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Perhaps Romney ought to talk about what he stands to inherit from Obama

It would seem that would be a fairly potent means of campaigning and keeping the issues most important to the forefront.  It might take care of this.

Look, one of the reasons we’re going through this “I killed bin Laden” self-congratulatory orgy right now is a day spend doing the bin Laden back pat is a day not spent on having to discuss this awful economy.

It wouldn’t be hard to compile a list of problems a new president would “inherit” from Obama.  That was (and still is) an Obama strategy – blame Bush.  It may be time for Romney to begin to blame Obama:

-For 8.2% unemployment

-For doubling the debt

-For anemic GDP growth

-For large increases in major regulations

-For ObamaCare

-For green energy boondoggles based in crony capitalism and a nonexistent energy policy

-For increasing dependency on government

-For the first credit downgrade in US history

And, that’s just a short list.

I like the “inherit” scheme.  It’s a good way to frame the debate and put the Obama campaign on the defensive.  If and when the Romney campaign and certain elements of the GOP can stop shooting themselves in the foot over gay spokespersons that is.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Obama caught in another falsehood

Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  And of course, politicians know that.  So some of them use that truism to push a lie that will help them hoping that when, if ever, the truth is told, it will be moot.  It is all about establishing a narrative and making it last long enough to benefit them.

The internet has made that ploy a lot more difficult.  But that doesn’t mean the they don’t continue to try.  Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post awards Obama’s latest falsehood their highest, or lowest depending on how you look at it, rating – four Pinocchio’s.  Kessler describes that rating with a single word: “Whoppers”.

The lies have to do with decrepit bridges and, of course, Republicans.  The great healer, the man who promised to change the way politics was practiced in Washington, falsely attacked his opposition – again:

“I sent them a jobs bill that would have put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back to work repairing our roads, our bridges, schools, transit systems, along with saving the jobs of cops and teachers and firefighters, creating a new tax cut for businesses.  They said no. I went to the Speaker’s hometown, stood under a bridge that was crumbling.  Everybody acknowledges it needs to be rebuilt. Maybe he doesn’t drive anymore.  Maybe he doesn’t notice how messed up it was. They still said no. There are bridges between Kentucky and Ohio where some of the key Republican leadership come from, where folks are having to do detours an extra hour, hour-and-a-half drive every day on their commute because these bridges don’t work.  They still said no.”

–President Obama, remarks to the Building and Construction Trades Department conference, April 30, 2012

You have to love the little veiled bits of populism he pitches in there – “maybe he doesn’t drive anymore”, as if Obama does.

The point, however, is every bit of that is baloney per Kessler:

Back in September, when President Obama first unveiled his jobs bill, we gave him Three Pinocchios for remarks he made regarding the aging Brent Spence Bridge on the Ohio River. The bridge connects Kentucky and Ohio, the home states of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and it was irresistible symbolism for the White House.

The crumbling infrastructure of the nation’s bridges is certainly an important issue, but symbolism can only go so far. The administration could never explain what, if anything, the jobs bill would do to improve the Brent Spence Bridge, especially since construction was not slated to start until 2015 — and Obama’s jobs bill would spend most of its money in its first year.

Moreover, there is a long history of bipartisan support for this project, but Obama framed it as if the Republicans were blocking its reconstruction with their opposition to his legislation.

When we heard the president’s words Monday, we feared he was slipping back into his old habits. Once again he framed it as GOP opposition to fixing the Brent Spence Bridge. But then he upped the ante by mentioning other bridges “between Kentucky and Ohio” that “don’t work.”  So what’s he talking about?

Of course the three Pinocchios awarded then didn’t slow him down a bit, did it.  I’ve always been careful when I use the word “lie” or “liar”, because of the propensity today for people to call mistakes and the like lies.  A lie is a knowing falsehood.  So, after having this “mistake" pointed out previously (and don’t ever think the White House didn’t see that previous rating), Obama doubles down and throws it out there again.  That, my friends, makes it a lie.

