Scathing words

It’s not often that I blockquote an entire piece, but a recent “Politics and Pets” editorial from former Maryland GOP Chair Jim Pelura is worth the space, as I see it. I did a slight amount of editing, adding the bullet points and the link.

I recently read an article by Thomas Edsall in the New York Times that attempts to psychoanalyze the Republican Party.

Much to my dismay, his general conclusion is that the Party will continue to lose credibility as long as there is a significant Conservative wing expressing ideas and attempting to thwart the far-left agenda of the Obama administration, the Democrat Party, Democrats in Congress and those Republicans that adhere to the notion that moderation is the way to victory.

To quote one of the Republican sources in this article describing Conservatives…”Their rigidity is killing them. It’s either holy purity, or you are anathema. Too many ideologues have come in. You don’t win by what they are doing.”

Excuse me, but, ideological candidates have won in the House and Senate and our moderate candidates continue to lose the White House.

Republicans who claim to stand for clearly stated Republican ideals like fiscal responsibility, faith in the private sector, small government and standing up for the individual and our Constitution, and then act and vote in a manner contrary to those ideals are, in my opinion, the main reason for the public’s lack of trust in and erosion of the Republican brand.

This problem is not unique to national Republicans as we see many examples of this problem involving Republican elected officials in Maryland.

A few examples:

  • A Republican candidate for Lt. Governor who, as a Delegate in the Maryland General Assembly, sent a letter to the Speaker imploring him not to pass any bond (pork) bills while submitting several pork bills for her district.
  • A Republican gubernatorial candidate that criticizes the current Democrat Governor for raising taxes while raising taxes in his own county as County Executive.
  • A Republican member of a County Council that introduces legislation that significantly restricts our 2nd Amendment rights.
  • A past Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party and the Republican Minority Leader in the Maryland General Assembly sending strong letters of support for the extremely liberal ideologue Tom Perez to be appointed to a position in the Obama administration.
  • A Republican candidate for County Executive urging the sitting administration to block implementation of a “rain tax” that he voted for while in the Maryland General Assembly.
  • A current Republican County Council raised taxes, grew government, implemented a fiscally irresponsible “rain tax” yet talks the Conservative message.
  • A current Republican County Executive getting praise for vetoing a “rain tax” bill in her county but supports the concept and did not object to the new bill that the Council sent to her.

No need to burden you with more examples, you get my point.

The Democrat party is completely ideological and no one complains, but an ideological Republican Party, in their opinion, cannot win.

How wrong they are. In reality, for every liberal vote a moderate Republican may gain, they will lose many more Republican votes.

Voter apathy is at an all-time high and I suggest that it is because the leftist agenda of the Democrat Party is out of step with main-stream Americans and the loss of credibility of the Republican Party due to its confusing, non-principled and hypocritical message from its elected members.

Ideology, principle and acting on those ideals when elected is what is needed in our Republican Party.

God Bless America with God’s blessings on those who guard it.

By reading between the lines, I could figure out each of those Pelura was referring to.

But I also took the time to read the original editorial, and the problem I see is that most of those who were quoted or solicited for their opinions come from the very class which is threatened by a conservative resurgence in the Republican Party. Many of the “Establishment” Republicans were represented: Bob Dole, Jeb Bush, Haley Barbour, and other inside-the-Beltway types fretted about losing four of the last six Presidential elections and not following through on cherished “ruling class” priorities like amnesty, which they consider “immigration reform.” Some blame the rise of talk radio, others the “Southern Strategy” which made the “solid South” solidly GOP, and still others panned the TEA Party.

All this proves is that there is a serious disconnect between the Republicans who inhabit that mysterious land called Washington, D.C. and make their living through one or another of the thousands of Republican-leaning advocacy groups which thrive on their access and the folks like me who have been loyally casting their ballot for the GOP for most of their adult lives but are disheartened that Republicans seem to have turned their back on conservative principles in the interest of seeking bipartisan “solutions” like amnesty or, conversely, wishing to “improve” Obamacare rather than simply defunding it.

Unfortunately, Pelura points out many of these same problems plague the GOP in our state. And while he seems to be picking on a number of Anne Arundel County politicians, he’s saved some venom for the Craig/Haddaway ticket while sparing others like Ron George or Charles Lollar. They tend to be the more conservative in the field.

Now I will grant that in Maryland the center looks far to the right to most political observers, and I would have categorized Bob Ehrlich as a centrist Republican. Some obviously argue that’s the only type which can win statewide, and based on the Ehrlich victory they could be correct. I know Martin O’Malley tried to paint Ehrlich as uncaring in 2006, really trying to tie him to the then-unpopular George W. Bush. Hard to otherwise explain why Bob Ehrlich lost despite a positive approval rating.

