Rick Santorum pulled a sudden move today. He ended his campaign for president, likely clearing the way for Mitt Romney to be the Republican nominee.
ON THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BEGINNING OF THE TITANIC’S MAIDEN VOYAGE, THE GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN SUDDENLY BEGINS FOR MITT ROMNEY.
Just like that, on the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the the Titanic setting out from Southampton on its fateful maiden voyage, Rick Santorum started the general election campaign. He did it today by suddenly ending his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination at an appearance in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, another place redolent with history.
Santorum, as I wrote last week in the essay linked below, held the prospect of several major primary victories ahead in May, if only he could get through the next few weeks of negative chatter and Northeastern defeats. He also had rather dicey prospects in his home state Pennsylvania primary and, as it happened, a very sick 3-year old daughter who just got out of her latest stint in the hospital. He could win several more primaries, but faced long odds for the nomination, with party elites eager for the fighting to end to salvage a shot at Obama.
After months of demolition derby primaries and caucuses, Romney was a clear frontrunner. With no one else eagerly stepping forward to try to take on President Barack Obama, the slant of the table was clearly in the ex-Massachusetts governor’s direction.
So now Romney is what he’s been claiming to be all these many months, the all but inevitable nominee of the Republican Party.
He’s pretty damaged goods. But I expect the race to get closer, before it opens up again.
Some Republican sources, including at least one who told me just before Easter weekend that Santorum would opt to end his campaign, think that Romney is a better general election candidate than a primary candidate.
Considering that he has now won the primaries, I think that would be difficult.
What it took for Romney to win, going even more conservative in 2012 than he did as the hard right conservative choice in the 2008 primaries, makes it hard for him to win the independent swing voters he needs to become president.
The fact that his campaign spokesman mused so candidly about the “Etch A Sketch” nature of the candidacy; i.e., shifting his political identity yet again for the general election, doesn’t make it any easier for Romney to pull off his patented chameleon act.
And one thing he can never shake is what is evidently his core identity as an advocate of anything-goes finance capitalism. He made that lastingly clear in January, when he cast as anti-American any criticism of Wall Street ways, even those made by his own chief strategist in the 2010 California governor’s race, as I wrote at the time.
Much can still go wrong for Obama, but it will take something very big for him to lose.
The economic recovery failing would be one thing. The economy is still rather shaky, though much improved. And people are unhappy about high gasoline prices, though in some ways resigned while in others Obama is covering himself by criticizing the oil companies who are likely to fund Romney super PAC activities.
A massive geopolitical crisis would be another game change.
Iran has finally decided to go ahead with the new round of nuclear negotiations with the permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany at the end of the week, as originally planned in Istanbul. But will much come of it, and in time to forestall Israeli air strikes?
The UN-brokered peace deal for the linked Syrian crisis is falling apart.
Afghanistan is a huge mess, though the US and Afghan governments have reached agreement on Afghan oversight of the highly controversial night raids.
North Korea is apparently reneging on its agreement to forego missile tests and nuclear testing.
It’s not a copacetic time.
But would America turn to Mitt Romney, who promises an even more hard-boiled version of the old Bush/Cheney policies?
Only if Obama seems incompetent.
Naturally, there will be tons of advertising designed to show just that, with most of it coming from super PACs, principally the Karl Rove-led Crossroads operation. Not that Rove will be escaping his identity as the chief Bush/Cheney strategist.
The template for a potential Romney victory is already laid out by how he won his primary victories. Massive negative advertising from super PACs taking unlimited contributions under the new Citizens United decision.
It’s barely worked for him in the Republican contest, with huge spending advantages over his opponents. Those advantages don’t apply against Obama, whose forces have been preparing to run against Romney all along.
(Though there were some moments when Chicago, as the Obama campaign high command is called, was more concerned with Santorum and his more down to earth appeal.)
But the unlimited spending allowed by the split Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case may well blunt what should be the incumbent president’s financial advantage. So if the world goes arse over tea kettle, all bets may be off.
** MAD MEN‘s MASTER CLASS IN AMERICAN STUDIES ROLLS ON TO SOME MYSTERY DATES. Well, that was one of the spookier Mad Men episodes, complete with not one but two dream sequences. As always, there be some spoilers ahead discussing this episode, the aptly titled “Mystery Date.”
The horizon of the future, i.e., the later ’60s, is getting much darker, and a lot closer. New York City has slid past its peak, at which it glittered as the series began. Things increasingly don’t work, we’re seeing some people who look rather unkempt. And they’re not the hippies, because those folks have yet to arrive.
Incidentally, you can see all my Mad Men pieces, going back to 2009, here in The Mad Men File.
It’s mid-July 1966. The worst things are happening elsewhere, but they’re getting closer. Richard Speck raped and murdered eight student nurses in Chicago, and race riots have cropped up in the Windy City as well. Much of the Mad Men crew is neurotically ogling death pictures from Chicago, chattering uneasily about the salacious brutality of the mass murder and worrying about racial unrest.
