You are currently viewing archive for December 2007
Category: Campaign 2008.8
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A few kind words for a man I admire before he departs from the arena.

Rudy Giuliani is in trouble. Even as friendly doctors came forward this week to assure us that the indefatigable candidate for the Republican nomination is in good health, we are increasingly aware that his political pulse is failing.

As the curtain falls on this particular act in his intriguing life story, let me say a few parting words in praise of this fine American:

The Rudy detractors would have us believe his political life began on 9-11. This is patently false.

As U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Giuliani transformed crime fighting as a federal prosecutor, boldly confronting and defeating the mafia and white-collar criminals with thoroughly innovative tactics and strategy.

Rudy's success as a law man set the stage for his incredibly successful tenure as mayor of America's most important and difficult city, an office he held for eight years prior to the events of September 11, 2001.

In a recent interview on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Ridley Scott, director of the 1982 science fiction classic, Blade Runner, talked about the film, which prophesied a dark, dangerous, and filthy Los Angeles in the year 2019. Scott revealed that the New York City trajectory of the late-1970s and 1980s provided the inspiration for his squalidly oppressive cinematic vision of the metropolitan future; he also good-naturedly admitted that his nightmare had not proved at all prescient (not yet, anyway).

Neither the interviewer nor the guest initially offered any praise to the former mayor, but, in actual fact, Rudy deserves significant commendation for revitalizing and securing the future of Gotham. Looking back, his eight-year stewardship stands out as truly remarkable. His tenure as mayor also represented a high point in the conservative resurgence of the 1990s, as he brought order to the ultimate untamable town relying on common sense and traditional values.

Was Rudy Rudy before 9/11?

Although detractors are quick to portray Mayor Giuliani as an unpopular figure while in office, this distorted memory willfully disregards Rudy's overwhelming re-election by the citizens of New York in 1997. More importantly, the convenient recollection necessarily ignores the reality of 2000, which offered a triumphant mayor as the only viable candidate to challenge then-First Lady Hillary Clinton's bold bid to win election to the United States Senate. All observers understood early that the New York Senate contest was a high stakes race that would automatically mark the winner as a potential candidate for president. Giuliani was the only New Yorker of sufficient standing to compete with Mrs. Clinton, and, when Rudy stepped aside for a multitude of complicated reasons both personal and political, a potentially historic contest between two titans died in the cradle. Rudy's departure then cleared the path for Hillary’s ascension, and the rest we know well.

An aside: a battle finally fought between Rudy and Hillary in November 2008 would have proved especially satisfying, sweetened with eight years of anticipation. But, once again, this looks wholly unlikely.

2008 and beyond

As I have averred numerous times previously, Rudy is not a good fit for the Republican nomination. Having said that, he is a good man who possesses a thoroughly American story. He is worthy of our gratitude and our imitation. More importantly, the upcoming conclusion to his drive to be president of the United States should not end his career as an important and ultra competent public servant.

Well done, Rudy.
Category: Campaign 2008.8
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Sometimes the very thing you're looking for
Is the one thing you can't see

Sometimes the snow comes down in June
Sometimes the sun goes round the moon
Just when I thought our chance had passed
You go and save the best for last

Do you believe in miracles?

Stories depicting John McCain as the ultimate "Comeback Kid" are everywhere.

Even stolid conservative columnist, Robert Novak, supremely connected and not given to flights of fancy, waxed sanguine yesterday, as he pronounced McCain the "GOP's Last Man Standing."

Novak writes: "canny Republican professionals [view McCain] as the best bet to win the party's presidential nomination. What's more, they consider him their most realistic prospect to buck the overall Democratic tide and win the general election."

Novak praises the candidate for his sublimely rugged constitution, which McCain demonstrated in spades "during his six years of torture in a communist prison camp," but also more recently in his "personal determination" to carry on his presidential campaign long after all rational observers (read "canny professionals") had given him up for dead.

You don't have to convince me of McCain's character or his November viability. Way back in March of 2006 (only my sixth post on this blog), I sang his praises and endorsed his candidacy. Based on the specific challenges we currently face, I remain convinced that McCain was the absolute right choice for this cycle.

But (dramatic pause) it is not going to happen.

Conservative opposition to McCain remains deeply entrenched, bitter, and potent. Twenty-one months ago I underestimated the resistance to McCain. Fool me once...and...I won't get fooled again. McCain remains deader than a doornail.

The McCain comeback scenario hangs on a number of contingencies
(which are improbable when taken together):

1. Huckabee holds on to Iowa. Not impossible--but not likely in my view.

2. McCain "finishes strong" (third place) in Iowa. Not likely--McCain has never run strong in Iowa. Among other problems, his "straight talk express" is not ethanol-compatible.

