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Romney/Ryan 2012!

August 11, 2012

Romney made the right choice picking Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate for the 2012 election. Ryan is serious, smart, energised and likable all at once.

The choice speaks for Romney not only because it’s smart in terms of his election chances. It also shows that Romney is not a self-infatuated man. The French Cowboy thinks that Obama picked Biden as his running mate because he was looking for someone who will not steal his limelight. (That plan kind of backfired to the extent that Biden has that unique ability to put his foot in his mouth which can draw a lot of attention. On the other hand, nobody ever cared for what Biden said — maybe precisely for that reason — and so the VP got away with so many verbal faux pas that nobody kept count.)

In terms of personality, Romney is not a very exciting candidate. Paul Ryan is no Sarah Palin either, but he has a charm to himself which make him a welcome refreshment to the campaign trail. There were potential VPs with decidedly less alluring charisma. Romeny didn’t pick any of them. Good for him.

Here’s the short speech Ryan gave after the official announcement that he is Romney’s running mate. The part where he mentions that people talk differently — with less optimism, about smaller dreams — struck me a lot. It reminded me of this piece where a Hungarian-born US citizen tells the story of how he learned what America is all about. There is this section in it:

They [Germans after WWII, no less] thought that Americans were direct and honest. They looked you square between the eyes and told you what they thought. The Americans laughed a lot, often loudly. Their view of life was not tragic, they were not filled with the passionate anxiety of Europeans. Americans had no angst. They didn’t spend their time regretting the past; they thought anything was possible. Give a man an opportunity, he’ll take it, and fulfill what ambitions he had. My German friends called this “practical freedom.” These Americans lived as free men should live. They were modest, never overbearing, gave no quarter to flim-flam, and they were very generous.

When the French Cowboy read this passage, he was thinking: That is exactly right. And yet, the very next thought was a wary: But for how much longer will this be true?

President Obama is not good for America’s mojo.

 

The French Cowboy Has Found Love

March 18, 2012

Well, more precisely speaking, she was discovered by Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard who found her on Ed Morrissey’s website who has spotted her on PJTV… but this is besides the point.

Watch the interview with her and her campaign video as she is running for Congress in Utah.

 

The Uninteresting Interesting Election with the Decidedly Undecided Voters Which May Get Us an Adorable Unworshipped President

March 18, 2012

This election season is both uninteresting and interesting. It is uninteresting because the candidates have not succeeded in creating much enthusiasm (which in return invariably creates hot rebuke from quickly forming opposing camps and it’s time to pop the corn), and it is interesting because the election patterns show that, while the masses may be stupid, their behaviour often reflects the wisdom of the individuals. Voters so far have refused to settle with one candidate, they are taking their time to make up their minds, curtesy of the simple fact that none of the candidates is really convincing.

From the French Cowboy’s perspective, it is appears that all the candidates have some strong points, but none of them is a great overall package. The ideal candidate would have a mix of a few of the characteristics from each of the four remaining contestants. I feel bad for the conservative voters who are facing a choice between good, but not great, options when more than one superb potential candidate out there has decided not to join the race. But there is hope that a candidate who has failed to wow the crowds during his campaign may still become a fantastic president. After the Obama cult of 2008, maybe a no-superstar candidate and president is a good thing.

It is ironic, though, that we are headed to end up with the nomination being won by the candidate with the smallest share of really ardent supporters. Among the Romney voters there must be a large number of strategic voters who don’t think he’s necessarily a great pick except for the strongest likelihood of him winning against Obama in the general election. Voters who have given their vote to one of the other candidates did so because they actually think their man should become the nominee: it’s more a signal than a vote cast with the desire to further a certain outcome.

From a utalitarian perspective you have to wonder whether the benefit derived from Romney’s nomination gratifies his voters to an extent that can compensate the loss experienced by those who wanted to see another person win the nomination. Ultimately this will probably depend on whether Romney  as the GOP presidential nominee succeeds in beating Obama this November.

