Patterico's Pontifications


Video: Gabby Giffords Resigns

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:30 pm

The story comes from the Arizona Daily Star via Aaron Worthing:

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will step down from Congress this week to focus on her recovery, her staff announced Sunday.

“I have more work to do on my recovery, so to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week,” Giffords said in a video message.

Giffords, a third-generation Arizonan who served five years in the state Legislature before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2006, will not seek re-election this fall.

Giffords vowed to return public service.

So out of touch was I, that I had not even seen Rep. Giffords speak since she was shot. Here is the video in which she announces she is stepping down:

The transcript from the YouTube page:

Arizona is my home, always will be. A lot has happened over the past year. We cannot change that. But I know on the issues we fought for we can change things for the better. Jobs, border security, veterans. We can do so much more by working together. I don’t remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice. Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have more work to do on my recovery so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week. I’m getting better. Every day, my spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country. Thank you very much.

I still remember watching the video when Giffords read the First Amendment on the House floor:

That happened shortly before she was shot. Ever since then, people have tried to exploit the actions of her crazed would-be assassin to smear Sarah Palin and others, and portray conservatives as people who incite mentally disturbed people to commit acts of violence. Many of these critics are, in classic Alinsky fashion, making these accusations because they themselves have embarked on a campaign of inciting people based on phony accusations and dishonest rhetoric. These people know who they are and they know exactly what they are doing. They are trying to silence conservatives and make us ashamed to express our views in a forceful fashion.

So on this sad day, when Rep. Giffords announces her intent to resign, it is well to remember that she is a symbol, not of the dangers of free speech, but of the dangers of trying to stamp it out. Those who seek to exploit Giffords’s tragedy are guilty of an assault on the very Constitutional protection Rep. Giffords was so proud to read on the House floor.

I know that we all wish Rep. Giffords well, and are pleased to see her speaking and smiling. I hope she is correct that she will return to fight for Arizona and for our Constitution.

The Girl Who Cried Newt

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 11:40 am

[Posted by Karl]

When it comes to WaPo blogger Jennifer Rubin, I’m not likely to top Dan McLaughlin: “For months, she mocked stop-Romney movements. Now this, writ & stained with tears”:

Dear Govs. Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal; Sens. Jon Kyl, Marco Rubio and Jim DeMint; and Reps. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and Mike Pence (R-Ind.):


*** The voters in their infinite wisdom have just given a huge boost to perhaps the only GOP candidate who could shift the spotlight from President Obama to himself, alienate virtually all independent voters, lose more than 40 states and put the House majority in jeopardy.


So how about it? One of you can run yourself. Or you can instead collectively get behind a not-Gingrich candidate. But really, if you are to have a Republican Party to lead one day in the future, you can’t very well do nothing.

My own view is that any one of you would be preferable as a candidate to Newt Gingrich, as would either Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney…

Rubin’s agenda here is typically transparent.  Although styled as a “Anyone but Newt” plea, Ron Paul is implictly eliminated and NJ Gov. Chris Christie gets a pass because he has endorsed Mitt Romney.  Indeed, she’s not stupid enough to believe any of her targets could plausibly enter the race at this point; her piece is merely a plea for Romney endorsements.

Although generally critical of Rubin’s modus operandi (note she was equally critical of Romney to boost McCain in 2008), I previously kinda-sorta defended her, arguing conservatives disporortionately attacked her work because her prominent position at the WaPo presents a skewed view of the Right to a mass audience.  However, the problems with Rubin run deeper and beyond the merits of her argument.

The fact that Rubin’s diagnosis of the Romney campaign is that it lacks enough establishment endorsement says much about Rubin as a thinker, not much of it good.  Those who do not read my work regularly should know upfront that I find the amount of venom spewed by some in the ongoing RINO/TruCon argument on the Right to be tedious.  It’s an argument that leads both sides to make arguments that simply have no empirical support.  Rubin is pretty clearly on the RINO side of that dispute and for the purposes of this post, I do not hold it against her. 

However, Rubin’s analysis of the  campaign — i.e., Romney needs more endorsements, Romney needs to attack Newt (as though he hasn’t), Newt’s populism can be easily dismissed — is dull-witted, even when she has a point.  The TruCon perspective is so (to use the Newtian term) fundamentally illegitimate to Rubin that it must be denied or crushed — as though there are not political consequences which would follow.  The populism surging on both the Right and Left in the wake of the Wall Street meltdown and subsequent Obama malaise may not be an unalloyed good, but the lesson of South Carolina is it is one of the biggest obstacles to a Romney nomination and his supporters ignore or mock it at their peril.

