Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 28, 2008
POLITICS: Party Loyalty and Its Limits

We have something of a matched set of editorials from the Directors up at RedState, on the one hand condemning the disastrously bad judgment of Republicans and conservatives who have failed to oppose Obama, and on the other hand urging Alaska voters to vote out Ted Stevens and Don Young.

Leon Wolf also looks at the common thread between the two stories: Colin Powell's appearance as a character witness for Ted Stevens and endorser of Obama. Powell has fought for a lot of good things in the past two decades, but he's pretty well turned his back on all of them at this point.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:45 AM | Politics 2008 | Comments (24) | TrackBack (0)

So Powell said that in his interactions with Ted Stevens, TS was always honest and forthright. That's not hard to believe since it was not in that phase of his job that he was a thief.

Using Bill Clinton as an example, and only as an example; I'd trust him with the economy, but not with my wife (I'd say daughter, but she's only 2.5. Bill probably won't be around by the time she'd interest him).

Republicans might be looking at a real whupping here. As a registered democrat, this isn't great news. However, if the republican party can reorganize and solidify behind sane conservative ideals, the country benefits.

What sane conservative ideals? how about:

Ballsy reduction of entitlements

accountability in defense contracting

judicial use of military force (McCain nailed this in the 3rd debate when asked about military intervention for humanitarian purposes)

I recently heard a speaker (forget the name, but he was a member of both republican and democratic administrations) who stated the strength of Reagan was that he cared about only a few things. The rest he was willing to go with any side that seemed to make the most sense.

Bring that to the table, and the 2 party system can work again.

Posted by: Zufall at October 28, 2008 11:41 AM

Well, it's hard to find anybody in the GOP who has a clearer record on all 3 than McCain, really. I mean, he voted against the expansion of Medicare for precription drugs, for example.

Posted by: Crank at October 28, 2008 11:51 AM

yeah, Powell has fought the good fight for 40 years, from his ignoring evidence of a massacre of civilians at My Lai to Iran-Contra to spinning stories of imaginary WMDs.
How can someone with no character be a character witness?

Posted by: rs at October 28, 2008 12:00 PM

RedState can call out the Republicans all it wants on their failures re opposing Obama, but it would've been helpful to have a GOP nominee with a convincing message and a VP without her own agenda.

I'm not convinced that this was Obama's election to lose, but perhaps that's because I was overestimating the McCain Campaign.

Posted by: Mulledy4C at October 28, 2008 1:34 PM

Well, having a truly compelling and distinctive message is not really consistent with nominating a moderate pragmatist. Clearly, if Obama wins, one of the take-home lessons will be that nominating a moderate Republican is not the way to go if you want to do the things that win elections, i.e., motivate your base and draw effective contrasts. Specifically, I think McCain's lack of an ideological edge has left him unwilling to make a thoroughgoing case about the extremism of Obama's ideological record. This is its own post, but if McCain loses, I fully expect Palin - if she runs in 2012 - to be the most moderate candidate in the GOP field. The bitter irony is that the people in the Beltway press who have pined longest and loudest for mainstream, non-ideological candidates who could bridge partisan divides are the very people who have attacked McCain most vigorously in the service of a rigidly ideological opponent. Turns out alll they ever meant was that they didn't like conservatives.

Posted by: Crank at October 28, 2008 2:08 PM

Obama was helped greatly that McCain was in the Senate when the Democrats controlled it...McCain had to vote on bills put to the floor by Democrats, and he really had no chance...A Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani could have just played the outsider role more effectively...Really, I still think Fred Thompson was the best Republican choice, but he needed to be "in it to win it", and he just wasn't...

The country's center is moving left, but a non-sitting Senator would have been much better odds...

Posted by: AstrosFan at October 28, 2008 2:11 PM

AstrosFan, for once we agree, and that's a good bit of why I originally preferred Rudy to McCain (this will probably be the last time the GOP nominates a legislator). Also, Rudy would not have been squeamish about a lot of the lines of attack McCain has eschewed. Even if McCain pulls this thing out somehow, he's clearly carried the Senate as a burden, whereas Obama, like JFK before him, has benefitted from spending the minimum possible amount of time actually serving or voting there.