Yet it will have been 12 years since a non-Ehrlich ran for the state’s top job; that is, unless Michael Steele jumps into the race and grabs the nomination. And I know the political game fairly well: run right (or left) for the nomination, then tack to the center for the general – at least that’s the conventional wisdom. Then again, conventional wisdom suggested Mitt Romney was a perfect nominee for 2012.

The job of whoever wins the Republican nomination next year will be a simple one: define your narrative before it gets defined for you by the opposition. Those of us in the alternative media can help – because we’ll be the only ones hoisting that flag – but it will also take quite a bit of money. I don’t think the party is quite on the scrap heap yet, but 2014 is looking to be more and more of a last stand for this once free state.

Success at the top will also take a full undercard. We can’t skip races this year, and we have to work as a team around a few common pocketbook issues. While I’m certainly pro-life and pro-Second Amendment, I realize issues like those play much better in Trappe than Takoma Park. Put it this way: we know the word “invest” is code for raising taxes and spending more but we also know the other side has equated abortion with a sacrament and having a gun with being a lunatic, out hunting down innocent black youths like Trayvon Martin. Democrats still get away with saying it.

Conversely, though, there is such a thing as a Goldwater effect. Early on it was obvious that he would lose in 1964, but the unabashed conservative message  Barry Goldwater presented (with help from Ronald Reagan) sowed the seeds for future success. You may live in a 10:1 Democrat district, but the effort you put in against the incumbent means he or she has to work to keep the district and not be able to help others. That’s important, as is the education you can provide there.

Still, I appreciate Jim’s efforts to keep us on the straight and narrow. As Maryland Republicans, we have allowed ourselves to be defined by failure when we should be pointing out the myriad failures of the other side in the very act of governing. Change Maryland is a group working to reset that perception, but the overall theme needs to be that it’s time for the adults in the room to take charge of Maryland and get the state working for all of us.

Unsurprisingly uninspired

Whether it’s because we have over eighteen months to go until the presidential election and about nine until the first real votes are cast, or if it’s a field which draws little but yawns, there’s just not a lot of buzz going in about the Republican presidential field. I had a poll up for a week and drew a small response – less than 5% of my readership had an opinion.

I set it up for two questions: preference for those already in the field and a wish list of those one would like to see enter. If the primary were held today, the top votegetters among my readership would be:

  • Ron Paul (35.48%)
  • Tim Pawlenty (25.81%)
  • Herman Cain (16.13%)
  • Rick Santorum (12.9%)
  • Newt Gingrich (6.45%)
  • Mitt Romney (3.23%)

In the category of zero support were Fred Karger, Roy Moore, and Buddy Roemer. That’s no surprise.

I was a bit surprised with the results of poll number 2, which asked who respondents would prefer to see jump into the field.

  • Michele Bachmann (25.0%)
  • Donald Trump (13.89%)
  • Gary Johnson (11.11%)
  • Rudy Giuliani (8.33%)
  • Haley Barbour, John Bolton, Mitch Daniels, George Pataki, Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan (5.56% apiece)
  • Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin (2.78% apiece)

Paul Ryan was a write-in, as was Herman Cain. Somebody didn’t pay attention to my first poll.

And no one wants Jon Huntsman in the race. You would think since I allowed multiple answers on the wish list poll that someone would back him, but I guess not.

The biggest shock to me was just how quickly Sarah Palin has fallen out of favor. Had I asked the question a few months back I’m betting that she would be the top vote-getter, or at least right up there with perennial libertarian darling Ron Paul.

But it seems to me that her outspoken populist angle is being usurped by – of all people – Donald Trump. It’s surprising that a guy who has donated thousands to Democrats is being considered as a conservative darling, but he has name recognition to spare and isn’t partaking in the political doublespeak many other candidates engage in.

Honestly, I think she may have missed the boat on 2012. Whether Sarah would prefer to bide her time and wait for 2016 (which assumes an Obama victory and an open seat) or simply decided a position as a political outsider and spokesperson for conservative causes – one who can still draw a crowd – better suits her situation, well, that I don’t know. And there may be a cagey reason for her to let Trump take all the slings and arrows for awhile, since he seems to relish the spotlight regardless of how harsh it may be.

