My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


What Needs to Happen in the Reagan Debate 

You want the Truth? You want the TRUTH? You can't handle the truth . . .

Mitt Romney needs a home run tonight. Not just a home run--a bases jacked, bottom of the ninth off of the closer kind of home run.

Because let's face it, for all intents and purposes, it IS the bottom of the ninth.

Romney can't be Mr. Nice Guy tonight. He has to find some way to come off as more than smart and genial--he has to show that he has that certain solidity of character and force of personality that would make him a formidable opponent for Hillary and a meaningful person in the Oval Office.

But more than that, he has to find some way to goad St. John into revealing the personality a lot of us think is there but which he has kept carefully, tightly under wraps this campaign.

In short, nothing short of a Tom Cruise-Jack Nicholson-A Few Good Men moment will do tonight.

I'm not holding my breath for that, either.

By the way, if that moment goes wanting, A Few Good Men is actually on TBS at the same time as the debate.

I'll live blog as much of this debate as I can put up with, though the post may not actually make it up until much later tonight.

6:14 Romney has just ticked off the litany of Republican disputes with McCain over the last eight years, and McCain's response is "I'm proud of my record, but here's what Romney did . . ." He can't pivot away from his own record fast enough. And, for what it's worth, Romney the first person I've heard make the case that not only is McCain-Feingold bad law, but it has hurt Republicans. He said it too much in passing, but it was good that he put it out there, at least.

Oh, this is a mistake. Romney's trying to defend his record, instead of pivoting back to the original question and hammering on McCain's record. Bad tactical move--too "nice"

6:22 McCain's standard line on the environment "Suppose I'm wrong/suppose I'm right" He never answers--NOR DOES ANYBODY BOTHER TO ASK--how does he justify the extraordinary expense to Americans and to American business. I also note that he seems to be accepting ALGore's line that the science is over. I think somebody must have told him to try to be funny--its a bit of a stretch.

Romney's answer on the environment starts with national security, and that's good; then he attacks the economics of McCain's plan--excellent!

I have to say, if Mike Huckabee had any foreign policy credentials at all, I'd probably be pretty happy to work for him for President. He speaks exceedingly well, he connects with people better than any Republican since Reagan, and he understands the domestic side of the debate as well as anybody up there.

Well, okay . . . except for the I-95 goofiness, which sounds a lot like the New Deal to me.

6:31 There's a telling moment--Huckabee gets off a good laugh line, and Romney turns to McCain to share an aside, and McCain leans away from him and snubs him. Far from gracious.

6:33 Gosh, get the curmudgeon off the stage. Oh, and this time I'm talking about Ron Paul.
And don't even bother, Snaggletooth--I had enough of translating "hillbilly" when I read Huckleberry Finn

6:35 did McCain just suggest that Wall Street should be punished for the lending problem? That's a brilliant formulation. Somebody gave him very specific talking points on the economy (sub-prime, uh, . . .situation).

Oh, go Janet Hook! Put McCain right on the hook about the tax cuts and his rhetoric. His answer: claim a role in the Reagan revolution, mention that he had a plan that we didn't use, and then project to now. He works so hard to avoid talking about the last eight years, and never bothers to actually answer the question.

And now, as Romney brings that up, he looks downright irritated. And now Romney goes after the entitlements--good. But on this one, at least McCain was side-by-side with the President three years ago as he tried to push forward Social Security reform.

6:46 That's three dodges--McCain just refuses to answer about his immigration bill. I don't know if that helps him or hurts him.

6:57 I actually think a hard shot across the bow of W on the party would have been warranted, but at least he understands that the bigger issue of the GWOT hijacked a lot of his agenda, and also found a way to swing at the Dems.

6:58 Even though the moderators are being polite to Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee, it is obvious that they are confining the bigger points of the debate to Mitt-McCain: good. Also, he's showing a good little bit of anger about McCain's lies regarding his record on Iraq, while McCain sits next to him sort of smugly smiling--almost condescending in his manner. It's unseemly. Though, speaking of unseemly, complaining about the timing of McCain's attack is beneath him, though I like how he pivoted it into a Reagan argument.

McCain's answer about taking a tough stance is right on for him, but it's not good for him to be working this hard to distort Romney's position.

Romney just won this exchange--"How is it that you're the expert on my position?" is a very nearly "I paid for this microphone" moment. Good for Anderson Cooper to actually put the quote into the record and try to pin McCain down, and McCain keeps falling back on that one stupid little "laying in the weeds" quote. It diminishes him.

Get off the timing thing, Mitt.

I'm not sure how that smug smile of McCain's plays. Me, being somewhat ill-disposed towards McCain, find it grating; I wonder if his supporters find it amusing or reassuring.

7:07 Romney pivots into attacking McCain as typically Washington; nicely done, with even some humor. McCain's response pivoting onto the campaign and the attack ads is weak. "Timetables were the buzzword." Bad, and incomplete, and insufficient answer.

It seems like this point of the debate is over. I was looking for Romney to show some grit tonight, and I think he just did. He got the better of the debate, and McCain looked bad having to keep falling back on the same 10 words to defend a position that--as Romney wisely entered into the record--EVERYBODY has said was deliberately false.

7:14 WHOAAA A question about Russia and Putin . . . AMAZING! Now, why it was addressed to Huck is another thing, but . . .

7:17 Romney's taking the question about Russia and turning it into a seminar, but doing it in a way that is hopeful, places America in the center of the maelstrom, and shows a pretty good grasp of where all the pieces are on the chessboard

7:19 You don't answer a question about the economy by touting your experience in the military, Senator. I love and respect the military, but I'm not sure that's ever been the model for good economic governance. Tell me, how big a budget did you oversee? how many materials-acquisition decisions did you make? how did you recruit and retain your staff? what policies did you have to enact to increase fiscal efficiency? Senator McCain, I applaud your leadership and your heroism--but that was 35 years ago. Tell me, what have you done lately? You can't answer a question on the economy with "radical Islamic extremism." At least, not credibly.

Nice pivot, Mr. Romney--"you shouldn't demean the people who start and lead small businesses". Very nice. And an excellent answer deflecting the "manager" charge and turning it into a REAL leadership answer.

7:23 THIS IS AN EXCELLENT ANSWER! "Can't look at the foreign policy challenges we face like a checkerboard, with a red side and a black side; you have to look at it like three-dimensional chess, with all its complexities . . . and you need people of exceptional capacity."

McCain's, on the other hand, is a little . . . churlish.

Well, I think that was a very good debate for Mitt Romney. He did several of the things I think he needed to do, and did it while sitting tall next to a slouching, curmudgeonly St. John. Whether or not it was enough remains to be seen. That will all depend on what the "earned media" decides to play in the morning.

I would give Mike Huckabee a strong second in this debate. If he does something to earn some foreign policy bona fides in the next four years, he will be a formidable candidate.

Three Questions I'd Like Asked of John McCain Tonight 

But which I am not holding my breath waiting for a "professional journalist" to ask.

:Senator McCain--in Colorado, the Democrat Party has fewer registered voters than either the Republicans or the Unaffiliateds; yet, the Governor is a Democrat, one of two Senators is a Democrat, 4 of 7 Congressmen are Democrats, and the state legislature is 60% Democrat. Part of this is because in 2004 a trio of wealthy liberals sank $2 million into the election; in 2006, that same trio spent $7 million; and last week the Rocky Mountain News reported an internal memo involving two of those people revealing plans to spend about $12 million, including almost $2 million to smear the Republican Senate candidate before he is even nominated. Given the almost breathtaking failure of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act to take money out of politics, and given that you pushed BCRA through against opposition from mostly Republicans, and given that the primary victims of the disparities created by BCRA are your fellow Republicans, how can you convince Republicans that your jud gement in relation to matters judicial and Constitutional are sound and in their best interest?

:Senator McCain--in what substantive way do you differ from Hillary Clinton in the treatment of captured terrorists?

