politics

Facebook And Politics

Yesterday, social media giant Facebook released its initial public offering—a step that has investors from Wall Street to Main Street swooning. The IPO is valued at $104 billion, which is a record for a new company.

With this move into the stock market Facebook—which has over 900 million users, one of the most recognizable brand names, and possibly the most recognizable American CEO in Mark Zuckerberg — becomes one of the most powerful companies in the world. And with increased power comes an increased role in politics.

There appear to be three primary ways Facebook has fit into the political arena thus far: Facebook as an outlet for politicians, Facebook as a catalyst for campaigns, and Facebook as an influence on policy.

Firstly, Facebook is a great medium for politicians to reach their constituents and supporters. It can have its disadvantages, such as former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner who inappropriately contacted young women in a sexual manner through it and other media, but it’s mostly a transparent, easily accessible and personal channel for lawmakers to share their opinions.

This leads to the second value of the site for politicians: campaign outreach. Through Facebook campaigns at the local, state and federal levels can organize events, generate discussion, and rally support easier than ever before. Many popular campaign videos garner more views through Facebook than any official website or email list ever generate.

Perhaps the most significant aspect for Facebook within the political realm, however, is the influence it can have on policies and statutes.

For example, several months ago when legislators were trying to pass SOPA and PIPA, bills aimed at curtailing copyright infringement, Mark Zuckerberg publicly denounced the bills as overreaching acts of government. This condemnation (which was joined by other tech savvy companies such as Google and Youtube) spawned more awareness for these bills than any other proposal in recent memory. More importantly, it worked. SOPA and PIPA were subsequently dropped from consideration.

Another instance is Facebook’s involvement with CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. Critics of CISPA, which has passed the House of Representatives already, say it is more intrusive towards individual privacy than either SOPA or PIPA. Yet hardly a fraction of the outrage has been voiced by the public. There are several reasons for this, but certainly one of the main reasons is because Facebook supports the act.

Clearly the influence Facebook has on policy is huge; now that it is a public company, you can expect its influence to grow even larger.

Kit

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President Obama Comes Out In Support Of Same-Sex Marriages

A day after a North Carolina statewide vote defined marriage as between a man and a woman, President Barack Obama publicly announced his support of gay marriage in the United States.

The statement came in an ABC interview Wednesday and immediately sent shockwaves across the country.

The move is a bold one for President Obama—the issue of same-sex marriage has the potential to be very divisive amongst some of his core supporters such as Latino and African-American voters who are largely still opposed to same-sex marriage. It is also still a hot topic for many of Obama’s Republican rivals, including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who view the act as an affront to traditional values or simply see civil unions as a sufficient alternative.

Obama’s words are not completely unexpected, however. The President has long supported civil unions as a way to equalize rights of heterosexual and homosexual couples, and it was hinted at this past weekend by Vice President Joe Biden that Obama’s views on the subject were “evolving”. In addition, Obama has received some criticism for not having taken more action on behalf of gay rights in his first term by core members of his party.

Still, the news comes mostly as a surprise as experts presumed Obama would wait until after the election to announce anything on the matter. The fact that he endorsed the issue at this point in time is a big lift for the LGBT movement after the disheartening results of Tuesday’s vote in North Carolina.

The vote in North Carolina created an amendment barring same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution. It was a discouraging result because of the national attention the referendum was getting and because of the upward trend in support for the movement as a whole. In the past, Obama has stated that he thought same-sex marriage would be best handled by state governments, but apparently seeing an outcome antithetical to his beliefs urged him to finally take a stand.

According to the latest polls, about half of Americans support and half refute same-sex marriage—which is the highest amount of patronage the subject has received to date. It appears that, with Obama’s blessing, the national sentiment may finally tip towards favoring same-sex marriage in America. It’s about time.

Kit

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Romney Hitting His Stride

Mitt Romney came out on top in the Illinois primary Tuesday by a double digit margin, winning over second place finisher Rick Santorum. For the first time in months the embattled Romney seemed energized, and appears to finally be hitting his stride in one of the longest nomination contests ever.

