him at the same time.  Big week. Bigger than your normal convention.  Romney can sit back and watch the Democratic Convention.  Silver doesn't expect Obama to get a big bounce from this convention either.  So, perhaps Romney can take solace in that.

Long post, thanks for reading. Check out PolitiFact, FactCheck, and Five Thirty-Eight for better coverage.

 

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