Bachmann’s turn is over (but Perry’s isn’t after all)

Well, it was fun while it lasted. The monoblogue kiss of death has claimed another victim, Michele Bachmann.

After gamely trying to convince herself and others the fight wasn’t over last night, apparently she slept on it and “decided to stand aside” this morning. This was the statement on her website:

I will be forever grateful to Iowa and its people for launching us on this path with our victory in the Iowa Straw Poll. While I will not be continuing in this race, my faith in the Lord God Almighty, this country, in our republic, has been strengthened. As I have traveled around Iowa, and the country, I have seen the very best in America, our people. And I will always believe in the greatness of them and the greatness of our God.

And, of course, I am deeply grateful to our entire campaign team, here in Iowa, in South Carolina and everywhere. I have no regrets. We never compromised our principles and we can leave this race knowing that we ran it with integrity and that we made an important contribution.

Thank you, God Bless you.

At this time, she hasn’t made an endorsement but presumably her decision was hastened in part by the necessity to begin her campaign to retain her Congressional seat – a campaign which has already drawn her GOP opposition and perhaps may place her in another Congressional district, as the DFL (their version of the Democratic Party) redistricting plan does. She also remains as the titular head of the TEA Party Caucus.

So the old adage that there are only three tickets out of Iowa may yet prove almost true, as the list of contenders gets whittled down to six: Newt Gingrich (4th in Iowa), Jon Huntsman (7th, but did not campaign there), Ron Paul (3rd in Iowa), Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. (The latter two essentially tied for first.) Fifth-place finisher Rick Perry was going to “reassess” his campaign, but perhaps Bachmann’s decision allowed him to stay in the hunt.

This hasn’t been much of a campaign for conservatives. Many would have liked to see Sarah Palin run, while others pined for a TEA Party favorite like Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana. Other names tossed around were Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Allen West of Florida, and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, all reliably conservative.

But many conservatives coalesced around the lesser-known Herman Cain until a series of unfounded allegations of marital misconduct and sexual harassment knocked him out of the race. Others have been in the Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann camps early on and stayed during the frequent ups and downs.

Now we have fewer but certainly not better choices: Mitt Romney will forever have the albatross of ushering in the precursor to Obamacare in Massachusetts and has the perception of being the “establishment” choice in an era of anti-establishmentism. (Come on, he’s been endorsed by John McCain – how much more of a milquetoast, reach across the aisle pander can one get?) Likewise, Newt Gingrich is the consummate Beltway insider who never really left Washington once he left the House.

Rick Santorum is the darling of the social conservative group – and that’s an integral part of our cause. But Rick won’t be the fiscal conservative we need and hasn’t always shown fealty to the cause of limited government – one can ask Pat Toomey about that. (Yet for everything Santorum has said he seems to have a manner of parsing his words later. I call it saying what he thinks will get him elected.)

Jon Huntsman started out turning his back to the TEA Party movement and his idea that anthropogenic climate change is real is a disqualifier. And then there’s Ron Paul. If being President didn’t involve a lick of foreign affairs he would be my guy, but the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

And while Perry is back in, will this post-Iowa misstep work the same as John McCain’s late suspension of 2008 campaign efforts in order to address the economic crisis? After that he never recovered in the polls.

That’s all folks. That’s what we now have to choose from, unless there’s somehow a brokered convention and some white knight rides in to save us from ourselves. Certainly any of the above would be an improvement over the current occupant of the Oval Office, but I somehow get the gnawing feeling that we’re leaving a huge missed opportunity here.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day, either, and to undo nearly 100 years of damage to the Republic will take more than four. The trick is just getting started on the task.

West tells CBC “condemn these…hate-filled comments” from Reps. Carson and Waters

We’ve heard the taunts:

“(S)ome of them in Congress right now of this tea party movement would love to see you and me … hanging on a tree.” – Congressman Andre Carson, D-Indiana, quoted in Politico.

“(A)s far as I’m concerned — the tea party can go straight to hell.” Congressman Maxine Waters, D-California, quoted in The Daily Caller.

Fellow Congressman Allen West, who is the lone Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus, today released a letter which called on CBC leadership to condemn these remarks, or else West will “seriously reconsider” his membership in the organization. Somehow I don’t think CBC head Emanuel Cleaver is going to be in any hurry to tell Carson and Waters to hush.

It makes West’s freshman cohort Republican Congressman Tim Scott look wiser every day. Back in December Scott, who is black, announced he was declining the CBC’s invitation because “my campaign was never about race.” Needless to say, Scott is a TEA Party supporter who understands the movement is not about race and is more or less colorblind.

