Posts Tagged ‘Campaign’

Is Mitt Romney Running For President, or Dog-Catcher?

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Does He Understand?

I listen to the pundits. I ignore many of them, but the reason I do so is because so many are merely servants of an agenda, having abandoned the truth. I realize no commentator can be right every time, but it’s easier to be correct in one’s judgments if one cares even slightly about facts, rather than pushing an agenda. I’m a conservative, so of course, I tend to see things through the lens of conservatism, and what that means is that I sometimes err like anybody else in media who offers an opinion, because occasionally, I let my wishes come between me and the facts. I’ve been wrong about some things, and bluntly, I will be wrong about some more, but there are a few things about which I hope to be wrong, while being virtually certain that I am right. This is one of those cases: Even if conservatives manage to drag Mitt Romney across the finish line first, his presidency would be remarkable only in its mediocrity, but more importantly, I do not believe Romney can win since he is conducting the campaign of a man running for dog-catcher, rather than for the office of the President of the United States.

If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you know how the local elections there frequently go. They can sometimes become aggressive affairs, but more often, the candidates are only vaguely partisan, and mostly non-ideological because it’s generally more important to accommodate a larger proportion of the populace and thus ensure election than to take on difficult issues or matters that may have no direct bearing on the office. This is the campaign Mitt Romney is attempting to run, and he’s staying well away from issues and topics that could alienate this group or that, but that have no direct bearing on the immediate job of being President. The problem with this approach is not that it can’t work, but that it’s made for a different level of politics. The presidency is an office that ultimately deals with virtually every issue in one way or another, and since the President lives in a virtual fishbowl of news coverage, there’s almost nothing a president can say that isn’t examined, folded, spindled and mutilated as people look for deeper meanings, but because of this, a President must be aware of virtually every issue, particularly those that are “hot” in current coverage, because the press is apt to ask about them at some point.

The other significant difference is that when you’re running for dog-catcher in AnyTown, USA, you’re not expected to take a position on global warming, or to wax philosophic on the notion of manned space flight. They want to know if you’ll catch dogs, and why you’ll be better at it than the other guy, but there’s no real need to get into deep philosophical discussions about it. You’re expected to shut up and catch dogs. As President, a whole nation, and indeed, a whole world looks to you to stake out a position, and they expect you to do it in a timely fashion, when your position might hold some sway. When Barack Obama said nothing about the uprising in Iran until Iranian dissidents had begun to be slaughtered, part of the reason for Iran’s slightly delayed oppression was undoubtedly due to their waiting to see what the new American President might say. When it was clear he’d say nothing, and do nothing to bring down international heat on the regime, they felt secure to begin reprisals.

In much the same way, Mitt Romney has held his tongue on far too many issues, passing up opportunities to make greater philosophical points during the course of the campaign. He never failed to hammer away at his Republican opponents, but now that he’s facing Obama, it seems as though he’s gone weak in the knees. True, he has had his moments, but the problem is that’s all they’ve been: Fleeting, stillborn interjections of passion that only hinted at a deeper conviction on any subject. The American people expect more, and they fully expect that their President will stake out positions that are more substantially ideological than most pundits admit. It’s not “red meat” as so many condescending commentators contend, but instead that people want to hear the ideological consistency that takes one the full distance from A to Z. This is what Mitt Romney has lacked, and it’s going to hurt him come November, whatever the Republican pundits may say to the contrary. In short, the American people are waiting for Romney to make a solid, irrefutable case, and it must be about more than economics and statistics.

Most of the American people are not fools, and they know there is more broken with the country than what a litany of economic statistics will reveal. They know there is a moral crisis, but many of them are unsure about how to characterize that crisis, or to explain with any precision how it is to be addressed. They don’t know where or how to begin, and the problem has become so great that they have no confidence in politicians to fix it, and given the average of this crop of politicians with which we’ve been cursed, it’s easy to understand their misgivings. Mitt Romney, or indeed any candidate who would seek to oust Barack Obama must be willing to say what it is about Obama’s policies that is hurting the country, but also explain the philosophy that gave rise to those policies, comprising their central motive.

