March 9, 2011
POLITICS: Soggy Wonder Bread For All
As regular readers will recall, I am not the biggest fan of Mitt Romney. Unlike my RedState colleague streiff, I don't really expect Romney to be the last man standing in the 2012 primaries, even if they go relatively badly in terms of who gets in and who gets their act together once in. Romneycare, atop his many other defects, is too big a problem for too many voters.
But there is a candidate in the race who represents, to me, the lowest common denominator we can all learn to live with, and that's Tim Pawlenty. Ramesh Ponnuru, whose opinion is never easily dismissed, makes the case for Pawlenty at length in the March 7, 2011 issue of National Review, and I urge you to read it.
As Ramesh notes, Pawlenty is pretty dull (check out the clips of him I collected in profiling him as a VP candidate in 2008), and runs the risk of coming off as insincere as Romney if he tries to cure that by trying to be someone or something he's not. Not for nothing do I refer to Pawlenty as Governor Soggy Wonder Bread. In many ways he's McCain without the interesting parts, for good and ill - minimally acceptable on all the big issues. And while that was a sad excuse for a candidate in 2008, it may be a very different story in 2012 if Obama is still unpopular and ends up banking entirely on his ability to discredit his opponent to win.
Fundamentally, Pawlenty is the one guy in the field with no potentially fatal weaknesses. He's the most experienced candidate available - two terms as a blue-state governor and four years as a state house majority leader make him the rare presidential candidate experienced as a chief executive and a legislative leader. The media will try, but he can't be effectively caricatured the way Palin, Barbour and Romney can. And like Romney, he has one crucial thing the rest of the field has yet to prove - he wants the job, badly, and is effectively already running.
I'm not trying to sell anybody just now on Pawlenty - as I'll explain in a lengthier post on Palin I keep meaning to finish writing, I don't think we conservatives should be committing ourselves to anybody in the field just yet, and I intend to keep hunting for a better alternative than Pawlenty. But we can most assuredly do worse, and if we're stuck (as in 2008) with a last-man-standing least-of-evils anybody-but-Obama candidate, I think Pawlenty will prove to be a far more plausible choice than Romney or Huckabee or Jon Huntsman. I certainly want him to stick in the race so we have that option available.
So, just in case, save me a seat on the blandwagon.
Watching the highlights of the initial Republican debate, I agree Pawlenty's biggest danger is in going too far in the Al Gore direction in the attempt to make a basically dull personality seem exciting. He tried a couple of times to step it up and came off as trying to channel an energy that just wasn't there.
He has a chance to be everybody's second choice for president, but only if he maintain an image of sincerity, since he won't have the advantage Gore did of having the media alibi away his fraudulent attempts at being spontaneously exciting, as with his lip-lock with Tipper at the convention or his attempts to stare down Bush at the initial debate. Gore couldn't pull that off even with the deck stacked in his favor; Pawlenty would come off not just looking every bit the insincere buffoon Gore was, but facing a media that will have no qualms about labeling him an insincere buffoon for his fake attempts at charisma (and if he's going to beat Obama in 2012, he's going to do it based on competence and knowledge of facts, not charisma anyway).
The article is silent on his views on foreign policy and military spending. Are his positions well-known on these?
From what I saw on Pawlenty in 2008, he sounded like a pretty standard Republican on national security issues. But that's one of the things he'll need to expand on as the race unfolds if he's going to win people like me to his banner.
I would have to say the Republican Party is becoming more and more morally bankrupt. Mitch Daniels calls for a truce on social issues so you can "unify." So social issues are unimportant?
But my favorite is Lindsay Graham calling for James Clapper's resignation for daring to give to the Senate Armed Services Committee his opinion on itelligence that Kadaffi would prevail. So either Graham doesn't like getting what is an honest assessment based on the facts as seen by the CIA (OK, stop laughing), or the words Graham and Intelligence just don't fit together. And Graham should have the decency to resign from the Committee, and join his fellow Republican, Representative Joseph McCarthy, uh, Peter King on the bread lines.
I've been watching this stuff since 1952. The conventional wisdom at this point in the cycle is ALWAYS wrong. Obama is toast for reasons too numerous to fit in a comment. The last Republican standing will be the next president.
Which brings us to who we need to be the last standing. We're in deep doo-doo folks. We are treated to the spectacle of Leviathans battling over whether we should cut $6 billion or $61 Billion. The next item in the nightly news is that we ran a $221 billion deficit in February. It's OK Corral time. We either get it together or hope we expire before the brown stuff flies. Unfortunately, my grandchildren lie heavy on my mind.
We, as a nation, have been through this before. God graced us with Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan. We need Joan of Arc, not Mr. Peepers.
