First, my map guess earlier today, compared with the final map:
All-in-all, I came pretty close, all but nailing South Florida and the I-4 corridor. But I consistently over-estimated Romney in the Panhandle and especially in Northeast Florida. It seems that Romney’s strength with wealthier voters wasn’t enough to overcome the overall conservatism of the North. Romney remains a candidate with limited appeal to rural or lightly suburban base voters. Still, the map confirms the central contention of Team Romney: Mitt is the only candidate who can plausibly win in November. Take a look at two other maps. One, from McCain’s ’08 loss. The other, from Governor Scott’s ’10 victory (a baseline for a narrow Republican victory in Florida):
Darker counties are more partisan (red counties are Democratic, blue are Republican). These are very similar looking maps. But Scott’s victory (as you may or may not be able to see) came from essentially 5 counties (all highlighted in the Scott map). First, Orange, Osceola, and Volusia in the I-4 corridor. These 3 counties accounted for nearly 10% of the total vote and Scott outran McCain by 8, 12, and 8 points respectively. And then secondly, in Collier and Lee Counties, in Southwest Florida. These two counties account for more than 5% of the total vote and Scott outran McCain by 11 and 12 points respectively. Everywhere else in the state, Scott ran merely a point or two ahead of McCain (and in some places a little behind). Had he simply matched McCain’s percentages in those 5 counties, he would have lost the state by around a percentage point.
Now here were today’s results in those counties.
Of nearly equal concern are Gingrich’s performance in 2 counties which are typically associated with robust Republican victories but which Scott managed to skate by without: Pinellas and Hillsborough. They account for roughly 12% of the state’s vote total. Here’s the 2004 map with those two counties highlighted:
Bush carried these counties by .05% and 6% respectively. McCain lost them by 8% and 7%. Scott lost them by 6% and 3%. And how did Romney and Gingrich fare tonight?
In short, tonight Gingrich was competitive nowhere where a GOP candidate is likely to face competition and was positively blown out in several critical general election counties.
It’s true that rank-and-file conservatives in the Republican Party are unrepresented or poorly represented by their national leaders on issues such as trade and immigration, and this is because it’s definitely true that the economic interests of a lot of working- and middle-class conservative Republican voters are neglected by the national party. The electoral record also shows that the relative moderate candidate tends to prevail in the presidential nominating contest, and this is happening again as anyone could have seen that it would. As Cost later acknowledges, the relative moderates eke out nomination victories because there are always so many conservative candidates splitting the much larger conservative vote, which is proof that there are often too many conservative candidates in the mix and not that self-styled conservatives don’t control the party.
There is also always a large number of movement conservative activists and pundits more than willing to embrace the relative moderate as a bold conservative leader on the grounds that he is more electable, which is how George W. Bush and Romney acquired their ill-deserved reputations as conservatives in the first place. When a field has seven reasonably competitive conservative or libertarian candidates and arguably just one moderate (counting Romney as the moderate), it’s no wonder that the one moderate comes out ahead, especially when there are more than a few movement conservatives willing to make the case for him.
But neither Cost, nor Larison, get at one of the fundamental reasons there are frequently several relatively conservative candidates: the inability of conservatives to winnow their field. Conservatives aren’t actually over-represented in GOP fields. In this cycle, there were 3 relative moderates (Romney, Pawlenty, and Huntsman), 4 relative conservatives (Perry, Bachmann, Santorum, and Cain) and 2 relative oddballs (Gingrich and Paul). This is a pretty representative sample. But the establishment has skillfully winnowed the “moderate” field down to one contestant, sending Pawlenty packing early, and ignoring Huntsman entirely. Conservatives, however, have jumped for every single conservative and one of the oddballs. Let me suggest 2 ways to explain this phenomenon.
1.) The Effect of the Invisible Primary. This is essentially the race for money and endorsements. Candidates who perform well in the invisble primary tend to have success. So money and endorsements matter, right? Well, yeah, but I think something more complex is going on. Establishment candidates compete in the invisible primary- grassroots candidates don’t. Candidates who compete in the invisible primary, and later stumble, are more likely to be weeded out. Why should be it the case that Tim Pawlenty should drop out immediately after Ames, despite running 4 points ahead of Rick Santorum and 5 points ahead of Herman Cain? Isn’t this a little curious? A little odd? Both Santorum and Cain competed at Ames, and Santorum devoted as much to the straw poll, relative to his resources, as Pawlenty did. Sure, Pawlenty would have had a hard time getting noticed when his money dried up, but Santorum didn’t get noticed until 3 days before the first caucus and had no money at all. And yet it was obvious to an awful lot of people that Pawlenty needed to drop out. The invisible primary seems to function as a winnowing process for establishment candidates and the grassroots has no equivalent.
2.) Viability. Viability does not really matter to the grassroots. This is not an exaggeration. Even now, you can head over to RedState and read a dozen Erick Erickson posts since Christmas which have A.) Called Rick Santorum a pro-life statist and B.) Admitted that Santorum was preferrable to Romney. Presumably, though I don’t follow his every post, Erick Erickson- along with many other grassroots conservatives- is inclined to support Texas Governor Rick Perry. Erick Erickson thinks Perry “can still win” and therefore sees his criticism of Santorum as both a good faith effort to expose someone less than ideal and a way of improving Perry’s odds of winning the nomination. He is, along with many grassroots conservatives, a true believer. The True Believer may have many superior qualities, but strategic thinking is not among them.
Rick Perry has now been at 5% in SC for 4 straight polls. He has not been in double digits in South Carolina in 2 and 1/2 months. The odds of him coming back in the state are objectively quite low and any improvement he makes is bound to come at the expense of Santorum who, the True Believer admits, is preferrable to Romney. An establishment oriented voter would, at this juncture, abandon Perry and Gingrich, go all-in with Santorum, and hope for the best. And indeed, establishment oriented voters have done that all year. There will be no Huntsman surge in NH to mirror the Santorum surge in Iowa. Establishment Republicans, concerned about electability, do not see Huntsman as viable. Therefore Huntsman has been cheerfully ignored. After NH he will have exited the race, while 3 more grassrootsy alternatives continue on fruitlessly. In ’08, the establishment Giuliani, despite leading in national polls by a gazillion points for an age, was all but abandoned after December and led in just one Florida poll after NH. Meanwhile, conservatives seemed entirely unable to choose between Romney, Fred, and Huckabee, even as McCain seemed likely to waltz to the nomination. Establishment candidates are winnowed by the viability test while grassroots candidates are apparently encouraged to stay in forever.
There is no grand establishment conspiracy to consistently foist relatively moderate nominees on the party. The establishment simply does a better job of winnowing out unlikely nominees, thereby allowing one establishment choice to have free roam of the field.
Hotline has a really intriguing story up about the Romney campaign’s “new” website, careerpolitician.com, which serves as the home for attacks on rival Rick Perry. According to Hotline, the Romney campaign actually purchased the domain in March of 2007 when the primary battle between Giuliani, McCain, and Romney was heating up.
Presumably, Romney was going to launch the website as a method of attack against John McCain, who had been in Washington for 25 plus years at the time. It was a favorite line of Romney’s in the 2007-08 primary campaign to point out that people who had been in Washington caused the mess in Washington and couldn’t help solve the problem; he contrasted himself as a Washington outsider. This website would have fit into that narrative.
