John Heilemann and Mark Halperin–the graybeards of who’s up, who’s down beltway journalism–are out with Double Down: Game Change 2012, the sequel to…Game Change. The first book was about the 2008 election; this one is about the 2012 election. Anyways, two of the biggest tidbits being reported are this: Obama was very close to replacing Biden with Hillary, and Mitt rejected Christie as V.P. because of questions about his personal background.
Even in this era of political cynicism, the brazenness of Republicans’ recent redistricting efforts—especially in Pennsylvania—seemed breathtaking. To demonstrate the absurdity of the revisions, Slate created a jigsaw-puzzle game challenging readers to put the dissected districts back together in state-shape.
As the state Supreme Court mulls the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, a new study adds some context to the debate. The study, commissioned by the AFL-CIO, found that between 35,239 and 36,613 did not come out to vote last year because of confusion arising from the passage of the law, which was not actually in effect. The union conducted the study by measuring the turnout among those registered voters with ID and those without ID, figuring that those who didn’t thought their ballots wouldn’t be counted. They found that those without ID were half as likely to vote as those with ID. And those people, by a 2.5-to-1 margin, tended to be Democrats.
Now, you might say: What if those without ID are just less likely to vote in the first place? (Also: “Why should I trust a labor union’s figures on such a politically charged issue?”) Well, the study controlled for that, comparing only voters who had had the same pre-election propensity to vote. Ironically, these results jive pretty well with the comments made last week by state GOP chairman Rob Gleason, who made a classic “Kinsley Gaffe,” estimating that Obama’s margin of victory (300k in 2012 vs. 600k in 2008) was hampered by voter ID. If the 35,000 figure is accurate, then Gleason was in fact being overly optimistic about the effect of the law. If it’s allowed to stand, however, there will be more than just confusion to deal with: The state says 758,000 registered voters lack proper ID. The greatest area of lost turnout, for what it’s worth, was in West Philadelphia.
The NYT reports today on a new book by Dan Balz, a veteran reporter, about the 2012 election. It apparently focuses a bit on Chris Christie’s ultimate decision not to run, but in so doing reveals the New Jersey governor’s, uh, self-regard. “It is hardly unusual for a politician to have an outsized ego,” the Times says in its overview of the book, “but Mr. Christie lacks the masking subtlety possessed by many in his business.”
Like when he endorsed Mitt Romney, for example:
Asked by Mr. Balz if he viewed his ultimate decision to forgo a race as “a gift” to Mr. Romney, Mr. Christie said no, then declared: “The enormous gift was the next week.”
“When I looked puzzled, he reminded me that he had endorsed Romney the following week,” writes Mr. Balz, adding that Mr. Christie said, “I wouldn’t have used the word ‘gift,’ but since you did, it seems to fit, it seems appropriate.”
After Mr. Christie said he did not want any favors or campaign titles in return, Mr. Romney turned to his wife and said, “Wow, Christmas in October.”
Turning back to Mr. Christie, Mr. Romney said, “Governor, you don’t know how important and big this is.”
To which Mr. Christie said, “I do.”
There are other examples. At this point, it feels like Christie is just the political equivalent of one of those professional wrestlers who spends his time in public preening about how beautiful he is. It’s awesome, it’s entertaining, but, you know, God help us all.
History may very well look back on Michele Bachmann’s political career with much amusement. She was the conservative Republican congresswoman with the ever-present off-kilter look in her eyes, who spoke with an accent straight out of Fargo, told ridiculously intricate and laughable whoppers, mounted a quixotic 2012 presidential bid, and is married to a gentleman whose resemblance to Cameron from Modern Family has been noted by more than one comedian. Read more »
On Monday April 22nd, conservative pollster and talking head Frank Luntz gave a speech at Penn (he’s class of ’83). At one point he requested to go off-the-record, telling the audience that what he wanted to say would get him in trouble. A reporter with the Daily Pennsylvanian complied while a college junior named Aakash Abbi did not, choosing instead to record Luntz on his iPhone and send the footage to Mother Jones, which also aired Mitt Romney’s “47%” video. In his comments, Luntz blamed conservative talk radio hosts for damaging the Republican cause.
Marco Rubio’s getting his ass kicked. Who’s my Rubio fan here? We talked about it. He’s getting destroyed! By Mark Levin, by Rush Limbaugh, and a few others. He’s trying to find a legitimate, long-term effective solution to immigration that isn’t the traditional Republican approach, and talk radio is killing him. That’s what’s causing this thing underneath. And too many politicians in Washington are playing coy.
Upon finding out that the video was leaked, Luntz went apoplectic, vowing never again to return to campus (he’s scheduled to speak on a panel during graduation) and cutting off funds for a scholarship in his father’s name.
Meanwhile, David Bernstein, a liberal political scientist bemoaned Abbi’s decision in a blog post for the Washington Monthly titled “The Death of ‘Off-the-Record.'”
The person who taped it, however, wasn’t primarily betraying Luntz. He was betraying his fellow students — and all fellow students. His actions, and the actions of anyone who does this sort of thing, make it impossible for public figures to speak candidly, or anything resembling candidly.
Abbi, for his part, shot back in a Daily Pennsylvanian op-ed that “in a room filled with scores of independent students, ‘off the record’ is not a Patronus charm.” That line, as a commenter points out, appears to have been lifted straight from Daily Kos, which noted yesterday that “‘Off the record’ is not a patronus charm, Mr. Luntz.”
And that’s all you need to know about Abbi’s grasp of journalistic ethics.
Ah, the perils of the paid-gig speaking tour. Talking to a high school in Grosse Point, Michigan–Romney territory–Santorum received an apparently empty bomb threat via social media, when a student Tweeted, “Hey Mr. Santorum, can you sign this bomb for me?” The child was removed. Undeterred, and pocketing $18,000 for the trip, Santorum speechified away, reprising an old story about dog pee. [CBS]
Today, dearly departing for satellite radio Michael Smerconish has officially been succeeded by Dick Morris, the fired Fox News pundit who should be forever remembered for his ineptitude in the field of punditry. Dick will kick things off today from 2-6 p.m. at WPHT 1210 A.M. Call 610-668-2095 or 610-668-5868 to let him know how you feel. FYI: “Today’s topic: How Obama’s tax policies are destroying us!”
If not for a couple of massive egos, Mitt Romney may never have been the GOP nominee. Josh Green reports that last February, during the Republican primaries, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum nearly joined forces to consolidate their support against Romney. First, after Gingrich lost Florida, Santorum’s people called him and asked him to drop out. Gingrich had a better plan.
He proposed that both men join forces but remain in the race, each concentrating on the states where he matched up best against Romney. Gingrich thought he could carry Georgia, Delaware, Washington, and Wisconsin (from which his wife, Callista, hails). Santorum would focus on other states in the South and the upper Midwest.
The only problem was, neither could decide who would be president and who would be vice-president.
Gingrich made an elaborate historical argument [Note: of course he did] that when the party hasn’t been able to agree on a nominee, it always settles on the senior figure. Santorum wasn’t persuaded, and urged Gingrich to do what was best for the conservative movement. Neither man would yield. “I’d like to have had Santorum drop out, and he’d have liked me to drop out,” Gingrich says. In the end, they both dropped out.
Now that would have made for a fun general election. [Businessweek]