Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Moving...

At the invitation of its founder, I've been invited to join the brand-new political blog, Race 4 2008! This is an exciting opportunity, and I'm looking forward to working with the great team over there as we dissect the coming presidential race. I encourage you to check back here for updates, but most of my work will now appear over there, so be sure to bookmark it and visit often.
|

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

So much Bull...

The Bull Moose posts a piece today on the politics of realignment, contrasting today's GOP POTUS and his political wizard with the Republican president of a century ago, William McKinley, and his key advisor, Mark Hanna. According to the Moose, Rove's long-held belief that GWB is McKinley-incarnate has been proven incorrect, with Bush/Rove failing to replicate the long-term GOP realignment McKinley and Hanna produced at the turn of the last century. I couldn't disagree more, and I find the Moose's post to be, quite frankly, a lot of bull.

The Moose begins with the following premise:

"Rove has fashioned himself as a modern Mark Hanna. Hanna created the McKinley candidacy by...manufacturing a..."different kind of Republican" who was compassionate and reached out to new immigrant groups."

Fair enough. You did your research, Moose. Tell us more.

"Alas, it was not to be for W."

Wait. So GWB isn't a compassionate Republican who reaches out to new immigrant groups? Um, weren't these very themes, you know, at the core of Bush's presidential runs? I'm just saying... Well, let's give the Moose a chance to explain himself.

"While McKinley rode a Republican ascendancy and steered a centrist course, Bush has governed from the right and may be presiding over the end of GOP dominance."

McKinley was a centrist? And that explains why he won two close elections that were mirror images of Bush's 2000 and 2004 victories? At this point, the Moose turns to James Traub of the NYT, focusing on Traub's description of the McKinley era in an effort to illustrate all the ways in which that era differs from today's political climate. Let's examine some of Traub's statements:

"First of all, McKinley was facing a particularly hapless generation of Democrats."

Um. And that's different from Pelosi/Reid/Gore/Kerry/Hillary how?

Traub next addresses McKinley's first election in 1896.

"...the (Democratic) party took a decisive turn to the left in 1896 by choosing the populist Bryan..."

Just replace "1896" with "2000" and "Bryan" with "Gore" and you still have a true statement.

"...(Bryan) ran again in 1900 and 1908."

Well, Gore didn't run again in 2004, but a Gore clone by the name of John Kerry did. Those two basically won all the same states. And the leftist base of the Democratic Party is now touting a Gore run for 2008. Once again, I'm not seeing the vast differences in these periods that apparently both Traub and Moose are cognizant of. What gives? Okay, maybe the differences are on the GOP side. Let's see what Traub has to say about McKinley's GOP.

"Second, while McKinley had the good fortune to arrive at the dawn of a new era, Bush came along three decades after Republicans broke into the Democrats' solid South to establish a new majority."

Hmm. McKinley didn't really arrive at the dawn of anything. The Republican coalition was 36 years into a majority status that had been ushered in by Lincoln. By the time McKinley came to power, the country was divided almost perfectly along regional lines, with the south and west voting Democratic and the north and east voting Republican. This is how McKinley won both of his elections --- with his second victory being slightly bigger than his first. If anything, it looked as if McKinley was presiding over the end of GOP rule until Teddy Roosevelt changed the map in 1904 by turning the broad west red. It was the equivalent of, say, Rudy Giuliani winning the GOP nod in 2008 and bringing in the vast, purple northern midwest over to the Republican column.

The problem with both Moose and Traub is that each is viewing history retrospectively instead of attempting to imagine what history would've looked like at this point during McKinley's reign. Prior to TR's 1904 victory, Taft's rout in 1908, and GOP dominance of government for the next couple of decades, many political observers of the time probably questioned McKinley's effectiveness as a party-builder and at least a few likely opined that the twilight of the Lincoln coalition was upon the nation. It had been nearly four decades since Lincoln, Democrats had won the White House twice in recent years with the very successful Grover Cleveland, McKinley couldn't quite figure out how to play to the west or south, and America appeared to be a nation with an ever-so-slight Republican edge. Despite what Moose and Traub think, this is exactly the political environment we're currently dealing with. All Republicans need is another Teddy Roosevelt to break the modern-day red/blue divide wide open and bring the Reagan Democrats from the industrial north back to the GOP with a promise of leaner, smarter government, fiscal responsibility, and a government that responds to their very real concerns in a conservative way.
|

Half of America won't vote for Hillary; Gore

At least that's what CNN found in its latest poll on the subject of 2008. The poll presents dire news for both the former First Lady and the ex-veep; 47 percent of Americans won't vote for Hillary in 2008, while 48 percent refuse to cast a vote for Al. Compare that to only 30 percent of Americans who will refrain from voting Giuliani in '08.