My one quibble is that I'm not sure McCain's votes in 2007-08 have really been a problem, other than the bailout (and immigration, which was his own idea). About the only actual specific votes Obama's really used against him are his votes for some of Bush's budgets, which is mainly a pre-2006 issue. Although I haven't checked the numbers, I suppose that 90% figure they keep using is only since 2007, it would have to be lower since 2001.

Posted by: Crank at October 28, 2008 2:19 PM


I hope you get your fondest wish and the GOP nominates a "whack job" like Sarah Palin. Throw the red meat out there, campaign on the agenda on which you plan to govern (and not, for example, the "compassionate conservative BS Bush sold), and perhaps we can put to rest the notion that the United States is a "center right" country.

Posted by: Magrooder at October 28, 2008 2:35 PM

I was glad when McCain won the nomination. I figured he'd be a major improvement as Prez and I liked a lot of what he stood for. I liked the idea of Rudy running way back as well. I voted for him as mayor in 97 and thought he'd have been a good senator on 2000. The Rudy of the last few years has ramped up the BS he always had while eschewing what I'd liked.

For me, McCain had to convince me his vision on the Middle East was correct. He didn't. I still think the Iraqis won't do shit about governing themselves as long as we look like we're staying. McCain needed to convince me he'd do something about the federal debt as well. His pen can't cross off enough.

More moderate republicans will keep the embarrassing wing of the democratic party in line.

All I want is good governance.

Posted by: Zufall at October 28, 2008 3:02 PM

Magrooder - "campaign on the agenda on which you plan to govern" - Uh, on domestic policy at least, Bush governed on pretty much exactly the agenda he ran on and that he had governed Texas on: big tax cuts, tepid spending discipline, imposing educational standards, faith-based initiatives, immigration reform, a Medicare prescription drug benefit, conservative judges, adding private accounts to Social Security ... obviously he didn't get everything he tried for, but if you'd predicted the Bush domestic agenda in 2000 from his record, platform and public statements you would have come up with something that looked a lot like what he did. It's an agenda that sought to be "conservative" (on taxes, judges, Social Security) and "compassionate" (the faith-based stuff, the focus on education and on aid to Africa, Medicare Part D, the resistance to spending discipline as being "balancing the budget on the backs of the poor"), and you can agree or disagree with whether those policies meet those adjectives, but his agenda and record were extremely well-known at the time. The main departure for Bush was the effect of September 11 ... but I don't see what in his domestic agenda the last 8 years should really have surprised anyone who followed the news even casually in 2000.

Posted by: Crank at October 28, 2008 3:10 PM

The GOP does best when it nominates pragmatic conservatives, like Reagen. Frankly, while the comparisons between Reagen and Palin are a little too much, Palin's history is one of pragmatic conservatives. If McCain loses, it will be interesting how that loss taints Palin in the future.

Some might call McCain a pragmatic conservatives, but he's really a pragmatist, with conservative leanings.

Posted by: per14 at October 28, 2008 4:13 PM

Wow, that is some awful grammar. Must be time for me to go home.

Posted by: per14 at October 28, 2008 4:23 PM

Where do you folks at Red State come down on David Frum's call to cut the GOP's losses at the national level (ie McCain Palin), and to focus efforts and money on electing GOP Senators.

Not addressing the elephant in the room could be viewed as an endorsement.

See link:

Posted by: Patrick at October 28, 2008 9:17 PM


Of course, on foreign policy, 9/11 had a big impact, but the record is clear that even before then the Administration was planning to invade Iraq. Once again, so it can sink in, 9/11 AND IRAQ ARE NOT CONNECTED.

On domestic policy, he cut taxes as he promised. He tried for more of his agenda, which even the GOP controlled congress wouldn't pass. The "compassionate" part was a pretext, a fraud on the voters.

Posted by: Magrooder at October 28, 2008 10:00 PM

1. Bush and Cheney were clearly looking to get tougher on Iraq, and that may well have ended in war, but it's an exaggeration to say "the Administration was planning to invade Iraq." (That said, Bush was not secretive in 2000 about wanting to take a harder line on Iraq).

2. Straw man alert: You seem to have failed to process the concept that removing Saddam was part of the process of preventing a recurrence of the September 11 attacks by fundamentally altering the power politics of the region. "Saddam did not plan 9/11" does not equal "the Iraq War had nothing to do with 9/11."

