Posts Tagged ‘nomination’

Despite Establishment Talking Points, The GOP Fight is Far From Over

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Math is Hard

The talking points suggesting that this race is all but over have really begun to get on my nerves, because there’s really no evidence this is true.  As long as Gingrich and Santorum remain in this race, the race continues until somebody obtains 1144 delegates, or we wind up at the convention.  The question is whether it is numerically possible for anybody but Romney to get enough delegates, and as Drudge couldn’t wait to point out to the world Sunday, it’s going to be tough for Santorum or Gingrich, in second and third in the delegate count respectively.  The truth this conceals is that Romney isn’t in much better shape at this juncture.

Demonstrating my point about Romney, and the reason the Drudge page pointing out Santorum will need 74% of delegates to win was a bit dishonest, what is missed in all of this is that it omits the fact that Romney’s path isn’t exceptionally better. Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele makes this clear in the following video of a March 16th appearance on MSNBC:

From my point of view, the thing that must happen throughout the remainder of this primary season is that Gingrich and Santorum must arrive at the convention having prevented Romney from obtaining 1144 delegates.  If they do this, anything is possible, and it could be that between them, they are able to forge some sort of strategic alliance to overcome Mitt Romney in a brokered convention.  This is why Romney and all his surrogates in media continue to press the theme that either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum should get out: If either one does, it will make Romney’s job of obtaining 1144 delegates that much easier.

I don’t think most conservatives are interested in seeing that happen, whomever they support, because the fact is that we are still in the position where roughly 60% of the party wants somebody other than Mitt Romney.  Of course, Romney’s defenders are quick to point out that the others are in worse shape, but that ignores something critical:  Romney is the apparent front-runner, and as yet, he has shown no ability to put the contest to an end by defeating all of his competitors, at once and finally.

Why The Establishment Wants Gingrich Gone

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Out of My Way, Pal!

The GOP establishment wants Gingrich gone, and this explains why we’re now seeing a push in that direction. Naturally, Rick Santorum wants Gingrich gone, because he thinks that he will be the beneficiary.  This may be a mistaken notion, being pushed by the establishment because they know the truth of the matter: If Gingrich gets out, Santorum will be locked into a one-on-one fight with Romney that he almost certainly will not win. Voters shouldn’t be misled into the belief that what Santorum needs is a one-on-one contest.  Placed in that position, a large number of Gingrich supporters will migrate not to Santorum’s campaign, as the media establishment pretends, but choosing instead to migrate to the Romney camp, although perhaps grudgingly.

If you only watch the headline coverage, you might think the polls indicate that the anti-Romney vote is somehow uniform in its opposition to Romney, but apart from the fact that there are multiple non-Romney candidates, the divide is a bit more meaningful than the difference in preferences between chocolate and vanilla.  Many of the people who support Gingrich are of a mind to avoid candidates who seem “too religious,” as has been the knock on Santorum.  It’s not that they don’t have deep faith, or are somehow anti-religion, but that these are voters who believe that faith is a deeply personal matter that shouldn’t be continuously aired in public as the basis of governance.  They prefer a strong separation of church and state, at least in terms of policy, although they do not agree with policies and rulings that prohibit “in God we trust” on the currency, or a generalized, acute hostility to faith.

Santorum has been positioned as a candidate who wears his faith on his sleeve.  That’s not entirely fair, but in politics, perceptions are driven by images and soundbites, and the media has effectively portrayed him that way whether he deserves it or not.  For some fair portion of Gingrich support, this is not palatable, and if left to choose between Santorum, who they view as somewhat theocratic, and Romney who doesn’t talk so frequently about his faith, the withdrawal of Gingrich would likely provide just enough new grudging Romney support to permit Romney to defeat Santorum in short order.

The Romney campaign is well aware of this, and it’s why they focused so much attention on knocking off Gingrich in Florida. It also shows in its approach since Super Tuesday. Romney is not spending much effort on Kansas, but they are spending time in the South, where Alabama and Mississippi will hold their primaries Tuesday. It’s not Santorum that they’re worried about, because they know that if they can push Gingrich out, they will pick up more of the former Speaker’s support than will Santorum.  Too many Newt supporters view Santorum as more unpalatable even than Romney.

The GOP and media establishment knows this to be the case, and this is why one after another, they are coming along to tell us now is the time for the party to coalesce around Romney, by ditching Gingrich.  Notice that they do not urge Santorum to get out, or even mention him in this context.  Instead, they’re focused on Gingrich.  If they want Romney, you would think they would focus on his current top opponent, but that’s not the case in the media flurry of “Newt needs to go” pronouncements.

Rather than focus on Santorum, they are pushing for Gingrich to get out, and that should provide you all the insight you need to understand their real motive.  If Gingrich gets out, this contest will be as good as over.  The inevitable candidate will be the nominee after all, and the GOP establishment knows it. That’s why they’re even willing to see Santorum win in Alabama and Mississippi.  If Gingrich wins these two on Tuesday, he will remain a contestant.  If he doesn’t, it will likely spell the end for the former speaker. Whether Romney himself can win in the South, or Santorum makes no difference except in the short run.

I think Santorum is catching on to this aspect of his vulnerability, and by now he should realize that if Gingrich gets out, his own time on the stage won’t last much longer.  Too many conservatives will decide to jump aboard the Romney express, being wary of Rick Santorum and the impression the establishment media has cultivated about Santorum.  Some of it is deserved, and some of it isn’t, but that won’t matter if Gingrich exits any time soon, before Santorum will have had a chance to try to correct that record to the degree he is able. It will be a quick one-two blow and both Santorum and Gingrich should realize this and focus on Romney’s negatives, rather than pummeling one another.

 

Governor Palin Talks to Greta about True Conservatives

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Governor Sarah Palin spoke on Monday night with Greta Van Susteren on the FoxNews Channel. The conversation focused on the GOP primary race, and the manner by which the various campaigns have been approaching the contest.  She discussed how to a certain degree how the candidates are damaging one another, but not laying a glove on Barack Obama.  She points out that at the end of the race, this must be the focus.  She also addressed the lack of enthusiasm:

Like many conservatives, she likes Ron Paul’s approach to budget-slashing, but she remains cautious about his foreign policy agenda.  At the same time, she had nice things to say about all of the candidates, but she was clearly warmer toward some than others. She also mentioned Gingrich’s clear superiority in debates, and also repeated the notion that Obama wants to face Romney in November.

Is the Republican Base Shrugging?

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Conservatives Shrugging?

It’s hard not to notice that despite his win in the Nevada Caucuses on Saturday, aggregate statewide turn-out seems to have been substantially down.  This follows a decreased turn-out in Florida, causing many to wonder if the current crop of candidates simply is not exciting the Republicans’ conservative base.  It seems there’s an increasingly fatalistic segment of the conservative base looking at the nomination process and giving up in disgust.  This isn’t going to help the Republicans, whomever their eventual nominee, and i think I understand it perfectly well, but more, I’ve seen its expression in the turnout but also in social media like Twitter and Facebook.  Conservatives are thoroughly discouraged, and if that’s what the party wanted it, they may yet get more come November.

