Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Noonan on talk radio and the candidates

The second half of Peggy Noonan's essay in the Wall Street Journal-- this time focusing on the Republican race and the connections to talk radio...

As for the Republicans, their slow civil war continues. The primary race itself is winnowing down and clarifying: It is John McCain versus Mitt Romney, period. At the same time the conservative journalistic world is convulsed by recrimination and attack....

The rage is due to many things. A world is ending, the old world of conservative meaning, and ascendancy. Loss leads to resentment. (See Clinton, Bill.) Different pundits back different candidates. Some opportunistically discover new virtues in candidates who appear at the moment to be winning. Some feel they cannot be fully frank about causes and effects.

On the pundit civil wars, Rush Limbaugh declared on the radio this week, "I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys [Mr. McCain or Mike Huckabee] get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party. It's going to change it forever, be the end of it!"

This is absurd. George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party, by which I mean he sundered it, broke its constituent pieces apart and set them against each other. He did this on spending, the size of government, war, the ability to prosecute war, immigration and other issues....

And this needs saying, because if you don't know what broke the elephant you can't put it together again. The party cannot re-find itself if it can't trace back the moment at which it became lost. It cannot heal an illness whose origin is kept obscure....

And now, her assessment of Romney vs. McCain-- and the perception thereof...

Mr. McCain is in the middle of a shift. Previous strategy: I'm John McCain and you know me, we've traveled through history together. New strategy: I'm the old vet who fought on the front lines of the Reagan-era front, and I am about to take on the mantle of the essentials of conservatism—lower spending, smaller government, strong in the world. He is going to strike the great Reagan gong, not in a way that is new but in a way that is new for him.

In this he is repositioning himself back to where he started 30 years ago: as a Southwestern American conservative veteran of the armed forces. That is, inherently if not showily, anti-establishment. That is, I am the best of the past.

Mr. Romney, on the other hand, is running as I Am Today. I am new and fresh, in fact I'm tomorrow, I know all about the international flow of money and the flatness of the world, I know what China is, I can see you through the turbulence just as I saw Bain to success.

It will all come down to: Whom do Republicans believe? Mr. Romney in spite of his past and now-disavowed liberal positions? Or Mr. McCain in spite of his forays, the past 10 years, into a kind of establishment mindset that has suggested that The Establishment Knows Best?

Do conservatives take inspiration from Mr. Romney's newness? Or do they take comfort and security from Mr. McCain's rugged ability to endure, and to remind?

It is along those lines the big decision will be made.


At January 30, 2008 at 7:49 AM , Blogger Craig Ladwig said...

We are beginning to see what the late Bob Bartley of the Wall Street Journal predicted: A return to the 19th-Century division between classical liberals (represented today by Libertarians and the still few libertarian Republicans) and the practical tories (today's dominant Democrat and Republican mainstream). It portends years of voter confusion with failed "conservative" presidency such as the Bushes' and now McCain's.

At January 30, 2008 at 1:01 PM , Blogger Bryce Raley said...

I say if you're a Libertarian vote for Paul. If you're a social coservative, like myself (Libertarian on many issues), I'm voting for Huckabee. I'm talking about in the primary and the general election.

The mainstream of the republican party has been using the same line since I started voting 14 years ago. This election is too important
to have liberals in the whitehouse. They will get to appoint judges. Yes I agree, but I'm willing to send a message and Libertarians should be as well.

The message is to the mainstream, blue blood, country club, wall street, DC establishment republicans. Don't forget about the Libertarians and the social/evangelical conservatives.
We make or break you in elections!

4 Years of Hillary or Obama turns my stomach but Republicans need to learn a lesson in this election.

At January 30, 2008 at 10:38 PM , Blogger Bryce Raley said...

I hope everyone supporting Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee sticks with their hearts and shows some spine in the primary and the general election. If they are your candidates then support them. In my opinion they both are good candidates even though I don't agree with them on every issue. I am a social conservative with a bent toward Libertarian positions.

Paul cannot be criticized for his record of never voting for a tax increase or an unbalanced budget.
Paul is pro life and stands for a very limited government.

Huckabee is a very charismatic leader and visionary. He as he eloquently stated in his closing remarks tonight, can help America believe in itself and come together to lead the world once again just as Ronald Reagan did.

Romney is starting to sound like Clinton and Kerry. The answer to everything is yes. He is single handedly going to fix the economy. (Paul tonight says its not the job of the President to fix the economy)Romney has become pro life, pro marriage and pro 2nd amendment for each of his last three elections. He's 3 for 3 on the flops- Senate, Governor and now President.
I pay for my own family health insurance and I like the arrangement. I would like individuals to have the same tax breaks as corporations. I'm not interested in a government or state mandated plan like the one in Mass.

McCain on campaign finance
McCain on immigration
McCain on drilling in Alaska
McCain on global warming (he took Huckabees position tonight- energy independence and enviromental sensitivity without increased regulation- if global warming is a hoax or a hype then we still win by leaving a better world for the next generation)
McCain on judges (I can see a moderate one slipping under the radar with the gang of 14)

If you are a Libertarian or a social/evangelical conservative then vote for your guy and send a message to the mainstream repulicans.

The DC, Manhatten, blue blood, country club, mainstream, status quo republicans marginalized both the aforementioned factions of the party.

They cannot win an election without us. I am not listening to the two arguments of the day.

A vote for Paul or Huckabee is a vote for McCain. Hugh Hewitt all night and on his blog.

Anyone is better than Hillary or Obama. They will get to appoint several judges and the war is too important. Guess what these have been two issues in every election since I was 18 years old in 1994. They will always be an issue. I'm sending my message this election.

At January 31, 2008 at 1:01 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Bryce, why wouldn't a social conservative vote for Paul over Huckabee (as a social conservative)?

At January 31, 2008 at 2:43 PM , Blogger Bryce Raley said...

Good and fair question.

I like the leadership qualities of Huckabee. When I think of Huckabee, I honestly see Churchill, Lincoln, Reagan, or in other words, the makings of a pragmatic, principled leader.

In the same fashion If I lived in Indiana I wouldn't hesistate to vote for your candidacy. I vote for the person, after I've looked at most of their policies.

Reagan wasn't Reagan until he became Reagan. His record before 1980 wasn't terribly exciting or conservative.

The other issue is Ron Raul's position on the war in Iraq. I am very sympathetic to Pauls stance against nation building, and our presence in so many countries since World War I, II, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Gulf War,Bosnia/Kosovo, Afghanistan and now Iraq. I agree that we are bankrupting the country because of these policies.

Could we end up experiencing a fall like the British and Roman Empires? I don't know but I do feel like Paul is the only person addressing these issues.

My concern: what is his plan? Bring the troops home from Irag? When and how many? What about the ramifications? How much money will this save? Which other troops around the world do we bring home? Do we build up our defense spending to create peace through force. Give me a list of several departments or pork projects that he would immediately cut. How can we cut entitlement spending or other spending to balance the budget sooner than 2012. How does he plan on reducing the 60% of our budget that we give away thanks to FDR.

In fairness to Paul no one else is giving us specifics, but it is the lifeblood of his candidacy. I have not visited his website much just as I would bet all the Romney and McCain supporters don't really honestly know the record of Mike Huckabee- only want they've been told.

None of us has a perfect candidate or claims to.

It is a bit upsetting to me that one could be disqualified from public office due to religious background. Huckabee worried the establishment in the party just as Harriet Miers did. They don't like the evangelicals out in front, but they love it when we follow behind.

At January 31, 2008 at 4:39 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Bryce, in other words, there is no reason for a social conservative (*as a social conservative*) to choose Huckabee over Paul.

Of course, there are a range of other policies where one might choose H or P.

For example, all other things equal: If a social conservative likes our foreign policy, they will choose H over P. If they are troubled by the ethics or practical consequences of our meddling so much in world affairs, they'll take P over H.

As to his fiscal plans, I'm sure those are laid out clearly at his website. But in a nutshell: if you reduce "national defense" to (true) national defense and get rid of the variety of agencies that have no constitutional federal role (e.g., the department of education)-- it's quite easy to dramatically reduce the size of the federal government.

At January 31, 2008 at 11:51 PM , Blogger Bryce Raley said...

You are correct. Huckabee and Paul are both pro life and they both take the federalist positions of leaving decisions to states. Both would appoint strict constructionist judges.
No reason for social conservatives to shun Paul unless foreign policy is the only reason.

Let's have Paul abolish the department of education and Huckabee the IRS. Either one would be a serious victory.

I am sorry for the continued Romney posts but I can't let this go. Now Hannity (surprise) has endorsed Romney.

Romney has a serious history of flip flopping. Reminds me of Clinton- Romney does. He is a lifelong hunter- we'll he's been twice. He and his father marched with Martin Luther King- well figuratively. His answer to everything is yes.

He ran for senate, governor and president and now he's 3 for 3. He now is pro life, pro marriage and pro 2nd amendment. The man who was quoted by the Washington Post as saying he would be fairer to gays and lesbians than Ted Kennedy.

Voted for Paul Tsongas in 1992.

I particularly like Romney's mandated universal health care plan that Ted Kennedy witnessed and supported in Mass.

Here is another good one: he is going to fix the economy. How about leaving it alone?

I'm confused but how did this guy get the wink-wink conservative media endorsement.

Did I miss a class or two? Maybe my notebook is missing some pages.
I didn't get the memo.

At February 1, 2008 at 10:21 AM , Blogger Don Sherfick said...

It is interesting for me, as one who generally considers himself a Democrat, and also an openly gay man, to read Noonan, as well as what Eric has had to say in his book, and realize that much of the dilemma the Republican party finds itself in has to do with its surrender to that part of the supposedly monolithic "evangelical conservative" base that has over-reached in attempting to mix their relationship with God with public policy under the Constitution. How that will all get sorted out, of course, remains to be seen. In the meantime, look for a lot of internicene hatchet jobs, like the one starting on the Indiana Family Institute's blogsite Veritas Rex, where people are arguing who really is and who really isn't a Christian.


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