January 30, 2008

"Any rational observer has to conclude that John McCain has a better shot of winning than Mitt Romney does."

Says Dick Morris. Read the whole thing. It's pretty convincing — assuming Hillary is the candidate.

IN THE COMMENTS: This modest post opened up a great comments thread.

110 comments:

TMink said...

And the difference between a Clinton and a McCain presidency would be what?

Trey

Henry said...

Iraq.

Original Mike said...

Supreme Court nominations for one, Trey. And I don't think McCain intends to nationalize health care. Two big issues right there.

Original Mike said...

Yes. And Iraq.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Ruth Anne Adams said...
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DBrooks17 said...

"Shall I go on?"

Please do,Ruth Anne. I'm enjoying it.

Meade said...

Please do, our little energizer bunny.

B said...

Original Mike got it right

Meade said...

Can we get back to hubba hubba?

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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JDAXC said...

If the presidential election is between Hillary and McCain, it will be the first time the Republican Party isn't represented in a presidential election.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Joan said...

Perhaps because he is better known, the Arizona senator ties Hillary in the match-ups while Romney trails by up to 12 points.

Perhaps because he is better known? McCain has years and years of name recognition, Romney has practically none right now. If Romney were to get the nomination, he'd start getting endless (negative) press coverage, and his name recognition would go up.

Morris's recitation of all the things that McCain has done that would bring in Democrates and independents just pissed me off.

My husband has already said he won't vote for McCain if he's the nominee, but we live in AZ so it won't matter a bit. Well, he said he would if he thought there was any chance of McCain losing here, for the Supreme Court and WoT issues.

But it's going to be damn ugly if McCain is the nominee. Morris thinks McCain can pull in Hispanics, but not if he wants to hold onto Republicans! Which constituency is more important to McCain? He has been a bitter pill for the Rs to swallow ever since he lost the nomination in 2000. The appellation RINO was invented for McCain. (That last is hyperbole, I have no idea when the term was coined.)

Simon said...

The fundamental problem with Morris' analysis is that he assumes that no Republicans (or at least, a trivial number at best) will stay home or vote 3d party out of hostility to McCain. And as Trey's comment above alludes to, I don't know if that's a safe assumption. Some Republicans are so hostile to McCain that they will not vote for him even if he's the nominee; many don't like Romney, but I'm not aware of anyone who's sufficiently hostile to vote against him. If an argument can be made that McCain may subtract more votes than he adds - or even if the numbers are in rough equipoise - it's far from irrational to conclude he has a better shot at winning than Romney.

I do think that much of the fussing about McCain is ruffled feathers rather than substance. There are serious, real concerns about McCain, all of which counsel against nominating him, but none of which, at least in my view, even begin to make him less preferable as a President than anyone seeking the dem nomination. Take immigration, for example: conservatives are distressed by McCain't position on immigration reform, as well they should be; but if the choice is between McCain, who will grant amnesty but deal with border security going forward, vs. Clinton who will grant amnesty and do nothing about border security, the choice isn't difficult, even if it were valid to exclude other areas of policy from the calculation. I have a hard time understanding how much of what's written with him squares with reason, let alone reality - for example, one sees people saying that the Gang of 14 means he won't appoint conservative judges, which doesn't even rise to the dignity of poppycock - it's an outright non sequitur.

McCain's pissed up a lot of legs, but in my very humble opinion, people should grit their teeth, change their pants, and get over it. The fit of pique that overcame the party's better judgment in 1992 got us Justices Ginsburg and Breyer - seats that might otherwise have gone to Starr, Easterbrook, Kozinski, or any number of people who would have been preferable. People need to get a grip, focus on what matters, and confront the reality of McCain rather than a myth that is grossly disconnected from whatever his actual failings happen to be.

Simon said...

See, JDAXC's comment above is a perfect exxample of the kind of trite, ahistorical silliness I'm talking about: McCain "isn't a Republican." Well, at most, one could contend that McCain isn't a conservative (quite a tenuous contention in itself), and that he fits squarely into the Republican party as it existed before Barry Goldwater. Except, wait: anyone who knows anything at all about Barry Goldwater and John McCain would recognize that McCain fits far more squarely (if not perfectly so, of course) into the Goldwater tradition than into the Rockefeller tradition. So what's going on? To say that McCain isn't a Republican, it seems to me, requires one to assume that "being a Republican" means fitting within the conception of the party advanced by Tom Delay and George Bush, and frankly, I take it as a very, very, very, very, very good thing that not only is McCain not within that tradition, but the only candidate who did run on that platform was Huckabee, who's now toast. The legitimate concerns with McCain are immigration (which as a law and order problem is a traditional conservative concern, to be sure) and the First Amendment, where he's arguably closer to the conservative than the libertarian tradition in arguing (wrongly, IMO) that free speech can give way to a compelling "societal" interest. So there are real concerns, but most of the concerns being advanced are either incoherent, or make only a case for not nominating him, not not supporting him qua the nominee should it come to that. I don't support McCain, but if he's the nominee, I'll suck it up and support him. And anyone who doesn't really is a RINO.

Sloanasaurus said...

Also remember that the President is only part of the government. The President also appoints people who create 90% of government policy. Although its possible McCain could appoint a Lieberman to run Defense, it is unlikely that McCain will appoint a John Edwards to run Justice or Paul Krugman to the Treasury.

People like Limbaugh say that McCain will destroy the republican party. But, it is Limbaugh that will do the destroying by saying he will stay home.

I think in the end everyone will make up and come this fall, the anti-McCain forces will be long forgotten.

Henry said...

I'm a little baffled by the overblown hostility toward McCain. When did illegal immigration became a national Republican issue? It seems like Pat Buchanan gets the last laugh after all.

Sure, border control is important, but it's also far beyond the reach of easy fixes. It doesn't matter who is president, the problems of illegal immigration will not magically go away.

And McCain's other liberal sins are compared to what? The last two Republican presidents have a terrible track record on the primary domestic value of the party: small government.

The first Bush offered a tax hike and Justice Souter. The second has burdened the country with new spending programs, new regulations, and unchecked pork.

