Last week, after the dust had settled on Super Tuesday, we surmised that you couldn't really call the 2012 GOP primary contest a battle between Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. Rather, it had become a race between Mitt Romney and a contested convention.
Well, we may have performed inception, folks. Our little idea could be on its way to changing everything. At the moment, we're starting to see the thought of post-June wranglings, brokered deals, even the possibility of a bona fide floor fight start to creep into the minds and campaigns of Romney's opponents. Now, they're still facing very long odds -- Romney's path to a clean 1,144-to-notch the nomination delegate count remains the likeliest outcome of the primaries. And even if Romney can't get there by the time the curtain comes down on the final contests, GOP party bigwigs have plenty of time to hash out a deal that ensures his coronation. So don't go wild on InTrade betting on a tilt in Tampa just yet.
Where the idea currently lives is in the mind's eye of Romney's opponents, who all have to face the reality of his advantage, weigh their own wants and needs, and game out the best possibility of success.
If you're Ron Paul, convention wrangling is what you're all about, only you're doing it at all the state conventions that have yet to meet and decide what to do about the delegates voted out of their early caucuses. This is where Paul wants to cause the most trouble -- grabbing unexpected delegates, messing with his competitors' projections. But Paul's long game isn't about burning bridges -- he wants to deepen the connection between the movement he's built and the Republican Party. So he'll probably use what leverage he has long before delegates arrive in Tampa. In that way, he cements a legacy for others to follow. Like his son. Or, like the many Paul acolytes who are getting a master class in presidential politics in the caucus states.
By contrast, Newt Gingrich has no intention of finishing this battle with a genial deal reached ahead of the convention -- he's out for pure havoc. He's already made it clear that his aim is to stop Mitt Romney from reaching the nomination. But that doesn't really capture it all. According to Robert Costa's "go read the whole thing right now" latest, Gingrich is looking to do something historic -- and it's no less than sowing total "convention chaos."
Coupled with Gingrich's ambition to be a Reagan-like player at the Tampa convention is a lingering sense that this presidential campaign could easily be his last. At 68 years old, he is keen to plod on because, quite simply, he relishes being in the arena -- not merely sitting outside of it, talking about politics on cable news, as he did for the past decade.
Over the past few weeks, [conservative activist Richard] Viguerie has been calling his influential friends within the conservative movement, asking them to join with him in urging their old friend to respectfully withdraw. But after working the phones, he is resigned to the fact that Gingrich will make this decision alone, and probably at the last possible moment. "I'm not optimistic that he's going to get out anytime soon," he says wistfully. "He's hoping for a deadlocked convention -- for lightning to strike."
And then you have Rick Santorum. He's not looking to summon lightning from the skies, but he nevertheless has correctly surmised that he'll need an "act of God" to win the nomination. Though ironically, he's the guy who's actually in the position to pull off Newt Gingrich's "stop Romney" strategy. But as George Stephanopoulos points out, he "would have to basically sweep all the big states left" to pull it off:
Illinois next week. (And even that win might not get him most of the delegates because Santorum’s off the ballot in a few districts.)
Then he needs upsets in Wisconsin and Maryland on April 3rd – plus a sweep of New York and Pennsylvania at the end of the month.
In May, he’d need to win big on the 8th: Indiana, West Virginia and North Carolina – and hope that gives him enough momentum to win three of the five contests on June 5th. One of those wins would have to be either New Jersey or California.
All that would cripple Romney heading to Tampa.
But would Santorum go with Gingrich's nuclear option at the convention? Here's where things get murkier. Not long ago, Santorum might have been inclined to force the issue. As recently at this week, he was imagining that he might be the candidate to finally catalyze a union of conservatives on the convention floor. But while Santorum's success hasn't provided him with a clear path to the nomination, it's nevertheless provided him with some intriguing options: talk of being next in line in 2016 (or 2020), as well as talk of being on the ticket. Those prospects could convince him that staging a melee in Tampa is not in his best interests.
Of course, Mitt Romney has an entirely different take on all of this: "Look, we're not going to go to a brokered convention." He's probably right. He hopes so, anyway.
Elsewhere, Ron Paul achieved a historic win that was also somehow a blowout loss, Gary Johnson made plans to break bread with a key kingmaker, Mitt Romney's battles continue to put strain on his warchest, Rick Santorum got snippy with Fox News, and does anyone know what was going on with President Obama's polling this week? Probably something terrible/wonderful that will make him sorry/grateful when his campaign reaches its regretful/happy conclusion. For all the good things getting better and the bad things getting worse, please enter the Speculatron for the week of March 16, 2012.
