Garrity pulled over a different reporter

Turns out that Mitt Romney’s Director of Operations, who recently took a paid leave of absence because he claimed to be a cop while harassing reporters and citizens, had harassed another reporter, according to Scott Helman at the Globe:

Now another reporter is saying she had an experience similar to Leibovitch’s account. Marcia Vickers, a senior writer with Fortune magazine, said that while trailing Romney in New Hampshire on Memorial Day for a forthcoming magazine piece, Garrity instructed her at one point to stop tailing Romney’s car.

You know Mitt, maybe it’s true?

More on the Obama voter issue

Remember all that blabber about Barack Obama getting so much Facebook support? Recall Patrick Ruffini’s recent discussions about who Obama’s voters are? He said this:

See, Barack Obama has mobilized people, even if he hasn’t mobilized the netroots. He’s brought in students, African Americans, and apparently, young females. These are groups that are relatively apolitical. That’s why when you loosen the likely voter screen just a little, Obama does a lot better.

In that context, I thought this from Mashable was interesting:

Danah Boyd, a social scientist engaged in ethnographic research, has published a piece on her findings regarding the socioeconomic effects we’ve seen play out on MySpace and Facebook. According to Boyd, those with more education tend to be on Facebook while those in the margins of nearly every aspect of our culture can be found on MySpace.

So, I went over to TechPresident and checked how Obama was comparing to others:

Funny. Obama does better than Clinton among the educated rich kids… Who would have thunk?

SCOTUS allows WI RTL ads

Today, the Supreme Court overruled a district and appellate court and allowed issue ads within the "window". Stated intelligibly, issue ads will not be regulated. However, it looks like a fairly narrow ruling:

The Court issued its fifth ruling of the day, concluding that a Wisconsin abortion rights group had a First Amendment right to aid during election season campaign ads that named a candidate running for the Senate. Three of the five Justices in the majority urged the Court to overturn the part of a 2003 ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the federal law restricting such radio and TV ads close to elections. The Chief Justice’s main opinion, joined fully by Justice Alito, said the case did not provide an occasion to revisit that ruling. Justice Souter recited at length from the bench for the four dissenters — who were in the minority in four of the five rulings on Monday. The ruling came in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life (06-969) and a companion case.

Presumably this means that there will be no challenges to the issue ads, while BCRA will stay on the books. And, presumably, NRLC and Jim Bopp will try to find another way to challenge the new status quo to continue to undermine BCRA. Who knows how this will play out.

As I have indicated previously, it seems clear that allowing these ads was the constitutional thing to do. Good for the court. It will be interesting to see how conservative pundits discuss this. I could see a lot of dissatisfaction with how narrow and respectful of precedent it is. Will this be an indicator for Alito and Roberts judgments in the future? Will that become an issue?

Struggles of the conservative movement

I’ve been at a family reunion, so I missed this Washington Times article, but I think it is very important. The basic problem is that yesterday’s conservative movement is having trouble revitalizing itself with new leaders:

"Younger across-the-board conservatives are harder to find because younger folks often do not like the war in Iraq, but I have no problem in getting social conservatives to work with economic and defense conservatives once they learn the reality of things," Mr. Weyrich said.

Mr. Keene said the problem in finding young leadership is that "the so-called conservative movement of today consists of many young people attracted to politics by one or another politician but without a lot of thought about the philosophical underpinnings that united previous generations of conservatives."

I’m going to get in trouble for this, but I wonder if Keene is underestimating how much of the current generation was attracted to Reagan, and the previous to Goldwater, rather than deep philosophy. That said, there is a real difference between reading Russel Kirk and Hayek and reading Ann Coulter and Michael Savage.

I also wonder if something deeper is going on. As Michael Gerson pointed out in a widely criticized, but substantially correct, to my mind, piece in WaPo recently:

Catholics who regard themselves as pro-life, pro-immigrant and pro-poor; young evangelicals more exercised by millions dying of AIDS in Africa than by the continued existence of the Education Department; … All this alienation may, in a saner time, be the basis of a movement that mitigates polarization instead of glorying in it.

Perhaps there is just a disconnect between the leaders of today’s conservative movement and their future base. Contrast Gerson’s statement with Tony Perkins:

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, 44, who presided over the initial two-day meeting, said, "Immigration is bringing conservative angst with GOP leadership to a boiling point."

