Michael Barone Examines The Perpetual Candidate

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Michael Barone opens his latest column with the question, “Do we have a president or a perpetual candidate?”.

The obvious answer is that we have a perpetual candidate, an individual so inept at actual governance that all he can do is give speeches to crowds full of delusional sycophants. Like his campaign speeches where the true believers would faint and suffer dehydration, Obama prefers the adoration of the truly troubled.

Barone then goes into a great policy analysis of the current calls by the perpetual candidate to fund universal preschool:

Obama keeps talking about corporate jets because it tests well in polls.

And that’s the reason, I think, he keeps talking about universal preschool, not just for disadvantaged children.

Polls show that large majorities of Americans would be willing to have more government money spent for preschool for disadvantaged children. The impulse to help adorable but needy little kids is very strong.

Unfortunately, the evidence that preschool programs do any permanent good for such children is exceedingly weak.

Preschool advocates point to a 1960s program in Ypsilanti, Mich., and a 1970s North Carolina program called Abecedarian. Research showed those programs produced lasting gains in learning.

But no one has been able to replicate the success of these very small programs staffed by unusually dedicated people. Mass programs like Head Start staffed by more ordinary people don’t work as well.

Kids in such programs seem to make no perceptible lasting gains. That’s too bad, because disadvantaged kids need help.

So why is Obama emphasizing universal preschool, which would cost a lot more than preschool for the disadvantaged? The reason, I suspect, is that you would have to hire lots more credentialed teachers, which means you would get lots more teacher union members.

Teacher union leaders would love to see more dues money coming in, and to channel more to the Democratic Party.

To my suspicious eye, the preschool proposal doesn’t make much sense as policy, but it makes a lot of sense as politics.

Demagoguery about preschool and corporate jets is not going to convince Republicans that Obama can be a reliable negotiating partner.

That is as succinct an analysis as I have read about the issue of the perpetual candidate’s calls for universal preschool. Barone is absolutely right, this universal preschool boondoggle is nothing more than a scheme to build up the Democrat base.

I also want to point out this particular comment by Barone, and it is not to pick on him, but it is to further clarify the actual belief:

Polls show that large majorities of Americans would be willing to have more government money spent for preschool for disadvantaged children. The impulse to help adorable but needy little kids is very strong.

This does not mean that the “majorities of Americans” are willing to have their taxes increased. It means that if they are already sending $20,000 a year to the federal government, the government should direct more of that $20,000 to this preschool boondoggle. That would mean cutting money spent somewhere else. That is a tall task in Washington D.C., a task I do not expect to see come to pass.

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Gingrich Puts Consultants On Notice

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich has a very good column today in which he takes the old model of political consultants to task, along with a few of those practitioners. The column is very lengthy and I didn’t want to post it in its entirety.

After the column open, Speaker Gingrich begins to hit his stride here:

It is appalling how little some Republican consultants have learned from the 2012 defeat.

It is even more disturbing how arrogant their plans for the future are.

Of course these consultants have made an amazing amount of money asserting an expertise they clearly don’t have.

They have existed in a system in which the candidate was supposed to focus on raising money and the smart consultant would design the strategy, spend the money and do the thinking.

This is a terrible system.

Watch the movie “Lincoln.” This was a politician who thought long and deeply.

Read Craig Shirley’s histories of the 1976 and 1980 campaigns (or watch the documentary Callista and I made, “Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny”). Reagan knew what he believed, why he was running, and what he wanted to accomplish.

Republicans need to drop the consultant-centric model and go back to a system in which candidates have to think and consultants are adviser and implementers but understand that the elected official is the one who has to represent the voters and make the key decisions.

This part of Gingrich’s column cannot be ignored (this is Gingrich’s writing, and the STEVENS quote is from a joint tv appearance with Romney consultant Stuart Stevens):

The depth of Republican obsolescence on communications technology was highlighted in this comment:

“STEVENS: Really made — if I had tweeted in this campaign this whole discussion we’ve been having about the second amendment would probably be replaced one about the first amendment and whether it should apply to tweeting.”

Cute but insulting. Republicans will not understand why we are losing younger Americans so badly until we realize how many of our consultants don’t have a clue and don’t intend to change.

Finally, Stevens said something profound but I don’t think he understood how profound it was:

“Listen, I don’t think — it would be a great mistake if we felt that technology in itself is going to save the Republican Party. Technology is something to a large degree you can go out and purchase and if we think there’s an off the shelf solution that you can go out and purchase for the Republican Party it’s wrong.

