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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

That Damn Horse

You may have heard about Rafalca, the Oldenberg mare Ann Romney purchased with a couple of other investors, and you may have heard that Rafalca competed at the Olympics in the sport of dressage, and you may have seen or heard Loony Larry O'Donnell's ill-conceived attack on Ann Romney for saying that getting back on a horse regenerated her strength and renewed her vigor after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and you may have seen or heard about this moronic commercial that cut. What I'd like to share with you now is something my Great Aunt Johnnie emailed me yesterday:
"So the Romneys are selfish for keeping a horse? And employing a groom with a family to support. And paying for feed that’s sold by someone with a family to support and transported in trucks by someone with a family to support and manufactured in a factory by people with families to support from stuff that’s grown by farmers with families to support. And having a barn built by construction workers with families to support with materials trucked by drivers with families to support from factories with workers with families to support. Sounds to me like that one horse has done more to put Americans to work than that horse’s ass in the White House."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Phyllis Diller, R.I.P.

Photo from a discarded box I found in the alley.

This afternoon, I turned on the television, lamenting the sudden case of laryngitis that killed my plans to make a YouTube video today, and was soon hit with a flurry of developments worth blogging about. I could analyze what transpired at today's surprise press conference, President Obama's first at the White House since this Spring, or I could weigh in on the manufactured controversy surrounding Rep. Todd Akin's remarks about "legitimate rape" victims, or I could discuss Condoleezza Rice's historic admission to the Augusta National Golf Club. What ultimately prompted me to cut my wallowing in self-pity short, however, was the sad news that Phyllis Diller had passed away.

Phyllis rose to fame in the 1950s and '60s as a female stand-up comic (a rarity at the time) and soon landed her own TV series. Though The Phyllis Diller Show went off the air after only one season, its star continued to find work and introduce herself to younger generations. I personally got to know her watching old episodes of Matchgame on the Game Show Network and later through her appearances on such Disney Channel series as Boy Meets World and Even Stevens. Many of my contemporaries--and younger Americans--may not recognize the name Phyllis Diller but are probably familiar with her distinctive, cackling voice; in the past fifteen years, the aging comedienne supplied the voices of characters on Animaniacs, King of the Hill, The Wild Thornberrys, Hey Arnold!, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, The Powerpuff Girls, Robot Chicken and Family Guy, recording her last voice over on the cusp of her 90th birthday.

Diller's influence can be seen even among today's comedians. Prior to breaking out in her own right, Joan Rivers wrote for Phyllis. She was a guest on the first episode of The Chelsea Handler Show, during which the title character recognized her as "the first female comedian." An ebullient and enduring gift to humanity, Diller died in her sleep at her home in Los Angeles. R.I.P.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Convention Issues: Democratic Deficiencies and Republicans' Tough Choices

This past week, a POLITICO article by Mike Allen caught my eye. According to Allen, President Obama's advisers “are scripting a Democratic National Convention featuring several Republicans in a prime-time appeal to independents — and planning a blistering portrayal of Mitt Romney as a heartless aristocrat who 'would devastate the American middle class.'”

One wonders how such a divisive attack, with no basis in reality, would "appeal to independents," but that aside, showcasing members of another party who support the president is a familiar, and typically beneficial, tactic. We've become used to seeing a handful of "crossover endorsements"--prominent figures affiliated with one political party who endorse the other party's nominee--in each presidential election, and it's not uncommon for each party to feature at least one such speaker at their national convention. (The most glaring example of the last generation has to be then-Sen. Zell Miller's keynote address at the 2004 Republican National Convention.) Remember Sen. Joe Lieberman's impassioned speech to the Republican National Convention in 2008? The use of this tactic this year, however, presents both parties with different problems.