There is still a long road ahead for the Republican nomination, to be sure, but the frontrunner exhibited a swagger Tuesday night in his victory speech that has not been seen to date by voters or the media.

Romney, who normally rushes his speeches too much and is characteristically stiff in front of crowds,  seemed comfortable in front of hundreds last night in a Chicago suburb.

He focused his attacks on President Obama, not his Republican adversaries, proclaiming with enthused articulation that “after years of too many apologies and not enough jobs, historic drops in income and historic highs in gas prices” the American people have had “enough” of Obama’s policies.

This shift isn’t the first time Romney has dawned the frontrunner crown, but it is certainly more fitting this go around than ever before with a seemingly insurmountable sum of delegates already accumulated.

Rick Santorum would have to not only win every contest from here on out, but would have to do so by huge majorities as well as in more moderate leaning states (where Romney tends to do better) such as New Jersey and California. This on all on top of struggling campaign finances which are reportedly in the red.

Santorum and his campaign clearly showed this realization last night despite offering no word of dropping out. Santorum is typically a lively and combative speaker, which is part of the reason for his unlikely flourishing within the past two months, yet last night in his defeat he appeared beaten down and less hopeful than normal.

In addition to his campaign team pushing the meaninglessness of the Illinois primary because the state will most likely go to Obama in November, Santorum focused on his chances in Louisiana last night. The forced optimism was apparent, however, in his tone and in the setting; the concession speech came from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania—indicating Santorum knew his loss in Illinois was imminent from several days out.

Undeniably then, Mitt Romney is the frontrunner and will be the nominee. He still has to go through the motions to amass delegates and convince his doubters within the GOP, but rest assured there is no way it could be anyone else. Luckily for the image and momentum of his campaign, Romney finally demonstrated that feeling in an effective way.

Kit

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Super Tuesday Gives Romney The Edge, But Long Road Still Ahead

If it wasn’t for the long trend of Republicans rejecting Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor would almost certainly be ecstatic with the results from last night.

Mitt won 6 of the 10 states up for grabs in yesterday’s so called Super Tuesday election. This included a close win over Santorum in the all-important Ohio primary, which every President in recent history has won in their respective primary.

Yet, as has been the case for quite some time now, conservatives are still not wholly supporting Romney for various reasons ranging from policy decisions (like his healthcare plan as Massachusetts governor) to his personality faults )such as the perceived disconnect he has with poor and middle class people).

Rick Santorum has been the main benefactor as of late to this anti-Romneyism. Santorum won Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Dakota while finishing second in Ohio, Massachusetts, Idaho and Alaska. These showings, while not a huge boost for his campaign, do prove Santorum has staying power. After some surges in polls over the past month as well as increased media attention, Santorum seems to be the final anti-Romney that will battle with Mitt all the way to the convention.

Thus, the big question from here on out is what Newt Gingrich will do. The former Speaker of the House won Georgia last night, but has little else going for him with his bankrupt campaign. He has repeatedly stated that he will stay in the race and try and accrue delegates from one state at a time in order to challenge Romney at the convention, but his popularity is waning fast and multiple poor showings suggest that he cannot last until then.

If he drops out soon Santorum would see a huge increase in support because he would gain the lion’s share of Newt’s backers. This would, of course, be disastrous for Romney. Right now Romney has a moderate edge over Santorum, but if Santorum inherited all of Newt’s followers he would instantly become the leader of the field in various battleground states as well as amongst national support.

It will be interesting to see over the next few days if Newt plans on backing out, but as it is not expected it seems the nomination process will continue to slug along down the road for the next few  months just like it has the for the previous few months—with Mitt leading the pack, but unable to pull away.

Kit

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Super Tuesday Preview

Tomorrow’s ten primary elections, which are often referred to as “Super Tuesday” because of the significance the elections hold, are extremely important for the four remaining candidates’ presidential chances. Mitt Romney in particular has the most at stake—with substantial wins he can lock up the nomination,but  with bad losses the contest will drag on until Republican National Convention.

