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That’s Why They Play the Games


I think this handicapping of the Republican field is correct. On paper, it’s virtually impossible to see Romney beating Perry, since the latter has far more obvious appeal to the typical GOP primary voter as well as being acceptable to Republican elites. Nor do I think that vote splitting with Bachmann will be much of a problem; modern primary fields tend to get winnowed quickly. But, then, on paper Tim Pawlenty should have been able to beat Romney handily, so…I’d better be careful. Campaigns do implode sometimes, my inability to foresee this notwithstanding.

By the way, how the hell did Pawlenty ever get elected in Minnesota? Did Martha Coakley move to Duluth and get the Dem nomination that cycle? It’s like the Twins in the postseason if they were swept seeing an average of 50 pitches a game against the Royals instead of the Yankees.

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  • superking

    The thing that everyone forgets about Rick Perry is that he is incredibly dumb and lazy. Dumb AND lazy. The only reason he is governor of Texas is George Bush got elected president. He was reelected in 2002 because he had an R behind his name. You have no idea how easy it is to get elected in Texas is you’re a Republican. In 2006, the Republicans hated him enough that they split their own vote trying to get him out of office. But even that wasn’t enough to defeat him, and he walked back into the governor’s mansion. And in 2010, he became the only person to be elected governor three times. It’s not because he’s a good politician.

  • Ben

    The ’02 Minnesota governor’s race was weird. Jesse Ventura was the outgoing governor and tried to play kingmaker, tempting a Blue Dog Dem into running under the Independence Party (ie, the Reform Party’s Tea Party) banner. The Blue Dog ended up taking more votes away from the Dem candidate than T-Paw.

    Can’t blame the Blue Dog, though; if even Pat Buchanan can be tempted, who among us can say we would resist?

    • wengler

      Tim Penny was a little better than a Blue Dog, but his campaign style was to basically take stands on nothing. Classic mushy middle bullshit.

      The DFL was(and still is) hampered by historically weak candidates in the last 10-15 years. The question should be how bad are the Republicans to lose statewide office to Mark Dayton…twice.

      • DocAmazing

        Apropos nothing, there is a bike club here in the Bay Area called Team DFL. The DFL stands for Dead Fucking Last.

        How relevant this might be is left to the reader.

  • mn

    The DFL (MN’s Democratic Party) is awful. They nominate horribly risk averse milquetoast doormats 9/10 times. They also have never, ever, ever tried to build the negatives of an opponent. Ever.

    T-Paw is also actually very good at what we can call “hockey schmoozing.” His 1 on 1 MN social skills are very high. And since nobody in the other party will say anything bad about him, he won. Easily. Twice.

    • Ben

      Uh, he won a plurality of votes in a favorable 3-way race. And he was losing re-election in the polls until his opponent called a reporter a whore a week before voting day. Schmoozing might have gotten him through primaries but he lucked out in the main events. Twice.

    • Bill Murray

      They nominate horribly risk averse milquetoast doormats 9/10 times.

      How does that differ from Dems in every other state and in national contests? Some might only do this 8 of 10 times?

    • wengler

      Minnesota is a passive-aggressive culture. It is very important to look inoffensive enough to voters. This is one of the many reasons why TPaw has had a terrible time trying to distinguish himself on the national level.

      • Kurzleg


  • Ronnie Pudding

    In your defense, your argument for Pawkenty was only three letters.

  • He makes a good point about candidates “on paper.”

    Mitt Romney is a fine candidate on paper, but we just got yet another demonstration of what a gawdawful campaigner he is on the stump.

    “What do you think corporations are? Entities?”

    • DrDick

      And there is still the magic underwear problem in the South.

    • KadeKo

      Don’t forget Romney’s add-on, twice in a minute: “My friend”.

      The last person to say that phrase so skeezily in Iowa was Professor Harold Hill.

      • efgoldman


        Wow! Where’s the Electric Company adverb lessons when you need them?

        • allium

          Your fortune’s from firing blokes.
          You called companies “jes’ folks.”
          How do you troll for votes from the average guy?

  • It speaks to the weakness of the Republican field that someone hardly any of us have ever seen campaign for anything could be considered the frontrunner before he even gets into the race. Perry has plenty of negatives, if you take the time to look for them – he used to be a Democrat, he’s called for the eradication of not just Medicare but Social Security as well, he’s run up huge deficits in Texas, he is reminiscent of W. right down to the affinity for playing cowboy, he might be gay….