Republicans' Embarrassment of Riches

Giving a well-known Democrat a a prime-time speaking slot at the Republican National Convention has become a tradition in presidential-election years, but this election cycle presents the RNC with a predicament they've not faced, at least not to this extent, in a long time: With so many rising stars and erudite "young guns" and a limited amount of time in which to showcase them (to a large audience), who gets picked? We can already count on seeing/hearing speeches from Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Rob Portman (Ohio), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Rand Paul (R-KY), Govs. Mary Fallin (Okla.), Nikki Haley (SC), John Kasich (Ohio), Susana Martinez (N.M.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Bob McDonnell (VA) and Bobby Jindal (La.), former Gov. Mike Huckabee (AR) and Jeb Bush (Fla.), former Sen. and 2012 presidential contender Rick Santorum, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and U.S. Senate candidates Ted Cruz and Connie Mack, and of course New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will deliver the keynote address, but what of Rep. Allen West (R., Fla.), the GOP congressman and conservative rock star? Anyone who's seen West address a crowd should know he's a dynamic, engaging speaker. Ditto Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), though I suppose her firebrand persona may detract from her effectiveness as a spokeswoman. There's also the question of whether Speaker Boehner will address the convention; surely the highest-ranking Republican in the federal government, a man who's third in line for the presidency under the 25th Amendment, ought to be at least offered a prominent role at the Republican National Convention. For that matter, what about our party elders? Thus far, neither President Bush has been slated to speak, at least not publicly (although I would understand if the elder Bush has tired of the more festive side of politics and would prefer to just enjoy his retirement in peace and quiet), nor has Newt Gingrich, which kind of makes sense, but why would you have Santorum speak and not Newt? (If it's because Santorum is the designated red-meat-thrower to social conservatives in a convention that will be focused on economic issues, then I get it.)

With so many speakers already lined up and (hopefully) more announcements to come, I wondered if the committee would have room--or make room--for a Democrat. My query was answered when I learned that former Rep. Artur Davis (D., Ala.), who co-chaired President Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and ran (unsuccessfully) for governor of Alabama in 2010, would be speaking at the Convention in Tampa. Of course, Davis technically is no longer a Democrat; in May, he officially switched to the Republican Party and endorsed Mitt Romney.

Democrats' Delusions

Despite their high-minded ideas for convention speakers, Democrats may have some trouble finding a prominent Republican (or former Republican) counterweight to Davis; according to Allen, they have designs on a couple former Senators and maybe a man in uniform:
Convention planners are considering featuring a centrist Republican leader on at least two of the three nights. Nightly remotes from swing states may include a CEO or “major Republican.” On Wednesday night, a “notable GOP woman” is among the possible participants. And on the final night, Democrats may include a Republican leader — someone like former Sens. John Warner or Chuck Hagel — or a GOP woman.
“This segment would speak directly to independents, noting we are all ‘Americans first,’ ” the documents say. “Depending on the speaker’s background, the President’s military accomplishments might be highlighted.”
Thursday also may include a former military leader, perhaps paired with a former enlisted man or woman. “Ideally they would have witnessed first-hand the difficult decisions [Obama has] made,” the documents say. “A Republican leader would be ideal.”

Allen's Politico piece also underscored how Democrats may be setting themselves up for a disappointment--or even a disaster--in planning this year's convention. According to what Allen calls "convention planning documents," one objective of the convention will be, “Tell the story of the President’s accomplishments — the auto rescue, manufacturing, ending the war, health care, energy — as central to his fight for the middle class and America’s long-term economic strength.”

This shows that the Democrats charged with planning and organizing the convention are either (1) deluded about President Obama's record or (2) planning a convention marked by blatant lies and propaganda. One wonders what "accomplishments" on manufacturing, health care and energy the Dems are planning to tout, but I seized on that "ending the war" line; as I opined back in June, President Obama's credit-grabbing for ending the war in Iraq has crossed the line from shameless to offensive. The evidence is iron-clad that he deserves no credit for "ending the war," and if this were a bigger issue, then I'd expect Republicans to make a bigger deal about it.

Similarly, there's this:
Aiming to connect the cerebral Obama with average Americans — and thus emphasize one of Romney’s most notable weaknesses — the convention will try to portray the president as “driven by the same values we have, because he’s faced the same struggles.”
Yes, I think we can all empathize with the struggles Obama had faced. Remember when you were trying to decide which elective courses to register for during your second year at Harvard Law School? Or that agonizing heartburn you suffered after eating your first dog? Remember when you had to throw your spiritual mentor and longtime friend under the bus once he became a political liability, or how hard you've had to work to distract people from the terrible economy your disastrous policies have created?

