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February 10, 2016

Comments

You campaign with the candidates you have, not the candidates you might want or wish to have at a later time. Seriously, who are the competent establishment candidates the Republicans are supposed to run? The Republican party has been running on the idea that government is inherently corrupt and evil for more than a generation. It's not philosophy that attracts ideologues and grifters, not people interested in competence and good government. Lack of competent candidates is a predictable long-term consequence of that philosophy.

Roger:

That's true if your measure of competence has anything to do with governing. But I'm really talking about *campaigning*, which is a skill set that has more in common with acting or PR. Why don't they have guys who can campaign?

Probably because they don't have to campaign, really; they mouth the platitudes that their media arm has tutored their followers to accept and expect, but anything beyond that is too hard to deal with.

I have something the I rely on in my day job: A fraudster wants to do as little work as possible, just like the rest of us, and can be caught because of it. The billionaires behind the current Republican party mostly didn't earn their money, so they don't know other ways to maintain it; the PR grifters stick with what has worked; and the candidates can keep getting elected/reelected/pensioned off for sticking to script, so really, why learn/be able to do anything else?

Interesting post. I'm thinking this why the party had to initiate itself into the modern era with Reagan and how Fred Thompson was able to move to the top of the stack. Or as someone once said "The secret of success is sincerity. Fake that and you’re in."

it's an interesting thesis.
And of course the one candidate with an undeniable ego is leading the pack.
Despise Trump as one might, he certainly knows at a gut level how to campaign - and ostensibly isn't even spending much money.

A similar dynamic is at work in the Democratic contest; not so much about the qualities of the candidates as the source of their campaign finance:
http://edition.cnn.com/2016/02/10/opinions/sanders-views-are-mainstream-zelizer/index.html

I've lost the link, but I read somewhere this morning that Sanders beat Clinton 95/5 in New Hampshire among voters who rated 'honesty and trustworthiness' as the most important issue in selecting a candidate.

Clinton is clearly by far the most qualified of the two (and to a Brit, the whole 'likeability' thing seems fairly irrelevant), but her Wall Street ties could conceivably cost her the nomination.

For some reason I'm reminded of that moment when George W. Bush sat in a children's classroom instead of excusing himself and saying, hey kids, thank you for story time, and leaving to deal with the 9/11 crisis. It's like he was absolutely petrified and frozen in his seat.

Heck, I was, too, but I'm not the president of the United States.

In one of Philip Roth's lesser efforts, his fifth novel "Our Gang", Trick E Nixon has surgery to remove the sweat glands in his upper lip, the better to appear less of a flop-sweating pants-wetter as he goes about his quintessential Republican business of bombing Copenhagen and blaming free agent baseball player Curt Flood for .... everything.

Meanwhile, in real life, one of many thug Godfathers of the current crew of nasty, wanna-be murderers working over time to give us the biggest case of the demagogic yips since John Wilkes Booth convinced Mary Todd Lincoln that date night at the theater might be a nice break from the action, the actual Richard Nixon pressed his hankie up against his upper lip and ordered Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Colson to look into the "horrible moral leper", the Jew Roth, and see what they could do to panic America, the silent anti-Semitic moral/amoral/immoral Moral Majority about the writer's suspicious activities.

This morning, more from the man who, according to some very understanding moderates, merely wants us to go into our inner safe room, bite a pillow, and scream ... roughly every five minutes:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/trump-shocking-suggestion-north-korea-222900241.html

The story has all of the features of our malignant reality show culture, even the word "shocking" in the internet red-meat headline, as in "a story that may shock you", as we indulge ourselves like chimps in a behavior modification lab hoping to be rewarded the next cookie by shoving our fingers into electrical sockets, otherwise known as our own fundaments, for the sheer nostalgic break from the intervening few moments of boring everydayness since the last thing we panicked about, say, the heartbreak of psoriasis, or better, that Obama-planned Ebola outbreak in the heartland a year and half ago that killed tens of millions of good Americans, leaving unfortunately and somehow, too many right-wingers to caucus for someone, anyone, who will bring us the end days and/or our former greatness, whichever sells more commercial air time during "The Apprentice" reruns, soon to be shot from the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, though he has said some stupid things, we have the preternaturally calm Barack Obama, who drives the usual suspects stark raving mad with his rational pleas to consult our better natures and maybe even, gulp, legislate.

