Visual source: Newseum
David Javerbaum at The New York Times looks at how Republican Mitt Romney is changing the standard campaign rules:
Before Mitt Romney, those seeking the presidency operated under the laws of so-called classical politics, laws still followed by traditional campaigners like Newt Gingrich. Under these Newtonian principles, a candidate’s position on an issue tends to stay at rest until an outside force — the Tea Party, say, or a six-figure credit line at Tiffany — compels him to alter his stance, at a speed commensurate with the size of the force (usually large) and in inverse proportion to the depth of his beliefs (invariably negligible). This alteration, framed as a positive by the candidate, then provokes an equal but opposite reaction among his rivals.Thomas Suddes writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer about the troubles that await Romney in the battleground state of Ohio:
But the Romney candidacy represents literally a quantum leap forward. It is governed by rules that are bizarre and appear to go against everyday experience and common sense. To be honest, even people like Mr. Fehrnstrom who are experts in Mitt Romney’s reality, or “Romneality,” seem bewildered by its implications; and any person who tells you he or she truly “understands” Mitt Romney is either lying or a corporation.
Nevertheless, close and repeated study of his campaign in real-world situations has yielded a standard model that has proved eerily accurate in predicting Mitt Romney’s behavior in debate after debate, speech after speech, awkward look-at-me-I’m-a-regular-guy moment after awkward look-at-me-I’m-a-regular-guy moment, and every other event in his face-time continuum.
Romney has indeed worked: He leads Santorum in the quest for Republican presidential convention delegates. But as demonstrated by Ohio's March 6 presidential primary, rank-and-file Republicans in GOP heartland counties prefer Santorum.Dante Chinni in The Washington Post examines the demographic categorization that becomes standard during election season:
It's impossible to believe that many, if any, of those Ohio Santorum voters would vote for Obama if Romney became the Republican nominee. But those Ohioans might stay home. And that'd be a big headache for Romney. [...]
Those pro-Romney counties are growing suburbs, so that's "where the votes are" -- and that's a plus for Romney. And yes, Ohio Republicans probably would prefer anyone for president, even Mitt Romney, to any Democrat. But Ohio's March 6 tally suggests enthusiasm for Romney isn't even lukewarm among the salt-of-the-earth Ohioans who go door to door for Republican candidates, distribute their literature and post their signs.
For Romney, that's bad news. If he can't romance an Ohio whose GOP runs every statewide executive office and the General Assembly, and elects most of the state's congressional delegation, Republicans have a big problem -- and Barack Obama a big opportunity.
Every two years — and especially every four, when we’re electing a president — individual Americans disappear, and we become subsumed into some larger group. Go to your favorite political blog, cable news channel or daily paper, and you’ll learn that candidates need to do better with African Americans or Catholics or (my favorite) women. Yes, women! They’re half of the population, but obviously they all share common beliefs and values. [...]Patrick Pexton at The Washington Post thinks The Washington Post shouldn't be too heavy-handed moderating its comments sections:
In politics, it’s entirely acceptable to wonder aloud what black people want, how Hispanics think, or whether a new policy proposal would play well with women or people who go to church on Sundays. We feel comfortable reducing people in this way because such conclusions aren’t solely stereotypes, we tell ourselves — they are backed up by polling data. There are bad pollsters in politics, hucksters who sound off on things they don’t know much about, but there are also some very good ones. I know some of them and trust their work implicitly. The best have spent years honing their craft, and the industry as a whole has gotten very good at what it does since its early days in the 1960s and 1970s. In that primitive time, you might have learned as much by doing hours of man-on-the-street interviews.
But as polling has become more sophisticated, we have come to invest it with powers it often doesn’t have. Those demographic segments morph into cartoon characters that we write and talk about when we want to explain the electorate.
Online trolls skulk, just waiting to go after unsuspecting commenters with ad hominem attacks, insults, derision or some brickbat hurled just to get a rise out of someone. And organized groups of trollers affiliated with this or that cause pounce at the first sign of heterodoxy.Mary Lou Giles, writing a Letter to the Editor over at The Sacramento Bee, perfectly lays out a simple and compelling argument for a single-payer health system:
It’s anonymous, mostly, and people who are banned because they step over The Post’s guidelines come back with other noms de plume the next day. It’s a mess.
Yet I think that in the messiness lies virtue. Online commenting boards are an online speaker’s corner and free-speech release valve.
I have a reality check for those of you who start shrieking about "creating a new bureaucracy" if a single-payer system were in place. There is already a bureaucracy deciding who has access to health care, who gets which services, how quickly one gets services, and if one gets a particular service at all. It's called an insurance company.
The government has at least a theoretical interest in keeping its citizens healthy and productive. The government is accountable to the voters and taxpayers, that is, to us. Insurance companies have only one interest -- profit. And they are essentially accountable to no one. Believe me, they don't give a hoot about your health. Pick your poison. Personally, I pick the government. The rest of the developed world came to that conclusion decades ago. When will we catch up?