In search of an across the board "leave me the heck alone" conservative

By Erick Posted in Comments (93) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

You can take or leave this post, but I figured I'd lay out my present thinking on this race, looking at just the top candidates: Rudy, Mitt, Fred, John, and Mike.

Of the five candidates, all, I think we can say, are conservative in some way. Rudy is, whether you want to admit it or not, a conservative guy. He's not a movement conservative and he is not socially conservative, but during his time as mayor he was willing to take on the school system and the liberal interests to get government out of the way. In the same way that George Bush is not an across the board conservative President, at the end of the day his constitution, if you will, is conservative.

Huckabee is the same way. Where Rudy is conservative against the spread of bureaucracy and in business issues, Huckabee is conservative socially. Huckabee, I fear, is more like Bush. He likes the compassionate conservative label, which is just social conservatism packaged in big government. Yeah, yeah, you Huckabee guys can defend him all you want -- and I personally like the guy -- but let's make no bones about it, Huckabee's support is premised on him being the religious guy, the "real" pro-life guy. He is, in effect, a social conservative and economic populist. His rhetoric is on "fair trade" not "free trade." He gets the Mother Jones crowd excited. I personally can't support him in the primary because I want an across the board conservative and I fear he'll drive business interests to cut a deal with Hillary.

And that leaves me with the other guys. Rudy is fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Huckabee is socially conservative and fiscally liberal populist. If you want a Reagan conservative -- a pro-life, strong defense, small government, pro-entrepreneur candidate -- you have to look to Fred, John, and Mitt. So let's look at them.

Read on . . .

Of the three, John McCain has the longest track record. He is pro-life. He is strong on defense. He is more or less a small government guy. And John McCain is a friend of the American entrepreneur. Now, you may say, "what about immigration?" Well, immigration is not really a liberal vs. conservative issue. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, the conservative standard bearer in the MSM, was in favor of it. Human Events, Ronald Reagan's favorite newspaper, was against it. What of campaign finance reform? On that, John McCain and I have serious disagreements. But he's John Freakin' McCain and I love the guy. Why did Chuck Norris endorse Mike Huckabee? Because John McCain doesn't need Chuck Norris when he has John McCain.

My problems with McCain, however, lead me to not support him in this race. First, and no offense Senator, he's old. Second, he worked so far to get campaign finance reform passed, his legacy issue, I think he'd lean toward picking judges who'd uphold CFR and I think those types of judges are the types who'd grow enough in office to uphold Roe v. Wade. Third, as much as I like John McCain, I really, really like Donald Rumsfeld.

Next we have Mitt Romney. He's got pretty hair. He's also got executive experience. The last hundred years indicate that a person with executive experience has the advantage. Romney also has a lot of experience in the business world. To his credit, he's the one guy who has been out the whole time talking about the Republican foundation, the "stool" he calls it -- life, taxes, and defense. Let me go back to my mantra of pro-life, strong defense, small government, and pro-entrepreneur. Romney was the later. And he has given every indication he will be for the three former. He also was willing to do something with health care and did try his best to limit government involvement. I don't like the plan, but good on him for trying.

But this is where I left Mitt months ago and where I leave him still. I think he's a great guy, but there is a trust issue with me. When he needed to out gay and out abort Teddy Kennedy, he did. And now he's gone the other way. I'd like to trust him, but I just have this feeling that if we are no longer convenient for him, he'll turn his back on us. Perhaps that is unfair, but that's where I'm at. I also think, given the last thirty year track record, candidates from Massachusetts make bad candidates for President. I think the Democrats will club Mitt Romney to death. Already they are going for the flip-flop label that the GOP used so well against Kerry. And voters seem to be picking up on that.

So, for me personally, that leaves me with Fred. He is pro-life. He's got a better pro-life record than McCain according to the NRLC. The HLA may not be his priority, but he, Huckabee, and Romney have all taken the same position on it. Fred is not only pro-life, he recognizes it as such an important issue that he has gone further than the other candidates and expressed an intention to ensure his executive appointments believe in the culture of life. That's huge from a policy level.

In fact, the only part of Fred that is pro-abortion is the government part of him. Fred's never met a federal expansion he didn't want to abort. He was frequently the lone vote in the Senate against government programs. You and I may get tired of his federalist tourette syndrome, but by God let's not deny he believes in it. He believes in federalism in the original sense. It's no surprise that he and Ron Paul are rated similarly by libertarian groups. And that's why he is also pro-entreneur. He's big on getting government out of the way.

Fred is not a religious conservative. He's a "leave me the heck alone" conservative. And frankly, polling shows that us evangelicals have done such a bad job combatting the media narrative against us that the 18 to 30 year old demographic, the up and coming generation of voters, has turned against us. It's not so much that they want gay marriage as that they don't want icky Jesus freaks like me telling them what to do at the national policy setting level.