For whatever reason, Romney never launched the website in 2007. I wonder if, perhaps, the website never launched because the McCain campaign imploded in the early summer of 2007. Nobody thought McCain was a threat, and Romney fixed his aim squarely at Rudy Giuliani, and later, at Fred Thompson. Neither of them fit the “career politician” label. By the time McCain made his comeback, it was too late – just days prior to the New Hampshire primary, his poll numbers began to skyrocket, and with Romney’s loss to Huckabee in Iowa, the once left-for-dead McCain ran away with the nomination.
Whoever was responsible for the website at the Romney HQ, though, kept the registration active for four years until the site launched last week. And as I think about that 2007-08 storyline, I have to wonder if that’s not why Mitt Romney continues to attack Rick Perry. Four years ago, one of his chief rivals was written off. Everybody said, ‘Don’t worry about McCain. He’s not going anywhere’ — just as everyone is now saying the same about Rick Perry. And so this time around, Romney intends to keep his rival, who appears to be down for the count, laying on the mat. He wants to ensure there is no miraculous comeback a week before the actual voting starts. And so he revives the website which was intended to do just that in 2007, but which, in what Romney must view as a tactical error, was never launched.
Understanding the context of the past gives us a clearer understanding of what is going on today. That’s not to say the decisions made today are the best ones — or that the ones made in the past were mistakes. I think the attack of “career politician” used against McCain would have backfired because of McCain’s long and honorable military service, and the attacks on Rick Perry this time around may draw Romney into a spat he’d rather, as front runner, avoid. However, we can start to at least understand why Romney is making these decisions when we look at the narrative of his past experiences.
2008 Presidential candidate and former US Senator Fred Thompson wrote an excellent piece entitled, “The Dark Horse Effect.” In this piece he rips apart the media’s take on dark horse Presidential candidates and debunks the myth that Fred Thompson was a lazy candidate. Here’s an excerpt.
The media are beginning to get restless. They are ready for the campaign games to begin, but the contestants are not lining up in the starting gate.
So, with space and airwaves to fill, we are now being treated to the speculative phase of the proceedings. Pollsters and pontificators tell us who is in, who is out, who may be in, who may be out, who is definitely out, and how the outs would do if they got in. Included is the obligatory “dissatisfaction with the field” phenomenon.
This results in another candidate category for the media — candidates who should not get in. These are your “dark horses,” recruited or drafted candidates who have obvious qualities, but who may not be committed to running for president, “deep within their bones.” Critics say these people sometimes wind up running out of a sense of civic obligation instead of an innate desire to spend endless hours in moldy basements with strangers. The pundits believe such candidacies never turn out well
This is the theme of Ed Kilgore’s recent piece in The New Republic, “The Fred Thompson Effect.” Perhaps you can tell from the title who is being used as exhibit A for Kilgore’s thesis. The dark-horse-as-savior topic is an interesting one, but there is also a collateral issue: In the minds of some commentators, the candidate who enters the fray late (by media standards) is by definition a dark horse, and therefore suspect. That is, the candidate would not be a dark horse if his heart were truly in it. If he had the fire in the belly, he would not be late entering the field. Some writers will go to extremes to make the facts fit their thesis.
Seriously take a read of the entire article – it’s well worth the read. As a once and future Fred-head, it’s good to see Fred Thompson address these types of accusations head on.
I enjoyed Matt Coulter’s recent post showing how different the race for the Republican presidential nomination looked in March of 2007, compared to how things eventually turned out. But, since this election season is beginning so much later than the last one, I think it might be even more accurate to look at where the race for 2008 stood when, like today, there were only three major candidates (Governors or federal office holders) with exploratory committees.
At this point in time, only former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Governor Tim Pawlenty, and former Governor Buddy Roemer have presidential exploratory committees. None of these committees are even a month old.
On November 10, 2006, there were three major candidates with exploratory committees: Congressman Duncan Hunter, Senator John McCain, and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani (for all practical purposes a governor). In early-to-mid November of 2006, which is more comparable to this point in the 2012 election, the polls looked like this:
The national numbers according to Rasmussen:
- Rudy Giuliani – 24%
- Condoleezza Rice – 18%
- John McCain – 17%
According to McLaughlin & Associates:
- John McCain – 28%
- Rudy Giuliani – 22%
- Condoleezza Rice – 13%
- George Allen – 2%
- Bill Frist – 2%
- George Pataki – 1%
According to Gallup:
- Rudy Giuliani – 28%
- John McCain – 26%
- Condoleezza Rice – 13%
- Newt Gingrich – 7%
- Bill Frist – 4%
- George Allen – 2%
- George Pataki – 1%
- Chuck Hagel – 1%
And, finally, according to Pew:
- Rudy Giuliani – 27%
- John McCain – 26%
- Condoleezza Rice – 20%
- Bill Frist – 4%
The race for Iowa looked like this:
- Rudy Giuliani – 28%
- John McCain – 26%
- Newt Gingrich – 18%
- Chuck Hagel – 6%
The race for New Hampshire looked like this:
- John McCain – 29%
- Rudy Giuliani – 25%
- Newt Gingrich – 14%
What I find most fascinating is not how only the candidates changed positions, but how many names were being purported as serious, major potential contenders for the Republican nomination, only to stay out of the race completely–as well as the candidates who weren’t even on anyone’s imagination yet, but would eventually become major players in the election.
For instance, for 2012, what if Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin never even run, and some out-of-left-field individual like Stanley McChrystal or Clarence Thomas suddenly swoops in during the last leg of the race, in response to some major dissatisfaction with the field, and instantly becomes a frontrunner, a la Fred Thompson? Might one misworded joke send a presumed frontrunner like Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty tumbling into oblivion, a la George Allen? I’m not making any predictions here, but it’s interesting to note that, at this point, it’s so early, we don’t even know who the candidates are going to be, let alone their polling statuses.
Just for fun on a Friday afternoon…
Four years ago, going into the last week in March 2007, this is where the Republican primary race stood:
The national numbers according to Rasmussen:
- Giuliani – 35%
- McCain – 15%
- Romney – 10%
- Thompson – n/a
According to Zogby:
- Giuliani – 27%
- McCain – 13%
- Romney – 9%
- Thompson – 9%
And finally, according to Gallup:
- Giuliani – 31%
- McCain – 22%
- Thompson – 12%
- Romney – 3%
The race for Iowa looked like this:
- Giuliani – 29%
- McCain – 29%
- Thompson – 12%
- Romney – 10%
And New Hampshire looked like this:
- McCain – 23%
- Giuliani – 19%
- Romney – 17%
- Thompson – 10%
Not trying to make any specific point in particular (as fanboys and girls of any candidate can use these numbers as a Rorschach picture) other than this: the campaign hasn’t even begun yet. Numbers are going to move. And conventional wisdom will probably be shattered twenty-three times between now and February 6, 2012.
As Gov. Pawlenty attempts to curry favor with the small government, Tea Party wing of the GOP in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, I feel it is important we do not let Tim Pawlenty 2.0 erase his true colors from our collective memory.
Here’s some choice quotes from the Wall Street Journal‘s 2008 article, “Pawlenty’s Record“:
“The era of small government is over . . . government has to be more proactive, more aggressive.”
— Tim Pawlenty, 2006
But in 2005, signs of his “progressive” instincts emerged. In a quest for new revenue, Mr. Pawlenty supported a 75 cents per-pack cigarette tax. He called it a “health impact” fee. No one was fooled. User fees are generally charged to ensure that those who use a government service pay for the cost of providing that service. In this case, however, it was obvious that smokers were just being tapped to fund health-care entitlement programs.