Much closer to home, there’ve been violent incidents between blacks and Puerto Ricans and blacks and police in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district, where later in the year Senator Robert F. Kennedy will join with liberal Republican Mayor John Lindsay and liberal Republican Senator Jacob Javits to launch a new public/private partnership to deal with community problems.
The Vietnam War is ramping up. And drugs as an answer to unease and unhappiness are becoming widespread, across the generations.
Mad Men, the great American novel for television that doubles as a master class in American studies — advertising, arguably the quintessential American industry for its stoking of desire and aspiration, providing a perfect milieu — incorporates all this into the lives of our beloved and not infrequently benighted characters.
Let’s deal first with the dream sequences, something I hardly ever like. Don Draper and his new wife Megan Calvet Draper have the first Mystery Date, running into Andrea Plotdevice, an old sex partner of Don’s who flirts inappropriately with the now abashed admeister before grasping that the beautiful young woman in the elevator with them is his wife. After she departs, Don and Megan go through their pattern of bickering and then making up, which of course will never get old, either for them or for us.
Andrea Plotdevice is played by Madchen Amick, one of the glamour girls of Twin Peaks, David Lynch’s great cult fave series of two decades ago which, unlike Mad Men, could not sustain its premise. (It was sort of the Lost of its day, but got to the ultimate disappointment much faster.)
Andrea turns up not once but twice after, both times appearing at Don and Megan’s fabulous Manhattan apartment, to which Draper, sick as a dog and looking it, has repaired to recuperate. Don, initially resistant to Andrea’s entreaties for sex, gives in for a sweaty performance. Then, angered by her taunting admonition that they’ll do it again because he is sick and loves it, he murders her and pushes her body under the bed.
These were clearly dream sequences. Otherwise, Mad Men was suddenly becoming a very different sort of show.
What do the dream sequences mean? Well, when Bobby Ewing came out of the shower, we learned … Wait, that’s not it. Ain’t no oil derricks on this show. …
The UN-brokered peace plan in Syria appears to have failed, with Assad regime forces continuing their assault on protesters even after the deadline has passed. Syria’s foreign minister is in Moscow for consultations with the regime’s Russian allies, who are suffering embarrassment as the process drags on.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Florida.
Obama has received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then flew on Air Force One to West Palm Beach, Florida.
At 11:55 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks on the economy at Florida Atlantic University.
At 3 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a fundraiser at the Westin Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida.
On Monday morning, the Obama hosted the 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House, featuring live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling and, of course, Easter egg rolling. In the afternoon, Obama hosted President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil for mini-summit meetings at the White House in advance of this coming weekend’s Summit of the Americas
On Tuesday, Obama will travel to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton where he will make the case for the Buffet Rule. He will also appear at fundraisers before returning to Washington.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Obama will attend meetings at the White House.
On Friday, Obama will travel to Cartagena, Colombia, to attend the Summit of the Americas. He will return to Washington on Sunday.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Iraq, AfPak, and North Korea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Arabian Gulf is eleven hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is twelve and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events.
** JERRY BROWN HITS 74. California’s youngest governor since it was barely a state back in the 19th century turned 74 on Saturday. Jerry Brown, back for a third term after his fascinating two terms as governor in the 1970s and ’80s is now California’s oldest governor, with little sign of slowing down.
It’s not a surprise. Brown’s father, the legendary Governor Pat Brown, lived into his 90s and his idea of exercise, in contrast to his very fit son, was splashing around in his pool. Brown’s mother, the ever sharp Bernice Brown, also lived into her 90s. And one of the most amusing moments at Brown’s third inaugural last year — in addition to his pointedly intoning that he was of “sound mind” in taking the oath of office to run the chronically troubled Golden State — was when he made a point of introducing his 99-year old aunt. Some ambitious faces in the front rows fell at that. … From my April 7th essay.
** IS ROMNEY “INEVITABLE,” AGAIN? Is Mitt Romney “inevitable,” again? For the Republican presidential nomination, that is, as I don’t believe he can beat Barack Obama. Or is he merely back in command of the race? … From my April 5th column.
** MAD MEN: WHOSE SIDE IS TIME ON, ANYWAY? … From my April 3rd essay.
** CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS IN CRISIS: ANOTHER BIG SHOE DROPS. … From my March 29th essay.
** MAD MEN (FINALLY) RETURNS: WORTH THE WAIT? … From my March 27th essay.
** THE REAL GAME CHANGE: PALINISM’S RISE AND MODERATE REPUBLICANISM’S ECLIPSE. … From my March 23rd essay.
** CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS HAVE ONLY THEMSELVES TO BLAME. … From my March 22nd essay.
** JERRY BROWN DEALS AWAY TROUBLE ON THE LEFT. … From my March 16th column.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
Today is the 100th anniversary of the RMS Titanic setting sail from Southampton, England on its fateful maiden voyage. Dubbed “the ship of dreams,” Titanic represented a civilization which believed it was reaching a zenith of technological sophistication and power. The trailer, of course, is to James Cameron’s new 3-D version of his classic film Titanic.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in major military operations in the region, and the Arab awakening underway, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer from the Russia Today channel. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the state-run channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading around $101 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $67 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity, and down about $13 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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