A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Here's an interesting find. . .

. . .from 1996 that I found while perusing The Hotline. It seems that Mitt Romney was so vehemently opposed to Steve Forbes's flat tax proposal that he took out ads in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Iowa to label it a "TAX CUT for FAT CATS".

Also worth noting is the fact that, at the time, Romney seemed to be fully in favor of campaign finance reform as the "real work" to be done by the president to be elected that November.

You have to wonder just how many more of these flip-flops the establishment conservative media backbone can take.

McCain's most resonant. . .

. . .moment in last night's debate came when he defended Rudy Giuliani against the New York Times opportunistic use of its endorsement of the senator as a platform from which to attack the mayor. Larry Kudlow seems to think it would be a good idea for McCain to reject the endorsement. I have to say I'm inclined to agree, and for all the reasons Larry points out.

The Times has been as much a stalwart in opposition to all we have sought to accomplish in Iraq as John McCain has in his support of it. I see no more benefit in their endorsement than I would the endorsement of George Galloway. And their use of it as a wedge between the two candidates who are undeniably our strongest assets in this ongoing struggle against radical Islamic terrorists is just one more measure of their duplicity.

In short, as far as I'm concerned, the Times can take their endorsement and stick it in Saddam's rathole.

Judge not. . .

. . .McCain's supposed inclination toward liberals in potential judicial picks until you've given Romney's history a good once-over. The Boston Globe has given us a pretty good rundown of the kind of picks he's made in the past. It strikes me that anyone willing to hold McCain hostage to the nominees who weren't seated as a consequence of the Gang of Fourteen, they ought to be pretty troubled by Romney's tendency to pass over conservatives as governor. The Globe was kind enough to include a helpful graphic in their story:

Here are a few specific examples of his appointments.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's a rare occasion. . .

. . .that Ramesh Ponnuru misses the point, and he does so here, but only by a shade. He is right that some McCain supporters (perhaps even me) may be injuring their cause by "trash-talking the importance of talk radio". I would venture to guess that he's referring to Medved's column earlier in the week, wherein he declared the big loser in South Carolina to be talk radio. While I initially thought he may have a point, upon reflection, I think it was probably on the triumphalist side. At most, it should probably be considered Medved's bookend to Hugh Hewitt's barnyard strut in the wake of Romney's Michigan victory.

I don't think the majority of people who support McCain are trash-talking the "importance" of talk radio so much as they lament its obvious biases and its utter disregard for listeners (current and former) who support him and would like to see him get at least a plausibly objective hearing. It seems to me to be asking a lot for McCain supporters who can somehow find room in their lives for both their candidate, and the opinions of the most influential voices in radio, to sit quietly and take lump after lump, smiling all the while like political Stepford Wives.

I think Mark Levin illustrated this point nicely today, when he essentially played the Soup Nazi card:
As an aside, publicists for five different authors have contacted my office in the last week to request that their clients appear on my program to help promote (i.e., sell) their books. I'll be sure to remove those from the list of perspective guests who, in my view, demean talk radio.

In other words, "So, you think I'm wrong? You think I overestimate my influence? NO PUBLICITY FOR YOU!!!!"

For all the bluster. . .

. . .on the right side of the airwaves about how John McCain is so far to the left that his nomination would bring about the destruction of the Republican Party, there seems to be precious little concern as to what Mitt Romney's nomination might do. Of course, if I had never gone to the trouble of doing any research into Mitt's record, I probably wouldn't be too concerned, either. But, I have.

Human Events has long been considered one of the great publications for conservative opinion. It's a little to the right of National Review and seems to revel in its image as its somewhat iconoclastic cousin. Every week, Human Events publishes a Top Ten list of everything from Most Conservative House Members to Biggest Labor Union Power Grabs. What some people may not know is that, back in December of 2005, they published a list of the Top Ten RINO's. Before you look, take a guess at whose name wasn't on the list, and whose name was.

