Scorecard before Mar. 6 Super Tuesday....
Conrad Black's wonderfully acid assessment of the race to date sums it up best: Unless the GOP finds a new candidate a calamitous second Obama term could very well be in the works. The GOP seems stuck with what George Will called "two miscast candidates":
Today's Republican contest has become a binary choice between two similarly miscast candidates. Romney cannot convince voters he understands the difference between business and politics, between being a CEO and the president. To bring economic rationality to an underperforming economic entity requires understanding a market segment. To bring confidence to a discouraged nation requires celebrating its history and sketching an inspiring destiny this history has presaged.
Romney is right about the futility of many current policies, but being offended by irrationality is insufficient. Santorum is right to be alarmed by many cultural trends, but implies that religion must be the nexus between politics and cultural reform. Romney is not attracting people who want rationality leavened by romance. Santorum is repelling people who want politics unmediated by theology. Neither Romney nor Santorum looks like a formidable candidate for November.
Will's column focuses on the social pathologies that Santorum maintains make much economic policy of limited value. Santorum has a serious academic point, but it is not one voters wish to consider in 2012. And Santorum goes too far in raising social decisions that have been made and are not about to be unmade in the next Presidential term, of ever. Santorum has begun walking back his remark last week that JFK's position of church & state made him want to throw up; his supporters in the GOP primary may accept this, but independent voters in the fall will not be so forgiving.
On the brighter side, both Romney & Santorum--and Gingrich as well--can give solid voice to what Douglas Feith & Seth Cropsey note at NRO is Obama's failure to lead American foreign policy. Instead Obama's goes on a serial apology tour and leads from behind, which more than wipes out his signal success in ordering the killing of Osama bin Laden. High gas prices may dampen any benefit "O" gets from an improving economy. Another Obama priority, Arab - Israeli peace (on Palestinian terms, with Israel giving up everything it won in 1967 as a starting point for negotiations), has been deep-sixed by Palestinian obduracy.
And as Matthew Continetti writes, the focus on GOP mess obscures the massive disconnect between 2008 & 2012 re how voters perceive Obama. And there are X factors, such as how an Israeli strike on Iran might affect the world economy--and, hence, America's. Iraq is not on the radar screen, but should be: Obama's vaunted robust diplomatic presence in Iraq is following the military to the exits, leaving Iraq without American interests being safeguarded. Voters may not want to hear this, but the GOP should raise this anyway, as it bids fair to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Economist Lawrence Lindsey, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Bush 43, takes Treasury Secretary Tim Geither to task for his justification of higher taxes on the wealthy being recompense for the "privilege" of being American:
This philosophical point is fundamental. But even if you accept Mr. Geithner's case that the well-to-do must pay more for their presumed "privilege" of being governed, his story ignores the empirical fact that they already do pay a record share of income taxes, even relative to their share of income. According to the Census Bureau, the share of income received by the top 5% of American households is now 21.5%, up from 21.4% in the 1990s. Their share of income taxes has risen to 59% under President Obama from 52% under President Clinton. This despite the fact that the top tax rate was five points higher in the Clinton years.
If you go further back to the pre-Reagan days, when the top tax rate was 70%, the story becomes even more dramatic. Under the four presidents of that era, the income share of the top 5% was 16.8% and their share of the income tax was 36%. In other words, the share of income received by the top 5% has risen 28% and their share of income taxes has risen 64%.
Stated differently, based on the data provided by the Census Bureau and the Internal Revenue Service, the relative tax burden of the top 5% of American earners compared with the remaining 95% has grown from roughly three-to-one prior to 1980 to almost six-to-one today.
Lindsey noted that being an American is a right, and that serving in government--answerable to the voters--is a privilege. It is another example of how Team Obama inverts the relationship between government and the citizenry.
Lindsey demolishes the assertion that the rich are not paying "their fair share":
One can always argue that this ratio should be 10-to-1, that the "privilege" of being governed is worth 10 times as much per dollar of income to someone who is rich than to someone who is middle-class. Once we give up our moral compass of government deriving its powers from the people. we must also give up any empirical compass of how much we must surrender to government. When you begin the argument that being a citizen is a "privilege" for which one should pay ever more, you very quickly find yourself on Friedrich Hayek's "Road to Serfdom."
Michael Auslin writes that we are becoming "villeins"--a class of medieval serfs who were freemen save in dealings with their lord--of their lord as represented by activist Big Gov't--supplier of our rights & definer of their limits--allowed, unconscionably, by complaisant courts who are supposed to stop government overreach. In the same vein, Mark Steyn notes that a clueless celebrity has perfectly captured Obama's philosophy: “I leave it up to the government to make good decisions for Americans.” The perfect Obama voter indeed.
Bottom Line. Big Election coming. The GOP founders as Democrats cheer up. Romney's nomination prospects brighten considerably if he wins most on Super Tuesday, March 6--with Ohio a "must win" for Mitt. If Mitt wins big, Santorum's "jumping the (JFK) shark" moment may prove to have done him in. But take nothing for granted in this race.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Conservative Politics