Short hits: Bad advice, real opportunity, and the contentious Maine GOP convention

1. Richard Cohen has more foolish advice. Cohen says Barack Obama should read Caro’s new volume on Lyndon Johnson to either “teach him how to be president” or to “teach him how to be a better president.” What should Obama take from Johnson’s life? It’s to play golf with more people. After all, says Cohen, “Johnson, in contrast, would not think of wasting a golf game on the game itself” and that’s where and how Johnson convinced legislators to support his legislative program.

What’s wrong with Cohen’s advice? He overlooks the structural changes in American politics, including the movement of the south to the Republican party, the internal unity of the parties (particularly the Republican party), and the concerted use of the filibuster by Senate Republicans. Oh, and Caro, from whom Cohen said he took his advice, contradicts it, saying that the Senate Republican caucus is “intractable and it has the votes to stop legislation.”

2. Everyone says they believe in equality of opportunity, but they don’t all consider how different are individuals’ actual opportunities. As Paul Waldman points out, “There are a thousand ways in which wealth determines the opportunities available to you, in large part by making things easy.” Waldman points to some comments made by one of Mitt Romney’s sons about his ability to jump into the private equity business that demonstrate a lack of understanding about how his family status opened this opportunity. (Also related is my earlier take on how health security and opportunity and intertwined.)

3. Maine had very contentious state Republican convention at which Ron Paul supporters won nearly all of the delegates and took a majority of the seats on the committee that runs the state party. Here’s some comments from convention participants.

Aaron Prill, a social conservative who supported Governor LePage in the 2010 primary and supports Poliquin for the U.S. Senate nomination, criticizes the tactics of Ron Paul supports. His blog post and the comments from many quarters are well worth reading.

Michael Heath, the anti-gay activist who calls marriage for gay men and lesbians “sodomy based marriage” found the Ron Paul effort inspiring and said, “The future of the GOP in Maine has just become much more interesting.”

Representative Harvell of Farmington declaims against Ron Paul supporters, saying, “To those who achieved this “victory” You have won nothing and you have destroyed what took years to build. . . I am done with all of you fools the cult of personality worship I saw reminded me of Nuremberg only the outstretched arms were missing.”

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.