A Populist Demagogue Is Born

by: Shaun Appleby

Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 05:08:00 AM EST

The Republican party is in crisis, as has been evident for the bulk of this nomination race, but now its chickens have come home to roost.  The Tea Party experiment, already causing second thoughts and ruction among establishment and legislative Republicans, and their sponsors, was being assiduously ignored as the well-oiled Romney coronation rolled ever on while a clown-car of unlikely aspirants came and went, to the mortification of the electorate and the evident relief of party elders.  

However one rarely sees such a lengthy, cautious, well-funded campaign collapse in a single evening as Romney's did at Thursday's debate; a performance undermining with prevarication and dissembling the narrative his handlers had so carefully crafted for him over previous months.  

It was clearly his worst performance in several seasons of campaigning and at that moment it proved catastrophic.  Every pre-existing doubt about his candidacy was exacerbated by his weaselling over his tax returns; he plainly can't be trusted, the gold standard of a presidential candidacy in either party.  And it changed the course of the campaign going forward.  He seemed damaged goods even before Gingrich cleaned his clock tonight.

So Newton Leroy Gingrich, the "bad boy" of Nineties conservatism, swoops in, channelling working-class, Right-wing angst, to deliver a crushing blow to the only credible argument Romney had; the slender one of electability from the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Obama.

Clearly the "base" would prefer going down in flames with Gingrich than slitting their wrists in a warm bath with Romney.

Shaun Appleby :: A Populist Demagogue Is Born
Gingrich has nothing whatsoever to lose and owes little to the Republican establishment except tangible ill-will and a thorough lesson in the perils of underestimating his brilliance.  He has conjured a campaign lacking coherent policy or resources but with apparently impeccable timing, probably more by accident than design, and a finely tuned sense of when to go for the jugular.  One could be forgiven for assuming he makes up much of his campaign as he goes.

But in the context of the post-Obama GOP he has discerned something that the establishment chose to ignore; the Republican heartland, especially in the South, is thoroughly primed for a modern incarnation of George Wallace, this time from the Right.  Gingrich has seized this opportunity; realising that insular paranoia of the "left-wing media," for example, trumps family values in this cycle, and not by just a little.  There is a rich store of this kind of prejudice, misinformation and discontent to draw on and Gingrich seems poised to make the most of it; whether it takes him to the nomination or not is another matter.  It will vindicate him to his long-standing detractors and for Newt personally that is motivation enough.  This will get as ugly as it takes; the marginalised Tea Party conservatives are mad as hell about something and in Newt they have found a willing champion.

South Carolina is a special case, to be sure, but the handwriting is still on the wall:

It was always going to happen this way - Newt was going to go back into his wheelhouse, ripping the media and spouting in the general direction of the White House whatever pile of pejorative adjectives popped into his head at the moment. He tried, lamely, to be a statesman, and the party faithful ignored him. Once he became the vandal he was born to be, the political arsonist among the abandoned tenements of Republican thought, he was bound to take off again. The base doesn't want someone whose ideas on job creation will triumph because they are superior to the president's. They want somebody who can beat him bloody, vicariously, on their behalf, somebody who can "put him in his place." They want someone who will kill the administration just for the sheer fun of watching it die.

Charles P Pierce - In Newt's South Carolina, Blood for Bloodsport's Sake Esquire 21 Jan 12

Just when even Roger Ailes of Fox had concurred that whipping up the disaffection of Nixon's Southern Strategy constituencies had achieved about as much as it could without threatening the corporate allegiances of the party Gingrich enlists this torch and pitchfork cohort in his insurgent march to the White House.  Gosh, as Willard might say, who saw that coming?  And with the taste of blood in the water earned media will be readily available and the punditry secretly barracking for a real dogfight.

Florida is a rich delegate prize and surprisingly fluid.  Gingrich was leading in the polls there not so long ago and Romney's recent performance, not to mention the profound unlikelihood of him credibly going toe-to-toe with Newt, suggests the outcome is impossible to predict.  Romney can bomb Gingrich with just about any amount of negative television he likes, as he did in Iowa, but he is burning through resources at an alarming rate and Florida is an expensive market.  All someone needs to do is back a Brinks truck up to the office of Gingrich's SuperPAC and it is game on; as already happened to the tune of five million or so in recent weeks.  

Considering that Gingrich has a high-voltage, if jury-rigged, campaign well under way while Romney's badly needs a reboot and faces tax returns and two debates in a brief ten days one imagines that prudence and sober strategy might be confounded with panic among Romney's inner circle; noting, for example, the briefly but widely touted Jeb Bush endorsement failed to actually materialise.  We'll see.  A day is a long time in politics but you can almost smell the fear.

The Republicans are split; over at Red State it is engaging to see the arguments pro and con for the, now, two leading candidates.  Romney inspires no loyalty; it is just a matter of whether Gingrich will utterly destroy the party or not if nominated.  Frankly, and in sympathy with our fellow bloggers there, it is a tough call.  With Newt anything is possible.

But there's one tactic we have seen a sign of already which may transform, and potentially weaponise, Newt's candidacy; he is squaring off against the Washington "elites" and if that means he has to come at Romney, or Wall Street, with the populist, working-class sozialismus of the trucknutzlumpen, in the style of Wallace, William Jennings Bryan or Huey Long, one suspects he won't hesitate or apologise if it suits his purpose; he aptly referred to Ryan's Medicare plan as "Right-wing social engineering" before his campaign ever fairly started.

One notes that his attacks on Bain Capital and "vulture capitalism" haven't seemed to have done him any harm so far among the constituency he has appropriated.  If the strategy Romney has decided to use to fend off such attacks from Gingrich, and it seemed the major thrust of his concession speech, is suggesting "his opponent was joining in a frontal assault on free enterprise" he, and his somewhat desperate staff, may be more out of touch with the electorate than we had already assumed.  

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So, if I understand correctly.... (2.00 / 8)
This is something like the final expression of the Southern Strategy.

Initially devised to get white working class Southern votes to counter the growth of northern urban democrats, the post Nixon Republican party was a massive compromise between two forces: the rich, cosmopolitan Neoliberals, who wanted lower taxes, cheaper non unionised labour, and global fluidity in capital markets. But the beneficiaries of Reaganomics relied on appealing to victims of Reaganomics: i.e. the cheap non-unionised labour which suffered from the outsourcing.

The way they did this was through the culture wars, fixating on classic wedge issues around religion, abortion, guns, states rights and (though in a coded way) race.

This worked brilliantly for three decades, until the inequalities grew greater. The bailout crystallised the Tea Party, which almost mixed its anti Obama rhetoric with an anti Wall Street origin.

Three years down the line, the split in the Republican soul is complete. Mitt has come to represent all the wealth, cultural remoteness and managerial acumen of the monied classes. Newt the anger and abrasiveness of the outsiders and excluded, complaining about 'crony capitalism' - with shades of Nixon's Chequers speech.

Question is then - since Newt's religious irreverence and chaotic sexual life is not a vote loser - are the culture wars finally over? In this prolonged crisis, has economics and wildly divergent interests of the Republican party, finally come to the fore?

(PS so great to have you back)

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

Yup... (2.00 / 8)
If the cross-tabs from the exit polls in South Carolina were any indication.  Romney's Mormon faith gets a knock, but Gingrich gets a pass on his marriages.  Santorum gets a lot of the evangelical women anyhow, that's his one strong demographic.

But it's Obama they loathe. So if you exclude racism from your "culture wars" it's now all about the money.  But the racism thing is endemic to Republicans, also because of the Southern Strategy; it really is starting to concern me.  It's like in their DNA or something.

[ Parent ]
By the Way... (2.00 / 9)
Have been reading Colin Woodard lately:

We're accustomed to thinking of American regionalism along Mason-Dixon lines: North against South, Yankee blue against Dixie gray or, these days, red. Of course, we all know it's more complicated than that, and not just because the paradigm excludes the western half of the country. Even in the East, there are massive, obvious, and long-standing cultural fissures within states like Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and Ohio.

Nor are cultural boundaries reflected in the boundaries of more westerly states. Northern and downstate Illinois might as well be different planets. The coastal regions of Oregon and Washington seem to have more in common with each other and with the coasts of British Columbia and northern California than they do with the interiors of their own states. Austin may be the capital of Texas, but Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio are the hubs of three distinct Texases, while citizens of the two Missouris can't even agree on how to pronounce their state's name.

The conventional, state-based regions we talk about-North, South, Midwest, Southwest, West-are inadequate, unhelpful, and ahistorical.

Photo: Sean Wilkinson, Sean Wilkinson Design

Colin Woodard - A Geography Lesson for the Tea Party Washington Monthly Nov/Dec 2011

He goes on to describe his assessment of these in his book American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.  It is quite engaging and boy, does it explain a lot.  It's not the first effort in this direction but it seems refined and well adapted to political analysis as he shows in a series of articles in the Washington Monthly.  Well worth a read.  He goes into the proposed ideological tendencies and values of each tribe.  Indispensable in an election year, I reckon.

