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June 6, 2011, 11:29 a.m.

This Week­end


Meet the Press hosts an IL SEN de­bate between Alexi Gi­an­nouli­as (D) and Rep Mark Kirk (R), Time’s Joe Klein and Wall Street Journ­al’s Peggy Noon­an. Face the Na­tion hosts WH sr. ad­viser Dav­id Axel­rod and ex-RNC Chair Ed Gillespie. This Week hosts CT SEN nom­in­ees Linda McMa­hon (R) and Richard Blu­menth­al (D), ex-Pakistan Pres. Per­vez Mush­ar­raf and France’s Fin­ance Min­is­ter Christine Lagarde. Fox News Sunday, with Bret Baier, hosts Reps. Eric Can­tor, (R-VA) and Debbie Wasser­man Schultz (D-FL), ex-Bush ad­viser Karl Rove and Dem con­sult­ant Joe Trippi. State of the Uni­on hosts DCCC Chair Chris Van Hol­len, Rep. Kev­in Mc­Carthy (R-CA), ret. Gen. Mi­chael Hay­den, GOP strategist Whit Ayres and Dem poll­ster Celinda Lake.

“Is she run­ning for pres­id­ent? … Again, hy­po­thet­ic­als. I mean, I don’t know.”
DE SEN can­did­ate Christine O’Don­nell, on wheth­er ex-AK Gov. Sarah Pal­in (R) is qual­i­fied to be pres­id­ent, “Situ­ation Room,” CNN, 10/7

Oth­er Week­end Shows

Polit­ic­al Cap­it­al fea­tures Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) (Bloomberg, FRI, 7pm). Wash­ing­ton Week fea­tures Wall Street Journ­al’s Dav­id Wessel, New York Time’s Peter Baker, Time’s Mi­chael Duffy and USA Today’s Joan Biskupic (PBS, FRI, 8pm). Real Time fea­tures au­thors Ricahrd Dawkins, P.J. O’Rourke and S.E. Cupp and New York Times’ An­drew Ross Sor­kin (HBO, FRI, 10pm). Situ­ation Room fea­tures ex-Labor Sec. Robert Reich, Wall Street Journ­al’s Steph­en Moore, Gov. Charlie Crist (I), Wal­ter Mondale, Don­ald Trump and Rep. Joe Ses­tak (D-PA) (CNN, SAT, 6:30pm). Com­mu­nic­at­ors fea­tures ex-FCC Chair’s Reed Hun­dt, Mi­chael Pow­ell and Kev­in Mar­tin. Guest re­port­er is Wall Street Journ­al’s Amy Schatz (C-SPAN, SAT, 6:30pm). Hucka­bee hosts TBD (FNC, SAT, 8pm). Chris Mat­thews Show fea­tures Wash­ing­ton Post’s Bob Wood­ward, NBC’s An­drea Mitchell, New York Times’ Dav­id Brooks and BBC’s Katty Kay (NBC, SUN, check loc­al list­ings). Wall Street Journ­al Re­port fea­tures equity strategist Doug Clig­gott, film pro­du­cer Les­ley Chil­cott, Suc­cess Charter Net­work CEO Eva Moskow­itz and MONEY’s Wal­ter Up­de­grave(C-SPAN, SUN, 10am/6pm). News­makers hosts Emily’s List’s Stephanie Schriock. Guest re­port­ers are TBD (C-SPAN, SUN, 10am/6pm). Re­li­able Sources fea­tures Wash­ing­ton Post’s Bob Wood­ward and au­thor Di­ane Di­mond (CNN, SUN, 10am). Fareed Za­karia GPS fea­tures ex-car czar Steven Rattner, au­thors Richard Brookhiser and Robert Caro, Wall Street Journ­al’s Peggy Noon­an and San Fran­cisco State Univ. prof. Charles Postel (CNN, SUN, 1pm). Q & A fea­tures au­thor Ron Chernow (C-SPAN, SUN, 8pm).

This Morn­ing On TV

“GMA” lead with the new re­port on Taliban guards at U.S. bases in Afgh­anistan and hosts ex-CNN host Lou Dobbs and Rick Sanc­hez. “Today” lead with the Am­ber Alert of two chil­dren ab­duc­ted in Ana­heim, CA. “Early Show” lead with the trapped Chilean miners.