This is the problem with Mitt Romney’s line about Obama being “in over his head.” That is a vague expression that barely scratches the surface of the problem with Barack Obama. If only it were a matter of incompetence, it would be easier to retire him to Chicago next January, but he’s not Jimmy Carter. He’s infinitely worse, and he’s worse precisely because while Carter was a mix of nine parts of incompetence and one part malice, Barack Obama’s philosophy and the policies it spawns are 100% pure malevolence. When you are faced with a killer wielding a gun in random bursts of violence, you do not rally people to oppose him by claiming he had been merely incompetent to bear arms. You must tell the people the truth, and that truth is that “this guy is going to kill you, or as many of you as he is able, if you don’t take him down.” When faced with a killer, moral equivocation is not only a terrible strategy, but a lethal capitulation.

Barack Obama’s policies are killing America, and there is every evidence that it is being done with malice aforethought. That Mitt Romney continues to conduct his campaign solely on the basis that he’ll be better at catching dogs is an admission that he’s really not willing to fight for the country, and the reason for this can only be that he’s incapable or unwilling. Which of these do we expect will be acceptable to the great body of the American electorate? If Mitt Romney does not learn to make the case and make it unflinchingly, he is going to lose this election, and we will be faced with the ghastly proposition of four years of unparalleled malice directed at the American people. This is not the time for tepid leadership, and but for those rare moments, that’s all Governor Romney has offered. If he’s to defeat Barack Obama, he cannot do so by default. He must challenge the moral basis of Barack Obama’s philosophy, but since Romney will not even name it, I do not see how victory will be possible. After all, if he will not name it, how can the American people be expected to take him seriously, or to understand by hints what case Mitt Romney is trying to make?

Romney lives in fear of bad press and ridicule in establishment media, but if he’s to stand any chance of winning, he can no longer afford to mince words by way of “playing it safe.” Otherwise, he stands the chance of appearing afraid to make his case openly, and Americans will begin to wonder why. The old saying is “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” and if Mitt Romney doesn’t begin to venture outside his safe zone soon, this race will be over. You’d think a capitalist would know that.

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CNN: Perry Goes Home(UPDATED-Endorses Newt)

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Going Home

USAToday is reporting that Rick Perry is suspending his campaign.  The Texas Governor is coming off of his best debate performance, but he was dealt some real set-backs after poor-than-expected performances in earlier debates.  Perry is the longest-serving Governor in Texas History, and his entry into the race last August was greeted by anticipation of a vigorous campaign.

Whatever else you might say about Perry, he certainly provided some moments of entertainment on the campaign trail, and in the debates, and not everything funny about what he said was at his expense.  I personally enjoyed when he took on Mitt Romney a little.

Update: National Journal is reporting that Perry will endorse Newt Gingrich

On Money and Politics

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Is Money the Problem?

There are many people who decry the influence of money in politics, but to be honest, I think most of them are confused about the causes and effects involved.  People will immediately assume that cash waved in a politician’s face will readily buy influence, and sadly, in all too many cases, they’re correct.  The question then becomes one of cause and effect, however, and I think this is where most people become confused.  Did the money corrupt the politician, or did he corrupt the money?  It remains my proposal to all who will listen that it is naive to believe that so long as government is involved in every facet of our daily lives, that you will ever substantially reduce corruption.  Every official has some financial interests, and it’s in this atmosphere that some propose that money must be gotten out of politics?  No, there’s no rational way to do so without destroying liberty, and besides, it doesn’t offer any hope of solving the actual cause of the problem.

There’s an old and important rule of economics that says simply:  One cannot purchase at any price that which is not for sale. The root of the corruption we see in politics lies not with those interests throwing about cash, but with the politicians who in one way or another accept money and benefits from them.  If you want to make a substantial change in the way politicians in Washington or anywhere else behave, you must address the corruption at its fundamental root:  The politician who is for sale.  If it were mine to do, and if there were even the slightest hope of enacting it, I would propose a new constitutional amendment stating simply:

Corruption among elected or appointed public officials constituting the better part of the potential evils of government, any official of government who uses their office and official authority for private gain, or gain of any sort beyond his salaries and benefits shall be eligible for trial as for charge of treason, with the same penalties to be applied.

The first time a public official faces such a charge, it will have a profound effect.  It’s easy for them to pretend they’re putting tough new limits and reforms in place, but the truth is that their regulations tend to punish them the most lightly of all, reserving the worst punishments for others.  I’ve always thought that the willing recipient of a bribe is far worse than the person who offered it.  As I said, it’s impossible to purchase influence if it isn’t for sale.

