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Further Thoughts on Bachmann Withdrawal

Those who have followed this blog have observed that while Bruce and I have very different blogging styles, we (very) often have quite similar points of view, he perhaps a tad more polemical than I, I perhaps a tad more philosophical than he.

Now, to be sure, he eagerly embraced Herman Cain’s candidacy while I only appreciated the Georgia businessman’s optimism, energy and vision.  Yet, we both love the Gipper, indeed one of our first meetings was at the sacred shrine of freedom named in his honor Reagan Library.  Sometimes it’s uncanny how much we think alike.  Once unbeknownst to the other, each was working on a post on the same issue.  Another time I’ll have blogged about something and then receive an e-mail (or text) from him, thanking me for hitting a topic he had meant to address.

Once he even texted me asking me to blog on an issue at the very moment I was completing a piece on that very topic.  Today, while in the car with my youngest brother in the town where we grew up (Cincinnati), I heard that Michele Bachmann had dropped out of the race for the White House.  A few minutes later, while he was in a business meeting (and I without my laptop), I scribbled some notes for post.

When I located my laptop and was about to blog about the Minnesota Congressman’s withdrawal, I caught Bruce’s post on the very topic.  Uncanny how much his post paralleled my thoughts.  Like him, “I am no fan of Rep. Bachmann.  I would not vote for her and I believe her social views are out of the mainstream of American conservatism, not to mention mainstream America.”

Like him as well, I was “disgusted at the way Rep. Bachmann was treated by the (mostly left-leaning) media and the political punditry class.  She was routinely derided for her faith and for being a female candidate.”  And because of that treatment, I found that whenever I blogged about the candidate, I was not addressing her faults (which are many), but faulting the media for treating her unfairly.

I wondered if that negative coverage helped her surge in the polls, with even some liberal pundits agreeing it was unfair.  Conservatives were indicating support for her not because they supported her social conservative agenda, but because they sympathized with a female conservative maliciously maligned in the legacy media.

Once they relented in their attacks, her poll numbers began to drift downward. (more…)

Parting Thoughts on Michele Bachmann

Let me get this out of the way first:  I am no fan of Rep. Bachmann.  I would not vote for her and I believe her social views are out of the mainstream of American conservatism, not to mention mainstream America.

HOWEVER…. she has been a steady voice of reason on the disaster of Obamacare and the perils of our national debt.  Topics that the presumptive nominee, Mr. Romney, seems to avoid at all costs.  So for her determination to engage in these topics, both in Congress and in the GOP nomination race, I congratulate her.

And finally the real reason I am writing this post….

I am disgusted at the way Rep. Bachmann was treated by the (mostly left-leaning) media and the political punditry class.  She was routinely derided for her faith and for being a female candidate.  This has become a sad routine in American politics:  Female candidates and Christian candidates are the targets in the last bastion of mainstream media bigotry.  One can only reflect on how Sarah Palin & Hillary Clinton were treated in 2008 to be as disgusted now with how Rep. Bachmann was treated.

For all of the self-congratulatory praise that American liberals in the media heap upon themselves… their attitude toward women and Christians during the past 20 years has degraded toward barbarism.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

UPDATE (from Dan):  Uncanny yet again how similar our thoughts are.  Visiting my hometown (Cincinnati) right now and was driving around with my brother when I heard the news.  I outlined a quick post on her withdrawal which I will post later today.  You’ll then seen how Bruce and I have different ways of expressing similar thoughts.

GOP would be wise to understand nature of Ron Paul’s appeal

Anticipating Ron Paul finishing ahead of Rick Santorum last night in Iowa, I had outlined a number of posts on the significance of the libertarian Republican’s strength.  Despite his third place showing last night, the Texas Republican still has a strong following in the GOP and among unaffiliated voters.