When the administration was confronted with the facts of the case, the usual prevarication began:

An administration official said the president was referring to the Sherman Milton Bridge, which actually connects Indiana and Kentucky, near Louisville. Back in September, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) had to shut down the bridge because a 2 ½ inch crack had been discovered.

The bridge carries Interstate 64, so the bridge’s closure forced drivers to make major changes in their driving routes. Shortly after the shutdown, a Transportation Department blog declared that this bridge was “another example of why this [the president’s jobs bill] is so crucial.”

But here’s the rub: While Obama claimed “these bridges don’t work,” the Sherman Milton Bridge has already been repaired, ahead of schedule, and motorists are driving over it again.

But again, the claim is found to be baseless.

It turned out that, rather than being an example of an aging bridge, the crack that had been discovered actually had been there ever since the bridge was constructed in 1962, because of the type of steel used at the time. Other repairs were ordered, and the bridge reopened nearly three months ago — without needing any of Obama’s jobs-bill funds.

Another nearby bridge, the Kennedy Bridge, will soon undergo redecking, but officials said the work will not lead to a shutdown. Again, the work is being done without Obama’s jobs-bill money.

The facts don’t at all support the President’s statement.  So what was the purpose of the lie?  To cast political opponents in an unfavorable light – the usual purpose of deliberate political lies.  And these were deliberate political lies.

Of course you’d think, confronted with the facts, the administration might back down a bit?  But instead they apparently thought that doubling down was the best way to go:

“The President was making a point about the need to rebuild our infrastructure and the job creation opportunities that come with that, and was pointing to Ohio River area projects to illustrate the point that these kinds of projects are right in the Congressional Republican leadership’s backyards,” the administration official said.

Yup.  And they were being handled by a bi-partisan state level coalition without a dollar of Obama’s “jobs-bill funds”.

Kinda stings, doesn’t it Mr. Obama?

Four Pinocchios.

Well done, Mr. President.  A record that may be tied but never bested.

“Forward”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Blue collar Democrats resent Obama vacations

Call it anecdotal evidence of the survey below and the point made about eroding Democratic support.  There are obviously many reasons for that, but let’s look at one of them.

Recently some Republican pollsters hit 11 swing states and organized focus groups composed mostly of Democrats and Independents.  What they found support the results of the Pew survey below.  The reasons are fairly interesting:

McLaughlin handled blue collar and Catholic voters in Pittsburgh on April 3 and Cleveland on March 20. He found that they are very depressed about the economy and feel that their tax dollars are being sucked up by both the rich and those living on government assistance.

During the focus group discussions about debt and spending cuts, many in his group volunteered criticism of the presidential vacations as something that should be cut. Among the lines McLaughlin wrote down was one from a Democratic woman who said, “Michelle Obama spends $1 million to take the kids to Hawaii,” and another who said, “President Obama was the only president to take so many trips.”

The theme, said McLaughlin, is that the first family “is out of touch” with working class voters.

As has been said, in politics, “perception is reality” and the perception being reported by these focus groups is not one a president who is going to have to rely on populist arguments to hang on to power wants out there.

Now will that be enough to have them drop support for Obama or not turn out to vote?  Obviously, we don’t have enough data to determine that.  But, what you don’t see here is blind support for him either.  The criticism, in this case, works against his populist posturing, however, and that’s not a good thing.

You may be questioning my assertion that Obama is trying build a populist campaign to help him retain power.  However, his only other option is to run on and tout his record.  And any sane political consultant would likely say, “are you kidding”?

So instead he’s engaged in a populist campaign.  Demonizing the rich, Big Oil, student loans, etc.  And his demonization of the rich is working, at least in Democratic circles.  However, that success is being negated by the perception voiced above:

He added that the president’s attack on the rich and GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney’s wealth is working, but the voters were also lumping in the president’s vacation spending in with the General Services Administration’s Las Vegas scandal and federal spending for those who aren’t looking for work.