Fri­day Fea­ture

Joe Math­ieu is the Pro­gram Dir­ect­or of P.O.T.U.S., Siri­us XM’s news and talk chan­nel ded­ic­ated to cov­er­ing the Polit­ics of the United States. In ad­di­tion to his du­ties as Pro­gram Dir­ect­or, he also hosts a daily 3-hour pro­gram called “The Press Pool,” cov­er­ing the White House, Cap­it­ol Hill and break­ing polit­ic­al stor­ies around the coun­try. Math­ieu was one of the young­est news dir­ect­ors in the coun­try while work­ing at the Boch Broad­cast­ing ra­dio group in Hy­an­nis, MA, from ‘96-‘98. In ‘98, he began work­ing as a news an­chor and ed­it­or at Metro Net­work News, and de­liv­er­ing re­ports on sta­tions in­clud­ing DC101 and WASH-FM, here in D.C. Math­ieu spent 7 years as man­aging ed­it­or and an­chor at the CBS Mar­ket­Watch Ra­dio Net­work, provid­ing up­dates and ana­lys­is on the eco­nomy and fin­an­cial mar­kets to sta­tions in­clud­ing 1010WINS New York, WBBM Chica­go, WBZ Bo­ston, WTOP Wash­ing­ton, but today he’s our Fri­day Fea­ture!

Where’s your ho­met­own? And what was it like grow­ing up there?

Put­nam, CT - a small, work­ing-class mill town in North­east Con­necti­c­ut that suffered badly in the early ‘80s when so many man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs were sent over­seas. Funny thing is most people think every town in New Eng­land has a loc­al yacht club where people sip mar­tinis, and that is so far from true. It was the an­ti­thes­is of Green­wich or the oth­er tony NY sub­urbs. I learned a lot about people grow­ing-up there. It’s also why I man­aged to start my ra­dio ca­reer as a 14-year old, as the loc­al ra­dio sta­tion had the nerve to put me on the air.

What were you like in high school?

Fairly nor­mal kid I guess. I was a lot more in­ter­ested in mak­ing ra­dio and play­ing gui­tar than I was in study­ing - thank­fully one of them turned in­to a ca­reer.

What’s your most em­bar­rass­ing on-the-job mo­ment? (Or as em­bar­rass­ing as you’d like to re­veal?)

Does throw­ing-up on the job count?! I real­ized a child­hood dream last year when I flew in an F-16 fight­er jet over the Nevada desert with the U.S. Air Force Thun­der­birds squad­ron, and the ex­per­i­ence was equal parts ex­cit­ing and ter­ri­fy­ing. We flew straight-up, straight-down, pulled NINE G-forces, did twists and rolls, and even broke the sound bar­ri­er. I ac­tu­ally thought I was go­ing to die dur­ing most of it, but in­stead of dy­ing I threw-up. A lot. Like three times. But, I’m proud to say that we still com­pleted the full hour-long “pro­file,” and hey, how many people get to say they threw-up at the speed of sound?! Still, it was rather em­bar­rass­ing to know the en­tire thing was cap­tured on the cock­pit video cam­era!

What is the most mem­or­able cri­tique/com­ment­ary re­ceived by a su­per­i­or?

Nev­er deal with im­port­ant mat­ters via email or memo. Al­ways do things face-to-face. Sounds simple but most man­agers don’t do this, and I will forever be grate­ful for the ad­vice from Frank Barnako, the former man­aging ed­it­or at CBS Mar­ket­Watch Ra­dio. I later got his job and real­ized how im­port­ant this was.

Guilty pleas­ure song of the mo­ment?

Well it’s not “pop” - I couldn’t even name one con­tem­por­ary pop song - but I’ve had the new Black Crowes acous­tic al­bum on heavy ro­ta­tion in my car. Love the new ver­sion of “Girl From A Pawn Shop.”

What’s your fa­vor­ite polit­ic­al book and why?

Ed Rollins book “Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms” had a big im­pact on me. It was highly en­ter­tain­ing, but more im­port­antly it opened my eyes to the ab­so­lutely bru­tal nature of polit­ics.

If you could have one su­per power to aid you in your job, what would it be?

The abil­ity to clone one­self. I could really use the ex­tra bod­ies.

