Election 2008: December 2007 Archives

Just four days until the Iowa caucuses. In this seventeen-minute video, Fred Thompson explains why he believes he's the right man for the job:

At a campaign stop in Burlington, Iowa, earlier today, Fred Thompson answered a question from a voter about whether he truly has the desire to become president. He pointed out the financial and family sacrifices he has made to make this run, as an indication of his desire to be president, but he also says he's not consumed by personal ambition. Thompson is running because many people wanted him to run, and because he thinks he has "the background, the capability, and the concern" to serve as president.

It's such a good answer, and it so captures what I like about the man's character and attitude that I've reproduced the entire answer below, but I've bolded the bits that I especially like.

[THIS IS A BEST-EFFORT TRANSCRIPT OF THE SPECIFIC QUESTION AND ANSWER] Q: My only problem with you and why I haven't thrown all my support behind you is that I don't know if you have the desire to be President. If I caucus for you next week, are you still going to be there two months from now?

...In the first place I got in the race about the time people normally get into it historically. The fact of the matter is that others started the process a lot earlier this time than they normally do. I think it was for some of them when they were juniors in high school.


That is a very good question, not because it's difficult to answer, because, but I'm gonna answer it in a little different way than what you might expect.

In the first place, I wouldn't be here if I didn't. I wouldn't be doing this if i didn't. I grew up very modest circumstances. I left government, I and my family have made sacrifices for me to be sitting here today. I haven't had any income for a long time because I'm doing this. I figure that to be clean you've got to cut everything off. And I was doing speaking engagements and I had a contract to do a tv show, I had a contract with abc radio like I was talking about earlier and so forth. I guess a man would have to be a total fool to do all those things and to be leaving his family which is not a joyful thing at all if he didn't want to do it.

But I am not consumed by personal ambition. I will not be devastated if I don't do it. I want the people to have the best president that they can have.

When this talk first started, it didn't originate with me. There were a lot of people around the country both directly and through polls, liked the idea of me stepping up. And of course, you always look better at a distance, I guess.

But most of those people are still there and think its a good idea. But I approached it from the standpoint of a deal. A kind of a marriage. If one side of a marriage has to be really talked into the marriage, it probably ain't going to be a very good deal for either one of them. But if you mutually think that this is a good thing. In this case, if you think this is a good thing for the country, then you have an opportunity to do some wonderful things together.

I'm offering myself up. I'm saying that I have the background, the capability, and the concern to do this and I'm doing it for the right reasons. But I'm not particularly interested in running for president, but I think I'd make a good president.

Nowadays, the process has become much more important than it used to be.

I don't know that they ever asked George Washington a question like this. I don't know that they ever asked Dwight D. Eisenhower a question like this. But nowadays, it's all about fire in the belly. I'm not sure in the world we live in today it's a terribly good thing if a president has too much fire in the belly. I approach life differently than a lot of people. People, I guess, wonder how I've been as successful as I've been in everything I've done. I won two races in TN by 20 point margins, a state that Bill Clinton carried twice. I'd never run for office before. I've never had an acting lesson and I guess that's obvious by people who've watched me. But when they made a movie about a case that I had when I took on a corrupt state administration as a lawyer and beat them before a jury. They made a movie about it and I wound up playing myself in the movie and yeah I can do that.

And when I did it, I did it. Wasn't just a lark. Anything that's worth doing is worth doing well. But I've always been a little bit more laid back than most. I like to say that I'm only consumed by very, very few things and politics is not one of them. The welfare of our country and our kids and grandkids is one of them.

If people really want in their president a super type-a personality, someone who has gotten up every morning and gone to bed every night and been thinking about for years how they could achieve the Presidency of the United States, someone who can look you straight in the eye and say they enjoy every minute of campaigning, I ain't that guy.

So I hope I've discussed that and hope I haven't talked you out of anything. I honestly want - I can't imagine a worse set of circumstances than achieving the presidency under false pretenses. I go out of my way to be myself because I don't want anybody to think they are getting something they are not getting. I'm not consumed by this process I'm not consumed with the notion of being President. I'm simply saying I'm willing to do what's necessary to achieve it if I'm in sync with the people and if the people want me or somebody like me. I'll do what I've always done in the rest of my life and I will take it on and do a good job and you'll have the disadvantage of having someone who probably can't jump up and click their heels three times but will tell you the truth and you'll know where the President stands at all times.

It reminds me of the attitude that Tom Coburn has brought to his service in Congress. He would much rather be back in Oklahoma delivering babies, but, like Thompson, he is concerned about the country that we will leave to our children and grandchildren, and he is willing to do what he must to get elected and serve with integrity.

I'm sure the former Oklahoma governor meant well:

Former Governor Frank Keating is the co-chairman of "Catholics for McCain," formed to support Arizona Senator John McCain's Republican presidential bid.

but I wonder if it really helps the Arizona senator to have someone with that surname leading a group connected with his campaign.

I'm supporting Fred Thompson for President because on the issues that matter -- the war against Islamofascism, defense, and foreign policy; taxes, entitlements, and the economy; social issues and judicial restraint -- he's right, and for the right reasons. There's a foundation of sound principle that undergirds his views on specific policies and the willingness to stand firm on those principles even in the face of hostility.
That's why Fred Thompson can rightly call himself a consistent, common-sense conservative, the only one among the leading Republican candidates.