It strikes me that the next generation of young evangelical leaders are more comfortable with voices like Rick Warren, Michael Gerson, and (perhaps) Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee, than they are with the older voices. Now, if that is the case, what does that mean for some parts of the coalition? As Hallow noted:

Illustrating the growing rift in the movement, far fewer economic conservatives — who are irate over government expansion and federal spending under Republicans — showed up for the summit than religious and social conservatives, who have been meeting in a smaller "executive committee" format since.

Part of me would notice that the economic conservatives are in line with Warren’s and Gerson’s evangelicals on immigration, the issue that Perkins says is destroying the coalition. But I am someone who is highly sympathetic to Warren, Gerson, and substantial parts of the program of economic conservatives. When you throw in the growing consensus in the development community on trade, the need for education (for business, among others), immigration, and other issues, it seems like there is lots of room for a new conservative consensus.

This increasingly suggests to me that what the party needs is a new model of conservatism. Perhaps Keene’s critique that people are attracted more to candidates than the movement is less a problem with the shallowness of the people and more a problem with the inadequacy of the movement?

In the end, this brings me back to the 2008 race:

Some social conservatives say they hope former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee will emerge as the Reaganesque nominee who keeps the coalition together. But contentious disputes over foreign policy and immigration continue to tear at movement unity.

But who should be the candidate if the current coalition is wrong? What is the future?

GOP and young voters

Marc Ambinder is right about this:

Andrew Sullivan is in one sense correct: traditionally, the youngest cohort of voters dont’ show up at the polls. But the past two election cycles seem to be the start of a new trend: in ’04, the percentage of 18 to 24 year olds rose by, I think I’m remembering this correctly, 11 percent, far exceeding the turnout increases among other age groups. True — they still vote at lower average rates, but it’s not possible to dismiss their influence in close elections anymore.

This should scare the GOP. Now, there are two theories about why this is bad for the GOP:

  1. Over the short term, the numbers will help Democrats in close elections, as Marc indicates
  2. Over the long-term, these people may stay Democrats. Clearly, some of these people become Republicans over time, but enough to offset these people?

In any, case, the GOP needs to put some real energy into figuring this out. Some of this will be through the youth wings like the College and Young Republicans (and the Teenage Republicans, for that matter). But these are the political geeks, not regular people. Furthermore, we really need to reach out on issues that matter to college students… Is anyone really thinking about this?

Is everything in Romney-land make-believe?

So it appears that the whole faux-renta-cop story has legs. Apparently, Mitt Romney’s "Director of Operations" is independently under investigation for threatening a Massachusetts business while impersonating a cop.

This reminded me of another story about Romney from The Atlantic:

"Not only was Eisenhower one of my favorite presidents; when we became grandparents, you get to choose what the kids will call you. Some call you Papa. I chose Ike. I’m Ike, and Ann is Mamie."

This was described quite adequately by Faith in the Sound as, "Quite possibly the queerest thing we’ve ever heard."

So his staff refers to him as 70 and impersonates cops. He wants his grandkids to call him by the name of a former President. (do they play dress up?) His favorite book is Battlefield Earth. He fabricates French marriage law.

Is anything for real? And I’m not even talking about his positions, which are clearly straight out of one of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek replicators. The whole package is just creepy.

The 2008 congressional environment

Lots of ink has been spilled over how hard the 2008 environment is going to be for Republicans. This mostly focuses on Bush and Iraq. While most of this is correct, I wonder how overwhelming this will be. Gallup underscores the argument:

The percentage of Americans with a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress is at 14%, the lowest in Gallup’s history of this measure — and the lowest of any of the 16 institutions tested in this year’s Confidence in Institutions survey. It is also one of the lowest confidence ratings for any institution tested over the last three decades.

Now, there have been discussions for a while about why the numbers for Congress have been falling. The most recent collapse appears to be due to the loss of faith in their own leaders by the left, especially over Iraq Other people are alleging that the immigration issue is the problem, but that appears to be an ideological position, not one supported by the data.

What is clear is that there will be a strong anti-Washington sentiment. This clearly won’t help the GOP in maintaining the White House. It won’t help in the Senate either. Just look at which seats are up. Looking locally, it might help in the House, however. This was the argument made by Tom Cole to a bunch of conservative bloggers at the NRCC on Tuesday.