Chances for that to happen may be better than for the alternative scenarios in which Santorum wins (and then may get beaten into the “Bible-thumping misogynist racist” corner before you can say “liberal media”) or Gingrich (who has lived long enough and deep enough in the DC swamps to necessarily have sceletons in the closet waiting for discovery and exploitation) or Paul (if he became president, at least caricaturists would have a field day for the entirety of his tenure).

While the Republican side is marinating in decided undecidedness, Obama is gearing up his campaign efforts. It’s a good thing when Obama goes out to talk to his stupid-rich donors (you may decide for yourself if there was a pun intended): he is bound to talk from his heart much more than when he is aware of addressing all of the public and that’s when the most telling quotes are created.  Obama gets nasty and repulsive when he’s in campaign mode.

The French Cowboy really appreciates Mark Steyn’s little research on who exactly the President made fun of during a recent event (even though that was not one of his “Let them eat brioche”-style donor soirées). President Obama’s perspective on innovation is based on the arrogant conviction that he can predict the quasi Darwinian process for inventions with virtual certainty, while those who are not convinced that algae are the solution to today’s soaring oil prices cannot. “I know and you don’t” is this president’s leitmotiv.

To get relief from this continuous display of arrogance, presumably any replacement for the current president will do. To achieve a positive cure from it, however, the next president’s qualitites will have to be more outstanding. But, again, since receiving the unconditional adoration of masses of voters has been proven to be no guarantee for presidential skills, maybe a president who does not get carried into the White House by a wave of religious admiration will turn out to be the one we have been waiting for.

Presidential Potential

November 6, 2011

I tried to stay optimistic about the Republican race for the presidency as long as I could. It was easier to do that from a distance than looking closely. But certain things reach you even when you do little more than give a casual glance at an Italian newspaper: ‘Herman Cain, Republican frontrunner, accused of sexual harassment’ Oy.

Sure, my first thought was the same as probably everyone’s first thought: the frontrunner sooner or later gets accused of that. I personally am not convinced of the accuastions being based on solid facts. For now the details are too vague and — considering the paranoia practiced in legal disputes over so-called sexual harassment for years now — I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the events which are being referred to (provided they actually took place) were much ado about nothing.

But for Monsieur Cain, these accusations enhance the perception that he is not cut out to be the President of the United States simply because he is too gaffe-prone. The talent which allows him to throw out smart lines that make crowds roar in enthusiasm is the same talent which makes him say things that make more skeptical folks stop and wonder.

The French Cowboy loves the idea of a black American business man turning US-President on a conservative agenda. But M Cain makes me worry that, as the president, he may continue to shoot out unhelpful comments like a loose cannon. As the leader of the free world you cannot afford to do that.

Herman Cain is a very charismatic person. This alone means that there is potential in him for a landslide electoral victory and a historically successful presidency. Without charisma, neither of the two things are likely to happen. But charisma alone will not make them happen either. (You could argue that the first part can work out well without anything more than charisma, but the second part — not so much.)

M Cain is a trained mathematician. There is a video in which he debates President Clinton on the question of health insurance costs for businesses. In this video, M Cain comes across as a serious, smart business man, armed with facts, ready to defeat a bad idea with no tools except solid reality and the ability to communicate in a rational manner. I would love to see a little more of that relatively dry, facts-only attitude of Cain as he runs for president.

We know that Herman Cain can provoke and sell missteps as charming unconventionalism. But in order to convince a broader section of the electorate, he needs to show his ability to debate in a disciplined manner, ie without verbal missteps and with reliance on deep knowledge of the facts.

Many times, when Cain answers a tough question, he makes general statements on an abstract level. These types of answers from him are always neatly logical, but often lacking in content. They typcially sound basically like this: ‘First I will identify the problem, then I will gather the facts, then I will assess the situation and, finally, I will make a decision — the decision will depend on the first three steps, I cannot give a more specific answer to the question now.’ But a presidential candidate doesn’t have the luxury to wait with forming a specific opinion until he’s won the presidency.

Cain gives the impression that he needs more time to elaborate his policies and only then can he debate President Obama the way he debated President Clinton in the above video.

Run, Paul, Run!