We Jesus Freaks (I'll embrace the term) can mostly accomplish what we want to accomplish with a "leave me the heck alone" conservative like Fred (heck, or even McCain). We can live and let live. And Fred's a likable guy. So I'm with him. And the nice thing about it for me is that I'm not with Fred because the others suck. I'm with Fred because I want to be. In a small bit of irony, back in February I was attending an event in Kansas at the Dole Institute. I told the Director that I was supporting Mitt Romney, but that I really wished someone like Fred Thompson would get in the race. The Director agreed. His name is Bill Lacy. You might have heard of him.

A good bit of me loves Huckabee and Rudy really excites me as a candidate against Hillary. But I want an across the board pro-life, pro-defense, small goverment, pro-entrepreneur conservative. And of the three men who fit the bill, I think Fred offers the most with the least baggage. He'll make sure the government leaves me the heck alone.

That's where I am.

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In search of an across the board "leave me the heck alone" conservative 93 Comments (0 topical, 93 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

except for the Rumsfeld part. Rudy and Huck are divisive, Romney is strong, but there is the slick factor.

McCain is unpalatable for his previous strong positions against some conservatives.

So we have Fred. Can Fred beat Hillary? Dunno, It will be either a narrow win, or a Dole like total loss.

"Nothing works like freedom, Nothing succeeds like liberty"

I'd say that he's desperately trying to drag himself back into contention in the primary, but it really doesn't look like he is. I think he'd make a pretty good President, but he makes an awful candidate.

I'm with Huckabee because I believe he has the potential to turn around that 18 to 30 demographic you speak of. Furthermore, I'm a believer in George W. Bush compassionate conservatism and think Huck will do a better job of implementing it. I make this stand understanding that there is a realistic possibility Huckabee will be out after South Carolina and maybe Iowa, so a second choice is important for me since my caucus isn't until February.

You and Mary Maitlin have done an excellent job convincing me that Fred is a good second choice, although I was previously leading toward McCain. I think Fred is wrong on immigration and Bush/Huckabee/McCain/Giuliani and the WSJ are right, but other than that he is solid. Furthermore, I think he is a way better politician than Hillary Clinton, and can win. I don't see most of the voters who will decide this election voting for Hillary over Fred.

"I believe in grace, because I have seen it. In peace, because I have felt it. In forgiveness, because I needed it."

-George W. Bush

the giant nanny state? the huge deficits? the alienation of the business community? the laughter and scorn of the Democrats? The sense of betrayal felt by movement conservatives? or was it the loss of both houses of congress?

"Nothing works like freedom, Nothing succeeds like liberty"

The idea of it, not the implementation, which I agree has been flawed, costly, and a political failure. What compassionate conservatism turned into was a compromise with Democrats on medicare and education that created more problems not less. Like Jack Kemp, I don't believe Republicans have to sell out their principles to give a crap about those in neeed. Bush never managed Congress well enough to get it done.

"I believe in grace, because I have seen it. In peace, because I have felt it. In forgiveness, because I needed it."

-George W. Bush


Maybe the implementation failed because the idea itself is flawed.

Two thirds of the world is covered by water,
the other third is covered by Champ Bailey.

Some enterprises are doomed to fail not because they lack merit, but because they're attempted with the wrong tools- and government is the wrong tool for this job.

We all want a compassionate world where everything works and people get along and opportunity is there for everybody. Not all of us seem to have figured out that government can't deliver this world. At any price. (or at the very least, it hasn't worked every time it's been tried.)

That is the problem with the "Compassionate Conservative" message. Government is not a person, it is a machine. The parts are people, but like a machine they have to work by a if/then reactive system, therfoer they become parts, not people. The persons being served have to fit into the system, therfore they become numbers, not people. The result is a static system that pigeionholes everyone and discourages them from trying to leave thier pigeonhole. This is compassion?

Govenment compassion is like being hugged by a chainsaw. The intentions may be good, but it's still a frickin' chainsaw.
Brian Epps

It's neat to be able to see someone think out loud about their decision process.

I have gone through a similar process, but ended with Rudy, Fred and McCain as my top 3. They continue to tussle, but for similar reasons as you (but different weights), I think McCain, Fred, Rudy is my current order.

I'm still holding out hope for a McCain/Thompson or Thompson/McCain ticket. Fighting pork and rekindling federalism would follow forthwith.

Donate to the Rs in Close Senate Races through Slatecard

I'm with Fred and sent him money last Wednesday.

I disagree with you a bit on Mitt though. I don't think he'll turn his back on us. At least not until year 5, after his re-election. He'll need so-cons for the re-election.

I do think that he'll have a harder time with some people because of his religion than Fred will have with those same people.

And once again, I will PROUDLY vote for any of the big five (even Huckabee) on election day 2008.


Read my most recent story, "No speech from Romney is a reason to avoid him" on First Cut Politics

I agree by bs

I have gone thru a similar line of thinking, and it also led me to Fred.

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“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say. ” - Martin Luther

A "Leave Me the Heck Alone" (LMHA) conservative.... I have to say that's an appealing way to look at it. Kind of embraces the "freedom" part of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. I do find that very refreshing when it seems every other candidate wants to tell you that there is something wrong with the way you think.

