Thursday, January 31, 2008

McCain: Defender of the Free Speech Rights of his Right-Wing Rabid Radio Detractors

I was just about to bring up something great about McCain's credentials as a conservative and a man of decency that seems to have escaped the general attention of conservative audiences. But Medved just beat me to it.

Let’s say you’re attacking someone every day, criticizing some perceived enemy in a tone that is bitter, highly personal, spiteful and relentless. Now imagine, for the sake of argument, that at the very climax of your over-the-top abuse, the object of your assaults makes a point to defend your right to continue to slime him.

Wouldn’t it be appropriate to interrupt your derision for a few moments at least, to acknowledge the other guy’s courage and integrity—and to salute his support for the First Amendment?

Why, then, no acknowledgement by the most prominent conservative talkers on the radio of John McCain’s principled – and appropriate – efforts to block Democrats who seek to reinstitute the awful Fairness Doctrine?

. . . THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE WOULD BE A DEVASTATING ASSAULT ON FREE SPEECH; McCAIN-FEINGOLD, FOR ALL ITS FAULTS, WAS NOT . . . It matters far more, in other words, that McCain continues to battle the Fairness Doctrine (that would seriously damage political debate in the media) than that he cosponsored a silly and ineffective piece of legislation (that left vigorous debate vigorously intact).

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Law Compels University / Prohibits Unitarians in showing XXX

From my poor formerly distinguished alma mater - you just can't make this sh*t up!

College of William and Mary President Gene Nichol gave students the go-ahead this morning to hold the controversial Sex Workers' Art Show on campus next month.

In a statement, Nichol said he tried to work with students to hold the event at a venue off the Williamsburg campus.

Students were unable to find an off-campus venue, however, and Nichol said the First Amendment and "defining traditions of openness that sustain universities" required he permit the show be held at the college.

"My views and the views of others in the community about the worth or offensiveness of the program can provide no basis for censoring it," he said.

A Unitarian Universalist church in James City County had considered hosting the show, according to co-pastor Rev. Jennifer Ryu. County law, however, prohibited the church from hosting events that might feature public nudity, she said.
Meanwhile, Nichols doesn't seem to have any problem with speech codes.

Keeping the Florida Victory Strong: Reaching out and defending reality

The Florida win is thrilling. Just two months ago the idea that McCain would even be a viable candidate at this point seemed all too remote. Now it seems that even if he doesn't win enough on Super Tuesday to lock the nomination, he will be far ahead and very well positioned going into the rest of February. I'm very much looking forward to the being able to vote for John McCain in Virginia's primary on Feb 12th. The fact that I will even be able to do that is exciting in itself.

So it's looking good, but as McCain said in his speech last night:

This was a hard fought election, and worth fighting hard for, but I've been on the other side of such contests before, and experienced the disappointment. I offer my best wishes to Governor Romney and his supporters. You fought hard for your candidate, and the margin that separated us tonight surely isn't big enough for me to brag about or for you to despair.
. . .
My friends, in one week we will have as close to a national primary as we have ever had in this country. I intend to win it, and be the nominee of our party. And I intend to do that by making it clear what I stand for. I stand for the principles and policies that first attracted me to the Republican Party when I heard, in whispered conversations and tap codes, about the then Governor of California, who stood by me and my comrades, and who was making quite a reputation for standing by his convictions no matter the changing winds of political thought and popular culture. When I left the Navy and entered public life, I enlisted as a foot soldier in the political revolution he began. And I am as proud to be a Reagan conservative today, as I was then. I trust in the courage, good sense, resourcefulness and decency of the American people, who deserve a government that trusts in their qualities as well, and doesn't abrogate to its elf the responsibilities to do for the people what the people can and want to do for themselves.
This is exactly what the McCain campaign and those who support it need to be about right now. Although it's very tempting - and sometimes all too easy - to deliver personal attacks on Mitt Romney, it's wrong to kick a man when he's down. I believe that somewhere deep down inside that empty suit is a basically decent guy. I feel sorry for the guy - he's wasted so much money and even a good deal of his reputation in a futile pursuit of the Presidency because he just hasn't been able to see that he's just not what our nation needs right now. And meanwhile, we need to recognize that we will need Romney and his devotees come the general.

Can McCain win a general election without the support of Romney? I do tend to think so. But the more we can bring Republicans together the better. Far better to have a 55-60 percent win than another close call like we've had the past two presidential elections. Do we need the support of the Hewitts and the Limbaughs and the Malkins and Tancredos and Coulters out there? No. But we do need to convince enough of the people who have listen to them that John McCain is indeed authentically conservative enough to earn their trust. There's so many misconceptions and outright lies that the shockpundits have been putting forth - it's incredible that some pro-life Republicans have bought into the nonsense that McCain is somehow worse than Rudy or even - Hillary?!!

Though Romney does have his strong points, I think the vast majority of people have come to recognize that Romney isn't as great a presidential candidate as he was talked up to being - at least not at this stage. There are some who would vote for him merely as a vote against mostly false ideas they have about McCain or Huckabee. No we are not going to convince all of them, but we need to let the truth be known. Playing offense is a good strategy at times, but we need to play defense too - because sometimes an olive branch and a compelling defense is what's really needed.

At the NRO symposium on McCain as front-runner, Reagan-alumni Alvin Felzenberg writes:
The time is at hand for both Senator McCain and conservative leaders to come to the realization that they need each other. McCain as the presumptive nominee needs to continue stressing his conservative credentials of decades standing. He also needs to let conservative leaders know that he recognizes that some of them do not look kindly upon his nomination, that he understands their reasons, and that he is willing to work with them.
Unless you are intent on viewing graphic depictions of the advanced stages of Anti-McCain Derangement Syndrome, you'll want to skip Mona Charen and Hugh Hewitt. The rest at the NRO symposium have worthwhile contributions. From Victor Davis Hanson*:
I pray that John McCain can rally the base — since whatever anger conservatives hold toward him should pale in comparison to the specter of 16 years of the Clintons or Barack Obama’s European-style democratic socialism (with John Edwards as a possible attorney general). His acceptance speech seemed designed to do just that by references to tough judges, magnanimity shown his rivals, the evocation of conservatism, and a promise to stick to its principles, and I expect that will continue.
As a long time fan and supporter of John McCain, I expect it as well.

*update: more relevant brilliance form VDH: "Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory"

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

John McCain wore Alito on his sleeve

Prof. Brainbridge looks into what McCain said about Alito back when it really mattered. Here's John McCain on the Senate floor in Jan 2006:

We all know what the outcome of the vote is going to be . . . The fact that there will probably be a large number of votes on that side of the aisle against Judge Alito doesn’t upset me as much as it saddens me . . . this large vote against this good and decent American . . . because we continue to engage in the kind of partisanship which has even been ratcheted up lately on lobbying reform, when we should be working out a common approach and a common cure for a significant illness that afflicts this body and the Capitol today.
And from former Senate aide and judicial nominations activist Manuel Miranda, we hear this:
Certainly, John McCain is not a culture warrior and yet he has been solidly pro-life in his voting record and firm in his understanding that the issue of abortion should be returned to the States, just as Justice Scalia does . . . Senator McCain would not need on-the-job training on the issue of federal judicial nomination, and he is a meritocrat. He is not likely to nominate a lightweight to the judiciary. . .