If you could take a road trip with any per­son in his­tory, who would it be and where will you be go­ing?

I would ride with Mario Batali to any­where in Italy.

What would I find in your re­fri­ger­at­or right now?

Left over smoked pork butt, pros­ciutto, some guan­ciale (look that one up). Yeah, lots of pork.

In one sen­tence, your best ad­vice to young, fresh out-of-col­lege journ­al­ists.

As a broad­caster, I tell all pro­spect­ive journ­al­ists to start small. Don’t go to New York or DC un­til you learn to do everything in a small mar­ket. The money is aw­ful, so you really need to want it. But, you won’t learn much if you start by chas­ing big call let­ters or big net­works in the big city. There will al­ways be ex­cep­tions to this rule, but I re­com­mend mak­ing your bones in a place where you can have lots of dif­fer­ent ex­per­i­ences, get lots of air time and build con­fid­ence. You’ll be much more valu­able as a res­ult.

Fin­ish this sen­tence: Today I …

… worked 14 hours, did 3 shows (in­clud­ing my own) and some­how still man­aged to get home be­fore my kid went to bed. Nov. 3rd couldn’t get here fast enough.

Maybe An­oth­er Tas­ing Is Needed

Ex-CNN host Rick Sanc­hez ap­peared on “GMA” this a.m. to talk about the con­tro­versy that got him fired from CNN last week.

Sanc­hez: “It’s tough. I screwed up.”

Sanc­hez, on why he said what he did: “I was tired. I’d been work­ing 14-hour days for like 2 1/2 months. I was do­ing three shows. I was ex­hausted. … And I was a little im­pa­tient. And I said some things that I shouldn’t have said. And they were wrong. Not only were they wrong. They were of­fens­ive. And people were of­fen­ded by it.”

Sanc­hez:, on screw­ing up: “It was my mis­take. I screwed up. I take full re­spons­ib­il­ity. It’s not CNN. It’s Rick Sanc­hez. Rick Sanc­hez screwed up. I went in there with a chip on my shoulder. I was a little bit angry. And, look, I will be hon­est with you. I hope you don’t mind me say­ing it but I’m just go­ing to say it. If you look at the land­scape in our me­dia, in prime­time, there’s not a single His­pan­ic. There’s not a single Afric­an-Amer­ic­an.”

Sanc­hez, on CNN: “CNN is a won­der­ful, won­der­ful or­gan­iz­a­tion that treated me well. And I owe them loy­alty be­cause they’ve been good to me. … If CNN ever takes me back, I’d be happy” (ABC, 10/8).

One’s Horse Keep­er Is An­oth­er’s Il­leg­al

The Na­tion re­por­ted 10/7 that ex-CNN host Lou Dobbs “re­lied on il­leg­al im­mig­rants to help main­tain his homes,” while he “spoke out on the air against them” (AP, 10/7).

Well on MS­N­BC’s “Last Word,” Dobbs fought back. Dobbs: “I have nev­er hired an il­leg­al im­mig­rant nor has any com­pany that I own.” And said he has “been work­ing very hard” to “come up with a com­prom­ise on il­leg­al im­mig­ra­tion.” But Dobbs ad­mits: “The only per­son who would have been an il­leg­al in any con­text would have been a land­scaper who was work­ing for the con­tract­or work­ing on my house in Flor­ida. That may have happened. But that isn’t my em­ploy­ee.”

And Dobbs points out that “at no time” has he called “for the de­port­a­tion, in this en­tire de­bate, of a single il­leg­al im­mig­rant” (MS­N­BC, 10/7). And on “GMA” this a.m., Dobbs held strong deny­ing the al­leg­a­tions: “I nev­er, ever used a con­tract­or as a way in which to in­dir­ectly hire an il­leg­al im­mig­rant pur­posely. Nev­er, nev­er, nev­er” (“ABC, 10/8).

Don’t Mess With The Sil­ver Fox

CNN’s An­der­son Cooper “is crit­ic­al” of act­or Vince Vaughn’s new movie, “The Di­lemma,” due to the trail­er start­ing “with the act­or’s char­ac­ter say­ing, ‘Ladies and gen­tle­man, elec­tric cars are gay.’” Cooper went on “The El­len De­Generes Show” this past week to dis­cuss bul­ly­ing.