:Senator McCain--if the Senate approves the Law of the Sea Treaty and sends it to your desk, would you sign it or veto it, and why?

Again, not holding my breath.

Florida Post-Mortem 

I hate to say "I told you so," but . . .

Me: There's a very large military population in Florida, . . . I'm imagining that that particular dynamic favors either Rudy--who had a huge cache of goodwill early on and who campaigned hard in Florida all along-- or it favors McCain, whose record of personal heroism is naturally endearing to the military.

Exit polling: Fourth, McCain won a decisive victory on the question of who is most qualified to be commander-in-chief, beating Romney by 18 points. He beat Giuliani by 30 points, which is unbelievable considering Rudy's "Test. Ready. Now." slogan. Relatedly, he beat Romney among military vets by 7 points.

Yeah, it's not exactly perfect evidence, but I've been wrong about so many things so far this year, I'll take whatever small victories I can get.

Um, kinda like Romney.

Here's the thing: the same exit polling has McCain beating Romney on the economy, and that's Romney's strong suit. That leaves precious little room for Romney to move forward a line of attack.

Likewise, I think the margin of victory makes it really tough for Romney to claim a moral victory here. I had it pegged to about 2 points--5 points is a pretty big margin. In a campaign in which Romney outspent McCain 8 to 1, there's no real explanation for the loss.

Except that, for whatever reason, Romney is just not breaking through to the voters. As much as I like Romney, and as much as I think the Republicans would be a lot better off if they picked the smartest kid in the class, I need to remember that the rest of the class didn't particularly LIKE the smartest kid in the class. Especially when that kid came across as an insufferable suck-up.

So, given the lack of vigorous campaigning on anybody else's part, the campaign has been reduced to the guy nobody really likes because he's screwed us before, and the guy who nobody likes because he's all too happy to screw whoever he needs to to get ahead (metaphorically speaking, of course).

Unfortunately for Mitt, he really IS a nice guy--I just don't think he knows how to deal with the unwarranted dislike. Again, like the kid in the front of the class.

So Florida has established John McCain as the front-runner for the GOP nomination, and given the way the RCP polling averages look right now, I'd say Super Tuesday may just cinch the deal for him.

Which probably leaves me a lot of free time in the Fall. I didn't work for Bob Dole in '96, I don't really see me working for Bob Dole 2.0.


Florida Prediction 

Maybe I'm just too used to--after the last two elections--NOT getting my way in an election.

There's something about tomorrow's Florida primary that makes me worried. There's a very large military population in Florida, and many of them are overseas; which means that they probably cast their ballots before the last few days, when Romney seems to be surging a bit; knowing a few military types, I know for sure that they don't ever vote en masse, but if they didn't have the "advantage" of being in the states for the campaign, then maybe they went to more of a fallback position when they cast their absentee ballots. I'm imagining that that particular dynamic favors either Rudy--who had a huge cache of goodwill early on and who campaigned hard in Florida all along-- or it favors McCain, whose record of personal heroism is naturally endearing to the military.

By the way, third place or below means near death and very limited play from here on out.

So here goes . . .

McCain 32%
Romney 30%
Huckabee 14%
Giuliani 13%

This isn't what I want to happen . . . .it's just what I THINK will happen.

Bartels Comes Back 

Last night I wrote about how Lynn Bartels of the RockyMountain News attributed the Republicans recent defeats in this state as simply the effects of Unaffiliateds running away.

But today Bartels makes up for it.

Oh, and, by the way, issues a very stark warning to Republicans in Colorado.

Two years ago, two of Colorado's richest Democratic benefactors plowed more than $7 million into Democratic candidates and causes.

Now a confidential memo to one of their advisers suggests that it would take contributions of nearly $12 million to finance independent political groups trying to influence the outcome of the presidential, U.S. Senate and 4th Congressional District races.

Yep, you read that right: TWELVE frickin' MILLION dollars!

That's enough to even choke up me, and I watch politics pretty closely. $12 million shouldn't sound like a lot of money to political watchers, but when you're on the other side of that $12 million, it seems like a WHOLE LOT of money.

Part of the Senate budget calls for a $1.9 million advertising campaign in March and April that would target Republican Bob Schaffer, who likely will face Democrat Mark Udall in the U.S. Senate race. "Define Schaffer/Foot on Throat,"

Here they come, folks. $2 million in ads to define Bob Schaffer while he's still trying just to raise his first million is crushing. Its the political Clausewitz Doctrine.

What's partially amazing about this whole thing is that Bartels even bothers to tell this story. Normally, the "professional journalists" would have just sat on this story until the day after the election.

Maybe what Republicans need to do is run an ad talking about how these billionaires have bought the last two elections, and what other causes they put their money behind.

Now the Republicans just need to come up with a sugar daddy to fund those campaigns.


Lynn Bartels May Be Guilty of Projection 

"Some Republicans Paddling Towards the Middle of Stream"

That's the headline of Bartels' piece in the Monday Rocky Mountain News. The evidence?

"Our legislators down at the state Capitol are doing an excellent job of showing the real contrast of a very centrist, mainstream Republican Party vs. what has captured the majority in both houses, which is kind of an extremist brand of political leadership," Schaffer said.

Well, that's pretty thin. Demned anorexic, if you ask me.

Bartels continues with this odd assertion:

If that sounds like an election strategy designed to woo unaffiliated voters, there's a reason for it: Democrats scored huge victories in Colorado in the last two election cycles, thanks to unaffiliated voters, who generally snubbed Republicans.

Now, obviously, that's true--the unaffiliated voters went hard for the Democrats in the last two elections. But its a little . . .um, incomplete. . . to simply say the unaffiliateds snubbed Republicans. It probably had nothing to do with the four- or five- to-one spending advantage the Democrats mustered over the Republicans in the last election.

Now, that said, let me say that I think its very stupid to get in a game of labels with the Democrats and the media this cycle.

The Presidential candidates are all spending a great deal of energy and money trying to convince voters who is the REAL conservative in this election. And, while that makes great sense for the primary, that label will get hung around the neck of the nominee like a millstone.

We've lost the label game in the last eight years.

Why? Well, as Bartels points out, sometimes its been because we're stupid. Exhibit A: the ease with which we could must legislative action in the Terry Schiavo case, but couldn't manage to get Health Care or a fix of Social Security. Exhibit B: statements--TRUE OR NOT--like the one Bartels quotes:

"The former House majority leader, Keith King, when asked the biggest problem facing this state, responded, 'The question of gay marriage,' " Madden said. "Not health care, not education, not the economy - although the state was in a budget crisis - but gay marriage."

Again, TRUE OR NOT. The problem our side is going to have is that the truth maters very little once the Democratic PR machine pairs up with the "professional journalists" to tell the story the way they want it told.

In my humble opinion, I think the thing our side must do is simply STICK WITH THE ISSUES. Avoid labels altogether--point out how "in touch" Republicans really are. As Newt is fond of pointing out, Americans in general (to the tune of 75%) agree on many core beliefs and issues. If Republicans can keep the conversation on those facts, we have a chance.

If we play the label game with the Dems and the media, we're in for another shellacking at the polls this November.


McCain, Feeling the Heat, Resorts to Lying 

We've all been witness in the last several years to the sort pof self-aggrandizing, self-righteous way John McCain treats Republicans. If I could play amateur psychiatrist for a moment, I'd say he's never gotten over being rejected by Republicans in 2000, and has carried around a sense of betrayal and bitterness ever since.

In particular, I think McCain - Feingold demonstrates that his greatest comtempt is reserved for rich doners and the people they affiliate themselves with--like uber-rich self-financed candidates like the one that beat him in 2000.

And like Mitt Romney.

Today, that bitterness took a nasty, public turn, as the candidate and the campaign both accused Mitt Romney of joining with Democrats in calling for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. But, as Mark Levin has chronicled, Romney never said any such thing. To extrapolate from Romney's comments about accountability and progress a broad policy idea like surrender is a gross mischaracterization, one that I would describe as dishonorable.