In this context one is inclined to talk about Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in terms of The Midlands, Yankeedom and the Deep South respectively, a fairly representative mix.  Ron Paul is clearly a Far West candidate, ideologically, and so forth.  The Romney/Gingrich thing could be seen as Yankeedom vs the Deep South and Tidewater, the heartland, along with adjacent but separate Appalachia, of our Tea Party as Woodard points out in the cited piece.

[ Parent ]
Now I realise why I've missed you so much (2.00 / 4)

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
lol! No shit. n/t (2.00 / 2)

Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen

[ Parent ]
brilliant! (2.00 / 4)

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
Woodard's article is a great read. (2.00 / 6)
A bit long for an online essay, but well worth the time.

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
and perhaps we are seeing the dark mirror of left laments... (2.00 / 8)
the dyed-in-the-wool left, the social and racial minorities, the unions, those who feel unappreciated by the "democratic machine," who feel Democrats ignore them for the mushy middle, for bipartisanship, for money... well, we are always the bridesmaid.

It seems that the SSVB (southern strategy voting bloc) is capsizing the GOP ship of foolery. The social conservatives have mostly languished in the hold while the richie-rich republicans danced in the ballroom.  Perhaps... with 2010's congressional iceberg, and a massive Newt in sight, the SSVB will remake the GOP into a new party, devoid of chardonnay sipping Rockefeller types, with nothing but anger.  This could be worse than Ron Paul.

[ Parent ]
Now that was the metaphor I was struggling for (2.00 / 3)
The social conservatives have mostly languished in the hold while the richie-rich republicans danced in the ballroom.

I knew you had a brilliant way with visual images: should have guessed the visual piquancy was literary aswell.

That phrase is so stolen.

Now point me to a photobucket site for similes.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
i guess we should start phrasebucket... (2.00 / 5)
let people post pithy (or poseur-pithy) lines, provide a good sql back-end for searchability.

[ Parent ]
Not a bad idea actually (2.00 / 5)
I've got favourite phrases and gags all over the place - old outlook notes, google notes, google docs, Evernote...

Can never find them when I want to: an properly searchable (and shareable) data would be great. Usual fair usage rules.

Could be a winner. Random phrases for the day. Or by author.

Let's do it!

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Having Absorbed... (2.00 / 4)
Gingrich's barnburning interview on Meet the Press today I would say that he hasn't just identified an opportunity in the schism you mentioned but intends to drive a truck through it; probably loaded with explosives.  The "big boys on Wall Street" and their pals in Congress never saw it coming.

Obama better pivot to an even stronger economic populism message, and fast.  I guess we all hope Newt self-destructs pretty soon; we may have underestimated the level of angst over income inequality but Newt has turned on a dime, so to speak, and he isn't intending to give the "Washington establishment" any cover.

[ Parent ]
If this drives Obama to address.... (2.00 / 3)
...over-reliance on finance, the ballooning of CEO pay, and somehow return the US to 20th Century, rather than 19th Century, levels of inequality, Newt might be doing us all a favour.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Yeah... (2.00 / 4)
I might be getting a bit ahead of myself here; we'll see how this pans out.  Romney apparently let Gingrich have both barrels in a stump speech:

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. - Mitt Romney landed here Sunday with a simple message: Newt Gingrich is a failure and a fraud. And a disgrace. And a hapless showman.

Standing under a brilliant orange Florida sunset, Romney delivered his longest sustained critique of the South Carolina primary winner to date - ticking through a list as if he were reading off Gingrich's Wikipedia page, and undercutting each item as he got to it.

Reid J Epstein - Mitt Romney: Newt Gingrich is a 'failed leader,' 'disgrace' Politico 22 Jan 12

Sounds more like a Monty Python sketch the way it was written up; would love to see the video of this.

[ Parent ]
My Only Complaint... (2.00 / 2)
Of Obama's administration is the banks seem to just run with the wolves.

[ Parent ]
Mine too (2.00 / 3)
But he didn't really campaign on financial reform - and when the crash happened, and Lehmann collapsed, he was just running into the GE. I don't blame him for Geitner and Summers - but he now needs to move on with a second term. The crisis is still unfolding - despite Keynesianism Lite (wish we had that rather than austerity in the UK). It needs international co-operation to stop the bond markets, moving their borderless capital through off shore funds avoiding both tax and legislation, to be tamed.

We let certain markets and corporations grow more powerful than any democratic nation state, outside any kind of accountability and restraint. That was always the paradox Thatcher/Reaganism - despite all the patriotism and tub thumping - they actually eviscerated the economic power of individual nations.

Oddly enough, the former Thatcherites here are often the most trenchant critics (maybe a New analogy). Check out Peter Oborne's continued hunting of the Feral Rich, and his disparagement of the Anglo Saxon Model (especially American inequality) in his Op Ed this weekend in the Tory bastion; The Telegraph.

The rise of the overclass
We've all heard of the 'underclass': now its mirror image - a super-rich elite that is equally cut off from the rest of us - is defining the political debate.


The injustice is glaring - all the more so in a time of grinding national austerity, when living standards are falling and unemployment is rising. No wonder that, this week, David Cameron - who loves to claim that "we're all in this together" - entered the fray with a speech trying to define what he called "responsible capitalism". He senses that this is an issue where the Right is hugely vulnerable, as the experience of Mitt Romney, the leading Republican presidential candidate, proves.

Romney made a fortune of an estimated $250 million dollars out of financial engineering and private equity, while benefiting from tax breaks, during his business career. He paid a reported 15 per cent tax on his profits - a rate considerably lower than most Americans.

For some, this makes Mitt Romney a hero - but for many others, to quote the telling phrase of historian Niall Ferguson, he has come to "personify the division between rich and poor America".

Even more than Britain, the United States has experienced the emergence of an arrogant and deracinated "overclass" of super-rich. Economists say that the super-rich in the United States are now seven times better off than they were 30 years ago. Troublingly, this massive growth of wealth and power has come directly at the expense of ordinary people. Statistics show that the income of the average working male in the United States has flatlined since the 1970s.
This sharp division of wealth has been accompanied by an even more troubling phenomenon: the ideals of the founding fathers have been shattered as class divisions in the US have widened beyond anything seen in Victorian Britain. Social mobility is in the process of grinding to a halt, as the American sociologist Charles Murray has exposed in a brilliant new book, Coming Apart.

Murray exposes how the new United States upper class, which he labels a "cognitive elite", has developed an hereditary stranglehold over the top professions and management positions. The brightest people tend to marry each other, then ensure that their offspring get to the best schools and universities, with the result that, to quote Murray: "The parents of the upper-middle class now produce a disproportionate number of the smartest children."

These gilded families then inter-marry and socialise together, living in the same areas, creating a phenomenon which Murray labels "super zips" - the 800-plus richest and most desirable postal codes in the United States, where the cleverest and richest congregate. What Versailles was to 18th-century France, these smart postcodes are to 21st-century America - a sure sign of a sclerotic social system and long-term decline.

Murray argues that the emergence of this "hereditary" elite has smashed the bonds of United States society. An essential part of the American myth was the idea that any child, however poor and disadvantaged, could rise to the very top. But those avenues of advancement are now being closed off.
This is only partly because the new elite has cornered the market in the best jobs and universities. More insidiously still, the American dream is being killed by the collapse of the work ethic, allied to the collapse of faith and family values, in lower-class areas. Half a century ago, young men and women were encouraged to escape from poverty through ambition and hard work: now they embrace welfare and helplessness as a way of life.

Where America leads, Britain so often follows.

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Beyond... (2.00 / 4)
Anything seen in Victorian Britain?  The gap maybe but the floor is slightly elevated above debtors' prison and the workhouses.  Still an interesting read and thanks for it.  Here's some trenchant current criticism of Obama and the bank foreclosure settlement, for what it is worth:

The administration was likely hoping to arrange a small-scale settlement - in which malpractice around robo-signing foreclosure documents would receive a modest fine (perhaps $20 billion to $25 billion) and in return, the financial industry would get a free pass from a far broader set of potential legal liabilities.

In effect, the White House was willing to sell blanket immunity to the originators and distributors of mortgages over the past decade. The price of this legal protection would have been low. Understandably, bankers are still keen to take the offer.

Thanks to the efforts of [New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman], combined with the energy unleashed by Occupy Wall Street and the efforts of many Democratic activists, the White House has one last chance to wake up to electoral realities. The Justice Department and other federal officials must shift their ground to ensure that a robo-signing deal does not provide any kind of blanket immunity.

The president needs to announce, clearly and deliberately, that the federal authorities will work with the relevant state AGs in a large-scale and comprehensive investigation that covers all corners of the mortgage industry - including the sale of securities, as well as lending practices.

If there is a settlement after all the facts are known, the amount involved would likely be far greater than what is now on the table for robo-signing.