But....(everybody has a big one)...

Most days Fred comes across as the "Leave Me the Heck Alone" Candidate.
Hint: You gotta want the job, Freddie. And you gotta be willing to play the part for at least four years. Drop the character of the irascible, cantankerous curmudgeon. Imagine the roll. Think "Leader of the Free World".

You CANNOT trust John McCain.

He does not like the first amendment. McCain/Feingold and other statements attest to that. He would love to be the overlord of the internet. The Gang of 14. He's a pal of Ted Kennedy and is working with him on immigration right now.

Does ANYONE believe someone who would be 72 on inauguration day will excite ANYONE under 50?

Any wonder why, here in Arizona, he is NOT leading in the polls?

Vista really sucks!

I think McCain has character. He just won't do the things many of us would like him to do, heh.

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But he's a loose one. McCain will go off. You just are never sure what direction he will be aiming.

Vista really sucks!

Just look at the McCain flyer that Erick posted. If he'll suck up to the Cult of Global Warming to try to win the *GOP* nomination, is there anything he won't do?

Finrod's First Law of Bandwidth:
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it takes the bandwidth of ten thousand.

He's been on about that for years, even when he wasn't running for anything. The man didn't take a Global Warming trip to Alaska with HRC to pander. I think he means it; he thinks it feels hotter in Arizona these days, and he think's it's Global WArming.

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Finrod's First Law of Bandwidth:
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it takes the bandwidth of ten thousand.

Two words: Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan was 69 when he took office. And, not nearly as cranky. And, was a GOOD Republican.

Vista really sucks!

I like Fred. I think he has set forth the best policy ideas in the campaign. And I like the fact that he is appealing to fiscal and social conservatives.

Two problems with Fred.

1. His appearance and demeanor. Not much he can do about that. Men like this guy. But I suspect that large numbers of women will not--he just ain't pretty enough and he's old-man gruff. The gender gap is gonna be huge in this election, as many men will be repelled by Her Hillaryness. We need to work that to our advantage so that the Republican candidate does not have a comparable effect on women swing-voters. Romney will probably be more popular--nice looking, nice guy. His wife isn't some young mega-babe, but is attractive in the way that many women consider reasonably attainable.

After all, there's a reason Fred was cast as the boorish, brutish, sexual-harassing boss on the Roseanne show--because he was believable in the part. Romney would never have been so cast.

2. Fred will not beat Hillary if he can't run a disciplined, sharp campaign. Not much evidence of that yet.

I think if he can fix #2, we can live with #1--and Fred might be the best candidate.

In any case--COME ON, FRED--STEP UP, MAN!

"People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors." -Edmund Burke

that Fred has fixed his campaign? (I'm not complaining or critiquing--I really would like to know what people are looking for.)

"People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors." -Edmund Burke

is like hoping for an inside straight.

Vista really sucks!

One of his campaigns was less genuine than the other. Do you really think his run for Senate was the real Mitt? I don't.

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be someone who we know will voluntarily run a "less genuine" campaign? Something (I think we understand what) made him run, and supposedly govern, in a way different from who he is. Will it happen again in the White House?

The Democrats achieve many policy objectives by playing that game. They win many votes that ought to be ours.

What's the harm?

And I answered your question above. I think the Romney who sells himself to Democrats isn't the real Mitt Romney. Are you going to state otherwise definitively? Hard to have a good, solid debate with innuendo, heh.

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The harm is not so much when you are lying, er selling, to get votes, it is when you actually start to govern in line with the way that you sold yourself.

You acknowledge that he has run campaigns casting himself differently. I would say signing a document saying that you agree with the substance of the Roe v Wade decision (see is more than just "selling" himself. He also allowed non-medically necessary abortions into the Mass Health Care plan. While there is some debate on whether or not Mitt's health care solution was "conservative" it is clear that Mitt favors (favored?) a government mandate type approach to solving problem. That wasn't him selling, it was governing.

I don't know which one will show up to govern if he wins the Presidency. I THINK that it would be the conservative one, but I just don't know. To use your question: are you going to state otherwise definitively?

If someone can point to a time in which Romney as governor did not act as he sold himself, I could see being afraid of that.

Don't forget; to get elected Governor he promised to maintain the status quo on abortion. That included he medial insurance stuff.

So basicall you're hitting him both ways: you're suggesting he might be dishonest and flop back from his campaign promise flips, while at the same time attacking him for when he was honest and lived up to his campaign promises.

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I'm not accusing Romney of flip-flopping on promises, but clearly his positions have changed over time (either on principle or for convenience). He has only had the one elected office, so I don't know if he will flip on campaign promises later. But he has made campaign promises (in different elections) that disagree with each other. What evidence do I have that when a problem comes down the pike that we have not anticipated (i.e. on a subject that he has not made a promise), that he will lead in a conservative direction?

Romney appears to make his decisions based on a pragmatism rather than principle. It is a valid approach, but I am more comfortable and enthusiastic about someone who is deciding on (conservative) principle.