Romney’s skid — both in SC and national polls — coincided with renewed attacks on Romney’s image as a fatcat financier.  However much Rubin — or I — may find those attacks wrong or unfair in many cases, it was obvious to everyone that such attacks would come.  Well, obvious to everyone except Camp Romney (including Rubin, apparently).  Rubin’s blog over the past few days has been an echo of the the flailing Romney campaign, stuck in denial that Romney should have been better prepared and running a more competent campaign (especially as competence is what Romney is selling).

As someone who has catalogued Newt’s flaws as a candidate , noted that he is an idiosyncratic revolutionary in ways which may be unconservative and found his attacks on the courts to be over-the-top, I should be the sort of person to whom Rubin’s views might appeal.  But if her dismissal of large factions of the movement were not offensive enough, Rubin seems unable to express that dismissal in any manner other than disingenuous condescension.  Her agenda is transparent, but she seems to think she’s cleverly cloaking it in pieces like today’s “open letter.”  I think even those who disagree with Rubin more than I do would at least respect her more if she honestly wrote that she thinks Mitt is the only electable candidate in the race and that the entire weight of the establishment needs to publicly destroy Newt Gingrich this very minute.  Her disingenous attempts at subtlety make her sound like The Girl Who Cried Newt — even if she’s right, she’s bound to be ignored.


From South Carolina to Florida and Beyond

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 5:00 am

[Posted by Karl]

You know who South Carolina benefits? NotRomney.  As RCP’s Sean Trende noted, there was nothing good for Mitt in last night’s numbers, raising a “non-trivial” chance of losing the nomination.

The Fox News exit poll reveals several problems for Romney.  First, of the 60% who said a candidate’s religious beliefs matter, Newt Gingrich crushed Romney by a 46-19% margin.  This will be less of a factor in other states, but it was more of a factor in South Carolina than some thought it would be this cycle.  Gallup and Pew have both polled about a Mormon candidate.  Gallup opined it would be a bigger factor in the general election, while Pew opined it would loom larger in the primaries.  So far, Pew may have the better argument, but Gallup could yet be proven right if Mitt gets the nomination.

Second, there is the Bain issue.  Of the 28% who had a negative view of Romney’s background of investing in and restructuring companies, Gingrich crushed Romney by a 50-3% margin.  Granted, it’s a good thing that 64% had a generally positive view of Mitt’s Bain tenure… but that number would likely be smaller in a general election pool.  And for those with a negative view, Bain seems toxic.

Third, beyond Bain, the economy did not work as an issue for Romney.  The 60% who named the economy as the top issue broke for Gingrich 40-32%.  Romney lost by larger margins among the 88% who said they were holding steady or falling behind financially, and those who had someone who lost a job or was laid off in the past three years.  By income, Romney overperformed only with families making over $100,000.  Gingrich cleaned up in the most economically-distressed areas of South Carolina.  People wondered how Romney would play in more economically depressed states; the answer last night was not good.

Fourth, Romney lost the electability vote last night.  Of the 45% who thought picking someone who can beat Obama was the top priority, Gingrich beat Romney 51-37%.  The media attributes this to Gingrich’s debate performances.  The exit polling supports the idea that the debates were important, although the high number of late deciders creates a chicken/egg issue.  In this respect, keep in mind that Newt has generally been a good debater throughout.  As Larry Sabato noted, the impact of the debates may have come from Romney’s unexpectedly poor performances during the last 10 days.  Are Mitt’s fumbling responses to seemingly obvious lines of attack a bigger problem than Bain?  Maybe so.

Nevertheless, Romney remains a formidable candidate.  His SC concession speech emphasized it would be a long campaign (even though he had hoped otherwise).  Romney is currently still better positioned to win a war of attrition.  His better-funded and organized campaign has been locking down early voting in Florida and monopolizing the airwaves.  However, there have not been many polls in the Sunshine State as Romney slid in South Carolina and nationally.  Nate Silver hypothesizes that Mitt’s formidable Florida lead may have shrunk to five points or less.


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