Simon Johnson - Last chance on mortgage mess Politico 22 Jan 12

We can, and should, do more.  Having a junk-yard dog sniffing around the rhetorical lowlands of these issues couldn't hurt either.

[ Parent ]
Q: In what respect do the 2012 Republican Presidential candidates (2.00 / 8)
Q: In what respect do the 2012 Republican Presidential candidates resemble out-of-Code electrical wiring?

A. Newt is hot, Mittens is neutral, and none of the rest is well grounded.

Chickens comin' home to roost, indeed.

Great analogy (2.00 / 7)
And a circuit bound to blow I'd wager.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
If the breakers don't trip, (2.00 / 7)
the house will surely go up in flames.

[ Parent ]
Newt Will Always Be... (2.00 / 7)
Angry Stay Puft marshmallow man to me.

[ Parent ]
Angry Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (2.00 / 6)

[ Parent ]
Blech (2.00 / 6)
Hella good thing I saw that on an empty stomach.  Isn't there a way to spoiler-box something like that?

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done subjunctively.

[ Parent ]
asdf (2.00 / 9)

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
Oh hohohohohohohohohho (2.00 / 10)
Whoever set up that front page is probably still quietly chortling.

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done subjunctively.

[ Parent ]
A modern incarnation of George Wallace, this time from the Right. (2.00 / 7)
a modern incarnation of George Wallace, this time from the Right.

Great essay, but I have one question: Are you suggesting that George Wallace was a leftist... the guy who picked Curtis Bomb-'Em-Back-to-the Stone Age LeMay as his running mate?

Well... (2.00 / 7)
Sort of, at least where entitlements were concerned; we know he was a segregationist and ideologically reactionary but when he ran as an independent he proposed "generous increases for beneficiaries of Social Security and Medicare."  I wouldn't say "leftist" though I had trouble with that sentence in the diary, I settled on "populist, working-class sozialismus of the trucknutzlumpen" after some doubts about "left" but note that "attacking from the left" is exactly what conservative critics of Gingrich's Bain attack called it.  Dunno, but I'm guessing we better come up with a name for it.

Did you notice in his victory speech Gingrich made a specific, unequivocal commitment to Paul's anti-Fed rhetoric?  That's a very significant break with just about every other Republican of recent decades and he was under no pressure to do so.  Not Wall Street friendly, is it?

Speaking of other anti-Federal Reserve politicians, historically Huey Long was anti-communist but a genuine "lefty;" yet he tried to run Louisiana like a personal fiefdom and wanted to run against FDR in alliance with the notoriously anti-semitic and anti-communist nativist Father Coughlin who himself promoted "work and income guarantees, nationalizing 'necessary' industry, wealth redistribution through taxation of the wealthy, federal protection of worker's unions, and decreasing property rights in favor of the government controlling the country's assets for 'public good'."  And Coughlin was an anti-Fed campaigner too.  It gets a bit messy sometimes positioning socialism in the linear spectrum of reactionary to progressive.  Where, for example, would the NSDAP fit, at least as practised in the Berlin gau under the Strasser brothers in the Thirties:

This populist and antisemitic form of anti-Capitalism was further developed in 1925 when Otto Strasser published the Nationalsozialistische Briefe, which discussed notions of class conflict, wealth redistribution and a possible alliance with the Soviet Union.

Wikipedia - Strasserism

There's often been an odd reactionary "sozialist" anti-capitalist cohort lurking around 20th century fascism.

[ Parent ]
Wallace was definitely from the left. (2.00 / 7)
As you say in your essay, he was a populist from the left on everything except for segregation. I'm still not sure if he ever believed any of his own racist rhetoric. He "came to Jesus" sometime after he was shot and renounced all of it. He even ran up a record as the most progressive governor of Alabama on racial issues in his last term.

Wallace was not a simple cartoonish character in U.S. politics. His support came from more than racists. Quite a few people that voted for Wallace did so as a protest over the choices the major parties offered in 1968. McGovern was a tough sell to many Dems and Nixon was despised by many on both the left and right.  

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
Hmmm... (2.00 / 5)
Romney a tough sell and Obama despised by many on the left and right?  Let's not forget that Wallace ran as a Democrat for the presidency in 1964 and 1972 as well.

[ Parent ]
Quite a few people that voted for Wallace did so as a protest (2.00 / 2)
Quite a few people that voted for Wallace did so as a protest over the choices the major parties offered in 1968. McGovern was a tough sell to many Dems and Nixon was despised by many on both the left and right.  

As I recall, George McGovern ran in 1972. 1968 was the year of (on the Dem side) Eugene McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, and the ultimate nominee, Hubert Humphrey.

Wallace's 1972 Campaign was cut short by the assassination attempt in the parking lot of a shopping center in Laurel, Maryland.

[ Parent ]
Oops. You're right. (2.00 / 2)
I guess I confused it with the '72 primaries when he ran as a Dem. He won the primary in my state that year. I also seem to remember that he got a lot of write-in votes during the general.

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
Interesting... (2.00 / 5)
Very much like the Law and Justice Party in Poland. They're social conservatives - believing in family and the Catholic Church: but they're also on the left economically, proclaiming workers protections, good benefits and tariff defences of domestic industries.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
I Mean... (2.00 / 5)
He was a Democrat, after all.

[ Parent ]
Back then, that's all there was in the Solid South. eom (2.00 / 4)

[ Parent ]
Wallace was Scary. (2.00 / 7)
Lemay I like, but Wallace is just frightening to watch.

"Segregation forever!" ??

That was actually a slogan when I was 7 years old? People cheered for that - in public, on camera, in America - in my lifetime?

It is really hard to get that in my head.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
I did not find it on Youtube (2.00 / 7)
But I remember seeing a clip of LeMay as part of a show on PBS about Wallace.  It may have been an installment of The American Experience.

The clip was of a press conference that LeMay and Wallace held shortly after Wallace selected him as his running mate.  A reporter asked LeMay about the possible use of nuclear weapons in Viet Nam, and, as I recall, he either was all for it, or at a minimum, certainly did not rule it out.  It did not play well. As I also recall, Wallace was standing off to the side, and you could see him restraining himself from giving LeMay the hook, right there and then.

[ Parent ]
Lemay was a no nonsense soldier, (2.00 / 5)
a "move over, I'll fly the plane" leader, and not in the metaphorical sense.

As a politician or intellectual I have no opinion about him, but I respect his viewpoint. That viewpoint is of a WWII airman who had been shot at, lost friends, sent men to die in aluminum tubes and fought Tojo and Hitler into submission.

Not necessarily the person I would want writing diplomacy, but if I were being dragged through thin air in a B-17 I wouldn't complain about having him in the cockpit.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Not Only That... (2.00 / 7)
At a critical moment in late 1944 he took over the bombing campaign of Japan and extemporised a new strategy by stripping the brand new B-29s of all guns and pressurisation equipment and flying low-level fire-bombing sorties over Japanese cities.  It was mercilessly effective but somewhere in Hell there is an alcove with his statue in it, right next to the one of "Bomber" Harris'.  

[ Parent ]
Yep. (2.00 / 4)
A "War is hell" pragmatic soldier. Good for battle, perhaps, but nobody wants Ender running the peace.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Heh (2.00 / 10)
Didn't take long for the Republican establishment to start flapping around like a decapitated fowl:

"Believe me, Republicans in Congress will be terrified to run with this man for fear they will lose the House and Senate," Hume said. "They will begin to do what they can to try to defeat him because they fear he can't win the election and, moreover, he may drag many of them down to defeat with him. He has a lot of work to do to change their minds. I'm not sure he can."

Jeff Poor - Hume: Republicans in Congress will be 'terrified to run' with Gingrich Daily Caller 22 Jan 12

Do you imagine that Newt cares a tinker's damn?  Beyond throwing an elbow their way if they get within range?

Good. (2.00 / 9)
The Bat Signal worked.

My liberal neighbor is donating to Newt. I might just do the same.

We used to laugh about a Palin-Obama contest in 2012, but we didn't really expect it. I had planned on Mitt Romney being the candidate since the last election.

But, no, they are going to give us Newt. I mean, that is as close to Palin as you can get along the Cartoonishly Unelectable lines.

But what choice is there? Mitt Gore, the Wooden Apostate? John "I meant 2016" Huntsman? After those two you end up in Pizza Guy and Crazy Eyes (sounds like a 70s cop show) land, and it goes straight from there to Bunker Hill (not that one, the one hill the survivalists live under).

Unless they run Paul. That would make all the other desperate options look like cool calculations, but when the ship is sinking anything is possible.

I love winning. It takes some of the fun out of it when the opposition is incompetent, though.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

Willard and Leroy : Tools in the Trunk of a Clown Car (2.00 / 9)
So you think the Mittenx tax returns have some sort of bombshell?