Again, the populist campaign is being blunted by the president’s behavior and the spending scandal(s) surrounding his administration.

Oh, and another indicator to tuck away:

“There really wasn’t a real dislike for Romney. It was just that he is too rich. But on the other hand there is a start of resentment of the government,” he said. “What surprised me is that these were Democrats back biting on their own president,” added McLaughlin.

It doesn’t surprise me.  There’s a sense of entitlement with this president and his family that is off-putting.  And that is being picked up by potential voters and they don’t like it.  They most likely wouldn’t like it in good economic times, but could likely shrug it off.  But in bad economic times when they’re suffering, they deeply resent their president blithely ignoring their plight and essentially using his office (and their tax dollars) to indulge himself with something they can’t do.

Some analysts have a tendency to wave things like this off as nonsense.  But it isn’t.  A vote is made up of a lot of small things driven by their perceptions. When added up, that leads to a decision.  Who knows what other perceptions these Democrats have to add to this obvious resentment they hold? 

The point, of course, is are they enough to erode their support for Obama?  We’ll see.  But note, when Republican pollsters get this sort of reaction from blue collar Democrats in focus groups, it’s probably not a isolated feeling among that group.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Poll: Voters not particularly high on Obama’s performance in 3 key areas

As I’ve noted any number of times, there are polls which mean nothing (such as polls this far out comparing an incumbent president and GOP nominees) and there are those what present indicators or trends that give one insight into the prevailing mood of voters or the like.

The Hill produced one of the latter this past week.  Obviously a snapshot of the prevailing mood right now, it is not a poll with which the Obama campaign should be happy.

On Obamacare:

The poll indicated that 49 percent of likely voters said they expect a court ruling that is unfavorable to the Affordable Care Act, while just 29 percent think it will be upheld and 22 percent aren’t sure.

Economy:

On economic issues, 62 percent of voters say Obama’s policies will increase the debt, while 25 percent think they will cut it, and by a 48-percent-to-38-percent margin, voters believe those policies will increase joblessness rather than put people back to work.

Energy:

On energy, 58 percent say Obama’s policies will result in gasoline prices increasing, while just 20 percent expect them to cut prices — and by a 46-percent-to-36-percent margin, voters believe they will cause the United States to become even more dependent on foreign oil.

Now as far as I’m concerned, those are the three issues that are likely to (or should) dominate the election once a GOP nominee is decided on.  If they’re not, and the GOP allows the Democrats to frame the campaign on issues other than those, they stand a good chance of losing. 

Regardless of the outcome in the Supreme Court, ObamaCare remains very unpopular with a majority of the population.  The economy is one of those issues that is personal.  Despite media hype, voters judge the state of the economy on a personal level.  The “official unemployment number” can be made to look rosy, but in fact real people who are still unemployed or underemployed know who they are.  They are the real number and they’re not going to be happy with the state of the economy.

Finally, the energy tap-dance that the administration is doing is obviously failing.   Obama is failing miserably passing off the blame about gas prices if 58% are saying his “policies” are the problem.  True or not, perception is the rule.  Oh, and, frankly, it’s true.  See for yourself.

When you have consistent polls that say a vast majority of voters are unhappy with a president’s signature piece of legislation, that’s a place you focus your campaign.  When you have two important issues – the economy and energy – where significant majorities are down on the incumbent for his policies, you hammer that unmercifully.

This poll is an indicator of the issues the GOP should build its campaign around.  These points should be pushed relentlessly. 

Porn, contraception and other wedge issues should be avoided.   Sorry, but they’re net losers and true distractions.  They let the left frame the discussion and trust me, that’s where they’re going to take it every time.

Oh, as an aside, if you’re interested in what a useless poll looks like, check this one out.  Justices appointed to lifetime positions are hardly worried about “popularity”.  In fact, that’s the primary reason for such appointments.   While the poll may indicate public dissatisfaction with some rulings, it may also simply indicate a partisan divide.  But for the most part, it is irrelevant.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Super Tuesday–Romney wins VA, OH and the NE, Santorum wins the bible belt and Newt wins GA. Oh, and Dennis Kucinich lost [UPDATE]

It’s the last race that had me smiling.  The rest, as far as I’m concerned were pretty predictable.  And yes I know about AK and SD too.

