a closing argument – to change direction

I am nervous about Election Day. This country is in a very divided place. Politics has become such a polarizing force that families are fighting over it, friendships have been broken and not easily repaired, and we are separated in a class struggle that threatens the very fabric of our nation – all because we disagree on how to fix what’s broken in this country. This shouldn’t be the case. Some of the blame should rest with our current president and his political party. Remember “hope and change”? That has long since disappeared, and anyone who cares to pay attention should feel quite disillusioned at this point.

President Obama has failed to keep his promises. All politicians break promises, so this shouldn’t surprise anyone. What is remarkable about our president is that he fails to take responsibility for his own record. What is that record? Let’s start with 7.8% unemployment. Even if you buy the argument that President Obama started with a deeply problematic economy (and he did), his policies have done very little to improve these numbers. We can do better than 7.8% unemployment. We can get people back to work. We just need to reverse the job-killing direction of this administration’s policies by lowering taxes for small businesses and putting a big sharp knife into Obamacare. The president keeps saying he has a jobs plan and we should read all about it on his website. If it’s such a great plan, where was this great plan the last 4 years when many people lost their jobs, and still haven’t regained them? It’s time for President Obama to give the presidency to someone who wants to do the job that is required.

How about his policy on energy? How’s that working for us? We all know about the high gas prices. These prices are having serious effects on us as consumers both directly (as we fill up our cars / trucks / SUVs) and indirectly (increased costs for truckers and those who are transporting products to our stores and supermarkets). This is all part of the administration’s plan to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by making us use less because of the price. Sometimes it seems that environmentalists care more about the planet than the people that live there. Nevertheless, it would be good policy to ok the Keystone Pipeline to increase our supply of energy, which will help to ease gas prices while we explore new ways to power our vehicles and heat our homes. Our president refuses to do this.

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what I saw in the Nevada debate

Here’s the overview of what I saw in this debate:

  • 9-9-9 needs a better explanation / sales pitch to answer objections
  • All the second tier / third tier candidates brought some interesting ideas to the table and I appreciated their contribution because that’s not something we would get without these important voices.
  • It’s not clear to me that Mitt Romney or Rick Perry would implement the kind of radical reforms we need to get our government’s fiscal house in order.
  • Those who said (mainly Ron Paul) that everything should be on the table when it comes to spending are correct. Even foreign aid. There tends to be a knee-jerk reaction against cutting military spending. We need to define what this means. Are we talking about not giving the active military the tools they needs to effectively do their jobs? If so, I’m opposed to doing that. If however, the question is reevaluating our spending priorities on things like the UN and passive military deployments in countries that are not currently at war, why shouldn’t this kind of spending be on the table? We can’t afford this kind of thing anymore. Let’s look at cutting some of this. There is also waste in military spending, authorizing money for tech we don’t really need. So yes, put all of this on the table.
  • Rick Perry has the edge on Romney on health care, mostly because he doesn’t have the albatross of something like Romneycare in his state. The criticism by Romney about the uninsured in Texas is unfair because as Perry points out, this number includes illegals as well.
  • Why is no one else talking about Dodd-Frank? This is an important issue that someone other than Michelle Bachmann should be discussing at length because these regulations hurt the economy and the average person having to deal with the consequences of this legislation.

I have doubts about Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan. Herman Cain admits that his national sales tax will apply in addition to the state and local taxes. That means that this will be a new tax for those who don’t currently have a tax. This will be a hard sell to the average American voter, who won’t take the time to understand the whole hidden tax thing but will instead see a clear increase in their sales tax which would make a concrete impact on what they spend on essentials like food and gas for the car. There aren’t any exceptions to the tax as far as I can tell, so each person would be hit with the same level of taxation no matter how much their income is. At least with the fair tax there are allowances for this double taxation with the pre-bates. 9-9-9 needs more tweaking IMO.

On Mitt Romney – the verbal fisticuffs between him and Rick Perry was ugly to watch. I understand that something like this was inevitable because of Perry’s previous debate performances but it still made both of them look petty and definitely not presidential. Now I think that the CNN analysts were wrong in suggesting that Reagan’s 11th commandment prohibits legitimate criticism of one’s fellow Republican candidates, but that’s not what that exchange was. I don’t know the real story with Mitt’s lawn care service, but what struck me was his comment to the effect that once he realized that the lawn care people were employing illegals, he decided to stop using them BECAUSE he was running for President and it wouldn’t look right. Not because it was wrong. He made this decision based on his fear of public opinion and because he didn’t want it to damage his political ambitions. That’s what he said. I’m not adding anything. That pretty much summarizes the chameleon nature of Mitt’s entire political career. I’ll get back to that in a future post.

