Poorly Told Political Fortunes

En route to Super Tuesday, the 2012 race has provided lessons and surprises aplenty.

Comments: 72

  1. Many, both Republican and Democrat, are disappointed that none of the candidates have stood up to Rush Limbaugh. Santorum pretends to be religious but pooh-poohs Limbaugh as an entertainer when he lets loose a vile and graphic tirade about women's sex lives. They want us to believe they can be tough with Iran but they can't stand up to a bully. I have the feeling that Limbaugh is like the bully who gets beaten up by the little kid with glasses in "A Christmas Story." If anyone has the nerve to go at him, Rush will turn into a blubberly blob of sobs. But, no one will stand up to him.

  2. Limbaugh is surely a bully and a lot more. He is propagandist in chief for the Republican party and, somehow, he is allowed to have a 3 hour per day radio show on 600 stations without challenge. I can't imagine how people find his bellowing "entertaining", though he does have a way of verbally pacing back and forth toward a conclusion that can draw one in.

    The method he demonstrated in regard to the law student is common to his program. He will take a small item, suggest that it means X or Y and then use that suggestion as part of a larger, more overarching "proof". See there, folks! It is all a conspiracy against your interests. Later, he will treat his tentative conclusion as absolute proof for something else. He normally slashes his targets as he passes by, but this time he chose "the wrong words" for the slash job. He does this virtually every day he is on the air, having, in this case, merely waltzed to a new extreme.

    Limbaugh may, at long last, be having his Joe McCarthy moment. His methods are not that far off from "I have here in my hands, the names of 500 communists". Has he, at last, no decency? No. He has no decency, no moderation, no point beyond which he will not go, no hesitancy to impose judgement on matters about which he cannot know, no sense of balance, no understanding of a cooperative, civil society based on common values and trust and no adherence to facts. He is a one man warp machine, distorting all that he surveys, daily.


  3. Kudos to Doug Terry for a super sum-up of Limbaugh and his role in the GOP and his destructive impact on the entire political process. Limbaugh boasts 20 million listeners; which seems doubtful -- is it possible that there are so many so gullible that they find inspiration in what he describes as "creative analysis," i.e., in the venom he spits out daily? Sadly, maybe so.

  4. I'm not sure there's a teachable moment here, but it might make for watchable live TV to invite Rush onto "The View". Yes, the Big Guy seated amongst the feminazis.... with fire extinguishers kept at the ready.

  5. It should be noted that Anne Romney's was non-responsive on Rush Limbaugh's noise. Her silence signals that she will be the kind of incompetent and vegetative First Lady who tacitly approves of disorderly backroom deals. Such maneuvers are imperceptible to the public's senses.

    Let there be no misunderstanding what a disaster the Romney's would present us with in the Whitehouse.

  6. And I love her saying yesterday that she doesn't think of herself as wealthy! She went on to cover her gaffe by talking about the riches of her family and friends. But really? Not wealthy?

    Yeah, that's really connecting with all of us who live on $15,000 a year. Not a clue

  7. I'm sure they have Mrs. Romney on a very shorty leash.
    She told a reporter in Ma. during one of his campaigns that they knew what hard times were......they had to sell some stock when Mitt was in graduate school.

  8. One major place where the media has skewed our national discourse is in neglecting to underline that the Republican primary circus is really about the views and opinions of a very loud and very small minority. The way it is reported one would think it was a large chunk of the populace making the choices when it is only a few percent of an already tilted minority segment: the shrillest of the right-wing of the GOP are given a megaphone, and the media amplifies that to make it seem like the nation concurred with these nuts. Why doesn't the reporting indicate how FEW people participate in these contests? How they are not in the least representative of the people, but only of a tiny, well backed (thanks to our wonderful Citizen's United Supreme Court), hyper-right wing zealots?

    Because the media is in the same pockets?


  9. The Media are basically stenographers as Stephen Colbert so brilliantly pointed out years ago. They don't like to ruffle feathers with really important, tough questions. Look what happened to John King of CNN when he asked Gingrich about his infidelities. Gingrich blasted him and he withered like a delicate flower. Or when Mitt said "You can ask the questions you want, I'll give the answers I want". What arrogance. No push back at all from the media.