This week, Mitt Romney supporter Vin Weber told CBS News that there really is no such thing as a Rick Santorum campaign: I've seen Mitt Romney inspire crowds. He gets people excited about it. But Rick Santorum has a storyline going that says that he's the only one that touches the heart and soul of the Republicans. . . . He [Santorum] basically has no campaign. I mean that's what people, Republicans need to understand this. There really isn't a Santorum campaign. There's a candidate running from state to state trying to make this emotional appeal, and it's working with some people. It certainly will not beat President Obama in the Fall. Well, we gotta tell you, for a guy who doesn't actually have a campaign, that non-existent campaign sure is having a pretty impressive array of successes lately. It has notched wins in Alabama, Mississippi and Kansas. And it has propelled Santorum to leads in Texas, Pennsylvania and Louisiana, and a close contest in Illinois. (Romney people understand that it's actually not a good thing to keep asserting your superiority to Santorum is primarily based in money and campaign infrastructure, right? That you're supposed to actually make the case that you have better ides? Just a thought guys!) Of course, the fact that Santorum is running a campaign on the cheap keeps tripping him up in significant ways -- ballot access, delegate wrangling, and a lack of internal polling data come to mind. At the same time, being in need of help means that lots of unattached vulture consultants are also circling around to try to grab a quick payday. Meanwhile, Santorum continues to be underrated in terms of his electability. As Jamelle Bouie explains, he seems plenty electable: Pennsylvania lost jobs in February, but the overall improvement has been conducive to President Obama's standing in the state; in the latest survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP), Pennsylvania voters are evenly divided on Obama's performance, with 47 percent approval and disapproval. This isn't great, but it's a marked improvement from last year, when the president was underwater by as much as ten points. That said, one thing worth noting about this Pennsylvania poll --and a recent one conducted by Quinnipiac University -- is that Rick Santorum performs very well against Obama. He's behind two points in the PPP poll, 46-48, and according to Quinnipiac, he's nearly tied with 44 percent to Obama's 45 percent. If electability is Santorum's key question -- and the place where Mitt Romney consistently beats him -- then these polls are excellent fodder for the argument that Romney's electability has its limits. And in truth, while the economic recovery might be bad for the GOP in 2012 (according to the conventional wisdom, anyway), it's very good for Santorum, who wouldn't mind being able to point out that without the need for Romney's managerial talents in the crisis, Republican voters might be better off returning to a candidate who understands their core values. (This is why Santorum keeps warning that economic recovery is bad for GOP prospects.) At this point, Santorum would be well-served to start mounting the best possible argument against Romney, based upon Romney's health care convolutions. But in the meantime, Santorum has a P.R. problem. By which we mean "Puerto Rico," not "public relations." This week Santorum stepped in it a little when he suggested that Puerto Rican statehood wouldn't be feasible until its residents accepted English as their primary language. Many mistakes here -- Puerto Ricans actually don't have a historically well-known problem speaking English, and the English language has never been a condition for admitting a state. Santorum had to do the "walk-back" routine, which earned him forgiveness from Gov. Luis Fortuño. But seeing as how Fortuño has already endorsed Romney, Santorum may have just ended up compounding his problems. Santorum has also taken to whining about FOX News: Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum accused Fox News of "shilling" for GOP front-runner Mitt Romney during a contentious interview Tuesday on the "Kilmeade and Friends" radio show. "He's had a 10-to-1 money advantage," Santorum said of Romney. "He's had all the organizational advantages. He has Fox News shilling for him every day, no offense Brian, but I see it. And yet, he can't seal the deal because he just doesn't have the goods to be able to motivate the Republican base to win this election." But while Santorum's current campaign seems to mainly feature setbacks that hurt more than they should and victories that don't help as much as they can, people are starting to warm to the idea that Santorum has something of a future. Jonathan Bernstein picks up the cause this week: Rick Santorum isn't just going to mathematically finish second in votes and delegates; he's going to be perceived as having been the clear runner-up. He's going to be 2012's John McCain 2000, Bob Dole 1988, George H.W. Bush 1980. That's worth something. It may well be worth the VP nomination, as it was for Bush (and for John Edwards in 2004). We've always known that Mitt Romney, like John McCain, would need to pick a running mate who would please social conservatives and others who were unenthusiastic about him. It now appears that Santorum will, if he survives the vetting he'll be getting over the next weeks, become the front-runner for that slot. If he gets it, then win or lose, he'll have an excellent chance of winning a future presidential nomination. Time will tell if Santorum goes on to accept a role as the next vice-president. His obsession with tracking down and eliminting pornography make us think that he'd actually like to be a latter-day Alan Comstock.