Ohio is considered the real prize because it has the second most delegates and is a good indicator for general election viability as a battleground state. However, there are many states to cover for this event, and as such, each state holds importance for tomorrow’s affair. Below is a brief overview of all the states participating in Super Tuesday:

Alaska: Low turnout is expected and the very few public polls give little insight as to who will win. Romney and Ron Paul would seem to fit the ethos of Alaska the best.

Georgia: Newt Gingrich’s campaign will be finished if he doesn’t win his home state. Right now he leads it in polls and is looking to pick up the largest amount of delegates of any participating state tomorrow.

Idaho: A caucus state that is another toss-up. Romney and Paul did well here in 2008.

Massachusetts: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will win this one. Progressive Massachusetts will choose Mitt because he is the most moderate of the available options.

North Dakota: Ron Paul wants to win the Peace Garden state, but Romney may have a chance.

Ohio: Rick Santorum is putting to use all of his blue collar upbringing and pro-manufacturing policies as possible to try and win Ohio. If he does, it sets him up for the long haul against Mitt.

Oklahoma: Santorum and Gingrich are both looking to win this state, which Mitt is hoping can work in his favor in order to stage an upset in a state he would otherwise be unpopular in.

Tennessee: Rick Santorum is leading now, but like Oklahoma and Ohio this large state will be fought over and could go to Newt or Mitt.

Vermont: Vermont will almost certainly go to Romney. In the latest polls he is leading by over 15 points.

Virginia: Virginia’s 49 delegates will be a two-man contest between Ron Paul and Romney—the other candidates did not make Virginia’s ballot. Romney is leading now, but wouldn’t a Paul upset as the “anti-Romney” be interesting?

In total, there are 437 delegates up for grabs tomorrow. It takes an estimated 1,144 delegates to secure the nomination, so candidates will be putting nearly everything on the table in hopes that it will clinch their nomination.

Kit

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Obama’s Proposed Budget: Practical Or Political?

Yesterday the Obama Administration presented its 2013 Budget Proposal — and it was met with an uproar.

Republicans in the Senate and House called it dead on arrival, some mocking it by calling it “debt on arrival”. Democrats also dismissed it almost immediately. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he won’t bring it to the floor.

The proposal, which President Obama said he expects Democrats and Republicans to “answer in the morning”, is chock full of projects the President has endorsed since the inception of his political career. Yet with this being the third budget proposal of Obama’s tenure that has a deficit projected at $1 Trillion, many are questioning if the administration is even bothering putting together a serious proposal at all.

Thus the real question is whether this budget is practical or purely political. Is it meant to be ammunition for what will surely be a heated Presidential election, or could it actually be implemented?

Disregard for a moment that it would not pass the simple majority needed in the Senate or House and imagine it was instituted as the budget for the 2013 fiscal year.  The excessive spending it advertises would burden a country that already has $15 Trillion in debt and pays nearly $300 Billion annually on the interest owed to its debtors. Additionally, Obama’s budget would allow increases in entitlement spending, subsidize public sector growth in industries where private companies could compete, and increase foreign aid which is already in the billions.

The plan does generate new revenues of $1.5 trillion by raising taxes on those making over $250,000 a year, but that number is an aggregated estimate for ten years from now. $1.5 trillion down the road does little to slow the growing deficit now.

Therefore the answer is pretty obvious: this budget proposal is a political weapon the Obama team is arming themselves with in preparation for the election. And it is a great political move.

Every Republican candidate is talking about massive cuts to nearly all government programs.  With this proposed budget, President Obama can give speeches in heavy manufacturing states about the money he wants to give them. Incidentally, the states with many factory and industrial jobs are some of the biggest swing states for the upcoming election. In areas with struggling public school systems, he can talk about his plan to pump billions more into the Department of Education. Across the country he can promise new jobs for the huge infrastructure stimulus included in the budget that would help our steadily declining roads and bridges.

Clearly this budget proposal is the President’s campaign tool, and it should be a pretty useful one at that.

Kit

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Super PACs

If you have watched The Colbert Report in the past few months, you’ll most likely have seen the Comedy Central host promote his Super PAC (Political Action Committee) “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow”. The committee was created by Colbert as a way to raise awareness of unlimited money in politics while also poking fun at the political process as a whole.