If you're undecided, I encourage you to read through the detailed policy papers on the Fred '08 website.

If you've already concluded that Fred Thompson is the best choice for President, I urge you to contribute to his campaign, so he'll have the funds to get his message out in Iowa before next Thursday's precinct caucuses. Here's a handy form for sending in a contribution:

The Fred '08 campaign is trying to raise about $250,000 by 6 pm Friday to be able to run this TV ad, titled "Substance":

Another way to help is to spend an hour or two making phone calls to Iowa Republican voters on Fred's behalf. The campaign will provide the names and the instructions, you just have to be willing to call. Many if not most potential caucus-goers have yet to come to a firm decision about whom they'll support. Your phone call will make a difference.

To my Oklahoma readers: Although it's another month before we vote, if you want Fred Thompson to be still be a viable choice when it comes our turn, we need to do what we can to help him finish strong in Iowa and then go on to victory in South Carolina and Florida.

UPDATE: We did it! The goal was reached and exceeded, and the new ad will run in Iowa all the way through caucus night on Thursday. (I'm sure additional contributions would still be welcomed and appreciated.)

Coulter on Huckabee

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Yes, it's Ann Coulter, but there are a few quotables in her latest column, "Liberals Sing 'Huckelujah'":

All I want for Christmas is for Christians to listen to what Mike Huckabee says, rather than what the media say about him....

Huckabee is a "compassionate conservative" only in the sense that calling him a conservative is being compassionate....

Huckabee opposes school choice, earning him the coveted endorsement of the National Education Association of New Hampshire, which is like the sheriff being endorsed by the local whorehouse....

According to Huckabee, most people think conservatives don't like music. Who on earth says conservatives don't like music -- other than liberals and Mike Huckabee? This desperate need to be liked by liberals has never led to anything but calamity....

He supports a nationwide smoking ban anyplace where people work, constitutional protection for sodomy, big government, higher taxes and government benefits for illegal aliens. According to my calculations, that puts him about three earmarks away from being Nancy Pelosi.

Liberals take a perverse pleasure in touting Huckabee because they know he will give them everything they want -- big government and a Christian they can roll.

Coulter also has a link on her homepage to this surprising quote from of a profile of Huckabee from the December 12, 2007, New York Times Magazine:

[Bill] Clinton's goodwill stems, Huckabee believes, from Huckabee's own restraint during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. ''Obviously I was asked to comment. If I had been willing to criticize President Clinton, I could have made a cottage industry out of it. But I didn't do that, I didn't discuss it at all. And I think he was grateful for that.''

MORE: Dean Barnett says that Huckabee is this cycle's equivalent of the 1996 Pat Buchanan campaign. After Buchanan's win in New Hampshire, he had a moment in the spotlight to convince the American people he could be a responsible President, and he failed. Likewise Huckabee in 2008:

Rather than assure the Republican electorate that he was more than a one trick pony who could speak beautifully on social issues and spiritual concerns, he doubled down on his pastor side. Perhaps with good cause. When he ventured opinions about serious policy matters outside his comfort zone, especially regarding global affairs, he showed an ignorance that was quite frankly stunning for someone who had the audacity to seek the presidency at a time of war.

Then there is Huckabee's lucrative side business as a speaker:

Over the weekend, it came out that Huckabee received $35,000 in honoraria in 2006 from a company that does stem cell research, the very same company that social conservatives blasted Mitt Romney over because his blind trust had invested in it. Huckabee's take of $35,000 from the stem cell researchers was but a small sliver of the roughly $378,000 in outside fees that Huckabee raked in during his final year as Arkansas' governor.

Barnett is predicting a third-place finish in Iowa for Huckabee, with soft Huckabee support shifting to Romney and Thompson. He also says to ignore the latest ARG poll, which was taken over the weekend before Christmas -- not the best time to get a political sample.

Tired of soundbites on important national issues? Pajamas Media is beginning a series of extended conversations with presidential candidates on the War on Terror. The first interview is with Republican former Sen. Fred Thompson, conducted by Roger L. Simon and Bob Owens:

A transcript can be found here.

Fred Thompson displays the sort of thoughtful, well-informed understanding of foreign policy that I want to see in our next president.

(If you're of the same opinion, and you like what you see in this interview, Fred Thompson could use your help with a contribution of any size to help him get his message to Iowa voters.)

If you're frustrated that you won't get a say in the choice of presidential nominees because your state has a later primary, fret not. You don't even have to go to Iowa or New Hampshire to make a difference. You can use your free long distance service to phone likely voters in those states.

Since many if not most mobile phone plans treat local and long distance calls the same, you may as well put all those extra minutes to good use. Other campaigns have done this: I used my cell phone to make calls for Pat Toomey's 2004 campaign for U. S. Senate in Pennsylvania.

On Fred Thompson's campaign website, supporters can log in to get numbers to call and to indicate the result of each call online. (You have to register first as a Friend of Fred.) It wouldn't surprise me to learn that other campaigns are doing the same thing.

While a call from a paid telemarketer or a recorded message can be annoying, I'd like to think that an undecided voter would be impressed that an ordinary voter would feel strongly enough about a candidate to make long distance phone calls on his behalf.

