Republicans Archives

Not Romney, Pawlenty, and not Lieberman.  John McCain has made either party choice in November a historic one by choosing Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate.  This is so big, the Drudge Report website is overwhelmed with readers (I can’t get a link in edgewise).

Aside from the obvious appeal to history, and the disenchanted Clinton voters, Palin brings experience.  "Experience?", you may say, "She’s not even been governor a full 2 years."  Indeed, but that’s 2 years more executive branch experience that the other 3 candidates — Obama, Biden and McCain — combined.  Prior to that (via Wikipedia):

  • Became mayor of Wasilla, AK on a platform of cutting spending and taxes.  She did both, with cutting her salary being the first thing.
  • Appointed by then-governor Murkowski to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as the Ethics Commissioner.  She quit over ethics issues in her own party, so she’s not afraid to call it like she sees it.

The Wikipedia article has much more about her that I find absolutely excellent.  Great job, Senator McCain. 

A Stinging Rebuke

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) slaps his party on the back of the head and tells them to wake up.

As congressional Republicans contemplate the prospect of an electoral disaster this November, much is being written about the supposed soul-searching in the Republican Party. A more accurate description of our state is paralysis and denial.

Many Republicans are waiting for a consultant or party elder to come down from the mountain and, in Moses-like fashion, deliver an agenda and talking points on stone tablets. But the burning bush, so to speak, is delivering a blindingly simple message: Behave like Republicans.

Unfortunately, too many in our party are not yet ready to return to the path of limited government. Instead, we are being told our message must be deficient because, after all, we should be winning in certain areas just by being Republicans. Yet being a Republican isn’t good enough anymore. Voters are tired of buying a GOP package and finding a big-government liberal agenda inside. What we need is not new advertising, but truth in advertising.

Becoming Republicans again will require us to come to grips with what has ailed our party – namely, the triumph of big-government Republicanism and failed experiments like the K Street Project and "compassionate conservatism." If the goal of the K Street Project was to earmark and fund raise our way to a filibuster-proof "governing" majority, the goal of "compassionate conservatism" was to spend our way to a governing majority.

Indeed, Republicans, with control of the purse strings to incredible riches that is the constant lure in a centralized government as huge as ours, turned into the very things they criticized; spendthrifts.  In doing so, they further exemplified one of the major problems with government trying to "do something".  Each party essentially winds up promising money for votes.  A smaller central government, not nearly as flush with cash, would be required to stick more closely to its constitutional boundaries.  Instead, regardless of the party, government has, in recent administrations, decided that it knows better how to be "compassionate".

But, as Senator Coburn notes, it’s not "compassion".

Compassionate conservatism’s starting point had merit. The essential argument that Republicans should orient policy around how our ideas will affect the poor, the widow, the orphan, the forgotten and the "other" is indisputable – particularly for those who claim, as I do, to submit to an authority higher than government. Yet conservatives are conservatives because our policies promote deliverance from poverty rather than dependence on government.

Compassionate conservatism’s next step – its implicit claim that charity or compassion translates into a particular style of activist government involving massive spending increases and entitlement expansion – was its undoing. Common sense and the Scriptures show that true giving and compassion require sacrifice by the giver. This is why Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell his possessions, not his neighbor’s possessions. Spending other people’s money is not compassionate.

Precisely.  Read the whole thing, especially if you’re a Republican.

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From the Dept. of Lost Causes:

(And I’m not sure whether it should be routed through the Self-Delusion Agency or Committee on Unwarranted Optimism…)

Bob Barr has just announced his candidacy for President on the LIbertarian ticket.

“My name is Bob Barr and I’m a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America,” he told a small room of reporters, pre-empting them by raising the obvious question himself: “You might say Bob Barr, why are you running for president?”


“Look, I’m in it to win it,” said Barr. “I’m not getting in this race to make a point. … I’m not getting into this race to be a spoiler — I’ve got better things to do.”

Well, apparently not.

This is the counterbalance to Ralph Nader that, I’m sure, Democrats have been waiting for.  But Barr, while he has name recognition going for him, is dropping another name that may make some folks wary of voting for him.

remains a candidate for president even though Sen. John McCain has surpassed the minimum number of delegates to win the nomination.

"Ron Paul tapped into a great deal of that dissatisfaction and that awareness," Barr said on the website. "Unfortunately, working through the Republican party structure, it became impossible for him to really move forward with his movement. But we have to have … a rallying point out there to harness that energy, that freedom, in this election cycle."

