Ted Cruz got himself described as “the new McCarthy” by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker for asking Chuck Hagel about accepting speaker fees from North Korea. Mayer then dug deeper, and disclosed that, two and half years ago at a 4th of July speech, Cruz reminisced about his days at Harvard Law School (1992-1995), observing that Barack Obama would make a perfect president of Harvard’s Law School, which in Cruz’s time had “fewer Republicans than communists.”
Bill O’Reilly and Mitt Romney both also spent time at the little institution on the Charles, and both of them have also recently had critical things to say about Harvard’s characteristic politics and influence.
Well, you can only take so much, and the editors of the Harvard Crimson struck back this week, openly urging conservatives dissenters not even to apply for admission.
If you think Harvard is a revolutionary communist hotbed, don’t apply. If you think Harvard is full of “pinheaded” professors, don’t enroll. And if you think Harvard pollutes the minds of its students, don’t walk out of here with a degree—and certainly don’t get two.
As Daniel Webster might have said: “It’s a bright-red, anti-American school, stuffed to the rafters with bolshies peddling pin-headed, crack-brained ideas, but some love it.”
The Third Presidential Debate proved a complete yawner, in which Barack Obama snarled and struggled to find opportunities to attack, while Mitt Romney contented himself by competing only in width of smiles, general affability, and presidential demeanor.
It could not have been more obvious that the professionals managing the Romney Campaign were confident that their candidate was winning and possessed strong positive momentum, so Mitt Romney’s debate strategy was simply to show up, and to do as little as possible to disturb outside events unfolding perfectly in his own favor.
Obama sometimes attempted to attack his opponent, and sometimes endeavored to strike triumphant poses of incumbency on his dazzling record of job creation, “saving the auto industry,” and making America safe by personally eliminating Osama bin Ladin.
Romney seemed, by comparison, the real incumbent, happily awaiting his January inauguration, politely going through the motions of indulging his already-defeated opponent in a sham contest involving matters already decided.
Obama occasionally looked mean, and at times seemed both desperate and petty. Romney was the model professional politician, giving away nothing, taking no risks.
Personally, I disliked Romney’s (as Rush would say) strategery intensely. I’d much prefer a candidate whose temperament was keener and less calculating, who could always be counted on to go for it, but we have the candidate we have. Newt Gingrich would have debated Obama into the ground even if he thought he was solidly ahead, but there is something in our national character that inevitably rewards the reserved and calculating schemer who strikes the cautious and conservative note. It’s not for nothing that Romney defeated all those Republican challengers and became the nominee.
He reminds me of Dwight Eisenhower, and like Eisenhower, Mitt Romney appears destined to go all the way. Whatever our reservations, we have to hope devoutly for his success. This country cannot afford another four years of Obama’s destruction of our economy.
The left can enjoy proclaiming that Obama won the third debate. But it was really one of those calculated refusals to engage, resembling Fabius Maximus Cunctator versus Hannibal or Kutuzov versus Napoleon, in which the cunning ultimate victor determinedly declines to permit his opponent to draw him into battle, postponing the final contest to a point which he already knows will be more certainly favorable to himself.
The best I’ve read came via Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt email:
[T]he single biggest metaphorical crotch-kick of the night came from great-grandson Al Smith IV, who told President Obama, “We recognize that you have some challenges this year. It’s never good when your opponent has produced more sons than you have jobs.”
Candy Crowley alone selected the questions for the debate. Candy Crowley interrupted Romney repeatedly, and awarded Barack Obama an extra 4 minutes of speaking time. And, finally, Candy Crowley came running to Barack Obama’s assistance at the very moment when the challenger had him nailed dead to rights.
I thought that Romney did well enough anyway. My prediction was that Republicans would say Romney won, and democrats would say Obama won, but Romney had some good moments and that was all he needed.
Candy Crowley didn’t do a terrible job as moderator – although she tilted the questions and answers in Barry’s favor a bit too obviously, gave him 10% more time for responses, and frequently cut off Romney as he was making substantive points. But because she kept Carrie Fisher (dressed as “Slave Leia”) chained to her side throughout the debate, we’re willing to forgive her.
The Pew poll is devastating, just devastating. Before the debate, Obama had a 51 – 43 lead; now, Romney has a 49 – 45 lead. That’s a simply unprecedented reversal for a candidate in October. Before Obama had leads on every policy issue and personal characteristic; now Romney leads in almost all of them. Obama’s performance gave Romney a 12 point swing! I repeat: a 12 point swing.
Romney’s favorables are above Obama’s now. Yes, you read that right. Romney’s favorables are higher than Obama’s right now. That gender gap that was Obama’s firewall? Over in one night:
Currently, women are evenly divided (47% Obama, 47% Romney). Last month, Obama led Romney by 18 points (56% to 38%) among women likely voters.