On Sunday evening, as I checked in on Twitter, I notice Byron York had tweeted the following:

By itself, this may not seem stunning, but the truth of the matter is disturbing to me.  The fact that with nearly 90% of the vote in, that votes for Romney in 2008 were greater by more than six thousand votes is significant.  It hints at the direction in which the electorate sees things goings, and of course, I retweeted his message before responding:

I wasn’t trying to stir things up, but within a matter of moments, I was retweeted a number of times as some of those who follow me spread what I had tweeted in a seemingly approving fashion.  There’s something afoot, and it’s a sense of dissatisfaction with the entirety of the field, but also the presumptively “inevitable” nominee in particular. Even in exit polls, roughly two in five Republican voters would like to have other choices, and that is by itself perhaps the greatest harbinger of electoral doom for Republicans in 2012.

To see voter turn-out in this GOP nomination process so thoroughly depressed speaks volumes about the perceived quality of the field.  As I suggested as early as last summer, Mitt Romney isn’t the front-runner because he exhibits virtues cherished among conservatives or Tea Party folk, but only because nobody else seems to be able to vanquish him.  I then called him the front-runner-by-default, and even at this late date, that is still largely true.

This should be a relatively easy argument to have within the country, but the problem is that Romney can’t make it because he exhibits some of the same basic ideological flaws as the current President, multiplied by his completely uninspiring personality.  The Republicans need to nominate somebody who can make the case against Obama while also making the case for conservatism with a straight face, and Romney simply isn’t that guy.  If this continues, Romney will not be able to win or even challenge for the presidency in November, and Obama’s increasingly dictatorial administration will go on unfettered.

Are there none who can step up to carry the conservative mantle?  Rick Santorum is a nice fellow, but I don’t think he will pull this out, and Newt Gingrich has a good command of the issues, but as if the demonizing of Gingrich in the 90s by Democrats hadn’t been enough, Romney has so thoroughly hammered him that even if you could debunk all of it, how would Gingrich spread the news against such a tide of negative ads?

We’re looking at a potential GOP doomsday scenario, as Coulter described last year before she hopped from the Chris Christie fan-club over to the Romney tour-bus:  Romney will get the nomination and lose to Obama in a land-slide, and except for the fact that Coulter is now a Romney sycophant, I don’t see anything that offers to change her original and then perfectly reasonable formulation.

Let’s do the math: If like Romney in Florida, you must outspend your opponent by a margin of five to one in order to defeat him, but unlike in Florida, your opponent is going to have some one billion dollars at his disposal, you’re going to need to spend five billion, and there is absolutely no chance Romney will have available even a small fraction of that amount.  As I said Sunday, Romney’s cash advantage against his Republican rivals does not translate into general election victory against Obama.  It simply cannot, and the pathetically low turn-out in Florida and Nevada is all the evidence you should need to know that he will not turn out the base, and that his tactics to win the nomination will have virtually no application once he’s secured it.

Political Deal-Making: Does It Matter to You?

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

It's a Deal! Or Is It?

The old lament about the legislative process contends that it’s like making sausage, in that while the final product may taste great, the process of making it can be downright ugly.  In politics, that’s frequently the case too, as people make back-room deals for support and endorsements and future patronage jobs, and for conservatives, it all begins to take on a stench that has nothing in common with sausage.  We see the deals after they’re made by the politicians we once admired, and they seem to be speaking on behalf of us, but at no time do they seem ever to ask our opinions, and there’s a presumption about our continuing support when they change directions.  The recent story about Ron Paul is an example of this sort of thing, wherein what he may be angling for with his current campaign may not be the presidency, but something much less important.  If that’s the case, it makes one wonder what other sort of deals may have yet to be brokered or revealed as we race on toward the nomination.

We all like our politicians to be pure in this regard, and whatever our political stripe or whomever our particular candidates, we want to know that they will stand staunchly and mostly implacable against political tides and trends rather than rushing out to meet them, in seeming surrender to what may turn out to be a political fad.  This has been one of the knocks against Newt Gingrich, for example, as he sat on the couch with Nancy Pelosi to talk about “global warming” just a year before the ClimateGate scandal poked the theory full of ethical and logical holes over rigged science and nasty backroom politics.  Of course, Gingrich is hardly alone on this score, and there are some who still claim to be aboard on the issue.  For instance, Mitt Romney still insists Global Warming is real despite the mounting evidence of pseudo-science with a political agenda, but now he allows that perhaps it’s not man-caused after all.  These sorts of shifts really drive conservatives crazy, because we see this as revelatory of a lack of clear principles, or worse, the tendency to become suckers for fads.

One friend asked me if it wasn’t true that they all make deals, and I told him that most do as a matter of practicality.  For instance, Ronald Reagan accepted George HW Bush as his VP nominee after a bitterly fought campaign.  You and I might have had some trouble doing that, because we’d have seen the elder Bush as part of the trouble the party faces, and it is true that by the end of the second term, the Bush clan’s influence was on the rise, and frequently caused trouble for Reagan.  Nevertheless, he did so in an attempt to unite what had been a very divided party in another fractious primary campaign season.  It helped bring the establishment a little way back into the fold, which helped to get their money for the campaign, but did not give them all the power they wanted.  Would you say of Reagan that he had been too compromising, or would you contend like so many others that he had the wisdom of a statesman in choosing George Bush?  The fact that he won doesn’t prove anything, except that his decision was at least as valid in electoral results as any alternative we might now imagine.

As we push forward into the campaign season of 2012, we’re beginning to see alliances form and take shape.  We’ve seen a number of significant endorsements, and a few voter “recommendations,” but the season is young and I expect we will yet see many more.  There are those who are scrambling to leap into bed with Mitt Romney, and while they may see it as an expediency they cannot avoid, voters will watch with great interest, particularly conservatives, to see who ultimately sides with whom. The irony in these situations always happens later, when it something happens along the way to upset the conventional wisdom now in force.  For instance, at present, many see Romney as “inevitable,” but a few weeks like the last one, filled with gaffes and reversals will be enough to perhaps cause him to crash and burn.  In that case, you must then wonder if we arrive at the convention with somebody other than Romney as the front-runner, what will happen to those who had earlier supported him?  They will change to support the nominee in most cases, but they’ll be left to explain why they picked the loser first in such a scenario, calling into question the value of their support.

Conservatives at once hope the rare politicians they admire will choose wisely, and keep their powder dry until there’s no alternative but to speak up or go down to defeat, and we may soon approach that moment when a whole parade of endorsements either fall on Mitt Romney or go elsewhere.  When that happens, it will be either a sign of an open war within the GOP or a sign that the battle has entered a nervous internal cease-fire in order to first defeat Barack Obama.  In honesty, I hope for the former, because I’m not satisfied yet that we have a candidate who can withstand what Obama will heap on him, and I don’t think we’ve yet seen more than a small sample of what Obama will be willing to do.  For now, Obama is focusing on Romney, and expending a lot of time, effort and money tackling him.  If Romney turns out not to be our nominee, Obama will have chased along the wrong trail and that by itself will have given us something about which to laugh.

