Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Yeah, This Isn't Going To Work

Jeffrey Goldberg makes a reasonable point concerning Republican presidential candidates who believe that Iran is a weakness for Barack Obama -- that Obama has been "tougher" on Iran than George W. Bush was. Fair enough. On the other hand, I'm not sure that it matters in a campaign context; if swing voters believe that Obama has failed on Iran and care about it, they'll surely hold him responsible even if they can be convinced that Bush was worse (and the biggest advantage Obama has in that comparison, it seems to me, is skipped over by Goldberg: that Bush invaded Iran's hostile neighbor, evicted the anti-Iran government, and replaced it with a government which promises to be at least mildly friendly to Tehran, and more likely a firm ally. But I digress). But that's not the bottom line, which is that the group of swing voters who care about Iran is, absent military action, almost certainly tiny. So I'm not sure any of this makes any electoral difference.

I wanted to write about it anyway because Goldberg quoted Rick Santorum's claim that "If Barack Obama has taught us anything, it’s that experience matters." Helpful hint to Republicans: you really, really, really, are not going to be able to convince anyone that they should support you over Barack Obama on the basis of experience.

(OK, to be fair, it's not entirely clear from the context whether Santorum is claiming that his experience makes him a better choice than Obama or whether he's just claiming it makes him a better potential president than the other Republican candidates).

Getting back to something that's closer to a serious point and away from the fun cheap shot...no, really, there's no evidence that people vote on the basis of vague foreign policy threats. And purely based on my subjective reading of the various polls out there, I'd guess that a new military adventure anywhere, and especially in that part of the world, is a lousy selling point during WH 2012.


  1. >or whether he's just claiming it makes him a better potential president than the other Republican candidates

    In what possible world does Santorum have more relevant experience than Romney--a former governor who could see Portugal from his observatory?

  2. Roy Perkins, impartial dogcatcherFebruary 21, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    "Helpful hint to Republicans: you really, really, really, are not going to be able to convince anyone that they should support you over Barack Obama on the basis of experience."

    Oh, now you are just taunting Anonymous, the former poster who kept insisting that Obama's lack of experience would be the biggest issue in the election.

    1. Whatever happened to that Anonymous? I missed it.

      Attacking Obama for inexperience makes no sense at this stage. Even if one argues that he effed up his job as president due to his lack of experience upon entering office, the fact remains that he now has more experience than any of the GOP candidates, simply because he's been president and they haven't. What better preparation is there for the presidency than the presidency? If, on the other hand, you argue that Obama is chronically incompetent no matter how long he occupies the White House, then the problem has nothing to do with experience.

      Any candidate who brings up the experience argument will have trouble keeping it from sounding like he's saying, "Vote for me because I have more experience than Obama did in 2008." Of course logic shouldn't stand in the way of a candidate who simultaneously attacks the president for making entitlement cuts and not making entitlement cuts. And in truth, the experience argument for the most part was never about logic. It's just an empty talking point, the right's equivalent to "Bush is an idiot," something mindlessly lobbed at the president as an all-purpose explanation for any alleged failing of his.

    2. Roy Perkins, impartial dogcatcherFebruary 22, 2012 at 10:53 AM

      I have noticed several instances of people bringing up recently the issues that were tried in 2008 (inexperience, "guns and religion," Jeremiah Wright, even Bill Ayers), and that did not work then and are obviously even less meaningful now. The Santorum quote aside, this has been largely from pundits and bloggers, and so may represent nothing more than laziness--they are recycling old material rather than trying to think of something new. Still, I get the impression that they really believe these arguments SHOULD work. It's as if they still cannot accommodate the fact of Obama's election to their understanding of how the world works--a black guy with a funny name is not supposed to become President, let alone beat a war hero--and so they keep telling themselves that it was because people were not paying attention last time, and this time will be different.

    3. Kylo -- we have been given to understand that Anonymous Prime (so dubbed by ... CKMacL, perhaps? or for all I know, it was you) flamed out rather spectacularly. Emphasis on "flamed."


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