Posts Tagged ‘GOP’

Jeb Bush Pushes the Narrative of a “Party of Fear”

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Jeb Denounces Campaign of Fear

Jeb Bush is worried about the Republican Party, and The Hill is reporting on some of his thoughts on the primary campaign for the GOP Presidential nomination.  Among everything else Bush said, there were a few nuggets that should be subjected to scrutiny, as it is increasingly clear that the former Florida governor has parted company with the conservative base of the party. This is a troubling development in my book, because it raises questions about the continued narrative that Bush would be the favored outcome of a brokered convention.  He seems to think that the current crop of GOP contenders are appealing unnecessarily to fear, but I suppose if you live in the Jeb Bush bubble, there’s nothing for anybody to fear.  We’re steaming toward catastrophe, and he will have a lifeboat, but the rest of we passengers on the Titanic know that Captain Obama is steering directly for the iceberg.

“I used to be a conservative, and I watch these debates and I’m wondering — I don’t think I’ve changed, but it’s a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people’s fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective, and that’s kind of where we are,” said Bush, according to Fox News. “I think it changes when we get to the general election. I hope.”

I honestly don’t know what Bush is talking about.  He is being intentionally vague, but I noticed this much: Mr. Bush isn’t a conservative, and he seems to be hinting that the party is moving to the right.  It’s not.  The party has moved slightly leftward, but the problem is that Mr. Bush has been on the leading edge of that slide, and in fact, it’s probably accurate to say he’s been helping to pull it in that direction.  I’m not one of those who bought into the myth that George W. Bush was more conservative than his father, George H.W. Bush, or that Jeb is more conservative than either of these.  You get an indication of this when you look at his remarks on education, that he made to the National Center for Policy Analysis luncheon in Dallas on Thursday, suggesting he doesn’t like the talk of eliminating the Federal Department of Education:

Mr. Bush said, “I’d like to hear more about how important it is that we create a high growth economy where there’s more prosperity and job creation, that we transform our education system.  And what generally the questions are, what do you think the federal role is?  They answer that, that’s fine.  The policy is how do you transform the education system.”

He also cautioned against moving too far to the right:

“I think it’s important for the candidates to recognize though they have to appeal to primary voters, and not turn off independent voters that will be part of a winning coalition.”

I don’t care what Mr. Bush has to say.  Let me say this one last time:  No more Bushes.  I am finished with the Bush clan, and the reason is simple:  They pose as conservatives, but they have shown they are moderates at best, and I’m simply not interested in any more of their governance.  Everything his brother George W. Bush did on the domestic front led to the awful outcome of losing the House in 2006.  You’re free to disagree, but I can state with certainty that there’s absolutely no chance I will ever vote for another member of the Bush family. I don’t believe in political dynasties in America, as a matter of principle, just as I don’t believe in monarchies.

All of this highlights a serious problem in the Republican party, that most readers here will have noticed long ago:  The moderate wing of the party continues to drag us leftward, to the extent that in some ways, many of the presumed establishment leaders of our party frequently have more in common with the Democrats.  Of course, in the end, Governor Bush went on to explain how he believes there will be no brokered convention, and that the nominee will come from those already in the race, stipulating that there’s no way he’d be the nominee by such a process. (Video courtesy CBS 11 DFW)

I don’t see anything wrong with suggesting that the Federal Department of Education should be eliminated.  I can’t find the word “education” anywhere in our Federal constitution, so I don’t know where that authority arises, or why the Federal government has become involved.  Conservatism would not have created a Federal Department of Education, but apparently Jeb Bush would have done so, and the evidence may be his own brother’s conduct in creating the No Child Left Behind program.  This serves to demonstrate that Jeb Bush is not so conservative as he thought, but the important nugget for us is to understand that fact even if Mr. Bush doesn’t.

Bush contends that the candidates may be moving “too far to the right,” but for my tastes, they could move a good deal more.  Still, I’m less interested in temporary positions that will be dropped when the candidate is chosen.  That’s what the party rightly fears from the likes of Mitt Romney, or from any more of the Bushes, because we’ve been there before.   The truth is that the party has been sliding left for a long time, and that which Jeb Bush considers “conservative” is to the left of Franklin Roosevelt in most important ways.  I realize the party will not be reformed overnight, and I know with people like Mitt Romney leading the drive, it’s likely to get a good deal worse before it gets any better, but I’m not interested in any more talk about moderation.  We’ve moderated ourselves directly off the left edge of the map.  Mr.  Bush may not be fearful, but conservatives know better, because what we fear isn’t a particular event, but the loss of our prosperity and the character of the country upon which it had been based.

You Have to Vote For Me to See My Tax Returns

Monday, January 16th, 2012

No Tax Return? No Vote!

After watching Monday’s FoxNews debate, I have some pointed advice for voters in the upcoming South Carolina Republican primary:  If a candidate will not disclose his tax returns before you vote, consider him ineligible.  You have no need for a candidate whose dirty secrets will be aired only after you’ve voted for him.  Mitt Romney talks about April, but I want to see them now, before any of us have voted(other than Iowa and New Hampshire, whose residents have already voted.)  You have every right to demand this sort of disclosure from the candidates, and if they won’t meet your expectations, you have every right to withhold your vote.  The suggestion of at least one of the candidates who hem-hawed this issue in Monday night’s debate is that you have no need to see them until  after he thinks he’ll already have the nomination.

I want right now to pause and suggest to you that this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.  It ranks right up there with Nancy Pelosi’s infamous:

“We have to pass this bill before you can find out what is in it.”

Ladies and gentlemen, if you accept this from Mitt Romney or any of the candidates, you have no right to complain when Nancy Pelosi pushes through a monstrous health-care bill, or any bill, before anybody has had time to read it.  The voters of South Carolina, and every subsequent state, all have a right to demand this of somebody asking for their votes.  If you let Mitt Romney sneak by you with this one, it’s just the beginning, but I don’t care which candidate offers you this lie, because you must reject it, and you must do so by withholding your vote.

I am going to walk even further out on this limb: I will not vote, either in the Primary, or in the General Election in my state for ANY candidate who has not disclosed his tax returns before the date of the primary. I will not buy a pig in a poke, and neither should you. No tax returns?  No vote!

Challenge to Conservatives: Explain Romney’s Electability

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Can He Win?

I’ve grown somewhat impatient with people who claim to be conservative telling me why Willard “Mitt” Romney is electable.  Frankly, I think some of them are being disingenuous, or worse, have deluded themselves, but I don’t think the facts support their claims in any case.  What seems to be the argument is that Romney can capture moderates and independents in the general election.  It may be pointless to argue the matter, but the reasons offered for this are his business record and the fact that he governed a very blue state.  Effectively, what I’m being told is that because he’s one part Dukakis and one part Rockefeller, he can defeat Barack Obama.  I dispute this claim, because I know that moderates and independents are not so much ideological in their voting as they are risk-averse, and the one characteristic of a candidate against which they react with the greatest vigor is flip-flopping, or inconsistency.  If they’re offered two choices that are nearly the same in ideological terms, they will tend to choose the one who has remained most consistent.  It’s for this reason that Mitt Romney will not defeat Barack Obama.

Whatever else you may think about Obama, he has been ideologically consistent throughout most of his presidency.  Mitt Romney, by contrast, has flipped and flopped and moved all over the place on a host of issues. He’s changed his position on so many issues that it’s now difficult to catalog, but one of his biggest problems is an issue on which he has not directly flip-flopped, but on which the inconsistency shines through most glaringly of all.  The matter of Obama-care is a big issue for the electorate, since more than 60% of Americans still oppose it.  The problem is, Romney can’t use it.  He enacted a program that has been called “the model for Obama-care” while governor of Massachusetts.  Independents and moderates may not be strictly ideological, but they know an inconsistency as glaring as that when they see it.

On the one hand, Romney promises to issue a waiver to any state that wants one, but what did he do to his own home-state of Massachusetts?  Did anybody there get waivers?  No, that program is now bankrupting the state, and you can imagine that this too will come back to haunt him.  More, there is no known provision in Obama-care that actually permits waivers, and while Obama has been issuing some waivers, it’s clear that if he should leave office, there would be immediate legal challenges to such waivers.  He has also admitted that he would effectively reshape Obama-care, but not seek to repeal it, though it depends on the day of the week how he’ll answer. The best I can gather is that if Congress sends him a repeal bill, he might sign it, but that’s a long way from a done deal.

It is for this reason that Romney will be neutered on the matter of Obama-care, and as you saw in 2010, that’s still a hot issue with voters.  To surrender an issue of this type, where so much energy is on your side, and so thoroughly identified with your opponent is to yield the election if it’s anywhere near close.  Independents and moderates will note that Romney’s own plan wasn’t far from Obama’s, and that will be the end of Mitt Romney in 2012.

We’ve been over most of this ground many times, and rather than further pound it into the ground, I’d like to know from conservatives how you think Romney will walk back this inconsistency.  I’d like to read your responses in terms of how he can win a campaign in which he will be forced to yield one of Republicans’ strongest issues against Obama.  I’m not trying to put you on the spot, but I am interested to know.  Remember, it’s all well and good to tell me he can capture the nomination, and he might well do so, but it’s another thing to argue that he’ll be able to draw a clear distinction between himself and Barack Obama.  I don’t believe he can do so in a positive sense, and that the only distinctions voters will notice is that he is another rich guy who can’t relate to voters.

At this point, you shouldn’t be imagining how he will side-step his inconsistencies, because he can’t, but instead explain to me how he’ll overcome the campaign Obama will put up.  It will consist of class envy, that works on independents and moderates, and it will be pointing out his flip-flops, all of them, that works on independents and moderates.  It will be the revelations about which you do not yet know concerning Mr. Romney’s tax returns that he still refuses to release.  It will be other issues dealing with Romney’s financial backing, and it will be every manner of thing I can scarcely imagine.  On McLaughlin Group this week, Eleanor Clift hinted at what is coming, and you can bet it will get worse from there.  I will bet you that there will be a commercial done from the point of view of a dog, being loaded into a pet carrier on roof-top, forced to endure the wind and rain and violence of a ride atop the car, with the narrator saying: “If Mitt will treat his own family dog this way, how will he treat you?”  This by itself will be good for five points in the polls. I note this because my own bride said of him when this story crossed the wire: “Cold-hearted ba$$(@!#)”

So again, my question to you is simplicity itself: Can you explain to me what it is that Mitt Romney offers that recommends him to independents and moderates as better than Barack Obama?  If you can’t answer me, how will you answer them?  How will Romney?  If you nominate him, that’s fine, but I don’t think most of you want to do so. I think most of you are like me, looking around for better options still.  The problem is that if Romney is our nominee, we will have difficulty making the case even to the Republican base and Tea Party to energize and unite behind him, and many will simply stay home.  He will never bring a single Ron Paul supporter along, as far as I can discern, although there are those who argue none of these can do that.  What I am asking you is for an explanation as to how his supposed electability translates into victory in November 2012, and the problem is that I don’t think you can, unless Obama completely implodes, which he won’t.  Make your case for Romney independent of any any assumptions about events that you think might help him.  Don’t assume 8.5% unemployment, but assume 7.5% and declining.  Don’t assume all of the factors you’ve been told to consider.  Stack them up side-by-side and tell me how Romney differentiates himself from Obama to the degree that risk-averse independents and moderates who voted for Obama last time now cross over. Tell me  how Romney motivates the GOP base better than John McCain, who would have lost by twice the margin if not for Sarah Palin.  Tell me, because I can’t figure it out.  I’m doing the math, and it looks pretty abysmal.

No Light at Tunnel’s End?

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

GOP: Is the Light Fading?

I think it dawned on me two or three days ago, after the New Hampshire primary, that most of the people with whom I discuss politics are more frustrated, but it’s not evidenced in the words they’re choosing so much as in the way they’re saying them.  They’re disgusted by Obama and his power-grabs, but more than this, they are tired of watching the GOP try to lead them to slaughter again in 2012.  It’s bad enough to watch Obama  walk all over the newly-minted Republican majority in the House of Representatives, but to see that the party has done nothing to substantially improve our position in the coming elections is frustrating in the extreme.  Worse, Tea Party members are seething over many of the same things, noting that with Boehner and the boys on Capitol Hill, there’s been no willingness to stand up for our conservative values.  Watching this primary process play out has been like feeding the party’s base feet-first through a meat-grinder. Various surveys reveal that as much as 60% of the party would like more choices, which is to say more conservative choices, and it’s been apparent for some time that most are not happy with the “inevitable nominee,” Mitt Romney.