August 21, 2011

The widely overused phrase “It’s the economy, stupid!” just popped up in my mind, only hours after I was thinking that it is very annoying how often it is used. The phrase came to my mind in connection with my considering the chances of a Paul Ryan bid for the presidency. Philip Klein is a self-professed friend of the idea of President Ryan, but publicly worries about the fact that he sees unsurmountable obstacles for Ryan, should he decide to run. Klein has strong doubts that Ryan would be able to win voters beyond a group of white intellectual conservatives.

I say: relax. Should Ryan decide to run (and the French Cowboy certainly hopes he does), then there is no reason why he shouldn’t be able to win the support of a broad portion of the electorate. For one thing, it’s impossible to predict how popular a candidate will become before he or she is out there and gets into contact with people. The personality of the candidate, the way he presents himself, the way he is presented by others and external factors, including their timing, create a far too multidimensional network to foretell how it will play out.

Furthermore, the number one thing that this election is about is the economy including entitlement reform. And this is exactly where Ryan is at his best. More than any of the current candidates, Ryan has already proven intelligence, seriousness, courage and conservative beliefs in the context of the debate over fiscal reform. Considering that the economy is the most pressing issue on the electorate’s mind in general these days, it is hard to concur with the argument that Ryan’s not being known for his stand on abortion is a significant weakness, as Mr Klein seems to argue.

I can imagine the Tea Party movement to fully support Ryan. When it comes to tackling the budget deficit, Ryan has walked the walk rather than just talked the talk more than any of the candidates so far. This isn’t to say that Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry aren’t believable when they speak of how they would try to turn the economy around and bring America back on the path to prosperity, nor that they haven’t executed good ideas in that regard. But Paul Ryan has actually bothered to go through the nitty gritty of unattractive number crunching and to take on a leadership role where the prize was not winning an election but contributing to a sustainable economic path for the nation. His mission wasn’t (or isn’t) one connected with personal glory, on the contrary, it was one to more likely cost him his political career and earn him a lot of negative news stories.

The reason it didn’t, and the reason the French Cowboy thinks it might actually make him president, is that voters understand the urgency of the situation and are willing to listen to serious suggestions. They sense that Ryan is offering a serious suggestion, one driven by an earnest desire to lead the way out of a bad situation, not by politics. Also, it is one that strikes the balance between careful consideration for those who have reasonably relied on the status quo on the one hand, and radical changes of a magnitude needed in order to be effective in achieving sustainability on the other. In other words: it might actually work, politically as well as technically.

In his pragmatist and yet disciplined approach to the fiscal situation and his proven willingness to step up and lead, Paul Ryan is the antithesis to President Leading-from-behind-let’s-give-another-speech-and-then-go-golfing Obama. Where Paul Ryan has presented to the American people a well-designed, serious plan and treated them as adults, Obama’s preferred strategy is to demagogue his political adversaries and to fight an army of strawmen. Who cares about executive experience when the characters of the comparables are so telling? I for one would rather vote for a man who has proven his mettle in the kiddie pool to the extent that he could, than for a man who was in the Olympic sized pool but spent his time lying on a floating mattress, blaming bad luck for the economic draught.

Don’t Mess with Texas

August 21, 2011

Wow, this is so pathetic.

I listened to NPR yesterday and learned that Gov. Perry was vulnerable because of his views on evolution and global warming. Also, according to the report, Perry expounded his views on the subject to “a young man” in New Hampshire. What the good people at NPR forgot to mention was — as can be seen in the above linked video — that said “young man” was about 9 years old and received his cues by (presumably) his mother who was hiding behind her son while feeding him the lines he was supposed to ask Perry.

“Ask him about evolution”, you can hear her say into her son’s ear, and “Ask him why he doesn’t believe in science.” Clearly hearing the woman’s prompting, Perry was polite enough to answer the first question even though the “young man” failed to repeat what everybody had heard his mother say anyway, and smart enough to ignore the second question regarding science, as that one, too, was not passed on by the boy (to whom I wish he may forgive his mother while continuing to do his own thinking).