Maybe seeing in black and white the money he banks vs what he pays in taxes (15%!!!1!1!)?? Mayyybe some donations made during the Prop 8 debate to fight teh gay? I still think Newt is way toxic and his "me don't like him" among women is off the charts. Dude might have surged right now but I still don't expect much from the Newtmentum. The more he bloodies up Mittens for the G.E. the better. Although I have been wrong about everything else during this primary.

Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen

[ Parent ]
Teh Tax Returnz (2.00 / 6)
Mittens sez he will release them on Tuesday (in return for a hamburger today?).

[ Parent ]
Not being a fool, he will be paying 15%. (2.00 / 5)
Any other choice would have been stupendously stupid. Why anyone would choose to pay more in taxes than they are required I could not imagine. Any CEO that paid extra taxes with my money I would seek to have removed.

So, yes, it is not going to be pretty.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
I would like to see not only his personal returns, (2.00 / 5)
but also the corporate returns of the entities that he controls or in which he holds a significant interest... say, 5% of the equity, or $250k, or more.  The entities' returns may well be as telling as his personal returns, if not more so.

And let's go back a dozen years, like his father did.

[ Parent ]
No Matter What's In Them... (2.00 / 8)
The media is going to be dissecting Romney's financial carcass in the crucial days leading up to the Florida ballot.  Not good news for Mitt; someone quipped he may believe in Reagan's "shining city on a hill" but he put his assets in a tiny island in the Caribbean.  That alone will further distance him from his essential constituencies.

Personally I still think Romney will win the nomination but it will be "dead man walking."  I thought Jeb Bush's non-endorsement recently was a telling sign of trouble and scheming ahead.

[ Parent ]
Mittens is the new Reagan. (2.00 / 5)
Romney put financial assets on a tiny island in the Caribbean.

Reagan put military assets on a tiny island in the Caribbean.

Money confers power.

Military assets also confer power.

Therefore, Romney = Reagan.


[ Parent ]
Not to Mention... (2.00 / 5)
Under Reagan's economic tutelage the CIA was re-purposed as a global free trade portal for tariff-free arms and drug trafficking.

[ Parent ]
srsly (2.00 / 6)
wtf are those returns gonna show?  what in there is so damaging that he doesn't want the GOP base to see it?  Is Mittens collecting food stamps or something?!?


Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
Yup yup yup (2.00 / 7)
I think the Mittster still might have a chance. The R establishment wants him and they're going to tear Noot apart, but I'm not sure they control their party anymore. Santorum is going to fall off a cliff in Florida, because the result last night makes it a two-man race (Ron Paul notwithstanding): Mitt and Not-Mitt. In that scenario, Not-Mitt wins.

The Repulicans are going to tear themselves into eensy pieces over this.

It's your last line that grabs me though. I have no doubt that Obama is one of smartest politicians we've seen since FDR, but when he whups either the silly Mittster or the absurd Noot, he still won't get the credit for it.

Obama needs the Congress to fear him. With opponents like these, even when we get Congress back he'll still have to fight the bluedogs to get anything done.

Every successful revolution puts on in time the robes of the tyrant it has deposed.--Barbara Tuchman  

[ Parent ]
I wouldn't be surprised if Santorum (2.00 / 9)
dropped out before the FL primary. I don't see how he can expect to do better than he did in SC. That should have been his best showing.

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, just as Perry did (2.00 / 7)
and Santorum is running for veep anyway.

Depends on who Santorum thinks will win. If Mitt, he stays in. If Noot, he drops out.

Santorum actually is a not bad politician. He's the one to watch, 'cause if anybody can predict this, it's probably him. He's a more natural match with Noot, but he could see himself playing Sarah Palin to the Mittster.

Every successful revolution puts on in time the robes of the tyrant it has deposed.--Barbara Tuchman  

[ Parent ]
Personally... (2.00 / 5)
I just don't think Santorum has the "ticker" for a serious presidential run; the guy does his own income tax returns, for example.

While an enviable quality I assume that Santorum is just too squeaky to do the kind of stuff a presidential campaign makes inevitable.  I sensed in his South Carolina speech a "Gee whiz we made it this far" attitude which suggests he's plumbed the depths of his resources, probity and endurance.  Could be wrong but he's been tanking in the polls since Gingrich took off; his natural constituency is angrier than he will ever be capable of expressing and even his supporters are put off by his whining.

Have to say, though, he's put in a credible effort so far.

[ Parent ]
I Think He'll Stay In Through Florida... (2.00 / 6)
Then fold up the evangelical tents.  He just did a significant deal recently with the evangelical high-rollers and probably needs to complete the bargain, exhausting his current resources.  Interesting to note that he does best with evangelical women in the Iowa and South Carolina exits; a notable weak point in Newt's demographics.  Hard to say where his constituency goes when he drops out but conventional wisdom puts a majority of it with Gingrich, serial adultery notwithstanding.

Have you noticed Santorum also seguing to blue-collar populism recently?  I think I see a trend emerging that leaves Willard stranded on the rocks.  

[ Parent ]
Maybe he'll cut a deal with Newton. (2.00 / 2)
I drop out; you give me Teh Veep Slot.

But he was soldiering on at Teh Debate last night.

[ Parent ]
And the big question is.... (2.00 / 6)
Mitt or Newt?

Newt or Mitt?

Looks like the latter is what's happening, eh?

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done subjunctively.

Newt Gingrich, the great racial uniter... (2.00 / 10)
... is the title of David Atkin's post over at Digby.


Pundits across the land have pointed out the obvious racism of Gingrich's appeal to food stamps, culture of dependency and what not. Most progressives have called it a racist "dog-whistle" to his base. Peter Beinart believes that Newt doesn't understand how racist he sounds, while Frum figures that Newt just doesn't understand the universal necessity of the food stamp program.

None of these things are true. Newt Gingrich knows very well what he is doing and what he is saying, nor is it a dog-whistle. It's the open declaration of an alternate reality that used to be present only within the confines of the conservative mythos, but is now taking front and center position on the national stage.

Far from being an appeal to racism overt or covert, it taps into a delusion central to modern conservatism: that the only reason minorities hate Conservatives and Conservatism is not because of any racist tendencies or faults endemic to conservatives themselves, but rather to liberals tying down minority communities in a "culture of dependency." In this view it is rather conservatives who are the true egalitarians, rescuing minorities from the racist slavery of the welfare state.

It is this delusion that lies at the heart of attacks on the liberal welfare state as a form of neofeudalism: the Southern agrarian slave system was similar to feudalism in many ways, and by associating liberalism with feudalism, they also make an implicit association with Confederate slavery.

It is this argument, so preposterous to Americans outside the conservative bubble, that allows Glenn Beck to claim the mantle of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I hate this guy.

Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen

I haven't read the diary yet, or any of the comments (2.00 / 8)
but here's my first thought based on the title:

If Newt wins Florida, the GOP (as a National Party) is officially dead meat.  Insider establishmentarians will freak entirely the fuck out.  More pain than a giraffe with a sore throat.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

I'm not sure how Florida will go. (2.00 / 7)
I have a feeling that older voters may not remember Newt all that fondly. I also have a feeling that women are going to be much more critical about Newt's marital history. Both of those may hurt him in Florida.

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, I'd agree (2.00 / 9)
but jeez, you can never underestimate the base hypocrisy of GOP primary voters, especially if pure hatred of the dark guy @1600 Penn. is their prime motivator. The can hate Newt, but hate Obama lots more. If Newt looks like the one most likely to throw down, they might just choose him anyway.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
Totally Agree (2.00 / 6)
The whole point of my Wallace analogy was premised on a rump Republican cohort that is just so angry that the "other" occupies the White House that little else matters to them.  And they would rather lose screaming epithets than win by clever management.

Clearly Gingrich's campaign is premised on the widespread cognitive dissonance of the Right but be wary; he has specifically avoided taking a hard line on immigration and has cultivated alliances with Hispanic constituencies, for example.  In some ways the cagey old whomp rat is smarter than the ideologues of the party.

[ Parent ]
Early voting too (2.00 / 8)
So the Newt surge may well pass it by,  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Maybe... (2.00 / 7)
But in a post-Citizens United v FEC world there is a lot of "new money" on the hysterical Right.  Newt's widely condemned nonsense that Palestinians were "invented people" was worth a cool five million bucks at a critical moment:

A few weeks later, at a Hanukkah event welcoming American students visiting Israel as part of the Birthright program, which he helps fund, [Sheldon] Adelson, the multibillionaire casino magnate, declared that Gingrich had it right.

"Read the history of those who call themselves Palestinians, and you will hear why Gingrich said recently that the Palestinians are an invented people," Adelson said. "There are a number of Palestinians who will recognize the truth of this statement."

Last weekend, Adelson made good on a commitment to begin pumping massive sums of cash into Gingrich's campaign -- or at least into a super PAC backing him.

The $5 million check that made its way to the super PAC, Winning Our Future, immediately helped make possible a dire and highly produced TV spot assailing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for his work in private equity.

