Thursday, May 24, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan, 71.

A little more good stuff:

1. Brad DeLong asks some tough questions to Tom Mann and Norm Ornstein.

2. What exactly is it about Mitt Romney's experience that will make him a good president? Turns out that Romney has some difficulty explaining it; Jonathan Chait notices.

3. I don't really think that Sean Trende is at all convincing in arguing that Barack Obama's poor showing in some primaries means anything -- but he's definitely correct about the region he identifies as shifting sharply to Republicans. I've written in particular about West Virginia, but I think he makes a strong case for a multistate region. Not at all as clear, however, is whether that region (including bits of it that are in swing states) will shift over 2008-2012 more than the nation as a whole.

4. Hoping I can get to reading soon a new project in democratic theory from Henry Farrell and Cosma Rohilla Shalizi they're calling "Cognitive Democracy." I'm not a huge fan of justifying democracy on the basis that it makes better decisions, but if it turns out to be true I'd certainly be happy about that.

5. And Digby on the Kevin Williamson thing. I don't know that she's right, but maybe...there certainly seems to be a strong market among conservatives for quack history, and it does seem to be begging for an explanation.


  1. Williamson et al need to give up this argument. At this point, being pro-civil rights means being for affirmative action, for disparate impact lawsuits, for shafting Asians and the wrong kind of whites. It means being for the weakening of markets. This ship has sailed and there is no way that a Republicans can conceivably cut much into the hyper racialized voting patterns of AAs.

    1. However, there's also racialization of policy opinions in a number of areas. What I mean by that is that a person's negative stereotyping of AAs predicts their opinion on policies, controlling for other things like education, partisanship, and ideology.

      The classic example is welfare. A lot of the opposition to welfare is principled, stemming from a belief in markets and market forces and incentives and such: classic conservativism. However, some of it is also racial, in that there's an assumption that this money helps black people, and that's a bad thing. One area where this has happened now is health care. Opinions on health care had NOTHING to do with a person's racism 5/10/15 years ago. Lib/con, partisanship, income and education did all the heavy lifting. Now? There's research coming out showing that a person's racial resentment is related to their opinions on health care.

      The question of civil rights has largely faded, replaced by questions of the distribution of resources. And that's a good thing.

    2. Matt Jarvis,

      "There's research coming out showing that a person's racial resentment is related to their opinions on health care."


    3. Here's one link, although it's not the one I was thinking of. (see appendix 1)

      Here's a version of the one I was thinking of.

  2. Professor Bernstein,

    Quoting the digby piece:

    "Jimmy Carter (who was endorsed by Wallace and most other surviving Democratic ex-segregationists) got a lot of those voters back for the obvious reason of regional pride"

    Is this obvious? I'm thinking of Gore and Tennessee in 2000.

    1. No, I would say that it is not obvious. I can see and even accept the argument that regionalism was still alive and well in 1976, but it is not self-evident.

      Rather, I'd suggest that Carter could have represented the last gasp of Southern conservatives for Dems. The "maybe he's like the old ones we used to have" candidate. After 4 years of Carter, southern conservatives could have realized that, at that point, their party had left them. You really begin to see the whole "spent their life as a Democrat, then ran for office as a Republican" phenomena (think of Trent Lott as an exemplar) right around 1976-1984. So, I could see an argument that Carter represented a last hope for their party remaining with them (for southern conservatives).

      That said, the argument would need a lot more than my blathering on in a blog comment. Neither digby's point nor my ad-hoc theorizing here is very solid.

    2. Even during his reelection campaign, Carter did relatively well in the South, winnIng GA and WV, barely losing states like MS when he was losing in a landslide elsewhere. Over the course of Reagan's presidency the South did shift decisively into the Republican camp. There was a lot of "soft" Democratic partisanship at the time, and as long as that was the case white Southerners might even take an odd liberal position or two.

  3. Chait makes a great point about Romney and think this ties into an emerging theme about Mitt that should be troubling to anyone who follows political science in general and particularly how the Presidency works. I've noticed that Romney is embracing what you might call the "CEO" or "dictatorial" model of political leadership in his campaign rhetoric. He's constantly talking in the language of demands or unilateral action, I remember reading that he plans on his first day to "demand" that Congress cut the budget by 20 billion dollars. The problem here is that this simply is not how the Presidency works (JB has written a lot of great stuff about this here on Plain Blog). A CEO can fire the vice president of marketing if he or she doesn't like them but a President can't fire Congress or a committee chair and can't even fire a member of the cabinet with out taking big political risks. I've noticed the same thing emerging in the Romney camp's foreign policy language. When talking about Russia, that is when their "experts" aren't talking about the "Soviets", Romneyland uses the language of unilateral demands about say nuclear treaties and then talks in the same kind of unilateral language about getting "tough" on Iran, not realizing that if you antagonize Russia on one issue they might foil your negotiations or sanctions on the Iranian front. The same type of language is embraced by Romneyland about China, at one point calling for a trade war while at the same time demanding the release of political dissidents as if China will be more receptive once we antagonize them. Romney recently wrote an oped in which he called for NATO countries to increase their defense budgets and become involved in places like the Korean peninsula, how he gets them to do this he doesn't explain. He seems not to realize that while a CEO can demand an increase in the marketing budgeting a President can't order the government of Italy around like regional manager Michael Scott. Mitt has called for creating a "Reagan free trade zone", whatever that is, which probably won't fly with the left leaning political leaders in emerging markets like Brazil or Argentina either as a policy or as a name. It's hard to tell if Mitt is using this rhetoric simply as a campaign tactic, i bet that voters generally agree that Congress should be bossed around as Congress is so massively unpopular, or if he really believes this garbage. Anyway it's troubling.

    1. Does this critique make sense considering that Romney was governor of Mass. instead of just some CEO with no political career?

    2. Yes. He ran MA like a top-flight CEO runs any big business -- parachute in from your first gig (Olympics), show up for shareholders meetings, make CEO-noises, and such in the present gig, all the while packing your golden parachute for the next gig.

  4. MA resident here. Romney wasn't a dictatorial governor because, um, we have a democracy here, like all states. He worked with the Dem-heavy legislature on mandated health insurance, and didn't generally stomp around like a frustrate dictator or angry child.

    The worst behavior occurred when our Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal. He made the town clerk suddenly obey an antique law about not performing marriage for out-of-state couples if those marriages wouldn't be legal in their home state. There was fuming over that, and that was biggest complaint of high-handedness.


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