“You know, we’ve had a lot of chance now since the campaign to spend time with the Obama folks and sometimes they had better technology, some cases we have better technology. We don’t have 140 character problem in the Republican Party. We have a larger problem that we have to look at and be patient about it. And trying to think that there’s one solution like this, I just don’t think…”

I went on to agree with him but I don’t think he understood my agreement. In effect I was repudiating the entire structure, budget and culture of the campaign he dominated:

“GINGRICH: I think the way Stuart just said it is exactly right. The technology problem is a culture problem. I mean the Democrats had 54 data analysts and were hiring Ph.Ds in advanced math because they were using the most advanced decision processes in the country. They were bringing in behavioral scientists. They were trying to figure out how you talk to 311 million people and do so in a way that you can survive 8 percent unemployment and get re-elected and it worked.

“Now, I think it’s actually — he’s right in a sense it’s a cultural problem. None of our consultants would have imagined hiring 54 people in the decision area, none of them would have imagined having 24 people [who] did nothing full time except e-mails and then blind tested the best e-mails to see which ones worked. I mean, this — they are a Super Bowl team that we ought to respect deeply. And we are currently a midlevel college team floundering around and I agree. It’s not just — you can’t just go out and buy this, this is a fundamental rethinking of how you relate to the American people.”

As Reagan biographer Craig Shirley told me, “Commercial radio was a new technology in the early 1930′s and Reagan adapted to it. Talking movies were a new technology in the late 30′s and Reagan adapted to it. Network television was a new technology in the early 1950′s and Reagan adapted to it. If Reagan were alive today, he’d be tweeting.”

That final point about Ronald Reagan is exactly right. Reagan would be tweeting today. We have to get tech or die trying, this current approach is seriously hurting our cause.

As you can well imagine, this closing by Speaker Gingrich made my day:

The debate over Rove-Stevens versus the new 21st century model may be the most important intra-Republican debate since the emergence of Reagan and Kemp to challenge the old order in the 1970s.

Newt Gingrich has long advocated a different model of political consulting from the one that current exists. We at GPH Consulting have striven to be different, it probably doesn’t take much looking around to realize that we are indeed different. Engage us here on the blog, tweet with us or pin with us and discover for yourself.

America Missed

By Steve Parkhurst

As the new year is now underway, the personal shock of the 2012 election has still not set in for me. In my mind I keep re-playing this brief speech excerpt from Paul Ryan just before the November election:

PAUL RYAN: “Our commitment is really clear. We’re saying here are the solutions; here are the principles we’re going to use; here’s our proven bipartisan track record of actually delivering results and getting things done; here’s what we’re going to do. And I’ve got to tell you, 2013 could be a renaissance in America, in the world and in America. 2013 can be the year we get our economy growing, we start creating 12 million new jobs, we put these pro-growth policies in place and we reaffirm the American idea by electing Mitt Romney the next President of the United States.” – Full kudos to Breitbart for the video and transcript.

Time will tell, but as of now, I feel like America missed as great opportunity with a Romney Presidency. Not only would Barack Obama not be a President with nothing to fear as he will never again appear on a ballot, but we still do not have a credible business, a CEO-type in the Oval Office. We have an excuse maker with no track record of accomplishments and no history of being held accountable for failure. Mitt Romney may not have turned out to be the next Ronald Reagan or Calvin Coolidge, but he would have been a tremendous improvement over the current President.

Now, we’ll never know. This video keeps reminding me of the great opportunity we had in 2012 and beyond.

America missed.

Where Are Those Colorado Professors?

I’m just throwing this out there as I have not researched or conducted a Bing or Google search, but leading up to the election I heard and read plenty about those two Colorado professors. You know, the ones who had a winning electoral model going back to 1980. They had Romney winning in a landslide.

Have we heard from the professors since last Tuesday? Anyone? Bueller?

Tweet: Romney, Data, and Conveying Meaning

I saw this tweet tonight and it punched me square in the face. Direct, to the point, and probably 100% accurate as we start to get final tallies across the country from last week’s election.

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MP John Redwood On Obama’s Victory and UK Politics

By Steve Parkhurst

Member of Parliament John Redwood maintains one of the best blogs you will ever see from an elected office holder. MP Redwood has written a brief analysis of what last weeks re-election of President Obama means, if anything, in the realm of UK politics.