This is the temperament of candidate McCain, in a post-Nixon era in which he would either be going up against the most professional political machine in modern history, or against the sinniest, most positive candidate in recent memory should McCain get the nomination. Republicans can ill-afford to have this person be their spokesperson for the next nine months.

His personal heroism is compelling and lauditory; his history of service is commendable; but John McCain's megalomaniacal sense of nomination entitlement is profoundly disturbing, and could swiftly metastasize into disastrous. I hope Republicans can coalesce behind either Romney or Giuliani.

And soon.

Obama Wins a Pyrrhic Victory 

You have to hand it to the Clintons: they KNOW how to play the game.

Send out a bunch of underlings to "suggest" racial themes for the week leading up to the primary; deploy Bill because of his connections to the black community; and scale back the effort of the candidate in a state that she probably knew two weeks ago that she was going to lose.

In effect, concede the battle, but force the story to be about the battleground, not the candidates.

So Obama comes away with a stunning 55-28 victory, but is forever saddled with the weight of having won a "black" victory--he is now the "black" candidate, and, regardless of the wonderful lofty rhetoric, will probably not be able to shed the limiting label the Clintons pinned on him this week.

This is how the game is played, folks. And nobody does it as well as the Clintons. Who among the Republicans is capable of playing this game, or managing to stay out of it? That remains to be seen.

But whoever "wins" the job of taking these two on had better be ready for a street fight.

ADDENDUM: I was going to add that the best thing the Republicans could do to try to either capitalize on this or to neutralize this would be to nominate Michael Steele as the Veep. But, on further review, I've decided that that's just one little battlefield. The Clintons will play this game on more than just race, so to try to innoculate against that is limited.

This is more about tactics. Either the candidate has to be a pit bull--and both McCain and Giuliani have that shot in their bags--or the candidate has to be genial--Romney's strong suit--while bringing in a wartime consigliere (a la Cheney) to be Veep. In either case, it is absolutely necessary that somebody on the ticket have the disposition and the skills to counterpunch effectively.


Questions for the candidates from a Colorado Perspective 

Its becoming increasingly probable that the Colorado caucuses/primary in a couple weeks could play a role in the Super Tuesday spectacle. So, whether any of them bother to come here to take questions, I'm going to start a thread of questions I'd like them to address.

Like this one:

"Here in Colorado, we've seen over the past six years the severe effects of Democratic interest groups overwhelming the market with hard-left money, while it seems the Republican bench is increasingly ill-suited to the challenge; Can you describe a few of the steps you would take as the titular head of the party to begin rebuilding the grassroots and the talent pool within the party?"

Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments--I'll elevate those that I find interesting.

Thoughts on the Republican Debate 

I actually sat through almost all of the debate tonight. I guess that's quite a testimony to (or an indictment of) the value of Thursday night television.

Overall, I thought it was pretty weak. Nobody really made any great points, nobody made any major blunders. The dominant performance of the night was put in by NBC, as its questioning was mind-numbingly inane. Nobody had a chance to really find their stride in the debate because they we constantly trying to re-frame the breathtakingly stupid questions.

Which leads me to my one frustration of the night: nobody took on the media and challenged the premises of the questions. For instance, Tim Russert recited a litany of statistics that makes it look like the economy is in the tank right now compared to seven years ago, and the only thing I could think of was "Well, Tim, there were a few intervening events between 2001 and today. For one thing, the economy in January 2001 was already headed downward, and by July 2001 none of those statistics you started from were valid any more. For another thing, this country absorbed a massive economic shock September 11 and I don't think anybody could have possibly foreseen that after that event, the economy quickly rebounded . . . " and so on. But NOOO none of these guys could muster the stomach to refute the underlying premise. And so the spin from the media continues . . .

Mike Huckabee continues to impress in these debates. He's not very substantive, but he speaks extremely well, and communicates in a way that no prominent Republican in the last 8 years has been able to. Too bad he's wrong on so much, but he certainly could have a lot of value in a Republican administration.

Other than that, I don't think this debate could change very much. McCain certainly didn't dent Romney's momentum, and I don't think Rudy managed to steal back the spotlight. Ron Paul was his usual wacky self, and Huck provided little levity. Other than that, not much to report.

The Romney momentum is the surprise new development. The RCP average has him down by just one now, and four of the last seven polls published have him in the lead--quite a change from a few weeks ago when McCain was at the top of every poll. Watch this space over the next few days to see if Romney can consolidate that lead.


The "Straight-Talk Express" Hits a Speed Bump 

Or maybe John McCain is really willing to pander as much as the next guy.

He's said it before, but my brother reports that McCain is stumping in Florida with the promise that he "knows how to get Bin Laden, and WILL get bin Laden." or something to that effect.

To which my brother makes the excellent point:

. . . maybe he really does know how to get bin Laden.

In which case, the fact that he hasn't done something about it already is pretty inexcusable. And the fact that he's essentially extorting us, the electorate, in order to get his hands on the White House is. . .well. . .well, it's a lot of things, but none of them are very honorable. In fact, they're disgusting.

So what is it, Senator? Empty promises from another Washington-based blowhard? Or is it that you haven't YET felt it necessary to exert every personal effort to help bring an extra degree of healing to this country?

Couldn't have said it better myself.


Martin Luther King's Dream 

Have you ever actually read the entirity of MLK's famous speech? I hadn't--not until last year, at least. The estimable Mark D. Roberts posted the entire speech on his website. A very interesting read, I must admit.

For instance, I had never heard this passage in the old newsreels:

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

I wonder how Al Sharpton and Tawana Brawley feel about this particular passage.

Or this one:

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

I wonder what the ACLU would have to say about that particular passage.

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

That is a very uplifting sentiment--the sort of hopeful vision completely missing from the Democratic debate tonight, or from the Democratic rhetoric in the halls of Congress. More importantly, the rhetoric of the so-called "civil rights" movement of today has taken on the distinct air of complaining without purpose.

By contrast, Martin Luther King's "Dream" is full of hope, and of purpose, and of truth. I wonder if it will ever be possible to match his like again.

So, you could read all about the little kerfuffle on the floor of the Colorado Senate today about the legacy of Dr. King. Or, if you've never read or heard the whole thing, you could honor Dr. King by learning the totality of what he said. To simply know "I have a dream . . . ." is to know just the beginning of this man's wisdom and talent.

If Chuck Norris Says You're Too Old To Be President . . . 


And, just to prove it, he'll beat the @#!!*^ out of any three staffers whose combined age adds up to your current age.

Note that John McCain is the only candidate in the field whose three hypothetical staffers would all be able to buy themselves a beer to nurse their wounds.


Conclusions From South Carolina and Nevada 

My conclusion: this leaves things even more. . . well . . .inconclusive.

Romney wins one more, McCain wins one more. Total delegates awarded tonight: McCain 23, Romney 18, Huckabee 7, Thompson 2, the rest don't matter. Total delegates to date: Romney 72, McCain 38, Huckabee 29, Thompson 8.

Not a very illuminative night.

So, as everybody's been quipping for days now, everything comes down to Florida. Those 57 delegates--which are ALL awarded to the winner--represent fully 1/3 of all delegates awarded so far. If Giuliani somehow manages to win by even the slimmest of margins, he would be in second place overall; if any of the others in the top three win they'll be in first place.

The most recent polling out of Florida doesn't show any clear direction, though McCain may be opening up a small advantage there. If that holds up, it would effectively end Rudy's campaign; it could truly turn into a Romney-McCain battle at that point, with Huckabee bouncing around behind McCain like the little dog in the old cartoons supporting the big dog.

But, things can change. One of these guys could hit a "golf shot" somewhere along the way and change the whole complexion of this thing.

From the standpoint of a Republican partisan, this is a mess.

From the standpoint of an observer of things politic, this is wonderful fun.