I know it’s a rhetorical question to ask, but imagine what would have happened to a Republican who substituted the phrase “NAACP” for “TEA Party” in these statements. To Congressmen like Carson and Waters that would have been a worse offense than the underage sexting of Rep. Anthony Weiner and the underage “unwanted sexual encounter” of Rep. David Wu, combined, times ten. Resignation wouldn’t have been good enough for that mythical scoundrel; they would have wanted him banned from the planet.

And for the record, Congressman Carson, I am a proud member of the TEA Party movement yet I have no desire to see you swinging from a tree. Booted out of office at the next opportunity? You betcha. But that’s the extent of the harm I wish to see upon you.

As for Congressman Waters, I’m not going to hell (and I don’t think a collective movement which has as many committed Christians as the TEA Party does can either) so you can scratch that demand off your bucket list. Like Carson, I wish upon you the purgatory of being disowned by your electorate although the ethics investigators might just get to you first.

And they say the TEA Party is the home of extremist and dangerous rhetoric? Riiiiiiiight. As I said earlier, I don’t believe Congressman West is going to get the satisfaction of having the Congressional Black Caucus condemn two of their own loyal liberal members. But I’ll bet the TEA Party Caucus (of which both West and Scott are members) has their backs.

By the way, when I looked up the TEA Party Caucus to see if either Scott or West were members, I noted a curious omission: where’s Andy Harris? I’m disappointed, to say the least, that he’s not part of that group although he is on the Republican Study Committee.

Some reactions to bin Laden’s demise

A sampling of local and national political reaction to the untimely demise of America’s ‘Public Enemy Number 1.’

Let’s start with Congressman Andy Harris:

Last night, President Obama announced that American forces had killed terrorist and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.  This is great news for the security of America, as well as for our troops at home and overseas who continue to protect us from terrorism every day.  I want to thank and congratulate all of our men and women in the Armed Forces – their hard work and bravery made this possible. This is a great day for the United States of America.

As opposed to President Obama, who nearly broke his arm patting himself on the back in his statement, Harris was very restrained despite his actual military background as a reservist.

Senator Ben Cardin was a little more verbose, calling bin Laden a ‘murderer.’

The death of Osama bin Laden is an important milestone in the fight against terrorism and a relief to millions of Americans and others around the world who have felt his murderous destruction. Osama bin Laden was a murderer who devoted his life to the destruction of freedom, democracy and our way of life. Tonight all Americans can feel safer knowing that bin Laden is dead, but we must remain vigilant in the continued fight against al-Qaeda and any terrorists who seek to harm our nation. I join the President and all Americans in thanking the military professionals who carried out this mission. We depend on them and owe them our gratitude and our prayers.

Interestingly enough, as I write this at 11 in the morning, Senator Mikulski has no statement. Are things a bit slow around Barb’s office this A.M.?

Turning to some of the Presidential contenders, here’s what one of the frontrunners, Mitt Romney, had to say on his Facebook page:

This is a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere. Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president. My thoughts are with the families of Osama bin Laden’s many thousands of victims, and the brave servicemen and women who have laid down their lives in pursuit of this murderous terrorist.

Score two for a variant of “murderer.”

Sarah Palin had this to say, also on Facebook:

Americans tonight are united in celebration and gratitude. God bless all the brave men and women in our military and our intelligence services who contributed to carrying out the successful mission to bring Bin Laden to justice and who laid the groundwork over the years to make this victory possible.  It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of these brave Americans who relentlessly hunted down our enemy.

This is a victory for the American people, for the victims who were heartlessly murdered on September 11 and in Al Qaeda’s other numerous attacks, and for all the peace-loving people of the world.

May God bless our troops and our intelligence services, and God bless America!

Perhaps it’s a matter of wearing one’s heart on their sleeve, but you can see the contrast in styles quite clearly between the cool, collected Mitt Romney and the passionate Sarah Palin. In either case, bin Laden isn’t an issue that will be on their plate anymore should either be the Republican nominee.

I have one more reaction to share, from Lt. Col. Allen West, who now serves in Congress as a Representative from Florida.

Congratulations to President Obama and his National Security Team for the capture and killing of the world’s most dangerous and evil criminal mastermind, Osama bin Laden.

Our appreciation and gratitude goes out to General Petreaus and the brave men and women in theater.  Our Special Operations team executed a flawless, cross border operation, proving once again, our American Armed Forces are the most skilled, organized and highly trained forces in the world.

Although this is a time of exuberance, rejoicing and healing, America, as well as our allies, must be vigilant and on guard for retaliatory attacks from the extreme Islamic world.  What strongly concerns me is that bin Laden was not found hiding in a remote cave, but in an urban area of Pakistan where the Pakistan Army’s premier training institution operates. This is a war that is no where close to being over.

That note of caution seems appropriate from someone who’s been there, as West served both in Iraq and as a civilian advisor to Afghan troops before returning to Florida and running for Congress in both 2008 (unsuccessfully) and 2010.

My take on this? Well, you’ll have to wait as I have an op-ed in with one of my national writing outlets. If it goes up in the next few days I’ll link to the post.

Update: I should have included former President George W. Bush:

Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11, 2001.  I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission.  They have our everlasting gratitude.  This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.  The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message:  No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.

Very classy gentleman.

Items of interest

For those of you budding TEA Party activists out there, you may be interested to know…

American Solutions is hosting a conference call with a TEA Party favorite, newly elected Rep. Allen West of Florida. The information is as follows:

C of C Conference Call with Rep. Allen West (FL-22)

Wednesday, January 26th, 8:00 PM EST

Dial-In Number: 712-432-0075 
Participant Code: 283031

If that’s not enough, the newly-formed Senate TEA Party Caucus is seeking public input at 10 a.m. Thursday morning. A local activist is putting together a caravan for the event, which would need to leave early Thursday morning. But if you can’t make the caravan or wish to depend on your own self for transportation, Julie Brewington at Right Coast has what you need to know.

(Bear in mind that inclement weather is predicted for Wednesday night into Thursday morning, so this event may end up being postponed.)

But there are opportunities aplenty for freedom-minded activists to get involved.

Thought for the day: To me, the ideal in government would be the opposite situation to that which we have presently: a scenario where one party decreases the size and scope of government slowly, with the other moving at a more marked pace. In either case, the cause of freedom advances rather than recedes.

(I was inspired this morning – it’s part of a longer piece I submitted to another outlet. But don’t expect such good thoughts every day.)

Working them harder

While the running gag among TEA Parties is the fond wish that Congress would just pack up and stay away from Washington most of the time, a newly elected Congressman who TEA Partiers revere thinks differently.

Lt. Col. Allen West believes the schedule set up by Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia isn’t strenuous enough to address our national problems:

“As we know, Congress needs to work to create jobs, reduce the deficit, strengthen our economy, limit the size of government and contend with a plethora of national security issues,” West said.  “How are we to do that when, among other things, we start off being in session only ten days the entire month of January?”

Congressman-Elect West is concerned with the fact that Congress is only in session 123 days, only one-third of the entire year. He points out that Congress will not even meet the mark of 90 days in session until September of 2011, just a matter of days before the end of the Fiscal Year.

“I am sure we both agree that the issues before us today require the members of Congress to go beyond what has been the accepted practice in the past to meet the challenges of the future,” West writes to Cantor.

West is also concerned with the “retreats” in the month following the swearing in – some of them taxpayer funded- for members of Congress. Congressman-Elect West has already decided he will not attend at least two of the retreats.

“We have to show the American people we are going to be different than years past,” West said.  “We are there for one reason and one reason only, to work for the constituents of the districts we are so privileged to represent.  I hope that if it becomes clear that we are not meeting the promise we made to the American people, leadership will modify the schedule in order for us to accomplish the important task we have before us.”

Obviously being a Congressman requires a little time back home in the district – for West, that would require trips back to southern Florida. But most working folks put in around 250 days a year, so a schedule which essentially shakes out to that of a part-time job may not sit well with them – remember, it’s not the time they put into being in Washington which fazes the average citizen but what they do with it. If they are working to “limiting the size of government” as Lt. Col. West writes, well, that can and should probably be a 24/7 job for the foreseeable future. If expanding government is on the Congressional table then let Congress stay in its districts where they can’t do us any harm.

Perhaps the key criticism by West is that there will be a significant amount of time where the House will be out of session but the Senate will be in session. Since it’s presumed that much of the best legislation passed out of the GOP-controlled House will be swatted down by Harry Reid in the Senate, the House needs to keep the pressure on and perhaps wear out the Democrats in the Senate (many of whom will be up for re-election in 2012) through attrition. (And yes, we will likely see our fair share of vetoes even if the House wears down the Senate’s resistance. But it’s a fight worth having.)

In putting We the People back in charge of the House, it’s time for them to put their nose to the grindstone. When special interests take over again (as they invariably will) only then it will be time for the shorter session.