Sardonic wit aside, notice how Obama is "cerebral" (Allen's word), whereas "one of Romney’s most notable weaknesses" has to do with connecting with people. (It's not Obama's fault he can't connect with voters! He's just too smart for most of those ignorant hicks!) Allen details other ill-conceived marketing ideas:   
The convention’s broad themes depict Romney as “an exemplar of [the] bust-and-boom economy,” while “Obama led us through the darkest days of the deepest recession in generations. … Now he’s fighting for the next steps, so we do more than recover from a deep recession that was a long time in the making, and reclaim America’s promise on behalf of hard-workers, the strivers, the dreamers, who ask only for a fair shot and a fair shake.”
By Democratic standards, that's pretty clever. When your party's candidate made the bad economy he inherited worse, that needn't be a negative; just emphasize how your guy "led us through the darkest days of the deepest recession in generations" (hoping most people don't know the definition of "generations"). I have to admit, I do like that part about Obama "fighting ... on behalf of hard-workers, the strivers, the dreamers, who ask only for a fair shot and a fair shake."

Yeah, it's about damn time we had someone who will fight for the monied interests and coastal elites! Who will speak for the Solyndras, the union bosses, the radical environmentalists? Who but Obama will keep crony capitalism alive and prevent the spiggot showering GE and other favored enterprises with federal tax dollars from being turned off by those awful, austerity-minded fiscal conservatives? Okay, maybe Elizabeth Warren, but she's not running for president.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

All Eyes on Mitt

I've just learned that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) will announce his vice-presidential running mate this morning in Norfolk, Va. The media is all abuzz; multiple sources say it's Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the chairman of the House Budget Committee. I am skeptical; I had previously been told Romney would pick Condoleeza Rice, and I didn't really trust that source either. It's not that he wasn't credible; it's just that I've never really considered anyone's prediction of these matters especially credible--except when Bill Kristol predicts something. He seems to have been correct about this sort of thing more often than most political commentators. In 2006, he was the only "conservative" I heard who (accurately) predicted that Republicans were going to get "creamed" in the midterm elections. Four years ago, his bullishness on Sarah Palin in advance of Senator McCain's announcement sounded more like the hopeful fantasy of an enthused Republican political junkie than an educated guess of what we should expect to happen.

I bring all this up because: (1) I believe Bill Kristol's uncommon prescience about political decisions--of both voters and politicians--has not gained the recognition it deserves, and (2) Kristol and Weekly Standard Senior Writer Stephen F. Hayes wrote an article for next week's issue of their magazine urging Governor Romney to pick either Ryan, whom they dubbed "the Republican party’s intellectual leader," or Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), whom they called "the GOP’s most gifted young politician." Has Romney taken their advice? Yes! Well, maybe. Look, I'll give 10-to-1 odds that his running mate's surname begins with an "R". Then again, he's making the announcement in Hampton Roads, so it might be Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. (It isn't.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The "TEA Party"/"Washington Insider" Overlap

For nearly four years now the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party has been a force in American politics. Granted, in its cradle, it was barely a ripple in a sea of money, incumbents, special interests and power elites, but by 2010 it grown into a massive tidal wave that swept out incumbents of both parties, in national, state and local races, in primary and general elections.

After such a showing in the 2010 election cycle, whatever modest activity the TEA Party could generate in the off-year elections of 2011 would seem to be a letdown, but the grassroots activists and deep-pocketed donors who joined forces in '10 really spent much of last year gearing up for the next big round of elections in 2012, when they would get the opportunity to show their strength in a presidential election.

No candidate for president this year was able to win over TEA Partiers en masse (not even Ron Paul, the so-called "godfather" of the movement), but the TEA Party was able to score a historic win in arguably the second-most important election this year when they helped Wisconsin Gov. and champion of the taxpayer Scott Walker (R) survive a recall election, the first governor in U.S. history to pull off such a feat, and they proved critical to the upset victories of Nebraska State Sen. Deb Fischer, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock and former Texas Solicitor Gen. Ted Cruz in their respective U.S. Senate primaries this year. In Indiana, certainly, anti-Washington sentiment played a role in the downfall of six-term Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) in May and a smattering of other entrenched incumbents in congressional races two years ago. Disdain for politicians who have been in Congress so long that they succumb to that awful mentality that manifests itself in the form of reckless deficit spending, backroom deal-making and that insufferable I-know-best hautere has fueled the TEA Party since its genesis in the Winter of '08-'09. The tactics of branding a candidate with the epithet of "Washington insider" and campaigning as an "outsider" predate the TEA Party movement but have proven effective in advancing so-called "TEA Party candidates".