Cooper: “I was shocked that not only that they put it in the movie, but that they put that in the pre­view, they thought that it was okay to put that in a pre­view for the movie to get people to go and see it. … I just find those words, those terms, we’ve got to do something to make those words un­ac­cept­able cause those words are hurt­ing kids. … I think we need to really fo­cus on what lan­guage we’re us­ing and how we’re treat­ing these kids” (Powers, Hol­ly­wood Re­port­er, 10/8).

Cour­ic Talks A Lot

New York Post sources are claim­ing that “CNN ap­pears es­pe­cially eager to sign” CBS’s “Even­ing News” an­chor Katie Cour­ic now “the chances of her re­main­ing at CBS are get­ting slim­mer” and due to “Park­er Spitzer” off “to a stum­bling start.”

Time Warner’s CEO Jeff Be­wkes said 10/6 CNN has the money “to pay for some of the biggest tal­ent in TV News.” And CBS Pres. Les Moonves said this week: “The Katie Cour­ic deal will be the last big deal of that kind ever done. Those days are over.” Moonves also com­men­ted on the state of TV news: “People are get­ting the news else­where. … Now, there is noth­ing that Katie Cour­ic is say­ing that every­body doesn’t know already.”

Cour­ic’s $16M/yr con­tract ends in May. But Post sources at CBS say: “Les and Katie re­main close, so don’t be sur­prised if Katie stays.” However, friends of Cour­ic say her reign at CBS “has not been happy” (Shain, New York Post, 10/8).

No McLov­in’ For Col­bert Na­tion

Grover Nor­quist‘s group “Amer­ic­ans for Tax Re­form” is run­ning an ad “against two vul­ner­able,” mak­ing note of Steph­en Col­bert’s “in-char­ac­ter testi­mony be­fore a House pan­el” in Sept.

Nar­rat­or: “In­stead of passing tax cuts, Wash­ing­ton lib­er­als in­vited a comedi­an to Con­gress, and then went home.”

The ads will air in NV-03 “against” Rep. Dina Tit­us (D), and in KY-06 against Rep. Ben Chand­ler (D). In the NV spot, the nar­rat­or says: “Nevada’s not laugh­ing. This Novem­ber, send Dina Tit­us home for good.”

These aren’t the “first ads” to fea­ture Col­bert. Days after his testi­mony, the Com­mit­tee for Truth In Polit­ics “used the spec­tacle in an ad” against a Dem run­ning for U.S. SEN - “though not an in­cum­bent” (Wheaton, New York Times, 10/7).

What Did One Funny Man Say To An­oth­er Funny Man?

Com­edy Cent­ral’s Steph­en Col­bert stopped by the “Late Show,” on 10/7 p.m. Here are some of the high­lights:

Col­bert, on wheth­er he has a per­mit for his rally: “I do not. I didn’t know you had to have one. I thought it was like this land is your land, this land is my land. I want to hold a rally any­where I want.”

Col­bert, on some lo­gist­ic­al prob­lems with his rally: “Yeah, the Mar­ine Corps mara­thon is the next day and they have all the port a pot­ties. And they an­nounced today that they are go­ing to pad­lock them so my fans can’t use them. … Evid­ently if I join the Mar­ines they will open them up again.”

Col­bert, on the ex­pec­ted crowd size: “I see in the mid bil­lions for my rally.”

Col­bert, on wheth­er he’ll make an ap­pear­ance at Jon Stew­art‘s rally: “I might try to dis­rupt Jon Stew­art. … If I can’t find a place to do my rally be­cause I know he has already, he has chosen the mall between the Wash­ing­ton Monu­ment and the Cap­it­ol. And that is kind of where I wanted.”

More Col­bert: “I might do what you do in col­lege, if you have a room­mate you don’t like, you just build a loft over their side of the room. I might build an eight foot loft over the en­tire Mall and have my rally on top.”

Col­bert, on wheth­er he’s heard from Rep. Zoe Lof­gren (D-CA) since he test­i­fied be­fore Con­gress: “Not so much. Not yet. Not yet. But I hope she had a good time. Be­cause I had, it was an hon­or. I had an amaz­ing time.”

