|A Lesson--part two/strong>
A couple nights ago I blogged that Republicans need to learn how and when to tell the other side to "get a life." Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has recently delivered just such a message to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The highlight:
The First Lady and I are going to Kosovo to thank these brave, selfless men and women and the families they leave at home. The public is understandably focused on places like Iraq and Afghanistan. We should not forget, however, the tremendous service that members of our military provide in other places such as Kosovo.
That's why it was so disheartening to read the Star Tribune editorial that criticized our trip to Kosovo this weekend. I normally don't bother to respond to the criticism I receive from the Star Tribune editorial writers. Their perspective is hopelessly imbalanced, increasingly shrill and often just simply inaccurate or incomplete.
Not a lot of gray area there, folks (courtesy Powerline)
|Feel The Love
A quick sample of some of the opinions expressed to the Denver Post by members of the crowd at the Kerry rally yesterday.
I've hated George Bush since the day he took office.
I am not a big Kerry fan, but I want him to win so Bush and his policies will not.
Soldiers are being asked to serve for reasons that America has never been about Like, maybe, freedom. . . democracy. . . self-determination. . .
Also expressed, in light of moving the event to the Fillmore,
Man, they've got to get their act together
This is a disaster
If this is how the Democrats are going to run their (expletive) campaign, we're not going to win.
Seems like a huge success. Oh, and then there's this, from the staff writer
But the rally in a rock venue was more drowsy than rowsing, with Kerry giving a long speech to about 3,500 . . .the crowd had to clear airport-like security checks before waiting another 1-1/2 hours for the candidates to appear.
My guess is an objective reported would conclude that the HH book signing was a much bigger success than the Kerry-Edwards rally. Just a guess.
|And Some Prognosticating
Is that a word?? Prognosticating?
Anyway, MSNBC has a story up about how the electoral scoreboard is leaning in the President's favor right now.
A good reminder for those of us who are worried and couldn't get down to the HH pep talk last night.
Just out of curiosity--and also because it was a slow news day--I went back and scanned over some of the polling data from the 2000 election.
Yeah, I know. . .it's gotta be a real slow news day. . .
Anyway, while I was unable to pull up anything as useful as RCP's polling scoreboard, I was able to pull up via google about a dozen stories and reports from 2000. Basically, going into the Dem convention Gore trailed a little, and came out a little ahead, which reflected an improvement for his numbers of anywhere from 5-15 points in the runup to the DNC.
Now, I tend to think that polling data is going to be pretty useless if this race stays close going in to November. I just don't think there's any way to get a good enough sample to call the tight states. I also don't think there will be nearly as much volatility in the polls as there was four years ago. However, I am heartened by the numbers as they stand right now. Even if Kerry gets a 5-point bounce from the DNC, history seems to indicate that that will largely disappear with the RNC, and the Bush team can still blitz the airwaves for three weeks after the DNC to get K-E off the front page.
Now, if they would just get out there in force--I know: buy up huge amounts of ad time on the night of Kerry's speech. I'm afraid that "waiting 'til you see the whites of their eyes" might just give opinion too much time to harden.
|A Lesson for Republicans
Remember what the big story was at the beginning of the week? I know--think back a bit. It's been a big week.
Remember Arnold and the "girlie-man" comment? Yeah, I know. . .seems like longer ago than five days.
My point is simply this: when a Conservative speaks truth or employs humor and the left gets their undies in a bind over it, the proper response is to say, in effect, as Arnold did, "get a life." HH, among others, came out right away and defended the comments, the governor refused to apologize, and the story has gone away.
I wonder, if Trent Lott had taken this approach, if he would still be the Majority Leader.
More importantly, if the President would come out swinging again about pre-war intelligence and the need to act against a perceived threat, I wonder if he would handcuff the rhetoric of the left and shut it down.
Just a thought. I realize Arnold has more charisma than most, which is a big advantage, but. . . Don't you think it might be worth a try?
|Three Questions for John Kerry
1. Given your recent speeches about the Scriptural basis for good works--"Faith without works is dead,my brother--", wouldn't it have been consistent for you to not only oppose the blockage of the Faith-based Initiative, but, indeed, to engage in a "good work" by carrying the legislation to the Hill?
2. If you, as you say, personally oppose and dislike abortion, would you now vow to return all campaign funds given to you by the National Abortion Rights Action League, an organization whose primary purpose is the promotion of abortion?
