Wednesday, November 07, 2012

After the Election: Five Things I Think Are True

1.  Barack Obama is a pretty bad president.  Not apocalyptically, George W. Bush bad, but bad.  And he will be remembered as a bad president.

2.  Barack Obama is a pretty effective candidate.  Certainly better than Mitt Romney.  But then George W. Bush was a pretty good candidate, too.  Bush was a failure as a President, and Obama's failures have much (though not everything) to do with his being coopted by the defense-industrial complex and the prison-industrial complex.  There are ways in which Obama is no better than Bush, because he is no DIFFERENT than Bush.  Obama lied about Gitmo, no wars, and drug policy.  Just flat lied.  As a candidate, you can do that.  As a leader...well, he got away with it.  Because....

3.  Romney is the Republican Kerry.  They are both even from Massachusetts.  Kerry was richer, of course, because he slept his way to great wealth.  But in both cases there was a weak, largely ineffective incumbent who had some campaign skills and was not afraid to lie in order to win. And in both cases, the Kerry / Romney character in this little play lost a race he should have won.  And lost a race that a competent campaigner would have won easily.  If you think I am saying that this makes Obama the Democratic George Bush... I'm not ready to be THAT insulting.  Obama is only incompetent and woefully uninformed about policy, and the way economies work outside of Chicago.

4.  Gary Johnson did NOT cost Romney the election.  There is no story you can tell, even assuming 100% of Johnson voters would have voted for Romney (which is asinine!), where Romney could win the Presidency.  Maybe Florida.  But not Ohio.  Romney lost this by being a goofball, not because of Gary Johnson.

5.  Now, it is quite true that I wish that Johnson had gotten 5%, and that the race had been close enough that Johnson did plausibly cost Romney the election.  Because I still don't think the Republicans get it.  They think that people actually agree with their bigotry, their religious prudery, and their barbaric foreign policy.  And they got enough votes this time to allow them to continue to believe that.  Darn it.


Anonymous said...

Point #5.

Does a party that gets less than 5% of the vote get it? I wish people were more libertarian, but they're not.

What percent of Americans supported the US going into Afghanistan and Iraq? 90% and 70%, respectively. How many pro gay marriage referendums had passed at the state level until yesterday? Zero.

Republicans' "bigotry, religious prudery, and barbaric foreign policy" remain because they reflect a large portion of the voters.

Anthony Downs


Pelsmin said...

Gotta call you on this, Mike. When you refer to Republicans' "bigotry, religious prudery, and barbaric foreign policy," who exactly are you talking about? It's ridiculous to suggest that 30-50% of the population support such views in their leaders. I don't peg you as someone who is mainly informed by social commentary in Vanity Fair, where the idea that Republican Leaders are barbaric racists is taken as fact.
A lot of us have a pretty cynical view of political leaders, but I think their greater faults are more ignorance, self-dealing and demagoguery. In fact, the principles behind the Republican party are admirable -- self-determination, small government, strong defense from foreign dangers. The trouble is that not enough of the leaders truly follow these principles. Mitt Romney seemed pretty free of both the negative traits and, unfortunately, the positive ones. The Democrats' principles are intrinsically problematic; government knows best, property rights are secondary to arbitrary concepts of "social justice," and spending a dollar to fix a window generates 2 dollars in wealth. When their leaders STICK to their principles they are an affront to human dignity and natural rights. Why would you identify the Republicans as the intrinsically malevolent party?

Jon P said...

What Pelsmin said. I think you're very insightful, and you'll always be my favorite guest on Econ Talk, but I really don't see how you arrived at your current position re: bigotry, prudery, barbarism.

TGGP said...

GWB was one of the politicians most attuned to what the masses want (per Martin Gilens). The masses aren't libertarian.

sb said...

Um, yeah, got to say I am pretty disappointed to see Republican voters accused of endorsing bigotry, prudery and barbarism.

That's the kind of caricature I'd expect from Rolling Stone magazine or Michael Moore.

John Thacker said...

What do you think of Pat McCrory? The exits are showing that his margin compared to Romney wasn't by running better with whites (only +2, 70% versus 68%), but by running +9 with blacks, +15 with Hispanics, and +8 with Other versus Romney's totals.

You may not like all his policies, but those are at least not suicidal numbers based on alienating ethnic groups.

Anonymous said...

"Um, yeah, got to say I am pretty disappointed to see Republican voters accused of endorsing bigotry, prudery and barbarism."

An awful lot of people see Republican voters this way. Maybe you could focus some of your disappointment on your party's leaders and candidates.