US Election coverage

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  1. Apologies for the long post..actually, it's all the rage here in MnHQ, isn't it? ;)

    The prospect of John McCain as Republican nominee is inspiring sometimes angry resistance from millions of conservative stalwarts. Ann Coulter's famous support for Hillary Clinton threatens to spark a wave of conservative "suicide voters" if the Arizona Senator gets the nomination.

    Other Republicans, variously called insiders, party pros, elitists and worse, blithely assure us the alienated base will come around in the end and vote for McCain and the GOP ticket, particularly if Hillary Clinton is the alternative.

    Assuming McCain gets the nomination, I am not so sure. It could go either way.

    Anger at McCain

    Anger has been a consistent theme for 7 years on the left, beginning with outrage over Bush's electoral victory. Anger now has become a familiar conservative motif, as well. McCain has provoked a profound animus from conservatives ranging from Rush Limbaugh and Thomas Sowell on down to the posters at numerous conservative blogs, emailers to this site, and callers to talk radio. McCain's Legislative sins prominently include McCain-Feingold, McCain-Lieberman, and McCain-Kennedy. All three feel to principled conservatives like monstrous betrayals -- liberalism that can only make things worse.

    Then there is the obvious relish with which McCain sometimes sticks it to the disaffected voters to his right, as with his comment on a conference call to bloggers likening ANWR and the Grand Canyon as places we shouldn't drill for oil. The conservative base of the GOP has been dissed by the Senator on multiple occasions like this, in ways big and small.

    To be fair, this in-your-face attitude has caused trouble for him on the left as well, witness his remark that we could have troops in Iraq for one hundred years and that would be "fine", in response to a hostile questioner in New Hampshire. This man enjoys challenging, sometimes baiting, his opponents, and when provoked may still retain a little of the propensity for getting himself in trouble that he displayed at Annapolis and as a fighter jockey.

    Discontent

    McCain's nose-thumbing stings all the worse for conservatives because it has been unusually tough to be a conservative of late. The loss of Congressional majorities still stings. President Bush has been no Reagan, except in his commitment to victory in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush's fiscal profligacy has been dispiriting, as has his tendency to accommodate Ted Kennedy and other liberals.

    Conservatives feel they need a champion. Instead of an inspiring new conservative leader, they have now pinned their hopes on Mitt Romney, who has attracted several major conservative endorsements since McCain became the man to beat. Governor Romney is a fine and able man, but his evolving positions and managerial speaking style do not recommend him for the role of ideological champion.

    All in all, it is more than reasonable for conservatives to feel somewhat abandoned. They are unappreciated by McCain, and, so it almost seems, by the party that may be about to nominate him.

    Atmospherics

    Relentless media portrayals of the supposed misery inflicted on America by Bush and other conservatives also have taken their toll. Conservatives ably critique mainstream media coverage of the economy, Iraq, immigration, and other issues, but these words rarely reach beyond the world of the internet and talk radio. The vaster reach of the liberal media has created an atmosphere in which conservatives have to fight against a media-spawned general public impression that having the GOP run the White House or Congress was a very bad idea.

    In the major media, the American economy is never celebrated as a success (though Bush's track record has been good), but always seen as a problem. The now-classic portrayal of coffin makers in Iraq suffering as the carnage has declined crystalizes beyond satire the media's gloom-mongering. Iraq was a horrendous disaster, and then it just vanished from consideration as the Surge turned things around. The media have been telling Americans that things are in terrible shape for seven years, thanks to Bush and the conservatives, and too many people buy it because TV comedians joke about it. There are a lot of parties at which it is not much fun to be an open conservative, and not just in Berkeley.

    Schadenfreude Season

    The sole pleasure being a conservative now is enjoyment of Hillary Clinton's life-and-death struggle for the Democratic nomination. She expected a coronation and ran into Barack Obama's charisma, likability and extraordinary appeal to those delighted at the prospect of finally having a black American occupy the nation's highest office. His race card has trumped her gender card.

