Open Thread: ‘A Grudging, Defeated Acceptance’

Gail Collins is probably the most underrated NYTimes columnist, and that’s even apart from her role as BoBo’s nanny. But campaign fatigue seems to be affecting her already, or else she had qualms about mentioning Willard’s dog-on-the-roof-rack infamy in a column about the Republican Year of Living Adulterously:

… The Republicans are terrified that they’ll wind up with Mitt Romney, who has been fund-raising like crazy and seems to be planning a campaign based on the slogan: “Money can’t buy love, but it can definitely purchase a grudging, defeatist acceptance.”
Some party leaders are looking hopefully at Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, who’s promised to make up his mind this month. If he runs, one thing you are not going to get from Mitch Daniels is the politics of joy. Have you ever seen “Game of Thrones” on HBO? It’s about a mythical kingdom that sends some of its young men to the remote tundra to live in perpetual celibacy and guard a 700-foot-tall wall of ice. Their reaction is very similar to the way Mitch Daniels looks when he talks about running for president…
As to Governor Daniels, the voters are unlikely to give a fig about the interesting past of his wife, Cheri. But if he wants to protect her from the embarrassment of being asked about it 24/7, perhaps he could just declare her off limits. The news media has generally respected those kinds of rules when it comes to presidential candidates’ children, as long as said offspring don’t show up on reality shows or as teen-abstinence ambassadors for a shoe store foundation.
Of course, a wife who is off limits would not be able to campaign for her husband. I think that would be terrific. Finally, we could end the tradition that a presidential candidate’s spouse is running for something, too. If we want a first family to obsess over, we should just hire a king and queen.
Don’t know how the social right would feel about this. But there’s always Mitt Romney.

52 replies
  1. 1

    Cairo 2: Electric Boogaloo. The Obama Administration throws its support behind pro-democracy movements in the middle east, and reiterates its support for pre-1967 borders for an independent Palestinian state. We may now commence shouting at each other.

  2. 2
    Turgidson says:

    Romney/Daniels 2012! The most soporific ticket evah!

  3. 3
    TomG says:

    This is the most frustrating part about favoring Gary Johnson – everyone is hell-bent on ignoring him. I’m not sure if it is because he’s boring, or because his governorship was too far back or what, but I’m still waiting for somebody to actually discuss him – because he is, in fact, in the race.
    He’s been divorced once, and his wife died soon after, but I don’t know the details.
    It just seems like Chris Mathews and other people on the evening shows are assuming that he isn’t worth spending time on…without giving him any air time, so he can’t prove them wrong.

  4. 4

    @Turgidson: Bachmann/Palin or nothing.

  5. 5
    JGabriel says:

    Anne Laurie:

    Gail Collins is probably the most underrated NYTimes columnist …

    That’s because Collins got off to a bad start, writing like a MoDo knock-off, until she seemed to find her own voice about 3-6 months in. I think people like Collins a lot more now than when she first started.


  6. 6
    Culture of Truth says:

    Excuse me? No mention of the Newt Gingrich juggernaut?

  7. 7

    @TomG: Maybe Gary wrote his GBCW letter to the League of Serious People when he threw his support behind the Ron Paul R[evoL]ution.

  8. 8
    Warren Terra says:

    Very much as the decisions Cheri Daniels makes in her private life are her own business, how Willard’s dog chooses to travel is his own business. Both are off limits, unless the dog chooses to campaign for Willard.

    There’s also the fact that no one has ever heard of him. Add to that that he’s not going to break out of single digits in any state. Probably not even New Mexico. And that’s a good thing: the last thing we need is someone raised on the government dollar but convinced that the government needs to get out of the way, someone who made their bundle as a property developer in the southwest.

  9. 9
    PeakVT says:

    Question for Noo Yawkahs: what’s with Cuomo pushing a property tax cap? Doesn’t anyone in the state know the devastation Prop 13 has wrought in Cali?

  10. 10
    handy says:

    @Cris (without an H):

    Things just got real interesting.

  11. 11
    Guster says:

    @TomG: Who’s Gary Johnson?

  12. 12


    Thirty seconds over google reveals why there is absolutely no point in discussing Gov. Johnson’s quest for the Republican nomination:

    Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson announced in New Hampshire today that he will be seeking the Republican nomination for president, making him likely the only pro-abortion candidate in the field.

  13. 13
    Culture of Truth says:


  14. 14
    Anoniminous says:

    The only way the GOP presidential nomination race could get any more weird is by Bernie Sanders jumping in.

  15. 15
    Dan says:

    I still think she treats the column like it’s a way to test out ideas for a political stand-up comedy routine. She’s much more focused on issues than Dowd but she’s only slightly more serious.

  16. 16
    pattonbt says:

    How long until the VSP village pundits re-visit their mancrush on Thune and beg him, a la Fred Thompson, to throw his hat into the ring? They seemed to love him so.

  17. 17
    David in NY says:

    I loved the whole column, but her riff on the Republican specialities in sex scandals was great. After enumerating a couple of them, she concludes.

