E.J. Dionne looks at the reasons why the Tea Party's push to craft a variety of GOP populism has hit the skids. EJ wrote his column before the news that the most aggressive populist in the race, Rick Perry, was dropping out and throwing his support behind Newt Gingrich, who practices a kind of populism of his own, but his argument makes sense: The GOP can always find a way to live with "a Harvard-educated private-equity specialist" like Mitt Romney.
Yesterday, I commented on an article at The New Republic by Michael Kazin that I thought misunderstood the influence of the Religious Right in GOP politics.
Why do I love TNR? Because it is not afraid to publish conflicting articles on consecutive days.
Let us set aside the environmental issue of whether or not the extraction of oil sands is too dirty, and too energy intensive a process, to make sense. If Canada wants to extract petroleum in such a fashion, that is their business.
The question the President faced was whether or not to build a new pipeline to bring the oil so extracted to refineries on the Gulf Coast. That proposed pipeline would have passed through what is known as the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies water to much of the Great Plains. One accident, and the result could be devastating. Ask yourselves this: Do you like grabbing a burger at McDonald's every once in awhile? A poisoned aquifer could result in no corn, and no corn means no beef, and no beef means no burgers.
Poor Mitt Romney. No, that adjective is inexact. The one thing he has never been, poor, is now a source of contention as he seeks to lock up the GOP nomination with a win in Saturday’s South Carolina primary and his challengers have been focusing on his mountains of money.
Mark Silk at Spiritual Politics takes note of Newt Gingrich's comments regarding the necessity of preventing sharia law from being recognized by U.S. courts. Silk invites Newt to engage in a thought-experiment: substitute "halakha" for "sharia." Silk might also mention the canon law of the Catholic Church. Civil courts rely on religious laws all the time when called upon to adjudicate a case involving a given religion. How could it be otherwise? Gingrich is simply engaging in anti-Muslim baiting. It is ugly. It is beneath a man of his intellect. But, that doesn't mean it won't be effective.
The always intelligent Nate Silver at the New York Times raises doubts about the theory that Mitt Romney is essentially unacceptable to the vast majority of Republican primary voters, and that his wins in Iowa and New Hampshire were simply the result of the conservative vote being split among Gingrich, Santorum and Perry.
Silver is half-right: Many Republicans will support whoever is the eventual nominee and while they may prefer someone other than Romney, they will climb on board his bandwagon if he continues to rack up victories.
Kenneth Pollack, director of the Saban Center at Brookings, is a very intelligent analyst of all things having to do with the Mideast. This morning he has a very smart, and therefore very troubling, article at TNR about the drumbeat of war regarding Iran. There are not a lot of good options regarding Iran to be sure, but war is the worst option.
Yesterday, my biography of Jerry Falwell – God’s Right Hand: How Jerry Falwell Made God a Republican and Baptized the American Right – was published by HarperOne. This is the first real biography of Falwell since 1984 and I encourage everyone to buy the book either at your local independent bookstore or at Amazon. Here is the link.
I don’t want to give away the book, but I thought I would share with you, my regular readers, some of the things I learned that surprised me while working on this project, and not only about Falwell.
The New Republic is, hands down, my favorite magazine. But, every once in awhile, even they publish something that is frightfully wrong.
This morning, they have a post up by Michael Kazin who suggests the Religious Right's influence on national politics is waning. He writes that attitudes on abortion and same-sex marriage are moving away from the positions articulated by the religious right, a claim that is only half-true. Attitudes towards abortion have remained remarkably for the past couple of decades while, in recent years, attitudes about same-sex marriage are decoupling from other social issues as younger evangelicals have become increasingly ambivalent about the issue.
I mentioned in my earlier post this morning about some recent comments by Pope Benedict XVI, but I want to return to them here.
At a meeting with police officers, the Holy Father said, "There is no justice where profit is the number one criterion." Later in the speech, the Pope added, "justice is not a mere human convention. When, in the name of supposed justice, the criteria of utility, profit and material possession come to dominate, the value and dignity of human beings can be trampled underfoot.” Wouldn't you like to know what he thinks of Bain Capital?
Then, the Pope's address for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees was similarly sharp about the need to create humane criterion for assessing the plight of immigrants.
Really, ask yourselves this question: Would such sentiments get the Pope booed were he to participate in a GOP debate?