The idea is pretty funny, quite successful—the Federal Election Commission reports it raised $1.2 million in the past six months—and has reached a wide audience that may not have been aware of PACs beforehand.

Like all Colbert or Jon Stewart shticks, this one isolates a problem in politics. However, where does this problem stem from? Who are the culprits? And who is hurt by this?

Firstly, there has always been money in politics, and for a very long time there have been Political Action Committees which organize fundraising for candidates seeking office. Historically there have always been limits on the amount these PACs could raise, though.

That all changed in 2010 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that no limit of donations could be placed on outside organizations assisting campaigns—famously summed up as “money equals free speech”. Thus, Super PACs were born.

Initially there was outrage from nearly everyone. Although with a huge minority in Congress, Republicans and their backers soon changed their tune and argued that money did in fact equal free speech. Democrats, with a hefty majority, were repulsed by the thought of unlimited campaign contributions from corporations, unions, and wealthy individuals. They paid accordingly by losing control of the House as well as a significant portion of the Senate.

Come 2012, they appear to be changing their tune much like Republicans did only two years ago. President Obama, who admonished the Supreme Court’s decision for Citizens United in a State of the Union address, declared this week that he’ll allow his campaign to take money from Super PACs. President Obama’s reasoning for the flip-flop? He rationalized that his campaign cannot be “fighting with one arm tied behind our backs if [Republicans are] doing it”.

Perhaps not the most inspiring reason, but a sensible one nonetheless. Many Democrats like Congresswoman and DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz argue it is the only way to keep this year’s election fair.

And while there are still some Democrats rejecting this, such as Sen. Feinstein out of Wisconsin, most will soon fall in line behind the President and accept the large sums Super PACs can dole out.

If both Democrats and Republicans feel this way, can it really be all that bad? Some say no, but others worry that unlimited spending will ultimately lead politicians to care about pleasing their corporate interests before their constituents. This may not be a widely held view, but Colbert seems to think it deserves some national mockery—and people are listening to him.

Kit

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Nevada, Minnesota, Missouri, And Colorado Primaries

This past Saturday Mitt Romney won the Nevada Caucus, doubling the votes of his nearest competitors Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich and trouncing last place finisher Rick Santorum by over 30 percentage points. Yet, unlike previous states, Nevada seems to incite little national attention and significance.

Likewise, Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri’s nominating elections take place today, but don’t really offer any promise of shaking up the current Republican field, even though preliminary polls suggest a vast array of winners (Santorum in Minnesota, Romney or Gingrich in Colorado, and Santorum in Missouri).

Why do these states’ primaries, and the next few in the following weeks, seem to matter less to the candidates, public and media than previous ones?

The truth is, after the first few influential states, February is more a gear-up month amongst remaining candidates for Super Tuesday on March 6th. On Super Tuesday, ten states hold primaries. This spectacle offers not only a huge momentum for successful candidates but also offers 437 delegate votes up for grabs.

Such a massive amount of delegates is more than enough incentive for the three second tier candidates to stay involved until at least that date. With the Republican Party very divided over Mitt Romney, any slip from the former Massachusetts Governor in the next month could give Gingrich, Paul or Santorum the break they need to steal the votes necessary to garner the nomination—which is awarded at the Republican National Convention in August. It is unlikely at this point that Romney could lose the nomination, but feasible enough that each man has a real reason to stay involved.

To be sure, every candidate wants to win each state and collect valuable delegates in these small states over the next month.  Delegates, who are committed to their vote until the Convention, are a finite number and can be swayed by hard work and earnest beliefs.

This is why each of the remaining candidates is doing as much as they can to shore up every vote possible — whether the state’s primary is popular or not.

Kit

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With Florida Win, Romney Starting War of Attrition

   

Mitt Romney rolled through Florida’s critical primary Tuesday as the former governor handedly beat his major opponent Newt Gingrich, as well as crushing other contenders Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.

