Donnerstag, 26. Juli 2012
Who will join Mitt Romney on the way to the White House?
Mitt Romney has mentioned that he might be dropping the VP bomb some time very soon. Why he won’t do it at a point where a message like that should – theoretically – give him some upward momentum from the terrible mess of tax returns and his involvement at Bain Capital after 1999 is beyond me. But it does make me think that he might not have an A+ candidate at hand.
So I’ve been thinking about who might be up, and who might be out. Here is my definitive list on possible and improbable candidates (in no particular order):

Sarah Palin
The short answer, no. The former VP candidate during John McCain’s run for office is too well off right now to start something as desperate as that. She’s got a good thing going as a FOX News contributor, author and public speaker. Right now she has the privilege to only speak about what she wants to whom she wants, meaning conservative issues to conservative audiences. She wouldn’t trade that for anything at this point in time. Plus, Romney is not the kind of strong candidate she would support. From Romney’s point of view there is a nice ring to Romney-Palin, but in the end she is too dominant and always a loose cannon. Sarah Barracuda is just too risky for an already unstable campaign.

Allen West
Think bat-shit crazy sidekick that would really get the blood flowing: Alan West, Congressman from Florida. African-American and ex-military sounds good, but that doesn’t make him less of a war-mongering religious zealot and total buffoon. He is any Democratic strategists dream candidate: just let him talk and he will implode taking Romney down with him. No, I cannot imagine the Romney campaign ever getting that desperate.

Tim Pawlenty
Who is Tim Pawlenty? Exactly.
The former Governor of Minnesota and opponent of Mitt Romney in the 2012 Republican Presidential Race might have a small shot at this. Granted, it’s a long shot. He was already a somewhat strong contender as Vice President for the McCain campaign. What’s his problem? Noone knows him. Pawlenty seems to be invisible. No matter what he seems to be doing, he just can’t get any publicity. After eight years as Governor and two campaigns for the Republican nomination for President his name recognition is still… well, not good. Not exactly the most glamorous of choices.

Rick Santorum
I can’t really imagine there is a lot of love between Santorum and Romney. So the question is: what can Santorum offer Romney? Bible-thumping, gay-bashing right wing nuts would love this pick. Everyone else would hate it, including a good portion of independents and minorities. I just can’t see the upside to a Romney-Santorum ticket, aside from the media frenzy that will ensue. But is that enough to justify a pick that will alienate significant voter blocs? Nope…

Marco Rubio
Now here’s a good one: Young, attractive, conservative. Married his cheerleader girlfriend and has four kids. He’s the son of Cuban immigrants and currently Congressman from Florida.
This sounds like solid gold to most people. And I believe it would be… if he were in the least bit interested. He couldn’t care less about Romney and the position of Vice President. And why should he? He’s the Republican Superstar-in-waiting, he’s the next big thing. Why join a campaign that is setting itself up for failure.
Marco Rubio is looking for a bigger opportunity, and he is young enough to wait. He has no reason to rush into anything.

Chris Christie
Okay, let’s keep it real: he’s fat and not very charismatic. That right there is already a problem. Then you add his Soprano-esque demeanor and accent and his unpopularity, and he’s out.
Then again, he might just want the job and could try to talk Romney into it. And some food for thought: he’s pretty good pals with the Koch Brothers. So it wouldn’t be a total surprise…

Jeb Bush
No way, no way, no way. Jeb Bush will not be Vice President to Mitt Romney, rest assured. He might just try to run for President in 2016, but until then expect the Bush clan to stay out of the White House until the smoke has cleared.

Mitch Daniels
Mitchell Elias “Mitch” Daniels is the sitting Governor of Indiana. He is also notoriously bland and boring. He worked in the White House under the Bush Administration as Director of the US Office of Management and Budget. Everyone expected him to run for office in 2012, but he didn’t. Expect him to decline this VP invite, which he will surely get based on his expertise and competence, as well. He was just elected President of Purdue University last month.

Kelly Ayotte
One of the few women in the cards, which instantly makes her a viable option. And she would be the perfect candidate in any other year. But since she is a Senator from New Hampshire, she will not make the race. From a strategic point of view it doesn’t make an awful lot of sense to nominate a running mate from the same geographical region of New England – Romney is from Massachusetts. It would just be wasted potential in mobilizing another region, preferably a swing state. Add to that the fact that Ayotte is still quite inexperienced as a politician in only her second year in Washington and the chances fade away…

Susanna Martinez
Martinez is the current Governor of New Mexico. She would be a solid right wing pick with the added value of being a woman and Hispanic. That all sounds very good, but she is, just like Kelly Ayotte, very inexperience with only 18 months in office. Also, she has repeatedly stated that she is not interested in the VP position. But don’t completely count her out, she will be wooed by the Romney campaign.

Paul Ryan
Mr. Budget himself. The Wisconsin Congressman has made quite a splash in Washington this year making him a household name nationwide. But not always in a good way, Ryan is unpopular with many Americans. But he does serve the profile of a fiscal conservative with a strong voice on economics. He is young and quite handsome (in a big-eared kinda way). He might be a liability, but he’s not out of it completely.

Rob Portman
Rob Portman is a bulldog. The Senator from Ohio is a good campaigner, and a vicious attack dog if need be. He has great experience on Capitol Hill as well as the White House under George W. Bush. Also recognize that he has already attacked Obama in the last couple of weeks on several occasions. He might just be warming up to bigger tasks. Now take into consideration that Ohio is a swing state and there you have it: Rob Portman is the real deal. There is a very good chance that the ticket will be Romney-Portman.