3. How much time will you be spending on your "Hometown Tour" in Switzerland and France, where you spent much of your childhood?
You know, since he's in town and all.
The first two questions are indicative of why anything remotely tied to Faith and Religion are something like a third rail for a Democrat. Even Joe Lieberman had a tough time negotiating thes waters four years ago, and I hope Kery continues to be dogged by questions such as these. Such reveal the hollowness at the core of any belief system embraced by the left.
|This Is Their Best Argument?
As I often do, today I tuned in to Denver's resident mid-day liberal radio host. She opened her program with a 20 minute dissertation on how sophisticated it is for Democrats to support John Kerry in spite of his weaknesses. She even said at one point "Let's just make sure we get Bush out, and then we can vote for Hillary or whoever next time around."
Oooh. That's inspiring.
If I were going to be in New York for the GOP Convention, I'd make it a point to be in the front row of the protesters holding a sign that read "This Protest Brought To You By Teresa Heinz Kerry" (note here).
How long do you suppose I'd survive?
|Nope, Our Mistake
Reuters has the story that Iraq's Interior Minister called "stupid" reports that nikes had been found. And since this hasn't gotten any other play. . .
Still, what would three missiles be doing hidden under six meters (not feet--my bad) of concrete?
|Uh, You Think This Could Be Important?
Iraq had nukes.
Granted, this has not been confirmed. But three missiles hidden under six feet of concrete specially constructed to thwart detectors probably aren't designed to explode in a rainbow of beautiful colors.
If and when this gets authenticated, it's game, set and match. Because if there's three, there's more. And it's worse than anybody on the left could have possibly imagined--and certainly makes Blix et al to be the fools.
Of course, that also begs the question: if there's more, who has them and just how much danger are we in?
|The Ad Wars
The newest Kerry ad has been running a lot lately--the one with John Edwards touting Kerry's service thirty years ago.
So far, we've seen a surrogate laud his character, and we've seen him push his own vision for national health care. Regardless of the factual laughability of these ads, they have managed to be positive and personable ads--all in all, pretty effective.
By contrast, we've seen little positive from the President's campaign yet. I hope they have something waiting in the wings, because I would have say the campaign has been pretty lackluster so far.
And a note on Colorado politics: the Coors response to the Colorado Conservative Voters' attack ad is, well, disappointing. Besides being not very effective, it is ugly mudslinging and just the sort of thing that makes Democrats giggle. Way to go, guys--there's still plenty of time to lose this election!
|Berger Under Investigation
There's something kinda wierd to this story. I can't quite put my finger on it, but. . .
You would think a former National Security Advisor would have a pretty good idea what the rules are for handling top secret info (and I'm pretty sure that stuffing documents into your pants is not SOP). Which leads to one of two possible conclusions: Berger was desperate to hide something in the short term, knowing the commission would never come back to him in time for their report; or there were things in there that he needed to get into John Kerry's hands.
In either case, makes you feel pretty good about our national security to have this guy advising John Kerry, doesn't it?
|Been Looking For This Answer
Robert Novak answers what I've been wondering for some time: why can't a 51-Senator majority get anything done?
His answer: it's the quality of leadership, starting with Bill Frist and Mitch McConnell.
I would amend that a little bit, and Novak even cites some examples to support my position: the problem is that the GOP is bringing a knife to a gunfight. When you look at how we got ridden down on the Marriage Amendment, on Class-Action Lawsuit Reform, and the way judges have been bottled up for over two years, it looks pretty clear that the GOP in the Senate has no idea that it is in a fight for its life.
I like Bill Frist. I think he's smart, articulate, and I like that he has a real background of public service prior to politics (medicine). But he's outmatched--maybe even worse than Trent Lott was before him. If a Doctor cannot find a way to make the case for tort reform against a bunch of lawyers, than nobody can.
Is it possible that the GOP just got so danged used to being out of power that they never brought up a generation of politicians skilled in wielding power? Seriously, what use is power if you don't know what to do with it? It's like having a brand new, shiny revolver and not knowing where the safety is.
|On Ballot Initiative 99
Ballot Initiative 99 is the proposal to divide Colorado's electoral votes based on the proportion of the popular vote, rather than award them in the current "winner-take-all" style. The chief proponent of this initiative, Sen. Ron Tupa of Boulder (need I add the "D"?) wrote a defense of this measure on the Rocky Mountain News editorial page of today's Denver Post (try explaining that to an out-of-towner).