His inner Luther never seems to make an appearance. Instead, a dozen, wait, nine, now seven ... oh, now maybe only five 24-hour grifting Luthers, led by Martin Luther Trump, grip the third rail of everything and fake the telltale signs of electrocution while the vermin, malignant, sadistic conservative rabble, prompted, programmed, and conditioned these last 45 years to react on cue, slaver like addled morons and turn to the nearest OTHER and threaten Constitutional Conventions to undo the politically correct erasure of the N-word lo these many years of liberal indoctrination and restore us to God's City On The Hill with lead pipes supplying the water and three flavors of Koolaid, not including lead-lite.

We're told NOT to panic as we sit down to order a bloomin' onion at the Waco Outback as a couple of sh*theads, who appear mighty panicky given the firepower-bearing long guns and pistols, take their seats at the adjoining table and proceed to order Wednesday's special on Tuesday or else, because, freedom.

They catch you eyeing them, as you ostentatiously try to squirt some faggot French Dijon mustard on your tucker, just to bait them, and they assure you with a wink that as long as they are on the scene, the coast, both of them, are clear, and they've got you covered, which is what I was afraid of.

Really? How bout if I stick this fork in your dominant gun sight eye as my opening remarks to the assembled diners about the good features of Obamacare?

Will that worry you?

Meanwhile, natch, the Democratic Party is assuming the position for its habitual circular firing squad.

You wanna panic? The stock market is cratering, but in an orderly fashion, which is not good because it means the full-scale panic is still ahead, probably Fall, the season of financial nervous breakdowns, as murky Chinese financial machinations, cascading bad paper from over-leveraged frackers (hey, we're gonna kill OPEC! There is something you forgot to consider, methinks) and junk auto loans turn up in bank and mutual fund portfolios like so many bad mortgages, and the markets go kablooey as the Fed does exactly as the markets have begged it to do for two years, raise interest rates .. or not.

A plunging stock market will be a red carpet unrolled from Trump's limo directly into the Oval Office at 1600 Trump Avenue, where his stubby fingers will snap impatiently for bombing, deportation, f*cking the most vulnerable among us, and what about that gold-leaf I ordered for the walls of Paul Ryan's study where Ayn Rand and her volumes of horsesh*t lie in state awaiting her Frankenstinian rise from the dead and rampage across the countryside, only this time the little children won't be captivated by the monster.

Trump, whose ass contains multitudes from which to pull platitudes, wants us to think, now that he just thought of it after consultation with the suppurating polyps in his dyspeptic colon, that he can convince China to take out the North Korean dictator, apparently right after he shuts down all U.S. trade with China and roils the currency markets to within a hair's breadth of the Great Depression.

Expect his poll number to soar.

Marco Rubio will have to have his diaper changed and counter, repeat after me, let's cut out the middle man and just bomb Peking, Moscow, Damascus, Havana (except for the Rubio family's gambling interests) and the site for the Obama Presidential Library, where the papers will reside of the man who knows exactly what he's doing.

If money equaled value, the worshippers of the free market would be right and thereby better able to attract competent candidates and governors (in the general sense, not the Chris Christie sense).

I think you need to refine the question somewhat, to "Why can't they find Republicans who are good at contemporary Presidential campaigning?" Part of the answer is that campaigning for governor or senator is not the same thing. For example, by all accounts Rick Perry was a masterful campaigner at a retail level -- one of my friends, a Texas liberal, says that there was no one better at working a room than Rick. But the skill set for a three hour "debate" is entirely different. (And to be politically incorrect, start with the requirement that the format calls for a face that stands up to close-ups, and relaxes into an "I'm paying attention" expression; Scott Walker's face does neither.) Campaigning for President requires not just retail skills, but being a decent television improv actor as well.