    Also, broadcast owners are making huge chunks of money on all of this. Just think how all those millions and millions of dollars going into tv time could have helped America. The election season is toooooooo long. But it has exposed these Republican evil people for who they are and I guess I'm grateful for that.

  10. @ Sophia
    The interviewers in the media know that if they become too inquisitive with tough, important questions, as you so aptly put it, they won't have access to that person anymore or might even lose their jobs if their network or newspaper owner doesn't back them up.

    So until a reporter works for a company that has her/his back, we can continue to expect wishy-washy questioning and interviews.

  11. The electoral process demonstrates our politics do not represent us— the musical chairs charade has been played out too many times. Consider Herman Caine, a fake pawn candidate, backed for a while by the Koch brothers' Money & Power— on the scene and gone.

    Was Caine a televised debate participant? Did he offer anything of consequence about the problems facing our country? Do any of them?

    Everything these people say is bad poetry. They don't have a clue—not one original idea from any of them. The country, with only Romney and Obama to choose from will sit out the election. Less than 40% will vote— the people's way of saying no confidence.


  12. It's been a truly bizarre primary season, which has highlighted the deep split between conservatives and the few remaining moderate Republicans. Six conservatives (not counting Ron Paul) showed up to challenge Mitt Romney, and all of them have proved to be incompetent. This has left deeply unhappy conservatives with the prospect of having to support another moderate. Most of these folks were very unhappy with John McCain in 2008, so this is the second time in a row they have faced disappointment.

    This primary has become the latest battle in the long war for control fought between moderate and conservative Republicans. As Gingrich and Santorum compete to see who is the most conservative, they have gone further right than ever before. While I am confident that almost all conservatives will support Mitt Romney if he wins, I think some real damage is being done to the Republican party.

  13. I have made this point several times, but again, Romey has been dragged so far to the right by the debates with Gingrinch, Santorum, and Paul, and has made so many outrageous statements, that he's going to have a tough time clawing back to the center. The operative question during the general elections will be, "Hey Mitt, were you lying during the primaries or are you lying now?"

  14. Sean Hannity cried "double-standard" because Bill Maher had called Sarah Palin an obscene name, and Ed Schultz had called Laura Ingharam precisely the same name that Rush Limbaugh used to describe Sandra Fluke. He said that he did not call for their firing at the time of their "indiscretions" and that Liberals were bent on silencing voices from the right and were using this opportunity to do what they always wanted. I would take issue with Hannity for a couple of reasons. In the first place, Ms. Fluke simply voiced a political viewpoint, she was not part of the character assassination that is euphemistically referred to as political jousting. No, Sarah Palin attacks people as well as policies and so does Laura Ingharam. They have both made a fortune doing same. This kid was a civilian, a college kid standing up for an ideal. No Sarah Palin didn't deserve to be called what Bill Maher called her, but she stands for the basest political standard which employs innuendo and code words to mask her bigotry. Plus, Bill Maher is a satirist, not someone who holds himself to a higher standard like Limbaugh, who by the way, blamed the left for his indiscretions. As for Ed Schultz, he went over the line and apologized. He was sincere and his indiscretion was not premeditated like Limbaugh's, who tripled down on his obscene references. It's time Limbaugh went away, for this, and for the detrimental effect he has had on American politics. Goodbye and good riddance.

  15. You make good points, but a 30 year old law student is not a college kid; she is a woman. The sooner we stop treating women as "kids" in need of the guidance of paternalistic men, the better off we will be as a society.

  16. Bill Maher is also not the appointed speaker for the liberals. Rush Limbaugh is and speaks at their CPAC's. Huge difference.

    Ed Schultz also took himself off the air for a week as well as apologized for his remark.

  17. Also, this is not an isolated incidence for Limbaugh; he makes a fabulous living by being the spokesman for millions of fellow misanthropes, who proudly self apply the label "ditto heads."

  18. The behavior of the candidates as the travel the road to the nomination must speak volumes about how they will behave once in office. The contraception debacle only points up again the total lack of civility and respect this crop of candidates has for its constituents. If they treat Republican women with such withering disdain, what can we expect should one of the inhabit the office?