P.S. Oh, and by the way, Hillary wins the caucus in Nevada by 51-45, but wins one less delegate than Obama. Who can explain Democrats?


What the heck,eh?

South Carolina:

Maybe Huck has just enough with the identity politics to pull this one off, but I don't see it. I think, in the end, Republicans go to the polls and think "Commander in Chief" If that plays out, McCain wins. Third place became less important when Romney pulled his operation, but if he manages to beat Thompson for Show, that'll just about end Thompson; if, on the other hand, Thompson ekes it out, it won't have any effect on Romney, except to make sure that there's one more [barely] viable candidate.

McCain 29%
Huckabee 22%
Romney 16%
Thompson 16%


Democrats: This is the really interesting contest today. Can the establishment re-reassert itself, as it did in New Hampshire? Or does Obama play the food workers' endorsement into a big victory? I think, as it always does on the Dem side, the establishment pulls it out. By the way, at what pint does Edwards realize its over?

Hillary 39%
Obama 34%
Edwards 13%

Republicans: Romney is the only one really playing, and we've seen recently that he's tough to beat when he goes "all in", now that the message is economics. Third place, by the way, doesn't matter in a state that hasn't been strongly contested. And keep in mind, regardless of how the media spins this, there are more delegates at stake in Nevada (34) than there are in South Carolina (24).

Romney 37%
McCain 24%
Huckabee/Thompson 12%

Heh heh heh. Let's just wait and see how far off I am on all of this.


How Will This Poll Be Spun? 

CNN put out its new poll tonight. The easy headline for Republicans will be "McCain Surging In National Poll. But you need to look closer.

Question 1: Who Do You Support (GOP) ?
McCain 29% (DOWN 5% from a week ago), Huckabee 20% (Down 1% from last week), Romney 19% (UP 5%)

Hmmmmmm. Don't expect to see this story "McCain national lead shrinking"


Its important to note that for the first part of the poll, only the Democrats' results are separated out into Blacks and Whites. This becomes important later on down the poll, since this caveat is not retracted, the separation comes and goes, and its not certain what applies and what doesn't. For instance . . .

Question 15: In general, how would you say things are going for the U.S. in Iraq?

Total Well: 46%
Total Badly: 54%

Just on its face, this is a startling number. The last time CNN asked this question was November 2-4, and the Total Well number was only 32%. In ten weeks, Americans have managed to notice that things are improving--even with the silence from the media. But if you consider that its unclear if that only applies to Democrats . . . that's unbelievable. Which is why I think that this was probably for all respondents, even though CNN does not make that information easy to find.

But this poll also deliberately oversamples blacks, so even at that, 46 is an amazing number. Looking a little closer down below the chart shows that, among whites, the majority (51%) believes the war is now going well.

Waiting to hear that headline? Yeah, me neither.

I think this poll may make a little news, but is ultimately probably little better than useless. The "professional journalists" will only report the pieces of the poll that serve their story lines, and the truly interesting things will never see the light of day.

As usual.

Sometimes, You Just Gotta Point Out A Great Turn Of Phrase 

From Victor Davis Hanson at The Corner:

We expect that police, fire, prisons, parks, etc. will be threatened with cut-backs and closure, while the state-funded "Center for this" and the "Department of that" will remain untouched, since cutting the essential while protecting the politically-correct superfluous is the only way to scare the voter and achieve higher taxes.

I love good writing. Even better when it happens to contain a profound point.

This Would Certainly "Stimulate" My Economy 

He also called for tax relief for individuals — probably to come in the form of one-time rebates. But he did not say how much money Americans would get to keep or the amount of other tax incentives that could be in the package. Nor did Bush detail how the nation would pay for such a plan. He has proposed rebates of $800 per taxpayer.

Acting--and reacting--out of pure self-interest, I say "GRAND" My family could certainly use an extra $1600 any time anybody wants to give it to us.

But , in reality, we all know economists just make this stuff up as they're going along, and the likelihood of that money in every taxpayers' hands doing a great deal for the broad economy is suspect. At the moment, with the credit crisis and the housing market problems, it seems to me the problems the economy faces are more systemic than individual; thus, I think a systemic solution would be more in line.

I would have preferred something along the lines of a dramatic slash in corporate taxes, perhaps even with incentives for hiring and expansion, coupled with a large cut of the Fed's interest rate--things that would have ( in theory) encouraged the engines of the economy to get moving more ambitiously.

Hey, if the Ph.D.'s can just make this stuff up, why can't I?

But seriously, a tax rebate, as wonderful as it is for individuals, smacks just a little too much of government "Doing Something" for the publicity, rather than just taking care of business.

Or . . . .I wonder if this wouldn't have been the moment in time to start pushing for a dramatic--BIG--reform of the tax code? Maybe an opportunity for the flat tax missed? . . . .

On the plus side, this should at least signal an end to Charlie Rangell's plan to raise the tax rate. If the government can afford to (return to the public their own damn money) write everybody a check, it certainly doesn't make any sense that they would need to start collecting more.

Reporter Decides To Inject Himself Into "News," Initiates Debate With Romney 

This is hilarious.

Several points:

First, I have said repeatedly that the candidate who shows a willingness to take on the press in a direct way will have earned a great deal of credibility within the base, and may, in one fell swoop, win my vote. I think it matters that Romney wasn't willing to just let this guy insert himself into the discussion unchallenged, and--since he did it in South Carolina--I'm curious to know both how widespread the coverage of this incident was and what effect it will have on Saturday's primary.

Second, can you IN A MILLION YEARS imagine a "professional journalist" behaving this way with either Bill or Hillary, or Obama, or Edwards? NO WAY! Mrs Clinton has yet, to my knowledge, been the least bit challenged by a "professional journalist" about her comments regarding the President asking OPEC to up its output, and yet that's a far bigger whopper than what Mitt Romney said. "Mrs Clinton, how do you justify your comments about the President being 'pathetic' for asking OPEC to up output, when your own husband made the exact same request through his Energy Secretary during his term, and the opened up the strategic oil reserves to help prop up the energy sector?" It would never happen.

Third, if there were ever a perfect caricature of the sort of self-congratulatory, snide, arrogant journalist, this guy is it! He looks just like the guy who we all knew in college--you know the one: he never went to actual class, but somehow stayed on campus enough to be able to pontificate from the commons of the student center for hours on end, day after day. At C.U., my buddy and I used to refer to him as the "fountain preacher", or something like that; a haircut, a shower, and few dozen Twinkies, and he could easily be Glen Johnson.

Fourth, kudos to Mitt Romney for handling this without losing his cool or getting derailed from his real answer. If this is as riled as Romney gets, that makes a very sharp--and flattering--contrast to John McCain.


Somebody Buy Bill Ritter Some TapDance Shoes 

Bill Ritter has some very difficult dancing to do. He runs as a moderate, but becomes beholden to the far Leftist coalition; he bottles up a union bill, only to put it in place later by executive order; and now this:

A Republican lawmaker called Gov. Bill Ritter's appointment of a high-profile environmentalist to the Public Utilities Commission an effort to compensate for the governor's decision to open up the Roan Plateau to limited natural gas drilling.

Anybody care to put an over/under number on the number of visual years Bill Ritter ages by the end of his first term?

Geez, I'm Bad At This 

I was just a little bit off on my prognostications from last night. Key facts:

:Romney won the state overall by 9 points (39-30); this is bigger than McCain's margin in New Hampshire (5 points) and the same as Huckabee's in Iowa.
:Romney won conservatives 41%-23%
:Romney won among Republicans 41%-27%
:McCain won among Democrats, pro-abortionists, non-church goers, and war opponents (THERE'S your reality check)
:and Hillary Clinton could only muster 55% in an uncontested race

The most important issue for voters in Michigan: the economy. That's a theme that will play very nicely going forward into the new year, dontcha think?

Now, of course, whether this has any significance going forward is anybody's guess--there's been nothing resembling momentum in any aspect of this race yet.

But, for at least one night, the Republicans in Michigan have sent a message.