Below is the letter to the editor I have sent to the Rocky in response.
RE: Ron Tupa "Speakout"
In the Sunday Rocky Sen. Ron Tupa asserts that Initiative 99 "will put Colorado front and center in the national presidential picture, and give our citizens more influence in the election process." He uses this assertion to conclude that this initiative would "[make] Colorado a prized ‘battleground’ state in this and every succeeding presidential election."
What Initiative 99 is in reality is a thinly veiled attempt at diluting the effect of a growing state that seems to be reliably Republican. As the system is currently designed, Colorado has nine electoral votes—not a huge total, but not insignificant. Under the system Tupa designed, Colorado’s nine electoral votes would be apportioned according to overall popular vote in the state. Let’s use the 2000 election as an example: President Bush received 53% of the popular vote in Colorado, while Al Gore received 39%. In the current system, all eight of Colorado’s electoral votes were awarded to President Bush; under Initiative 99, Colorado’s votes would have been split 5-3.
The implications of this change to Colorado’s influence are enormous. What is a mid-sized state with an important electoral vote cache would be reduced to a state in which, at most, two electoral votes are up for grabs. Consider: the Kerry campaign has already had one stop in Denver with another one planned for the near future, because it considers our nine votes up for grabs. Under the Initiative 99, the most either candidate could hope for from Colorado would be three votes (a 6-3 split in a landslide)—hardly worthy of much attention or any resources.
Tupa cites two other states that currently split their electoral vote count in a similar fashion; he neglects to mention that the electoral vote total from both states combined is nine, or that neither state has ever split their electoral vote.
Of course, none of this really matters. What the backers of this initiative are hoping for is to reduce the number of electoral votes President Bush will receive—plain and simple. Were this system in place in 2000, Al Gore would now be President. This plan would do little more than increase the influence of large population centers (California, New York, Texas) on the outcome of elections. And since large states would never dream of reducing their role in elections, Colorado should not be quick to gleefully abdicate its.
Note that on a national scale, had this system been in place, President Bush would have won 266 electoral votes in 2000, Al Gore 262, with the remaining 9 being either Nader votes or uncommitted—nobody getting to the magical 269. And you thought Florida was a fiasco . . .
Admittedly, it is probably too long to get printed. I would welcome any editorial thoughts that might shorten it and make it more attractive as a re-submission closer to the election.
And, by the way, I strongly encourage everybody to oppose this measure. If California and New York decide to do things in a similar way, maybe. . . until then, no way!
|From the Mailroom
I give full credit to Bob Schaffer for distancing himself from the Colorado Conservative Voters ads of late. I would have hoped that such a distancing might have also included a forceful call to cease and desist. In truth, he did say as much. . . they just didn't listen.
Opening paragraph of a letter I recieved from Sen. Bill Armstrong (Retired):
Dear Fellow Republican,
Do you want to elect a conservative Republican to the U.S.Senate, a man with a proven track record of leadership and integrity? Or do you think we whould take a chance on a first-time candidate who is dogged by controversies involving teenage drinking, degrading TV spots, the homosexual agenda and contributions to Democratic candidates, including the probable Democratic nominee for the Senate?
You know, there's a reason the we get stuck with the label of mean-spirited--IT'S ALTOGETHER TOO OFTEN TRUE!!!
This kind of thing just makes me ill. I, too, want a strong voice to speak for center-right values to come from the state of Colorado. But the way this is going, the voice speaking is going to be that of Ken Salazar.
We should listen to Bob Schaffer when he told us to obey RR's 11th Commandment. Somebody tell me a way to make that point to CCV, please.
|Oh, Florida. . .
Yes, yes. . .it's a poll. But it's good to get a snapshot at this juncture, roughly two weeks out since the "dynamic" John Edwards was added to the Kerry team.
According to Strategic Vision (courtesy RCP) despite Edwards, the President holds a statistically insignificant 2 point lead in Florida at this juncture. Read further down and you get the meat of the issue:
However, a concern for the Kerry-Edwards campaign must be that, despite the media focus in the past week on the Edwards selection and the Kerry-Edwards visit to Florida, they were not able to pull ahead of the president with a solid lead. Indeed, our poll indicates no strong bounce for the Democrats."