Going into this week's primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, Mitt Romney declared that the candidacy of Rick Santorum was at its "desperate end." And then Santorum won those two primaries. Premature, much? Of course, in the larger fight over delegates, Romney is still well in command of the race. But had Romney won those Southern primaries, it would have effectively ended the race. And he tried for them, giving the folks in those states his best Southern-fried pander. But Romney, despite having put the choice, for the Christian Right, in as stark a set of terms as he could imagine, is still turning off evangelical voters. And that's just the start. In general, Romney has been struggling to garner some momentum. The wealth divide still remains. A Bloomberg poll found that 68 percent of Americans are of the opinion that the "carried interest" tax loophole -- which benefits Romney tremendously, is "unreasonable." And Romney is having real difficulty winning the hearts and minds of Latino voters -- though Puerto Rico will likely prove to be an exception. And on the "Romney as a historically weak frontrunner" front, consider this: 60 percent of the votes that have been cast thus far in the primary season have gone to someone other than Romney. And there are new signs of "financial strain," as well: New signs of financial stress are emerging in Romney's campaign, which has built a wide lead in delegates thanks in part to the might of his bank account and multistate operation. As rival Rick Santorum's surprising strength keeps extending the nomination battle, Romney has scaled back expenses, trimmed field staff in some cases and begun to count more on free media coverage to reach voters. And he's still relying on an allied super political action committee to supplement his spending on expensive TV ads. This week, the former Massachusetts governor was forced to spend two days privately courting donors in the New York area, even as his Republican rivals were wooing voters ahead of pivotal elections in places like Illinois, where he hasn't been in four months, and as President Barack Obama was stockpiling cash for the fall general election fight. On Wednesday, Romney had five finance events in New York, all packed, raising about $3 million, with more set for Thursday. So the news is hardly all bad. Wednesday "was the best day we've had so far," said New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, who accompanied Romney to multiple events, including a donor breakfast in New York City. But it's less encouraging for the campaign that the money is badly needed to re-fill coffers that had sunk close to their lowest levels since Romney launched his presidential effort last year. To alter that dynamic, Romney has to keep flirting with extremes. One example of this phenomenon came this week, when Romney told a radio interviewer in Missouri that he would "get rid of" Planned Parenthood and the Amtrak subsidy to save money. All of which is pretty bad news for women who want long lives and a Mid-Atlantic economy that thrives on the interconnectedness of the Acela. (Of course, as his campaign had to point out later, Mitt Romney is not actually empowered to "get rid of" Planned Parenthood). Romney, however, says that he's been winning the "kind of important" states. (Congratulations, Hawaii and Guam! Sorry, Colorado and Minnesota!) Well, the next important state is Illinois, where Romney once again has a large advantage in terms of cash, but where the polling is close. And it doesn't help that Romney gave Santorum a break on his Illinois delegate slates rather than take the advantage for himself. D.C.'s lobbyist set is over the moon in love with Romney, but as far as ordinary voters go, he is still having a problem connecting. Benjy Sarlin notes that one problem is that Romney's policy positions are just hard to nail down, because his patented pandering leaves him with this plan of attack: "Step one: Take a popular conservative idea (Medicare vouchers, tax cuts, bankruptcy for failing companies). Step two: Leave out a critical piece of information (subsidy levels, spending cuts, federal aid). Step three: Emphasize whichever step works best with the audience in question." And the First Read gang says that Romney has a "messaging problem": What is his campaign about? He says he wants to 'restore America's greatness,' but what does that mean? (Go back to the '50s? The '60s? The '80s? The Bush years?) He says he'll be able to turn around the economy, but what if it's already slowly improving as the evidence currently suggests? And the campaign makes it clear that Romney is the inevitable nominee, but what happens if that inevitable nominee loses? Team Romney has had a message problem since this campaign began, and when you make your candidacy about electability and process, you're going to pay a BIG price for losing to candidates. Why does Romney want to be president, an office he's been running for the past six years? Has he really answered this basic question? In fact, his basic message has been to warn of the dire prospects of a "deadocked" convention. Romney's response to all of the sturm und drang has been to recast himself as the inevitable winner, and go back on the attack against President Barack Obama, to at least convey the message that he is looking confidently past the primary season. Though it should be noted that he's not entirely past his fellow GOP rivals. When Newt Gingrich opined that Romney was a "weak frontrunner," Newt burned him, saying, "If I'm a weak front-runner, what does that make Newt Gingrich, because I'm well ahead of him. I'm happy to be solidly ahead." (Of Santorum, Romney has stated that the prospects of his rival serving as his vice president are around nil.) But the primaries drag on, and as Jonathan Chait points out, Romney's main challenge right now is to turn a rather dispiriting slog of delegate counting and victories that don't feel like victories into something that's "inspiring," when it's essentially about Romney "winning essentially, and in many instances literally, by default," adding, "They need to keep up the appearance of a competition and thus real victory. But let's not kid ourselves about the glorious battle."