NOTE: Be sure to check out the linkblog over in the left hand column of the BatesLine home page. There are several new entries today, including some about Tulsa and Oklahoma issues. Each entry is a link to an interesting article and webpage with a brief description or pull quote. As it was a two-column week (early deadline because of Christmas), I'm too worn out for much more than a few quick linkblog entries.

The front-loaded, earlier-than-ever primary schedule has enabled a campaign opportunity that wouldn't have worked as well in years past. The Ron Paul campaign is urging his student supporters (college and driving-age high school) to come to Iowa to campaign for him in advance of the January 3 precinct caucuses there:

School is out, and the Ron Paul Revolution is taking over Iowa! All students (high school & college) of student age (16-30) are invited to join us in Iowa Dec. 14-23 and Dec. 27 - Jan. 4 for Ron Paul's Christmas Vacation!

If you can get to Iowa on Friday Dec. 14 and/or Thursday Dec. 27, the campaign will provide you with the rest. Food, housing, and gas will be covered for 150 students in Iowa. All you have to do is get there.

The students will be going door-to-door, urging people to show up at their precinct caucus to support Ron Paul. The blog entry notes that 25,000 supporters will be sufficient to place in the top three. If the campaign gets the 150 volunteers they want, they can easily knock on twice that many doors. If the campaign has good lists of likely caucus-goers, this could be a very productive effort.

This is a great idea for maximizing grassroots energy in a low-budget way. Is the Fred '08 campaign paying attention?

Stop the hand shows!

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If you've been thinking about supporting Fred Thompson's campaign, today would be a great time to do it. The Fred '08 campaign is looking for 2400 donors in 24 hours. From the campaign website:

Stop the Hand Show

Running for President is serious business. We're facing pressing issues like national security, bankrupt entitlements, a broken tax code, and out-of-control judges. So what did the liberal moderator want at Wednesday's debate? A show of hands. We deserve serious discussion not kindergarten antics.

Don't you want a conservative leader who won't grovel to the liberal media?

If 2,400 people donate in the next 24 hours it will tell the liberal media that the American people are tired of their games.

Stand with Fred and reject the liberal media's "monkey business" and gotcha games. Donate today.

Then send an e-card to your friends letting them know you're standing up with Fred.

In the photo above, that's Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee, and McCain indicating agreement with the statement that global warming is a serious problem caused by human activity.

If you're wondering what the "hand show" comment is about, here's the best moment from Wednesday's Des Moines Register forum for Republican presidential candidates.

Fred Thompson's refusal to take seriously the mainstream media's childish approach to the presidential race has been evident in his responses to a series of fluff questions from the Associated Press. Some candidates would spend a lot of time trying to craft an answer that would avoid offending any important constituency. Jay Tea at Wizbang reports the questions so far and Thompson's answers:

Thompson's attitude seems to be "this is stupid, and I'm not going to treat it seriously. Instead, I'm going to simply give answers that take the crap you people have flung at me and give it right back to you -- in one or two words."

The first question was "what was your childhood nickame?" Fred's answer? "Mr. President."

The second one was "what is your most prized personal possession?" "Trophy wife."

As soon as I saw the third question, I knew the answer. "What do you like to do on a lazy day?" I said "run for president," but that was too wordy. Thompson cropped it down to "campaigning."

The hits on Thompson have been that he got a late start, he's lazy, and he has a trophy wife. Here he's taken each of them and tossed them right back in the face of the AP.

Jay Tea also makes this interesting point:

I've said numerous times that I think one of the key elements in winning the presidency has to be a sense of humor. The American people seem to prefer to vote for the candidate who comes across as warmer, funnier, more ready to laugh at themselves and with people than one who is not. That trend has held true in every election since 1980, and (once you skip the 64-76 period, when laughter just didn't seem appropriate -- an assassination and Watergate bookending two war referenda) most before then. A sense of humor and a willingness to laugh at oneself seems to indicate a level of comfort with oneself, an ease and general even-temperedness that the American people seem to value in a president.

And the judgment of history seems to bear it out. Those presidents who consistently rank the highest in historical reflection are the ones who seem to have had the readiest wit -- Reagan, Kennedy, FDR, Lincoln.

Chris Matthews made a similar observation all the way back in 1999, identifying 1964 as the lone exception in recent history:

We Americans may vote indoors, but we elect to the White House candidates with the look, feel and freshness of the outdoors about them. Identify "the man with the sun in his face" and you've picked yourself the winner....

Instead, in election after election, we've gone with the guy who looks like he's just made it in from the countryside, the outsider seeking our trust, the guy running against the suits, the guy we can imagine without one.

Maybe this is something peculiarly American, some trait primordial to our rebellious, pioneer nature. Did any other country -- France or England or Canada? -- ever select a face in the crowd like Andy Jackson as its leader, a self-proclaimed "rail-splitter" to keep itself from being split in two?

National Review endorses Romney by process of elimination.

Many conservatives are finding it difficult to pick a presidential candidate. Each of the men running for the Republican nomination has strengths, and none has everything -- all the traits, all the positions -- we are looking for. Equally conservative analysts can reach, and have reached, different judgments in this matter. There are fine conservatives supporting each of these Republicans.