The poll also gave President Bush an approval rating of 51 percent. On his handling of the economy, it gave him a 47 percent approval rating. On the war in Iraq, it gave the president a 53 percent approval rating.
"The good news for the President is that he is over the magical 50 percent mark for an incumbent," said Johnson, "Iraq is the number to watch and will, I believe, drive the election. If his approval numbers for Iraq begin to increase, I expect that his lead will increase; if it falls, Kerry has an opening. Events in Iraq and the war on terrorism will govern this election."
When asked if they felt the country was going in the right direction or the wrong direction, 48 percent said right, 38 percent said wrong, and 14 percent were undecided.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, this poll is a bit of an outlier. Nonetheless, the internals are very positive. One high-value target could swing this election from neck-and-neck to blowout real quick.
I also note the interview I heard on Hannity on Friday with Ed Goeas of the Battleground Poll. I seem to recall that it was the most accurate of the polls headed into the 2000 election, getting just about all of the battleground states right. Anyway, he said that they've seen a small move towards Kerry-Edwards, not the 10 points some were predicting but not insignificant. However, in his opinion, this race has hardened to the point where, if events go poorly it could be a close Kerry win, OR if events go well it will swing decidedly in the President's direction. Close for Kerry, big for Bush.
Sounds like a bumper sticker waiting to happen.
|On the Federal Marriage Amendment
As readers of this space know (both of them), I am not a big proponent of changing the Constitution to deal with pop culture. I was optimistic that the FMA would be unneccessary, though it could be a case of the right far o'erreaching its rightful role.
But, in light of the Senate killing it, I am less sanguine now. It occurs to me that if judges can ignore the stated will of the people, as they did to start this whole fiasco in Massachussetts, then what would there be to stop them from ignoring DOMA and ruling that the Full Faith and Credit Clause governs this issue, regardless of federal law.
Lefties are fond of asking "What do you need this for?" The answer now, quite clearly, has little to do with the law and everything to do with the courts: to codify a governing principle that would not be subject to "interpretation" by a judge. FMA would tell a judge how they must view marriage without leaving any wiggle room for legal niceties.
Of course, I can't find a Right of Privacy anywhere in the Constitution, either. So I suppose it would still be possible.
Why is John Kerry's view of abortion so cowardly? Because it is that same principle that governs his view of marriage. The idea that his view of right and wrong--however formed--is inadequate to be a basis for making decisions. And, given the chance, who supposes that Kerry would appoint a judge to the bench that would uphold the ennumerated powers to make and give licenses over the brand new and strange idea that marriage is a right?
But I still think the right response would be to get out of the marriage business altogether. Let a legislature say "so you're going to take away that power of licensing from us? then we will no longer grant any such licenses." Sure, there's an element of "taking my ball and going home" in there; so what.
|On the Senate Race
I'm glad Bob Schaffer held the press conference today to denounce the ads by the Colorado Conservative Voters. Somebody had better stop the cannibalism.
Honestly, Coors pushes the gay agenda? CCV needs to get a grip. This is just as bad as the garbage that comes out of Begala or Carville on a daily basis. Luckily, the difference is (or at least, should be) we don't invite these people to the table.
Some thoughts on my most recent excursion to parts elsewhere:
:if you ever have a chance, and are headed towards Arizona at a time of year when the weather looks reasonable, you really must to the drive out I-70 into Utah, through Moab, and down into AZ through Monument Valley. I'm not sure I have any words adequate to describe the awe I felt driving through these extraordinary rock formations. It was as if God decided at one time to build a temple to himself out of redstone, and chose the deserts of the American southwest as his location. It is really beautiful, and awesome, and well worth the drive. Not to mention a little bit quicker route to Phoenix than Albequeque.
:it was very good to see my brother, his wife, and my nephew (the one with CF). They seem to have settled into a strange dance routine around his treatments and keeping him healthy and breathing, and. . . it's pretty remarkable. The lad has an abundance of energy, and with the exception of the treatments you'd never know he was sick--in fact, you'd think him a prime candidate for ritalin. I'm not sure what God was thinking vis-a-vis my brother and sister-in-law, but I'm quite certain that he chose them as parents for Tyler for a very specific and positive reason.
:Phoenix up to Vegas is another awe-inspiring drive. The black canyons of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area are God's temple in blackstone--a breathtaking collection of canyons and lake beaches--, and the Hoover Dam is man's incredible attempt to measure up as engineers. It is a vacation in itself to see such sights, and none of that had anything to do with why my wife and I got into the car in the first place.