Ed Morrissey’s comment points out the cowardliness of that woman in pushing her son to ask questions she apparently doesn’t have the guts to ask herself. The French Cowboy thinks that behind the decision to abuse her son for this stunt probably (also) lies the wish to create a gotcha You Tube moment with Rick Perry stammering over a question asked by a kid. (Maybe she was inspired by this cringe-inducing reaction to a kid’s question by a presidential candidate.) The video would go viral in the almighty Internet and ruin Perry’s presidential bid. It would be remembered as the watershed moment for America in the fight over its very soul, and her son would become the celebrated hero who has brought the apocalyptic monster that is the prospect of a Perry presidency to its downfall.

And then she made her mistake: she realised that when she makes it too credible that her son asked those powerful questions all on his own, then, indeed, it would be he who would become the national hero. But it was all her idea! Her brilliant plan and clockwork execution! So she must make this known in a subtle but unmistakingly clear way. Hence, she wanted the video to plainly show that she is the one cueing her son, so that people can see that behind the messenger stands a greater being: the creator of the message — she must be celebrated, not the boy who was only her tool of choice! With this decision she inadvertantly sabotaged her own plot because instead of focussing on Perry’s (perfectly fine) answer, Internauts are shaking their heads watching a woman misusing her son in the attempt to lay a trap for a presidential candidate.

Before closing, let me come back to the NPR report on Perry’s candidacy. The focus of the report was not on Perry’s view on science. Rather, it claimed that Perry was running on a platform that says “The rest of America should become more like Texas”. It was suggested that “more like Texas” means not economic growth and a good climate for businesses which also attracts private persons judging by the statistics, but a flood of minimum-wage-at-best jobs, an army of people with no shot at a decent education, a sore lack of healthcare and states which constantly threaten to secede from the Union.

There was a guy interviewed in the report who had written a book explaining how, just because California is basically dying and Texas is thriving, that doesn’t mean that the California model is bad and the Texas model is good.

The mainstream media is doing their best to turn the Texas success story into one of failure which — if applied on the rest of the nation — would lead to unspeakable misery and catastrophic damage of which we should be very, very afraid.

But there is one line which seems appropriate to repeat here — although it’s pratically guaranteed to trigger protests over the tone of political discourse etc  — and that is “Don’t mess with Texas!”

Mug Shot

July 9, 2011

Apparently, DNC chairwoman* Debbie Wasserman Schultz (is it just me or does that name sound very “Democrat”?) is selling coffee mugs with Obama’s birth certificate printed on them for fundraising.

Tina Korbe who gives us the heads-up in the above-linked story doesn’t seem to appreciate the idea. The French Cowboy thinks it’s rather amusing. Obama and the Democrats in league with him haven’t come out of the whole birth-certificate story in a way that speaks so well for them that it’s fundraising material. Of course the idea behind Wasserman Schultz’s effort is that every potential donor will focus on the “oh, those silly Birthers” part of the story, and for her target group that will work. Yet you could imagine a Republican candidate selling birth-certificate mugs just as well, only that, in that context, it would serve as a reminder of the current administration’s incompetence and arrogance.

Such a mug on the French Cowboy’s coffee table would be a symbol of the importance of the 2012 presidential election. Even if you like President Obama as a person (and there are many who do), his politics, with very few exceptions, range from the indefensible to the absurd. Indefensible because evidence proves them wrong (think jobless numbers, public debt and deficits etc), and absurd because logic proves them wrong (tax hikes on an ever shrinking tax base won’t solve a public revenue problem and subsidising health care won’t make it cheaper).

Maybe the actual problem with Mme Wasserman Schultz’s fundraising idea isn’t the print, but the mug. Who still has use for a coffee mug? The French Cowboy, for one, already places the uglier mugs at tables’ edges on purpose hoping that they might fall and break so that the mugs-to-pantry ratio is reduced.

Here’s a free-of-charge idea for you, Mme Wasserman Schultz: instead of coffee mugs, offer shooting targets with the birth certificate printed on them. You might win the NRA vote with that.

* Is it OK to say “chairwoman” as opposed to “chairman” when we speak of a woman? The French Cowboy prefers that expression because it’s more accurate. It would be sad if for the sake of fighting silly political correctness, we’d have to give up on factual correctness. But I’m open for arguments (as long as it isn’t that, in that case, I would also have to call her “Debbie Wasserwoman Schultz”).

