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2008 Presidential Election: the GOP in Search of Itself

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Ever since reading Theodore H. White‘s America in search of itself: The making of the President, 1956-1980, I have considered it the definitive study of the election of 1980. Not only does that celebrated political journalist study the seminal results of that year’s presidential election, but he also looks at its historical context, reviewing the presidential elections for the preceding 24 years, noting particularly the transformation of American politics from 1960-1979.

After my party has decided its presidential nominee for next year’s election, a similarly gifted political journalist may well write a study of the transformation of the Republican Party, The GOP in Search of Itself: The Making of the Republican Presidential Nominee 1988-2008. For it seems that after the incumbent president’s failure to promote (or even articulate) a consistent conservative domestic policy, our party is struggling to find the unifying message it had in the 1980s, occasionally in the 1990s and briefly in the current decade (but then primarily on foreign policy).

While my man Rudy Giuliani has consistently led in the polls for nearly a year, he has never topped 40% and, for the better part of the year, averaged just under 30% of the vote (in the RealClearPolitics average of polls). With former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s recent surge and Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s financial prowess, this race appears quite fluid, with at least six serious candidates (those mentioned and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson and Arizona Senator John McCain).

Huckabee can clearly attribute his surge to the “power social conservatives continue to wield in Republican politics.” (Hat tip to John (AverageGayJoe) for alerting me to that article.) While others may see evangelicals as dominating the party, the fact that Huckabee has yet to break 25% in any national poll suggests that they represent no more than a quarter of the party.

The enthusiasm for Ron Paul stems in part from his strong anti-war stand, but I believe his commitment to fiscal discipline has been the primary impetus for his success. People are fed up with the ballooning size of the federal government. And of the candidates, Paul best articulates the vision Ronald Reagan had of a smaller government. That is, despite the domestic policies of the current administration, there still exists a strong voice in the GOP for “less taxation, less regulation, a better economic system.

From everything I’ve read (e.g., this) about Huckabee, he seems to favor quite the opposite, more taxation, more regulation and more convoluted economic system. The only thing he seems to have in common with Ronald Reagan is the (R) after his name — and the enthusiasm his candidacy generates among evangelicals.

Each of these two (Huckabee and Paul) represents significant constituencies in the GOP. But, neither could unite the party, Paul because his foreign policy is not in tune with that of a supermajority of Republicans while Huckabee’s social conservatism (combined with fiscal liberalism) puts off many suburban voters.

Back in the 1980s, evangelicals were far more libertarian than they are today. They might have rallied to someone like Paul if he had more conservative views on national defense and international relations. (The social conservative shift began with Pat Robertson’s run for the White House in 1988. He may have lost the contest for the Republican nomination, but he did gain an understanding of the political process and an appreciation of how social conservatives could influence the GOP.)

With six serious contenders for the nomination, four of whom have a chance at winning, it seems evident that my party is struggling to find a standard bearer. The continued strength of all six suggests that each has a significant appeal within certain segments of the party, as if they represent that segment’s pitch to be its dominant wing.

No candidate has yet emerged who has united the party’s various constituencies as did Reagan in the 1980s and as George H.W. Bush would do in 1988 when he ran as the Gipper’s heir. And as that latter’s son would do in 2000 with a mixed message (that amorphous term “compassionate conservative”) and in 2004 with a record of leadership in the War on Terror.

The volatility of this race suggests that our party is still looking for a leader and a platform to bring us together after the lack of focus of Bush’s second term. Let us hope that the candidate who leads the pack after “Super Duper Tuesday” can unite the party of Lincoln and Goldwater as Ronald Reagan did now nearly twenty-years ago..

There does seem to be one such man, a successful governor of a large state with strong conservative credentials, but probably because of his last name, he elected not to run in next year’s contest.

While it may appear now that none of the leading GOP candidates can unite the party, we should note that at the outset of the 1980 campaign, many Republicans were wary of the former California Governor. Then-President Carter was supposedly delighted at his nomination, believing him to be easy to beat.

Should our nominee next year succeed as did the Gipper, then not only will the tale of the GOP nomination battle be a story of our party’s search for itself, but also of the nation’s search for itself. And the book written about the various debates currently going on in the GOP will serve as a kind of a sequel to White’s masterpiece.

Should that happen, the debates currently going on in the GOP may well define the political landscape for the next two or three decades. A thought which does offer some comfort as that debate is far more serious than that undertaken by the opposing party.

- B. Daniel Blatt (GayPatriotWest@aol.com)

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62 Comments

  1. Per Michelle Malkin: Iowa Rep. Steve King had a long, somewhat interesting statement today when King endorsed Fred Thompson.

    Among many other things, he correctly said:

    Every Republican candidate, except Ron Paul, will fight Al Qaeda and the Global War [with] Islamic Jihad… We must stay on the offensive if we are to eventually defeat our enemies.

    And:

    We need a president who will uphold the Rule of Law by enforcing current immigration law. We need a president who will reconstitute our national sovereignty by establishing operational control of the border…

    The Rule of Law is the central pillar of American Exceptionalism. Our failure to enforce the Rule of Law is the reason we have an illegal immigration crisis… Eighty to ninety percent of all illegal drugs used in America at a cost of some $65 billion comes across our southern border… Contempt for the Rule of Law is common for border jumpers, major corporations, national organizations and even funded by federal tax dollars. The American civilization, as we know it, will not survive another generation of deteriorating respect for the law…

    It’ll be interesting to see if King’s endorsement sways the Iowa outcome.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 17, 2007 @ 9:11 pm - December 17, 2007

  2. GPW, as for this comment of yours:

    Paul best articulates the vision Ronald Reagan had of a smaller government. That is, despite the domestic policies of the current administration, there still exists a strong voice in the GOP for “less taxation, less regulation, a better economic system.“

    I consider that a sign of how far we have fallen.

