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Chronicle · January 4, 2012

The Foundation

“The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.” –James Madison

Editorial Exegesis

Most ‘electable’?”Iowa’s corner of the electorate cast the first verdict of the 2012 Presidential campaign Tuesday night, and the results look more like an opening skirmish than the coronation for Mitt Romney that much of the media had prepared. …

[It ended in] a dead heat between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, with Ron Paul a close third and Newt Gingrich a distant fourth. Mr. Romney retains a huge lead in New Hampshire, which votes January 10, but his failure to win a larger share of the vote than he did in 2008 suggests that GOP voters don’t view the former Massachusetts Governor as inevitable. Many Republicans — especially party elites — have been coalescing around Mr. Romney as the most ‘electable’ candidate, by which they seem to mean the one with the fewest obvious flaws.

But electability is a slippery concept, especially 10 months from November. Democrats said the same thing about John Kerry in 2004, while the media were convinced that a right-wing former movie actor was unelectable in 1980. Voters would do better to drop the pundit game theory and choose the best potential President.

… Iowa’s flirtation with so many ‘non-Romney’ candidates shows that a majority of Republicans still find him less than convincing. … The real issue is that Mr. Romney is a cautious, conventional politician in a year when many GOP voters want someone willing to fight for bolder change. … Mr. Romney’s great advantage is that he faces a divided field of conservative competitors, none of whom has been able to consolidate support.

… Iowa’s caucuses have missed nearly as many future Presidents as they’ve picked, so Tuesday’s vote was hardly the last word. Our sense is that the eventual GOP nominee would benefit from a good, hard slog.” –The Wall Street Journal

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Upright

“The Santorum story here — and it’s a good story — is, months and months of hard work and long road trips finally paid off. After Conservatives in Iowa kicked the tires of the four other candidates: Bachmann, Perry, Cain and Gingrich; they decided to take a look at Santorum and decided he was as good as they were likely to get and they made their choice pretty clear. The problem for Santorum will be, if he contends in New Hampshire — and he has said he will be there for ‘six of the next seven days’ — and if he comes in a distant third behind a highly favored Romney and a bullet-proof Paul, then the momentum of the Santorum campaign will have evaporated in the chill air of a New Hampshire winter.” –political analyst Rich Galen

“It’s not cynical to say this. The twelve or so battleground states that will decide the 2012 presidential election suggest Obama’s reelection strategy. These states include Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Missouri. All these states have large African-American populations. The African-American community has a staggeringly-high unemployment rate under President Obama. So Black Americans will not vote for this president because of any prosperity he’s brought to that community. Instead, he has to gin up their votes by painting a picture of racial conflict in which he — and the governmental agency dealing with such things, DOJ — is their champion.” –columnists Ken Blackwell and Ken Klukowski

“Public debt has increased by 67 percent over the past three years, and too many Americans refuse even to see it as a problem. For most of us, ‘$16.4 trillion’ has no real meaning, any more than ‘$17.9 trillion’ or ‘$28.3 trillion’ or ‘$147.8 bazillion.’ It doesn’t even have much meaning for the guys spending the dough: Look into the eyes of Barack Obama or Harry Reid or Barney Frank, and you realize that, even as they’re borrowing all this money, they have no serious intention of paying any of it back. That’s to say, there is no politically plausible scenario under which the 16.4 trillion is reduced to 13.7 trillion, and then 7.9 trillion and, eventually, 173 dollars and 48 cents. At the deepest levels within our governing structures, we are committed to living beyond our means on a scale no civilization has ever done.” –columnist Mark Steyn

“[I]f you tax people who work, and you pay people who don’t work, don’t be surprised if you find a lot of people not working. I have never heard of a poor person spending himself or herself to prosperity. It doesn’t work.” –economist Arthur Laffer

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Essential Liberty

“Judges are not divine and their opinions are not holy writ. As every American schoolchild learns, the judiciary is intended to be a co-equal branch of government, not a paramount one. If the Supreme Court wrongly decides a constitutional case, nothing obliges Congress or the president — or the states or the people, for that matter — to simply bow and accept it. Naturally this isn’t something the courts have been eager to concede. Judges are no more immune to the lure of power than anybody else, and their assertion of judicial supremacy … has won them an extraordinary degree of clout and authority. That aggrandizement, in turn, they have attempted to cast as historically unassailable. … But the heart and soul of American democracy is that power derives from the consent of the governed, and that no branch of government — executive, legislative, or judicial — rules by unchallenged fiat.” –columnist Jeff Jacoby

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Insight

“Courage is the greatest of all the virtues. Because if you haven’t courage, you may not have an opportunity to use any of the others.” –English author Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

“Nothing is easier than spending public money. It does not appear to belong to anybody. The temptation is overwhelming to bestow it on somebody.” –President Calvin Coolidge (1873-1933)

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The Demo-gogues

The BIG Lie, Part I: “I’m a hundred percent confident that the people of Iowa and the American people will win the day on November 6th of this year when President Obama is re-elected because of his policies, because of the fact that he has brought this country out of the worst economic disaster that we faced since the Great Depression and the people of America know.” –DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)

The BIG Lie, Part II: “If there is anyone who has set an example about making sure that we reduce the influence of lobbyists and of corporate and outside special interests on campaigns it is President Obama.” –Debbie Wasserman Schultz

All the world is a stage: “People who know me know that I am a softie. I mean, stuff can choke me up very easily. The challenge for me is that in this job, I think, a lot of times the press or how you come off on TV, people want you to be very demonstrative in your emotions. And if you’re not sort of showing it in a very theatrical way, then somehow it doesn’t translate over the screen.” –Barack Obama

Mockery: “Remember Yogi Berra. I don’t like the food at that table and the servings are too small. [Republicans] don’t like the tax cut and now they are claiming that it is too small.” –House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

Dezinformatsia

Elite media: “The rap on Iowa: It doesn’t represent the rest of the country, too white, too evangelical, too rural. Still here, politics are personal.” –NBC’s Andrea Mitchell

If you don’t have something nice to say… “You know, my mother used to say, ‘Something doesn’t have to be illegal to be wrong.’ Why don’t people just stand up and say, ‘We’re not going to do this anymore. I don’t care what the Supreme Court says’?” –CBS’s Bob Schieffer on wanting to end negative campaign ads

Rooting for tax hikes: “[Critics of Newt Gingrich's economic plan] say that fewer regulations could spur some productivity, but they also say that to really reduce the deficit you would have to include some combination of spending cuts and tax increases.” –CBS reporter Dean Reynolds

Talking nonsense: “[W]e’re not talking about ObamaCare, we’re talking about your health care, we’re talking about your Social Security, we’re talking about your Medicare. When it starts coming into my house — that’s why I said when I spoke at the Martin Luther King memorial, it’s not about Obama, it’s about your momma.” –MSNBC’s Al Sharpton

Deterring who?: “[T]he reality is that we’re probably not going to be able to stop Iran from getting a bomb … if that’s what they choose to do. And the way we’re going to react to it is the same way we reacted to the Soviet Union. It’s going to be containment and deterrence. … Those guys don’t want to go to war again. If they got a bomb it would just be to deter Israel and Pakistan.” –Time magazine’s Joe Klein

Stupid questions: “Do you fault Republican leaders in Congress for not doing more to make government work better, through more compromise with the president?” –NBC’s David Gregory to GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum

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Newspulper Headlines:

We Blame George W. Bus: “George W. Bush Barely Mentioned in GOP Campaign” –Associated Press

Shortest Books Ever Written: “What Rick Santorum and John Edwards Have in Common” –Washington Post website

I Saw Mommy Groping Santa Claus: “TSA Chorus (Yes, You Heard Right) Sings Holiday Songs at LAX” –Los Angeles Times

(Thanks to The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto)

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Village Idiots

Just what we need: “I think [Obama] inherited an impossible situation. I wish he had not been so much of a consensus-seeker. I just wanted to see a more ‘gangsta’ president.” –actor Don Cheadle

Class warfare: “Let’s make sure that we understand we are living in a society where people care about jobs, they care about wages. They can’t get ahead because so much wealth and income are at the top and taxes are not being paid at the top to finance education, and health care and infrastructure that everybody depends on to get ahead.” –former Clintonista Robert Reich

Blaming the wrong people: “You have to wonder whether some folks over there think somehow screwing up the economy, throwing a wrench in the works is a good political strategy for them. That someone if they can slow the recovery down — if they can cost a half million or delay a half million, or a million jobs that that will hurt the president.” –Obama strategist David Axelrod

Cooperation means agreeing with Democrats: “We can’t wait for Congress to act, and if Congress refuses to act and if Republicans choose the path of obstruction, rather than cooperation, then the president is not going to sit here. This gridlock in Washington is not an excuse for inaction.” –White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

First Fundraiser: “Over the next 11 months we’ve got an organization to grow, voters to register, and people to get fired up. I hope you’ll close out this year by donating $3 or more now to help make sure we’re ready for the next one.” –Michelle Obama in a fundraising e-mail to Obama followers while on her $4 million Hawaiian vacation

Dear Jimmy advice: “If your main goal is to get re-elected, avoid a controversial subject as much as you can in the first term.” –Jimmy Carter offering Obama advice on avoiding being a one-term president

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Short Cuts

“Across the U.S., 40,000 new federal, state and local laws went into effect on January 1st. Next year, expect 40,000 more laws trying to fix their unintended consequences.” –Fred Thompson

“What I don’t get is why liberals don’t get angrier with [Obama]. I mean, here’s a guy who is constantly telling Congress and most Americans that we’re not doing enough, but no president has ever taken as many vacations or played as many rounds of golf in three years as Obama. And as if that’s not enough to make him the playboy-in-chief, between February and December of this year, he spoke at 69 campaign fund-raising events. For the mathematically challenged, that’s roughly seven times a month he’s taken off to bad-mouth Republicans, millions of whom have to help pay for his jet fuel, his campaign buses and his security detail. Frankly, I’m surprised that Air Force One can actually get airborne, what with having to fly this guy’s ego around.” –columnist Burt Prelutsky

“Brazil celebrated the news that it overtook Great Britain as the world’s sixth largest economy on Tuesday. It shows the growing power of free markets in South America. President Obama gave his congratulations and asked if we could borrow a Brazilian dollars.” –comedian Argus Hamilton

“Democrats finally find a tax cut they can abide, and so both sides agree to extend it. But just as they are about to partake in the bipartisan peace pipe a few days before Christmas, Congress promptly grinds to a squabbling halt threatening a $1,000-tax increase for workers and the evaporation of unemployment benefits for those out of work. Merry freaking Christmas, American people! And then when it comes to explaining themselves, Democrats walk out with straight faces and blame — who else? — the Tea Party.” –columnist Charles Hurt

“As [2001] wore on, frustration finally boiled over in the form of the Occupy Various Random Spaces movement, wherein people who were sick and tired of a lot of stuff finally got off their butts and started working for meaningful change via direct action in the form of sitting around and forming multiple committees and drumming and not directly issuing any specific demands but definitely having a lot of strongly held views for and against a wide variety of things. Incredibly, even this did not bring about meaningful change.” –humorist Dave Barry

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