Our guiding principle has always been to select the most conservative viable candidate. In our judgment, that candidate is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Unlike some other candidates in the race, Romney is a full-spectrum conservative: a supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life and the preservation of marriage, and a foreign policy based on the national interest. While he has not talked much about the importance of resisting ethnic balkanization -- none of the major candidates has -- he supports enforcing the immigration laws and opposes amnesty. Those are important steps in the right direction.

In their view: Giuliani, Huckabee not consistently conservative, McCain not as conservative as Romney, Thompson not a good campaigner.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan White House political director, is worried by Romney's focus on process and pragmatism over principle:

Mr. Barnes says Mr. Romney's "approach to government is not ideological." A Romney adviser is quoted as saying of his candidate: "He's super-pragmatic. He's an eclectic conservative." And Mr. Romney himself says flatly that as president he would "insist on gathering data . . . and analyze the data looking for trends."


Make no mistake. If the leading candidates in the GOP presidential race are to be litmus-tested as conservatives, all would cause conservatives sleepless nights. If the Reagan coalition was of economic and social conservatives combined with national security hawks, each group has something to be disturbed about with this batch of front-runners....

Yet the Romney approach as described not only by Mr. Barnes but more importantly by Mr. Romney himself is an approach that goes far beyond any particular issue. It is, as Mr. Romney himself freely admits, all about process. Whatever the issue--economic, social or national security--Mr. Romney would gather the data, look for a trend and thus "you make better decisions."

This should cause conservatives to break out in cold sweats....

Mitt Romney is clearly one decent guy, one very, very accomplished human being. He has announced where he stands on the issues of the day, putting himself head and shoulders above a Clinton, Obama or Edwards. But as conservatives head into caucus and primary season, they should not be hesitant to question what appears to be his addiction to process for the sake of process.

Go back to Fred Barnes's Romney quote, the one in which Mr. Romney says he looks for a "new alternative that everybody agrees is the right way to go." What Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan shared was a core belief that in fact it was a better thing for some principles to triumph over others. "Everybody" did not agree with Lincoln that freedom was better than slavery, that keeping the Union together was better than not, or with Reagan that the free market and tax cuts philosophy was a better philosophy than one of big government and tax increases. But they went ahead anyway.

Is there a place for data? Is there value in process? Sure.

But base an entire presidency on the importance of data and process over principle? Is this what Mitt Romney would do? Is this where a Romney presidency would lead? If so, conservatives have been here before.

It is not a good place to be.

During Romney's term as Governor of Massachusetts, the equivalent of the state supreme court declared that the Massachusetts ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Columnist Sandy Rios said Romney's hands were not tied. Romney had a choice, and he chose wrongly, issuing executive orders to legalize gay marriage:

Exactly one year ago I signed a letter of challenge to Mitt Romney along with Paul Weyrich and 42 other pro-family leaders asking the governor to use the time he had left in office to "reverse the damage that has been done to the sacred institution of marriage." We urged him to "declare immediately that homosexual 'marriage' licenses issued in violation of the law are illegal and to issue an order to all state and local officials to cease violating the law."

Why did we make such a difficult and uncomfortable request? After all, Governor Romney had done everything he could to stop homosexual marriage, hadn't he? And as he explained to the people of Massachusetts and to the country, he had "no choice" but to "execute the law." He had no choice when he ordered marriage licenses changed from "husband and wife" to "party A and party B"... no choice when he ordered city officials to immediately begin performing same-sex marriages ... no choice when he threatened them with losing their jobs if they didn't comply ... no choice but to be the very instrument, the expeditor, the person responsible for ushering in same-sex marriage. ...

Except, of course, if you consider that the court order was directed at the legislative and not the executive branch. The Massachusetts Constitution is clear that all decisions regarding marriage shall be governed by statutory law and not by courts. It was an illegal order by a rogue court to a weak legislature advanced by a governor who had no choice--except if he had considered following the dictates of conscience and the Constitution he had sworn to uphold.

We were given an insight into that seemingly premeditated "no choice" in a New York Times article dated September 8, 2007. It reported that, during a 2002 meeting in a gay bar with Log Cabin Republicans, Romney "promised to obey the courts' ultimate ruling and not champion a fight on either side of the issue"--a promise he most definitely kept, despite head fakes to gullible conservatives, pressing them to think he was crusading to protect marriage, children and defend the constitution.

You can watch all of yesterday's Des Moines Register Republican debate in chopped-up YouTube segments at the paper's website.

The paper's political columnist, David Yepsen, thought Fred Thompson had the best debate:

But it was Thompson, the former Tennessee senator, who was specific, good-humored and exuded an executive persona during the low-key, 90-minute session that was sponsored by The Des Moines Register and broadcast by Iowa Public Television.

He had several high points. One of them came when he flatly refused to play the "raise your hand" game in answering a question about global warming. Another came when he said the biggest problem facing education was the National Education Association. (Bashing teacher unions is always popular with Republican audiences.)

Thompson also gets credit for being a stand-up guy willing to take on entitlement programs that threaten to bankrupt the country if left unchanged. He made it clear that wealthy, older Americans could no longer expect full Medicare benefits if he's elected. Thompson also teased Romney about his wealth and how the former Massachusetts governor is "getting to be a pretty good actor."