    That. after 20 years of Bush 41 / Bush 43 / Mike Huckabee so-called “compassionate” conservatism, the only real voice we have left for “less taxation, less regulation, a better economic system“ is a hypocrite who accepts pork (he just doesn’t vote for it) and a conspiracy-mongering nut on foreign policy – Very sad.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 17, 2007 @ 9:18 pm - December 17, 2007

  3. Finally – Thank you for correctly tagging Huckabee as the candidate who combines an excess social conservatism with an excess of fiscal liberalism – a deadly poisonous combination.

    Rudy and Thompson are probably the 2 candidates I am most “for”. McCain (because of McCain-Feingold), Huckabee and Ron Paul are the ones I’m against, and that would keep me (an Independent) away from the polls in November.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 17, 2007 @ 9:25 pm - December 17, 2007

  4. My thing is that Paul has Alex Jones backing him. Not to mention he had a huge fundraising party, at least partially, celebrating a British terrorist.

    Thanks, but go to hell.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — December 17, 2007 @ 9:54 pm - December 17, 2007

  5. Great post. Someone needs to write soon about the disgrace that so much of this campaign is happening 8 months ahead of the national election. I for one would like the next 3 or 4 months to decide which Republican is the best of our candidates to beat the liberals and serve the nation. The problem is, much of the race will be decided in the next 45 days. How does that serve the people? My prediction is the 6 to 7 months leading up to the November election the MSM will begin to decry both parties choices. And how the country is soooo disappointed. But typical of the media, no one has decried this insane process of moving up most states primaries to 7 months ahead of the real balloting. Rudy is a great leader. Mitt reflects more of the current base of the parties real values. Mike Huckabee is the happy warrior that the country needs to turn the page on the hateful Clinton Bush decades. 45 days to filter this out? It isn’t fair. And on the liberal side. Give them at least 4 more months and I guarantee none of the three front runners would win. Do you think if anyone in the Democrat party really knew Hillary was this vulnerable that her main rival would be a first term Senator with 2 years experience? Given 4 more months to decide a nominee, you’d have Gore, Bayh, and others running.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — December 17, 2007 @ 10:38 pm - December 17, 2007

  6. ILoveCorporatism (JK!)

    the only real voice we have left for “less taxation, less regulation, a better economic system“ is a hypocrite who accepts pork (he just doesn’t vote for it) and a conspiracy-mongering nut on foreign policy – Very sad.

    Dude, that’s lame. Although I disagree with the expenditures in question (though I’m sure his constituents would be a little more forgiving), the issue is so minor as to be laughable. Yes, he actually voted to return some of his constituents’ tax dollars to them, and yes he gets some political support from them as a result. This is the worst thing you can say about the man? SOLD!!!

    As for the “conspiracy-mongering nut on foreign policy,” what does George Bush have to do with this? Look! Over there! Weapons of Mass Destruction! I saw them, under that rock! No, I swear, they were right here! Awwww!

    I certainly do agree with Gene that the hyper-compressed primary schedule is ludicrous and extremely anti-democratic. But I will say, if Ron Paul wins the nomination, we’ll have more time to deprogram people before the election. Otherwise, watch voter interest on both sides slide into the single digits.

    Comment by cowb0y — December 17, 2007 @ 11:36 pm - December 17, 2007

  7. Hugh Hewitt has audio of a speech regarding foreign policy that Huckabee has made

    http://www.townhall.com/TalkRadio/Show.aspx?RadioShowID=5&ContentGuid=e45fb3ee-d626-4ab1-9a16-6ddd492edfd1

    After listening to it there is no way i want this guy anywhere near the White House.

    Comment by Vince P — December 18, 2007 @ 12:11 am - December 18, 2007

  8. TGC: My thing is that Paul has Alex Jones backing him. Not to mention he had a huge fundraising party, at least partially, celebrating a British terrorist.

    Well, let’s see…I bet there are plenty of ____ who support ____. Fsck ‘em! And, while I don’t support assassination (even of oppressive monarchs (actually, I think it would be much more “just” to assassinate one enemy leader than to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, but hey, that’s just my “moral deviance” at work), I think you’re missing the whole “money bomb”/”V For Vendetta” slant. Ah well.

    “Thanks, but go to hell.”

    No! TO WASHINGTON!! Lol.

    Comment by cowb0y — December 18, 2007 @ 12:48 am - December 18, 2007

  9. Vince P, thanks for linking the speech that I believe should resoundingly disqualify Huckabee from holding higher office. His obtuse criticism of U.S. policy toward Iran makes it abundantly clear that he has no intention of facing down evil. Iran is now developing a third nuclear facility, there are videos on YouTube of Ahmadinejad leading an angry mob in a chant of “Death to Israel! Death to Israel!”, he makes no apology for hanging gays in the public square, he has forged a highly publicized alliance against the U.S. with Hugo Chavez, and he said on Columbia U’s stage that the issue of whether the Holocaust actually occurred “needs further research.” Any additional, pointless chit-chat with Iran’s leaders will do NOTHING but give them more time and wiggle room to get the U.S. over a barrel.

    Hugh Hewitt is absolutely correct on this issue and Ann Coulter called this one days ago when she called Huckabee “the Republican Jimmy Carter.”

    Comment by Sean A — December 18, 2007 @ 1:14 am - December 18, 2007

  10. Sean: I agree with everything you said.

    Plus I want to add that Ajad believes it’s his mission to create the global conditions that he believes are necessary in order to bring about the coming of the 12 Imam Mahdi.

    Those conditions are that of global catastrophe and chaos.

    Comment by Vince P — December 18, 2007 @ 2:33 am - December 18, 2007

  11. As for the “conspiracy-mongering nut on foreign policy,” what does George Bush have to do with this? Look! Over there! Weapons of Mass Destruction! I saw them, under that rock! No, I swear, they were right here! Awwww!

    It was based on the best available information we had at the time. Hell, even BJ said you can’t criticize Bush for that. The worst an honest person can say is that he erred on the side of caution.