The victory, paramount in importance for Romney after losing South Carolina, was a result of a well organized campaign team, millions of dollars in television ads, a strong debate performance last week, and most importantly an aimless Gingrich operation.

Gingrich and his team made many contentious statements in Florida and then failed to back them up in a highly viewed, nationally televised debate. Furthermore, Florida is a more moderate and conciliatory state than South Carolina, which played in Romney’s favor.

This win all but ensures a Romney nomination, but in no way does it end the campaign season. Gingrich and Santorum do not have the personality to leave a race until the last possible minute, and Ron Paul has promised to stay in until the convention. Much like General Ulysses S. Grant was forced to institute his War of Attrition on the South during the closing months of the American Civil War, so too will the Romney team be forced to grind out the next few months with highly critical tactics and heated rhetoric against his Republican adversaries.

After winning New Hampshire, Romney set his sights on Obama and focused on attacking the President instead of Gingrich, Santorum, or Paul. This approach led to the loss in South Carolina which revitalized Newt’s whole campaign. The mistake of easing up on his competition will not be made twice.

Mitt will continue sharp attacks on Gingrich’s more brazen plans (having a 13,000 person colony on the moon within a decade, for example) while also condemning the former Speaker’s gnarled past. He will also utilize his superior fundraising capabilities to bombard every state with costly, effective ads.

This strategy will win Romney the nomination. Unfortunately, he’ll be the only winner.

The Republican Party is already quite fractured and unhappy with Mitt being the consensus pick. Divisive tactics against other Republicans over the next few months will only cement the wide-ranging distaste for the former CEO and Massachusetts Governor.

Eventually, Mitt’s War of Attrition will yield the results he’s happy with, but the casualties along the way will ultimately hinder his march to the White House.

Kit

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SOPA/PIPA: Catalysts For Democratic Participation

Anyone using the internet within the past week surely noticed quite a bit of talk about PIPA and SOPA, the Senate and House bills designed to curb online piracy.

Each of these proposals was, initially, heavily supported by both Democrats and Republicans. However, because of a huge viral push Americans all over learned about the bills and voiced opposition towards them. What exactly would the bills have done? More importantly, what does this united rejection mean?

Before addressing the outpour of rejection Americans voiced last week, it must be understood exactly what was so foul about the bills in the first place. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protecting Intellectual Property Act) were both born out of necessitation. Piracy websites, both domestic and abroad, wrongfully steal copyrighted and trademarked material and unlawfully post it on wikis and forums.

Where the two acts, which originally had support from almost every member of the Senate and House of Representatives, went wrong, however, is how broad their classification of illegal online activity was.

Under the planned statutes, websites such as Wikipedia, Reddit.com, and YouTube would not be possible because normal users would be unable to upload any content. There would be substantial red tape to overcome in order to be a contributor to the online communities such as the aforementioned sites. This is the antithesis of what the internet has stood for in the past two decades and for what it strives to be in the future. The World Wide Web has and should remain a space where individuals can share and discuss issues freely.

Luckily it will most likely remain this way. Many popular websites pushed users to contact their respective Congressperson or Senator and to tell them they opposed SOPA and PIPA. Normally suggestions like this go unnoticed by surfers of the net, but this time it was different. Offices on Capitol Hill received two to three times more phone calls last week than they normally do—and almost all of them involved SOPA/PIPA.

This action bodes well for internet freedom, but also for the democratic process as a whole. Because of all these phone calls, letters, and e-mails, a substantial amount of Congressman now oppose it (almost a 6 to 1 ratio) and a slight majority of Senators oppose it. Interestingly enough, it also appears to be a bipartisan issue. About the same percentage of Republicans and Democrats fall on either side of the issue.

Now that Americans have seen what difference a united opposition to an overly intervening bill can have, hopefully it will become a more common occurrence in the years to come.

Kit

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Can Ron Paul Be Elected President?

Few politicians trigger as much scorn as Ron Paul, yet even fewer generate as much unwavering support as the Texas Congressman running for President does. Why is it that this former gynecologist and longtime Representative can create such disdain amongst so many while also garnering such a devoted following?

