Saturday, February 3, 2007

2008 Update and Other Thoughts

Weird Al? In what I predict is the dying breath of blockbusted Air America, famous political satirist and democrat Al Franken-stein has announced his show will be officially over on Valentines Day. Speculation in Minnesota and Washington is that Franken will seek the democratic nomination to senate to run against Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minn) in 2008. Sen. Coleman is seen as one of the most vulnerable senators up for re-election next year.

Mitt and Mike. I've lamented before about the gaping hole in the list of potential GOP candidates in 2008 that creates a vacuum for a Reagan Republican to fill. Given the current slate of candidates, and my current knowledge about them, I'm halfwittedly contemplating support of Fmr. Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA). In a field with severely limited options, he's perhaps about all there is. A solitary issue is preventing me from announcing my support of Romney in the given field of candidates, and that is gun control. I've given a verbal rundown of the election to a number of you, thus I suppose I might as well post it here.

Rudy Giuliani is a hawk democrat. Anti-gun, anti-traditional marriage, pro-abortion, etc. He's a grand American, excellent on defense, school choice, spending, and tax cuts. Sadly, not someone I'm going to go all out for. I'd vote for him slated against Edwards, Clinton, or Obama, but I wouldn't put a bumper sticker on the car or donate. Minimal support other than a vote from me, no support in the primaries.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) will always remain the unpredictable rebel. While he would be decent on defense and more than likely land pro-life, my Irish Alzheimer's (where you forget everything except your grudges) brings back memories of opposing tax cuts, McCain-Feingold, and Gang of 14 like a lost eBay bid. The tax cuts are the one major economic bragging point of the post-2000 GOP, McCain Feingold is the single greatest suppression of free speech to come of of "reform" legislation for twenty years, and Gang of 14 effectively shot a major campaign leverage tool for us (while sacrificing valuable appointees). His opposition of the marriage amendment will damage his appeal with "values voters" to boot.

Fmr. Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) has potential to pull a Reagan 1960 and lurch right. At this point, he's probably my slight favorite. He's either making a move away from overbearing government and liberalism to '94 conservatism, or he's plotting a move for base appeal. Reagan went from being FDR's best defender to a radical Goldwater Republican in twenty years, based solidly on conviction and ideological reform. Peggy Noonan explained it thus, "You knew he was a good man and you knew he meant it. So you understood how he could be the biggest supporter of FDR and the New Deal in 1944, and the most persuasive voice for Barry Goldwater in 1964. He'd thought it through and changed, not overnight but in time and with effort. He could change his mind on abortion in the same way, and not because he feared the base. Reagan was the base." Whether or not Romney can deliver in the same way, I don't know, almost assuredly it won't be as dramatic. Some similarities would include he's a fabulous orator, a red governor in a blue state, and he keeps people relatively happy when they disagree. Obvious differences include, most notably, he has yet to recognize and develop the philosophical depth, understanding, and passion Reagan exhibited so classically. Romney's stand against the grain on Massachusetts marriage was admirable, his health-care plan (while often misunderstood and highly controversial) was probably the best he could possibly do in his circumstances, plus he has proven himself a reasonable spending hawk and, while no Steve Forbes, a fair advocate of tax reform. The lone issue that has me withholding support, however, is gun control. When, thank God, the federal assault weapons ban expired, Romney promptly signed a state ban with his admonition that the ever arbitrarily labeled "assault weapons"* served no purpose. While he would likely be at least coerced into opposing a UN handgun ban, it wouldn't be aggressive opposition.

Major concerns: Being a Mormon won't help him any in the primaries. It shouldn't hurt him too much if he keeps cooing the AFA/Focus on the Family groups. Abortion keeps coming back with Romney. I was fairly convinced with the Paul Gallagher bit that everyone changes, and accordingly Romney had completely flopped on abortion--notably, as I mentioned, just as Reagan did-- until I saw The Weekly Standard report that in 2002 Romney answered a Planned Parenthood survey by indicating he not only supported Roe, but additionally supported allowing Medicaid funds to cover abortions for low-income women. The preposterous liberal diatribes have whined about such funding for years, but it quite shocked me for a Republican in 2002 to say that when he's running in '08. A pair of 2005 Romney vetoes on life measures were reassuring, though.

Bottom line: he's my top pick, though I wish I could support him even more.

Senator Sam Brownback (R-KA) Sen. Brownback is a fine senator. In the senate. One of the better ones there. The Senate chamber, that is. I hope he can stay there for many years to come. Legislating. That's different than the executive branch, you know. Brownback has proven himself as a senator. In the senate. Participating as a legislator. In the senate. With other senators. Doing things that senators do. In the senate. Good, Godly, honorable, proud senator. (You thought I was going to say, "In the Senate" again, didn't you? Ha!) He's my favorite guy running, but he's not going to land the Oval Office. It will be a lovely thing if I'm wrong.

Fmr. Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) If I resided in any state other than Arkansas, my vehement support would be thrust behind him. I'll preface this by assuring all people, if Huckabee is a driving force in the primaries and pulls away as the conservative, I'll throw everything I have behind him. If he wins the nomination, I'll work on his campaign harder than Bush/Cheney '04, probably donate, et cetera. His platform is impeccable with the notable exceptions of amnesty in immigration and school choice. If one is to read his budget and taxes issue page, they will find him quoting Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan. Fabulous rhetoric and specific ideas. If I may border on violating Reagan's 11th, I have to agree (being from Arkansas) with some of The Club for Growth's criticisms of Huckabee on taxes. He's slick, and has viable excuses, but some of it is difficult to alleviate.

Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) A libertarian icon and the Buddha of John Stossel dittoheads (of which, by the way, I'm a loose member), Rep. Paul gave the libertarians a shove after his presidential bid under them that flopped like an OJ Book, and decided to give those darn egalitarian republicans a try. I adore his loathing of government, and adamantly support his economic policies centered around Von Mises and the Austrian school of economic thought, but he has no comprehension of how to combat islamofascism and the global threats we have today. His foreign isolationist policies would be disastrous. His repeated calls to impeach Bush deeply disappointed me. Impeachment over USA PATRIOT? Does he really want President Dick Cheney if he has such a gripe with Bush? A bloody shame.

Fmr. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) Newt is perhaps the ideal President, and a lousy candidate. The profile picture of the 1994 Revolution, a dynamic speaker, and a deep understanding of the issues doesn't always translate into election success. As the Sir Galahad's fallacy of politics goes, "I will win because I am right" always fails. Perhaps Rudy should run with Newt as his running mate, then resign the day he is sworn in... Just as a note, he has to be dreading a little roadblock with what should be a key constituency, the "religious right." They'll have a hard time wondering if he's doing any better with this wife than the last few ones that didn't quite work out.

Tommy Thompson (R-WI) is a George W. Bush with a couple of slightly more right slantings, and he isn't a cowboy. Nothing impressive.

Duncan Hunter (R-CA)...uh...Chuck Hagel (R-NE)...yeah right...George Pataki (R-NY)....yeeeeow!

If I could appoint someone
President of the United States, it's interesting to ponder who it would be. If I could have anyone, I think I would go Neil Cavuto/Brit Hume. From this list, it might be a Gingrich/Brownback administration. Others I would like to see include Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) who pretty much gone, and Steve Forbes (I love that guy! Why did he have to be a political dud). JC Watts who would have to get back in politics first, or he would be excellent.

Regardless of the current circumstances, 2008 is going to be a fun run.

*"Assault Weapons" could just as easily be translated, "Guns that Dianne Feinstein finds scary."

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