Once upon a time, in the early days of video-over-IP, I had to record a number of video clips explaining different aspects of the problems that technology faced. By the time I finished, I had enormously more respect for people who master that basic skill set: wait a random amount of time, then hit your mark, deliver the lines, make it believable.

More on the Malheur:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/trump-shocking-suggestion-north-korea-222900241.html

Finally, Cliven Bundy is arrested.

Another Republican Jew-hater/burner, this time at the tippy top of Ted Cruz's campaign to torch the Reichstag and make it look like the Muslims did it.

The FBI needs to arrest them too.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/who-is-cruz-s-pal-mike-bickle

Lovely bunch of murderous coco nuts we have here assuaging the fears of the white, male, female Christian American pigf*ckery, who feel so aggrieved.

However, they are sincere and competent.

Wrong link, Count. Follow LesZaitz on twitter for live updates; his article about Bundy's arrest.

Thank you, Doctor Science.

I'm not really understanding the Malheur <-> Franklin Graham connection.

?

russell:

Franklin Graham is an odious toad (no disrespect intended toward actual toads, the gardener's friends) who wants to be Supreme Leader of the Christian Right. I wonder if we'll ever find out if the occupiers asked for him first, if the FBI (which he's been working with for the past week or more) contacted him first, or if he put himself forward to be a trusted religious figure.

My bet is that one of the occupiers mentioned him in passing sometime in the past month, and Graham saw an opening. He'll say he didn't put himself forward, he was "called", but he's lying.

Fiore, who is also batshit, seems to have considerable natural talent as a negotiator. I'm sure a pro negotiator from the FBI has coached her, but she's actually done truly useful work managing those idiots and getting them to the peaceful surrender line.

Graham has endorsed Trump, BTW.

Connection: grifting idiots are called on to talk the lesser idiots down. Dollars and martyrdom follow, mostly dollars in large bills, tax deductible.

Franklin Graham spoke at the Columbine High School Memorial which I attended and was held in a shopping mall across the street from Columbine High School in 1999.

While Al Gore and other notables tried on the appropriate healing talk, Graham stood at the podium and in his bullsh*t quavering God voice blamed roughly half the attendees for the massacre, good people, parents, my wife at the time and me among them, and their children, who didn't tow the far-right Christian line.

Apparently, military-style weaponry available to all was not the problem.

That's about the time it began to dawn on me that maybe conservatives have a point about being armed to the teeth against one's enemies, but it's not the point they think it is.

If I wasn't so politically correct and courteous in public, I would have made my way through the crowd while shouting him down and taken him by his American flag lapel pin and hauled him down off the dais and kicked him in the pants.

Now here he is again, rolling in the demagogue dough, because no one, including me, has had the guts to kick his ass, preferably using the military weaponry he enjoys shooting off in his back 40.

the candidates favored by the "Establishment" wing of the Republican Party have not been up to the job of campaigning

In fairness, we should probably point out that the "Establishment" wing of the Democratic Party is putting up a candidate who is pretty bad at campaigning, too. And Clinton has had the experience of a previous Presidential campaign to have learned from.

I'll wager that Graham is carrying on his junket to the Malheur.

I hope the hotel management checks for damage in his room once he vacates, because with his cracker type, you never know what might happen:

http://www.sltrib.com/news/3517910-155/two-days-after-finicum-funeral-hotel

Does the NRA have any gun safety tips for their members? Don't they have any funeral etiquette, or do they borrow from the Mafia or Chechen playbooks for these special occasions.

"You get a bunch of people with guns, things happen," shrugged the Sheriff.

True, you put a bunch of pubescent boys in a motel room alone, and you're going to have plenty of accidental discharges.

Plus, I love the bit at the end of the article in which Reason magazine cautions against confusing the Deadheads with the dickheads.

By the time I finished, I had enormously more respect for people who master that basic skill set: wait a random amount of time, then hit your mark, deliver the lines, make it believable.