When the people with whom I discuss politics come to the subject of Speaker John Boehner, virtually every one of them regards him as weak, and most will offer some form of mimicry of tears and whining.  These are conservative people, and not a crowd of leftists to whom John Boehner should be natural fodder for mockery.  To see people who turn out in election after election for the Republican party now openly mocking the highest-ranking Republican now serving in our government is an astonishing development for which I cannot remember a precedent in all my life.  What seems to lead to this growing contempt is the sense that in all of these  elections, we go forth to the polls to support a party that walks away from us and our values in the end, and to add insult to injury, cries about it.  None of the Republicans with whom I speak are happy about the direction of the party, and worse, since this is Texas, some are noting the antics of our governor in his campaign and have begun to whisper that he’s an embarrassment too.  Most seem to think that since he’s fallen well below the 10% mark in polling, he ought to “just come on back home before he makes a fool of us all.”

So it is that the GOP is now largely being defined by dueling caricatures of a Massachusetts big-government  liberal, an outcast libertarian, a former Speaker(who at least didn’t cry), a former Senator who whiffed last time at bat, an Obama Ambassador, and a Texas gunslinger, while the rest of us are left standing in astonished dismay at the spectacle: How are we to win anything with these as our standard-bearers? This is the problem most conservatives I know now face in horror, as they try to see any reason that they should see some light at the end of the tunnel, with any of these as the vehicle.   To be sure, after more than a year of “Mitt is most electable,” emanating from the establishment media like bad gas, there is a certain group that will settle for the Massachusetts liberal because they see him as less embarrassing than the remainder.  So goes the predictable lamentations about our situation, and yet I must wonder if there isn’t some hope, somehow, that we will resurrect the Republican party, but failing that, replace it with something better.

I was having a conversation with a neighbor on Thursday, and he owns a ranch, complete with several hundred head of cattle, but he is also an entrepreneur, owning several businesses.  He’s twenty years my senior, and he doesn’t waste too many words, so when we wandered into the subject of politics, he turned his head and spat, turned back and said: “The problem with our party is that they keep trying to win with professional losers. They ought to try that Palin gal from Alaska.  At least she seems to know what the hell is going on.”  I really had no answer for that, except to nod approval, and say “Yeah, but she’s not running.”  He murmured “I know it, so you’d better get used to Obama,” as he turned his head and spat again, as if for punctuation, and finished his thought: “We’re in for pure hell…but we’ll make it through.”

It’s fair to say my neighbor isn’t probably representative of the average American.  He’s a veteran who served in Vietnam, and he bears the scars of a life of hard labor, and his skin is leathery from years under the punishing wind and Texas sun, but he is representative of a fair bit of political thought in middle America, inasmuch as he’s spent his time building and growing businesses, and running his cattle operation, and made good use of the talents with which he was gifted.  He lives a simple life, and doesn’t have a large number of frills, not because he can’t afford them, but because he doesn’t need them. When the Republican Party walks away from this man, they’re walking away from the base that shows up to elect Republicans to city councils, county precincts, and legislatures.  They walk away from a man who you will never find at a protest rally or Tea Party event, but who has never failed to show up at the polls.  The fact that this man is now resigning himself to four more years(or an eternity) of Obama should tell you something about how he views the state of the GOP, as much as it tells you about his view of the political future we face.

Part of the problem really lies with us.  For too many years, we have ceded governance to a permanent political class that rules with elections serving only as a formality that gives legitimacy to their rule over us.  Many speak in vague terms of “change,” and “throwing the bums out,” but seldom do we actually pursue that goal.  Everybody hates Congress, except for their own Congressman and Senators, so that foolish polls asking about the “approval rating of Congress” has no bearing whatsoever on the fact that in election after election, more than 90% who seek re-election return without fail.  We often lament the fact that this seems to be the best the party has to offer, but is it?  Is our mostly silent assent to be led by a party that only theoretically represents our interests a signal that we are satisfied?  The Tea Party hints that  this may not be true, but like my neighbor who never fails to vote, it’s clear we need to become a good deal more active and stop waiting for a solution from the top.  It may be the last remaining spark of light at the other end of the tunnel we have, but we should follow it nevertheless.

GOP Commits Political Suicide By Mitt

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

2012: GOP Commits Political Suicide?

Most of you will be familiar with the concept of “Suicide by Cop,” the practice by which somebody who is unwilling to do the deed themselves, instead puts themselves a position to be threatening, thereby drawing fire from police.  In the same way, the Republican Party now seems poised to commit political suicide by nominating Mitt Romney.  It really wouldn’t take a great deal of explanation were all of my countrymen versed in the principles of capitalism.  Sadly, they are not, so let us make them plain:  Mitt Romney is not a capitalist, but he will be attacked as one.  Just like his false conservatism will lead to attacks on our philosophy, so  too will capitalism come under attack even though neither he nor we any longer practices it.

Many people have defended Mitt Romney over the last several days when he was attacked by Gingrich and Perry on the basis that his work at Bain harmed workers and destroyed jobs.  Others were quick to point out that this sounded very much like an attack on capitalism, in almost the same manner that the left attacks it.  For my part, I pointed out that Romney has enough baggage that you could easily assail his record without seeming to attack capitalism, and I offered up a few specifics.  The problem is that much of this is complicated information, and most people simply don’t have the time or patience to sort through all the details.  I find that frustrating, because we cannot render just opinions on the matter of Romney’s qualifications for the office of President if we’re not willing to chase this all the way into the weeds.

One of the concerns about Bain Capital that hasn’t been mentioned much is how it has relied upon corporate welfare to improve its profitability.  Consider the case of Steel Dynamics, which was provided various incentives and breaks in order to locate in DeKalb, Indiana, a company in which Bain was the largest domestic equity holder.  The state and county provided $37 million in incentives, and even levied a new county income tax in order to get the plant located there.  While this sort of thing isn’t all that uncommon, what it reveals is how thoroughly involved in wringing money out of tax-payers Bain’s operations had really been.

From the same LA Times article:

“This is corporate welfare,” said Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst with the Washington-based Cato Institute, which encourages free-market economic policies. DeHaven, who is familiar with corporate tax subsidies in Indiana and other states, called the incentives Steel Dynamics received “an example of the government stepping into the marketplace, picking winners and losers, providing profits to business owners and leaving taxpayers stuck with the bill.”

That’s a shocking disclosure about a man who has claimed to work in “free enterprise.”  The people of DeKalb County aren’t free, as they’re undoubtedly still paying off the debt they incurred as a result.  Some will point out that this isn’t uncommon, and I agree, but I’m not sure that’s a valid argument for doing it.  Still, the larger point in all of this is that Romney and his company were the beneficiaries of this, and that it wasn’t all “free market.”

Of course, Steel Dynamics was one of the companies that went into the total of his preposterous claim of 100,000 net jobs created, and of course we now know that this too had been smoke and mirrors.  Of course, this is just a sample of his private sector experience, but what you come to learn about Romney during his term as Massachusetts Governor is much more frightening.  While having a president with private sector experience would certainly be useful, Romney’s really not the sort of private sector person we need.  We need a person who understands Main Street, and knows what it is to make a payroll in a business with a few doen employees.  Those are the kinds of enterprises that aren’t being established in this economy, and they’re the sorts hardest hit by the ridiculous big government regulatory regime under which the economy now suffers.

Small businesses are the ones that don’t get tax breaks, and they’re the sort on which we have depended for most job creation over the last fifty years.  They’re also the kind of endeavor that provide slim profit margins, are often held together on a wing and a prayer, and are completely devastated by programs like Romneycare.

What the GOP establishment doesn’t understand is that by going along with Mitt Romney, what will be accomplished is to institutionalize the very sort of government that will destroy the economic growth we so desperately need to climb out of the gargantuan debt pit into which Obama has heaved our nation.  At Bain Capital, Romney could turn to a bankruptcy court for a company that didn’t make it, and at the state level, he could turn to the federal government for grants and similar when Romneycare ran the state short of funds, but as the President of the United States, to whom can you turn?  The Chinese? Even they have had enough of our easy-money policies.

A Romney nomination threatens to destroy the GOP, because if he fails to defeat Obama, or perhaps worse, defeats him but then goes on to govern the nation like he did the State of Massachusetts, there will be no coming back from it.   We haven’t been practicing capitalism for some time, but instead muddling through what is known as a “mixed economy,” meaning one that is neither fully dominated by the state, nor by the free market.  What we allow with Romney is the continuation of the lie that we are a capitalist nation, and yet it will be for all the flaws of statism that capitalism will take the blame. It’s little different from the phenomenon by which George Bush claimed to be a “compassionate conservative” while practicing his own nuanced form of statism.  It had been these government programs and initiatives where government failed worst under Bush, and it was in these that conservatism took the blame.

Conservatives would not implement socialist prescription drug programs.  Conservatives would not further empower a federal education establishment.  Conservatives would not resort to a government takeover of airport security on a permanent basis, and then extend that security to all manner of places as has happened with the TSA.  A Conservative would not have borrowed and spent as George Bush did for the two terms he held office, and certainly wouldn’t have closed out that administration with a program like TARP(which Romney approves.)   All of these things were done by an allegedly conservative president, so are you surprised that by 2006, conservatism was taking the blame?

Terms like “conservative” or “capitalist” are only good as short-cuts to understanding when we deny their use from labeling the things they are not.  In permitting George Bush to stand before us claiming to be both a capitalist, and a conservative, we damned both when he turned out to be neither, in fact.  Labeling McCain with these labels was ineffective because for the party’s base, they clearly weren’t true, and the labels now held a negative connotation in much of the electorate because they had been associated falsely.  It’s the reason McCain had to bring in Sarah Palin, because he had to restore credibility to the terms.  Mitt Romney will fare no better than McCain, and perhaps worse, because Obama will be able to blame conservatism and capitalism for the failings of his own ideology.  Again.  If Republicans permit this to happen again, they’re foolish, and there’s to be no going back.  Even on the slim chance that Romney is elected, he won’t save the country because his solutions are merely a slower implementation of the same statist ideas. It will throw the GOP into a banishment that may turn out to be permanent.  If the Republican party wants to commit political suicide, Mitt Romney is 2012′s perfect and perhaps final solution.

A Flawed Understanding of Capitalism

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Who's The Real Capitalist?

In listening to the argument between those who say Romney’s actions at Bain represent the so-called “excesses” of capitalism, and those who argue Romney had been nothing but a capitalist, and that there’s nothing wrong here, I find both sides of the dispute to be guilty of playing on bad definitions, poorly informed public sentiments, and worst of all, pure political hyperbole that may advance this candidate or that one for a short period of time, but will not accrue to the benefit on the right side of the aisle.  Rather than all this bomb-throwing, I’d prefer to sort this out, step by step, and weigh out the results as it is, rather than how any particular party wants it to be.  It’s time to untangle this so we can move on.

The parties representing the various points of view in this discussion to which I will confine my remarks are these:  Gingrich, Romney, and the media(left, right, and stooge.)  The first I will address is the view advanced by Newt Gingrich that Mitt Romney’s profits at Bain were excessive in light of closing down companies to do so.  First of all, let’s be honest enough to admit that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with profit from selling one’s labor, one’s property, or one’s investments.  This argument is so thoroughly flawed that as Limbaugh suggested Tuesday, it is more akin to the argument of Elizabeth Warren than a Republican seeking the nomination for President.  In justice, however, let us admit also that with 98% of all SuperPac advertising in Iowa and New Hampshire being used to assail Newt Gingrich, he was probably a little bit angry and lashing out.  I expect this wasn’t Gingrich’s strongest argument, and if  he had to do it again, I suspect he might change his approach.

In reviewing media defenses of Gingrich, I have read arguments that are roughly like this:  “Well, capitalism is all well and good, but you still have to temper it with morality.”  I want those purveyors of this opinion to pay closest attention to me, as I tell them that they’re shoveling manure.  Capitalism reflects a system of morality, and if you don’t share it, fine, but do not pretend that it means something else.  Do not take “capitalism” and twist the label to fit what is merely modified socialism.  There is nothing wrong with profits, whether large or small, nor any size in between, provided only this:  Those making profits do so by their own efforts and with their own wealth and property.  That’s the morality of capitalism.  It’s a morality I endorse entirely, and unreservedly.  Do not offer to me that capitalism must be “tempered” by something.  To temper a thing is to alter its fundamental structure.  In this case, “temper” is merely happy talk for “rigging the outcomes we prefer in spite of the market.”

You might claim “but to tear down a company in order to liquidate it and thereby turn a profit, when they didn’t build it is to be a vulture.”  True, but in capitalism as in nature, vultures perform a vital role, and while we may not regard the vulture with much sympathy, the truth is that he’s cleaning  up messes and putting to use that which would otherwise go to waste.  Then there are those who argue that if Bain hadn’t liquidated such companies as Smith Corona, they might still be in existence, and that their employees might still have jobs.  Let’s get something straight, right here, and right now:  There is no entitlement to a job.  There is no guarantee of work.  When a person accepts a job working for others, he is taking a risk that is subject to all the same vagaries of the market as those who invest in it.  This notion that capital must be the risk-taker, while labor must never shoulder the burdens of risk is absurd.  As long as a person works for others, that employee is accepting as one of the inherent risks of such an arrangement that the job could end for any reason, tomorrow. To make the petulantly childish argument that employment should be without risk is a tired attempt to subvert capitalism with collectivist ethics, and I will be no party to that.

