Professor Pundits: Gaffes, Grievances, and Godfather’s

It’s been a rough few weeks for some Republican primary candidates, but a fascinating time for political observers. We checked in with Middlebury’s professor pundits, Matt Dickinson and Bert Johnson, for a rundown of the newest developments in the Republican primary, how “Occupy Wall Street” could impact the presidential race, and some of the more notable moments from the latest round of primary debates.

Earlier installments:
The Professor Pundits

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  1. Howard Dean’s well publicized scream was the unfortunate result of a unidirectional microphone and a 24-hour newscycle that used it as an opportunity to spin Dean’s outsider status and unconventional approach to campaigning into a negative. The idea that it was a “YouTube sensation” is incorrect because it attributes the popularity of the scream on citizen’s curiosity or condemnation of the action (cf. George Allen’s “macaca” YouTube clip.) But YouTube was founded in 2005. The Dean Scream was circulated by CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and the like, not by citizens.

  2. C’mon, guys, if you’re gonna be a web site draw–and Middlebury exemplars–you gotta get more of a clue: “the Tea Party was detrimental to the GOP in 2010″…are you kidding? What are you basing the conclusion on? The fact that one oddball senatorial candidate in Delaware was a Tea Party favorite but got trounced? Did you not read about the sweeping of state legislatures, governorships, and the dozens of U.S. Reps who were all elected as a result of and within the wide currents of the Tea Party movement? Also, it might be a more interesting addition to the political discourse if you would not spend most of your time rehashing all the stuff thats already out on the mainstream

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    media, but rather contributed something, more insightful/hisotircal/theoretical, worthy of a venue at an elite, academic institution.

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  3. Ben,

    Alas for Dean’s supporters, his rant was, in fact, circulated by citizens, and it began almost immediately after the event. See this USA Today article that ran shortly after the scream – already the techno-savvy youngsters were parodying Dean’s rebel yell in a series of hilarious video and audio clips, and – unfortunately for Dean – those remain youtube staples even today. In short, the negative fallout was not something created by the mainstream media. Here’s the link to the USA Today article:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/2004-01-22-dean-usat_x.htm

    As I noted, however, it hardly mattered since Dean’s campaign was already in free fall.

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  4. RLB,

    In Bert’s defense, he said the Tea Party hurt Republicans in “some” of the races which, in fact, is true – it wasn’t just that “oddball” in Delaware – they had a decent chance to take Nevada from Reid, but Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle blew the race there as well. So, while you are right that the Tea Party energized the Republican base in many races, it also hurt it in others.

    If you want more in-depth analysis than Bert and I can possibly provide in an 8-minute segment, I suggest you start participating in the discussion at my Presidential Power blogsite at:
    http://sites.middlebury.edu/presidentialpower/

    Hope to see you there as well!

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  5. Matt-

    Thanks for responding.

    To press my critique just a wee bit more: Memory is fading a bit, but it seems to me Angle–as did the CT candidate and the CA candidate, etc. in their respective races–put up a credible fight against Reid, and in fact was either ahead or within striking distance until he pulled out all the Nevada backroom stops and negative campaigning he could muster. I mean, in every poitical race, there is a loser–Bush v. Gore excepted–so while sometimes a candidate really turns in a car-wreck performance, just because “SOME” tea party-backed candidates did lose, doesn’t mean the Tea Party as a movement/philosophy/group hurt Republicans in any general way.

    Yes, I’m trying to point out that you seem to

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    have a blind-spot/dislike/bias–I wont go as far as to say knee-jerk response–concerning the Tea Party which is coloring your argument.

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  6. RLB,

    Sorry for the slow response. I really should let Bert respond to this, but your point regarding Angle running a close second to Reid in the Nevada Senate race is correct. Of course, Bert might argue that had a more moderate Republican run, they might have actually beat Reid.

    Regarding your larger point about the Tea Party and bias, I invited you to become a regular reader of my Presidential Power blog. If you look at back posts, you’ll see that I was one of the first to pick up on the fact that the Tea Party was not a group of right-wing racists wearing Hitler mustaches, but instead was a grass-roots organization whose populist, small government sentiment resonated

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    with many Americans and which had deep roots in American history.

    Keep those comments coming!

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  7. Thanks again, Matt, for taking the time to respond; and the encouragement to comment (“be careful what you ask for”).

    I did look at and comment on your Presidential Power blog–not sure you noticed.

    In any event, at this point, I’ll probably hold off ’til the November election cycle, since I’d be happy to support any of the Republican candidates in the fall over the incumbent–with the exception of Ron Paul, who I’d have to vote for holding my nose, hoping that appointees and the permanent government would keep his worst instincts in check; but still, I think he’d do less harm to America and the world than Obama.

    I’ll be interested to see how much scrutiny Obama gets, both for his past,

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    which went largely unexamined by the MSM in the last election, and for his performance in the White House.
    Certainly haven’t seen any examination of Obama that compares to what the Republican candidates–particularly front-runners–have been undergoing.

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Comment Policy

We hope to create a lively discussion on MiddMag.com and invite you to add your voice. Please keep comments civil and relevant to the news item at hand. MiddMag.com may remove comments that do not follow these guidelines.

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