:Las Vegas is Las Vegas. First of all, the architecture, as gaudy and in poor taste as much of it is, is also representative of what Americans are capable of. Just, for example, the Venetian Hotel, which has an actual canal running through the shopping district, which is roofed by a very good replica of a skyline. Just unbelievable. And everything is getting bigger--three of the big hotels were in various stages of expansion while we were there.
:It occurred to me while I was there that more money goes in and out of Vegas in a week than through many (perhaps most) small countries in the world in an entire year, and we devote the whole thing to entertainment. Easy to see why we're the subject of so much envy around the world.
:Um. . .there are . . .well, there is . . . an odd obsession with butts in Vegas. I mean, I know that there is a seedy underbelly to the City of Lights. But I guess it still catches you off guard to see a 60 foot billboard of the posterior region of a showgirl. And then more on the busses. And then the cabs. and. . . and. . . Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. Just, well, an observation.
:And I managed to return to Denver with some of my money still in pocket. All in all, a grand success.
Today I get word that my brother in Maryland has chosen to vent his various political views in the same way as the rest of us (which, generally, is after our wives have told us, in effect, 'tell someone who cares'): by blogging. Smart guy, worth a read at otranews.blogspot.com.
Jump in, bro! The water's great!
|Going Away Again
The wife and I are going away for a couple days, so I'm signing off. Enjoy the thoughts of the rest of the RMA.
Until then. . .
|On the Senate Race
This post is all about controlling the battleground, one of Sun-Tzu's crucial components to success in battle.
A couple days ago I wrote about how out of touch I thought the first mailer from the Schaffer campaign was. Well, today, I saw the new Coors TV spot. . .about spending controls and balanced budgets!
I must be the one out of touch--either that, or polling among GOPers in Colorado must be showing that government spending is a high priority. Nonetheless, in that Schaffer got his shot off first (though not as loudly as a statewide TV campaign), and has a proven track record on this issue, I judge that control of the battlefield right now belongs to Schaffer. I'll be curious to see how he presses that advantage.
In a similar way, in my little State Senate district, I just got a mailer from our serving Sen. Sue Windels. She touts her advocacy of local politicking like the kind that stopped the WalMart, of small business development advocacy, and of stopping Colorado job outsourcing (?!?!?)--which are the traditional battleground of Republicans. In particular, Windels' GOP opponent this fall will be Jessica Correy, well known to those who fought the WalMart as an outspoken advacate for the community against government intrusion. This round: Correy.
|Good Thought From Smart Brother
The brother I went to visit in Maryland last week weighed in on my post re: Kerry and abortion from a couple days ago.
The best point:
And taking this off the deep end (I shouldn't, but it's fun): so is it that
you don't believe that the termination of life is murder?; or is it that you
don't believe the government should legislate murder? Or would the free pass
only apply to religiously-motivated murder (since we have a separation of church
To extend: perhaps since "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is clearly religiously grounded, we ought to seriously consider getting all murder laws off the books.
Nice shot, bro.
|The Senate Race For Money
As others have noted, the campaigns have reported their fundraising success in Q2. Salazar out in front, with Coors (sans self-funding) in second, distantly followed by Schaffer and Miles.
Of Salazar's advantage, here's a key point:
About half of the contributions came from out of state.
From today's Post.
Suppose THAT pattern's likely to change anytime soon??
|Speaking of Painful Moments. . .
I actually agreed with something Mike Littwin wrote this morning. The key graf:
No, the problem is that Kerry has yet to identify himself as anything other than the Anti-Bush - a role Michael Moore plays much more convincingly - with no particular vision for America other than it will be Bush-free. Oh, I almost forgot. He also says at every stop that he wants the international (yawn) community to go to Iraq, meaning the debacle will be, well, internationalized.
And that's pretty much it.
Ask yourself to put Kerry's vision for America in a sentence. Or in a paragraph. For that matter, ask Kerry.
If someone as out-of-touch lefty as Littwin is saying this, exactly how are the in-touch lefties (is that an oxymoron?) talking about the campaign?
|From the StateHouse
In what had to be a painful moment, State Senate Minority Leader Andrew Romanoff (D) actually proposed a tax cut.
Sure, I haven't had time to study all the details, or what side-door mechanism he's proposing. But this is one of the strangest headlines I've seen in a few years.