    Granted, even though the reality of being President vastly different from the high-falutin' overblown campaign promises, you still have to consider what is coming out of their mouths. I don't think Romney's rendition of the Davy Crockett song inspires much confidence. Rush Limbaugh only serves as a mouthpiece for what some of these guys are really thinking. And they really don't do much not distance themselves from him.

    The current election pattern has reduced debate to sound bites while completely removing civil discourse from the equation. And they expect the American people to actually vote for one of them.

    I know I keep saying this, but We, The People are going to get the government we elect, and by extension, deserve. Maybe then we can learn from our mistakes.


  19. I agree with some of your statements but when I think of the1st. "election" of Geo. Bush I must dissagree that we get the government we deserve.
    The popular vote did not elect him, the Supreme court did.

    We certainly did not deserve him that time around.
    Those of us who didn't vote for him EVER, got stuck with the goverment that we did not deserve.
    Hopefully, people are not so turned off that they will not vote and stay home.

    If they do not vote, they really do get the government they deserve.

  20. The other white meats in this Republican primary season have lingered, as you say, because primary seasons, whether they be Republican or Democratic, are all about red meat: they're about defending walls rather than about finding actionable plans to come together as a whole people; they're about stitching together coalitions of only-somewhat-like-minded splinters, where the loudest and the most self-righteous get the ink. Democrats, with their liberal extremists, indulge in these spectacles every bit as much as Republicans. But you may not pause to recognize that the extremist positions of those hyper-liberals are every bit as frightening and weird to those who don't share them as the most extreme positions put forth by the vocal conservatives are to you.

    We just don't get to see the other side's spectacle this year. Pity. Spectacles can be entertaining, if you acknowledge them for what they are; and understand that soon enough, the discussions will become adult as both candidates need to appeal to the SAME electorate.

    Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum and Mr. Paul have been entertaining; but their fifteen minutes are about up. Some of us knew this from the beginning, and have been saying so.

  21. You have been saying so for quite some time.

    Santorum brought up a good point recently about how Romney can overcome his primary opposition by outspending them 12 to 1 but he won't have that advantage in the general election. I once thought that Romney would beat Obama, but I think now that's not going to happen. Romney won't have Obama's organization, money, or his incumbency.

  22. To Rich: Romney will have a superb organization, and the money probably will be similar. He won't have the incumbency, but that can be an advantage when even Obama's most diehard base regards his performance as deeply disappointing, as do Democratic centrists and Independents.

    But unless the economy either tanks badly (unlikely) or improves wildly (unlikely), it's going to be close; and it could go either way. We're just so evenly divided in the country on the matters of limited-power government and fiscal responsibility that it couldn't be otherwise. But the advantage will be Romney's, as Obama's walk so far has not matched his talk, and he has a lot on the left unhappy.

    Get set for a ride. But I wish we could get beyond these interminable primaries.

  23. You’ve written a rather cynical horse race analysis, keeping a cool distance from the flames of moral issues. But just put one of your female relatives or friends in Sandra Fluke’s place. I guess columnists aren’t supposed to personalize—it might cramp their objectivity. But if you did, would you write so condescendingly about warm, fuzzy Obama or equate her with Joe the plumber as a political opportunity? Not just candidates in an election, but anyone in a civilized society should jump to defend her. At least Obama did it. We are actually in the 21st century. In more advanced countries this situation wouldn’t even arise. They solved these problems generations ago, way back in the last century!

  24. Writers of opinion pieces are anything but objective, and condescension is their stock in trade. That being said, what I took away was Mr. Bruni being cute in passing, discussing the glaringly obvious faux pas that has crystallized the nations focus on the republicans diversionary tactic; raising non-issues and beating them like a rented mule. This, they hope, will keep many at the circus entertained, and at the same time, unaware that the clowns are letting loose the lions. This time, however, they have hit the audience in the gut, and will suffer the embarrassment, humiliation and marginalization that John McCain did with his "Joe the Plumber" charade, albeit exponentially. I like to think that their "anyone but this president" has backfired and has morphed into "anyone but this party" for most of us. I also think the vast majority of Americans would contribute to and support Ms. Fluke in the pursuit of damages. But really, it's hard to maintain high levels of outrage at the stupidity that is irrelevant, other than hoping it costs Limbaugh lots of money, and the republicans the election.

