Observations on the Presidential Races

January 7, 2008

1. We expect promises of change from Democratic candidates, but it’s disappointing to watch certain Republican candidates yield to that superficially seductive sound bite, too. It’s like the global-warming freight train, which few politicians have displayed the guts and character not to board.

2. It’s disappointing to watch candidates from both parties accept the premise that criticizing your opponents’ records and pointing out their inconsistencies and lies is engaging in dirty politics. It is not dirty but obligatory to draw distinctions between you and your opponents. Dirty politics is distorting one’s record or spreading lies about a candidate. Why do so many refuse to see the difference? It’s the same type of shallow thinking that prefers that politicians get along rather than promote their ideas.

3. Until very recently, “experts” have proclaimed that only Rudy and Romney had a realistic path to the GOP nomination and that Hillary was inevitable on the Democrat side. Now, many tell us Romney is dead unless he wins in New Hampshire, Rudy is already toast and Hillary is almost toast. The common denominator is that the punditocracy has been consistently wrong, which will not deter them from continuing their pseudo-omniscient, mostly erroneous analysis.

4. “Experts” also say that if McCain wins New Hampshire, he’ll be the clear frontrunner — though New Hampshire is not a bellwether state and McCain will remain, based on logic and experience, an overwhelming long shot.

5. Fred Thompson can’t get anyone to give him the time of day. Debate moderator Chris Wallace, for example, overtly directed most of his questions to Huckabee, Romney and McCain. Then, in his post-debate analysis, he criticized Fred (and Rudy) for not being more assertive in the debate. What?

6. The media have decree Fred can’t win, so it must be so.

7. If Fred can’t win — which I reject — and Rudy and Romney are toast, and few truly believe Huckabee and McCain can win no matter how much the media and pundits promote them, then no one can win. Nonsense. One of them will win, and as long as none is an overwhelming frontrunner, they are all still in it.

8. Rumors that Hillary will drop out if she loses in New Hampshire to avoid damaging the “Clinton brand” are absurd. Quitting would hurt the Clintons far more than losing a hard fight would. Ask “No mas” boxing legend Roberto Duran.

9. If Hillary’s hurting now, how much more would she be if Edwards, who presents a similar message in a more strident, polarizing and demagogic tone, were not in the race? But don’t count Hillary out yet. She has the Clinton machine behind her.

10. Not more than a few weeks ago, few “experts” gave Barack Obama the slightest chance. While smart, articulate, charismatic and likeable, he just seemed too green. But under fire against Hillary, he has all of sudden matured, completely undermining the media’s and Hillary’s charge that he’s not ready for the presidency. To paraphrase an antagonist in “Deliverance,” these experts “don’t know nuthin’.”

11. All the Democratic candidates have egg on their faces over their Iraq policies and appear foolish in trying to justify their positions. But, ironically, the most Republicans can gain from our turnaround in Iraq is to remove it as an issue for Democrats; they can’t seem to capitalize on their successes, as witnessed by their failure to receive credit for no further mainland terrorist attacks since 9/11.

12. It’s very discouraging when Republican operatives fantasize about Huckabee rescuing the Republican Party from its current state of disarray by forging new coalitions. Even respected commentator Bill Kristol is arguably encouraging Republicans to get behind Huckabee. Republicans and conservatives should be focused on principle and advancing the conservative agenda, not sacrificing those principles in pursuit of party victory.

13. Indeed, this is the crux of what bothers many of us conservatives, including many Christian conservatives, about Huckabee’s approach. Huckabee purports to represent conservatives and evangelicals and, waving those banners, is promoting ideas that fly in the face of what we’ve always believed in. Despite his support of the Fair Tax, he issues strong class-warfare rhetoric against corporations and individual producers, he opposes school choice, he panders to liberals on global warming, he’s a nanny-stater, and he seems to be soft on enemy combatants, other terrorists, tyrants and convicted murderers.

To have a conservative evangelical promoting a liberal agenda in many areas is troubling enough. For him to win the Republican nomination would mean that no major political party would thereafter be standing up as proudly for free markets, limited government, school choice, sound immigration policy and a realistic, tough foreign policy. No wonder liberals and the mainstream media love this fine man. With him, they hope for a twofer: He would dilute the conservatism of the Republican Party and deliver values voters to the cause of liberalism — something the disingenuous Democratic overtures to “values voters” has never been able to accomplish.

14. The race is still wide open — in both parties.