Update: January 21, 8 p.m. Newt wins the primary big. A couple of quick thoughts:
–“Unleash the American people.” Really? “Unleash?” Who are we, bitches?
—Like we said, Newt could conceivably win the nomination but never the White House. Check out these numbers.
–Biggest shock from the exit polls: Newt won women and voters for whom electability was most important criteria.
— Also from the exits: Religion-minded voters killed Romney, the Mormon, and backed Grinch, not Rick Santorum, who had backing from the Southern evangels.
–Newt more and more recalling George Wallace and his “pointy headed intellectuals.”
–Number of times Newt used the word “elites” in victory speech: 6. Saul Alinsky (died 1972): 3
–Two Florida debates next week: Does Mitt have a shred of junkyard dog in him?
— Newt’s speech went sharply right — a bid for Santorum voters in Florida upcoming but a gift to Obama in the general.
Our earlier Post: Newt Gingrich won a bombastic, electrifying and overwhelming victory in Thursday night’s big pre-South Carolina primary debate.
Then came the next hour and 55 minutes of the CNN event.
Gingrich jumped all over moderator John King’s bad decision to open the two-hour debate with a question about the allegation by Newt’s (second) former wife that he wanted “an open marriage” – not only tearing King’s face off to the great delight of a howling, red-meat crowd in Charleston, but also preemptively knocking down what was being promoted as a bombshell interview with ex-spouse Marianne Gingrich, scheduled to air last night on ABC.
“I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for office, and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that,” Eye of Newt ranted at King. “I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.”
“The story is false,” he added in passing.
After that, nothing else really mattered, which is kind of a shame because it was by far the most entertaining and interesting of the 3,613 GOP debates, at least since Rick Perry enshrined “oops” in the annals of American political history: Rick Santorum had his best night, time and again effectively presenting himself as the one true conservative in the race while landing a series of crisp shots on Gingrich and Mitt Romney alike; Romney once more fumbled and stumbled over questions about his tax returns in between laughing inappropriately and delivering endless oleaginous paens to vulture capitalism; Ron Paul again was, uh, Ron Paul.
King’s premature interrogation on the open-marriage issue left the other three candidates with little choice but to let the Grinch off the hook on the question, although Santorum did weakly offer that voters ought to consider all measures of character in deciding whom to support. The net effect is likely to inoculate Eye of Newt in Saturday’s balloting, with voters already having taken into account his serial infidelities and overweening hypocrisy, and now having the handy excuse of dismissing the entire matter as the work of Evil Media Elites.
It’s also worth noting that all the candidates, especially Romney, have gone so far to the right on illegal immigration — flatly ruling out a path to citizenship for undocumented workers — that they can forget the Latino vote in 2012, assuming Barack Obama holds out a glimmer of hope to this huge potential bloc of voters.
Bottom line: Newt’s big night comes as all six polls taken in South Carolina this week show him in a dead heat with Romney. He sure didn’t hurt himself last night.
Babs and Difi Meet SOPA and PIPA: California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein are fighting on the wrong side of history in the epic battle between New and Old Media being waged over the draconian internet censorship bills known as SOPA and PIPA.
Caught between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, two of their most powerful constituencies, Thelma and Louise so far are standing with the Motion Picture Association of America and its allies over Google and its All-Right-Thinking People coalition as the Senate considers the (inhale) Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (exhale), its version of the Stop Online Piracy Act, dubbed SOPA, pending in the House.
Amid this week’s widespread web black-out and protests by tens of thousands of sites, including Wikipedia, Reddit and Google, mega-kudos to Austin reporter Stephen Webster, who used the opensecrets.org data base of the Center for Responsive Politics to tote up campaign contributions from PIPA supporters to members of the Senate and discovered both Babs and Difi in the Top 10:
While Silicon Valley may have found their voice echos on Capitol Hill more loudly than expected, what remains after Wednesday’s protest is even more telling that what provoked it: Senate Democrats are now the core pillars of support for the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), which has not otherwise engendered a strict partisan divide among lawmakers.
Far and away, the top beneficiary in the Senate from interest groups that support PIPA is Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who’s taken in just short of a million dollars from those groups, according to data from OpenSecrets.org. She’s also the most recent Senator to co-sponsor PIPA, adding her name to the list on Dec. 12. The runner-up is Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who’s taken $777,383 from PIPA-supporting interest groups, and has co-sponsored the bill since May 2011.
In fact, a list of the top 20 beneficiaries of special interest money in favor of PIPA reads like a list of the Senate’s most influential Democrats: Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) in third; Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) in fourth; Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in fifth; Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the bill’s primary sponsor, in sixth; Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in seventh; Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in eighth; Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in ninth; and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) in tenth.
Feinstein, to her credit, at least made a failed effort to broker a compromise in the struggle. Here’s hoping she gives it another shot soon: Calbuzz stands second to no one in opposing online piracy, but we’re exactly the kind of little guy site that could get “disappeared” in a hurry, unjustly and with no right of appeal, under PIPA and SOPA, which represent a shotgun approach to dealing with a problem that wants a rifle.
Brother, can you spare a dime: Just when we thought we couldn’t get any more worked up over Mitt Romney’s wiggly effort to keep his tax returns secret comes word that there’s something even worse amid his personal finances than the loopholes, carried interest scams and offshore accounts that already have come to light.
Turns out he’s not only sneaky and greedy, but also really, really cheap to boot, as demonstrated by the lovely kicker on a NYT yarn about Monsieur Megamillions, in which the great man screws the county of San Diego out of a few bucks on his sprawling La Jolla villa:
When billed for $134,909 in property taxes on their beachside home in San Diego in 2009, the Romneys appealed the assessment, according to an official at the city property assessor’s office.
Mr. and Mrs. Romney won the appeal. The bill was reduced by $9,617, for a total of $125,292.
Nine grand? Seriously, Mitt? With gazillions in the counting house, you pay a lawyer to go down and sit at the Assessment Appeals Board to save nine grand?
Next up: Romney leaves a 5% tip for his Early Bird dinner tab at Denny’s.
It’s not you, it’s me: The decision by Jon Huntsman, every Democrats’ favorite Republican, to pull the plug on his barely-breathing campaign came just one day after The State, South Carolina’s largest and most influential newspaper, delivered its much-coveted primary endorsement to him.
In response, State editor Cindi Scoppe, who had written the enthusiastic endorsement, got a bit overwrought, describing the matter in terms that no doubt led to much gagging and eye-rolling around the city desk:
“It is rather like having gone through a courtship for some period of time and finally making love with a man, for him to suddenly turn around and say, ‘you know what, I think I’m gay’.”
P.S. The spurned State endorsed Romney today. Who says Mittens is everybody’s second choice?