Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Republican, Libertarian Party, and Occupy Wall Street round-up

Cain’s performance at last night’s debate (about which I tweeted) was all right, but even better was his (real) singing performance, doing John Lennon’s “Imagine” years ago, with lyrics rewritten to laud pizza.  A friend of mine thinks that instead of being embarrassing, this performance may be the Cain equivalent of Clinton’s legendary sax performance.  The moderate view would be that it is like a sax performance but risks being seen by voters as less like Clinton and more like Homer Simpson going “Sax-a-ma-phone...sax-a-ma-phooooone.”  But that beats socialism. 

•Another friend of mine says he’s now rooting for Romney on the grounds that “generic Republican” fares well against Obama in surveys, and Romney is the most generic Republican we’ve got.  That may be true – sadly, though, that means that for all the ideological tumult of the past three years, we’re somehow pretty much back in 2008, which Republicans all seemed keen not to repeat.

I think the libertarian grassroots are backing Paul, the social conservatives briefly loved Perry, the GOP establishment’s backing Romney, the Koch brothers are purportedly pro-Cain, I think the Reason staffers (and after his visit to Occupy Wall Street yesterday, perhaps some protesters) are mostly pro-Johnson, and last I knew John Fund (sometimes) of Wall Street Journal liked Bachmann.  And, like Palin, I still have a weird soft spot for Gingrich, even if he’s not libertarian and treats his wives like disposables.

But I’m going to cross Santorum and Huntsman off the list, I think.  So now we’re getting somewhere.  Then again, maybe they wouldn’t be as nuts as some of the others, really.  And so the churning continues. 

(My real prediction: by the end of January, we’re down to a three-man race between Romney, Cain, and Paul, with the likely ticket being Romney/Cain.)

•If you’re the kind of (annoying) person who insists that people who fail to take an extreme position to your liking must secretly hold the exact opposite extreme position (he’s not a pacifist, so he must love death and mayhem, etc.), please take note that I am probably sincere in my claims to be moderate/indifferent on abortion if the only two Republican candidates I really like are (very pro-life) Ron Paul and (very pro-choice) Gary Johnson

And any leftists (or for that matter, rightists) who claim they understand the right but have a hard time wrapping their heads around that should not speak or write in public. 

•Though frickin’ Iowa is planning a Jan. 3 caucus, frickin’ New Hampshire might rush to a Dec. 6 primary – giving New England’s Romney a super-blowout primary victory (polling at like 40% there now vs. roughly single digits for all others) before people have had time to get sick of him or witness someone else possibly beating him in a primary (whereas Cain was leading in Iowa and South Carolina last time I checked).

Then again, if they hold the New Hampshire primary early
enough, maybe people will actually have time to forget about Romney conquering there, in which case, 2012 could be like a brand new year.

•Alas, I, like Grover Norquist and Mark Steyn, am sufficiently frightened of Cain introducing a national sales tax – and perhaps failing to reduce other taxes – that in truth I’m not even sure I should be rooting for Cain to beat Romney.  Absent some evidence of Romney, Cain, or Perry being near-perfect, I see no strategic reason yet to abandon my quixotic intention to root for (and vote for) Ron Paul.  This is sort of what happened in 2008.  Here I sit, fairly moderate and pragmatic, I swear, but the GOP fails to give me any reason to prefer the non-radicals in the race.  So I stick to principle, in my compromising pragmatic way. 

•I think most people have forgotten about the Libertarian Party this year, but I notice one candidate for their prez nomination makes an unusual vow (there had to be at least one): If he becomes commander in chief, he will lead the troops from the front lines to prove that he would not ask any of the men to do something he would not do himself.  I don’t think that would end well.

•In other radical news, down at Occupy Wall Street, NR’s Kevin Williamson finds little aside from hardcore Marxists, a Clintonian moderate-Democrat pollster finds pretty much the same, Gary Johnson at least has a nice friendly conversation with an MSNBC contributor, people in high places help the rebellious rabble, and a friend of mine suggests printing out and distributing this flyer to educate the protesters.