Must We Suffer Fools? 

After days of wrangling and demands, it only took 25 seconds for anti-tax crusader Douglas Bruce to let House Speaker Andrew Romanoff give him the oath of office before friends and a few fellow lawmakers.

The swearing-in to a near-empty chamber just after 1:30 p.m. followed a wild morning during which Bruce had kicked a Rocky photographer during the House morning prayer and later faced a 22-1 vote by the Republican Caucus to push for replacement of the appointed representative if he didn't take the oath by day's end.

Hats off to the Republican caucus and leader Mike May for forcing Bruce to stop playing the prima donna and sit down. With any luck, he'll take the hint and stay quietly in his seat for several weeks to come.

Seriously? We couldn't find anybody in the Colorado Springs Republican Party to take this seat? Our bench is, indeed, short.

That's a discussion for many other days.

The Colorado Index takes a successful pass at spoofing this whole thing, appropriately calling it a "circus."


Aww, What the Heck 

Let's go ahead and make some predictions, anyway.

First, Michigan weather for Tuesday:

Snow--Mainly cloudy with some snow in the morning. Mainly cloudy in the afternoon. Partly cloudy in the evening. Partly cloudy overnight.

What effect will that have? Well, if conditions are difficult, maybe it supresses the Democrats coming out to vote for John McCain . . . maybe.

But I'm not counting on it.

That said, here goes:

McCain 31%
Romney 26%
Huckabee 16%
Thompson 9%
Giuliani 6%
Paul 6%

However, there will be a strange dynamic at play, even more than in New Hampshire. I think McCain wins with the vote of Democrats, winning among Democrats by a wide margin; Romney wins by a couple points among Republicans. In effect, Michigan becomes the reason Republicans all over the country remember why McCain was a pariah last summer: because he's a favorite of Democrats.

What, at the moment, will look like a McCain victory will ultimately weaken him everywhere else. At the same time, he might knock out Romney--three strikes, and all.

Then everybody can sit by and watch Thompson remind everybody about his strength as a candidate, winning South Carolina by a good margin. That will knock Huckabee out of the race.

Setting up a Thompson-Giuliani showdown in Florida. For all the marbles.

Is this what I actually THINK is going to happen? No. But it's fun speculation.

Oh, but the Michigan numbers I'll stand by.

For what it's worth.

Which is, of course, nothing.

McCain's Problem is the Republicans' Paradox 

Let me begin with this statement: I will not work for John McCain.

If, against all odds, John McCain comes through the primary race and wins the nomination, I will not work for him.

Of course, elections are about choices; given the choice between McCain and either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, I would pull the "lever" for Senator McCain. I would choose him to be President over any Democrat.

But there are other choices one makes in life. For instance, during most of the summer and fall of the last three election cycles, I CHOSE to give up a substantial portion of my free time to getting Bob Beauprez--and then Rick O'Donnell--, Bill Owens, and President Bush elected by walking precincts and manning phone banks.

I don't believe I would make that same choice for John McCain. And, yes, there will be a race for my Congressional seat this election, and I will probably give my time and energy to that race. But it would stop at that point--whatever portion of the effort would need to be dedicated to the McCain 08 campaign would find me either returning home to my family or headed to a driving range.

You see, other choices have consequences. When John McCain CHOSE to push through campaign finance reform, he made it exceptionally difficult for Republicans to run a fair race in a state with deep Democratic pockets. Because of that choice, so much extra effort will have to be devoted to down-ticket races that the Presidential election may just fall down the priority list.

What Michael Medved and others who admire and support McCain because of his integrity miss is that his mistakes HAVE CONSEQUENCES. A judiciary that could have been radically retooled during the eight years of President Bush has, instead, become a political football thanks to McCain; a border that could have largely been blocked off by two layers of fencing has, instead, been left porous thanks to McCain.

Mistakes have consequences, and McCain's mistakes have left me . . . unenthusiastic . . .about supporting him should he be the eventual nominee. And I don't think I'm alone in that assessment.

It is true that McCain deserves respect, even admiration, for both his heroic past and his current integrity. The country likes a poltician who, even when its not in thir best interest, necessarily, speaks their mind and takes strong, unwavering stances. And that, rightfully so, makes McCain the candidate most likely to bring Independents and a few hawkish Democrats into the GOP electoral tent. In fact, given the last eight years' lack of coherent argument in favor of conservatism, he may be the ONLY Republican who can bring outside groups into the tent.

Which leaves Republicans in an electoral dilemma. Republicans are no longer the party of deep pockets, which means that we are heavily dependent on volunteers to win elections. If that base of volunteers is weakened by the person at the top of the ticket, Republicans can not win. Period.

Electorally, John McCain may be the only candidate who can dominate this election cycle; structurally, John McCain makes it almost inconceivable that Republicans will have a good year. That's not a good formula.

Personally, I would prefer a candidate who can make an articulate defense of conservative principles, even if they lose. There's more to be gained from losing the good fight than there may be from surrendering our principles.


State of the State Reaction 

I'm just going to pull a few choice quotes out for your consideration.

Over the past year, we have listened to and involved a wide spectrum of people in some of the most serious policy challenges we face in Colorado. And we involved them because as a state we are blessed with amazingly smart and talented people.

A collaborative decision-making process that reaches for common ground is vital.

Like the process that he went through to arrive at the decision to executive order state workers' unions into being.

In all of my travels across Colorado, I hear anger and frustration from people about cost, quality and access. People with insurance have no confidence they'll have it tomorrow. Employees and employers alike are frustrated at double-digit cost increases year after year after year. And people are frustrated that Washington has failed to craft a national solution. Maybe a new president will change that.

Not having been in the room, I don't know for sure if that last line was delivered in a snide way. It reads pretty snide.

After just a few months of work, the P-20 Council shows us very clearly that Colorado does not lack talent. Rather, we lack an overarching educational vision, a vision that aligns standards from pre-school to college and puts an emphasis on proficiency and learning. . . .

For too long, our education systems and policies have been focused on "seat time" and course titles, assuming that measuring the number of years in a particular class is somehow more important than measuring whether students actually learned anything. . . .

Therefore, I am proposing that we put our education emphasis where it belongs: on helping kids learn, on measuring knowledge and skills, on connecting what is taught in high school with exactly what is expected in college.

Conservatives should feel good, and pat themselves on the back about this line. Fifteen years ago, roughly when I entered teaching, no Democrat would have ever uttered a line such as that. We have managed to move the rhetoric away from "feelings" and "self-esteem" to "proficiency" and "measuring." Not bad for two decades' work.

Other than that, nothing terribly memorable. He studiously avoided talking about his property-tax money-grab, and he steered clear of controversial issues like the Charter School Institute and the unions. Nothing surprising--he's starting to earn a reputation for being made of whipped cream--pleasant and useful, but, ultimately, insubstantial.

For another take on this from someone who has been described as Colorado's Karl Rove, see Dick Wadham's take at his new blog.

South Carolina Debate Reaction 

Ho Hum.

The big news tonight was that somebody upped the dosage for Fred Thompson and he became the gravitas-laden force that we've all been waiting for. If he had done this act six weeks ago, we would be talking about a completely different race than we are right now.

Consider this contest: two older, blunt, gruff, men battling for the AARP vote; one with a deep, resonant basso, the other a thin, nasal tenor; one's wanted this job for ten years, the other may STILL not really want this job; one famous for playing serious roles, the other famous for playing political roles. At some point, a McCain-Thompson head-to-head would be useful . . . in discarding McCain's aspirations.

Romney was pretty quiet tonight--I think that was more from the directions of the questions than anything he did or didn't say. I'm beginning to think that his wonkishness is a detriment, but a limited one. If he can begin to articulate a VISION, paint a picture, he could back it up with his expertise and make it believable. Sometimes, being the smartest kid in the room is just the most annoying; but when the smartest kid seems to care about everybody else and is able to convince them that he/she is working for them, they earn a lot of credibility and respect.