There will never be *evidence* that any candidate will handle unforeseen problems in the 'right' way. That's why character counts.

And you know what? I think this politics are practical, but I don't think he shows the marks of pragmatic progressivism at all. You don't pick the fights he picked in Massachusetts to be a pragmatic get along liberal Republican.

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That, of course, is the only way that you can evaluate character anyway. That is why Romney and Huckabee should at least be viewed circumspectly as they are running on promises that are different from their track records.

IF what Romney did was lie, then no, we shouldn't trust him. Or at the very least, that he proved a clever liar in the past isn't something we should praise him for.

BUT, if what Romney did was not deceive, but persuade by merely emphasizing his points of agreement with his fellow-citizens of Massachusetts, while de-emphasizing his conservatism, I do not see any objection. It is a statemen's job to persuade, in part by not unnecessarily antagonizing the people.

It is clear on abortion that Romney stated a different position in 1994, and, to a lesser extent, in 2002, from his current position. He has openly acknowledged this change of mind.

Many of the other instances of alleged flip-flopping seem to me ot represent a change of emphasis or tone, and not a clear, material change of position.

"People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors." -Edmund Burke

I can take any candidate (Ron Paul exception, of course).

I want the candidate that will WIN in 11/2008.

I remember the hell that was 1993-2000. Thank God we had some reasonable Republicans in Congress to put up some resistance. (Think welfare would pass now, or with a Dim president?) Imagine that redux with a Dim Congress, as we have now, or worse?

No thanks!

Vista really sucks!

"Leave Me The Heck Alone" =
Social Libertarian Liberal =
Pro-Choice at the state level =
"So Be It" when it comes to gay marriage =
Letting Schiavo die

the NRLC endorsement because he is PRO LIFE.

...They were in the tank for him since July. But the pro-lifers are with Huck. You should see the response of some of the state RTL organizations when they heard NRLC was supporting Fred.

Fred is losing support -- he's gotten no bounce from this endorsement.

That's right, they're in the tank for him. All those grassroots leaders are in the tank for him becuase he's the *best* pro-life candidate in the field.

You remind me of Baghdad Bob trying to talk down US advances in Iraq, heh.

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because while it is true that I am not an activist, I consider myself pretty hardline pro-life. And right now I'm with Fred over Huck and Mitt is my second choice. If I can't have either of them I'm with Bill Buckley and want the next president picked at random from the phone book.

And Huck is my last choice.


==== 13 ====

correct policy on life (I'm pro-life). I agree with Fred on every policy. National Security, Nathional Sovereignty, National Solvency. The trifecta. His plans are realistic and beneficial. I want him to win this election. Very much.
Redneck Hippie

I may steal it;)

I'm curious because on Earth, the idea that Erick is a social liberal is pretty nuts.

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G'narr has warned you before about using your telepathic mind-reading abilities in front of the Earthlings. Unless you want to be re-assigned, skinning small reptiles in the ship's kitchen, leave discussion of your empathic discoveries to your briefings for The Old Ones.

Drink Good Coffee. You can sleep when you're dead.

he seems to be the same guy with the same positions for as long as I have known about FDT. Which is when he Al's seat.

I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm's way."
John Paul Jones (letter to M. Le Ray de Chaumont,16 Nov.1778)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
-H. L. Mencken

I like him on all the issues,
1. Pro-life (and the Federalist approach, taking one battle at a time, get the Fed out of the discussion. Same as gay marriage.) You are either a Federalist or not... you can't say there should be a constitutional amendment (which we know won't happen) and say you are for state rights.
2. No nonsense on War on Terror. Doesn't promote "stay on the offensive" he says we need to actually get offensive! Most Republicans are okay on this issue, but after watching Fred on Chris Wallace's show, I'm confident this guy shoots about as straight as they get.
3. Not only is he not kissing the tails of ever faction of voters, he is clearly not doing it with the media.
4. Taxes/Social Security etc... strong on all.
5. Illegal Immigration- I've yet to see such a comprehensive plan that meets my desires better.
6. I have no concern that he is going to change his positions because he has had them for a long time (the only candidate that can say "look at my record.")

FINALLY- The issue du jour... the 2nd amendment. We are at war ladies and gentlemen, and as Michael Savage would say, we also have an "Enemy within." Hitler and Stalin took away guns from the citizens of Germany and Russa... then what happened? We need to be prepared in this country for outside aggressors, inside aggressors, and those who want to control our every move.

The 2nd amendment issue will become bigger now with this DC gun case, and the voters are going to go to the man they feel will protect their rights to bear arms, especially in the South.

The 2nd amendment should be considered the top issue if you are looking for a "leave me alone" candidate. Allowing citizens to carry guns has risks... but none of those risks amount for a greater threat to our country than taking away the right to bear arms. A candidate who is consistent and strong on this issue, should easily be considered the best "leave me alone" candidate.

