Saturday, July 09, 2011

Race for the White House 2012

During the past week, the Presidential contest took a bit of a backseat on cable news networks to a courtroom in Orlando, as many Americans were surprised and angered by the Casey Anthony verdicts. A great deal of people believe that the young woman, who is soon to be free of jail, has gotten away with the murder of her three year old daughter, and comparisons have been made to the 1995 O.J. Simpson decision. While Florida will of course be a battleground state in 2012, the endorsement of Ms. Anthony (and the jurors who acquitted her) would not be welcomed by any candidate, suffice to say.

Friday morning say the Obama Labor Department releasing devastatingly bad unemployment numbers, showing that the situation continues to be far worse than predicted. With jobs and the economy continuing to be the main issue facing America, each passing month, and each failure to make a dent in the abysmal employment data, would appear to indicate that Obama's reelection forecast, against a credible Republican contender, might be getting more and more in doubt. For his part, David Plouffe, the Obama 2012 campaign manager was quoted on the record saying words to the effect of how regular Americans do not concern themselves with unemployment figures, but instead are focused on their own lives. Those remarks were jumped on by GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, who called for Obama to fire Plouffe. Putting aside the obvious; that the economic numbers are evidence of people struggling in their own lives, Plouffe's remarks were enormously politically tone deaf and elitist. We have probably not heard the last of them.

As debt ceiling battles continue to rage in Beltway, the Republican nomination contest is once again in a bit of a holding pattern. The campaign of Michele Bachmann continues to gain credibility, although the candidate may soon be asked to answer questions regarding a recent social conservative pledge she signed,that among other things, called for the banning of all pornography. The campaigns of Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, two Georgians, continue to be mired in a perhaps irreversible slump, while people are also chattering as to whether or not Tim Pawlenty will be forced to leave the race, if he does not have a very strong showing in next month's Iowa Straw Poll. Pawlenty did get some positive press this week in the Hawkeye, when the hiring of a key political operative, who just happens to be the daughter of the 2008 Caucus winner, Mike Huckabee.

The GOP contest will probably continue to inch along without dramatic developments until we all know for sure whether or not Texas Governor Rick Perry will enter the race. Political insiders, such as Karl Rove, now seem to be more willing to think he will toss his cowboy hat into the ring, now that the Texas special legislative session is over. Perry recently had back surgery though, so it will likely be more than a month before his intentions are known. The Governor of Texas received plaudits from many conservatives this week by allowing the execution of a convicted murderer and Mexican citizen, over the opposition of both the United Nations and the Obama White House.

This past week, Mitt Romney was endorsed by virtually every Republican officeholder in Utah, a state where Romney spent a few years in, while running the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics committee. While Utah's GOP lining up behind the Mormon Romney might not have been a huge surprise, it is of course worth noting that many of these Romney endorsers were allies and even top staffers of the state's former Governor and current Romney opponent Jon Huntsman.

Also this week, Romney traveled to Great Britain, where the easy GOP funding leader, raised money from Americans living in the U.K. During the trip, he also met with British Prime Minister David Cameron, from the Conservative Party, in a photo op that any Republican candidate would relish in regards to establishing foreign policy credentials with a top U.S. ally whom many believe the current Administration has disrespected, and in looking Presidential and statesman like. The former Governor of Massachusetts would have garnered even more attention back at home if he had met with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but they were in Canada this past week (a neighbor with a Conservative government and a far favorable economy at the moment) and are now in California.

Speaking of California, I would have to use this space to mention in closing the passing there of former First Lady Betty Ford yesterday at the age of 93. With her death, every former President and First Lady to live in the White House before I was born, are now gone. While several men and women, candidate and spouse alike are currently angling to live (or keep living) at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Mrs. Ford, found herself there in 1974 somewhat unexpectedly, and certainly made a name for herself by speaking her mind. Both in the White House and since, she overcame difficult situations and earned respect from Americans of all political stripes in how she was able to use her own experiences with issues such as breast cancer and substance addiction to help others. Next summer, she would be worthy of at least a brief mention in memoriam at both national conventions.