Unlike a few Republican senators I know, McCain did not absent himself from four extraordinary Senate floor events on judicial nominations in 2003 that I organized. I was right next to him when he walked into the beginning of the 40 hour Grand Debate.

Senator McCain was a good soldier on judges in 2003 as he was again in forming the Gang of 14 for the Senate leadership in 2005. I would have liked it to end differently, but I appreciate compromise in statecraft.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Romney's Timetable Triangulation

After hearing endlessly from all corners about how McCain was lying about what Romney had said about timetables and that McCain was somehow going "below the belt" on Iraq, it's nice to see someone put the record straight.

From Stephen Hayes at The Weekly Standard:

Did Romney say he would, like Bush, veto anything with a timetable? Or does the rest of his answer suggest that he's for the timetables as long as they're private? Again, it's debatable.

But to go as far as CNN's Jeffrey Toobin, who claimed that McCain is "lying" about what Romney said, is a stretch. At the time Romney made the comments, many observers, including several reporters, took him to mean exactly what McCain is imputing to him now. If the Romney campaign protested that interpretation, their objections did now show up in any of the follow-up reporting on his comments.

McCain has long believed that Romney hedged on the surge and the war in Iraq. At a debate in Durham, New Hampshire, on September 5, Romney answered a question about the surge by saying, "the surge is apparently working." McCain pounced a moment later. "No, not apparently. It's working." It was one of McCain's strongest debate performances and he points to it as a "seminal" moment in the remarkable turnaround of his campaign.

UPDATE: Also, there's this from Byron York:
I think it's indisputable that, at the time, McCain's Republican rivals supported the surge but were also happy that it was McCain who was all the way out on the limb. Last February, someone in the Romney camp told me that yes, Romney supported the surge, but that "McCain owns the surge."
UPDATE: looks like some of Mitt's supporters are still thinking in these terms: Well if the surge continues to do well, Mitt can take the credit, but if it goes sour, Mitt won't shoulder the blame!

Reality Check - If IRAQ somehow gets WORSE with the current strategy in place, there is NO WAY *ANY* Republican (sans Ron Paul) would be able to win in November.

And if voters want an "outsider" in a Clinton v. Romney race, they are likely to go with Mike Bloomberg - who will see an opportunity to appeal to the broad center in such a polarizing contest.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Romney Robos In Favor of New Entitlement Spending

From J-Mart at Politico:

Mitt Romney's campaign is sending out automated phone calls to Florida Republicans attacking John McCain on taxes and Social Security, an aide to the former governor confirms.

A Florida Republican up in the Panhandle received a robo today suggesting he "take a hard look at John McCain's record."

"John McCain voted against the AARP-backed Medicare prescription drug program," the call notes, in an obvious effort to give seniors pause about the senator.
So let me get this straight - Romney, that supposed paragon of pure fiscal conservatism, is accusing McCain of voting against a massive new entitlement program?

And as for the AARP, I recall they were less than helpful when G W Bush was interested in reforming Social Security and allow for private investment instead of an IOU placed on a next generation of workers. If Mitt Romney had anything instructive to add to the conversation about policies for America's seniors, you think he might have shown up to the AARP forum in Iowa this past Fall. John McCain has not followed the AARP's political agenda, but that didn't keep him from engaging in the discussion with them along with Mike Huckabee.

One of the things I really admired about Fred Thompson's campaign is that he was willing to offer up a proposal to reform Social Security. Some former Fred-heads may think that Romney is now their man, but if you care at all about making the hard choices necessary for entitlement reform, I do not see how you can support Romney. He is using the same scare-tactics the Democrats have long used to impede any significant progress to relieve the fiscal burden the political establishment is content to leave on future generations of Americans.

Beyond Narrow Interests

From the Chicago Tribune's endorsement of John McCain (h/t MICC)

Four years ago, in mulling candidates for president, we wrote that U.S. voters often make choices based on their pet causes and economic interests. But, we said, citizens of a nation at war against genuine global threats don't have that luxury.

To reinforce the point we quoted a leader who wasn't on the ballot, John McCain: "So it is, whether we wished it or not, that we have come to the test of our generation, to our rendezvous with destiny. ... All of us, despite the differences that enliven our politics, are united in the one big idea that freedom is our birthright and its defense is always our first responsibility. All other responsibilities come second."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rudy and the New York Times Endorsement

I probably never did anything the New York Times suggested I do in eight years as mayor of New York City. And if I did, I wouldn't be considered a conservative Republican.

I changed welfare. I changed quality of life. I took on homelessness. I did all the things that they thought make you mean, and I believe show true compassion and true love for people.

I moved people from welfare to work. When I did that, when I set up workfare, the New York Times wrote nasty editorials about how mean I was, how cruel I was. I think there's a serious ideological difference.

- Rudy Giuliani at the debate on Thursday night.

Despite the many disagreements we have had with the Mayor over the last four years, we endorse his re-election enthusiastically.
- The New York Times Editorial Board, October 26, 1997.

The Pundicrats vs. McCain cont'd: Ideology vs. Virtue

Here's TPM's Josh Marshall with some clips and commentary

Michael Medved recently named right-wing talk radio the biggest loser in South Carolina's primary -

For more than a month, the leading conservative talkers in the country have broadcast identical messages in an effort to demonize Mike Huckabee and John McCain. If you’ve tuned in at all to Rush, Sean, Savage, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, and two dozen others you’ve heard a consistent drum beat of hostility toward Mac and Huck. As always, led by Rush Limbaugh (who because of talent and seniority continues to dominate the medium) the talk radio herd has ridden in precisely the same direction, insisting that McCain and Huckabee deserve no support because they’re not “real conservatives.” A month ago, the angry right launched the slogan that Mike Huckabee is a “pro-life liberal.” More recently, after McCain’s energizing victory in New Hampshire, they trotted out the mantra that the Arizona Senator (with a life-time rating for his Congressional voting record of 83% from the American Conservative Union) is a “pro-war liberal.”

Well, the two alleged “liberals,” McCain and Huckabee just swept a total of 63% of the Republican vote in deeply conservative South Carolina. Meanwhile, the two darlings of talk radio -- Mitt Romney and, to a lesser extent, Fred Thompson—combined for an anemic 31% of the vote.

And in spite of Rush's dire warnings about the death of conservatism, Benjamin and Jenna Story write at the Weekly Standard why John McCain's resurgence is good for conservatism's future:
(h/t Donald Douglas)

SOME OF THE SHARPEST minds of conservative punditry have lately been whetting their knives on the candidacy of John McCain. The trend of these arguments is disturbing, because it indicates conservatism may be drifting far from its roots. The ire against McCain contains elements of two of the greatest fallacies of modern political thought: the notion that ideology can replace virtue as the mainstay of a decent regime, and the cynical assumption that virtue is not real but vanity in disguise.

