A foolish idea gets a bill anyway

While I did not serve in the military, one rite of passage I did endure right around my 18th birthday (way back in 1982) was having to register for Selective Service. Obviously I was fortunate enough to not come of age at a time where we needed a military draft (those years were spent under the “peace through strength” of the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations), but even so we have been able to fulfill our military requirements with those who voluntarily enlist. Whether it was done out of love of country or as a means to secure benefits on the other side, people of both genders have served with pride and distinction as paid volunteers. It’s a system that works.

So I was surprised to see a Republican representative, Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, introduce a bill called the “Draft our Daughters” Act. Females have always been exempt from Selective Service and being drafted into the military, for several good reasons. But Hunter wants to change this. (As clarification, this is the son of the onetime Presidential candidate I endorsed back in 2007. The elder Duncan Hunter retired from Congress once his son ended his military service and could get the Congressional seat.)

I understand the trend is now to try and get women into more combat roles, as some misguided attempt at equality. Setting aside the obvious differences in strength and physical ability, one has to consider the ramification of females being taken prisoner as well as the simple biological fact that they bear our children and it’s not going to be feasible to send pregnant women to the front lines.

And while dads are reluctant yet still willing to send their sons off to war, I suspect that drafting their daughters is going to cross the line. We haven’t employed the draft since Vietnam, and that conflict was less than popular – thousands of men ducked the draft by whatever means they could. Imagine the rate of refusal among women, who as far as I know haven’t exactly been clamoring to get involved in the issue.

It’s just another attempt at creating a social engineering laboratory out of the military, and quite disappointing to see a Republican as lead sponsor.


Cain: Gingrich is able

This truly wasn’t a shock; back in December when Herman Cain exited the race I came right out and said I wouldn’t be surprised if he endorsed Newt Gingrich. They’re very familiar to one another as both hail from Georgia and you may recall they had a one-on-one debate with each other last fall. (Gingrich also had a similar debate with Jon Huntsman, which neither did anything for Huntsman nor got him to endorse Newt, as Jon Huntsman now backs Mitt Romney.) Cain’s consolation prize is now a position chairing Newt’s tax reform efforts.

However, the timing of this perhaps shows Cain’s lack of political savvy – or, to play devil’s advocate, means he marches to his own drummer and eschews standards which would place him within the political norm. Your choice. The latter seems especially true when you consider Cain had already made his “unconventional endorsement” of “the people.”

Honestly, as a former Cain supporter, I think Herman’s post-campaign decisions have been quite disappointing. His TEA Party response to the State of the Union address was all right, but it seemed to me he pulled his punches somewhat; of course one could also argue that had he endorsed Newt earlier he would not have received the slot. As I said up top, it wasn’t unexpected that he endorsed Gingrich but doing so at this time, when Newt’s campaign is otherwise imploding in Florida, smacks of desperation on the part of both – but moreso Gingrich, who’s trying to corral onetime Cain supporters into his camp.

Too bad that, for many, the horse has already left that barn – Newt isn’t going to get much of a bounce from an endorsement eight weeks after the candidate’s withdrawal. Obviously it wasn’t needed for Newt to win South Carolina, so to do so now indeed seems like flailing from a candidate who vows to “go all the way to the convention.” That movie has played before, and usually that sort of declaration comes just before the closing credits roll on the campaign.

Unfortunately, the GOP voters and caucus participants who have come before me have seen to eliminate most of my top selections from the race. It will leave me a choice – as too often seems to be the case in Presidential politics – of:

  • voting my conscience (even if he dropped out before the primary), or
  • voting for my third- or fourth-favorite choice who’s still there, or
  • voting against the guy I don’t want to win with his strongest remaining opponent.

A combination of the second and third options was the approach I took in 2008, basically voting against John McCain rather than for Mike Huckabee. Huckabee was pretty much my fourth option after Duncan Hunter, Fred Thompson, and Rudy Giuliani withdrew. (As I recall, Florida was Giuliani’s Waterloo, too.) In 2012 I’ve already lost Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry (although Perry is on the ballot here.)

But we’ll see if Cain’s backing for Gingrich is too little, too late. If it ends up I vote for Newt Gingrich, it won’t be because Herman Cain endorsed him. Instead, see bullet point #3 above and you’ll find my reason.

Odds and ends number 34

Believe it or not, I have been besieged with another plethora of items which deserve perhaps an paragraph or three of comment on my part. So let me get crackin’ on them.

Since I’ve had the opportunity to speak with him in person, I would suggest that those of you who are political activists consider attending David Craig’s campaign school. It will make a stop here on the Lower Eastern Shore at the Comfort Inn in Cambridge this Saturday (October 1st) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s absolutely free and includes lunch too. You can sign up for the event here.

You know, I’d be curious to know if any liberals show up because it’s a freebie. But if it’s conducted like the “Bloggers and Burgers” confab you should leave the Craig campaign school neither hungry nor uninformed.

Speaking of liberals and freebies, there’s 116 people in Salisbury who really must suffer from terminal ignorance. I got this in my e-mail the other day, simply because September 30 is coming:

Here’s something you don’t have in common with 116 other supporters of this movement who tell us they live in Salisbury, MD.