Politicians spend a lot of time "preparing" to run for office. Especially when that office is the Presidency. So you have to wonder, why don't they spend part of that time taking some basic acting classes. Especially film, as opposed to stage, acting.

It is, after all, a skill that can be learned. And you don't even have to be all taht bright to master it -- c.f. Reagan. So why don't they do it? (Or perhaps the question should be, why don't their highly-paid campaign advisors tell them to do it?)

As to Fiore, once the details of her cooperation with the FBI leak out, plenty of right wing folks are going to be snubbing her invites to Christmas dinner at the Fiore bunker.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2015/dec/08/las-vegas-republican-michele-fiore-christmas-card-weapons

I have preferred the FBI send in Chris Walken to negotiate:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmGOiqQm9B0

See, for anyone who thinks I don't love my country, here is the kind of patriotic all-American red-white-and-blue entrepreneurial spirit I aspire to:

http://juanitajean.com/love-me-some-invisible-hand-of-the-market-forces/

The cookies, not the pot, but still.

The Bundy's could have paid their grazing fees and Lavoy Finicum would still be alive working his ranch if they had this kind of moxie.

, why don't they spend part of that time taking some basic acting classes.

because if word of that got out (and it would) the narrative would be "don't believe a word, you know s/he's acting!"

Trump and Cruz are method actors, like Brando and Steiger in "On The Waterfront".

Trump's campaign has been one long scene of wailing "Stella" from the sidewalk underneath his constituents' windows.

Did Republicans try this sh*t again?

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/oh-my--6

If they tried again to prolong Americans' captivity in foreign prisons for electoral gain, find the Republican traitors, arrest them, dispatch them to GITMO for appropriate treatment under the coming Trump torture regime, and when they confess, which by God they will if Trump is the expert on inhumane treatment he claims to be, execute them.

no, I'm not kidding.

Trump and Cruz are method actors, like Brando and Steiger in "On The Waterfront".

As long as we're doing acting analogies, Hillary is the actress who shows up on time every day, hits her marks, knows her lines, and delivers them well. But can't ever hope to win more than Best Supporting Actress because she doesn't have that spark.

My fear all along has been that Hillary can eke out a win for White House, as much from people voting against her opponent as for her, but there will be no progress made on the bigger problem of Congress.

Wall Street questions its investments:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/wall-street-candidates-wheres-return-162702691.html

Really?

Are they questioning all of the stock buybacks they've convinced corporate America to do to make earnings look better and feed corporate officers' options kickbacks, too.

All of that's underwater too.

Don't worry, all of that funky electoral paper will end up in your portfolios for later liquidation.

Hitler took acting lessons (and iirc some voice training too). When he became dictator he had the advantage of controlling his own image though. He was good for the big screen but avoided TV (there was an offical regular German TV program between the Olympics and WW2). It's interesting to compare Triumph des Willens with its predecessor one year before (Sieg des Glaubens). The latter has some involuntary funny scenes in it that would not have passed muster later (Hitler pushing his cap from the lectern with a sweeping gesture, Hitler bumping into the Youth leader standing behind him and things like that).

I thought Clinton was kind of Barbara Stanwyck-ish, whom I love, in the last Benghazi hearings, but then she was able to play off all of those second-rate character actors mugging for the camera with their comical double-takes and sputterings.

But, yeah, otherwise, she's maybe Jane Wyman at best .. kind of grim.

Joan Allen, of current movies, comes to mind. Workmanlike, but I'm not sure the camera likes what it sees.

She seems to always get blindsided by Bourne.

why don't they spend part of that time taking some basic acting classes

Good point. They're basically all playing a role; why not play it convincingly?

Trump has succeeded in convincing a bunch of Republicans that he's a Republican, though, so maybe in some cases acting skill is not really crucial.

I liked Hitler as Vic Hitler, the narcoleptic comedian, in Hill Street Blues a million years ago.