The inevitable nod, it seems to me, will eventually go to Romney, like it or not.  Yeah, I’ve heard about the possibility of a brokered convention (don’t think that will happen) and Palin possibly entering the race (don’t think that will happen either).  And I’m kind of intrigued by Newt’s belief that winning his home state after almost exclusively campaigning there for weeks, somehow revitalizes his campaign for the third (and hopefully final) time.

But still, the last result was my favorite of the night.

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), the two-time presidential candidate and icon of the antiwar left, suffered a bruising primary defeat Tuesday as a new Republican-drawn congressional map threatened to end the career of one of the most colorful figures in Congress.

With most attention focused on the state’s GOP presidential primary battle, and no Democratic primary for president, Kucinich was left in a low-turnout race in a newly drawn district against his once-close ally, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio).

Now I wouldn’t know Marcy Kaptur if she ran up and bit me on the leg, but my guess is she’d have to work very hard to be worse than Dennis Kucinich when one considers ideology (Don Surber says she’s as “March Hare radical” as Kucinich).   She now gets to face “Joe the Plumber” in the election.  Wow … it just gets better and better out there doesn’t it?

And, maybe now I’ll quit getting those annoying emails from Kucinich and his wife telling me how wonderful Dennis’s ideas are and why I should support him and them.

Oh, wait, he may turn into a political carpet-bagger:

What’s next for Kucinich is unclear. He has spoken of possibly moving to Washington state to run in a Democratic-leaning district. He would need to establish residency there by mid-April, but it’s not certain he could do that while remaining in Congress representing an Ohio district.

Great.  Washington.  Probably a perfect match. 

*sigh*

When did we become the servants of a professional political class?  When did we allow that to happen?

If you’re not discouraged about the state of politics these days, you’re just not paying attention.

UPDATE: Kucinich the “entitled” is a sore loser as well:

Addressing supporters gathered at Rubin’s Family Restaurant in Cleveland, the longtime Cleveland politician both congratulated and slammed his competitor by saying, “I would like to be able to congratulate Congresswoman Kaptur, but I do have to say that she ran a campaign in the Cleveland media market that was utterly lacking in integrity. With false statements, half truths, misrepresentations. I hope that that is not the kind of representation that she would provide to the community.”

 

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


How is Romney different from Obama?

Well, frankly, I’m not particularly sure.  Of course we have RomneyCare and ObamaCare.  And we have this, said in Chandler, Arizona by MItt Romney concerning taxes:

"I am going to lower rates across the board for all Americans by 20%. And in order to limit any impact on the deficit, because I do not want to add to the deficit, and also in order to make sure we continue to have progressivity as we’ve had in the past in our code, I’m going to limit the deductions and exemptions particularly for high income folks. And by the way, I want to make sure you understand that, for middle income families, the deductibility of home mortgage interest and charitable contributions will continue. But for high income folks, we are going to cut back on that, so we make sure the top 1% keeps paying the current share they’re paying or more."

Really?  Because that’s right out of the Occupy Wall Street playbook.  His campaign staff released a press release which stated, “"The principle of fairness must be preserved in federal tax and spending policy,"

Of course they don’t believe that at all or they wouldn’t be talking about “the top 1%” paying more.  It has nothing to do with “fairness” as most people would define it. 

This is what I talk about when I say that Republicans are as much a problem, if not more of a problem, than Democrats.  Republicans like Romney compromise their principles for votes.  This is a class warfare buy-in by him, even using the OWS/Democratic rhetoric.

 

 

If you wonder why Conservative Republican voters are less than enthusiastic about this field, Romney demonstrates it yet again.

Plastic, fantastic Mitt co-opt’s the left’s class warfare rhetoric and caves on taxes.

