An opportunity wasted

March 30, 2008

Intersting article in this week’s World Magazine (Apr 5 08, Vol 23, Nbr 7). With a cover headline”Shattered Dreams”, the article to read is titled “Divided We Stand.”

Warren Cole Smith’s article on the recently-concluded Republican nomination process is an interesting post-portem on the race.

The room—which had been taken over by argument and side-conversations—became suddenly quiet. (Paul) Weyrich, a Romney supporter and one of those (Michael) Farris (of the Home School Legal Defense Association) had chastised for not supporting Huckabee, steered his wheelchair to the front of the room and slowly turned to face his compatriots. In a voice barely above a whisper, [Weyrich] said, “Friends, before all of you and before almighty God, I want to say I was wrong.”

In a quiet, brief, but passionate speech, Weyrich essentially confessed that he and the other leaders should have backed Huckabee, a candidate who shared their values more fully than any other candidate in a generation. He agreed with Farris that many conservative leaders had blown it. By chasing other candidates with greater visibility, they failed to see what many of their supporters in the trenches saw clearly: Huckabee was their guy.

Huckabee could not gain traction among the religious right leaders who could have generated the financial backing he needed to run a national campaign. Either they didn’t like this position or that. He wasn’t tested yet. He was an unknown.

James Dobson refused to endorse anyone, only coming out for Huckabee as the campaign drew to a close. Gary Bauer, the political kingmaker, supported Thompson, and when Thomposn quit, wrote an email depricating to all other canidates, saying Thompson “was the one candidate who understood Reagan conservatism and who appealed to all three segments of the Reagan coalition—social conservatives, economic conservatives and defense conservatives.”

And even though Bill Owens, founder and president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, said that McCain “has no clue what we’re about,”there remained no groundswell of support, choosing instead to go with McCain.

And now we have the candidate we’re stuck with, hoping against hope the Democrats implode. Any wonder so many are considering staying home this year?

Thanks to TrueBeliever for pointing me this way, and to OneMom, for finding it for him.


Politics of Making Nice

March 29, 2008

“In a show of Republican unity, one-time bitter foes John McCain and Mitt Romney raised money and campaigned together Thursday for a single goal — getting McCain elected president.”

So begins an article by Liz Sidoti for the Associated Press on March 27. It shows how far politicians will bend “core principles” to get elected. For Romeny’s part, he dropped out of the Presidential race after assuming he couldn’t beat McCain. But while he was in the race, there was no love lost. Romney repeatedly said McCain was outside of the GOP’s conservative mainstream, and called him a Washington insider, someone who caused the probelms now needing fixing. McCain shot back that Romney’s positions on issues seemed to come only after he decided to run for President.

Oddly, it was McCain’s charges were prophetic. He said that Romney’s flipflops “indicated a willingness to change his positions to fit his political goals.” It is that willingness that lets Romney sit next to McCain on the campaign airplane Sidoti noted “They sat next to each other and ate turkey sandwiches. They laughed and talked during the hourlong flight, and were complimentary of each other when talking to reporters traveling with McCain.”

It seems clear the reversal is a bid by Romney to become McCain’s Vice President. “Romney lauded McCain and promised to do all he can to help, saying: “He is a man who is proven and tested” and without question the right man to be president.”

Where are they now?

March 27, 2008

What happens to candidates when they drop out? For some, like Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo, they go back to the job they were avoiding in Congress. Bill Richardson went to the beach and came back darker than Obama.

Romney went home to fix up the vacation house. Mark Towner saw him at the Park Cities (Utah) Home Depot buying tools and supplies. In by himself, in jeans and a polo shirt, driving his own Jeep Cherokee out of the parking lot. Just a regular guy. (Gotta do it yourself after blowing $40M running for President.) Says Mitt’s a “regular guy” doing guy stuff. Read it yourself!

According to Celebrity Cafe, Fred Thompson, who delayed entry into the race to finish out the spring season of Law and Order, is headed back to what he seems to do best. (He’d have probably done better if he’d quit the show earlier and gone straight into politics, but by the time he showed up to the dance, everyone had already partnered up.) Thompson signed up with the William Morris agency to be an actor again. Good for him.

Huckabee went home to spend time with the family and the dogs. Then he went out on the campaign trail, speaking for other candidates at state and Congressional level.  I don’t think we’ve hear the last of him.

Leaving prejudice alone

March 23, 2008

This week, a lot of people got upset because Senator Obama’s pastor got riled up once and said what he shouldn’t have.  I understand Rev Wright. I don’t agree with him, but I don’t agree with everything my own pastor says.

Mike Huckabee must also understand, probably better than me. Here’s what he said.

And one other thing I think we’ve gotta remember. As easy as it is for those of us who are white, to look back and say “That’s a terrible statement!”…I grew up in a very segregated south. And I think that you have to cut some slack — and I’m gonna be probably the only Conservative in America who’s gonna say something like this, but I’m just tellin’ you — we’ve gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told “you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can’t sit out there with everyone else. There’s a separate waiting room in the doctor’s office. Here’s where you sit on the bus…” And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.