Let’s be perfectly clear about this – neither Rick Perry nor Mitt Romney has much credibility on illegal immigration so for them to pick that issue to fight about seems rather foolish. I would call that a draw although it would make sense to assume that Perry knows a little more about what should be done on the border – even though he hasn’t done much about it – since Texas is a border state. If one wishes to pick a winner, then it would have to be determined how much the states control when it comes to enforcement of federal immigration law, and I don’t know the answer to that question.

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rnc: random thoughts from red meat day

Before I get to Governor Palin’s wonderful speech,  there are several other things that struck me as the RNC proceeds forward to the acceptance speech by McCain tonight.  The first is that there aren’t many conservative women in the GOP pipeline contesting Senate races or any higher state offices.  What does it say about this party that the “qualified” women suggested for McCain’s VP pick aren’t conservatives?  Olympia Snowe, Elizabeth Dole, and Kay Hutchison, while they may be conservative enough for some people, don’t bring much to the table for McCain, and it wouldn’t bring in those independent and moderates, or even the Hillary voters.  They would have done even less for the social conservative base than any other candidate on McCain’s shortlist.

There is more work that needs to be done on the grassroots level to recruit more women and minorities.   While it’s a myth that the Republican party doesn’t have anything to offer those two groups and working people,  we have continued to allow the media to push this narrative — and we don’t have much ammo to use even if we fought back against it.  This needs to change.  We do have ideas that work for these groups — at least conservatives do — but the failures of current Congressional Republicans have damaged the Republican brand, and it’s hard for the American people to trust us to deal with everyday problems.

This is why Mitt Romney’s message fell flat last night.  Republicans are part of the problem in Washington.  Many of them have surrendered to Democratic rule, and they have allowed too many earmarks to go through.  They compromised on pieces of bad legislation with the Democrats.  It fires up Republican crowds to talk about all those bad “liberals”, but what resonance would it have with the rest of the American voters?  Mitt isn’t comfortable in the role of the attack dog.  The speech he gave last night was fiery, and full of stuff conservatives like to hear, but I thought that his delivery was slightly over-the-top.  Just a minor style point in an otherwise effective speech.

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leave mitt alone

Some social conservatives can’t accept victory. Mitt Romney will not be our next President. They got what they wanted. They won. Seems to me they can’t take yes for an answer. Thanks to their support of anyone but Romney, we are now stuck with McCain. Now a small vocal group of malcontents is making threats not to support McCain if he picks Romney as VP. They even have printed an ad (see PDF here). First of all, McCain knows that he got this far without their support, so what makes them think they have any influence on him now?  There’s also no guarantee this group wouldn’t sit the election out no matter what McCain does with Romney.

This is incredibly stupid on their part.  There’s no need to make threats about it, because McCain wouldn’t pick Romney anyway.  In some ways, Romney would be a smart choice.  He does shore up a McCain weakness as far as knowing something about the economy, so it does make sense in these economic times to take that aspect into consideration.  He would certainly be a desirable choice over Governor Crist, Governor Pawlenty, and McCain’s BFF Lindsey Graham.  Any of these guys more closely mirror McCain’s positions on the issues than Romney does.  But as much as I think Romney would make a fine VP, and even President someday,  now is not the time, and McCain has some better choices if he really cares what social conservatives want (that’s doubtful).

There are many other ways for Romney to raise his 2012 or 2016 profile without tying himself to a possible McCain presidency.  Of course, McCain’s VP may be the Republicans’ 2012 nominee, but I think Romney would be a strong contender without that built-in advantage.   He will have 4 to 8 years after the 2008 election to build up his conservative credentials.  I know that there are fellow Mitt fans out there who have complete faith in the guy, and who may find it unfair that he still has to prove himself to social conservatives, but we have to acknowledge that there are misconceptions out there that cause people not to trust him.  He has the ability to change this.  He just needs time.  Being McCain’s VP isn’t the right move for Mitt Romney, and with the other options McCain has, it’s not the right move for McCain either.

romney suspends campaign

Mitt makes it official at CPAC:

I disagree with Senator McCain on a number of issues, as you know. But I agree with him on doing whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq, on finding and executing Osama bin Laden, and on eliminating Al Qaeda and terror. If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.

