Thursday, January 31, 2008

Compassionate conservatism

Bush has a plan to balance the federal budget. It involves giving money to rich people by making his tax cuts permanent while simultaneously denying medicine to the poor and the elderly. That's compassionate conservatism for you.

What Would Reagan Do?

The cult of Saint Reagan: what would Ronald Reagan do if he were alive today? It really depends who you ask. If you ask Mitt Romney, for instance, you'll find that Reagan would espouse exactly the same policy positions that Romney (now) espouses... even those positions that run counter to the policy prescriptions that Reagan actually implemented when he was in the Whitehouse.

Remember Reagan's amnesty program for undocumented aliens? Remember how Reagan decided that stationing troops in war torn Beirut was not worth the expenditure of American lives, and pulled them out after the Hezbollah barracks attack? Remember how the national debt exploded under his presidency? Well, he wouldn't have done any of those things if he were president today.

It's amusing to watch, really. As Reagan becomes more and more of a mythological figure to the Republican party faithful, the historical Reagan fades from view, and a purely ideological construct takes his place. Reagan isn't a person any more. Rather, he is the incarnation of the GOP party platform, whatever that platform happens to be at any given moment. When the GOP agitates to shut down the Hollywood motion picture industry you can bet Reagan would have supported that, too.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

First Grandmother

It brought a tear to my eye to imagine this woman as the grandmother to the President of the United States of America. It would be a great, symbolic, way to begin healing the wounds and undoing the damage that George W. Bush has done to our image and standing in the world.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Kristol's Column

Weekly standard editor Bill "never right about anything" Kristol has written his first column for the New York Times, where he's been hired to opine for the paper's editorial pages on a weekly basis. Guess who the column cites?

Still, as the conservative writer Michelle Malkin put it...
Classy... the Miss Teen South Carolina of political commentary. Can one man sully the name of the nation's most respected newspaper all by himself? I don't know, but I'm confident Kristol's going to do his best.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

His Last Post

The first casualty of the Iraq war in 2008 was a blogger. Unlike the vast majority of conservative bloggers, Andrew Olmsted was not a keyboard kommando but rather an actual soldier. I've never read his blog before, but based on a quick perusal, he also seems to have been more moderate, intellectually curious and fair than most conservative bloggers. Before he died, he left a "final post" with a fellow blogger to be placed on his blog should he be killed in Iraq. The post (a humorous meditation on his own passing) is very much worth reading. You can leave comments at Obsidian Wings, home of the blogger with whom Olmsted's last post was entrusted.

Friday, January 4, 2008

65% Dem?

I don't really know enough about how the Iowa caucuses work to say if this is indicative of anything, but it's still interesting to note that 65% of Iowa caucusgoers voted for a Democrat last night.

Fox vs. Paul?

Ron Paul supporters are up in arms about a Fox News decision to cut their candidate from a Republican candidate round-table this Sunday. And certainly, in light of the results of the Iowa caucus, where Paul came in 5th, with 10% support it looks like a difficult decision to justify. After all, Paul now boasts two delegates to the GOP convention. Meanwhile, Giuliani, who was invited, polled at only 4% and can claim no delegates.

There seems little doubt that Fox is uncomfortable with Ron Paul's stance on the war. This coupled with the network's well documented pro-Giuliani bias doubtless led to a decision that smacks of ideological propaganda moreso than journalism.

Is Conservatism Hucked?

There's an awful lot of handwringing going on over at the National Review over Huckabee's decimation of his rivals in Iowa. Here are some choice quotes from the magazine's "Symposium" on the issue:

"Liberal interest groups haven’t had such an enviable fundraising opportunity since George W. Bush raised the arsenic level in kids’ drinking water. The Democratic direct-mail barons are doing handsprings. “I Like Mike,” they are shouting. School prayer. Back-alley abortions. Supreme Court nominees. Christian Nation. For them, happy days are here again."

"Fortunately for Mitt Romney — and defenders of the current conservative coalition — Obama’s Iowa win will likely set off a huge and exciting battle in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, thus potentially pulling independents away from the GOP primary and undercutting McCain a bit. The game’s not yet over. But Giuliani is now back in it, thanks to Huck."

"I still think Huckabee is very much a long shot to win the nomination. While large percentages of Republican voters are Christians, they are also conservatives and eventually, Huckabee’s dubious conservative bona fides and record should sink his bid. But I admit that could be wishful thinking on my part."

"...a Huckabee victory would be very bad news for conservatism as we know it."

"Huckabee is a fringe Republican, and does not represent the conservative movement on economic policy, domestic programs, law and order, and foreign policy. It is hard to imagine a candidate so out of step with most in the conservative movement assuming the stage in Minnesota in eight months as its leader."
When George W. Bush proclaimed Jesus Christ to be his favorite political phiolosopher, the Right chastized liberals for belittling and mocking the comment. Irreverent elitist Liberals, they insisted, simply could not be expected to understand how people of faith think and what they believe. Meanwhile, Liberals understood the comment for what it was: the cartoonishly obious product of an intellectually incurious mind. You can't simply paper over a fantastically incompetent candidate's failings with life-sized posters of Jesus, but that's exactly what Conservatives did with George W. Bush. As a result a significant portion of the Republican base now choses its favored candidate based largely upon how much that candidate loves Jesus, and all other qualities or qualifications take a distant second place.

Of course, it's a gross over-simplification to lay this transformation wholly on one comment by George W. Bush and the subsequent defense offered by his supporters. After all, the GOP party elites have been doing this sort of thing for years, fully cognizant of the importance of the evangelical vote to their party's ability to remain in power. But the simple truth is that, in relying more and more on the power of the Jesus meme to make working class voters overlook the party's elitist economic policies, the GOP elites have brought the party to where it is now. The GOP is now in squarely theocratic hands. If 2000 saw the GOP pushing a "CEO President," 2008 might well see them saddled with a "Baptist Preacher President."

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Hero of the Day: Mike Huckabee

I think I've found a new political hero, and his name is Mike Huckabee. Yes, I'll admit I was tickled when the guy used Baby Jesus' birthday and a subliminal cross hovering above his left shoulder to sell the American public on the notion that the true Spirit of Christmas can only be realized by waltzing on over to the polling booth and proclaiming him Baptist minister in Chief. And it was a welcome diversion from the endless parade of official condolences and paeans for Pakistani democracy that were heard in the wake of Benazir Bhuto's assassination when Huckabee responded to the incident by, first apologizing to the Pakistani people for her death, and then turning around and insisting that the assassination proves the need for better protection against the horde of Pakistani illegal immigrants flooding our borders every year. But his latest move surpasses even those ploys (gaffes?) in its degree of jaw-droppingly goofy shamelessness. I am speaking, of course, of the news conference that Huckabee... the Huckster (is it OK if I call him the Huckster from now on?)... at any rate, as I was saying, the news conference... ah yeah.. brilliant.

So, finding his poll numbers battered down by a barrage of negative advertisements paid for by a guy who thinks that Satan is Jesus' brother, the Huckster decides that it's time to go on the offensive. But there's one problem: our guy has promised to stay positive, and much of his appeal has to do with the fact that he's such a nice, genial fellow who'd never so much as raise his voice in anger. So how do you fight fire with fire without actually employing fire? The Huckster thinks he's found the answer: He'll show the people a vision of His wrath, without actually going through the trouble of raining fire and brimstone and locusts and sores upon the unbelievers. His hope is that those who have lost faith in his righteousness will come back into the fold once they understand just ho merciful a Huckster he really is. In other words, Huckabee will call a news conference to tell reporters that he's been contemplating the running of a devastating attack ad against Mitt Romney, but at the last minute, just couldn't bring himself to run it, because deep down inside he's such a nice guy. And oh... just so you reporters will understand how devastating the ad would have been... have a look...

Yes all politicians are shameless and craven, but by and large they have enough respect for their supporters that they don't go out in public wearing a button that says "Kiss me, I'm Craven & Shameless." Mike Huckabee, on the other hand, seems very much to be running a campaign premised on the notion that no politician ever lost a race by under-estimating the intelligence of the American voter. When a roomful of reporters breaks out in laughter at the transparent shamelessness of a politician's latest gambit, you know he harbors such contempt for his own supporters that he doesn't feel the need to work all that hard to mask it.

In the end, there's something almost endearing in a politician who's that cynical, and not afraid to let the "intellectual elites" know it. Either that or Huckabee really is a moron and has inexplicably managed to make it this far in politics. Whatever the case may be, whether it be for showing a degree of contempt for the process that would make even Karl Rove gasp, or for making it this far on Jeff Spicoli's brain, Mike Huckabee, "The Huckster," is my Hero of the day.