Well, unlike the last few presidents, it certainly isn’t his ability to compromise. Both Democrats and Republicans often disagree with Paul on a wide variety of issues. It’s not his appearance or media savvy —the 76-year-old looks his age and often rants during interviews. Conclusively, then, it must be his dogged principles which have gone admirably unchanged for 30 years.

Is a somewhat fanatical dedication to ideals enough to push Ron Paul into the highest office of the land? Before deciding this, let’s contextualize his positions.

Economically, Paul is as conservative as one gets. He believes the budget should be balanced every year, no exceptions. Therefore, he has proposed cutting $1 trillion in federal spending for the next year alone. Paul also believes in optimal economic freedom—i.e. as few taxes as possible for everyone. Furthermore, Paul is an ardent critic of the monetary system as it—and by extension the Federal Reserve—purposefully devalues the dollar with excessive inflation.

Concerning social issues, Paul is personally very in line with his Republican colleagues. However, he feels that government cannot mandate people’s liberties and thus falls out of favor with the GOP in that regard.

He believes gay marriage should be a state issue, as should abortion. Paul is also strongly in favor of legalizing marijuana, and argues that the War on Drugs is one of the biggest wastes of time and money our country has ever taken part in. The value Paul gives to protecting civil liberties often incites admiration amongst Democrats, but again,
fractures him within the GOP.

Foreign policy, however, is what most separates Paul from his republican counterparts—and frankly from many Democrats as well. He is often called an isolationist as he fervently disavows US military action abroad. He wants to bring all troops stationed on international bases home and to also cut the military spending by several hundred billion dollars.

Ultimately it is this position that will cost him the presidency. His economic views make him the ardent conservative Republican’s desire and his social views would capture the independents necessary for a presidential election. The truth is, however, terrorism and hostile nations such as Iran pose too great a threat for voters to take a chance on Ron Paul’s non-interventionist policies.

At his old age, this will be his last run for President. He won’t win the Republican nomination, but his message of maximum liberty has made its impact and will endure long after he’s gone.

Kit

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Oh No He Didn’t!!! Mitt Romney Compares President Obama To Kim Kardashian

Now that’s a low blow. During a campaign stop on Sunday evening, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney compared President Barack Obama to Kim Kardashian. According to the NY Post:

“‘I’ve been looking at some video clips on YouTube of President Obama — then candidate Obama — going through Iowa making promises,’ Romney said Sunday, referencing Obama on the campaign trail in 2008. ‘The gap between his promises and his performance is the largest I’ve seen, well, since the Kardashian wedding and the promise of ’til death do we part.’

Obama can’t have liked the comparison, and not only because it alludes to the idea that he has not lived up to the promise of his campaign. Obama is simply not a fan of the Kardashian’s many E! television franchises.

Michelle Obama told iVillage in October, ‘Barack really thinks [Keeping Up With The Kardashians] — when [Malia and Sasha] watch that stuff — he doesn’t like that.'”

Let the mudslinging begin!!

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Oh No He Didn't!!! Mitt Romney Compares President Obama To Kim Kardashian

Now that’s a low blow. During a campaign stop on Sunday evening, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney compared President Barack Obama to Kim Kardashian. According to the NY Post:

“‘I’ve been looking at some video clips on YouTube of President Obama — then candidate Obama — going through Iowa making promises,’ Romney said Sunday, referencing Obama on the campaign trail in 2008. ‘The gap between his promises and his performance is the largest I’ve seen, well, since the Kardashian wedding and the promise of ’til death do we part.’

Obama can’t have liked the comparison, and not only because it alludes to the idea that he has not lived up to the promise of his campaign. Obama is simply not a fan of the Kardashian’s many E! television franchises.

Michelle Obama told iVillage in October, ‘Barack really thinks [Keeping Up With The Kardashians] — when [Malia and Sasha] watch that stuff — he doesn’t like that.'”

Let the mudslinging begin!!

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Obama’s Campaign Strategy

President Barack Obama has faced a tumultuous first three years as commander-in-chief and is now looking at the lowest approval ratings for an incumbent near election since Jimmy Carter in 1980. This obviously stages an uphill battle for Obama’s reelection prospects, and raises the question, what will President Obama’s strategy be for 2012?