Yepsen also criticized his own paper's format:

The biggest problem with the debate was that it wasn't really a debate. Candidates got almost no opportunity to grill one another. Often they ran out of time and were cut off just as they started to probe an opponent.

The event would have been more nourishing had the format allowed for more back-and-forth.

Bizarrely, the DMR's editorial board complained that the candidates didn't spend enough time on the big picture. Don't they bear any responsibility for that, since their format didn't allow time for the big picture?

Many of the candidates' answers were only somewhat satisfying.

Indeed, the hour and a half spent with these nine men who aspire to lead the nation left us wanting to know more about their vision for America.

The real complaint becomes apparent as you read through the editorial: The candidates don't agree enough with the DMR's vision of America.

UPDATE: Jay Cost says the debate was a waste of time:

For how pompous the moderator seemed - shushing candidates left and right, and abjectly refusing to allow Fred Thompson to speak on global warming - you would think she was asking something better than these inane queries.

When the questions were not completely useless - the format impeded anything approaching an intelligent answer. The Des Moines Register took the same basic MSNBC format - where candidates are awarded for pithy one-offs and silly sound bite attacks - but did not ask the questions that facilitate those small-ball answers. This was the second big problem. The format. The Register wanted important answers compacted into the petty time allowances. That just was never going to happen. So, Mike Huckabee was given ten or so seconds to tell us something new about how his faith would inform not just his policies generally, but his health care and his education policies.

A sampling of alarm and concern from conservative, pro-life bloggers about Mike Huckabee's views on foreign policy:

The editors of National Review worry about a repeat of the late '70s.

On Iran, Huckabee is at his most troubling. He accuses the administration of "proceeding down only one track with Iran: armed confrontation." This is false, and the kind of rhetoric you'd expect from DailyKos bloggers, not a Republican presidential candidate. Huckabee thinks it has been a lack of diplomatic engagement that has soured our relations with Iran: "We haven't had diplomatic relations with Iran in almost 30 years, my whole adult life and a lot of good it's done. Putting this in human terms, all of us know that when we stop talking to a parent or a sibling or a friend, it's impossible to accomplish anything, impossible to resolve differences and move the relationship forward. The same is true for countries."

This is the kernel of Huckabee's foreign policy. He wants to anthropomorphize international relations and bring a Christian commitment to the Golden Rule to our affairs with other nations. As he told the Des Moines Register the other day, "You treat others the way you'd like to be treated. That's to me the fundamental issue that has to be re-established in our dealings with other countries."

This is deeply naïve. Countries aren't people, and the world is more dangerous than a Sunday church social. Threats, deception, and -- as a last resort -- violence must play a role in international relations. Differences cannot always be worked out through sweet persuasion. A U.S. president who doesn't realize this will repeat the experience of President Jimmy Carter at his most ineffectual.

Reacting to the story above, Ace writes:

Not that what one blogger thinks matters that much, but if Huckabee gets the nomination, I'm voting Democratic. It's not just an idle threat; I just won't vote for him and in fact won't even vote third party or stay home. I'll vote for the Democratic candidate, even Hillary. I won't be a party to selling out everything the party is supposed to stand for to a liberal ideology. If we're going to have eight years of liberal rule, I'd rather the Democratic Party be governing, so at least they can take the blame....

And... I do not want Huckabee setting the agenda for the GOP as de facto head of the party. I'd rather there be a (different) liberal in the White House, with the GOP Congress and Senate free to pursue genuine conservative policies, rather than having to support Huckabee's liberal impulses.

Not to mention a Republican National Committee feeling duty-bound to back the president of their party, right or wrong.

Hot Air has video of Huckabee flip-flopping on the trade embargo of Cuba: He wrote a letter urging that it be lifted in 2002, but admits that he supports it now because he's running for President.

Frank J. of IMAO responds:

With Huckabee saying he was for restoring ties with Castro's Cuba while governor of Arkansas because, back then, he was unaware of the issues between the U.S. and Cuba, is he now becoming Obama dumb on foreign issues? Each day, I'm getting more and more scared of Huckabee's front runner status.

But Frank Rich likes Mike. That's Frank Rich, the left-wing columnist for the New York Times.

MORE: Did Mike Huckabee lose weight the old-fashioned way? One brand-new blogger thinks Huckabee fits the profile of a gastric bypass patient. But Gerard Vanderleun notes that it fits the profile of a hit blog -- a blog set up specifically to put an anonymous attack on a candidate in play. (So I've deleted the direct link for now.)

How to make an attack ad

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From the recent Australian general election. The Aussies have learned well from us:

(Via Hot Air).

The political topic of the week was Mitt Romney's speech on religion, his attempt to defuse any concerns voters may have about his Mormon faith.

Over at National Review Online (of all places), Jason Lee Steorts responds to criticism that "Mormonism is nuts" (as he puts it) by saying that all religion is nuts.

I'm not going to attempt a comprehensive treatment of why Mitt Romney's Mormonism does matter in the presidential campaign, but here are a few thoughts I had while gazing into my stovepipe hat at a rock folding laundry.

1. Mormonism's weirdness goes beyond the strangeness of its specific doctrines (e.g., God is a man who earned his godhood on the planet Kolob) to two more worrisome qualities: Its esoteric nature and the fact that it relies on the testimony of a convicted con-man, someone who used fakery to bilk people out of money and used the same sort of fakery to invent a religion.