It's bad news for the Democrats when both their establishment candidate and their base's fantasy candidate have nearly half of the country united against them. Polls like this demonstrate something I've long believed: the Democrats can't win in 2008, but the Republicans can lose if they nominate the wrong candidate. Example: in the same poll, a 63 percent supermajority of Americans refuse to entertain the thought of President Jeb Bush. Now, Jeb's not running in '08 and even if he did, Republicans probably wouldn't nominate him. But this number shows exactly how Republicans can lose the next election --- by selecting a candidate who is too Bush-like and attempting to play the red/blue game yet another time despite a clear indication that Americans want something a bit different this time around.

As such, my newest motto for 2008: save democracy, beat Hillary, nominate Rudy.
|

Monday, June 19, 2006

Al snubs Joe

Gore avoids endorsing his former running mate in a not-so-subtle way when asked about this year's CT Senate race. This shouldn't be surprising. We learned in 2000 that Al Gore is a spoiled child; the resurgence in public support for the former veep is likely the result of a leadership vacuum on the Left coupled with buyers' remorse from many Bush voters. I was surprised to hear my grandparents --- prototypical Reagan Democrats --- express a desire for a Gore run in 2008 awhile back, especially considering he was too liberal for them to stomach in 2000 and has since moved to the Kossite Left.

I suppose it's human nature to associate the bad news of the last six years with the current White House occupant, and to assume that, had the election turned out differently, history would have as well. Emotive responses aside though, events like 9-11, the economic downturn, and Katrina would've occurred regardless of who won the presidency in 2000. A closet liberal turned brazen leftist is not the future of our country. If the Democrats are stupid enough to think otherwise, Gore will suffer the same fate as William Jennings Bryan, another Democrat who, a century ago, was nominated multiple times and was responsible for a string of Republican presidencies.
|

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The "Hottest" Woman in Politics?

The website Politics1 decided to take a reader survey to determine the answer to the pressing question of just exactly who is the hottest woman in American politics today. Readers chose Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee as the political world's most sought-after vixen, closely followed by Rep. Stephanie Herseth of South Dakota.

I have to part with the general public on this one. I find Herseth far more alluring than Blackburn --- and I think the most attractive woman on this site by far is Michigan state senator Whitmer, who only placed third. Perhaps it's my Rust Belt roots that cause me to prefer ladies from the fine stock of the northern midwest over the southern and western political beauties that dominate the poll. But what do I know.

Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments section.
|

Allen leads Webb, but barely

Word on the street is that VA Sen. George Allen currently leads Democratic challenger James Webb by only ten percentage points, 51 percent to 41 percent.

Told ya this would be a sleeper.
|

Friday, June 16, 2006

Fiscally fisking the '08 field

I suppose I should back up my assertions regarding the fiscal liberalism of Allen, Huckabee, and McCain. A mere glance at the records of each of these individuals on taxes and spending reveals that none can be trusted on both. And all fail the fiscal test that I've set forth for our nominee in '08 --- that the Republican presidential nominee must be to the right of our most recent Democratic president. Once again, I'm hopeful this meme will catch fire in the fiscal conservative community soon, as our country literally can not afford to have another fiscal liberal as president.

McCain, of course, has long been a critic of the profligate spending that our GOP government has wrought, and remains a strong opponent of pork and waste. His history, however, suggests he's probably about where Bill Clinton is on fiscal issues: an advocate of lower spending and higher taxes. He voted against the Bush tax cuts in 2001. Presumably, he would've preferred both taxes and spending remain at Clinton levels. I suppose "tax-and-don't-spend" is marginally better for the country than the current policy of "don't-tax-and-spend," but is it really too much to ask that the Republican presidential candidate oppose both high taxes and reckless spending?
Then there's Allen. The former Virginia governor received a "C" on his fiscal report card from Cato in 1996. Cato's criticism: Allen had completely capitulated to the legislature on the growth of government. Hey, at least he didn't raise taxes. Fiscally, Allen's first term would probably be a lot like Bush's second. We can do better than that.

And then of course there's Huckabee. As I've already fisked his record quite nicely thanks to the good folks at the Club for Growth, there's no need for further comment. Huckabee is McCain on taxes and Allen on spending. The worst of all fiscal worlds.

Only Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have demonstrated a commitment to both low taxes and discipline on spending. I detail Rudy's fiscal record below and Romney's can be found here. Either would be a breath of fresh air after the last six years. And both are more fiscally conservative than the last three presidents, two of whom were Republicans named Bush. Go figure.
|

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Rudy: Fiscal Conservative

Another reason that I support a Giuliani '08 bid: Rudy, along with Romney, is probably the most fiscally conservative candidate in the GOP field. As I said before, fiscal conservatives should take the following pledge regarding 2008: no candidate to the left of Bill Clinton on fiscal issues will be allowed to claim the GOP nomination. McCain, Allen, and Huckabee all fail that test. Rudy, Romney, and Newt pass. It is a sad state of affairs when half of the most likely GOP presidential candidates are no more conservative on fiscal issues than the most recent Democratic president. But that's what the current Beltway crowd has wrought.