    A married senator who has an affair with an employee is a jerk. A married senator who has an affair with an employee who is the wife of his chief of staff, and whose adultery is the subject of ongoing discussion at his Congressional prayer group, is Republican.

    We haven’t even gotten to Newt Gingrich yet!

  18. 18
    Anoniminous says:


    A former GOP Governor of New Mexico whose major achievement in office was vetoing every bill – outright or line-item – that come to his desk. After leaving state office (term limited) his impact on national politics was a successful ascent of Mount Everest (2003) and endorsing/working for Ron Paul (2008.)

    ETA: Joe Monahan – THE Go-To guy for New Mexico political news – reports:

    Johnson’s Our America Initiative PAC has been suspended by the Utah Department of Commerce Consumer Protection Division for failure to file its first-quarter financial report. As a result of the May 12th suspension, it is unlawful for the PAC to “solicit, request, promote, advertise, or sponsor a charitable solicitation in Utah until the registration is reinstated.

    Which gives an idea of how competent Johnson’s campaign staff is.

  19. 19
    The Moar You Know says:

    As to Governor Daniels, the voters are unlikely to give a fig about the interesting past of his wife, Cheri. But if he wants to protect her from the embarrassment of being asked about it 24/7, perhaps he could just declare her off limits.

    Anyone remember Bill Clinton’s wife, Hillary? Didn’t think so, the media completely ignored her.

    The news media has generally respected those kinds of rules when it comes to presidential candidates’ children

    Sure they have. I remember being stunned to find out that Chelsea Clinton’s father was Janet Reno. I also remember newscasters guffawing when someone said something about Amy Carter looking like a dog. Perhaps it’s because they were Democrat kids, not Patriotic Republican Kids.

  20. 20
    dmsilev says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    Excuse me? No mention of the Newt Gingrich juggernaut?

    I’d just like to salute the nameless scheduler who, after Gingrich had an absolutely hilariously horrible week, booked him to speak in Waterloo, Iowa…

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Johnson is screwed also because Ron Paul is the designated loonytarian in this year’s GOP presidential race.

    There’s only room for one in the media’s limited attention span.

  22. 22
    Guster says:

    @Anoniminous: All that, and for Abortion on Demand? Bachmann shouldn’t worry,

  23. 23
    Doug Harlan J says:

    Collins is an idiot. The superficiality of MoDo with the wit of Nick Kristof.

  24. 24
    chopper says:


    phlegmatic, even.

  25. 25
    MagicPanda says:

    Mitt’s problem, in my mind, was always that he would have trouble in the primary, where the base matters more, rather than the general.

    If Mitt gets the nod, I think he’s a more formidable opponent than any of the firebrands (Gingrich, Palin, Bachmann, etc.) and he has more name recognition than the supposedly reasonable guys (Huntsman, Daniels, etc).

    And while it’s hard to imagine Romney whipping up the base, the GOP machine can whip up the base by hating on Obama, right?

    I agree with that Romney has the spine and the morals of a jellyfish, but isn’t he one of the stronger (or maybe I should say “less weak” instead of “stronger”) candidates just the same?

  26. 26
    PurpleGirl says:

    I used to read Gail Collins all the time when she worked at Newsday. Something seemed different once she moved to the NY Times. But sometimes she can be really good. I can’t stand the columns/conversations with Bobo, though.

  27. 27
    Pat says:

    It would be hard to underrated Collins. She’s always sneering at people who are not of the elite, yet her columns are filled with Palin gossip. And if she has qualms about the dog on the roof, it’s new. She’s too smart to waste time on that kind of crap.

  28. 28
    negative 1 says:

    @MagicPanda: Yeah, it probably wouldn’t get much nicer for Mitt in the generals. He can’t campaign on any of his accomplishments because he spent all of the 2008 campaign trashing them. Also, he’s even changed his mind since then. At this point everyone, even casual observers, thinks of him as a fake. The media won’t be too shy pouncing on the guy, either.
    Even if he gets through THAT, his only image is to run as a wall street type. No matter how you feel about the economy, that’s the worst thing to be. So Mittronic has some baggage attached to him.

  29. 29
    TomG says:

    Okay, the Republicans won’t give Gary Johnson the time of day, because LIKE TOM RIDGE he’s pro-choice. (I think that 2 years ago McCain could have had a much better chance if he’d ignored the fanatics and chosen Tom Ridge).
    I guess the Republicans either (a) do not honestly WANT to win a general election or (b) think they can win with a pro-life candidate.
    If there are any R’s left who are not grifters (which I am beginning to doubt), they would do better by ignoring the screams from their base and picking a person who could win in the general. And I honestly think Gary Johnson could do it.
    Arguing that no one has heard of him has nothing to do with the merits of his positions. That’s my whole point – you haven’t heard of him because he is being ignored.
    The media likes Ron Paul these days, as a joke, or as an easy soundbite. They don’t want to bother with a younger, non-racist version of him.

  30. 30
    MagicPanda says:

    @negative 1: Totally true.

    I just think that he could campaign on: “The economy sucks, and I don’t seem like an absolute crazy person”.

    Which is something that, say, Bachmann would have trouble doing.