Following the tax hike, the governor pushed through a state-wide smoking ban in workplaces, restaurants and bars. Aggressive, Nanny-state government seems to be big with Republican governors these days — although policies such as smoking bans do little to stem the costly tide of state-run health care.
Mr. Pawlenty responded with a more limited proposal to expand the state’s child health-care program, Minnesota Care, to cover all children. More recently, the governor’s Health Care Transformation Task Force recommended imposing a mandate — à la Massachusetts — on residents to buy health insurance.
The South St. Paul populist also advocated a temporary ban on ads paid for by pharmaceutical companies. Not exactly the stuff of which markets are made.
Nevertheless, Mr. Pawlenty has presided over back-to-back biennial budget increases of 12.4% and 9.8% respectively. Last year the governor’s proposed budget survived essentially intact but still spent the state’s $2 billion surplus, with half the general fund increase going to education. Minnesota, with five million people, now has a biennial budget of nearly $35 billion.
Mr. Pawlenty’s proactive government stance extends to support for mass transit and sport stadium subsidies, as well as for hiking the state’s minimum wage, which is now $6.15 an hour for large employers (the federal minimum wage is $5.85). But it is education and the environment where Mr. Pawlenty hopes to establish his progressive bona fides.
Mr. Pawlenty has courted the unions, telling the Minnesota Business Partnership that “I can’t have the Republican governor talk about changing the school system without having the support and help of the teachers’ union and my friends on the other side of the aisle. It just won’t work.”
On the environment, Mr. Pawlenty imposed some of the most aggressive renewable energy mandates in the country. Other states will be requiring, in coming years, that energy producers get 20% of their electricity from “renewable” sources such as wind, solar or animal manure. In Mr. Pawlenty’s Minnesota, the state’s largest utility will be required to generate 30% of its power from renewable sources by 2020.
In April, Mr. Pawlenty delivered the remarks that probably best reveal his views on the environment. “It looks like we should have listened to President Carter,” he told the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group. “He called us to action, and we should have listened. . . . Climate change is real. Human behavior is partly and may be a lot responsible. Those who don’t think so are simply not right. We should not spend time on voices that say it’s not real.”
Mr. Pawlenty responded by calling for a state gas tax increase.
Seeing that I’ve been posting a couple of times a month this year, opposed to every day, I was somewhat taken back to find that one of my posts on this guy has found it’s way back to front page discussions this far out of the 2012 primaries. So, I figured I would clear up just what I said about Bill Keller, so there is no confusion among the masses about the self appointed replacement of St. Peter guarding the pearly gates. Without taking sides in the current debate that is going on here at this site, I wanted to make a few points about what my posts said in full.
Since the first post is apparently now unavailable on this web site, I will quote David’s post. The “claim” is in referral to Kristofer’s post, while the “truth” is David’s response:
CLAIM: “Tommy Oliver highlighted the vicious anti-Mormon bigotry this Huckabee-aligned group has engaged in.”
The link to Tommy’s article which is here, says nothing about anti-Mormon bigotry, in fact it talks about a statement by pastor Bill Killer where he says:
Sadly, Michael (Jackson) grew up in the Jehovah’s Witnesses cult. This is the cult born out of the depraved mind of Charles Taze Russell and denies the very deity of Christ. You can go to Google and type in “cults Jehovah’s Witnesses” and it will give you many websites to document their false theology.
- Does Lorelli know that Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness is not the same faith?
- Does Lorelli think that pastors are not allowed to address belief systems that they believe are false? To not address the truth claims of various faiths would be intellectual ignorance.
- Also, how is a statement by pastor Bill Keller evidence that ARTL is an anti-Mormon group?
- What evidence does he have that connected Bill Keller with ARTL?
What are the SPECIFIC “anti-Mormon” acts by ARTL?
While technically the post which is linked by David that I authored does not specifically point out what Keller stated about Mitt Romney, the LDS faith, Gays, Guns, Rock and Roll, or the plot to sabatoge America, some of my previous posts have. David may not be aware that the particular post (written by me) that was linked to was, in fact, a follow up to a few earlier posts that I had written. At the time, Kristofer had done an interview with Steve Deace for this website, and had stated that one of the groups leaders was Mr. Keller. He also posted a video that was produced by this group, the ARTL, which tore into Governor Romney, Ann Coulter, and just about everything else on this side of black helicopters, UFO sightings, and Jonathan Christian (J.C.) Webster III. In this interview with Mr. Lorelli, Mr. Deace also tore into Governor Romney.
Now, as most of our readers who followed this site during the last primaries probably remember that I went after both the Romney and the Huckabee camp, so I have no dog in this fight. However, at the time of those interviews, I followed up with posts concerning Mr. Keller’s attacks on a whole bunch of different denominations, including Mitt Romney’s, Fred Thompson’s, Michael Jackson’s, and just about anyone else who Mr. Keller deemed unworthy of entrance into the pearly gates.
2 John 7 says, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” So Christians who stand on true Biblical principles are faced with bleak choices for the moment in Thompson and cult member Mitt Romney.Voters beware.
He also said this about Mr. Thompson’s religion:
Christians looking for a Presidential candidate in Fred Thompson ought to think about it a bit more before jumping on the bandwagon. Thompson has been very elusive about his faith since Focus on the Family’s James Dobson suggested that Thompson should declare his faith. At that time, a Thompson spokesman said that the prospective candidate was baptized into the Church of Christ- a sect that some consider a dangerous cult because of its teachings on baptism and works based doctrines that question the atonement of sins through Jesus Christ.
Mr. Keller, who is one of the people behind the ARTL video about Ann Coulter and Mitt Romney (as Kristofer pointed out on this post), became somewhat notorious during the 2007 primaries for his insistance that “a vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for Satan.”
Originally, I had a post up here at race42008 (as it was called then) that highlighted Mr. Keller’s quote at the time he was referring directly to Governor Romney. Since I cannot currently find it, I will quote his website directly. Here is exactly what Mr. Keller said, quoted word for word, on Governor Romney:
If you vote for Mitt Romney, you are voting for satan! This message today is not about Mitt Romney. Romney is an unashamed and proud member of the Mormon cult founded by a murdering polygamist pedophile named Joseph Smith nearly 200 years ago. The teachings of the Mormon cult are doctrinally and theologically in complete opposition to the Absolute Truth of God’s Word. There is no common ground. If Mormonism is true, then the Christian faith is a complete lie. There has never been any question from the moment Smith’s cult began that it was a work of satan and those who follow their false teachings will die and spend eternity in hell. This message is about the top Christian leaders in our nation who are supporting this cult members quest to become the next President of the United States.
I’m not taking sides here because I have no clue what is going on in this current argument, but I wanted to clear up this point about what I said about Mr. Keller because, apparently, he takes it upon himself to educate us on just who he will let enter Heaven, and who he (Mr. Keller) will personally cast into the pits of Hell. By the way, I forgot to mention that he is a convicted felon for… you guessed it… insider trading.
A former businessman convicted of insider trading in 1989, Keller served two years in federal prison, was released and later earned a degree in biblical studies from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
UPDATE: Apparently some folks have forgotten that I am not some sort of “Rombot in Disguise.” I am neither Rombot nor Huckster. I personally could care less who won Iowa in 2008 since I didn’t vote there and would not have voted for either of them if I had. So… in all fairness, I will provide links to some of my pieces that I’ve written about Governor Romney, such as this one, this one, this one, and this one.
Reuters is reporting:
U.S. Republican Senator John McCain on Wednesday strongly defended the top advisers from his 2008 presidential campaign in the face of sharp criticism from his vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin.
McCain, in a telephone interview with Reuters, singled out campaign manager Steve Schmidt and senior adviser Nicolle Wallace for praise after Palin blasted the pair in her memoir, “Going Rogue: An American Life.”
“There’s been a lot of dust flying around in the last few days and I just wanted to mention that I have the highest regard for Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace and the rest of the team … and I appreciated all the hard work and everything they did to help the campaign,” he said.
“I think it’s just time to move on,” he said.
Palin did some settling of scores in her best-selling book by criticizing several McCain staffers, in particular Schmidt and Wallace for their handling of her during last year’s election campaign.
She accused Wallace of pushing her to do an interview with “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric that proved damaging to Palin.
Various former aides to McCain have said the charges amounted to exaggerations and fiction and that her comment that she was billed $50,000 for her own vetting as a vice presidential candidate was simply wrong.
McCain did not get into specific charges leveled by Palin but suggested any frictions were due to the pressures inherent in presidential campaigns. McCain lost the election to Democrat Barack Obama.
“Campaigns are high-pressure situations. The only more high-pressure situation that I’ve been in is combat and prison,” said McCain, a Navy flyer shot down during the Vietnam War and held prisoner for 5-1/2 years.
“But you know, I’m proud of Nicolle and Steve and (senior campaign official) Rick Davis and (senior adviser) Mark Salter and I’ll always have great affection for them,” he said.
He said the interest in Palin, as manifested by the 1,500 people who showed up early at a bookstore in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for her first tour event, showed “the strength of the base” of the Republican Party.
“I’m still really proud of her and the campaign she ran and I think it’s pretty obvious that she has a substantial base and interest out there,” McCain said.
McCain said he did not have the luxury of time to dwell on the campaign, citing the need to work on such issues as the weak economy in his home state of Arizona, healthcare legislation and the war in Afghanistan.
John Fund has an interesting tidbit from Palin’s upcoming book. I have a feeling we are going to learn just how poorly the McCain campaign was run (not that we didn’t already know this).
Ms. Vincent didn’t reveal any details about the book, but did acknowledge it will describe Ms. Palin’s frustration over her treatment by the staffers she inherited from the McCain campaign after her surprise pick as the GOP vice presidential nominee last year. Ms. Palin was booked on grueling interviews with hostile reporters while talk-show hosts such as Glenn Beck couldn’t even get through to her aides. Mr. Beck tells me he was stunned when he picked up the phone one day just before the election to discover Sarah Palin was on the other end of the line. “She explained that she had been blocked from reaching her audience, so she was now ‘going rogue’ and booking her own interviews,” Mr. Beck told me. “I was thrilled she had burst out of the cage they’d built for her and we were finally talking.”
This answers a long-standing question I have had since September of 2008. During the election, I could not understand why the McCain campaign was not scheduling Palin on Fox news and the talk radio circuit? In Palin, team McCain selected a ‘base’ candidate, yet kept her from speaking to the base until the final days of the campaign.
The National Journal reports today that Paul Ryan has finally explained why he’s declined to enter the open gubernatorial race. They write:
Asked 9/14 why he’s not interested in the GOV race, he said, “I just don’t want to walk away from this federal fight.”He’s not kidding. In fact, when GOPers and Dems were squabbling over the budget in March and April and he was the point man for the House GOP, Ryan, the Budget Cmte’s ranking GOPer, joked at the unveiling of the GOP’s alternative budget, “This is kind of weird, but I’ve been reading federal budgets since I was 22 years old. (Laughs.) I know that’s kind of sick. (Laughs.) I’ve never seen anything like this. We have a real tough fiscal situation on our hands.”..
Ryan explained that “a lot of the guys in Madison” are laser-focused on running for GOV, but that he didn’t come up through the standard route in his state’s political system. He was a staffer on the Hill in the ’90s and developed a keener interest in federal issues as a result. He went on to say that “maybe when I’m older” he’d change his mind and want to be gov., but he would be more interested in running for SEN down the line…
Of course, at an event before the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce, he explained that in order to keep the health insurance he has in Congress, he’d have to work there for 20 years. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he then said, “I won’t be there 20 years.” But he’s already been here for 10.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but it looks fairly suggestive. He wants to stay engaged in the “federal” fight; he’s interested in running for the Senate someday; he doesn’t plan to stay in the House for 10 more years, even though he’s only 39 and is on the path to become Speaker someday. And then there’s this Five Thirty Eight report from August, on the new Democratic centrists. Nate Silver reported that Feingold had voted liberally in crucial votes 88% of the time lifetime. This year, Feingold’s down to voting liberally just over 58% of the time, the single biggest rightward shift in the Senate. That puts him in line with Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
How do we explain this? Feingold’s always been an independent guy, so we can’t discount some sort of principled shift, but there’s a more interesting and perhaps more plausible explanation: Feingold is expecting a credible challenge in 2010. Wisconsin has gotten bluer in recent years, but it’s no Massachusetts. In 1992 he won by 6 points; in 1998, a mid-term election where his team was the “in-party”, he won by just 3%. In 2004 he defeated a fairly weak and underfunded GOP’er by 11 points (Feingold spent more than twice as much as Tim Michels). 2010 will be much worse for the Democratic Party than 1998 (which resulted in no net loss in the Senate) and while it won’t be worse than 2004, in net terms (Democrats are unlikely to lose 4 seats) it could conceivably be worse in relative terms.
So while Feingold looks comfortable right now, all bets are off if the GOP can produce a strong challenger. That brings us to Paul Ryan. Ryan represents a relatively Republican district. For Wisconsin anyway. It has a CPVI of +2 R; i.e, it’s 2 points more Republican than the rest of the country. That makes it more or less a swing district nationally and, indeed, in 2008 it swung. Obama carried the 1st congressional district by 4 points after Bush won it by 8 in 2004. How did Ryan do in this district? Well, he won by 29% in 2008 and this was his third worst margin of victory since entering the House.
As I reported back in March, Ryan’s 2008 result was the 5th best among GOP’ers in districts Obama won. Add to this his committee assignment’s (he’s the ranking member on the budget committee and highly placed on the coveted Ways and Means), and we’re looking at an extremely formiddable potential candidate. Feingold’s shift, Ryan’s comments and electoral strength all lead me to believe Paul Ryan is considering a Senate run, and that Feingold is positioning himself for a competitive race.
Matthew E. Miller can be contacted at Obilisk18@yahoo.com
I rarely read political books. I prefer history and the way it can, if we’re attentive, bring out it’s own lessons about our political trials. Still less do I like immediate political history, without the distance that makes real historical narrative so valuable. So I’m not sure exactly why I picked up The Battle for America 2008, but I’m glad I did. In many ways it’s typical of its genre, filled with cliche conventional wisdom and airy speculation. But, it also captured something about John McCain I’d nearly forgotten; his essential decency.
We’re reminded of his discomfort courting the establishment Republicans who’d spurned him in 00′ and his difficulty making nice with those he didn’t respect; his lack of pretension and his uncomfortable honesty- uncomfortable because he couldn’t always keep to it, and when he didn’t, he couldn’t blithely shrug it off. He wore everything on his sleeve; scars: calculations and re-calculations: shame and insufferable pride.