We would continue to urge people to pay close attention to the goings-on in the states from which the media has largely decamped after their caucuses have been held and tidy projections made. There's still a lot of action to come! County conventions, state conventions, delegate elections, floor debates, rough and tumble fights -- this is presidential politics at its most nitty-gritty, and it rarely gets much national coverage. HuffPost's Jon Ward has been taking a keen interest in the matter, and continues to bring in reports that illuminate this largely unseen process. For Ron Paul's campaign in particular, this is where the heart of his strategy is going to play out. Having said that, this week was a largely good news/bad news period in the life of the Paul campaign. He hadn't targeted Alabama and Mississippi, but his showing nevertheless seemed a tad below standard. He took home his first outright popular-vote win of the season in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which is obviously good. The downside? It was one of the few contests to date in which his delegate-capture machine got outhustled -- his "win" only got him one delegate. How did this happen? Dave Weigel explains: How did Paul get 11 more votes than Romney, but lose to him on delegates? It's complicated. The Virgin Islands doesn't portion out delegates by popular vote. Voters literally elect delegates -- the six with the most support get to go to Tampa. So April Newland, John Clendenin, Luis Martinez, all Romney supporters, made it into the top bracket. Warren Bruce Cole, an uncommitted delegate, won then backed Romney. Only one Paul delegate, Robert Max Schanfarber, made the six. Elsewhere, the last campaign embed assigned to cover Ron Paul, NBC News' Anthony Terrell, was called home. On the upside, Paul's campaign has largely chafed at having to deal constantly with the typical horse-race questions. (Seriously, how many times has Paul been asked what other competitor he'd like to see become president?) Of course, the downside is that media coverage of Paul is going to slow to a crawl. Against this backdrop, speculation mounted this week whether Paul might be likely to reach some sort of deal with Mitt Romney. As Alex Altman reported for Swampland: Aides say if Paul can't win the nomination, four legislative priorities would top the Texas Representative's wish list: deep spending cuts that lead to a balanced budget; the restoration of civil liberties; a commitment to reclaim the legislative branch's right to declare war, which it abdicated to the executive branch in recent decades; and reforms that shore up the U.S. monetary system, such as an audit of the Federal Reserve or competing-currency legislation. Paul might also be enticed, says campaign chairman Jesse Benton, by the prospect of serving as a presidential adviser, a Cabinet position for someone in his orbit or "perhaps a vice presidency." But after a few days passed, no deal seemed likely to emerge. Instead, Paul gave out that he was still unwilling to commit his support to Romney, should he become the nominee. So is Paul demonstrating that there is no secret alliance with Romney, as he's endeavored to explain of late? Or is he just putting on a good show while he figures out how much leverage he'll have once his delegate hunters ply their trade? Who knows? But while you ponder, maybe you'll enjoy this pro-Paul video PSA, which is among the most aurally irritating things ever uploaded to YouTube.