That many of your neighbors have decided to own a piece of this campaign by making a donation of whatever they could afford. For some, that meant just $5. For others, it meant $100 or more. But each had their own personal reason for giving.

Our records show that you aren’t one of the 116 people where you’re from who have stepped up for 2012. Now’s your chance to change that.

Since the e-mail came from Jim Messina of the Obama 2012 campaign, don’t hold your breath waiting for my gift. I might give a little to Herman Cain, though.

It makes me curious, though – how many of my readers have donated to a Presidential campaign? I haven’t done so yet this cycle, but I did donate to Rep. Duncan Hunter’s ill-fated bid last time. He was my first.

Continue reading “Odds and ends number 34”

Thoughts and updates

I was thinking a little bit about the Presidential race this evening, and it started when I moderated a comment on my last post from Phil Collins (who I presume is not “the” Phil Collins, just like the Maryland GOP ranks have a Dick Cheney who isn’t the former VP.) He claims that he spoke personally to Buddy Roemer last Thursday and “he’ll run.”

If you believe the conventional wisdom, a guy like Roemer has no shot against a cadre of candidates who have money and name recognition. You know the names: Romney, Palin, perhaps Huntsman and Pawlenty as well. According to those “in the know” the rest may as well stay home for various reasons: they’re running horrible campaigns (Newt Gingrich), too extreme for the American public (Ron Paul, Rick Santorum), or no one knows who they are (the rest.) Funny, but I seem to recall back in 2007 the 2008 election was going to be that 2000 New York U.S. Senate race pundits were salivating over (but never occurred): Rudy Giuliani vs. Hillary Clinton.

Almost anyone who runs for President thinks they’ll win, although there is that segment of society who has the ego trip of placing their name on the ballot line. (It’s why there are 156 – and counting – who have filed with the FEC to run. Most won’t even qualify for the ballot in Maryland.) The serious candidates, though, are the ones who are planning their message and the means to get it out there.

Yet even in this age of new media punditry, conventional wisdom makes the rules. Why else would a candidate who had not announced be invited to a GOP contender debate when others who were already in the race get snubbed? It’s understandable that a stage with over 150 contenders would make for useless debate, but someone like Gary Johnson belonged on the stage in New Hampshire. (Similarly, Buddy Roemer was snubbed for both New Hampshire and an earlier debate in South Carolina.) I think the 11 contestants I list on the GOP side are the most legitimate because they have some political experience and have a viable campaign. Others I would include on that list if they chose to run would be Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, and Rudy Giuliani. That’s not to say those are the only three, just the most likely.

It’s for those candidates who have announced that I’m slowly but surely working on the series of posts which will establish the Presidential hopeful I’ll stand behind this primary season.

Now some would say my track record is not good, as I supported Duncan Hunter in 2008 and preferred Steve Forbes when he ran in 1996 and 2000, but that’s only because the rest of the nation hasn’t caught up with me yet. (I say that only half-joking. Imagine what our country would be like with a flat tax system and a tougher foreign and trade policy like Hunter prescribed. I daresay our economic circumstances would be much improved.) Obviously I have a broad mix of conservative and libertarian views on issues, but it’s very complex. Someone said that the ideal candidate would take a little bit from everyone in the race, and I think almost every GOP candidate will have areas they shine in.

But since I want to use column space for this important issue, something has to give and I think I’m going to wait until later this fall to complete the monoblogue Accountability Project. After all, we have a Special Session so there’s no point in compiling legislative awards for the year until that’s over. The good news is that I have the most of the list of votes I’m using handy so the rest is just compilation. (I only need to find three good floor amendment votes to finish the list of 25 key votes for the session. The hard part will be limiting it to three, I’m sure.) I was also going to do it by county but since districts will be changing before the next election I’ll hold on to the old format until closer to 2014. It makes my life a little easier!

That’s one update. A second piece of news is that I should have a new advertiser soon, bringing my list to three. Yes, it’s a modest number compared to other websites but all have paid me in advance. They see value in maintaining a quality website which brings a mix of content on a daily basis. (You can too.)

So look for the posts on picking the Presidential candidates, along with other good stuff coming your way.

Ron Paul wins CPAC straw poll (again…yawn)

To the surprise of few, Texas Congressman Ron Paul beat out a slew of Republican candidates to win the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC for short) straw poll, a traditional close out event for the gathering. His 30% of the vote bested other so-called frontrunners Mitt Romney (23%), Newt Gingrich (5%), Tim Pawlenty (4%), and Sarah Palin (3 percent.) It was Paul’s second CPAC win in a row; last year he ended Mitt Romney’s three-year winning streak.

But bear in mind that the poll only counted a total of 3,742 ballots; by comparison, Wicomico County accounted for 8,902 Republican primary votes in 2008. Moreover, Paul’s Campaign for Liberty front group was a key promoter of the event, so the results weren’t completely surprising.