  31. 31
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TomG: I can tell you that I am not particularly interested in Gary Johnson because I cannot conceive of a scenario in which I would vote for a Republican for any elective office for the foreseeable future. If Johnson is more sane than the rest of them, he is, nevertheless, still one of them.

  32. 32
    MagicPanda says:

    @MagicPanda: Also, Mitt could campaign on this slogan: “Dear base, I don’t have any principles, so I’m will to do whatever you want in order to get your vote, even though deep inside, I think you’re crazy.”

  33. 33
    TomG says:

    31. Omnes Omnibus – yeah, that’s understandable. I’m just looking for options…I don’t trust the Libertarian Party anymore after Barr/Root, and I can’t vote for Obama because he’s betrayed nearly all his “civil rights issue” promises that he made.

  34. 34
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TomG: Civil rights or civil liberties? I think Obama’s civil rights record is pretty good. On civil liberties, he has been disappointing, but I would not go as far as saying he has broken nearly every promise he made.

  35. 35
    TomG says:

    I meant “civil liberties”, yes.

  36. 36
    Dave N. says:

    How does the social right feel about Romney? Probably something like this:

  37. 37
    eyelessgame says:

    Romney ran for governor of Massachusetts as a pro-choice moderate, because he thought he could get elected by running as a pro-choice moderate.

    He ran for president last time as an anti-abortion conservative, because he thought he could get elected by running as an anti-abortion conservative.

    He will run this time as an anti-health-care libertarian, because he thinks he can get elected by running as an anti-health-care libertarian.

    If he thought he could get elected by running as a pirate, he would run as a pirate.

  38. 38
    JCT says:

    Romney in the general? The ads write themselves “Which Mitt Romney will you get?”

    It’s hard enough to run on your record but when you disavow it at every turn you’re not left with anything.

    And the base will not be motivated by Romney — even if they transform him auto-magically into the anti-Obama.

  39. 39
    Hawes says:

    Mark my words: Mark Perry will be the “white knight” (or knight of the white camelia, I forget which) and seize the GOP nomination by appealing to the important Redneck/secessionist/yahoo constituencies in the Republican party.

    Which is to say all of them.

  40. 40
    Hawes says:

    @eyelessgame: You have offered the quintessential description of Mitt, and for that I salute you!

    But I’m afraid pirate is out.

  41. 41
    eemom says:

    @Doug Harlan J:

    Collins is an idiot. The superficiality of MoDo with the wit of Nick Kristof.

    yep. Another one that poor old lunatic-savant Somerby called right, like Frank Rich.

    Figures that a Geraldine Ferraro fangirl would find her “underrated,” however.

  42. 42
    Delia says:

    As to Governor Daniels, the voters are unlikely to give a fig about the interesting past of his wife, Cheri.

    Talk about disingenuous. Having had absolutely no previous assumptions about Governor Daniels’ lovely wife, Cheri, I will freely admit to having enough of a lowdown and dirty side that I now really want to know.

  43. 43
    drew42 says:

    Gail Collins is probably the most underrated NYTimes columnist…

    I know I’m brainwashed by Somerby. But I can’t stop laughing at that.

  44. 44
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Doug Harlan J: *Phhtbbt!* [/bronx cheer]

  45. 45
    4jkb4ia says:

    Collins has gone past her quota for mentioning that dog on the roof. It randomly appeared in the Saturday quiz I think last week.

    Good, Balloon Juice hasn’t exploded. It wasn’t likely since it has been here for 8 years, but you never know.

  46. 46
    Doug Harlan J says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Agree to disagree!

    All of you trashing Sully when I was a fanboi helped me see the light with him.

  47. 47
    mpbruss says:

    Romney is a Mormon, and I think a surprising number of evangelicals have gotten past the “Obama is the antichrist!” phase. Obama did 10% better with evangelicals in 2008 than Kerry did in 2004. Part of that is McCain, but I expect that to stay the same or go up if Romney is the opponent in 2012. Romney’s been smart to try to get his foreign policy bona fides up, but with Osama dead he doesn’t have an edge on GWOT issues. His best hope with evangelicals is to start hitting the Israel issue hard, which I see he’s already doing. I still think his chances against Obama as a conservative are virtually nil. He simply doesn’t excite the base. In my opinion, none of the legit social conservative candidates can win either, unless the economy actually gets worse.

  48. 48
    Jebediah says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    Excuse me? No mention of the Newt Gingrich juggernaut?

    Or the Newt jugger-not, even. Could he make it as a juggalo?

  49. 49
    Jebediah says:

    I think maybe I meant juggernewt.

  50. 50
    Jebediah says:

    Since I seem to be alone here, I hereby plant this flag and claim this thread and all its riches in the name of the Juggernewt, King of New Newtistan. The Campaign is dead, long live the Campaign!

  51. 51
    bjacques says:

    I hope Mitt runs anyway, even if he’s not crazy enough for the base. I want to see the Romney cross-country bus again, with his military-age-yet-civilian sons, the Five Bland Boys of Massachusetts.

  52. 52
    eyelessgame says:

    @Hawes: Unfortunately, it’s not original – it comes from, I think, Digby. But I couldn’t find the link to it.

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