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Smart v. Stupid

Rick rolls, powerful tweets, and a stay-at-home martyr

So many topics, so little time – a rockin’ week in politics

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Thanks for nothin’, Rick

Rick Santorum finally admitted he has no chance of becoming president. He left the race just like he came in, against birth control because, “It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." Quite the English major, too, isn’t he?

If Mitt Romney loses his shot at the presidency, history will write that running against Rick Santorum was largely the reason. Romney has adopted far-out policy positions (like promising to defund Planned Parenthood) in an attempt to out-Santorum Santorum.

These ideas offend independents. It is unlikely that Romney can escape his flirtations with evangelical and Tea Party radicalism. Combined with the Etch A Sketch meme, Romney’s deal with the devil makes it dead easy to paint him as someone who can’t be trusted to honestly report his own views.

Romney also has a 30-point deficit among women. That’s due partly to anti-vaginal legislating by mouth-breathing state governments in Arizona, Wisconsin, Mississippi and Virginia. But Rick Santorum offered a national voice to Republican opposition to contraception, abortion, equal pay and women’s body sovereignty. He reminded everyone what’s wrong with that party.

What was a slam-dunk for Republicans just one year ago is now an uphill climb. Pivoting to the center ain’t what it used to be, eh’ Mitt?

The power of tweeting

Back in February, the Sanford, Fla., police told Tracy Martin that there would be no arrest in the killing of his son, Trayvon. Court watchers blame Florida’s extra crazy version of a “stand your ground” law. But whatever the reason, that was the state of justice in Sanford just 90 days ago – and as far back as anyone could remember.

Fast forward 30 days to national outrage that began on Twitter and spread to Facebook making enough noise that local and national media became interested in the story. The usual suspects picked the shooter’s side mostly, I believe, to defend the National Rifle Association. But they were quickly drowned out by the furor on the Internet.

So much has happened in such a short time that it might be hard to remember that Martin and Sybrina Fulton had to file a lawsuit to get the 911 tapes. Yet before court proceedings, Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett voluntarily released them. Thank Twitter for that. Like a flock of swallows, all the tweets had combined into an unavoidable din.

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On the tapes we all heard Trayvon screaming for help in the last moments of his young life. And then we saw George Zimmerman looking freshly pressed and unconcerned.

Now Zimmerman, who gives every indication of not being very smart, is charged with second-degree murder and faces life in prison. Nationally, "stand your ground” laws are also on trial. The law’s author, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is shedding corporate donors faster than Rush Limbaugh has been shedding corporate sponsors. Laughably, ALEC is left to claim they are victims of “bullying, intimidation and threats.”

Facebook and Twitter did not bring George Zimmerman to justice, but social networks played a critical role in making sure he didn’t get away.

Ann Romney: Stay-at-home martyr

Is it outrageous to say that Mitt Romney’s point person on women’s issues – his wife – never worked a day in her life? That’s what the Romney campaign would have you believe about Hillary Rosen’s fairly benign comments on CNN. The Romney campaign wants you to believe that pointing out their expert is no expert is somehow off limits. Many Republicans – hoping finally for some good news – seem willing to repeat this silly conceit.

Still, it does seem to be an issue that Mitt’s expert has never had to balance child-raising with a career (like 85 million other American women.) And it’s worth mentioning that Ann Romney has a rather full staff of assistants helping out at each of her houses (and riding along in each of her Cadillacs.) It’s probably also worth mentioning that this policy expert has no education in her topic and has never published a policy paper on any women’s issue.

There is no shortage of real experts for women’s issues, Mitt. Go get one. You’ll need her. (See above.)

Jimmy Zuma splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Tucson. He writes the online opinion journal, Smart v. Stupid. He spent 5 years in Tucson in the early ‘80s, when life was a little slower, swamp coolers were a little more plentiful, Tucson’s legendary music scene was in full bloom, and the prevailing work ethic was “don’t - unless you have to.”

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Rick Santorum

Nationally, “stand your ground” laws are also on trial. The law’s author, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is shedding corporate donors faster than Rush Limbaugh has been shedding corporate sponsors.

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