Cart Before Horse

Talk about a parallel universe!  From “Mitt Romney’s transition efforts intensifying,” Anna Palmer, Politico:

Mitt Romney’s campaign may be struggling, but his transition operation is moving full steam ahead.

The GOP presidential candidate’s Washington team is intensifying its efforts, moving into official office space and holding meetings on Capitol Hill. The team has also begun reaching out to K Streeters and former Republican administration officials to get guidance on the Senate confirmation process and recommendations for jobs in a possible Romney White House.

Dubbed “The Readiness Project” inside Romneyworld, the effort began in earnest after the Republican National Convention and is not only focused on compiling a list of job candidates, but also designed to create a 200-day roadmap for congressional relations during the post-election lame duck session and beyond.

The transition is being led by former Bush Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, a former Utah governor and fellow Mormon who is expected to play a senior role in any Romney White House.

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The Inmates Will Run the Asylum If Mitt Wins

From “Why Todd Akin hurts Mitt Romney,” Bill Schneider, Politico:

“It’s bad enough for Republicans that Akin has put the Missouri Senate seat at risk. And threatened the Republican campaign to win a Senate majority. And introduced a highly divisive social issue into the GOP campaign. And shifted the debate away from jobs and the economy, where President Barack Obama is vulnerable. And highlighted the inconvenient fact that the Republican platform calls for a total ban on abortions with no exception for rape. And opened up a split in the party between mainstream conservatives and the religious right.

Akin is also making Romney look weak and ineffectual. If Romney doesn’t have clout with members of his own party, voters may ask, how can he be an effective president?

Conservatives like Akin are not afraid of Romney.  It’s not even clear that they respect him.

“Conservatives tolerate Romney for one reason:  He stands a chance of beating Obama.  Once he’s elected and a Republican House and Senate are in place, conservatives believe Romney’s job will be to sit down, shut up and sign whatever legislation the GOP Congress passes.

And stack the administration with staunch conservatives.  ‘Personnel is policy,’ they used to say in the Reagan administration.  House Republicans, who consider themselves the vanguard of the tea party revolution, have already made it clear:  They will set the Republican Party’s agenda, whoever the president is.

“You can’t tell a president to go to hell.  But that is effectively what Akin is saying to a would-be president.”  Emphasis added.

Mitt himself is bad enough.  What inevitably comes with him is far worse.  He would do anything to hold off a primary challenge in 2016.

Mitt Knows Where You Live, Will Send Ryan With His Bow and Arrow

From “Choice of Ryan Shifts the Focus From Economy,” Jeff Zeleny, NYT:

The Romney campaign is taking pains to track down and quash any criticism in Republican circles about any potential downsides of Mr. Ryan on the ticket, including that the campaign debate over Medicare is fraught with risk for other candidates in the party.

“Interviews wit nearly a dozen Republicans on Congressional and Senate campaigns said in near unison that they worried that the economic focus of the race had been overshadowed.”

Um, Mitt, even if you “track down and quash” negative GOP stuff, there’s this other party called the Democrats that’s not too fond of you and your little Ryan too, and they’re not going to shut up until your concession speech.

Palin Still Doesn’t Know Anything

For someone who pushes the need for “Constitutional Conservatives” in our government, Sarah Palin herself seems ignorant of what the Constitution actually provides.

Palin says that Condi Rice would be fine for Mitt’s veep, despite being pro-choice, because “We need to remember, though, that it’s not the vice president that would legislate abortion, and that would be Congress’s role.”

Except, of course, that the vice president is president of the Senate and casts a vote in case of a tie.

Palin’s position is not what we’re hearing from pro-life groups, who have been going nuts about the Rice possibility, which isn’t going to happen.

John Roberts, Profile in Courage

However you feel about Obamacare, today was an excellent day for our system of government.

John Roberts did his job.  The question before him was not whether or not he liked Obamacare, whether this was the law he would have written, but whether this law that Congress passed and the President signed is constitutional.

He found that it is, under Congress’ power to tax.

Back on March 26, I wrote that this might be the outcome, based on Roberts’ stance during oral arguments.  Opponents of  the individual mandate had sought to distinguish the mandate itself from the fine (or tax) that would be assessed, and Roberts rejected that distinction as ridiculous.

Roberts is getting a ton of grief from his fellow conservatives, but our Founding Fathers would be proud.  He did the right thing for the Court and the country.  I’ll be mad at him again, I’m sure, but today he has my respect and admiration.

Those of you who read my pieces know that I would have taken a different approach to health care reform from Obamacare, but I have never doubted that it is constitutional.  So I celebrate this result.

We Are Approaching a Cliff Too, Just Like Europe

As we watch Europe fall off a cliff, let’s not forget that we ourselves will take a plunge on January 1 unless Congress pulls us back.

The CBO has gamed out three scenarios.  If the Bush tax cuts expire and the automatic cuts in domestic and defense spending take effect, GDP will fall 1.3% between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the second quarter of 2013.  So we’re talking another recession.

If the Bush tax cuts are extended, the payroll tax cut expires, and the automatic spending cuts don’t happen, GDP will grow by 1.7% in the same time frame.  No new recession, but not great growth either.

If we keep on the same path, with all tax cuts extended (Bush and payroll) and no automatic spending cuts, GDP will grow by 5.3%.

I’m with Option 3.  Let’s get some solid growth, and then we can deal with the deficits and national debt.

 

“If the Reports Are True”

Mitt Romney couldn’t stand up to Bryan Fischer from the American Family Association over his hiring of Ric Grenell, who happens to be gay.  Now Mitt is faulting President Obama for not standing up to the Chinese over the dissident Chen Guangcheng.

With conflicting reports swirling and a lot of confusion as to Chen’s exact situation and wishes, Mitt irresponsibly blasted the President today for a “day of shame” and a “dark day for freedom.”  But he had to preface his condemnation with qualifiers like “if the reports are true” and “if they’re accurate.”  When you have to use language like that, you have no business attacking anyone, you simply don’t have enough information yet.

So aside from the hypocrisy, we have Mitt going off half-cocked while President Obama is in the middle of a tough and messy foreign policy crisis.

Republicans in Congress also held an emergency hearing on Chen in which they criticized the President.

If it had just been about putting Mr. Chen on a plane when he was in our custody, that would be simple.  But he has a family as well, who did not escape with him, a wife, two children, a mother, and brothers, all of whom are at risk.  So the GOP effort to paint this as a situation where President Obama threw Chen under the bus to save his broader negotiations with the Chinese this week with Secretaries Clinton and Geithner conveniently ignores the complicating factor of the safety of Chen’s family.

The brighter the public spotlight that is shone on Chen, the harder it is for the Chinese government to back down.

What’s the real GOP goal here — helping Chen or making Obama  look bad?  If the GOP wants to hurt Obama, they will keep running their mouths.  If they want to help Chen, they will push for him privately and pipe down publicly.

A day of shame?  Definitely —  for Mitt Romney.