Nice.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


A mandate is a mandate is a mandate

And a free people shouldn’t have a government that mandates much of anything. 

By mandate, in this sense, I mean requiring the mandatory purchase or provision of anything as dictated and then enforced by government.  Such as contraception.  Or health insurance.

Many people want to make this contraception controversy about religious freedom.  I understand the argument, but in reality it is about basic freedom.  Free people don’t do government mandates.  It is because free people don’t see mandating much of anything as a function of government.

As to how screwy this contraception mandate is, let’s go with the religious argument and use a mandated product that we know would definitely be prohibited by a religion but, for whatever reason, the government feels a need to mandate its use (yeah, it’s a sarcastic example that uses absurdity to demonstrate the absurdity of the contraception mandate).  Provided by Instapundit:

It’s as if we passed a law requiring mosques to sell bacon and then, when people objected, responded by saying ‘What’s wrong with bacon? You’re trying to ban bacon!!!!’”

Or as QandO commenter Harun posed in a better hypothetical:

Mandate firearms for all houses for public safety. No exception for Quakers. Oh, OK, we won’t make the Quakers pay for the guns, just have the homeowner’s insurance provide them for free.

We know how Muslims would react to example one (and, of course the administration would never try something that would offend Muslims) and we certainly know how the left would react to the second mandate if, for instance, a Republican administration issued such a mandate.  Both would create a firestorm of protest and call each mandate “unconstitutional” and “government overreach”.  Since it is just a bunch of “fundy”, mouth-breathing Christians, meh.

Given the examples, though, I assume we can dispense with all the posturing that mandates by government, in general (or in principle) are something acceptable to either side?  They’re not.  Except, of course, if each side has a favorite agenda item they’d like to see accomplished.  Then, mandates are fine, huh?

What we need is a government mandate! We need to mandate that all cars sold in the United States, starting with the 2010 model year, be “flex-fuel vehicles” – that is, they should be able to run on a blend that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline (the so-called E85 blend), or even a coal-derived methanol/gas mixture. This mandate would cost a fraction of the new fuel economy standard with the added benefit of saving barrels more oil.

Author of that quote?  Rick Santorum. 

I agree with the no mandate principle.  Mandating citizens buy much of anything is not the function of government in a free society.

So, why do both sides continue to try to use them?  And why does each claim the other side is the only side to believe  them to be a function of government?

Especially the smaller, less intrusive and less costly government side?

Freedom’s hard.  And messy.  Totalitarianism is so much neater and besides, our elites know so much better than we what is good for us.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


A post wherein I agree with Ron Paul

Actually, there’s a lot Ron Paul says I agree with, but there’s about 5 to 10% of what he says that makes him, at least to me, unsupportable.

But he and I see eye to eye on this thought (from an article about an interview he did with Candy Crowley):

Paul seemed almost baffled that everyone has been talking about social issues at a time when he and others are more concerned with preserving basic civil liberties and the economy.

Folks, for this election social issues is a loser.  Sorry to be so blunt, and burst the social issue’s activists bubble, but this is the distraction the Obama administration badly needs and it is playing out pretty much as they hoped, with the candidates concentrating in an area that is so removed from the real  problems of the day (and the real problems of the Obama record) that it gives relief.

Additionally, it gives visibility to the one area that usually scares the stuffing out of the big middle – the independents who are necessary to win any election (and, until this nonsense started, pretty much owned). 

What is going on now is a self-destruction derby.   And the tune is being called by the left (if you think the George Stephanopoulos question on contraception that started all this nonsense during one of the debates was delivered by an objective and unbiased journalist, I have some beachfront land in Arizona for you) and kept alive by the media.

How I see it is Americans, in general, don’t give much of a rat’s patootie about all this nonsense at this moment in history.  They’ve watched their economic world collapse, they’re upside down in their houses (or have lost them), they’re seeing their children, great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren enslaved to government debt, they’re out of work and they’re suffering – economically.