Of course, the problem extends beyond politicians.  In many cases, Congressional staff members are involved in the key details of writing legislation that ultimately profits a particular business or group, or class of citizens, and all too frequently, themselves.  The same goes for the extensive bureaucracy and the regulations they craft.  Too often, regulations are authored in order to benefit somebody in particular, but the only way to limit this effectively is to restrict that which government may regulate.  What we need to combat all of this is a separation of economics and State at least as thorough as that which we have erected between Church and State. The simple fact is that so long as government has its fingers in every pie, there will be reason to expect that those who own the pies will seek to minimize their losses.

I believe disclosure is critical.  Campaigns and causes should be required to list their contributors and donors from largest to smallest.  The truth is, I don’t care if you’re a billionaire and wish to spend a pile of money on a single candidate.  I would merely require that your contributions be listed and published prominently by any campaign to which you contribute.  I find it’s better and more honest to get it in the open.  How many of you would like to know exactly how much in indirect contributions Soros made to Barack Obama through intermediaries like MoveOn and other entities?  In this way, disclosure provides the key.  They’re going to find a way to do it so long as politicians have the monumental power you’ve permitted them to arrogate to themselves, so it is better that at the very least, we know in detail who is funding whom.

The other problem is that it’s usually not bribery per se, but more frequently a form of extortion.  It works like this:  Legislator Doe introduces a bill that would, on its face, harm the interests of a particular entity, knowing that this entity will then come in with a deal.  It’s a bit of a protection racket, and it’s not even hidden.  They do this sort of thing on a continual basis, because in terms of the number of laws enacted each year, there’s simply too much opportunity, and most of the laws aren’t written to prevent this sort of corruption.  That may be the real “trick” in all of this:  Too often, since they make the laws, they decide what does and does not constitute a violation of law on their part.  Prodding Congress to police itself is not going to be easy, if it can be done at all.  This is why various campaign finance reform initiatives, including McCain-Feingold are destined for failure.

I believe in free speech.  I believe that money spent in politics constitutes free speech.  Free speech does not apply to any other sort of entity than individual people.  The  sorry game that has cost the American people dearly is augmented by rules that limit what Americans can contribute in one form, while giving preference to a relative few Americans in another.  Newspapers, radio and television stations or networks function as advocates perpetually.  Is there a spending limit on how much positive coverage the New York Times can give to President Obama?  No, of course not, and there should not be.  Individual citizens are having this same right denied them by the FEC(Federal Elections Commission) on the shoddy basis that they’re not protected as “the press” under the First Amendment.

For instance, if you run a blog, you could be considered to have contributed to a campaign merely by linking to its website.  The value of the alleged contribution increases on the basis of how much traffic your blog sees.  The same thing is true of commentary on some TV stations, although other outlets have exemptions under the law.  This is clearly intended to stifle free speech, and yet TV funny-man(?) Stephen Colbert  wanted to lampoon the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court, and among the other things he wanted to do was to set up a PAC(Political Action Committee.)  Imagine his surprise when he found the maze of laws that would obstruct him. Colbert found himself facing the very obstacles he insists other must face, and he didn’t like it very much.

Let’s be honest about something else, while we’re at it.  Your money is yours.  If you want to spend all you have in support of a cause or a candidate, by what authority does anybody lay a claim to restrict you?  More, what authority does government have in defining what is “the press,” or more frequently, what is not?  The problem with all of this regulation of speech is that there is no fixed bright line, and depending upon who is pulling the strings at a given moment, the rules will be shifted and twisted to suit the cronies of whomever holds power.  Free speech isn’t really free when some people are forced to comply with regulations while others are exempted from those same regulations on the basis of some arbitrary law or rule.

The truth is simply that money doesn’t corrupt politics.  People do.  If you want reform, the only way you’re going to have it is to move toward a free speech paradigm in which all are unshackled in their speech, but that full disclosure of contributors and donors is known, ranked from largest to smallest, so that all discerning citizens can choose accordingly when they head to the polls.   We need also to get government out of the business of business. Too frequently, it is the involvement of government that makes it possible  for corporate  interests to buy influence.  If government officials weren’t offering influence, for what purpose would corporations lobby them?  To reform this system, we’re going to need honest people in Congress willing to live under a much more strict regimen, and part of this will include sending the professional staff home.  Too many of them have far too much influence on legislation, and until we start sending them home with the politicians for whom they work, we’re not going to get very far.  Money is a problem in politics only inasmuch as people are open to corruption.  That’s the root of our trouble, and it’s the most difficult problem to fix.