A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

According to exit polls. . .

. . .one of the establishment conservative talking points is evaporating in South Carolina today. That is, the one that holds that McCain simply can't win among conservatives. The results show that, while McCain did lose to Huckabee among those who described themselves as "Very Conservative" 38% to 19%, he slightly outperformed Romney among them. Also, McCain handily beat Romney among those who describe themselves as "Somewhat Conservative" by a margin of 32% to 18%, while only narrowly besting Huckabee, who got 28% of their support. McCain clearly beat all comers among self-described "Moderates" with 47%, with Huckabee coming in at a distant 18%.

One has to wonder how Hewitt & Co. will spin this one.

Caveat: assuming these numbers hold, of course.

The petulance. . .

. . .that overcomes so many conservative observers of the Republican primaries is a telling phenomenon on many levels. And, eventually, it will prove to be the undoing of the petulant. Debra Saunders noted it in her recent column, "Old Warrior, Go Home", though I think she misdiagnosed the malady afflicting the observers.
"I have to think that what really sticks in the Limbaugh/Ingraham/Hewitt collective craw is the fact that McCain has been a darling of the media. And some Democrats and independents say they could vote for him."

Actually, what Limbaugh, et al find so objectionable about the prospect of a McCain nomination is the threat of declining influence on the Republican party and conservatism as a whole. After all, the three of them, among countless others, have made a show of deriding the Arizona senator ever since the 2000 elections, when he mounted a credible, though ultimately unsuccessful challenge to George W. Bush for the nomination. You have to wonder how much of the stepped-up slandering is a reflection of their recognizance that, should he become the nominee, it will be in spite of their efforts, rather than because of them. And, as such, he would feel no need to curry their favor while in office.

Of course, if one were to point out this possibility to any one of them, they would dismiss it out-of-hand. "Balderdash!" they would say, "I oppose John McCain because he is a liberal who has kicked dirt in the face of conservatives time and time again! It is an honest, heartfelt statement of principle, and I will never back away from that!" But that misses the point. There's little doubt that those who oppose McCain do so because of legitimate disagreements with the positions he's taken on various issues that conservatives find discomforting, to say the least.

In fact, it's not their opposition in and of itself that causes me to question their motives. It's the vehemence with which they've expressed it. Rush Limbaugh recently made the sweeping claim that, if John McCain is the nominee, "it will DEE-STROY the Republican Party!" Really, Rush? Will the entire party go into a complete meltdown simply because the majority of Republican primary participants chose to vote for someone who hasn't toed the party line to your satisfaction? Will the Republican National Convention dissolve into blue-blazer-and-khaki-clad melee reminiscent of the Democratic convention of 1968? Will the teargas flow and the holding cells of Minneapolis-St. Paul burst with overcrowding?

If the GOP is to heal the fissures among its base, it's going to require that those who command the attention of many of its members dial down the rage and stop issuing self-fulfilling prophecies that lay the groundwork for cataclysm. They must face the fact that, while they do influence many conservative voters, they do not influence all of them. Every time they make these sort of dire pronouncements on the state of conservatism, it has two separate and dangerously contentious effects on the party faithful. Those who put a great deal of stock in the opinions of talk radio luminaries like Hewitt, Ingraham, and Limbaugh and look to them for guidance grow angrier with every McCain (or Huckabee) victory and blame the "party establishment" (as absurd as that may sound) and media for supposedly "ramming them down our throats!" Those who support one of these two obviously anti-establishment candidates come away with the sense that they're being effectively written out of the conservative movement and are unwelcome within the party.

The ultimate result of all of this hair-raising rhetoric is to heighten discord among the Republican faithful toward one another, rather than those who truly do pose a threat to the things that all conservatives hold dear -- the Democrats. This leads to talk of third-party threats by McCain among those who so viscerally despise him, carrying the implication that he is not just a senator with an, at times, maddening independent streak, but an outright liberal Democrat using the Republican party nomination process as a means of subverting conservatism itself. In turn, accusations such as these serve to further alienate those who do support him, while confirming the sense of unwelcome they sense within the party they've called home throughout their political lives, as though the talk radio establishment is essentially asking them to leave without trying to seem rude or cause a scene.

