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.

Continue reading


The dream is over for Rudy Giuliani, and for the President of the “Two Americas” John Edwards. Edwards announced his exit from the presidential race today, and Rudy Giuliani is expected to make it official some time before the debate tonight.  I’m sorry that Rudy decided to quit the race. Sure, at the end of the day, his campaign didn’t end up any better than Fred’s, but he would have had a real shot at stopping McCain in all those blue states on Super Tuesday.  I think the wrong Republican quit the race today, but if Rudy wasn’t going to make a serious attempt at retail politics in Florida or in any of the early states,  maybe it’s better that he recognized that now instead of waiting until later to officially end his campaign.

Meanwhile, Governor Huck still continues to smile and make corny jokes and to take votes from Romney.  It’s over Huck.  After Super Tuesday, it will be time to recognize that.  There’s a reason why the media has stopped talking much about your candidacy. Take the hint.  It’s time to make an outstanding “I give up” speech.

Tags: , , ,

there was a debate today?

Yes…if you want to call that a debate. Again I ask, what are these presidential candidates trying to hide by having these afternoon debates?


Top three: Romney, Fred, Giuliani. Romney is strong as a policy wonk. Talking about economic issues rather than social issues allows Romney to play to that strength. I linked to National Review’s endorsement editorial yesterday. It looks like Romney read it thoroughly and tried to make the same argument for his nomination as they did in that editorial. Wise move. Fred looked great in this debate, but he needs to look more awake during the candidate introductions. Little things like this matter because of the narrative that’s already been written about Fred. It’s easy to like Fred when he is on the attack. Conservatives like criticism of the NEA’s role in our educational system. Another Fred highlight was when he refused to play along with the climate change question. We need to see more of Fred the fighter. Unfortunately, it may have come too late for Fred to have a realistic shot at the nomination. Giuliani didn’t do anything to hurt himself, and had some good answers. I just don’t remember what they were.

Shouldn’t have shown up – Alan Keyes. The Des Moines Register did him a huge favor (or maybe they were just obligated to include him under their own criteria). In either case, he didn’t take advantage of the opportunity, instead blaming the moderator for shutting him out of the discussion on several occasions. When she did allow him to speak, he filibustered during his time and didn’t give straight answers to any question that he was asked. There’s a good reason he’s only polling around 2% in Iowa.

Made CNN’s debate look good — the debate moderator and the Des Moines Register. She didn’t give the candidates enough time to answer questions. She didn’t ask follow-up questions when necessary. She also lost control of the debate several times.

In there somewhere — Huck, Hunter, Tancredo, Ron Paul. The good thing for the new Iowa leader is that the moderator didn’t allow enough time for direct shots at him. Huckabee continues to coast along without getting very specific on policy issues, and breaking out more new catchphrases and one-liners won’t make him look any more serious as a potential President. It’s hard to see how Huck can maintain his lead with all of the increased media scrutiny he has been getting lately.

I’m not sure if those who took the time to watch this debate changed their minds about their preferred candidate, but those supporting Fred had to like what they saw from him today.

More fun with Iowa debates tomorrow when it’s the Democrats’ turn to answer questions.

Tags: , , ,

a big endorsement for romney

Mitt gets the support of National Review.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, especially based on the discussion on The Corner over the past year or so. It’s no secret that editor Kathryn Lopez is a big fan, but it must have been hard to reach a consensus on this, since there are others at NRO who are openly supporting other candidates.

An excerpt:

Uniting the conservative coalition is not enough to win a presidential election, but it is a prerequisite for building on that coalition. Rudolph Giuliani did extraordinary work as mayor of New York and was inspirational on 9/11. But he and Mike Huckabee would pull apart the coalition from opposite ends: Giuliani alienating the social conservatives, and Huckabee the economic (and foreign-policy) conservatives. A Republican party that abandoned either limited government or moral standards would be much diminished in the service it could give the country.