    She and Bill have already drawn down the family wealth and loaned the campaign five million dollars, while Obama is reported to have raised three million dollars yesterday alone, raising the question of how far will the Clintons go in financing her campaign, against Obama, the candidate with all the momentum. Hillary was known as a tightwad, so this kind of financial drain must be painful indeed for her, and persuading Bill to cough up the dough from his gigs in Dubai, Kazakhstan and other erstwhile friendly states may be no picnic.

    If the Democrats' contest lasts all the way to the convention floor, it will get down and dirty, possibly with Hillary needing to pressure super delegates and make a stink about seating the Florida and Michigan delegations, if she is to win. Americans, including conservatives, will be treated to the spectacle of Hillary Hardball being played on Obama, and Obama fighting back. This will serve as a handy reminder to the conservative base of how bad either Democratic alternative to McCain would be.

    How Many Conservatives Can McCain Lure Back?

    Inevitably at least some conservatives will cool their passions between now and November and rally to defeat Clinton or Obama, unless Senator McCain further aggravates and alienates them during the campaign (a possibility that cannot be ruled out). But McCain potentially could expand the number by addressing both the substantive and emotional problems conservatives have had with his behavior. He must win both hearts and minds, to adopt a Vietnam era slogan. Today's scheduled speech by McCain at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) offers an opportunity to begin mending fences.

    On a substantive level, he has emphasized the part of his record that is consistent with bedrock conservative values, showing how very different he would be from the Democrats' nominee. His strongest case is in national defense, but he could leverage his record on fiscal restraint into a push for lower taxes while shrinking the deficit. McCain has a career rating of over 80% from the ACU, while his democratic opponents have approximately 10% ratings.

    Perhaps his biggest opportunity to neutralize previous damage is with immigration reform. He needs to make it clear that he no longer favors rewarding illegal residents with permanent residence or a shot at American citizenship, unless they pay some penalty and get back in line in some symbolically and substantively important way. If he is able to backtrack and admit doing so, a door opens for him.

    McCain is almost uniquely endowed with the ability to speak meaningfully about the obligations of citizenship, having so spectacularly sacrificed personally in serving his nation. A ringing defense of the heroic service of immigrant soldiers who have earned American citizenship, along with a plan to reform naturalization processes to make it possible for legal immigration to better meet America's needs and interests, could turn the issue around.

    In the realm of feelings, some form of direct or indirect apology can be a useful tool of reconciliation in normal group dynamics. But Senator McCain may not have it in him to apologize per se. But if in some form he acknowledges, directly or indirectly, that he regrets the stress he has created for conservatives, that would help his case on a purely emotional level. He might be able to get some mileage out of agreeing to hear out critics of global warming theory, or acknowledging problems with campaign finance reform, or consider reversing himself on ANWR drilling, painting a picture of a man who can learn from his mistakes.

    At the same time, he has to avoid giving centrist voters the impression that he is knuckling under to the hard right. A tricky feat for even a sensitive feeling sort of guy, much less for a man who prides himself on speaking his mind and has a temper. A bungled attempt could aggravate matters.

    Mitt Romney at this moment is unlikely to be able to pick up momentum and secure the nomination, of course. Only time will tell.

    But John McCain seems poorly equipped by temperament to winning over the hearts of alienated conservatives. Which creates the need, if not yet a supply, of conservative leaders willing to help nudge him along toward reconciliation by going a few baby steps forward themselves, in the interest of keeping the United States on the course to victory in Iraq and in the War on Terror.

    (Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of American Thinker.)
     
  2. blue-sophist

    blue-sophist LE Good Egg (charities)

    Well, as we now know, Romney has dropped out. Not surprising, given that he's not exactly leading the charge for the GOP nomination, and spending his own mega-bucks [estimates of his net worth range from $250M-$500M, and his personal spend around $37.5M]

    So ... McCain or Huckabee now?