    Sorry, but Ron Paul and Alex Jones have gone nanners.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — December 18, 2007 @ 3:13 am - December 18, 2007

  12. There’s a great article about information learned about Iraq’s WMD from examining documents recovered after the invasion. The American public in general have no clue what really happened.. i’m pasting the first question and a few answers to it.. the article is much much longer:

    http://frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=09F9FC90-1752-4965-8D02-D2EFD4FB112B

    [John Loftus, President of IntelligenceSummit.org, which is entirely free of government funding and depends solely upon private contributions for its support. Visit his website at http://www.LoftusReport.com

    [Dave Gaubatz, the first Federal Agent (civilian) to enter Iraq in 2003. Currently the Director of the Mapping Shari'a project and owner of Wahhabi Counter-terrorism publications providing first-hand intelligence for law enforcement and CT professionals. ]

    John Loftus, let us begin with you.

    Your volunteers at the IntelligenceSummit.org have been examining the secret documents captured from Saddam — and it appears that they have solved a large part of the mystery of Saddam’s missing WMDs. Correct?

    Loftus: Yes, now the truth is beginning to emerge. Saddam’s own secret files show that he was lying to the UN, year after year. He told the UN that Iraq had no more WMD after 1991, and would never start those WMD programs again. But his own secret records show that in 2001, 2002, and 2003, Saddam was repeatedly purchasing banned chemicals, covering up radiation leaks, and generally orchestrating a cover-up.

    Are the records genuine? We had NSA check the audiotapes to make sure it was Saddam’s own voiceprint. It is. Now, why would Saddam and his top aides record all those tapes year after year and hide the forgeries in secret vaults? There are three shelf miles of paper records. What is the point? These are secret internal records, it is not as if he was using them in public to fool the Iranians into thinking he had WMD. These records almost did not even make it onto the light of day. They were buried amid a forest of documents that might not have been reviewed for decades, if ever. I cannot think of any explanation but these are genuine secret archives of Saddam’s innermost feelings at his innermost meetings.

    Moreover, at the time people like Dave Gaubatz and John Shaw were putting their statements on the record about how the WMD ended up in Syria, they did not know that we would get circumstantial corroboration from Saddam’s own files. Statistically, this is beyond the realm of possibility of fabrication.

    Gaubatz: Thanks Jamie. My friend Mr. Loftus is the person who has inspired me to continue requesting our political leaders and the American public demand the truth about WMD be brought forward. There was a point in time when I had raised the flag indicating I surrender and can no longer fight the WMD cause further. Then I thought of the innocent children who would suffer the most during a terrorist attack in which WMD was used. I have obtained a second wind and want to inform everyone based on many years of working counter-intelligence, I left Iraq knowing WMD had indeed been buried, some had been transported out of Iraq directly before the war, and some has now been looted by our enemies.

    Are the records genuine as Mr. Loftus stated? The documents are genuine. In the last year I was informed by Federal Agents on the ground in Iraq, that many Iraqi sources who provided WMD intelligence to us in 2003, were subsequently kidnapped and killed for helping Americans.

    I want people to realize the war in Iraq is unlike any that our country has ever faced. There was chaos in 2003, and there is chaos in 2007. I do not mean to put fault on any one person for the failure to locate the WMD when we had the opportunity. Our leaders had the best intentions, but failed to properly review intelligence reports in a timely manner, and most were not acted upon. We are now suffering the consequences of not listening to the counter-intelligence officers on the ground and who was obtaining first-hand intelligence. In 2003 we reported the pending civil war between the Sunni and Shia Muslims. In pure Islam the Sunni Muslims consider Shia Muslims to be non-believers and apostates. The punishment for apostasy is death as described in Fiqh Us Sunnah. Fiqh Us Sunnah is in virtually every Sunni mosque in America. Our mapping team just left Florida. A prominent Islamic Scholar (Sunni) advised that all Shia people need to be
    killed in the U.S.

    The best way to solve the WMD mystery is to have all witnesses involved in either the search or excavations come before Congress and testify. This is when I will release names and contact information of the Iraqis who know first-hand about WMD and the Al Qaeda presence in Iraq well before 2003. Military agents will then be called forward.

    This issue is very easy to prove. Put all players before Congress, under oath. The truth will be revealed. Some will be hurt politically or their military careers will be damaged, but America will know the truth. The truth is the only thing that may have a remote chance of preventing another attack against our great country.

    Comment by Vince P — December 18, 2007 @ 3:28 am - December 18, 2007

  13. ILoveCorporatism (JK!)

    Ah, the ol’ “joke” dodge now employed by ‘The cowardly cowb0y.’ (JK!)

    Yes, he actually voted to return some of his constituents’ tax dollars to them…

    Translation: What I had said, was correct. Even Paul’s defenders can’t deny he’s a porker, or defend him on the facts.

    This is the worst thing you can say about the man?

    No, this is:

    [me quoting Steve King] Every Republican candidate, except Ron Paul, will fight Al Qaeda and the Global War [with] Islamic Jihad…

    [me] [Paul is] a conspiracy-mongering nut on foreign policy

    I notice you have no real answer. Your attempted answer is:

    what does George Bush have to do with this? Look! Over there! Weapons of Mass Destruction! I saw them, under that rock! No, I swear, they were right here! Awwww!

    Translation: Time to wave hands… change the subject away from Paul.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 18, 2007 @ 6:13 am - December 18, 2007

  14. Hill is mor like Ronnie than Rev Mike. So I guess we should vote for her.

    Comment by Rodney A Stanton — December 18, 2007 @ 8:21 am - December 18, 2007

  15. [...] Should that happen, the debates currently going on in the GOP may well define the political landscape for the next two or three decades. A thought which does offer some comfort as that debate is far more serious than that undertaken by the opposing party.http://gaypatriot.net/2007/12/17/2008-presidential-election-the-gop-in-search-of-itself#more-2749 [...]

    Pingback by 2008 Presidential Election: the GOP in Search of Itself — December 18, 2007 @ 8:53 am - December 18, 2007

  16. The misinformed liberal said, “what does George Bush have to do with this? Look! Over there! Weapons of Mass Destruction!”