Of course, every once in a while, we are reminded that there is some crossover between Washington "insiders" and the TEA Party. There are constant reminders, such as Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and the aforementioned Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), as well as various TEA-Party-affiliated groups like FreedomWorks founded and/or run by former members of Congress. Take last night's primary election results, for example: Four states held primary elections yesterday: Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington. In two--Michigan and Missouri--Republicans chose their candidates to take on vulnerable Democratic incumbents in hotly contested Senate races (Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is also up for re-election this year but faces a considerably less daunting challenge.), and in both, they nominated candidates who had spent over a decade in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In Michigan, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, whose 2010 bid for governor had floundered, handily defeated a slew of weaker candidates and will take on two-term Sen. Debbie Stabenow in the general election. Hoekstra, a Dutch immigrant and former Herman Miller executive, represented Michigan's 2nd congressional district (a shard of the lower peninsula along Lake Michigan's eastern shore) for eighteen years. Last month, some super PAC called Prosperity for Michigan released an ad attacking Hoekstra for "voting for millions in earmarks, raising his own pay, adding trillions to the debt" and "raising the debt ceiling repeatedly." This stupid waste of money failed to propel the group's favored candidate, Clark Durant, to victory in the primary and may have just weakened Hoekstra's chances of winning the Senate seat.

Republicans are better positioned to knock off Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri. McCaskill won her seat by a razor-thin margin in 2006 and is arguably the most vulnerable U.S. senator running for re-election this year, so it's no surprise there was a spirited contest in the GOP primary. The TEA Party splintered in that race, and the result was victory for Rep. Todd Akin, who has represented Missouri's 2nd congressional district (west of St. Louis) since 2001. (Interesting factoid: Akin's predecessor in the House, Jim Talent, was elected to the U.S. Senate and lost his re-election bid to McCaskill.) Akin's win came as a disappointment to supporters of former Missouri State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who were hoping for a younger, more attractive nominee, and the family of businessman John Brunner, who spent over $7 million of his own personal fortune on his failed campaign. The latest polls out of the Show Me State have Akin leading McCaskill, albeit within their margins of error.

So, is being a "Washington insider" not the political liability it used to be? Of course not, but this week's primaries show that a candidate can convince voters he's the right choice to take on an entrenched incumbent senator and really change Washington, even if he's been in Washington just as long as--or, in the cases of Hoekstra and Akin, longer than--his opponent...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Saddest Form of Pandering

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro addresses the Texas Democratic
Convention in Houston on June 8, 2012. (Pat Sullivan/AP)

On Tuesday, as Texas voters were turning out in droves to nominate Ted Cruz (R) and Paul Sadler (D) to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R), Democrats announced that San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro would deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this year. We have no doubt that some Democrats were livid at the prospect of another youthful, accomplished, erudite, conservative Latino Republican gaining national renown and all but assured of becoming a U.S. Senator next year, and we don't think the timing of this announcement was a coincidence. We can only speculate, however, about the thought process that led the DNC to this choice, so let's do that. 

We do know that both parties consider Hispanics an extremely important voting bloc, and we know that President Obama's campaign team considers them as crucial to their chances of re-election in 2012 as they were to their big victory in 2008, when Obama won roughly twice as many Latino votes as Sen. John McCain. Much hey was made this week of the fact that Castro will be the first Latino to deliver the keynote address at either party's convention, and plenty of Democrats have already touted his utility as a liason between party bosses and the Hispanic community.

So, if outreach to Hispanic voters was at least a factor in the decision to have Castro deliver the keynote address, then why select someone whom the New York Times Magazine called "the post-Hispanic Hispanic politician"? Perhaps it would help to first try and answer the question, why this Hispanic politician? 