If you only got your news from the conservative establishment media, you probably would never have known that.

The silence is whorish. . .

. . .when it comes to the conservative media's treatment of Mitt Romney as a fiscal conservative. Here we have a Massachusetts governor who grossly underperformed all but two other states with regard to job creation, raised fees to the tune of $500 million (as though fees are paid by anybody other than taxpayers), and happened to be sitting in the right chair when $1.6 in capital gains revenue came pouring in (again, paid by taxpayers). The paltry decline in unemployment numbers in Massachusetts is largely the result of the 200,000 people who couldn't find jobs and fled the state.

And where are the howls of indignation over his promise to bail out the Big Three in Detroit? And what do all the talkers and scribblers think of his idea to have a little sit-down with insurance executives to see if we need a taxpayer subsidized insurance policy for people with beach-front property in hurricane-prone areas?

Ahh, but somehow McCain is the one who isn't the real conservative? When will the other candidates' records get the kind of scrutiny that McCain's has? When will someone cast even a slightly skeptical eye toward Romney?

If Mitt Romney is allowed to go through the primary process with this level of scrutiny, the establishment conservative media will have done far more damage to itself than they will ever be able to lay at the feet of John McCain.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Romney's new best friend. . .

. . .appears to be Thad Cochran. I suppose it says something about McCain that one of his fellow members of that clubbiest of clubs would opt to support someone else. One can only imagine what it might be.

A humble suggestion. . .

. . .for all the cloistered monks and nuns at Our Lady of Perpetual Isolation: The sooner you disabuse yourselves of the notion that people who don't buy into your shrieking rhetoric are necessarily stupid and want to bring America to its knees, the better off we will all be. You can accomplish this by simply stepping away from your computers for a few days, setting aside all the newsletters and email alerts you get from your special interest groups, and walking among people who are simply trying to get on with their lives as best they can.

Go to a lunch counter in a place where people don't obsess over any issues -- say, in Paducah, Kentucky for example, where nobody knows who you are. Sit down and talk to people and let them steer the conversation for a change. Let them demonstrate what's on their minds, rather than trying to pry an opinion out of them. Pretend, for a couple of days that you don't know, or particularly give a damn about politics; that you're just as jaded and apathetic as everyone else is. For once, be among people who would think you were weird if they knew how much you cared, and silly for thinking that you can make a difference.

If you will simply do this, you will come away with a brand new understanding of the appeal of a Mike Huckabee, a Barack Obama, and dare I say it, a John McCain. You might even come away with a new appreciation for them.

Michael, row your boat ashore. . .

. . .hallelujah!

Mr. Medved preaches the gospel today, putting the lie to several myths that the establishment conservative media persist in foisting upon conservative Republican voters. Notably, Ramesh Ponnuru lauds him for his effort, while chiding him for glossing over a few inconvenient truths.

Ramesh has a very valid point, and it would be dishonest to pretend that John McCain has been pure as the driven snow throughout his career. It's true that McCain has employed some troubling rhetoric in the past in going after his opponents. His opposition to the Bush tax cuts wasn't solely based on a lack of spending curbs. I can distinctly remember him using language about the disproportionate effects with regard to the wealthiest taxpayers as opposed to the middle class. I found it troubling then, and I find it troubling today.

However, as Medved clearly demonstrates in his response to McCain's critics, taken in context with his whole political career, much of the opposition to his candidacy appears to be propped up by a good measure of the kind of bluster that usually accompanies feigned indignation. If McCain's rhetoric is so out of place, what must his critics think of Mitt Romney's attacks on Steve Forbes's flat tax plan as a "tax cut for fat cats"?

Duncan Hunter endorses. . .

. . .Mike Huckabee, according to Byron York at The Corner. As expected, the folks at Lucianne.com are dumbstruck. I'm left a bit perplexed about it, myself. Vexed, if you will.