More Col­bert: “If Con­gress asks you to testi­fy, how do you say no? And I said, you know, I’m go­ing to go down there I’m happy to bring at­ten­tion to this is­sue if you think it would help in some way. But I’m go­ing to do it the way I do it be­cause there’s not oth­er reas­on for me to go. And she goes that’s great that is what I want. And I said, now you don’t think that there is any chance that people are go­ing to go, I don’t know, ape (bleep)? And she goes no! Ab­so­lutely not” (CBS, 10/7).

Laugh Track

Jay Leno: “Well the White House now an­nounced it’s go­ing to in­stall sol­ar pan­els to con­serve power. Is that the White House’s biggest prob­lem right now, con­serving power? How about stay­ing in power? Try that. Work on that first. … And Pres­id­ent Obama has moved up a long 12-day tour to In­dia and Asia to right after the Novem­ber elec­tion. Gee, I can’t ima­gine why he’d want to leave the coun­try right after the midterm elec­tion. No, he’s go­ing to tour In­dia, he’s go­ing to our Asia. I guess he wants to check up on Amer­ic­an Jobs, you know, see how they’re do­ing. … oh, here you go. CNN’s ‘Park­er Spitzer’ with Kath­leen Park­er and Eli­ot Spitzer. That show premiered this week. It’s a one-hour show, which has gotta be strange for Eli­ot. I mean, the last time he was with a wo­man for an hour, it cost him $5,000” (“To­night Show,” NBC, 10/7).

Dav­id Let­ter­man: “Num­ber 16 on the list of world’s most power­ful wo­men, Sarah Pal­in. Num­ber 16. Uh-huh. Num­ber 15, Tina Fey as Sarah Pal­in. Don­ald Trump is run­ning for pres­id­ent, ladies and gen­tle­men. You know, I think it’s true. I mean he is not that kind of guy that would stage something like this for pub­li­city. … I know it’s of­fi­cial be­cause today he threw his hair in­to the ring. Happy birth­day to Bo the White House dog. Bo is two years old. Bo is, I be­lieve he is a Por­tuguese wa­ter dog and for a while people were wor­ried that the Por­tuguese wa­ter dog would be­come an ex­tinct breed. The Demo­crats know that feel­ing. Here now is the dif­fer­ence between Obama’s dog, Bo, and the eco­nomy. Obama fixed the dog. That’s the dif­fer­ence. … You know down in Delaware you have a witch run­ning for Sen­ate. And then so she then had a com­mer­cial and she comes on and she says I’m not a witch. And I’m think­ing well that’s ex­actly what I witch would say, isn’t it, I mean think about it. I’m not a witch” (“Late Night,” CBS, 10/7).

Steph­en Col­bert: “Folks, the off-year elec­tions are less than one month away, so it’s about time I kicked off my of­fi­cial mid-term cov­er­age. … Now, one of the greatest tools to mo­tiv­ate voters in any elec­tion is fear. And there are two ter­ri­fy­ingly great ads out this year from Nevada Sen­ate can­did­ate Shar­ron Angle and Louisi­ana Sen­at­or Dav­id Vit­ter. … Holy fri­joles! Those are the same hombres. Look at those two pic­tures. This is the most ter­ri­fy­ing scen­ario of all. There aren’t enough stock pho­tos of scary minor­it­ies out there to rep­res­ent all the scary minor­it­ies we know have got to be out there. I mean, when you do a search for stock pho­tos of his­pan­ics, all you get are Mex­ic­ans, who I as­sume have been pho­toshopped to look like they love their fam­il­ies. Well, to ad­dress this tra­gic short­age, I have star­ted my own fear-based photo li­cens­ing ser­vice, Fearstock.com. Here’s how it works. It’s just one photo of me, in a mildly threat­en­ing pose. But fearstock has spe­cial cus­tom­iz­a­tion tools to make me in to the fear you need. For in­stance, if we move the skin tone slider from white to latte and then put a ham­mer in my hand, sud­denly I’m a il­leg­al im­mig­rant from Guadala­jara here to take your job. Now let’s re­place that ham­mer with a glock, give me a lid and use the hat ro­ta­tion tool. Now I’m a cholo gang­banger. Or re­turn­ing to my nat­ur­al pal­lor, we can use the life­style re­ori­enter to crank up the gay. And we just add the straight hus­band I’m try­ing tempt with two tick­ets to Wicked. Any­way, Ms. Angle, Sen­at­or Vit­ter, next time use Fearstock.com for when real­ity is not as ter­ri­fy­ing as you need it to be” (“Col­bert Re­port,” Com­edy Cent­ral, 10/7).