I think we shall see deals, promises, and all sorts of things happen before this primary season concludes, and while this is a sore spot for many conservatives who can smell a compromise of our principles from a mile away, at the same time we must at least consider the long view, and measure them each on the basis of their merits.  We will ultimately be happy with some, and disappointed by some more, but it won’t matter if we win.  On the other hand, if our nominee loses, today’s deal-making will cause no shortage of political blood-letting later, as the blame-game begins.  Win, lose or draw, I believe that on the day after the election, we may see whatever war was paused within the party re-ignite with new fervor, and I must say that I am keen for that fight.  Like most conservatives, I think there has been far too much compromising of principles along the way, and that has landed us in our current national predicament.   Our movement needs to begin to reassert itself not only at the polls, but in elected office.  We need to develop an under-card of newcomers who we can promote and move in, and those that warrant it will eventually move up, but along the way, there will be deals made.  Make no mistake about it.  The question for conservatives must be:  What are the terms, and at what point does the palate-pleasing become something we can no longer stomach?

Will The Establishment Follow It’s Own Urgings?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Will the Establishment Back Our Candidate?

I’ve heard it said at least one-thousand times in the last six months from various sources, day in, and day out, that we must support the Republican nominee whomever it is.  I’ve expressed to you my general misgivings about this thesis, but were I to accept it, and follow along, having watched the behavior of the GOP establishment over the last two weeks, I am now beginning to wonder:  If a non-establishment candidate were to prevail and win the nomination, how would the establishment behave?  I realize they would make a show of supporting the nominee, but remembering what was done by Romney’s crowd in 2008, I have no confidence that they would reciprocate in earnest.  So my question for the GOP insiders, and for you my readers is this: If somebody other than Mitt Romney wins the nomination, will you fight for that nominee as diligently as you would fight for Mitt?

I realize there are those in media who hate this entire line of discussion, but when I think about what has been done to Allen West by the machine in Florida through aggressive redistricting, I can’t help but wonder how serious the commitment is among establishment Republicans to do as they say we should do in supporting the nominee of the party.  I know there exists an element within the GOP establishment that doesn’t mind losing, and won’t mind if we go down to defeat, for various reasons of their own nefarious intentions.  There’s substantial evidence that they’ve sabotaged us before.

We are told we should support the GOP nominee, those of us who are of the grass-roots, either as part of the conservative base, or the Tea Party crowd, and we’re told we shouldn’t hold a grudge or seek to punish the establishment as they circle their own wagons and seek to close us out.  I don’t know if I can agree with this thinking, because I know as with any wayward child who thinks he’s in charge, you must occasionally deliver the punishment or your threat to do so loses all credibility.  I realize that there is a great force against this sort of thinking, and I hope not to have need to consider it, but I’m one who will not take this off the table.

With the ridiculous behavior of the establishment in this campaign season, particularly over the last two week, I think we should always bear this option in mind even if we would rather not exercise it.  With all due respect to those who think this is the topic we must not mention, I believe if we are to ever take back our party, we must consider it in earnest.  I’ve heard commentaries in which there is a frantic insistence that the willingness to withhold one’s vote in the general election over the ascension of another GOP establishment nominee would merely constitute a vote for Obama, and yes, I’ve been castigated here for mentioning the idea, but I must tell you that this is not the case. One of the things I’ve heard repeatedly is that we shouldn’t withhold our votes out of some sense of our own moral consistency, but that too is nonsense.

Where is the morality consistency of those who say Obama must go, but would put up another GOP establishment flunky?  Where is it? If they know the base may abandon them, why do they insist on shafting us with Romney anyway?  Those of you who believe you will be able to motivate the base to support Romney with sufficient diligence and vigor to defeat Barack Obama are every bit as mistaken as those who believed the same about McCain in 2008.  Meanwhile, we must ask the establishment: “Will you support the nominee even if it’s not your guy for a change?”  The media loves to ask conservatives and Tea Party folk this question, but you won’t see them ask it of Norm Coleman, or Ann Coulter, or Chris Christie.  They won’t.  You have every right to wonder why.

Self-Contradiction Cannot Defeat Obama

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Today, Welfare Opponent; Tomorrow?

When you run into people whose utterances contradict their previous actions, you’re wise to ask which will matter to you in the long run.  If somebody break every promise to you they’ve ever made, at some point, you’ll start ignoring their promises.  If one lives by crony capitalism in the real world, but offers to you a long diatribe about the evils of crony capitalism, you’ll quickly point out any hypocrisy, and the contradiction will necessarily ruin one’s credibility.  It is therefore impossible to overestimate the destructive contradiction that now consumes the heart of Mitt Romney’s campaign.  He is now out campaigning in South Carolina, and is actually talking about the dangerous trend of the United States toward becoming a social welfare state.  This from the man who imposed Romney-care on the entire state of Massachusetts, complete with mandates?  The monstrous contradiction between what he now professes as a danger and what he has implemented while Governor of Massachusetts is going to destroy his candidacy, and Barack Obama will be only too happy to help.

You might dislike Ron Paul, and like me, you may think he misses the point on foreign policy and national defense, but one thing you can say about him is that he’s more or less consistent across the board with respect to his actions and his philosophy, whether we agree with it entirely or not.  That’s one of the things people find attractive about him, and whether you agree with his philosophy will largely determine how you regard him, but the test of consistency is to examine one’s actions, and see how they hold up to one’s professions.  Ayn Rand once wrote approximately that “to the consistent will go the victory(paraphrased.)”  The reason this is so is because people have a natural dislike and distrust for hypocrisy and inconsistency.  Even when one disagrees with the particular views of another, if one sees that the other is at least consistent throughout, it is easier to offer grudging respect on that basis.

Mitt Romney has no such virtue, as his current pronouncements on the welfare state show, since he was quite willing to expand it and propagate it when the opportunity presented.  This is why the media and Obama can’t wait to see this man win the nomination:  Inconsistency is a campaign killer, and Romney’s self-contradictory statements on this and other issues have already doomed him.  The problem is that because his opponents have little cash to spend on revealing his inconsistencies to a wider audience, at this point only politically attentive people are aware of this impending doom.  Worse, by the time the greater body of the electorate is paying attention to all of this, if nominated, Romney will finally have an opponent who will make this case plain with unfailing acuity in a general campaign.

This is something about which every Republican voter ought to be terribly concerned, because what it means is that if Romney goes forward as the nominee, his opponents will absolutely dig up every bit of this to make a mockery of him.  You can complain, and you will cry foul, but this is precisely what Obama’s campaign will do, and it will be on every late-night show, and you will see it, and there will be no escaping it from the moment the Republican convention ends until Obama is laughing it up on his way to a second inaugural in November.  I hate to be the bearer of such pessimistic thinking, but that’s what is likely to happen if you nominate Mitt Romney, and apparently everybody in the country except Republican primary voters to date seems to know it.

Of course, part of this is that Romney is moving right for South Carolina, and to try to wrap up this nomination, but the problem is that what you don’t realize is that what sounds like conservatism now will be tossed overboard the moment a general campaign commences.  Ask yourself not “what does Mitt say,” but instead “what has Mitt done?”  He will move back to his slightly left-of-center position for the general, and if he somehow manages to defeat Obama(but he won’t,) he will govern from the center, and we won’t fix one damned problem confronting this country.  Of course, that assumes he’ll win, but since he won’t, let’s stick to the subject: Contradictions of the kind now consuming Romney are bludgeons to be used against him by his opponents.

My strongest suggestion to other Republicans seeking the nomination is to figure out how to highlight Romney’s contradictions, and mock him publicly for them.  These things are coming anyway, so it’s best to show them to voters now when they can still change their minds.  Nothing will demolish a candidacy faster than to have its self-contradictions exposed, and Romney has them by the truckload.