While there's plenty of "weirdness" to be found in Christianity, it's all out in the open for anyone to see. But the Mormon temple and its ceremonies are off-limits to all but the faithful.

In that regard, Mormonism bears a resemblance to a much newer American-born religion: Scientology, where you have to work (and pay) your way through several levels of initiation to hear the core doctrines about galactic warlord Xenu and the poor Thetans he blew up.

2. While a candidate's view on, say, the propriety of infant baptism or the nature of the Trinity may be irrelevant to his performance in public office, there is a branch of theology that is fundamental to governance -- anthropology, which in a theological context deals with the moral and spiritual attributes of mankind. Historically, Christian doctrine has affirmed the special dignity of man as created in the image of God, but also his fundamental depravity as a result of the Fall. One's views on this topic will affect the way you approach right-to-life issues, animal rights, education, law enforcement, and defense policy. The belief that mankind's dignity and depravity are immutable characteristics -- a fundamental precept of conservatism -- will lead you to different conclusions than the belief that human nature is evolving and progressing. The notion of checks and balances stems from the notion of human depravity and the need to limit the power available to selfish human beings.

More importantly, your views on human nature will either square with reality or they won't. The proof's in the pudding: An accurate understanding of human nature will help you develop policies that work, just as an accurate understanding of the principles of aerodynamics will help you develop aircraft that fly.

The Mormon view of human nature strikes me as a kind of Pelagian moralism, which is bound to err in the direction of trying to achieve moral improvement through legislation. To be fair, plenty of Christians err in the same way.

3. I keep thinking about Harold Bloom's book The American Religion, which lumped Mormonism and the dominant strain of Southern Baptist thought for most of the 20th century (until the conservative resurgence in the 1980s) together with Emerson's transcendentalism as varieties of gnosticism. (David Wayne's review of the book is worth reading.) Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were both Southern Baptists of the type that Bloom identifies with gnosticism. What about Mike Huckabee?


4. Romney said, "There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church's distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution." Dead wrong.

The Constitutional prohibition is a limit on government: The federal government can't make a rule that, for example, all customs inspectors must affirm the Nicene Creed or denounce the Pope.

Recall that for over a century, anyone holding an office under the Crown of England had to receive communion in the Church of England and had to subscribe to the following declaration:

"I, N, do solemnly and sincerely in the presence of God profess, testify, and declare, that I do believe that in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper there is not any Transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever: and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other Saint, and the Sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous..."

This Test Act was still in effect when the U. S. Constitution was drafted.

Romney is wrong to suggest that the prohibition in the U. S. Constitution forbids individual voters from considering a candidate's religious views. I can choose not to vote for Romney because he wears magic long-johns and follows a religion founded by a con-man. I can choose not to vote for him because of his impeccable hair. I can choose not to vote for him because of his flip-flopping on social issues.

Or I can choose not to vote for Mitt Romney because he is deliberately misreading the Constitution in a self-serving and freedom-limiting way.

UPDATE (2007/12/11): The misreading and mischaracterization spreads. I'm no fan of Lawrence O'Donnell, but Hugh Hewitt is wrong to say that O'Donnell favors a religious test because he wants Romney to explain where he disagrees (if at all) with the tenets of the Mormon religion. Hewitt also asks O'Donnell, "Why are you so bigoted against Mormons?" That's an unfair question and beside the point. It's the sort of cheap rhetorical ploy I'd expect from a radical lefty.

MORE (2007/12/13): Rod Dreher has this right, regarding Huckabee's recent comment about an odd Mormon doctrine:

To be sure, I don't care what Romney believes about this matter, as long as it doesn't affect the way he proposes to be president, and I think it's a big mistake to hold that against him. But surely it isn't an "attack" for Huckabee merely to have brought up one of the more unusual doctrines of the Mormon church.

What Romney is really doing is trying to deflect public attention from a religious teaching he would rather not explain by trying to make Huckabee seem like a villain for having raised it in the first place. It's a strategy I'm familiar with. There's a Muslim lay leader in Dallas who has repeatedly accused me of attacking the Islamic faith when I have pointed out unusual and threatening things that Islam teaches, and have tried to get him to explain, or at least own up, to it. To his credit, he hasn't backed away from the sharia's brutality, even as he affirms it as just and right, but he indefatigably characterizes my perfectly legitimate questions about what he believes his faith requires of him in public life (e.g., killing homosexuals) as bigoted attacks on his faith. He keeps saying we ought to all try to get along. Well, yeah, let's get along ... but let's not deny real and important differences, especially when they involve theological sanction for revolting violence, even murder. Ya know?

The Iowa caucuses are less than a month away, and you may be thinking, "Are there any bloggers in Iowa that can give us a perspective on the caucuses that we won't get from national media?" There are indeed.

Russ from Winterset, an Iowan active in Republican politics and a regular commenter at Ace of Spades HQ, was asked to suggest some blogs covering politics in Iowa. He named five sites in his reply: Iowa Politics, State 29, 24 Hour Dorman, Radio Iowa, and The Real Sporer. The latter blog belongs to the Ted Sporer, chairman of the Polk County Republican Party (that's where state capital Des Moines is) and an official in the state Republican Party.