Jimmy Fal­lon: “Well, after a lot of spec­u­la­tion, Hil­lary Clin­ton said yes­ter­day that she has no in­terest in run­ning for Vice Pres­id­ent in 2012. Hil­lary was like, ‘but you know who I think should run for vice pres­id­ent, Barack Obama. Be­cause I’m run­ning for Pres­id­ent.’ … Listen to this. Lady Gaga me in ahead of House Speak­er Nancy Pelosi on For­bes list of the most power­ful wo­men in the world. I’m not say­ing Pelosi’s jeal­ous, but today she showed up to work wear­ing a meat pant­suit. I’m not say­ing she’s jeal­ous. Here’s some news about the New York Gov­ernor’s race. Carl Paladino‘s pit bull Duke bit an­oth­er dog dur­ing a cam­paign stop this week. People who were there said he was growl­ing, foam­ing at the mouth and com­pletely out of con­trol. And so was his pit bull” (“Late Night,” NBC, 10/8).

TOP TEN SIGNS YOU’LL NEV­ER WIN A NO­BEL PRIZE 10.You’ve nick­named your ab­dom­in­al muscles. 9.On ap­plic­a­tion you mis­spelled “No­bel,” “Prize,” and “The.” 8.You had to cla­ri­fy your past by say­ing, “I’m not a witch.” 7.Most of your “chem­istry ex­per­i­ments” in­volve drink­ing large amounts of cold medi­cine. 6.Locked your keys in your failed car bomb 5.You only get nom­in­ated for the less pres­ti­gi­ous Day­time No­bel Prize. 4.You read lame Top Ten Lists for a liv­ing. 3.At some point in your life, you’ve eaten a cheese­bur­ger off a bath­room floor. 2.The word most fre­quently used: “Uh­h­h­h­h­h­hh…” 1.You once thought co­caine was gum (CBS, 10/7).

Rick San­tor­um brought two dis­tinct­ive mes­sages to the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial race. One, fo­cused on restor­ing up­ward mo­bil­ity, offered op­por­tun­it­ies to ex­pand the GOP’s audi­ence. The second, re­af­firm­ing a mil­it­ant cul­tur­al con­ser­vat­ism, threatened to nar­row it. But the lat­ter non­ethe­less seems more likely to last­ingly af­fect his party — par­tic­u­larly the pres­id­en­tial hopes of the man who beat him, Mitt Rom­ney.

San­tor­um’s fo­cus on the erosion of up­ward mo­bil­ity, par­tic­u­larly in blue-col­lar com­munit­ies, was un­usu­al for any politi­cian but vir­tu­ally unique among Re­pub­lic­ans. While his GOP rivals (es­pe­cially Rom­ney) pretty much con­fined them­selves to cel­eb­rat­ing Amer­ica as a land of un­par­alleled op­por­tun­ity, San­tor­um cor­rectly quoted aca­dem­ic re­search con­clud­ing that a young per­son born near the bot­tom of the in­come lad­der now has a bet­ter chance of reach­ing the top rungs in many European coun­tries than in the U.S.

He offered an un­flinch­ing ex­plan­a­tion for that re­versal. Al­though the know­ledge-based eco­nomy is gen­er­at­ing great re­wards for those who con­ceive and design in­nov­at­ive products from com­puter tab­lets to sol­ar pan­els, it does too little for people who work with their hands, largely be­cause busi­nesses are mostly man­u­fac­tur­ing these in­nov­a­tions abroad. “We are cre­at­ing all this new tech­no­logy,” San­tor­um lamen­ted in Mar­shall­town, Iowa, in Decem­ber. “But we’re not build­ing it here in the U.S.”

His dia­gnos­is was much more un­con­ven­tion­al than his solu­tion, which re­volved around the fa­mil­i­ar Re­pub­lic­an themes of cut­ting taxes and reg­u­la­tions for man­u­fac­tur­ers. But, at his best, San­tor­um drew from his back­ground in a Pennsylvania steel town to speak with con­vic­tion and com­pas­sion about the costs of nar­row­ing op­por­tun­ity in work­ing-class Amer­ica.