It's hard for a conservative who supports McCain to come away from a talk radio broadcast like Limbaugh's without feeling personally insulted. There is very little incentive for paying heed to the pronouncements of a man who considers you to be nothing more than a bowl of ideological Jell-O. And, when that view takes hold among the talk radio audience, and gets repeated often enough, it has the effect of more deeply entrenching both sides. One side becomes more convinced of its own ideological rectitude, the other of its status as party pariah. The ultimate result of this is to have the "true believers" planting their flag atop a pile of ashes, while their counterparts stand outside the caution tape, looking on in bewilderment as to how it all constitutes a victory.

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's impossible. . .

. . .not to feel a strong kinship with John Derbyshire right now. The task of digging the grave of a beloved family pet is one of the most soul-wrecking experiences short of outright human tragedy that a man endures in life. Having done so on more than one occasion, I know the feeling that begins with resignation and proceeds to defeat, despair, sorrow and solitude. And when its done, all that's left is a sort of wretched relief.

Goodbye, Boris.
My sincere condolences to Derb.

Li'l Patrick. . .

. . .Ruffini tries his hand at Kos-style chicanery over at Hugh "Not to be Taken Seriously as an Analyst" Hewitt's blog. If anything, this bolsters the point I made about the Romney campaign's extremely limited appeal. For all of Hewitt's (and many others) bluster about McCain's inability to attract what they deem as conservatives -- which is apparently limited to Romney supporters -- he simply can't make that claim coming out of South Carolina.

So, rather than face up to the fact that McCain does have conservative support, they resort to the "Abandon ye all hope" card and make a pitch for Mike Huckabee. This is what I like to call "mind-bending sycophancy".

I'll put it to Hewitt this way: Mitt Romney has zero chance in the South. We folks here in the lower hinterlands have an aversion to slicked-up johnny-come-latelies. So, naturally, Romney's campaign begins its downward swirl toward the great political septic tank the moment he crosses the Mason-Dixon line. And, if a Republican can't win the South, he simply cannot win.

The truth of the matter is that Romney likely did himself more harm than good in promising to yank Michigan back to its post-war era s glory days. Everyone was watching, but the only people who believed him were those who really, really wanted to.

It's telling that there have been no reports (correct me if I'm wrong) of a national bounce for Romney since his pyrrhic victory in Michigan. One assumes that, if it were there, the Romney campaign would be trumpeting it. We'd hear that America has heard Mitt Romney's clarion call of economic prosperity, and how it is responding by rallying to it. Truth is, I don't even hear the crickets.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It needed to be said. . .

. . .and there are few people on earth better suited to say it than Victor Davis Hanson. Ronald Reagan has indeed become a sanctified figure among Republicans, and with good reason. What most Republicans have blocked from their reverent minds is that Reagan's canonization has as much to do with his electoral success as his ideology. Reading this piece by Hanson clarifies things significantly.

Had Reagan held the same positions in defeat, he'd have been pushed into a dark corner of the Republican memory as the guy who killed Gerald Ford's chances of reelection. Fortunately, he had an optimistic disposition when the nation cried out for it, a firm set of guiding conservative principles, and the good sense to grab a half-a-loaf with both hands when the opportunity presented itself.

The deservedly sainted Reagan managed to maintain a very collegial relationship with the man who was the bane of conservative existence, Tip O'Neill, throughout his presidency. Yet, the conservatives of today who invoke his name as the paragon of conservatism excoriate John McCain (and anyone else) for being seen in the same room with any Democrat without having said Democrat in a headlock.

As conservatives, we often howl in indignation at the left's tendency toward historical revisionism. We don't need to sink to hypocrisy in order to embrace our heroes. And we shouldn't resort to intellectual thuggery when our candidates don't measure up to our idealized vision of Reagan; especially when Reagan himself didn't.

As cozy relationships go. . .