Ron Paul is just about the nuttiest person I've ever seen in politics, and that's saying something. Just for grins, next June let's have an open forum/debate--Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Ross Perot. And Professor Dumbledore.

Huckabee just still seems to be out of his depth. I'm not sure why I feel that way, though it's true I disagree with him on many points. He just gives the impression that he doesn't quite belong--like somebody's younger brother who got dragged along to the pickup game with the big kids because mommy said so.

McCain was adequate--I think he did everything he needed to do to hold his position.

Three final points:

:McCain's Waterloo was South Carolina eight years ago; if the 527s get involved again in the next week, it could still be his undoing.

:the Luntz focus group annointed Fred Thompson the winner tonight--we all saw how much good that did Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire.

:I wrote a couple nights ago that I thought this was a stroke-play match; this site (courtesy HH)
projects how all eighteen holes may play out to leave Republicans a brokered convention with a narrow Romney win. In a brokered convention, does an outsider have a role? (calling Newt)


As You're Watching A Democratic Governor . . . 

give the State of the State address to a Democratic legislature tomorrow, remember who you have to thank for that scene, Coloradans:

John McCain.


What Kind Of Match Is This? 

I love golf. It is a mind-numbingly humbling game, that--every once in a while--relents a little and lets a hack like me get a glimpse of real artistry on a beautiful day.

Poetry aside, I also love the competitive aspect of the game. And there is the variable competitions involved: you can play stroke play, where every shot matters, no matter which hole its on, or you can play match play, where each hole is a separate, winner-take-all contest. Each game has its strengths and weaknesses, but each require a slightly different skill set to be great at.

The reason for this brief exposition is this: the Republican primary process is very much like a golf match--the question is, what kind of a match?

If this is match play, after tomorrow there will have been three "holes", each with a different winner. The short-form scoreboard will look like this: 1-1-1-0-0-0. If you look at that scoreoard, it's difficult to conclude that anybody is in really great shape.

If, on the other hand, this is stroke play, you look at the scores after three "holes": Romney 33, Huckabee 23, McCain 12, Thompson 7, Giuliani 3, Paul 3.

You see the issue: after three holes, after only winning one of them, Romney is still in the lead.

But, also, it's still VERY early in the game. There's a few "par 5s" on the horizon, and Giuliani's a big hitter--he could easily "eagle" a couple of those. Suppose Giuliani holds his current polling advantage in Florida on the 29th: suddenly he picks up 30-some delegates and is in third place; suppose he holds his lead in New Jersey: another 25 delegates and he's in second.

All the while, Romney keeps playing those holes decently well--well enough to keep accumulating delegates (a par and birdie) and stay up in the fight.

Now, what everybody has to hope is that neither McCain or Huckabee parlay their early successes into a Tiger Woods-like run of birdies and eagles, themselves.

This is a very different sort of primary process, we've been told. The question is does the paradigm become match-play or stroke-play? They're very different games--with potentially very different results.

Prediction Time 

Well, since we all have re-learned just how bad I really am at making predictions, so let's take all of this with a grain . . . er, granary . . . of salt.

On the Democratic side:

Obama 48%
Hillary 29%
Edwards 18%
Richardson 4%

I think there is no slowing the Obama juggernaut at this point, unless he does it himself with some massive blunder. At this point, I think he's even inocculated against the Clinton machine because he's claimed the mantle of "different politics"--she throws the haymaker and he says "there she goes again", and it's over. Not to mention the crying thing does NOT play well (notice how the press has already decided to spin this as "cracking under pressure"?) and--if you buy the mythology--Dixville Notch shut her out. The GOP had better get ready for this guy.

On the Republican side:

McCain 36%
Romney 27%
Huckabee 14%
Giuliani 7%

McCain can continue to ride his momentum through this one, and I expect just enough independents will come out to play on the Republican side that McCain will overwhelm Romney. Huck will get a decent showing, and he won't be dead, but Giuliani may not recover from another body blow.

Three primaries/caucuses, three different winners, and a completely schizophrenic Republican process.



The Comedy Stylings of Ed Perlmutter 

Every once in a while I get a full-color, glossy mailing from the office of Ed Perlmutter (D-CO7). Invariably, these are a source of great amusement to me. The one I received over the weekend is no different.

When I first came to Congress, I presented you my Agenda for Change that included cracking down on predatory lenders, investing in renewable energy and pushing for stem cell research, just to name a few. As we come to the close of my first year in Congress, here's some of the progress we've made.

[cue laughtrack]
Okay, so THAT was his agenda for change? That flies a bit in the face of what actually got him elected. And that, of course, was ENDING THE WAR in Iraq.

He, Nancy Pelosi, and the others all failed miserably at that. So what is he touting? Correcting the chaos in the home lending markets (hardly a brilliant or exclusively Democratic effort), investing in renewable energy (but NOT getting anything going that might make us less energy dependent TODAY--like drilling the Roan or ANWAR), and a big ATTABOY! for getting the government to invest heavily in a technology that was obsolete before the ink was dry on the dollar bills created to pay for it.

What else is he talking about?

A Champion for Fiscal Responsibility: Middle class families will benefit from Ed's support for pay-as-you-go legislation, so that our families don't bear the tax burden of out-of-control spending.

HA HA HA. This guy cracks me up.

Of course, in the meantime, middle class families will feel the added burden of Charlie Rangel's tax hike; and Pelosi et al. have pretty much abandoned pay-go just to get their goofiness going. And, of course, there's that 2% rating from the Club for Growth.

You want to relieve the tax burden of out-of-control spending? Stop the out-of-control spending. Every once in a while (maybe a little more frequently than once in a fifty) vote against a pork bill or something.

Just a thought.

Ed was instrumental in supporting the legislation that allowed Medicare to negotiate with Big Drug companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

Another ATTABOY there, Congressman.

By the way, where were you when the President added prescription drugs to Medicare? Oh, that's right--NOWHERE!


And yet, I still haven't heard a name for an opponent for this guy in the Fall.

There has got to be one decent candidate somewhere in the 7th district who can take the argument to this guy. But not knowing a name at this point means not having a fundraising effort in place means . . .

not being able to take the argument to this guy.

Ha Ha ha . . . guess the joke's on me.


Maybe I Was Right Before I Was Wrong 

For some reason, the results from Iowa have really gotten under my skin. I think, now, that there may be more to the Huckabee/Obama win than first met the eye--something more of a pattern than a unique Iowa aberration.

Back in June I wrote the following:

What Senator Obama has managed to highlight is a perceptual difficulty that has bumfuzzled the Republican Party for as long as I can remember, and that's about 30 years (though, admittedly, a few of those years are hazier than the rest). Conservatives have been perfectly consistent over the years in pointing out the limited ability of the government to solve all the country's problems--and that has been construed in the press and, well, everywhere else, to mean that WE DON'T CARE ABOUT THE country's problems. . . .

We can no longer afford to cede this ground to the Democrats. And make no mistake, they're coming for THIS GROUND.

And there we have it--I think we know why Huckabee won in Iowa: he chose to fight on THAT ground.

I disagree with how he chooses to fight that particular battle--I disagree strongly!--but the point is that he was fighting for the ground that we Conservatives have ceded to the Democrats for too long.

So while I, and most of the rest of the Right, spend our energies (rightly, I might add) talking about national security and economic growth, that part of the country which is checked out on those issues (since we haven't been attacked in six years--hey, we must be safe, right?) is looking more than ever for someone to appeal to them on the grounds of becoming an army of compassion for their neighbors. And since none of the major Republican candidates can effectively do this (McCain has a different issue set, Rudy is all about security, Romney is too wonkish, and Thompson--well, nobody knows what Thompson is about yet), a minor Republican who can sing this tune twenty ways 'til Sunday can capture the imagination of too large a part of the electorate.