Of course, that name could also tap into a constituency that has been trying to "revolt" against the presumptive nominee, to little or no avail.  My hunch (and that’s all it is) is that Barr could indeed become a real spoiler for McCain if he can successfully get the Paul supporters on his side.  For now, they’re rather busy, so the extent of this support will probably only be known after the Republican convention. 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article notes that the Libertarian candidate in 2004 got a little over 3% of the vote with no name recognition.  (Anyone know who Michael Badnarik is?)  Barr could easily do better.

A Brokered Convention?

Huckabee, McCain and now Romney have all taken 1st place in a primary or caucus. Does this mean the Republicans are headed for a brokered convention? The Moderate Voice thinks so. Donklephant is wondering. John Gizzi at Human Events hopes so (it’s good for business; he’s political reporter).

What do you think? And would this be a good thing or a bad thing for Republicans? Would a moving target for Democrats give them less of a chance to do opposition research, or do you think they’ve got a dossier on the whole GOP field already?

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The Iowa Caucuses

The next phase of the presidential campaign season began yesterday as Iowans held their respective caucuses (caucii?). Some surprises, and some expected results


This is the “surprise” category. While only 1% behind the guy in front of her, and while getting 29% of the vote, Hillary Clinton (The Inevitable One(tm)) placed a disappointing 3rd behind Obama and Edwards. For a campaign machine that has been essentially running non-stop since 1992, this must be a serious blow. I heard on the radio this morning that she arrived in New Hampshire at 5am, apparently bailing out of Iowa as soon as she could. It ain’t over by any stretch of the imagination, but this is an upset.

As a blow against identity politics, which I’ve covered before, Barack Obama’s 38% victory shows that white folks will indeed vote for a black man with whom they agree. I think this goes for members of either party frankly. (I personally wished J. C. Watts had decided to run when I watched him during the Bill Clinton impeachment debate.) Iowa has a lower percentage of blacks than in the country in general, and yet Obama won handily. I don’t agree with Obama’s policies, but I’m glad to see this result. Hope the girls at Spelman College take a lesson from this and vote policy and position rather than color.


Huckabee picked up the win here, as expected. Well, as most recently expected, not as anyone expected 4 months ago, which points out that polls really are just barometers of how people think or feel now. Iowa GOPers are 60% evangelical, so quite likely identity politics did play a part here. See Bryan at Hot Air, who notes that this is “a reversal in the way the two parties tend to think and choose their respective leader”. Indeed, and I really hope this isn’t a new trend. I do generally want a candidate that shares my values, but I’m not necessarily going to get hung up on their religion. However, religion tracks quite closely with positions I want to see, so it does play a large part.

I don’t agree with the Article VI blog that evangelicals will never vote for a Mormon. Some won’t, I’m sure, but one caucus does not a trend make, and Romney’s flip-flopping on hot-button issues like abortion and gay rights likely have more to do with his 2nd place finish than his religion. He was only 9% behind Huckabee, so this isn’t quite the blow they’re making it sound like. While Iowans, according to a poll noted on Article VI, generally do consider religious belief high on the list, I think (and I hope) that identity politics play less of a role as time goes on.

Read the whole Article VI post. Even though I disagree with the thrust of the post, it has a lot of good information on this identity issue with Republicans. Includes this from Albert Mohler being interviewed by Hugh Hewitt:

AM: Well, let’s put it this way. Evangelical Christians are very much committed to a Christian worldview that reaches every aspect of life. But there really isn’t an Evangelical foreign policy. There’s really not an Evangelical tariff or tax policy. And I think when everything’s identified that way, well, I’m going to be honest, there’s a bit of self-protectionism here.

HH: Yup.

AM: I don’t want to get blamed for everything that a supposedly Evangelical president might do that in terms of policy would be disagreeable.

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Romney’s “Faith” Speech

I’m not sure if this was the right thing to do, but Mitt Romney feels it necessary to give a speech that, while billed as one dealing with his Mormon faith, doesn’t really appear to deal with that specifically. From the news reports on those parts of the speech released so far, Romney sounds defensive.

Republican Mitt Romney declares in a speech being delivered Thursday that he shares “moral convictions” with Americans of all faiths, but should not have to explain his own religion just because he’s striving to become the first Mormon elected president.

“To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes president, he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths,” Romney said in remarks prepared for delivery at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Well, actually, explaining your religious views does not, in any way, violate the Constitution. Article 6 states:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

What I emphasized there is that one’s religion cannot be used to disqualify someone from running for or serving as President or any other office. We’re past that already; Romney has not been disqualified on account of his religion, and should he win the election he can serve.

