Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Democratic Machine Candidate Is...

Conventional wisdom is it's Senator Clinton, based on her "stature" within the party and the chips she has collected in sixteen years of national spotlight. But I think that conventional wisdom is wrong: Obama is the machine candidate. Hear me out.

Candidates for party nominations, at least the major and serious candidates, are either Machine candidates or insurgent candidates. Bill Clinton, as the leader of the supposedly centrist Democratic Leadership Council, was the insurgent candidate in 1992, and was not expected to win the nomination against the other candidates. But whoever represented the machine candidate (Tsongas the Blah, or Brown the Flake, or Hart the Absent, or whomever) was not strong enough, and Clinton won. His wife, now the junior senator from the state of New York, now wears that mantle. She may have mostly toed the party line, but she is not particularly liked by the party Machine. Too much reminder of impeachment when she stood by her man; too much reminder of bimbo erruptions, too much fear of what she might do.

Obama, however, is different. Think back to the 2004 Democratic Convention. Even before Obama made that speech that is now praised in the Kennedy-esque stratosphere, he was being touted as a possible presidential candidate at some point in the future. I distinctly remember some talking head being interviewed (though the exact name that owned that head escapes me right now) and saying that Obama was a shoe-in for senator, then as a senator from a large state for a term or two, he would eventually become a possible candidate for president. Unfortunately, the Machine didn't get the memo to Senator Obama in time, and he ran sooner than they would have wanted, giving him the appearance of being an insurgent. So they vacilated for a while, waiting for the others who might have been machine candidates to drop out, and considering the true insurgent as a possibility, then decided to throw their support to the one they had wanted in 2012 or 2016. I think the Machine lining up behind him has as much to do with his surge as does the choices of primary voters.

Well, that's my amatuer analysis. I could be wrong about this, but I think not.

William F. Buckley, Jr. RIP

In 1970 my brother recommended a paperback entitled “The Jeweler’s Eye” by William F. Buckley, Jr. I enjoyed it enormously – particularly Buckley’s recounting of the debate with Gore Vidal during the 1968 election where he told Vidal that he’d “stay plastered” after he was through with him.

I tore out the little card to start a subscription to National Review, and I’ve held onto it all these 38 years. As a college student I was enamored of the loyal readers who wrote to Bill in his Notes & Asides column. I thought to myself, I can’t imagine a more loyal, long term readership, and now here I am. I was hoping that one day I might write to Bill to tell him I was one of those long time readers myself, maybe on the 40th anniversary of my subscription, but unfortunately, it is not to be.

I can tell you without hesitation that Bill Buckley, his public appearances and debates, his writings and his influences on other writers has had a major impact on my life, the life of my wife, children, brothers, sisters and friends. Before Buckley I was an atheistic liberal. After being bathed in the Baptismal waters of National Review, I became an Evangelical and a Conservative – not to mention that he improved my vocabulary, and established the core friendships I enjoy with like-minded folks.

May he rest in peace, and may his influence on conservatives and conservative thinking in America thrive and grow for decades to come.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Theory on How This Could Play Out

I am developing a theory. Perhaps it's wishful thinking, but I am taking a different perspective on the election.

What if it is true that Obama will take the Democratic nomination. And let's just say McCain gets through the current winds and closes the deal on the Republican nomination in short order.

What if Obama wins by - I don't know - 10% of the delegates. My theory is this: though he has become the anointed of the "new generation of Americans" that in primary races across the country, that has meant a lot, but in the general election known for a much higher percentage of participation, and now throwing in a little bit of Nader in the mix, and voila! McCain has a shot.

This theory does not take into account momentum, which could have an effect on average voters - similarly to the way the 1960's election went. So I admit, this theory could be run over by the freight train of voters shifting with the Big Mo. One can't help see the mojo in the Obama campaign.

Perhaps Hillary can win at least in Ohio where she still currently holds a decent lead - just to put a crimp in the Obama momentum, but in the end it is likely to be Obama v. McCain, and if we can roll sevens, maybe we can avoid going through an Obama presidency.

I just can't see the mood of the nation changing so drastically that when the general election arrives, nine months from now, that despite voters' feelings about the war in Iraq, the economy, and Bush's poor diction, they won't be so mad as to place a person into the presidency who has no experience outside of pure political experience, and only 2 years in the US Senate, while promoting on of the most liberal agendas in decades.

But who knows?


Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Chafee Paradox

There is no question that Lincoln Chafee is a pacifist. Essentially that's really all there is to him. It sums him up in a nutshell (accent on the "nut").

He's not a man of any heavy weight principles. He's really quite simple to understand. Plain, ordinary, pacifist, in the Order of Neville Chamberlain.

Evidently, he doesn't really care about loyalty or friendship, or obligation, or Party, or anything along these lines.