The problem, in the long run, is that we cannot win on this ground. We may--and should--be able to neutralize the advantage the Dems have on this, but if this is the battlefield in November, we lose. Hillary grabbed a hold of this field in her closing statement at tonight's debate [note: can't find a transcript up yet--will provide a link when its available; until then, here is a very rough quote]:

What I find most notable is what we're talking about, and what the Republicans aren't talking about: the squeeze on the middle class, the approaching recession, the effects of global warming, the high costs of energy. These are the issues that matter to the country, and they're not talking about them.

[again, apologies for a VERY rough quote]

And she's right--we aren't talking about them. In some cases, because they're third-tier issues, and in others, because they're not legitimate issues (global warming). But, that notwithstanding, we have to be able to manage this field so that we can make the voters look to the field we want them on.

How do we do that? Well, the smart candidate will spend the next two days in New Hampshire, and then the next several days in Michigan, talking about individual responsibility for the good of the community. They will talk about how a tax cut leaves more money in your pocket for you to do the charitable act the Dems expect the government to do; they will talk about taking the tax burden off of corporations so that thy can hire people; they will talk about judges who are friendly to the good work of excellent organizations like the Boy Scouts and AlAnon.

Again, it is the approach. Somebody--and it has to be somebody other than Huckabee--has to capture the spirit of community that naturally exists in the Republican Party, and mobilize it to make sure that government doesn't get in the way of that spirit.

Will any of them do this? And is New Hampshire the place to do this? I don't know. But Michigan certainly is, and, as Super Tuesday approaches, there will be many places where this message is welcomed.

Now somebody just has to go out and do it.

For the record: I'm not optimistic.


Iowa, After Some Thought Time 

After letting the results from last night soak in for a while, I've added a few insights into my thought process.

A few months ago, I wrote that I thought this election would be about W., except that his influence would dictate that the mood of the electorate would be to pick competence and obvious intellect--a mood of contrast. Based on last night, I would have to say I was wrong.

Or, perhaps, I simply didn't understand Iowa (and, by extension, New Hampshire). In those two states, the prevailing wisdom in the political world is that it is all about "retail politics"--Mitt has basically lived in Iowa for the last year, Huckabee has been behind more pulpits in the last year than Father Guido Sarducci, Obama has served more cookies to the PTA than Marie Barone, and . . . well, you get the idea. In a scenario such as that, the dispassionate analysis that I thought would prevail gets overwhelmed by the personal touch. And nobody is better at the personal touch than Huckabee and Obama.

Whether that will continue to be the case beyond New Hampshire remains to be seen. I would guess that, the sooner the contests start piling up, the sooner the electorate will come to its senses. Which plays right into Rudy's hands--he'll be arriving on the scene just when those contests start piling up.

Secondly, I would have to say that if I were ever running for President, I might be inclined to skip Iowa and New Hampshire altogether--just on principle. And I'm an evangelical Christian. I just think that the religious voters in Iowa demonstrated that they should not be trusted to make serious political decisions for the country. "Either a pastor or a politician be--NOT BOTH"

And, lastly, I have to say it: if there is anybody in the world quite as happy as Rudy is about the way last night played out, it would have to be Osama bin Laden, the Mullahs in Iran, and Kim Jong Il. Is that unfair? Given the statements Huckabee and Obama have made in the past, I think its safe to say that our favorite cast of characters will NOT be intimidated by the American President if it ends up being one of these two.

For more thoughts on Iowa, check out the rest of the RMA:

Mount Virtus
The Daily Blogster
Thinking Right


How Romney Should Approach New Hampshire and Michigan 

For New Hampshire:

[split screen showing McCain and Romney]

John McCain and Mitt Romney.

McCain was educated at the United States Naval Academy; Romney at Brigham Young University and Harvard.

McCain served in the Navy from 1958 until 1981, including his famous and heroic interrment in a Vietnamese Prisoner of War Camp. In 1982, he entered politics by winning election as a Congressman from Arizona. In 1982 Romney was Vice President of Bain & Company, a major U.S. management consulting firm.

John McCain entered the U.S. Senate in 1986; in 1986, Mitt Romney had left his previous position to form his own equity investment firm--a firm that regularly doubled the value of its investors' money on an annual basis.

In 1990 John McCain was still a member of the Senate; Mitt Romney returned to Bain & Company to save it from bankruptcy without a single layoff.

In 1998 John McCain was elected to the Senate for a third term; in 1998, Mitt Romney was called on to rescue the Salt Lake City Olympics from a $379 million deficit and a bribery scandal that threatened to cancel the Games.

In 2001 John McCain voted against the tax cuts President Bush asked for that pulled the conomy out of a shallow recession; in 2002 Congress passed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act that limits political speech. In 2002, Mitt Romney presided over a spectacular Olympic Games which ended up $100 million in the black.

In 2003 McCain voted against the second set of tax cuts proposed by President Bush. In 2003 Romney took office as a Republican Governor of the very liberal state of Massachussetts.

In 2004 John McCain was elected to his fourth term as a Senator. In 2004 Mitt Romney was well on the way to turning a billion dollar state budget deficit into a surplus.

More recently, while John McCain was creating the so-called "Gang of Fourteen" Senators who were responsible for the dismissal of several Bush judicial nominations, Mitt Romney was enacting the most ambitious and innovative state health care plan in the country.

John McCain is an honorable man and a war hero. But is a man who has spent the last twenty years in the U.S. Senate the right man to bring change and innovation to a federal government that oes not work very well?

Mitt Romney: real-world experience, and a track record of impossible accomplishments.

Who would you rather have leading America into the future?

By the way, Rudy Giuliani could run a very similar ad against McCain.

If he ever gets in the game.

And then for Michigan I would think that a heavy emphasis on jobs creation, understanding how the economy works, and talking about innovation to strengthen the economy is the only way to go. McCain has no record on economics, and Michigan is in the throes of a horrible recession.

There's a chance to stop the McCain momentum. Not a great one, but a chance.


Trying To Make Sense of Iowa 

"Ohhhh . . .There's nothing half-way about the Iowa way to treat you,
if we treat you,
which we may not do at all.

There's an Iowa kind of special chip-on-the-shoulder attitude
We've never been without that we recall."

I am looking at the results from Iowa, and several things stand out to me.

First: in a big shocker, I am TERRIBLE at making predictions.

Second: as it did four years ago, Iowa has surprised the world. As I seem to recall, Howard the Duck was very well positioned heading into the caucus, and we all saw how that worked out. Again, the presumed front-runners from a month ago are both scratching their heads tonight. There's a reason I posted those lines from "The Music Man"--there is, there must be, something about Iowans that is pathologically hostile to front-runners.

Third: the caucus structure is very difficult to poll, so predictions are very difficult to come by accurately (though, apparently, the Iowa Poll was basically right on.)

Fourth: Iowans have shown a ridiculous--almost stupid--unwillingness to use their brains on this night. Consider: with all that has happened in the last few weeks (the Bhutto assassination, the mystery NIE, Putin, chaos in Africa which slammed the stock market) Iowans have chosen two people for Commander-In-Chief whose foreign policy experience is ZERO, and whose foreign policy statements have been almost childishly naive.

I mean, c'mon . . . Ron Paul pulls 10%??

I guess that is what is most disturbing to me: the fundamental UN-seriousness of this disproportionately important chunk of the electorate. I could have swallowed a Clinton Presidency because I think that she would take an attack on the U.S. very seriously and would have responded with swift force--I have no such faith in either Obama or Huckabee. And with the complexity of issues facing us, I also have no faith that either Obama or Huckabee has the werewithal to grasp it all and steer a good course through it.

So, where does that leave things? Well, it looks for all intents and purposes that McCain could win in NH and battle for Michigan, which could set up South Carolina for either Thompson (if he's still alive) or Huckabee (who looks like he will still be alive), though McCain's buddy Lindsey Graham may be able to pull that state together for him. Romney will string together a series of second and third places so that he arrives on super Tuesday with the most delegates, but no real strength or momentum. Which sets everything up very nicely for Rudy Giuliani, who should take home enough delegates on super Tuesday to put him right up in the mix.