    There are many reasons that one should fault George Bush, but since everyone currently running for President believed stockpiles of WMD’s were still in Iraq, this one doesn’t win anyone points. Obama, for example, believed the weapons had not been moved or destroyed yet, and still believed that leaving Saddam in power was a great idea. Clinton said publicly that Saddam had the weapons and would use them, and since she was “in the White House” for 8 years you would think she knew what she was talking about. The MacKay report said that Saddam was in many ways more dangerous than we thought, but that truth doesn’t fit the liberal mindset, so they ignore is and shout stupidies. Drop the stupid arguments, and lets get on with electing the best president from a flawed field.

    Great article. It amazes me that the Republican Party has so much trouble understanding what Republicans want. Out here in California we wanted McClintock, but we got Swartzenegger. Even if Arnold was a great success, he can’t run for President. I hope they fired the people who put that train wreak together.

    Comment by tyree — December 18, 2007 @ 9:02 am - December 18, 2007

  17. A party in which a baptist minister from Arkansas is more liberal than a cross-dressing, twice-divorced mayor of New York City is definitely a party with identity issues.

    Comment by V the K — December 18, 2007 @ 9:08 am - December 18, 2007

  18. And this is why I can’t understand how any human being could be “pro-choice”

    Comment by V the K — December 18, 2007 @ 9:13 am - December 18, 2007

  19. I completely agree about the front-loaded primary season. This has all started too early. I’m already sick of listening to all these candidates regurgitate their position papers. How about some REAL debates? It’s good to start in small states. A candidate can meet with a lot of interested voters in a couple of weeks in New Hampshire. They can ask the questions they want instead of letting the media negotiate with the candidates’ handlers as to what may or may not be asked. The process should weed out candidates with limited appeal slowly. I think some people would prefer a national primary day. God forbid. That would be about who could raise the most money to produce the slickest ads and avoid answering any hard questions. That’s not good for either party or the country.

    But worst of all is that the media is obsessed with polls and personalities and not issues. And I don’t see that happening. As I have been saying for several years now, I used to think that the problem was that people in the media thought we were stupid. Now I realize that the real problem is that it’s the people in the media that are stupid.

    Comment by Houndentenor — December 18, 2007 @ 9:33 am - December 18, 2007

  20. None of the current crop of candidates could be remotely called a “conservative”, at least not in the Newt/Reagan/Goldwater mold of fiscal small government, personal responsibility, and individual rights sense. They all pray at the trough of big government intruding on our daily lives. I’ve heard almost nothing about shrinking government, or reigning in a congress that has abandoned all pretenses of attempting to serve the country instead of themselves.

    I really wish we could kick them all out and start over from scratch. Heck at this point, a lottery would provide superior results to the current crop of old ignorant hacks that inhabit our government.

    Comment by Gabriel — December 18, 2007 @ 10:23 am - December 18, 2007

  21. Ron Paul is one of only two candidates (of either party) I think better of now than I did at the start of the campaign. I don’t agree with him on everything, and I think a lot of his followers are nutty in a scary, personality-cult sort-of-way. But I like the fact that the ideas of constitutional fundamentalism and rollback of government spending have struck a chord with an energized part of the electorate. Maybe this is not the year, and maybe Ron Paul is not the right messenger, but I like the fact that a politician who wants to massively cut government has a little traction.

    As Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then, you win.”

    But don’t get me wrong. My policy disagreements with Ron Paul and the nuttiness of his followers still preclude me from supporting him.

    Comment by V the K — December 18, 2007 @ 10:26 am - December 18, 2007

  22. Rudy is the “Hillary-Killer” If it appears she won’t be the candidate-well, does America need Rudy-? Course, she could still win a brokered convention and wind up the candidate against a flat-footed Republican…

    I like Rudy… I cannot/willnot vote for the Huck-ster. Too much Southern Baptist hatred lies just below that surface. Wrapping himself in the Cross and Flag is a historical reference that will banish the Republicans for decades… We might as well nominate Strom Thurmond or the New Century Equivalent… He is the wrong person for any American Century

    Thompson needs some steaks and some energy. He is a good counter-puncher but lacks throw weight.

    McCain is an empty-suit. He is old. He is not THAT bright. He is too compromised and conflicted.

    Romney is TOO perfect. He is what Bain would run against a McKinsey candidate… I also distrust his Health Plan in MA… Too much sell not enough delivery-Course-I dislike any mandatory govt programs.

    Ron P{aul is a weasel. he looks like on. he talks like one. He is scrambling and taking support from anyone who wants a piece of him… What is he like when he’s alone-?

    I want to trust my President to do the Right Thing when nobody is looking…

    Dubya has a consistent record on that account. He coulda done better-but- he coulda done a LOT worse…and that’s only from the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and peanut gallery kibitzing…

    Jeb would have been perfect-but-TOO many Bushes would have scared the populace and many would never have paid attention to him and his abilities.

    Comment by AndyJ — December 18, 2007 @ 10:53 am - December 18, 2007

  23. I have been on Fred Thompson´s bandwagon from the first hint that he might throw his hat into the ring. Ron Paul says some good things but his isolationism scares me and his claim that the islamists hate us for being in the middle east and that was the reason for 9/11. As I recall our military was not engaged in combat in either Afganistan or Iraq until after the attacks of 9/11. Huckabee said something that made my ears perk up and that was that he would begin to reduce government spending by eliminating the Internal Revenue Service. I´ve always felt that attack the IRS is a winner and suggested to the Dole Campaign to make that the center piece instead of attacking Bill Clinton´s character.
    Those were the days when Congressmen Dick Armey and Billy Tauzin were advocating the flat tax and suggesting that the tax return could be filled out on a post card. In my mind the IRS was a collection agency for the tax and spend Democrats. Thanks to the investigations by the committee of the late Senator Roth, at least they´ve ended their gestapo tactics. It was a shame that he didn´t get reelected to finish the job.

    Comment by Roberto — December 18, 2007 @ 10:56 am - December 18, 2007

  24. The suggestion that Ron Paul is a “serious contender” for the Republican nomination is fatuous nonsense. As you yourself implicitly acknowledge, he has no chance of winning the nomination. So what is it that you think he’s seriously contending for?