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.

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 Politics of False Unity

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

So They Say...

An idea I’ve begun to hear and read with greater frequency is that conservatives must abandon the divide between they and the GOP establishment, in the name of “saving the country from Barack Obama.”  It’s no secret that this is being pushed by the Romney camp, and by the establishment media, but I reject it outright.  The divide between conservatives and the party establishment is real, and it’s not going to be patched-over by a lot of happy talk about unity.  The problem is that while the establishment denies its own existence, those who comprise it are continuing a campaign aimed at convincing conservatives they’re merely being stubborn at the expense of victory.  What conservatives know is that you can’t build a victory on the foundation of a false unity that paints over meaningful divisions in the party, and while it is true that the conservatives could surrender for the sake of expedience, they don’t seem inclined to do so in this election cycle.

If we are to accept the argument of the establishment, nothing is more important than to defeat Barack Obama, but the problem is that the tool they’ve selected for this chore isn’t up to the job.  Their strategy has been simple: Divide the conservative base among a number of somewhat more conservative candidates, and then knock them off one at a time, always leaving just enough of a residual support to ensure the division among conservatives.  The strategy seems to be working, and what it has revealed is that the party establishment merely used Tea Party support in 2010 to make gains for the Republicans they really hadn’t deserved.  With the absence of Palin from the field, the Tea Party is either divided or at least uncommitted.

This false unity being proposed by the establishment is the siren’s song they offer as consolation: “Come join with Mitt Romney, and together we’ll defeat Obama in November.”  Poppycock.  This sort of vacuous sloganeering is what has produced such thorough losers as John McCain and Bob Dole.   The very notion that Mitt Romney can fire up a conservative base and Tea Party support in any way at all is preposterous.  Obama won’t be beaten by merely running against him.  The opponent who faces Obama will need to present a clear alternative, and Romney simply is merely a less virulent form of statist.   There’s not much to differentiate, in truth, because what Romney has done is no better than Obama in terms of policy.  Tallying the scorecard, the differences are so few and so superficial that I can already see the race-card play from here:  “Admit it,” they’ll say, “the only reason you oppose Obama is that’s he’s a black man.“  You’ve already seen this card played once before, by Glenn Beck (of all people) against Newt Gingrich, but if Beck will use such a rationale against Gingrich, you can bet the Democrats will use it against Mitt Romney, and frankly, they wouldn’t need to embellish much on Romney’s record to make the policy-based end of the argument.

The main reason they will use this false idea of party unity is the same reason they’re scrambling even now to undo the mess they’ve made in Virginia:  The danger is that given the only choices of Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, you might pick Ron Paul if your contempt for the establishment is as great as they fear.  While I’m not a fan of Ron Paul, I find it almost comical that after putting the Virginia GOP in this position, first they responded with a requirement for loyalty oaths, and then when that was scorned almost universally, they trotted out their AG to propose changes that would permit others on the ballot.  The problem had been, of course, that they didn’t see Ron Paul as a real threat, so they were happy when only he and Romney made it onto the ballot.  They thought it guaranteed a Romney win, until they thought about it, or were reminded of the other possibilities in a two candidate race in which Democrats would be unencumbered by their own primary and thus free to participate, and dare I say “meddle” in the GOP primary.  Up until that moment, “rules were rules,” but when they realized what might happen, the “rules” were no longer so  important.

The real problem for the Republican Party lies in the fact that they have so thoroughly compartmentalized their base that they have made it difficult for them to really unify around a moderate-to-liberal establishment candidate.  The pro-life voters won’t go with Romney very easily, despite his latter-day renunciation of his earlier and long-held pro-abortion position.  Fiscal conservatives will not easily go along with him because he’s a big-spender and he is of the Northeastern blue-blood crowd which likes its inflationary monetary policy and its deficit spending.  He won’t do well with those who dislike the welfare state or the encroachments on individual liberty, because they see in him all of those things in the form of Romneycare to which they are fervently opposed.  Cultural conservatives won’t support him easily because of his actions as Governor of Massachusetts on gay marriage.  Tea Party types will look at him as just another all-around part of the larger problem, and those who are generally suspicious of big government will not have failed to note how indecisive he’s been, or how much he’s been in favor of secrecy and concealing his official records.  His past claim to be a social moderate and a fiscal conservative is a contradiction in terms.  One can’t be both, simultaneously.

This is why they must create this false idea of unity.  Mitt Romney has nothing else to offer, except the claim that “he can beat Obama.”  It is for all the reasons above that I know he is not likely to win, but I also don’t mind saying that if he does manage to win, he’ll have done so without my support.  People don’t want a leader who follows, but that’s all Mitt ever really does.  He’s simply not a conservative, and that’s not good enough for me. I don’t buy into contrived unity, because I know where it inevitably leads:  Betrayal, defeat, and disaster.  In truth, but without respect to calls for a false sense of unity, these are all that Mitt Romney has to offer, and I’m not interested.

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.

 

 

Did You Ever Wonder: What if Palin Had Run?

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Some People Just Have "It"

As most of you will remember, I have been an ardent supporter of Sarah Palin’s notion of “sudden and relentless reform.”  Like many who believe that’s what our republic needs, I was disappointed when she announced that she would not seek the GOP nomination for President.  She said that she doesn’t need a title to help drive the sort of reforms and restoration the country needs.  Nevertheless, one of the things that has come along is a new HotAir Poll that shows that at least some Republicans think otherwise, because Governor Palin is still very influential.  Perhaps most stunning of all, when respondents were given a choice between the current front-runners and Sarah Palin, in a three-way race, Sarah Palin won.  I am not surprised.

While I admit that HotAir’s poll is not all that scientific, I think it’s noteworthy because it shows a couple of things.  Before considering them, let’s take a look at the results in both two-way and three-way races they presented in their poll:

Courtesy HotAir

That’s simply stunning. What this implies about the electorate is pretty clear: Left with the current front-runner as their choices, at present, Palin supporters seem to shift nearly six to one in favor of Gingrich when the field is reduced to just two.  It also suggests quite plainly that given an option to vote for Sarah Palin as opposed to either of these two, more GOP voters would jump at the chance.  It’s for this reason that when media tells us “the field is settled” that I wonder about the credibility of that claim.  After all, it seems to me that among the electorate, it’s not such a settled question as some have thought.  It also offers us a little insight into the supporters of Palin, and where they may head with their votes if Gingrich and Romney become the only choices.

The message here is that Sarah Palin is still very powerful as a force within Republican ranks, and her endorsement may be more valuable than the former Alaska Governor might be inclined to believe.  It also indicates that Sarah Palin’s general positions are likely more favorable to a wider segment of Republicans than either of the current “front-runners.”  It was my thesis early on in this campaign season that Sarah Palin is the real front-runner.  On the basis of this poll, I stand by that determination even if she’s not running, in fact.   The favor upon with which she is generally looked by Republican voters is much more thorough than some may have noticed, but it also says something about where the conservative base of the GOP really is, with respect to their opinions on various issues.  The reason Sarah Palin has always been out front is primarily because voters identify with her positions, and her general outlook on the country and the necessities of reform.