    And I have to believe there are many voters – even some Republicans! – who find it inappropriate for a sitting state governor to host a prayer rally in a basketball arena.

    • McKingford

      Yes, and I think people are forgetting the most important drawback about Perry: he obviously didn’t really want it.

      The single most important quality (to win) that a candidate needs as a presidential candidate is an overwhelming desire for the job. You have to really, really want it and have a laser-like focus.

      Perry obviously doesn’t have that.

      In some ways he is like Fred Thompson – a guy who wasn’t that keen on running until everyone lamented the weakness of the field and touted him as the most “presidential” candidate. And as long as a candidate is only prospective, people can project all their hopes and dreams on them. Well, we know how that turned out when Thompson had to actually start working at campaigning.

      The fact is, if Perry had that hyper-drive which is required of successful candidates, he wouldn’t have waited this long to start his campaign. He wouldn’t have had to wait to be drafted by the same crew of lamenters who wished Thompson into the race last cycle.

      And, as Scott says – that’s why they play the game. Now that he’s officially in, we’ll see how everyone’s projected hopes stand up to the reality of a campaign – especially by a candidate who was obviously reluctant.

      • This, I think, is the most compelling argument against Perry winning the nomination. I’m sure he’s more serious than Thompson, but parachuting in doesn’t have a great track record.

        • Murc

          Er… am I nuts for thinking that this whole line of thought is a little insane?

          The election is in fifteen MONTHS. The first primaries not for nearly six months. Someone entering the race at this juncture is not ‘parachuting in’. Someone who entered the race in OCTOBER still wouldn’t be doing that.

          Nor have I seen any actual evidence that Perry is in any way reluctant or hesitant. He’s been a little low key, but that’s not at all the same thing.

          • Superking

            You are little insane. Campaigns are about the operation as much as the person. Look at Newt Gingrich. His operation is a complete joke–people keep quitting on him, he has huge debt, etc, etc. Getting in late means you don’t have the same ability to build your campaign in crucial states. Right now, Perry doesn’t have Much of anything supporting his candidacy except that he is supposed to be good in some way. There is no operation there. He will have to move quickly to bring in donors, get endorsements, get staff, influence local politicians. Romney has a lot of people locked up already.

            The big point, though, is just that we never elect the candidate just because of who they are. We elect them because they work on it. I still think perry is way over-hyped. The man is exceptionally stupid, and I don’t think he plays well outside of Texas.

            • mpowell

              He’s not insane, he just doesn’t know. Most people don’t. Perry looks good on paper if that paper excludes willingness and ability to put it in the back office work necessary to run for president. We’ll see where Perry is at in 3 months, but I’m thinking this is going to be Thompson version 2. I’m surprised that Scott is overlooking this, to be honest.

              • On what do you base this theory that he’s not willing to work hard?

                Is it just his “late” entry into the race, or is there anything in his history as a politician that would support this point?

          • Halloween Jack

            That would be true if not for the enormous amounts of money that anyone who wants a prayer of getting the nomination, let alone winning the general, will have to raise. It’s already been referred to as the billion-dollar campaign, and that may not be an exaggeration at all.

      • wengler

        I was thinking the exact same thing. I think his success in getting the nomination will be directly proportional to the amount of work people will be willing to put in on his behalf.

      • Captain Splendid

        This. From the minute the rumours started, I knew he was this season’s Great White Hype.

        Something I don’t see a lot in any analysis: This is Romney’s last shot. He’s not going to fold early.

  • R, Johnston

    I’m trying to figure out why so many people seem to think Perry will beat out Bachmann to be the non-Romney Republican option. Bachmann is a darling of the teabaggers, well within the Republican mainstream, at least as appealing as Perry is to the Republican establishment, and is nowhere near as lazy and stupid as Perry even if she’s every bit as nuts as he is. Sure, there are Republicans who’ll never consider voting for a woman, but aside from those Republicans and republicans with a Texas fetish, where is Perry going to pick off votes from Bachmann?

    • Mayur

      ‘Cause he’s a dude.

      Yes, I do think it’s that simple.

