Ten Questions for Super Tuesday

Wednesday, 07 Mar 2012 04:28 PM

By Susan Estrich

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1. What were the Republicans thinking when they "reformed" their system to look more like the Democrats' system? (Meanwhile, the Democrats have been trying to reform their system to give more power to elected officials and elites and make it easier for a winner to win.)

Short answer: the same thing liberal ideologues were thinking in the '70s and '80s when they (we) created theirs (ours). Make it harder for the establishment candidate who starts out with the most money and the most votes to win. Make it easier for insurgents to compete by giving them a proportionate number of delegates and stretching out the process. And guess what: It's working. If you call this working. Actually, it's working very well for President Obama.

2. What was Mitt Romney doing in Massachusetts? There were a lot of places he could be on primary night — like one of the next states up, which is one of the oldest tricks in the book if you're not sure you're going to beat anyone in the biggies. Or even D.C., where you're playing in Obama's backyard against the backdrop of your win in Virginia.

But saying "home" so many times in the state that brought you John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and Mike Dukakis? Don't get me wrong. It's my home state, too, and I worked for those men, proudly. That's my point. Liberals and lobsters. That's what you find in Massachusetts. And Romney's not a lobster.

3. How do these guys do it without money? Sure, they've made Romney's wealth an issue politically. But still. It used to be that candidates dropped out of the race because they didn't have money, and without money they couldn't organize and compete. Not anymore. You don't need people working weeks in advance to get people to come to an event. Hello, Twitter. Hello, Listservs.

Do you know what we used to pay for phones, which was the only way to communicate other than walking door to door? I can communicate with thousands of "friends" right here and right now without spending a dime. And so can millions of other people. We've been waiting for the Internet to revolutionize politics. It has — especially in primaries and caucuses.

4. Why can't any of these guys give a short speech? The longer the speech, the less control you have over what the networks and the radio will cover. Do you really want half of the clip to be about your relatives on the stage or, in Romney's case, how much you love the Bay State? Cut to the chase. Get your key points out. Get off the stage. Get the whole thing covered.

5. What's with the gloom and doom thing? Gloom and doom Democrats. That's what they used to call us. There was Ronald Reagan doing "morning in America" (in 1984, when we were also coming out of a recession), and there we were talking about how awful things were. Hello, Mitt. His whole campaign has been based on the downhill slide of a failing economy. What if people are starting to feel a little better about it? Old rule: Optimist always beats pessimist.

6. Brokered convention? The media love to talk about it. There are all kinds of reasons it shouldn't happen, including the fact that the last one, in 1952, wasn't being covered 24/7 by cable news networks. Brokered conventions look like deals, not democracy. Blood gets left on the floor.

We don't even pick vice presidents at the conventions anymore, for fear that something could (as it has repeatedly) go wrong. Conventions are TV shows: four days of advertisements that you don't pay for. You want floor fights? Backroom sessions? Deals? Is God a Democrat? Seriously.

7. Sarah Palin? Hello. Just in time for the HBO movie "Game Change," she injects herself into the Republican race and — if Democrats are lucky — will suck all of the air out of the room, detract from the actual candidates and make "Saturday Night Live" really worth watching.

8. How smart is Obama? On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech about when it is OK for the United States to assassinate American al-Qaida leaders who are on foreign soil. Answer: Sometimes.

On Super Tuesday, Obama's in the White House talking about what it's like to be commander in chief. Are there some people who think he's gone too far in fighting terrorism? Yes. Will any of them be voting Republican? Nope. Obama: the president who's (too) tough on terror. Who looked big this week? Who looked small?

9. How come it took so long to find that Op-Ed by Romney endorsing individual mandates nationally? The word "mandate" didn't appear, so a Google search wouldn't turn it up? Maybe. But Romney had to know it was there. Whoever was working with him back then had to know it was there. Bad stuff is supposed to come out early — not on the eve of Super Tuesday. And if you know it's there, you carefully navigate around it. Ouch.

10. How much fun is it to be a Democrat right now? November is a long time away. Things change. Even so, it's fun.

Susan Estrich is a best-selling author whose writings have appeared in newspapers such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post, and she has been a commentator on countless TV news programs. Read more reports from Susan Estrich — Click Here Now.








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