Need to Know

There are a lot of postmortems of Scott Walker’s failed campaign. The most basic reason his campaign failed is lack of money. He had all kinds of super-PAC money, mind you, but it seems there are rules about using super-PAC money for common campaign expenses like paying one’s staff, travel, renting campaign headquarters, etc.

And while Walker may have had some megadonors ready to write checks, he couldn’t raise money from small donors that he could use for the campaign essentials. According to this article, one direct-mail solicitation campaign cost more money than it raised. There are also complaints that Walker’s campaign manager “went big” too soon. Back when Walker was a front-runner, the manager hired a big staff, a PR firm, and lots of consultants to keep the Big Mo going.

Maybe they should have spent the money hiring a more exciting candidate. The small donors dried up after the first debate and never came back.

(Lest anyone think this will bring about the demise of unlimited campaign spending, see Steve M.)

The campaign apparently also had to hire people to explain to Walker what a President does. Frank Bruni (yeah, I know, it’s Frank Bruni):

I’m weary and wary of politicians whose ambitions precede and eclipse any serious, necessary preparation for the office they seek. Walker is a perfect example.

I kept hearing and reading — after he’d obviously decided to run for president — that he was being briefed by an emergency crew of wonks. Shouldn’t that have happened first? Shouldn’t he have been paying attention all along, out of a genuine interest in this sort of material rather than a pragmatic one?

In the Republican primary battle, though, not knowing stuff apparently doesn’t matter.

Donald Trump has prospered, and he’s utterly unapologetic about all of the matters that he hasn’t taken the trouble to bone up on and all of the experts whom he hasn’t bothered to consult.

When NBC’s Chuck Todd asked him where he gets his military advice, he said: “I watch the shows.” He presumably meant “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation,” though I don’t think we can rule out “Survivor” or “Game of Thrones.”

Time and again, Trump pledges to amass the proper information just before he needs it — no point in doing so now, before he finds out if he’s hired — and he predicts that he’ll shame everyone then with his abracadabra erudition. He’s a procrastinating college freshman planning an all-nighter before the final exam.

I already talked about Trump’s and Fiorina’s issues-free campaign websites on this post. Ben Carson does have an “issues” section on his website, but it doesn’t say shit.  For example, he plans to repeal Obamacare, but the only idea presented for replacing it is Health Savings Accounts. (As a writer, I recognize bullshit “filler” copy when I see it. Carson’s issues page is all filler.)

Basically, the current “top three” in the Republican field have given us no clue what specific policies they might pursue in office, and indeed have given no indication they’ve thought about it much. “ISIS is bad” is not a foreign policy plan, folks.

Marco Rubio’s issues page has a lot more verbiage, most of which is dedicated to complaining how awful President Obama’s policies are, followed by some simplistic bullet list of what Rubio will do better. For example, his plan to reduce the debt consists of cutting spending and “reforming” (which means cutting) taxes. Oh, and he wants a balanced budget amendment.

“The Tax Foundation found that our plan, over the next decade, would increase GDP by 15 percent, boost wages by 12.5 percent, and create almost 2.7 million full-time jobs,” Rubio’s website boasted. Note that the Tax Foundation has ties to ALEC . Krugman took the Tax Foundation apart awhile back when it claimed there had been no long-run upward trend in income inequality.

Looking at the last of the GOP Most Likelies, Jeb! doesn’t have an issues section, but instead has dribbled out random policy positions on his “news” section.

And yes, I’ve looked at Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’s web pages. In some cases HRC is still promising what she plans to do (climate change) and in others she has some plausible details worked out (reducing higher education cost). Bernie Sanders seem pretty firm about what he wants to do, although I notice his issues page leaves off climate change and health care, except for prescription drugs.  (He’s called for Medicare for All in the recent past.)

Then there’s the website On the Issues, which can be a useful place to get a general idea about a candidate’s position. Just for fun:

Here is the condensed version of Bernie Sanders positions on Social Security.  Now, compare that to Carly Fiorina. Um, see the difference?

Talk about buying a pig in a poke. Basically, if you look for them you find that most of the GOP positions amount to the same stuff they’ve been pushing for years — cut spending, especially on programs for the poor and retired  (but not defense), cut taxes, replace Obamacare with a few ineffectual tweaks that won’t help most people, give Israel everything it wants, ISIS is bad, ban abortions, pass a balanced budget amendment, hooray for guns, more drilling for oil, illegal immigration is bad, and there is no climate change. There are some exceptions to that list, but not many.

5 thoughts on “Need to Know

  1. “Ben Carson does have an “issues” section on his website, but it doesn’t say shit.”

    Oh, BTW, he’s repealed the Big Bang and evolution.

    Seriously, the repugs don’t need issues pages; they just need a link to ALEC’s website. When in doubt, do whatever maximally screws the poor and middle class– keep the peasants in line.

    I would again point out, the Donald mentioned increasing taxes on the rich– ok, take that with a huge dollop of salt, but I never heard Boehner, Bush, or McConnell say anything of the sort. I’m just saying– sadly– he *is* the best of their lot– even if he I is not the master of who’s this week’s ISIS leader. At least he could accidentally, or mischievously, throw in a couple of non-toxic policy proposals.

    Let’s all cross our fingers and send positive energy towards Hilary!!!! Or Bernie, for the optimists among us.

  2. What’s telling is: not that their positions are vague or missing, but that they feel no need to specify any. I’m reminded of George Bush waving around a 17 page “plan” for, was it Iraq? where anybody with any critical thinking skills could readily see it was no plan at all.

    The candidates have moved past this point of even dispensing with a pretense of any thoughts about a plan. Trump foremost. His tacit solicitation is that the country’s problems will not be solved by any plans, but by He himself. Nothing more is needed. And this is what their base has devolved to, choosing candidates based on personality alone.

  3. There’s a common element in the draw for Donald Trump that I see in the draw for guys like Andrew Dice Clay and Howard Stern.. I’m not talking about the crudeness, I’m talking about the quality that Trump’s followers admire and refer to as telling like it is. In a sense it a freedom from social constraints.

  4. I’m talking about the quality that Trump’s followers admire and refer to as telling like it is.

    Mussolini likewise gave countless speeches about the corrupt political class that ran Italy, offering himself as the alternative, just like Trump. The fact is that the US has devolved into an oligarchy, with a pretend democracy, where we get to pick the D or the R face of this oligarchy. Like communist Russia, we can choose the person but not the policies so much – the status quo is never seriously threatened. This creates the powerlessness in the population that feeds wannabe dictators like Mussolini and Donald Trump, who promise to rise and deliver beyond it. People in Italy were wild about Mussolini, whose message was essentially the same as Trump’s.

Comments are closed.