  25. Frank:

    The surprise will be in Vermont and Massachusets, WE are very confident that Mitt Romney will lose in both Vermont and Massachusetts by convincing margin. This will shock the world. Stay tuned please.

  26. I'll be out there doing my part, this Independent.
    I suspect Ron Paul will do much better in Mass. than expected, at least partly as a protest vote against the assumption of Romney.

  27. Au contraire! It is NOT GOOD ENOUGH to "STAY TUNED." This is not going to be a landslide. We who love to read and comment in the NYT must keep in mind that this is an echo chamber for the most part. For the President to be re-elected, and - as important - for the Congress to become more balanced so we can make real progress for our country we ALL NEED TO GET BUSY and counter the power of fascistic billionaires.

  28. I would love for someone to ask the Republican candidates whether they are also opposed to have insurance cover vasectomies? Clearly there is no medical need for the operation other than for contraception.

  29. Thank you David. That is a precise male comparison to birth control pill coverage; Viagra is the precise comparison to the ridiculous claim that providing birth control pills is promoting promiscuity; but unfortunately for women, nothing in any discussion is a comparison to making a law to force doctors to change their practices in women's health to start forcing objects into women's vaginas. Who would have ever thought we would have the need to counter such outlandish attacks?

  30. Yeah. I'm amazed how quickly the media was able to forget the good ole USA elected crazy Bush to a second term. I take that as warning they could do it again and put another elephant in the room.

  31. And that his first term was not decided by the voters but by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision.

  32. I suspect that the conservative moment has passed. Romney understands this, but the rest are living in the 80s when defeating liberal overeach made a little sense. Now that project isn't what motivates voters. Americans want a plan to slow down the decline of the nation. That involves spending and investment and rethinking distribution of wealth and focusing on competitiveness, education and infrastructure. These favor forward looking big thinkers; not hyper-religious social conservatives who now dominate the GOP especially in the south. Romney gets this, Huntsman got it too. The only pundit who seems to get this is Frum. When Obama articulates where he thinks America needs to go, he makes sense to a lot of people. Santorum, not so much.

  33. Americans don't want a plan to slow down the decline of the nation. They want a plan to reverse the decline and put us on an incline.

  34. America's number one focus should not be the economy, or, perhaps I should say the economy and many other things would get better if we would have the elephant in the room conversation the media has such a hard time making- insanely, since it is a conversation about the truth, facts, sanity, and reality that should be all of America's number one concern in the voting booth. I am voting democrat up and down the ballot. Simply put, observational and tested evidence matters, confirmatory and fact based information matters, integrity matters, accountability matters, character matters, reality matters. reality matters. Even operating under the assumption that all politicians are corrupt (although I would argue our system makes them that way), one of our two major American political parties is self-imploding to a true parody of the most fascinating, grotesque, horrifying, shocking, and just plain stupefyingly reality-denying levels.

  35. I believe once he has the nomination in the bag, the reasonable, moderate Romney will emerge, and those inclined to dislike the president, will quickly forget Romney the right-winger.

  36. This assumes that there actually is a reasonable, moderate Romney - a dubious assumption - and that he'll be able to hide from the hours of video he's creating for the Obama campaign right now, with memorable moments like "I'm severely conservative", and "Corporations are people, my friend", preserved for all eternity. The right-wing version, faux or not, will live on.

  37. Ah so we can all rally around the 'real' Romney, who morphed into the 'fake' Romney, who morphed into the 'real' Romney., who......

  38. I think jean Nicolazzo has a godd point. The modern candidates haven't seemed to make the bridge to the 21st Century where media and communication are concerened. They don't seem to realize that whatever they blurt out to however a narrowly focused audience in whatever remote part of the country, their words (and visual image) will live on via easily accessible recorded footage. Obama's team does seem to have a little better handle on this.

  39. You rightly point out that collumnists and the media have missed the swings of republican sentiment. The reason they have missed it is that they have not challenged the misinformation put out by these candidates. Doing so would have given the people the information needed to make a proper decision. Given enough information, American voters get it right, without it they are victims of bumper sticker and simplistic propaganda.
    You mention the role of Fox in exposing the warts on the challengers to Mr. Romney, this is not a tribute to their legitimacy, but a plan to have republicans nominate someone with a chance to win.

