Posted on March 14, 2012 in Countdown

Countdown Vol. 10, No. 39

Romney vs. Mayhem in Tampa

Of the three states that held GOP primaries yesterday, Romney only won Hawaii, while Rick Santorum won both Mississippi and Alabama (and Gingrich came in second in both states). Nonetheless, it should be noted that Mitt Romney has a significant delegate lead over his rivals. The overwhelming majority of the remaining states offer up proportional delegates, so Romney doesn’t even have to win them, he just has to do well enough to maintain his lead. What about the four remaining winner-take-all states? Well, between Utah’s large Mormon population, New Jersey’s Romney-endorsing Governor, DC’s Santorum-free ballot, and Delaware’s Romney-leaning electorate, it doesn’t sound like Romney has much to worry about. But while his opponents are unlikely to beat him before the convention, it is possible to keep him from reaching the needed delegates to win the nomination by then. If that were to happen, the conservative runner-up could then use Romney’s inability to seal the deal as leverage to sway unbound delegates to his favor. A Slate writer calls this the “Mayhem in Tampa” scenario. And what just made this mayhem a little more probable? A Gingrich adviser floated the idea of a joint Gingrich-Santorum ticket to beat Romney. Now THAT would be interesting.

More Than Half

Speaking of the Mississippi election, want to hear a hilarious statistic? More than half of GOP voters in Mississippi believe Obama is a Muslim. Why aren’t you laughing? You’re right, it’s not funny; it’s actually sad. So who has it worse? Obama, for being so demonized that people can’t believe he’s a Christian? Or Muslims, for their faith being so demonized that it’s become the ultimate slander to undermine a politician? We don’t know the answer to that one, but Newt Gingrich seems to have an opinion on Islam in American discourse: “anti-Christian bigotry is just fine in the entertainment industry but they have to be very protective of Islam.” Oh, now we get it! For a while there, we thought Gingrich’s anti-Muslim rhetoric was motivated by cheap political pandering to the growing bigoted sentiments on the far right, but now we understand he’s just trying to restore the balance destabilized by all this extra protectiveness of Islam. Thanks Newt!

Santorum's Holy War

If he somehow captures the nomination, how will Santorum overcome Obama’s speech-giving abilities? Well, he has a solution: “See, I always believed that when you run for president of the United States, it should be illegal to read off a teleprompter.” Indeed, while teleprompters are not as bad as, say, birth control, they do unbalance our democracy by giving Obama an unfair advantage. But that’s not Santorum’s only problem with Obama: “The president of the United States may not believe we’re in a holy war — They do.” Um, who’s “they?” You were probably too distracted by the prospect of Mr. holy war becoming president to ask, but we’re happy to report that The Daily Caller has it as a vague reference to the “Arab world,” and Fox News has it as “Iran.” So what specifically are these vague “they” trying to do? “They’re out there specifically targeting Israel and the Jewish people. We’ve seen this before; we don’t want to see it again. We need a president who’s willing to stand up and make sure that never happens.” Wait, is this a Holocaust reference? And why does the modern Hitler keep changing in Santorum’s analogies? He’s probably just trying to protect our little brains with vagueness because we can’t handle his wisdom too bluntly.

Senator "Bomb" McCain Ain't Happy

After John McCain became the first U.S. Senator to call for airstrikes on Syria, many have wondered whether there is any problem that McCain thinks can be better solved without bombing. Worse yet, McCain gets mad when someone suggests that provocative war rhetoric isn’t a great idea (you know, his is an “if you’re not bombing, at least be threatening to bomb” life style). So when President Obama was cautioning GOP candidates against “casual” inflammatory rhetoric on Iran, McCain took issue with that and said “It’s a little bothersome that a president of the United States would denigrate the views of other people who feel that they have a right to weigh in on this issue.” Lesson of the day: Obama disagreeing with the way GOP candidates weigh in on Iran: bothersome. McCain disagreeing with the way Obama weighs in on Iran rhetoric: just fine. Makes perfect sense.

A Standing Ovation for Chris Hayes

If you’re a constituent of ours, you probably don’t need to be told how shallow coverage of the Middle East can be on mainstream American news networks, and how annoyingly restrictive the range of the debate is on U.S. policy towards the region. Well, something a bit unusual happened over the weekend: MSNBC’s Chris Hayes spent two hours of his show Up With Chris Hayes thoroughly discussing Iran, Israel and Palestine with an impressive list of guests. Yes, two hours on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the domestic American communities and factors which drive U.S. policy towards it. Before introducing Mustafa Barghouti, Hayes spoke positively about Palestinian nonviolent resistance to the occupation, and lamented the counterproductive message the media sends to nonviolent activists when they ignore them and only bother to pay attention when violence takes place. Hayes also interviewed retired Israeli General Shlomo Gazit, and pushed him on what Israel should be doing in light of its settlements expansion fundamentally undermining the two-state solution. Bravo Chris Hayes. You can (and should) watch segments of the show here, here, here and here.

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