What so many people are missing is Rudy is not "socially liberal." Rudy is a former federal prosecutor and a big believer in upholding the laws of the land. (His Second Amendment battle with the gun industry withstanding.) At one time the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion was legal. Rudy wasn't "for" this procedure; he was simply for upholding the law as it exists. The same with gay marriage. He doesn't support a constitutional ban because, in his view, it's not needed at the moment. Mr. Giuliani said, he would support a ban if several states began legalizing gay marriage.

As stated here, Rudy is not a social activist. It is my belief, however, that he will appoint "original intent" justices that will stick to the Constitution, and since conservatism comes from the do the math.

I'm siding with Rudy because he is the only true governing conservative in the race. Senators McCain and Thompson haven't run a state, or a city with the population larger than some states. Huckabee and Romney's tenures as governors weren't conservative in their own respects. What Mr. Giuliani accomplished in New York as mayor is practicing conservatism at its best. Go back and read the articles and decide for yourself.

One of the telltale characteristics of a congenital liberal is a willingness to tolerate no results or even horrible results provided that the intentions are good. This is what scares me about those who call themselves 'conservatives' but who advocate in favor of candidates whose intentions are pure but whose platform consists of tilting at windmills in the name of 'principle.' That is the behavior of someone who is mentally a liberal. It is the behavior of someone who would for decades support the AFDC program because it meant well, even as empirical evidence mounted that the program was institutionalizing poverty instead of curing it.

The particular windmills under attack by our own liberals may be different — they may even sound like conservative causes — but fundamentally a preference for good intentions over good results reveals a liberal mindset. A person who thinks like that will see merit in programs that any conservative would recogize instantly as meeting the Gorbachev Test for Socialism: "It is a beautiful idea. But it does not work."

I find myself laughing out loud at the participants here who loudly call Giuliani a liberal while exhibiting themselves multiple characteristics of a seriously liberal mindset. Were they ever to gain power, I have no doubt they would immediately set out to "use government to make the world a better place." To build Utopia, in other words.

Drink Good Coffee. You can sleep when you're dead.

Finrod's First Law of Bandwidth:
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it takes the bandwidth of ten thousand.

Did Romney make out with a tranny on the stump to out-gay Teddy? That is an interesting phrase.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
-H. L. Mencken

His wife is too pretty and he's not possessed of an insatiable lust for power.

After a few months in the race if this is the worst that can be said of him, Fred Dalton Thompson deserves the nomination for having the least negatives on the ticket.

On the real issues he has issued several position papers that are flat out the best in the field.

So glad to see Eric come out in favor of Fred. Now if we can get those folks hung up on the wife and ambition part to stop complaining and start writing checks for him we can shift focus to winning in November and do exactly that.

I used to believe that our system of political campaigning was ridiculous. I saw no relationship between the skills needed to wage a campaign and the skills needed to execute the office. But the more campaigns I've seen, the more I have come to respect our seemingly silly process.

Like many here, I find Fred to be the best fit for the issue positions I hold. I don't agree with Fred on everything, but I don't agree with any of the candidates on everything. Once I start doing the calculus on the compromises I'm willing to make, Fred wins.

Trouble is, Fred isn't winning. He is failing the "can he run a campaign" test. I wish it were not so, but I cannot deny that several other candidates are proving better at getting others to back their causes to the point of parting with money; at getting others to work toward a common goal in an organized way even when remuneration is not an issue; and in inspiring the kind of passion that causes volunteers to go 'above and beyond the call of duty' in pursuit of the win.

Without those things, I don't see Fred winning the nomination. And if he somehow did, I have little faith he could advance all the positions Fred and I hold in common.

I would like nothing better than to see this change.

Drink Good Coffee. You can sleep when you're dead.

Every candidate will have to work with Democrats. Until we are a one-party state that is going to happen. It is more than likely that the Republican president will have a Democrat Congress. So every one of your heroes will have to work with them and make your head explode.

McCain has a firm SoCon record. He doesn't support tax increases. Wants to eliminate pork spending. He has the best image among independents. Without a doubt, is the most battle-tested and possesses the best resume. Doesn't have the Rudy baggage, Fred's laziness, Romney's flip-flopping, or Hucakbee's socialism.

McCain backed Bush in 04 rather than splitting the party. McCain backed the war no matter what, ALWAYS. He was out front on the surge. He is a true leader it seems that has a great chance in the general.

I am a Positivist Pastafarian for the alliteration alone.

he still backs embryonic stem cell research, and will not reconsider his position even after the breakthroughs this week:

Small pill to swallow when you consider the horse pill otherwise known as Huckabee's fiscal policy.

I am a Positivist Pastafarian for the alliteration alone.

As I recall, McCain may have "backed" the war all along, but he was one of the first R's to complain and attack the war effort. While it is true that his criticism was a demand for more troops, he was as negative as many others.
Further, he still isn't right on the war. He either doesn't understand the nature and timing of the surge, or he is deliberately obfuscating so he can say he was right all along.

In case you didn't notice, the war was going badly because of bad decisions from the start. Can you imagine how things would be today if McCain would've been in charge? We would have surge level troops in Iraq from the beginning and this mess would've never happened.