  40. The Fox reporters, interviewers get their marching orders from Ailes.

  41. I think that in general this column is right, for the most part. But I'd put it a bit differently: Knowing full well that Mitt will be the nominee, those in the Repub party who are blind to the realitiy of their inelectibility chose individual fame over party success for selfish reasons, and have turned what could have been an easy path to the nomination for Mitt into a public blood letting that undermines thier own stated goals (ousting Obama with a Republican). Even though the media knows how it will play out, they insist on amplifying the noise because they can't help themselves, and stoke the fires of contraversy in order to have more innanity to write about. The extreme of the Republican voters who claim to care about the electibility of the candidate ignore the fact that they vote like they find immense pleasure in shooting themselves in the foot, and do so with great accuracy and gusto. The end result is Romney with the nomination, pretty much everyones stomach turned many times over in the process, for tons of reasons, and a huge push of the independant middle now thinking that the Republicans and much much worse than they used to.

    Now, I don't know about you, but this one was pretty obvious from the start.

  42. Hmm. I have had the opposite impression vis-a-vis the pundits and the course of the primaries. Quite a few of the pundits pointed out quite early that the Tea Party (remember them?) and the extremist wing in general posed a risk to the Republicans' hopes of settling on an early nominee and shifting over to target the President. So far the campaign has unfolded more-or-less as predicted. Sure, the details of exactly who be the unelectable extremist challenge to Romney were left unpredicted, but that's just the fine print. The course of the campaign has been no surprised.

  43. Nevermind prognosticating. How about just getting the history right. Romney has won a large majority of the nominating contests, a large majority of the popular vote, and a large majority of the delegates. It is not that Romney is doing poorly; its that the media keeps distorting his performance. You know how you can tell if a primary or caucus is important to the media? If Romney wins it, it's not important; if he loses, it is. There's always an excuse to discount a Romney win. For New Hampshire, he is from a neighboring state. He outspent his opponents in Florida. Nevada has so many Mormons. Maine was administered poorly. He was born in Michigan. Arizona isn't as important as Michigan. Wyoming is insignificant. Washington was a non-binding caucus (just like Minnesota and Colorado, but Romney lost those states, so they count). When Romney won Minnesota and Colorado in 2008, the media ignored them as unimportant. When Santorum won those states in 2012, they became most important contests of the primary season. Romney has only clearly lost in 3 states--South Carolina, Minnesota, and Colorado (Missouri hasn't had its nominating contest yet and Iowa was essentially a tie). Yet these three losses against eight wins in a four person field indicate weakness to the media. And it's all the media--from Rush Limbaugh to Frank Bruni.

  44. Uh - Charles? 13% of Michigan's registered voters turned out for their primary. Romney got 41% of those. That's 5% of the total voting population. Woo-hoo!

    And what are you saying about LImbaugh? That it's the media's fault he's getting attention? He IS the media, and certainly gets more than his share of its attention. And whose fault is that?

    And while we've got you here: your candidate, commenting about Limbaugh's scurrilous denunciation of a respectable young woman, said he would have used different words.

    What a lot of us want to know is, what words would Romney have used to
    a. call her immoral,
    b. mischaracterize her proffered testimony,
    c. display his ignorance of women's medical health matters, and
    d. express enthusiasm for pornography?

  45. The more Americans know about these Republican candidates, the more they want them to go away and never come back. What do they offer to the future of America? It seems to be a third term of George W. Bush: more tax cuts for the wealthy, more defense spending, and nothing to help the middle class. Romney seems like one of those pompous rich guys that gets their comeuppance in "Revenge of the Nerds." How many homes and cars does he own?

    California serves as the harbinger of all things to come in national politics. Gov. Pete Wilson pushed anti-immigrant initiatives and a veto of laws against discrimination of gays in employment in the mid-1990s to help his re-election in 1994. The result was short-term gains politically and long-term pain. The state used to be evenly divided between the two parties, but now Republicans will lose more seats in the California Congressional delegation.

  46. The Republican Primarys are in the mess they are in because of the SuperPACs. They wanted them, they got them, and now they are being destroyed by them. You know, really that is no different than what the Republicans have done to banking and the economy. Really, by embracing the Tea-Party what did they think would happen? They are now Republicans in name only because they espouse the convictions and the fanaticism of the Tea-Party.

