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Archive for August, 2012

Romney Speech

I wonder if Romney and his campaign advisors looked at the very small group of undecided voters and wrote the speech to appeal to them.  Otherwise, I don’t get this speech.  If what I said is true, it suggests that the campaign assumes that the undecideds at this point are pretty clueless folks who don’t vote on policy preferences, ideology, or anything appearing to be a good reason to choose one man over another to lead the country.  Instead, they vote on sensibility or gut instinct and the Romney team didn’t want to offend them.  Therefore, Romney aimed to make them feel slightly warmer about his candidacy rather than potentially offended by something specific or with depth – or a passionate defense of a particular worldview.

Like I said – otherwise, this speech made little sense.  It was a little NBC Olympic bio, lines cobbled together from Reagan, some stump speech stuff about his opponent, and then some Peggy Noonan-style rhetoric that just doesn’t seem appropriate for our difficult times.

I guess one could also assume that the campaign people understand the electorate better than I do and the undecideds want something different than a policy wonk with strong preferences like myself would.  This may mean, a la Bryan Caplan, that the marginal voters who are going to decide this 50/50 elections are not exactly the people we’d like to be selecting the President – but select they will.   For those who want to see Obama retired, they better hope so.

As I noted last night, Ryan-Paul 2016?  And btw, am I right to think that the Republicans down in Double and Triple-A are much stronger than the Democrats in the minors?  Indeed, that they seem so much stronger than this current generation of Republican politicians (McCain, Romney, etc)?

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Unlike Chris Christie last night, Congressman Ryan knocked it out of the park – both for the base and the middle.  Here is the text of his speech (though I recommend you watch it instead since Ryan is pretty much the opposite of Nixon in the 1960 Presidential debate).

Ryan is a damn good speaker and projects both strong leadership and intelligence.  A Republican Kennedy (and no, I don’t mean that as a criticism!)?  Mind you, I shudder when the Republican Party defends Medicare like it is a sacred cow.  But Ryan’s speech hit a lot of strong notes – even for us classical liberals suspicious of the Republican Party and even Ryan himself.  Of course, I want to see more than a lot of stirring rhetoric and witty zingers.  But hard to imagine a better realistic alternative on the ticket to Ryan in the Republican Party as it exists right now.  And you really gotta love the natural rights talk – not to mention a derogatory use of the term “central planners” (unfortunately, yes, that would include the guy on the top of the ticket)!

Best zinger of the campaign season so far has got to be this one:

“College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”

Here is the “central planners” line:

“When I was waiting tables, washing dishes, or mowing lawns for money, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life.  I was on my own path, my own journey, an American journey where I could think for myself, decide for myself, define happiness for myself.  That’s what we do in this country.  That’s the American Dream.  That’s freedom, and I’ll take it any day over the supervision and sanctimony of the central planners.”

And here is the natural rights and natural law language that one could imagine most Republicans shortening to a focus on God alone as the source:

“Each of these great moral ideas is essential to democratic government – to the rule of law, to life in a humane and decent society.  They are the moral creed of our country, as powerful in our time, as on the day of America’s founding.  They are self-evident and unchanging, and sometimes, even presidents need reminding, that our rights come from nature and God, not from government.

The founding generation secured those rights for us, and in every generation since, the best among us have defended our freedoms.”

Is it too late to dump Mitt?  Silver lining of a loss: Ryan-Paul 2016?  More likely: Ryan-Rice 2016?  I have a hard time thinking a tired, aging Clinton is going to beat Mr. Charisma teamed up with Prof. Rice.

But for lots of reasons (many highlighted by the fine writers at Reason; example here), we gotta hope that Mr. Ryan’s future governing is a lot more like this speech (minus the Medicare loving) than his behavior in Congress.

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Tenure Man

Stopped regularly reading Mankiw’s blog a long time ago.  However, I recently clicked over and saw this very funny cartoon posted there:

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APSA Update

The annual conference of the American Political Science Association has been cancelled.  I wonder if this will turn out to be the right decision.   As of now, it is fouling up a lot of things but hard to say if going forward would have been completely irresponsible without more data from NOLA and the airlines.

I hate that this probably means that NOLA will never, ever again be the conference site (assuming that the dates don’t change – which is a conversation we should certainly open) - even leaving aside the fact that this conference site had already caused a lot of controversy.

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Small-government types have often debated whether the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, establishing direct election of senators, is in part responsible for the decline of federalism in the U.S. I have long been skeptical of the 17th Amendment repeal movement, because Germany has a system in which states (Länder) elect senators (members of the Bundesrat), and Germany has within a few decades moved from a stronger system of federalism than the U.S. enjoys to a much weaker federalism than the U.S. enjoys. I’ve recently been reading Fiscal Decentralization and the Challenge of Hard Budget Constraints, edited by Jonathan Rodden, Gunnar Eskeland, and Jennie Litvack, and it turns out this arrangement or something like it is more common than I realized — and with even worse consequences.
First, here is Rodden on Germany (p. 174): (more…)

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With Isaac about to hit New Orleans, political scientists around the world are wondering why God hates political scientists more than Republicans(Henry Farrell), whether they can count their conference papers on their CV’s, and all kinds of other things.  For tweets on all this and more, see the APSA 2012 Twitter site here.

What may surprise you is how funny some of these folks are.  A few examples:

Christopher Zorn@prisonrodeo

I will attend #APSA2012. Then I may give #APSA the death penalty for a few years, for “lack of institutional control.”

Kieran Healy@kjhealy

#APSA2012 Realists insist only the credible threat of force will deflect Isaac. Constructivists question the very idea of bad weather.

David Bosco@multilateralist

With #APSA2012 at risk, FEMA stockpiles old issues of APSR and IO, calls on volunteers to aid neighbors with political analysis.

Burt Monroe@burtmonroe

I can’t see why anyone would go to #APSA2012 who doesn’t have to be there. I can’t think of anyone who has to be there.

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And Obama is the winner! Romney will try to “reintroduce” himself to the country while the country is watching Obama touring the wreckage from the hurricane.  How does the whole convention not become effectively diminished – if not scrapped altogether or delayed until the weekend (is this even logistically possible?) – if there is a hard landing on Wednesday in NOLA?  Meanwhile, students with Thursday and Friday political science classes will have to go to class instead of enjoying a long Labor Day weekend (I’d say that is a win for the students, but then again I’m a prof).

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