Double Down author Mark Halperin reveals secrets of the 2012 election

Mark Halperin, co-author of Double Down, joined Glenn on radio this morning to discuss some of the behind-the-scenes insight his book provides into the 2012 presidential election.

“One of the guys who I think tries to tell the truth and that is very rare. I have no time, nor will we give any time on this program to anybody who… [has] an agenda and [is] not at least trying to be honest,” Glenn said. “Mark Halperin is a guy who wrote the book Double Down, Game Change 2012, and it has raised some eyebrows because he let's the axe fall where the axe falls and is not trying to cut it one way or another. And he can tell us exactly what happened in the election of 2012 in some of the really important moments that we all watched, but we didn't know what was going on behind the scenes.”

In the book, Mark explains the President has not left himself many allies. But, as Glenn pointed out, President Obama enjoys a very favorable press. “So what’s the secret sauce here?”

“I have said throughout my career, particularly when the President was running in 2008, but beyond that there's a obvious slant in much media towards Democrats,” Mark admitted. “And even as I tell liberals who balk when I said that, even if you don't believe that, recognize that half the country or so feels alienated from a lot of press because they perceive that kind of lies and bias. It's not good for the country. It's not good for democracies to have people feeling like the press is slanted in one direction.”

Double Down explores the inner workers of the 2012 election, including the fact that First Lady Michelle Obama really didn’t want her husband to run for reelection, but she ultimately decided that it was important for him to be a two-term president so that people wouldn’t dismiss his time in office as some sort of ahistorical aberration. To that end, the First Lady was able to use her popularity, which in many cases was higher than her husband’s, to his advantage. One particular instance – the aftermath of the disastrous first debate in Denver.

“I mean it was a major performance failure,” Mark said of President Obama’s debate performance. “In part because there's this myth, Barack Obama is a great debater. He's never done good at debates. Look at his debates with Alan Keys in the Senate race in Illinois. He's not a great debater. In addition, he had in his head a lot of no-contest towards Mitt Romney and a lack of respect. And his aids were just really beside themselves leading up to that debate saying, ‘You don't want to show how much you disdain the guy.’ And they kind of told him just lay low.”

Why did President Obama have so much animosity toward his Republican opponent?

“He thought Mitt Romney was a phony. And that Mitt Romney was running for all the wrong reasons – was disavowing his record in Massachusetts as governor,” Mark said. “You saw just a ridiculously bad performance by the President that led them to feel like he could lose election and while they were publically saying everything is fine, privately, as the President rehearsed for the second debate, they got really worried he might lose the second debate and they thought if that happened, the election could swing the other way.”

“I'm sorry, it's like you hit me in the head with a frying pan or a telephone pole,” Glenn said exasperatedly. “The President thought someone else was a phony? Wow. That is saying something. I mean [he is] the king of phonies.”

Another one of the big revelations in the book is the vetting process the Romney campaign used to find its vice presidential candidate. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was once believed to be the front runner, but, according to Mark, Romney was not comfortable with Christie’s style.

“Well, Governor Romney at first though, ‘Maybe I'll pick Chris Christie,’” Mark explained. “Then he looked at some of his things in his background – little scandals, little controversies, some of them, if you Google, you'd see them but weren't known nationally. He thought that it was a little too much… to take on that potential controversy.”

“Then one of his advisors said, ‘Look, we're getting killed every day in the media. Barack Obama is, is dominating this race. We need a street fighter because we're in a street fight.’ And so he urged him to reconsider Christie,” he continued. “They looked at his background closer, and they found a bunch of stuff. Chris Christie used to be a lobbyist and one of his clients was an organization at the time was headed by Bernie Madoff. That's a 30 second ad that writes itself. He also, when he was a U.S. attorney in Jersey, the inspector general was looking at his spending habits when he went on the road for business. All of this stuff is nothing like a huge smoking gun. But Mitt Romney thought this stuff was a little controversial in the glare of a national campaign.”

The now infamous bear hug on the beach between President Obama and Gov. Christie in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy was the icing on the cake for the Romney campaign.

“They were crazy. One of Romney’s advisors was telling people, you know, people talked about it as a bear hug. You saw it more as a French kiss,” Mark said. “You know look when a governor has a disaster, they tend to look for help anywhere they can get it. It's often from presidents. Romney thought, ‘I understand Chris Christie is a governor. But he's being a little exuberant.’ Why does he need to go as far as he did?”

“The name of the book is Double Down by Mark Halperin,” Glenn said. “And Mark, we appreciate the fact that you're coming on the program. We appreciate the fact that you do let the chips fall where they may. And we wish you the best.”

Watch the entire interview below:

The themes of healing and redemption appear throughout the Bible.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. — 1 Corinthians 15:43
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Mark 2:17.

So, for many Christians, it's no surprise to hear that people of faith live longer lives.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. — Jeremiah 17:14.

But it is certainly lovely to hear, and a recent study by a doctoral student at Ohio State University is just one more example of empirical evidence confirming the healing benefits of faith and religious belief.

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Moreover, the study finds that religious belief can lengthen a person's life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22
Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! — Isaiah 38:16

The study analyzed over 1,000 obituaries nationwide and found that people of faith lived longer than people who were not religious. Laura Wallace, lead author of the study, noted that "religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The study notes that, "people whose obits mentioned a religious affiliation lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those whose obits did not, which shrunk to 3.82 years after gender and marital status were considered."

And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. — Matthew 10:1

"The researchers found that part of the reason for the boost in longevity came from the fact that many religiously affiliated people also volunteered and belonged to social organizations, which previous research has linked to living longer. The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives," said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

In addition, the study showed how the effects of religion on longevity might depend in part on the personality and average religiosity of the cities where people live, Way said.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. — Luke 5:17
Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. — Luke 10:9

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

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Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Glenn was joined by Alanna Sarabia from "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios on Thursday for an exclusive look at Mercury Museum's new "Rights & Responsibilities" exhibit. Open through Father's Day, the temporary museum features artifacts from pop culture, America's founding, World Ward II and more, focusing on the rights and responsibilities America's citizens.

Get tickets and more information here.

Watch as Glenn gives a sneak peek at some of the unique artifacts on display below.

History at the Mercury Museum

Alanna Sarabia interviews Glenn Beck for "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios.

Several months ago, at the Miss Universe competition, two women took a selfie, then posted it on Instagram. The caption read, "Peace and love." As a result of that selfie, both women faced death threats, and one of the women, along with her entire family, had to flee her home country. The occasion was the 2017 Miss Universe competition, and the women were Miss Iraq and Miss Israel. Miss Iraq is no longer welcome in her own country. The government threatened to strip her of her crown. Of course, she was also badgered for wearing a bikini during the competition.

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In an interview, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, said:

When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback. I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary. The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they're getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.

Yesterday, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, posted another selfie with Miss Israel, during a visit to Jerusalem.

In an interview, she said that:

I don't think Iraq and Israel are enemies; I think maybe the governments are enemies with each other. There's a lot of Iraqi people that don't have a problem with Israelis.

This is, of course, quite an understatement: Iraq, home to roughly 15,000 Palestinians, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate country, as it is technically at war with Israel. The adages says that a picture is worth a thousand words. What are we to do when many of those words are hateful or deadly? And how can we find the goodness in such bad situations?