Taking a hiatus, here's something to chew on for the primaries.

I have decided to take a vacation from RedState.  The pre-primary season has already set a tone and it’s not one I tend to care for.  I’m a fighter by nature, protective of my colleagues and the community at large, with that comes a certain passion that can manifest itself in de-constructing trolls, mobies, libertines, and other various miscreants of the blogosphere.

Now, because I want to foster a better community here on RedState, my University of Conservatism, and knowing full well that the primaries are going to be filled with shills, trolls, mobies, cultists and various other miscreants equivocating with the express intent to prevaricate, I will be taking a self imposed hiatus.  I am not sure exactly how long I will be gone, but I will always be lurking, plotting my return.

Before I go, in keeping with tradition here at RedState, I will give my two cents for the 2012 Republican Primaries.

First, let me echo back to Thomas Crown’s post for a bit of his analysis on Gov. Huckabee and Gov. Romney.

Now, for the second coming of Huey Long: Governor Huckabee. I’d like to congratulate you on getting a core component of the Republican base to forget one of the most vital lessons of modern American politics: Never vote for the governor of Arkansas for anything. Now, as Texan, and son of Louisiana, I have to confess I’m perhaps disproportionately amazed at this feat, as we get to see you and yours on an unfortunately consistent basis. But credit where due: You’re offering a lot of my fellow conservatives a cyanide pill, and they’re begging for the chance to swallow it.

… snip …

Your problems are two-fold, and in a sense, it’s not fair for me to criticize you: You’ve only been on the radar for a little while, and haven’t had the chance to lie yourself into a pretzel the way Mitt Romney has.

Thomas’ first point still holds water.  The second, of course is no longer true as Huckabee, as he’s now known, has been on the radar and has managed to make Romney look like a piker.  And that’s all the respect I am giving that.  On to the idea of Romney Redux.

You lie about your record and your past. Don’t do that. That’s Al Gore’s way of dealing with a disappointed father. I understand that this is an attempt to rebrand the product, but you aren’t [bleep]ing Coca-Cola: We don’t care about New Coke, we care that you pretend that public funding of abortions is taking a pro-life stance.

This has become even more apparent since the health care debate.  Romney is fully capable of some serious contortions and distortions when it comes to health care, especially with the passage of Obamacare.  Mitt is an absolute nonstarter for me because of his plastic smile and the fact that his record is in direct contradiction to the Reagan tradition and more importantly, the will of the electorate (but I repeat myself).

As for other re-runs of the 2008 fiasco, I won’t even dignify the idea of McCain.  I don’t care that he has done well the last session.  He is dead to me as a candidate for any type of higher office.

Ron Paul is still Ron Paul.

Now, I am going to get a bit more controversial and discuss the candidates I would support and the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Gov. Mitch Daniels.  He is considered a good fiscal conservative, has a history of fiscal prudence, and did very well in his time as Governor of Indiana.  That said, he has made some statements that have ruffled the feathers of conservatives by deciding that the stool that Reagan built really can stand on two legs.  Unfortunately for Mitch, that’s just not how the stool was engineered.  This was a problem that Rudy Guiliani had as well, to his detriment.

Now, Republicans know that to run a campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination in the post-Reagan era, one must do at least minimal obeisance to the three pillars of modern Republicanism: Strong national defense, fiscal conservatism, and social conservatism. We also know that we have to speak in optimistic, glowing terms about the American Republic, because it really is the best nation on God’s green Earth, and people would like to be reminded every so often; and following from that, our national candidate must speak of national beliefs and goals.

… snip …

you have spent your entire campaign going on about the “two legs” of the Republican platform, omitting social conservatism, and your entire campaign has been spent talking about New York. You have tried to insist that the peg is really round, refusing to even speak of its angles,

You can’t get the coalition you need by ignoring, or calling truce, on social issues.  You may not love that arrangement, but that’s the arrangement.  You can recover from this, but it will take a lot of wonky talk that many will simply tune out, if they were paying attention in the first place.  Yeah, your dull.  I am sorry if I am the first to mention this.

Herman Cain.  I love the idea of a successful businessman who came up on his own climbing to the heights of the Presidency.  I got to meet Mr. Cain at the last RedState gathering and I found him to be a captivating guy who is down to earth and driven.  All of that said, I don’t know that he can do it.  Forbes couldn’t, and even though I would say Cain has a much better chance than Forbes of inspiring people to vote for him, I still don’t think that is enough for him to be remembered as much more than an “also ran” when the wiki entry gets written.  If he proves me wrong, 2012 will be the best General Election Season EVAH.  Win or Lose.  But I do want to win, moving on.

Gov. Haley Barbour.  I could easily get behind Boss Hogg Barbour 2012 depending on how the primaries flesh out.  Barbour is a pretty solid conservative across the board and an amazing manager and influencer of people.  Out of all of the candidates, I don’t think I would be wrong in saying he is, by far, the most politically savvy.  The man just knows how to sell it.  The question is, will the greater electorate accept Boss Hogg an unmistakable and unashamed southerner as their candidate.  This ain’t fair, but it is something Barbour must overcome in order to win.  Additionally, his lobbyist ties, while more honorable than most, will be a subject of debate.  It will get ugly and motives will be questioned.  This may be insurmountable in a Tea Party environment where lobbyist=pork=deficit=bad=HULKSMASH!!! Gray is the least talked about minority.