McCain was right that we didn't have enough troops and that Rummy and crew were mishandling the reconstruction.

Just one more way he proved his leadership and wisdom on those matters.

I am a Positivist Pastafarian for the alliteration alone.

If McCain had been in charge and we had surge levels from the beginning, we would probably be out of Iraq now with double or triple the number of caualties and a mess in the middle east.

If you think the surge strategy that worked is 30,000 additional warm bodies, then I am afraid you have received too much of your military strategy courses from the MSM. Our current success is the result of three things - 4+ years of experience and relationship building, the "surge" showing the Iraqis that despite our political turmoil we are not leaving, and GEN Petraeus' leadership and CI strategy.

McCain was wrong then and is wrong now. He gets kudos for wanting victory and not backing down. He gets kudos for standing for the fight. He gets my middle finger for his self-aggrandizing behavior, and his nonsensical charge against torture - framing the debate as if torture was actually something we did, so he would have something to complain about.

The surge has led to a decrease in army deaths. Mostly because we have enough force to overwhelm the overmatched enemy. With that logic, if we had came in overwhelming from the start, the insurgency would've died before it began because we could've occupied hotbeds like Falluja and Ramadi with overwhelming force from the beginning. Rather than have too few troops to cover every area, allowing insurgents to train and mass in places we couldn't occupy.

It wasn't the last four years that led us to this moment. It was having enough forces to employ the Petraeus strategy.

I am a Positivist Pastafarian for the alliteration alone.

Read my post again. Those three things are THE reasons we are being successful in Iraq right now. The additional troops are part of the strategy, without the strategy, they are just potential casualties.
Iraq is extermely complicated, and everybody wants to reduce it to sound bites and campaign slogans. The "surge" is not and was not ever about additional troops. Its PRIMARY function was telegraphing to the world that we would not back down. It infused the "good guys" in Iraq with the confidence to open themselves to more risk, and it discouraged people from joining the "bad guys" team, since if the U.S. isn't a paper tiger, fighting us is a losing proposition.

We still don't have enough troops to do as you said. The additional 30,000 is almost meaningless in a country that size. It is part of the strategy because it gives us additional flexibility, it come nowhere near overwhelming force anywhere in Iraq.

One of the reasons I'm worried about this election is that I think we could elect someone who believes that the "surge" itself was what turned Iraq around. Even though the anti-war people are full of it, they have a point: Mindless aggression is not a successful strategy. I'd rather have a president that would abandon Iraq (in 2009 that might not be so bad) than have a president who will enter a poorly-thought-out war.

For the record, I think invading Iraq was a stroke of genius, although the execution doesn't impress.

McCain was critical of Rumsfeld, the shortage of troops, and the strategy employed, and rightfully so. Unlike Hagel and Lugar and other weak-kneed Republicans (as well as most Democrats), he wasn't calling for timetables or phased surrender. He was proposing ways for us to prevail, which is ultimately a constructive criticism of Bush & Co. If Bush had actually taken that criticism to heart and changed tack earlier, we may not haven been pushed into the minority. What's more, he was and is right on the current surge strategy (cite). Way back in November 2003, McCain said this:

To win in Iraq, we should increase the number of forces in-country, including Marines and Special Forces, to conduct offensive operations. I believe we must have in place another full division, giving us the necessary manpower to conduct a focused counterinsurgency campaign across the Sunni triangle that seals off enemy operating areas, conducts search and destroy operations and holds territory. Such a strategy would be the kind of new mission General Sanchez agreed would require additional forces. It's a mystery to me why they are not forthcoming. We cannot achieve our political goals as long as a strategic region of Iraq is in a state of fundamental insecurity."

Emphases mine.

5 (NT) by von

For we have a peculiar power of thinking before we act, and of acting, too, whereas other men are courageous from ignorance but hesitate upon reflection.

You gave a hypothetical that, if McCain were in charge, we'd be out of Iraq by now with double or triple the casualties and a worse ME. Sorry, Mac, I don't do hypotheticals.

And how did "relationship building" help our situation in the pre-Petraeus days? We were hunkered down in FOBs, stuck in a failed strategy. How do you build relationships in that environment? By cell phone? McCain proposed a "focused counterinsurgency strategy" over four years ago, with attendant increases in manpower. This was not only a criticism of the current plan, but a proposal for a more workable solution. If you call that "negative", well, then Bush needed to hear some more of that particular negative. As it is, he bumbled his way along, helping us lose our majority in Congress and sticking ourselves with an ungodly mess.

Bush-Rumsfeld talked a good game about security and secure-hold-build, but damn little came of it, and Rumsfeld made sure that anyone under his command who proposed major troop increases would have a dead-end career.

Are you implying that the current strategy is just a warmed over PR campaign?

And please, tell my why treating detainees humanely is nonsensical. Do you not see the exorbitant political price we've paid by violating that standard? Why would a person who is in pain to this day because of torture be "self-aggrandizing"? Don't you think there might be some principle involved in his position?

"We were hunkered down in FOBs, stuck in a failed strategy. How do you build relationships in that environment? By cell phone?"

I was watching relationships being built in Iraq pre-surge. We were not out to the extent we should have been to do what needed to be done, but there are many more pieces to this puzzle than the MSM, the Dems, McCain, or a whole lot of people understand. More troops in 2004 or 2005 or even 2006 would not have gained us any more stability, but would have gained us more casualties. McCain was calling for a "comprehensive counter-insurgency campaign", but neither he nor anyone else knew what that meant on the ground in Iraq. 4 years of sweat, blood and sacrifice taught us how to deal with the Iraqi people, and gave us the credibility to be listened to. It may be fun for all the armchair generals to bash Rumsfeld and Bush, but the reality is they did very well overall, and I bet no one else would have done better if they truly had to decide.

As to your other point, reading comprehension would serve you best. I defined what I meant by nonsensical, and it had nothing to do with how anyone should or shouldn't be treated.

If torture were the institutional standard in our Armed Forces that John McCain tried to make it out to be, I would grant that he was standing on principle. Instead, he was using his history as a tortured veteran (which I honor and respect him for) to give legitimacy to his crusade against something that wasn't an issue. It was mounatin out a mole hill, and it wasn't done on principle, it was done for media coverage.

"Do you not see the exorbitant political price we've paid by violating that standard?"

Political price? For violating that standard? We've paid an enormous political price and we didn't violate that standard.

Lastly, you chastise me for using a hypothetical - when I was responding to a hypothetical, and you rebut it with another hypothetical. You can't have it both ways friend.

how come the results were so pitiful? We were understaffed from the get-go, letting the environment become chaotic, which in turn allowed an insurgency to grow, and further allowed al Qaeda to grow in strength. Security was a number one priority for the Iraqi people, and we didn't deliver. Our leaders were too late in recognizing the seriousness of the insurgency and too slow in remedying the situation. Then we failed to recognize the seriousness of the Golden Mosque bombing, and failed to adequately respond. The civilian casualty numbers are a testament to this piss-poor strategy. Going into fall of 2006, the administration was still saying "stay the course" even though it was all too clear that this course was taking us two steps forward and one or two steps back. McCain was right in pointing this out and right in telling the administration to get its act together.

As for our standards on treatment of detainees, we do (or at least did) have a problem. It was very much an issue, and remains so.

You're right about the hypothetical, but at least I have a basis for my conclusion. More troops and a proper COIN strategy has succeeded, and there's no reason why it shouldn't have succeeded in Iraq in prior years. It actually did work in places such as Haditha (before your fellow Marines were jerked around (twice) and redeployed to Fallujah) and in other locations. We are probably still understaffed, but 30,000 more troops is doing the job.

After you have planted the grain must grow before it can be harvested.

To a naive person planting looks an awful lot like throwing away seed. Allowing the grain to grow is little more than benign neglect. Harvesting the acknowledgment of a hopeless situation and the elimination of the evidence of mistakes made.

To apply the current strategy at the beginning may have worked. It certainly would have provided more targets for the insurgents to shoot at.

As to your detainee problem statement, NO WE DO NOT. Not by any sane measure.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

Kudos to Mac for pointing out that McCain was one of the first and most vocal critics. He could have advised and critiqued Bush without doing it in front of a microphone. This hurt Bush as CinC and the overall war effort by giving the dems the ammo of calling Bush incompetent. Overwhelming force from the start could have branded us as an occupation force in the Arab world and AQ as liberators. Lots of things could have happened. Mac may be right and this was the best way in the long run to fight a very complicated war.

Campaign Finance Reform (McCain-Feingold)
Judges (Gang of 14)
Global Warming (see Erick's post today)
Calling questioning terrorists 'torture'
Immigration (McCain-Kennedy)

And those are just items I was able to think of in the last three minutes. These are all items that John McCain has been actively promoting the wrong side of. Sorry, that's too many for me.

Finrod's First Law of Bandwidth:
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it takes the bandwidth of ten thousand.

What if Democrats could've used the nuclear option on Republicans after 2006 to kill obstruction?

I think McCain's fear of torture is valid considering his experience. I think he deserves all due benefit of the doubt on that one.

There are issues where we all disagree with candidates and I do disagree with McCain on things.

He has the best resume.
Best reputation with independents.
Most experience on foreign policy.
Most electable Republican.

That is enough for me. I don't agree with his SoCon views and I am an isolationist. But I respect his ability to hold to his views and be a leader.

I am a Positivist Pastafarian for the alliteration alone.

The democrats will use it if it ever suits their needs, and what the R's did or didn't do has no impact on it.
Compare Bork and Ginsburg. Enough said.

McCain threw some judges under the bus in order to get others. If he was President, would he nominate someone like Robert Bork? No; he'd nominate a Kennedy or Souter that he could get easily approved by the Senate. Rudy, for all his moderate social positions, would nominate better judges than McCain.

If you think that a Democratic Senate would wait even as much as 10 seconds to use the Nuclear Option to get a Hillary judge approved, you're way more optimistic than I am.