Who was having all the fun on Super Tuesday? Turns out it was probably Gary Johnson, who was kicking it in Vegas, raising money for his big Libertarian Party gamble. Per the Las Vegas Review Journal: The former two-term New Mexico governor became the Libertarian front-runner after he switched parties and dropped out of the GOP presidential race last year. Most voters couldn't even name the other Libertarian contenders, a group of half a dozen hopefuls running on the margins. Johnson said he continued his White House bid to give voters fed up with the two main political parties an alternative choice besides the GOP nominee or Obama, a Democrat. "The agenda that I'm trying to promote is really along the same lines as Ron Paul for the most part, but I don't see Ron Paul winning the Republican primary," Johnson said in an interview, referring to the Texas congressman. "When he loses, his message goes dead unless I stay in the race." Both Paul and Johnson want to slash federal spending, legalize drugs, pull back U.S. military forces for a noninterventionist foreign policy, reform immigration and promote civil liberties. Johnson isn't just talking idly about giving a Paulish platform a place to live on the actual November ballot. This week, he restated his opposition to the war in Afghanistan in a way the Texas Congressman would likely admire: pulling Carlo Munoz' piece from The Hill, describing the American people's widespread fatigue with the war, and putting it up on his site with this admonition: "It Is Past Time To Bring Them Home!" And on the domestic front, Johnson is forging an alliance with famed taxation-hater Grover Norquist, with whom he'll be doing an online town hall-style event this coming Monday.
Newt Gingrich poured everything he had into winning in Alabama and Mississippi. It's where his campaign has spent the most time. And it makes sense why -- the stakes were unbelievably high. The conventional wisdom was that those states were must-wins. So he confidently predicted victory. He vowed he wouldn't quit. His campaign tossed in a little intrigue, teasing about a possible Rick Perry team-up. And he called putative frontrunner a "dead loser." And Romney did lose those states! But Santorum won them. And so Gingrich woke up the next day being declared the most deadest, loseringest candidate in the race. Smash cut to a million versions of the same question: "ARE YOU GONNA DROP OUT? ARE YOU GONNA? HUH? WELL, ARE YOU?" Y'all obviously don't know Newt Gingrich: A day after Gingrich's losses, advisers rejected the notion that the race was down to Romney and Santorum. "You are joking," Gingrich adviser Tony Dolan said and insisted: "It's a three-way dynamic." Gingrich aides argue that he can still win the nomination before the convention by racking up uncommitted delegates who could decide to back him. They also said nominating contest has yet to reach its halfway point and that a strong second-half performance by Gingrich could sway those uncommitted delegates to his campaign. And if all else fails, who's to say he might not "go on" with Santorum? A senior adviser to Newt Gingrich told The Huffington Post Tuesday night the campaign likes the idea of Rick Santorum and Gingrich running on the same ticket for the presidency and vice presidency. "Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum would make a powerful team against Barack Obama," the adviser said on the condition that his name not be used. "They have the capability to deny Gov. Romney the nomination." Bad news for Rick Perry, we guess! But what's Gingrich playing at? According to Patricia Murphy at the Daily Beast, the strategy going forward seems to be centered on simply stopping Romney from winning. But really, with mounting debt and a pretty sweet life of selling DVDs and books to which to return, why bother? Oh, what's that, Patricia Murphy? Gingrich has grown increasingly bitter toward Romney throughout the campaign, as the former Massachusetts governor has unloaded a barrage of attacks against the former speaker and, Gingrich believes, hurt his showings at the polls in the process. Oh, right. We sometimes forget that Gingrich is strongly motivated by grievances and animus. So Gingrich really, really wants to stick it to Romney. The problem, though, is that it's unclear whether sticking around will actually hurt Romney. It could actually help him. Sure, he might throw off Romney's delegate math by staying in, but if his supporters are likely to come behind Santorum, why not get off the stage and let Rick win this one? Oh, what's that, David Murphy, of Raw Story? Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says his ideas are so big that the news media can't cover them and his opponents can't comprehend them. [...] "The level of effort it would take to change the system is beyond the imagination of most elected officials and beyond the imagination of most candidates," Gingrich remarked. "The thing I find most disheartening about this campaign is the difficulty of talking about positive ideas on a large scale. Because the news media can't cover it and, candidly, my opponents can't comprehend it." Oh, right. We sometimes forget that Gingrich is a record-setting megalomaniac.
Buddy Roemer is only asking two things of America, this week: First, he'd like you to join his NCAA Bracket Challenge. Did you remember to do that? Because it's too late now, you realize! Hey, hey, you know, don't worry, because you could always help out with the other thing -- all of his Americans Elect ambitions: With the power of the people, we can fight the corrupt system and put our country before party and reform before status quo. America's problems are not Democrat or Republican problems that require either/or solutions. We must work together to rebuild our nation, and I humbly ask for your support. In order to continue this fight, I must get at least 10,000 supporters to vote for me on the Americans Elect website by May 1. Of course, Americans Elect has entered this new stage of fundraising where they ask supporters to give them money so they can -- uhm...pay back the millionaires that built this nonsense in the first place? Yeah, like we've been saying, this organization is shady!
