Don’t get me wrong. I liked Mitt Romney as a candidate. He was personable, competent, scandal-free and, above all, offered a compelling alternative to the left-tilting coterie of Barack Obama.
But you had to notice, He is very buttoned down, very corporate, very achievement-oriented. In other words, he entered the campaign with a huge problem. America is not as serious as it used to be, and the conventional WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) persona, although deeply rooted in our culture, is a much harder sell these days.
And it isn’t just because of increased ethnic diversity. The WASP archetype has been running into problems on the political front for quite some time. The accomplished, proper Thomas Dewey (derided as the man on the wedding cake) went down to defeat in 1948, beaten by the populist Harry Truman, who waged a classic class warfare campaign against him. The aristocratic Henry Cabot Lodge fell before Irish charmer JFK during the famous Massachusetts Senate campaign of 1952. And, of course, Kennedy went on to defeat the more middle class, earnest Richard Nixon in 1960. It’s paradoxical, contradictory and rather unfair. But the WASP mystique- based on differing combinations of pedigree, achievement, rooted family trees, sobriety, hard work, thrift and understatement- carries a high risk of failure in today’s celebrity culture.
Set aside the exotic Mormon background, and all of a sudden Mitt Romney looks like a lot of other buttoned-down WASP politicians who have been taking their hits politically: Dewey, Nixon, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush. Bill Clinton, while technically a WASP, was a Southerner, which is a distinct sub-species. At any rate, he embodied coolness and rode the demographic wave of the baby boomers. George W. Bush, a WASP aristocrat if there ever was one, camouflaged his roots with a Texas twang and good ol’ boy mannerisms. Barack Obama, who is after all half-WASP, campaigned as the epitome of what was young, hip, cerebral and urban. The more conventional John McCain never had a chance.
I don’t want to overstate the case. Ethnicity and style are just factors in elections. But a lot of bitterly disappointed conservatives need to remember that intangibles, often subjective and occasionally silly, do have their impact. It doesn’t mean the republic is ending, or that the GOP is doomed to perpetual impotence because of demographic trends. (Anyone reading Twitter sees these memes daily now. They forget that Roosevelt and Johnson, running on classic Big Government platforms, captured huge majorities of an electorate that was mostly white.) It does mean that we need to think long and hard before choosing another standard bearer with that conventional, WASPy, GOP establishment persona. After all, the battle against statism and free stuff is hard enough.
With the elections out of the way, attention has again turned to the fiscal cliff – the over $600 billion in tax and spending provisions set to change on January 1, 2013.
The fiscal cliff has in recent months risen to the top of investor concerns ahead of Europe’s debt crisis, the slow economic recovery and China’s slowdown.
President Obama has refused to back down from raising taxes on the rich. Republicans on the other hand want broader tax reform and spending cuts, and refuse to raise taxes. Both sides have said they’re open to some sort of compromise but a year-end grand bargain is unlikely.
We put together an explainer on the fiscal cliff, its economic impact, the most likely scenarios, the biggest political obstacles, and the companies most impacted
Note: The most likely scenarios are from a Goldman Sachs report that was published this summer.
WSJ – U.S. airlines are facing what threatens to be their most serious pilot shortage since the 1960s, with higher experience requirements for new hires about to take hold just as the industry braces for a wave of retirements.
Federal mandates taking effect next summer will require all newly hired pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of prior flight experience—six times the current minimum—raising the cost and time to train new fliers in an era when pay cuts and more-demanding schedules already have made the profession less attractive. Meanwhile, thousands of senior pilots at major airlines soon will start hitting the mandatory retirement age of 65.
Another federal safety rule, to take effect in early 2014, also will squeeze the supply, by giving pilots more daily rest time. This change is expected to force passenger airlines to increase their pilot ranks by at least 5%. Adding to the problem is a small but steady stream of U.S. pilots moving to overseas carriers, many of which already face an acute shortage of aviators and pay handsomely to land well-trained U.S. captains.
IGN – Gamers and geeks are notoriously hard to shop for. Our tastes are…particular. Hundreds of new games, movies and gadgets come out every year, but we’re only interested in the cream of the crop, the best handful of products that scratch our fanatic itch. At IGN, we want to remove the mystery of shopping for gamers. So we’ve assembled this collection of the absolute best gifts for 2012, in categories spanning the hottest video game consoles, and our favorite movies and comics. No more bad gifts. Just the most coveted goods for the online generation.