As most know by now, he announced today his endorsement of Barack Obama for President. Not just supporting a Democrat, but a really liberal Democrat. And he did this on the very day (coincidentally?) that his colleague and friend (former friend?) Senator John McCain returned to Rhode Island as part of his own campaign for the same Presidency. McCain's last visit here to Rhode Island was in support of Chafee's re-election bid for Senator.

I guess I'm obligated to make mention of this stranger than fiction phenomenon since most of my fellow bloggers are writing from the outskirts.

Over at Anchor Rising, Marc Comtois has a brief bit on it. It will be mentioned in a few amen corners around Washington I suppose. It will blow over like a brief winter gale. No one will really care. It is like the death of Eleanor Rigby - an odd event, but no one will really give a hoot.

It will be chalked up to the oddity of Linc Chafee, and the obsurdity of hyper-liberal Rhode Island politics. Theater of the obsurd.

Well then, lets get on with the rest of the show.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What have you done, Senator Clinton?

You claim you are the experienced candidate in your party. You claim you are ready to be president from day 1. But what is there in your record to demonstrate that?

In your adult life, you spent a few years working as a junior attorney for Congressional committees. Good entry job, at the public trough, of course. Then you were a politician's wife as he lost a run for US Representative, won a two year term as state attorney general, then was governor for 12 of the next 14 years. During that time you served on different corporate boards (Wal-Mart most noticeably), and did varous things for that Little Rock law firm. But we see nothing in the record that you had substantive positions on matters of public policy or administration. There was something about you and education in Arkansas, but it's all kind of fuzzy, and sounds like you really didn't do much of anything.

During the eight years your husband served as president, you were in charge of that task force on changing the nation's health care system. Nothing ever came of that--even though you had the White House and a Democratic congress--because rather than promote changes people wanted and could approve, you went off on a tangent of government managed health care that was a long step toward socialism. We rejected that, and then we heard very little of you for the next years, as your husband realized the smart thing to do was not have you involved in policy issues. Maybe you spent those years in the White House kitchen baking cookies.

In all this time, the one real accomplishment you had was holding your marriage together, while your philandering husband made sport of you and most of the women he met. For this we say, "Well done."

Then comes your seven years as a carpet-bagging senator from New York. What have you accomplished during this time? I can think of no legislation that bears your name. I can think of no particular legislative initiatives you pushed that were rejected. It seems about all you did was struggle with a war vote that now haunts you. If our health care system is so screwed up, why didn't you introduce legislation, hold hearings, jump up and down from your bully pulpit until people listened? Same with all the other issues you are now touting in your campaign.

It's been said that, as junior senator in your party, which was the minority party for four of those seven years, you were not in a position to set the legislative agenda. I see a smidgeon of truth in that, but that's not the whole story. It seems to me you were holding these issues in abeyance until you ran for president, so you would have them to run on. You don't really care about the uninsured, because if you did you would have used your position and considerable influence to do something to help them--you just want them as an issue for your presidential campaign.

Or, if you claim the timing wasn't right, the wrong president wouldn't sign it (a bill reforming health care), etc. I would suggest you look at the likely Republican nominee, Senator McCain. He has his name on several pieces of signature legislation. He has been successful in setting a political and legislative agenda--sometimes in the face of opposition in his own party, he has been putting together coalitions of strange bedfellows, he has been using his expertise in working with the president on military issues, all to do what he thinks is right, to accomplish something good. Even in those years when his party was in the minority, he never backed down from achieving what he thought of as good relative to all those issues. Many in his own party now quesiton his fitness to be president based on some of those issues. But like him or not, he is a perfect example of what you are not and possibly never will be: a do-er.

Your party is rejecting you, Senator Clinton, not so much for your negatives, your shrillness, and your husband. They realize you are a do-nothing person, who talks a good game but who isn't ready to lead. Your approach to your do-nothing Senate years may have been shrewd politics, but it is obvious to all it will lead to bad governing.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Unconventional Wisdom

I've been making the grave mistake of listening to PBS and NPR on what to expect tomorrow on Super Tuesday. I find it less nauseating than CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC, but the ideas, observations and pontifications from the so-called experts appearing on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer really don't seem to make that much sense to me.

Tonight they said that the "conventional wisdom" is that Huckabee is taking "conservative" votes away from Romney. I think what they are really saying is that social conservatives are tending to support Huckabee over Romney because they don't trust Romney on account of his seeming inconsistency. But Huckabee is not that conservative. Were he to really share the vote with someone of a truly similar political view, I'd say he'd be taking votes from McCain and not Romney. At least that's what SHOULD be happening.

So why is Huckabee really taking votes from Romney and not McCain?

What I think is happening is that Evangelicals are biasing against Romney, a Mormon. Evangelicals see Mormonism as an aberration of the Truth. And I think that that is the REAL reason why (though no one has had the nerve to say it) Romney - and not McCain - has been negatively affected by Huckabee's remaining in the race. And for Huckabee to remain in the race when there is no chance for him except to act as a spoiler to Romney is an attrocious behavior in my view, though I find Huckabee witty, amusing, clever but mostly incorrect on matters of fact and policy, particularly foreign policy, an absolutely vital necessity in this race.

When the dust clears, I think a huge political rift will open and deepen between conservatives from western states like Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Arizona and Evangelical Christians Republican activists. And this rift will play beautifully into the hands of Left leaning liberals in November. In the end, our brethren will stay home in November due to this bad behavior.

Here's my "unconventional" wisdom, if you want to even call it "wisdom" per se:

I personally find Romney hard to believe. I also dislike his incessant criticism of his opponents. But I have to agree with El Rushbo that generally speaking he's really much more conservative on the issues than McCain or Huckabee.

I also find John McCain's ads and speeches rather disingenuous, and all the more upsetting coming from someone who keeps telling me that he won't lie to me.

Here's why I say that. Today, McCain was in Massachusetts complaining that Romney raised taxes there. But McCain opposed the Bush's tax cuts. And he's always maintained that if we are given a tax cut, it has to be paid with spending cuts - being the "neo-supply sider" that he is (that's a joke, son). So if Romney had to raise taxes to cover the veto-proof, left wing legislature in Massachusetts from their wild spending, what's wrong with that coming from McCain's view of the economic world?

So to those voting tomorrow who ask the question fellow Blogman Dave Todd keeps asking: "what to do?" I say, with some reluctance, and a hard pinch to the olfactory nerves, that Romney's is the right box to check. Romney "now more than ever."

And by the way, Romney will nominate originalist judges (which is very important). And though he is not a Giuliani or McCain when it comes to the war on Terrorism - he is miles away from the cut-and-run view of Mike Huckabee.

And to say that McCain ought to win because he is the leader with momentum, having beat Romney by a few percentage points in Florida and New Hampshire, going into "Super Tuesday" is like saying the New England Patriots deserved to win last night in their "Super Bowl" due to their previous "momentum," having won their previous 18 games. If Romney fights with the determination of the NY Giants, surely he could inch out McCain tomorrow. But I don't suspect he will.

Listening to McCain today, though, he sounded like he's the right man for the job. Like his ads are saying, he's the only "True Conservative." Ahem.

If I could only believe the man who says he will never lie to me.

If only.


Day of Reckoning: Super Tuesday

The polls open in Arkansas tomorrow, 7:30 AM. I will probably wait to vote until in the evening, after work. Who to vote for? The four candidates left standing, Huckabee, Romney, McCain, and Paul, all have their flaws. Paul is out, unacceptable based on his stand on the war in Iraq. So that leaves the other three to ponder. And, in about 24 hours, I will have to make the decision on ideology or electability.

As I posted some weeks ago, I'm concerned that Huckabee is not really a conservative. He's fine on most social issues, but does not seem to be very strong on economics, despite embracing the Fair Tax (which I still have to study). I don’t know how he would do on immigration and the global war on terrorism, especially as being carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan. Will he be ready on January 20, 2009 to direct that war, even with good professionals in place? I think not.

McCain, despite his mistakes on immigration, free speech, and education, has a generally conservative voting record as a senator. I believe the American Conservative Union has him at 80 percent, which is not too bad. His failure to vote for the tax cuts in 2001 is troubling, though possibly his stand was principled: I won't vote for tax cuts unless we have commensurate spending cuts. I'm not sure what his true motivation was. He seems to now understand that his stand on immigration was wrong, and may be modifying his position based on what the country wants. He seems to be good on social issues, though to be honest I haven't spent a great deal of time looking into that. Obviously he is ready to direct the global war on terrorism.

Romney is the least well defined. His short stretch as Massachusetts governor, with many of his core positions probably modified to appeal to that liberal electorate, does not really give us much to go on, much less than Huckabee's ten years as governor plus a stint as lieutenant gov. My gut feeling is that Romney is fine on social issues, fine on economic issues, probably so-so on foreign policy, and probably okay on the global war on terrorism. However, I feel he is not electable, partly because of his Massachusetts location. Most of the nation sees Massachusetts as a bunch of odd-balls, on the wacko fringe, and I think it will be a long time before anyone from Massachusetts will ever be elected president.

The key issues right now are the global war on terror first, economics second. On these, McCain will do all right, IMHO, and he is not exceptionally bad overall or on specific issues. Congress will restrain him on immigration (if he hasn't learned his lesson). So he will have my vote tomorrow, though I may need a barf bag, but that's what I'll do. My wife says she intends to vote for Huckabee, and I'm not going to try to talk her out of it.

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