Custom Search

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Huntsman Implosion

It was an interesting choice when ex-Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman decided to open his presidential campaign in Orlando, as opposed to his home state of Utah or in Washington, D.C., but I always had the sense he was giving up more than he gained operating out of Florida. A Politico piece today touches on the same sense:

Orlando, Florida is nearly 2,000 miles away from Salt Lake City as the crow flies, about as far as you can get from Jon Huntsman’s old office in the Utah statehouse without dropping off the continental United States entirely.

Huntsman’s recent decision to headquarter his campaign in Florida makes sense for logistical and political reasons but the location—and some recent remarks about his faith — have combined to produce a sharp reaction from the Mormon Establishment, solidifying the impression for many of the former governor’s constituents that he plans to keep his distance in more ways than one.

The article goes on to speak more about Huntsman's awkward distancing between himself and the Church of Latter-Day Saints than it does on his move to the Sunshine State, which really only gets some lip service at the end where politicos concede Florida is a better place to run a campaign than Utah. But the move feeds into a larger narrative that is growing around Huntsman on the web - that he is an untrustworthy phony. Moving his campaign to the theme park capital of the world only makes that narrative too easy to write.

The question isn't whether Florida is a good place to run a campaign. It is. This is going to be a swing state, assuming Obama doesn't just wipe the field in 2012. There could be a hot Senate race (though I have yet to see a truly intimidating candidate jump in). If the GOP has a shot at taking the White House, it will have to compete here, and will probably need to win. This is the fourth-largest state in the union, and still has so many people coming and going between election cycles that pols need to constantly rebuild the base. There is money in Florida, and most importantly, there are 29 electoral college votes in play. This is why the 2012 GOP Convention will be held in Tampa.

But weighing these benefits presumes Huntsman will be the nominee. He has to win a primary first, and the national parties have made very clear they won't let Florida have a meaningful role in selecting the party nominee. He is currently tanking in polls, not surprising since he has never been a significant national stage player on domestic issues. And even Obama-hating blogs have taken a major issue with Huntsman effectively beginning his run for president while serving the current administration.

All this is to say Huntsman has a lot to worry about before worrying if he can win Florida in November of 2012.

If he can't stand campaigning from Salt Lake City, he should work from D.C., where he has access to fundraisers and campaign gurus who could justify the decision to leave his home state behind.

But right now, Huntsman looks like a fake who was lying about his own ambitions while representing the United States interests to China, doesn't want to branded as a Mormon and wants to high-tail it from Utah, the state which put him in its governor's mansion and provided him the most credible perch from which to launch a presidential campaign.

At least he is helping our local economy a little. But I wouldn't expect the jobs created in Orlando by the Huntsman campaign to be permanent ones.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Let's Hope We Budgeted a Sign Scraper

In the ridiculous waste of tax dollars pot, we can now put Gov. Rick Scott's plan to plaster his own name on every "Welcome to Florida" sign which the state has at our borders. How can a fiscal conservative defend this expense?

"I think they look nice," said Scott.

As long as they don't also plaster his evil grin on every painted orange graphic, he might be right.

As a whopping $8,800, this is hardly a camel-breaking straw, I recognize. But at a time when the governor is threatening to veto so much infrastructure spending with the capable to make better colleges, not to mention his ridiculous rejection of high-speed rail funding, this is just foolish vanity.

And no, the signs do not have a former governor's name on them now.

Let's just hope we have the budget to take his name off these signs in 2014, or sooner.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Remember 2000

So much time has passed since the 2000 elections, it can be easy to forget the great upset to American democracy which gripped the nation's attention not so long ago. But one person I suspect has not forgotten is Sen. Bill Nelson. If Gov. Rick Scott ends up signing the election anti-reforms passed out of the Legislature this year, we can count on Nelson pushing for a full investigation in the courts.

Nelson, of course, sent out an email to supporters today promising as much, including a reprint of a New York Times story documenting the vicious bill.

From Nelson's letter:
I have asked the Justice Department to investigate whether this bill will result in voter suppression.

Meantime, the bill is on its way to Gov. Rick Scott. Send him a message: Please veto CS/CS/HB 1355.