I’m just a little younger than Mike Huckabee, and grew up Baptist in a neighboring state.  I remember those days. I remember the race riots of the late 60s. I grew up in that segregated society.I remember when Black history was a new concept. I’ve watched state after state and public group and company “apologize” to this race or that for the actions of forebearers for actions I had no part of.

I also remember the resentment of my friends over Affirmitive Action. I have know the exclusion of being the “wrong race” when all of my Black collegues have an event.
(I was once called a “nigger” by a black kid I was teaching in Vacation Bible School. It was a sign he accepted me to be “just like him”, but not a term I could use on anyone else.)

Usually I’m race-colorblind. I don’t notice much any more. I worked with one fellow more than a year before someting caused me to take mental note that he was Black.
Churches tend to be segregated places, still. My primary place of worship is integrated, but only a little (maybe 10%, maybe less) But the afternoon church renting space in the building where I too am sponsoring a congregation is ALL Black, and they look at me when I walk by, or when I started to enter. I was out of place and they helped me see it.

Senator Obama was right.  It’s time to get past the old stereotypes.  Time for all of us to become “race-colorblind”.

As one of our founding fathers said, we must all hang together, or we shall each hang separately.

An economy in trouble

March 20, 2008

8 years ago, under a Democrat president, the economy was booming and we were running a surplus on current year finances. 

The national debt today is $9 Trillion – a tenth of that has gone to to finance an unnecessary war badly fought.  We are right now in danger of bankrupting our military, since we have worn out our equipment and can’t pay to replace it.  The war has tripled the cost of oil, the lubricant of our economy.  Lack of regulation has let criminal mortgage brokers and greedy bankers create an economic sinkhole that almost ruined the value of the dollar this week. 

I got an email from a political compatriot who said he didn’t feel the war is the cause of our high taxes and prices. “I think it’s the waste in government, social out of control programs and stupid environmental programs that are not needed and totally wasteful. I’d like to see Congress give up two years of their salaries or more to fund their needless programs. We need the Fair or Flat tax to take their greedy hands out of our pockets.”

You couldn’t find competent legislators to serve for no pay (I’ve personally saved over a Billion dollars of federal expenses not made, but still look forward to my biweekly federal salary.)  There’s not much waste in government (as a proportion of the GDP) – it makes the news because it’s rare.

What programs should we stop?  Fuel economy standards?  (A return to 10mpg will drive the cost of fuel to $300 a barrel.)  Cut the SSI payments to teachers with 40 years of service who retired 10 years ago at $40k), who now live on $1000 a month? (When she died, the insurace share of prescription drugs of a woman I knew ate up her entire monthly SSI check.)

What we need is a national strategy (and a leader to implement it).  Come back, Mike Huckabee!

What next for Huckabee (part III)

March 19, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I reported Ken Blackwell’s excellent suggestion that Mike Huckabee would become a great Chairman of the Republican Party.

That suggestion makes even more sense now, since the current treasurer has run off with $1M!)

It would let us influence state and Congressional elections to turn the national legislative agenda to the values that drew us all to Mike in the first place.

The Costs of the Iraq War

March 18, 2008

Steve Mufson of The Washington Post has written about the effect of the Iraq war on the world oil market.  But even those who believed that the United States invaded Iraq to create a secure source for oil for America could not have imagined how the past five years would have turned out.”Instead of making Iraq an open economy fueled by a thriving oil sector … insurgents’ sabotage of pipelines and pumping stations … (mean) the country is still struggling in vain to raise oil output to its prewar levels of about 2.5 million barrels a day.”

The costs of the war are being paid for by the American public, both for the Defense forces and the prices at the pump.  This lack of supply – and the increased demand by China – has more than tripled the cost of oil, meaning political opponents Iran, Venezuela and Russia are growing rich and causing problems in US diplomacy.

Even those planners who honestly believed the causes for overthrowing Saddam Hussein were just acknowledge the role oil would play after the invasion.  According to Mufson, leaders in the Defense Department were hoping for increasing the world supply of oil, to drive the price down, even while the State Department was warning about the dangers of political instability from flooding the world oil markets. 

Deputy Secretary of Defense (at the time) Paul Wolfowitz   told Congress just after the invasion that he believed the country could finance its own reconstruction, generating $50 billion to $100 billion in revenues within a few years.

He laments that the US has “frittered away energy resources with little regard for the strategic consequences.”  And even though Iraq still contains significan oil reserves, it is unclear when production will begin to match expections, or if the USA can afford it when it comes.

This is a significant problem for the next president.  John McCain wants to maintain the existing course of action (presumably to maintain control over the future possiblity of oil supply).  Clinton wants to pull troops from the region gradually, and Obama wants them home soon and a diplomatic solution instead.