    You know, for some reason Republicans seem to want to feed themselves to the lions.

  47. Nice analysis, but I hardly think the sway of money has been overestimated; say rather that money is yet crucial, though not omnipotent, which is to say that while it cannot elevate the incompetent candidate, it can certainly sustain the mediocre and tepidly received contender. Where would Romney be if his Super PAC money hadn't crushed Gingrich in Iowa, and allowed him to eke out a slim victory in Michigan? Where would Gingrich and Santorum be if their sugar daddies hadn't appeared on the scene to resupply their campaigns?

    But you're right, there's a bizarre feel to all of this that's almost symmetrical - contraception is an issue again, and Fox commentators are suddenly asking Republicans tough questions, neither of which could ever have been predicted. Next we'll find that the debate has shifted to poll taxes and literacy tests, and that the Wall Street Journal calling Romney's tax plan the deficit busting, anti-investment, no-growth boondoggle it is, right?

    The Detective In The Mirror

  48. The candidate that would challenge the President is the front runner and he is not near the capable candidate as the President. Issues of style and impression aside policy can move voters. Not "who do you want debating the president this fall" type of policy, something new and honest. A hired pink slip expert is not necessarily doomed, but without vision unpopular. Strike one? Repeal that CARE bill still being understood? Not at my appointment for good,preventative, inevitable need, look to costs, we looking there everywhere else after all. Fight enemies, yes and discipline your mouth and actions like it always matters.

  49. Come on, Donald Trump was once a front runner, this has just been a soap opera and unfortunately a funny one...

  50. We can only really know what we have personally experienced and not forgotten....Most politicians, journalists, entertainers, and the economically-advantaged cannot know about the real lives of most people....and do not want to.

  51. You are letting yourself off the hook too easily. It is not merely that the media miscalculated or underestimated.

    When I lived in England some years ago, it was common for most English people to see America as one giant crime-ridden New York, with perhaps a few patches of prairie, rather like that farcical map. Coming from a small country, they rationally grasped our size, but emotionally also could not see how vast we were, how very diverse.

    The media coverage of our Republican Reality Show reminds me of the same thing. It deliberately presents our nation as though we were one flattened madhouse filled with insane narcissists who believe in --what exactly? A mad God, a misogynist religion, a hysterical code of corrupt ethics.

    Our country is vast, complex, and filled with literally millions of truly good people, who work hard, want the best for their families, & believe in values such as integrity, purpose, faith, respect, greatness, excellence, artistry, civilization, and fairness.

    None of these values are represented by our media.

    That's not because of miscalculation. That's because the media has merely ONE value: MONEY. Like most of the candidates themselves, it chases power & money alone. DOES IT SELL? This is the ONLY question it asks. Controversy, over the top stupidity, crassness--Reality shows SELL. And they're cheap to produce!

    If our Republican party is hoist by its own petard-money breeds exactly what we see- then so is the media.

  52. Republicans have repeatedly demonstrated in recent years that they cannot compromise with Democrats even when compromise is in their own interest, have repeatedly demonstrated in recent years a shocking inability to let evidence affect their cognitive processes, have punished the diminishing number of moderates among them. Now we all seem surprised that such people cannot reach compromises with their fellow Republicans either, and viciously attack any among the who dares act like a statesman or stateswoman.

    A moderate Republican now must feel the same way as I felt in the 1970s watching Democrats in Congress destroy their party by refusing to work with President Carter.

    No wonder one of the finest Senators from either party has recently decided she is fed up and won't run again.

  53. When the inevitable happens and Romney wins the nomination,he will have swerve way back the center if he wants any support from those of us in the middle.
    Not sure if that will be a flip or a flop but it will be interesting to watch.

  54. "Romney’s financial edge hasn’t yet slashed rivals quite as brutally as once envisioned. "

    How can you say that? Perhaps it is ONLY Romney's money that has kept him in the nominal "front-runner" position all this time?

  55. I don't play with fire, do not drive at excessive speeds nor get to close to the edge of the canyon, and I have never consciously listened to Rush. What's not to like?

  56. The media may get a D in fortune telling, but in a way I find it heartening that money and momentum may not dictate the winner after all. Americans deserve some credit here.