Roy, I have to say that you really do echo the wants and desires of the Republican Party, and it's shadow, the Tea Party. Feeling the need to have a schizophrenic teenager with psychotic visions in charge. Let me guess. Joan would now say, "Je peux voir la Russie de mon porche" which means, "I can see Russia from my front porch."
The line is "I can see Russia from my house!"
Tina Fey said that.
"and it's (sic) shadow, the Tea Party."
Snark doesn't work well when expressed with grammatical and analytical errors.
I have witnessed the major shifts in the politics of the parties over the last half century plus. The progressives (left) seized the Democratic Party in the chaos in of the 1960s, the major inflection point being the convention in Chicago in 1968. The center regained control, led by the The Democratic Leadership Council, in the 1992 convention when they nominated Clinton. The left fought back in 2006 and consolidated its hold in 2008 with the Obama nomination.
The Country Club Republicans held sway until the nomination of Reagan in 1980. The Conservatives had a short 8 years then essentially ceded control with the nomination of G.H.W. Bush.
A common lament over the last 60 years has been that there's no essential difference between the parties so what's the big deal? There's a lot of truth in that. The Democrats represented the interests of labor and a gaggle of interests on the left while the Republicans advanced the interests of big business. Both parties saw the means to their ends lodged in a more powerful central government.
That's changing. They finally overplayed their hand with the radical extension of power of the Obama administration. You may not see it that way but that's how it looks to the people in the Tea Party movement.
We are now seeing not a struggle to divvy up the spoils but rather a fundamental reassessment of the purpose and direction of government. This movement is succeeding as few movements in our history. The main analogous ones are the abolition movement and the temperance movement, both of which resulted in major unrest.
It has progressed rapidly and strongly. The 2010 election was the largest swing in power in 70 years - at all levels of government. This barely 18 months after the first gatherings in April, 2009. It will continue and grow stronger. Look at the Tea Party - look at the hair. It's gray and white and blue and none. These are not young people flitting from sensation to sensation. They are the solid citizens who do not disrupt their lives to get involved in politics on a whim. They are also accustomed to seeing things through. Experience teaches you that.
As to Ms. Palin - I vividly remember what was said about Ronald Reagan. Amiable dunce, unelectable, electoral suicide, bring him on - we'll mop the floor with him. The Tea Party is not about governing - it is about disassembling the government. We don't need a policy wonk, we need a leader. When the Wicked Witch of the North (TM) can write on Facebook from her igloo and immediately dominate the national conversation - that's a leader.
"Something is happening here, but you don't know what it is - do you, Mister Jones?".
Roy, when you guys are asked the simple question what WOULD you cut when you simply state you would cut the budget, have some real answers, or accept the fact you haven't any.
Do you get your news from MSNBC? That's sounds like a Chris Matthews talking point.
There have been a number of specific proposals, both from the Republicans and the Tea Party activists. The current fight over the Continuing Resolution is whether to cut $61 billion or $6 billion. In the meantime the next column over has the information that the deficit in February alone was $221 billion.
As a starting point a great number of TPers suggest reverting to the 2008 numbers as a starting point and cut from there.
Roy, I've listened to any number of Tea Partians (or whatever), Republican, Democrats, Indies, you name it. Until we have a government that decides we no longer have to fight the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, and cut defense spending as a result by 15-20% or more, and recognize that we aren't going to die at 66, raising the Social Security age to 80, we aren't getting anywhere.
We need THAT kind of reform. If the Tea Party starts on that (which is real spending cuts, and we can then actually help people in need with lots of cash to spare), when we have real tax reform, which will actually raise money (I am pro sales tax/anti income), when you really want the government out, meaning stop worrying about who gets married, when a real energy policy gets developed that excludes buying oil from Saudi Arabia and Veezuela, and I might just jump on the bandwagon.
Our defense spending, as a portion of GDP, is at an historically low level. There is undoubtedly redundant and wasted spending on defense. However, if there is one area where the precautionary principle applies it is there. Wars are terribly expensive, both in money and blood. Far better to deter war than skimp there.
Congressman Paul Ryan has authored a plan that addresses both entitlements and discretionary spending that sets us on a path to fiscal sanity. Unfortunately, as the only rational way to approach the problem, it steps on a lots and lots of toes. That is because the Federal Government has become an octopus with a thousand tentacles. The conservative prescription to remedy this is the principle of subsidiarity - responsibility and authority should rest at the most local level possible. That is why the TP is set on disassembling the government. We would not completely stop spending on all social programs but rather kick them out to the state, county, city and local administrative districts.
You are entirely correct about the social issues.
The problem with relying on a sales tax is that it is subject to far more variability than an income tax. In order to act long range you need a steady stream of income to properly plan.