Could it be that, upon considerable reflection, he simply felt that he couldn't trust Romney to be an honest broker?

Naah! That's just silly.

Does Romney agree. . .

. . .with the Tom Tancredo that Miami is a "third world country"? Somebody should probably ask him about it, as long as he's down in Florida, trying to pick up votes in little Havana. He did embrace Tancredo's endorsement, after all. And, it seems to me that he ought to at least have to explain where he differs with him, if he does at all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This is what I like to call. . .

. . .a sizable individual.

Euphemistically speaking. . .

. . .I suppose Hugh Hewitt is exactly right. He posts a paragraph on Rudy Giuliani's advocacy of the National Catastrophe Fund - a big selling point in Florida politics. John McCain has come out against it, saying that rather than create a whole new program, it would be better to reform FEMA.

So, how does Hewitt describe Romney's position? He says it's "somewhere between Rudy's enthusiastic embrace and McCain's rejection." Is there any nicer way of saying he's waffling?

It's pretty obvious that Romney has been bitten by his tendency to try to be all things to all people. So, in order to avoid making the kind of promises that he knows are going to further cement the image he gained in Michigan as a panderer, or risk alienating potential voters in Florida by telling them what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear, he punts.

Somewhere between enthusiastic embrace and rejection. That's just about where I stand with Jessica Alba.

With the exit of Fred. . .

. . .Thompson, the folks over at The Corner seem a bit morose. He's apparently the guy they wish they could have endorsed before settling on Romney. Rich Lowry gave a perfectly cogent analysis of his campaign that didn't sit well with Michael Ledeen. K-lo posted the heads-up about it all, which stated that Thompson had no plans to endorse any rivals, for now, which Mark Levin took as a great opportunity to say, in so many words, "Woo-hoo! In your face, McCain!"

I don't know about anyone else, but when I first started following politics, I had a bit of an idealized image of conservative leaders and opinion makers. But, the more I see them unfettered by editorial constraint, the more I feel I can come to my own conclusions without their help. Consequently, I feel less trepidation at going against the establishment conservative opinion grain.

There's a question I've often seen posed by folks in examining the quality of Republican candidates that is just as appropriate when examining conservative opinion makers: "Is this the best we can do?"

UPDATE: As if on cue, Victor Davis Hanson shows us that we can do better.

It's one thing to be an advocate your candidate. But, when your candidate is so riddled with flaws and his record is punctuated with more question marks than bullet points that you feel the need to resort to declarations of doom if the other guy wins, your candidate's foundation has already begun to display a fundamental weakness in the eyes of any reasonably objective observer.

My first inkling as to Romney's basic weakness came upon Hugh Hewitt's abject genuflection at his "Faith in America" speech, accompanied by his out-of-hand dismissal of any analysis that didn't bear the same worshipful obeisance, before any had even been issued.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Is this guy. . .

. . .for rizzle? (H/T - Mark Hemingway @ The Corner).

While the Romney name does carry some weight in the Civil Rights movement, I'm not sure it's a great idea for Mitt to remind voters of the recent controversy over his remarks at having seen his father march with Martin Luther King. One could easily see where he might plausibly contend that he was speaking in the figurative sense. But, taken in context with all the other boasts he's made recently, as well as his 1978 statement that, "My father and I marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. through the streets of Detroit," it becomes more and more difficult to listen to him speak without thinking about John Kerry's "Christmas in Cambodia," a story broken by fellow Ldotter and McCain-backing blogger, Brainster.

So, who's it gonna be. . .

. . .folks? With Thompson on the verge of dropping out, and Duncan Hunter already having tossed in the towel, we're realistically left with the choices of Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, and John McCain. (I intentionally omitted Ron Paul in an effort to taunt his supporters. Reading their posts is like watching a bunch of chimps play with a gas can. I wish some of his supporters would read me.) Most analysts seem to believe that the choice ultimately boils down to John McCain and Mitt Romney. With that in mind, I bring you:


Put forth as the the guy to turn to in tough economic times, which seem to be headed our way according to the trends. Yet, for all his supposed wizardry, Romney seems to have struggled to create jobs even in the good times during his tenure as the governor of Massachusetts. Though he boasts of eliminating a budget deficit while he was there, it turns out that much of that projected deficit never materialized due to big receipts in the form of capital gains taxes -- about $1.6 billion of the projected $3 billion shortfall. That lowered the bar considerably, and when you throw in the fact that he raised approximately $500 million by increasing fees -- which are just a way of making confiscatory taxes sound more voluntary -- you end up with over half the projected financial calamity eliminated through sheer serendipity and increased burdens placed on businesses in Massachusetts.

Social conservatives shouldn't be too comforted by the prospect of a Romney presidency, either. While he talks a good game nowadays, the fact of the matter is that he has developed a brand-spanking-new set of positions since he decided to seek the nomination. For example, his pro-life stance was conveniently formed sometime between the time he was running for governor of Massachusetts, and today. Back then, he vowed to protect the pro-choice laws of the state, and do nothing to change them. However, the road to the White House apparently runs through Damascus. Romney certainly has experienced a conversion of the type that suggests so. One can accept his change of heart as sincere, but when a politician's positions undergo a whipsaw of such intensity, it's not out-of-bounds for someone to question that sincerity. In fact, I would submit that pro-life conservatives have a duty to question any candidate who undergoes such a transformation, just as they would question a potential Supreme Court nominee.

On another matter dear to conservatives, the Second Amendment, Romney has the same problem. When faced with an electorate not sympathetic to the idea that the people have the right to keep and bear arms, he made the same kind of pledge he made with regard to the pro-choice laws of Massachusetts. But, beyond that, he continues to hold positions that are counter to those of many Second Amendment advocates within the GOP, supporting bans on weapons of "extraordinary lethality." To many pro-gun conservatives, the term "extraordinary lethality" means "very effective". One might argue that perhaps Romney was referring to actual machine guns, or fully-automatic weapons, but that would be a moot point given the fact that it is already illegal to own any weapon of that type unless one holds a federal firearms license.

Romney also has to contend with his own statements with regard to this crucial issue. Feeling the need to bolster his credentials among conservatives who place a high priority on Second Amendment rights, and there are many, Romney stated that has been a lifelong hunter. Not only was this a silly white lie (Romney had hunted exactly twice in his life.), but it missed the point of the Second Amendment entirely, which has nothing to do with hunting, and everything to do with one's ability to protect his own life, liberty and property. The fact that he would make such a statement is a legitimate reason to question his veracity on other issues. To ask conservatives to accept him at his word on this and other important issues after such a brazenly disingenuous attempt to ingratiate himself to a core constituency seems a bit much.

As if that weren't enough, there is the matter of his attempt to claim an endorsement from the most prominent advocacy group for gun owners when none had been given. In fact, his Democratic opponent in the race in question had received a higher rating from the NRA than Romney had, but the NRA declined to endorse either candidate. Coupled with his boast on being a lifelong hunter, conservatives who hold the Second Amendment in high regard should be troubled by any statement he makes with regard to their rights as citizens to keep and bear arms. There's every reason to wonder whether or not, somewhere down the road, he would cast them aside in the name of political expediency.

In line with the other questions about Romney's veracity is the claim that he and his acolytes make to his being the heir to the Reagan legacy. Romney isn't the only person in the race who likes to put himself forth as a natural extension of the Reagan Revolution. All the candidates have stated similar beliefs at some point during the campaign. But, how many others have rebuked any connection to Reagan, as Romney did in his unsuccessful attempt to unseat Ted Kennedy? How many sought to put distance between themselves and the man universally held as the standard by which all others should be measured among Republicans? How many claimed to be an "independent" with no desire to "return to Reagan-Bush"?

Mitt Romney might make a fine president should he somehow achieve the nomination in spite of all of these questions. But, given all of these facts, it seems well nigh impossible to imagine that any true conservative could prefer him over Sen. John McCain as the man to lead Republicans in 2008.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Upon logging on. . .

. . .to Lucianne.com, the single greatest Web site ever devised by mankind, I came upon a column by Michael Medved which dovetails nicely with my previous post on talk radio and its effects on some of the conservative rank and file. If you read some of the responses his article drew at the aforementioned greatest Web site ever devised by mankind, you'll see ample demonstration of what Medved and I are talking about.

Certainly, some of the overheated rhetoric stems from an understandable frustration at seeing your guy lose to a man who was all but dead and buried by both the leading lights in talk radio as well as the eternally loathed mainstream media. Should McCain continue on to win the nomination, much of this knee-jerk rage will abate and conservatives will eventually develop an uneasy coalition around him. While McCain's nomination is still far from locked up, any observer with an ounce of objectivity will recognize that it's become much more likely in light of his victory last night.

I was all set to write an entry on what McCain could do at this point to help his cause when Jonah Goldberg, the immensely talented progeny of the Grand Damme of Lucianne.com, beat me to the punch at The Corner. Obviously, nerves are still raw in the aftermath of South Carolina, so it would do little good for McCain to pick up the phone first thing Monday morning and start dialing up the direct lines to Limbaugh, Ingraham and Hewitt. But, given a week to allow some of the sting to subside, some members of their audiences might be a bit more receptive.

In my (somewhat churlish) post following Romney's preemption of McCain's concession speech, I pointed out that magnanimity counts for something. I can't think of any instance where this would hold more true than in an attempt by McCain to reach out to his most vocal critics. He would, in effect, be asking Rush and his fellow talkers to take a lot of lumps from their respective audiences for merely giving him the time of day. The years of acrimony can't be undone in a single phone call, and it would be too much to expect these influential voices to suddenly put aside everything that's happened since the 2000 elections, when McCain essentially placed himself at odds with them. He has to recognize that they have a responsibility to their audiences to challenge him on the positions that have drawn their opposition.

Yet, he has to do this while making sure not to alienate those who have come to support him out of their admiration for his independence and forthrightness. In short, he has to make it clear that the positions he holds on the issues which create such resistance to his candidacy among talk radio listeners, while sincere, are open to reasonable discussion and debate. It would certainly help his cause, I think, if he were to emphasize a willingness to engage his opponents if they will simply meet him on the playing field. It would also be a good idea for him to point out that he has received as much flak as he's given, and then some, and that he recognizes that we would all benefit from an armistice.

In extending his hand to his opponents, the most important thing McCain can do is to make it clear that he is doing so not out of ambition, but in the interest of his country. He should demonstrate that he recognizes that while it's important for all Americans -- even senators and talk show hosts -- be able to voice their opinions and concerns, it needs to be done in a way that allows people who come to the table in good faith to leave with the sense that their contributions were accepted in the same good faith in which they were offered.

In doing this, it's crucial for John McCain to understand that he will continue to meet with considerable skepticism for some time to come, and simply accept it while leaving the door open for those who wish to accord him the respect he is due in exchange for his willingness to do the same. That, in turn, requires a willingness to listen to his critics, an acknowledgment that he understands their concerns, and the recognition that while they won't always agree, he will make a good-faith effort see things from their point of view without attributing the nefarious motives of a vocal few to the whole of his opposition.

In return, he could ask for his fellow conservatives of good faith to join him in resisting those who attempt to hijack conservatism and tarnish its name and all that it stands for in pursuit of their own narrow, self-serving agenda. As conservatives, we are imminently susceptible to the perception that we are backward-thinking prisoners of age-old prejudices, so we have to be vigilant whenever this bugaboo asserts itself, even at the margins. John McCain should make that case and ask for the help of his fellow conservatives in preventing that perception from taking hold again.

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