Since she’s not running, this may lead some to wish for her to reconsider, as such “draft” movements have been persistent since she made her announcement on October 5th.  What I think this really tells us is just how unifying the right candidate could be for the GOP under the right circumstances.  We have learned recently that polling showed most of Herman Cain’s support would likely turn to Gingrich if Cain withdrew, and now that he has, I expect that will probably occur, but this also should transmit a thorough warning to Newt Gingrich:  “You’re still only a second (or third)choice.”  That should highlight something very important that the Gingrich camp simply cannot afford to ignore about the volatility of conservative voters who have begun to feel for months that they might be forced into a choice among the lesser of evils.  Gingrich should take no comfort in finding that Republican primary voters may see him as a slightly lesser evil than Willard “Mitt” Romney.

The message to the GOP candidates couldn’t be clearer:  Think about what Sarah Palin has represented and why she appealed to the Tea Party and conservatives,  and then figure out how you can earnestly and sincerely implement the reforms she has advocated.  Show Republican voters how you will beat Obama and reverse Obamacare as two first stops along the way to restoring the country, and you might find yourself the winner, not only in the primaries, but at the polls that really count, next November.

She may not be running, but don’t let the media fool you:  Sarah Palin is a vital player of this race, candidate, or not.

Cain Out of Presidential Race

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Cain Bows Out of Race

Saying he was suspending his campaign for the GOP nomination, Herman Cain announced to a crowd of disappointed supporters that he was effectively ending his White House bid.  Despite what others may say, I think the American conservative voter will miss Herman Cain’s populist voice in this 2012 election season.  Mr. Cain’s particular strength had been his ability to resonate with voters who have regarded Washington DC as the ongoing source of our troubles, but not necessarily any solutions.  Cain’s candidacy first came under attack after several women made claims of sexual harassment, including a over-hyped media event featuring one of the accusers and Gloria Allred, her attorney.  To date, Gloria Allred still has not provided the alleged sworn statements she said she was waving around in that press conference, making it appear as though she may have known there was no truth to the allegations.  Last week, another woman of dubious credibility came out to claim she had carried on a thirteen year long affair with Mr. Cain, but just as with the others, she has provided no substantial evidence of her claims to date.

Whatever you may think of Herman Cain on the issues, what torpedoed his campaign is nothing more than press-hyped innuendo, at least thus far.  While it is possible all of these accusers are telling the truth, my own gut tells me that at least some of these charges are pure nonsense.  Part of my reasoning is that the method by which these things have been used to take down Cain have emerged is with much media fanfare, but in follow-up, very little substance.  More, when one accusation didn’t work, more were trotted out.  When the sexual harassment allegations didn’t convince voters entirely, accusations of an affair were brought forward.  One after the other, charges were made until the mantra became “it’s the seriousness of the charges,” without any real examination of evidence.

Whenever I see people begin to talk “about the seriousness of the charges” without reference to any substantive evidence, my antennae deploy in suspicion of treachery.  It’s not that Herman Cain couldn’t have done all of these things, although some surely seem farcical.  In any event, I’m disappointed to see Cain depart, if only because his views on taking power from the DC insiders was refreshing and offered hope to people for real reform.  Whether one thought the merits of his “9-9-9″ plan were great or terrible, it surely spawned debate on the question of our system of taxation.  Few conservatives will fail to remember 9-9-9 in association with tax reform, and I believe Mr. Cain deserves a good deal of credit for bringing that discussion so much attention, irrespective of these allegations about his personal conduct.

Cain was also willing to go into a forum in which he would face former Speaker Newt Gingrich in a one-on-one debate, which turned out to have been a wild success among voters who wanted to be able to gauge the candidates side by side, in isolation from the glitz and hype of a big stage production with a half-dozen or more candidates and sound-bite worthy time constraints.  Readers of this blog favored that format by a wide margin, expressing the opinion that the remainder of the debates should take on that kind of one-on-one format, since it allowed for a more free-ranging and thorough discussion of the issues based on their merits, and tended to stay away from the sort of “gotcha moments” that tend to characterize the traditional debates.  While readers of this blog thought Cain lost that debate, they nevertheless gained a good deal of respect for the man’s positions.  He also endeared himself to debate watchers in that forum. One would think other candidates would recognize the value of such debates to voters, but some candidates are more interested in winning without the voters learning anything substantial about them.

Herman Cain has been a ground-breaking candidate because he comes not from a long career of government service, but instead because from a private sector background with unique solutions to problems facing our republic.  His exit leaves another hole in the field, because the rest of the candidates have extensive government service that makes it difficult to consider them “outsiders.”  Cain said that he would continue to try to reform government from the outside in his announcement Saturday, and many Americans fervently hope he will carry that out with the same personable good nature that shows through even under duress. His announcement Saturday paid appropriate respect to his supporters, and to the country and its voters as a whole, and it’s why so many believe Cain is simply a class act. This writer certainly hopes Herman Cain will stay involved, because this country certainly needs more voices from outside government demanding real change.

Chink Appears in Mitt’s Armor: Won’t Debate Newt

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Afraid of Newt?

For those who have wondered what would derail Mitt Romney, this may be it.  RealClearPolitics is reporting that the Romney campaign declined to debate former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in a one-on-one “Lincoln-Douglas style” debate.  This is simply ridiculous.  If the former Massachusetts Governor had confidence in his message, this sort of opportunity would be just the sort of event he could use, not only to knock off Newt as the front-runner, but also to demonstrate his ability to go head-to-head with one of the more agile minds in politics.  One must wonder if the Romney camp isn’t now terrified of Newt.  Romney’s strategy has been to wait for others to kill themselves off, and there’s no doubt that his campaign is hoping that Gingrich will somehow do the same, but there’s an unseemly element of cowardice in play here.  Romney’s crew is running scared, and this refusal is a sign of panic over at Mitt Central.  If Mitt wants to show his ability to win a debate against Barack Obama, he’d better be able to hold his own with Newt, but this refusal suggests he’s running away, and that’s something we can’t permit in whomever we choose to go up against Barack Obama.

This highlights what has been Mitt Romney’s problem in this entire primary campaign season, as he’s avoided situations that force him to square up to other competitors in any venue that wouldn’t be favorable to him. This entire show with six or more candidates arrayed across a stage is designed to help Mitt.  He’s fine when he is able to get away with short answers and seek the refuge of the time-keeper, but the truth is that Mitt gives one the sense that if pulled away from his rehearsed and polished talking point, he probably isn’t able to think on his feet any better than Barack Obama when deprived of his teleprompter.  Everybody in the Republican party would feel a good deal better about Governor Romney were to take on Speaker Gingrich in a one-on-one debate and at least hold his own.  Romney has long suffered from the sense among many Republican voters that he’s too plastic, and too packaged.  This would give Romney the perfect opportunity to show he’s more than that, but instead of viewing this as an opportunity, it’s clear that his campaign sees the idea as a threat.

If Republican primary voters consider this refusal, it will be trouble for Romney.  It may well kill off some of the lukewarm support he has enjoyed in some quarters, where he had been seen as the “safe candidate who can win.”  Many eyebrows will now be raised, with Republicans wondering if he’s so safe, or able to win after all.  The truth is that such conventional wisdom has always had a serious flaw, and it goes to the question about whether Mitt Romney is really up to a battle with Barack Obama.  If he won’t debate Gingrich over fears of a poor showing, what will he do against Barack Obama,, who will doubtless have a slavish media moderating debates to the disadvantage of any Republican?  In that environment, even a debater like Gingrich will be hard-pressed, but I wonder if Romney understands that in part, this primary campaign season is an audition for the part of dragon-slayer.  If he cannot or will not face up to Gingrich alone, does he have any business next September/October on the stage with Obama?