Personally, I think McCain's most objectionable blunder is campaign finance reform. But consider these pledges:

Stay the course in Iraq
Lower taxes
Lower spending

Any conservative that can't support a McCain candidancy on these issues deserves to see Clinton in office next year.

Paddy O. said...

Why do I get the sense that those who are most angry at a McCain nomination were the ones who were telling social conservatives just to suck up their differences with the potential candidate and not obsess about a few issues of distinction?

McCain is running. He's better than Obama and Hillary in every way. He's not ideologically pure, but he's much, much more a Republican than anyone else who will run in the Fall.

Plus, he has fire in the belly. And since that was the apparent failing of the only real, consistent conservative in the race, apparently that's really the most important attribute anyhow for the majority of Republican voters.

Folks were saying they agree with Fred, but didn't think "he wanted it." Well, now everyone has the result. You don't agree with McCain, but he wants it, so that's what counts. Suck it up.

Middle Class Guy said...

It has been said before, the election will be determined by how many Republicans stay home and how many cross over and actually vote Democratic.

This election is no longer an issue of Liberalism or Conservatism. The issue is anger at ineffective governance and the perception that one of these professional politicians will actually change things.

Perception is more powerful than reality.

garage mahal said...

Yea that 1000 more years in Iraq and promise of more wars message will be a big winner in the fall. Just what the country is really yearning for.

Roger said...

At least the chicken hawk hypothesis will go away. Looks like this election will come down to the lesser of two evils given a choice between two very Washington establishment senators. Alas

SteveR said...

The NRO types have been bashing McCain (and Rudy) since day one for the lack of "conservative" standing. That, without a certain alternative they could back (Thompson never had it and Rommney wasn't going to) left them painting themselves into a corner (no pun intended).

As Simon suggests we (repub/conservatives) should now get over it, but as we learned in 2000, the delusional purity of a few percent of one side or the other, can make all the difference.

Richard Dolan said...

2008 is shaping up as the rare election in which neither party's candidate will be the first choice of its most committed partisans. Perhaps that's just as well.

In thinking about Morris's argument, I tried to imagine a state that Bush carried in '04 that might flip depending on whether McCain or Romney were the candidate; and whether any state that Kerry carried in '04 might be more in play depending on the outcome of the McCain/Romney fight. The states that had relatively close margins of victory for Bush or Kerry -- PA, OH, WI, NM, CO, WV, VA, MO, NH, FL, perhaps MI, OR, WA -- will presumably be the ones in play again in '08. It's possible that the Rep margin of victory will be reduced in the states that gave Bush margins greater than 10% depending on who gets the R nomination (and the same goes on the D side for Kerry's high margin states). But except in a landslide, it's hard to imagine, say, NY or MD going for an R candidate, or TX or IN or WY going for a D candidate.

So, looking at the list of the states likely to be in play, where would Romney outperform McCain, to the point of keeping a Bush state that McCain might lose, or picking up a Kerry state that McCain couldn't? With the possible exception of Michigan, I suspect that McCain would outperform Romney in all the close contests. Particularly in states like NM, CO, PA, and WI, I suspect McCain would significantly outperform Romney to the point where he could keep them or flip them, while Romney couldn't.

As for the potential impact on down-ticket races, there are so many R senators likely to have a tough re-election fight in '08 that self-interest is bound to weigh heavily in how the R establishment picks between McCain and Romney. Same in those normally R districts where a D won a House seat in '06. In that down-ticket calculus, too, I suspect McCain will have a significant edge over Romney.

For the reasons Simon spells out, it's unlikely that any significant percent of conservatives will stay home if McCain is the nominee, given the D alternatives, and certainly not to the point of potentially flipping a Bush state to Clinton/Obama. Even those who most dislike McCain on this thread say that they will vote for him if it's at all close. And a vote cast without enthusiasm counts just as much as one cast with ecstatic fervor.

Net: I think Morris is right. McCain is the stronger candidate.

Tully said...

You go into the general election with the candidate you have...

All those who decide to sit out the election if McCain is the nominee are effectively voting FOR the Democrat. Period. By the numbers. Any "I'll just take my toys and go home" rationalizations are BS. Grow TFU, pick the lesser of two evils, and live with live as it is instead of some ideal world we don't have.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"All those who decide to sit out the election if McCain is the nominee are effectively voting FOR the Democrat. Period. By the numbers. Any "I'll just take my toys and go home" rationalizations are BS. Grow TFU, pick the lesser of two evils, and live with live as it is instead of some ideal world we don't have"

Correctamundo. I don't 'have' to pick the lesser of two evils. I don't want to be forced to vote for someone I have no respect for as a politician. I do respect McCain as a brave soldier, but that doesn't mean that he automatically deserves my vote.

Anyway, it doesn't matter if I vote for any Republican in my state (California) since my vote counts for doo squat in the national election.

Morris isn't as smart as he would like to think he is. Remember, he was absolutely sure that Hillary would never be elected Senator in New York.

Like Joan's husband, mine is also not going to vote for McCain, nor will I. I suspect that there are a lot more angry and principled people out there than you would like to think.

Sloanasaurus said...

Anyway, it doesn't matter if I vote for any Republican in my state (California) since my vote counts for doo squat in the national election.

That is not a given if the match-up is McCain vs. Clinton.

Chris said...

The Intrade market suggests a slight advantage for McCain. He's at 32.8% to 32.9% to be President, and 80.6% to 82.5% to get the nomination, amounting to between 39.8% and 40.8% chance of being President if he's nominated. Romney's at 13.7% to 14.3% chance of nomination and 4.6% to 5.3% chance of being President, amounting to between 32.2% and 38.7% chance of being President if nominated. Of course, this assumes that the events that would make someone be nominated are independent of the events that would make someone win the election (e.g., if there were some event that made people really, really like Romney, it might both give him the nomination and make him likely to win).

former law student said...

Stay til we win vs. Time-table for withdrawal.

Our likelihood of "winning" in Iraq (and didn't we already win? I remember something about W. landing on an aircraft carrier) is only slightly better than the likelihood of Israel linking hands with its neighbors to sing Kum By Ya.

