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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A final look back at Tommy!

by folkbum

I'm getting ready to yank my facetious endorsement of Tommy! 2008, now that it's long over. But I wanted to throw a few last things out there that I've run across in the last couple of weeks.

A number of Cheddarsphereans deconstructed Tommy!'s loss in the Ames Straw Poll. One of my favorite readings came from anonymous "template," purveyor of all things Whallah!:
If you want to know what Tommy's real problem was, look a little more closely at the candidate. The problem was Tommy.

He declared, and the media reported, time and again, that he would win in Iowa because it was retail politics -- the kind of politics where you didn't need a lot of money, or television advertising, because you could get to know the voters up close and personal. [. . .]

Iowa Republicans didn't reject Tommy Thompson because the NY Times told them he couldn't win.

They decided, after sizing him up against the rest of the pack, that he just didn't pack the gear.

Frankly, he comes off on TV like a doofus. He may be better in small groups or one-on-one, but he yells his speeches like he's angry at the audience. And he looks a little goofy, with his whitewall haircut. One observer said Tommy had either the worst haircut or the worst hairpiece they'd ever seen.
"Template" is writing, as is his or her wont, in response something Jessica McBride wrote. McBride blames Tommy!'s loss on the "east coast celebrity, 'presidential' looks, political name, and money" of Mitt Romney. There are two problems with that, one that reinforces what "template" wrote, and one that should scare the pants off of everyone else.

First, there's this from Todd Beeton at MyDD. He tallied the number of Straw Poll votes each candidate received per visit he made to Iowa. Winning was Ron Paul, who scored 87 votes per visit. Clearly this is not reflective of any "east coast celebrity, 'presidential' looks, political name, and money." Tommy!, who pretty much lived in Iowa for the last six months, got a mere seven votes per visit. He was there a lot, and the people didn't buy it.

The other thing is this about Mike Huckabee:

The as-yet-mostly-untold story of yesterday’s Iowa GOP Straw Poll in Ames is not about dueling bands and barbecues, of red inked thumbs or voting machine malfunctions; it is about tax policy. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won the coveted second-place spot over Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback on that alone.

Brownback’s record on taxes was spotless enough to inspire the Club for Growth to run negative ads against Mike Huckabee in the week leading up to the Straw Poll. He supports an “optional flat tax,” whereby citizens could opt to pay a flat income tax rate if they wanted to instead of paying income taxes based on the current system (I don’t know much more than that).

Huckabee, on the other hand, supports “FairTax,” a policy proposal that would shut down the IRS and, simplistically speaking, impose a national sales tax to pay for the federal government. There would be what they call a “pre-bate” that the government would send out to families every year to make the system a little bit less regressive, but I won’t get into the details, because they aren’t interesting. [. . .] FairTax is backed by a powerful circle of donors and the well-organized group Americans for Fair Taxation, who actually bused over 500 FairTax supporters in for the Straw Poll. The rumor is that they overwhelmingly voted for Huckabee even though a few other Republican candidates (most notably, Tancredo) also support the policy. Huckabee edged out Brownback by less than 400.

Although the Club for Growth ran hit pieces against Huckabee, neither they nor any other pro-flat tax group brought anyone in for Brownback. Though the flat taxers’ TV ads probably cost about as much as the roughly $150,000 the FairTax supporters spent in Ames (Americans for Fair Taxation could not actually give money to the Iowa GOP because of their tax status, so members of their group had to give private donations to pay for tent space and other privileges), the money did not pay off.
This is also not "east coast celebrity, 'presidential' looks, political name, and money." This is serious wacko money, and, given how appealing Huckabee already is among the religious folk (i.e., not the tax folk), that could be a dangerous combination. I called him the one to watch some time ago, and I was, I believe, right.

And as for Tommy!? We don't have to watch him at all any more.

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