McCain, Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee, maybe Thompson--all alive by mid-March.

On the other side, Obama will get a great bump out of this, but the polls in the next few states look pretty bad for him. Hillary should recover and get back on top in a big hurry. The one thing that may change that is if Edwards starts getting beaten so badly that he drops out of the race: his people may just roll over to Obama as the "anti-Hillary" and make the race a very interesting dogfight. But I'm not counting on it.

In other words, Iowa could easily end up being nothing more than a footnote in this election cycle, as it will prove to have almost no predictive power over what happens in the summer.

Which is exactly where Iowa belongs: in the footnotes.

Going Out On A Limb . . . Blindfolded 

Everybody seems to be weighing in on the Iowa caucuses.

Robert Novak predicts Romney and Obama wins, with Thompson and Clinton third.
Powerline is predicting a Romney win in Iowa, with McCain in N.H.
Generalissimo makes a good case for two Romney wins in the nest several days.
My brother also jumps in the game, predicting a close Romney win with Thompson third.

So, since it costs me nothing, and means nothing, I'll go ahead and make my prediction.

I think Romney's superior organization will carry him to victory on caucus night--he's a man who's made a career of covering tough bets, and with Huck's recent help, he should take care of business. Of more interest is the very real possibility that Fred Thompson manages to pull out a third place finish, which gives him a ticket to move forward.

On the Democratic side, I think it's almost impossible to know how that's going to play out. Hillary[Bill] knows Iowa and how to organize a victory here, so I think it's foolish to count her[them] out. But the vagaries of the Iowa Dem caucus [second choice voting, etc] probably give a structural advantage to Obama and, to a lesser degree, Edwards. So I'm going to join Novak in predicting a narrow Obama victory over Edwards and then Clinton.

Which puts things moving forward in a very strange state. Suddenly, a near-certain strong showing by McCain in New Hampshire leaves the GOP with four viable candidates heading into the other small primaries that prelim Super Tuesday; and then Giuliani jumps into the fray with his strategy, making for for five candidates alive at that point. Of course, weak Huckabee showings in NH and Michigan probably eliminate him from the race, and either Thompson or McCain will have become the strongest representative of that wing of the Party, so that probably leaves three. And once that is established, the free-for-all will be a circus.

And on the Dem side, the fall of Hillary from the role of Crown Princess leaves that race in complete turmoil. She's still plenty strong to challenge Obama everywhere, but now the establishment vote can feel free to jump to Edwards. You want to see a free-for-all? Wait until Hillary starts to feel like she's in jeopardy of losing. The three-way on that side of the aisle will be even more fun than on the GOP side.

So there's my prediction: weak Romney and Obama victories in Iowa, which be be completely forgotten in six weeks amidst the chaos of this year's election cycle.

Whatever else it is, it should be lots of fun.


Santa Clause, Redux 

So, I'm not the only one who noticed the Santa Clause-esque nature of political campaigning lately. From the one and only Thomas Sowell:

Anyone who believes that the government can give the country presents has fallen for the oldest political illusion of all -- the illusion of something for nothing

Santa Claus may turn out to be the real front-runner in the primaries, judging by the way candidates are vying with one another to give away government goodies to the voters.

Santa Claus is bipartisan. The Bush administration is unveiling its plan to rescue people who gambled and lost in the housing markets when the bubble burst.

Of course, Sowell comes to a smarter--and more pessimistic--conclusion than I came to:

After the departure of Senator Phil Gramm and House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Congress has been an economics-free zone. There is not one economist among the 535 members of Congress.

But, in an election year, that is not a political handicap. Santa Claus has won far more elections than any economist.


Reminds me of the old line "There is no problem so difficult, no challenge so intractable, that Congress cannot make it worse by trying to 'fix' it." I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that that gets a lot worse in an election year.

Thoughts On Christmas, The Old Year, and The New Year 

First of all, let me wish you and yours a very Happy New Year--May God Bless you with enough interesting things to keep you awake, but never too many that you can't meet them with Faith and Humor.

I love Christmas. I always get to January 1st a little bit sad--tonight was the first day in about five weeks that the Christmas tree wasn't lit, and tomorrow all the lights will be coming down. That said, this was a grand Christmas season in the BestDestiny world. I think its taken me until this relatively late stage in life to understand what Bill Murray soliloquy-ed about in Scrooged:

it's the one night of the year we all act a little nicer. We smile a little easier. We cheer a little more. For a couple hours out of the whole year... we are the people that we always hoped we would be.

I know its kinda corny, but there you have it. A few children, some growing up, and a re-discovery of the role Faith plays in my life, and once a year I'm like a little kid again. It's really pretty fun.

And then, that puts a wrap on 2007. It was a decent year here at BD--we dropped off a little bit in the frequency of postings, but, hopefully, the quality was little better (which, let's face it, wouldn't be that hard to achieve). The world has seen Iraq get better, the stock market up (Dow Jones up 6.4% for the year), the economy remain solid, Conservatives gaining power in France and Germany, and yet another year without a successful attack on American soil. On the other hand, the housing bubble burst, Pakistan is rapidly descending into chaos, Russia is rapidly regressing, an ally in Australia was voted out, Democrats are in charge here in the US (though they can't figure out what to do with it), Iran is on the brink of something bad, and al-Qaeda seems to have found a new haven in the rugged mountains of western Pakistan. It has been a mixed year for the world, and it feels, to me (who really knows nothing) like the relative quiet of 2007 is nothing but prelude to something big. "The deep breath before the plunge," as one of my favorite movies puts it.

And that leads us to 2008. I guess the most immediate issue will be the elections here in the States--a troubling situation in which it seems to me that four of the six top candidates (Hillary, Obama, Edwards, and Huckabee) are completely unqualified to handle the challenges the nation faces in the near future, much less have the experience or personal traits that would position them to guide us into the future. The other two top candidates have what it takes, in my opinion, but face formidable electoral difficulties to getting elected, and a few of the also-rans may yet make a good case for themselves (I'll have a lot more to say about the election tomorrow) What that leaves, unfortunately, is the real possibility that 2008 could see Americans making a momentous decision about their future, and only being offered choices that virtually guarantee a weak foreign policy stance at the beginning. And those policies only get murkier when you look over the domestic issues agenda. What is shaping up to be the most interesting election in a long time could aso be the least reassuring election in my memory. All of which makes the troubling state of the world an even bigger problem--as if some of the more elder statesmen/women in the world community would step up to lead the free world! What? you think the U.N. will manage the world? Heh. No, it falls to the U.S. to keep the world humming along, unfortunately, and if we go rudder-less for a while, than that has the potential to cause serious systems' failures around the globe.

But I choose to face 2008 with boldness and optimism--I have a major project in the works which will, hopefully, dramatically change the course of my career and my family's fortunes by this time next year; the household has finally settled back down after making room for a new one nine months ago; and, through it all, with all the challenges and troubles out there, God will take us however and wherever He wants us to go. I'm not saying I don't have to do anything 'cuz He's got It; I'm just saying that there's a reason for the way things are going, and even though I don't understand it, I need to be ready to take advantage of any opportunities presented me and prepared to cope with any challenges that crop up. It's actually not too much different from the previous 38 years of my life.

Which, since I'm still here, is why I'm optimistic.

Which, by the way, might be the best possible message for a GOP candidate to start harping on right now. America has survived dangerous times in the world before and come out smarter and stronger--it will do so again; America has survived far greater economic hardship than it is experiencing now, and we've always come out smarter and stronger--we will do so again; America has been far more divided in the past, but has come back together stronger and smarter--it will do so again.

So, while it's easy to dwell on the doom and the gloom, let's leave that to the Democrats. For our part, let's look at the challenges as opportunities to reset the global rule set, and harp on the message that Americans (the people, NOT the government) will meet whatever comes our way and be stronger for it.

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