Joshua Hersh - Sheldon Adelson's Billions And Newt Gingrich: A Match Made In Israel Huffington Post 11 Jan 12

There's more where that came from.  And Romney is burning through his resources pretty fast.

[ Parent ]
Heh (2.00 / 7)
If Gingrich wins Florida, which I consider pretty likely assuming status quo performances at the debates and Romney continuing to take water from his tax debacle, there will be a rending of hair and gnashing of teeth worthy of truly gourmet popcorn:

If Gingrich wins Florida, the Republican Establishment is going to have a meltdown that makes Three Mile Island look like a marshmallow roast. Why? Because the Establishment will be staring down the barrel of two utterly unpalatable choices. On the one hand, Gingrich's national favorable-unfavorable ratings of 26.5 and 58.6 percent, respectively make him not just unelectable against Obama but also mean that he would likely be a ten-ton millstone around the necks of down-ballot Republican candidates across the country. And on the other, Romney will have shown in two successive contests - one in a bellwether Republican state, the other in a key swing state - an inability to beat his deeply unpopular rival. If this scenario unfolds, the sound of GOP grandees whispering calls for a white knight...will be deafening.

John Heilemann - Five Consequences of Gingrich's South Carolina Win New York Magazine 23 Jan 11

And that's just for starters.  Personally I think Romney is in free-fall; I never understood how the establishment thought he wasn't damaged goods from the outset given his underwhelming loserhood in 2008.  And the white knight is simply not coming, the die has been cast and outside of litigating ballot access in a dozen states or engineering a brokered convention it just ain't gonna happen.  Isn't politics fun?  If Gingrich wins Florida it is going to be a Nantucket sleigh-ride to nowhere for the GOP.

[ Parent ]
It's hard to see sunlight from here. (2.00 / 3)
A weak showing from core supporters, a luke-warm reception from moderate Republicans and nut much from the middle. It could be something of a route.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
It is going to be quite interesting to see how hard Romney comes out swinging (2.00 / 7)
tonight.  As the presumed frontrunner he's been able to stay above it and make folks take him down; that no longer appears to be possible.  Not sure Romney's capable of going toe to toe with Newt face to face.  He seems a much better backstabber.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
A meltdown that makes Three Mile Island look like a marshmallow roast. (2.00 / 3)
Brought to us by the Angry Stay Puft marshmallow man and Mittens' ineptness as a candidate.

(See Mr. Appleby's up-thread comment.)

If he loses, will Mittens self-exile?

[ Parent ]
Well... (2.00 / 4)
We now know that Mitt was basically an "anchor baby" for the Romneys' return to the United States.  Surreal just doesn't do this election cycle justice.

[ Parent ]
A Nantucket sleigh-ride to nowhere for the GOP. (2.00 / 3)

[ Parent ]
Sigh (2.00 / 3)
I think I had an acid flashback just looking at the album cover after all these years.  Thanks, I needed that.

[ Parent ]
heh (2.00 / 6)
In a sign of renewed confidence, just minutes after former House Speaker Newt Gingrich romped to victory in the South Carolina primary he changed his Facebook status to "In an Open Relationship."

Mr. Gingrich made no reference to his new Facebook status during his victory speech, in which he made an emotional appeal to the American people: "I say to each and every one of you: Join me.  Join me in my marriage."

The former House Speaker used the speech to highlight the differences between himself and the current resident of the White House: "The American people have a choice: do they want a President who issues food stamps, or one who runs up a $500,000 tab at Tiffany?"

Mr. Gingrich drew cheers and a standing ovation as he concluded his remarks, saying, "In closing, I am staying at the Marriott, Rm. 205. Ladies?"


Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

It has been most fascinating to watch my (2.00 / 11)
conservative, bible-belt, almost exclusively republican voting relatives struggle as this circus of a primary has banged on.

Yes they are fairly racist, mostly blue collar, and evangelical to the core. Yes, they listen to their pastor and watch Fox news religiously. The ones that do anything on the internet besides Facebook do frequent right wing sites.

They do not like Newt. They don't think he's qualified to be the town drunk, and several of them have suggested that he is an utterly foul creature. They didn't think much of him in the 90s either, don't trust him, and figure he's just as likely to spit hard and sloppy on them as is Rmoney.

Who they also don't like. Because he's not folks. And he's slimy. And he's (whispers-a damn MORMON).

Many of them laid lip service to Santorum, but their hearts weren't in it. Too much papistry, perhaps. Curiously, they didn't pay much attention to Perry. Cain was a joke, and not a politically correct one either.

They want someone to believe in. And they haven't found it. Will they pull for the Republican candidate? Probably, if they can be arsed to go vote. But they'd like a Savior, and Newt just isn't it. They feel abandoned.

To be sure, not a one of them would ever vote for President Obama. But they've got nothing right now, and they seem to be wandering around, avoiding talking about politics, especially with me, and just sort of wishing the Tribulation would start already.

This is just what I'm counting on to retake the House and (2.00 / 9)
keep the Senate.

The Rs stay home.

I doubt it will happen, but with any of these Klown Kar Kiddies as a candidate, it's a real possibility.

Every successful revolution puts on in time the robes of the tyrant it has deposed.--Barbara Tuchman  

[ Parent ]
As Far As Beltway Republicans Are Concerned... (2.00 / 7)
The Tribulation has already started.  Gingrich has arisen from the political dead with visible stigmata and he's one mean, unhappy messiah to reckon with.

[ Parent ]
mel got hammered, but (2.00 / 3)
jesus got CRUCIFIED.  I think I'd come back spoiling for a fight, too.

[ Parent ]
Some Evangelical voting numbers (2.00 / 6)
In the 08 Pres election, 24% of the voters self-identified as Evangelicals. 75% voted for McCain or 18% overall. In another survey, 2/3rds of Protestants and Catholics agreed that Mormons were Christians, but only 1/3rd of Evangelicals concurred. Now we're down to 12% of McCain voters consider Mormons-->Rmoney as non-Christian.

That 12% equals 14 million votes. The big question is what percentage of them will not/can not vote for a non-Christian Presidential candidate. I'm guessing about 20%, so Rmoney starts 2.8 million votes behind McCains numbers.

There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

[ Parent ]
This is one of the those occasions where one prejudice.... (2.00 / 4)
...against Mormons, could help counter another prejudice - against a black man in the White House.

Horrible that this is the trade off - but such is politics. Remember the dem primary wars four years ago.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
So Shaun... (2.00 / 7)
what are the odds of a brokered convention?  The establishment (such as it is) favors Mitt, but if primary voters fatalistically embrace the Newt Chute in FL and moving forward, don't they have to try to 'Goldwater' him?  Not that they aren't lobbing bombs already.

MR. GREGORY: You've been more pointed when you talk about in favor of Governor Romney. You say he will never embarrass you. Do you think Newt Gingrich will embarrass the party?
GOV. CHRISTIE: I think Newt Gingrich has embarrassed the party over time. Whether he'll do it again in the future, I don't know. But Governor Romney never has.

MR. GREGORY: You say he's embarrassed the party. How and where do you worry he might do it again that makes him unelectable?

GOV. CHRISTIE: Well, listen, David, we all know the record. I mean, he was run out of the speakership by his own party. He was fined $300,000 for ethics violations. This is a guy who's had a very difficult political career at times and has been an embarrassment for the party. You remember these times, you were here. So the fact of the matter is, I don't need to regale the country with that entire list again except to say this. I'm not saying he will do it again in the future, but sometimes past is prologue.


Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

Wow (2.00 / 8)
That's not breaking the eleventh commandment, that's smashing it with a sledgehammer, running a steamroller over it, and shoveling the remains into a sludge pit.

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done subjunctively.

[ Parent ]
Heh (2.00 / 8)
You ain't seen nothin' yet.  Of all the personalities out of recent Republican history I'm guessing Newt is the most universally loathed and feared.  He owes then nothing, knows where all the bodies are buried and has miraculously survived their best, concerted effort to obliterate his candidacy twice already.  His Faustian bargains are so extensive you could securitise them and sell them to a pension fund.  This is not going to be pretty.  But they have to be careful, Newt is taking their essential dog-whistle constituencies hostage and nobody doubts his intention to pull the pin if things get too tricky.

It's like bad Frodo marching into Mordor with the Ring of Power to overthrow Sauron.

[ Parent ]
Pretty Slim... (2.00 / 8)
At this point but with so few delegates won who can say?  If wishing were horses though many Republicans would ride all the way there; the threshold is 50%+1 of 2282 delegates:

Romney wins northern states, such as Vermont, and Gingrich wins southern states, such as Tennessee. Conservatives in states Romney won in 2008 abandon him for Gingrich, decreasing his victory margin. (Let's say he wins the Alaska caucuses, but only by 41 percent, for instance.) After April 1, when the winner-take-all primaries begin, Romney cleans up: He wins all the votes of big blue states such as New York, California, and New Jersey. But Gingrich holds his own, scoring strong wins in Pennsylvania and Ohio. When the delegates assemble in Tampa, no candidate has a majority.