On the other side of this ledger, we have Mitt Romney who argues that what Bain Capital did was perfectly legal, ethical, and within the description of capitalism.  When it comes to this “vulture” function others have derided, he’s correct, and even in his statement that he likes to be able to fire people, he is committing no breach.  The truth is that I like to be able to fire people, and if you’ve ever worked in an environment wherein getting rid of incompetent employees is institutionally difficult, you’d understand why.  Nothing saps the strength of any company more than the incompetent, the slackers, or those simply not up to the job for which they were hired.  With all of this in mind then, let us make clear where Romney falls off the tracks and plummets into the abyss, if this isn’t it.

Romney’s problems with capitalism are birthed less of his actions while at Bain than while in the Governor’s office in Massachusetts.  Romney-care, the completely socialist Massachusetts program that is the logical forerunner of Obamacare, is as anti-capitalist as it gets, complete with an insurance mandate.  This may be the shortest argument in this article, but it’s the most important:  Any health-care mandate, and any redistributionism is flatly anti-capitalistic.  Romney can parade around with his faulty excuses for this program on the basis of federalism, but it doesn’t wash.   This program forces people to buy insurance, and that is a tyrannical, anti-free market, anti-capitalist assault on the rights of individuals.

Another problem with Romney is that he implemented other socialistic programs while Governor, including “Welfare Wheels.”  It’s impossible for Romney to claim that Romney-care was a one-off or some sort of aberration in an otherwise capitalistic record.  More, he favored TARP, and this by itself is as anti-capitalistic as can be described, and I really don’t understand how the defenders of Romney on this issue can avoid addressing this, because it has been one of the staggering expenses absorbed by tax-payers, and if Romney’s support of TARP is any indication of how he will govern as President, he is a walking disaster for all Americans, and for capitalism in general.  There’s also some indication that while at Bain Capital, he was one of several beneficiaries of a bail-out when the parent company, Bain Company, sought and received forgiveness of some $10million in debt from the FDIC.

One of the things that demonstrates the point is a statement Romney made during a CBS interview on Wednesday, via TheHill:

“In the general election I’ll be pointing out that the president took the reins at General Motors and Chrysler – closed factories, closed dealerships laid off thousands and thousands of workers – he did it to try to save the business.”

Romney is now holding forth Obama’s GM bail-out as an example?  This isn’t the view of a capitalist, and I want you to understand that when Romney holds forth this view, he’s become a statist. The truth may be closer to this, and it’s what Mark Levin said in the first hour of his show last night:  Mitt Romney may be less a capitalist, and more of a corporatist.

Understanding this vital distinction is to enlighten the difference at stake in this nomination fight.  Capitalism is a distinctly classically liberal ideology inasmuch as it requires a strict observance of individual liberties, and almost complete sovereignty for actors within the free market.  Corporatism is illiberal, meaning it relies on coercion of individuals on behalf of corporate entities.  In that sense, it can be accurately stated that corporatism is a non-monarchical development of feudalism.  In corporatism, dynasties are favored, and the ruling class may not exercise direct power, but instead command economic decisions through their influence over the state.  In effect, it’s another manifestation of what you know as “crony capitalism,” a concept recently revived by Sarah Palin and other critics, who have accurately pointed out how thoroughly corrupting such a system can be.  What is critical to know about corporatism is that in order to operate, there must be a strong and thorough collusion with state authority and intervention into the market.  It often co-exists with socialism, and in fact, this has been the operative condition of the United States since approximately the time of Teddy Roosevelt.

Progressives of both parties are those who have sought to unite the worst features of corporatism with the worst actions of socialism.  This is the true nature of Mitt Romney, and of his general governing demeanor.  This is why I cannot support him, in point of fact, but it is also why such critics of Romney as Gingrich and Perry have a difficult time engaging in credible criticisms of him: In various ways, they too have been guilty of the same basic flaws, to degrees greater or lesser.  The media that is defending Romney is a part of the corporatist front, and it’s clear when you view Fox News that in the main, that is the nature of their advocacy.  Many have noted in the last several months that Fox News seems less and less conservative, while becoming increasingly friendly to establishment Republicans.  Bill O’Reilly is the perfect example, but the continuous presence of Karl Rove is another.  Rove is merely a political strategist and public relations master for the progressive, corporatist front.

The truth is that we must defeat not merely socialism, but also corporatism, and the problem is that while Gingrich runs around making arguments from the point of view of a socialist, he does so in grotesquely erroneous  identification of Romney’s worst actions as those of a capitalist.   Gingrich dare not assail Romney as a corporatist, of course, because Newt has had his dalliances with corporatism too.  Clearly, Perry and Santorum also avoid this, and for precisely the same reason.

So it is that at the moment, in the GOP you have a battle among progressive corporatists and a single libertarian, but no true capitalists.

Ron Paul Campaign: Others Should Drop Out

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

In what might have been called a “cheeky” remark in years gone by, Ron Paul’s campaign staff has called on everybody but Mitt Romney to get out of the race.  This is a remarkable statement, but it may not be altogether unreasonable.  After all, what if at this late date, Ron Paul has arrived as the one consistent non-Romney?  Of course, this would demand that he do equally well in subsequent states, including South Carolina and Florida, and that may not be so likely to occur.

I have to admit that I was not all that surprised at this, because I’ve concluded long ago that Paul’s strategy was to be a consistent second-place so as to make this claim.  In one sense, while I shudder at the thought of Paul’s foreign policy positions, I am almost – I said “almost” mind you – desperate enough to go that way to displace the GOP’s establishment.  You see, I have come to believe that if we do not nominate a real conservative this cycle, we will lose the election, but we may also lose the country.  It’s something to consider, and as I said, I think this appeal is one part bravado, and one part delusion, but here is the statement by Paul’s campaign:

“Ron Paul tonight had an incredibly strong second-place finish in New Hampshire and has stunned the national media and political establishment.

“When added to Paul’s top-tier showing in Iowa, it’s clear he is the sole Republican candidate who can take on and defeat both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

“The race is becoming more clearly a two-man race between establishment candidate Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, the candidate of authentic change. That means there is only one true conservative choice.

“Ron Paul has won more votes in Iowa and New Hampshire than any candidate but Mitt Romney.

“Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have been shown in national polls to be the only two candidates who can defeat Barack Obama.

“And Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are the only two candidates who can run a full, national campaign, competing in state after state over the coming weeks and months. Ron Paul’s fundraising numbers — over $13 million this quarter — also prove he will be able to compete with Mitt Romney. No other candidate can do all of these things.

“Ron Paul is clearly the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney as the campaign goes forward.

“We urge Ron Paul’s opponents who have been unsuccessfully trying to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney to unite by getting out of the race and uniting behind Paul’s candidacy.

“Ron Paul has the boldest plan to cut spending, a dedication to protecting life, and a lifelong dedication to the Constitution and limited government. He also has the necessary support to campaign nationwide against Mitt Romney.

“Our campaign is already planning ahead for South Carolina, Florida, and beyond. Soon Ron Paul will head to South Carolina to begin a feverish round of campaigning.

“Ron Paul is in this race for the long haul. And he is ready to fight.

“See you on the campaign trail.”

You must admit that this takes guts.  Don’t expect his crowding-out tactic to work, because too many Republicans view his foreign policy as intolerable, and many of them would rather vote for Romney if Paul is their only alternative.

 

New Hampshire: A Win or a Repudiation?

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

The Best Mitt Can Do?

Here’s the truth, and there’s no getting around it: Mitt Romney won in New Hampshire with an unimpressive 37% of the vote.  This is roughly the same percentage of the New Hampshire population that is in favor of Obamacare.  Almost half of the voters in today’s primary in New Hampshire weren’t even registered Republicans, since the Granite State holds open primaries.  Meanwhile, Ron Paul finished around 24%, and Huntsman pulled roughly 17%.  What this tells me, and what it should tell you is that Mitt Romney is not yet a viable national candidate, and may never be.  That he can lose such a large percentage to the others in moderate New Hampshire merely reinforces the point. Rather than a great victory, this is a repudiation of Romney’s supposed electability.  The reality you ought to grasp in the wake of Romney’s underwhelming victory is that this race is far from over, whatever the media hype to the contrary may claim.

For Romney to secure the nomination, he must begin to break the 40% margin, and he must do it soon.  If he fails to make that threshold in South Carolina, there’s almost no way he will beat Obama.  Going into Florida, Romney must not merely be the victor, but a solid front-runner.  New Hampshire is a poor approximation of a bell-weather state in the Republican primaries, and it should be remembered that its greatest value is a public relations victory for the winner.    Expect to hear and read a lot of happy talk about “Mitt’s momentum,” but just know that momentum in politics is more fleeting than candidates’ positions, especially Romney’s.

Already, the media is running with the theme that this means Romney has all but locked it up.  I want you to think about this carefully: An election that counted fewer total votes than there are residents in my own semi-rural county in Texas now speaks on behalf of the nation’s Republicans? I don’t think so, and neither should you.  Why should the course of the country be determined by a small and politically moderate state like New Hampshire, by an election in which roughly half the voters were not even registered Republicans?

Ladies and gentlemen, please remember that this primary contest in New Hampshire was supplemented in the Romney camp by a number of Obama supporters with nothing else to do this year.  Also remember that Obama’s supporters know, as do you, that Romney is perhaps the weakest Republican he might face. This wasn’t so much a victory for Romney as an embarrassment for him, although the spin-meisters will never tell you that truth. He should have won this state with 40-45%, and the fact that he couldn’t do so merely means that the whole notion of his alleged “electability” is nonsense.  Just as you might consider the New Hampshire primary a victory of the non-Romney over Romney, you can expect the same results in just ten short months: If we put this guy up against Obama in November, we lose.

 

 

CBS Poll: Majority of Republicans Want More Choices

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

In an interesting survey conducted by CBS News, 58% of Republicans want more choices for the GOP nomination.  While this isn’t exactly a stunning revelation to readers of this site, it does confirm what we’ve thought all along:  The GOP’s current crop of candidates is sub-par, and most Republicans would prefer to see somebody else altogether.  While the poll doesn’t identify any particular candidates, what it does suggest strongly is that Republicans are thoroughly dissatisfied with the current selections available.  We’ve known this for some time, but what it hints at is a serious problem for the GOP if the party should nominate another losing candidate in 2012.  The party is in deep trouble with its conservative base already, and one more Presidential defeat with a soft moderate is likely to cause a revolt.  According to the CBS poll, only 37% are satisfied with the current field of choices.

If a party cannot motivate its base of support to greater enthusiasm, it will inevitably lose any general election.  This has been the problem with this field all along:  They really don’t inspire the base, and they’re not apt to do so in any substantial fashion.  Much of that owes to the fact that none of them are seen as thorough conservatives, and none are really very dynamic speakers.  It’s clear that the GOP remains in serious trouble, and as others have pointed out, the so-called “inevitable nominee” is likely to lead the Republicans to defeat in November.  I can’t imagine how with this current crop of candidates, Republicans expect to win the White House in 2012, and it appears they don’t really expect it either.  There is a growing sense of exasperation with what is seen as ineffective leadership in the GOP, and that’s going to impose a mighty penalty in November.

As we’ve seen consistently over the last year, most Republicans seem to be looking for somebody else.  Many have settled on candidates who are clearly not a first or even a second choice, and that makes for a good deal of volatility.  As Granite-State voters go to the polls today, it’s clear Mitt Romney has a big lead in that state, but New Hampshire has never really been very representative of the Republican party in any case, so it’s not clear that this will offer us anything concrete about the direction of the nomination fight.  Most analysts expect Romney to capture 40% or more of the New Hampshire vote, although there has been a concerted tamping-down of expectations over the last few days in media.  If Romney were to capture less than 40% in New Hampshire, it would likely be a strong signal that he’s still not capturing the base of the party.  Capturing more than 40% would begin to indicate he might be on his way to locking up the nomination, but nobody is certain at this point.

The fact that we have passed into the election year of 2012 without a clear front-runner who is enthusiastically supported in the party isn’t a surprise, but the fact is that any number of people could still jump into this race and make a dramatic difference.  Whether any will is another matter, as for the moment, none seem to be so-inclined.  It is perhaps for this reason that so many Americans are looking pessimistically at the future, with Americans fearing an Obama re-election by 2-1.  That merely tells you something about how uninspiring the current crop of candidates are, and the fact that Gallup is also reporting that conservatives have begun to accept Romney as the probable nominee should tell you just how bad it has gotten. Not many are excited about it, to be sure.