Thus far, the president has mostly downplayed his 2012 campaign, stating he is waiting for the republicans to hammer out a nominee before he gets involved in all that. Some closer analysis suggests otherwise, however, as the president has already raised $1 billion dollars via campaign fundraisers (it should be noted that some of this money is from Super PACs which support Obama but are not officially affiliated with the White House). Additionally, Obama’s top advisors David Plouffe and David Axelrod have been on the offensive in the media criticizing any and all of republican candidates for president, and have been particularly hostile towards Mitt Romney who many view as the likely nominee.

Plouffe and Axelrod seem to be the key in predicting the Obama strategy in 2012 as they have been the most vocal. The two have primarily rallied around three main points in all of their interviews and speeches in the last few months: 1) Obama has not had enough time to really accomplish his goals 2) the goals he has tried to accomplish have been stymied by a do-nothing Congress and 3) certainly you don’t think a flip-flopper like Mitt Romney or a Washington Insider like Newt Gingrich would be any better, do you?

The first point is weak as he has had exactly the same amount of time as any other incumbent into his first term. The second position may be more successful, but even so the democrats had control of the House and Senate in Obama’s first two years. The final scheme will likely prove to be the most affective, but Obama will certainly have to prepare for his own share of flip-flopping and Washington insider allegations.

Overall, the contentions are valid arguments, but are a far cry from the uplifting mantra of ‘Hope and Change’ Obama used in his 2008 campaign. Americans were genuinely uplifted by his positive outlook and will likely be upset by the shift in tone coming in 2012. Whether the tone will be enough to persuade voters to support someone other than Obama remains to be seen. What can be certain, however, is that this election cycle will be noticeably more caustic than the previous one.

Kit

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The Emergence Of Newt Gingrich

With all the twists and turns this past year’s race for Republican Presidential nominee has seen, it seems fitting that the bombastic former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich finds himself atop polls just in time for the beginning of primary season.

But is the former Congressman from Georgia, who has a PhD in history and knack for grand ideas, just another flash in the pan? Will he fizzle out like Bachmann, Perry and Cain before him? It would certainly appear that way with the dramatic swings of the aforementioned candidates, yet Gingrich may be different.

Firstly, he has had a say in the political process at a national level for 20 plus years, something none of the aforementioned can claim. Secondly, he has had very strong showings in all of the debates, another aspect Bachmann, Perry and Cain cannot claim. Furthermore, he has written over thirty books, has unique knowledge about the legislative process, and has established many of the core principles the Republican Party is known for today.

However, with all of these benefits Newt carries, he comes with some serious baggage. Gingrich has been married three times—his first divorce occurring while his wife was very ill with cancer. This story has long been a knock on Newt, and it will continue to hurt his standing amongst the evangelical faction of the Right. It is unlikely, though, that this aspect of the Speaker’s life will ultimately prevent him from capturing the nomination. Plenty of famous politicians, from Clinton to Kennedy, have overcome less than stellar private lives with charismatic beliefs and enthusiastic visions, both of which Newt encompasses.

More worrisome to his campaign, one would think, is his questionable dedication to some of the key issues for Republican voters. For instance, during his respite from politics the last few years, he made millions as a consultant to Freddie Mac right before the housing bubble burst. That looks bad for anyone, but particularly now when most of the country feels pretty sour towards Washington insiders and Freddie Mac as a whole. Additionally, Gingrich was one of the first to champion an individual mandate in healthcare back in the 1990s—a plan now that not a single Republican could envision backing. And finally, Gingrich has refuted the widespread call amongst the Right to greatly reform entitlements, most notably Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his plan to overhaul Medicare, by continually defending Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

If the past ten months has taught us anything, it would be to not count any Republican out of the race just yet; and because Gingrich is leading now it doesn’t necessarily mean he will be leading in the near future. Only time will tell how the electorate will respond to Newt’s polarizing pros and cons, but all that baggage will likely prove too heavy.

Kit

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