. . .it doesn't get much cozier than to have a lobbyist as a "wonderful friend and adviser", does it? Does Romney seriously expect us to believe that, at the end of a long day on the campaign trail, he and Kaufman sit down in their plush bathrobes, sipping camomile with slices of cucumber over their eyes to help combat the inevitable bagginess that comes from trying to maintain a grueling, hectic, non-stop travel schedule while trying to raise a family? Maybe they catch up on the latest dirt down on K Street, and how John McCain is such a bitch?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mitt's promises to South Carolina. . .

. . .have begun. It calls to mind a little wisdom from the great P.J. O'Rourke:
"Why, send yours truly to Capitol Hill, and I'll ship the swag home in boxcar lots. You'll be paving the roads with bacon around here when I get done shoveling out the pork barrel. There'll be government jobs for your dog. Leave your garden hose running for fifteen minutes, and I'll have the Department of Transportation build an 8-lane suspension bridge across the puddle. Show me a wet basement and I'll get you a naval base and make your Roto-Rooter man an admiral of the fleet. There'll be farm subsidies for every geranium you've got in a pot, defense contracts for Junior's spitballs and free day care for Sister's dolls. You'll get unemployment for the sixteen hours every day when you're not at your job, full disability benefits if you have to get up in the night to take a leak, and Social Security checks will come in the mail not just when you retire at sixty-five but when you retire each night to bed. Taxes? Hell, I'll have the government go around every week putting money back in your paycheck, and I'll make the IRS hire chimpanzees from the zoo to audit your tax returns. Vote for me, folks, and you'll be farting through silk."

On a lighter note. . .

. . .a link, courtesy of my Good Experience subscription:

Baby Gives The Evil Eye - Watch more free videos

Contrast Sen. Tom Coburn's. . .

. . .assessment of his colleague, John McCain, with the man you see in the videos below. All the trash-talk and garment-rending of Mark Levin and El Rushbo can't undo the man's honor and integrity.

Is it so much to ask that those who oppose McCain stop for a moment and consider the fact that while they were sitting in the comfortable confines of the United States of America, formulating the their guiding philosophies, John McCain was hanging by two broken arms, enduring beating after beating as a consequence of the bravery he exhibited in order to guarantee their right, and the right of the people of Vietnam, to do so?

Sure, they pay occasional lip service to what he endured. But, more often than not, it comes across with all the sincerity of Mitt Romney's statements on abortion and the Second Amendment.

What will Mitt promise. . .

. . .to the Reagan Republicans of South Carolina?

What will Mitt promise. . .

. . .to the pro-life conservatives of South Carolina?

What will Mitt promise. . .

. . .to the gun owners of South Carolina?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

For those interested. . .

. . .in knowing what McCain had to say tonight.

You stay classy, Team Romney.

Heading toward South Carolina. . .

. . .after having my concession speech stepped on by the victor in Michigan, if I were McCain, knowing that I was going into the state with the third-highest percentage of veterans in the country, I wouldn't hesitate to bring up his shifting positions on Vietnam. Especially given the fact that there's a mailer going around that calls into question his own military service.

If Romney wants to take off the gloves, give him what he wants.

In a classless act. . .

. . .Mitt Romney decided to step on John McCain's concession speech and break in with his victory speech. Don't think this will go unnoticed among the other campaigns. There's a fairly intense dislike for him as it is, and the victory in itself is going to draw fire from them in an attempt to blunt any momentum he might pick up coming out of Michigan.

With that little move, Romney signaled to the rest of the crowd, "This is what you have to look forward to from me." Something tells me there's going to be more than a little preemptive payback.

The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner. Magnanimity counts for something. The lack of it counts for a whole lot more.

"Symbolitics" indeed.

How many times. . .

. . .in the past have you ever heard of a native son candidate hoping for a low turnout? If this says anything about the Romney campaign, it highlights its limited appeal. How much of a bounce comes from a native son victory, if any? I suspect there'll be very little Romney can point to for optimism once all the numbers shake out.

One thing Romney definitely won't be able to claim is enthusiasm for his candidacy among the electorate.

A wonderful illustration. . .