The main current of opposition to McCain faults him for departures from strict free-market ideology. McCain's decisions about tax cuts, campaign finance, and greenhouse gas caps may be prudent or imprudent, and it is important to debate their practical effects on our economy and on our nation's well-being. Nonetheless, if conservatives succeed in marginalizing anyone who does not toe the doctrinaire line of their free market ideology, they will lose an important--indeed the most central and precious--aspect of their creed: the faith in the virtue of individuals to make a good society for themselves, rather than the faith in an ideology to make a good society for us. . .

Many think that the conservative movement is currently on shaky ground. In a perceived crisis, it is a human temptation is to run to ideologies to save the day. But conservative thought will be impoverished if its advocates close themselves in the "clean and well-lit prison of one idea," as G. K. Chesterton warned. To do so would be to fall prey to the fallacy that theories can govern men. Men must govern men, and men have characters, good or bad, and those characters are decisive for how the country is led. . .
UPDATE: Responding to the Weekly Standard article, at Burke's Corner:
The latter-day Jacobins of the GOP's hard right, the McCain-haters, have forgotten the wisdom of Burke, the father of conservatism. Governing is not about ideology - it is about virtue, prudence, moral judgment. Which is why McCain is the candidate of authentic conservatism.

Friday, January 25, 2008

New poll & mini film fest: When will Rudy drop out and endorse McCain ?

New poll question.
Back when his poll numbers were in double digits, Rudy was in the habit of saying this:

Well, now's your chance Rudy.

And just imagine, a few months back we were hearing rumors of this:

Hmm, interesting metaphor there Chris. Of course we all know how that story turned out.

Oh and Fred, when you get around to it, how about getting back to this:

. . . And finally, here's something for those whose participated in our last poll question: "What has been most annoying about FOX's GOP primary coverage ?"
Your response -

When Taxpayer-Funded Insurance Turns Catastrophic

Rudy Giuliani keeps touting his plan for National Catastrophic Insurance. It's supposed to help people out in case of catastrophe, but I wish someone at the debate last night had asked this:

Could this sort of tax-payer funded insurance actually worsen the results of a hurricane by creating perverse incentives for developers to build in high-risk areas, while damaging the ecological integrity of natural barriers such as barrier islands, dunes and wetlands?

Former congressman Tom Evans of the Florida Coalition for Preservation this summer wrote:

Action is needed at the federal and state levels to better protect taxpayers from paying the tab for irresponsible coastal development that damages the environment and endangers our citizens.

When President Reagan signed the Coastal Barrier Resources Act in 1982, which I had the honor of sponsoring in the Congress, we told developers point-blank that "if you develop on these fragile barrier islands, you should do so on your own nickel and not the American taxpayer." In that spirit, Congress should consider expanding the Coastal Barrier Resources Act to eliminate all federal subsidies, including federal flood insurance or transportation funding, going to high-density developments on storm-prone barrier islands where such development explodes the population of a small area and dangerously stresses the surrounding infrastructure.

State lawmakers also have an important role. They should enact a policy similar to the Coastal Barrier Resources Act and ban state subsidies to new construction on barrier islands where such new construction greatly increases the population density of a small area.

If Florida truly wants to pave the way for a national catastrophe fund to spread the risk of natural disasters across the country, the state should lead by example. The state undermines the credibility of its argument when it continues to use taxpayer dollars to sanction and subsidize ill-advised barrier island developments in hurricane alley. Continuing this practice will likely alienate residents of inland states who could question why taxpayers in Peoria, IL, should assume the risk of building new oceanfront condos in South Florida destroyed by seasonal hurricanes.

If Floridians want inland states to throw in their lot with them and pool their insurance catastrophe risk in a national fund, we must prove that we are responsible enough to limit new development to risk-appropriate locations.

Now in the 2007 hurricane season, we must realize that our barrier islands are not those places. We must not play Russian Roulette with people's lives and property. Unfortunately, that's exactly what we do when we put people in harm's way on vulnerable barrier islands. And that's no place for us to use limited taxpayer resources.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Parents accused of kidnapping child from the Reich

Family decides Iran has more educational freedom, reports Bob Unruh at WorldNetDaily.

The family son, Marian, has been homeschooled since 2006, taking theater, "gifted and talented courses," foreign languages, gymnastics, horseback riding and music. He obtained a certificate from the Children's College of Rheinland-Pfalz – Gifted and Talented Center last summer stating that he "integrates himself very quickly into the groups … and has made some friendships here." It describes the student as "a friendly, highly motivated child, achieving very good results…"

But local school officials objected to the program of education for Marian, the family letter said.

"Because the public school authority of Wiesbaden has no suitable schools for a highly gifted and talented child such as our Marian, they, along with Child Protective Services, wanted to force him to attend the Special Education branch Friedrich-von-Schiller School for children with behavioral problems and for low performing children," the letter said.

Marian already had experience at that school, because it was there when he was 6 that he was struck by a teacher who later faced a criminal complaint making accusations of Willful Aggravated Battery in Office, the family said.

"Because we resisted the educational poverty, the boredom and the violence in the schools, Child Protective Services moved in Family Court to strip us of custody of our son and place him in a foster home, in an illegitimate trial without our being present or having an opportunity to present the circumstances from our perspective, so that the state could destroy and make pliable the mind of a gifted and talented child who intellectually stood in their way," the letter said.

Said the bureaukraut: "After all, parents cannot be allowed to begin to think independently about their children's failure in school . . ."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

John McCain and the Meaning of Pro-Life

In a recent article endorsing John McCain and his defense of human dignity, Gerard V. Bradley - Law Professor at Notre Dame, and a long-time pro-life advocate - makes some observations about the nature of being pro-lfe that are important not just for this election season, but for an awareness of what being truly pro-life must mean in this day and age

The best pro-life choice for president cannot be decided solely by counting up votes about straight-on life issues. If it were I would add to the list of life issues the matter of torture. Though death is a risk with perhaps few contemporary “harsh interrogation” techniques, all torture raises questions about the meaning of human dignity and the immunity of all persons against unjustified physical attack. In other words, torture is a life issue, too. Though not nearly so important as abortion, it is nonetheless important in its own way. A candidate’s stand on torture is revealing of his (or her) whole approach to moral questions.

. . . and also about what is means to embrace the sanctity of life on a personal, practical level

I believe that there is a profound lesson here about what it means to be pro-life, a lesson which goes beyond the important (but obvious) fact that the McCains live by the same principles which lie behind John’s voting record. “Little Bridget” was not sought out by the McCains. She was not expected or planned for. She was an unanticipated gift whom the McCains welcomed, not because she was antecedently “wanted” by them, but because she was a baby, a unique and unrepeatable human being with a right to life because she is a human being and not because some other people’s plans include her — or don’t.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Confederate Abortionists Against McCain

The Pink Flamingos has been following the attacks by anti-immigrant folks against McCain (& Sen. Lindsey Graham) in South Carolina. It's a fascinating read, that also brings up some larger questions for the GOP:

Why do anti-abortion conservatives endorse an agenda by one of the most ardent supporters of abortion there is? Why do small government conservatives basically demand a creation of 'BigBrother' to monitor anyone who isn't a certain color or racial mix? Why do conservatives who constantly complain about government intervention into private affairs demand government intrude in every business in the country in order to remove all illegal aliens?