I must say, I don't really understand the upswing for this bill unless Republicans really want to suppress the vote. It reduced the time allowed for early voting, something which has dramatically increased voter participation. It also cracks down on that long-time straw man: voter fraud. You may recall this is that heinous thing that we executing ACORN for, even though there is no evidence it ever has been enough of a problem to turn an election. Sadly, Florida has a long history of the opposite happening, with so many legitimate votes lost and legal voters dropped from voter rolls. And of course, many of the times when fraud has been suspected, it was conservative voters who were the possible culprits. (Ann Coulter, I'm looking at you.)

The truth is, Florida went out of its way after the 2000 election to make sure voting was as accessible a process as possible. New rules were put in for provisional ballots, early voting and absentee voting. It has had such a major effect on elections that they are waged in new ways. Some projections expect half of votes for president next year to be cast before Election Day. I realize that has its own consequences, but the truth of the matter is that it allows far people the chance to participate in democracy than ever before.

The GOP thinks that is a bad thing.

:et's think about that for a second. Republicans figure the greatest threat to their electoral prospects is having too many people vote.

GOPers this year have suggested such draconian measures as fining people $1,000 for turning their voter registration cards in late. Why? State Sen. Miguel de la Portilla says it's because he doesn't want people "gaming the system." Is that what they call voting these days? Gaming the system?

The truth is that Republicans don't want a system that encourages participation. They wnat to discourage voting. They figure it is easier for them to get their energized crazies to the polls and to suppress middle-of-the-road voters because if there was a fair fight, Democrats would win the day. It's that simple.

If I'm wrong, Gov. Scott can prove it. Veto this bill and have a fair fight in the marketplace of ideas. Let everyone vote who wants to vote. It's that easy.

And understand, this is a state that knows something about disenfranchisement. We know what it means to question if the results an election were reached fairly. We know the need for trust in the final tallies. And we don't want any doubt over whether some voters were turned away unfairly or some ballots thrown out for the wrong reasons.

And we will never forget.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Restoration of Sanity

It has felt strange ever since the news broke, celebrating the death of somebody on the other side of the world. Yet, here we all are, undeniably satisfied with the outcome of this very long wait. But the question remains, what now?

I for one always thought the worst damage done to America by the 9-11 attacks wasn't the loss of life that day, though that was certainly terrible enough, but in the offset of America's psyche. A national paranoia overcame the United States, and we started seeing terrorists in the shadows and threats in the tides. Many national disasters since that day in 2001 have claimed the terrorist attacks, but none has struck such fear in the nation. Next thing you know, we're convinced a desert fiefdom is plotting to nuke us all and we have waged a war in Iraq. And 10 years after the attacks, we continue to engage in Afghanistan.

I have read much punditry today suggesting, of course, that this "resolve in Afghanistan" is why we got Osama last night. But if I may humbly note, that argument also suggests the ultimate mission of that action has been completed today. The head of Al Quaeda, however symbolic, has been cut off. Will a thousand Osama's grow in his place? Perhaps, and if so, we must deal with that. But this operation is over. It no longer makes sense to occupy Afghanistan, and we need to leave this nation to govern itself.

Which brings me to my hope for American foreign policy as whole. We need right now to move beyond the hawkish hypnosis which the 9-11 terrorists put us under when they attacked so long ago. We must engage once more in multilateralism, and celebrate the possibilities for people around the world instead of looking to crush them in some misdirected attempt at revenge.

I haven't written much on Libya here, in part because I am normally focused on Florida politics but also because I am personally uneasy about our presence there right now. I don't think it is helpful for America right now to drive the ouster of another Arab leader, but if we are assisting a revolution with the support of the Arab League?

In part, it has been hard to ration out my own feelings because I feel so frustrated by America's overreaches in the wake of 9-11. When our national leaders felt entitled to invade any nation in some form of retribution, I developed a great sensitivity to the effect our actions had on perception of the entire world. Even those of us who opposed the war in Iraq were impacted by 9-11 because it seemed the starting point to modern interaction abroad.

I plan to look at Libya with more sober vision now, and hope everyone around the world will do the same. I also hope those in the United States so gripped by fear of attack can move beyond the tragedy exacted a decade ago and see value in engaging a world which has evolved when we were too blinded by rage to notice.

The era of 9-11 is over. I don't want to dwell on what happened afterward, who made it happen or whether it was a rightful means to an end. We are at that end now.

Justice has been done. Osama is dead. Now, let's turn the ghost of 9-11 away as well.