    Also, Ron Paul does not represent any significant Republican constituency. He represents cross-over Libertarians, who will depart the Republican scene as soon as the GOP primaries are over and their man has washed out. (Ask one of them, “Are you going to vote for the GOP nominee if he’s anybody other than Ron Paul?” The answer is invariably no.)

    I don’t dispute the enthusiasm of Mr. Paul’s acolytes, or the apparent magnitude of their disposal income. But they are neither Republicans, nor a force in Republican politics.

    Comment by Paul — December 18, 2007 @ 11:23 am - December 18, 2007

  25. …maybe Ron Paul is not the right messenger, but I like the fact that a politician who wants to massively cut government has a little traction.

    But don’t get me wrong. My policy disagreements with Ron Paul and the nuttiness of his followers still preclude me from supporting him.

    You couldn’t have better captured my own dilemma.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 18, 2007 @ 11:40 am - December 18, 2007

  26. But worst of all is that the media is obsessed with polls and personalities and not issues. And I don’t see that happening. As I have been saying for several years now, I used to think that the problem was that people in the media thought we were stupid. Now I realize that the real problem is that it’s the people in the media that are stupid.

    The superficiality of the press is a scandal… we are so unserved by press and government in htis country.. one day a major housecleaning will be needed

    Comment by Vince P — December 18, 2007 @ 12:25 pm - December 18, 2007

  27. I think one of the reasons the press hates the innernets is because blogs, the intelligent ones anyway, really do debate and discuss policies and their implications. Either MSM reporters are too dumb to handle the depth, or they think their audiences are too dumb to handle the depth*, and so we get dumbed-down “horserace” coverage. And not just the MSM. Sean Hannity’s latest interview with Giuliani was nothing but “How do you compete with Huckabee?” “How do you compete with Romney?”

    * Given the inability of most liberals on this blog to debate beyond a bumper-sticker slogan, they may be right.

    Comment by V the K — December 18, 2007 @ 12:31 pm - December 18, 2007

  28. Paul #17 writes about Congressman Paul: “I don’t dispute the enthusiasm of Mr. Paul’s acolytes, or the apparent magnitude of their disposal income. But they are neither Republicans, nor a force in Republican politics.”

    Yep, you nailed it Paul. Congressman Paul’s supporters prove once again that sometimes that unique fringe on the FarRight mistakes passionate zealotry for meaningful progress on their agenda. I’ve seen policywonks nod off when Ron Paul speaks about the gold standard.

    Paul’s supporters are not real Republicans, but they are representational niche of national Libertarians. One of Paul’s biggest supporters in Michigan is closet-Libertarian & GOP Chair Anuzis…and even he thinks Paul is a non-starter, non-influential candidate… for instance, if the Michigan GOP holds a Prez Debate during the World/Detroit Auto Show, Anuzis will only invite the top 3 contenders after Iowa and NH and Wyoming… likely to be Romney, Huckabee and Giuliani. Michigan’s primary (Jan 15th) is the only BigState primary before Florida.

    Michigan could be ANOTHER win for Romney –given his FavoriteSon status here and strong grass-roots base… or Giuliani because of his appeal to the moderate GOPers re-taking the state party.

    I kind of think a Romney-Giuliani (as veep) ticket would be strong in the Midwest, South and NewEng.

    But the story that conservatives continue to ignore is how far afield FreddieThompson remains as the RonnieReagan-wanna-be candidate… what was supposed to be the best, last hope for the RR-redux Republicans.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — December 18, 2007 @ 12:49 pm - December 18, 2007

  29. So the libertarian language the Republicans like to evoke is just a steaming pile of BS? That’s what I always thought. The GOP isn’t for smaller government. They just talk about it because they like how it sounds. Who was the last Republican president to actually reduce the size of government? Eisenhower? It’s just words. Republicans like big government just as much as Democrats. It’s just a different set of spending programs that separate the two parties.

    Comment by Houndentenor — December 18, 2007 @ 1:27 pm - December 18, 2007

  30. So the libertarian language the Republicans like to evoke is just a steaming pile of BS?

    Houndentenor, many of us have been saying it. HOWEVER – You seem to keep missing out on the facts that:

    - Reagan did at least *slow* the growth of government, over what Democrats wanted.

    - For today’s Republicans, growing the size of government is “the answer” about 85% of the time. For Democrats, it’s the answer every time.

    That 15% difference may still be worth a little something.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 18, 2007 @ 1:43 pm - December 18, 2007

  31. Oh, Reagan and – Newt Gingrich. (Making Clinton do 1990s welfare reform and other fiscal responsibility.)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 18, 2007 @ 1:45 pm - December 18, 2007

  32. In HT’s defense, I think his point is that the Sorocrats at least don’t lie about their intention to bloat government and raise taxes. And there will always be, to a certain segment of voters, an appeal for a politician who says “I’m going to take other people’s money away from them and spend it on you,” which is the Sorocrat philosophy in a nutshell.

    Comment by V the K — December 18, 2007 @ 2:23 pm - December 18, 2007

  33. My take is as follows.

    These three I would vote for against any Democratic contender with increasing though acceptable guilt:

    Fred Thompson has the best policy ideas. He seems to be the most serious man in the race, precisely because he seems a little reluctant. Call me a Cinncinattian romantic, but I like a guy who is more interested in what he’s going to DO when in the White House then actually BEING in the White House. He’s my number one guy, his views most conform to my own.

    Rudy Guiliani is second-best. He’s bound to be an anti-terror ass-kicker, even if he does do a few things (detente with Iran) that will belie this. His views on federalism are relatively close to Thompson’s, and I think he means them, because they allow the states to deal with social issues, and that will sustain him with both wings of the party. However, he doesn’t strike me as really a small-government guy.

    Mitt Romney is third. Both he and Guiliani exude competence, and I believe he’d do some things right, but he’d cave on health care in a way that I don’t like, and he’s definitely not a small-government guy. His Mormonism is fundamentally irrelevant to me as a voter.