It’s time for the Romney campaign to kick into gear and show the strengths of their candidate.  Thus far, all they’ve shown is his ability to avoid stepping on lethal landmines, but they’ve shown nothing of his ability to charge the machine-gun nest across the field.  Mitt Romney can’t win the nomination by avoiding Newt Gingrich, hoping the former Speaker of the House will somehow self-destruct.  Now is the time for Romney to show he’s at least able to square off with Gingrich in a one-on-one test of intellect, and the fact that his own campaign so quickly dismissed and declined a debate with Gingrich merely suggests that the wider judgment of him by Republican voters has been correct all along:  He’s not up to the task of governing the nation, and truly, if he will not stand up to Gingrich, there is no hope that even were he to defeat Obama, he’d be able to take on Harry Reid and other Democrats in the Congress. It doesn’t speak well of this would-be nominee that he hasn’t the stomach or the determination to withstand a debate with Gingrich.  If he hold’s to this refusal, he’ll need to be careful that he’s not soon known as “Chicken-s**t Mitt.”

Note to Newt: Stick to Obama

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

How Much Has Newt Matured?

Since Newt Gingrich is offered advice to Herman Cain about what he should do in the wake of the latest allegations that Cain had a thirteen year affair, I suppose it would be permissible to offer a bit of friendly advice to the former Speaker of the House:  Mr. Gingrich, stick to Obama.  By this, I mean simply that you ought not be goaded by media or political analysts into breaking form by going after your fellow Republicans.  That would be a terrible mistake, and you’re by all estimations a very intelligent fellow, so my advice to you is an old refrain: “Dance with the one who brought you.”  In this case, that one has been your strategy of focusing on Obama’s inept, miserable leadership.  Don’t become boastful in pronouncing that you will be the nominee.  Earn it by doing it.  One of your past problems that you have recently admitted has caused you some trouble over the course of your career is immaturity.  At times, it seems your immaturity still rears its ugly head when you seem not to know when to shut up.  Your interview Thursday with Jake Tapper makes the point well enough:  It’s one thing to say you believe you can and will win the nomination, but its another to state boastfully that you will be the nominee.

Speaker Gingrich is indeed a smart fellow, and at the moment, he seems very able to fulfill what will seem awfully boastful to some who are not yet sold on his presidential potential.  There’s another old saying that tells us “It isn’t bragging if you can do it.”  The problem in this case is that with such things, you’re better off to let the tell be in the show:  Do it and no bragging will have needed justification.  In short, just shut up with the prognostication and do it.  This sort of thing has gotten Mr. Newt into trouble before, and while he speaks to a greater maturity these days, this is the sort of thing that leads some to wonder:  Has Newt really wised-up with age, or is he just a better pitch-man?

If I were Gingrich, I would get myself as far away from the internecine battle for the nomination, and focus instead on the real opponent he would be forced to beat.  In the first instance, this helps sharpen the debate that is going to count most, should he fulfill his boast.  In the second instance, it permits him to appeal to the positive side of the debate, instead of getting drawn down into the weeds with other Republicans.  Yes, he will need to rebut them when they make charges of their own, but the key here for Gingrich will be remaining above that fray and instead focusing on the battle with Obama and the Democrats.  After all, he is now the verifiable front-runner, and if the strategy of staying positive with respect to his fellow Republicans helped propel him to this lead, it will surely help maintain him there.

Of course, all of this supposes that Gingrich is listening to anybody, never mind some bumpkin out on the Texas prairie, but nevertheless, Gingrich has always possessed the gift of gab, and I remember fondly his Renewing American Civilization lecture series that aired in the early and mid-1990s on Paul Weyrich’s National Empowerment Television network.  It was educational and captivating, in part because of Gingrich’s mastery of history, but also because he was speaking in the manner of a teacher without talking down to students.  That was classic Newt Gingrich, and it was very effective.  Newt’s singular failing in this respect has been his seeming inability to integrate feedback in real time.  He can get out ahead of himself and his audience, and this is where the trouble frequently begins.

Such may be the case with his interview with Tapper.  It’s not that Gingrich said anything wrong, per se, but it is the manner in which he said it that may rub some people raw:

“I’m going to be the nominee,” the former Speaker told ABC News. “It’s very hard not to look at the recent polls and think that the odds are very high I’m going to be the nominee.”

To his credit, in this interview, he went on to say that he thinks Republican prospects ought to avoid attacking one another:

“And by the way I don’t object if people want to attack me, that’s their right. All I’m suggesting that it’s not going to be very effective and that people are going to get sick of it very fast. And the guys who attacked each other in the debates up to now, every single one of them have lost ground by attacking. So they should do what they and their consultants want to do. I will focus on being substantive and I will focus on Barack Obama.”

This is a better approach.  Getting sucked into commenting on the Herman Cain story doesn’t help.  That’s fodder for the kind of “gotcha politics” he has so often decried, and it helps the media spin the story into headlines that prompt divisiveness.  Maybe Speaker Gingrich is learning a little maturity after all.  Sometimes, learning when to say nothing is that final bit of wisdom.  That’s always been something of a challenge for Gingrich, and there have been instances when his own words were clipped and snipped to his detriment.  Back when he said “wither on the vine,” I would bet that while he really meant nothing like his comments were portrayed to have been, in retrospect, he probably wishes he had found another way to say what he meant without giving his opponents an easily decontextualized sound-bite. Even now, if you type “wither on the vine” into a search engine, a reference to Gingrich will still appear in the first few entries, though that idiom has been around for a very long time.

It’s great that Newt Gingrich is still quick-witted when it comes to policy and politics.  If he’s right, that he will be the nominee, he’s going to need all his wits about him, and this time, there will be no room for error.  Many have lately remarked that Gingrich’s mouth often has been Newt’s worst enemy may have a point.  Time will tell, but I suspect we will know it if he begins to focus ever more narrowly on Obama, Obama’s administration, the Obama policies, and and all that go with a campaign against Obama.  Many Republicans and conservatives are ready to take the battle to the President, and if Gingrich bears that in mind, he may not only succeed in becoming the nominee, but he may also find himself able to rally the party in a unified effort to defeat Obama.

Psssst… Hey, Speaker Gingrich: If you do get the nomination, don’t run about in the media giving interviews in which you’ll tell us that you will be the President. As a friendly suggestion, since advice is all the rage, don’t tell us – just show us.