That’s one question I’ve always had about Rudy Giuliani.  Can he win enough blue states to make up for the loss of some red states usually solid for Republican nominees? I don’t know the answer to that question. He might be able to do it, but there are no guarantees.  On the other hand, I have more doubts about a Huckabee candidacy than I do about Giuliani’s bid. Right now the fiscal and foreign-policy conservatives see Huckabee as a serious threat to their worldview if elected. With all of the foreign policy challenges we have, we can’t afford to have a rookie making those decisions. He has the same naive belief in the power of diplomacy as many of the Democrats.  The most optimistic view of Huckabee’s record on spending is that it is a mixed bag of tax cuts and tax increases.  We don’t know which Huckabee we will get as President — the tax cutter or the tax hiker.  But his faith in government is disturbing, and it’s enough to keep the fiscal cons off of the Huckabee bandwagon.

There is no question that a Giuliani or a Huckabee nomination would split the conservative base in the way the National Review editorial describes.  Republicans need a united base in order to have a fighting chance against the Democratic nominee. Of course, the threat of a Hillary presidency is scary enough that Giuliani could overcome the loss of some social conservatives. But we should acknowledge the possibility of such a split in the base when deciding on our nominee.

Tags: , , ,

low expectations

The best argument for Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani is that Hillary (or Rudy) would be the candidate most likely to beat the other in a general election matchup…at least you would think so from the press coverage they get. Republicans are told that Giuliani is the only Republican candidate who might possibly be able to beat HER.  Because of this “fact”, we shouldn’t care about his lack of social conservative credentials or his messy personal life, or that being mayor of NYC doesn’t automatically qualify him to be president of the United States.  We might be giving up a whole bunch of red states to (maybe) gain a few blue ones if Giuliani is our candidate.  That’s ok with us, as long as we have a chance to beat Hillary, right?

There is no great love for Hillary out there as the Democrats’ preferred candidate. The netroots gravitate toward Edwards, or one of the other “no chance” candidates.  Those disenchanted with the status quo or Washington insiders have their guy in Obama.  But until that debate where we saw Hillary stumble just a little bit, many of us bought into Hillary’s inevitability as the Dem nominee. It’s still difficult to see how Obama can gain enough ground to knock her off, but several wins in early primary states, such as Iowa, can throw a monkey wrench into Hillary’s coronation plans. 

Obama does have the opportunity to pull this off as Democrats start to doubt that Hillary is their strongest possible nominee. That’s the whole point of all these increasingly sharp attacks on Hillary’s experience (or lack thereof) — to make them doubt her viability.  Maybe it will work.  Maybe not.  Hillary has experience where it counts with Democrats — successfully fending off Republican attacks.  This should be enough to get her to the Democratic nomination.

Is this the kind of contest we want?  Would we be satisfied with a contest between two candidates each party nominates by default?  Wouldn’t we rather nominate candidates with the best vision for the country, and the two people who we feel have the best ideas to solve the country’s problems?  Hillary and Rudy may be those two candidates.  But we don’t seem to care much about vision and ideas, just as long as our candidate is the most electable. It’s the most practical way to look at the election, but there’s no joy in the choice.

Jason Zengerle explores the electability argument further in New York Magazine.

embrace the nuance

Michael Medved explains why Rudy is different than Hillary on abortion.

Consider, for instance, the key differences between Giuliani’s platform and those of the leading Democratic candidates. Giuliani has committed to preserve the Hyde Amendment, banning taxpayer money for abortions; the top Democrats urge repeal and favor federal funding. Giuliani applauded the recent Supreme Court decision upholding a ban on partial-birth abortion; all leading Democrats condemned it in harsh terms. The former mayor supports tougher rules requiring parental notification (with a judicial bypass) for underage girls who seek abortions; Clinton and Barack Obama oppose such legislation. Most significant of all, Giuliani has specifically cited strict-constructionists Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and John Roberts as his models for future justices of the Supreme Court — and all three of those jurists have signaled their support for allowing states more leeway in limiting abortions. The top Democrats regularly express contempt for the conservative jurists whom Giuliani admires, and worked against the Alito and Roberts nominations.

