“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Verdict On the NY-26 Congressional Race

Earlier this month, I wrote a post discussing the NY-26 District Congressional special election.

Kim Strassel had done a great job reporting on the details of the coming election, including a spoiler Democrat-turned-faux-Tea-Party conservative, a timid Republican and a vicious attack-dog Democrat.

Well, the Democrat won with 47% of the vote. The spoiler, Davis, got 9%, while the Republican received 43% of the vote. Hardly a wholesale rejection of Paul Ryan's Medicare ideas, is it?

While Strassel's point, which I reiterated, was that firing-line GOP House candidates have to be equipped to argue Ryan's points and plan, it seems to me that there's another point to be made here.

Remember how another NY special election within the last two years went Democratic due to a hissy fit by local conservatives over the choice of the Republican candidate?

I think Republicans had better decide whether they embrace Tea Party sensibilities of spending cuts, lower taxes and serious entitlement reform, or not. Because if they do, then some old-line liberal GOP candidates are history.

New York is a good example of this sort of choice, because, as a Northeastern state, it tends to elect moderate-to-liberal Republicans. So Tea Party values really give party regulars angst.

Well, things happen for a reason, and what should happen, usually does happen. If a lot of Congressional districts with moderate Republican party hacks continue to ignore genuine Tea Party conservatives, then the House GOP majority might either shrink, or vanish completely again.

Beyond making sure that each GOP House candidate is prepared to explain, defend, and vigorously sell the Ryan agenda, the various local GOP party pols have to decide which side of history they are on.

If too many continue to choose the supposedly-safe middle ground, they'll be swept out. Maybe a few more years of Congressional Democratic control is necessary to convince Americans that entitlement reform is no longer a choice- it's a necessity.

If a lot more GOP party operatives don't get religion on Tea Party values soon, that's what they are going to be enduring come 2012.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Abuses of the Presidency

Several weeks ago, in her Wall Street Journal column Potomac Watch, Kim Strassel broke yet another important story regarding federal politics.

In her piece entitled Obama's 'Gangster Politics,' Strassel disclosed Wonderboy's expected executive order to require companies applying for government contracts "to list their political donations as a condition to bidding for government contracts."

No such requirements are in sight for unions whose members work on such contracts.

Senate Minority Leader McConnell actually called it "almost gangster politics."

It surely is that. And very transparent.

It's such a blatant move to inhibit businesses from donating to Republicans that even liberal Republican Maine Senator Susan Collins is incensed. Imagine that!

Seriously, the two-year history of campaign contributions is clearly meant, not to clean up political finance, as Wonderboy's order alleges, but only to chill sources of GOP funding.

And, of course, if some companies choose not to bid on federal contracts in order to protect their campaign contribution records, then taxpayers will probably pay more for projects, thanks to less competition.

Just what is good about this attempt to selectively intimidate business, but not unions or non-profits, into either being penalized for contributing to non-Democratic campaign funds by being forbidden or not to bid on, or denied federal work, or not making those contributions in the first place?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ken Duberstein On CNBC

I caught part of former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein's appearance on CNBC yesterday morning. Suffice to say, I was shocked.

Am I one of the last to learn that this alleged conservative stalwart had actually supported Wonderboy in 2008? It was worse as I listened to his reasoning and lack of remorse.

According to Duberstein, he backed the First Rookie because he would be a transformational president. Whatever that meant. And while admitting to a disappointing first 2 1/2 years, Duberstein was unrepentant.

When asked if he still supported/will support the current president in 2012, he delivered a soaring punt, claiming that with 17 months to go until the election, he can't declare for anyone right now.

Does anyone who claims to be conservative now care what Duberstein thinks? Not me.

It got worse when he elaborated on having visited the White House one or more times during the lame duck session to advise on the tax rate extension/stimulus compromise. Asked about the current trade legislation standoff, Duberstein blithely spun out some story about compromise, refusing to judge whether the trade-affected job retraining rider was worthwhile or not.

That statement alone told me all I needed to know about Duberstein now- and probably back in Reagan's day, as well. And perhaps why Reagan settled for so much less than he should have back in the day.

Duberstein pointedly ignored evidence that the so-called retraining package of several billion dollars is just a union sop that doesn't actually even require evidence of foreign-trade pact injury to pay individuals for alleged harm. Instead, he simply referred to the compromise mechanics, saying that 'that's how things get done.'