This is not an easy decision for me. I hate to lose. My family, my friends and our supporters – many of you right here in this room – have given a great deal to get me where I have a shot at becoming President. If this were only about me, I would go on. But I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, I feel I must now stand aside, for our party and for our country.

I will continue to stand for conservative principles. I will fight alongside you for all the things we believe in. And one of those things is that we cannot allow the next President of the United States to retreat in the face evil extremism.

It is the common task of each generation – and the burden of liberty – to preserve this country, expand its freedoms and renew its spirit so that its noble past is prologue to its glorious future.

To this task, accepting this burden, we are all dedicated, and I firmly believe, by the providence of the Almighty, that we will succeed beyond our fondest hope. America must remain, as it has always been, the hope of the Earth.

Thank you, and God bless America.

This was a classy exit, leaving the door open for the future if Romney should choose to try again.  I think he should.  We need someone like him on our side, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt his chances in 2012 if he becomes active in the conservative movement, and keeps displaying the passion he showed at CPAC today.  It’s going to be a transition of sorts for Romney, because I don’t think the guy has ever been the kind of ideologue that Newt or Rush or Fred is, and taking an active role in advancing conservative ideas would be something he might not be as comfortable with as those three gentlemen are.  I will keep an eye on Romney, because we haven’t seen the last of him in Republican politics.

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it’s just not enough

If you scored this debate on points, then Mitt Romney won. Romney was able to get all of the arguments against McCain into this debate, and he was very effective in laying out the case against John McCain. Senator McCain is determined to make an issue out of something that Governor Romney said about timetables, and make him appear to be weak on the war in Iraq, just like the Democrats. He doesn’t have the evidence for that. Sure Romney could have had a stronger answer initially, but McCain has no additional evidence that Mitt Romney didn’t support the surge, once he got up-to-speed on what was going to happen. Mitt Romney isn’t comfortable being on the attack. He did land some punches on McCain, and he defended his own Massachusetts record the best he could. But once the focus gets off of Mitt’s strength (the economy) and shifts to the war in Iraq, that’s McCain’s home turf and Romney is a lot less comfortable talking about the war.

It’s a shame that we couldn’t see McCain/Romney head-to-head before Super Tuesday. They have plenty of differences that need to be further explored that we didn’t get to Wednesday night. Those two REALLY don’t like each other. I’m sure somebody will fact-check McCain’s slippery answers on immigration and his flip-flop on the reason for previously opposing the Bush tax cuts (twice). He said on Meet the Press on Sunday that in fact he would sign his own amnesty bill if it got to his desk. I’ve quoted it in a previous post. Then tonight, he said no, and then launched into the canned talking points he mentioned on Sunday. I feel like a broken record here talking about McCain’s record. His VP, Huck, is also ok with McCain’s views on immigration. He isn’t any more serious about bringing accountability to border security / immigration policy than McCain is.

Let’s talk about McCain and the tax cuts. His initial reason for opposing the tax cuts was that they “favored the wealthy too much”. Now he says that the reason was that Bush’s tax cuts were not offset by spending cuts. He was called on this by Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times. McCain ignores that part of the question, and instead repeats his new position that tax cuts should require spending cuts. I’m sympathetic to this argument, but McCain is not answering the question she asked, and even though he doesn’t invoke class warfare in his answer at this point — he does in the rest of the debate.

Huckabee and McCain are shameless in their anti-business rhetoric. I thought one of them would mention the “two Americas” at some point. This isn’t representative of Republicans or of conservatives. We appreciate people who don’t have to (or want to) depend on a government check every month, and who take the initiative to make something of their lives without much interference from the government. Freedom and liberty are conservative ideas. So is personal responsibility for your own success. Small business people take risks, and big corporations take risks. Sometimes they work. Sometimes the small businesses and big corporations have to lay people off. It happens. But the last thing we want to do is demonize the producers in this country, whether it’s people who have big jobs or people who have small jobs. They all drive the economy and make a positive contribution to this country. Stop ripping the rich people. They support your big government agendas. (Of course this could just be anti-Mitt rhetoric, but I think Huck and McCain are talking about more than just Mitt’s personal fortune.)

I hope Mitt did enough, but he’s not comfortable being the attack dog. Maybe his campaign will launch a better assault on McCain’s record than he did in this debate. That’s the only hope he has at this point, regardless of Hugh Hewitt’s support and his rosy scenarios on how Romney pulls off the upset. If he really wants to make a comeback and win more delegates, it might be a good idea to keep running some ads in the Super Tuesday states.

Transcript available here.