Spoiling for a Fight, Not a Spoiled Fight

July 3, 2011

The announcement of a presidential bid by Thaddeus McCotter, R-Michigan was the best news since months. So far, the French Cowboy knows nearly nothing about McCotter, but any serious candidate for the GOP nomination is a welcome addition to the current field. It’s not that the group of candidates so far is that bad. All in all they’re perfectly viable and decent candidates, and yet, when McCotter gave his rationale for throwing in his hat for the 2012 nomination, he expressed something quite true:

“Republicans may be prepared at some point to settle, if that’s how they view it, but they’re still viewing it as, ‘Why should we have to? What else is out there?’” he said. “It doesn’t mean it’s me. The reason I was here was to find out are they even asking that question, ‘What else is out there?’ And they clearly are.”

McCotter is surely getting observers’ intense attention thanks to two simple facts: 1) The list of candidates so far is not particularly inspiring, and 2) there are no red flags on him, at least on first sight, which means that he is potentially a new GOP superstar. And this is what, deep inside, we are actually hoping for: a fresh candidate who can make the crowds roar with excitement and take on President Obama with the drama due the defeat of such an outstandingly bad president.

Obama became president with a bang, and every Republican wants to see him go down not only with a wimper, but with the GOP triumphantly rising with a vengeance. All the electable candidates of the current field may have the potential to pull something like that off. But the most important factor for such a feat is enthusiastic support from voters. And so far, as McCotter correctly pointed out, voters are not convinced of any of the candidates and are scanning the horizon for new joiners.

The French Cowboy believes that at least two types of candidates would be well suited to take on Obama in an entertaining political battle and come out triumphantly: the impeccable intellectual with an air of authority who makes everyone else look like a school boy (“Type A” candidate), or the unconventional it’s-the-American-way die-hard who will connect with voters in a way that revives faith in democracy even in the most hardend cynic (the “Type B” candidate).

Type A candidates are very rare, and I wonder whether they can succeed in this climate at all. Gaining votes and enthusiasm by being very intelligent and noble may not be possible in these times. If we had an Abraham Lincoln as a presidential contender, would he stand a chance? Not unless the media portrayed him favourably– as they did with Obama whose cluelessness was depicted as being the result of intellectual considerations beyond our understanding — and when was the last time a GOP candidate had the media on his side?

Now Type B candidates are probably not easier to have, but there was one in very recent memory which makes it so much easier to imagine that such a candidate will emerge at any moment. I’m speaking of course of Sarah Palin whose supporters are both fervent and numerous. The big question in her case is whether she has reached a limit of support which she cannot possible extend. The French Cowboy thinks that, for no fault of her own, Mme Palin has indeed reached such a limit more likely than not.

Just to insert a little thesis on the side here: It looks like Palin has made a breach into the media’s glass ceiling for conservative women which cleared the way for Michelle Bachmann. The anti-Palin squads were still congratulating themselves for having destroyed the former governor’s public image and still watching her every move suspiciously, when Mme Bachmann went unnoticed by them as she was developing into a sort of Ersatz-Palin.

After conservative voters had been fired up by Sarah Palin during the last presidential election which yet they lost, they are all the more hoping for a thrilling fight with a captivating candidate this time around where beating President Obama is an even more worthy goal than was beating presidential nominee Obama then.

It is still early in the game and you can probably say that presidential elections are predictably unpredictable, at least at this stage. Yet the French Cowboy hopes that the number of candidates will still increase. Win or lose, any level of enthusiasm for the presidential candidate of the GOP that falls short of the enthusiasm with which Sarah Palin had been backed as VP-candidate would be a disappointment, especially against a president who rode into the White House on a wave of religious adoration.

In Overseas Contingency Operations Truth Is the First Casualty?

May 8, 2011

The death of Bin Laden is the type of event that people all over the world hear about and, more importantly, like to talk about. Everybody has an opinion on it. You like to speculate on background facts and details, you comment on the decisions made by persons involved (and often come to the conclusion that you would have done better), you use whatever little information you may have and invest all your common sense to explain to your peers that you have a much better grasp of how things must have been than they do. It beats talking about the weather, apparently. The French Cowboy was surprised to hear water-cooler conversations on the (faked) photograph of Bin Laden’s body and to watch the shaking of heads over Americans’ celebrating the kill on the streets of New York (‘Isn’t it disturbing how the Americans glory in the death of a human being?’).