Conservative Split Threatens to Give Romney Victory

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Searching for the Non-Romney

It’s going pretty much according to plan for Mitt Romney.  He has the anti-Romney vote split up in several directions, and rolling into New Hampshire, he looks poised to get at least 40% of the Granite State’s support.  Meanwhile, the anti-Romneys, now composed of Gingrich, Huntsman, Paul, Perry and Santorum are battling amongst themselves for the remainder in a way that makes it virtually certain none will eclipse Romney.  Rather than realizing that for any of them to prevail, Romney must come down, they continue to clobber one another.  Strategically, this is dumb, but the truth is that it’s only dumb if you’re not Romney, who is certainly content to watch the others do battle.  While it might make Romney’s victory as inevitable as the media has told you it would be, it does nothing to serve the interests of conservative voters.  As their preferred candidates squabble amongst themselves, conservatives are watching the nomination process slip away, and what they will be left with is an insufferable milquetoast candidate who will not easily beat Obama.

There’s a lesson in this for conservative voters, and it has to do with the manner in which they choose their candidates.  Conservatives tell us they don’t want the media picking their candidate, but the truth is that they have been led from one to the next and eventually to the next of the anti-Romneys precisely by media.  It started with Bachmann, who was up because the media told you she was, and she was shortly bypassed by Perry, because the media told you so.  He soon fell even before his debate gaffe, to be replaced by Cain, because the media told you so.  Cain was hammered relentlessly, so you waved goodbye to the Hermanator because the media told you so.  From there, you went on to Gingrich, and I knew as soon as his numbers hit the mid-twenties that Rick Santorum would be fetched out as his replacement.  Santorum’s day in the sun is already waning, as the media begins to pick him apart. Will Huntsman be the next hot thing, with a boost from New Hampshire, or are we so late in the process that he no longer really matters?

Folks, this is and has been intentional.  You might offer that I’m proposing a conspiracy, but I insist that none of these candidates need be involved.  As I have detailed elsewhere, there’s no need for anything conspiratorial among the candidates, as only Romney needs the inside track with media to make this work.  I think it’s pretty clear he has it, as many of you who tune in to Fox News are already aware.  Carl Cameron, while following the Romney campaign as a result of his job assignment, has a very cozy relationship with the Romney camp.  He’s given access and they’re given positive press.  This permits Romney to set the campaign messaging, and while you suppose you’re getting something like objective reporting, what you’re really getting is warmed-over schlock that has been massaged into shape by the Romney public relations sculptors, or Romney himself.

It’s all very slick.  It all has the effect of causing the non-Romney-inclined electorate to follow dutifully along to whomever the media tells them is up, and to abandon whomever the media tells them is down.  In Iowa, independent expenditures on behalf of Romney soared, most of it going to deflate Gingrich, while the “buzz” was about Santorum.  This process will be repeated as often as needed to keep conservatives divided as to which of these candidates really should challenge Mitt Romney.  If Perry and Santorum stood aside, Gingrich would leap back to the head of the class.  If Gingrich and Perry stood aside, Santorum would leap to the top of the pile.  I’m not sure that Perry could vault to the top if Gingrich and Santorum stood aside, but if he did, he’ would at least have the money to do something with the opportunity.  (This is not a suggestion to readers to join Perry’s bandwagon, but merely an expression of fact: Among these three, he has the biggest war chest.)

Rather than castigate ourselves for how we’ve been manipulated, I’d rather find a solution, but while the problem is obvious, the solution isn’t so easily discerned.  If we want an actual conservative, we’ll either need to unite around one of the non-Romneys in a hurry, or find somebody else altogether, but the latter alternative would need to happen even more quickly, and I don’t see any of this happening as it now stands.  This entire primary season is turning into a route for conservatives, but the problem is that we’ve been led into this by virtue of our own anxieties.  We denounce the media’s impact on our nomination process, and yet it is to the media we have turned for ready answers because we have become obsessed with the media’s approval and judgments.  This trend must stop in future primaries, but that does little to help us grapple with our current situation.

I’ve passed the point of frustration, and I know many of my readers are likewise discouraged.  I’m looking for the solution to cure all of this, but it doesn’t seem possible that we will overcome this at such a late date.  Can Romney be stopped?  I have my doubts, but I know with certainty that he should be prevented from gaining the nomination because he is so thoroughly un-conservative.  That said, as this goes to press, news has come along that may hint at a direction.  Todd Palin has endorsed Newt Gingrich.  Tammy Bruce commented during her show that she felt this might indicate a familial preference, but in any case, what we should recognize in all of this is that we must coalesce around one non-Romney candidate, or be stuck with the inferior result.  I understand quite well those who look at Gingrich and see him as at least better than Romney, and at least a genuinely thoughtful politician, even if we don’t always adore his ideas. I would suppose that many conservatives would approve of that, while still others have a bone or two to pick with Gingrich. On balance, I view him as far more acceptable than Mitt Romney, and  by the time this process winds down to the Texas primary, I may indeed wind up supporting Newt.  I’ve told you for a long time that I’m an ABR guy, meaning “Anybody But Romney,” and as events have transpired, I’ve only solidified in that position.

Ooops! McCain Refers to Romney as Obama – Video

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

In what was a briefly embarrassing lapse on the part of Senator John McCain(R-AZ,) at a campaign stop with Mitt Romney and also Governor Nikki Haley(R-SC,) on Thursday, while referring to a future President Romney, McCain instead said “President Obama.”  The irony is fantastic in light of Romneycare and other things, so I thought you would enjoy the video.    H/T RightScoop:

Some conspiracy theorists will say that this was a sort of a deep-seated psychological confession on the part of the Arizona senator, but I think it’s just a hilarious mistake.  Of course, I think there is a certain element of irony in it, even though it’s clearly not what McCain intended.  Haley and Romney both gave him a second to correct himself, but when he went on, they both descended upon him, as he finally corrected himself.  You may see less and less of McCain on the Romney campaign trail if there are too many more of these incidents.  I also expect this will become a part of an Obama Campaign ad at some point.

 

The Establishment Way

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

I’ve been discussing this over the last week, but it is the subject from which there is no escape if we are to take this process seriously.  Maybe that’s the point to be made about the GOP’s nomination battle:  The establishment sets out to win this war every four years, and every presidential election year since 1988, they have managed to pull it off without a hitch and without recourse for the party’s base.  As Jay Cost explains in a most excellent article at the Weekly Standard, it’s rigged, and this has been the situation since the 1970s, with only Ronald Reagan breaking the trend. If you needed more evidence than this GOP primary season has provided already, you have only to consider the words of this genius, New Hampshire State Senator Gary Lambert, who offered:

“Rather than go on with the blah, blah, blah. I’d like to get right to the point. Which is – Look, we know how this movie is going to end. Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee,” he said.
“This is not about picking your favorite, it’s not about picking someone you like. It’s not about picking someone even with your own beliefs and principles. This is about picking a person that can beat Barack Obama, period.”

Here’s video(I didn’t create the “Mafia” text, although honestly, it seems apt in the context of Lambert’s diatribe):

Did you catch this?  He knows “how you think.”  If you were confused, let me suggest that this establishment Romney hack should have cleared it up nicely for you.  While I’d like to tell you that this guy was going to be tossed from the party for making this statement, the truth is that he’s the norm, and this is the general sentiment of those who run the party.  They don’t care for your beliefs, your opinions or your ideas.  They don’t have any regard for your preferences.  Their analysts and public relations goon-squads choose.   You’re to be herded like the compliant cattle moving through a series of chutes, and you end up penned-in, voting for their preferences.  All this, and yet they wonder why they lose as often as they win, and blame you for the defeats?  Do you really wonder why the country is going to hell?  These people are helping take you there, of course, because they know better.

Don’t worry, Tea Party.  Don’t worry, conservative grass roots activists. You still have a role to play, and it’s to sit down and shut up and vote as they instruct you.  If you’re offended by any of this, it’s only because you’re an “impractical idealist.”  Please don’t bother to explain to me why I must support somebody who holds me in such contempt.  Please don’t tell me how we “must save the country from Obama.”   These people are every bit as bad in their own way, and that we tolerate their domination of this process is a depressing statement on our own gullibility.

There will be more revelations coming out of this process, as I’ve begun to get the sense that some within the establishment want to effectively shut down the primaries altogether, skip the convention, and immediately go to the general election campaign.  I don’t quite know how they would rig the game so thoroughly in that fashion, but I think Lambert’s rant basically tips the establishment’s hand in this respect:  They aim to close this all down quickly now.  Where they’re concerned, it’s a done deal, so when I hear Herman Cain talking about an “unconventional process” on Hannity Friday, I wonder now if he doesn’t literally mean “without a convention.”  Of course, that’s just wild speculation on my part, but given the manner in which Cain stressed the “un” in “unconventional,” I’ve begun to wonder if this might be the sort of thingat which he was hinting.  In this video, Herman Cain discusses this same thing with Wolf Blitzer on the Situation Room on Friday(Again, I apologize for the poor quality, but I wanted to be sure you could form your own impressions:)

I’ve also been thinking about the notion of endorsements, and how effective they are(or aren’t,) and how important they are to voters generally.  My own take is that I use endorsements to draw maps of who is beholden to whom, because that’s what determines many of these endorsements, and to be quite blunt, I don’t care at all who any politician recommends in this fashion.  I’m able to make up my own mind, and I’m able to discern who I should support, or not, as I imagine is the case with the vast majority of readers here.   Nevertheless, I enjoy seeing the endorsements because it becomes a form of identification.   Remember, we were told McCain was a ‘Maverick,’ but here he is in 2012 endorsing a party guy and making quite plain that he’s ready to shut down this primary process.  So much for the “maverick.”  He’s much more like a milch-cow.  What’s interesting about the Cain video is how it reveals his willingness to manipulate his supporters for maximum effect.  He’s doing his best to keep them together, to make the best pitch he can when he finally throws his support behind Romney, which it seems that he may well do.  This will have other potential fall-out, should it pan out as my magic-decoder ring seems to indicate it will.

This soup is the end result of pouring out your best efforts and your diligent activism into a rancid broth.  The establishment runs the party, and they do so mostly without reference to we little people.  We’re only good for three things where they’re concerned:  Money, Votes, and Campaigning.  They don’t care about our ideas, our principles, or our most firmly held beliefs.  They manage us, herd us, and drive us into a stampede, with the idea being that we should all arrive simultaneously at the conclusion they’ve laid out.  That’s the game, and it’s been the play for decades.  As Jay Cost concludes his article, it’s worthwhile to consider:

“Yes, it is important to consider the big policy issues – tax reform, health care, industrial policy – but without good rules to produce good nominees who can implement those policies, then it is all for naught.”

Sadly, it’s true.

Did Romney Actually Lose Iowa to Santorum?

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

When a Win Isn't a Win

Hotair is reporting that Rick Santorum appears to have beaten Romney, but due to a typo, 20 votes were counted incorrectly.  That’s astonishing, because it would flip it from a win by eight votes to a loss by twelve. At this hour, I have no further details, but this is an interesting story because it points out how close things really were, and how thoroughly weak the alleged “front-runner” is in fact.

This makes Santorum’s rise all the more astonishing, as it seems he pulled off the upset after all.  I guess when you are willing to visit voters one at a time, you’re entitled to a positive turn of events.

 

 

 

Losing the Base Again?

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Nurture What You Don't See, Too

The cautionary tone of Sarah Palin and many in the blogosphere is that the Republican Party seems to be doing its level best to alienate part of its base, but also non-traditional or potential Republican voters.  This is not insignificant, and it bears examination, because the GOP cannot successfully nominate a candidate and recapture the White House in 2012 without all hands on deck.  The GOP can’t afford to make very many people feel as though they have no home in the so-called “big tent,” but as usual, the party’s establishment is willing to extend to cover almost ever conceivable group but their core, and the adjuncts to that core that will make all the difference in November.  If you doubt my contention, look at the comments on these pages, and what you will notice is that there is a growing body of constitutional conservatives and somewhat more independent libertarians who simply view the Republican party establishment as having become too liberal, and too progressive(a.k.a. socialist.)  This is part of the problem the party faces as it marches toward the “inevitable” nomination of Mitt Romney, as conservatives and Tea Party folks look on in horror.  The Paul-ites are preparing to evacuate altogether.

On Tuesday night, during the coverage of Iowa on FoxNews, Palin mentioned that the GOP ought to avoid alienating the approximately libertarian supporters of Ron Paul, and she’s correct.  Driving them away would be part of a potential disaster.  There’s also a broad base of people under the general banner of Tea Party who are not very happy with Romney, and are beginning to feel as though the GOP establishment has pushed them aside.  Christian conservatives aren’t altogether thrilled at the moment.  The establishment believes that it should run the party, without reference to the heart and soul that does most of the voting.  The problem is this:  Some of these subgroups have conflicting interests, and it is difficult to find a candidate who substantially satisfies all of them.  What is needed is a candidate who can unite them, and despite the variety of candidates who have entered this race to date, none have been able to bridge the divides.   The establishment is hoping that the various factions will simply come home to unite behind the eventual nominee, but that’s not happening quite so easily this year, but even if it largely happens, the fact remains that many are simply so dissatisfied and feel so thoroughly disenfranchised by the choices they now face that they are willing to sit out this presidential ballot.