Straw polls can be notoriously fickle, too. Remember back in September 2007 when Duncan Hunter won a Texas straw poll? By the time Texas actually had a say in the matter, Duncan Hunter was long gone from the presidential contest. (Too bad, because he was my personal choice.) While his campaign was one of notable conservativism and attracted backing from luminaries like Gen. Chuck Yeager, WorldNetDaily‘s Joseph Farah, and columnist Ann Coulter, Hunter disappeared from the race shortly after the New Hampshire primary. (Perhaps Hunter simply ran four years too soon, but there’s no indication so far he’s looking for a repeat in 2012.)

Even the Ames Straw Poll, which is seen as a kickoff to the Presidential race because of its Iowa location, hasn’t been a good prognosticator of results. Out of five such events, only twice (Bob Dole in 1995 and George W. Bush in 1999) has the eventual GOP nominee been the winner of this bellweather event. Mitt Romney won the straw ballot in 2007 but didn’t even win the state’s caucuses five months later.

So it would appear that Ron Paul, despite running strongly in a caucus-style situation, wouldn’t have a great chance of winning the GOP nod. After all, this would be his third time around the block should he choose to run – besides the 2008 campaign, he ran as the Libertarian Party standardbearer in 1988 – and he would almost certainly be the oldest candidate in the field since he turns 76 in August. Another strike against him is that most states have winner-take-all primaries, although Republican Party rules this time around push those states to the back of the electoral line.

But there are a number of ways that Paul can have a role in the race, even if he doesn’t win or even come anywhere close to victory. Consider the impact of the TEA Party this time around.

It’s a group that wasn’t politically active in 2008, which served as the end of the era of so-called compassionate conservatism. While this new course of conservativism was designed to appeal to the big tent of moderate voters the result was an ever-expanding government, and Republicans disgusted with the excesses of the Bush years stayed home in droves on Election Day. The only excitement in the McCain campaign turned out to be the selection of Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential nominee; picking the Alaska governor may have been the only thing to save McCain from a Goldwater-like electoral slaughter by Barack Obama.

Yet despite the fact only two years have passed since that nadir, the political landscape has been irrevocably changed by the ascension of the TEA Party, with the proof being the 2010 midterm elections. There’s no need to recount here the entire rise of the TEA Party, but it’s a group where Ron Paul’s acolytes have certainly found a home. Add to that the evidence from 2008 that Paul can be a powerful and convincing fundraiser, and it shows the financial firepower and grassroots support should be there for a reasonable run at the brass ring.

This election will be a showdown between establishment Republicans who favor the predictability of a Mitt Ronmey and the TEA Party irregulars who could throw their support behind Paul initially and make or break the candidacy of whichever populist conservative eventually emerges as Ronmey’s foremost challenger for the nomination.

In time, Ron Paul could become a dealmaker, with his small but loyal following moving squarely behind another darkhorse candidate like Herman Cain, Jim DeMint, or Gary Johnson. (It’s a sure bet that Donald Trump is not on that list.)

But at this early stage, Paul and his legions can bask in the glow of a straw poll neatly set up to make him look good. We’re still nearly a year out from actual voting so every Republican with a pulse theoretically has a shot at the nomination. Most of the likely contenders are working hard behind the scenes building a campaign team while being coy about their intentions in public.

Still, in a time where conventional wisdom has evolved into a contest of who can most completely upset the apple cart in the quickest time, we can’t just dismiss the renegade Texan. The CPAC results prove Ron Paul has a role to play in this process, with the question being only what frontrunners like Romney and Palin will do to accommodate his diligent supporters.

Well, there goes my vote…

I haven’t updated my sidebar poll to reflect this, but last night Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana announced he would sit out the 2012 Presidential race. In a letter to supporters (and reposted at the Indianapolis Star website) Pence announced:

In the choice between seeking national office and serving Indiana in some capacity, we choose Indiana. We will not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012.

The “we” he is apparently referring to is his wife and family, but the decision by Pence will certainly dampen the spirits of at least a few people who were backing him on various Facebook groups and other conservative activists.

But in the long run, the decision makes sense. In our nation’s history, only three men have ran as a major candidate for President as a sitting member in the House, and just one succeeded (President James A. Garfield in 1880.) The last was Rep. John Anderson of Illinois in 1980, and he drew single-digit support as a breakaway Republican in President Reagan’s win. (By the way, Anderson ran as a centrist so you can see how well squishy moderates do against conservatives.) Aside from Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, who had both ran for President on previous occasions, neither of the other 2008 candidates who ran as House members (Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo) lasted long in the process.

On the other hand, running from a Governor’s seat has launched the national political career of four of our last six Presidents – Barack Obama and George H.W. Bush are exceptions. Since Pence is only 51, he has plenty of time to learn to govern on an executive level and could benefit from his predecessor (and current Indiana governor) Mitch Daniels.

So it’s not a complete surprise that Pence sits this one out, although I’m disappointed that my vote in the poll (yes, I’m the lone Pence vote at the moment) is thrown away. But the field for the 2012 Republican nomination needs to begin to form and who’s taking a pass is just as important as who decides to jump in.