Friday, October 28, 2011

Skipping a Presidential Rite of Passage

Politico Arena Topic: Perry's Debate Skipping a Bad Move? defines “coward” as “a person who lacks courage in facing danger, difficulty, opposition, pain, etc.” These are not exactly the qualities one looks for in a president and Rick Perry’s opponents will label him a coward should he skip future GOP primary debates. And with good reason. Debates matter. They are an important showcase for a candidate’s intellect (or lack thereof), their knowledge of important policy issues, their ability to think under pressure, and their temperament. Few people, if pressed to answer honestly, look forward to debating on a large public stage. The pressure is immense and the stakes couldn’t be higher—one flub can sink a campaign. But it is a rite of passage every presidential candidate must go through.

As someone who has spent the last several election cycles organizing debates for statewide office and Congress, I can attest first hand that campaigns and candidates frequently refuse to debate, or at least are very, very reluctant. This was especially a problem in the 2010 election cycle when internal polling showed that many of these candidates had large leads and were coasting to reelection. But the key is that the candidates knew they were ahead in the polls and did not need to debate to win. Rick Perry does not enjoy that luxury. Though expected to be the frontrunner if he got into the race, Perry is anything but and his lackluster debate performance has been one of the reasons for this. However, skipping debates is not the answer to Perry turning around his campaign—improving his performance in the debates and demonstrating to America and the punditocracy that he has the qualities we look for in a president. Just having “governor” on your resume is not proof that you are qualified (just ask Sarah Palin)—you have to earn the public’s and media’s respect and trust that you could handle the job. Cutting and running from the debate stage simply destroys that credibility.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Marco Rubio and the Klieg Lights

Politico Arena Topic: Is Marco Rubio Still VP Material?

Sen. Marco Rubio will be a top contender for a VP slot. He is a Republican young gun who is a darling of the tea party. He is a first-generation American whose parents came from Cuba and Republicans are desperate to make inroads in the Hispanic community - the second largest and fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. Florida is a must-win battleground state and Rubio would give the GOP ticket an edge there. And if Mitt Romney is the nominee, Rubio would add some conservative credibility that Romney lacks.

The big question is: would this freshman senator be ready for the bright lights and hyper-scrutiny of a presidential campaign? After all, he is only 40 and hasn’t spent even a year in the U.S. Senate. The last time a presidential nominee picked a young, inexperienced, firebrand for the number two slot (Palin), it didn’t go so well as a candidate’s shortcomings are quickly exposed during the harsh glare of the klieg lights of the national stage. Rubio’s embellishment of the story of his parents journey from Cuba indicate that he may not be ready for prime time. Thus, the selection of Rubio as a running mate could be stroke of genius or utter disaster.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Building a Sleazier Ohio

What the "Building a Better Ohio" group did to Ohio great-grandmother Marlene Quinn is one of the most blatant, under-handed, dirty tricks I have witnessed in recent politics.

From "[Marlene Quinn's] appearance in a television ad suggesting she supports a cause she doesn't continued to swirl in the hard-fought campaign over Senate Bill 5. Meanwhile, more than two dozen television stations serving the Ohio market, including two in Cincinnati, pulled the controversial ad produced for Building A Better Ohio, the Republican- and business-dominated group that supports SB 5. Quinn opposes SB 5 and agreed to be part of an ad produced by We Are Ohio, a Democratic- and union-dominated group fighting enforcement of the legislation. In it, she thanks Cincinnati firefighters for saving the lives of her great-granddaughter, Zoey, and son, Jan, in a November fire. Building A Better Ohio took sections of Quinn's audio and video from the We Are Ohio ad and used them in their own, leaving the impression that Quinn supports SB 5."

View both ads below:

I am no legal expert but it seems to me that legal action could and should be taken in this case. It is politics at its worst. It does beg the question: are the arguments in favor of SB5 that tenuous that forces supporting the law can only resort to this type of underhanded tactic? My hope is that the controversy goes viral and this type of sleazy tactic backfires.

Disclaimer: I am a union member of AAUP. Regardless, had We Are Ohio used this type of tactic I would have decried it as well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Taxation, the Ultrarich, and Shared Sacrifice

Politico Arena Topic: Is the Surtax Suicide for Dems?

Taxing the rich is anything but a suicidal proposition. Polls are consistent in showing that Americans want shared sacrifice. One need only look at the compensation packages of America’s Fortune 500 CEOs (you know - the job creators that aren’t creating jobs) during this time of economic hardship and high unemployment to see that something is out of whack. As the gap between rich and poor widens and as the middle class struggles to stay middle class, moves to increase taxes on the very wealthy in this country is smart politics.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Playing the Mormon Card

Politico Arena Topic: Will Mormon Attacks Help Mitt?

Mitt Romney’s Mormon religion shouldn’t be an issue but it is and will continue to be. Many religious conservatives do view Mormonism as less than a religion and will never accept Romney as their party’s nominee. Romney will be challenged especially in any number of Southern primaries.

For the Religious Right, it’s not an issue he can overcome simply with a speech. Absent a full-scale conversion, Romney will be forced to write off many of these voters and hope he can dominate in primary states where religion is a less important variable.

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