I will note, however, that Rudy’s position on federal funding of abortions has changed over the years. But I think there’s common ground to be found here on the abortion issue, especially when pro-lifers consider the alternative. The pro-life community has a moral problem with abortion, and even though most Americans don’t agree with banning abortion entirely, both sides should agree on reasonable limits to the practice. That’s where social conservatives who consider abortion one of their main concerns can accept Rudy Giuliani as the Republican nominee, because there are significant distinctions between his pro-choice position and that of any of his Democrat opposition.

Tags: , , ,

second look

Let me be clear about this: I don’t see John McCain rebounding enough in the presidential race to knock off Romney or Giuliani. He has burned quite enough bridges to make more than a few enemies along the political road. His dogged stubbornness to defend stupid policy like campaign-finance reform and that misguided illegal immigration bill is the main objection conservatives have with him. He is also seen by some as arrogant because of this. Not exactly the perfect Republican messenger.

That’s the case against him.  Let me attempt to make the case for him.

McCain is a bona fide fiscal conservative.  If we want someone who has always been committed to reducing government spending, John McCain fits that description. When he calls for spending cuts, he has credibility because he’s done it many times and he has fought pork projects every time they pop up in a bill. I think McCain is being overlooked as a small-government guy because of our focus on the more outspoken Ron Paul and Rudy incessantly talking about his NY tax cuts.

McCain is a bona fide social conservative, if by that you mean pro-life.  He’s always been pro-life, no conversions, no fudging it, nothing like that.  Sure he’s not totally with us on gay marriage, but his overall record in the Senate shows that, as he says, he is a reliable conservative vote on the family issues that count to the social conservatives.

McCain has solid military experience.  He served in Vietnam.  So did John Kerry (if you hadn’t heard).  If that qualification was good enough for Senator Kerry, why wouldn’t it be for John McCain?  He can speak with authority on the military and on national security matters, because he knows what needs to be done to keep our military strong and to respond to future threats against our country.  If national security and the war on terrorism is the main concern of the base, why would you consider this a strength of Giuliani and leave McCain out of that conversation?

Giuliani isn’t the only one who can claim that he has taken unpopular positions, and never wavered from them.  McCain can also make this claim.  We may not like some of McCain’s policies and proposals (campaign finance and illegal immigration), but I believe that he’s closer to everything we want in a candidate than Rudy Giuliani is. If we are trying to elevate Huckabee or Thompson, or to a lesser degree Romney, on the basis that they are currently pro-life (and Rudy is not), then we should take a second look at John McCain.  He brings the pro-life record, fiscal conservatism, and a solid military background as just a few pieces of his presidential resume, and it’s a resume that we should take a closer look at before rejecting him as a Republican nominee.

As I said, I think the die has already been cast against McCain, but we should give him another look before we settle for Rudy Giuliani.

Tags: , , ,

rudy scores

The Democrats had to know that their direct and indirect shots at General Petraeus wouldn’t work in their favor. They allowed their hatred of Bush to cloud their judgment during their questioning of the general. One would expect the Democrats to act in a more mature fashion than a political advocacy group such as MoveOn.org. Perhaps our expectations are too high for these bitter partisans. There’s nothing Congressional Democrats won’t do to prove themselves worthy of the favor of the anti-war left.

Rudy Giuliani seized the opportunity to denounce the ad by MoveOn calling Petraeus a traitor, and he is running a counter-ad in the New York Times. This is one case where a brilliant political move and a necessary challenge to the anti-war left can be accomplished with one ad. MoveOn needed to be called out on this, and none of the Democrats were willing to challenge them. All of the Republican candidates were quick to praise Petraeus and the Bush speech, and they said all the right things. But it is Rudy who has taken the fight to the Democrats, and that’s one more reason why he continues to lead in the national polls.

Tags: ,