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Right Turn
Posted at 10:52 AM ET, 07/10/2012

Morning Bits

President Obama might have a slight lead over Mitt Romney in swing states, but a Gallup poll says that Romney’s supporters in those states “are more likely than those backing Obama to say they feel ‘extremely enthusiastic’ about voting — 31 percent to 23 percent. The same pattern is seen by party, with 32 percent of Republicans in the swing states and 25 percent of Democrats reporting extreme enthusiasm.” How any voter in 2012 can by afflicted with a case of “extreme enthusiasm” is left unexplained. 

In other swing-state news, the invaluable Chris Cillizza, employed by The Post, observes that while Romney is outpacing Obama in fundraising, the president has “spent more than $91 million on television ads in eight swing states as of July 6, a massive sum that dwarfs the $23 million former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has disbursed on campaign commercials in those same place.” In 2008, Obama raised significantly more campaign dough than John McCain—three-quarters of a billion dollars — because there existed a massive and misplaced enthusiasm for the “new” type of politics the president supposedly presaged. And the donations were a reflection of this enthusiasm; had he raised half that money, while retaining the cadres of enthusiastic supporters, the result would have been largely the same. Four years later, a majority of Americans polled by The Hill, as I noted yesterday, believe Obama’s first term has “transformed the nation in a negative way.” Either way, expect Democrats to blame any reversals of Obama’s fortunes on the baleful influence of money in politics, which is a menace to democracy only when you lose.

Also worth noting: After a full day of the chattering classes mocking Romney’s fundraiser in the Hamptons — instead of mocking the easily mockable media coverage of the event — and of scoffing at “Speedboat Mitt’s” well-heeled friends, Washington Examiner columnist ran the numbers and discovered, to no one’s surprise, that it’s Obama who has the fundraising edge in the Hamptons.

In other fundraising news that doesn’t portend the end of democracy (because it helps the correct candidate), Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren “pulled in $8.67 million between April and June, a major haul that could cement her position as the top fund-raiser among the nation’s congressional candidates.” Here is my favorite bit from the Boston Globe article, in which it’s suggested that exploiting affirmative action programs by claiming a spot you don’t deserve actually helps you amongst liberal donors: “Warren’s fund-raising also suggests that questions about her Native American heritage have not hurt her standing with donors. Indeed, the controversy may have helped her to raise money, by energizing her liberal base.”

The Warren-Native American story has provoked more painful puns and bad jokes than I care to recount, but this piece, from my friend and former editor Nick Gillespie, is brilliantly funny.

“To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle,” wrote George Orwell. It’s good to see that another politician spotting the goings on under his nose. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has acknowledged what any sentient now well understands: the war on drugs has been a colossal, hugely expensive failure. Speaking at the Brookings Institution, Christie said, “The war on drugs, while well-intentioned, has been a failure. We're warehousing addicted people every day in state prisons in New Jersey, giving them no treatment." And this just a few days after Christie almost came to blows with a critic on a New Jersey boardwalk. So no, Christie won’t be Romney’s vice presidential pick, but we already knew that.

London Mayor Boris Johnson takes to the pages of the Daily Telegraph to tell Britons to stop bashing bankers. It’s a wonder that Johnson, once the editor of the Spectator and a Telegraph staffer, manages to still produce regular copy, especially with the Olympics looming. It’s an interesting piece too, but I must admit that I only offer it as an excuse to post this link to various Boris Johnson videos. Watch and lament that America has comparable  politician—witty, smart, funny, and endlessly entertaining.

Shall we end on an uplifting tale of innovation and cutting-edge technology sure to make our lives better? From Reuters: “Amtrak announced a $151 billion improvement plan on Monday that includes 37-minute trips from New York to Philadelphia at speeds approaching 220 miles per hour (354 km per hour).” That’s pretty impressive, considering that the current trip takes twice that time. Obviously, because it is Amtrak, taxpayers will likely be on the hook for most of the project, but this will create jobs, forward progress, and the northeast corridor will feel so very Western European; we’ll feel like we’re darting between cantons in Switzerland.

So when can we expect this all to happen? “The railroad predicted that super-fast train trips along the East Coast could be a reality by 2040,” by which time I will just use New York’s flying-car share program when visiting Pennsylvania.

By Michael Moynihan  |  10:52 AM ET, 07/10/2012

 
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