3. Independents in NH abandon Obama and other attractive fruitcakes and come out for McCain. Again, not likely. Why would they?

4. At the crucial moment, the GOP establishment (conservative talk radio, blogs, non profits, etc.) experiences an epiphany, suddenly embracing "Maverick McCain" and admitting grievous error. Not in this lifetime.

5. Fred Thompson proves as lifeless as advertised. I am not so sure.

What actually could happen:

Dean of Iowa political pundits, David Yepsen, averred this week that third place in the Hawkeye State equals death for either Obama, Clinton, or Edwards in the greater Democratic contest; however, the three-spot in the GOP caucus offers new life for the lucky Republican also-ran (I agree).

I continue to believe that Romney will buy first place in Iowa, Huckabee will finish a respectable second, and Fred Thompson may well take third--showing himself the surprise of the night. Romney would emerge from Iowa battle-tested and victorious--but not invincible. Assuming McCain's surge in New Hampshire is not completely manufactured by the media, Romney, Rudy, and McCain should fight it out in the Granite State—with Romney again emerging victorious but not dominant.

During all this, Fred continues to enjoy an opportunity to emerge—and make his stand in South Carolina and on Super Duper Tuesday.

My contention for months has been that Fred Thompson is a taller and statelier version of McCain without the "independent" baggage (tax cuts, Kyoto, and immigration reform). It is not surprising that many conservatives are re-evaluating McCain during this desperate moment—but, once that reconsideration proves unacceptable, Fred likely emerges the most suitable (perhaps the only viable) alternative.

I continue to believe that it is not too late for Fred. We'll see.

Disclaimer: This message paid for by “Fred Thompson for President” (just kidding).
Category: Campaign 2008.8
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Not much left to say about Iowa. For the record, here are my predictions:

The Party of Jackson:

Hillary wins a squeaker. Obama second. Edwards a close but, nevertheless, terminal third.

The Party of Lincoln:

Romney pulls it out. Huck hangs on for a respectable second place. Fred surprises with a third-place finish and emerges, finally, as a serious candidate.
Although I reserve the right to come back later and revisit these issues after some reflection, here are a few more thoughts/shots from the hip:

1. I tend to root for Obama with my heart and pull for Hillary with my head. Why? Hillary is a certain continuation of the past with all its woes. Obama equals an optimistic hope for a future full of change. The Gardener asked me to flesh out Obama's positions based on his light voting record. I am convinced, as David Brooks said today in his column, that what you see is what you get. I am convinced that there is almost no guile to the man. He actually believes what he says (sort of like George Bush in 2000). This is scary, as he is a liberal idealist who believes with the help of God he can make the world a much better place. The downside: these folks seem to do more damage than good more often than not.

2. For all those who think (and have asserted for years) that the mainstream media works for the Clintons, we finally have proof: you are wrong. The mainstream media is killing Hillary right now. The feeding frenzy and increasing momentum is proof that the MSM thinks she is toast--but that doesn't mean a whole lot because they are wrong as a group more than they are right. She is not over. She is in a tight spot--but the Clintons and their armies are not defeated. What we too often forget is that Clinton (like Reagan) had to beat the MSM to gain power. Of course, the comparison ends there--but the Clintons are experienced at by-passing the media when necessary.

3. I am enjoying the trials and tribulations of Team Clinton as much as you are; they deserve this much and more--but my schadenfreude is tempered by my belief that her departure opens the way for something that may prove much worse (or much better). Rolling the dice...
I have been on the road for the last five days and fairly oblivious to politics. But I have two quick reactions to Bill Clinton's comments in re Barack Obama and his inexperience, which I heard about only last night (Monday).

1. "Hello kettle; this is pot."
Ron Fournier beats me to the punch on this obvious analysis (read his excellent piece here); he once again has it absolutely right in re the Clintons. Of course, Clinton was an incredibly inexperienced 46-year-old governor from a minor state when he miraculously won the Democratic nomination in 1992 and inexplicably bested the most experienced president of the twentieth century, who was actually doing a fairly bang-up job of things.

2. Clinton is absolutely right.
Of course, electing Obama is "rolling the dice." We know almost nothing about him other than we like him. This phenomena is not completely unprecedented in American politics--but I cannot think of an instance in which we (the people) have elected a lesser-known, less-experienced president than Obama--but the nation is still young (some earlier thoughts on this subject here).