      • Bill Murray

        and he’s got executive hair

        • wengler

          and he prays hard.

          • Bill Murray

            how sad is it that two of the three Republican front runners are Dominionists. I can remember talking to a fundamentalist friend of mine 5 or 6 years ago and she had never even heard of dominionism/theonomy and now they run the party

            • Holden Pattern

              This is not a very big change. It’s actually just a move from de facto to de jure Dominionism.

              Once the Republican party had been captured on economics by the anti-reality anarcho-capitalists and and on culture to the American Taliban, which happened definitively and irrevocably not later than the mid-1990’s, it was pretty clear that they were the Dominionist party — whether actual candidates have to be Dominionists in their hearts or just for pay was the only remaining distinction.

    • Because Bachman is nuts. Not ‘holds views the median LGM commenter thinks are nuts’ – the woman is nuts. Her nuttiness will make her implode in a very public manner, the same Sarah Palin’s ignorance and shallowness made her implode in the Gibson and Couric interviews.

      She’s not going to be able to handle the media fishbowl of a presidential campaign, and will flame out in a spectacular manner.

      While Perry will just plug along doing what he’s supposed to like a real candidate.

      • R, Johnston

        Yes, Bachmann’s nuts, but not any more nuts than Perry is and not the kind of nuts that in any disturbs Republican primary voters. Republican primary voters like it if you think the gays are out to get you and that America should default on its debt.

        • No, I’m not talking about what she believes in. I’m talking about reporters getting pushed around, and junior staffers getting screamed at, and on-air meltdowns.

          Keyword: erratic. Watch for it.

        • Halloween Jack

          But she comes off as being more nuts than Perry, and perception is everything; ask Howard Dean. Between her blatant lies about things that are easily fact-checked (like her frequent and disabling migraines) and her may-not-be-closeted-but-sure-acts-like-it husband, her candidacy rests almost entirely on the segment of the GOP electorate who are desperate for a candidate who isn’t either visibly imploding or just another nice haircut with nothing underneath. That segment has some pretty powerful denial going on, and when it breaks down, it won’t be pretty.

      • Murc

        You know, I would have agreed with this last week, Joe.

        After that debate? Not so much. I don’t know who Bachmann’s handlers are, but I hope she’s paying them a LOT, because her performance was impressive. I don’t mean her command of facts and policy; this was a Republican debate, there wasn’t going to be any of that. I mean in terms of not coming off as a crazy person, which a lot of people on that stage did NOT manage.

        I was genuinely frightened. She still lacks charisma (I find Sarah Palin and GWB actively repellant, but I can recognize charisma that’s attractive to some others when I see it) but she wasn’t coo-coo bananas like I’ve seen in previous press appearances. She upped her game. If it takes? Worried.

        • She’s got talent, no doubt. She can perform well. She’s not going to fall on her face right out of the gate.

          But it’s a long campaign, and everyone has a camera in their phone these days, and there’s something bubbling in there.

  • Pawlenty had no business winning reelection in ’06; his opponent had the lead much of the race, but completely melted down in the last weekend. (Short synopsis: his Lt. Gov. ticket-mate made a minor gaffe, and rather than shaking it off, he ended up calling reporters “Republican whores” and telling them they should fight him, rather than a girl. This didn’t work out well.)

    As for ’02, Pawlenty was effectively tied with Moe (DFL) and Penny (IP) until Wellstone died; in the aftermath of the Memorial-slash-Rally, moderate GOPers came home to TPaw, while moderate DFLers stuck with Penny.

    • Murc

      Anyone whose Republican vote was cemented because of Paul Wellstones memorial cannot reasonably be described as ‘moderate.’ Idiotic, perhaps.

      • calling all toasters

        Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe.

  • McKingford

    I’m not saying he’s too late, although he now has some structural deficits to overcome, as he is late to the game in organizing and – especially – hiring the backbone of his organization.

    What I’m saying is that waiting as long as he did is evidence that he wasn’t terribly motivated to run in the first place (which I contend is a primary determinant of success), since there are no advantages to waiting and plenty of disadvantages to it. So this doesn’t portend well for him as a presidential candidate.

    • McKingford

      This was intended to be in response to Murc’s comment above…

  • IM

    I did bet on romney , I do bet on Romney now.

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