Medved on Limbaugh, Hannity vs. McCain, Coburn

Michael Medved asks what is evidence of true conservative leadership_? :

Who gets to define which candidate counts as a “real conservative”?

Should we listen to talk radio titans and sharp-tongued pundettes who’ve never held public office?

Or does it make more sense to listen to idealistic elected officials who toil every day to put conservative principles into practice? . . .

When it comes to evaluating McCain, I don’t expect Republicans to trust me – any more than they should trust my fellow talk hosts and commentators. But they should listen carefully to heroes like Tom Coburn, the Senator from Oklahoma who’s universally esteemed as one of the strongest conservative voices in Washington. Coburn has earned a lifetime rating of 97.8 from the American Conservative Union (McCain himself drew an admirable lifetime number of 83—virtually identical to Fred Thompson’s 86.) And earlier this week the Oklahoman endorsed his Arizona colleague for President.
. . .
The truth is that some of the most outstanding conservatives in recent Senate history have come together with Senator Coburn to campaign for McCain – including Phil Gramm of Texas (co-chair of the national McCain campaign), John Kyl of Arizona, John Thune of South Dakota, Dan Coats of Indiana, Trent Lott of Mississippi, Slade Gorton of Washington, Warren Rudman of New Hampshire, and a dozen others.

Several of the most dynamic Republican and conservative governors of our time are working actively in the McCain campaign – including Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Jon Huntsman of Utah, Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Frank Keating of Oklahoma, Tom Kean of New Jersey, Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, and more.

In other words, conservatives who know him best attest to McCain’s consistency, his character, and his Reaganite world-view. Those associates, enthusiastically promoting McCain’s candidacy, count for more than strident and angry talkers who know McCain not at all.

Most impressive to me is the way that even Senators who’ve disagreed with McCain can attest to his integrity and effectiveness in their battles.

Senator Coburn, for instance, did not support the comprehensive immigration reform bill so passionately promoted by Senator McCain and by President Bush. Nevertheless, after the push for reform collapsed in the Senate, Coburn wrote an admiring blog on National Review Online about McCain’s role.

“As the American people, elected officials, and the commentators reflect on the heated immigration debate that came to a temporary close in the Senate this week, many will ask, and have asked, why U.S. Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.) staked out a position that may in retrospect be seen as devastating to his presidential ambitions. I hope the American people, at least, step back from the obsessive play-by-play pre-season election analysis and reflect on Senator McCain’s actions for what I believe they were: One of the purest examples of political courage seen in Washington in a very, very long time.”

Read the whole thing.

McCain playing the victim in SC? - OR Not going to be one this time!

So John Martin at Politico thinks John McCain is overreacting, because 2008 isn't as bad as 2000.

My response:

Okay so it isn't as bad as last time - so what should McCain say to those who are still attacking his character and patriotism? He didn't push back last time and he got screwed over. John McCain anticipated a lot of attacks based on his experience in 2000 and the fact that you still have these push-polls, and you have these fliers sent out by folks who say he's a lying traitor or a brainwashed communist just like the John Birch Society said of Eisenhower, and you have South Carolina's king of nasty campaigns working for the Romney camp. Maybe he's just a little sick of all this nonsense and he's not going to stand for it anymore - is that so bad?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sen. Coburn gives some straight talk on politics.

First of all, you've got to respect any U.S. Senator in this day and age who's not afraid to grow a beard.

"The truth is what counts."
What will your vote count for this November?

Romney was against the extremists before he sold out to them

Yes, I keep posting about Romney, but let's face it, he's so gosh darn golly interesting - things keep popping up!

The Boston Globe has a reprint of Romney talking in 1994 about why he's the candidate gays should support. Now while I don't totally agree with what he said, I'm a libertarian-leaning big-tent type, so if he still had these positions it wouldn't really be much of a problem for me.

And he said something that I think all Republicans should consider:

"I think that extremists who would force their views on the party and try to shape the party are making a mistake. I welcome people of all views in the party, but I don’t want them to try to change our party from being a large tent, inclusive party, to being one that is exclusive.”
Do you think he ever said anything like that recently, maybe to Hugh Hewitt or Tom Tancredo? Now even Ann Coulter has abandoned Duncan Hunter in favor of Mitt's bright newfound smiling reactionary smear politics.

I believe Mitt Romney has a better side than what he's shown recently in the campaign. But what he's shown is that when it comes down to the prize, he doesn't seem to care what damage he does to others' or his own reputation. In pursuit of the Republican nomination, he's forgotten what it means to be a broadminded individual in order to appeal to the self-annointed gatekeepers - the "True Conservatives" Michael Schuyler writes about here:
True Conservatives are always right. Rush is Right; Sean is right. Anyone who differs is wrong. End-of-story. True Conservatives are also right about everything. It doesn’t matter whether the discussion is about abortion or a fifty cent rise in property taxes, about immigration or the proper positioning of God in the Pledge of Allegiance. . . True Conservatives never compromise. Any compromise is seen as a betrayal of Conservative Truth, therefore compromise is simply impossible. Even talking about compromise is disallowed. And conciliation? Impossible. It is a sign of weakness, of True Conservative betrayal. It cannot be tolerated. It cannot be tolerated at any price.
. . . A True Conservative can’t win.The very things that Sean, Rush and their buddies are accusing McCain for now are all out the window for November. The very things McCain does to infuriate them are the very things that draw moderates, Independents, and right-leaning Democrats to him. His willingness to compromise, his willingness to work with Democrats, his well-known willingness at reconciliation—even to the North Vietnamese who tortured him for five years, are legendary. An extremist will never get anything done in a divided country. John McCain can.

Romney Wins by Campaigning Against Economic Liberty

By now you may have heard some of Romney's . . . devastating economic record as Governor of Massachusetts.

But in his race for the GOP nomination, he's putting his big government - big mandate - "taxachusetts" record behind him, right?

Maybe not.

Ross Douthat points out the economic fascism (big government + big industry) aspects of Romney's campaign promises to fix the economy. Romney's rhetoric

appeals to voters in places like Michigan precisely because it goes much further to the left than Mike Huckabee's substance-free talk about how the current period of economic growth isn't doing all that well by the working class, or John McCain's straight talk about how Michiganders can't expect the federal government to bring back the glory days of Chrysler and GM.

Cato's Jerry Taylor asks
What does it say about the Republican Party when the leading fusionist conservative in the field - Mitt Romney, darling of National Review and erstwhile heir to Ronald Reagan - runs and wins a campaign arguing that the federal government is responsible for all of the ills facing the U.S. auto industry, that the taxpayer should pony up the corporate welfare checks going to Detroit and increase them by a factor of five, that the federal government can and should move heaven and earth to save “every job” at risk in this economy . . . ?
Publius Endures points out not only that Romney has no appeal to libertarians, but also that Romney lost to McCain among voters who were the most unsatified with the current economy (as, I recently noted, he did in New Hampshire).