Mitt has administrative and business experience. He has governed a state, same as Bill did. Both McCain and Clinton are senators, with little experience governing. Moreover, Clinton shows little aptitude for governing, being unable even to keep her own husband in line.

Simon said...

Richard, I'm not sure I can agree that I spelled out reasons why "it's unlikely that any significant percent of conservatives will stay home if McCain is the nominee, given the D alternatives" - I certainly suggested that they should not, but I dare not predict whether they will because I think the answer would likely raise my blood pressure.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
"I don't 'have' to pick the lesser of two evils. I don't want to be forced to vote for someone I have no respect for as a politician."

Actually, as I've said before and as Tully reiterated above, you do and will "have" to vote and pick the lesser of two evils. Everyone who is capable of voting votes in an election; the lack of recognition of that point is something that frustrates the bejesus out of me. In every election, there is a one hundred percent turnout of eligible voters. The only question is how you vote. Some people - those who "turnout" as it's usually termed - vote actively; however unwillingly, they think about it and mark a ballot for one candidate or the other. The balance vote passively - they vote, whether they like it (or even know it) or not for whichever candidate wins. The passive voter has an impressive record - they've picked the winner in every election they've participated in in their entire life. Your choice is whether you want to choose the greater or the lesser evil, and whether you want to do so actively or passively. But if you're eligible to vote on polling day, you are voting, tacitly or otherwise.

Simon said...

former law student said...
"Clinton shows little aptitude for governing, being unable even to keep her own husband in line."

You've got to stop with this penchant for blaming the victim.

JDAXC said...

See, JDAXC's comment above is a perfect exxample of the kind of trite, ahistorical silliness I'm talking about.

Oh Simon! You do take yourself so serious, don't you?
My comment was just that... a comment.
Here's a $1.00 go put a down-payment on a life.

JDAXC said...

Ruth Anne Adams
[Looking at your profile, I need to ask: did you sell John Edwards his property?]

No Ruth, I didn't. I don't get involved in residential 'dirt'

JDAXC said...

It is sooo amusing to 'hear' folks trying to reinvent McCain.

In the words of Denny Green: 'They are who we thought they were!'

McCain is what he is!
One look at his record and his stance on everything from taxes, immigration, Supreme Court nominations, oil exploration, water-boarding,etc etc, tells me all I need to know.
If some of you want to think that this guy is middle of the road, that's fine.
You may now continue with your mental masturbation.

Joan said...

McCain's pissed up a lot of legs, but in my very humble opinion, people should grit their teeth, change their pants, and get over it.

Very well said.

FWIW, I listen to Rush fairly regularly and I have yet to hear him advocate staying home on election day, but maybe I missed that day.

Henry said...

Oh lordy, it looks like McCain has lost the pro-waterboarding vote. He's doomed.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I've said before and as Tully reiterated above, you do and will "have" to vote and pick the lesser of two evils

No...I don't "have" to vote. Just as if I went to a banquet and the selection was stewed eyeballs or roasted monkey brains. I have a third choice. Don't eat.

Jeremy said...

DBQ,
That's why some folks switch to the L party. They know it's useless and that the actually Libertarian Party candidates are moonbats, but it's a protest vote.

BJK said...

No...I don't "have" to vote. Just as if I went to a banquet and the selection was stewed eyeballs or roasted monkey brains. I have a third choice. Don't eat.

That's a failed analogy. If you don't want either dinner choice for one night, you can get away with not eating. A Presidential "banquet" sticks with you for the next four years; I daresay you can't starve yourself that long.

There's a real choice in the 2008 election; if you don't play a role in shaping that choice, all you're doing is admitting you don't care who wins.

If you want even a fraction of the things Conservatives call for, that means voting McCain over HillarObama.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Ralph said...

Simon, I've long thought that if Bush had been reelected in 1992, the Republican party would have gone the way of the British Conservative Party. You might have gotten better judges, but then le deluge. Look at how this Bush's reelection demoralized and weakened the party. And now the presumptive nominee isn't trusted or liked by much of the base. McCain is in for a frustrating four years if he wins. Why does he (or anyone) want it?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"A Presidential "banquet" sticks with you for the next four years; I daresay you can't starve yourself that long."

I'm a Republican, living in California. I'm used to starving and not ever getting a seat at the banquet table.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Ruth: "I do respect McCain as a brave soldier, but that doesn't mean that he automatically deserves my vote."

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph said...

No, he was just in it for the girls.

Tully said...

DBQ: Since you're choosing to ignore the point, I'll put it in slightly smaller words.

When you make a choice to vote or not, for whom or not, you've exercised your franchise right, which includes the right to voluntarily not participate. You have MADE A CHOICE.

Your choice may not count for much where you live, but it is still a choice.

Mature adults make difficult choices in an attempt to maximize results (or minimize negative results), even when they don't like the choices available. They do what they can to affect the outcome.

Children pick up their toys and go sulk in corners and pretend the outcome doesn't matter.

Feel free to put yourself in category A or B as you wish--it's your right--but rationalizations as to why it's somewhow more mature to pick up your toys and go sulk in a corner are unconvincing.

former law student said...

"Clinton shows little aptitude for governing, being unable even to keep her own husband in line."

You've got to stop with this penchant for blaming the victim.


I fear enforcing treaties will be hard for Hill -- the other side can always point out she excused Bill's breaking his wedding vows.

ruth anne: while I respect McCain's service, I don't see how trying to keep the Commies from taking over South Vietnam helped any of us personally. The only impact of the Commie take over was the resulting influx of hard-working motivated refugees who have made our lives better.

Richard Dolan said...

Simon: The only additional factor needed to get from "should" (your point) to "will" (my inference) is to assume that conservative voters as a class understand the either/or nature of every election and are intelligent enough to accept (and act on) that reality. Despite the dyspepsia that McCain seems to cause some conservatives, I think that assumption is sound.

Simon said...

DBQ, you're not getting what I'm saying. I'm not saying you "have" to vote in the sense that I'm going to physically carry you to the polling place - I'm saying that one does vote in every election in which one is eligible. If you stay home on polling day, you voted for the winner because you chose not to oppose them. If it's McCain-Clinton this fall, anyone who doesn't actively vote tacitly votes for the winner.