Jacob T. Levy said...

The New Hampshire primary issue is being driven by Nevada, not Iowa.

Todd Seavey said...

Hadn't intended to imply causality -- one-word correction above now. Thanks.

Thane Eichenauer said...

A person who is willing to walk the walk is always at risk for an adverse reaction. If a US President were to fight alongside his troops it would say a lot about past Presidents who were unwilling. If he should happen to loose an arm or a leg (or his life) it would do more to bring the issue of the losses incurred by US soldiers to the fore front like no other action could. The fact that US Presidents only visit wars as a shadow shows me clearly that they have no problem with others risking their life but have no intention of risking their own.

Dave said...

Is there a rational as to how the national sales tax Cain proposes can help stimulate the economy - wouldn't that stop people from buying things?

Also, from what I understand about libertarian ideology, war=murder by state. Why is leading the charge in that an acceptable part of their platform? It sounds like he's going for the 'chickenhawk' angle, which I at least understand from the non-anti-government parties' point of view. But what good is the LP if it requires compromising on principle in favor of gimmicks?

Todd Seavey said...

I suppose the only "stimulus" type argument Cain'd make would be a more long-term one based on _simplification_ of taxes rather than on any obvious _lowering_ of them. And that's fine, but it doesn't seem like a big enough change to be worth embracing with revolutionary fervor (and it has big risks, of course). I was much more excited when Forbes pushed a low flat tax as a means of tax code simplification, _without_ an added national sales tax and without claiming that the flattening alone would be a vast or immediate boon to the economy. 999 may be six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Libertarians differ in degrees of dovishness (while agreeing wars should only be truly defensive), but I think the LP candidate is trying to say he wouldn't put any lives at greater risk than his own.

Marc S. said...

One of my main beefs with Libertarians is that they often act "moderate/indifferent on abortion." Forcing someone to carry a child to term has far more impact on her life(whether or not she can bring herself to give the child up for adoption) than most other government program Libertarians rail against (like forced participation in a defined benefit retirement program).

If you thinks abortion's murder, it should be a huge deal - can't think of many more important issues than stopping lots of people from being murdered every day. If (like me) you don't think its murder, shouldn't you be just as vehemently pro-choice as you would be anti-"random mandatory foster parent assignments"?

Todd Seavey said...

It might be something in between -- or all one but irreducibly ambiguous -- and as you're demonstrating, people don't like that answer.

marc s. said...

Don't think my frustration has to do with intolerance for middle ground. I think polls show that a lot of people (myself included) are actually ok with the "it's somewhere in between" answer. (Despite being bad jurisprudence, Roe v. Wade always struck me as being fairly sound moral reasoning). However, that doesn't mean that banning abortions (or legalizing infanticide) wouldn't have massive real world consequences simply because it is equidistant from some supposed truthful middle ground on a moral left/right spectrum.

Re: your "irreducibly ambiguous" hedge - how is this anything other than a massive cop out? It sounds like you think that if a moral issue is hard, it's OK to ignore, even if the stakes of getting it wrong are huge. If there _is_ a right answer that's just really hard to figure out, aren't you showing moral cowardice by abstaining from doing the hard work to figure out what that answer is -- especially if that is somehow expedient (e.g., it allows you to support both Paul and Johnson in hopes that one of them gains traction on the economic issues )? I don't see how that's different than saying "well, slavery's a complicated question - perhaps its wrong,perhaps it isn't - so I can accept any any anti-capital gains tax candidate regardless of their position on slavery since the answer may be somewhere in the middle." [Note: I realize slavery is less ambiguous to us modern types.]

And if there isn't a "right" answer based on utilitarianism and reachable through rational debate, then apparently your a relativistic pod person that has taken over Todd's blog.

Todd Seavey said...

I think it's a genuinely (hopelessly/permanently, if you will) ambiguous issue in a way that slavery isn't, and one for which _likely_ policy alternatives are of less utilitarian consequence, thus not worth splitting coalitions over. Ditto, say, proper decibel levels for noise pollution levels.