    Your piece offers many thoughtful insights into McCain's prospects, but the situation gets clearer by the minute for Republicans of all persuasions ... and indeed, "independents". Although US politics is not as clear-cut as in UK, there will be support for a GOP candidate from the traditional Republican rank and file. Along the lines of, "OK, he's a bit of a liberal, but he's certainly not Clinton/Obama."

    I suspect the biggest problem is going to be the hard-right Republicans, who may well stay at home in Nov, rather than offer support for "Pinko McCain". Which, of course, potentially offers the Democrats the key to the White House. However, my guess is that fear of Clinton, or the inexperienced Obama, may well get them out to vote McCain.

    In the interim, of course, McCain [and indeed all candidates] will have to perform that "polish off the sharp edges of my position" to ensure that, come Nov, a Democrat will have some appeal for a Republican voter and vice versa. Nothing like UK in that respect ... with Party politics less sharply divided, any candidate has to appeal to everyone in every State ... agricultural, industrial, whatever.

    My guess at this point? Obama v. McCain, but the "Potomac Primaries" [VA, DC, MD] next Tuesday will tell a lot more. I would expect the professional African-Americans in "Greater Washington" to go with Obama, although the more rural parts of south VA and west MD may go Clinton ... the whole Democrat thing is, clearly, wide open. And then we'll see what the numbers look like.

    The issue that is getting less publicity than I expected is McCain's age: not now, he's as bright as a bright thing, but in 4 years' time when he's possibly been running The Planet 24/7 and will be ... 76?
    And undoubtedly looking for a second term.
    "Chernyenko II ... the US Version?" :roll:
     
  3. I don't buy it. The issues that bother "conservatives" don't bother the average republican. Take immigration, for example. The hardline anti-immigration candidates, Tommy Thompson and Duncan Hunter struggled to get 1% of the vote. The idea that the GOP is demographically a hardline conservative party is a myth. Let's take another hot-button issue- abortion. I've seen studies that over 70% of registered republicans are pro-choice.

    What these issues are good for is not getting votes, but for getting money. I've mentioned it before, but there are certain issues in American politics where politicians would much rather have the issue to campaign on than actually find a solution for it. This works for Democrats (e.g. social security) as Republicans.

    The fact is that the idea of a "base" of both parties is something of a misnomer. What they are, in fact, is just a very well organised, very well funded and very vocal minority who do not accurately represent the vast majority of voters on either side.

    Where the Republicans are having real difficulty right now is that their electoral strategy over the past 15 years or so, is actually an appeal to populism on a range of social issues- gay marriage, abortion etc. that tapped into the psyche of blue collar Americans. What blue collar America is waking up to, however, is the idea that in terms of bread and butter/quality of life issues- these hot-button issues don't matter one iota. On the other hand, they see the other republican policies that are getting implemented screw them over. Agriculture, outsourcing, health insurance, medicare, social security, education- take your pick.
     
  4. blue-sophist

    blue-sophist LE Good Egg (charities)

    Not sure which/whose line you don't buy ... :wink:

    1. I never suggested that Republicans are "hard-line conservatives" as such. I suggested that those who are object to McCain. The GOP comes in many colours, just like the Tories.

    2. Aside from "who said what", I really don't see abortion as a political issue. Dems and Reps will all have personal views on the subject.

    3. Ahhhh ... money [may I say the "Best Government money can buy" line?]. You are absolutely right ... express concern for the "issue", but don't offer a solution. The one thing that works in US politics in NOT, EVER, going out on a branch. You will alienate people who might otherwise vote/fund you.

    4. Party Base ? Essentially, there isn't one, as you say. Unlike UK, where local Parties work all year round, the US has a "hard core" who get excited when elections [County/City/State] come around, and do diddly squat otherwise.

    5. Policies? Stand on an agriculture ticket in MI? We are talking about a different ploy for each State, depending on its basic core needs [just like UK LibDems in some ways, "all things for all men"]. Every State has a different "Pork Barrel" requirement, with industry or agriculture or some other issue being dominant. The "blue collar" vote will always hinge on "what's in it for me" ... medicare, whatever ... until the day they realise someone has to pay. But no US politico can say that. Just more platitudes ... "We need to address the [*insert issue here] issue as a matter of urgency."