We’re reminded of the surge he fought for and defended- though he suspected it might not be enough- because he was the only one with the stature and respect to make the sale. It’s hard to read of the shrunken townhalls, and the fleeing moderates, without feeling worn out; without wondering if the whole thing wore him out. He spent a half decade of political capital, and kept many wobbly Republicans in line, for a war that ceased to matter.
We’re reminded, in fact, that just about everything McCain had ever done ceased to matter by November 08. He’d unconvincingly courted the right- unconvincingly because his heart wasn’t in it, and he never had the knack for head politics- but it took a Palin selection to bring them aboard. He’d spent decades fighting waste, abuse, and corruption, but it was downright silly to pretend any of that mattered. He’d cultivated a Maverick image and a bi-partisan record, only to be trumped by a guy who, through no exertion of his own, seemed the very embodiment of a “new politican”.
There was something tragic about John McCain, for all his flaws, something that looked a little like valor. The book doesn’t touch on all of this; you have to been there, to remember how it was, to put the pieces together. Even then it’s incomplete and inconsistent. Why couldn’t he support a surge without defending Bush? Where was that fighting spirit when confronted with Obama himself? How could a man who’d so fearlessly confronted his own party, wilt so magnificently against an ideological foe? But, the raw outline’s there and it’s enough.
We shouldn’t be surprised that John McCain lost. But, we should be surprised that it doesn’t bother us more; that we so easily let go a man who was a remarkable and rare creature. It’s startling how a man who’d written a half dozen books about character and destiny, should run so rough onto the latter’s shoals and find so heavy the former’s tolls. At the last, a flawed man of valor, a navy man rough and ready, put ashore without even a murmur of applause. Those of us who have a bent for history will, when we’re past these temporary ideological struggles, marvel at the sweep of the thing and how it came to be.
Matthew E. Miller can be contacted at Obilisk18@yahoo.com
A nice Boston Globe profile of Romney’s post-presidential-run actions.
Just before Thanksgiving last year, a group of former aides to Mitt Romney convened at his salmon-colored Belmont home, many of them gathering for the first time since Romney had disbanded his presidential campaign some nine months before. Romney had invited them for a post-mortem of the election weeks earlier, the type of dispassionate assessment that the Harvard Business School alumnus so enjoyed. But over cookies, they found few of the metrics for success that Romney prized — Republicans had been decisively thumped at all levels — and his attention shifted from 2008 to the future.
“He was not bringing people together to second-guess,” says Alex Gage, a former campaign strategist who continues to informally advise Romney. “It was not a lot of retrospectives or recriminations or mistakes. I think in his mind he’s thought it through.”
Romney was encouraged by the contents of a fat three-ring binder he brandished for his guests. He leafed through the pages to show dozens of thank you notes and photos — from Republican candidates for whom Romney had campaigned and raised money around the country — and passed the binder around his living room so that each of his advisers could linger over it. “He just talked about all the friends he made and people he met along the way,” recalls Kevin Madden, who had been Romney’s campaign spokesman. “The idea was: It’s not for nothing. We were actually helping people. Take a look at how thankful they were.”
During his long presidential campaign, Romney — the reformed Massachusetts moderate with the salesman’s too-perfect touch — had struggled to earn a welcome into a conservative movement whose members were often suspicious of his motives. The plastic sleeves in the binder held the good news to emerge from his experience trying to win them over: typed or handwritten confirmation that hard work and collegiality meant something in politics.
People who asked Romney what he would do once his presidential campaign was over say the former businessman and one-term Massachusetts governor did not flinch: He wanted to keep his hand in politics. For more than a year, Romney has done so with the same competitiveness and discipline that has marked nearly every challenge he has taken on in his life, from his foreign assignment as a Mormon missionary and career as a management consultant and founder of Bain Capital to his stewardship of the Salt Lake City Olympics and campaigns for senator, governor, and president.
Read the whole thing. H/t heath.
Upon reading through some of the comments on this post, I came across the fine detective work which was called to my attention by one of our own regular readers, Illinoisguy. You can see the website that divulges the amount of work done here.
First off, I want to say that I am very impressed with the internet detective work that he put in to uncovering the person(s) behind the trueromney website (which I have not linked to on purpose). The amount of information and definitive proof that he provides proves the identity of the culprit with no room for that person to wiggle his way out of.
It’s a shame that some who are connected with a potential campaign choose to delve into something of this nature this far out from the 2012 race. It’s actually somewhat of a desperate move on their part because it means that they lack the confidence in the chances of their own candidate; so they feel the best way to pursue their own agendas is to tear others down, which is the nature of politics, but a little disheartening a full two years before the start of the primaries.
A comment from one of our readers:
LOL. What ever happened to Huckster’s “vertical politics??? Guess that only applies if your guy is winning. Hypocrites!
UPDATE: I was mistaken in my original opinion that Illinoisguy was the one who did the initial research that discovered the identity of the creator of the trueromney website.
Meanwhile, Romney just continues to go forward–ignoring the ankle-biters.
Those hucksarmy folk are the most pathetic, hypocritical, unchristian people you will ever have the dis-pleasure to come across. As usual, they simply devote their time and effort to trying to tear down someone else. What do you expect when their own guy operates his PAC to funnel money to his children. Losers.
However, Romney supporters shouldn’t try to pretend that this sort of thing is beneath their candidate (or his supporters) either, especially on a site as diverse as this one… because some of us have not forgotten 2007.
Being one of the people who was personally involved in disclosing the identity of a person involved in a very similar situation during the last primaries, I felt the need to remind some of our readers that the Romney campaign was directly tied to the same sort of tactics in September of 2007 that they are now accusing Huckabee supporters of.
Have some of these supporters who are acting so angered that a prominent group supporting Governor Huckabee would delve into such a thing as creating a website that bashes a possible opponent forgotten about the case of Warren Tompkins and the PhonyFred debacle?
It’s pretty hard not to, considering that it was national news at the time. Here is a Washington Post article from that time:
Anti-Thompson Site Connects to Romney Camp
A top adviser to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney appears to be behind today’s launch of a new Web site attacking GOP presidential rival Fred Thompson.
The site, www.phoneyfred.org, paints an unflattering picture of Thompson, dubbing him: Fancy Fred, Five O’clock Fred, Flip-Flop Fred, McCain Fred, Moron Fred, Playboy Fred, Pro-Choice Fred, Son-of-a-Fred and Trial Lawyer Fred.
Nowhere on the site does it indicate who is responsible for it. But a series of inquiries leads directly to the website of Under the Power Lines, the political consulting firm of Warren Tompkins, Romney’s lead consultant in South Carolina.
The site www.politicalnetroots.com brings up the homepage for “Under the Power Lines,” which lists Tompkins as “Partner, Consultant,” along with Terry Sullivan and Welsley Donehue.
South Carolina politics is known to be rough-and-tumble. In 2000, it was in South Carolina that then-candidate John McCain ran into an organized effort to tar his character, including anonymous allegations that he had fathered a black child.
At the time, then-candidate George Bush was desperate to stop a surging McCain, who had just won a stunning upset in the New Hampshire primary. Tompkins was the chief strategist for Bush in South Carolina at the time, though Bush campaign officials have always denied that the campaign was responsible for the attacks.
A spokesman for Romney’s campaign said he would look into questions about the anti-Thompson site. “Our campaign is focused on the issues and ideas that are of paramount concern to voters,” said spokesman Kevin Madden. “The website we are focused on is MittRomney.com.”