With his at­ten­tion to blue-col­lar dis­tress, the former sen­at­or offered Re­pub­lic­ans a path to en­large their ad­vant­age among white work­ing-class voters. But even Rom­ney’s ad­visers ac­know­ledge that, giv­en his priv­ileged back­ground, he is un­likely to con­vin­cingly seize that bat­on. San­tor­um’s con­ser­vat­ive eco­nom­ic na­tion­al­ism, like that of Pat Buchanan be­fore him, will likely prove more of a nov­elty than a mod­el for the GOP.

San­tor­um’s staunch so­cial con­ser­vat­ism, by con­trast, will prob­ably cast a more en­dur­ing shad­ow. In his cam­paign, those is­sues con­sist­ently ec­lipsed his eco­nom­ic mes­sage and left him overly de­pend­ent on the votes of one fac­tion, evan­gel­ic­al Chris­ti­ans. (Iron­ic­ally, San­tor­um’s in­ab­il­ity to carry his fel­low Cath­ol­ics in battle­grounds such as Michigan and Ohio prob­ably doomed his cam­paign.)

He stoked his so­cially con­ser­vat­ive base with a stream of vehe­ment pro­nounce­ments — pledging to ex­pose “the dangers of con­tra­cep­tion”; in­sist­ing that states should be al­lowed to ban birth con­trol (while de­clar­ing that he him­self would vote against such a ban); ac­cus­ing Pres­id­ent Obama of prac­ti­cing a “phony theo­logy”; and as­sert­ing that John F. Kennedy’s fam­ous speech on the sep­ar­a­tion of church and state made him “throw up.” San­tor­um’s un­re­lent­ing ar­dor shif­ted the race’s fo­cus from the eco­nom­ic is­sues that Rom­ney pre­ferred to cul­tur­al con­front­a­tions, a move­ment re­in­forced by a series of con­cur­rent events that in­cluded the GOP back­lash against Obama’s rule re­quir­ing re­li­giously based em­ploy­ers to fund con­tra­cep­tion in health in­sur­ance and Rush Limbaugh’s de­nun­ci­ation of a young wo­man sup­port­ing Obama as a “slut.”

Rom­ney didn’t match the vit­ri­ol from San­tor­um (or Limbaugh), but he nev­er re­nounced it either. And Rom­ney em­braced com­par­able po­s­i­tions, pro­pos­ing to ter­min­ate all fed­er­al fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood, to end fed­er­al fam­ily-plan­ning money for low-in­come wo­men, and to al­low em­ploy­ers to deny con­tra­cept­ive cov­er­age if it vi­ol­ated their mor­al be­liefs. “Rom­ney has in­ex­tric­ably iden­ti­fied him­self with that cur­rent in Re­pub­lic­an think­ing,” in­sists Demo­crat­ic poll­ster Geoff Gar­in. “And wo­men have no­ticed that.”

Rom­ney doesn’t have a prob­lem with all wo­men: Polls show him lead­ing solidly among blue-col­lar white wo­men. But Obama has opened com­mand­ing leads with the elect­or­ate’s most so­cially lib­er­al com­pon­ent: white wo­men with at least a four-year col­lege de­gree. He won 52 per­cent of those voters in 2008; an ABC News/Wash­ing­ton Post poll this week, echo­ing oth­er re­cent sur­veys, showed an un­pre­ced­en­ted 60 per­cent of these wo­men back­ing the pres­id­ent against Rom­ney. If Obama can stay close to that num­ber, he can lose about two-thirds of all oth­er whites and still win reelec­tion (so long as he re­mains strong among minor­it­ies, as seems likely).

Rom­ney began try­ing to dig out this week by hit­ting Obama’s eco­nom­ic re­cord for wo­men. But the White House be­lieves that many up­scale wo­men are feel­ing se­cure enough about the eco­nomy to vote on their cul­tur­al lib­er­al­ism. If that equa­tion holds through Novem­ber, Rom­ney may rue his de­cision not to paddle against the sur­ging con­ser­vat­ive cur­rent on so­cial is­sues that San­tor­um un­leashed with his un­likely as­cent.

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