    The following I would find very difficult to vote for:

    John McCain might just get my vote, but he’d have to really work for it. His service is admirable and he had the guts to support the surge when everyone else in Congress was walking away from Iraq like it was radioactive. But then there’s this thing called McCain/Feingold. The one thing the First Amendment is categorically supposed to protect is political speech. Campaign Finance is nothing more than Incumbency Protection, and McCain ought to be ashamed of himself for buying into it. A man who doesn’t respect the First Amendment has no business being in the Oval Office. It his possible, however, that I could be persuaded otherwise.

    Huckabee is a RINO. A sleazy ex-governor of Arknansas with a record of raising taxes and spending money like a drunken sailor in port. The only thing he doesn’t share with Hillary is a penis and the ability to say “Have you Made your Decision for Christ?” with sincerity.

    Ron Paul is the living embodiment of why Libertarians are a laughinstock of a party. They seem to think real life is an Ayn Rand novel and they can’t stop casting themselves in the role of Francisco d’Anconia at a party, declaiming wittily and doing nothing. Paul’s notions of foreign policy are unserious because he does not address the likely consequences of their implementation, which would be unlikekly even if he were elected.

    I get the appeal of Paul. It’s tempting to go on the offensive against statism, to cross the Rubicon of being a reactionary (gasp!) rather than merely a conservative. But Paul is manifestly not the man to do that. This is a protest candidacy, and I haven’t the time for that. The only way Ron Paul gets my vote is if Huckabee gets the nomination.

    Comment by Andrew — December 18, 2007 @ 2:24 pm - December 18, 2007

  34. And just a thought on that, in the FY2006 budget, the FedGov spent a combined $572 Billion on Medicare/Medicaid.

    The “official” budget deficit for that year was $296 Billion.

    Man, I can think of a REALLY EASY way to balance the budget and stop selling debt to the Chinese. With enough left over to give everybody a tax cut or fund energy independence.

    (By the way, energy independence… not a priority of the Democrat congress. The US has huge reserves of shale oil in the mountain west. The Democrat omnibus spending bill prohibits our oil companies from getting it.)

    Comment by V the K — December 18, 2007 @ 2:35 pm - December 18, 2007

  35. You need not even be that drastic, V the K. Simply cracking down on the 10% – plus of that number that is estimated to be fraud would help enormously.

    Of course, that will never happen, since it demonstrates quite nicely that the reason health care is so expensive has more to do with fradulent misuse of it than it does any sort of evil cabal to jack prices — and that a nationalized healthcare program is singularly ill-equipped to stop people from exploiting it.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — December 18, 2007 @ 3:12 pm - December 18, 2007

  36. My point, which everyone keeps dodging, is that when Republicans had the house, the senate and the white house, they INCREASED the size of the US government including an enormous prescription drug program.

    Republicans TALK about smaller government, but they don’t really mean it. Yes, you can blame a lot of things over the years on the Democrats but from 2003-2006 you have no one but the GOP to blame for any law or regulation that was enacted.

    As a New Yorker I can’t help but laugh about Giuliani as a serious national candidate. It’s not going to be very funny when his own children show up in attack ads against him. They hate him for what he did to their mother. (Flauting his affairs all over town, announcing that he wanted a divorce in a press conference without telling her first, claiming to only have $7000 in assets at the time of the divorce, etc etc.) Donna Hannover has been quiet but she is well connected in the media and elsewhere. This could get really ugly. I’m just warning you.

    BTW, in the four years George HW Bush was president, Congress passed a SMALLER budget than he requested each year. I’m not claiming that Democrats don’t love to spend money, but so do the Republicans and if that’s the criteria for voting then it’s pretty much a wash. I’mone of those crazy people who thinks that borrowing from foreigners to maintain a lifestyle we can’t afford is a bad idea. If we can’t afford the current spending then we have to make cuts. If we want mroe spending then we should raise taxes. (Note: I don’t want to raise taxes. I want to get rid of pork spending but I don’t see that happening in spite of a lot of talk.)

    Comment by Houndentenor — December 18, 2007 @ 3:20 pm - December 18, 2007

  37. My point, which everyone keeps dodging, is that when Republicans had the house, the senate and the white house, they INCREASED the size of the US government including an enormous prescription drug program.

    Republicans TALK about smaller government, but they don’t really mean it. Yes, you can blame a lot of things over the years on the Democrats but from 2003-2006 you have no one but the GOP to blame for any law or regulation that was enacted.

    Thank you, CAPTAIN OBVIOUS.

    No one has dodged that… why do you think the GOP lost the election in 06… the conservatives dropped the party.

    I do have to laugh when Leftists complain about the spending done , though.. as if the Democrats wouldn’t have spent even more.. and never lowered taxes.

    It all rings hollow in my ears.. I am not receptive to people who want to use my values against me.

    What is the logic of your statement? Vote for Democrats because they’ll spend twice as much and not even pretend to care about being restrained?

    And yeah its no surprise that you would find Guilianis personal life funny.. it seems there’s nothing offlimits for you leftists when you smell blood.

    Comment by Vince P — December 18, 2007 @ 3:31 pm - December 18, 2007

  38. No one’s dodged it, HT. The Republicans have been extensively criticized on that point in this forum… much, much more than Democrats have ever been criticized by their own partisans here. If you are expecting us to refute the criticism, we’re not going to because most of us are not in the habit of defending that which is indefensible. Bush’s record of spending has been terrible. The record of the Republican congress on spending was abominable.

    We only note that the Democrats want to spend even more.

    Comment by V the K — December 18, 2007 @ 3:35 pm - December 18, 2007

  39. My point, which everyone keeps dodging…

    I call bullshit!

    Houndentenor, you said in essence:

    Republicans like big government just as much as Democrats. It’s just a different set of spending programs

    People responded with:

    [me] Houndentenor, many of us have been saying it.

    [V] [In contrast to the abominable Republicans, ] …the Sorocrats at least don’t lie about their intention to bloat government and raise taxes.

    How is that “dodging”?