Since I don't think Gingrich is a serious candidate, and since I doubt he'd be viable in the general, that makes '08 a choice between Rudy and Mitt for me. Right now I'm leaning Rudy. His impressive fiscal record can be found on what is basically his presidential campaign site. Some notables include the following:

* Giuliani cut taxes in NYC by 22 percent, or $8 billion.
* Rudy's economy produced over 400,000 jobs, the strongest 7-year gain on record.
* Rudy turned a $2.3 billion deficit into a surplus.
* Giuliani reduced the size of government by cutting the city payroll by 19 percent (when was the last time a president of either party actually sent lazy civil servants packing?).
* Rudy slowed the growth of government to below the rate of inflation.
* Rudy did all of this while maintaining services that benefit most people, like law enforcement and education.

Rudy did for NYC what the Republicans should be doing at the federal level: cutting unnecessary parts of government, making the state work more efficiently, enhancing necessary public services, and doing it all while keeping taxes low and the budget balanced. This puts Rudy to the right of our last three presidents on fiscal matters. Fiscal conservatives have a candidate in Rudy.
|

Noonan musings

The always impenetrable Peggy Noonan weighs in on Webb and Rudy and the current state of the Democratic Party. Money quote:

"One can argue about why the Democratic Party no longer seems to have a reason for being. I believe the reason is this: They have achieved what they set out to achieve in 1932, when the modern Democratic Party began. They got what they asked for, achieved what they fought for. They got a big government that offers a wide array of benefits and assistance; they got a powerful federal establishment that collects and dispenses treasure, that assumes societal guidance. They got Social Security and Medicare. They got civil rights... They got what they stood for."

Peggy's right on the money. Majoritarian political coalitions live and die based on common goals. That is, after all, what a coalition is: a litany of individuals and groups and voting blocs that come together to advance common interests. When those common interests cease to exist --- either because the coalition accomplishes its goals or because history makes the goals moot --- then the coalition quite naturally explodes and the seeds for realignment, and the development of a new majority coalition, are planted.

Of course, the same fate will eventually befall the current political majority --- the Reagan coalition --- which came together in 1980 to save the American economy from excessive taxation and regulation, to put a stop to the gutting of freedom and tradition via hyper-secularism and the PC-police, to destroy Communism, to restore fiscal sanity, and to reduce the size and scope of the federal leviathan. The first three of these goals are basically accomplished. The top tax rate is half what it was when Reagan took office; Communism is dead and buried; the federal courts are packed with conservatives who respect Americans' right to freedom of thought and religion. The remaining goals of the Reaganite center-right majority in this country will require tough actions from a far tougher leader than the current Beltway establishment can produce. The restoration of fiscal sanity in this country and the reduction of state control over citizens' lives can only be accomplished by a combination of serious entitlement reform, continued privatization of government services, the gutting of pork and waste, and busting up the remaining government monopolies like the public school system. It will take a political giant to accomplish these tasks. And yet these shared goals are all that hold together a motley crew of neocons and paleocons, libertarians and social conservatives, tax cutters and deficit hawks, and main-street business types and working-class farmer/labor types that are the national Republican majority.
|

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Rudy on Energy and Education

A few months ago, I was convinced that Rudy Giuliani wouldn't run for president in 2008. I'm now convinced that he will. The latest glimpse into a Giuliani Administration's domestic policy was revealed just days ago in NYC. Ryan Sager has the scoop. Sager's conclusion is not dissimilar to mine: Rudy Giuliani is running as a center-right Republican with the reformism of a Perot, the conservatism of a Gingrich, and the leadership of a Reagan.

Rudy covered only two issues during the event --- education and energy --- but his stances on those issues speak volumes regarding his political temperment. On energy, Giuliani correctly identified the bulk of America's problems as the result of neither supply nor demand; instead, the problem lies in the inability of our country to efficiently translate our energy supply into something usable and thus meet the needs of the nation. Rudy's solution? More refineries; more nuclear plants; more ethanol. Okay, okay, that last one was clearly a ploy to win votes in Iowa. But, as the mayor will have to win over Iowa before he can face the nation, I think that this minor transgression can be forgiven.

On education, Rudy made clear his belief in a system that benefits everyone, not just those who can afford to attend the priciest private schools or who are lucky enough to live in the best suburban school districts. Our public school system is a monopoly, says the mayor, and, as with all monopolies, the consumer ends up getting screwed. Giuliani strongly advocated the introduction of market principles into public education in order to make sure that working class rural and urban kids have the same opportunities as their wealthier counterparts. Rudy was sure to stress, though, that education is primarily the states' responsibility, and while Washington can lead, it should be mindful of the principles of federalism.

Giuliani's statements are significant for a host of reasons, but one is tantamount. The Rudy Giuliani we're seeing on the stump is the same Rudy Giuliani New Yorkers elected twice. His positions haven't changed. He was a conservative reformer then, and he's a conservative reformer now. As such, I can predict that conservatives will be elated when they learn of Rudy's conservative stances on taxes and spending, positions that he put into practice while governing the Big Apple. Given the shape of the 2008 field, Giuliani may end up running to the right of almost everyone on fiscal issues, and that will be significant given the fiscal shortcomings of our current GOP leadership. But that's a topic for another time.
|