Presidential update: Rudy, Newt, Fred, believers

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Bits and pieces:

Here's a website dedicated to the proposition that Rudy's Really Liberal. Quotes from Mr. Giuliani on a variety of topics, including his rather callous views on abortion.

WMCA talk show host Kevin McCullough doesn't think much of Newt Gingrich's assertion that private lives should be off limits in the 2008 presidential campaign:

Bill Clinton deserved to be scrutinized. His behavior (supposedly in private) put the nation's security at risk. He also ended up committing felonies.

Since the dirt of these men's lives IS going to be examined. They would be better off demonstrating that they are no longer the men they once were - as opposed to making these waste of time statements about how this part or that part of their lives should be "off limits."

Telling Dr. Dobson that he did something wrong doesn't fully address Gingrich's character problem. Newt didn't just make one oopsie while tipsy. He did the trophy wife trade-up not once, but twice, in each case taking up with wife N+1 while still married to wife N. (Six years overlap in the case of his second-to-third-wife transition.) And there's more -- Google "Newt Gingrich" and "little boy smile" and you'll see what I mean.

Now on to the continuing buzz about former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson.

Mickey Kaus wants to know

Wherein lies the greatness of Sen. Fred Thompson? Just asking!

Ron Coleman has a similar question:

But is this another case of mistaking the TV character for the person? ....

Conservatives are in the dumps because there isn’t a Reagan, or even the version of George W. Bush they thought they were buying, in this race. But what exactly it is that they see in Thompson is not clear unless, as I said, they are actually voting for a rich baritone voice, six-and-a-half-feet of USDA Grade A beef, and — here’s the kicker — his role as a fair but firm, if a little politicized, urban crime-fighter.

I'm getting excited about a candidate for the first time in this race, and I've never seen "Law and Order," so that isn't all there is to it. I suspect Thompson's stint as a Paul Harvey fill-in has done more to get conservatives excited. Here is someone who is saying all the right things on fiscal issues, social issues, and foreign policy -- and saying them so well!

The point Kaus makes about Thompson's lack of executive experience is a valid one, but does that lack outweigh the benefit of having a nominee who holds the right views on the key issues of the day and who can articulate and defend them?

Thompson's radio commentary on illegal immigration has Karol waxing lyrical. And she points to Ryan Sager's piece in the New York Sun weighing the effects of a Thompson candidacy on the rest of the GOP field:

But there's one candidate whose campaign he could end almost instantaneously, should he choose to run: that of Mr. Romney. Mr. Thompson is pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay marriage, and anti-tax — like Mr. Romney. But he has one advantage over the former governor: He didn't just come to these positions over the last year or so, in a "Road to Des Moines" conversion.

On virtually every issue, Mr. Thompson is as far right, or further, than Mr. Romney, and he has been for some time. Mr. Romney's claim to fame so far in the campaign has been that he's the "true conservative" in the race — in contrast to Mayor Giuliani and Senator McCain. If Mr. Thompson jumps in, however, the rationale behind Mr. Romney's candidacy drops out.

"Road to Des Moines conversion." Heh.

Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza thinks Thompson can do what social conservatives like Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee have struggled to do: raise money.

McCain, Romney and Giuliani have all been in the race and raising money for months (if not years), and with the pricetag for the nomination estimated at between $50 and $100 million the ability to raise millions of dollars is a huge hurdle.

Lucky for Thompson that his home state is renowned for its willingness to donate to political candidates. Beginning with Sen. Howard Baker's (R-Tenn.) run for the presidency in 1980 and with Al Gore's first run in 1988 and then both of Sen. Lamar Alexander's unsuccessful bids for national office (and don't former Sen. Bill Frist's abbreviated run), Volunteer State donors are acclimated to supporting their native sons.

Baker, Frist and Alexander are intimately involved in the recruitment of Thompson and would undoubtedly bring their financial networks to bear on his behalf -- ensuring a solid financial base on which to build a national campaign.

That via Mary Katherine Ham, who notes that John McCain is helping to make the case for Thompson by his slap at the Club for Growth. She notes: "We fiscal conservatives don't take kindly to Club for Growth bashing." No, we don't.