Let me just admit, for myself, I can't figure out exactly why so many people are voting for this guy.

If all you want is tax cuts* without restraint in spending, maybe Romney is fine (*so long as you don't mind "fees"). If you want to blame your woes on immigration, Romney's your man. If you like the idea of government and industry coming together to spend more of your money and increase the deficit while hurting trade, Romney's right up your alley.

But if you value economic freedom, an end to favors for monied interests, and frugality in government, vote McCain.

But you don't have to take my word for it. Just ask the Senate's"Dr. No"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Beyond Michigan: McCain has a future, Romney . . . eh, not so much

Yeah, I'm disappointed. You bet. Even angry for a few minutes.
Michigan went for empty promises over truth and heroism.

Though, I should point out that at least there was a majority of voters who did *not* vote for Romney.

I really wanted to come home after a long day and celebrate a little.

But this thing is far from over, and we need to keep each of these primaries in perspective.
As "The McCain Times" noted today

Polls have put Romney slightly ahead of McCain… and Democrats (including the DailyKos) are pushing for their voters to cross party-lines and vote Romney in order to create chaos for Republicans.

But it doesn’t matter that much if he wins. It is absurd to celebrate winning your homestate, where your dad was governor, and where you’ve outspent your opposition by a 7-1 margin. A Romney win means that he can continue on until February 5th, but he won’t be the nominee.

Furthermore, McCain finished a strong second where he was polling in fourth place about a month ago. And it's looks like he'll be coming out of Michigan with a number of delegates as well (Right now CNN has him with 9 to Romney's 12).

What's next?

South Carolina, where it looks to be between McCain and Huckabee.

Nevada, also on Saturday (where it's anyone's guess at this point).

And then Florida, where it looks to be between McCain, Giuliani, and Huckabee.

Last before "Super Tuesday" on Feb 5 is the Maine Caucus. I'm guessing McCain is the best bet here, especially considering he has the endorsement of both of Maine's Senators (Collins and Snowe) as well as Fmr. Gov. McKernan.

So in the run up to Super Tuesday, John McCain is the only one who is competitive in all four contests. Romney's only chance before then is Nevada.

And as for Super Tuesday? Well, that's predicting ahead quite a bit, but at least McCain is ahead nationally by about 10 percent, and is competitive in a few places he wasn't supposed to be.

Giuliani was supposed to have California and New Jersey locked up.

But the latest two polls have McCain leading in California.

And the latest poll in New Jersey has McCain leading there too.

Of course, Romney may have a little post-Michigan bounce in the polls, draw in some new money. And well, I suppose it's nice for him and his family that he could win one of his home states anyway.

He sure ain't got no chance in Massachusetts.

Monday, January 14, 2008

John McCain Gets It - on Jobs, Taxes and Freedom

John McCain spoke on Saturday to Americans for Prosperity in Livonia, Michigan

His prepared remarks were excellent - but his delivery was extraordinary.

He even seeks out questions from his critics.

There are things Democrats, and even some Republicans, don't seem to get.

John McCain gets it.

John McCain gets the connection between regulation and jobs. He gets the connection between taxes and spending and jobs. He gets the connection between taxes and freedom and jobs and reforming health care.

And he gets the connections between trade and jobs and foreign policy.

"Tough times breed fear, my friends, and we are hearing the fear-mongers say that Michigan cannot compete on global markets. Those voices ignore the lesson of history that any nation that turns to protectionism hurts itself in the end. We need to continue to lower barriers to trade because ninety-five percent of the world's customers live outside the United States. We need to have competitive manufacturing through lower health care costs, lower taxes, and opening new markets. Our future prosperity depends on our competitiveness.

* * * * * * * * * *

It would be a mistake to view economic relations with China in isolation. I am concerned that China through its piracy of US intellectual property is also building itself into a military superpower that has already developed the capability to shoot down satellites. We will only be successful in getting China to meet its international economic obligations by engaging it on the full range of issues involved in our relations -- from suppression of personal and religious freedoms, to relations with North Korea and Iran, to its rising influence in Africa -- which will determine whether China will emerge as a responsible or irresponsible world power. I have the experience in these areas that will also serve to ensure that American workers -- the most productive worker in the world -- will be even more competitive.

* * * * * * * * * *

Our country's dangerous dependence on foreign oil threatens both our national security and our environment, not to mention the terribly injurious effect high oil prices has on our economy. The transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars of American wealth to the Middle East helps sustain the conditions on which terrorists prey. Some of the most oil-rich nations are the most stagnant societies on earth. As long as petro-dollars flow freely to them those regimes have little incentive to open their politics and economies so that all their people may benefit from their countries' natural wealth.

John McCain wants to retrain workers for lost jobs. Instead of creating a new program, with more spending, McCain's program is fundamentally conservative, reminiscent of the welfare reform of 1996:

"Right now we have a dozen different programs for displaced workers and others out of a job. Our unemployment insurance program was designed to assist workers through a few tough months during an economic downturn until their old jobs came back. We need programs that work in the world we live in today.

If I'm elected President, I'll work with Congress and the states to overhaul unemployment insurance and make it a program for retraining, relocating and assisting workers who have lost a job that's not coming back to find a job that won't go away. We need to better connect training with business knowledge and needs. As I talk to business people and education experts I hear again and again that community colleges do a great job of providing the right skills to workers and the right workers for firms. We should take greater advantage of this record of success. And we can trust workers to choose. We need to transform rigid training programs to approaches that can be used to meet the bills, pay for training, and get back to work."

oh what the hey - Michigan Predictions

So my predictions for New Hampshire were a bit off for both parties, but my GOP predictions for Iowa were pretty close. So, here it goes:

GOP - high turnout

McCain: 34
Romney: 25
Huckabee: 19
Paul: 8
Giuliani: 8
Thompson: 4
Hunter: 1

Dems - low turnout

Clinton: 60
Uncommitted: 37
Kucinich: 3

The Democratic race is a bit crazy, since Party HQ has said they violated the rules and so wont get their delegates seated. Excepting Clinton, the top-tier candidates didn't put their names on the ballot here. I'm thinking you'll see Clinton supporters come out, Kucinich supporters come out. Many Obama and Edwards supporters will come out and vote uncommitted.
But I'm guessing a large number will go where their votes will actually count, and vote in the Republican party. The Kos crowd will go to Mitt to try to sabotage the GOP. Some of the anti-war crowd will go to Ron Paul. Some of the social liberals will go to Giuliani. Some of the economic populists will go to Huckabee. But the biggest draw for independents and Democrats in the GOP race will be to climb aboard the Straight Talk Express.

JohnMcCain wins over formerly unfavorable Republicans

Hewitt, Hannity and the rest can do their worst, but Republicans are proving they aren't easily led.

Take a look at this graphic accompanying this New York Times article:
Over the last month, Rudy's numbers have stayed about the same in terms of favorability among Republicans. But McCain's, Huckabee's and Romney's have changed dramatically.

Mike Huckabee has become more familiar. And overwhelmingly, despite all the slings and arrows of Romney, Thomspon and the GOP shock-jock pundit class, people like what they see.