Note: I spent a day at the StateHouse this Spring with my Dem State Senator; she described Romanoff as a "rising star." Perhaps she's right.
Strangely slow news day, following yesterday's big announcement. There are stories out there, to be sure; it just remains to be seen whether the mainstream press gives them much play. We'll see tomorrow.
In the meantime, at least according to Rasmussen, Edwards added nothing to the ticket. Sure, it's a three-day rolling average tracking poll which would moderate any dramatic overnight changes, but the Kerry number actually went down based on last night's polling. Not that that will hold, but it does say something about first impressions.
In addition, there is some to-do being made over Rasmussen's numbers in Florida (Kerry 48, Bush 43). Not to spin, but keep in mind that the margin of error on this poll is 4%, which is both fairly large and puts these numbers in the margin; also to get to the sample size this polling--by its own explanation--either allowed for oversampling or had to take data that is many weeks old. I agree it doesn't look good in FL, but it's not really a five point game.
|Thoughts on the Veep
Well, surprise, surprise. . .I was wrong. Edwards is the man for the job of Kerry's VP.
A safe choice. Clearly a signal of Kerry's intent to run a safe campaign. I think this really gains him nothing, but does fit with the conventional wisdom of "do no harm." I think this is a signal that the Kerry camp believes this election will be won or lost based on events, not on the people, and that the best they had to do with this event was not screw up. They succeeded.
Sadly, if something happens that makes people look really carefully at the actual job of being VP, which largely consists of being Pres in case something happens, Edwards is a woefully inadequate choice. Like, imagine a terror attack in Boston on the day of John Edwards' speech. A man with no military, no foreign relations, no law enforcement, no serious experience whatsoever--and he's next. In 1988 I had a very difficult time pulling the lever for Bush 41 because the first major choice of his "presidency" was putting Dan Quayle one heartbeat from the Presidency (hey, what did I know. . .I was 19). I think there will be a number of serious Democrats (okay, I know there aren't that many to begin with) who will say "this guy is next in line?"
I also made the point to a radio show today that the attack on Edwards will be fairly easy.
[cue ominous music]
show pictures of seniors and troubled children, followed by statistical backing of assertions, while resonant voiceover says:
Health Care costs are out of control in this country. On top of that, doctors are leaving the profession in droves. Their number one reason? Inability to keep up with the rising cost of malpractice insurance.
You think insurance companies play unfair? Joe Schmoe won a 2 million dollar settlement for breaking his toe after falling out of a hopital bed while having his stomach pumped for alcohol overdose. . .
Continue citing ridiculous lawsuits and their effect on the cost of health insurance.
John Edwards has made a fortune winning lawsuits such as these. Is this really the man you want overseeing health care reform?
Or something to that effect. The more Americans are reminded that he's a LAWYER, the easier it will be to marginalize him.
My guess is, however, that he will have almost no effect on the outcome. He does no harm. Fine. Let's get back to the main event.
It is funny, however, to note the Kerry camp's willingness to snub Hillary by naming the heir apparent. Could make for good theater.
|More On Kerry
This story was front and center on FoxNews for a few hours this morning. The key graf: Kerry told the paper, "I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception." Further: "I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist," he continued in the interview. "We have separation of church and state in the United States of America."
This strikes me for two reasons. One of which is the obvious moral cowardice of the position. Being a man, I know that I will never be in the position of deciding whether or not to terminate my pregnancy--biological fact. However, that does not preclude me from being able to think, opine, or someday vote on the subject, any more than lack of military service precluded FDR from running the military during WWII. So, as a man, there comes a time when you have to act on a belief; in the Senator's case, his choice of action is to give prima facia support to abortion. I might buy his "personal opposition" if he refused to take campaign donations from NARAL, NOW, or Planned Parenthood; as it is, his statement to the media was nothing more than announcing that he does not have the courage of his convictions. Separation of Church and State has no more to do with this issue than it did slavery--a deeply held personal belief transcends Church, no matter how much it coincides with it.
The second point, though, is purely political: who might Kerry be trying to give cover to with the Catholic Church? To my knowledge, neither Gephardt or Edwards are Catholic, so that's not that important an issue. But the Archbishop of St. Louis--Gephardt's back yard--has been the most outspoken critic of Kerry's abortion position. Was this a way of mitigating that criticism in a state he's hoping to gain by naming one of its own his V.P.?