And McCain's experience with torture has clouded his vision on the issue. Aggressive questioning techniques such as waterboarding have broken the best of al Qaeda and given us invaluable intelligence information. That McCain would give all that up for vague moral posturing says to me all that needs be said.

Finrod's First Law of Bandwidth:
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it takes the bandwidth of ten thousand.

McCain also said he appoint USSC judges in the vein of Roberts and Alito. Why would you believe Giuliani and disbelieve McCain?

As I said, McCain showed with the Gang of 14 that he's willing to throw good people under the bus instead of fighting for them. That to my mind shows how serious he is about nominating good judges and fighting for them.

Rudy hasn't been in a situation like that. He might not end up any better than John, but Rudy has a history of fighting for what he believes in, and he's made very vocal promises about what kinds of judges he would appoint. If he doesn't live up to that, well, he can just look to Bush Sr.'s "no new taxes" line to see where he'd end up.

Finrod's First Law of Bandwidth:
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it takes the bandwidth of ten thousand.

First, the term "nuclear option" was created by liberal Democrats and the Partisan Press.™ It was designed to disparage conservatives, intimidate moderate Republicans and confuse the electorate.

Second, the "constitutional option" is the correct terminology.

Third, the "constitutional option" is limited to the Executive calender.

Fourth, the filibuster is addressed in the Senate Rules and pertains solely to legislation before the Senate.

Finally, the filibuster of judicial nominees is an usurpation of the constitutional authority reserved for the Executive and exceeds the Senate's constitutional authority regarding "advise and consent" because the filibuster requires a super-majority for the confirmation of Executive appointments.


“Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so.” – Ronald Reagan



I have had my own share of contemplation over the stable of Republicans running in '08. Fred is my guy for the same reasons that you have listed. I also look at Mike as my least favorite candidate.

Now John comes in as my second least favorite because of taxes. I agree that John is for small government and cutting out pork in spending. What I really don't like about John is his love for soaking the rich with taxes. He voted against the Bush tax cuts, and to this day he believes the US revenues went up in spite of not because of the Bush tax cuts.

I am having a hard time putting one above the other when it comes down to Rudy and Mitt. They both have pluses and minuses. Perhaps I give Rudy an edge because of his endorsement from Steve Forbes. I do not like the way Mitt trashed Forbes in his run for POTUS in '96, but peace can be made between Mitt and Steve.

Now there's no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw.

Wrong idea. In 2004, Kerry was chosed because of electability. In 1996, Bob Dole was considered the most "electable." In 1980, many of the pundits thought Reagan was too divisive & "out there" to win, & the GHWB was the more electable. We need to choose the better candidate, not necessarily the one the elites & old pundits say can beat . I think that, with the right campaign emphasis on the right issues, that any one of the big 5 republicans would have a shot @ defeating whomever is selected by the democrats. I'm for Fred because I see he has the right stuff on issues over the other candidates & a stronger philosophical base - as well as the ability to communicate his ideas better than anyone.

As far as those who get on the "lazy" mantra, remember that is something that was coming up from the MSM before Fred announced... As far as "fire in the belly," does he need to rip Ron Paul in half or hit McCain over the head with a folding chair like a WWE RAW skit???

Some of these guys forget that Paul Weyrich endorsed John Connally in 1980, not Reagan. Shows how worthwhile his endorsement is.

Tommy Oliver

I don't understand why Fred is still in favor of McCain-Feingold. How can a federalist be for such a thing?

But, I can live with that flaw.

What originally attracted me to Fred was his federalism. I thought he would hit the campaign trail as an educator; speaking federalism, federalism, and then federalism, and every debate question turned into a small essay on small government.

We need that type of candidate; many citizens have never gotten the word that we are supposed to have a limited government.

That is where Fred needs fire: Using every speaking opportunity, efficiently and forcefully using every speaking moment to bring back that old-time Reagan religion.

You articulated exactly my thoughts on the candidates and way better than I've had time to think through and put on paper. I can't improve on what you wrote.

Hubby and I realized some time back that we are "leave me the heck alone" conservatives. Perfect!

You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.

I have been rather torn as to whom to support in the primary.

Initially I was for Giuliani, but when I found out that George Soros and Giuliani have corraborated in the past, as have Rupert Murdoch and Hillary, it seems to me that the powers at be have absolutely no qualms about who gets into office, so long as they are jumping through "their" hoops.

"The hoop" crowd cannot convince me they are serious about terrorism and national security, when they support sanctuary cities, and open borders.

I am sure all these dudes are just protecting their own interests, but that isn't necessarily the interests of this country, which is my interest. I am not that rich I can move to China, if I want, even if I wanted to.

Thompson has me somewhat skeptical about NAFTA, which I am not against in principle, but am against when the rules on our side is a death spiral, while those on the other side get a free ride.

Thompson is the only one running his campaign like a grownup and not coming off to me as a sleezebag.

Therefore, today I contributed one thousand dollars to his campaign.

Go get 'em, Fred.

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