Last night in their commentary on his candidacy, both the man who managed Ronald Reagan’s reelection campaign in 1984 and the woman who served as John McCain’s running mate in 2008 reminded Republicans not to dismiss Ron Paul’s significance.  I agree.  Republicans would be wise to understand the nature of his appeal.

Ed Rollins said he hoped Republicans were “smart enough to treat Ron Paul and his supporters withe respect.”  In a similar vein, Sarah Palin said the GOP should listen to Ron Paul supporters.

As Ed Crane put it a few days ago in the Wall Street Journal, “Ron Paul’s libertarian campaign has traction because so many Americans respond to his messages“.  More on this anon.

UPDATE:  I had promised more on Paul’s appeal anon and provide some of that below.  Paul perhaps better than any other Republican candidate recognizes that we have to do more than just slow the increase in federal spending.  We have to make drastic cuts in the federal budget.

His supporters share that concern.

Paul is also the only candidate to address, what Crane called, “arbitrary and discretionary powers of our out-of-control Federal Reserve”.

Now Crane concludes his piece, contending “the focus should be on Ron Paul’s philosophy and his policy proposals in 2012” as we are headed into what he dubs “a libertarian century.” And although I do see that philosophy and those policy proposals as the essence of the Texan’s appeal, you can’t dismiss the man and his associations.  After all, he would be the one in power.   We elect men not policy proposals.

That said, those (including yours truly) who have concerns about the content of his newsletters and the content of his strange statements should not dismiss the power of the message because of the messenger’s flaws.

I wonder how the Congressman would fare had he not published some strange commentary and made some himself.  He may well have won Iowa by a significant margin and be heading to New Hampshire with the wind at his back and rank-and-file Republicans rallying to his cause.

Santorum’s critique of conservatives echoes Obama’s

UPDATE:  Learned that my friend David Boaz of the Cato Institute (mentioned in this post) will be on Judge Napolitano’s Freedom Watch on the Fox Business Network tonight at 8 PM EST to talk about Rick Santorum.  Make sure to tune in.

Rick Santorum, David Harsanyi writes,

. . . grumbles about too many conservatives believing in unbridled “personal autonomy” and subscribing to the “idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do … that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom (and) we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues.”

Perhaps Santorum confuses libertinism with libertarianism, but for him “cultural issues” go way beyond defending the life of the unborn or opposing gay marriage. Santorum believes that conservatives should recognize “that individuals can’t go it alone,” which sounds a lot like the straw-man justification for nearly every state expansion in memory. Why does Santorum, a conservative, believe that getting government out of our lives means a person must “go it alone,” anyway? Maybe it means that person can go to his local church or his family or his community or his local bar to seek help — or maybe he can figure things out himself.

Emphasis added.  Via Instapundit.  Well, thanks, Rick for reminding me why I’m a conservative.  (I’m part of the “too many”.)  And for echoing the Obama administration rap on the right.  Last month in Osawatomie, Kansas, President Obama contended that the “Republican philosophy is simple[:]  We are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.

Harsanyi’s question (that I emphasized above) is perhaps one of the most important ones to ask of any critic of free market capitalism.  It is one that my friend David Boaz addresses in the seventh chapter, “Civil Society,” of his first-rate book, Libertarianism.  Harsanyi’s suggestive sentence (beginning with “Maybe”) is, in some ways, a succinct summary of that chapter.

I have many concerns about Rick Santorum, not just regarding his statements about homosexuality.  In his piece, Harsanyi gets at the heart of my philosophical concerns about the former Senator.  Like George W. Bush, he really doesn’t get Reagan conservatism.

Time for Romney to Put Forward Bold Economic Plan

This morning on CNBC, Steve Forbes, who made a bid for the 1996 GOP nomination, offered perhaps the best concise criticism of Mitt Romney (well, except for that of a regular reader V the K, “an opportunistic political windsock, who doesn’t reveal his core but simply responds with robotic talking points“).