Couldn't find a clip, but here's the actor who played him:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Kiser

In his method acting class, Trump was constantly asked to play a pepperpot:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imxb8IShtoc

As for Cruz, he auditioned for the role of "a&shole" early on at the Actor's Studio, and he's been so successful and convincing that when a director needs to cast an as8hole, he's the first name in the rolodex.

I'd say reality TV is acting. (It sure isn't reality!) So Trump actually has some acting experience going for him.

Can't say I'd fancy being the director of any show he was on, however.

David Fry, the last of the second story men at the Malheur commits suicide, then uncommits, and walks out of the place.

Last we saw him, he was monkeying with federal government computers.

https://www.google.com/search?q=picture+of+david+fry+at+the+malheur&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwim8OiMtfDKAhVDRCYKHWN8D9sQsAQIHw&biw=1280&bih=913

Maybe he's decided to be found dead by his own hand while in custody and the Bundy's et al can claim he was just an innocent black person abused and martyred by law enforcement after being told all his life that he was bad because he was white, male, and American, a common misconception.

Word has it when he walked out, one of the great white pelicans who nest at the Malheur was standing on his head and when asked what IT was doing, the bird cracked, "trying to get this crazy person out from under my feet".

related to the Count's link, with the quote from the Iranian official below

“In the course of the talks for exchanging prisoners, the Republican rivals of the current US administration who claim to be humanitarians and advocates of human rights sent a message telling us not to release these people (American prisoners) and continue this process (of talks) until the eve of US presidential elections,” Shamkhani said Thursday in an address to a rally held in the central city of Yazd to mark the 37th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution’s victory.
“However” he said “we acted upon our independent resolve and moved the process forward.”

This bit of news actually make me optimistic. I'm just hoping this is the Iranians realizing that it is not in their interest, given the way the world has gone since they helped Ronnie into office.

Both wj and Marty could have some very interesting takes on this post from LGM.

I was particularly taken by this line:
" rich people [i.e. the elite] tend to have more socially liberal and economically conservative beliefs than the country as a whole."

From which I deduce that *I* could be counted as part of "the elite". Who knew? Certainly not me.

I can't tel if this post is lumping Romney in with the others as poor candidates. He was clearly not a poor candidate. He somewhat outperformed the vote share projected by the polscis for a candidate running against an incumbent in an OK and improving economy. The 47% thing was certainly a window into his word but it wasn't a failure on his own part (the guy on stage can only control so much) and I'm not sure how much impact it really had.

Rubio still looks pretty good as a candidate to me. The robot thing will not be a big deal as long as he doesn't... well, repeat it. The larger point about the nukes is of course correct. Cruz is a worryingly good performer and strategist.

Can anyone explain what happened with Walker? He was someone I would have feared in a general election, and then to my great relief he just died, but I missed what exactly he did that made him such a bad candidate.

It occurs to me that we may be looking at this all wrong. Maybe the problem isn't really that money can't buy competence.

The problem could be as simple as the people doing the buying don't know how to recognize competence when they see it. Maybe you are an expert in some other field of endeavour. You can know how to recognize expertise in jobs relevant to that area. But that doesn't necessarily make you able to recognize expertise in other areas. (This is the same as the argument against the idea that being a successful businessman will make you a successful legislator or governor or President.)

Or it could be that there just isn't actually much, if any, competence on offer. It doesn't matter how much you spend if what you want to buy isn't available. You can decide that you have to buy something that is labeled as what you want. But that doesn't mean it is.

the people with huge amounts of money live in bubbles. they don't know what the bulk of America wants, they only know what they think it needs (which is probably pretty close to what they think will help them personally). and so they dump money onto people who conform to their bubble-ized view of things.

Add attempted murder to the charges:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/oregon-refuge-booby-traps

Given the full frontal assault on expertise, particularly the kind that resides in the sciences, and the wrecking crew political rhetoric of the past 45 years, heightened recklessly over the past 8 to 25 years, perhaps the 27% (and growing) are not searching for competence.

