The Ghost of Moderates Past

A wise historian once claimed, “those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. As I look at the results of the 2012 election, I am amused by the number of excuses why Mitt Romney lost this election. They range from the usual suspects, the TEA Party, the social conservatives, hard-line conservatives, a lot of dumb people who don’t know any better, to complete fantasies like Obama “stole” the election, Obama “bribed” the American people, and the Democrats hacked into Romney’s Orca GOTV system on election day, causing the GOP to lose Ohio. They never blame Romney and excuse all of his tactical and strategic mistakes; nor do they ever provide direct proof of their fantasies.

You see, many of these folks have no sense of reality and history. The GOP have nominated folks like Mitt Romney since Herbert Hoover and none of them have ever been elected. The one exception was Dwight Eisenhower. I doubt even the foolish of fools could compare Romney to Ike but I am sure some blonde will try. Even Nixon, who ran as a moderate in 1960, learned his lesson and became a “conservative” in 1968. Unfortunately, for the American people, Nixon left us a legacy of a greater bureaucracy with such acronyms as OSHA and EPA.

The problem is, the Republicans have slowly dismantled the Reagan coalition of fiscal, foreign-policy, and social conservatives.

The fiscal conservatives are frustrated. When the GOP did some very fine work ( thanks in large part to Bob Livingston) paring the budget during the 1990s, they were overshadowed by Newt Gingrich’s inarticulate sound bites. After the loss of Livingston from the GOP caucus, the GOP spent like drunken sailors during the Bush years. They abandoned fiscal responsibility and past bad laws like the Medicare prescription drug benefit (which is the largest new entitlement program since the 1960s) , and No Child Left Behind (which federalized our K-12 schools). They are also frustrated over the lack of respect and understanding what the midterm elections of 2010 meant. Since the election, John Boehner has signaled his willingness to work a deal with President Obama and some members of Congress want to break their pledge not to raise taxes. This will not sit well with the fiscal conservatives.

The foreign-policy conservatives are in disarray. On one hand, they embrace our venture into Libya and hope for intervention in Syria. On the other hand, they embrace the Muslim Brotherhood brokered peace plan between Hamas and Israel but they cannot articulate a good reason why.

As for the social conservatives, they are the most maligned of the Reagan coalition. They are the bogeyman of modern American politics. Yet, their influence within the GOP has greatly diminished since 1988. 1988 is the year when many either retired or were pushed out by the George HW Bush folks. They have also lost two of their most articulate spokesmen with the passing of Paul Weyrich and Father John Neuhaus.

I believe the seminal point for social conservatives was the passing of Terri Schiavo in 2005. Subsequently, they failed to vote in 2006, 2008, probably 2010, and in spite of exit poll data, I believe they failed to vote in 2012. As long as the GOP ignores the concerns of social conservatives, I believe the GOP will be relegated to, at best, mediocre candidates with inarticulate positions.

Mitt Romney could not articulate any position beyond creating jobs. He never discussed any specifics as to spending cuts. In fact, on several occasions, he took swipes at the Paul Ryan plan. It makes one wonder why he bothered making Paul Ryan his Vice President. Mitt Romney did not articulate the events surrounding the killing of our ambassador at Benghazi or the feckless response of the Obama administration in the aftermath. He could not articulate how the Obama foreign-policy, more particularly the concept of “soft power”, has been a disaster.

Most of all, Mitt Romney never used the C word to hammer the Obama administration; corruption. From ‘Fast and Furious’ to Solyndra, Romney wouldn’t make an issue of this administration’s ethical issues. In many ways, the last two debates seemed more of a love fest than a competition to be the next president of the United States. Mitt Romney failed to heed the advice of Ronald Reagan of “raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all the issues troubling the people”.

Mitt Romney now takes his place with other such GOP luminaries as Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie, Thomas Dewey, Bob Dole, John McCain; all ghosts of moderate past.

Spartan

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Of Fools And Faith Part II

The ObamaCare Mandate

One of the most interesting political decisions made by this Administration was the ordering religion-based hospitals and charities to provide contraception and other birth control services for their employees. Politicians of the Catholic Faith, who voted for ObamaCare, came out of the woodwork to distance themselves from the uproar. Bart Stupak, who is now a lobbyist, still believes in the executive order and Kathy Dahlkemper now says if she had only known, she would have never voted for the Bill. Both are delusional. Dahlkemper, for instance, had problems with ObamaCare. However, after four days of arm-twisting at Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home, she was onboard. I guess you really have to pass a law to find out what it contains.

The outcry, especially by Catholics, over the Mandate and the administration’s most recent implementing action is amazing to watch. Led by Bishop Daniel Jenky, Archbishop Dolan, and other Catholic clergy too many to mention, the administration’s action has galvanized most Catholics, liberal and conservative, to unite in protest, a rarity among the two factions. To be sure, there will be some Catholics who will use the rhetoric of Sister Carol Keehan, the head of the Catholic Health Organization, for cover but such cover is but a fig-leaf. However, the rare Latin-Kumbaya alliance among America’s Catholics do not appear to buying Obama’s “accommodation” in forcing the insurance companies to pay for the birth control services. That type of “accommodation” has probably offended more people than the original diktat. There is no accommodation with Obama.

And yet this type of diktat does have some historical past. Many of the old “social conservatives” remember what galvanized their opposition to Jimmy Carter for the 1980 election. The Carter Administration (if I recall the story correctly) tried to impose the Fairness Doctrine on various clergy who had radio programs. The outcry then led to the formation of the Moral Majority. I am pretty sure Paul Weyrich would be stunned to watch history repeat itself.