Why is it that the even the most obvious statement about Obama can stir up such a firestorm of controversy? This imbroglio is reminiscent of the Biden controversy nearly a year ago (my thoughts back then here).
Category: Campaign 2008.8
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The worst ever? Charles Krauthammer thought so. Maybe.

"Thank you, thank you," the monotone moderator repeated time and time again, lamely signaling that the allotted thirty-second period for candidate responses had concluded.

Two asides:

Nothing irritates me more than a disingenuous "thank you."

Nine people on a stage, only three of whom have a serious chance at being president of the United States, all of them confined to thirty-second sound bites, strikes me as a recipe for a worthless eighty two minutes.

Having said that, the debate offered two big revelations:

1. Alan Keys is running for president again? Seriously?

2. Fred may have finally found his stride. Was this a breakthrough for him? I hope so. While Romney delivered another sharp and optimistic performance, Fred was the story. Like an all-star athlete who skipped spring training, Thompson has looked sluggish and out of sorts for the first few debates. But last night he finally showed up with his game face on.

Too little too late? Maybe. Maybe not. This race still seems very fluid to me. Because the field is so weak, it may not be too late for Fred.

What did Fred do that was so great?

1. He had a mini Ronald ("I paid for this microphone") Reagan moment, when he refused to comply with the "show of hands" on global warming.

--He was right to point out that this issue is more complicated than a "yes or no" answer to a politically driven "trap" question.

--As a Republican, skepticism about global warming hyperbole and hysteria plays well with a whole slew of target voters. McCain and Rudy clamoring to agree with Al Gore did not do them any good with the GOP base.

--And taking on a not very attractive and incredibly annoying media stiff is always a popular thing to do for a Republican candidate.

2. Fred also scored with two humorous retorts: still ostensibly on global warming, Alan Keyes delivered an impassioned speech about everything and about nothing all at the same time, all the while neglecting to address the actual issue explicitly. At which point, Fred interjected: I agree with Alan's position on global warming," which elicited a big laugh from the audience. The other case, which has made all the highlights, Thompson made light of Romney's wealth and his "acting ability." More good laughs.

3. Fred looked presidential and tough. "We can't stand for that," he said once in relation to our friends taking advantage of free trade agreements. I believed him. He clearly wanted to set himself apart from (above) the mad scramble for votes, and he did that (at least for a moment).
Category: Campaign 2008.8
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Huckabee: still dead man walking; review here--but, in a nutshell, the diverse forces of conservatism have united to destroy him: NRO, Drudge, Rush, Hugh Hewitt, et al. I restate my previous prediction: Huck comes in second in Iowa and goes down from there.

Rudy: still dead man walking; he is a good guy--but not GOP nominee material. His pro-choice stand--believe it or not--is forgivable; his anti-gun stand is less so--but, even worse, too many scandals and too many wives. He will never be the Republican standard bearer.

John McCain: still dead man walking. Too bad and unfair--but popular conservatism buried him long ago. He is absolutely right on many issues, and he is by far the best candidate to lead an embattled America. But he is not viable.

Romney: definitely on the upswing. His College Station speech was the most presidential moment of this year-long campaign. He is well-funded and better organized than his opposition. He has a plan. He has powerful friends. He is well positioned to take off coming out of Iowa. But I still have my doubts. The Republican Party has never nominated a presidential candidate from Massachusetts. I think the streak continues. Romney wins Iowa and New Hampshire (and Michigan), but I think he finds big trouble down South and out West. This is mostly an inarticulate hunch--but I just don't think red-state America buys what Governor Romney is selling. I like him personally--but he does not energize me.

Fred: and Fred does? As crazy as it sounds, Fred Thompson gives me hope. He is obviously a slow starter, and his campaign, in addition to being horrendously inept, is completely lacking in imagination. As I have said before, he is running the worst campaign, but he is the best candidate. Fred is big and tough and ready to rumble. I have only seen the highlights of the Iowa debate today--but, evidently, he showed that side of himself in Iowa this afternoon. More hope.

Personality, viability, and affability aside, though, Fred is the kind of candidate, win or lose, who represents the ideas and principles of the Republican Party. We need a guy like Fred. He still strikes me as the most authentic choice of our realistic options.
This strikes me as huge. Although I am not in a place to agree with it entirely, it is well said and well reasoned.

In full, from National Review Online :

Romney for President

By the Editors

Many conservatives are finding it difficult to pick a presidential candidate. Each of the men running for the Republican nomination has strengths, and none has everything — all the traits, all the positions — we are looking for. Equally conservative analysts can reach, and have reached, different judgments in this matter. There are fine conservatives supporting each of these Republicans.