Keynote speakers needn't necessarily be high-profile figures prior to the convention. (How many people outside of their respective home states had heard of Barack Obama or Ann Richards prior to their now-infamous keynote speeches?) Sometimes, they need not even be a member of the party whose convention their addressing. (Remember Sen. Zell Miller's (D-GA) rousing keynote address to the Republican National Convention in '04?) Still, if Dems were searching for an established political figure who also happened to be a Latino, then they would have had a pretty short list to choose from. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the only Hispanic Democrat in the Senate, has been dogged by corruption allegations since taking his seat in 2006 and has not accomplished anything since then to be proud of, except getting elected. Not exactly someone the party would want to showcase with a key speaking role at their national convention. Ditto Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Ca), who can regurgitate Democratic talking points well enough to make an at least marginally effective surrogate on cable news and Sunday morning talk shows but lacks the ability to rev up a crowd and hold their attention that makes for a good keynote speaker. (One wonders why the DNC passed up Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX), the current chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Perhaps they wanted someone other than a 67-year-old nepotist at the end of his political career.)

We know that today's Democratic party is not a meritocracy like the GOP, which might explain why Federico Peña, a seasoned Democratic officeholder who worked on both Barack Obama's 2008 campaign and his transition team, was passed over for the less experienced Castro, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had already been tapped to chair the convention this year. So, rather than tapping a seasoned political veteran who also happened to be a Latino, it appears the Democrats opted for a younger, more energetic "rising star" who might parlay the national attention he garners from delivering an important speech into a run for higher office (like another Democrat did not so long ago).

The comparisons to Barack Obama have already begun. "Is Julian Castro the Latino Obama?" was the "burning question" of The Week, according to this page on the magazine's web site. Eleanor Clift, the left-wing talking head whose prolificacy has outlasted her relevance, mused on The Daily Beast this week whether Castro was "the Next Obama." If by the next/Latino Obama, they mean a dynamic, relatively young Harvard-educated lawyer whose most notable achievements as a public official consist of getting elected and not losing his job, then the answer is yes. Time will tell whether Castro's skills/talent extend beyond commanding the attention and enthusiasm of clueless drones. Unlike Barack Obama in 2004 (or 2008, for that matter), Castro already has real leadership experience, having been elected mayor of Texas's second-most populous city in 2009. Like the pre-presidential Obama, however, he has spent his political career in positions whose import greatly exceeds the level of responsibility attached. Prior to his election as mayor, Castro served on the city council, where he did an excellent job making a name for himself and laying the groundwork for a mayoral bid. (His first run for mayor, in 2005, ended in defeat but raised his profile considerably.) Now he is in his second term as mayor of a city with a council-manager form of government, meaning the mayor is essentially a figurehead. Contrast that with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who will be delivering the keynote address at this year's Republican National Convention. Since taking office as governor, Christie has followed the pragmatic, right-of-center course he charted; he kept his promise to balance the state budget without raising taxes, and he was able to win the support of enough Democrats to reform state employee pensions and benefits. He has been so successful that, even in heavily Democratic New Jersey, Democrats have yet to put forth a candidate who could seriously challenge Christie in next year's election. 

Of course, Christie is also a conservative rock star and engaging public speaker, but like past keynote speakers at the Republican National Convention--and unlike Obama and Castro--his résumé is just as impressive as his speaking prowess. If the GOP wanted to have a conservative Latino politician deliver the keynote address at this year's convention, then there's a long list of people (all more accomplished than Castro) to choose from: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.); New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez; Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval; Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño; former Commerce Secretary and Kellogg Corp. CEO Carlos Gutierrez; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.); former Sen., RNC Chairman and H.U.D. Secretary Mel Martinez and former Attorney Gen. Alberto Gonzales, to name a bunch. Instead, the powers that be opted for Christie, a bombastic superstar of the right whose ability to navigate the merciless waters of New Jersey politics (and government) vindicate his bravado.