In fact, the last thing they desire is a competent federal government.

All competence insures is that the checks go out on time.

All competence insures is that the phones get answered.

Cutting budgets prunes competence.

Norquist, et al do not desire competence from the baby.

They don't desire a baby that can competently do the backstroke in the bathtub.

They desire a face-down dead blue baby, its lungs filled with bathwater.

Trump et al are competent in the same way thugs in suits are hired to break into a competitors' business and smash all of the inventory with baseball bats and then burn the joint down.

That's where their competence lies.

Where I think the billionaires go wrong is not in hiring incompetent people, but in their own misunderstanding about what it is they are buying.

What political spending gets you is the ability to present your message really loudly and really often.

And, folks who spend hundreds of millions of dollars on political campaigning actually do receive that. If you live in a media market in or near any primary state, you have experienced, or will experience, this.

What that spending doesn't buy you is actual votes. Whatever message it is that you are broadcasting 24/7 through every available channel still has to actually be persuasive. If it isn't, spending the money won't translate into the outcome you're looking for.

The folks who complain because they didn't get a "good return on their investment" are, basically, mistaken in what it is they think they are buying. They're misinformed.

They thought they were buying an outcome. What they actually were buying was a really loud microphone. They didn't get the outcome, but they got the microphone.

People just didn't like what they were saying. In sufficient numbers, anyway.

In all of this, I'm talking about campaigns for elected office. Money spent on lobbying folks once they actually are in office quite often does amount to buying votes - votes on legislation, rather than on a candidate for office. It also translates into the ability to craft the language of the legislation.

If billionaires want maximum bang for the buck, they would do better to just pour money down the gullets of folks once they're in office, rather than spend hundreds of millions on trying to get particular people in office in the first place.

The 47% thing was certainly a window into his word but it wasn't a failure on his own part (the guy on stage can only control so much) and I'm not sure how much impact it really had.

From my point of view, the '47% thing' was in fact a failure on Romney's part. Not a failure in the sense of a gaffe or faux pas, but a failure in his understanding of the lived experience of, by his own estimate, something like half the population of the country.

He said it, I suspect he meant it, and IMO that understanding of the facts on the ground points to a really critical flaw in his suitability for the office.

Not a bad man, just a blind one.

Personally, I think it cost him a lot, possibly the Presidency. Also personally, if so I'm glad of it.

Add attempted murder to the charges

From the link:

they warned that they left behind some booby traps for authorities to dismantle

Why the hell are 'left behind' for 'authorities to dismantle'?

Drag their butts out there and make them dismantle them.

@ Russell

I agree that it was a failure of understanding in the sense of being false. I mean, it literally fails to account for the existence of payroll taxes.

But politicians, both liberal and conservative, both 'bad men' and personally pleasant people, will say untrue and incorrect things to donors. The unusual political failure was on the part of his handlers for allowing the speech to be secretly filmed.

Quite possibly it had an affect at the margins. But he wasn't beaten narrowly. And as I said, he did a little better than a generic politician would be expected to in those conditions.

And as I said, he did a little better than a generic politician would be expected to in those conditions.

For good or ill, IMO if Romney had run on a platform that resembled what he ran on for Governor of MA, he would probably be POTUS now.

Folks say he would never have gotten the (R) nomination had he done so, but Trump's leading the pack with a not-particularly-red-meat-conservative stance now. And Romney was, by far, a more credible candidate than Trump.

So, maybe Doc S's point is apt, after all.

Except that Trump isn't running on his platform (in so far as he actually has one). He is running on channeling emotion -- mostly outrage. And Romney, whatever his other virtues, is simply not the kind of snake-oil salesman personality to be able to make that kind of persentation.

I agree, I don't think Trump has a platform per se. My general sense is that he's spit-balling the whole campaign.

I guess my point about Romney is that the platform he ran on was to the right of the positions he'd held, publicly, for most of his life.

Maybe he sincerely became much more conservative between 2007 and 2012. Or, maybe he was persuaded that he'd never get the nomination unless he acted like he had.