Forbes called Romney’s economic plan “weak tea”, saying the former Massachusetts governor needs to “get more bold” lest he continue to sound like failed Republican presidential nominee Tom Dewey.  The financial publisher reminded viewers that instead of offering a moderate message, Ronald Reagan made the case for conservative policies,bold reforms, in terms working class Democrats could understand (am paraphrasing here).

Later, on the show, Larry Kudlow echoed Forbes’s point saying that Mitt Romney needs to get bolder and then, as if anticipating this post, praised Jon Huntsman’s tax and economic package.  Despite the rap on the former Utah governor as a RINO, he has probably put forward the boldest and most sensible conservative economic plan, better, as the Wall Street Journal editors put it in September, “than anything so far from the GOP Presidential field“.

Romney, seemingly true to his executive experience, has perhaps the best campaign organization in the GOP field, Huntsman the best economic plan.  Would it we could combine the two.  Huntsman has the bold kind of economic agenda Romney needs to present.

Should he do so, he might be able to erase some of the doubts conservatives have about his candidacy.  And to erase those doubts, he would need to meet with mainstream conservative leaders — and bloggers — as he puts forward just such a plan.

Both Huntsman and Romney have something other Republican candidates and the incumbent Democrats lack, a record of accomplishment in executive positions.  If only the Republican frontrunner could combine that with a bold economic plan.

Romney wins Iowa (by 8 votes), Newt far behind

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 8:15 am - January 4, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

With 30,015 votes (6 shy of his tally four years ago), Mitt Romney edged out Rick Santorum by 8 votes to win the Iowa caucuses last night.  Seems that late deciders broke for the former Pennsylvania Senator.  Ron Paul came in third, roughly 4,000 votes behind the frontrunners.  Newt Gingrich who once led polls in the Hawkeye State ran nearly 10,000 votes behind Paul.

One questions why the former Speaker is remaining in the campaign.  The erstwhile frontrunner is an also run.  No wonder his was the most negative of the speeches of the top six GOP finishers, he the most ready to attack a fellow Republican.  How shall we put this delicately?  It’s over for Newt.

Despite his narrow loss, Santorum still remains the story.  And now he’ll be subject to something to which he had previously been spared:  scrutiny.  His record shows that he’s no Tea Party conservative, not to mention some of the strange things he’s said about gay people.

Commenting to my post on Santorum’s surge, our reader Dave B, without mincing words, takes on some of the media “spin” certain to come about the shape of this race:

Why are we falling for the Left’s [notion] about an “anti-Romney” candidate? Have we took a single second to identify what that means? It means we want a candidate that is anti-Israel, anti-allies, pro-abortion, anti-Christian, anti-military, big government, more taxes, and someone that doesn’t care about foreign affairs especially in Iran. The LEFT created that term and we have fallen for it hook, line, and sinker. And Romney is the “establishment” candidate? What the hell does that mean? Ann Coulter, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie, Senator Thune, and Christine O’Donnell have suddently become “establishment”?

This is perhaps not the clear victory Romney had hoped for.  But, one should also note that not until recently did the former Massachusetts governor lead in any Iowa polls.  In some cases, he was a distant second.  A win is a win, this one not a rousing endorsement, but a minor accomplishment.

UPDATE:  Confirming a point I made in my concluding paragraph, Nate Silver, in post over at fivethirtyeight, reminds us that “a poll conducted as recently as Dec. 12 actually had Mr. Perry ahead of Mr. Romney”.  Silver also offers a criticism in line with that of many conservatives:

There is certainly the chance that [Romney] wins the nomination without really capturing Republican voters’ hearts and minds, and that might have an impact on Republican turnout at the margin in November. (more…)

Perry Dropping Out?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:00 am - January 4, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

Sure sounds like that way from his speech tonight in Iowa — about going back to Texas to reassess.  “With a little prayer and reflection, I am going to decide the best path forward.”

Carl Cameron just said it sounds like Rick Perry “might be winnowing himself.”