Back to Castro: I'm not comfortable declaring that Democrats were so desperate to find a scandal-free Hispanic politician who could deliver a rousing address that they bestowed such an honor on a neophyte who hasn't accomplished anything on par with Christie's most noteworthy achievements, but that is in fact what they did; I just can't speak to their motivation. If, as is often the case, the simplest explanation is the correct one, then the selection of Castro as keynote speaker should be seen for what it is--a pander to Latinos.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fowl Play

I wanted to write about Ted Cruz's upset victory in the Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate in Texas today, but the big news of the day seems to be this Chick-fil-A thing. This is my blog, however, so I'm quite content to post about the former. However, out of appreciation for Mike Huckabee and all the great Americans who stood for tolerance today by patronizing Chick-fil-A, I titled this post with the best, most a propos pun we could come up with after five minutes of brainstorming, and that will have to suffice for the other story.

Now, then, Ted Cruz is going to be the next U.S. Senator from Texas! Hooray!! That being said, our former state solicitor general's win last night over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was nothing short of remarkable; at one time, Cruz was polling as low as 1% in the Republican primary. I blogged a bit about his gradually rising wave of support back in May, after he finished a strong second to Dewhurst in the primary. It seems a tad inappropriate to describe his meteoric rise as "slow and steady", but that's what his poll numbers indicated, at least until this summer. After outperforming his poll position in the May 29 primary (winning 34% of the statewide vote to Dewhurst's 45%), Cruz shot up in the polls while Dewhurst sank; a Public Policy Polling survey put him ahead of the lieutenant governor, 49% to 44%, in mid-July, a stunning reversal of fortune for both men over a relatively short period of time. (59% of respondents in a PPP poll taken before the primary in May said that they would vote for Dewhurst if the race came down to a runoff between the two, while just 34% would support Cruz.)

So, what happened? The results of the PPP surveys provide some clues. In May, 61% of the 482 likely Republican primary voters PPP surveyed reported having a "favorable" opinion of Dewhurst; only 25% viewed him unfavorably. By July, the percentage of Republican primary voters in Texas who viewed Dewhurst favorably was down to 52%, while 33% of those polled had an unfavorable opinion of the former frontrunner. His favorability rating slid down slightly to 50% in the poll released Sunday, but his unfavorability was up to 39%. Cruz, meanwhile, actually enjoyed a decline in the percentage of voters who had an unfavorable opinion of him (something we don't often see), from 32% in May to 25% in July. (His unfavolrabe rating returned to 32% in the final PPP poll, but by then a clear majority of Texas Republicans viewed him favorably.) What's really impressive is the contemporaneous surge in Cruz's popularity; in the May poll, only 38% of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of him; in the survey results released Sunday, that number was 53%. So, to recap, in a little over two months, Dewhurst saw his favorable/unfavorable gap shrink from 36 percentage points to eleven, while Cruz saw his grow from six to 21 percentage points. This was likely the result of a combination of many different things, but I can tell you that I heard from or about a lot of voters who were motivated to vote for Cruz in the runoff because of the negative attack ads against him, especially one run by the Texas Conservatives Fund, a group I had never heard of before last month, in which some broad whose son allegedly committed suicide after his release from a for-profit juvenile detention center says, "Ted Cruz should be absolutely ashamed of himself." (It seems Cruz represented Robert Mericle, a real estate developer who was linked to a bribery scandal, in an unrelated civil suit.) One female voter, herself a mother of two, expressed her disgust not only for the gutter-politics tone of the ad but also at the woman's conspicuous failure to accept personal responsibility for her son's fate.

Cruz's victory is significant for a number of reasons, not least because winning the Republican primary for a stadewide race in Texas is tantamount to getting elected, but Dewhurst's defeat will likely also have consequences beyond this year. He'll likely never attain higher office; his win-at-all-costs strategy cost him almost all the goodwill he had built up with the Texas GOP, and the voters who supported Cruz in the primary aren't likely to forgive him--at least not anytime soon--for his vicious attacks and dishonest charges. He may win another term as lieutenant governor if he choses to run again, but he'll never be governor; if he tries to run, then the same forces that did him in this time will combine to defeat him again. He may not even run again; the man turns 67 years old this month, and his reputation has taken a considerable hit. As for me, I'm going to scarf down some waffle fries and upload that picture of me with Texas's next Senator to Facebook.