Tompkins did not return calls or emails for comment.
So, while you have every right to trash the Huckabee supporters over this event, don’t act as though some of your more prominent supporters would never do such a thing. Heck, Tompkins was an official for the campaign, and he never stepped down after this was uncovered.
While you praise the fine work done by True Romney Expositor, don’t go overboard in your condemnations of Huck supporters on this particular matter.
Note: I’d almost forgotten that Romney’s state director (Terry Sullivan) of his South Carolina campaign was also involved…
The Web site, PhoneyFred.org, had attacked Mr. Thompson’s conservative credentials, opening with the line: “Phoney Fred. Acting like a conservative.” But Internet queries reveal connections between the site and Warren Tompkins, a South Carolina political consultant hired by Mr. Romney, and Terry Sullivan, Mr. Romney’s South Carolina state director.
Toomey and Ridge are already within striking range of Specter:
PEG Political Action Committee Poll, automated poll of 1,019 households of registered voters.
- Specter 42% Toomey 36%,
- Ridge 39% Specter 38%
“What jumps out at me,” said Patti “is that Senator Specter doesn’t get over 50 percent against either candidate. That’s not good for a long-term incumbent no matter what political party he affiliates with.”
· In the Specter/Toomey match-up, Specter is winning support from Democrats by a 50 percent margin while Toomey is winning support from Republicans by a 46 percent margin.
· In the Specter/Ridge match-up, Specter is winning from Democrats by a 41 percent margin while Ridge is winning support from Republicans by a 50 percent margin.
· In the Philadelphia suburbs of Bucks, Delaware, Chester and Montgomery, in the Specter/Toomey match-up the results are Specter 43 percent to Toomey 38 percent with 21 percent undecided.
· By contrast, Specter loses votes in the suburban southeast counties when faced by Ridge who garners 38 percent to Specter’s 37 percent with 25 percent undecided.
Hat-Tip: Tommy Boy
Over at The Palmetto Scoop, Adam Fogle takes Gov. Mark Sanford to task for crying during Obama’s victory speech:
Yes, that’s right, Sanford told a national news publication that he was so overjoyed at the election of a socialist Democrat who is turning our country into the “People’s Republic of America” that he openly cried. No wonder he caved and decided to take the billions of taxpayer dollars sent down from Obama.
I will now admit something rather embarrassing–I cried during Obama’s victory speech as well.
You see, by election night I had long accepted the fact that Sen. McCain was not going to win (although I never said so publicly) and had already completed all the stages in the grieving process.
I was not under any illusion that John McCain might win when I turned on my television that night. I was therefore able to watch the events from the perspective of a lover of American History who was witnessing an event unfold that would be remembered, perhaps, forever.
So when the TV cameras focused on elderly African-Americans standing in that park in Illinois with tears streaming down their faces, and I thought back to everything that black Americans have gone through in our history–from Slavery, to Segregation, to Jim Crow-and I thought about how much this moment must mean to a person who was forced to sit in the back of the bus, who was turned away at the lunch counter, who really had to endure being treated as less than human, I did, indeed, cry.
In the end, I really do not believe that this says anything about myself or Gov. Sanford as conservatives or Republicans whatsoever. On that night, we were simply human beings, and Americans, watching our fellow countrymen live to see what they had believed to be impossible.
Republican Icon Fred Malek (who served as John McCain’s National Finance Chairman) has published the latest installment of his reflections on the 2008 campaign. In this post, Mr. Malek writes about the challenges imposed on the McCain Campaign in May of 2007 after fundraising had dwindled in reaction to Sen. McCain’s role in comprehensive immigration reform.
Mr. Malek writes:
Whether you loved or hated John’s position in the Immigration debate, his actions that June exhibited the quintessential get-in-the-middle, role up your sleeves, bi-partisan leadership that has marked his service to our country. Unfortunately, at the time, much of the Republican base did not see this leadership as a positive attribute. As a result, the fundraising well dried up, and it could not have come at a worse time.
Terry and John Weaver presented the situation to us. The campaign had accrued a great deal of debt due to heavy spending and the harsh fundraising environment in June. In fact the campaign was not only broke but owed money. Despite the problem, John remained encouraged and upbeat. He shared his vision for America and thanked us for continuing to support his bid. Marlene and I enjoyed the stay at the McCain’s cabin thoroughly and left with deep concerns but continued commitment.
John left Sedona and headed to Iraq with his good friends and colleagues Lindsay Graham and Joe Lieberman. Although we left Sedona with great uncertainty on the future of the campaign, we also left with a stronger commitment to John and his vision for our country, and a deeper impression of his resolute discipline and perseverance.
It’s funny given that I run in both business and political circles, for years if not decades, I would consistently hear CEOs complain about politicians and Washington and state, “if politicians could only be for like us, Washington and this country would be a better place.” In light of our current economic crisis, I can say without a doubt if every CEO had the discipline, perseverance and sense of honor of John McCain, this economy and this country would be in a much better place.
The next installment in the series focuses on the shake-up and its resurgence of the McCain Campaign, culminating in one of the greatest political comebacks in American history.
If you followed the 2008 race as obsessively as I did, Mr. Malek’s writing are essential in understanding what occurred behind the scenes of this most historic race.
Reprinted from Newsblaze;
“Senior Muslim clerics have urged Sudanese youngsters to boycott Valentine’s Day, saying it is a Western institution that could lead couples astray.
Members of the Sudan Ulema Authority, an influential body of religious leaders, called on young men and women to ignore the event on February 14 and resist the temptation to mark it by taking romantic strolls in parks.
“Valentine’s Day comes from Western countries. I call on Muslims not to imitate Christians,” said preacher Sheikh Hassan Hamid in a statement released to Reuters on Wednesday.” Reuters
Valentine’s Day isn’t a day of debauchery dedicated to performing fertility rituals. It’s a holiday that celebrates love and romance, and the only ritual performed is when a guy sends flowers or candy to his sweetheart.
In a world full of hate and discord Valentine’s day should be embraced by all cultures. Valentine’s Day should be the ultimate ecumenical observation, what religion or culture could possibly be against love?
The answer is Islam, many Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia ban this holy day celebrated by lovers young and old.
Sudanese Muslim clerics are warning young people to boycott Valentine’s Day, because it might lead them astray. Dear Lord, couples might stroll hand-in-hand in the park or exchange gifts expressing their love and commitment to each other. And we all know that the next step is to have orgies in the park in broad daylight.
Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be the province of Western countries, and lovers all over the world (including Muslims in Sudan and Saudi Arabia) should celebrate this wonderful institution.
Conservative icon Fred Malek gives us the inside story on John McCain and Sarah Palin’s first post-election reunion at the both the Alfalfa Club Dinner and a private gathering at his home:
The January 20 Inauguration and the January 31 Alfalfa Club dinner brought me in close quarters again with John McCain and allowed me to bring John and Sarah Palin together for the first time since election night.
A little over a week later was the Alfalfa Club dinner. Alfalfa is a 200 member club with mostly illustrious members such as leading Senators, Congressmen, CEOs, Supreme Court Justices, and former Presidents, as well as a few such as myself, who somehow slipped past the screening. The club does absolutely nothing other than an annual dinner filled with patriotism, bipartisanship, and very humorous speakers, including traditionally the President. Each member is allowed to bring two guests and one of mine this year was Sarah Palin. The night before, last reported by Roxanne Roberts of the “Washington Post”, Marlene and I hosted a small dinner at our home for my Alfalfa guests and a few other friends. Here is what impressed me most over the weekend:
- The warmth John McCain showed toward Sarah Palin when she arrived at my home Friday night. It was the first time they had been together since the election, and their good feelings toward each other were evident.
- The gracious and engaged Sarah Palin was with everyone. It was great to see her in deep conversations with people like Alan Greenspan, Madeleine Albright, Walter Isaacson, and Mitch McConnell. For sure, nothing shallow about this lady.
- The celebrity treatment Sarah received from the highly sophisticated crowd at Alfalfa. There were as many or more people lined up to meet her as there was for President Obama.
- Sarah’s singular focus on her job as Governor of Alaska. She left Anchorage on a 2:30 a.m. flight Friday so as not to miss a day on the job, and she singled out people to meet who could be impactful to Alaska, including President Obama.
- Sarah’s grace and charisma reminded me of why she had been selected as John McCain’s running mate.
Be sure to bookmark Mr. Malek’s blog as he will be publishing his analysis of the 2008 campaign in the coming days and there are sure to be some very interesting observations in these posts.
Kavon wonders how we should deal with the Specter, Collins, and Snowe defections. I take a fairly hardline position on this issue. There are essentially two schools of thought on the Republican collapse these last 4 years. One says that we’ve lost because we became intoxicated with power, and supported bad bills simply because they were OUR bills. This school also insists that in 2000 George Bush and Karl Rove thought that “Compassionate Conservatism” could be a bridge to a permanent majority, and therefore they led Republicans in a sort of inept triangulation on fiscal issues, to head off traditional Democratic talking points (Republicans are stingy, don’t like new programs, etc). You might call this the “We lost our way” school of thought. The second school insists that an excessive conservatism, largely on social issues, has driven away moderates, especially well-educated moderates. Both of these schools of thought have merit, but there is no school of thought which argues that the GOP has floundered because of too much fiscal conservatism (Unless you count Ross Douthat, which I don’t. I take Ross to be arguing that the GOP has given up having any ideas on “Democratic” issues or concerns).
Even Obama and the Democrats didn’t really argue that; they blamed the bad economy on us, but they certainly didn’t attribute it to a failure to spend adequately (they couldn’t have- Obama was still playing at wanting balanced budgets). Now it may well be that a different 2-term Republican Presidency would have inspired the “stingy” charge, but that’s simply not where the action is right now. Republicans can’t lose, even in blue Maine, by opposing profligacy and waste; it’s been so long since ANYONE has seen anything but profligacy and waste, even some Democrats oppose it. This is how elections turn; the country’s governed by fiscally right of center policies for two decades, and they forget all about the excesses of genuine liberalism. In 4 years, the country will be in the middle, no matter what, of the most sustained expansion of Government in its history. Even if the economy has reached glorious heights, fiscal responsibility will be a reasonable card to play.
So while I agree with the strategy of promoting moderate candidates in moderate areas, we don’t need to promote candidates who offer THIS sort of moderation. Specter, Snowe, and Collins have badly miscalculated, and frankly, as long as we’re going to have a powerless minority, I’d prefer the symbolism of a sustained grassroots effort to primary someone like Specter, even if it means we lose the seat. Only it’d be nice, if we could leave the Club for Growth out of it, and promote a more mainstream candidate, through a more mainstream outlet. When the Club for Growth primaries someone, it always feels as though they’re doing it because they demand perfection. We want to send a message that while we don’t demand perfection, we demand SOMETHING. Failing to vote against maybe the worst spending bill in the Nation’s history-when it’s not even clear enough of the public supports it to harm your career- makes you just about useless.
Nor, do I believe that had we torpedoed this bill, we would have received the blame for further economic troubles. This assumes something indefensible: that after weeks of Chicken Littling about the need for a stimulus bill, Obama would have, or could have, simply thrown up his hands and said “Oh well, I guess we do nothing. Their fault”. The idea is ludicrous and frankly, I have a hard time taking anyone who advances it seriously. There is simply no scenario where a new President lets the signature agenda piece of his first 100 days in office, go down in flames. Had Snowe, Collins, and Specter held out, Obama would have had two options. 1.) Incite the public against the GOP for obstructionism, and hope the GOP is frightened into caving. 2.) Produce a better bill. The first showed no signs of happening, despite Obama’s best efforts. And I’d contend that even had the bill been mildly popular, the GOP would have been well-served to hold out. They could have drawn up a new GOP “compromise” bill every day (or every few days), as a gimmick, and if Obama consistently balked, he would have had a hard time sustaining the “Republicans are obstructionists who refuse to give ground” narrative.
Republicans could have, quite reasonably, asked “how moderate could this bill be if he can’t even convince one of us to vote for it?” We would have likely ended up in scenario number two. At the very least, we would have succeeded in drawing Obama out on his support for particular aspects of the bill. As it is, he has a legislative victory, however labored and meager, and hasn’t received any of the blame for the “divisiveness” because of that maddening Eisenhowerian distance. Contra some of my colleagues, I think Obama has escaped a tricky situation remarkably in tact. Oh, and did I mention, we’ve now passed a disastrous bill, with nothing of any significance to show for our efforts? Glorious.
And here’s some cold water to pour on that last post I made…
Remember my post about that stupid map that Rush Limbaugh used to try to demonstrate that we’re still a Red Country (you know: the map that we lost by over 7% with)?
Well, I’ve found an alternative map that should put things in perspective — it’s called a cartogram, and it’s a map that Limbaugh should acquaint himself with. To give you a new perspective on why the Northeast must be broken into, well, take a look at this:
Wonderful candidates, like the one who put her hat into the ring today, can crack the blue states. In addition, we have a fantastic new chairman willing to pour resources into winning those states back.
In the meantime, that’s the state of things…
Alex Knepper can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Much has been written about Sarah Palin’s effect on the elites, but Yuval Levin’s new article, in Commentary, still manages to seem fresh. You even have some somewhat basic, but insightful musings on the difference liberalism and conservatism. It’s a very long piece, so here are just a few highlights:
Her political style and priorities resembled McCain’s in a way that no other senior Republican elected official’s did. Her conservatism, like McCain’s, was more an attitude than an ideology: it was a kind of moralistic anti-corruptionism, obsessed with honest dealing and powerfully allergic to excess and waste…
What was the Palin episode really about? The answer has much to do with the age-old tension between populism and elitism in our public life, which is to say, between the notion that we are best governed by the views, needs, and interests of the many and the conviction that power can only be managed wisely by a select few…
In American politics, the distinction between populism and elitism is further subdivided into cultural and economic populism and elitism. And for at least the last forty years, the two parties have broken down distinctly along this double axis. The Republican party has been the party of cultural populism and economic elitism, and the Democrats have been the party of cultural elitism and economic populism. Republicans tend to identify with the traditional values, unabashedly patriotic, anti-cosmopolitan, non-nuanced Joe Sixpack, even as they pursue an economic policy that aims at elite investor-driven growth. Democrats identify with the mistreated, underpaid, overworked, crushed-by-the-corporation “people against the powerful,” but tend to look down on those people’s religion, education, and way of life. Republicans tend to believe the dynamism of the market is for the best but that cultural change can be dangerously disruptive; Democrats tend to believe dynamic social change stretches the boundaries of inclusion for the better but that economic dynamism is often ruinous and unjust….