And the GOP goes off on the usual nonsensical social issue tangent when there is a table laden with a feast of issues that are relevant to the problems with which the majority of Americans are concerned.

Take a look at Memeorandum right now, for instance, and what headlines do you see?  “Santorum attacks Obama on prenatal screening”.

Really?  Could we maybe see attacks on Obama for adding 4 trillion to the debt, or the highest unemployment rate in decades, or the failed stimulus, or his persistent attacks on fossil fuel even while we sit on more of it than most of the world combined but are getting much less benefit from that because of him? How about Keystone?  Gulf permatorium?  Solyndra?  ObamaCare?

Instead what sort of attacks are made against Obama? Senior Obama Advisor: Rick Santorum’s ‘Phony Theology’ Comment ‘Well Over the Line’, which spawned, Santorum explains ‘phony theology’ comment, says Obama is ‘a Christian’ which results in, Santorum denies questioning Obama’s faith.

I cannot imagine a stupider subject being the focus of headlines at this time in our history nor a worse place  for a GOP candidate than talking about other people’s faith or lack thereof. There is no upside to that.  This is the sort of nonsense and ill discipline that has cost the GOP elections in the past, and is well on its way to doing it again.

The middle is watching and my guess is it is not happy with what it sees.  If ever the GOP wanted to lay out a strategy to drive independents back to the Democrats, they’re well on their way.  They are playing to every stereotype the left puts out about them.

What should the GOP be talking about?  Things like this and this.  The attacks should be on Obama’s economic record and leadership, not who is a better Christian.

Take a hint from the Clinton campaign GOP (as loath as they are to do so, I’m sure): “It’s the economy, stupid!”

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


How can anyone support Santorum after this?

When I was at CPAC, I asked Santorum voters why he was their man.  Almost to a person, they cited the fact that he was the most “consistent conservative”.  If that’s the case, is this what “consistent conservatives” believe?

I’m someone who takes the opinion that gaming is not something that is beneficial, particularly having that access on the Internet. Just as we’ve seen from a lot of other things that are vices on the Internet, they end to grow exponentially as a result of that. It’s one thing to come to Las Vegas and do gaming and participate in the shows and that kind of thing as entertainment, it’s another thing to sit in your home and have access to that it. I think it would be dangerous to our country to have that type of access to gaming on the Internet.

Freedom’s not absolute. What rights in the Constitution are absolute? There is no right to absolute freedom. There are limitations. You might want to say the same thing about a whole variety of other things that are on the Internet — “let everybody have it, let everybody do it.” No. There are certain things that actually do cost people a lot of money, cost them their lives, cost them their fortunes that we shouldn’t have and make available, to make it that easy to do. That’s why we regulate gambling. You have a big commission here that regulates gambling, for a reason.

I opposed gaming in Pennsylvania . . . A lot of people obviously don’t responsibly gamble and lose a lot and end up in not so great economic straits as a result of that. I believe there should be limitations.

If you’re not aghast then you’re not paying attention.  The question posed to Santorum concerned online gambling.

Swap “gambling” with about any freedom you can imagine and run it through that statement.  You should be terrified.   This is an argument almost any liberal or “progressive” would make to limit your freedoms.  They consider freedom and rights to be government granted (or they don’t exist until government says they exist – and folks that’s not a “right”, that’s a privilege).  They reserve the right to limit your freedom to make you conform to their idea of what is “right” or “good”. 

Here’s a simple solution Mr. Santorum.  If you oppose online gambling, don’t do it.  But his argument here is fundamentally anti-freedom.  It is his decision to limit your choice to act by claiming your action is destructive and must be “limited” by government do-gooders.

It is the very argument that I thought conservatives opposed.

How is this smaller and less intrusive government?  And, more importantly, how is this not translatable as a philosophy, to just about anything you can imagine that Rick Santorum finds objectionable?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Talking with conservative bloggers at CPAC

What an interesting day at the CPAC bloggers lounge.  Why?  Well, WiFi sucked (again), so it wasn’t that.  And I heard a variety of speeches which kept me interested for about 5 minutes before I wanted to do something else (with one notable exception).  No offense to the speakers or the speeches, but I’ve pretty much heard variations on most of the themes any number of times.  I’m an old guy, remember?