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He obviously believes that Mitt Romney will do and say anything to win the Republican nomination.  That’s probably why he thought that he could get away with mischaracterizing what Romney said about possible timetables for withdrawal of our troops from Iraq.  McCain wants to portray Romney as someone who is not much different from the Democrats on the Iraq war.  His scorched earth rhetoric against Mitt Romney will backfire somewhere along the campaign trail, and I’m hoping Floridians give McCain a thumbs-down on this strategy.  This argument is dishonest, as others have said, and it is proof that McCain is willing to distort the truth to stop Romney from winning Florida and ultimately, to win the nomination.

The same standards Senator McCain applies to Mitt Romney he should apply to himself and to discussion of his own record. The “straight talk express” is in name only. He has no problem ripping Romney for what he sees as inconsistencies in Mitt’s record, but when someone dares to question John McCain’s own record, somehow that is out of bounds and an unfair criticism.

McCain’s strengths are well-known and so are his weaknesses. He is a war hero, and I admire and respect his service to our country. He supported the surge, and has been a strong defender of the war in Iraq.  That gamble seems to paying off for him.  But just because he was right about the surge, that doesn’t mean he’s got everything right in his approach to the war on terror. Read what Mark Levin had to say about that, as well as his flaws on domestic policy.  We cannot give the enemy access to our courts and constitutional protections. The first responsibility of a President and someone who would be the Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces must be to protect American citizens from attacks on our soil.  It’s not clear that McCain is willing to take the necessary steps to protect us.  The first priority of an American President should be protecting liberty for Americans,  not for illegal immigrants and not  for captured terrorists.  Is McCain someone who understands this concept?

I say that he is not. 


mitt gets gold

Mitt wins Michigan, so his medal count is now 2 golds (Wyoming and Michigan) and 2 silvers(Iowa and New Hampshire). That’s not too shabby for someone who remains a serious contender for the Republican nomination. The media has its favorites, but now conservatives get to decide who our nominee should be. We are not a monolithic group. Some consider fiscal issues the most important, others are concerned with social issues, and the third group makes our national security their top priority in a candidate. Not surprisingly, we come up with different answers to which candidate fulfills our requirements. I think it says something important about Mitt’s win in Michigan that he got a majority of conservatives to support him. He also had an slight edge over Huck with evangelical voters.

Read the numbers here. There’s some good stuff in the exit polling info as well.

If Mitt can continue to get the support of evangelicals and conservatives, he shouldn’t have much problem winning Southern states. It might be too soon to declare this any kind of pattern, but it is a positive sign for Romney as we head into the South Carolina and Florida primaries.

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new hampshire results

It’s Hillary beating the juggernaut Obama and McCain dealing a second straight silver medal to Mitt Romney. You might have been able to predict McCain’s win over Romney, and maybe even Huckabee over Romney in Iowa, but the media got it all wrong about the Democrats/independents in New Hampshire. I would like to believe that Hillary’s win wasn’t because she got all weepy one day about how hard it is for a woman running for President. (You know…there’s an easy way to handle that — just drop out and let Barack have the nomination.) Maybe it’s just because I don’t like Hillary, but every time I see the clip of her crying, it annoys me instead of making me feel sympathetic toward her. It’s easy to figure out why McCain won, but he’s no frontrunner — at least not with conservatives in this country. The Republicans still don’t have a frontrunner.

Romney may be a terrific businessman, but he has yet to close the sale with voters. It’s true that he has a lot of money and has put together a great organization in many of the important primary states, but it’s hard to see how Romney wins the nomination if he loses Michigan. South Carolina is hardly a sure thing for Romney, even though he has a lot of support here. There is also a lot of support for Huckabee and some for Fred Thompson. Huckabee has enough momentum with his win in Iowa and surprising third-place finish in NH to be a serious threat.

Those predicting a McCain win in South Carolina may be underestimating the strong anti-McCain sentiment around here as a result of his positions on a variety of issues, mainly his views on illegal immigration. So I think it’s between Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee. Why not Romney? I don’t get the impression that South Carolina conservatives completely trust his conversion on social issues or his commitment to the 2nd amendment, based on his record on guns in Massachusetts. I think Huck wins SC, and I hope I’m wrong. I can’t see conservatives here supporting McCain or Romney for the reasons I’ve previously mentioned. It would be an upset for Fred if he pulls it out, but I just don’t see how it’s possible.

As for me, I haven’t decided who I will vote for next weekend, but it’s not going to be Huckabee. Like I said before, he’s not ready for the job.

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