On Tammy Bruce’s site on Wednesday evening, she posted a blog article by a Canadian poster who has watched what happens when a wide swath of a country’s conservatives are effectively disenfranchised, presenting a fascinating study in what happens when a party loses touch with its base, but more importantly, his article offers a distinct warning to the GOP: Don’t dismiss your grass-roots.   One of the things that happens to a party large enough to gain electoral primacy is that all too often, they forget how they arrived in that position, or worse, begin to look at their grass roots activists as people to be managed and manipulated.  This has happened repeatedly to the GOP, and its most recent occurrence began in 2006, when the grass roots stayed home.  That brought the loss of Congress, but it also ultimately brought the 2008 victory of Barack Obama, because that same base stayed home.

The GOP’s dereliction of its duty is based on some of the problems I’ve been discussing this week, and the greater factor is the deal-making for the sake of a deal that led to the robust spending by the Bush administration and the Congress that enacted its legislative agenda.  Conservatives and libertarians began to notice even before his second term that Bush had begun to substantially abandon any notion of significant entitlement reform, and had instead merely added another, while increasing spending on other liberal causes, such as the education bill, and all the rest.  This began the collapse of the GOP.

Here’s the other problem:  The libertarian faction who supports Ron Paul is not entirely enamored with the military spending that has characterized the GOP’s recent past.  Of course, the truth of the matter is that our military spending is at a historical low as a portion of GDP, but it’s a much easier target than what really drives government expenditures: Entitlements.   I think if the GOP could put up a credible candidate who would take an axe to the federal budget, bring spending under control, and perhaps tear down much of the federal regulatory leviathan, returning many issues to the purview of the states, I think it would go a long way to blunt their dissatisfaction.  Of course, they’re going to need to learn to give a little too, but I think it’s possible with the right candidate.

The Tea Party crowd is concerned primarily with economic and fiscal issues, including taxation and the general growth of government.  If they thought the nominee would take that same axe to federal spending, and get regulatory agencies out of the way of businesses and job creators, they’d be substantially willing to consider supporting the Republican party again.  The Tea Party wants to see the dramatic deconstruction of government by virtue of an ethical administration, and they have every right to demand this from the GOP in exchange for their support.  In this way, there is some significant overlap in interests between the Tea Party and the Paul-ites.

Another group that gets kicked around by the establishment is the cultural conservatives, often called the “Christian right,” who look at the devolution and diminution of our nation and point a finger quite accurately at the tendency of government to strip any notion of ethics acceptable to them from all of officialdom.  They share many concerns with the other two groups, but they particularly focus on such as abortion because they see abortion as a vast evil.  This is why Romney shifted his position, of course, and why Laura Bush and Barbara before her, were effectively  gagged on the issue for eight years, and four years, respectively.  The simple fact is that this segment of the GOP simply aren’t amenable to compromise on this issue, and without them, the GOP has recognized they cannot possibly win a national election, so the establishment largely plays “wink and nod,” making their chosen candidates at least nominally pro-life, but not actively so, and this maintains something of an uneasy peace between them.  Whether Romney’s latter-day conversion on this issue will convince them remains to be seen, but they also have significant fiscal concerns that Romney’s 59-point plan doesn’t really address even if he settles their other concerns, because they also would like to see at least a hatchet taken to government spending.

There is one more group the GOP must capture, and they are what I call the pragmatists.  They’re not attached to the cultural or Christian crowds, and they’re not activists.  They really don’t much care about any of it except inasmuch as the current condition of their own lives is concerned.  Analysts call them different things, but most call them “moderates” or “independents,” and this is the group that doesn’t really begin to watch elections until six or eight weeks before an election.  This is the group both parties try to capture, and the group both parties are willing to offend their own bases to entice.  The problem is, the analysts and hacks fundamentally misunderstand what makes this group tick, or their misunderstanding leads them to sacrifice some of the party’s base of support.  The answer is that it depends entirely on how they feel about the state of their lies when they walk into the polling places on election day.  They are governed by impressions and emotions, and their votes are not an intellectual exercise in pursuit of particular principles.

It is for the sake of capturing these moderates or independents that the party bosses sacrifice the base.  It’s for them that the party hacks slice off bits of the grass roots in the hope that they’ll gain votes in the exchange.  The problem is that as a strategy, it’s ultimately a loser.  It means that you’re dependent upon the general feeling in the electorate being one of misery in order to oust an incumbent or their relative happiness to re-elect them.  Principles don’t matter, and these voters don’t think beyond how they feel after breakfast.  For this reason, they are the most volatile group within the electorate, and this may be why they confound so many analysts.  In order to win, the expedient thing campaigns do is to appeal to this crowd on some basis, any basis at all, in order to get their votes.

That’s all well and good, but the problem is that what the party establishment is always willing to do to satisfy this crowd is to abandon the grass-roots.  The reason this remains a mistake is simple:  The moderates or independents aren’t paying such close attention to the specifics of issues, because that’s not what moves them.  What they want is the status quo of their daily expectations: Their electricity is on, the water is running, the job is there, and there are groceries in the fridge.  In this sense, they are the intellectual free-riders who don’t really care whether a socialist or a constitutionalist is president, so long as their basic conditions and expectations are being met.   This is how they could tolerate a second term of Bill Clinton: He maintained what seemed a status quo to the abysmally uninformed, even as he advanced an increasingly virulent social agenda.  This is how George Bush managed a second term, as the economy fought back from 9/11 through tougher times, but the general sense of insecurity represented in John Kerry caused this group to stay with the status quo.

Now we have a party willing to gamble its base on the notion that they won’t need them, because the general idea is that dissatisfaction militates against Barack Obama.  There are reasons to suspect this is true, and it’s one more reason that Republicans shouldn’t be pushing a moderate like Romney, but the truth is that the party bosses have never been happy with populist conservatives, and they don’t feel they can risk a 1964-style outcome, which is the basic hope of the Democrats.  They will paint any opponent to Barack Obama as a right-wing extremist, even Romney, though that claim is a lie most conservatives only wish could be the truth.  What the establishment still fails to grasp is that in such an environment, a guy like Romney will be painted at once as a right-wing extremist and too little change to be worth the risk.  More, they will have plenty of ammunition when they make the claim that Romney’s flip-flopping makes him unreliable on any issue.

The truth is that the old formula won’t work this year, and to rely upon it again is an act of stubborn intransigence on the part of the establishment.  If ever there was to be a year in which you would bring in the base without alienating the various subsets of the party, 2012 would be that sort of year, much like 1980.  This is not the sort of year in which the party can afford to anger its base.  If the establishment loses in 2012 with Mitt Romney, it’s not only over for the GOP, but perhaps the end of the country.  Dissatisfaction is also at historical highs, and all the party really needs is a competent candidate who will not offend the base.  The establishment is hoping Romney can be that candidate, but thus far, his numbers don’t support that premise.  The riddle really is a question about whether any of the current crop can substantially unite the party, but at present, the answer seems to be a resounding “no.”  Romney can’t really capture the South, but neither will Rick Santorum or Ron Paul.  Newt Gingrich might be better positioned had he performed better in Iowa, and Perry might gain some traction in the South with conservative Christians.

This is why the GOP really does need another Reagan, who can appeal to all of these disparate groups and unite them, but still not offend those independents or moderates to the degree that they feel so uncomfortable that they lose their discomfort with the status quo.  As I’ve explained throughout the last week, there are a number of reasons to believe that Romney is incapable of satisfying these criteria, and if the party goes with him, they may see not only a Presidential defeat, but perhaps worse, one on the Congressional side.  Palin stated it best in explaining that all of this is beginning to agitate in favor of yet another candidate, and while some assume she might have included herself in the list of possibilities, the truth is if it isn’t her, it would need to be somebody much like her in terms of track record, and at present, I haven’t a clue who that might be.

The Truth Many Would Rather Not Know

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Food for Thought?

To read the remarks of a few of you on my posting about walking away, one might think I’d stirred a hornet’s nest.  Good!  It’s not that I am after controversy for its own sake, but I think some of you have been lulled to sleep by the sweet song of surrender that is being sung by the carolers for Romney.  One of the problems I notice is that some of you argue that Obama must go because he is effectively an enemy of the country.  I agree.  My question for you, and the thing you must be willing to ask, as a few of you shout your shrill denunciations of me for my stance on all this is:  If that’s what Obama is, why isn’t the candidate you tell me can save us from Obama willing to say it?  Given the opportunity even to call him a “socialist,” Mitt Romney demurred and instead said of Obama: “He’s a big government liberal.”  Do you think he can win with that?  Do you think telling people Obama is a “big government liberal” conveys the treachery of his agenda?  What basis is there for these complaints about my unwillingness to support Romney in the general election, hurling at me a virtual accusation of treason for my unwillingness to participate?  Meanwhile, the man being held forth to conquer this vast evil named Obama is a candidate who portrays him as merely one more “big government liberal?

By your descriptions, Barack Obama is a monster, and while I will not quibble with you about that, I nevertheless wonder why you would send a disarmed fellow to engage him.  Disarmed, I say, because the reason Mitt Romney dare not call Obama a “socialist” is that it’s also an apt description of Mitt.  You see, he’s neutered. If you offer him up as your candidate, so will you be.  Let’s imagine Ronald Reagan, confronting the horrors of the Soviet Union, but unwilling to call it an “evil empire.”  Can you imagine any scenario by which the American people would have signed on to arm up to fight against an “empire of big government liberals?”  The complaint seems to be that I should get in line for this “motivating” appeal by Mitt Romney to come out and do battle with “the big government liberal.” I ask: “Which one?

One of the problems I have long observed on the right side of the philosophical aisle is this perpetual practice of describing the behavior of the opponent as a devil, but accompanied by an unwillingness to call him by name.  You think Obama is horrible?  You think he is attacking the country’s foundations?  You think he’s capable of destroying the nation, but more, that he seeks to do so?  If all these things are true, and I have no doubt that they are, why do you shrink from candidates who will point this out, and now turn to candidates who dare not say it?  How do you expect to defeat him with a candidate who helps Obama to conceal his true intentions, because to criticize Obama’s is to open that candidate to similar criticism?  How is this a winning strategy?

You don’t want to read this or hear it, but the truth is that we face a very dangerous situation in the world, from which Mitt Romney has not the ability, courage, foresight or wisdom to save us, even if he were somehow elected.    Why pretend?  Why carry out this fraud upon yourselves, when you know that with a Romney candidacy, 2012 will be a replay of 2008?  At best, Romney will pick a VP who might trend slightly more conservative to try to energize the base, but that’s not going to get him through.  You know it, and I know it, but you stubbornly refuse to admit it because you’ve begun to see him as your only option, and you’ll dutifully accept it once all the others have been cleared away.

Say it with me, and embrace the horror openly: As it stands, Mitt Romney is likely to be the GOP’s nominee, and he cannot defeat Barack Obama, in part because he is so much like Obama that he cannot effectively criticize him.  That’s the truth, isn’t it?  That’s the thing all these protests about my “unpatriotic” abandonment of the GOP in light of a probable Romney candidacy are intended to disguise.  Sure, yell at me.  I’ll, listen, but what you’re arguing is absurd in the extreme.  You say I will cause Romney to lose, but I ask you:  If he’s such a sure-fire candidate, why should my vote matter?  He should win by acclaim!   No, your real terror comes from the fact that you’ve realized it’s true, and all of your protests against my position condense down to this:  “I don’t want to lose [again.]“   If you don’t want to lose, you’d better go out and find a more suitable candidate right now, and whoever that may be, you’d better stop being dishonest with yourselves.  I am unwilling to provide you that comforting dishonesty.

In 2008, as in many cases before, Republicans nominated a soft moderate RINO, who subsequently picked a more conservative VP candidate to try to motivate the base.  Sarah Palin, even with the thundering applause to which she was greeted was not able to overcome the shortcomings at the top of the ticket.  What in the world makes you think Mitt Romney will be any different?  Who will he pick?  Nikki Haley?  Chris Christie?  Rick Santorum?  We also tried this in 1996 with Bob Dole, and Jack Kemp, if you care to remember.  In 2000, we did the same with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and it succeeded only because of Gore’s wooden ineptitude.   We came a hair’s breadth from “President Gore,” and he wasn’t the sitting president.  Don’t count on that sort of luck with Obama, because he is the sitting president, and he is already using the full reach of his office to buttress his own electoral fortunes.