Nope, the reason it was interesting was the opportunity I had to talk with a number of engaged and interested conservative bloggers and to get their opinions on certain questions I have.  I decided I could listen to the speeches anytime, they’re even archived on line, but the opportunity to talk with this collection of distinguished bloggers doesn’t happen often.

I felt the place to find CPAC gold was (and is) in the blogger’s lounge.

I got around to 10 bloggers today and ask a series of questions based on my earlier post about the enthusiasm gap.  Citing the PPP poll I essentially asked each if they thought it was real or just perceived.

Most thought that there was definitely an enthusiasm gap, but many of them attributed it to different things.   Duane Lester wondered if perhaps “uninspired” would be a better descriptor than “unenthusiastic”.  “Can you think of a single one [of the present candidates] that could pump up a Tea Party rally”, he asked?  He felt that most voters were just not inspired by the field. 

Brian Garst agreed that there was little enthusiasm for the field.  Jeff Dunetz feels it’s a function of voters not yet knowing who they want.  And Ed Morrissey agreed there was a lack of enthusiasm but felt it was pretty normal for a primary season.

Regardless of the reason, though, all agreed that enthusiasm, at least for now, is down among the GOP.  Of course, party primaries are tricky beasts.  There are also legions of voters who aren’t even engaged at this point and won’t be until late next year.  And there are also a good percentage who are fine with letting others who do choose to vote in the primary pick their candidate.  

More interesting to me though was the concern some of them voiced about the field.  Again, remember, for the most part I’m talking with conservative activists who are political junkies.  So they are definitely plugged in.  And many of them aren’t pleased with the choices they’re being given.  That best explains the enthusiasm gap to me. 

I then asked if any of them had decided on or endorsed any of the current candidates?  Surprisingly, of the 9 I talked to 4 1/2 had decided on Santorum.  I’ll get to the half in a minute.  The rest had not yet made a pick.

The one I’m characterizing as a half is Warner Todd Houston who hasn’t yet officially endorsed but is within a gnat’s eyelash of doing so, and his pick is Santorum.

So why Santorum?  Jeff Dunetz posted his endorsement earlier today.  He feels Santorum is the only candidate, of the three, who can articulate the Conservative vision.  Ed Morrissey has also endorsed Santorum for a variety of reasons to include integrity, presents a clear contrast to Obama, is the most consistent Conservative and has run the most honorable campaign.  I asked about the charges of Santorum being a “Big Government Conservative” and got mixed reactions to that with some acknowledging the charge and others not feeling that was really significant.

But surprisingly, at least to me, Santorum was the pick of those who had made one.  Not a single person went with Gingrich, Paul or Romney.  As Ed said, “Romney doesn’t speak ‘conservative’ very well.”  And, well, Newt is Newt.

That brought me to my next question – “So, regardless of who wins the nomination, do you think the GOP faithful will coalesce behind them?”  To a person they said yes (with the caveat that “yes” didn’t apply to Ron Paul) however there were some interesting “buts”.

For instance, Warner Todd Houston thought that if the nominee was Romney, the voters would turn out and do their duty but the possibility exists that the activists, such as bloggers, wouldn’t work very hard toward his election.  That would mean far fewer posts than had their candidate gotten the nominee and probably less in defense of Romney in push back. In other words they wouldn’t engage at the level they might with a more conservative candidate.   And of course that lack of support could hurt in a GOTV effort where the electorate doesn’t see the level of enthusiasm necessary to convince them of the necessity to vote.

Juliette Ochieng also believed that Republican voters would turn out but not enthusiastically, as did Brian Garst.   Nice Deb was of the opinion that if Romney was the candidate, the possibility existed that some Conservative voters wouldn’t support him. 