Brian Balduc - Getting to a Brokered Convention NRO 22 Dec 11

That's assuming an awful lot, though Paul's patient candidacy makes it a bit more likely.  Heh, still...

Every four years, pundits and activists talk about how cool it would be to have a brokered convention. This is the first time I can remember where people say it may be necessary.

Jonah Goldberg - Romney's Authenticity Problem NRO 11 Jan 12

Aren't they cute when they are so desperate?

[ Parent ]
Here We Go... (2.00 / 6)
It's official, Gingrich is now a William Jennings Bryan populist in his own mind:

Gingrich tailored his anti-establishment rhetoric to a Florida audience, providing a preview of what issues he will be hitting over the next ten days leading up to the Florida primary on Jan. 31. One key issue that is likely to dominate - and which Gingrich raised several times on Sunday - is the housing crisis and the high foreclosure rate in Florida in particular. Calling himself a "Reagan populist," Gingrich noted on that Florida has endured "one of the most painful periods with housing mortgages and the price of housing and the difficulties in the housing area.

Drawing an implicit line from Romney to the housing crisis, Gingirch said, "As they look at the big boys on Wall Street they look at the guys in Washington, they know none of that help got down to average everyday Floridians. And I think that gap creates a real anger against the national establishment."

Eric Kleefeld and Pema Levy - Gingrich Anoints Himself The Anti-Establishment Candidate TPM 22 Jan 11

Cue the "crucify mankind upon a cross of gold" rhetoric and a chicken in every pot.  He's also deftly lifted Paul's anti-Fed monetary policies recently, as evidenced in his victory speech in South Carolina.  This is all as deadly as kryptonite for Willard.

Scaring Myself Here... (2.00 / 6)
But some time ago I made the following wild assertion:

The first party in which a genuine economic populist emerges is going to win.

Well... Motley Moose 25 Oct 10

Going to have to start reading the fine print there; Gingrich may be opening a Pandora's Box for both parties and I'm guessing he knows it.

[ Parent ]
Ha. Good point, though he needs to do more (2.00 / 7)
...look at what Obama has done. And I would just emphasise the word 'genuine'. Something which really doesn't apply to Newt, or at least any policies I can see.

But the Dems need to harness this rage against inequality too. That was, let's be honest, the germ cell which created the Tea Party Monster. It spurred the Occupy Movements.

In Britain, led by Ed Miliband despite his less than inspiring ratings, the talk among the other two party leaders is all about responsible capitalism, about reforming the market etc. etc.

Romney just bangs on about how great everything is, before Obama and the left ruined capitalism. What is Newt's diagnosis?

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Ha (2.00 / 6)
Never suggested Newt was actually going to do anything truly populist, just bloviate about it incessantly.  Considering Newt's convictions "genuine" seem a bit like supposing a Mafia don was "tough on crime" when eliminating his rivals.

[ Parent ]
And Just For the Record... (2.00 / 7)
PPP's first Florida snapshot is in:

First night of our Florida polling: Romney and Gingrich are neck and neck.

@ppppolls PublicPolicyPolling 40 minutes ago via the web

Yikes!  I'm guessing the consternation in establishment councils is leavened with considerable flop-sweat at this point.

[ Parent ]
And a Cautionary Note... (2.00 / 6)
From a number cruncher:

My view is that Mr. Gingrich's win in South Carolina alone is not enough to be paradigm-breaking. But if he follows it with a win in Florida, all bets are off. Not only would that represent further evidence of Mr. Gingrich's strength, it would suggest that we had been weighing the evidence incorrectly all along.

Nate Silver - Did Gingrich's Win Break the Paradigm? NTY 23 Jan 12

That would explain a lot.

[ Parent ]
Well, well, welll ... who has the fatted calf? (2.00 / 8)
I'm not sure if I'm concerned about Gingrich possibly getting the nomination or not.  I am worried about the rhetoric on one hand.  The longer the process goes on,  and he gets the results, Newt will continue to dog whistle his way through various states (except VA 'cause you know he isn't on the ballot).  His worry, though, should how much this galvanizes PoC much like Palin's community organizer diss gave Obama one of his biggest donation hauls in '08.

I've read that if Obama holds his % of non-white voters from the last election the GOPer will need at least 65% of the white vote.  That includes gays, atheists, Jewish, unions, youth ... in other words that's not an easy task.

And Newt's unfavorables are already sky-high.  Will his populist message counter his nasty anti everybody but Christian white low info probably not a fan of Obama voter anyway?  Would Gingrich look even more bombastic against that oh so cool WTF? look of POTUS during a debate?

And, let's face it, looks count for something.  Put Obama and Gingrich side by side.  Hell, put Michelle and Callista next to each other.

I'm certainly not taking anything for granted but we've been told to fear Bachmann's fundraising abilities, Perry's campaigning/fundraising, Romney's stoicism, and now Newt's "toughness." I guess right now the only thing I'm fearing is how high my blood pressure will get before November.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

Good Point (2.00 / 8)
I was just thinking that a Gingrich nomination would ensure a very partisan general election.  Worth noting that Gingrich may have totally written off the black demographic but has left a door open for conservative Hispanics to come home, if they choose:

Mr. Gingrich, meanwhile, is trying to get an edge on the state's Hispanic voters, which make up 11% of the Republican electorate in Florida, according to Susan MacManus, a political-science professor at the University of South Florida. Mr. Gingrich released a Spanish-language radio ad this week accusing Mr. Romney of being the "most anti-immigrant candidate."

Immigration is one of the issues that in Florida "splits the Republicans," said Ms. MacManus.

Carol E Lee and Siobhan Hughes - Gingrich Wave Gets Test in Florida WSJ 23 Dec 12

He's a cagey fighter and I have never understood the inherently suicidal aspects of conventional Republican immigration policy among that growing demographic.  Guess Newt figures if he throws the base enough red meat they won't bite him on this issue.

Newt's raring for a fight and I'm guessing that is about all it will take to enlist a pretty big chunk of the Republican base on his side.  Either way he hollows Romney out to a shell; frankly Romney's new aggressive stance today doesn't convince, he just seems a bigger putz than ever.

[ Parent ]
I read at Balloon juice earlier in the week that Hispanics were trending more (2.00 / 7)
Evangelical although the GOP would'nt reap any results for a few more election cycles at which point the anti-immigrant stance may have done too much harm.  And, of course, there is always the danger of making overly simplistic generalizations.

To Newt's point, Romney has counted on Kris Kobach since at least 2008.  But will a more lenient immgration stance in Fl by Newt play well in subsequent states like AL or MS?  Arizona may be in play this GE; McCain didn't win his home state by much the last time.  Does NM stay in play?  What about Texas?

And, of course, there are deeply unpopular governors to consider.  Will Walker, Kasich, and Scott sit out having watched Haley's oops! in South Carolina?

No matter who the nominee ends up being there is though still alot to go after.  And I don't know how powerful Planned Parenthood and other women's groups are but the anti-choice stance of all the candidates will galvanize a whole lot of us with free-thinking uteri as well.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
My Guess... (2.00 / 8)
Having watched Newt tiptoe around this elsewhere, most recently in South Carolina, is that he will cite 10th Amendment precedence for states to craft their own policy while continuing to promote a more tolerant immigration postion for his national campaign.  That seems a sensible ploy for his constituency.

As for the endorsement issues, Haley took a beating the other day and Newt doesn't seem to be attracting a lot of endorsements but I'm guessing the Romney cavalcade will come to a halt where endorsers have any choice in the matter.  This leaves Gingrich free to do as he pleases.  Jeb Bush wasn't game to endorse Romney, that's for sure:

"I intend to help whoever wins the nomination," the former governor said in the interview yesterday.

Mark Silva - Jeb Bush Refrains From Endorsing Anyone Bloomberg 22 Jan 11

Carefully chosen words.  In the minds of many desperate Republicans that is hopefully him, I'm guessing.

Seems to me Gingrich will be marching to the White House by torchlight, if at all.  The big question in my mind is how Gingrich plays outside of the Deep South and Tidewater.  If his style of campaigning resonates in Greater Appalachia, the Far West and El Norte then he has a national campaign.  Otherwise it is just Civil War re-enactment.

As far as the "choices" issues the die has clearly been cast.  It's up to us.

The thing that concerns me is that Gingrich makes a big deal about the foreclosure prosecutions and Wall Street malfeasance.  The Obama administration could have done a lot more in those areas in the past and I see them looming as significant election issues in the general if Newt shifts the Overton Window with his campaign.

[ Parent ]
except that Gingrich has a Freddie/Fannie problem. (2.00 / 8)
Read on Twitter that Romney's scheduled a press conference call about this.   And I'm not sure Gingrich isn't going to run into trouble on the mortgage and Wall st issues if he tries to co-opt the populist message.  The president can say, "see?  That's what I've been trying to say for three years only be be cut off by Republican obstruction in Congress."