Or was it a simple campaign blunder?
I guess we'll see.
|Thoughts On the Veep
If we have learned nothing about John Kerry in the past year, it is that this person has very little, if any, political courage.
Therefore, expect tomorrow's announcement to be fairly ho-hum: Edwards or Gephardt, with my money being on Gephardt. Not because of any great strength, but Gephardt is the one most likely to obey VP rule number one: do no harm.
I suspect the talk of Hillary last week was nothing more than a high, inside fastball. Sort of a warning shot to the critics about what he could do. Vilsack gains him nothing except the chance to look interesting in comparison; Edwards, while interesting, gains him nothing and damages him with the most important Democratic base--the Clintons.
So, with all the proven ability to prognosticate demonstrated during the primaries, I make a call for Dick Gephardt.
Quick, put your money elsewhere.
|Thoughts On Independence Day
On the way home from church today my 8-year old asked why July 4th was a holiday.
My first reaction was a rather verbose answer all about the Declaration of Independence, the rights of the governed, war, courage, and other things that made my poor daughter's eyes glaze over. This sad tendency of mine is why my wife "encouraged" me a couple years ago to stop talking to her about politics and start writing.
The short answer, arrived at after seeing the blank stares of my family, is that July 4th was that day the Americans declared themselves free of British rule and free to rule their own destiny.
Of course, that's not the whole story. In so doing, Thomas Jefferson codified revolutionary thought: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,. . ." He expressed the uniquely American character of government: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." And, of course, he started a war.
Let me restate that: he started a war. The Declaration of Independence, which signing we celebrate today as the unique American Holiday, was a declaration of war.
I think, too often, we forget exactly what this day means. That the founding fathers of this nation saw their own rights of self-governance as so important to their existence that they were willing to pledge "their Lives, their Fortunes and [their] sacred Honor" is a lesson that would well be studied more today. These men thought freedom an important enough principle that they were willing to put themselves, their homes and towns, and their wives and children in the crosshairs of the Royal British Army--and they paid for that principle with many lives.
Would we have the same courage today? Would we have the same faith in "divine Provenance?" And if we did, would we be allowed to invoke it?
I regret that schools are not in session around the Fourth of July--it deserves the sort of academic treatment that Martin Luther King gets in February.
|Random Thought from Vacation
Remember how the Dems keep attacking W on the grounds that he's "the most divisive President in history?" I was thinking. . .really? More divisive than Lincoln? He actually split the country in two, so strong was his belief in principle. I don't think anything this President has done compares.
Just a thought.
|Impressions From Back East
I loved our trip this week to the Washington DC area. My brother was a most gracious host who has made for himself (with some smart decorating from the wife) an impressive home and two great kids. And, never having spent much time back there, I left with very strong impressions. Allow me to share them with you . . . both of you.
First of all, my brother lives quite a distance from D.C. proper, so we actually weren't around the capitol all that much. But I really enjoyed driving through that country--the history of the place is palpable. On Monday we drove in towards Richmond to go to King's Dominion Park, and driving past the farms, hills, forests and rivers you get a little sense for what dealing with that terrain might have been like for the Union and Confederate Armies. It was almost like you could hear the bugle calls echoing down through the ages, out of the fog, and into the 21st century. The terrain is so different than anything we have out west here that, unless you see it, you just have no concept of what it would be like.
Secondly, the number, size and density of the trees back there is unlike anything I've ever seen before. Most of the time, unless you were actually in the city proper, you could not see more than 10 feet in either direction off of the highways, so thick was the growth. I could never survive there--I'm so used to getting myself in the vicinity and then eyeballing my destination, that I would spend my whole life backtracking to missed exits and brief breaks in the trees to get some glimpse of where I was. More on driving adventures later in the post.
The National Mall is a most impressive place--a fitting tribute to the greatness of this nation's history. Unfortunately, the Washington Monument was surrounded by a construction zone for re-sodding, and the approach of July 4th brought work crews to every other place on the Mall, but that did not diminish the grandeur of the whole experience. Of course, being a Lincoln-phile, I think the Lincoln Memorial is the highlight of the city. I've never been to it before, and to see the tributes all around the statue to the words he uttered and the beliefs he fought for was moving. We also got the see the White House from outside the South fence, and walked through the Reagan Building (where there's a huge slab of the Berlin Wall), and went past and through several of the Smithsonian Institute buildings. Washington's vision of the seat of power being one to impress allies and daunt enemies has really come to fruition.