In a way, it’s great to have so many choices and not have someone considered a frontrunner at the moment. This is a time where we need a contest for the Republican nomination because it serves as a placeholder for a contest for the soul of the party itself. While the TEA Party can help elect a candidate, there’s still a faction of establishment Republicans who need to be eradicated from the levers of power before a takeover is possible. That faction is the one calculating just who would be the ‘safe’ choice acceptable to the American people yet malleable enough to control once in office.

Assuming President Obama is a one-term president, the new Republican president becomes the de facto leader of the party. It will take a strong conservative to fight not just Democrats but the establishment Republicans fighting the rear-guard action to bring the party to the center – in other words, the “No Labels” types. (Someone like Senator Jim DeMint comes to mind, but I doubt he’s running.)

I know my readership has a political compass pointing somewhere between conservative and libertarian, as it likely reflects my personal opinion. So it’s interesting to see just what kind of push that Ron Paul (and Gary Johnson, who announced shortly after I created the poll) have here as opposed to the nation at large.

In the next couple weeks I’ll begin to compile the Presidential campaign widget along with ones for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat and First District Congressional seat. (In that case I think the key question is whether we’ll see a Harris-Kratovil threepeat.) I know things slow down around here for the summer (who wants to sit inside reading blogs? Heck, I’m composing this outside in the summerlike breeze) but there’s a lot of political events going on.

Now is the time to really pay attention, since those in power know summer is a political siesta. That’s when they try and get away with the most damaging stuff.

Cain raised to top in GOP poll

February 1, 2011 · Posted in Campaign 2012 - President, Politics, Polling, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Cain raised to top in GOP poll 

The former Godfather Pizza CEO pulled it out in the end, but a widely split GOP Presidential poll here drew votes for nearly twenty possible contenders. This goes to show that…we need to see just who will enter the field for sure, as Cain is the first reasonable contender to establish an exploratory committee.

This is how they finished:

  • Herman Cain (former Godfather Pizza CEO, radio host) – 10 (12.82%)
  • Gary Johnson (former New Mexico governor) – 9 (11.54%)
  • Chris Christie (New Jersey governor) – 8 (10.26%)
  • Ron Paul (Congressman from Texas, 2008 Presidential candidate) – 8 (10.26%)
  • Newt Gingrich (former Speaker of the House) – 7 (8.97%)
  • Sarah Palin (2008 VP candidate, former Alaska governor) – 6 (7.69%)
  • Rudy Giuliani (2008 Presidential candidate, former NYC mayor) – 5 (6.41%)
  • Michele Bachmann (Congressman from Minnesota) – 4 (5.13%)
  • Tim Pawlenty (outgoing Minnesota governor) – 4 (5.13%)
  • Mitt Romney (2008 Presidential candidate, former Massachusetts governor) – 3 (3.85%)
  • Donald Trump (businessman) – 3 (3.85%)
  • Mitch Daniels (Indiana governor) – 2 (2.56%)
  • Jim DeMint (Senator from South Carolina) – 2 (2.56%)
  • Paul Ryan (Congressman from Wisconsin) – 2 (2.56%) – write-in
  • Rick Santorum (former Senator from Pennsylvania) – 2 (2.56%)
  • George Allen (former Senator from Virginia) – 1 (1.28%) – write-in
  • Mike Pence (Congressman from Indiana) – 1 (1.28%) – withdrew
  • John Thune (Senator from North Dakota) – 1 (1.28%)
  • Haley Barbour (Mississippi governor) – 0 (o%)
  • Mike Huckabee (2008 Presidential candidate, former Arkansas governor) – 0 (0%)

If you look at your top 6 candidates in this poll, you’d find the TEA Party carried a great amount of influence along with the libertarian wing of the GOP (who would tend to support Ron Paul and Gary Johnson.)

But would all of them be viable? Time will tell, but if you look at the top contenders from 2008 there’s little desire for a rewarmed candidate. Since I don’t consider Ron Paul as an ‘establishment’ candidate, the top votegetter among the group was Rudy Giuliani with 5 votes. Even combining the other 2008 aspirants (including Paul) they collected just 16 votes, which is barely 20 percent of the total vote. Mike Huckabee was shut out.

The only 2008 names which seem to have support are Ron Paul and Sarah Palin, who didn’t run for the top job four years ago but was added to the ticket just prior to the GOP convention. She polled reasonably well in this trial, but those who believe the nomination is hers to lose may want to think again.

Over the next month or two we’ll likely see the field shake out a bit as some of the bottom-feeders (and maybe a top name or two) decide to take a pass. The remainder of the contenders will likely begin getting their teams together for the busy times one year hence.

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