Here are a few of posts on those blogs that I found interesting:

Political columnist Todd Dorman, in The Countdown: One Month to Go, lists the "top 5 campaign narratives that have turned out to be wrong" -- all the conventional wisdom that proved to be unwise. Number 5 is "Obama and Huckabee are on their way to caucus wins": "Sure, I know this is the current narrative. I just want to be among the first to say it's wrong. Please don't ask me why until January."

Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa interviewed Fred Thompson about fiscal policy, religion and politics, the contrast between Thompson and Huckabee, and Thompson's plans for the closing weeks of the Iowa campaign. Thompson recalled the conventional wisdom in 2004 that Howard Dean would win big and said it "tickles [him] to death" to know that Iowa voters have the independence to defy conventional wisdom.

Ted Sporer links to a blog post by Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich taking issue with Hillary Clinton's attacks in Iowa on Barack Obama's Social Security and health care plans and on his courage. Reich writes:

Yesterday, HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] suggested O[bama] lacks courage. "There's a big difference between our courage and our convictions, what we believe and what we're willing to fight for," she told reporters in Iowa, saying Iowa voters will have a choice "between someone who talks the talk, and somebody who's walked the walk." Then asked whether she intended to raise questions about O's character, she said: "It's beginning to look a lot like that."

I just don't get it. If there's anyone in the race whose history shows unique courage and character, it's Barack Obama. HRC's campaign, by contrast, is singularly lacking in conviction about anything. Her pollster, Mark Penn, has advised her to take no bold positions and continuously seek the political center, which is exactly what she's been doing.

State 29 has an entry about political diversity (the lack thereof) at the University of Iowa and has been in dogged pursuit of Sen. Chuck Grassley's efforts to get a $50 million earmark toward construction of a rainforest in Iowa.

Iowa Politics seems to be more of a comprehensive news site than a blog. A subdomain provides a helpfulIowa caucus visitors' guide, covering accommodations, restaurants, entertainment, and wifi coffee houses.

RELATED: Newsweek's latest Iowa poll has Huckabee zooming 22 points ahead of Romney. But hold the phone: Half of Huckabee's support and two-thirds of Romney's support is soft. Thompson is running third. Also, that's among 275 self-reported likely caucus goers, so there's a 7% margin of error. And about half of the "likelies" say this would be their first time to attend a caucus. I wonder what the numbers would be like for a sample of 500 previous caucus attendees.

"Fred Thompson is addressing the real issues important to real conservatives and he's offering real solutions." So says this impressive ad produced independently by a Fred Thompson supporter:

Need proof? Here's Fred Thompson's recent interview on the Charlie Rose Show on PBS. It's a 55 minute program with considerable emphasis on foreign policy and federalism. I can't imagine any of the other presidential candidates, save Duncan Hunter, addressing foreign policy and defense as intelligently and with as much grounding in reality. You get a glimpse of what I appreciate most about Thompson -- not only does he happen to hold the right positions on issues, he holds those positions for the right reasons, grounded in sound principles.

You can read the specifics on Fred Thompson's principles and positions on the issues on his official campaign website.

Here is the official list of filers for the February 5, 2008, Oklahoma presidential primary. The number before the name is the order in which they filed:


1. BARACK OBAMA, 233 N. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60601
9. HILLARY CLINTON, 4420 N. Fairfax Dr. Arlington, VA 22203
10. JOHN EDWARDS, 410 Market St., Suite 400 Chapel Hill, NC 27516
12. BILL RICHARDSON, 111 Lomas Blvd. NW, Suite 200 Albuquerque, NM 87102
13. DENNIS J. KUCINICH, PO Box 110180 Cleveland, OH 44111
17. CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, PO Box 51882 Washington, DC 20091
18. JIM ROGERS, 8623 E. Reno Ave. #5 Midwest City, OK 73110


2. JOHN McCAIN, PO Box 16118 Arlington, VA 22215
3. TOM TANCREDO, 501 Church St., Suite 212 Vienna, VA 22180
4. DUNCAN HUNTER, 9340 Fuerte Dr. #302 La Mesa, CA 91941
5. RON PAUL, 3461 Washington Blvd., Suite 200 Arlington, VA 22201
6. RUDY GIULIANI, 295 Greenwich St. #356 New York, NY 10007
7. JERRY R. CURRY, PO Box 387 Haymarket, VA 20168
8. MITT ROMNEY, PO Box 55239 Boston, MA 02205
11. ALAN L. KEYES, 13533 Scottish Autumn Ln. Darnestown, MD 20878
14. FRED THOMPSON, 1130 8th Ave. S. Nashville, TN 37203
15. DANIEL GILBERT, 115 Justin Trail Arden, NC 28704
16. MIKE HUCKABEE, PO Box 2008 Little Rock, AR 72203

January 11, 2008, is the last day to register to vote or to change your party registration for the presidential primary. Both parties have closed primaries; you must be registered with a party affiliation to vote in that party's primary.

Oklahoma will have 41 delegates at the Republican National Convention. Three delegates will be pledged to vote for the top candidate in each congressional district. 23 delegates will be pledged to vote for the top candidate statewide. The remaining three delegates are the state chairman, the national committeeman, and the national committeewoman, who go to the convention free to vote as they will. The national committeeman and committeewoman will be elected at the Oklahoma Republican state convention in the spring; the incumbents, Lynn Windel and Bunny Chambers, have announced that they will not seek re-election.