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:

Media Manipulates Debate, Limits Questions to Bachmann

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Intentionally Ignored

That’s the question many are asking in the wake of Saturday’s CBS News/National Journal debate.  An email has been leaked which seems to indicate this has been a conscious decision, and not some unlucky happenstance.  What it suggests is what we’ve suspected all along:  The Media is manipulating these debates to get their own favored result.  It doesn’t matter which candidate you support.  This entire situation has become a farce, and now we know why.  Big Media is engineering the outcomes by deciding who will get question, placement of candidates on the stage, and rigging of the entire spectacle.  The Bachmann campaign has posted an image of the email on her Facebook page, and it’s pretty damning.  In it, CBS News Political Director John Dickerson tells correspondent Caroline Horn:

“Okay let’s keep it loose though since she’s not going to get many questions and she’s nearly off the charts in the hopes we can get someone else”(bolding mine)

This means they had no intention of asking her many questions.  This certainly demonstrates what her campaign has been suggesting for some time:  Bachmann’s being moved to the margins not so much by voters as by the media’s portrayal of her.  By intentionally slighting her, CBS News is manipulating the results. In their statement accompanying the release of the email, Bachmann Campaign Manager, Keith Haigian, said on Bachmann’s Facebook Page:

This is Keith Nahigian, Michele’s campaign manager. While Michele has been onstage at tonight’s debate demonstrating strong leadership on foreign policy and national security, we received concrete evidence confirming what every conservative already knows – the liberal mainstream media elites are manipulating the Republican debates by purposely suppressing our conservative message and limiting Michele’s questions.

View the attached email by CBS News’ political director from earlier today–we need to show the liberal media elite that we won’t stand for this outrageous manipulation. Help us fight this affront by sharing this with your friends.

This really is a damning indication of how thoroughly manipulated these debates have been.  If they’re already deciding in advance to limit questions to a particular candidate, as many have suspected all along, then what sort of debates are these?  It’s a show intended to give us the favored result of the media, which is why I have suggested that the sane candidates should instead ditch the remainder of these debates and work to get debates scheduled like the Cain-Gingrich debate.  At least in that context, you don’t have hostile moderators, and you can be more assured that you’ll get an honest outcome, rather than a stage-managed result.

At one point, moderator Scott Pelley interrupted Bachmann’s attempt to interject with a response to Congressman Ron Paul.  Said Pelley:

“There’s actually a system at work here with regard to the Senator’s question.”

Indeed.

This episode reminds me of another CBS scandal, involving a forged letter.  Apparently, the faces have changed, but the dirty tricks remain the same over at CBS News.  We conservatives must not accept in any measure what the media tells us about the electability of any of these candidates, because it is clear they are seeking their own ends, and it surely doesn’t serve our interests, or the interests of an honest and fair debate.  Other candidates have been making a similar charges for some time, but this leaked email is the first evidence we’ve gotten that this is not accidental, not coincidental, and not a matter of bad luck.  It has everything to do with the media’s desire to stage the outcome.  Conservatives have every reason to be suspicious, because with this sort of clear shaping of debates, what we now must recognize is that the Media will not showcase for voters all of the candidates on a fair and equitable basis.

It also means something else, and for you, it’s very important now as the accelerated primary season is nearly upon us:  On this basis alone, every one of these candidates deserves a re-look.  That is the truth of the matter.

Here’s the image posted by the Bachmann Campaign on FaceBook:

Cain Accuser: Come Clean Mr. Cain!

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Accuser Comes forward

I honestly don’t know what to make of this, apart from the fact that it is a political attack.  I’m going to insist on more information, some sort of corroboration, or something.  Do we have hotel receipts? Do we have dates, times, anything to substantiate any of this?  My problem with all of this is simple: In the press conference, we were told there would be statements by two contemporaneous witnesses to the alleged victim’s statements in confidence.  These statements have yet to be released.  It’s one thing to say the statements exist, but it’s something else again to produce them.  Something is very odd about this, and the public would be right to withhold judgment pending the disclosure of these statements.  Until then, what we have still amounts at best to a “he said-she said,” and it’s not enough to believe the accuser.

I’m not going to get into trying to debunk the specific accusations until we’ve had something to substantiate the claims that both individuals were there, were present at the hotel in question.  I don’t wish to smear the accuser, Sharon Bialek, and I won’t, but the problem is that her attorney, Gloria Allred, has a history of some very dubious cases, and in this case, since no action will be take, and no claims will be filed, it’s difficult to understand how this is anything other than a politically motivated attack. If she seeks no compensation or settlement, then her only possible purpose can be to damage Cain’s presidential campaign.   The question is then: “Why?”

Over my lifetime, I’ve learned that people can be motivated to make ugly accusations for all manner of reasons, and sometimes it’s because they wish to see justice done.  Other times, it’s because they have some other axe to grind with the target, and the problem in this case is that while it’s being presented as the former, we really have no evidence one way or the other.

Allred said “Mr Cain, while running for President, is actively lying to Americans.”  My question for Allred is this:  You say you have corroborating statements from contemporaneous witnesses, but you have not released them.  What does Allred offer to substantiate the circumstances?  Do we have anything that shows Cain was in Chicago at the time?  Do we have anything to substantiate the Bialek was in Chicago at the time?  Do we have any information to show that there is or was any relationship of any sort between the two, never mind the allegations put forward by Bialek?  At present, I know of no information apart from her statements, and the statements of Allred, and to be honest with you, I don’t consider Allred a credible source for any information.

Allred’s comments preceding her client’s statement seem to me akin to that moment in A Few Good Men, when the character played by Demi Moore stands up in court and says “I strenuously object.”  The problem is that it’s pointless for Allred to stand up and say Cain “…is actively lying to the American people,”  after offering absolutely nothing to corroborate her client’s claims, apart from a business card that shows Bialek did work for the Education Foundation at some point, although by her own admission, not at the time of the alleged incident.  Statements of that sort are theater, but they have no impact because there is no evidence to support them.  Additionally, we do know that Bialek thought at the time she was let go from the foundation before the alleged incident.  It was stated flatly that she thought she had been fired unfairly by the Foundation because she hadn’t raised enough money.  Allred states that Bialek is a registered Republican.  What does that mean?  There are a number of other candidates in the Republican party who will benefit from this disclosure if it sticks.  It’s not as though the only people who intend political harm to Cain are Democrats, and in fact, I’ve said that all along.

Again, I don’t have a particular dog in this hunt, except to say that I would prefer the truth on all such matters.  What Allred has engineered was a very dramatic, hyped, and overblown spectacle from which no usable evidence of misconduct was produced, apart from Bialek’s claims.  If the two men who allegedly signed statements corroborating Bialek’s claims will not come forward, or otherwise consent to the release of their statements, then I don’t know how we’re supposed to view this as anything but an unsubstantiated political attack.  At the moment, that’s the extent of this despite the endless media coverage.

Ladies and gentlemen, we don’t have the truth of this matter yet, and while it’s our natural inclination to believe that where there is smoke, there must also be fire, but the truth is I’ve yet to see any damning evidence.  Bialek sounds credible, but then again, many people are good liars, so I have no idea about her actual credibility.  Without the release of the statements from her friends that purport to support her story, I haven’t enough evidence to damn Herman Cain.  It’s not enough to trot out an alleged victim who makes claims, wave around some pieces of paper that are alleged to contain statements from two confidantes of the alleged victim, and then call it a day.   There must be more, or it’s simply another claim brought forward in dramatic fashion by Gloria Allred.  Frankly, that says plenty to me about this woman’s motives, because she did not seek out an attorney so much as the media management of a publicist.

Here’s the press conference:

Cain Rises Despite Allegations

Friday, November 4th, 2011

In Spite of the Controversy

ABC News is reporting polling data that shows despite the recent allegations, Cain is still rising. Some will wonder how this is possible, but the answer is simple:  Without any substantial evidence, this is just a take-down ploy, and Republican voters know it.  If you wonder why conservatives are reacting negatively to the allegations, you need only examine the story linked above.  ABC cautions that this could change if the nature of the story changes to something more serious.   This is a typical media poll, however, in that it seems to be written to push readers in a certain direction, and it’s not very informative.  From the article, there’s this paragraph:

Yet the controversy does pose risks for Cain. Just under four in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in this ABC News/Washington Post poll do say the allegations are a serious matter. Half of them say it makes them less apt to support Cain, and Romney leads him for the nomination in this group by nearly 20 points. If views of the seriousness of the issue were to increase, Cain’s support could be at risk.