Finally, via WorldMagBlog, an interesting piece from the Weekly Standard on believers and the presidency -- not about whether past presidents were serious about their faith in God, but about whether they really believed in the direction they were leading the country:

Four or so years ago, I heard the comedian Jackie Mason mock George W. Bush's slender rhetorical powers. "He stumbles, he stutters, he mispronounces. He goes arghh, he goes ahhh; he twists himself up in words; it's hopeless. Unlike Bill Clinton, who speaks with never a pause, never a miscue, never a hitch of any kind. You know, when you come to think of it, it's a hell of a lot easier to speak well when you don't believe a word you're saying."

More than merely amusing, this comic bit is provocatively suggestive. What it suggests is that American presidents can be divided into those who are true believers and those who are something else: managers, politicians, operators, men who just wanted the job. While in office, Bill Clinton, who seems to have had as little true belief as any politician in recent decades, sensed that the country wanted to move to the center, so he moved to the center along with it: changing the welfare system, doing nothing radical about health care, rocking no boats, giving the people what the polls told him they wanted....

Belief is not a sine qua non in a president. At times the country does better with a politician whose aim goes little beyond keeping the ball in play, the game in motion. And where belief is detectable, the question of course is what is the content of the belief a candidate holds. If Churchill was a believer, so was Hitler.

Yet no great American president I can think of has not been a believer. The greatest of our presidents, perhaps the greatest American, Abraham Lincoln, was great precisely because of his deep, almost religious belief in the necessity of maintaining the Union and doing everything he could to keep it intact. Had they then existed, polls heavily in favor of his bringing the boys back home by stopping the Civil War would scarcely have dissuaded him.

Oh, one more thing, not specifically presidential, but related, given the concern about the true leanings of Giuliani, Romney, and McCain. Rush Limbaugh has been criticizing California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's shift to the left on a variety of issues. On the Today show, Schwarzenegger called Limbaugh "irrelevant." Limbaugh took that in stride -- assumed that Arnie meant Rush isn't relevant to his decision-making process in California. Here's a link to a transcript of Rush's response. Rush notes the electoral disasters that befall Republicans when they fail to govern or campaign as conservatives. He mentions that he hasn't settled on a presidential candidate yet. "[O]ne of the things I'm concerned about is there's not one Reagan conservative in the bunch -- which is okay, but then don't tell me that there is."

He also makes an interesting point about friendships between commentators and politicians:

I know Arnold. I have smoked stogies with Arnold, and I like Arnold! He's an engaging, friendly, nice guy. But that's why I always said, "Folks, when you're in a position, as I am, a national commentator, the one thing you can't do is become friends with these politicians." When you become friends with them, you can't criticize your friends. When they become part of your traveling gang or your inner circle, they are insulated from criticism, and that's not going to help me and that's not what I'm here for, is to make friends with these people.

It is a tough thing for me to be critical of politicians I've gotten to know. (Mostly -- some politicians I've gotten to know well enough that it's extremely easy for me to criticize them.) I hope I can effectively criticize their policies while being sympathetic to the challenges they face in making the right decisions.

Schwarzenegger called in to talk to Limbaugh (here's the transcript) and they had a frank but friendly exchange on the increase in the state's minimum wage, health care for illegal immigrants, and cigar smoking. Neither one backed down, but they kept it civil.

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2 Comments

W. Author Profile Page said:

It's hard to know what Limbaugh's true feelings are, since he admitted after the 2006 elections to "carrying water" for candidates he didn't particularly like.

How do we know whether Rush is giving his true feelings or parroting a party line?

What Rush is saying about the minimum wage, health care, and the other issues he mentions in his conversation with the Governator is consistent with what he's been saying on his show since he started in 1988.

The 2006 election decided the control of Congress, and someone with Rush's views (and mine) would be happier with Congress in Republican hands. Getting to that result means that enough individual Republicans have to win, including some that you might just as soon see lose (e.g. Lincoln Chafee) if you didn't need their victories to achieve a majority.

So Rush would tell his listeners, "You don't like this guy, I don't like this guy, but unless you want the likes of Ted Kennedy running the show, you need to hold your nose and vote for him." That's what the comment about "carrying water" was all about.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 21, 2007 11:25 PM.

Coburn vs. the Earmarxists was the previous entry in this blog.

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