The Old Continent, as you know, is quite fond of Obama. The speculations on his birth among some Americans were something that we loved to deride with a smug smirk while remarking that, whenever Americans have elected a good president, they like to give him trouble — it was the same with Bill Clinton! Ah oui, le pauvre Bill! Such a noble creature and the silly Americans give him hell for no good reason whatsoever. (Note the explicit non-mention of W — the Orwellian-trained mind does not waste capacity on Bushitler posters, those have been sent down the memory hole a long time ago. After all, we are talking about good American presidents here.)

The reason the French Cowboy mentions all this is that, however the average European Joe’s sense of superiority towards ‘the Americans’, we are keenly interested in what the USA do. And when they kill a rather mysterious bearded figurehead of some terrorist organisation then we certainly feel entitled to follow the news on that story with half an ear and to have extensive conversations on it with our neighbours. And — surprisingly — everything we learn about the event fits our view of America.

The prejudices strongly confirmed in the killing of Bin Laden are as follows:

1) Americans have this stone-aged notion of eye-for-an-eye justice: one man kills 3k innocent Americans and the Americans think they have to hunt him down and kill him in return! They are so hopelessly belligerent!

2) The CIA just goes about, indiscriminately killing people all around the world. If you live in the same household as an internationally wanted mass murder, you may just get shot in your own bedroom!

3) You can’t believe a single word of what comes from the Pentagon.

4) Obama is such an awesome president, he’s too good for the American people.

Obama is a lucky guy: the shooting of Bin Laden is going to help him politically within the US (although I doubt that it will have a strong enough effect to materially help him in his reelection bid) and — at least for now — it looks like it does not hurt him politically outside of the US. Somehow, the criticism of the kill is directed against the abstract concept of “Americans” not against the very concrete person of Obama.

And yet I can’t shake the feeling that all that confusion over the actual circumstances of the raid on OBL’s compound is trouble, potentially very big trouble, and even trouble that could have been prevented. Sure, Obama must have been very happy to have the good news to announce to the American public on that Sunday evening. But wouldn’t it have been smarter to get the official story straight first? For most Americans it may be irrelevant whether OBL had a weapon or not, even whether he looked like he was willing to surrender or more like he was about to blow everyone to smithereens. But for the international stage those are key details, and the mutually contradicting versions of the accounts coming from public channels make things only worse.

For the not-so-attentive eye, which most people cast on the news, it looks like the American government has killed a guy, knew that its way of doing it wasn’t entirely kosher (no pun intended) and therefore tried to give a — ehm… modified account of actual events and even added some propagandist details (like OBL using his wife as a human shield). Here I have to say it: Imagine Bush had done it!

If Obama wants to be taken seriously — by Americans and internationally — then he should stand by his way of doing things. If the story isn’t clear, then people will assume the worst anyway and disrespect you for not admitting it. If some things are better kept undisclosed then, fine, keep them undisclosed. But don’t allow different versions of one story to be labelled as official, especially not when they include invented elements worthy of a nutty third-world dictator.

In that context, the French Cowboy thinks that the publication of the photographs of OBL’s body would help Obama politically. Assuming there is nothing seriously wrong with the pictures, they would help to seal the story in a version of Obama’s choosing. On the other hand, I have strong doubts that it will help America as a whole because it certainly would be a useful propaganda item for the bad guys. They may not need it, but that still isn’t a good reason to give it to them.

Quote of the Week

May 2, 2011

From the Wall Street Journal in a story on the death of Osama bin Laden (emphasis mine):

There was a mix of somberness [and of] celebration near Ground Zero, where a new tower is rapidly becoming part of the city’s skyline. Cheers rang out and horns honked, while others lit candles at a memorial at the site.

Frank Cantwell, a 64-year-old operating engineer at the construction site there, said there were only a few people present when the news first broke. “It’s long overdue,” he said. “You can sort of hear the silent cheers of 3,000 ghosts.”