Once someone is a candidate, however, questions about their values and views that are affected by their religious beliefs are completely fair game. How his religion, or lack thereof, informs his opinion on abortion, gay rights, tax policy and the like are certainly allowable questions. If there are any limits, they are limits of reasonableness; what is reasonable to understand about their religion that would be required to understand how they would govern. Mike Huckabee put it this way:

“I think it’s a matter of what his views are – whether they are consistent, whether they are authentic, just like mine are,” Huckabee told NBC’s “Today.””If I had actions that were completely opposite of my Christian faith, then I would think people would have reason to doubt if this part of my life, which is supposed to be so important, doesn’t influence me. Then they would have to question whether or not there are other areas of my life that lack that authenticity as well”.

Frankly, people are just as free to vote against someone because of their religion as they are to vote for them because they make a good impression on The Tonight Show, and neither is unconstitutional.

So the constitutional issue is completely off the table, but that seems to be one of the main points of Romney’s speech, and that sounds very defensive, which is not how you need to appear with less than a month before the Iowa caucuses. He does make some very good points regarding church-state separation that I wholeheartedly agree with. But his appeal to the Constitution to refrain from getting to detailed about his beliefs doesn’t come across well, and the speech may do more harm than good for his campaign.

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Register Republican for Better Mental Health

OK, that’s a bit outlandish, but if you’re already Republican, Gallup suggests you are significantly better off mentally. (Well, at least you say you are.)

Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats or independents to rate their mental health as excellent, according to data from the last four November Gallup Health and Healthcare polls. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans report having excellent mental health, compared to 43% of independents and 38% of Democrats.

And it’s not because Republicans are (supposedly) richer.

One could be quick to assume that these differences are based on the underlying demographic and socioeconomic patterns related to party identification in America today. A recent Gallup report (see “Strong Relationship Between Income and Mental Health” in Related Items) reviewed these mental health data more generally, and found that men, those with higher incomes, those with higher education levels, and whites are more likely than others to report excellent mental health. Some of these patterns describe characteristics of Republicans, of course.

But an analysis of the relationship between party identification and self-reported excellent mental health within various categories of age, gender, church attendance, income, education, and other variables shows that the basic pattern persists regardless of these characteristics. In other words, party identification appears to have an independent effect on mental health even when each of these is controlled for.

Now, as I’ve said many times in the past, I hate polls, especially ones where the respondents are asked about something that is outside their area of expertise. So I’m not sure how qualified most people are to gauge their mental health, but what this does tend to show is that Republican folks are generally more content with their lot, whatever lot it is.

This probably explains some of Arthur Brooks findings about how conservatives tend to be more charitable. Also note that according to Brooks, liberal-headed families make slightly more money on average that conservative-headed families, so it really isn’t a case of more money making you happy. And if you want to extend that correlation, religion is the single biggest predictor as to whether someone is charitable, and most of the religious are on the Right (hence the label). Someone might connect the dots to suggest that religion plays a positive role in mental health.

Or, perhaps, they already have.

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Huckabee Says Abortion is a Federal Issue

Mike Huckabee, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, says that states shouldn’t be given the chance to determine their own abortion views.

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee rejects letting states decide whether to allow abortions, claiming the right to life is a moral issue not subject to multiple interpretations.

“It’s the logic of the Civil War,” Huckabee said Sunday, comparing abortion rights to slavery. “If morality is the point here, and if it’s right or wrong, not just a political question, then you can’t have 50 different versions of what’s right and what’s wrong.”

“For those of us for whom this is a moral question, you can’t simply have 50 different versions of what’s right,” he said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

As much as I like Huckabee’s positions, I have to take issue with this. Government’s job is not to say what is right, but what is legal. Sometimes those two coincide, and sometimes they don’t.

I don’t believe that government should be the leading indicator of what’s right and wrong. It is very unfortunate that, for too many people, if it’s legal then it’s right. However, we can’t use that situation to then say that the government should pass laws against all that is immoral. This may sound funny to some, coming as it does from this evangelical Christian, but there are a couple of ideas at play here.

First is the idea that any set of rules made by men as to what is right and wrong is, by definition, going to be flawed. We can’t do it, and that’s taking on a job that God has exclusive rights to. Passing a low solely because it fits my moral code is, therefore, not a good idea. (Bear in mind that I’m emphasizing “solely”. We’ll come back to that.)

Second is the idea that my personal morality can inform what I want government to do. So based on my reading of the Bible, I may be against state-run gambling. My concern over taxing the foolish and government-sponsored co-dependence are moral stances, and they contribute to my opinion of laws regarding them. The Civil Rights laws of the 1960s were largely informed by a religious view of equality among people, equal in the sight of God. The laws were both morally right and a proper use of government in that they promoted liberty, equally, for all. For example, gambling promotes slavery to an addition.

So, while writing a pure moral code into a man-made document is doomed to fail, there is still a place for the Christian (and any religious person) in the creation of laws for the state or country. And while I appreciate Gov. Huckabee’s stance on the issue of abortion, I’m a little leery of him suggesting that the federal government should do it solely because it is right. That suggestion opens the door to abuses by more well-meaning politicians, and can result in less liberty as the government encroaches on the individual.

Now, having said all of that, I’m going to spin you in further circles and say that I do agree that the matter of abortion should be decided at the federal level. The reason is that protecting the right to life is a primary function of government, and without the right to life, no other rights can be enjoyed. Further, the Roe v Wade decision did nothing but muddy the waters as to what the Constitution really says about privacy. So yes, I think it should be overturned, and indeed I think abortion, as a matter of liberty, should be a matter of federal legislation.

But to do it because it is “right”, from a political standpoint, invites abuse. Government has a specific purpose and it should be used accordingly.

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Quieting the Storm

Here’s an unexpected presidential endorsement.

Pat Robertson, one of the most influential figures in the social conservative movement, announced his support for Rudy Giuliani’s presidential bid this morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Pat Robertson

Robertson’s support was coveted by several of the leading Republican candidates and provides Giuliani with a major boost as the former New York City mayor seeks to convince social conservatives that, despite his positions on abortion and gay rights, he is an acceptable choice as the GOP nominee.

This endorsement serves a few purposes. First, it shows (yet again, for those who weren’t paying attention) that The Religious Right(tm) isn’t as monolithic as the media makes it out to be. There were those who said they’d stay home if Guliani was nominated, but this move by Robertson shows that it’s not quite the herd it’s been made out to be. Although, if you read the comments attached to the article, you’ll find a boatload of those for whom this realization has flown over their heads.

Secondly, as Chris Cillizza notes in the article, this will have a calming effect in the SoCon arena and among the buzz brokers who were predicting turmoil in the Republican ranks. It shows that, even if Guiliani is the nominee, his chances in the general election will not be hampered by political purists.

Robertson has indeed done his cause a favor by breaking yet another stereotype of the Christian Right. Whether or not everyone agrees with his choice for endorsement is beside the point. And then, when you think about it, it is the point.

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Republicans in California are trying to change the way electoral votes from California are distributed.

Veteran GOP consultants said Monday that they were relaunching a drive to change the way California allocates its electoral college votes, aimed at helping the 2008 Republican presidential nominee capture the White House.

Political strategist David Gilliard said he was taking over the ballot initiative campaign, along with strategist Ed Rollins and fundraiser Anne Dunsmore. Consultant Mike Arno will oversee the signature-gathering effort.

“Our budget is going to be whatever it takes to make the June ballot,” said Gilliard, who played a key role in getting the recall of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis onto the 2003 ballot.

The proposed initiative would change California’s method of allocating its 55 electoral votes from a winner-take-all basis, which favors Democrats, to a congressional district-based approach. Republicans hold 19 congressional seats, so presumably the GOP nominee could win a similar number of electoral votes.

Amazingly enough, Markos Moulitsas, the Daily Kos himself, is thrilled with this development.

The move is brilliant. For one, every state should allocate EVs in this manner. Maine and Nebraska already have some variation of proportionate EV allocation, and it would force the parties and candidates to pay attention to swing regions unlucky enough to not reside in a swing state. There are more than 18 states in the union, but you wouldn’t know it from the way this campaign will be waged.

Oh, sorry. Got my links mixed up. This is his reaction to when Colorado was going to change its electoral vote distribution. If you click here, you’ll see his reaction to the California effort, which he considers election stealing, compares to a “bad horror movie”, and calls it an attempt to “game the system”.

What’s the difference? Well, if you know your netroots, you won’t be surprised. For the Colorado effort, this would benefit Democrats.

But on a more immediate tactical level, this initiative will force Republicans to spend a great deal of money in Colorado when they hoped to completely ignore the state and take its nine EVs for granted. Despite all the talk of Colorado being in play this year, Kerry still has a ways to go before he pulls the state in play.

But the effort in California could give more votes to the Republican nominee. True to form, what Kos thinks is good or evil is entirely, exclusively a case of how its politics fall. He was for electoral vote reallocation before he was against it.

For the record, I was against the Colorado effort, and I’m against this one. Click here for why, but it boils down to the idea that the Electoral College favors broad support over the most support in close races. Whether or not you agree with this is one thing, but for one’s support for the system to be utterly devoid of an understanding of its principles is partisanship at its blindest.

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