If the latter, I'd say it was a mistake. Or, at least, possibly a mistake.

If he'd gotten to the general with the sort of pragmatic, middle-of-the-road conservatism that he was known for earlier, IMO he would have been a tougher guy for Obama to beat.

All speculation, on my part.

Romney would have done better in the generalelection (in my opinion also) if he had been able to run on his record and positions as governor of Massachusettes. But how much better?

To beat an incumbant President you real need something to be badly wrong, either in the economy or in other external events. And I'm not sure the botched implementation of the ACA generated enough unhappiness, in the minds of the voters as a whole, to get there.

To beat an incumbant President you real need something to be badly wrong

That's a very good point.

I don't know if a kinder, gentler Romney would have won the general. Most likely not, I'd say.

I just think he would have done better overall running as himself, rather than twisting himself into a pretzel to try to be 'conservative enough' for the base.

Which brings me into agreement with Doc S's point overall, I guess.

He spent a lot of money. He got, IMO, bad advice, and apparently took it. And he got beat.

Sometimes, of course, there simply is no good advice that anyone could give.

Want to get elected President as a Republican in today's environment? You have two choices:

1) You can take positions that will appeal to the base sufficiently to get you your party's nomination. In which case, you will likely be too extreme to win the general election. Exceptions: your opponent is even more extreme in the other direction, or he suffers from some seriously bad luck etc. during the campaign. This year, the salient question could be whether Sanders is, in fact, more extreme than whoever gets the nomination -- not something I would want to bet the ranch on.

2) Alternatively, you can take positions that will appeal sufficiently to the general voting population to win the general election. In which case, your odds of being able to win the nomination are slim, unless you are exceptionally lucky in who runs against you.

Once upon a time, a candidate could shift directions once he got the nomination. It was expected, and largely accepted. But if you try to do that today, your party's voters will likely sit out the general election in disgust. So you lose.

But if you try to do that today, your party's voters will likely sit out the general election in disgust. So you lose.

This would seem to logically flow from the greater intraparty ideological homogeneity we currently observe as we gaze upon the two major parties. The GOP panders to its base, the Democrats are still trying to get the hang of it.

The Democrats are handicapped somewhat by the number of moderate (or even, gasp!, liberal) former Republicans who have migrated to them.

It's a lot easier to pander if you have a narrow base. But if you've got a big tent, you have to go with the (smaller) number of things that you have in common.

Romney already tried running as a moderate, and didn't get nominated. I suspect he got his positioning basically right in 2011-12, apart from the 47% thing which was not part of the plan. Otherwise, he really did tack back left once he had the nomination.

Of course, tacking back in the general doesn't mean you won't be held to any of the promises made in the primaries. He may well have been a pretty right-wing president, and hawkish on foreign policy. Could easily have invaded Syria for instance.

Can anyone answer my Walker question above? He seemed horribly effective before running in the primary, and then next time I looked he was polling at 0%.

Adam:

As far as I recall (and can find out), Walker is a *terrible* debater -- at least in the sense of "performer".

Charles Pierce calls him "the google-eyed humunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin", and though I didn't watch those debates, I suspect Pierce spotted something the Kochs didn't.

Namely, if you're going to run a viable Presidential candidate, they have to have *at least* one of (a) charisma or (b) actual knowledge. And if you have to pick one, it better be charisma. Walker looked OK in still photos, but he clearly doesn't have it in live coverage.

Walker also tried to run as someone other than himself and his record as governor.

Walker looked good because he had steamrolled his way through any number of groups and when people from outside looked at Wisconsin, they thought that he must have had some base of support, but he really did it through backdoor manoeuvres and such. This had people (like the Kochs) think that he would scale up whatever he had done in Wisconsin.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/18/scott-walker-s-long-history-of-dirty-tricks.html

On TV Walker looks like dead fish standing; he had nothing that distinguished him from the rest of the field; a lot of folks really didn't know that much about him; he debated poorly; he spent his campaign war chest recklessly.