The likelihood that Fred Karger will get many votes, let alone a delegate, out of Puerto Rico, is staggeringly remote. But he's on the ballot there, so the plan is to campaign there. To that end, Karger's got a Puerto Rico-specific ad out, and even if you don't speak Spanish, it basically gets the point across (that Karger thinks his rivals are more or less demented).
This week, President Barack Obama welcomed his partner-in-special-relationship Prime Minister David Cameron for a week of hangin' with the Brits. They went to basketball games and bought each other presents and told lots of War Of 1812 jokes. And Cameron got a brief respite from his friends getting arrested in phone-hacking scandals back home. And Obama got to distract himself from a week of bizarre polls, in which his numbers first cratered significantly, only to re-rise by the week's end. Everything began with plummeting approvals in the ABC News/Washington Post and the CBS News/New York Times poll -- the latter which found his rating sinking to 41 percent. The early explanation centered around rising gas prices -- the nascent maybe-recovery's most persistent problem, over which the White House has no control. One of the odder juxtapositions was a Gallup poll that suggested the Obama's approvals were trending in the opposite direction. Except that Gallup's been a half-step off for the past few weeks. Later in the week, however, the downward trend broke, with reports from Pew Research and Reuters that suggested that no polling decline had happened or was happening. Explanations were offered: The poll drop never happened, or it couldn't be explained, or maybe it wasn't real. We say, of course, that based on the way election year polling grows more coherent over time, we're only getting into the area where polling gets halfway decent. More accurate prognostications should be available in the late spring. The coherence grows to its apex around the conventions. Plus, regular Speculatron readers have probably caught on to the fact that the polling battle between Obama and the GOP 2012ers has been doing a strange, week-to-week seesawing that doesn't really make sense. We were probably due for a big polling pile-up, and this week we got it. And let's not forget that everything will take one giant step in the direction of clarity once the GOP's nominee is selected. We look forward to everyone walking back their earlier predictions that the long, drawn-out primary hurt the GOP nominee! It's probably best that Team Obama Re-Elect get ready for a close contest, because as Robert Kuttner points out, there are still tests ahead: Things have been breaking well for President Obama. Economically, job growth has outperformed expectations. The unemployment rate could be below 8 percent by Election Day. Politically, Republicans are engaged in the sort of demolition derby once reserved for Democrats. The protracted Hillary-Barack duel of 2008 seems like a love feast compared to the Mitt and Rick slugfest. All this is reflected in the president's rising approval ratings. However, Obama faces a daunting two-part challenge related to Iran's nuclear assertions, with implications for both national security and sustainable energy. A misstep could cost him the presidency and cause the country to take a disastrously wrong turn in these two critical areas. Ezra Klein adds that it's not enough to just consider employment as the only factor in "economic recovery": Something odd is happening in the economy. Jobs are coming back, and relatively quickly. But growth is lagging. Or, at the least, we think it is. Virtually every estimate of GDP growth for the first quarter of 2012 is below two percent -- that's a third lower than it was in the fourth quarter of 2011, when payroll growth was lower -- and many of those estimates are being revised downward as new data streams in. That's not normal, to say the least. Typically, payrolls and the economy grow in tandem. When that doesn't happen, it's usually because the economy is growing and jobs are stuck. That's the situation the term "jobless recovery," which came into vogue after the 2001 recession, describes. But we don't even have a term for the opposite of a jobless recovery. Job-full recovery, maybe? A Jobcovery? These factors may explain why this week, the Obama campaign slipped into a slightly higher gear, amping up the rhetoric on the GOP field and "unleashing the Biden" on an unsuspecting world. They have also released some documentary feature called "The Road We've Traveled," which seems to be an attempt to crystallize the argument that Obama's first term has been a success in the gauzy veneer of top dollar, Hollywood-style production values. Tom Hanks is narrating it, for example. But we're sort of hard pressed to see how this is a good idea -- to begin making the case for reelection with what amounts to a valentine to one's self for not burning the country to the ground. Perhaps this is where Obama's campaign reconnects with and re-enthuses the army of volunteers who spurred him to victory in 2008. Will those nominal lefties forgive filmmaker Davis Guggenheim for "Waiting For Superman," though? (SPOILER ALERT: Yes, they will.) Elsewhere, for reasons that don't make sense to us, Sarah Palin wants Obama to debate her. Silly Sarah Palin! We don't all have time to play forensics with you, because some of us actually have jobs.
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