Politics and Public Opinion

Political news roundup, March 22, 2012

Headlines:

Matt K. Lewis, the Daily Caller: ‘Etch A Sketch’ leaves a mark on Mitt.

Michael A. Memoli, the LA Times: Etch-A-Sketch moment could haunt Mitt Romney in the fall.

Jake Sherman, Politico: How Paul Ryan sold his budget plan.

Amy Gardner and Scott Wilson, Washington Post: Obama tries to reclaim advantage on gas prices, health care.

David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, the Wall Street Journal: The Supreme Court Weighs ObamaCare.

In-Depth:

Bill Maher, the New York Times: Please Stop Apologizing.

Alec MacGillis, The New Republic: When Romney Liked High Gas Prices.

Jack Gillum, Associated Press: Is big GOP money finally flowing to Mitt Romney?

John F. Gaski, The American: How to Beat ObamaCare in Court.

Linda Greenhouse, NY Times Opinionator blog: Never Before.

The big political news today is the aftermath of “etch-a-sketch-gate” on Mitt Romney. Matt K. Lewis of the Daily Caller describes the effect it’s had so far on the campaign. Meanwhile, Michael Memoli of the LA Times reminds us that the effects of this gaffe will last far longer than the primary. Key quote:

At any point in the fall, if the Obama campaign senses any massaging of his earlier positions, they now have the perfect image to respond to. What windsurfing was to John Kerry, Etch-A-Sketch could be to Romney in a 30-second TV ad.

My thoughts: This story isn’t going away; it’s just too easy to turn into political hay. It’s also a great distraction from the issues, and perfectly reinforces the stereotype of Mitt Romney. Fortunately for Mitt, it’s probably come too late to make a difference in the primary. Unfortunately for Republicans, it’s going to be a winner for Obama in the fall.

In other big news, Rep. Paul Ryan continues his publicity blitz for the new House GOP budget. Jake Sherman of Politico describes the careful, methodical rollout of the plan after last year’s PR disaster. Still, as predicted, there are tons of anti-Ryan articles on the Web today, most of them portraying the budget as anti-senior and anti-poor. To make things worse for Mr. Ryan, he’s taking fire from his right flank as well.

My thoughts: The Path to Prosperity has no chance of becoming law until after the 2012 election, so Republicans and conservatives have nothing to gain by criticizing it as too moderate. Most Americans are going to hear “Ryan pushes elderly off cliff” style stories nonstop between now and November. If they hear that some Republicans are criticizing as not conservative enough, it will only reinforce the Democratic narrative of an “extremist” GOP.

While Romney deals with the etch-a-sketch aftermath and Ryan continues his PTP rollout, Amy Gardner and Scott Wilson remind us that the president is still out there, too! And he’s on the warpath, blasting Republicans as “Flat Earth Society” members and lecturing the American people on why the president isn’t responsible for gas prices. His message seems to be working quite well on Democrats, as the below graphic from WaPo shows, but not so well on Republicans. (As a sidenote, I know partisanship influences perception, but a 40 point change?? Come on, Democrats, I thought you were the party of objectivity and rationality.)

In more minor news, Bill Maher makes an excellent point about false outrage in the New York Times today. Here’s Maher:

When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like?…

I don’t want to live in a country where no one ever says anything that offends anyone. That’s why we have Canada. That’s not us.

My thoughts: Despite the fact that he’s likely holding this position out of obvious self-interest, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s wrong. It seems to me that all these “outrageous outrage” stories are just so much filler which could be replaced with serious discussions about the issues. But who am I kidding? This is so much more fun!

Also in minor news we get another example of a Mitt flip-flop, some good news for Romney, and competing opinions on the constitutionality of the ACA. Before you head out, chuckle at this hilarious cartoon by A.F. Branco. Enjoy!


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