3. "Compassionate" conservatism was a specific set of ideas:

*Eschewing small-government conservatives' focus on spending cuts.

*Permitting faith-based institutions to be a part of government programs.

*Raising educational standards by action of the federal government.

*Inclusive immigration policy.

*More aid to Africa.

*A softer line on racial preferences.

*Expanding Medicare.

You do not have to agree with those things to recognize that they represent a departure, and in some senses a theoretically coherent departure grounded in Evangelical Christianity, from traditional small-government conservatism.

Posted by: The Crank at October 28, 2008 11:51 PM

2. Straw man alert: You seem to have failed to process the concept that removing Saddam was part of the process of preventing a recurrence of the September 11 attacks by fundamentally altering the power politics of the region. "Saddam did not plan 9/11" does not equal "the Iraq War had nothing to do with 9/11."

I'm glad you pointed this out, Crank. For some time, I've felt there's been a huge disconnect in this discussion. I'm not sure whether the disconnect comes from legitimate ignorance* of geopolitics, or a willful attempt to obfuscate.

Iraq was never directly responsible for 9/11, and most honest people never suggested such a thing, and never suggested the Administration suggested such a thing.

The goals of the WOT were never simply to go after 'just' Al Qaeda or those responsible for 9/11... hence the reason it was called the "War on Terror" rather than "War against Al Qaeda" or "War against anyone responsible for 9/11". The Administration rightfully understood that the current geopolitical situation in the world called for something far more open ended than a pinpoint objective.

Al Qaeda is 'not' the only terrorist organization in the world, and they're certainly not the only one that wishes to inflict destruction upon the United States (or other Western countries). However, their actions on 9/11 served as the impetus to begin what the U.S. government had already begun discussing before George W. Bush took office.

One of the stated objectives from the very beginning of the WOT, was that a country would be held accountable for policing their own borders and now allowing safe haven for known terrorists/terrorist organizations. If the countries did not police their own borders, then the United States would call upon the "Bush Doctrine", which has been dumbed-down to a simplified idea of simply meaning 'preemptive' action, to remove those terrorists by force.

The main goal of these actions is not, as some claim, to eradicate terrorism. Most intelligent individuals, including those current residing in the White House, understand that such a goal is unrealistic and wholly impossible. No, the main goal was to make events like 9/11 -- highly coordinated attacks, by numerous terrorist cells, which took years to plan -- far more difficult if not impossible to achieve. By forcing terrorist organizations from their safe havens within other countries borders (Syria, Iraq, Iran, etc...), you force them to split up and make coordination on large scale attacks extremely difficult.

Will these groups still be able to pull off attacks like the Khobar Towers or USS Cole? Sure. 9/11 style attacks, however, would be far more difficult.

Iraq served a few purposes. One, it was a terrorist breeding ground (Salmon Pak, for instance) which went beyond Saddam Hussein simply offering $25k to families of suicide bombers. Two, it was one of the biggest power countries in the region and, with a more Western friendly government in place, would give the United States and other Western countries better inroads into handling the conflicts that continually arise in the Middle East. Three, believe it or not, America is often seen by our enemies as a, to quote an oft used term, 'paper tiger'. We're seen as a country who has a belief system, but one that we don't have the stomach to fully defend. Removing Saddam Hussein from power would be one of the steps to proving that theory false, but also in shouting to other countries that we're serious about the idea of policing your own borders, 'or else'.

I agreed with the Iraq portion of the WOT from the very beginning, and still do to this day. What I disagree with was the manner in which the Administration made their case for the war as well as the way they conducted the war. From a geopolitical perspective, this was going to have to happen sooner or later, the problem was with the execution of the war and the ideas of some of the men George W. Bush surrounded himself with (Rumsfeld, for instance, with his 'light footprint' ideas, which are probably correct for the 'future' wars we will fight, but are completely incompatible with a mission based around Nation Building).

*NOTE: I'm not using the term 'ignorance' as a pejorative, as most people would believe. I'm simply using it in it's most common English language usage, which is to state that someone is not familiar with all the facts and information surrounding our geopolitics.

Posted by: Agent W at October 29, 2008 10:12 AM


A postulate that the US can invade, bomb, etc. anywhere anytime "to prevent another 9/11" without the evidence that preparation for such an attack was reasonably imminent is a standard that has no limits. We had no such evidence w/r/t Iraq and, from Cheney's viewpoint, didn't need any. They were going to find a reason to invade Iraq even if totally fabricated. That will be histroy's judgment on Bush/Cheney.