    Perhaps you live in some strange Opposite-Land, Houndentenor, where “dodging” means “affirming”, night is day, etc.?

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 18, 2007 @ 3:44 pm - December 18, 2007

  40. In other words, Houndentenor, your comment would have made more sense if you had said:

    My point, which everyone keeps affirming…

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 18, 2007 @ 3:48 pm - December 18, 2007

  41. I just see Ron Paul and I think Howard Dean at the 04 Hawkeye Cauci.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — December 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm - December 18, 2007

  42. HT is confused because the lib stereotype that conservatives mindlessly defend Bush and Republicans doesn’t fit what is going on.

    Comment by V the K — December 18, 2007 @ 6:12 pm - December 18, 2007

  43. VdaK writes: “No one’s dodged it, HT. The Republicans have been extensively criticized on that point in this forum… much, much more than Democrats have ever been criticized by their own partisans here.”

    HT, and picking up on that point, I’ll continue to contend something different than that… as a GOPer, I’ve been very critical of the abusive, corrupting influence of the conservatives in Congress and in nearly 2/3rds of the state GOP agencies… they’ve been both a blessing (in terms of voting at the polls when provoked and prodded) and a bane (irritating litmus test issues that drive reasonable people AWAY from the GOP) to Republicans. But I fear now, so deeply entrenched in the GOP body politic, the Party of Lincoln may never purge itself of their good/bad influence.

    Oh yeah, Republicans have been blamed for just about everything short of Rosie’s rise to fame on the view… or Jacko’s failing plasitc surgery… but the nite is young. And here in the comment threads, it’s sometimes as much a sport as it is over at the DailyKos.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — December 18, 2007 @ 7:27 pm - December 18, 2007

  44. TGC, I think ScreaminHowieDean was much more dangerous than RonPaul ever could be… Dean was taken seriously by some.

    Thank God he’s working for the Democrats. Best move he ever made… yeee-haw!

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — December 18, 2007 @ 7:30 pm - December 18, 2007

  45. I’ve been very critical of the abusive, corrupting influence of the conservatives in Congress and in nearly 2/3rds of the state GOP agencies…

    Said, without added definition or qualification of the word “conservative”, on the blog whose 2 owners proudly bill it as “The Internet Home for the American gay conservative” (note: not Republican) and, as well, “The most reliably conservative [note: not Republican] gay blog on the Internet”. I love it! :-)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 18, 2007 @ 7:56 pm - December 18, 2007

  46. This video is awesome

    http://www.hillarythemovie.com/trailer.html

    Comment by Vince P — December 18, 2007 @ 9:27 pm - December 18, 2007

  47. TGC, I think ScreaminHowieDean was much more dangerous than RonPaul ever could be… Dean was taken seriously by some.

    I look at the Ron Paul fundraisers and reflect on how adept Dean was. Too bad he’s not so good at raising money for the party.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — December 19, 2007 @ 3:02 am - December 19, 2007

  48. 5,19 I also agree about the primary season. So many wrong things about it. First of all, it is completely unfair that the same two states begin the primary season. That’s something that needs to be stopped immediately. Then the primary season can be moved back to April or May at the earliest. The states that want to participate in the early primaries can be part of a rotating pool. Then these states can be part of primaries in consecutive or alternating weeks during the months of April, May, and June.

    Comment by Pat — December 19, 2007 @ 7:26 am - December 19, 2007

  49. Liberal Republican governor steers California into $14 Billion budget deficit. Just sayin’…

    Comment by V the K — December 19, 2007 @ 9:00 am - December 19, 2007

  50. #49 V – Let’s be fair. His predecessor, Gray Davis, steered CA into a $30 billion deficit and wanted to solve it with tax increases. Arnold was elected in a special Recall of Davis, largely because CA voters wanted a centrist to solve it without tax increases. And Arnold largely did that. But, he had to compromise with Democrats in the Legislature, so it wasn’t completely solved. That’s what we’re seeing.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 19, 2007 @ 11:12 am - December 19, 2007

  51. ILC, not to argue, but just to point out Ahnuld has been flogging a huge HillaryCare-style health plan. Also, I have to wonder, how much of California’s budget goes to provide services to persons who should not legally be in this country?

    Comment by V the K — December 19, 2007 @ 11:16 am - December 19, 2007

  52. Again – Whose fault is that?

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 19, 2007 @ 11:18 am - December 19, 2007

  53. (I.e., I concede your point on Ahnuldcare, but no, he hasn’t exactly been one of the bad guys on illegal immigration. CA Democrats have.)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 19, 2007 @ 11:21 am - December 19, 2007

  54. IIRC, Ahnuld avoided tax increases by issuing state bonds, which are now contributing to the problem.

    State spending also has increased by more than 40 percent since Schwarzenegger took office after the 2003 recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis.

    Schwarzenegger in August signed a $145.5 billion budget that increased spending 11 percent due largely to the increased cost of bond repayments and special funds. General fund spending for day-to-day operations increased less than 1 percent, from $101.7 to $102.3 billion for the budget year that began July 1.

    Comment by V the K — December 19, 2007 @ 11:22 am - December 19, 2007

  55. “IIRC”? :-)

    And as I had said,

    CA voters wanted a centrist to solve it without tax increases. And Arnold largely did that. But, he had to compromise with Democrats in the Legislature, so it wasn’t completely solved.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 19, 2007 @ 11:30 am - December 19, 2007

  56. Furthermore, V, if you look at it, Arnold took a $30 billion deficit and managed to pare it down to $14 billion by wise use of state bonds.

    But really, credit for the rest should go to the Republicans in the California Legislature, who, despite doing it for exactly the wrong reasons (mostly spite), pretty much blocked any meaningful spending increases.

    Meanwhile, what you’re going to see very, very quickly is Californians suddenly demanding enforcement of the laws preventing illegal immigrants from receiving welfare of any sort. Heck, we might even get what we need, which is a stiff tax on anyone trying to transfer money out of the United States who isn’t a citizen.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — December 20, 2007 @ 12:36 am - December 20, 2007

  57. 13. ILC: “What I had said, was correct. Even Paul’s defenders can’t deny he’s a porker, or defend him on the facts.”