Prime Minister David Cameron and the Tory party will want to pay particular attention to the realities of the political math that MP Redwood mentions here:

The political arithmetic is also, however, very different between the UK and the US. Mr Obama scored a good victory in 2008. He attracted 52.9% of the popular vote. This election he merely  needed to hold on to most of that to win. He lost 2.4% of the popular vote which still left him in the lead. Mr Cameron only attracted 36% of the popular vote in 2010, not enough to win. He needs to attract 4-6% more of the popular vote in 2015 to win, so he needs to make himself and his party more popular. He does not have Mr Obama’s luxury of losing votes.

Why Obama Won by Gary Aminoff

Gary Aminoff, from Los Angeles, has an interesting column up at American Thinker about Obama’s victory. Over the next few weeks and months we are likely to hear many theories as to “why Obama won”. These reasons are as plausible as any. The column is well worth reading and sharing, but I thought this was really interesting:

How is it that we have raised one or two generations of uneducated Americans?  The answer, my friend, is not blowing in the wind.  The answer lies in the curricula of our schools.

For the past several months, in my capacity in the Republican Party, I have been speaking at middle schools and high schools around Los Angeles.  It has been very enlightening.

I love engaging with children.  Most of them are very bright and ask brilliant questions.  The questions give me insights into what they are most concerned about.  It also makes clear what they are taught — by either their parents or their teachers, or both.

To summarize — children, for the most part, believe the following:

a) Republicans care about only the rich — the top 1% — and don’t care about anyone else.

b) Republicans hate people of color and especially Latinos.

c) Republicans hate gays.

d) Republicans are racist.

e) It is the government that provides jobs.  (I have asked that question many times in classrooms or assemblies.  “Who is it that creates jobs in America?”  The answer is invariably, without hesitation, “the government.”)

f) Corporations are bad, and profits are very bad.  Business shouldn’t make profits; they should give any excess money they make to their employees.

g) Taxes are good; they provide the money for the government to take care of people.

h) Government should expand and take care of everyone in the country.

i) America, rather than being a force for good in the world, has been a force for evil.

j) Government has an unlimited source of funds.  (When I ask, “Where is the government going to get the money to do all these things you want it to do?,” the answer is “taxes.”)

These children will soon be voters.  How is it, in America, that we are raising children to believe that bigger government is better, that government is the engine that provides jobs, that profits are bad, that Republicans care about only the rich, that we are racist, and that we hate minorities and gays.

Read the entire column here.

Why Romney Lost

By Maurice Atkinson

Romney was a unique candidate with a unique opportunity.  We all knew he was wealthy beyond the scope of average comprehension which drew some suspicion from both the right and left.

I’m not bashing on Romney, but there were deficiencies in his campaign that nuked him. From my perspective, he never painted the picture but used 5 point broad generalities.

One of the things we did successfully on the emergence of Cain’s candidacy was “paint a picture”.  Cain’s message was well honed in sound byte, as only he can do.  However, it was understandable (i.e.., scrap the tax code, start over; surround yourself with strong people, etc.)  Romney could have done himself INCREDIBLY well if he had pulled a Ross Perot and aired a 20 min. Town Hall Meeting that clearly defined the problem and roadmap to the solution.

Additionally, he NEVER presented an adequate rebuttal to Bain attacks.  They were introduced during the Gingrich campaign as Romney was trashing Gingrich.   Sure he created jobs and the Free Enterprise System can be messy.  That’s the nature of business.  However, he never articulated an adequate response.  Having a Town Hall Meeting in the middle of the rust belt would have changed the whole thing (define the national problem, provide a roadmap to the solution), IMO.

Romney’s communications were SCREWED UP.  Sending begging letters via U.S. Postal service multiple times a week and endless emails begging money may help raise funds, but it doesn’t communicate an ACTION PLAN or show appreciation for the vast field of volunteers   Romney would have been better served mailing a bumper sticker to everyone and asking them to put it on their car.

Anyhow, now we have to recognize the losses and retool our message for 2014.  Voter EDUCATION (we have an ignorant electorate), Voter Registration and Voter Stewardship (GET INVOLVED in the process), will correct the course.  Yes we lost the White House, but we gained in Governors’ races across the country.  Over 30 Governors are GOP.

My ramblings, for what it’s worth.

This post originally appeared here.