And we did get financial regulations that the GOPers hate.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
Yeah... (2.00 / 8)
But I never would have guessed that Gingrich would have squared the circle of Tea Party attitudes versus GOP ideology in the first place; the internal contradiction that has had the likes of Bachmann and Perry blaming "big" government for what is clearly the rapacity of corporations.  It was always pretzel logic and we can all breathe a sign of relief that Gingrich has finally pulled the plaster off the wound.

Freddie Mac is a problem but I don't see it as a particularly big one for the constituency he is thieving away from party ideologues.  Firstly, they don't give a farthing for his history or he would never have won South Carolina; there are few politicians with a less enviable public record and he is uniformly despised in his own party.  The care more about his oratory than his principles, as should be obvious by now, and if pressed on this issue I could see him segue from "insider" to whistle-blower without missing a heartbeat.  Consider this:

I really don't think the base cares, they want someone, as Charles Pierce said in the article I cited, who can "kill the administration just for the sheer fun of watching it die" and in that aspiration I think they have picked a very credible champion.  Gingrich seems to be a bit of a political arsonist and his career reinforces that.  It also inoculates him from a lot of the criticism his Republican colleagues will throw at him; to some disgruntled Republicans that just embellishes his appeal.

And Gingrich will throw legislative Republicans under the bus in a second if it serves his purpose; any distance he puts between them and himself is entirely at his own discretion.  He could disown Boehner and Cantor as dismissively as he did Ryan at the outset of his campaign.

Got to give the guy credit; with the advent SuperPACs, unreconstructed racism, evangelical and Limbaugh/Beck conservatives left dangling around after mainstream Republicans abandoned the Tea Party with unseemly haste he has put together a Devil's coalition which is long on anger and cognitive dissonance.  I reckon he has a fair bit of latitude.  It is now up to moderates, and I mean what's left of moderate Republican constituencies, to stop him.  Either way the Republican party of Mitt Romney is well out in the weeds.

[ Parent ]
The Bleeding Continues (2.00 / 8)
The punditocracy is merciless:

Romney's resistance to releasing his tax returns made it look like he had something to hide. Now, he needs to prove that he doesn't. And to prove that, one year is not enough. After all, one year could just be a fluke, perhaps done for show.

Ezra Klein - Mitt Romney to release one year of tax returns Washington Post 23 Jan 12

The poor guy is twisting in the wind over an issue that delivers a victory to Newt, exacerbates every negative narrative of his candidacy and promises to provide several news cycles, a least, of unwanted analysis of his wealth, career, entitlement and regressive tax policy and they are already giving the whole lame effort a thumbs down.  Honestly I think Romney just blundered into the equivalent of the La Brea tar pits.  Nothing he does now will relieve the downside of this and it strikes at the core issues of his candidacy.  What could they have been thinking?

It seems to me the whole Republican establishment completely misread the terrain in this primary campaign from the beginning.

He's releasing 2010 on Tuesday ... (2.00 / 8)
SOTU day.  Which will we be talking about Wednesday?

And of course the latest reason Romney gave for not releasing them makes him look like a giant WATB, "They'll say mean things about meeeeeeeee!" GTFU Mitt!

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
He's releasing 2010 on Tuesday ... (2.00 / 4)
SOTU day.  Which will we be talking about Wednesday?

And of course the latest reason Romney gave for not releasing them makes him look like a giant WATB, "They'll say mean things about meeeeeeeee!" GTFU Mitt!

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
Politics... (2.00 / 8)
Makes strange bedfellows. A few days ago:

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the giant public employees' union, will begin airing a 30-second video ad in Florida on Saturday attacking Mitt Romney for making what it said was a $473,000 profit from his firm's investments in a medical company that admitted engaging in Medicare fraud.

The ad, to be aired in Tampa, Orlando and West Palm Beach, states that Mr. Romney was a board member of the company, Damon Clinical Laboratories, which later admitted to defrauding Medicare of millions of dollars by billing for unneeded blood tests. The ad quotes the United States attorney at the time calling it "corporate greed run amok."

The ad, showing grim, gray pictures of Mr. Romney, asks, "What kind of businessman is Mitt Romney?"

According to The Boston Globe, financial documents showed that Mr. Romney made $473,000 when Corning Inc. purchased Damon in 1993. Mr. Romney had served on Damon's board from 1990 to 1993.

Mr. Romney's investment firm, Bain Capital, made $7.4 million from the sale, after having tripled its original investment in Damon. Three years after the sale, Damon pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal government of $25 million by billing for unnecessary blood tests between 1988 and 1993. Damon paid a $119 million fine.

Larry Scanlon, the union's political director, said this was the first time that his union, which overwhelmingly backs Democrats, was running an ad in a Republican primary fight. He said the union was spending nearly $1 million to run the ad on broadcast and cable television as well as the Internet.

Steven Greenhouse - Union Goes Up With Anti-Romney Ad in Florida NYT 20 Jan 12


The Gingrich super PAC is expected to once again attack Romney's work for venture capital firm Bain Capital, this time focusing on its takeover of Damon Clinical Laboratories, a company that was fined nearly $120 million amid accusations of Medicare fraud.

Philip Rucker and Amy Gardner - In Florida, Romney takes aim at resurgent Gingrich Washington Post 23 Jan 12

So Gingrich's limited ad hoc Florida attack strategy just happens to align with the first union buy of negative flights in a Republican primary?  Interesting.

buying shares in popping corn (2.00 / 6)
1%, here I come.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
Damn. Did Mittens ever lose money? (2.00 / 6)
Dude is a certified hustler.

Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen

[ Parent ]
"Clearly the 'base' would prefer going down in flames with Gingrich..." (2.00 / 8)
Can't help thinking something like this:

Clearly the "base" would prefer going down in flames with Kucinich than slitting their wrists in a warm bath with Obama.

Having endured a lot of libangst and prograge at another widely-read progressive site, I am relishing this GOP infighting as if it were a 30 yr old Laphroaig.

Enjoy It... (2.00 / 8)
While it lasts; I've learned to celebrate the schadenfreude in real time as these wonderful moments can be fleeting.  Having said that, the obituaries posted recently on Romney's campaign, the aspirations of the GOP and Gingrich's mental health are too numerous to cite in full.  A few favourites:

Politico's "Arena" asks: "Is Gingrich an embarrassment to the GOP?"

Oh, I don't know... was Mussolini an embarrassment to fascism?

P M Carpenter - Putting on our thinking caps P M Carpenter's Commentary 23 Jan 12

But [Romney] doesn't have the rage to make it work. And that rage cannot be downward, as Romney's often is - toward hecklers or interviewers. It has to be upward - at vague, treasonous elites. It has to have that Poujadist touch, that soupcon of contempt, that sends shivers up the legs of the Republican faithful, reared on Limbaugh, propagandized by Fox, and coated with a shallow knowledge of a largely fictionalized past.

This is Gingrich's party; and Ailes'; and Rove's. They made it; and it is only fitting it now be put on the table, for full inspection. Better sooner than later.

Andrew Sullivan - From Gingrich To Palin To Gingrich Daily Dish 23 Jan 12

In Gingrich's mind, winning the South Carolina primary by running a Wallace-ite campaign of naked race-baiting already has given unto him the world-historical stature of the guy who stood in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square.

Charles P Pierce - Three Ways of the Vulture: How to Watch Newt Next Esquire 23 Jan 12

Given his record, it may be implausible that Gingrich can pose as anti-establishment. But the establishment is certainly anti-Newt. And for South Carolina's voters, that was an endorsement enough.

Timothy P Carney - Gingrich win shows collapse of GOP establishment Washington Examiner 23 Jan 12

There's so much more to choose from, it is an embarrassment of riches today.  And it looks like Gingrich might actually win.

[ Parent ]
oh i am, herr doktor appleby... (2.00 / 6)
[ Parent ]
One For the Road (2.00 / 9)
I have to actually go, you know, and work occasionally.  But I couldn't resist this last one from a Balloon Juice correspondent:

Also, too - I want to rip my dick off every time I hear anyone say that Newt is a "brilliant" or "good" debater. He's just a brazen sociopath who occasionally talks in complete sentences. The shit he says in debates is "brilliant" in the same sense than going down to the Dairy Mart with a ski mask and a Glock 9 is a "brilliant" way to make 600 bucks.

Via John Cole - Pretty Much What He Said Balloon Juice 23 Jan 12

About says it all.

[ Parent ]
Best summaries on the web I've seen in this thread (2.00 / 6)

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Heh (2.00 / 3)
How about the unsparing mental image left by Sarah Palin's remark that Romeny surrogate Chris Christie, got "his panties in a wad?"  Thanks for that Sarah.  Sheesh.

[ Parent ]
And in another likely bit of hypocrisy ... (2.00 / 5)
if someone had said the same about Palin she would have jumped all over it.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
Yeah... (2.00 / 2)
But Rich Lowry would have had more "starbursts" at the thought.

[ Parent ]
And This... (2.00 / 6)
From the pallbearers over at Murdoch's flagship masthead:

As for the current GOP field, it's like confronting a terminal diagnosis. There may be an apparent range of treatments: conventional (Romney), experimental (Gingrich), homeopathic (Paul) or prayerful (Santorum). But none will avail you in the end. Just try to exit laughing.

Bret Stephens - The GOP Deserves to Lose WSJ 24 Jan 12

I'm starting to worry now that managing expectations is going to be the insoluble issue for Obama's campaign team.

[ Parent ]
Comments like this and many at conservative sites don't (2.00 / 5)
seem to be thinking about the effect they may have on voter turnout in November.  Complaining about one candidate is one thing ~ but to trash the whole slate would seem to me to be a really bad idea.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
And I meant the comment you referenced, not yours. :) (2.00 / 5)

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
libangst and prograge! (2.00 / 6)
Ha. Where's that multimillion dollar Phrasebucket start up site?  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
The GOP has transformed its two greatest caricitures into flesh. (2.00 / 7)
The totally greedy ultra capitalist and the prototypical angry white man.
   Watching and listening to Romneys inability to answer questions, not to mention his total tone deafness in regards to his wealth, leaves me wondering why anyone would vote for him, even if they agreed with him.
  Newt is just a pig. Some intellect, the ability to attack and argue, possibly a brilliant politician, with no leadership attributes at all. Totally self-serving meglomainiac.
 How can any thinking Republican not be embarassed. I'm embarassed for them. Its hard to believe that I live in a country where 45 % of the country will vote for one of theese clowns.  

No, nowhere near 45% (2.00 / 5)
Only about 57% of the voting age population voted in 2008 and that was the biggest turnout percentage-wise since 1968. So the GOP candidate only needs about 29% to win. That's a scary thought.  

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
Heh (2.00 / 4)
It seems each traditional Republican cohort has their own candidate, smooth, lying, inauthentic corporate silver-tail on one hand and angry, lying, obtuse, hyperbolic, quasi-racist rabble rouser on the other.  I consider the Republican party essentially split at this point; at least for this cycle.

The plutocrats have the power and the money and the torch and pitchfork brigade has the numbers, it would appear.  Game on.

Looking to the future it may be worth considering that having watched Newt swoop in and enlist the Republican masses in his own very personal crusade to the White House there are any number of lesser demagogues who might try again some time later.  

I think the GOP has really screwed their pooch this cycle; and may be considerably less enthusiastic about Limbaugh, Fox and others agitating the natives next time around.

[ Parent ]
There you have it. (2.00 / 7)
I think the GOP has really screwed their pooch this cycle; and may be considerably less enthusiastic about Limbaugh, Fox and others agitating the natives next time around.

This is the thread I have been tracking since the whole '08 thing. What reaction is there, how does it run its course and where does it leave things?

There was a time not long ago when many on the left feared a "Palin Era" where the Tea Party ideology came to rule (and bring to utter devastation [blah blah]) America Forever. I'm not sure where the left as a group stands on that concern, but the jury is back on that and this election is going to reaffirm that: "That ain't happening."

The fever, I think, is running its course. We have seen - and we all recognize - what actually are the excesses of the right and the left: the first is a clenching zealotry; the second a righteous anarchy. In times of panic those things may attract, but panics pass and cooler heads prevail.

Take a hard turn in the middle of a presidency just when things are settling down? When you can do nothing and let things take their course?

People are risk-averse during times of rest. A mid-term president switch is a little bit traumatic at any time, best to let that sleeping dog lie rather than get some new mutt who may just bite your damn leg.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
The Tampa Debate... (2.00 / 5)
Which I missed, sadly, was apparently a low-key but brutal affair which served to further demoralise the Right on their presidential prospectus:

The only spectacle in American politics more off-putting than Newt Gingrich in self-righteous defense mode is Mitt Romney in self-righteous attack mode. I thought Mitt's attacks were somewhat more dishonest than Newt's defenses were disingenuous, but it was good to move on to the rest of the debate, where little further damage was done.

My conclusion: If Mitch Daniels's effective tax rate is 30 percent rather than 15 percent, and if he was never paid $1.6 million by Freddie Mac, he can be the next president.

William Kristol - Debate Winner: Mitch Daniels Weekly Standard 23 Jan 12

Oh, the humanity...

Hard to Imagine... (2.00 / 5)

But it looks like Newt v Mitt is headed the same way as Thelma and Louise.

[ Parent ]
Consider... (2.00 / 5)
This priceless moment of the debate:

As it turns out, Gingrich doesn't want Romney to pay more taxes; he wants everybody else to pay what Romney pays, according to what he called "the Hong Kong model" as a way of reminding us that he's, you know, smart. And then, as a way of reminding us that he's you know, quick on his feet, he said, "I'm prepared to describe my flat tax as the Mitt Romney flat tax."

That's when it happened. As Gingrich swung, so did Romney. "Do you tax capital gains at 15 percent or zero percent?" he asked.

"Zero," Newt answered.

"Under that plan, I'd have paid no taxes in the last two years," Romney said, and with that, despite the tepid nature of the exchange... both men went down. The affably repellent met the repellently affable, and both of them lay stretched out on the canvas.

Tom Junod - Two Chins Made of China, and an Opening for Obama Esquire 24 Jan 12

Imagine the expensive, aged bourbon spluttering out of the mouths of Republican apparatchiks in living rooms nationwide.  Back to the ringside commentary:

And so who do you vote for - the guy whose tax plan is going to allow guys like Mitt Romney to get away with paying nothing on the $21.2 million they make each year on their "investments," or the guy smiling like an executive who gets a kick out of farting in the elevator because he knows no one will say anything?

Neither of them, that's who, and that's how both of them managed to choreograph a simultaneous fall straight out of the Sylvester Stallone fantasy factory, the one difference being that no one in his right mind could be rooting for either of them to get up.

Tom Junod - Two Chins Made of China, and an Opening for Obama Esquire 24 Jan 12

Who do you vote for?  Well, Obama, that's who.

[ Parent ]
As If... (2.00 / 7)
All this wasn't enough to unsettle the composure of Republicans, the punching bag of this cycle, community organiser Saul Alinsky, turns out to have been on George Romney's Rolodex:

When slum organizer Saul Alinsky, with the West Side Organization's militant Negroes and clerics, wanted to meet with the white Detroit rulers, Romney indirectly arranged the meeting, and attended. Democratic Mayor Jerome Cavanaugh avoided the rough company.

"I think you ought to listen to Alinsky," Romney told his reluctant white friends. 'It seems to me that we are always talking to the same people. Maybe the time has come to hear new voices." Said an Episcopal bishop, 'He made Alinsky sound like a Republican."

Mitt Romney's Father Palled Around With Saul Alinsky BuzzFeed 23 Jan 12


Just wanted to point out that Willard's having another tough 48 hours. It's like Fate is taking great joy in pantsing the man.

Charled P Pierce - Ruh-Roh: George Romney and Saul Alinsky Esquire 24 Jan 12

Well, nobody ever said it was going to be easy.

Have you seen the chart at TPM with Mitt's favorability? (2.00 / 7)
Dude's campaign has a right to be panicking.  And it appears most of the drop has come from indies.  Meanwhile, President Obama's favorability took an 11-point swing in a Washington Post/ABC poll that came across my twitter feed earlier today.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
Yes... (2.00 / 6)
To my enduring joy and amusement, I might add.  Still I would rather see that kind of thing in, say, October.

I have been trying to think of a Democratic analogy of what is happening to Republicans and the best I can come up with is Dennis Kucinich opening a can of whoop-ass on John Kerry in 2004; any better ideas?  It really seems unprecedented.

[ Parent ]
They are leaving the middle nobody to vote for. (2.00 / 4)
Happy's comment about Mitt losing Indies is a death-knell for the GOP effort if they can't turn it around.

The middle wants not much to do with Newt, if he ends up the nominee it is hard to imagine how he wins the nomination. But Romney is losing the middle anyway, so maybe the core goes for Newt. But the core are Family Values folks, and Newt is a lech, so even they can only vote for him in Nov. out of active hatred for Obama.

I don't see a formula for a GOP victory.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Heh (2.00 / 4)

I don't see a formula for a GOP victory.

Not at the moment, and hard to see one around the corner either.

[ Parent ]
It's like a box of Wrong Parts. (2.00 / 4)
This is just not going to become a bicycle. Not even with a good machine shop.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Which is why the upper tier Repubs (2.00 / 2)
didn't even bother to get in the race.  

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
Agreed. (2.00 / 2)
That has been the supposition of some of us, present company included if I am not mistaken - for a long time. Mid-term is the worst time at the best of times, and now more than usual. Huntsman was the only serious candidate, but only to get his traction for 2016.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]

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