    Oddly enough, the "severely conservative" minority may be to thank for confounding the media. They are irrational actors. Like children at the playground, they are so busy fighting amongst themselves--proving who is more conservative, who is more religious, who is more extreme--that they will certainly guarantee a Republican loss in the general election.

    Their social-change agenda smacks of more--not less--government intrusion. They've lost sight of their basic belief in small-government.

    For this reason, the Republicans seem out of balance and, yes, unpredictable. No wonder the media can't call this one.

    Sane conservatives need to speak up to help restore stability and reason. George Will did just that on Sunday when he said that "Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. They want to bomb Iran, but they’re afraid of Rush Limbaugh.”

  57. "Misogynistic toilet" will forevermore be a part of my lexicon. Brilliant!

  58. The old saying that 'you can't fight something with nothing' comes to mind. The Republican party today stands for nothing, literally, rather like the Seinfeld show of the 1990s. They offer nothing and are proud of it. With such a mindset there is little left to talk about, ergo contraception insurance.

    The economy, deficit, unemployment? Off limits, as the stock answer has to be tax-cutting. Iran, Afganistan, N Korea? Not in 2012, when the stock answer is more military spending.

    Energy policy? You get the picture. There is nothing to discuss, ergo contraception insurance. What we have hea' is failure to communicate!

  59. You're right, but please don't sully Seinfeld by associating it with the Republican party.

  60. Good column Frank. I like your style. I too underestimated the Republicans for their wierd stand on contraception, but they are reflecting the 15% of the population that are of this very conservative mind. I was raised in a liberal home and in a liberal church and then encountered this right wing back to the past movement in the Catholic Church. Now the U.S. bishops have put President Obama in their sites and want to end his career. Guess who is empowered by this; Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. To expose this earlier would have been impossible. Even if you knew this mindset existed, would you have ever imagined that it would be the platform of a contender for the president of the United States?

  61. The Republican party is becoming less relevant all the time. The good ld days for some, weren't so good for others. Maybe soon we will see the development of several new party's. Our diverse population can't be adequately represented without a few more choices. The Republicans and Democrats are not enough, plus they have been corrupted by money and lobbyist to the extent that, we the people are not much in the mix anymore. 4 or 5 party's could really set the stage for a more representative government that would have to form coalitions and work together to solve problems or face a vote of no confidence. Our system no longer serves it's intended purpose. And now that corporations are people, we forfeited the right to free representation. Now days representation has to be bought and paid for.

  62. Frank, thanks for reminding us that a candidate can don jeans or a sweater vest and pretend to be like the rest of us but and empty suit is still an empty suit.

  63. Not to worry too much, Frank. Every election cycle produces many spectacular wrong turns and cul-de-sacs. Conventional wisdom of autumn rarely predicts the actual events of spring; same for spring back to a new autumn. Because our attention spans are so mystifyingly short, we perpetually forget how wrong previous pundit predictions have turned out to be. It seems that the smartest political strategy is to expect the unexpected turns of contrary intentions, and to be well prepared to deal with them. I expect that Plouffe, Axelrod and Company know this, but then...?

  64. The male republican candidates have shown American women voters they don't think we can make our own decisions regarding our healthcare and our family planning. This is 2012 and the 21st century where women are serving in our wars, performing surgery, serving as judges, secretary of state, ran for President of our country, but there are still those in the republican party who treat women like second-class citizens.

    Women have been watching the republican presidential candidates responses to Rush Limbaugh's defamation of character of Sandra Fluke and they have all shown themselves to be cowards. These are not men worthy of representing American women and our country. These candidates are all big on rushing to war with Iran, but don't have enough courage to stand up to their " Grand Pooba," Rush Limbaugh. Very telling!

  65. A few thoughts, Mr. Bruni.

    First, thanks for ascribing responsibility to the press and the pundits in what has become the carnival of Republican Primaries (Primates, would be more accurate with no offense to monkeys).

    In my view, failure to ask the obvious follow-up question is always an issue with the American press. For example, when Mr. Romney suggested he would "use different language" regarding Sandra Fluke, my immediate question as a woman and a mother and human being was "what language would make Mr. Limbaugh's vulgar suggestion ok?"
    The questions should be reflexive and yet they are not.