Ralph, I've never really thought about it, but my initial reaction is to disagree: I think that had Bush won reelection, 1994 would still have delivered a GOP majority in Congress (albeit by much less of a landslide) and you'd have seen a lot more of the Contract with America implemented. And let's not even get started on all the 5-4 cases that would have come out the right way!

Simon said...

Richard, I hope you're right, but I would not be surprised if there are enough people who take and stick to the view advanced above by Trey and JDACX.

Jeremy said...

Is a tacit vote worth more or less than a hanging chad? A pregnant chad?

Mature adults make difficult choices in an attempt to maximize results ... even when they don't like the choices available. They do what they can to affect the outcome.

Children pick up their toys and go sulk in corners and pretend the outcome doesn't matter.


It wouldn't be irrational for DBQ to agree with the above and still maintain that:
1)She can't affect the outcome
2)The differences between the two possible outcomes are negligible
and conclude that:
3)She shouldn't bother voting.

Number One is indisputibly true in that one individual vote will never decide an election. Much less one R vote from CA.

Number Two is the only place you could possibly gain any traction.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Feel free to put yourself in category A or B as you wish--it's your right--but rationalizations as to why it's somewhow more mature to pick up your toys and go sulk in a corner are unconvincing."

No, I do get what you and Simon are saying. If I decide not to vote for 'anyone' in the Presidential election, you say that I am voting for the winner by default. Well that may be true in a pure Democracy where every vote has equal weight. However, in the system we have now, in my lifetime, my vote for President has had zero weight since ALL electoral votes go to the winner. Nevertheless, I have voted in every election. Reluctantly, last election for Bush because I 'was' voting for the lesser of two evils.

It isn't sulking if I decide not to bother this year. I would be a hypocrite if I voted for McCain "just" because he is the lesser evil. Fool me once.

I DO plan to vote in the Primary. It irritates me that despite the fact that only 10% of the US has voted, the media has effectively eliminated all but 2 candidates on each side and basically sealed the election before the rest of us have had a chance to vote. What a joke this primary season is.

When it comes to the election, bjk is correct....I don't care who wins if it comes down to McCain or the other Democrat choices we have been dictated to vote for. In fact. I hope the Democrats win. At least the destruction of our economy and society with be on their watch and not on a RINO administration that I cast my hypocritcal vote for.

garage mahal said...

I fear enforcing treaties will be hard for Hill -- the other side can always point out she excused Bill's breaking his wedding vows.

Indeed, as we all know there is nothing a European or maybe an Eastern Bloc leader takes more seriously is their wedding vows.

Revenant said...

If you stay home on polling day, you voted for the winner because you chose not to oppose them.

That is entirely wrong.

Refusing to vote is the same as voting for every candidate on the ballot -- not "voting for the winner". If I vote for Hillary, she wins the popular vote by 1 more or loses it by 1 less. If I refuse to vote at all, her margin is unchanged. If I vote for both her and McCain, her margin is unchanged.

Sitting out an election helps the loser as much as it does the winner, and vice-versa.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Original Mike said...

I think the effect of not voting depends on the circumstances. If you regularly don't vote because you don't care, that's a non-vote. If, however, you would nominally vote for a Republican but you choose not to vote in a given election as a form of protest, then in that case you have voted for the Democrat.

Original Mike said...

Not that there's anything wrong with that, but you should be honest with yourself regarding the consequences of your action.

Blake said...

Neither party represents me. Neither deserves my vote. Am I really supposed to vote for a guy who has no respect for the First Amendment because his opponent doesn't respect the Second?

Do I make a list of which one will erode which of my rights, and decide which ones I can live without more easily? Meanwhile, both candidates pick my pockets, and the pockets of my progeny, to the point where my rights exist only on paper anyway.

I don't see how it's "adult" to be complicit in your own enslavement.

Revenant said...

Mature adults make difficult choices in an attempt to maximize results (or minimize negative results), even when they don't like the choices available. They do what they can to affect the outcome.

Mature and intelligent adults realize that you need to use both positive and negative feedback to encourage people and groups to do things your way over the long term.

My goal, as a voter, is to get the kind of government I want. Now, if mindlessly vote for "the lesser of two evils" in every single election then neither party has any incentive to provide the kind of government I want -- they just need to be slightly *less* offensive to me than the other party is. I.e., if one advocates 90% tax rates and the other advocates 89% tax rates, the mindless "lesser evil" tax-oriented voter will pick the latter.

But a smarter voter realizes that politicians have desires, too. Specifically, they want power; they want to be in charge. In order to BE in charge, they need my support. If I sit out the election and the "99%" candidate wins, I lose 1% of my income -- but the 98% candidate loses all of his hopes and dreams of Presidential power and authority. HE takes a bigger loss than me. I lose a little; HE loses a LOT.

This is basically an iterative ultimatum game. Right now the Republican Party is proposing a deal best summarized as "we get all the power and authority of the Presidency, and you get a government which is marginally better than it would be if the Democrats were in charge". I think rejecting that proposed deal can have the long-term effect of encouraging them to offer a better deal in 2012 -- even though it means four years of slightly worse government.

What I don't see is the case for accepting the deal, unless you're planning to die in the next couple of years. By telling the Republicans "you don't need to be good, you only need to be better than the Democrats" you encourage them to be as Democrat-like as they can manage to be.

Revenant said...

If, however, you would nominally vote for a Republican but you choose not to vote in a given election as a form of protest, then in that case you have voted for the Democrat.

That makes no sense. Let's say I voted Republican in the last 10 elections. That doesn't mean my vote is theirs by default, and if I withhold it I have "cost" them a vote or caused the Democrats to "gain" a vote.

Each election is a separate vote. Each candidate starts with zero votes in their favor. Each vote has to be earned anew.

Ralph said...

1994 would still have delivered a GOP majority in Congress
You mean like 2006 did?
Clinton delivered the GOP majority in 1994. With a visionless, squishy-wet Pres. Bush, Gingrich would have gone nowhere, and Michel probably wouldn't have retired.
I'm increasingly in favor of one term Presidents. Senators too, Reps three.

Original Mike said...

My goal, as a voter, is to get the kind of government I want.

How's that workin' out for ya?

Lesser of two evils is all there is.

Revenant said...

How's that workin' out for ya? Lesser of two evils is all there is.

Only because the majority of voters are stupid enough to accept "lesser of two evils" thinking year after year. I see no reason to. Oh, I did it in 2004, sure, but the predictable thing happened and Republicans interpreted the victory of Bush as a license to keep acting like a bunch of Democrats. I'm certainly not doing it this year. To hell with THAT idea.

Either the Republicans need my vote in order to win -- in which case they better do a better job of pleasing me -- or they don't, in which case it doesn't matter if I vote or not. "Our candidate hates what's great about America slightly less than their candidate does" is not going to convince me to go stand in line at the polls.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

I'm increasingly in favor of one term Presidents.

Oh yes, that's worked out so well for Mexico, as we all know. ;-)

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Revenant said...

Ruth,

Let me point out a few problems with that argument:

(1): The Republican Party is doing nothing about tax reform. Forbes has had no apparent impact on either the party's politics or its policies. Six years of Republican control of every branch of government -- and zero change.

(2): The current Republican President and the likely Republican nominee are openly hostile to Tom Tancredo's anti-immigration policies and have committed considerable political capital to opposing them.

(3): Ron Paul not only failed to advance the interests of "the libertarian wing of the Republican Party" -- he got them tarred as a bunch of racists and nuts.

(4): Finally, the Republican Party today is about as far from Goldwater's ideals as it can get. Goldwater couldn't get nominated in today's Republican Party. A pro-choice, anti-drug-war, small-government Republican? Yeah, right. The modern Republican Party has never heard of a problem that wasn't best solved by government intervention -- and certainly not a *moral* issue that wasn't best solved by government intervention.

So if these are your examples of "people working within the party for change", I have to point something out to you: they all failed.

You advance your ideas by working within your party for change.

I already addressed that idea in my 4:48 post. The way to change a political party is to make it realize that it needs to change. Mindlessly supporting it no matter what it does not only fails to bring about change -- it actively discourages it.

Like I said, if the Republican Party needs my vote then it is up to them, not me, to change. And if it doesn't need my vote, why should it care if it gets it?

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

The Republican Party doesn't need your vote, especially when it can pick up 10 voters who will cast a vote you're unwilling to cast.

Yeah, the "ah screw you, we don't need your votes" strategy has been working so well for the Republican Party this last few years. I can see why you'd want to stick with it.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Original Mike said...

Only because the majority of voters are stupid enough to accept "lesser of two evils" thinking year after year.

Hey, Rev! I've got some people you'd like to meet.

Rev, Ralph Nader voters.

Ralph Nader voters, Rev

Revenant said...

Ruth,

I concede that McCain is strong on defense issues, although weak on issues relating to the war on terrorism. But as for the other things you list -- his pro-life stance and his alleged fiscal conservatism, I have two responses.

First of all there is no legitimate reason to call McCain a fiscal conservative. He, like Bush, is a Nixonian "big-government conservative". He is fiscally conservative only in the sense that Democrats are -- i.e., he favors paying for his big government programs with big government taxes.

Secondly, I (like approximately one-third of Republican voters) am pro-choice. I vote for Republicans despite their being pro-life, not because they are pro-life. I tolerate the party's homophobia for much the same reason. You'd never guess it from watching the mainstream media but the Republican coalition is NOT comprised of wall-to-wall social conservatives.

If appeals to reason and moderation won't work, they won't work.

You're appealing to emotion and to lockstep party loyalty, not to reason and moderation. You want me to believe it is vitally important that a Republican win in 2008, and the simple truth is that it isn't. Hillary isn't going to ruin the country in four years, or even eight. We survived FDR, Nixon, and Carter, and we'll survive her, too.

I *am* taking the reasoned, moderate approach. By refusing to support the Republican Party when it deviates from small-government conservatism in favor of social conservatism and big government, I help to discourage it from continuing down that unfortunate path. Continuing to vote for the Republican candidate would signal that I liked the way things were going.

Revenant said...

Hey, Rev! I've got some people you'd like to meet. Rev, Ralph Nader voters. Ralph Nader voters, Rev

The problem with that example, Mike, is that those far-left "Nader voters" are now far more powerful within the Democratic Party than they were in 2000. The Party moved in their direction.

Sure, they had to put up with George Bush for eight years. But Bush achieved few real gains for the conservative movement, and the Republicans lost both the Presidency and the their place as the more-trusted of the major parties. So not only is the far left more powerful within the Democratic Party -- the Democratic Party itself is more powerful.

Had those Ralph Nader voters simply held their nose and voted for Gore, they'd still be living in the political wilderness.

Original Mike said...

Hmmmmh? I've going to have to sleep on that one. But my initial reaction is some things aren't reversible. If Hillary, with a Democrat Congress, gets her national health care (for example), we ain't ever goin' back.

Simon said...

Mike, you know he's running again this year, right?

Rev:
"[T]here is no legitimate reason to call McCain a fiscal conservative. He, like Bush, is a Nixonian 'big-government conservative.' ... [H]e favors paying for his big government programs with big government taxes."

What's the evidence for that?

Beth said...

the other side can always point out she excused Bill's breaking his wedding vows.

Which set of wedding vows is McCain on now?

Revenant said...

What's the evidence for that?

The fact that his reaction, when faced with a deficit, was to keep taxes high rather than to decrease spending (or even hold it steady).

I will give him points for opposing Bush's drug entitlement, though.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

Which set of wedding vows is McCain on now?

All the same thing to you, huh? Interesting.

reader_iam said...

Regardless, what I think we will need going forward, if not now than at some point, is something analogous to this, which I just discovered can be listened to here, though free registration is required.

(If you do register and then bring up the referenced show, you will need to slide forward just a tad past 1/3 (no timer), unless you also want to hear "The Nixorcist," about which song I had completely forgotten, probably roundabout 25-30 years ago.

When the hell did I get so old, anyway?)

/OT with regards to the serious conversation in progress. (Although.)

Beth said...

All the same thing to you, huh?

Absolutely, Randy. I think Hillary Clinton keeping her wedding vows and McCain not keeping his are equally relevant to each one's ability to negotiate treaties and deal with foreign powers.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

Misunderstood your point, Beth. That definitely was not what I meant by my question. Apologies. (I find the particular idea that you mention ridiculous, however.)

Simon said...

Revenant said...
"The fact that his reaction, when faced with a deficit, was to keep taxes high rather than to decrease spending...."

My recollection is that he opposed the Bush tax cuts precisely because the package did not include spending cus.

Beth said...

No apologies necessary, Randy. Communications snafus happen.

Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

My recollection is that he opposed the Bush tax cuts precisely because the package did not include spending cus.

That's just passing the buck, though. The budget is proposed by the President, but it is the individual Senators who decide whether or not to make spending cuts. A Senator complaining that the President didn't provide spending cuts is like a pitcher complaining that the catcher isn't throwing strikes.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

The budget is proposed by the President

That was the point, I believe. The President's budget made no spending cuts. Pretending that individual senators have that power doesnt make it true. If Congress fails to enact the budget as proposed, the President has the option of vetoing it. This President never met a spending bill he didn't like.

Revenant said...

That was the point, I believe. The President's budget made no spending cuts. Pretending that individual senators have that power doesnt make it true

Individual senators have the power to propose bills and changes to bills, budgets among them.

McCain managed to stir himself enough to use that power to take a gigantic shit all over the Constitution in the form of McCain-Feingold. But mysteriously he couldn't stir himself to propose the spending cuts he condemned Bush for not proposing.

Maybe you're right. Maybe McCain does want budget cuts. But apparently not nearly as much as he wants to shred the First Amendment.

John Stodder said...

It looks like McCain has become the repository of all right-wing disappointments of the past eight years. An odd choice of a scapegoat. McCain kept faith with conservative principles far better than most of his GOP colleagues in the Senate, and far more than Bush. Particularly on the big issues.

The rage should be turned at Bush, obviously. McCain-Kennedy was the Bush plan for immigration, if that's your thing. Bush signed McCain-Feingold. I saw Hugh Hewitt write an apoplectic post about McCain's criticisms of that "good American" Donald Rumsfeld. But Rumsfeld completely screwed up the war -- and Bush and Cheney backed him, until the 2006 election. Bush didn't veto a single spending bill in his first six years.

Another guy who deserves a ton of hate from the right: Tom Delay. What an ass. Big spender, big K Street guy, then turns around and makes his stand on Terry Schiavo. He's got the audacity to write McCain out of the ranks of conservatives? That's like Tony Soprano claiming Waste Management is ruining the environment. Shorter version of the Delay piece of all this: Crooks hate McCain.

I'm a D, so I don't know why I care so much that the Republicans have gotten so torn up and stupid about McCain. Except I think the net of it all will be HRC in the White House. And that's the most perverse possible outcome of this sudden itch to sanitize the GOP of McCain.

Revenant said...

McCain kept faith with conservative principles far better than most of his GOP colleagues in the Senate, and far more than Bush. Particularly on the big issues.

Depends on which issues you think of as "big", I guess. Are open borders a conservative principle?

The rage should be turned at Bush, obviously.

What makes you think it isn't? Bush didn't achieve that low approval rating solely by irritating Democrats and swing voters, you know.

Another guy who deserves a ton of hate from the right: Tom Delay.

Look, let's posit, for the sake of argument, that McCain isn't as bad as Bush and DeLay. The thing is, DeLay's gone and Bush is soon to follow. So why, exactly, are we supposed to put up with McCain? Especially after putting up with the other two yokels for this long?

If a plurality of Republicans want that son of a bitch in office, let them vote for him. Me, I figure eight years of big government conservatism is enough. If I'm going to be forced to live with big government forever it might as well be socially liberal.

hdhouse said...

this is the same Dick Morris who, when bedded down with a prostitute one weekday afternoon thought he had to/could impress her by calling the president?

that "mr. judgment"? right right dick...anything you say fella. keep those bone fidas rolling in!

Simon said...

Revenant said...
"Are open borders a conservative principle?"

I don't know that there's a distinctively conservative position on what immigration policy ought to be, but amnesty for those who have already broken the law - which is the more contentious issue - is certainly not a conservative principle.

"[W]hy, exactly, are we supposed to put up with McCain?

That's an excellent point, whose sole caveat is that its expiry date makes it good only for the primary season. Once he gets the nomination, though, the answer is obvious: because for all his failings, he's still less poisonous than Clinton or Obama, one of whom will be the other choice in the fall.

TMink said...

First, great answers to my question about CLinton v. McCain, I agree with many of them.

But Republicans miss the point when they ask Conservatives to support the party. We are not Republicans, we are conservatives. I vote for the conservative, on some occasions, that is a Democrat.

We are not loyal to the party, it is not loyal to us! Some times the lesser of two evils is not less enough for us. And it is hypocritical to bemoan our loyalty to conservative principles when that loyalty threatens your party loyalty.

Much of the time we are happy co-travelers, and I appreciate that. Some times some of you move away from that which we share and we will let you wander, but we will not be happy about it. And we may not support it at the ballot.

Yesterday I voted a straight Romney ticket. He was not my favortie choice, and there was a bit of nose holding going on while I did it. But he at least pretends to be conservative, and I appreciate the lip service.

Trey

Original Mike said...

Hi Trey - I, for one, would never urge someone to vote on the basis of party loyalty. I've never been a member of a party and never will be. My argument is that it is in the best interests of conservatives to vote for the more conservative of the two candidates, even if that candidate is not as conservative as you'd like. I agree with many of the misgivings about McCain. But to argue there is no difference between McCain and Clinton just doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

Revenant said...

this is the same Dick Morris who, when bedded down with a prostitute one weekday afternoon thought he had to/could impress her by calling the president?

I understand the President's response was "Dick, do you think there's a hooker in Washington I ain't already met?".

Revenant said...

Once he gets the nomination, though, the answer is obvious: because for all his failings, he's still less poisonous than Clinton or Obama, one of whom will be the other choice in the fall.

McCain has already done more harm to America than either Clinton or Obama has managed. He's at least as crooked as Hillary and probably more so than Obama. But maybe you're right; maybe they would be worse, as President, than he would be.

But he's not good enough. The party could easily have done better. If he loses the election, maybe next time they will do better. But if he wins, we positively reenforce the party's bad decision making.

So I don't see the case for voting for him. The next four years aren't especially critical, and quite frankly the people who supported McCain this far deserve to be ruled by Hillary Clinton for the next four years.

John Stodder said...

Look, let's posit, for the sake of argument, that McCain isn't as bad as Bush and DeLay. The thing is, DeLay's gone and Bush is soon to follow. So why, exactly, are we supposed to put up with McCain? Especially after putting up with the other two yokels for this long?

I think what you're protesting is the shift of the entire Republican party, base included, to the left.

The right's best candidate was Fred Thompson, but his laziness is a symbolic reflection of the conservative exhaustion. The most energetic candidates -- McCain, Romney and Huckabee -- are all apostates from conservative norms in at least a few issues. This is because they aren't political philosophers, they are candidates, and they're picking up some discontent with the old-time conservative agenda. (Actually, in Romney's case, who knows what he really believes, if anything.)

As for immigration, I don't think it's clear at all that your position is the conservative view, or that McCain's is liberal. To really carry out the hard-core anti-illegal immigrant policies would require a significant enlargement of government and would weaken the economy. On this issue, McCain isn't a liberal so much as he's an internationalist. That creed might have more than a few internal contradictions, but in practice, it's an economic winner.

So I don't see the case for voting for him. The next four years aren't especially critical,

Wow. That's truly jaw-dropping. Okay then. If that's how you see things, then there's not much more to talk about. I look at the next four years and see Iraq, Al Queda, China, the aging of the baby boomers, a possible recession, and much political ferment on energy, immigration and entitlements. Whatever you see, it's less critical apparently.

In fact, I think my vote is more important this year than any year I've voted since 1980.

Just curious, though. Which upcoming years are more critical?

Revenant said...

The right's best candidate was Fred Thompson, but his laziness is a symbolic reflection of the conservative exhaustion.

His "laziness" was a media myth, like McCain's "straight talk" or Obama's "inclusiveness".

To really carry out the hard-core anti-illegal immigrant policies would require a significant enlargement of government and would weaken the economy.

I don't know what "hard-core anti-illegal" straw men you're attacking there, but the notion that dealing with the illegal immigration problem would either weaken the economy or require significant enlargement of the government has no basis in reality.

On this issue, McCain isn't a liberal so much as he's an internationalist.

You're aware that internationalism is a hard-left position, right? There's no such thing as a libertarian or conservative internationalist.

That creed might have more than a few internal contradictions, but in practice, it's an economic winner.

It is an economic winner from a global standpoint. If McCain was running for President of the World there would be no question -- the world will be better off if Americans let a gazillion uneducated foreigners flood into the country and drop the wages for unskilled labor. But McCain isn't running for President of the World, he's running for President of the United States, the citizens of which suffer net costs from open borders with the neighboring third-world nation.

Now, perhaps McCain's first loyalty isn't to the citizens of this country. That's his right as a free man -- but it disqualifies him from the Presidency.

Iraq, Al Queda, China, the aging of the baby boomers, a possible recession, and much political ferment on energy, immigration and entitlements. Whatever you see, it's less critical apparently.

Two points:

First of all, neither John McCain nor Hillary Clinton have any plans for dealing with that list of problems with the exception of immigration, and both of their positions on that subject are equally bad. Tell me, what's McCain's plan for tackling Al Qaeda, besides demanding that we stop being too mean to the terrorists we capture?

Secondly, I said "especially critical". There will always be problems. Four years from now, there will still be problems. Four years after that, there will still be problems.

Now as I see it, I have two choices. I can either:

(a) Shrug and let the Republicans keep offering progressively shittier and shittier candidates for dealing with those problems (with the most recent example, Dubya, having bungled basically every aspect of his Presidency), secure in the knowledge that each four year period's problems will be dealt with in a more incompetent manner than the preceeding problems were, or

(b) Convey to the Republican Party the fact that if they are not going to improve, I am not going to support them. Period. You don't help an alcoholic by "working with him" and passing him bottles of whiskey, you help an alcoholic by getting him to either give up booze -- or hit bottom and have no choice but sobering up.

John Stodder said...

Then I think your proper target is Congress. As bad as Bush was, what ruined the Republican and conservative brands was the behavior of the Republicans in Congress beginning in '98 or so. The president's job is to be CIC. You really do have to choose the "lesser of two evils" if the game is about protecting the US and its interests around the world. If this was an argument over who should be the nominee for a Senate seat, then the idea of sending a message by staying home makes a lot more sense and will make much more of a difference.

If you're representative of enough Republicans to actually deliver the election to Hillary, it will not be read by the GOP or the media in the way you anticipate or wish for. Just the opposite.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

Revenant, while there may be no such thing as a libertarian internationalist, the classical libertarian motto has been "Free markets and free peoples" and that included open borders, explicitly and implicitly. As for the classical conservative point of view, I think The Wall Street Journal has consistently given a strong voice to that viewpoint for decades. Cesar Chavez and the AFL-CIO had different ideas, of course.

Revenant said...

Then I think your proper target is Congress

I don't. There are good Republican congressmen and bad ones, but there hasn't been a decent Republican President since Ronald Reagan. Bush Senior was bad enough, but Dubya has been an absolute disaster. His policies have been openly stupid or incompetently executed, usually both. McCain promises to be even worse than Dubya. Enough is enough.

You really do have to choose the "lesser of two evils" if the game is about protecting the US and its interests around the world.

I'm supposed to trust an internationalist to protect America's interests? Why would he start now? Right off the top of my head I can think of three obvious examples of McCain putting foreign sentiment ahead of American interests: (a) his immigration stance, (b) his position on interrogation of terror suspects, and (c) his insistence that terrorists be treated like POWs from a Geneva signatory nation.

So far as I can tell his plan for the war on terror is to pretend we're fighting another country that abides by the rules of war. That plan is every bit as idiotic and dangerous as Hillary's plan to fight the war in the courtroom. Neither one of them has the slightest grasp of reality where the war is concerned.

If you're representative of enough Republicans to actually deliver the election to Hillary, it will not be read by the GOP or the media in the way you anticipate or wish for. Just the opposite.

There have been plenty of people expressing the sentiment that there's no way in hell we'll vote for that son of a bitch. If the Republican Party chooses to misinterpret our votes I don't see what we can do about that. I'm certainly not going to vote Republican just because Republican political analysts are confused!

Revenant said...

the classical libertarian motto has been "Free markets and free peoples" and that included open borders, explicitly and implicitly.

Libertarians favor open borders in the sense that anybody should be able to freely travel and live anywhere and do business there, without either interference by or support from the local governments. That doesn't really bear any resemblance to the illegal immigration situation or McCain's position on it.

If Mexico was to eliminate all restrictions on foreigners entering Mexico, acquiring property there, living there, and running businesses there -- and further agree that its citizens were entitled to no benefits from the American government, and no American citizens were entitled to benefits from the Mexican government -- then I say sure, that sounds like a fantastic plan. But Mexico's not going to agree to that plan, because it knows we would completely and utterly dominate their economy. In short order everything of significance in Mexico would be owned by Americans and American corporations. What are now resort towns would become new retirement communities for rich Americans. Etc, etc.

Libertarians -- the sensible ones, at least -- do not favor a scenario in which borders are porous in only one direction, in which citizens of nation X are free to exploit nation Y without the citizens of Y enjoying any rights within X.

I would further add that anyone who thinks McCain is friendly to the "free markets" idea wasn't listening last night when he threatened to jail "greedy" Wall Street workers for the crime of lending money to irresponsible people.

As for the classical conservative point of view, I think The Wall Street Journal has consistently given a strong voice to that viewpoint for decades.

The Wall Street Journal represents American business interests, not classical conservatism. It is, for obvious reasons, in the interests of business for labor costs to be as low as they can arrange for them to be.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

I didn't make it clear I was talking about libertarianism in general, etc., not how it specifically ties to McCain. All the libertarian literature I read (and I admit it was some time ago) advocated open borders and open markets irrespective of what other nations were doing.

I appreciate that a case could be made that the WSJ represents big business interests. At the same time, until the last few years, I believe that an qually good case could be made that their editorial philosophy in this regard well represented the thinking of conservative movement thinkers and leaders.

I agree, McCain is decidely NOT a proponent of free markets. He is not a model of modern conservative thought, either.

Going off-topic to something you mention here:

In short order everything of significance in Mexico would be owned by Americans and American corporations. What are now resort towns would become new retirement communities for rich Americans.

There has been quite a bit of relaxation of restrictions in this regard in the past two decades. In the 1980's, there was virtually no foreign hotel presence in Mexico, for example. That is far from the case now. There ARE numerous resort communities that appear to have become American retirement communities due to changes in property ownership laws. While these (and Wal-Mart & Costco) are the more obvious examples of economic liberalization in Mexico, there do remain significant barriers and a number of industries. Still, it is a far cry from what it was in the mid-80's.

Revenant said...

Randy,

Foreigners are forbidden from owning land near any of the borders or coasts of Mexico (in other words, basically all the places you'd actually WANT to own property in Mexico). Mexican law also forbids any foreigner from holding a job that a Mexican is willing and able to work at. Are things better than they were during the 80s? Sure, I guess. But Mexico is still vehemently hostile to foreigners.

I guess I should clarify my earlier remarks. Yes, many libertarians favor unilaterally opening the borders and hoping for the best (many libertarians are hostile to the idea of considering the real-world implications of their ideas). But their position is not the internationalist position of John McCain, which includes a lot of big government baggage and adherence to international will that libertarians directly oppose.

former law student said...

I would further add that anyone who thinks McCain is friendly to the "free markets" idea wasn't listening last night when he threatened to jail "greedy" Wall Street workers for the crime of lending money to irresponsible people.

So the real libertarian motto is "There's a sucker born every minute." I think where there's an asymmetry in information and expertise, the burden of loss should fall on the more knowledgeable. It wasn't the homebuyers who established the rules of subprime mortgages; it wasn't the homebuyers who argued that they could afford the jumps in interest rates.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

FLS, Because of my business associations, I know more than a few people with serious problems as a result of bad decisions in the home loan mess. Don't know a single one who was cheated, though. Every one of them heard only what they wanted to hear. Some of them bought at the very top despite more than one friend saying this is not a good idea. And a few definitely fudged their income statements. So, no, I don't buy your line. I'm sorry they are losing their money. They can go rent somewhere else. I am glad the mortgage companies and banks whose slipshod practices got them in this mess are paying the price, too. And I am pleased to see that the financial powerhouses like MErrill and Citi finally have to pay a price for damage inflicted on themselves and others by buying and selling products that they didn't have a clue about. (Warren Buffett wasrned them.) But the number of genuine innocents in this probably numbers in the 1-2% range.

TMink said...

John S wrote about Fred "but his laziness is a symbolic reflection of the conservative exhaustion."

Let me give a different response to the Fred Rorschach!

It was Fred's ego strength that made him a lousy candidate. He would have made a great president because of the same feature.

Fred did not need to be president, so he did not run like his life depended on it. This made him a lousy candidate. He wrote the most detailed position papers in the race, he appealed to idea people, and he absolutley refused to pander. So he gained no traction!

This reflects the conservative position of personal responsibility and self-confidence that no matter how much the government dependents and their slave bosses mess up this country we who are responsible and agentic will triumph in the competition.

Either that or a butterfly.

Trey

Revenant said...

So the real libertarian motto is "There's a sucker born every minute."

The "suckers" here are the people and institutions who lent large sums of money to deadbeats.

The folks borrowing the money weren't suckers -- they were just greedy idiots. They figured they could have a house without needing the means to pay for it. Oops!

Revenant said...

Fred did not need to be president, so he did not run like his life depended on it. This made him a lousy candidate. He wrote the most detailed position papers in the race, he appealed to idea people, and he absolutley refused to pander. So he gained no traction!

I think that's exactly right. Well said, TMink.