. . .of the point of my previous post appeared on The Corner at NRO this morning. Jonah Goldberg makes this observation:

Corner Catch-Up

Man, you guys have been rough of John McCain in my absence.
To which Mark Levin responds thusly:

You Wrote the Book on It

Jonah writes, "Man, you guys have been rough of John McCain in my absence." It's the liberal fascism thing that concern some of us about his record and candidacy, Jonah.
And that is precisely the kind of idiocy that begets this kind of idiocy in an email to David Freddoso:

And then there's the other approach to McCain...

Why publish such intellectual contortions for supporting a McCain who in reality would be a national disaster which would even neuter conservatives from any ability to blame the disaster on the opposition when it would inevitably come to pass? Come November I'll vote worst leftist on the ballot if McCain is GOP candidate, so it is clear to the American people who produces the national trainwreck.

UPDATE: Now, K-Lo laments the divisiveness of it all:

"Sad," Indeed

Huckabee, forever the uniter.

The upshot, of course, being "What an awful, awful thing to say about Simon LeRomney."

Monday, January 14, 2008

The foundation is shaking. . .

. . .beneath the establishment conservative media house. The very thought of a John McCain nomination has a lot of conservative journalists hiding under the dining room table, hands clasped around their heads. And I can't say as I blame them.

Since my last post on this blog, I've become a McCain supporter. I took a rather circuitous route to get here, but here I am. And, I won't lie: it feels good. For the past three years, I've found myself at odds with parts of the conservative media I once revered as a refuge from the brazen biases of ABC/CBS/NBC/CNN and their ink-stained cohorts.

Part of that has to do with blogging itself. Just about every writer for a mainstream conservative media outlet has a blog these days, and with it comes the urge to be as much like the independent, little-guy blogger as possible. It's a "when in Rome" phenomenon, I suspect. Or, it could be that blogging opens up a venue for established writers to feel free to write whatever springs to mind without having to contend with editorial admonishments and the boss's skunk eye.

Whatever the reasoning, this proliferation of shoot-from-the-hip outlets has revealed a side of the mainstream conservative press many rank-and-file conservatives like myself hadn't seen before, and don't always appreciate. No longer reined in by the warden, many conservatives feel free to let fly with their opinions without regard to tone or temperament. With William F. Buckley on one shoulder, and Michael Savage on the other, more and more we see Savage reaching over the writer's head and jamming Buckley's halo down around his shoulders.

Of course, that's not to say that all conservative writers do this when given the freedom not to expound. Ramesh Ponnuru and Victor Davis Hanson are notable exceptions. In fact, the vast majority exercise a good deal of restraint in all but a few exceptional instances. However, what many of them don't understand is that rank and file conservatives lend just as much credence to their one-paragraph broadsides as they do 500-word expository pieces. This inevitably results in the reader concluding that, with the writer's words stripped of puffery and nuance, now we know what he really thinks.

Unfortunately, conservatives don't always agree with one another. In fact, I can only recall complete unanimity among us at two points in my entire lifetime: the death of Ronald Reagan, and the atrocities of September 11, 2001.

It's that lack of unanimity coupled with the unbridled expression of disdain -- or delight, for that matter -- emanating from our house organs that threaten to put that house asunder. In the past, when a conservative pundit wanted to influence the reader, he went to the trouble of calmly laying out his case as persuasively as he knew how and invited the reader to consider it before coming to a conclusion. Not so in the blogosphere, which is to persuasive writing as Thunderdome is to the Oxford Union.

Consequently, our once staid havens of intellectual curiosity have been transformed into mere facades on a dogfighting ring. And, like any place where bloodletting is integral to the game, the game and its blood often spill out into the parking lot.

And so we find ourselves in a position where the very idea of dissent, no matter how well-intentioned, compels one to gird his loins for battle. The act of clicking a link to your favorite political blog is an introduction into the raised hackles and clenched jaws of contumely. This is all well and good among the hoi polloi if only because of its inevitability.

But, when the people we look to for guidance and temperament start choosing sides and busting chops, it becomes extremely difficult to keep all the furniture in one piece and the pictures on the wall.

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