Additionally, Duberstein had earlier confided that the chief of staff gives his own opinion, and does not simply stand by, mute, awaiting orders.

Thus, you could see how Duberstein probably functioned with Reagan- pushing for compromise, dumping conservative positions in favor of expedient capitulations. Given what we now know about Reagan's last years in office and the probable early onset of Alzheimer's, Duberstein's advise eroded any possibility Reagan had of cementing the best of his conservative policies while in office.

As for Duberstein, his approach and lack of fidelity to actual conservative ideology seem to make him kindred to James Baker. No wonder Reagan was so much less effective than many of us hoped at the time. His own team lacked his conviction.

Especially, judging from his remarks yesterday, Duberstein.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty & The GOP 2012 Presidential Nomination

When I wrote this post roughly two weeks ago, I was concerned that I'd left someone out, but couldn't see, from the scrambled early field, who that would be.

It was former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. I now realize that he had declared his exploratory committee and even participated in the South Carolina debate. But I totally overlooked him.

Maybe it's my bad memory, perhaps Pawlenty's forgetability, or both.

In either case, having realized my mistake, and with Mitch Daniels' decision to skip the 2012 presidential race, my initial assessments were these:

Electable: Gingrich, Daniels

Unelectable: Ron Paul, Hunstman, Johnson, Cain, Bachman, Santorum, Palin, Romney

My personal preference? Probably Newt Gingrich, followed by Mitch Daniels. Herman Cain, by virtue of his candor and business experience, would be third.

My updated assessment is:

Electable: Pawlenty
Unelectable: Ron Paul, Johnson, Bachman, Santorum, Palin, Romney, Gingrich
Unsure: Hunstman, Cain

Ranked Preference: Pawlenty, Cain, Hunstman, Paul
I confess to being very disappointed, but not really surprised that Mitch Daniels declined to run. With his extensive federal and gubernatorial track record, it surely wasn't his concern over his abilities or prospects. Except for, frankly, that odd marital situation. And his wife's apparent total refusal to be involved in his political campaigns at all.

That kind of weirdness just doesn't play well on the campaign trail. Even the current First Lady was campaigning for Wonderboy, until her infamous gaffes about never being proud of being American until her husband ran for the Oval Office.

With Daniels out, I really don't see a mainstream GOP candidate with sufficient experience and credentials to appeal to independents except Pawlenty. Dick Armey seems to agree.

My own decades-old informal presidential prediction model involves American voters' observed preference for governors. When non-incumbents meet, a governor will beat a nominee without gubernatorial experience. The presidency has correctly come to be viewed as the executive job that it is, thus discriminating against Senators and Representatives. Thus I believe Santorum, Bachman and Paul are virtually unelectable.

Against an incumbent Democrat, I think Republicans need to give it their very best shot. Despite his horrible economic and foreign policy records, Wonderboy has the advantage of incumbency, fluency on the stump, and the inevitable appeal to racism.

It's heartbreaking to think that, like 1996, Republicans have a golden opportunity and a dearth of spellbinding candidates with the right credentials. But that's what seems to be developing.

In that environment, I suspect Pawlenty offers the GOP its best hope for recapturing the White House.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dick Armey On Gingrich's Gaffe

I was pleasantly surprised to read and hear Dick Armey's response to his old House leadership colleague Newt Gingrich's enormous campaign gaffe regarding Medicare.

Both in a Wall Street Journal editorial last week, then, again, this morning on CNBC, the former House Majority Leader displayed high contrast with his old Speaker colleague by calling for GOP presidential candidates who are not "timid" on Medicare and general entitlement reforms.

Rather than blast Newt by name, or get into any personal confrontations, Armey simply reminded his readers and viewers of the Tea Party's and independents' desires for fiscal rectitude and sensible entitlement reforms.

For Armey, this means embracing significant reforms, and eschewing hot-button terms like radical or social engineering.

When I consider my own thoughts on electoral dynamics, I find myself in agreement with Dick Armey in that Republicans need to explicitly consider which positions will appeal to the large block of independent voters who will effectively choose the next president.

Timidity and acceptance of the current status quo isn't going to do that. Right now, that means, by virtue of his openining campaign remarks on Paul Ryan's ideas, Gingrich doesn't fit that bill.

Armey went further on CNBC to rather pointedly back Tim Pawlenty, thanks to his gubernatorial record, basic positions and weaknesses of the rest of the field, with Mitch Daniels' decision not to run in 2012.