Our guiding principle has always been to select the most conservative viable candidate. In our judgment, that candidate is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Unlike some other candidates in the race, Romney is a full-spectrum conservative: a supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life and the preservation of marriage, and a foreign policy based on the national interest. While he has not talked much about the importance of resisting ethnic balkanization — none of the major candidates has — he supports enforcing the immigration laws and opposes amnesty. Those are important steps in the right direction.

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.

Two other major candidates would be able to keep the coalition together, but have drawbacks of their own. John McCain is not as conservative as Romney. He sponsored and still champions a campaign-finance law that impinged on fundamental rights of political speech; he voted against the Bush tax cuts; he supported this year’s amnesty bill, although he now says he understands the need to control the border before doing anything else.

Despite all that and more, he is a hero with a record that is far more good than bad. He has been a strong and farsighted supporter of the Iraq War, and, in a trying political season for him, he has preserved and even enhanced his reputation for dignity and seriousness. There would be worse nominees for the GOP (see above). But McCain ran an ineffectual campaign for most of the year and is still paying for it.

Fred Thompson is as conservative as Romney, and has distinguished himself with serious proposals on Social Security, immigration, and defense. But Thompson has never run any large enterprise — and he has not run his campaign well, either. Conservatives were excited this spring to hear that he might enter the race, but have been disappointed by the reality. He has been fading in crucial early states. He has not yet passed the threshold test of establishing for voters that he truly wants to be president.

Romney is an intelligent, articulate, and accomplished former businessman and governor. At a time when voters yearn for competence and have soured on Washington because too often the Bush administration has not demonstrated it, Romney offers proven executive skill. He has demonstrated it in everything he has done in his professional life, and his tightly organized, disciplined campaign is no exception. He himself has shown impressive focus and energy.

It is true that he has less foreign-policy experience than Thompson and (especially) McCain, but he has more executive experience than both. Since almost all of the candidates have the same foreign-policy principles, what matters most is which candidate has the skills to execute that vision.

Reminder, this is the text of a National Review Online editorial.

Like any Republican, he would have an uphill climb next fall. But he would be able to offer a persuasive outsider’s critique of Washington. His conservative accomplishments as governor showed that he can work with, and resist, a Demo­crat­ic legislature. He knows that not every feature of the health-care plan he enacted in Massachusetts should be replicated nationally, but he can also speak with more authority than any of the other Republican candidates about this pressing issue. He would also have credibility on the economy, given his success as a businessman and a manager of the Olympics.

Some conservatives question his sincerity. It is true that he has reversed some of his positions. But we should be careful not to overstate how much he has changed. In 1994, when he tried to unseat Ted Kennedy, he ran against higher taxes and government-run health care, and for school choice, a balanced budget amendment, welfare reform, and “tougher measures to stop illegal immigration.” He was no Rockefeller Republican even then.

We believe that Romney is a natural ally of social conservatives. He speaks often about the toll of fatherlessness in this country. He may not have thought deeply about the political dimensions of social issues until, as governor, he was confronted with the cutting edge of social liberalism. No other Republican governor had to deal with both human cloning and court-imposed same-sex marriage. He was on the right side of both issues, and those battles seem to have made him see the stakes of a broad range of public-policy issues more clearly. He will work to put abortion on a path to extinction. Whatever the process by which he got to where he is on marriage, judges, and life, we’re glad he is now on our side — and we trust him to stay there.

He still has some convincing to do with other conservatives. Romney has been plagued by the sense that his is a passionless, paint-by-the-numbers conservatism. If he is to win the nomination, he will have to show more of the kind of emotion and resolve he demonstrated in his College Station “Faith in America” speech.

For some people, Romney’s Mormonism is still a barrier. But we are not electing a pastor. The notion that he will somehow be controlled by Salt Lake City or engaged in evangelism for his church is outlandish. He deserves to be judged on his considerable merits as a potential president. As he argued in his College Station speech, his faith informs his values, which he has demonstrated in both the private and public sectors. In none of these cases have any specific doctrines of his church affected the quality of his leadership. Romney is an exemplary family man and a patriot whose character matches the high office to which he aspires.

More than the other primary candidates, Romney has President Bush’s virtues and avoids his flaws. His moral positions, and his instincts on taxes and foreign policy, are the same. But he is less inclined to federal activism, less tolerant of overspending, better able to defend conservative positions in debate, and more likely to demand performance from his subordinates. A winning combination, by our lights. In this most fluid and unpredictable Republican field, we vote for Mitt Romney.