No!  Get OUT!  Do they mean to say that if actual evidence of wrong-doing on Cain’s part comes out, some people might change their minds?  Of course they would.  Notice this, however, when you debunk it. Of those who think these are serious charges as they stand, half say it makes them less likely to support Cain, but Romney leads in that group by nearly 20 points.  Do you understand what this is? This is merely a statement of the obvious.  I could easily say it this way, too: One in five Republicans supports Mitt Romney, and therefore consider any allegation against upstart Herman Cain good news.

Who is surprised at that?  People who think these are serious allegations are prone to support Romney. SHOCKER! That’s nearly as shocking as: “People who believe in socialism vote Democrat.”  There’s no surprise in this because moderate Republicans are anti-ideology.  They could care less about principle.   It’s the only way they could support the candidates they do.  More, I’m tired of these polls including any substantial number of “republican-leaning independents.”  Unless they’re in an open primary state, or registered as a republican and thus able to vote in the primaries as a republican, for the purposes of this polling, they’re irrelevant.  I also don’t want to know about “registered voters,” but insist that polling organizations be honest and poll among “likely voters.”  In this case, they merely specified “adults.”  Here is the data on this poll:

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2011, among a random national sample of 1,004 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents, and 438 leaned Republicans. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points for the full sample and 5.5 points for leaned Republicans. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.

Cain Campaign Accuses Perry Campaign…Without Evidence

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

As Mitt Romney Looks On

I don’t wish to seem too indignant, but why is the Cain campaign now accusing Perry’s campaign of outing this story about sexual harassment allegations and settlements about Cain?  It’s not that Perry’s campaign wouldn’t have any motive, but I’m going to need to see more evidence, just as I’ll need to see more evidence on the allegations about Cain before forming any judgments.  Earlier in the day, there was an equally plausible story about Cain’s successor at the National Restaurant Association, now a Romney supporter, who may have been in a position to have known some details about the Cain story, and then it was revealed that Karl Rove and Karen Hughes had connections with the same fellow, Chris Wilson, the pollster who was interviewed on KVOT in Oklahoma and said several things about the Cain allegations.

Why, with all of this, would Herman Cain’s campaign leap out there and make these accusations against Perry’s camp?  Do they have any more evidence to which we are not privileged?  Or is it something else?  You folks know by now that I am a bit cynical about all of this, and that my own speculations are based on reading the same information widely available to everyone, but what you expect is that I will consider things from a different perspective, and I have done so knowing I am challenging conventional wisdom at times, but that in lieu of evidence to the contrary, we ought to consider all the possibilities.  Some wondered early on if Herman Cain’s campaign was a shell operation because there is so little organization or firm foundation there.   Dana Milbank seems certain that his campaign was never supposed to go anywhere, as she absolutely rips him in the Washington Post.  Cain at times has seem ill-prepared for questions, and at times his answers have been unfocused, vague, and self-contradictory.  Cain was the immediate beneficiary of Christie and Palin bowing out, and none other than Rick Perry was passing his peak in the polls as Cain started briskly upward.

Honestly, I’ve had some doubts about Herman Cain, and they are born of an observation about his campaign, and his preparedness.  At times, I haven’t been alone in wondering if he wasn’t simply trying to secure the VP slot.  It’s entirely possible that I have misread Cain, as he is genuinely likable and seems a good-hearted man, but his tendency at times to align with Romney have left me to wonder how serious about the presidency he has been. Some have suggested that he knew all along these allegations would be coming, and ought to have known they could wreck his campaign.  I don’t know about that, but what I do know is this:  An allegation of the sort Cain’s campaign is now making against Perry could be the fatal blow that sends Perry home to Texas, whether founded in facts or not.  For their part, the Perry campaign is flatly denying the charge.

So who is the beneficiary if Cain is taken down a notch or two, and Perry is delivered a knock-out blow?  This is all speculation, but one could just as easily link these allegations to Romney as to Perry.  While all of this goes on, who is sitting pretty, safely out of the fray, as the opponent he really worries about – Rick Perry – takes a black eye he may not deserve?  That’s right.  Part of the problem in all of this is how it reveals the incestuous nature of Washington DC politics.  For all of his bluster about being a sort of outsider, Cain worked as the CEO and President of the National Restaurant Association in DC.  According to Wikipedia:

The association lobbies for the restaurant and foodservice industry and represents the industry on Capitol Hill.[15] It was the largest food and beverage political action committee contributor to both the U.S. Democratic and Republican Parties in the 2004 election cycle.[16]

Now that puts a little different light on the subject, and a little different light on Mr. Cain, the “outsider,” doesn’t it?  That’s sounds vaguely like it could be a part of that whole beltway-insider system we keep hearing about.  It would be apparent to the various GOP establishment operatives that they would have to defend Romney from the outset if they were going to get their chosen candidate across the finish line.  They must have known that Romney’s RINO skin would begin to show through the paper-thin conservative veneer with which they had covered him.  How better to defend him by preventing him from having to do battle at all?  As Machiavelli might have observed, what better way to be sure your candidate prevails than to control all the candidates?

For the record, I’m not suggesting that all of these candidates are merely establishment shills, in this campaign only to set things up for Romney or anybody else, but let’s at least be honest in that most of these people do the same cocktail party circuits, know most of the same people, employ the same law firms, lobbying companies, and public relations outfits.  In short, they all speak a different language and have different points of reference from most of us wee folk out here in fly-over country.  It’s the reason why for most of them, it’s impossible to listen to the claim of being “an outsider” while maintaining a straight face.

Herman Cain’s successor at the National Restaurant Association is a Romney donor.  Chris Wilson, the pollster who was on the radio today, worked for Karl Rove and the National Restaurant Association, along with many others, but only recently, for a PAC associated with Perry.  If you go through all of these candidates and compare their lists of donors, contributors, volunteers, lawyers, pollsters, and PR flacks, you’ll find that over time, there have been all sorts of overlapping relationships and linkages.  This is the ugly truth of how the game has been played all these years, and it points out the intractable problem with the desire among so many to “clean up Washington:”  To untangle this spaghetti of associations, connections and relationships is nearly impossible.

When Herman Cain’s campaign comes out with this flimsy link to a pollster who has only recently begun work for a Perry PAC, you must realize that they’re trying to sink Perry, but if they have no more evidence than this, I’d suggest as much or more caution as I had suggested earlier Wednesday.  On the other hand, Perry’s campaign might be behind this, but the sense I’m getting from the reports of the Cain campaign’s charge is that it has less foundation in fact and substance than the already pathetically flimsy allegations Politico published about Cain, and that should give you pause.  Why would his campaign leap to this accusation, particularly on such a flimsy basis?  Do they have more evidence?  Do they have something concrete tying this to Perry?  I’m no Perry fan, and no I wouldn’t be surprised, but let’s just say that something about the way this charge against Perry’s campaign came together makes me wonder.