    However, all that aside .... Obama v McCain in November?
     
  5. Sorry, was referring to the original article. :wink:

    And yes, Obama-McCain would be a contest I'd love to see. They have a bit of a history of handbags at 20 paces, but I think it has the potential to be a genuine debate of ideas and principles. McCain will have to move closer to the centre than he has in the primaries, but he's comfortable enough there- that's one thing Limbaugh and those other twots have right, but that's where the votes are. In some states right now democrats are picking up 1 new registered voters for every one the republicans are getting so it's essential that he goes after those independents.

    The thing that would upset the apple cart is where a third part candidate would fit in. I think Nader isn't as likely to run if Obama gets the nomination. I can see a lot more people getting behind him if Hillary is the candidate. The big question is whether the conservatives have the courage of their convictions (probably not because, like I've said, only a few of them actually believe their own hyperbole) and run a conservative third party candidate. I think McCain though can stave off that threat by putting Huckabee on the ticket though.
     
  6. blue-sophist

    blue-sophist LE Good Egg (charities)

    Good ... :D
    Had a bit of prejudice lurking in it somewhere!

    So, McCain v Obama?
    :?:

    Trust you're well over there?
     
  7. Quite well thanks. Been a bit of a chilly winter. Had to cope with daytime temps as low as 17 degrees Celsius these past couple of weeks. The numbers are going in the right direction now.
     
  8. I really am hoping for McCain v Obama. They happen two of the few politicians that I have any faith in. I would gladly accept either as a CiC.
     
  9. McCain may win both but at what cost? Simply put he is intolerable, war hero or not, to all conservatives. Conservatives have been the party base for the Republicans since Goldwater and up till now.

    I find it Funny how the same pundits that label Bush a Cowboy want to rally behind a Maverick, which by definition is an unknown. McCain could suffer from PTSD and start loobing nukes at Hanoi once in office, and it wouldn't be out of his "mavrick character" to do so.

    I have no dog in this hunt; I left the party and am now an Independent. McCain Obama, Billary they are all the same...hell I wager that McCain has a more clearly lberal record then both Obama and Billary.

    Included below is my letter to the RNC chairman that I have taken leave of the "party"
    This isn't a "one off" many true conservatives are leaving the reservation over McCain. He may win but lead he can't and all that think Bush part 2 is a nutter watch the McCain show you will wish Bush could have had a 3rd term.

    I'm voting Billary or Obama-Rama, at least I know what I'm getting and if either try and grab my guns Waco will look like a birthday party!
     
  10. Right and wrong crab.

    There is a conservative base and that base took over during the Goldwater years and was expanded during Reagan. Reagan had the power to pull in socially conservative democrats which Bush 1 only did on his first election, and riding on Reagan's coattails. Bush 1 angered the base when he went back on his read my lips no new taxes and acually signed tax rate increases.

    During the Clinton years there was a resurge of conservatism in the GOP with Newt and the "Contract with American" and Newt delivered and the Republicans maintained control for s sustained period (even after he left). They managed to balance the budget and instill some spending caps and constraints on Clinton including forcing Welfare Reform.

    Bush 2 got the aftermath of Clinton and a protracted war which, well hasn't gone to plan and let's just leave it at that for the moment. Bush 2 started early on reaching across the aisle and even had fat teddy write the "No Child Let Behind" education reform bill (Fat Teddy has distance dhimself from his own bill shortly after it got passed).

    During the Clinton years there was an effort by the party leadership, not the base mind you, to create a Republican party of inclusion and lure in those a bit left of center; the moderates, the Reagan Democrats. As such they compromissed on core principles and stared pissing off the base.

    Bush 2's saving grace on his second round was no one liked Kerry, or they liked Kerry less then Bush.

    This recent curfuffel in the GOP is over principles and the fact that the party leadership has tinkered with the delgates and primaries in such away, over the past few years, that ensures a DC insider the nomination. If you look at the exit poll results you will see that McCain has not gotten anywhere close to a majority of "Republicans". He has pulled moderates, indepedents and others. Mitt and Huckeby have pulled the conservatives. He barely beat Mitt in Florida 34% to 31%.

    Like I stated in my previous post McCain Clinton and Obama are all bad and a vote for either will make your toes curl shortly after they are in office,mark my words!

    As for Hunter and Tancredo (you mentioned Tommy Thompson but most likely meant Tancredo). They are single issue guys and further more had no money and were not really known on a national level. This primary started very early (historically early) and they were out of money before the Iowa Caucus.

    Make no mistake this is a battle for the GOP, but the outcome will affect the US for years to come and may cause greater problems in the world in the short term. I may sit this one out, but even if I don't I can not nor will I vote for McCain; I'll pencil in Mickey Mouse before I pull the lever for McCain!

    You are right that those remaining in the race McCain and Huckby are populist, neither has aything conseravtive about them or their record. The Huckster is getting the evangelical vote because he is a baptist preacher and McCain is getting the moderate vote because...well he's moderate. If you listen to both they are sending a populist message...
     
  11. I agree, though my more subtle point was that the base themselves are a minority of those who call themselves Republican. There can be little doubt though, as you've shown, that it was this minority that was controlling the political agenda.

    I really think Bush II has forced this realignment in the party, and even I'm not convinced that it was a failure of political philosophy that is causing it (although I disagree with almost all of it), so much as it was the utter ineptitude of the man and his failure to deliver on anything substantial he has tried to accomplish in his seven years. He failed at everything else he's tried his hand at, so why should this have been any difference. His only saving grace is an unparrallelled ability for getting his backers to give him one more shot.

    If you look at any of the serious candidates in the GOP presidential race, there was always going to be a move to the centre. People like Tancredo and Hunter are, and always were, jokes who had zero support outside their districts. It's a lot easier o be a zealot in the House because a) you're not as powerful as 1 of 435 so nobody notices you and b) your constituency is a lot smaller and likely to be more homogenous. Once you get to the senate (i.e. Brownback) as someone on the fringes, you tend to run out of friends and supporters very quickly.

    Of the people who were in it at the end, there was nobody who was going to be a conservative. Huckabee governed as a centerist and is very concerned with things like poverty reduction- a growing trend in the religious wing of the GOP which sets them at odds with the old-school money men.

    Romney was a joke- a pandering hair-do- who was going through the motions of conservatism to get elected. I honestly couldn't believe the number of honest conservatives who stood up and supported him. The only explanation I have is their visceral hatred of McCain.

    I think McCain is a lot more conservative than most give him credit for and, although obviouslt I can't speak for you, a lot of the resentment comes from his willingness to break Reagan's First Commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican". That he was willing to do so in the orgy of Toby Keith-soundtracked, Dixie Chick CD-burning patrio-facism that substituted for rational thought in the 2-3 years after 9/11 made a certain constituency absolutely crazy.
     
  12. blue-sophist

    blue-sophist LE Good Egg (charities)

    I think listening to you guys is just sooooo informative.
    No joking, I'm seriously grateful.
    The filtered de-caffeinated versions in the UK Media are inadequate, and the US material is too comprehensive to cope with from this distance.

    BTW, who mentioned Kerry? Called "Mr Vomit" in this household based on his behaviour last time ...

    Stay warm over there ;-)
     
  13. What US coverage, my TV has an OFF button!
     
  14. blue-sophist

    blue-sophist LE Good Egg (charities)

    CB, you are heading for O2 category.
    Do crawl back into your hole, there's a good lad.
     
  15. It's like watching TV advets, or paint dry!

    Self serving, self gratification. Perhaps those living in the USA accept it and perhaps the UK will see this king of moronic twitter at our next elction, when Broon has the balls to call it.

    But sorry there are far more important things if life, such as living.

    What Rock? .. .. :wink: