Diary

Primary season is the time to test the candidates (and to have a sense of humor)

The Tea Party used to have a sense of humor.  Now it’s all humorless goo-goo eyes for Michele Bachman and the Texas hair helmet.

I posted my unhappiness with the Republican field and my shift in support from Pawlenty to union shill Thad McCotter (not really, that was a joke), and everybody accuses me of being a liberal.  http://www.redstate.com/Reg/2011/08/14/who-to-support-the-gop-field-stinks/

 Fine, lets be humorless. But lets also be realistic and not buy into pie-in-the-sky promises or campaign marketing BS, which all political campaigns are full of.  Here are my rules for electing a conservative president.  Numbers 1-3 ensure conservatism, while 4-5 look for electability and competence.

(1)  convincingly pro-life.

Simply non-negotiable.  I don’t belive Romney is pro-life, or at least that he cares anything about the issue.  If you flip-flop, you need more of an explanation than “my bad.”  Failure on this issue leads to 20 years of Justice Souter.   The only way I would compromise the issue is for a candidate with a sophisticated understanding of the constitution, who has a passionate dislike for activist judges and would stock the Supreme Court with Scalia clones, so that Roe could be overturned and the issue could be decided by state legislatures. I’m paying attention, Governer Gary Johnson, you could get my support if you convince me your pro-choice views won’t affect your selection of Federalist Society approved SCOTUS picks.

(2)  has made important political decisions, and has shown a consistent, pro-market, conservative-minded bias.

A guy’s record doesn’t have to be perfect, but it can’t show consistent authoritarian impulses or decisions so contrary to the core of conservatism  that there’s no way to justify the decision. Otherwise you end up with Nixon imposing price controls and a host of absolutely terrible legislation. 

I could overlook Pawlenty mouthing support for cap & trade or universal mandate, because he was not at the forefront of promoting those programs; to my recollection, he never lifted a finger to implement those policies in MN, and his support for those programs were at a time when it looked like some program would be enacted at a national level.  He explained that he favored market-oriented solutions for these issues, which are vastly preferrable to command-control regulation.  Obviously, global warming and universal health insurance are liberal problems I don’t think any solution is required for, but if you have to have global warming legislation, cap & trade is much better than a hard cap, and universal mandate is much better than single payer. 

I can’t overlook something like the Gardasil mandate.  Here’s what Perry ordered: “The Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner shall adopt rules that mandate the age appropriate vaccination of all female children for HPV prior to admission to the sixth grade.”  Not only did he enthusiastically sign that, he was the first governor to do so, and ignored significant risks with the vaccine.  Sure, you can opt out, but what’s key is what it reveals about what he thinks about the role of government.  Would you be okay with it if the mandate said that “all children must be provided condoms prior to admission in the sixth grade” or that “all children shall receive complete AIDS and other STD testing and education prior to admission in the sixth grade?”  Perry’s explanations sound like he’s apologizing for supporting No-Child-Left-Behind.  Mandating such a rule is on a different level, and reveals an authoritarian, liberal mindset. The only good alternative explanation I’ve heard for it is corruption. Romney’s record is also consistently not conservative, and the health care bill he signed into law is just as impossible to walk back from.  Anybody who thought Pawlenty was too liberal has no business even looking at Perry or Romney.

(3) believes America should maintain a strong military, and use it anywhere in the world when it’s in America’s interest to do so.

Ron Paul doesn’t believe this, unfortunately, or he would be almost perfect.

(4) has important executive experience (governor, leadership position in legislature, CEO, or general).

Without it, the candidate will not be accepted by the general populace in the general election, and provides no assurance of an ability to handle difficult issues, either in the campaign to get elected, or in office.  Sure, you might get a Lincoln, but you also might get an Obama.  It’s not worth the risk.  Bachmann clearly fails this one.  She doesn’t have enough of a record to be trusted to be the one shot Republicans have in 2012 to stop Obama, much less to be trusted with the Oval Office for four years.   Bachmann should withdraw because her campaign is a futile journey to martyrdom and 4 more years of Barack. 

(5) be likable enough that I can tolerate seeing on TV for the next 4 years .

Another electability factor.  The eyeball test.  Nobody wants to go out to vote for somebody that makes them cringe whenever they show up on TV.  Sorry Huntsman. 

Here are my bonus factors.  Though usually beyond the grasp of your average politician, I’ll pay more attention to you if you meet any of these elements.

(1)  has a sophisticated understanding of the constitution and the importance of the Supreme Court;

At least be smart enough not to nominate Harriet Miers and to fight for Miguel Estrada;

(2) has a sophisticated understanding of economics, and understands that free-markets means all business must be permitted to fail if they are poorly managed and that the federal reserve’s socialist control of interest rates leads to extreme market distortions that cannot be fixed without drastic economic upheaval;

Oh Ron Paul, why do you have to be so bad on foreign policy?

(3) has a sophisticated understanding of business, and understands that regulations and compliance costs are  more fatal to businesses and jobs than even taxes;

Nobody talks about the regulation that is strangling the economy, except Bachmann.  This is the problem. Business spend a fortune to comply with all the regulations, then they still have to defend million-dollar suits against greedy trial lawyers.  Let’s pick one or the other, and then simplify the heck out of our business regulations.    

(4) has a sophisticated understanding of trade and will not bend to unions or other interests seeking special benefits, and strongly promote free trade.

Sorry Thad, your guitar skills don’t get you a pass for supporting the GM union payoff.

(5) has a reasoned, conservative philosophy about government and life in general, and knows that people are flawed and government can’t fix that, a political party isn’t a religion, and that the character of a people matters more than the government it elects, and not vice versa. 

Political candidates, like all people, are flawed and make mistakes.  I prefer to vote for people that know that about themself.

 _____

It shouldn’t be too much to ask that Republican presidential candidates meet at least the first five factors. In my view, Perry, Johnson, Paul, McCotter, Huntsman, and Romney fail for being insufficiently conservative.  Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, and Santorum are insufficiently electable.  Now I’ll vote for any of these folks before Obama, but this is primary season.  Primary season is the time to be loud, blast the moderates in hopes they’ll toe the conservative line better if they win, air everybody’s dirty laundry (even your own favorite special person’s past mistakes) so it can’t get traction later (Obama was lucky he could throw Jeremiah Wright under the bus early), and test the less electable folks to see if they rise to the occasion and show they can pick up support from the general publc, outside of the true believers.   There’s no benefit to propping up a paper tiger only to get destroyed in the election.

So, before you accuse somebody of being a liberal because they are attacking “your guy”, consider whether they are throwing mud from the conservative side or the liberal side.  For example, those defending or excusing or white-washing Perry’s Gardasil mandate are defending a very liberal policy.  And those ignoring Bachmann’s electability problems are increasing the likelihood of a weak opposition to Obama.  Push her on it and force her to deal with the problem rather than ignoring it. Maybe there’s a way to overcome it. (But it’s not by burying your head in the sand.)

Since I don’t have anybody to promote at the moment, I’ll keep doing my job slinging mud from the conservative side until we get a clear frontrunner or we get closer to go time against Obama.