RNC rules penalize states holding primaries before February 5 by cutting their delegate allocation in half. Because the Oklahoma legislature did not move our primary a week earlier, Oklahoma will retain all of its delegates to the 2008 convention. For the same reason, Oklahoma voters will have minimal impact on the selection of the Republican presidential nominee. On the same date there are 17 other delegate selection events, including California and New York. Oklahoma has only 41 of the 1,081 delegates to be chosen on February 5. Don't expect to get any attention from any of the candidates.

There will be 47 Oklahoma delegates at the Democratic National Convention. The six Oklahoma members of the DNC, U. S. Rep. Dan Boren, and Gov. Brad Henry will go as unpledged delegates. A ninth unpledged delegate will be elected at the state convention. Five delegates from each congressional district will be allocated proportionately to candidates who receive more than 15% of the vote. The same formula will be used to allocate 13 delegates according to the statewide result.

My source for the delegate allocation rules is The Green Papers, probably the most comprehensive accounting on the web of when and how convention delegates are selected.

Here's an 8-minute segment from Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Situation Room, an interview with Fred Thompson. Thompson answers questions about his faith ("no apologies to make") and explains the distinction between his support for legal immigrants and his opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants (illegals shouldn't be allowed to get in ahead of those who are trying to play by the rules).

On this topic, Blitzer asked, "Is there too much pandering going on on this issue, in your experience?" Thompson's reply: "Why should this issue be any different than any other issue?"

Much of the interview dealt with consistency. Thompson ran an ad in Iowa quoting past statements by Romney and Huckabee that contradict their more recent statements on a number of issues. Thompson said of the others in the race, "Most of these other guys have had to alter their positions when they decided to run for President. I have not."

(Please note that there is some overlap between the two clips.)

(Via Fred Thompson News.)

By the way, Thompson will be filing in Oklahoma. In fact, paperwork was already filed, but something needed to be corrected. I've been assured by the campaign that this will happen before the deadline Wednesday at 5.

Today through Wednesday at 5 is the annual filing period for the February 5th school board elections in Oklahoma, as well as for the presidential primary to be held the same day. As of 1 p.m., only Barack Obama has filed for the Democrats. John McCain was the first Republican to file, followed by Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, and Jerry Curry of Haymarket, Va. The state election board will be updating this PDF file with the complete list of those who have filed for the Oklahoma presidential preference primary.

In all of Tulsa County's independent school districts except Tulsa, Office No. 3 is up for election to a five-year term, elected at large by the entire district. The two dependent districts (Keystone and Leonard) will elect a member for Office No. 3 to a three-year term.

In the Tulsa District, board members are elected by election district to four-year terms. Board members for District 5 and District 6 -- Cathy Newsome and Ruth Ann Fate, respectively -- are up for re-election. If for no other reason, they both deserve to be defeated for their hostility to charter schools and to expanded options for Tulsa's school children. It was the Tulsa school board's stonewalling that led to bipartisan state legislation this year providing for a way for charter school organizers to bypass the board.

Even if you don't have school-aged children, if you care about the vitality of the City of Tulsa's central core, you should want to see more opportunities for charter schools. We need to offer families better educational choices if we want them to stay in the city instead of moving to the 'burbs.

Click here for a PDF map of Tulsa County's school districts, also showing the boundaries of Tulsa Schools' seven election districts.

District 5 (Newsome) covers Utica to Yale, 11th to 41st, plus Utica to Harvard between 41st and 51st, Riverside to Utica between 21st and 51st, plus the remainder of precinct 106 south of I-44. District 6 (Fate) is roughly I-244 to 51st, Yale to Memorial, plus 51st to 61st, Sheridan to Memorial, plus the bit of the Tulsa district south and east of 31st & Memorial, with minor adjustments for precinct 56 (in the district) and 92 (out of the district).

Also on the ballot is the Zone 3 seat on the board of Tulsa Technology Center, for a seven year term. Bea Cramer, a retired Tulsa Tech staffer first elected in 1990, is the incumbent. Zone 3 is most of the City of Tulsa southeast of 31st & Yale, plus a bit of Broken Arrow northwest of 101st St and 145th East Ave. Click here for a map of the Tulsa Technology Center board election zones. Tulsa Technology Center serves all of Tulsa County plus a portion of each neighboring county.

If you don't like the school system, throw your hat into the ring.

UPDATE: As of 3:30, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton have also filed for the presidential primary. Also, Brian Hunt, vice president of CB Richard Ellis/Oklahoma, has announced that he is running for Cathy Newsome's Tulsa school board seat. You may remember him as chairman of the Tulsa Real Estate Coalition, the political wing of the local development industry, during last year's city elections, when TREC excluded mayoral candidate Chris Medlock from a debate. I've e-mailed him some questions and will let you know the answers I receive. Brian has two children in Tulsa Public Schools -- one at Eliot Elementary and one at Zarrow International Elementary.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Election 2008 category from December 2007.

Election 2008: November 2007 is the previous archive.

Election 2008: January 2008 is the next archive.

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