Seriously: has that kind of swing ever happened this late in a campaign? Has any candidate lost 18 points among women voters in one night ever? And we are told that when Obama left the stage that night, he was feeling good. That’s terrifying. On every single issue, Obama has instantly plummeted into near-oblivion. He still has some personal advantages over Romney – even though they are all much diminished. Obama still has an edge on Medicare, scores much higher on relating to ordinary people, is ahead on foreign policy, and on being moderate, consistent and honest (only 14 percent of swing voters believe Romney is honest). But on the core issues of the economy and the deficit, Romney is now kicking the president’s ass.
Walter Russell Mead, in a typically witty and insightful essay, compares and contrasts the legacy of Massachusetts Bay and Harvard on this year’s two candidates.
When Wilsonians turn their gaze toward the United States, they become what I think of as the Bostonian school in domestic politics. Like the New England Puritans to whom they owe so much, today’s Bostonians believe that a strong state led by the righteous should use its power to make America a more moral and ethical country. This, I believe, is the tradition in American domestic politics that most profoundly shapes President Obama’s worldview; it inspired many of the abolitionists and prohibitionists who played such large roles in 19th century reform politics, and it continues to influence the country wherever the spirit of Old New England survives. (Not all domestic Bostonians are international Wilsonians, by the way; some believe that America should lead by example rather than by imposing its views on others.)
Bostonians over the years have changed their ideas about morality; few today would agree with Increase Mather and John Winthrop that the state should punish any deviation from Biblical morality as understood by 17th century puritan divines. But when it comes to punishing offenses against righteousness as defined by a congress of humanities professors, multiculturalist activists and foundation grants officers, the liberal morality police are ready to march — and to smite. Today’s neo-puritans would certainly agree that once morality has been re-defined in a suitably feminist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-tobacco and anti-obesity way, it is the clear duty of the Civil Magistrate to enforce the moral law—and that our governing constitutions and laws must be interpreted—by the godly who alone ought to be seated on the judicial tribunals—to give said magistrates all the power they require for their immense and unending task of moral regulation and uplift.
Stephen Green reported live, drunkblogging last night, the first presidential debate:
7:03PM Wow. Obama looks mad, now that the subject is the ill effects of the law bearing his name.
I mean, I CAN BURN YOUR SOUL WITH MY EYEBALLS.
7:04PM From the peanut gallery: “You can stay on your parents’ Medicare.”
7:23PM It’s been more of the same while our servers struggled to handle the load. And that is: Obama, peevish, scripted. Romney, relaxed, and owning the stage like one of the “big, swinging dicks” from Wall Street, which Obama both despises and relies upon.
And that’s the trick tonight, isn’t it? Obama has always relied on the big money men in private, while disparaging them in public. But what happens when he comes up against one of them in the most public way possible?
Now we know the answer, and it ain’t pretty.
The president appeared small and petulant and reactive. Romney looked presidential and secure and proactive. There was only one president on the stage tonight, and he doesn’t (yet) hold the office.
My high school debate coach was a diminutive, brilliant woman named Susan. All of 5-foot nothing, she had enormous glasses, a high, raucous South Carolina accent and a mind like Google for obscure facts. Once, during a break in a debate competition where I’d blown an argument, she said something totally incongruous that snapped me out of a growing funk.
She cocked a finger and beckoned me to lean down. She whispered, “Stop thinking about making points. You know the arguments. You just go in there and knock his pecker in the dirt.” ...
Romney should walk on to the stage in Denver knowing he’s arguing against a man who is held aloft on a creaky, tottering artifice of broken jobs promises, failed policies and a promised age of social and economic miracles that never came. President Participation Trophy isn’t the giant, transformative figure of 2008: he’s got a record now, and it’s ugly.
Charles Lipson, Peter B. Ritzma Professor in Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago
My Yale classmate Charlie Lipson has some good advice for Mitt Romney in tonight’s debate.
Take advantage of the fact that Obama’s debating skills will be rusty. “Even the best athletes, if they take off for awhile, become a little rusty. He does sometimes make mistakes when he’s not reading from the teleprompter, and he has a notoriously thin skin, which could allow some of the less appealing parts of his personality to come across. The big advantage to Romney is that the news media is so openly opposed to him and spins everything that the real advantage is that the debate is actually watched by people, so it’s less mediated. A lot of times peoples’ attitudes toward the debate don’t form for a day or two. So the chance of NBC and CBS and the New York Times to spin the debate afterwards and make it kind of appear to be a foregone conclusion about what happened is not entirely missing.”