I’m satisfied to ignore the presidential race, as I skip on to the down-ballot elections in November.   For twenty years, I’ve asked the Republican party to give me somebody to whom I could give my affirmative support.  For 20 years, they’ve given us moderate “big government liberals” with an “R” alongside their names, who choose somewhat more conservative VP candidates intended to entice us along.  Before you descend upon me with complaints about my patriotism, or my loyalty to a party, or any of that, I’d ask you to explain to me in concrete form what it is about Mitt Romney that will make him substantially different from the rest of the losers, all who have endorsed him, by the way.  It’s time for those of you who think I’m abominable for my willingness to walk away to show me in logic how Mitt Romney will defeat Barack Obama.  I don’t think he can do it, and the truth of the matter is that neither do most of you.  Don’t worry.  You don’t have to admit it publicly.

 

Note: Thanks to Carl for the image.

What Do You Call Somebody Endorsed By GHWB, Dole, and McCain?

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Birds of a Feather

“Loser.”  Seriously, on Wednesday, Senator John McCain, (Rino-AZ,) endorsed Mitt Romney(Rino-MA).  This follows on the heels of other endorsements from other famous losing GOP establishment types, including Bob Dole(Rino-KS) and George H.W. Bush(Rino-Texas via Kennebunkport).  Frankly, I am less than astonished by the RINO brigade coming out to support one of their own. This is why the Republican party will go the way of the Whigs.  It’s time to look at how we can develop a new challenge to the GOP establishment from within the ranks of the TEA Party.  Otherwise, we’re going to be permanent losers.  Unless and until the Republican party stops taking conservatives for granted, this is going to be the result.  I hope you folks love Barack Obama, because the GOP is determined to make sure you see a lot more of him.  Four years worth, to be precise.

 

 

The Willingness to Walk Away

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

If You're Ever to Win...

This evening, I had been listening to one of my favorite talk-show hosts, Mark Levin, and I came away a little disappointed.  My disagreements with Levin are usually trivial, and I hold most of his arguments in high esteem, but this time, I am not merely unconvinced by his rationale, but utterly astonished by it.  His argument is essentially that he will support the Republican nominee, even if it’s the establishment’s guy, Mitt Romney.  Where I am concerned, there aren’t any candidates in this field who I can fully support, as I’ve recently detailed, but I don’t mean merely in the primary.  Some, I can’t support at all.  There are those who will point to Barack Obama’s ridiculous assaults on the constitution, the uniquely American culture, and the pocket-books of working men and women of every description as moral imperatives that demand we all go to the polling places in November and support whatever candidate the GOP musters.  I’ve heard it before, and I’ve heard it until I’m sick to death of hearing it.  I’ve heard it in every election in my adult life save only 1984.  I will hear it no more.  This is my challenge to the GOP:  Find an actual conservative or watch me take a powder in November.

I imagine most have you have purchased an automobile or two (or twenty) over the course of your lives,  and the first principle I always apply when shopping for a vehicle is to have a maximum number of dollars I will spend for a minimum number of features, warranties, and the like.  I try to always arrive at a dealer’s location with a check already cut if financing will be part of the deal.  I know in most instances that I will find better financing through my own credit union than most dealers will offer.  It also effectively places me in the position of being a cash customer  from the dealer’s perspective.  They aren’t so accustomed to that, because most people stumble in looking to trade because their current vehicle is probably on its last leg, and only come to deal when the current ride is looking a little long in the tooth.  Therefore, my second rule is simpler still:  Never go to a car dealer when I’m desperate for a deal.  The reason is simplicity itself.  If I’m not desperate, I will have no problem exercising that option most critical in negotiating any deal, whether for a car, a truck, a house, a business, or a presidential nominee:  You must be willing to walk away, and if your basic criteria are not met, you must exercise that option.

If you do not walk away, you will be a patsy, and once you give ground on something so basic to your previously established rules, in the future, you lose all credibility at the bargaining table. Your adversary will smell blood in the water, and will know you are desperate, so that he can (and will) shove anything he likes down your throat, and while you may complain or carry on about the unfairness of it all, in the end, you will relent and take the deal offered.  This I have learned the hard way by permitting myself to be that desperate party, and permitting myself to wind up in the situation in which I am no longer a credible negotiator, and therefore unable to leverage my position since it consisted entirely of bluff and was completely without teeth.  If you want to be a perpetual sucker, place yourself in such a position repeatedly, and whether in business or in politics, you will soon find yourself unable to negotiate even the slightest advantage.

If you doubt me, I would ask you to review the performance of John Boehner and Eric Cantor as the top Republicans in the House over the last twelve months.  They have accomplished precisely nothing worth remembering, and at every opportunity have cut and run when the President and Harry Reid boxed them in.  Nothing.  “Biggest reversal in history” and all the rest, but in the end? Not a damned thing.  From the moment the House Republicans cut a deal on the Debt Ceiling rather than insisting upon Cut, Cap & Balance, it has been all down hill, and it has all gone Obama’s way since he figured out how desperate Boehner and McConnell(Republican Leader in the Senate,) really were.  From that moment, Obama has run the table on these clowns, and in the end, it makes them look all the more foolish because they spouted, and postured, and harrumphed, but in the end, they were willing to cut a deal, any deal, to be able to walk away.  Thus died the first allegedly “Tea Party Congress.”  It died precisely because your leadership wasn’t really willing to walk away.

The same is true of individual voters in their relationship to the party’s establishment, whichever party we may be discussing.  At the moment, that party is the GOP, and it’s right that we consider it as individual voters, making a bargain with the party chieftains.  Roughly 70-75%(depending on the poll you choose) of the Republican Party wants no part of Mitt Romney.  They see in him much of what they see in Obama, but worse in many ways, also what they see in John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.  They’re right to be worried about a Mitt Romney presidency, that will be consumed with “making a deal” to the extent that it would make any deal, any place, any time, all in order to secure a deal of some sort.  Details matter not.  It is for this reason that for once, conservatives had ought to reject the voices of our friends who insist we “take the deal” (meaning: Romney.)   We must be prepared to sit out this election, at least on the presidential ballot, because we will not defeat him anyway with a guy who is in such a hurry to cut a deal, and even if he managed to win, would soon undercut us.  They’re already offering us assurances that we’ll be able to push or pull Romney to the right, but the fact is that I do not want a president who needs to be cajoled into conservative actions, because in accepting him to begin with, he will have learned something else: We’re not willing to walk away.

Armed with that knowledge, a President Romney will spend all of his time undercutting conservatives.  He’s a Keynesian, so he’ll increase taxes and/or use more massive government spending.  He will not reform entitlements, and if Obamacare is repealed, it will only be replaced by a program slightly less objectionable.  This is because Romney is a deal-maker, and he’s the guy for whom the deal is itself everything.  It’s about closing the deal, because he expects his commission, and while it may not be in cash, it will be in some false notion of prestige.

It is for this reason that I now inform the Republican Party to the knowing of the world that they either nominate a conservative, or wave at me on the sidelines, because that is where I will be.  A lifetime worth of hard lessons has taught me what I always suspected, but hadn’t the courage or patience to practice in my younger years, because they used my fear of uncertainty against me.  I don’t want the nation to collapse, and I don’t want the Marxist state they’re building, but I also know that a Mitt Romney presidency will only slow its advance, and maybe not by much.  I am no longer fearful of Obama’s predations, because I know that with another moderate Republican, those predations will continue.  I will not be driven to vote for a moral slacker because his opponent is a moral leper.

This evening I listened to a man I admire advance a notion that is ghastly to me.  He has already mentally prepared himself to accept and support a Romney candidacy, and he went on to discuss how he would demand that at least the Vice Presidential pick be a real conservative.  Why would Romney ever do that?  He might look for somebody who was somewhat more conservative, and brought something to the table, like Nikki Haley or similar, trying to energize you, but let’s be honest:  Vice Presidents don’t generally mean much.  To hear Mark Levin effectively suggest that we ought to at least get a conservative VP was saddening.  What it means is that he’s still more fearful of Obama than he is of losing the country, because in his mind, he’s merged the two, but the truth is that Obama is merely completing the job that was begun a long time ago, and has been carried on by successive presidents with damnably few exceptions, and Mitt Romney would do little of substance to change it.

You can listen to this clip from Levin’s show here:


There are those of you who will damn me for this position, but it is mine, and I’m standing by it.   I will not be herded into another vote for another moderate under any circumstance, because I know such a candidate will not likely win, and will surely not rescue the country if he somehow manages to defeat Obama.  To hear Levin saying that we “need a conservative in the second slot” is to admit he’s already conceding the first slot. What Romney and others in the Republican establishment will interpret this to mean is precisely what Barack Obama interprets Boehner’s endless concessions to mean: There’s an unwillingness to stand on principle for the sake of a politically expedient result, and one that is not guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination. They’ve placed themselves in the position whereby they’re now clearly desperately willing to “take the deal.”

You’re free to conclude what you will, but I would rather make it plain: If the Republican party nominates another moderate, I no longer fear Obama because I realize there are Republicans equally awful.   I am no longer convinced by the insipid argument that “any of these are better than Obama.”  I no longer believe that to be the case.  Some of them are every bit as bad, and to prove I believe that, and to stand by my principles, I am fully prepared to walk away. Might this lead to a second term for Obama?  Yes. Am I willing to confront that horrible reality?  Yes.  Rather than ask me if I’m willing to deal with that reality, you had better ask if you are.  You had better ask the Republican establishment that is busying itself with the chore of making Romney palatable to you.  You had better go ask your fellow conservatives, because while you can go along to get along if you like, I am prepared to walk away even if the Republican Party sends squads of establishment squawkers to damn me for it.  Watch me.  It’ll be my back side they see, as I disappear in the distance.  This year, no deals!

Virgina Attorney General Set to Intervene

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli

Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli,  has decided to get involved in the matter of ballot access for the primary elections in his state.  It’s something of an oddity to see this happen because while one could certainly make the case that the late rule changes in the way petition signatures are validated, it’s likewise true that “rules are rules.”  The funny thing about this is that when it was revealed that only Ron Paul and Mitt Romney would be on the ballot, many in the GOP establishment figured they had it all sewn up.  This way, they’d be able to exclude Gingrich, Santorum, Bachmann and Perry, and thereby have a virtual walkover.  Not so fast, as I pointed out:  This opened up the possibility that Ron Paul could win that state’s primary, either purely on the basis of Virgina Republican voters in disgust at the party, or because with nobody opposing Obama in the Democrat race, they’d be free to cross over and vote for Ron Paul just to muck things up a bit for Romney.

That realization finally settled in, and then we saw the preposterous “loyalty oath” business, whereby voters in the GOP primary were to sign an oath promising to vote for the GOP candidate in the general election.  That clearly turned into an embarrassment for the Virginia GOP, and rightfully so, but thereafter they were left with no way to stave off the Ron Paul disaster they now feared they would face.  Now enters the Attorney General, who will propose to the assembly that they enact a change to ballot access, that will effectively allow all of these candidates in.  It would require only that the candidate had met the criteria and was in fact receiving federal campaign matching funds, and that would enable them to be on the ballot.

This hasn’t yet been accomplished, of course, but this is the general direction in which it’s now being steered.  The intent in this case seems to be the attempt to deny Ron Paul a shot at outright victory, and to keep the conservative side of the field otherwise diluted, in order to permit Romney to walk with the lion’s share of delegates.  Some is better than none, which would be the result if Paul won in a two-candidate race. (The primary is “winner take all” unless none obtain a majority, in which case there’s some sort of apportionment.)

This entire spectacle is a stunning revelation about the electoral process in Virginia, but it also demonstrates how disconnected the GOP is from its base in Virginia. “Loyalty oaths?” That absurd work-around should never have seen the light of day, but in the reflexive attempt to retain control of the results, they tipped their hand and showed the people of Virginia how thoroughly dominated by the party establishment the Virginia Republican Party really is.  This story really does deal a serious black eye to the Virginia GOP, and Cuccinelli’s attempt to salvage it is really too little, too late.  Besides, these are “rule of law” proponents, aren’t they?  Who changes rules in the middle of a contest?  Imagine playing blackjack with these people.  Imagine trying to carry out anything under the rules, knowing they could change at any moment.  This is as much a problem of credibility for the national party as it is for their Virginia operation, and they’ve tried to settle this quickly with minimal bad press.

Too late.

Boehner Surrendered More Than Legislation Today

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Doing What He Does Best

This is a crying shame, and conservatives ought to be weeping, while Tea Party patriots ought to be throwing a fit.  John Boehner has managed to lead the House Republicans directly into the jaws of yet another defeat, and in the end, when he surrendered, he did so because losing is all Boehner really knows how to do.  The Republicans in Congress capitulated to Barack Obama and Harry Reid again on the matter of the payroll tax cut extension.  House Republicans didn’t learn the lesson of 2006, so a mere five years later, they still think they can conduct themselves as candidates throughout their terms, considering only short-run political expedience. The problem with GOP leaders in the House is that each time they go to the mat, but then subsequently cry uncle, they’re harming themselves and the country.  This so-called compromise was nothing but a surrender that merely weakens the Republicans, but more importantly, the country.