She was, the Left-leaning Christopher Hitchens insisted, “a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus.” The Right-leaning David Brooks called Palin “a fatal cancer to the Republican party” because her inclination “is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely.”
Palin never actually boasted of ignorance or explicitly scorned learning or ideas. Rather, the implicit charge was that Palin’s failure to speak the language and to share the common points of reference of the educated upper tier of American society essentially rendered her unfit for high office….
Entry to the American intellectual elite is, in principle, open to all who pursue it. And pursuing it is not as difficult as it once was, at least for the middle class. Indeed, most of this elite’s prominent members hail from middle-class origins and not from traditional bastions of American privilege and wealth. They can speak of growing up in Scranton, even as they raise their noses at dirty coal and hunting season….
Applied to politics, the worldview of the intellectual elite begins from an unstated assumption that governing is fundamentally an exercise of the mind: an application of the proper mix of theory, expertise, and intellectual distance that calls for knowledge and verbal fluency more than for prudence born of life’s hard lessons.
Sarah Palin embodied a very different notion of politics, in which sound instincts and valuable life experiences are considered sources of knowledge at least the equal of book learning. She is the product of an America in which explicit displays of pride in intellect are considered unseemly, and where physical prowess and moral constancy are given a higher place than intellectual achievement. She was in the habit of stressing these faculties instead—a habit that struck many in Washington as brutishness.
This is why Palin was seen as anti-intellectual when, properly speaking, she was simply non-intellectual. What she lacked was not intelligence—she is, clearly, highly intelligent—but rather the particular set of assumptions, references, and attitudes inculcated by America’s top twenty universities and transmitted by the nation’s elite cultural organs.
Many of those (including especially those on the Right) who reacted badly to Palin on intellectual grounds understand themselves to be advancing the interests of lower-middle-class families similar to Palin’s own family and to many of those in attendance at her rallies who greeted her arrival on the scene as a kind of deliverance. But it is hard to escape the conclusion that while these members of the intellectual elite want the government to serve the interests of such people first and foremost, they do not want those people to hold the levers of power. They see lower-middle-class populists like Palin and their supporters as profoundly ill-suited for governance, because they lack the accoutrements required for its employment—especially in foreign policy, which, even more than domestic affairs, is thought to be an intellectual exercise. It is for this reason that Barack Obama, who actually has far less experience in executive governance than Palin, was not dismissed as unprepared for the presidency. Palin may have been elected governor of Alaska, but his peers in Cambridge had elected Obama editor of the Harvard Law Review. He is thoroughly fluent in the parlance of the college town, and in the eyes of the new American elite, Washington is the ultimate college town.
I’ve just got home from six weeks of working in Virginia. During my drive home, I noticed an odd phenomenon in Virginia (especially Hampton Roads, Southside and Richmond).
I saw as many Bush/Cheney ’04 bumper stickers as Obama/Biden bumper stickers. I saw practically no McCain/Palin bumper stickers. I can’t speak to enthusiasm but apparently many Virginians didn’t have much use for McCain.
During my trip home, I heard that Michael Steele had been elected RNC Chairman. I congratulate Mr. Steele and this extremist pro-lifer looks forward to his leadership in the RNC.
I also noticed how the popularity of Obama’s pork bill has been on the decline. That makes sense given the bill is unlikely to do much good for most Americans in the next year. Even Senate Democrats are wary of the bag of flaming poop Nancy Pelosi has thrown over to the Senate.
I return home to a Republican Party that is different from the one I left before Christmas. There’s some hope and some signs of backbone. It’s good to be home.
First off, I would like to apologize to the R4’12 staff, as well as our readers, for my continued absence from the site. Personal matters have prevented me from being a regular contributor to this site and will likely continue to do so for the near future. I would like to thank my fellow writers here at R4’12 for picking up the slack in my absence.
Now on to the inaugural…
Barack Obama was not my candidate in this election. He is not of my political party and certainly does not share my political philosophy. But today he becomes my President, and for the sake of the country that I love with all of my heart, I hope that he will be a good one. I am, and will always be, an American before I am a Republican and I will never wish any harm upon our great nation for the sake of political gain.
Today, our nation sees its first African American citizen assume the highest office in the land- and in that fact I cannot help but feel a deep and powerful sense of pride. I hope that his Presidency serves to help those who, for whatever reason, have not felt that they have a stake in the prosperity of our nation become invested in the promise that the greatest country on Earth has always afforded its members.
Until my next post, God bless you all- and may He continue to bless the United States of America.
According to the International Herald Tribune, McCain has been counseling President-elect Obama for the last three months on cabinet appointments, national security policy and other issues.
Not long after Senator John McCain returned last month from an official trip to Iraq and Pakistan, he received a phone call from President-elect Barack Obama.
As contenders for the presidency, the two had hammered each other for much of 2008 over their conflicting approaches to foreign policy, especially in Iraq. (He’d lose a war! He’d stay a hundred years!) Now, however, Obama said he wanted McCain’s advice, people in each camp briefed on the conversation said. What did he see on the trip? What did he learn?
It was just one step in a post-election courtship that historians say has few modern parallels, beginning with a private meeting in Obama’s transition office in Chicago just two weeks after the vote. On Monday night, McCain will be the guest of honor at a black-tie dinner celebrating Obama’s inauguration.
Over the last three months, Obama has quietly consulted McCain about many of the new administration’s potential nominees to top national security jobs and about other issues — in one case relaying back a contender’s answers to questions McCain had suggested.
McCain, meanwhile, has told colleagues “that many of these appointments he would have made himself,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and a close McCain friend.
This breaking news of the secret meetings and counseling is not without controversy. Publicly, team Obama remains adamant on their withdrawl plans for Iraq, but those involved in the meeting are now stating that Obama is finding common ground with many of Senator McCain’s positions on American involvement in Iraq.
Emanuel said he did not remember any discussion of Iraq. “Barack has been clear that he is going to stick to his responsible reduction in forces, and he hasn’t changed from that,” he said.
But Graham, who accompanied McCain to the meeting, said Obama took a notably different tone toward Iraq than he had during the campaign, emphasizing the common ground in their views.
“He said that he understands that we had differences but he wanted to let us know that he also understands that we have got to be responsible in how we leave Iraq,” Graham recalled. “What the Obama-Biden administration has talked about is not losing the gains we have achieved. ”
He added, “Obama does not want to be the guy who lost Iraq when it is close to being won.”
For many Republicans, this news brings mixed emotions. During the campaign, Republicans understood that Senator McCain’s positions on foreign policy were the correct positions to take to ensure the safety of our nation and we should now be satisfied that President-elect Obama is adopting many of those positions. But at the same time, how could we not be frustrated at the lack of honesty shown by the Obama campaign? According to exit polling, Obama won on the issue of Iraq, even though polling during the campaign had shown McCain winning the issue.
We should not hold any animosity towards Senator McCain for providing counsel to the President-elect. McCain is doing this for two reasons. First, he is putting (and always has) his country first. Secondly, McCain is accepting the hand of friendship in hopes of influencing the policy positions of our next President. Although some may see this as too non-partisan, our soldiers fighting for our safety will appreciate the conviction of Senator McCain.
For liberals, expect them to turn a blind-eye, again, on another slap to their face from a candidate who exploited their anger, fear and expectations.
It was all ching-ching and bling-bling, my lefty friends. It was not about hope, but about power.