Now, what to make of this? One scenario is that the election will nationalize. This would be a 2004, 1980, or 1952 model. If that is the case, it is likely to be a very bad year for Washington. However, another model in 1992 where there is a disconnect and a malaise. Then, Ross Perot was capable of expressing that malaise. I don’t see any candidates or movements on the horizon that are capable of speaking to the anger and frustrations of the people.  But the entrance of Nader expresses some of the distaste on the far-left, while the more

In any case, look for candidates of all sorts to push anti-Washington agendas. That is why Mitt Romney says, "I can’t wait to get my hands on Washington." (Never mind that his campaign is stuffed to the gills with lobbyists. I know what they would do if they got their hands on Washington) And why Thompson says, "After eight years in Washington, I longed for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood."

Mitt’s money man: The creepy donor sued for torturing children

Pop quiz for all you wannabe political strategists. If you had a campaign leader who, according to today’s Salt Lake Trib,  was named as a defendant in a suit alleging that at a school he ran:

[S]tudents were forced to eat their own vomit, clean toilets with a toothbrush and brush their teeth afterward, were chained or locked in dog cages, kicked, beaten, thrown and slammed to the ground and forced into sexual acts.

Would you distance yourself from him? Not if you are Mitt Romney, and the guy is one of your Utah Finance co-chairs. In fact, Mitt seems to be good buddies with the guy. Romney got a quarter-mill to fund a candidate in Maine last cycle, according to the Portland Press Herald:

Romney and Lichfield also made the news in Maine recently when the Portland Press Herald reported that an organization affiliated with Lichfield was the top donor in the governor’s race there. RECAF Inc., the paper reported, gave $250,000 to a political action committee set up by the Republican Governors Association to buy television time to support Republican Chandler Woodcock.

Ok. So Lichfield is probably a big donor for Romney and a friend.  Who …. misrepresents himself on campaign contribution filings?

The same penalties apply to any false statement made in campaign disclosure reports. In this case, the address listed for RECAF is 170 N. State St. in La Verkin, Utah.

However, the entire 100 block of North State Street is occupied by Cross Creek Programs, a youth treatment center that sits on land owned by a partnership in Lichfield’s name.

Now, what does the Romney campaign say? Well, when the issue first arose, they said:

"Mr. Lichfield has donated to numerous Republican candidates and committees," Pompei said in the statement, "and is just one of more than 34,000 donors to Governor Romney’s campaign."

"Nothing special." Nothing to see here. Move on. Yesterday, in the Hill, they said:

Mr. Lichfield is one of 6 Co-Chairman of our Utah finance team,” said Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho in a statement.

Just one of 6, just one of 34,000, that gave $250k and held a fundraiser:

Lichfield helped to organize a February event in St. George, Utah, that raised about $300,000 for the Romney campaign.

Right…… The Hill had a suggestion:

The allegations could force Romney to re-examine his relationship with his Utah finance co-chairman or put pressure on him to give away the contributions Lichfield helped raise.

Is he gonna do it?

Timeline of an immigration bill

Last week, after the seeming pause in the fight over the immigration bill, a number of people wrote that the delay in the immigration bill was either good or bad for John McCain. Now it seems likely that the immigration bill will pass the Senate, as Rep. Tom Cole indicated at the NRCC/Heritage blogger lunch. This issue will continue to have a profound impact on the GOP primary.

Let’s just be clear about the timeline, assuming that the bill passes:

  • The Senate votes this week or next.
  • The House writes a bill in July and holds floor debate in September, at the earliest. Pelosi has indicated, in CQ, that this may not start until September.
  • The bill goes to conference in September and either comes out in October (unlikely) or in 2008.
  • The final vote, and the President’s signature with a big ceremony, occurs in 2008. Question: will this occur before or after Feb. 5th? Note that Pelosi and Reid will get to make the timing decision.

The upshot is that the GOP candidates are going to get drilled on this through the primary season. It is clear what they would all like. After all, just one year ago, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Huckabee all expressed support for solutions to the Senate bill. Only John McCain and Sam Brownback have had the courage of their convictions. The GOP candidates want to rail against the bill and have it pass.Then they get their private policy preference and an issue.

But this means that the issue of "amnesty" will be live in the primary, but probably be off the table in the general. The general will probably focus on implementing border security.

Of course, the other option is that they go to conference and it never comes out, with Pelosi and Reid hoping for a Democratic President and more Democratic Senate. But Congress already has lower ratings than the GOP Congress, and they cannot afford a "do nothing" label being applied to them. And under the right circumstances, the GOP might just get the House back, and the Dems won’t get the bill they want.