+ “Raise the issue of the deficit, but the key for Romney is to somehow connect the deficit to concrete and real problems that America is facing today—and will be facing unless it is solved. The tradition, until a couple of years ago, until the Tea Party, was that the deficit was politically irrelevant—at least electorally irrelevant—and I think that the Romney campaign has not really done an effective job of showing how the deficit problems are harming ordinary Americans. President Obama’s statement the other day that he’s responsible for only 10 percent of the increased deficit during his time in office is deeply disingenuous. If Romney is unable to attack that effectively, he’s missed a grand opportunity.”
+ Lay out just how sick the economy is, despite an uptick in consumer confidence. “Normally at this point you get what’s called a V-shaped recovery, so you get four percent annual growth. The fact that we’re getting 1.5, plus or minus, it shows that something is deeply wrong.” [I mention to Lipson that I’m told that President Obama believes the economy is going to come “roaring” back and that what keeps him up at night is the prospect of Mitt Romney taking credit for Obama’s policies.] Lipson says: “He should sleep easier. At four years after the crisis, we’re still in absolute economic stagnation. We’re not producing enough jobs each month to meet the number of new entrants into the work place, and so real unemployment is actually rising. Yes, the economy could come back, but it’s not going to come roaring back. There are no external engines in the world economy that can help pull America up. China is growing far slower than it was growing a couple of years ago, and Europe even slower than America, and many of the key economies in Europe have slipped into a double-dip recession. I think there are very serious crises ahead.”
+ “Point to the fact that the big programs that Obama has launched, the stimulus and health care and Dodd Frank didn’t create jobs and added huge amounts of regulatory burden and uncertainty to the economy. He’s got to tie this slow growth to Obama’s policies. If he can’t do that he won’t win the debate.”
The Nation’s David Corn revealed at Mother Jones this “secret video, in which “Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama Voters.” and in which (supposedly) “When he doesn’t know a camera’s rolling, the GOP candidate shows his disdain for half of America.”
The far left seems to think that the startling revelation that Republicans, including Mitt Romney, look down upon the democrat philosophy of entitlement and government dependency is a terribly effective attack meme. Sure, spongers and looters are going to be offended by being identified as what they are, but they weren’t really going to be voting for Mitt Romney anyway.
Paul Rahe observes that Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate defines his campaign and justifies his candidacy.
In choosing Paul Ryan as his Vice-Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney has opted to go for broke, and he has indicated that he is a serious man—less concerned with becoming President of the United States than with saving the country from the disaster in store for it if we not radically reverse course, willing to risk a loss for the sake of being able to win a mandate for reform.
I have been unsparing in my criticism of Romney’s political record. I unsay not one word about that. If we were to judge him honestly by his conduct as a Senatorial candidate in Massachusetts and as that state’s Governor, I believe that we would find him sadly wanting.
I have also consistently been of the opinion that, of the declared Republican presidential aspirants, Mitt Romney was the least unacceptable. In his private capacity, he is a man of excellent character; as a businessman, he was accomplished in the extreme; and, as a candidate, he consistently displayed the discipline required. There were others in the race who had good qualities, but they lacked one or more of the crucial qualities that Romney possesses.
I also hazarded a guess—that current circumstances might make a genuine conservative of Mitt Romney, that his understanding of the fiscal crisis we face might very well force him to think more deeply about the moral roots of that fiscal crisis, which is to say, about the inner logic of the administrative entitlements state and the moral as well as the fiscal bankruptcy produced by that inner logic. I was accused of wishful thinking, and the accusation was just. For my wish was, indeed, father to the thought, but this does not mean that the thought was wrong.
Governor Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate suggests, in fact, that my suspicions were correct. For by making this choice, Mitt Romney is declaring war. There will be no evasion, no triangulation, no attempt to mask what is at stake in this election. Instead, Romney and Ryan will directly confront Barack Obama and call him to account for putting us on a ruinous course.
This will alter radically the dynamics of the race. The money spent by Obama trying to demonize Governor Romney will prove to be money entirely wasted. The election is not going to be about Mitt Romney. It is not going to be about the sexual revolution. It is not going to be about Bain Capital. It is going to be about the failed policies of Barack Obama, about their dangerous character, and about the sober, sound alternative the Republicans represent.
This will help the Republicans in Senate and House races immeasurably, for it will give Romney and Ryan coattails—now, without a doubt, the candidates in these other races have something concrete on which to run: repeal Obamacare, pare back the entitlements state, reform our system of taxation, and put our fiscal house in order. No one will doubt the capacity of the Republicans to rule.
I have predicted that Romney will win by a landslide. The choice of Paul Ryan means that Romney has chosen the path that will maximize the significance of his victory and its impact on the races for seats in the House and Senate. As in 1980, this is going to be a national election—in which local particularities count for much less than usual.