    Yesterday, Mr. Romney suggested a return to his focus on the economy, brushing off the conversation about birth control as a distraction.

    Surely, the man with the perfect hair who would be President has no idea about the economic challenges that present themselves to women, 53 percent of the electorate, who cannot control either their reproductive health or their fecundity.

    That is the real story here, of course, so get on it.

    One more thing. The Democratic Party does not need a "Joe the Plumber," an idiot with a voice. What they need is a consistent message that they will no longer allow this war on women to continue. It is bad for families ... and, it is bad for the economy. Quite a case.

    M. Markle
    State College, PA.

  66. "You all" missed it because the press and politicians are insular, and generally shallow in its perspective. Watch either of the two most popular talk programs Sunday morning and note who the guests are Sunday after Sunday. Then pay attention to the quality of the conversation. Assumptions underlying assertions made are seldom challenged. What one notes are assertions challenged by counter assertions - shallow thinking. There are a lot of us "out there" who didn't "miss it" but then we are not in the "in crowd" inherent in the east coast culture.

  67. The Sunday AM talk shows have become platforms for the guests to spout their opinions without any challenge by the host.

    Where is a Lawrence E. Spivak when we need him?

  68. Here we are, nine months into the presidential primaries, and most still don't grasp that issues don't really matter.

    Its the "it" factor that ultimately determines electability. FDR, JFK, Reagan and Clinton
    all had "it". That innate ability to connect one-on-one.

    Unfortunately, you can neither learn it nor fake it. And, it is this that will propel
    Obama to a second term. This crop of Republicans are just wasting their time and
    money, because they don't have "it". And this, from a lifelong Republican.

  69. The Republicans ought to give themselves one big dope-slap right now.

    And if they're incapable of doing so, I know a lot of women who will happily get in line to administer one.

  70. The press as well as too many Democrats have been cowed by the Republicans cry that they have not been treated fairly. Thus they have bent of backwoods to give extreme language and positions credibility and make false equivelencies between the parties to please th right. A good example of this Mr. Bruni would be your last column.
    Yes Mr. Bruni the press needs to apolgize but more than that it needs to return to objectiviity and honesty. Mr.Wallace has started and others must follow. Call extremism,deceit and hate and mosogeny what it is not some euphamism or only excuse as a valid counter argument to a moderate or plain fact. This goes far beyond Rush Limbaugh.

    You might start by calling an end to giving credence ans succor to those who constantly call a decent man and poltical moderate such as our president an extremist socialist, communist anti-American values person.

  71. Too many Americans in positions of either money power or journalistic wherewithal have become swaggering, dismissive verbal potentates.

    What we're now seeing is a misbegotten sense of superiority exemplified by the sparsest of claims to legitimacy. Money as the criteria for speech and opinion, for one...shock and awe as the standard for well subsidized airwave rants, for another... these are the embarrassing examples of our lowest common denominator.

    Equal blame to go around...those who encroach on civility in the name of righting wrongs while in furtherance of personal gain...and the sorry bunch of listeners who give credence to these assaults on our proud country and empower the barons of rhetorical brutality.

  72. Rush Limbaugh is the real mouthpiece of today's sorry GOP. His excuse was a poor excuse for a real one. His apology was a fraud. He stated he had allowed himself, in an attempt to kill American womenhood's access to insurance-covered birth-control pills, to stoop to their (democrats) style and manner of talk in his use of words he falsely regrets using. Pure, unadulterated, bull-waste. I hope he gets fired. He has earned it. He sounded to me like he was still using "speed".

    The GOP (gasping on pollution: Rush's breathy denigrations) should be very sorry that they failed to cooperate with our President in any manner, shape of form. With one exception: extending the payroll tax cut for a year. Their denial of reasonable proposals will cost them enduring a second term from their one goal for 2012, to unseat him. Instead, the majority of their own party dislike them. As they should.

    They are right about one thing though. This is indeed a critical year in our history. We have witnessed the impact of corporations as people, and superpac money that continues to pay abject losers running for the nomination come Tampa. Who will it be is irrelevant. Romney has told enough outright lies that he has forgotten the wisdom in "oh, what tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive". When he is confronted during the debates, he will deny saying what he said about the mandate re private insurance for Massachusans who opted out of RomneyCare, when he was governor.