The question is: Can Obama win re-election if he loses the Catholic vote?

I don’t know but if history is any guide, Carter lost his re-election in 1980; carrying only 6 states and DC. The Evangelicals abandoned Carter who regularly went to church for Reagan who did not attend a church with any regularity. To these folks, Reagan defended the Faith while Carter did not.

It is incumbent for the GOP address this issue with the strength and determination of a Bishop Jenky and an Archbishop (soon to be Cardinal) Dolan. Their defense of the Faith must be praised. Perhaps, Team Obama has written off the Catholic vote along with the White working class vote. At this rate, who will be left to vote for Obama?

Spartan

The Conservative Crack-Up Part III

The Polls, The Electorate, and My Prediction

In all my years of working in and observing politics, I have never seen such fluctuations in the polls as I have seen in the last few months. First, Bachmann, then Perry, followed by the erstwhile Cain, now Gingrich. I think there are three reasons beyond ‘anyone but Romney’: 1) the people are looking at who is the smartest person at the time (in very much the belief that Obama is a smart man), 2) the polls are a reflection of the positive media coverage for whatever candidate is presumed the leader and the negative coverage of the other candidates (a combination of lazy analysis and a lack of caring), and 3) perhaps, the polls are wrong (not in the data but the methodology).

I believe there is deception in the promotion of Obama as a very smart person. Outside of the flowery words (which never seem memorable-like JFK) and party and ideological hacks telling us how bright he is, there is very little data to prove Obama is smart. No academic records are ever produced and no dissertations are ever released. Yet, the perception that Obama is smart remains. However, instead of demanding evidence of scholastic achievement, opponents of Obama seek to find someone who is as smart as Obama. This leads to a unhealthy vetting; not as to policies and beliefs but as to whether the candidate is smart enough to take on Obama. I think the polls reflect this dynamic.

I believe the media coverage has a lot to do with the up and down nature of the polls. The media has a nasty habit of building people up in order to destroy them later at their convenience. They also focus on minor issues as though they were major catastrophes and treat major catastrophes as mild irritations. They realize that most people are too lazy to go behind the headlines.

There seems to be two competing narratives from two different directions concerning Obama. The narrative from the MSM is that Obama is smart and a tough opponent to debate. The other narrative is Obama is the anti-Christ. Both narratives are patently false, but persistent.

The former is two fallacies; Obama is neither smart nor tough to debate. Let’s face it, when you listen to Obama, you do not get a feeling of brilliance. As for the ‘tough to debate’, that is some of the best sleight of hand the media has ever foisted on the public. Ask yourself a question; how many times have you watched a debate and thought Candidate A won the debate but only have the pundits after the debate say that Candidate B won the debate? I am not sure why the electorate allows itself to be led around by the media.

The latter is just plain ridiculous. There is no such entity as an ’anti-Christ’. It is not possible that there exists an equal and opposite entity of Christ. It is possible for people to be ’against Christ’ but no entity can have the same power and stature of Christ; but for evil.

Nonetheless, the electorate is looking for the candidate who can address these two narratives. When one does not properly vet a candidate; perceptions matter. Positive media coverage increases perceptions, negative media coverage causes a negative perception.

I believe the current polls are a reflection of the emotional angst of the electorate seeking an easy answer to the current political situations. The one thing polls can not accurately define is the real support for the candidate. When one adds the dynamic of a top-down campaign, even the candidate has no idea what is his real strength.

Supposedly, Cain was raising tons of money when the allegations of the mistress came to light. When Cain ’suspended’ his campaign, he did not mention the strength of any donations or his neophyte campaign. The question now becomes; who deluded who?
This is why I believe the polls are wrong.

The perception now has become Newt is up in the polls; followed by Romney and Paul. Yet, there is no data of fundraising or any status of his current campaign and GOTV efforts. It eerily reminds me of Cain.

My Prediction

I strongly believe the adage that successful campaigns have three things in common: money, organization, and luck. It is often said that money is the mother’s milk of politics. As of this 19th day of December, only Romney and Perry have any real money. Santorum, Bachmann, Huntsman, Gingrich have little to no money. Gingrich is the latest beneficiary of the emotional electorate but his support is beginning to crater. The money will soon crater.

As for organization, Santorum has very little, if any, outside of Iowa. He may do well in IA but will not be able to capitalize anywhere else.
Huntsman, is playing for NH. He will get a little traction from IA, but if he does not do well in NH, he is finished. Even if he does well in NH, he has little to no organization in SC and beyond.

Bachmann has a little organization in NH and is starting to put an effort in SC. In SC, she has hired the Wes Donehue as her spokesman. He proclaimed Gingrich was buying Tea Party votes in SC. The problem is, Newt is not. This is an odd way of advancing Bachmann’s political campaign. Either she is not a serious candidate or she is not a serious conservative. At this point, I remain convinced she is in the race to help Romney. I am not sure what she has to gain other than the title of Ambassador to Malta.

Gingrich is finally putting together a campaign staff but it is small and most likely unable to fill the needs of a front-runner. If Gingrich continues to crater, they will be looking for work elsewhere.

Romney has organization in IA, NH, and SC. Perry has an organization in IA and SC. Ron Paul continues to have his merry band of idealists run his organization. I think these three will win, place, and show in IA. A fourth place showing by Newt will end his front-runner status. Romney and Perry will both claim the “Comeback Kid” status. Their battle royalé will begin in SC.

I see Romney and Perry being the only two who can fight a fifty state primary battle. Paul will be able to compete but his ceiling will be very low. Will either candidate avoid a brokered convention? Whether that happens or not, consider Perry lucky to survive.

Spartan