John Boehner suffers from an inability to lead.  He simply doesn’t understand leadership, or he’s not intellectually vigorous enough to exercise it.  Either way, he’s a perpetual loser, and we shouldn’t dare hope he will accomplish anything useful during the term of this Congress.  Consider him either intellectually or morally incapacitated, and save yourself some trouble fretting over the endless string of defeats House Republicans will suffer because John Boehner doesn’t know how or isn’t willing to lead.

In this context, leadership would have meant sending his members out to have town hall meetings, and to send them forward to every media outlet on which they could find time, and make the case first to their own core of support, and get their buy-in followed by a more active support.  Instead, Boehner sat back and waited for it to happen, and he knew it would, but it’s fair to say he helped engineer this defeat.  He’s bent upon the notion of trying to restore order within his caucus, and he’s willing to become minority leader to do so.

This latest flap was more than political circus, but that’s how it has been portrayed, and given the surrender of the Republicans, that’s how history will now record it.   The truth is that big issues had been at stake, but due to a little bad press, the Republicans wet their collective diaper and ran home.  Boehner will offer that this happened because they’re only “one-half of one-third of the government.”  The facts suggest otherwise.  Did he try to rally the conservative base?  Did he seek out support in such ‘friendly media’ where his own declarations haven’t already poisoned those wells?  No.  He stayed in the back rooms, smoke-filled no longer, and had his head handed to him on a silver platter.  He knew it was coming, and indeed, he invited it.

The first thing he did to invite this had been every previous surrender going at least as far back as the debt ceiling vote, when he actually worked on a backroom deal with Reid to undercut the House bill known as “Cut, Cap, & Balance.”  From that moment on, Democrats knew they had a patsy who would do anything to avoid a little negative press.  In the end, he and his Republican members must now share in the blame for the credit rating downgrade we suffered as a result.  Had he instead remained willing to let everything shut down, he might have forestalled the downgrade, because the rating agency might have concluded at least one party had gotten serious about budget control.  Politically, he would have taken a hit in the short run, but the truth of the matter is that Democrats would have relented once their base started screaming loudly, or rioting, because they had not gotten their hand-outs on time.  There’s no sense making a stand if you’re going to fold at the first sign that somebody’s calling your bluff.

Democrats read Boehner’s moves as clear telegraphing of a bluff, and they called without blinking.  Ever since then, the Obama looks at Boehner and thinks: “There’s my b*t*h.”  The tears certainly don’t help with that impression.  Since that first monumental cave-in, each subsequent instance has been repeated, only more quickly, each time with with less pressure than the last, as conservative and Tea Party members of the caucus are now demoralized.  They see things slipping away, much as they did in 2005-2006, and it’s all for lack of effective, committed leadership.

On this basis, I have written a letter I am sending to my own member, and I want from him a pledge to support somebody other than Boehner and his crew for leadership, whether they maintain the majority in 2012 or not.  The way things are going with Boehner, you’d better plan on “not.” As it is, due to his vote on the Debt Ceiling matter, I am already eying potential primary challengers for my own Representative.  If he’s going to continue to support the sorry leadership of John Boehner, it’s best to get rid of him, too.

Now, for those of you who weren’t paying attention, let me explain what has happened:  The House approved a version of the extension much to the liking of the Senate, and it does not include the Keystone XL pipeline provision, meaning tens of thousands of jobs and a fresh conduit for oil will not be had by Americans any time soon.  While you must certainly lay the greater portion of blame on the actions of Obama and Reid, the truth is that Boehner shares in this too.

I realize some will say “but, but, he’s right: Without the Senate, what could he do?”  The answer is always the same: Stand on principle.  Be willing to take the bad press. Be willing. The problem is that this sort of thing makes its own bad press that goes on long after the terms of surrender were signed.  You see, when Boehner plays brinksmanship, but then walks away with nothing, it gives ammo to the opposition that this had only been a political game.  This is why the Republicans took a beating from Bill Clinton in 1995:  They ultimately flinched first in this game of chicken, making it look for all the world as though they had been merely posturing right along.

Instead, had Boehner rallied every member of the House Republican caucus to stand firm, and held out indefinitely, shutting down government, they could have gone to voters saying: We had to be the responsible party, and we had to put our foot down against irresponsible and reckless spending proclivities of the President and the Senate.  The people who would have been angry at them would likely have been people other than who had elected them.  If they can’t withstand some bad press now, when will it be better?  If they will not stand on principle now, when the country is on the verge of a greater depression, if not in it, when will they find the guts to do it?

The answer: Never.  John Boehner and his kind are so consumed by holding onto power, and holding onto office, that they cannot dare to risk it all in order to stand for the principles on which they were elected.  One begins to wonder if this is because they’re not hip-deep in all of the crony capitalism and insider trading about which we’ve been hearing, because it’s not as though House members have it so good solely on the basis of their salaries and benefits.  One quickly begins to wonder if the monetary inducements to hold office aren’t greater in fact than appears on the surface, because I do not think I could trade my principles for the salary they’re paid.  No, there must be something more to it, or these are the most morally corruptible people on the planet.

It’s time we hold them to their promises, and the principles they declare while campaigning.  For me, that’s going to entail spelling it out for my own representative. I’d suggest you do the same, but what we had better do is say it, and mean it, lest they get the same idea about us as Democrats now have about them and their lack of spine.

 

Will We Be Drug into the Bushes[Again]?

Monday, December 19th, 2011

One of these Hasn't Been President...Yet

Here we go again.  It looks to me as though the Bush clan may be preparing to shove another one down our throats.  Of course, there’s nothing certain yet, but the buzz for some time has been that there’s still time for somebody with high name recognition.  That’s been the talking point for several weeks, and people have spent some time speculating about who that would be.  This morning, the Wall Street Journal offered us a clue, as it published an op-ed piece by none other than Jeb Bush, entitled Capitalism and the Right to Rise.  As the party establishment is voicing worries about the rise of Ron Paul, and the uninspiring candidacy of Mitt Romney, here comes Jeb Bush?  If you wonder if this is the Bush clan’s attempt to retain control of the GOP, you might ask if they’ve ever been in danger of losing it.  There’s nothing novel in it, but what was interesting is that Rush Limbaugh read it in the first hour of his show on Monday, fairly gushing over it.

Remember when we were told George W. Bush was more conservative than his father, and then as he was being revealed to be nothing more than another squishy moderate, people began to say “Well, at least Jeb Bush in Florida is a real conservative?”  Remember?  While I may well be jumping the gun, and there’s a fair chance neither Jeb Bush nor anybody with deeper Bush-clan ties will  have anything to do with this election, remember that Karl Rove is still out there, and he’s been assumed by many to be pushing Mitt Romney.  I’ve never been certain about it, and in fact, I told you some time ago that he might well be acting on behalf of somebody else.  It could well be we’ll see somebody else entirely, but whether it’s Jeb, or another Bush crony, it may begin just after the Iowa caucus, and the victor may offer the excuse.

“Save us from Ron Paul’s foreign policy!”  “Save us from Mitt Romney’s uninspiring schtick!”  “Save us from Newt Gingrich!”  Ultimately, however, the offer will be to “Save us from Barack Obama!”  That’s the plea some are hoping will prompt some as-yet undetermined white knight into the race, but I can promise you, sure as I’m sitting here: IF, and only IF Jeb Bush enters this race, or another Bush crony tries to enter using the same justification, I will consider the fix to have been in these last eleven months, and I will immediately endorse Ron Paul, because I would vote for anybody before I vote for another Bush or frankly, even another Bush crony.  No more Karl Rove flunkies.  No more Bush family presidencies, directly or indirectly, period.  I have no interest in continuing the Bush dynasty, either by virtue of another Bush, or by one of their cronies.  It’s simply not acceptable, and I don’t believe in political dynasties, and I don’t think America should have any sort of so-called ‘royalty,’ and there is nothing about the Bush clan that makes them better suited to lead the American people, or steer our government.

Enough is enough. I don’t want to hear all the excuses they will throw around.  I don’t care if he writes a thousand op-eds suggesting he is an economic libertarian and a fiscal conservative.  I don’t believe them.  I now consider that entire family indecently unreliable, and for the rest of you who may not have figured it out, I will tell you that when George H.W. Bush told you “Read my lips,” and you didn’t recognize the dishonesty when in 1990, he went along with Democrats and broke his pledge, worsening and deepening what should have been a minor recession, you deserve to lose every election from here to eternity. In 2000, when George W. Bush was telling you he was a “compassionate conservative,”  I knew he was lying because what he really meant was “kinder, gentler,” just like his old man. Welfare reform? Never, but if you like Amnesty and “Immigration Reform,” then this is the perfect family for you.  “Don’t worry,” they’ll assure you, “he’s even been to Tea Party Candidate fundraisers.

Ladies and gentlemen, I will admit to you now that I have been fearing this moment for some time, because I believe the Bush clan still maintains a strangle-hold on much of the GOP,  and when they come with a white knight to “rescue” the Republican Party from Ron Paul, or Newt Gingrich, or any of the other candidates,  there are some conservatives and Tea Party patriots who may well fall for it.   If they do, I will mark the date on the calendar, and from now until eternity, every time conservatives and Tea Party folk complain that they’re being undercut by their own president[again], like so many did from 2002-2008, I am going to laugh, but I will not feel any joy.  .  You’ve seen two rounds of what the Bush clan has to offer.  You’ve had more than twenty years of their domination of the Republican party.  If you want more of that, so be it, but don’t blame me, and don’t blame conservatism when yet another Bush claims that mantle before taking it down in flames along with our nation.  They are the quintessential big-government Republicans, and if you send another one to Washington DC, you may lose more than control of Congress this time.  You may lose your country.

Romney Plays Catch-Up: Belatedly Decides Holder Must Go

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Better Last Than Alone

I suppose we should all thank Willard “Mitt” Romney for catching up with the rest of us.  Of course, the truth is that Romney was being his usual overly-cautious self in waiting until today to suggest that US Attorney General Eric Holder must go.  The investigations of “Fast-and Furious” and “Gun-Walker”  had progressed far enough weeks ago to draw this conclusion.  Why is it that on so many issues, Mitt seems to show up after the matter is settled among voters, or the American people?  Did he get word from inside the White House that it now looks as though Holder is on his way out?  Is he now coming out with his criticisms because it’s now “safe” to do so?  This is not the behavior of a leader, and what this should tell us about Romney is how obsessed he has become with not blowing it.  Romney is playing the political version of the often maligned “prevent defense” in the NFL:  On defense of a narrow lead, you back up and give ground on small issues on the basis of the theory that you will avoid your opponent scoring with a “big play.”  Many NFL fans note that it seems that quite often, by playing it safe, the only thing you tend to “prevent” is your own victory.  That’s the danger of Romney’s campaign, and if he takes that same approach to the general election, he and the GOP with him will go down to stunning defeat.

It’s all well and good to say that you’re waiting for more information, but there comes a point at which matters become relatively clear, and waiting until circumstance becomes a fait accompli is not really the manner of leadership this country can afford.  Sometimes playing it safe can be a winning strategy, but all too often, it’s a the road to defeat.  This isn’t the first time Mitt Romney has come out belatedly to pass judgment on an issue.  The Debt Ceiling debate was already reduced to a foregone conclusion before Romney had anything at all to say about it.  Honestly, if he’s this indecisive, I don’t want him anywhere near the White House.  There’s a difference between thoughtful leadership and self-defeating hesitation for fear of misstep.  That is the nature of Mitt Romney’s campaign, and if it is indicative of the sort of President he would be, thank you, no, we have one of those now.  We’ve had enough of this “leading from behind” nonsense.  It’s time for a President who will stand up front and reform this monstrous government.

That is the problem with Romney, after all, and it has been since the start.  There’s nothing attractive to most voters about the unseemly practice of being last on every issue, but that has been Mitt’s role this entire campaign season to date.  He simply won’t speak first on any matter of controversy, waiting for every other person of consequence to make up their minds and make statements first.  I suppose it’s safer to wait for the parade to form and hop out in front of it than to try to create and organize a parade by your own efforts, and hope others will follow.  At some point, this should become a point of embarrassment for Romney.  He’s done this so often and on so many issues that it now seems his standard practice.  Whether motivated by an obsessive fear of failure, or by political calculations intended to prevent his opponents’ having a “big play,” Romney seems incapable of leading in any matter of controversy.