The changes in Mitt's and McCain's favorability show dramatic changes between favorable and unfavorable. Romney's favorables have decreased by one-third, meaning more Republican voters find him unfavorable than favorable. McCain, by contrast, has shrunk his unfavorables by two-thirds - tying there with Huckabee - while his favorables have skyrocketed - he is the only one among the four that a majority of Republican voters are decidedly favorable about.

John McCain has long had much support among independents and Democrats as well, as Pat Hickey notes here in response to the NYT poll.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Chairman of Joint Cheifs of Staff agrees with McCain on Gitmo

From the AP:

The chief of the U.S. military said Sunday he favors closing the prison here as soon as possible because he believes negative publicity worldwide about treatment of terrorist suspects has been "pretty damaging" to the image of the United States.

Race42008 has some thoughts on what this means for Huckabee, but it was John McCain who's been saying this for quite a while.

Does Romney still want to double it, you think?

Adm. Mike Mullen -
said he was encouraged to hear from U.S. officers here that the prison population has shrunk by about 100 over the past year, to 277. At one time the population exceeded 600. Hundreds have been returned to their home countries but U.S. officials say some are such serious security threats that they cannot be released for the foreseeable future. Only four are currently facing military trials after being formally charged with crimes.

McCain Rocks Michigan - and Won't Leave Anyone Behind

Saturday, January 12, 2008

John McCain: a Diplomat and a Fighter

With Joe Biden and Chuck Hagel not in the race for the presidency, John McCain is now the only candidate in either party with a serious and informed foreign policy vision. The debates and campaign season sound bytes too often fail to show McCain's grasp of the complexity of the situation we face, and the nuanced yet strong response this situation requires of us.

Take, for example, McCain's recent piece for Foreign Affairs.

Or this excellent interview at Pajamas Media, where the interviewers give McCain a chance to expand on the ideas in his article. (In the HD format, you can see this man's well-traveled hazel eyes communicate wisdom and idealism.)

As someone who reads up a bit on international issues, I like it when a politician can actually be enlightening on the global challenges we face, that can give me something to ponder, to learn something new. Especially if we are talking about electing the leader of the free world.

Someone with the foresight to see the potential of forging alliances with nations such as Brazil and India - the emerging mega-democracies of the global south, through free trade and concerted action against common threats to shared values.

Someone who sees the use of both "hard" and "soft" power - of the complex relations between nations - of economics, energy, the environment, and national security.

It does seem to me that both Bill Clinton and G W Bush did accomplish some good things internationally. But in many ways, they also left our next president one hell of a mess to clean up after.

Senators have not often won the presidency, but this year it is much more likely than not that a Senator will be elected - either Obama, Clinton, Edwards or McCain. If we are to elect a Senator to be our President, we should seize the oppurtunity to elect that Senator who most represents what is most valuable in a good Senator - a record of reaching out to create alliances, and a deep understanding of the policy challenges we face in the world today.
John McCain is in this sense, the most Senatorial, the candidate who best understands the threats we face while also seeing the opportunities that must be seized today for the sake of the future.

Daniel Drezner, who has come pretty close to endorsing McCain, has remarked:

McCain, more than any other candidate, gets the connection between trade policy and foreign policy. He explicitly connects improving America's image in Latin America and ratifying the bevy of trade agreements from that region.
The Economist has also recognized McCain's judgement:
He knows as much about foreign affairs and military issues as anybody in public life. Or take judgment. True, he has a reputation as a hothead. But he's a hothead who cools down. He does not nurse grudges or agonise about vast conspiracies like some of his colleagues in the Senate. He has also been right about some big issues. He was the first senior Republican to criticise George Bush for invading Iraq with too few troops, and the first to call for Donald Rumsfeld's sacking. He is one of the few Republicans to propose sensible policies on immigration and global warming.
The flip side of McCain's maverick quality is that he's willing to reach out to make strategic partnerships, to place results over partisanship. This is the kind of quality that we need now in a President - someone who is willing to stand up against tyranny and terrorism while collaborating with other countries to achieve solutions that the UN has proved incapable of achieving; to provide leadership in the world while being a partner with other free societies to ensure national and international security and a realistic approach to defending human rights.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Writer's Strike Affects South Carolina FOX debates

At least it seems that way - Haven't we heard these questions before?

Haven't we heard so many of these answers before.

The Big News of the Day: Bush believes Palestinian/Israeli peace is close at hand, but gets short shrift from "moderators." (Can you call them "moderators" when they keep egging-on the candidates going against each other?) Rudy and Ron Paul are asked about it, but no one else.
Some discussion of Pakistan.

On the other hand, plenty of the old standards - Iraq, economy, immigration.

On economy, candidates talk like they think they are in Michigan.

Mitt thinks we can bring old jobs back from the dead, McCain wants to retrain workers for the economy of the future.

Thompson shows some spunk, can't get in enough criticisms of Huckabee.

Huckabee says if Reagan were running today, the Club for Growth would run ads against him.

Ron Paul starts out sensible, distances himself from 9-11 deniers, but can't seem for too long to keep himself from saying something Chomsky-esque.

John McCain gives incredible answer on whether Democrats can win on their Iraq position - how long can they campaign against the reality on the ground?

Rudy says Democrats idea of "change" is "change out of your pocket."

Romney references "Three Dimensional Chess," appearantly trying to steal the Trekkie vote from Ron Paul.

Immigration, amnesty, yada yada yada.
McCain ain't gonna deport a wife of an MIA soldier.
Thompson, on the other hand, ain't gonna look at folks individually.
Giuliani ain't gonna send kids out on the street, but he will end illegal immigration.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

John McCain in New Hampshire: Not a Victim of History

In John McCain's victory speech (full text here) in New Hampshire last night, he touched on some themes that will be familiar to his supporters:

. . . I seek the nomination of a party that believes in the strength, industry, and goodness of the American people. We don't believe that government has all the answers, but that it should respect the rights, property and opportunities of the people to whom we are accountable. We don't believe in growing the size of government to make it easier to serve our own ambitions. But what government is expected to do, it must do with competence, resolve and wisdom. In recent years, we have lost the trust of the people, who share our principles, but doubt our own allegiance to them. I seek the nomination of our party to restore that trust; to return our party to the principles that have never failed Americans: The party of fiscal discipline, low taxes; enduring values; a strong and capable defense; that encourages the enterprise and ingenuity of individuals, businesses and families, who know best how to advance America's economy, and secure the dreams that have made us the greatest nation in history. . .
And this golden nugget of American conservatism:
The work that we face in our time is great, but our opportunities greater still. In a time of war, and the terrible sacrifices it entails, the promise of a better future is not always clear. But I promise you, my friends, we face no enemy, no matter how cruel; and no challenge, no matter how daunting, greater than the courage, patriotism and determination of Americans.
We are the makers of history, not its victims . . .
Watch the video here. McCain did look somewhat tired - understandably - but as his speech went on, his passion and enthusiasm shone through.

New Hampshire Exit Polls Demonstrate McCain's Broadbased Appeal

I spent this summer working at a camp in New Hampshire. I saw a lot of signs for Mitt, for Rudy, for Obama. But I wasn't seeing any for John McCain. I didn't quite get it. Over the course of the summer, McCain's poll numbers were cut in half both here and nationally. I'm still not sure why it took so long for New Hampshire Republicans and independents to come back to the maverick they embraced in 2000. But in the last month and a half, New Hampshire came back to him.

Part of it was the success of the strategy McCain had long advocated in Iraq. Part of it was the endorsements by newspapers to the right and left. And a large part of it was McCain's interaction with people, his candidness and his character, his willingness to engage those who disagree with him.

CNN's exit poll numbers show McCain's broadbased appeal. He won absolute majorities of those who look most for experience and most for honesty in a candidate. He won among both men and women. He won among those who are married and those who are single. He won those with college degrees and those without. He won among the most pro-life and the most pro-choice. He won those who cited their top issue as Iraq, terrorism, and the economy. He won among those who attend church weekly, monthly and those who never do. He tied Huckabee for evangelicals and Mitt Romney for Catholics. He won every income bracket except those making over 150K.

John McCain said he no longer owns a gun, but he won 42 percent of those here who do. This septuagenarian won over not only young people, but also those in every age group except his own. This staunch defender of the troop surge in Iraq won not only among those who were strongly against the Iraq War, but even among those who had at least a somewhat favorable view of Ron Paul.

While Romney bills himself as the candidate as change, John McCain won voters who are most anxious for that change. While Romney is running for CEO-in-chief, John McCain won among those most worried about the economy. With the GOP overseeing seven years of a rapidly rising national debt, McCain is the one trusted to stop it. And with Bush-Cheney unpopular among people across the political spectrum, McCain won those dissatisfied with the current administration.

With the large number of moderates and independents who voted in the New Hampshire GOP Primary, it may well be the case that these results are not consistent with the views of card-carrying Republican voters in other parts of the country. What it does demonstrate is that John McCain stands the best chance to win against the Democrats, especially in a swing state like New Hampshire.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Predictions for New Hampshire Primaries

McCain 36
Romney 24
Paul 14
Huckabee 13
Giuliani 8
Thompson 4
Hunter 1

Obama 42
Clinton 29
Edwards 19
Richardson 7
Kucinich 4

Kemp - John McCain will Empower America

I've been a fan of Jack Kemp for as long as I've known about the guy. That he and Bob Dole lost in 1996 is one of the great missed opportunities of the last century. Jack Kemp is a compassionate conservative in the best sense - one who has long been an advocate of empowering the poor through expanding - not diminishing - economic freedom.

Now Jack Kemp has come out in support of John McCain. Read the press release here.

On NRO, Larry Kudlow had this to say:

Kemp would join former Sen. Phil Gramm as key McCain economic advisors. As I noted in an earlier post, Phil Gramm is the quintessential free-market advocate. He spent a career in the House and Senate limiting government spending, taxing, and regulating.

Both Kemp and Gramm are strong free-trade supporters. Gramm was also the original sponsor of the Reagan tax-and-spending cuts back in 1981 in the Gramm-Latta bill reported out of the House. That bill incorporated Jack Kemp’s original proposal to slash personal tax rates by 30 percent across the board.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Romney's key New Hampshire endorsement voted for McCain's "amnesty"

Green Mountain Politics reports that Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire is may be having a falling out with the Romney campaign.

We've heard from 3 different sources (one source in DC and two on the ground in NH) that as Mitt Romney goes more and more negative against McCain in New Hampshire, Team Gregg gets more and more upset.

It's not because Team Gregg has a soft spot for the Arizona Senator. Far from it.

The political operatives around Judd Gregg only care about one thing - the re-election of Judd Gregg (if he wants it).

And as we understand it, the reason for Team Gregg's heartburn is that they are terrified that New Hampshire voters will lump Senator Gregg in with "flailing, angry, negative Romney".
I also have to wonder if this has anything to do with it:
Mitt Romney has been relentless in his attacks on John McCain's "amnesty" bills that he supported in the Senate.
On the failed cloture motion to S. 1639 this June, Sen. Gregg joined Sen. McCain and nine other Republicans (including Romney supporters Bennett of Utah and Craig of Idaho). They also voted for S. 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill of 2006.

How do Gregg and Bennett feel having their candidate sending out negative disinformation about a position they supported - something that might come back against them when they go for reelection?

Maybe they feel like McCain feels after having said all those nice things about Romney back in 2002.

"I'm Mitt Romney and I approved this message without seeing it"

Townhall's Matt Lewis considers here this exchange:

Is it normal for a candidate not to view his own ads before sending them out with his endorsement?
Do you think Mitt will take a look at the bills Congress sends him before signing them?

new McCain image: "which candidate . . . ?"

I put up an image I created as my new header, to try to concisely describe some of the reasons I support John McCain that I think will appeal to moderates and independents as well as conservatives. What do you think?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

New Hampshire GOP Debate - the Principle Question

One question asked by Charles Gibson - which he freely admitted he stole from President Bush - at tonight's debate gave some insight into the core of the candidates.

What is the key principle(s) that will guide you as president?

The answer for Ron Paul and Fred Thompson: The Constitution (tradition, principles specific to Americans)

For John McCain and Mike Huckabee: The Declaration of Independence ("endowed by Creator" - principles universal to humanity)

For Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney: Here is what I plan get done . . .

Someone needs to remind Rudy and Mitt of the definition of the word "principle." It's not the same as an "agenda." If your only principle is your agenda - well that's a serious problem of having it backwards, at best.

Friday, January 4, 2008

taking Iowa for granite

sure Iowa and NH aren't exactly the same but is there anything that we can learn from Iowa's results? does this change the race there?

For starters, Iowans ultimately rejected the establishment candidates (Hillary and Mitt), and gave an unexpected level of support to the insurgent candidates Obama and Huckabee. In a result that was unthinkable just a few months ago, Ron Paul outperformed Giuliani by over 2 to 1. Certainly independents and young people played a big role for both Obama and Paul, coming out in numbers that were not anticipated by pollsters. Young and independent voters may come out in even greater numbers for New Hampshire, likely to buck the establishment there again. New England's independents, young people, and liberals are a natural constituency for Obama, so the Iowa win is likely to propel him further in New Hampshire. The beneficiaries of young and independent voters in New Hampshire for the GOP will be less predictable, and probably fall both to Ron Paul and McCain, unless others can make significant inroads.

The big word coming out of Iowa is "change." Hillary and Mitt are already trying to refashion themselves as the real agents of change for New Hampshire voters. It's not likely to work. Clinton and Romney already suffer from appearing stiff and inauthentic. Trying to reinvent themselves once more will feed into the perception of a chameleon politician who doesn't have any real core, especially as try to go after Obama and McCain - who have each built their entire political careers on a theme of reform.

What does each GOP candidates need to do to succeed in New Hampshire? It's been built up as showdown time between Romney and McCain. Indeed, it's hard to see how either one continues if they don't win here. But that doesn't mean either one will drop out if he finishes a close second. Both are still polling high in Michigan, so it might not be the end of the line. But in order to not win and still continue on, it has to be a very close second place.

A month ago McCain was tied in the polls with Giuliani for a very distant second place. Now he's polling right up with Romney at about 30 percent, while Romney's numbers have been basically stagnant. McCain's greatest strength has been his performance in town hall meetings, and to win he needs to keep that up and talk face to face to as many folks as he can. He's really good at that, and it's more meaningful than any television ad he could show. He also needs to keep Romney from dragging him into too much of a mud-fight. He needs to bring the discussion back to his own vision about what we owe America's future, and really demonstrate he's in a different league from Romney. Huckabee may not win over a lot of voters in New Hampshire, but Huckabee's clean campaign strategy will.

Romney has two options right now. He has to either 1) attract undecided voters or 2) keep them at home ( or send them to Giuliani or Obama) by planting doubts about McCain. If he wants to attract new voters, he has to demonstrate his personal side, talk about his own life and struggles, show he's human and not a political robot. His other choice is to continue to go negative against McCain, even if it drives independents away from himself . He can't do both - and if Iowa is any indication, he'll choose the latter, and it won't work there either.

For the other candidates it's not a matter of having to win, but to make a strong third finish.
Giuliani's support in the past month has eroded almost as quickly as McCain's has risen. His best chance for a rebound is if voters buy into Romney's negative ads against McCain without buying into Romney. Since Romney has also gone after Giuliani, this is not very likely. Rudy has been going down steeply, and with results just above Duncan Hunter in Iowa, it's more likely he'll come in behind both Huckabee and Paul than that he will signifcantly recover in the next few days.

Thompson is currently sixth in the polls in NH. Had he made an investment here earlier he might have done well. There are plenty of small government folks here who aren't followers of Ron Paul. He could have reached out to with his commitment to entitlement reform and a less energetic federal government. But it seems too late now.

Huckabee won't have a base of evangelical support like he did in Iowa, but he still could capitalize on his win there to make a strong third-place finish. New Hampshire Republicans are generally - like Huckabee - environmental conservationists, committed to gun rights - and could be very responsive to his call to abolish the income tax.

Finally, if Ron Paul is likely to make a splash anywhere, it will probably be in the "Live Free or Die" State. A strong third place finish here is very possible. While he almost certainly wont win a single state, he has enough funds and enthusiastic support that he wont drop for quite a while yet.

As for Duncan Hunter - if he came in that low in conservative/populist Iowa, I don't know how he expects to make any progress - it's time to pull out. If he's most interested in punishing illegal immigrants he should back Thompson. If he's most interested in stopping free trade he should back Huckabee. If he's most interested in starting WW4 with Iran and China he should back Giuliani. If he's not sure what's most important to him, he should follow Tancredo's lead and back Romney - and I'm betting he just might.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

mccain's victory speech

I say victory speech because McCain has basically tied Thompson for third place at about 13 percent (final results pending), where the expectation just a week or two ago was fifth or sixth at half that.

watch it here

McCain congratualted Huckabee for his victory in Iowa and his positive campaigning.
Lessons from Iowa:

1) "You can't buy an election"

2) "Negative campaign's don't work. They don't work there and they don't work here in New Hampshire"

Will Mitt get the message? Maybe McCain can get him to call a truce? Here's to hoping.

McCain also says he thinks that New Hampshire voters will decide independently of what happens in Iowa.

Some have said they expect an Obama victory (or any Hillary loss) in Iowa would be bad for McCain's prospects in New Hampshire because the independents would go for Obama rather than McCain. Actually, it's Romney that for quite some time was pulling the lead with independents. But now, with McCain's momentum, and the fact that he's gaining among both Republicans and independents, I don't think it's much of any issue either way. The good news for McCain would be that independents are increasingly deciding between him and Obama, rather than between Obama and Romney.

watching iowa caucuses on c-span

I've been watching the Iowa Caucuses being broadcast on C-SPAN. Democratic caucuses are on C-SPAN, while GOP is on C-SPAN 2.
For Carroll County (Precints 1-4), John McCain picked up quite a number of votes, more than Romney or Huckabee. Giuliani got a few though less than Thompson or Paul. Alan Keyes picked up a couple, but none for Duncan Hunter.
Watching the Democratic Caucus just now was generally more interesting because they use head counts rather than paper ballots, and if a candidate doesn't get at least 15 percent, then their supporters go to someone else. In this case, the second choice seemed to be Edwards and Obama. With 6 delegates given proportionally, 3 went for Obama, 2 for Edwards and only 1 for Clinton. Some are projecting now that Obama will be the winner statewide. It certainly is interesting to see Obama do so well in a state with so few black voters, and it should be a testament to many coastal liberals who assume that the middle of the country is racist.
Overall, looks like McCain is coming in fourth just behing Fred Thompson, but Huckabee seems to be as far ahead of Romney as Romney is of Thompson and McCain.
Neither McCain nor Rudy invested much in Iowa, but McCain is in the double digits, and Rudy might get 5 percent if he's lucky.

you can see the results by county as they come in being mapped here

some last minute predictions

For tonight's Iowa caucuses:

1) Huckabee: 30
2) Romney: 24
3) McCain: 15
4) Thompson: 13
5) Paul: 11
6) Giuliani: 4
7) Hunter: 3

For Wyoming
(yes, it's coming up soon - Jan 5. just a wild guess here, no polls that I could find)
1) McCain
2) Romney
3) Thompson
4) Huckabee
5) Paul
6) Giuliani
7) Hunter

For New Hampshire, as of now I'd say -
1) McCain
2) Romney
3) Paul
4) Giuliani
5) Huckabee
6) Thompson
7) Hunter

I'm thinking that Paul will consistently come in ahead of Giuliani. Rudy's losing steam, and a lot of his supporters may drift to McCain in time for South Carolina. Ron - well he's got a lot of enthusiastic testosterone on his side.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

McCain campaign ad smears McCain

This ad, entitled "Consider," is not what I'd call a high point in the candidacy of a man who should clearly be our next president. After I first watched it I had to watch it again and again to see if I'd missed something, that maybe it wasn't so negative as I thought.

Then I realized what it was that I couldn't figure out. Check out the graphic of the Concord Monitor article versus the voice-over at seconds 23-24.

Look for the words "Mitt Romney is such a candidate" on the graphic. It's not there. It indeed *is* in the original article, but the ad makes it ambiguous as to whether this is the McCain campaign's summary rather than a direct quote.

That the producer of this ad would leave this ambiguous is astounding. This is an egregious mistake. It makes McCain out to seem - if not nastier than Mitt, then at least more sloppy about it.

Whether or not Mitt Romney is a phony should not be what this campaign is about. McCain has the experience, Mitt doesn't. McCain is a war hero, greatly respected by Americans of both parties, has knowledge of the issues, demonstrable foresight, etc. It's time we stop voting against someone and start voting for someone, and McCain is the first one in a long time who will allow us to do that.

The ad should have stuck with just the positive words of the conservative Union Leader, or any of a plethora of others. But instead it implied that a great American is a phony. I don't mean Mitt Romney, whom voters have a hard time trusting anyway. I mean John McCain, who is better than that, and deserves much better.