    Well, I’m only speaking for myself, not the rest of the Borg (my tinfoil hat is out for repair, breaking my communication stream). I would wager, though, if you summed up his “pork” over his term in office, it adds up to an awful lot less than anyone else’s.

    “‘Every Republican candidate, except Ron Paul, will fight Al Qaeda and the Global War [with] Islamic Jihad…’
    [me] [Paul is] a conspiracy-mongering nut on foreign policy”

    Would like to give an in-depth response to this, but don’t have time right now (must…work…to feed…the state). See here if you want a dialog on the subject.

    Just a couple of thoughts:

    A) Security is composed of many components (economic, military (offensive), military (defensive), political, diplomatic, social, technological). You can’t have security by pursuing one of them to the detriment of the others indefinitely.

    B) You will never exterminate terrorists when doing so causes many times that number of people to be converted to terrorism. We are not talking about surgical strikes or black ops here, we are talking about invading, subjugating, and occupying entire countries, leaving hundreds of thousands of casualties (regardless of who actually caused them, they will be blamed on us by the families of those harmed, at a multiplier of, say x10).

    C) There are vested interests who profit hugely from keeping conflicts and wars going, no matter the cost to Americans or anyone else. In a world where people are killed for $100 sneakers, people find this hard to believe?

    “I notice you have no real answer.”

    Unlikely.

    “Your attempted answer is: what does George Bush have to do with this?… Translation: Time to wave hands… change the subject away from Paul.”

    No, actually, it was to equate your concept of “conspiracy theorist” with George Bush. I, honestly, do not feel that he is as simpleminded and boyscout-like as others do, merely working with “the best information he had.” And neither do I think that Ron Paul’s political philosophy is simple-minded, either. You may dismiss his ideas as you wish, but recognize that the same could be said of George Bush (“he’s a lunatic”), and that you haven’t really said anything other than “I disagree.”

    Comment by cowb0y — December 20, 2007 @ 12:49 am - December 20, 2007

  58. Tyree: “The misinformed liberal said…”

    No, you’re confusing me with my twin brother, kowb0y. You yourself are misinformed if you think that “conservative” means “brainwashed.” I thought that was a “big-D liberal” characteristic?

    Comment by cowb0y — December 20, 2007 @ 12:56 am - December 20, 2007

  59. 24. Paul: “But [Ron Paul's supporters] are neither Republicans, nor a force in Republican politics.”

    To a certain extent, I agree with you. However, a couple of things: A) What is “a force” in Republican politics these days? B) I think the fluidity of the Republican polls indicate that the majority of “most likely to votes” are grasping for some substance within the party, and not finding it (or, like an eel, they have there hands on it, but the slime, the slime, so slippery).

    I really think this is what happened: The protoneocons saw the success that Reagan had in marshalling conservative democrats, and saw that as a way to expand the party’s support base. But instead of drawing those voters in by strength of character and principled stands (even if those principles were somewhat abused at the end), they basically ended up becoming Democrat Lites, with a dose of “Christian morals” and some warhawking thrown in.

    I don’t mean to oversimplify things. I think there is a common perception among Ron Paul supporters that the Republican mainstream just isn’t very Rebublican anymore, which is why there are so many formerly apathetic people involved, who in years past would have been inspired by the traditional Republican platform of “more liberty, less government, more prosperity through free markets, more security through a strong-but-not-aggressive military.”

    It’s the party’s failure to convince these “floaters” of it’s commitment to its own principles that is to blame, not some explosion of libertarian consciousness among independent voters.

    Comment by cowb0y — December 20, 2007 @ 1:18 am - December 20, 2007

  60. You will never exterminate terrorists when doing so causes many times that number of people to be converted to terrorism. We are not talking about surgical strikes or black ops here, we are talking about invading, subjugating, and occupying entire countries, leaving hundreds of thousands of casualties (regardless of who actually caused them, they will be blamed on us by the families of those harmed, at a multiplier of, say x10).

    Oddly enough, that wasn’t the case with Germany, Italy, Japan, or any of the other countries we invaded and occupied in World War II.

    That logic depends on the Democrat and now Ron Paul-co-opted belief that people actually LIKE living under a brutal dictator such as Saddam, and are upset when said dictator is removed.

    As has been said here by others, nine-tenths of the problems in Iraq come from the fact that two groups — al-Qaeda and Iran — have been trying, often in conjunction with each other, to sow as much discord as they possibly can.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — December 20, 2007 @ 1:55 am - December 20, 2007

  61. NDT, for the stuff you quoted at the top of #60: if any of that were applicable to Afghanistan or Iraq, their people should be rising up against the U.S. Instead, they have been rising up against al Qaeda. So whoever said it (I haven’t followed the whole thread) is off in la-la land.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 20, 2007 @ 12:11 pm - December 20, 2007

  62. 61. NDT: Oddly enough, that wasn’t the case with Germany, Italy, Japan, or any of the other countries we invaded and occupied in World War II.

    I don’t think that many students of history would agree with your analogy.

    That logic depends on the Democrat and now Ron Paul-co-opted belief that people actually LIKE living under a brutal dictator such as Saddam, and are upset when said dictator is removed.

    Speaking only for Ron Paul (if I may) and his Mindless Zombie Minions Who Have Never Read a Book and Don’t Actually Know Anything About the REAL WORLD Because They Disagree With Your Point: That’s a pretty lame attempt at a straw man, don’t you think? So

    As has been said here by others, nine-tenths of the problems in Iraq come from the fact that two groups — al-Qaeda and Iran — have been trying, often in conjunction with each other, to sow as much discord as they possibly can.

    Again, I don’t think that’s really being argued (and certainly not by me).

    Since the U.S. supported Saddam specifically to oppose Iran in the first place , it doesn’t really come as a surprise that, once he was removed, the problem remains.

    Comment by cowb0y — December 21, 2007 @ 10:45 pm - December 21, 2007

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