Of course, the rest of DC blows. Seriously (here's where I talk about driving adventures). I figured between my brother's directions, a map, and my comfort with 'winging it', I would be allright driving the rental into the city and finding everything without problem. And I was right--to a point. There's this little detour that took me from the Lincoln Memorial back over a bridge to Arlington National Cemetary which wasn't on the maps, and eventually led me into Georgetown. . . where there was much road construction. . . followed by bizarre one-ways and detours. Whereas I managed to reach the Lincoln Memorial a mere hour and 15 minutes after leaving my brother's, it wasn't until after about three hours that I managed to park and unload the family. Which was still nothing compared to trying to find my way out of the city after driving up to Catholic University--even after asking directions!! Suffice to say, while I love those parts of the city devoted to our history and greatness, the ill-planned squalor of the rest of the city leaves much to be desired.
And, by the way, kudos to the Mrs. for tolerating my muddling with grace and patience. She even got in the best line of the trip, when I observed that our Starbuck's in DC didn't taste as good or as sweet as what we were used to, she quipped that "everything in Washington is more bitter these days."
We also squeezed in a trip up to Baltimore to see the new waterfront and go to the aquarium. Very cool--not quite the reclamation success story that our own LoDo has become, but pretty nice, nonetheless.
So, it was a big trip, and my 8 year old was very impressed. I was hopeful that she would see some of the monuments and develop some small interest in their meanings, and I think we succeeded in that. And the 3 year old did the flights, and layovers, and travelling really well, so. . . It's god to be back, and blogging, but I would seriously like to make that an annual trip.
Just got in the mail today the first mass mailing from either candidate--it was from Bob Schaffer. Should I say any of the four, rather than either?? I think it unlikely I'll get anything from Miles or Salazar, so for now. . .
At any rate, it's a slick, glossy, color piece that puts the candidate in a very positive light.
One problem, to my mind: the 'title' of the mailer is "Experience Working for a Balanced Federal Budget." Now, this is going to get me in trouble with some of my friends out there, but if your first salvo in the 2004 election cycle is about the balanced budget, then you are off in the weeds somewhere.
My thinking, and this is confirmed by the Battleground Poll of this week, is that issue number one is terrorism; number two is terrorism; and number three is homeland security. My first salvo, if I were a campaign manager (yes, everybody, I share your relief that I am not), would be strengthening our ability to stop--not respond to--terrorist attacks at home. This would lead to a statement of support for the aspects of the Patriot Act that have led to arrests in Buffalo, Illinois, and, very recently, Minneapolis. I would forcefully make the case that my priority as a Senator is defending my constituents, even if that means taking the war to the enemy. At some point, this could easily morph into a statement about the need to make sure judges sit on the federal benches who would rule that America needs the same legal weapons to deal with Islamicist terrorists that the courts gave it to deal with the Nazis (more on SCOTUS another day).
If there's a second issue, it's obviously taxes and letting people have more of their own money to tend to those people and causes that they care for. The answer to the question of deficits lies in growth, and growth comes at the other end of a job and security. The history of the 1980s shows us that deficits in the face of meeting military challenges are not an evil, and compared to the necessities of ensuring job growth and security, a balanced budget is a small point.
Now, granted, Coors' TV ads so far have been little more than the standard pabulum of pride, feel-good, and vague statements of position. Nonetheless, it is disappointing to me that the Schaffer campaign thinks--and has chosen to make--this issue its centerpiece. It's like having a smaller force trying to attack an elevated position with limited ammo, and choosing as its first target the woods on either side of the enemy. Necessary clean-up work, but if your resources are limited, that first round had better be at the center of mass.
Back in town now, though I think my brain is still somewhere over the Mississippi River Valley.
I've spent a couple hours tonight trying to get caught up on the news. And the most important thing I've seen is the Battleground Poll (courtesy RealClearPolitics). Unfortunately, blogger seems to be having one of those nights, so I can't link it, but you can find it on your own.
The salient points I saw were twofold: in the question of which candidate can handle what better, Bush has a comfortable lead on the issue of terrorism; more importantly, in the general Congressional question of how important various issues are, handling terrorism was both the most important and the second most important issues for a Congressional cnadidate.
In other words, terrorism is a very high priority to the American people still, and the President has a comfortable margin on that point.
Game. Set. Match.