Doug Mataconis (the only libertarian in the group of bloggers interviewed – he and I essentially represent the libertarian contingent here) made an important point that I think should be remembered in all this talk about enthusiasm or lack thereof.  As much as Republican voters may dislike this or that Republican primary candidate, they dislike Barack Obama even more.   And one has to wonder, once the focus is turned on Obama and his record, if that will provide all the incentive necessary to make Republican voters enthusiastic enough for their candidate to win.

Duane Lester thinks it will.  He feels that most people are broadly motivated to either seek pleasure or avoid pain.  And when November comes around, they’re going to reason that they can avoid the most pain by voting against Barack Obama.   It may not be the perfect election for the Republican candidate, and Republican voters would again find themselves voting as much against one candidate as for theirs.  But, as mentioned, in this election, that may be motivation enough to carry the day.

I ask each of them to put on the forecasting hats on and tell me whether they think the economy will improve enough to help Obama’s re-election chances.

Most didn’t think it would, although Jeff Dunetz said he hoped the economy would improve, not for Obama’s sake, but for the rest of the country’s sake.  The bloggers felt that while there may be some improvement, it probably wouldn’t be enough to give him a boost.  However, many of them felt that the media would aid and abet the perception of improvement to a much higher degree than was real.  Warner Todd Houston pointed out the recent unemployment numbers as an example, where the media hyped the percentage and the drop in the unemployment number but ignored the number of people who had dropped out of the labor force (1.2 million) which, of course, makes the unemployment percentage suspect. 

Peter Ingemi quipped that while there may be some improvement, Obama “can’t repeal the business cycle” no matter how badly he’d like too.  And there are other things upcoming that could effect the economy negatively.  Taxes, new regulations, increasing gas prices and the sequestration cuts (which I will discuss at length in another post based on the discussion of sequestration as it applies to defense with Rep. McKeon).

All of those could slow down the economy just as it is starting to pick up a little speed.  Then there are some possible external events which may have an impact.  The unrest in the Middle East, Iran, and the possible collapse in Europe, although Ed Morrissey thinks that a European collapse would actually benefit Obama because he’d have something to blame the economic problems on.  Given the propensity of this president to attempt to blame shift, I can’t disagree.

As with any session like this we wandered off in other areas briefly.  Probably one of the most interesting remarks came from Juliette Ochieng concerning how we ever elected a president like Barack Obama -  “we’ve been culturally ‘softened up’ to support an Obama.”

That struck me as the most succinct description of how this all happened over many years that I’ve heard.  We’ve discussed many times how the left redefines words and concepts and stands them on their heads.  How academia and government are filled with leftists.  How the conversation has shifted from self-reliance and being proud about it to dependence and not being ashamed of it.

And this is what it has brought us:

The Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Dependence on Government shows an alarming trend under the Obama Administration of a level of dependence on our government that has never been seen before. Today, a full 70 percent of the federal government’s budget goes to pay for housing, food, income, student aid, or other assistance, with recipients ranging from college students to retirees to welfare beneficiaries.

Another future post to discuss the Heritage Foundation’s findings in conjunction with Juliette’s premise is in the offing.

But back to the bloggers – finally I asked them who they saw in the future that might be, for lack of a better description, the 21st Century Ronald Reagan.  To a person, they all mentioned Marco Rubio, the Senator from Florida.  Others were mentioned as well, but Rubio was a consensus pick and usually the first name mentioned.   Val Prieto of the great Cuban-American blog “Babalu” said he wanted to see Rubio get a little more seasoning (like being a governor? Please) but that Rubio was someone who could make Conservatives happy.  Brian Garst said that Rubio is able to articulate the Conservative vision without all the fiery rhetoric.  He makes it positive, non-threatening and desirable.   And he did all three during his speech to CPAC today.  He also held a session with CPAC bloggers today which you may want to check out.

Anyway, a very enlightening and enjoyable day at CPAC.  More of the same tomorrow as I continue to check the temperature of the Conservative world.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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