Other than that, prime presidential material.

Thanks all.

I wonder if this year the apparent competence problem is structural - you now have to be so right-wing to be nominated that simultaneously appearing palatable to a general election audience is basically impossible.

So you have Cruz holding the far-right Puritan lane, Donald Trump talking about Mexican rapists, but then in the mainstream lane you either have candidates who are VERY conservative - Rubio, Kasich, Walker - doing their usual shtick but with half an eye on moderates down the road, or in Bush and Christie's case someone relatively moderate having to pretend to be a maniac and looking highly unconvincing. (I'm not sure about Perry's position as I don't know much about his record. He appeared to be trying to play it more mainstream this year.)

Romney just about pulled it off, though the strain was evident. Four years later the gap between the base and the nation is so wide that these guys are doing the splits.

If you look at the Rubio glitch, what brought it on was that his advisors had been worried about the charge of inexperience. This is normal for a young candidate. But the way this played out was not the usual fear of looking green, but panic about being compared to Obama in even the most oblique way. So they then Constructed a talking point that was all about weighing in on the longstanding Tea Party debate over whether Obama is a lightweight human teleprompter or Stalin. The result was that in the debates he had no fucking idea what he was talking about or how to connect it to anything.

One point ya'll haven't really addressed is these guys' 2012 Election Eve expectations. They seem to have been relying on, not just snake oil salesmen, but *incompetent* snake oil salesmen, ones who drank their own snake oil.

Does this reflect the standard practices of the CEO class? You get advice from high-priced consultants (or your "gut"), ignoring publicly-available info (including science), and then when reality bites your butt you ... get a different set of consultants, I guess.

It seems the thread is now NOT wondering why money doesn't buy competence, but rather why doesn't it buy attractive presentation.

Here's a former candidate who would have been extraordinarily competent at achieving the malignant goals of the Kochs, et al, as all of the current Republican candidates for Prez all the way down to dogcatcher want to be ... wrecking government and killing the poor and sick and maybe even the stray pets in America, but she just didn't present properly, did she?

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/gia-arnold-arrested-niagara-falls

Don't worry, they'll get the hang of it. They'll find attractive monsters with table manners who know to keep the ski-masks, AR-15s, and gutting knives under wraps until after elected.

Oh look, here's another.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/sharron-angle-mulls-senate

Surely, she says to herself, the current crop of thug murderers running for office makes me look prim, proper, and why, I deign to say ... moderate.

The electorate is ready.

then when reality bites your butt you ... get a different set of consultants, I guess.

I think what actually happens with the "CEO class" is something different. What actually happens when reality hits is they take a golden parachute. No more need for consultants.

See: Fiorina, C.

But if you try to do that today, your party's voters will likely sit out the general election in disgust. So you lose.

At least for the Republicans, the fact that they're winning hugely below the level of President suggests those voters are not sitting out. Consider Wisconsin. While it has voted reliably Democratic for President from 1988, the Republicans hold the governor's office, both chambers of the state legislature, one US Senate seat, and five-of-eight US House seats.

Oh, there's no question but that, outside the states where they have an easy majority, the Democrats have done a terrible job of organizing and mobilizing their voters at the state and local level.

That's part, IMHO a big part, of why so many states that vote for Democrats for President have Republican Governors, Republican legislatures, and Republican Congressional delegations. It's not just Wisconsin, it's pretty much across the board.

And that goes double in off-year elections. Which was particularly stupid in 2010, when we were electing legislatures that were going to be doing redistricting.

"unattractive presentation" is what I meant to write at 11:29 am

Or not

Or unnot

Jeb! never earned his exclamation mark.
Whereas Trump!...
http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/02/13/jeb_bush_donald_trump_clash_over_george_w_bush_s_record.html

Speaking of competence, Jeb!'s campaign song ought surely to be changed to Idiot Wind...
http://www.newstatesman.com/world/2016/02/jeb-bush-forgot-renew-his-website-so-now-it-redirects-you-donald-trumps

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