Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann on independent candidates Several columnists have called for an independent candidate, "a radical centrist" to break apart the two-party system, pointing to "Americans Elect," which is organizing a Web convention to nominate such a person. "The call for a third way, in this case, is misguided," write Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution in The Washington Post. It is highly unlikely that a third-party candidate would collect a majority of electoral votes or the support of the tie-breaking House of Representatives. Beyond that, it would be difficult for a non-affiliated candidate to work with Congress. Already, presidents have difficulty governing when half the members of Congress belong to their party. But even if a third-party candidate lost, the person could still influence the election. "In 2012, the nightmare scenario for us would be angry or demoralized independents and discouraged centrist Republicans gravitating toward the third candidate, enabling a far-right Republican nominee to prevail with a narrow electoral majority or with a plurality followed by a win in a deeply divided House." Ornstein concludes, "The only positive scenario is that the third candidate speaks tough truths to Americans and, like Perot in 1992, changes the dialogue and the dynamic in positive ways."
Holman Jenkins Jr. on antitrust law suits "A signature Nixon scandal was born when Nixon said to an underling: 'There is not going to be any more antitrust actions as long as I am in this chair,'" recalls Holman Jenkins Jr. in The Wall Street Journal. Regarding the Justice Department's lawsuit opposing the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, Obama should take a lesson from Nixon, Jenkins writes. "Wireless does not tend toward monopoly or excessive profits. The industry's real shortage right now is a shortage of customers." Bandwidth demands are expanding but consumer willingness to pay is not. Instead of implementing bandwidth caps or higher prices, the industry is just competing "more fiercely for customers," Jenkins says. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse argues against the merger, fearing a duopoly with worsened customer service and higher prices. Such a result would only benefit companies like Sprint, Jenkins argues, which could capitalize on the negative trends among its big competitors and fill a new niche in the market. The Justice Department does not understand the industry, Jenkins says. "It imagines a world in which, if T-Mobile isn't pushing discount wireless plans, nobody would push discount wireless plans. This may fly in the inner cluster-assemblage where antitrust theorists perpetuate their meal ticket, but it's insane," he writes. "In the real world, the opportunities in mobile are so huge, it's implausible to imagine the market not being roiled by constant innovation in business and pricing models." Antitrust has become overly bureaucratic and only strong and rebellious presidential leadership (the kind Nixon sometimes used too much) can rein it in, Jenkins says.