The Spectacle Blog

Weekend Political Wrap-Up

By on 5.6.12 | 3:01PM

1. Last week, Barack Obama's reelection team released a "Life of Julia" slideshow which was supposed to undermine Mitt Romney's support among women by documenting the cradle-to-grave goodies for the fairer sex that Ryan/Romney Republicans would supposedly undo. Whatever Julia's long-term impact, in the short term the propaganda piece was widely ridiculed: "An e-mail from the Republican National Committee urged conservatives to use the Twitter hashtag #Julia to mock the timeline. And mock they did. Throughout the day, Twitter was filled with sarcastic messages that described “Julia” as a ward of the government."

It was widely ridiculed precisely because it was ridiculous. Ross Douthat summarizes its underlying assumptions: "It offers a more sweeping vision of government’s place in society, in which the individual depends on the state at every stage of life, and no decision — personal, educational, entrepreneurial, sexual — can be contemplated without the promise that it will be somehow subsidized by Washington."

2. The "Party of Julia" may be in the White House, but this was overall a pretty libertarian weekend. In Nevada, Ron Paul supporters ousted two Romney backers from the Republican National Committee and captured a majority of the state's delegates to the national convention. The RNC had warned against the latter move, but the Nevada delegation should be fine as long as those bound to Romney vote for him on the first ballot.

When evaluating Paul's delegate accumulation strategy, the key question is this: How many people are going to Tampa as first-ballot Ron Paul delegates and how many are Paul supporters who are legally bound to Romney and other candidates? This matters since the vote is unlikely to proceed beyond the first ballot. Either way, a strong Paul presence could make itself felt in the same way that it does at gatherings like CPAC.

3. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson won the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination with over 70 percent of the vote at their national convention in Las Vegas. (Where else?) Judge Jim Gray was nominated for vice president. Johnson joined the LP after he failed to gain any traction -- or major debate invitations -- running for president as a Republican. I had wondered if Johnson would face any blowback from his recent Republican history, especially in light of the Bob Barr experience in 2008. Johnson took that issue head on:

Somewhere between 2000 and 2008, Bob Barr fell out of bed, hit his head, and became a libertarian. I'm glad it happened.

This is not 2008. I don't have any of that baggage hanging in back of me.

Johnson also zinged Romney about the resignation of gay foreign policy adviser Richard Grenell: "I believe the majority of Americans could care less about whether or not there is a gay individual working in the Romney campaign."

4. Grenell's departure from the Romney campaign was a hotly contested issue in Washington. Many Romney critics seized on a report by Romney supporter Jennifer Rubin that Grenell was "hounded from Romney campaign by anti-gay conservatives." Sources close to the campaign counter they were merely waiting for a controversy over Grenell's tweets -- pushed mainly by the left, not the right -- to blow over before pushing him front and center again but he resigned on his own against their wishes. Whomever you believe, Gary Johnson probably has this right: a majority of Americans could care less.

5. Never count your chickens before they're hatched or count your votes before they're cast. But the noise emanating from Indiana doesn't sound good for longtime Sen. Richard Lugar. He faces a Tea Party primary challenge from state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. State polling can be unreliable, but Lugar is behaving like he believes his Senate seat is at risk. The Indianapolis Star portrays him as pleading for crossover votes.

6. Newt Gingrich ended his Republican presidential campaign last week. Gingrich fought hard in the era of Bob Michel Republicanism to ascend from the backbenches to the House leadership. He was instrumental in the GOP congressional takeover of 1994 and thus deserves substantial credit for the Republican majority's real policy accomplishments between 1995 and 1997. But once he got House Republicans to the top of the mountain, he did not seem equal to the task of delivering on his revolutionary promises. His personal weaknesses helped ease him out of the speakership.

Gingrich's presidential run went much the same way. He did more with less than most candidates and fought back from the political dead at least twice to look like he had a legitimate shot at the GOP nomination. Undisciplined and disorganized, he was no match for the fine-tuned Romney machine and a news cycle that is even faster and less forgiving than it was in the '90s.

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