John Kasich
Another possible pick from Ohio. John Kasich is sitting Senator in Washington, after an impressive 18-year career in Congress. He is a real Washington insider who could also give Romney the swing state of Ohio. Possible, but has less of a ring to it than Romney-Portman…

Terry Bransted
The sitting Governor of Iowa is popular, a real conservative and good with the Tea Party and religious folks. He would surely deliver Iowa. Look to Bransted as a go-to pick if Rob Portman falls out.

So there you have it. My two cents are on Rob Portman from Ohio, with Terry Bransted and John Kasich in the backhand. Look to Susanna Martinez as the dark horse surprise candidate. Don’t waste your time thinking about Palin, Rubio or Santorum joining Romney in this fight. They all don’t want to get burned…

Mittwoch, 14. März 2012
The Cheesy-Grits Southern Strategy worked for Romney
Just a quick update on the Republican primaries during the last week in less than 400 words.

All in all, there were eight contests to be won, and all talk is about Santorum winning momentum. From one point of view that seems obvious. He won the big three: Kansas, Alabama and Mississippi.
But let us dissect briefly what really happened, and what it means.

Let’s concentrate on the Southern states, because that’s where Romney had something to prove. The rest of the country – with a few exceptions – already gave him a vote of confidence.

Let me give you three statistics by Public Policy Polling that gives you a feeling for the Republican voters in Alabama: 45% claim to be very conservative, and 68% are evangelical. So far so good, but here come two amazing stats: 42% think Obama is a Muslim fundamentalist, and a whopping 21% think interracial marriage should be illegal.
Enough said, you get the picture about the voters in Alabama. Enter Mitt Romney, “East Coast Moderate”.
But shockingly, he did well. He drove a strategy of making people like him – hardly any policy, and all referenced to “cheesy grits” and friendly “hello, y’all” ‘s.
That way, he managed to improve on his last showings in Tennessee and Georgia, and picked up 29% in Alabama, and 30% in Mississippi.
That’s big news, people. Why? Because it shows that even the most staunch Republican states are beginning to see the signs. And slowly but surely they are getting in line behind Mitt Romney.

Secondly, and most importantly: what about the delegates?
Santorum won three primaries, and granted, they were the most important ones. But that does not mean that he actually got anywhere with the delegate count. If we look at the actual count in the eight contests of the week, the winner in my mind is once again Mitt Romney.
Is Santorum really catching up? Statistically, yes, he is catching up. But barely. In fact, with these three “big wins” in his pocket – wins that cost a lot of resources, financially and emotionally – he managed to steal 11 delegates on Romney.
Gingrich, the self-proclaimed Southern conservative poised for a big comeback, lost 32 delegates. And Ron Paul, only getting one delegate in these contests, lost 52 delegates on the front runner.

So in fact, if you take away the search for a big headline, Romney has cemented his lead. He fought hard and defended himself well enough in the South, so that he can look toward the Republican convention with confidence.

Sonntag, 11. März 2012
What the Spanish-American War can teach us about KONY 2012
On February 15th, 1898 the USS Maine sunk. An explosion had ripped the ship apart, and there was no doubt who the evil-doers were: the Spanish. The cowardly Spanish, as the press would write.

As the main source of public information, Newspapers quickly set the tone of the conversation. And they did by pushing heavily for military action against the Spanish colonial power on Cuba.

Newspapers cited old, oftentimes second- or third-hand information as truth; they painted lurid pictures of the horrors of life on Cuba under oppressive Spanish rule; there was talk of death camps, cannibalism, torture, and the noble Amazon Warriors fighting the oppression; they printed propaganda posters and plastered the streets.

Soon, most media outlets sent hundreds of reporters, artists, and photographers south to recount Spanish atrocities. Yet upon arrival they found little to report.

"There is no war," the famous journalist Remington wrote to his boss. He requested to return to America.
Remington's boss, William Randolph Hearst, sent a cable in reply: "Please remain. You furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war." Hearst was true to his word. For weeks after the USS Maine disaster, the Journal devoted more than eight pages of fabricated war stories a day. Not to be outdone, other papers followed Hearst's lead. Hundreds of editorials demanded that American honor be avenged. Most Americans believed what they read. Soon a rallying cry could be heard everywhere — in the papers, on the streets, and in the halls of Congress: "Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain."

The propaganda had worked. The American people, and important figures of American politics – most notably one Theodore Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy – lobbied congress into a war. And through their disregard for responsible journalism, Newspapers had successfully advocated military action.

On April 25th, 1898 the US declared war on Spain, which in turn led to the American-Philippine War.

Fast-forward to 2012. A media outlet releases a movie calling for military action in Uganda. There is talk of child soldiers and sex slaves; there are pictures of mutilated victims. And the evil-doer is presented next to Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden: a man called Joseph Kony.

The call to action is similar: they present viewers with pictures and stories that cater to our emotions and our feeling of justice, rather than our sense of reason. On April 20th, the organizers call onto the world to litter the streets with posters calling for military action in Uganda; they start to mobilize important figures of public life into supporting the movement; and ultimately, they ask us to lobby the American congress into a war.

The Spanish-American war shows us that media propaganda can mobilize a whole population into demanding war. It also shows us that once military action is taken, it’s not a cut-and-dry issue; violence always begets violence.

Journalists on the ground are already warning us of this propaganda. Kony is not in Uganda anymore, and his power is fading. The facts in the movie are to a large extent six years old and over-exaggerated. The region is largely at peace, with problems of health care, poverty and political stability – not the tyranny of Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army – making the lives of Ugandans difficult.

A war is the last thing they want. And it is the last thing that we should want.
But what will we ultimately believe? Will we be lured into supporting war based on propaganda pictures catering to our emotions again?
We shall see.