For each tenet of "compassion" you list, with the exception of immigartion and Africa policy (two areas in which Bush's instincts were admirable), the "efforts" were either window dressing without serious follow-through (faith-based programs -- see, or efforts really designed to help large corproations (medicare -- see,

Posted by: Magrooder at October 29, 2008 10:30 AM

The Onion nailed it back in January of 2001:

Today's question: Are Onion writers the greatest predictors of all time, or do they just use common sense when judging what they see?

Posted by: Berto at October 29, 2008 1:25 PM

"Straw man alert: You seem to have failed to process the concept that removing Saddam was part of the process of preventing a recurrence of the September 11 attacks by fundamentally altering the power politics of the region."

You know, I would like to think that was the adminstration's rationale for the war. I suspect that it was, given the advisors surrounding Bush and given that the war doesn't make too much sense otherwise. But what makes you think the bloggers on the USS Clueless actually know what Bush intended?

Posted by: MVH at October 29, 2008 4:13 PM

"For some time, I've felt there's been a huge disconnect in this discussion. I'm not sure whether the disconnect comes from legitimate ignorance* of geopolitics, or a willful attempt to obfuscate."

Keep in mind that most on the left hate power politics anyway, so even the USS Clueless bloggers have accurately summarized Bush's intention, the left would still be against it.

Posted by: MVH at October 29, 2008 4:31 PM

We've pretty much has the Iraq discussion to death...I think there were a bunch of factors that went into Bush's thinking. den Beste's case for war wasn't the only one but I have no doubt that people in the Adminisration were making similar arguments. You have to go back over some of the key points here - Saddam's lengthy rap sheet on invasions, WMD, human rights abuses, his open cheerleading for 9/11, his multifaceted ties to terrorists, the fact that we had a cease-fire with him and he'd violated its terms, the geographic and cultural centrality of Iraq as the keystone to the region, etc. Basically, I felt in 2002 (and still do today) that there was no way to deal with the terrorism problem without removing Saddam. And once we committed to that, the advantages of trying to replace him with a government with more popular legitimacy that would serve as a model for the region were obvious. The whole dynamics of the region are quite different today. And of course, once AQ and the other jihadist groups decided to make a test of US strength there, we had no choice but to face them down.

Posted by: Crank at October 29, 2008 4:40 PM

Keep in mind that most on the left hate power politics anyway, so even the USS Clueless bloggers have accurately summarized Bush's intention, the left would still be against it.

Surprisingly enough, I haven't even read the link Crank posted (I've really only read the USS Clueless bloggers for their information on the feasibility of independence from middle eastern oil and for true alternative fuels).

I will have to read their write up when I get some time.

As to your point, I agree with you completely. It's one of the biggest reasons for the divides between the United States and most of Europe. As Robert Kagan wrote in his book, "Of Paradise and Power", Europe sees itself as having progressed beyond power politics to a more Kantian view of the world, where the United States has a more Hobbesian view, where power politics still reign supreme and are necessary for the protection of the Kantian/utopian ideal under which the Europeans operate.

I have no problem with legitimate disagreement of power politics. However, where my beef comes in is that the argument being made doesn't attack that idea at all and, instead, attempts to create a strawman (which Crank rightfully called out) to attack. As I said, either this style of argument comes from legitimate ignorance of the current geopolitical climate within which we live, or it's a method done in a purposeful manner to avoid dealing with a topic that is vastly more complicated than the average Joe imagines.

Posted by: Agent W at October 29, 2008 4:45 PM

Crank, if you want to know facts about the intent of Bush's war in Iraq, instead of relying on your instincts and your lack of doubt, try reading "Angler" or "The Dark Side."

You wing nuts keep repeating to yourself the hypnotic belief in these incompetent war criminals

Posted by: Magrooder at October 29, 2008 10:00 PM

the Iraq war couldn't possibly be about the oil or moving the Treasury to the friends of those who started the war.
only a dirty hippie (who are always right!!!) or a conspiracy theorist (read those who use common sense) could believe that.

Posted by: Berto at October 30, 2008 12:53 AM
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