Gov. Sarah Palin.  I am going to be a bit more thorough here because I know Sarah has a lot of fans here, I want to make sure I am clear, while we are at it, allow me to reiterate that this is in the “I would support” section of the post.  Palin has some huge positives, she has a built in base that is fired up, she can message like no one else out there – maybe more effective than Rush (Forgive me El Rushbo) – and she has a great personal story.  Additionally she does have executive experience at various levels of government which provides her with a greater perspective about the functions of government at different levels.  This, I assume, serves to buttress her views on the Federal government and the role of Federalism.  Palin is also unquestionably pro-life, she understands on a fundamental level the value of life and the implications that has on our governance as a nation.  I am unequivocal in saying I have no problem voting for Sarah Palin for President of the United States and I would be extremely proud of our Party, and our nation for making that come to pass.

That said, and I know this will be tricky for some, Sarah Palin has some very large obstacles to overcome.  I know it hurts feelings when this gets brought up, but it must be brought up if we are to have an honest discussion about the possibility of Palin being our candidate.  In the two years since Palin coming into the national spotlight, she is still upside down in F/U ratings with name exposure higher than any other candidate.  Granted, plenty of that is due to misconceptions created by the media, but the point remains that Palin hasn’t been able to overcome the misconceptions.  At least not at a pace that I would see working out in time for November 2012.  Some have the tendency of blaming everyone but Sarah herself for this, to them, I would ask that they look up “Operation Leper“, RedState was the praetorian guard long before it was hip.  For those who fall into this category, while you don’t really hurt Palin’s F/U ratings, you certainly aren’t helping.  If you want her as the candidate and to be able to win, I suggest you seriously consider adjusting your tactics.

Furthermore, there is the subject of Gov. Palin’s term as governor.  It wasn’t all conservative unicorns and pixie dust flowing from the Governors office.  There is the very real problem of being entangled in ethics complaints that were a direct result of a) skirting the system by using non office email to discuss office issues, and b) signing into law an ethical standard that was ripe for abuse by those seeking political payback.  Some will admit that these were mistakes, but that this is just more positive experience because she’s learned from it.  I want this to be true, but I see no clear evidence of this.  She left rather than fight to overcome.  I think this was a positive outcome for the state and allowed Palin to be more free, but that doesn’t change the fact that nothing was resolved.  I don’t think this will be ignored in the primary as it is a legitimate question with regards to how Palin may act as the chief executive of the nation.  I don’t think she will make it out of this without taking some serious damage.

Palin also has a less tangible problem on her hands as well.  There is a not insignificant group that is projecting onto Palin whatever they want her to be.  This isn’t healthy behavior and I think it feeds into the narrative of Palin followers being cult like.  Like it or not, this affects perceptions of the candidate more so than the supporter.  Unfortunately, this is out of Palin’s control, unless she really can herd the cats at C4P.

Lastly, Palin is the heiress apparent.  I guess I am just contrarian that way.

Continuing with the contrarian theme, and rounding out the field as my personal favorite, we have Congressman Mike Pence from Indiana.  Just like 08, when I supported FRED DALTON THOMPSON, I am intent on being disappointed by supporting someone who would be perfect for the job but will probably never even try this time around, opting instead to be the Gov. of Indiana.  This despite a draft effort and the support of Erick and many others in the conservative movement.  I understand the logic, though it isn’t as strong as people think.  Of the 44 Presidents we’ve had, only 17 had been governors first.  While it is a nice notch to have on your belt, it certainly isn’t needed to win the presidency, or be an effective president.

Pence is also not without some level of private sector executive experience as president of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a conservative think tank.  He is also a proven communicator, having had a statewide radio show in Indiana.  Then of course there is his tenure in the House, where he has been a stellar conservative serving in the leadership, on key committees like the Foreign Affairs Sub Committee on the Middle East and South Asia – and unlike Obama he’s actually active in those committees, not just using them a window dressing on an otherwise vapid existence.

Pence’s weaknesses are limited to lower national name exposure outside of political fiends like us, and the idea that, because he’s just a congressman, he can’t get elected.  The former is easily overcome in this digital age the current occupant of 1600 Penn Ave proved that, to Hillary’s continuing shock.  The latter is tougher, being a ingrained perception not unlike Palin, while being on a considerably smaller and more containable scale.

It is my opinion that Rep. Pence has the goods, can unite the coalition better than any of the current candidates including Palin, and if given the chance, could return our nation to a tradition of humble servants seeking the highest office in the land and governing as the peoples advocate.  If he can overcome the perceptions and the low name recognition, he would be a formidable opponent unafraid to carry the banner of conservatism and the Republican party into battle and plant if firmly in Obama’s chest Nov 2012.

With that, see you all, well those of you who don’t get banned, when I return.

Flame on.

Aaron B. Gardner