I’ve got news for Governor Romney:  Being President of the United States is all about dealing with controversy, and sometimes your pronouncements are not going to be well-received.  The point is that sometimes, even when you think there’s a chance your judgment may be unpopular, if it’s the right thing, you get out there and say it anyway because, well, it’s the right thing.  One wouldn’t ordinarily think that it would be so difficult to make peace with a position on such an issue and simply announce it.  With Romney, however, his judgments seem timed to avoid becoming involved in the controversy except as a reporter.  Mitt Romney thinks Eric Holder must go?  Big deal.  Most conservatives have thought that for most of this year, and many have been certain of it since all of the disclosures on Fast and Furious in November.  I suppose we should all feel relieved now that Romney has joined the rest of the country in condemning Holder’s actions.  The matter must have become settled in the polls, and if Romney keeps this up, it won’t be the only matter settled with or without him.

 

 

Ann Coulter’s Sad Obsession With Establishment Republicans

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Coulter Kissing-Up to Willard

In a column entitled “If Not Romney, Who? If Not Now, When?,”  Ann Coulter laid out her stunningly unconvincing case in favor of Willard “Mitt” Romney.  What Coulter seems incapable of grasping is that the base of the party will not accept Romney, and may even abandon the party if he is the nominee.  Coulter’s argument is that Newt Gingrich sucks, so therefore, we must now accept Romney.  She attempts to herd readers into supporting Romney on the basis that Obamacare won’t be overturned if we don’t win the White House in 2012.  I’ve seen this coming for some time, but it seems many conservatives won’t flinch this time.  They shouldn’t.  We will not win the White House in 2012 with a moderate, progressive, flip-flopping Romney, and as I explained at length recently, it is because Romney is an ideological zero.  Conservatives are not satisfied with Willard, and the establishment’s attempt to scare them into Romney’s arms has begun to anger them.  Coulter is speaking for them, but not you.

Coulter’s biggest criticism of Gingrich comes from the flap over his consultancy with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Gingrich earned $300,000 in consulting fees, personally, while his company was paid a total of around $1.6 million. The conclusion being drawn from Coulter(and others) is that this is evidence of some sort of crony capitalism, but given Gingrich’s history of consulting, think-tanking, and similar activities, it may not be a stretch to believe that this was a legitimate consultancy.

After assailing Newt, she moves on to make her case about Romney and Obamacare, and makes some rather bombastic claims on Romney’s behalf:

“The mainstream media keep pushing alternatives to Mitt Romney not only because they are terrified of running against him, but also because they want to keep Republicans fighting, allowing Democrats to get a four-month jump on us.

“Meanwhile, everyone knows the nominee is going to be Romney.”

Coulter seems rather certain of herself, but I remain unconvinced.  Coulter reduces criticisms of Romney to “Romneycare and Mormonism.”  To be honest, I don’t know anybody who is criticizing Willard on the latter, because most Americans are relatively accepting of religions that are not their own.   Romneycare is another matter, however, and it’s not the only instance of his statist reflex.  There was the “Welfare Wheels” program, among other things I’ve covered, and of course the whole flap over the illegal immigrants hired by his landscaping contractor, who he publicly chastised, continued to use, and who ultimately brought illegal aliens back to work on Romney’s lawn.  I’m sorry, but I don’t view Romney as a conservative.  Among conservatives, he’s consider a “Mush” Republican, a “Repubic,” and a “RINO.”  I think that’s a fair assessment, so that I am baffled by Coulter’s unceasing support of this sort of Republican.

Coulter has long claimed to be a conservative, but I have serious doubts about her claim.  She couldn’t wait to bash Sarah Palin’s voice, or anything else that may have displeased her.  She spent the majority of 2011 pushing the notion of a Chris Christie candidacy, and as soon as Christie announced he would not run, but would instead endorse Romney, Coulter spent a five minutes one day in mourning for the Christie candidacy that would not be, but then jumped into supporting Romney.  I don’t trust Romney, like many conservatives, and the reason is simple: Mitt Romney goes out of his way to avoid staking out positions that we can later reference when he ultimately screws conservatives.  It’s what the establishment does.  It puts me in a mind to remember the words of another conservative who had some troubles with  progressive Republicans:

“I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But my friends, my goddamned friends, they’re the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights!” -Warren G. Harding

Of course, with Coulter on the warpath for Romney, arguing that only Willard can save us from Obama, I am likewise reminded of Harding’s Vice President and successor, Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge, who famously said:

“When a man begins to feel that he is the only one who can lead in this republic, he is guilty of treason to the spirit of our institutions.” -Calvin Coolidge

 

 

 

Why a Progressive Republican Won’t Win in 2012

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

When Will the Bottom Drop Out?

Conservatives want a candidate who will not only unite the GOP, but will also offer a clear contrast to Barack Obama.  As many have noted, we’ve got a field that has numerous strengths and weaknesses, but at present, no clear leader.  The Romney camp is hanging in there around 20-25%, hoping to be the last left standing, as the others are voted off the island, but that isn’t going to be good enough.  Republicans can’t hope to win without a genuine conservative in 2012, because a moderate Republican will not inspire and motivate the base.  Willard “Mitt” Romney can’t break through the his long-standing level of support because he’s a flip-flopper, and while it’s true that if he’s the nominee, some number of conservatives will ultimately support him in the general election as an act of desperation, a victory-denying segment will simply stay home.  I would know, because I’m part of that segment.

There are those who have asked me why I would do this, rather than seek to defeat Obama.  My answer is that within the GOP, most of our problems and the cause of our losses emanate from the progressive wing of the party.  Nobody seems willing to acknowledge it in media, but the real reason McCain was defeated is that he couldn’t motivate conservatives to the polls. Even adding the somewhat more conservative Sarah Palin to his ticket could not save him, and when he suspended his campaign to go back to DC to deal with the financial crisis, rather than appearing to be concerned with the country more than politics, as he had intended, he gave the impression of  somebody who wasn’t committed to the fight.  That was the death-knell of his campaign.  Until that moment, it looked as though Palin might well be able to drag McCain across the finish line first, but after his gamble, the campaign never recovered.  John McCain killed his own candidacy in an attempt to appeal to the independents and moderates, but all he accomplished was to dishearten an already suspicious base that had no confidence in McCain.  For all her electoral virtues, and her clear appeal with the conservative base, even the rousing appeal of political rock-star Sarah Palin shouldn’t have been expected to rescue McCain from his self-sabotage.

The truth is that the conservative base of the GOP wants somebody nominated who will fight Barack Obama.  We want somebody who will challenge the dishonest narratives put forward by the left and their media surrogates.  That’s what so many had seen in Palin in 2008, and had hoped to see in a Palin campaign in 2012.  These are the conservatives to whom the negotiations of Speaker Boehner look suspiciously like surrender.   These are the combative conservatives who populate the party’s base, and they expect a populist conservative who will not retreat from principles.  They expect a warrior unafraid of media.  In looking at our current crop of candidates, I can’t say for certain if there is such an individual among them, but I can tell you who is not such a candidate.  Willard “Mitt” Romney is simply not willing to stand firm on anything.  He’s a political contortionist, and the conservative base of the GOP simply will not support him to victory.

Last Wednesday night’s debate in Michigan demonstrated the point clearly:  Mitt Romney is not fit to be president by virtue of his constant waffling, shading, and indirect answers.  When Romney refused to answer directly the question about whether to let the payroll tax cut lapse, it demonstrated his unwillingness to confront difficult questions.  The question was a well-laid trap, and Romney succeeded eventually in side-stepping it, but this is precisely why he should not be considered.  The question was set up to get him either to oppose a renewal of the tax cut, thus skewering him with some tax-payers, or to oppose its lapse, thus placing him firmly on Barack Obama’s side of the argument.  The problem is that in successfully side-stepping the matter, Romney showed precisely how Barack Obama will destroy him in a general campaign: Obama is going to pigeon-hole him into either agreement, and in so doing, Romney loses the point by looking like a “me too” guy.  Michele Bachmann actually went on to answer the question as Romney should have done if he were not an intellectual and moral coward, but that’s not going to help dear Willard in the general election of 2012.

This is a perfect example of the problem with Mitt Romney.   He takes no solid positions, and in avoiding controversy, subjects himself to eventual defeat as a flip-flopping weasel.  I’ve openly said I cannot support his candidacy, and this is the basic reason.  I won’t support him in a general election, but in truth, he’s going to lose with or without my support.  A progressive will not successfully motivate the conservative base and Tea Party elements of the Republican party to turn out at the polls, never mind capture the imagination and hope of independents and moderates.  The failing of Romney is that he’s not conservative, but more importantly, not anything. The sole virtue that Romney presents to the party is that he’s inoffensive to independents and moderates.  This is why the party is putting him forward:  They have an obsessive fear of offending anyone.  The flaw in this strategy is that this obsession with not being pinned down on any issue winds up offending the conservative base of the party. Conservatives want a candidate who will offend some people because they know that one cannot take a meritoriously firm position on any issue without offending somebody.

What the GOP fails to understand is that conservatives are tired of being the only offended party.  Too frequently, conservatives are treated by the GOP like some of the base constituencies of the Democrat Party:  They pander to us only when absolutely necessary, but in the end, they know they can safely moderate their position, because after all, where are we going to go?  This ignores the fact that we don’t need to go anywhere, including particularly on election day.  If the GOP establishment doesn’t grasp this, we’re going to see a repeat of 2008 in 2012. While they may succeed in driving some to the polls out of fear of four more years of Obama, that won’t be enough to win the day, because not all of us fear Obama and his revolutionary leftists.  Increasingly, there is among our number the growing drumbeat of war that says: “It’s time to get this over with. No more delaying the inevitable.”  While mouthing his words in sorry imitation, what the GOP establishment never really learned from Reagan is that to maintain the peace, you must prepare for war.  The base looks and sees no warriors rising to lead them, but nevertheless prepares.

Cain Leaves Rails in Newspaper Interview

Monday, November 14th, 2011

What Can You Say When Words Fail You?

It was too good to last.  While the personal attacks against Herman Cain were based on unsubstantiated allegations, I knew his real problem would eventually come up:  He does a decent ten-second sound-bite, but I think his depth of understanding on issues has always been lacking.  There have been signs all along, such as his lack of knowledge on the issue of a “right of return” claimed by Palestineans, his dearth of knowledge on some of the entitlements-related issues as demonstrated by the Cain-Gingrich debate, and now he’s really blown it with some very odd responses to questions about Libya in a sit-down interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  I do like Herman Cain, and I think he’s a genuine and sincere American who believes in a message of optimism, but the fact is that he doesn’t know the issues.  Cain’s reliance on his life’s experience in business has come down to this:  He’s inspiring and motivating, but it does not qualify him to be the President.

I say this with some sadness, because I firmly believe we need a candidate with his optimistic view of America’s potential, but I also know that in the real world we face, that alone will not salvage our position.  If he gets this  confused over our foreign policy on Libya, it’s going to be a problem.  He seems to have gotten confused about the question, his rehearsed answer, or some combination of the two.  To his credit, he gets back on track but he seemed to be stalling a bit in trying to do so, suggesting he was trying to remember what his position has been rather than responding directly to the question.  Again, I’m not bashing Herman Cain, but giving you my best assessment of his knowledge.  It may be that he would be able to stumble in this fashion through foreign policy crises that may arise, but that’s not really the scenario in which you want your President learning the foreign policy ropes.

I also realize that Cain says he likes to have full information before making a decision, and that’s laudable, but the truth is that a President must frequently make decisions despite sometimes sizable gaps in the available information.  Some of those situations will be time-critical, and a President will be forced to try to fill in the blanks with best guesses from advisers, but also from his own accumulated knowledge and experience.   Herman Cain has a great deal of wisdom and experience in some matters, and virtually none in others.  Foreign policy is one of these, and the truth of the Presidency is that foreign policy is arguably the most important concern of every President, whether the occupant of the Oval Office recognizes this fact or not.  If defending the country is the primary purpose of the federal government, then foreign policy must be among our top priorities for our nominee.

This lack of detailed knowledge becomes readily apparent when placed alongside Newt Gingrich, another technocrat with long experience as a policy wonk, but it’s more than that.  I have had concerns about Cain from the moment he first ran into the “right to return” flap.  Even at that, I’d still take a Herman Cain over a Mitt Romney, but the truth is that there are better options than either, in my view.  This particular instance with Cain comes at a bad time, because the latest round of polling seems to indicate his personal favorability has slipped in light of an admittedly dubious batch of allegations about his personal conduct.  A bit reminiscent of Perry’s mental slippage of last week, this moment may provide the final downward impetus to seal Cain’s fate.  Honestly, it’s too bad because he may very well be innocent of all the wretched allegations leveled at him, but in politics, it is so difficult to over come perceptions that when combined with this episode, may turn out to have been an insurmountable obstacle to his campaign.  Then again, people have counted Cain out before, and he’s survived.  Whether he can win the nomination with his clear lack of knowledge may be another matter.

You can watch the video clip from the interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel below: